Mercy Ministries Glossy Reputation–As Fake as Joyce Meyer’s Face

It’s clear from Mercy Ministries own website, that they aren’t treating women with licensed counselors or with accepted medical protocol despite what their lip service claims on their webpage. Just take a look at their newest post, Five More Graduates Celebrate Freedom!  This contradicts any of their PR. First of all, if a group was really concerned with healing debilitating disorders, would they make women ‘graduate’? What the fuck does that even mean? Speaking to dozens of survivors of Mercy Ministries, I can tell you that graduating is nothing but a “notch on the bedpost” for Nancy Alcorn. Another fuck, another dollar.  She just prostitutes young women out for her own paycheck. Six million dollars in donations isn’t too shabby. And would they use words like ‘freedom’? The answer is emphatically no.

Women go to Mercy Ministries simply because it’s free and because they have a glossy exterior of love and concern. They sell perfection, and in many cases, young, vulnerable women become so brainwashed that they truly believe Jesus (by proxy of Mercy) saved them from their issues or disorders permanently and they will never need help again. What’s sad about this is it sets up vulnerable women for defeat. When their mental illnesses or their eating disorders remain, they feel guilty because they were taught that their illnesses are a result of THEIR OWN SIN.

Like this “graduate” Suzanne, who thinks her bipolar disorder was a result of her sin. Don’t worry, folks…Jesus washed it away:

A woman who was diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

What Suzanne doesn’t know (yet) is that bipolar disorder isn’t cured by the Lord or by Mercy Ministries staff. Bipolar disorder can be treated with medical help, but it’s not gone because someone prayed it away or exorcised the demons of bipolar disorder away (yes, MM has a habit of exorcising demons and “generational curses” away). It’s easy to remain in denial when you are in a euphoric state of mind brought on by large crowds worshiping the work Nancy does, but when Suzanne leaves, will she remain “free”? The odds are that she won’t.

Suzanne’s story in her own words is below:

Before coming to Mercy, I lived a fake life. I tried to please everyone and became the type of person I thought they wanted. I had no relationship with Christ, so I struggled with addictions, self-destruction, depression and I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. I was desperate to cleanse my life of its confusion, but my disorder and past pain were overwhelming.
While I was searching for help, my mentors suggested Mercy Ministries. I then heard the testimony of a Mercy graduate at a local church. As I listened to the Mercy graduate, I knew I wanted her healing. Mercy seemed to be the key to success, so I applied and entered the program.

While at Mercy, God gave me the highest honor and adopted me into His family. He did the impossible and washed away all the sin and shame of my past. I learned to take on the mind of Christ, and through that renewal he brought me freedom, light, and hope. Today, I can laugh with no fear of the future.

Of course, the phrase “take on the mind of Christ” reminds me of Mercy Ministries financial supporter, Joyce Meyer, who penned the book Battlefield of the MindI remember my first year in Master’s Commission, I was introduced to Joyce Meyer through her speaking engagements that brought her to Phoenix First Assembly of God. Oddly enough, it was that year (1998, I think) that she spoke on stage of her face lift. I was so in awe of Joyce. Being an insider in Phoenix First Assembly of God, I saw her leave the stage and walk outside to where her private white Lincoln Towncar and driver were waiting to rush her off away from all the “little people.”

I was still so inspired by her ability to overcome her horrible past. I think most who are brought up in the evangelical world look to her as a hero because she came from such a troubled past and is so goddamned wealthy (televangelists parade their wealth as a sign of God’s blessing). But as much as I bought into her book Battlefield of the Mind and memorized scripture every single day, I was never able to conquer my own “negative thoughts” or thought patterns. Why? Simple. I suffer from depression and major depressive disorder at that. I share this because a) there is a stigma on mental illness and b) I don’t want a single young woman to think they’ve failed Jesus if they can’t “overcome” something biological with their Jesus-devotion. For me, there is a genetic component. It runs in the family and I feel with the right doctors and LICENSED therapists, it’s manageable, but like my good friend B says, “Getting well isn’t easy. It takes a lot of really hard work.” There are no miracles when it comes to disorders of the mind.

From the Amazon description of Battlefield of the Mind (emphasis my own)

Worry, doubt, confusion, depression, anger and feelings of condemnation: all these are attacks on the mind. If readers suffer from negative thoughts, they can take heart! Joyce Meyer has helped millions win these all-important battles. In her most popular bestseller ever, the beloved author and minister shows readers how to change their lives by changing their minds.
She teaches how to deal with thousands of thoughts that people think every day and how to focus the mind the way God thinks. And she shares the trials, tragedies, and ultimate victories from her own marriage, family, and ministry that led her to wondrous, life-transforming truth–and reveals her thoughts and feelings every step of the way.

What Joyce Meyer and Nancy Alcorn teach are lies, but further, they are destructive teachings which prey on the weak and disabled. Why? Money, my dears. Have you heard of Joyce Meyers six year investigation by the Senate? From CBS News,

CBS News has learned Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa, the ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, is investigating six prominent televangelist ministries for possible financial misconduct.

Letters were sent Monday to the ministries demanding that financial statements and records be turned over to the committee by December 6th.

According to Grassley’s office, the Iowa Republican is trying to determine whether or not these ministries are improperly using their tax-exempt status as churches to shield lavish lifestyles.

The six ministries identified as being under investigation by the committee are led by: Paula White, Joyce Meyer, Creflo Dollar, Eddie Long, Kenneth Copeland and Benny Hinn. Three of the six – Benny Hinn, Kenneth Copeland and Creflo Dollar – also sit on the Board of Regents for the Oral Roberts University.

A spokesperson for Joyce Meyer Ministries provided CBS News with an IRS letter to the ministry dated October 10, 2007, that stated: “We determined that you continue to qualify as an organization exempt from Federal income tax.” The letter could not be independently verified in time for this story. The ministry also pointed to audited financial statements for the last three years that are posted on the organization’s Web site.

OH SHIT, shake that ass ma, move it like a gypsy
Stop, woah, back it up, now let me see your hips SWING

Sorry, that was me doing a little dance of happiness over the amount of BULLSHIT Joyce Meyer had to give to her loyal zombies to brush that shit under the rug. Here’s their press release which really doesn’t say much except, We didn’t get caught, fools!

How women like Joyce Meyer and Nancy Alcorn can live with this amount of manipulation on their hands on a daily basis is beyond me. The money must be pretty sweet. Oh wait, it sure as hell IS sweet if the IRS is after you.

Nancy Alcorn on “Persecution”

Nancy Alcorn of Mercy Ministries talking about “people writing bad articles” about her and being persecuted and badly spoken of…and what do you know? The “work for Jesus” is to blame. Not the fact that Mercy Ministries is actually doing something wrong…

Watch the video here

They sought help, but got exorcism and the Bible

Naomi Johnson was a resident in Mercy Ministries Sydney house for nine months. Photo by Erin Jonasson

Originally printed in The Sydney Morning Herald.  If you have any new information regarding this program, please email Lisa Kerr at mycultlife@gmail.com.

Ruth Pollard
March 17, 2008

A SECRETIVE ministry with direct links to Gloria Jean’s Coffees and the Hillsong Church has been deceiving troubled young women into signing over months of their lives to a program that offers scant medical or psychiatric care, instead using Bible studies and exorcisms to treat mental illness.

Do you know more? Message 0424 SMS SMH ( +61 424 767 764 ) or email us with information or images.

Government agencies such as Centrelink have also been drawn into the controversy, as residents are required to transfer their benefits to Mercy Ministries. There are also allegations that the group receives a carers payment to look after the young women.

Mercy Ministries says 96 young women have “graduated” from its program since its inception in 2001. But many have been expelled without warning and with no follow up or support.

Three former residents who have felt the full force of Mercy’s questionable programs are blowing the whistle on its emotionally cruel and medically unproven techniques, detailing abuse including exorcisms, “separation contracts” between girls who became friends, and harsh discipline for those who broke the rules.

Naomi Johnson, Rhiannon Canham-Wright and Megan Smith (Megan asked to use an assumed name) went into Mercy Ministries independent young women, and came out broken and suicidal, believing, as Mercy staff had told them repeatedly, that they were possessed by demons and that Satan controlled them.

Only careful psychological and psychiatric care over several years brought them back from the edge.

Taking in girls and women aged 16 to 28, Mercy Ministries claims to offer residents support from “psychologists, general practitioners, dietitians, social workers, [and] career counsellers”. These claims are made on its website, and the programs are promoted through Gloria Jean’s cafes throughout Australia.

But these former residents say no medical or psychological services were provided – just an occasional, monitored trip to a GP, where the consultation takes place in the presence of a Mercy Ministries staff member or volunteer.

Instead, the program is focused on prayer, Christian counselling and expelling demons from in and around the young women, who say they begged Mercy Ministries to let them get medical help for the conditions they were suffering, which included bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders and anorexia.

When the Herald asked Mercy Ministries representatives whether they told young women that the symptoms of their mental illness or eating disorders were due to demonic activity and that residents were forced into exorcisms, they offered no denial.

“Mercy Ministries staff address the issues that the residents face from a holistic client-focused approach; physical, mental, emotional. The program is voluntary and all aspects are explained comprehensively to the residents and no force is used,” the executive manager of programs, Judy Watson, said in response.

Throughout its website, decorated in hot pink tones with images of happy young women who have been “saved”, Mercy claims to offer its residential programs free. Yet the services are not free – young women on unemployment benefits are “asked” to sign them over to Mercy, while others are asked to make a donation for expenses.

Mostly funded by Gloria Jean’s Coffee – which said last night it did not plan to change its sponsorship arrangements – and supported by the Hillsong Foundation, Mercy Ministries says it has a 90 per cent success rate, but when asked to provide evidence of the program’s outcomes, Ms Watson said that research was under way and not yet available.

Not only does Mercy Ministries appear unconcerned by the allegations, it is mounting an aggressive expansion campaign. Peter Irvine, its former managing director, now director of corporate sponsorship, confirmed it was opening houses in Adelaide, Perth, Townsville, Newcastle, Melbourne and another Sydney house, in the southern suburbs.

Ms Johnson spent nine months in the Mercy Ministries house in Glenhaven before she was expelled. Close to committing suicide and her eating disorder worse than ever, she was admitted to a psychiatric unit and has spent three years trying to recover from her ordeal.

Ms Canham-Wright and Ms Smith tell similar stories from their time in the Sunshine Coast house, and all continue to suffer from the effects of Mercy Ministries’ unconventional program.

They are concerned that as more houses are due to open, more women will be put at risk, partly because there is a desperate shortage of affordable services for people with mental illness.

“This could be really dangerous .. Mercy has the potential to be inundated with people … [who will] fall for the advertising and out of desperation reach for Mercy,” Ms Johnson said.

“Here in Perth people with eating disorders are very limited when it comes to treatment. When you reach 18 there are no government-funded inpatient treatment options for anorexia, except for a general public psychiatric ward where there is no expertise on these issues.”

The federal Minister for Human Services, Joe Ludwig, said the Government would investigate. “I am very concerned about these serious allegations, and I have asked Centrelink to investigate its payment arrangement,” he said.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, the NSW Health Care Complaints Commission and the Queensland Office of Fair Trading have also indicated they will investigate if they receive complaints from the women.

Allan Fels, dean of the Australia and New Zealand School of Government and former chairman of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, said if Mercy Ministries had made false claims about its services it would be in breach of the law and could face injunctions, damages and fines. “Both the federal Trade Practices Act and the relevant state fair trading acts would seem to apply to the situation since income is being received by Mercy Ministries. Both laws prohibit misleading and deceptive conduct.”

[This article has been reposted here for educational purposes only under Fair Use.]

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 Gannett Company shows support for exorcism based treatment center, Mercy Ministries

Who is Mercy Ministries? They are infamous for using exorcism and high-pressure manipulation and tactics to treat eating disorders, depression, suicide, and sex trafficking. You can also see more detailed accounts from former residents at the website Mercy Survivors.com.

The Gannett Company
The Gannett Company

Two new articles about Mercy Ministries were published in The Tennessean and circulated by Gannett-owned USA Today.  Written by freelance writer Maura Ammenheuser, the articles cite Mercy Ministries counselor Holly Fitzhenry as a credible source for eating disorders:

Eating disorders boom as kids enter college

 

Symptoms of eating disorders

 

Unfortunately, Mercy Ministries is a radical evangelical group that is well-documented for treating eating disorders with exorcism and prayers instead of providing their residents with doctors or proper medical treatment. Mercy Ministries is also documented as being anti-gay (and teaching young women that their sexual desires for the same sex are sinful and demonic), supported financially by Chick-Fil-A, and they boast of using end-time “prophets” instead of doctors to treat illnesses. They are neither credible or licensed to treat eating disorders.

In 2011, an article surfaced titled Suicide Bows its knee! Apostle Jane Hamon at Mercy Ministries. According to the article, Hamon visited the Monroe, Louisiana home of Mercy Ministries to prophecy over the residents-some of whom wanted to leave the program.

Mercy Ministries Home in Monroe, LA

The article explains:

“Today is the first day that I’m excited about my future,” said a young woman in Monroe, Louisiana last week.

Her excitement comes from her powerful transformation as God spoke prophetically to her through Apostle Jane Hamon.

One of dozens of girls being restored by Mercy Ministries of America, this young lady’s story is both incredible and a testimony of God’s life-giving prophetic word, according to Apostle Jane.

“Their lives are changed because God gives them a perspective,” said Apostle Jane. “God gives them hope that they can be whole for the future.”

The Monroe young woman had attempted suicide multiple times in her life, according to Apostle Jane.

“She said ‘All my life, every day, I’ve wanted to die,’” said Apostle Jane. But the prophetic word, which talked about a long life and her grandchildren, among other things, changed all that.
This message of life is common with many girls in Mercy Ministry homes. Apostle Jane, along with her daughter Crystal, ministered to about 50 Mercy girls in both Monroe, LA and St. Louis, MO last week, February 21-24th.

“Another young lady, from the St. Louis home, went to her counselors on Monday,” said Apostle Jane. “She told the counselors ‘I’m giving up. I’m going to go home, I’m going to overdose, and this time… I’m going to kill myself.’”

Since girls at Mercy are admitted on an at-will basis, they are free to leave whenever they want, according to Apostle Jane. But this St. Louis young lady’s counselors had some advice before she left.

“They told her, ‘Wait until Friday, until after Jane comes and ministers to you,’” said Apostle Jane. “Of course, [the counselors] never tell me anything about these girls.”

Through the prophetic word, God spoke to the St. Louis young lady about breaking her covenant with death, and that’s just what she did.

“She testified on Thursday and said ‘I’m so glad I stayed, and I’m so glad that I’m going to live,’” said Apostle Jane.

Such transformation is what draws Apostle Jane to continue ministering, at least once a year, at each of the US based Mercy Ministries homes, in spite of the challenges.

“It’s the hardest ministry I do during the year,” said Apostle Jane, who started visiting Mercy homes ten years ago. “If you don’t connect the girls’ hearts to God’s heart during the prophetic word, then they’ll go away more hopeless than before.”

“[Ministering at Mercy] is also the most exciting, most transforming, and most life-giving time,” said Apostle Jane, “because God is faithful to transform lives.”

Mercy Ministries, founded by Nancy Alcorn in 1983, helps transform the lives of women who have suffered abuse, addiction, eating disorders, self-harm and attempted suicide, among other things.

[Emphasis my own.]

***

 

The writer of The Tennessean articles (mentioned above and later circulated to USA Today) is Maura Ammenheuser, a wellness coach, personal trainer and fitness instructor from the Nashville, TN area whose largest publication prior to The Tennessean is Examiner.com (the equivalent of publishing on Craigslist for a writer) according to her LinkedIn account. Not exactly a well-qualified reporter, and certainly not one who has been with the paper for very long. Her articles first appear in The Tennessean this month.

But more important than who this shoddy reporter is, is who is Holly Fitzhenry and who is Mercy Ministries? As many of you know, I’ve done research on Mercy Ministries for the past year. They are infamous for using exorcism and high-pressure manipulation and tactics to treat eating disorders, depression, suicide, and sex trafficking. I’ve reported on them here and blogged about them here. You can also see more detailed accounts from former residents at the website Mercy Survivors.com.

Mercy Ministries is notorious for using unqualified counselors, who are neither licensed therapists or have degrees in psychology. In fact, most of Mercy Ministries counselors are women who have degrees in Bible studies and whose main qualifications are their “relationship in Christ” (according to Mercy Ministries website). Their website does not list a single staff member’s name or credential, and statements from former alumni back this allegation up. The girls weren’t ever given standard therapy–all of their therapy sessions were based on oppression, sin, and spiritual issues.

To further this point, Mercy Ministries own website clues the critical eye in on what’s really going on. Their counseling process “explores issues of faith, forgiveness, family, overcoming abuse and past hurts, and general life principals” are all code for ridding the girls of “generational curses” and “unforgiveness which leads to sin.”

Mercy Ministries counseling methods

[Image source: http://www.mercyministries.org/need_our_help/faqs.html]

The Christian-based counseling program called “Choices That Bring Change” is nearly identical to their exorcism manual “Restoring the Foundations.” According to former Mercy Ministries residents, the modules are the same, the prayers are the same and the processes are the same. Mercy Ministries has done what they do best–changed their press statements to erase the past and silence former residents who have been fighting a losing battle against Mercy for nearly a decade. But Mercy Survivors, a group of concerned former residents, won’t let Nancy Alcorn and her new image escape the long, dark history she has been trying to hide. Rightly so, since dozens more former residents join the Mercy Survivors group on a regular basis–seeking support from the other residents who feel deeply disturbed from their time at Mercy Ministries.

Mercy Survivors provided me with a copy of Choices that bring change. Click on the link to view the PDF. The counseling manual that Mercy Ministries uses is entirely made up of Bible verses. Not a single mention of therapy or medical standards for treating illness. As Mercy Survivors have indicated over and over, all illnesses and conditions are treated the same at Mercy Ministries. Eating disorders and mental illness are given the same prayers and neither are given medical attention. In fact, reports from former residents say that their anti-psychotic medications were actually taken from them upon entry into the program or they were weaned off of them; in some cases, causing the girls to attempt suicide.

Additional information about the original manual can be found here: Restoring the Foundations or here at the original website.

But, of course, Restoring the Foundations most interesting portion of the manual is the section about demonic oppression:

Demonic Oppression (DO)
Demonic oppression is almost always done last because the legal
ground given to the enemy is what results in demonic oppression.
Many Christians do not believe in demons, or that they can be saved
and yet oppressed by demons at the same time. However, the
concept is similar to sinning. A Christian can certainly sin and be a
Christian at the same time. If the legal ground is still there even as a
Christian, why can’t demons be there? Derek Prince once said
“Christians can have anything they want to.”, implying we can either
receive God’s blessings or be under oppression from demons. [Emphasis my own.]

Tim Brunero originally wrote about the exorcism manuals in 2008. More about those can be found on his blog and the entire article has been duplicated here.

According to reports by Brunero:

Mercy Ministries, which is bankrolled by the Pentecostal Hillsong Church, has previously denied performing exorcisms on residents.

The documents, obtained clandestinely by a girl who “escaped” the group’s clutches, shows counsellors how to rid ‘demons’ from girls struggling with anorexia, depression and drug addiction.

Mercy Ministries’ activities hit the headlines in March this year when former residents claimed they were subjected to exorcisms, were cut off from friends and family and had to sign over their Centrelink payments to the group.

Some of the young women say they had little or no access to the promised psychologists and other mental health professionals but were instead counselled by bible studies students whose solution to all problems was prayer…

The emergence of the exorcism handbook lends weight to other claims made by girls who went through the Mercy Ministries program.

Megan Smith (not her real name), who spoke to LIVENEWS.com.au earlier this year, said her panic attacks only got worse.

“I was self-harming,” she said.

“I was cutting my arm with anything I could get my hands on – scratching with anything from my nails to paper clips.

“I never really had a problem with self-harm beforehand. When you tell them about self-harming they said I was trying to get attention and I was taking their valuable time away from girls with real problems.”

Finally, she was subjected to an exorcism.

“The counsellor gave me a list of different demons – demon of anger, demon of unforgiveness, demon of pride, there were lots of them and I was told to go away and circle the demons I had in me or around me,” said Smith.

“I was really scared… they cast demons out of me, one by one, and they became quite excited and animated during the process, and spoke in tongues.

“It was the counsellors and myself and they put their hands on me and started praying one by one for each of the demons that were on the list to be cast out of me.

“After each demon was cast out I had to say ‘I confirm the demon of X has been cast out of me in the name of Jesus and is unwelcome to return.’

“The whole time I was there, all I heard was that I’m demonic.

“Even after the exorcism, when I had the next anxiety attack, I was told that they had already cast the demons out, so therefore I was obviously either faking it, or I had chosen to let the demons come back, in which case I was not serious about getting better.

“They kept telling us that the world can’t help us, professionals with all their ‘worldly qualifications’ can’t help us, only Mercy could because only they have God’s power.

“So when I was kicked out for being ‘demonic, unable to be helped, not worth a place at Mercy’ and because I had taken too long to pray to become a Christian… it left me worse than I had ever been before in my life.

“They told me I would never get better now because I had blown my chance. I started cutting my arms and wrists more than ever, with their voices echoing in my mind as I did it.”

Suicidal and self-harming after being removed from the program, which she now thought was her only hope, she went to see a “proper psychologist to prepare me to go back to Mercy to help me fit in better.”

“The psychologist had never heard of them but told me to stay away from them… that person helped me more in the 40 minute session – really listening to me and understanding me.”

[Emphasis my own.]

Sadly, after speaking with Mercy Survivors for a year, this story from 2008 could be the same as a girl who left the ministry in 2012. Nothing has changed, although Mercy Ministries would like to have the public think otherwise. Take for example, these new articles published by The Tennessean. The Tennessean was able to publish Ammenheuser’s articles in the USA Today because they are both owned by the Gannett Company, which means some shoddy articles quoting Mercy Ministries as a reputable source for facts about eating disorders are now all over the internet.

But Mercy Ministries’ Nancy Alcorn and Christy Singleton have been on a very expensive PR campaign to clean up their soiled image in an effort to do damage control since the new stories that hit early in 2012 claiming Mercy was still not providing girls with adequate medical or mental health care even after their Australia home was shut down by the Aussie government in 2008 for misrepresentation. The Mercy Survivors wrote extensively about it here and was able to get a screen shot of the since vanished, very recent, op-ed piece Mercy Ministries had published in The Tennessean:

Christy Singleton

 

Following the publication of this article, Mercy Survivors contacted the newspaper to inquire as to why The Tennessean had published an op-ed piece by the executive director of Mercy. The Mercy Survivors weren’t given a direct answer. The Editorial Editor, Ted Rayburn, instead insisted that Mercy Survivors furnish the name of the individual running the group in order to receive an answer as to why this article was published and why it was later removed along with dozens of other articles about Mercy Ministries. Why was Ted Rayburn intimidating a group of young women, instead of providing a direct answer? And why was Rayburn and The Tennessean covering up for Mercy Ministries and denying the public this information? Rayburn never provided an answer to Mercy Survivors. I also emailed The Tennessean and got no response. [Rayburn can be contacted at trayburn@tennessean.com.]

Around this same time, Mercy Survivors discovered that Mercy Ministries paid an editor to remove any traces of scandal from their Wikipedia page. If you know anything about Wikipedia, they have a moderator for each page and those moderators operate with strict guidelines and ethics. The Wikipedia moderator, Qworty, confirmed that Mercy had in fact paid the editor to remove all mention of any scandal.

So, The Tennessean’s attempt to pump up Mercy Ministries reputation as credible in the eating disorder “treatment” center category has failed. While the circulation in USA Today may seem to help Mercy Ministries now, the Gannett Company is in a for a rude awakening when Mercy Ministries is further outed for who they are and for their support of an exorcism-based “treatment” center.

Sadly, it’s the residents of Mercy Ministries who lose in all of this. Eating disorders are not only very serious conditions, but they can be deadly.

The Lincoln News Messenger wrote a 4 part investigation on Mercy Ministries in March, 2012 and the news editor followed up with this assessment of why Mercy Ministries lack of treatment for eating disorders could be deadly. She writes:

While it would be so much easier to take the 29-year-old organization at its word, we have to listen to what the fathers are saying. Because eating disorders are deadly. They have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness. A National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders study found that five to 10 percent of those with anorexia die within 10 years after the disease’s onset; 18 to 20 percent die after 20 years. Only 30 to 40 percent fully recover. That doesn’t include mortality statistics for those with bulimia or those who binge eat. “It’s a mental disorder but it affects the physical systems,” said Susie Roman, the National Eating Disorders Association’s program director. “It increases the rate of heart attacks, heart failure; the suicide rate is elevated for those who suffer. All your organ systems are affected.” Someone with an eating disorder might die without the appropriate medical treatment. Eight to 10 million girls and women and one million boys and men struggle today with this disease in the United States, according to Jennifer Lombardi, MFT, Summit Eating Disorders and Outreach Program’s chief admissions officer. Headquartered in Sacramento, Summit treats those with anorexia, bulimia and binge eating disorders in a medically supervised program. Summit is recognized by the national Joint Commission on Health Care Accreditation. The commission’s mission is “to continuously improve health care for the public … by evaluating health care organizations and inspiring them to excel in providing safe and effective care of the highest quality and value.” Mercy Ministries is not accredited with the commission. Christy Singleton, the Mercy Ministries executive director in Nashville, Tenn., told The News Messenger that her organization’s treatment does not involve doctors. The Lincoln facility has a registered nurse on site, according to Singleton. Mercy Ministries “includes biblically-based counseling and teaching, life skills training and transitional care services,” according to its website. It provides a “Christian residential program for young women who want help.” Its mission is “to provide opportunities for young women to experience God’s unconditional love, forgiveness, and life-transforming power.” For individuals with eating disorders, though, the Bible as doctor is not a viable treatment option. Medical hands-on treatment is imperative. “Treatment guidelines from the American Psychiatric Association recommend a medical component (a physician monitors the patient’s vital signs very closely because clients are high risk), a nutritional component (seeing a dietician at least once or twice weekly) and a therapeutic component (individual, couple and group therapy),” Lombardi said. Even health-related professionals don’t always know about the disease’s potentially fatal consequences. “We get referrals from professionals who don’t understand the risks involved because of the high mortality rate,” Lombardi said. “There are both short- and long-term consequences with cardiac issues, osteoporosis, tears in their esophagus. Professionals across the board don’t necessarily receive extensive training on eating disorders. For example, in my graduate program, the training on eating disorders was a 10-minute discussion. Just like any other area of specialization, it’s critical to obtain special training and continuing education.” Lombardi was referring to doctors and therapists. In Lincoln, Mercy Ministries employs a registered nurse, according to Singleton. However, the community relations manager in Lincoln refused to tell The News Messenger Tuesday if a nurse is on staff. Mercy Ministries has been in controversy before. In October 2009, Mercy Ministries Australia closed after ministry officials agreed to pay damages to residents. The Sydney Morning Herald in Australia ran an article Oct. 28, 2009 that said Mercy Ministries “prevented the residents gaining access to psychiatric care, choosing to focus on prayer, Christian counseling and exorcisms to “expel demons” from the young women, many of whom had serious psychiatric conditions such as bipolar disorder, anxiety and anorexia.” Sounds like déjà vu, just in Lincoln. For the sake of the residents, I hope Mercy Ministries’ leaders will incorporate medical treatment in their care. The residents’ lives depend on it.

 

Mercy Ministries New Public Relations Thrust

I’ve also been following Nancy Alcorn and Mercy Ministries for months, but particularly in the last few weeks because my “Dr. Watson” has been following some censorship that Mercy is deliberately doing. That, coupled with the trends I’ve noticed on my Google alerts, leads me to believe they’ve launched a new public relations thrust.

Another Sunday morning has arrived. I find myself in the habit of reading about fundamentalism on Sunday’s. Perhaps it’s because in a former life I was a fundamentalist, and now I’m obsessed with the trends, history, and rise of Christian nationalism. I’ve also been following Nancy Alcorn and Mercy Ministries for months, but particularly in the last few weeks because my “Dr. Watson” has been following some censorship that Mercy is deliberately doing. That, coupled with the trends I’ve noticed on my Google alerts, leads me to believe they’ve launched a  new public relations thrust.

Here are the new PR developments from Mercy Ministries in recent weeks/months:

I always give a cursory glance to my Google alerts on related topics, so I thought I noticed that Mercy Ministries has been posting their press releases on multiple Mercy Ministries/Nancy Alcorn websites which didn’t exist as independent websites before. As it turns out, they have already owned the following domain names since 2008 but only in 2012 have they created distinct websites out of them and added new content. It looks like up until recently, all of Nancy Alcorn blog postings were based on the nancyalcorn.blogspot.com website and these individual domain names below were redirected to nancyalcorn.blogspot.com (Nancy’s blog), which means none of these domain names would show up prominently on Google’s front page listing for Nancy Alcorn. Now her blog has been permanently moved to nancyalcorn.com. But in 2010 and 2011, all the following sites went to the blogspot account above as indicated below:

Now click on any of them below. They look like separate websites and none of them redirect to a single site.

nancyalcorn.com

nancyalcorn.net

nancyalcorn.org

nancyalcorn.me

nancyalcorn.us

That’s all I’ve found for now, but I’m not going to scour the web past the 2nd page of Google because we all know that’s where the vampires hide (page 3 and beyond). But I did want to point out to you that Nancy Alcorn has four new websites. For those of you who aren’t web savvy, it’s just a way for Nancy’s version of her history (minus the scandal) to remain at the top of Google searches for Nancy Alcorn instead of finding Mercy Survivors stories or The Truth about Mercy or the dozens of articles from Australia, the Nashville Scene and Lincoln Messenger.

And then, there’s the new url: http://mmoa.convio.net/site/PageNavigator/MercyTalk_Homepage.html. How do I know it’s new? Well, here’s a good indicator plus the science of deduction (Sorry, I’m recently obsessed with BBC’s Sherlock.):

For any survivors reading, take a closer look at the “mmoa” part. Of course, we all know what this means and if not, here’s a bit of history: it’s code for Mercy Ministries (the entity which is legally liable for the Australia scandals and the Lincoln, CA home controversy) trying to distance themselves from the controversies in 2008 and early 2012–something we won’t let them live down and will relentlessly document. Sorry, MM. You can attempt to erase history, but the internet is forever. Not to mention, screen shots are GREAT backup. Are you that uninformed and out of touch? We may not spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on marketing, but we know our shit.

Apparently, Mercy Ministries wishes to call their homes “affiliates” now, which would possibly absolve Nancy Alcorn of any ties to the scandals that will inevitably come out of the homes although it cannot erase her contributions to the past since that’s been documented with the government in Australia.

Here is a link from the ACCC (Australian Competition and Consumer Commission) indicating that Mercy Ministries was involved:

Undertakings remedy Mercy Ministries misleading conduct (Excerpt: The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has obtained court enforceable undertakings, which includes payment, from seven former directors of Mercy Ministries Incorporated and/or Mercy Ministries Limited in relation to misrepresentations by those entities. The undertakings include an apology and a voluntary payment of $1050 to those people affected by the conduct. These are made by former directors Mark Zschech, Peter Irvine, Mark Caldwell, Stephen Crouch, Young Pil (Phil) Sohn, Darlene Zschech and Clark Pearson.)

In 2009, Mercy Ministries International, Inc. mentions the Australia homes in their IRS Form 990 here whereby they show that they assisted them with operating costs in 2008 and that Mercy Ministries, Ltd was set up as a holding company (which limits the liability of the Mercy Ministries “brand”) to support the dwindling down of the operations of the Australia home:

 

The entire Form 990 is here but a snapshot of the first page indicates that Nancy Alcorn is president.

 

So, while it may be true that Nancy did not live in Australia running this particular home, many former residents said Nancy played a large role in the Australia homes–as much as she does in the U.S. homes. What Nancy doesn’t realize is that when her leadership and teachings and books are the core of the home and the brand, she’s inherently tied to them no matter what sort of subsidiaries she sets up. She founded the homes. She visits the homes. Her books are the core…it’s a small level of legal protection which may work in her favor in the future. I’m sure she was advised to do this and continue to distance herself from the Hillsong debacle, even though we have documented evidence that Hillsong dropped Mercy/Nancy first.

Check out the new Wikipedia entry that mentions MMOA (Mercy Ministries of America), the affiliates and the brand, which is not entirely new language but language that has only been recently adopted for public use:

Mercy Ministries marketing department has been very busy from the above influx of new Nancy Alcorn websites, their newly established terminology of “affiliates” and Mercy Ministries of America and the press release op-ed written by executive director Christy Singleton that the Tennessean published. Oh and did I mention the above Wikipedia entry was edited BY someone Mercy Ministries hired called DownRightMighty? Mercy Survivors will be publishing a comprehensive breakdown soon but I’m terrible at keeping surprises quiet so I just had to share the above along with what the Wikipedia moderator said of DownRightMighty’s promotional edits (that included promoting MMOA, “affiliates”, and erased much of the mention of the scandal/controversy):

 

And the Mercy Ministries user was banned:

 

Let’s remember what the goal of public relations is: “The aim of public relations by a company often is to persuade the public, investors, partners, employees, and other stakeholders to maintain a certain point of view about it, its leadership, products, or of political decisions.” (Wiki) Mercy Ministries public relations is on overdrive right now trying to work hard on erasing the damage that was done earlier in the year. Sure, we’ve been quiet, but we haven’t forgotten.

 

UPDATE: Mercy Survivors has detailed the history of censorship from Mercy Ministries of anyone who is critical of the ministry. Read more here.

My Promise to You

Some emails I get are quite predictable:

“You’re bitter.”

you bitter hoes can't stop me

 

“Get over it.”

 

“Move on with your life.”

“When are you going to be satisfied?”

This last question is one I can finally answer. I’ll be satisfied when enrollment is so low in Summit School of Leadership and Master’s Commission and Mercy Ministries…and all the other groups I write about…that they are forced to shut down. That’s the simple answer.

You can question me all you want. You can think nasty things about me. But I can guarantee you one thing: I won’t stop until I’ve accomplished this, so you can sit back and watch the fireworks and enjoy the ride or you can get your panties in a bundle and hate me.

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.

 

They prayed to cast Satan from my body

Rhiannon Canham-Wright ... attended a Mercy Ministries program. Photo: Kate Geraghty

[This article originally posted in the Sydney Morning Herald. I’m reposting for educational purposes under Fair Use to bring light to new allegations that Mercy Ministries, International has continued abusing young women. If you have any new information regarding this program, please email Lisa Kerr at mycultlife@gmail.com.]

Ruth Pollard
March 17, 2008

THEY call themselves the Mercy Girls. And after years of searching they have found each other.

Bound by separate, damaging experiences at the hands of an American-style ministry operating in Sydney and the Sunshine Coast, these young women have clawed their way back to begin a semblance of a life again.

Desperate for help, they had turned to Mercy Ministries suffering mental illness, drug addiction and eating disorders.

Do you know more? Message 0424 SMS SMH ( +61 424 767 764 ) or email us with information or images.

Instead of the promised psychiatric treatment and support, they were placed in the care of Bible studies students, most of them under 30 and some with psychological problems of their own. Counselling consisted of prayer readings, treatment entailed exorcisms and speaking in tongues, and the house was locked down most of the time, isolating residents from the outside world and sealing them in a humidicrib of pentecostal religion.

At 21, Naomi Johnson was a young woman with a bright future, halfway through a psychology degree at Edith Cowan University, working part-time and living an independent, social life.

Yet she was plagued by anorexia.

With her family’s modest means and her part-time job there was no way she could afford to admit herself into the one private clinic in Perth that specialised in adults with eating disorders.

They had no private health insurance, and there were no publicly funded services in the state. So after much research Johnson found a link to Mercy Ministries on the internet.

Months passed as she devoted herself to going through the application process, pinning all her hopes on what appeared to be a modern, welcoming facility, backed by medical, psychiatric and dietitian support.

She flew to Sydney, thousands of kilometres away from her family and friends, and entered the live-in program.

Nine months later she was expelled, a devastated, withdrawn child who could not leave her bedroom, let alone her house.

Nine months without medical treatment, nine months without any psychiatric care, nine months of being told she was not a good enough Christian to rid herself of the “demons” that were causing her anorexia and pushing her to self-harm. After being locked away from society for so long, Naomi started to believe them. “I just felt completely hopeless. I thought if Mercy did not want to help me where do I stand now?

“They say they take in the world’s trash, so what happens when you are Mercy trash?”

Two months after she had been expelled from Mercy’s Sydney house (her crime was to smoke a cigarette) Johnson ended up in Royal Perth Hospital’s psychiatric unit. From there she started seeing a psychologist at an outpatient program two to three times a week.

“Even now, three years on, I don’t socialise widely, I don’t work full time, I don’t study full time. Even now there is still a lot of remnants hanging around from my time at Mercy.

“The first psychologist I saw rang and spoke to Mercy. She wrote to them over a period of time, just trying to get answers. They were very evasive; they avoided her calls. Eventually she got some paperwork, some case notes, from them.”

Mercy Ministries made the psychologist sign a waiver that she wouldn’t take these notes to the media before they would release them. Johnson has signed no such waiver and, months ago, she posted her notes on the internet, almost as a warning to other young women considering a stint at Mercy Ministries.

Yet for so long she just wanted to go back to the Sydney house, because they had convinced her that Mercy was the only place that could help her.

“It is difficult to explain, in a logical sense. I know how very wrong the treatment, their program and their approach is, but the wounds are still quite deep, and even though I know that they were wrong, there is still a part of you that just even now wants to be accepted by Mercy.”

In the northern suburbs of Perth, in a large, one-storey home bordered by a well-tended cottage garden, the Johnson family is attempting to pick up the pieces of a life almost cut short by Mercy.

With two fox terriers at her feet and doors and windows shut against the relentless Western Australian heat, Johnson – a small, delicate young woman with a razor sharp mind – unveils a sophisticated, nuanced interpretation of her time in the Sydney house.

Careful and articulate, her struggle with the horror of her descent into despair at the hands of Mercy is only evidenced by the occasional tremor in her hands and voice as she describes her experience. She was sharing the house with 15 other girls and young women, with problems ranging from teenage pregnancies, alcohol and drug abuse, self harm, depression, suicidal thoughts and eating disorders.

“There were girls who had got messed up in the adult sex industry – a real range of problems, some incorporating actual psychiatric illness, others just dealing with messy lives, and the approach to all those problems was the same format,” Johnson says.

Counselling involved working through a white folder containing pre-scripted prayers.

“Most of the staff were current Bible studies or Bible college students, and that is it, if anything. You just cannot play around with mental illness when you do not know what you are doing. Even professionals will acknowledge that it is a huge responsibility working in that field, and that is people who have six years, eight years university study behind them.”

And while there was nothing that was formally termed “exorcism” in the Sydney house, Naomi was forced to stand in front of two counsellors while they prayed and spoke in tongues around her. In her mind, it was an exorcism. “I felt really stupid just standing there – they weren’t helping me with the things going on in my head. I would ask staff for tools on how to cope with the urges to self harm … and the response was: ‘What scriptures are you standing on? Read your Bible.”

Johnson had grown up in a Christian family; her belief in God was not the issue; anorexia and self harm were. “A major sticking point was when they told me I needed to receive the holy Spirit in me and speak in tongues, to raise my hands in worship songs and jump up and down on the spot in fast songs. I told them that I really didn’t understand how jumping up and down to a fast song at church was going to fix the anorexia, and yet that was a big, big sticking point, because it showed I was being resistant, cynical and holding back.”

Her mother, Julie Johnson, watches as she talks, anxious about the effect of her daughter’s decision to tell her story, yet immensely proud of her courage.

“Naomi was very determined to find somewhere that could help her. We didn’t have private health cover, so our resources were limited, so she searched the net and came across Mercy Ministries,” Julie Johnson says.

“It sounded very promising … she went off to Mercy a very positive young lady who finally had some hope that she was going to come back completely free of this eating disorder.”

And the family was excited, too, pleased that there was someone who could help their daughter beat anorexia. “But unfortunately it didn’t work out that way. They gave her hope and told her they would never give up on her but … in the end she got quite distraught that she was never able to please them.”

Johnson sent her parents a letter telling them she was not very well and that she was very confused with the kind of program Mercy Ministries was running.

“I called and spoke to her counsellor in person,” Julie Johnson said. “She told me that Naomi was lying to me, that Naomi was just rebelling … she was making the wrong choices.”

But instead of taking her mother’s concerns on board, the staff punished Naomi for disclosing anything about her time at the Sydney home.

“They told me that what happens in Mercy stays in Mercy, that what happens between the staff and Naomi stays at Mercy. It is not let out to the family,” Julie Johnson said. “We were isolated, we were not involved in her progress at Mercy, we were just excluded and yet we were a family that wanted to be behind her and they wouldn’t allow us to be.”

The situation came to a head when Johnson returned to the Sydney house after spending Christmas with her family in Perth. She was told she had been seen smoking at the airport and that she was being expelled from the program. Naomi phoned her mother in tears, and the staff informed her they were putting her on the next plane back to Perth.

“She was distraught; she was an absolute mess; her life was in danger. I could hear it, she was capable of anything, the anxiety was so extreme … she was just out of control,” Julie Johnson said. “I said to them, ‘There is no way you are going to send her

back on her own, she is suicidal. You will deliver her to me at the airport when I can get a flight over’.”

Mrs Johnson flew to Sydney to collect her daughter.

“She went into that place as a young lady and came back to us as a child. She was very confused, like she was 12 or 13. She shut herself in the bedroom and thought she was nothing but evil. Her self-esteem went down. She thought, ‘I may as well die.”‘

Johnson, now 24, and her mother, know how close the end had been.

The executive manager of programs with Mercy Ministries, Judy Watson, is proud of the organisation’s achievements, and rejects the claim that there are no staff qualified in psychiatry, psychology or counselling.

It appears that there is one registered psychologist at Mercy’s Sydney house, although the Herald understands that the little contact she has with the residents is around scriptures, not psychological care. She did not respond to a request for an interview.

In a written statement, Watson said: “Mercy Ministries counselling staff are required to have tertiary education and qualifications in counselling, social work or psychology. Staff also participate in externally provided supervision from psychologists.”

Yet she was unable to detail what qualifications each staff member had, or how many had qualifications beyond their one registered psychologist.

On the allegations that young women are denied medical and psychiatric care, Watson had this to say: “Residents’ mental and physical health concerns are taken very seriously, and appropriate treatment is made available.

“Mercy Ministries provides a range of services to young women in the program. Mercy Ministries provides services through either health professionals employed by Mercy Ministries, subcontracted to provide services to residents at Mercy Ministries, or taken to specialists at their practice.”

Rhiannon Canham-Wright and Megan Smith (not her real name) are two others who have suffered at the hands of Mercy Ministries, this time in the group’s Sunshine Coast house.

Smith had also been at university before she went into the Mercy Ministries house. She had been diagnosed with anxiety disorder and obsessive compulsive disorder, and thought a residential program with medical and psychiatric care would help get her illnesses under control. Yet almost from the moment she arrived she began to struggle.

Sitting in the courtyard of a cafe in a large, central Queensland town, as storm clouds gathered above, she told her story in a soft, quiet voice. Like Johnson, she is fiercely intelligent and articulate, focused and determined. She described her mental illness growing quickly out of control the longer she was subjected to the cruel, illogical treatment in the Sunshine Coast house.

“I was pulling my hair out – it’s a condition called trichotillomania,” said Smith, now 29. “However, it wasn’t bad before Mercy. I let the staff know about it because suddenly it had got a lot worse. Instead of taking me to the doctor to where I could have got assessed and got some medication, they just told me to forget about it.”

Her condition worsened without treatment, but she had no way of getting any medical care because the house was locked down most of the time.

“To take the rubbish bin out to the footpath we had to get special permission. If we stepped over the boundary we were kicked out of the program because it was treated as absconding. Even to go to the toilet or brush our teeth we had to have specific permission. It was such a sterile environment. We were not allowed to talk about our feelings, there was no family support, no friend’s support, and no professional support.”

Before long, Smith began to harm herself in other ways. Again she alerted the staff to her concerns. They reprimanded her for wasting their time, calling her a “fruitcake”, she said.

“The [staff member] said I was attention seeking, bringing negative energy to the environment and taking her valuable time away from girls who really need her.

“With this particular staff member, I know she had issues in the past, because she used to talk about it with the girls. She was open about it because she thought that was how God qualified her for the work that she did.

“But she had mood swings and anger problems. She would go from calm and normal to aggressively angry very quickly.”

Again, there was no medical treatment, just Bible studies and prayer reading, relentless cleaning and many rules that were often only revealed to residents when they broke one of them.

“I went to a residential place that said they help people with mental illness using qualified professionals, [instead] going there took away my help. Even the GP they took me to to get my prescriptions filled was their GP, who they said had been specifically chosen because they were supportive of ‘the Mercy way’. I wasn’t allowed to talk to the doctor by myself; they had a staff member or volunteer with us at all times.”

Asked to name the most valuable thing she learned in Mercy Ministries, she said, without hesitation and with much mirth: “cleaning”.

“I am no domestic goddess, so I needed all the help I could get.”

In both the Sydney and the Sunshine Coast house residents were prohibited from talking about their past, what brought them to Mercy, their struggles and problems.

“We were threatened with being kicked out if we did disclose anything,” Smith said. “It was a lot to do with control and manipulation, and it just shows that they did have that power over us. We could have talked and rebelled but we were so scared of them and just so desperate for help.

“I was really sucked in. That was my world; it was locked down 24/7, so anything the staff said I believed to be the truth.”

By the time Smith was expelled from Mercy, three months into her six-month stay, she was a mess. She was locked in a room and told she was not worth helping, she said, then driven to the airport and left alone to wait for a flight to her central Queensland home.

A family member met her at the airport. He had been told, incorrectly, by Mercy staff that Smith had chosen to leave. He was unprepared for the state she was in when she arrived.

“She was extremely upset. She didn’t want to come back at all … she was in a real mess,” said the relative, who did not want to be identified. “I was extremely fearful that she was likely to commit suicide. It was an extreme shock that this ministry we all had decided was the real deal had turned out to be a worse problem … it left her in a worse state than she had ever been in before.”

For two years just keeping her alive became a full-time job, he said. “Whenever she was alone for any length of time it was always a fear that she may not be alive when you got back. When you did get back there were quite a lot of times when she had a knife and she had been scratching her wrists.”

Since then Smith has received effective psychological care and is no longer at risk of self-harm or suicide. After more than a year of searching the internet, she found one other woman who had been at Mercy, using the social networking site Facebook. That is Canham-Wright, 26, another former resident of the Sunshine Coast house.

Canham-Wright, now living in Darwin with her daughter, 1, and her partner, describes every day as a struggle since she was thrown out of Mercy, after living there from July 2003 until the following March.

She had gone into Mercy Ministries just after her 21st birthday following a drug overdose and suffering bipolar disorder. Soon after she was in conflict with staff over her regular medication.

Canham-Wright has asthma, and yet she was prevented from having her ventolin with her at all times, she said.

“Every time I had an asthma attack they told me to stop acting … I was punished, I had to do an assignment about why God believes that lying is wrong.

“I was told, ‘You still have demons to battle with. Satan still has a huge control over your life. That is when the exorcism and the prayers over my life started.”

She got to the point where she no longer knew herself or what she believed in.

“They would call me into their office, saying that I was just make-believing and trying to get attention, and they would start praying over me. They would always pray for Satan to be dismissed out of my body.”

Every night there was a prayer meeting. “When someone wanted to have something prayed about in particular, we would all have to lay hands and the staff member … would perform an exorcism.”

You will find a donation box and pamphlet in every Gloria Jeans store soliciting donations for Mercy Ministries. “Your spare change helps transform a life,” the pamphlet reads.

Yet few who donate to Mercy understand they are giving money to fund exorcisms in a program that removes young women from proven medical therapies and places them in the hands of a house full of amateur counsellors. Its literature claims to have a 90 per cent success rate – yet nowhere does it publish any results.

The allegations by Johnson, Canham-Wright, Smith and others indicates the program cannot lay claim to such a success rate.

The internet is littered with other young women making similar allegations about the Mercy Ministries program.

One young woman wrote in January: “I have been to Mercy Ministries – I have seen so many girls hurt and abused there, it is really sickening. Many girls are also kicked out and leave there far worse off than before they went to get help.”

Another replied: “Mercy Ministries operates off the grid, and therefore can abuse and harm young women who go there.”

And yet Mercy continues to operate without the scrutiny of government authorities, under the radar and with impunity.

 

Gloria Jeans Coffee Supports Gay Conversion Program

[This article originally posted here at AfterEllen. We’re reposting here for educational purposes. Mercy Ministries has been continuing their abuse since 2008. It’s been rumored that Gloria Jeans coffee has ceased funding Mercy Ministries, but I do not have confirmation of that.  If you have any new information regarding this program, please email Lisa Kerr at mycultlife@gmail.com.]

I just want to bring this to everybody’s attention. Gloria Jeans is an international coffee chain akin to Starbucks. They are partnered closely with Mercy Ministries, a Christian-based (admittedly) anti-choice organization that also “treats” girls who struggle with eating disorders, self-harm, depression, etc. Gloria Jeans claims they are not closely linked and only count MM among many of a number of local charities that they support. However, the Fall Issue of the Mercy Ministires USA magazine (pp.4-5) contains an article about how closely the two are connected.

Here are some links about it:

Gloria Jean’s Coffees Under Fire

Ad Banned: The Price of Homophobia

Ex-gay Group Targets Aussie Lesbians

They Prayed to Cast Satan From My Body

As a former US resident I can attest that all the allegations are true, and that they count homosexuality as an illness brought on by “demonic oppression” and must be “cast out”. (No, I am not making this stuff up. I wish I were.)

Most of MM’s other corporate sponsors have pulled away from them, but through all of this Gloria Jeans maintains it’s plans to financially support Mercy Ministries. Please don’t give Gloria Jeans your business!

From the latest edition of MM online magazine:

“In addition to the fundraising weekends and money boxes on each Gloria Jean’s Coffee counter, each company employee is educated on the work and vision of Mercy Ministries.”