Celebrating Teen Challenge!
This Sunday the Hockey Mom herself is on her way to Missoula for a day of speechifying amazingingitty. And you can see her (in person!) if you are willing to give your money go to Teen Challenge, a faith-based program geared toward keeping kids off drugs.
I could give a damn about Hockey Mom. She’s become a fly––a pest that darts in and distracts, but adds nothing but static. Teen Challenge (TC) on the other hand, is a tragedy in motion––even when we’re not talking about the number of depressing stories relayed on sites (Sad, also sad) dedicated to covering the organization’s darker moments.
Let’s begin with how they introduce themselves in the TC Mission:
To provide youth, adults and families with an effective and comprehensive Christian faith-based solution to life-controlling drug and alcohol problems in order to become productive members of society. By applying biblical principles, Teen Challenge endeavors to help people become mentally-sound, emotionally-balanced, socially-adjusted, physically-well, and spiritually-alive.
Sounds great. People should be productive members of society. And I’m sure when they say “biblical principles” they are not referring to Exodus 20:21-22, “”If a man beats his male or female slave with a rod and the slave dies as a direct result, he must be punished, but he is not to be punished if the slave gets up after a day or two, since the slave is his property.”
Of course there’s more to the organization than poorly constructed sentences riddled with compound modifiers:
Teen Challenge … concentrates on focusing attention on God and His will for those that enter the program … While recognizing the need for expertise in some areas, Teen Challenge does not subscribe to the medical model of helping an individual involved in drug abuse.
I want to stop my argument there because I’m sure most people reading think addicts getting therapy is a good thing (cause it is), but there’s just so much else wrong with TC.
First of all, people are sentenced to complete the TC Program. From TC:
If you, in fact, committed the crime you have been charged with, discuss with your attorney the possibility of pleading guilty with the agreement that the court would consider sending you to Teen Challenge.
So kids who screw up and are afraid of being sent to jail are given these options: Jail or Jee-zuz. And, yes, Jee-zuz appears as a necessity despite proclamations otherwise. Just look at this vaguely judgmental and hostile bit from their FAQ:
Teen Challenge is based foundationally on a literal interpretation of the Protestant Bible. It is our belief that applying the principles of Scripture to a person’s life will enrich their life and provide them with a path of a personal relationship with God. [Note: How is this story enriching?] Certainly people of other faiths may enter the program but, as they are informed of the nature of the program, they voluntarily choose to participate. It is not required that a student have a conversion experience to enter or complete, but conversion is regarded as the greatest hope for breaking an addiction.
Translation: Get with Jee-zuz(!), or you’ll be on the street scoring smack in no time. Do I even have to point out how deluded and cynical something like that is? The idea of looking at an addict and telling them that without God they’re screwed just seems tacky, and reproachful.
Teen Challenge gets away with selling their faith-based bunk in courts because they’ve sold bogus success rates to the public. TC claims that 86 percent of folks get off of drugs and/or alcohol. However, this number does not reflect people who fail to complete the program. That’s a good number of folks. By eliminating people who leave the camps, TC is able to sell numbers based only on their true believers. It’s like that line from Anchorman about Sex Panther Cologne––”Sixty percent of the time, it works every time.” The numbers just don’t add up.
All told, 40 percent of folks leave within the first eight months of TC. So the 86 percent is from a group of at most 60 percent of attendees. Run that number against their stats, and you get that roughly half of all attendees stayed away from their addictions. (At least of those talked to in an internally-steered study… of the 3,000 who attended TC over the course of the study period a whopping 59 people were interviewed.)
Over the 12-18 months students/inmates/indoctrinated youth attend TC they go through classes, Bible studies, work (one TC camp is a pig farm). Here at the local Missoula chapter, which is only for women, lists a course called “Obedience to Man.”
Does that mean what I think it means? Hmm… Literal Bible… Ah yes. 1Corinthians 14:34, “women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the Law says.” I always forget to remind my wife ’bout that one.
But, so what? I mean it. Why get so bent out of shape about an organization that’s main focus is helping teens?
Because the organization in fact helps more adults than teens. The Missoula chapter goes as far to say that it is “a faith-based, 20-bed facility located in the heart of Missoula, for women 18+, with no cut-off age…” That’s kind of for teens. But not really.
Okay, so the name’s a damn lie––just like their stats.
There’s more, too, but I think I’ve made my point. Teen Challenge is just pure religious BS. I’m sure it works for some–– those who want to change via a conversion to a certain breed of Christianity. And, really, if you’re willing to pay money for this delusional soul to speak to you, Teen Challenge is your kind of pie.
Still, that doesn’t make it right.