Mercy Ministries Anti-Gay Message; Archaic “Treatment”

Mercy Ministries runs a supposedly very successful “group home” or “treatment center” in various cities around the country and the world. They are an international success among some Christian believers which is why hundreds of women are on the waiting list (according to a Mercy insider).

However, just like many fundamentalist Christian groups Mercy has a very hateful message to lesbian young women who attend the program:

Being gay is a sin and could be a “root cause” of your mental disorder. 

As their website states:

The root cause, in a Christian program like Mercy is typically a manufactured sin that the program leaders and related ministers have concocted.

What exactly is a manufactured sin? Evangelical fringe leaders often teach ideologies that are damaging: like “purity” and “abstinence” programs, anti-gay messages which are similar to the 1950’s messages that being gay was a mental disorder.

 

I own a book that I picked up from a used bookstore in North Hollywood, CA called The Problem with Homosexuality by Charles Berg, M.D. and Clifford Allen, M.D. These were actual professionals in the late 50’s who literally believed homosexuality was a problem–much like Mercy Ministries does. Mercy doesn’t just believe being gay is a sin; but that it’s a “root cause” of something much deeper and much more problematic.

Mercy Ministries is part of the Evangelical movement that Joyce Meyer and Dave Ramsey are part of. If those ties don’t phase  you, we’ve got to look a bit closer. A few weeks ago, I noticed the Healing Place Church and Dino Rizzo on Nancy’s list of recommended ministries. There was also mention of (and a link to) Steve and Jennifer Robinson’s church and ministry. Interestingly enough, my own cult has ties to both of these pastors: Steve Robinson and Dino Rizzo. My former pastor, Daniel Jones, who I write about here is an abusive pastor. When I was beginning to find how to report the abuse, I reached out to Dino Rizzo hoping that he’d act as a liason and support the victims.

He did not.

After finding that correlation, I now know where Mercy stands in the Evangelical circle. I know the ideology, the teachings, the messages behind the sermons Nancy preaches. (Does anyone find it ODD that a “treatment center” would have  preacher for it’s founder, president and leader? No medical, organizational, or psychological qualifications here. She is not a social worker or even an activist for young women contrary to her “Christian” image.)

Mercy Ministries is just a sermon, it’s not help. Mercy brainwashes young women into “loving Jesus” and “bearing good fruit.” This is their coercive way of theologically “fighting” mental illness and eating disorders.

Anyone can tell you that eating disorders and mental illness do not get treated or solved by Jesus or a sermon. They require professional medical help. In fact, some professionals would argue that bringing young women into a center to claim treatment and denying them medical attention could be much more potent than just “wrong” or unethical.

However, if you operate on 1950’s medical and psychological ideas, which Mercy does, it’s understandable why girls would be taught that their disorders are their problem and they are to blame. This is unethical and even if Mercy claims they are not a medical facility, they are lying. According to survivors of this program, Mercy represented otherwise.

In the book The Problem of Homosexuality, the authors begin their argument by saying this:

homosexuality [is] an abomintion in the eyes of the Lord…

Now that statement isn’t what you would expect from a doctor is it? Nor is it what you’d expect from a “treatment center” like Mercy Ministries which promises young women that they will be cured.

Mercy’s residents weren’t all gay. In fact, many of the girls were straight and were reaching out to the program because they thought they would be getting legitimate care. However, those girls who were troubled with mental disorders or eating disorders and were gay, were accused of harboring “sin” which was the cause of their illness. Mercy was regurgitating the ideas about homosexuality from the 1950’s. Perhaps their “medical” treatment was just as outdated.

What I’m saying is that however archaic and hate-filled Mercy’s message is to young women, it’s completely abusive and psychologically destructive. This program needs to be shut down before a young woman dies from their maltreatment.

 

 

 

Healing Place Pastor Founder Resigns; Affair Cover Up Suspected

What Healing Place church members don’t know is that Dino Rizzo is most likely still taking their money. According to the Secretary of State’s site, there have been no amendments to any of the non-profits listed removing Dino or DeLynn Rizzo. In fact, no changes have been made since 2009. If Dino had really resigned, wouldn’t he have been removed from HPC and the ministries entirely?

Healing Place Church founder Dino Rizzo has stepped down from his job as pastor claiming need of a sabbatical.

Yesterday, I reported the story here but since the writing of that story, more church leaders have come forward to confirm the already existing allegations. What The Advocate isn’t telling you, is that Dino Rizzo and a former intern Kaycee Morgan Smith allegedly had an affair, according to reports from church leaders who were told this in a meeting Sunday. Leaders were duped into thinking Dino would admit his affair on Sunday to the church; however, Dino never read a statement according to sources. Instead leaders believe Dino provided a smokescreen to cover up the scandal and his leadership followed suit.

The Advocate reported tha he said this:

“We feel it is best that we step down as pastors today,” Dino Rizzo told several thousand church members gathered in the spacious arena sanctuary during the first of two Sunday morning services.

DeLynn Rizzo stood next to her husband while he addressed the church members.

“We feel God is moving us into a new season,” he said without disclosing what future plans the couple might have.

“Our hearts are forever marked by your faith, your love and your generosity,” Dino Rizzo told the silent crowd.

If reports are correct, then why did Dino lie to his church congregation? What does Dino have to lose by outing himself and coming clean? A lot of money, it seems. Money the IRS may or may not know about, since some of the non-profit corporations in Dino’s name are not in good standing for failure to file an annual report.
Dino Rizzo is listed as Director, Treasurer, and Vice-President (and other titles) to sixteen different organizations.

La Sec

 

Screen shot from the Secretary of State’s website September 18th, 2012 (10 am)

The first corporation on the list is listed as “not in good standing for failure to file an annual report” according to the Secretary of State’s website.

HHminitries

One of Dino Rizzo’s ministries

What Healing Place church members don’t know is that Dino Rizzo is still listed as an officer. According to the Secretary of State’s site, there have been no amendments to any of the non-profits listed removing Dino or DeLynn Rizzo. In fact, no changes have been made since 2009. If Dino had really resigned, wouldn’t he have been removed from HPC and the ministries entirely?

It appears that Dino is still legally tied to Healing Place Church and the fifteen other non-profit corporations. What we don’t know is how much money is there? If church members or the public were interested in knowing, they might tackle this by going to the IRS and filing a whistleblower claim. It pays well, according to a New York Times article, one whistleblower earned a $104 million dollar reward. Another option for former interns would be to consult a lawyer about HPC’s promise of ministry training and a possible violation of Quid Pro Quo Contributions. Interns in HPC’s School of Ministry get tangible benefits from their “donations” to the church. This means they aren’t really donations at all.
History repeats itself. There was another infamous minister whose world came crashing down over a sex affair, and in a bit of irony, he was also attached to the Los Angeles Dream Center. His name is Jim Bakker. It took a woman named Jessica Hahn’s allegations of Jim raping her for the ministry to start unraveling. According to Wikipedia,

Following a 16-month Federal grand jury probe, Bakker was indicted in 1988 on eight counts of mail fraud, 15 counts of wire fraud and one count of conspiracy. In 1989, after a five-week trial which began on August 28 in Charlotte, the jury found him guilty on all 24 counts, and Judge Robert Potter sentenced him to 45 years in federal prison and a $500,000 fine.

The New York Times says this: “Judge Potter’s defenders cite a presentence memo in which prosecutors assert that Mr. Bakker actually used fraudulent appeals to raise $158 million.”
A non-profit called PRC Compassion is also something to look into, since federal funds were given to the non-profit corporation for Hurricane Katrina relief. One wonders how much of the federal funds were actually given to those in need and how much was put in the pockets of the officers: Gene Mills, Dino Rizzo and Daniel Jones (all large ministry leaders).
With Bakker, it wasn’t just an affair. Could it be the same with Dino Rizzo? I have a feeling once I post this, HPC will begin to do a quick cover up and destroy any documents that the IRS would need. My advice to HPC or ARC leaders or members who read this is to come clean. Don’t cover up the scandal. You owe your parishioners honesty at the very least. Not to mention, withholding crucial information from federal investigators is fraud as former Banker, Bradley C. Birkenfeld learned:

During the investigation Mr. Birkenfeld was charged with fraud for withholding crucial information from federal investigators, including details of his top client, the property developer Igor Olenicoff. Mr. Birkenfeld was sentenced to 40 months in prison, and was released early on Aug. 1.

More on the Dino Rizzo affair and resignation: 

Rizzo Resigns As Healing Place Pastor; Rumors Of Affair Surface

Dino Rizzo From Healing Place Church Puts His House Up For Sale

Megachurch Pastor Dino Rizzo Returns to Ministry After Affair

Here’s What People Are Saying About Dino Rizzo’s Affair Cover-Up

An Email from a Dino Rizzo Fan