Christian reform homes: An introduction

There’s a trend I’ve long noticed on this blog: Articles which involve creationism and/or fundamentalists being hiliarious get a lot of hits. Posts about child abuse get nothing by comparison. This blog is about to take a turn that may lose me some readers. I can understand this. Some of you read this blog for entertainment; these posts will not be entertaining. They will, however, be extremely important. There is now strong evidence that children have been abused in “Christian” reform homes for decades. Despite this, the victims’ voices have barely been heard. The perpetrators have rarely seen any kind of justice, and the public is largely oblivious. I have a platform on this blog, and I am determined to help give these victims a voice.

It will take a lot of posts to alert you to the scale of the problem. To begin with, these will mostly be reposts and links to existing material online. You may not have time to read them all, or you may find them too distressing; virtually all of it needs to come with a trigger warning. I don’t expect you to read every word (even I haven’t managed that); I just want you to see enough to recognise the patterns and themes in victims’ testimonies, the way multiple independent witnesses corroborate each other.

Most of the material has been written from the standpoint of deep sympathy for the victims. As a result, sometimes the evidence provided is not as rigorous as it might need to be to stand up in court, or even to go on Wikipedia without a [citation needed] tag. This is a problem, and when I have time I hope to provide more concrete evidence. I understand the victims are in possession of this type of evidence, in the form of court documents and school records. Some are in the process of giving witness statements to local sheriff’s departments. They deserve justice, and I want to help them get it. In the meantime, you will see that the sheer quantity of evidence means that, although we can’t always be sure of the details of what happened, it is beyond reasonable doubt that these homes are abusive. This abuse is not peripheral, or just by a few bad apples. It is endemic.

I became aware of these schools because so many of them use Accelerated Christian Education. ACE’s relationship to these schools is interesting and complex, but, as we’ll see later, ACE specifically praises them in at least one of its own PACEs.

Please stay with me on this. I might post more typical, fun creationist stuff in between to keep you all on side.

You may remember Cat Givens’ story about her time in one of these schools. This is an indicator of what’s to come:

Off to a girls’ home in Louisiana for me! New Bethany Home for Wayward Girls. I was to be there for a year.

Surely, this would save my soul and make me a compliant teenager. At this girls’ home, the same type of hellfire and brimstone attitude prevailed. I was not allowed to wear pants, as that was a sin. I could not listen to any music besides gospel, as that was a sin. I could not talk about my past, as I had no past. I had to be called by my first and middle name because I was to become a new person.

There was an evangelical preacher who ran the place, Rev. Mac Ford. He and his wife, Thelma founded the home, and they took in rebellious teens from all over the country and also took in the unwanted girls who would just be abandoned there. We were all to comply with every rule or get whipped with a belt. That was the easy punishment. If a girl acted out, often she would be forced, after lights out, to stand in the hallway on her tip toes with eggs or tomatoes under her heels. If she slipped and squished one, she’d get a whipping or get hit with the switch. Runaways from the home were usually caught and then, after a sound whipping with the belt from Bro. Mac, she’d be handcuffed to her bed and a ‘trusted girl” would have the key. All meals were served her at her bed, and only was she uncuffed for bathroom and shower breaks. Once Bro Mac determined she had repented, she was off the cuffs.

About jonnyscaramanga

I grew up as a Christian fundamentalist in the UK. Now I am writing a book and blog about what that's like, and what fundamentalists believe.

Posted on October 2, 2013, in Accelerated Christian Education, Atheism, Christianity, Education, Faith Schools, Fundamentalism, School of Tomorrow and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.

  1. Keep writing our storys. Cat’s is a great way to start. I am Kim Holt and I am Chapter One. I have been busy busting MWF. Mother Fucking Whore Dog. Can you feel me. Knock Knock Assholes here comes Legions.

  2. It matters not whether the posts are humourous, Johnny. In fact the closer to the bone the more it might get supposed ‘ordinary christians’ (sic) to finally sit up and take a bit of interest in what is being perpetrated in the name of their god and realise that their days are numbered, no matter what they like to believe.

  3. Very worthwhile (and I suspect long overdue). You’re making a difference, Jonny, and I appreciate the hard work and dedication it takes to follow through. To give voice to these people is a gift you can make happen and I will listen to them all.

  4. This is absolutely horrible, but in the US, it isn’t news. This abuse has had public exposure for well over a decade here, and in fact, quite a few “rehab clinics” and “reform schools” have been shut down, only to crop up in another state with another name.

  5. There is so much hurt, pain, suffering, and abuse that this home caused for so many children. Thank you for letting us share out story.

  6. it is painfully true that abuse is something people would rather look the other way on. i’ve gotten comments like ‘we don’t have a policy on reporting, but i would hope we’d do the right thing. we’d certainly wrestle with it’.

    as a forgotten child, as one raised in this hellhole of pain and faith and shame, i reject these things. we need to tell. we need to tell.

    i’ve been telling my own story, and hoping against hope that someone would walk up and say ‘i was ifb too, this is my story’. just so i don’t feel so alone. i am glad-sad that you are writing these things too.

    breaking the silence matters.

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