When Activism Turns to Hate

I’m beginning to notice that it’s very normal for former fundamentalists to become loud-mouthed, opinionated activists. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, or activists for that matter. In many ways, activism is a natural progression for those of us who have been repressed and oppressed. Liberalism does represent hope, equality and fairness for all, and that’s why we’re drawn to it. In other ways, though, it’s easy to lose sight of yourself and of other people’s feelings when you become an activist. Liberalism can be as vitriolic, blind, and one-sided as the Tea Party. And liberalism is not ever 100% right or unbiased.

I know this is a contentious subject and this is the internet, so there will be hate-filled emails filling up my inbox soon. Because I don’t have time to enter into debate with so many haters, I won’t be allowing comments on this post. I also don’t give a fuck if you don’t like that. I don’t have time to have a heated debate on here. I simply am not interested in a battle, because if you want to have a battle of intellect, that’s one thing, but a battle of hatred, I can’t and won’t participate in.

It’s important for me to write this, though, because I was such an outspoken activist for so long. Although not all activism is bad, sometimes when we’re activists we’re less concerned about how many people and friendships we plow down in the way to our goal. We are driven, idealistic, and we feel we need to “save the world.” This isn’t unlike my days as a “soldier for Christ” in a cult. The passion-fueled idealism is actually quite the same. The blind zest to change the world and change other people’s views (as opposed to accepting them) isn’t far removed from fundamentalism. So, I guess, the questions I’m interested in putting out there is: At what point do we examine our activist ways and compare them to our fundamentalist ways? Are they the same in some ways? In what ways are they different? Will we wake up one day to realize that being a moderate doesn’t mean being the enemy? That maybe the world is less black and white than we think? And maybe being able to look at subjects with fairness (and from both sides) might actually help improve the world, the media, journalism, and debate more so than zealous activism? Maybe normal isn’t the enemy–maybe it’s a remnant of what we were taught as fundamentalists. 

Over time, I have damaged a lot of people I love because I was close-minded. I damaged friendships–some of them are irreparable and some of them meant a lot to me. I need to say sorry to those I hurt and also say that I’m more self-aware now. I’m more open to meaningful dialogue with people I care about and I’m more open to meaningful dialogue with most people now, because no one is ever above learning from someone else’s humanity. I’m interested in hearing another side of the argument. I’m interested in debate, only as long as it doesn’t damage my friendships with people I deeply care about.

Essentially, I prefer people over politics. I don’t want to live a life where I assume I’m 100% right about everything and the “Other” side is made up of idiots. That’s just not true. (It is true that there are a LOT of stupid people in the world, but they exist on both sides.) And I certainly don’t want to continue to make the world a vitriolic-filled place where only one side of the conversation is respected and others are bullied into silence. That’s not democratic. It’s also dehumanizing. All of our voices should be heard, and I hope we all aim for constructive dialogue and debate. I hope we all open our minds to people who are different from us–whether liberal or conservative–and really work on bringing more thoughtfulness and less hate to the table.

/end rant

The Making of an Activist

Sometimes you get involved in something sort of by accident. My involvement in feminist activism and advocacy for spiritual abuse victims has been quite organic, evolving with time after seeing things happen all around me that I couldn’t sit by and watch.

I recently started researching Mercy Ministries after being prompted by a reader here. Subsequently, I’ve posted a page with information on Mercy Ministries and links to survivors websites. Groups like Mercy are incredibly destructive and harmful, but it’s often difficult for any abuse victims to speak against their abuser. Many abusers are well-liked and charasmatic and Mercy’s founder, Nancy Alcorn is very popular with the Evangelical crowd.

Feminist activism is a tough pill for some to swallow. Being a feminist is equivelant to being an ugly, raging man-hater. Most women have feminist tendencies, as I’ve noticed lately with the birth control battle and war on women that’s raging. Or as I like to call it, The Republican Witch Hunt.

If you are a feminist, or a feminist in the making, I’d like to leave you with a little Robin Morgan. Morgan and others founded WITCH: Women’s International Terrorist Conspiracy from Hell. If you have time, watch “Sustaining the Activism.”

 

The Kind Ones

I think the greatest misconception about those of us who speak OUT against cults and abusive leaders is that we are not kind. People suggest we are full of hatred and bitterness.

It’s not so.

I know fewer people who are kinder than those of us who silently give our time and energy fighting causes like this. Yes, we may have a rough exterior but that’s because we get bullied constantly. Underneath that tough facade, there’s a kindhearted person who’s committed to making changes in the world and committed to making the world GOOD.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from my life it’s this: Sometimes those who APPEAR good (ahem, preachers) are all bad. Judge everyone, and doubt everything but consider the voices who speak up against injustice. We might just be the kind ones.

Tennessee First Lady Visits Mercy Ministries for good PR after Mercy Caught in Scandal

This post from Nancy Alcorn, founder of Mercy Ministries blog. You can tell Nancy is pulling all the stops against the Mercy girls who are outing her for abuse and scandal. She’s invited the governor of Tennessee to visit! No doubt First Lady Crissy Haslam has no clue the expansive detailed abuse cases that Mercy Ministries has covered up in the past 30 years they’ve been around. Does Mrs. Haslam know the group is anti-gay? Does she know it’s anti-choice? Only time will tell. This whole blog post REEKS of an attempt to garner good PR while silencing the voices of victims. We’re watching Nancy Alcorn and Crissy Haslam. And we will call out anyone who’s involved, no matter the “role” you play in our government. 

We spent the entire morning receiving a very special visitor, and I thought you would be interested in knowing about this wonderful time together. Our Governor’s wife, First Lady Crissy Haslam, came to Mercy at 9:00 AM this morning for an official visit and tour, followed by a very special time with our staff and residents in our main classroom. I thought you would enjoying hearing about this from my perspective as well as see some of the pictures from this morning’s interaction.


First Lady of Tennessee Crissy Haslam
addressing the staff and residents
First of all, it is an honor when someone from such a position takes the time out of their busy schedule to come and see the work that we do at Mercy Ministries. One thing about being in existence for almost 30 years is that we now have a track record of longevity and success that speaks to the credibility of the program. Two of our Mercy graduates who are now working as a part of our team had the opportunity to meet with Mrs. Haslam one-on-one and share their story. She was especially interested in hearing about the fact that they came to Mercy Ministries and then were able to complete their college education after graduating from the program.


First Lady of Tennessee Crissy Haslam,
Graduates Jen Grinder and Kim Brownie, and Me
For me personally, I was blown away by the fact that Mrs. Haslam took extra time with our residents and staff to actually allow them to ask her questions, while at the same time interacting with them and asking them questions about the program and their personal experience thus far. I thought it was extra special that Mrs. Haslam encouraged the girls about their faith in God by relating to them with her own journey. Today I found myself feeling very proud of being a Tennessean in light of who our current leaders are in the Governor’s office. Hope you love seeing these pictures. Would love to hear your comments!

 

 

P.S. For those of you who are wondering, I did ask our First Lady why she and Governor Haslam were unable to help land Peyton Manning back in the state where he belongs. 🙂

The Ever Elusive Cat and Mouse Game

Going after a cult is like playing cat and mouse. Sometimes you’re the cat and other times you’re the mouse.

There’s a game of chase going on online. Mercy Ministries appears to be in the lead, but they’re running head long into a trap. It’s a trap they’ve set up for themselves. They’ve manufactured what they think are “professional” sounding answers, but let’s be honest–they’re not professionals. They have a hell of a lot of money to hire professionals, though, and this is where they sometimes have the upper hand. But they don’t actually have the upper hand and this is why: the laws are against what they’re doing and no matter how many times they change their website to conform to their newest lies, or attempt to silence the victims who’s lives they’ve destroyed one thing remains true–many victims of abuse have emerged from Mercy Ministries to tell their truth. And truth will prevail.

Oh and I’m on the front page of Google for “Mercy Ministries” searches. Let’s watch this change as they attempt to squash my victory.

April 4, 2012 12:40 pm PST

In the past few weeks, the Lincoln Messenger has ran a series of articles on Mercy Ministry. These reports were done with great care, as you can tell from reading them. The reporter and editor went to great lengths to present both sides of the case. However, Mercy disputed the articles. Sadly, it takes a trained eye or a survivor of Mercy to recognize their “dispute” for what it is: lies.

Yes, you read that right. Mercy Ministries is lying. And they’re changing their web presence to match their lies. They’ve also modified their Wikipedia page to attempt to remove the Australia scandal, but don’t worry we’re bringing those stories back like 2010 brought back Ray Bans.

 

Mercy’s Mass Letter: Request for Help on Cyber “Warfare”

 [This article was originally posted on Against Biblical Counseling and is being republished here to spotlight an abusive group: Mercy Ministries.]

Mercy’s Newest Mass Letter (From 2008, after an International scandal hit Mercy)

Recently, the following letter has been sent to Mercy Ministries Graduates. Nancy now apparently thinks that the best way to combat anti-Mercy sites is to make sure that no one can find them. This action is clearly taken so that anti-Mercy sites will not appear on search engines, but only favorable quotes from P.O.G. and Natalie Grant supporters. Nancy is now engaging in cyber-warfare. Congrats, Nancy. Unfortunately, however, since my site’s name is AGAINST BIBLICAL COUNSELING, what you are doing is unlikely to affect me or Sean. Let’s hope anyways.
John
TO ALL FORMER MERCY RESIDENTS!!! Thanks so much to those of you who went online and posted comments on Natalie Grant’s Blog. We need your help to continue getting the positive message about Mercy Ministries and Nancy Alcorn out there on the Internet! We wanted to let you know about another blog. Long-time friend and major supporter of Mercy, Shelley Breen, from the group Point of Grace, has posted a blog on the Point of Grace Website about Mercy Ministries and Nancy Alcorn. Check it out at http://www.pointofgrace.net/blog-detail.php?pageid=706628.
Here’s how you can help us: 1. Put a LINK on your own Blog or MySpace page to the Point of Grace Blog (http://www.pointofgrace.net/blog-detail.php?pageid=706628) and Natalie Grant’s Blog (http://www.nataliegrant.com/2008/11/06/i-love-mercy-ministries-nancy-alcorn/). Be sure to use the words Nancy Alcorn AND Mercy Ministries in the description. It won’t help us if you just include Mercy or Nancy – you need to include both Mercy Ministries and Nancy Alcorn to get the highest ratings on the search engines.
2. Copy the text from Point of Grace’s Blog and Natalie Grant’s Blog and put it on your own sites.
3. Write about Mercy Ministries and Nancy Alcorn on your own blog / MySpace pages.
4. Click on the links and read the articles. (AMOUNT OF TIME SPENT ON A SITE HELPS TOO!!!)
5. Post a comment on Natalie Grant’s Blog (http://www.nataliegrant.com/2008/11/06/i-love-mercy-ministries-nancy-alcorn/). There are currently 76 comments and it’s not too late for you to post your own comments. Again, be sure to use the words Mercy Ministries and Nancy Alcorn somewhere in your comment. Thank you for your help – we want to be a light in the darkness and make sure the positive message about Mercy Ministries is easily found for the many young women who are desperate for help.
Thanks for all you do,
Mercy Ministries

[Article reposted for educational purposes under Fair Use.]

Mercy Ministries Denies Former Resident Medical & Psychiatric Records

This post originally appeared on “Sarah’s Collage” a blog written by a Mercy insider who attend the program in Australia. 
Since around the beginning of the year, myself and some other fellow survivors have been involved in a struggle to have our respective client files released to us.

(Some coverage of this can be found here, compliments of Sean the Blogonaut).

As this is public domain, I will speak only for the situation involving myself.

When all of this began, I fasted and prayed my heart out, considered scripture and discussed the issue with a few wise friends.

After much delay and Mercy’s subsequent refusal, a bunch of phone calls, intervention of a Lawyer and the Privacy Commissioner and further delay, I received an incomplete file.
Prior to my appointment on Tuesday evening, I did not expect that I would feel troubled by its contents. In fact, I did not expect to feel anything at all.
This was true of most of it, even of the more sensitive material.

Some of it that would have troubled me years ago actually made me laugh out loud.

There was only one thing really that I felt a bit disturbed by. It related to one of the major traumatic events I experienced there, and the account of that event was so twisted and untrue. For a second, I felt that old familiar feeling again of having my sanity put in question.

I was glad to have my Psychologist present to share a good chuckle with.

I just feel so blessed to have had the opportunity to heal from that experience with the help of some safe, wise and discerning women in my world. Not all girls have had that opportunity, but God can use many things to heal an abused heart.

I can see how going through one’s own file with a sane, trusted and qualified person can be a significant healing experience for those who are still reeling from the impact, even several years on.

Having that choice restored to us is healing in itself, validating of our adulthood and our own ability to make decisions that are in the best interests of our healing.

I am yet to receive the remaining documents, and after several delays I have come to expect that I will not be receiving it any time soon, and definitely not before I go into hospital in about two weeks.

So today, I am thanking God for victory, for healing and restoration in the lives of survivors both here and abroad, for the voice He has restored to me, and most of all I am thanking him that my suffering was not in vain.

He works all things together for good.

What is Mercy Ministries?

According to their website:

About Us
Mercy Ministries’ free-of-charge, voluntary, faith-based residential program serves young women from all socio-economic backgrounds, ages 13-28, who face a combination of life-controlling issues such as eating disorders, self-harm, drug and alcohol addictions, depression and unplanned pregnancy. Mercy also serves young women who have been physically and sexually abused, including victims of sex trafficking. Using proven methods, a holistic approach and professional counselors in a structured residential environment, Mercy has helped thousands of young women be restored to wholeness. Mercy’s goal is to help these young women find freedom from their issues and empower them to serve in their communities as productive citizens.

Mission:

Mercy Ministries exists to provide opportunities for young women to experience God’s unconditional love, forgiveness, and life-transforming power.

Vision:

Mercy Ministries is committed to being an effective and well-respected global organization dedicated to transforming lives of generations searching for truth and wholeness.

 

What makes Mercy Ministries different?

We believe freedom is possible!
We don’t teach methods of coping with life-controlling issues, we teach God’s unconditional love, forgiveness and life-transforming power. Our program gives young women the tools they need to break free! We apply Christian principles and teachings with proven methods and a professional counseling staff. Our approach to healing allows young women to permanently stop destructive cycles and prepares them to take hope out into their communities.

Our program is completely FREE OF CHARGE
We want our residents to know that we genuinely care. They can trust us because we are not making money off of their problems. We raise all the financial support for our programs through private funding.

We have seen thousands of lives transformed
Mercy Ministries International has helped over 3,000 residents in its nearly 30 years of operation. In a recent survey of former Mercy Ministries of America residents, 93 percent of respondents said Mercy Ministries “transformed their lives and restored their hope.” Time and time again we have seen girls who have no hope or will to live develop into strong, passionate leaders. God is using Mercy graduates to impact lives all over the world.

 

***

What is Mercy Ministries behind the mask?

Mercy Ministries is a Nashville, Tennessee based group which was accused of misrepresenting their counseling and recovery services to young women in Australia in 2008. The misrepresentation in Australia was two-fold. First, they claimed their services were free but had the girls sign over their government checks. Second, the ministry claimed to be using licensed therapists and professional counseling methods.  In 2009, Mercy admitted their guilt in misrepresentation on both counts and paid back $120,000 of government aid it had wrongly taken from the girls who attended—in Australia.