Brainwashing Your Sins Away

Kidnapped for Christ – We watched this documentary last night mostly because Beth was struck by the title while browsing the premium channel listings. The cable package we got allows us to get those channels for a limited period of time, but for some reason doesn’t include Comedy Central. Anyway, the documentary was incredibly disturbing, detailing an institution in the Dominican Republic called Escuela Caribe, described as a Christian reform school. Parents who thought their kids needed extreme discipline would send them there, where they were repeatedly abused both physically and emotionally by people claiming to represent Christian love. The film told the stories of several of the inmates, but focused most heavily on David Wernsman, who as far as I could tell was a good student sent there solely because he was gay. While apparently his parents have since come to terms with his homosexuality and feel guilty for sending him to re-education camp, I think he mentioned something in the film about how they originally told him they couldn’t love a gay son. What I want to know is how anyone with an attitude like that (and it’s really quite common) isn’t automatically considered abusive and probably mentally ill. Freedom of religion only goes so far. If someone tried to sacrifice their son on top of a mountain, they’d probably be arrested, even though they’re just following the example of a Biblical patriarch. So why is child abuse acceptable when you can use religion to justify it? One girl was at Escuela Caribe due to trauma partially resulting from her being raped, and another was so brainwashed by it that after leaving she claimed it saved her life. Some of the students there might have had genuine behavioral problems, but is the best way to deal with such things really sending them out of the country to some isolated place where they’re broken down and made to submit to psychotic authority? The filmmaker, Kate Logan, was (perhaps still is) an evangelical Christian who initially just wanted to find out what happened at the school, but soon came to realize just how crazy it was. While Escuela Caribe has since closed, there are a bunch of other places like it, most subject to very little government regulation. Part of the movie concerned how some of David’s friends, who had no idea what had happened to him when he disappeared, tried to get him released when he was eighteen and were ultimately unsuccessful. When he finally did get out, he was initially afraid of the school or his parents taking legal action, and it was some time before he was again willing to talk to his old friends or to the filmmakers. How much do you want to bet that the same people who are accepting of such indoctrination because it’s supposedly Biblical would be horrified if it were done in the name of Islam or communism instead?

This entry was posted in Christianity, Education, Fundamentalism, Prejudice, Religion, VoVat Goes to the Movies and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Brainwashing Your Sins Away

  1. Joe says:

    Horrible, but good that it was exposed. From an American perspective, there’s a great documentary called “For the Bible Tells Me So” about six different kids who came out to conservative Christian families and how that turned out.

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