Friday, November 18, 2011
Saturday, October 15, 2011
Christian School Confidential
a fundamental satire
Authored by Dwayne Walker
Sarah Starr teaches fifth grade English at Diadem Christian Academy in the desert town of Crane City, California. Adam, her husband, is pursuing a masters in biblical studies when both learn troubling news. Chelsea, their daughter, claims Dr. Roger Bunyan, Jr, founder of Diadem Baptist College and pastor of their church, has molested her.
Sarah and Adam want to do the right thing by scripture. Instead of withdrawing her from Diadem Christian Academy, they keep Chelsea at DCA to teach her that Christians can resolve their conflicts in a godly manner.
Sarah's odyssey takes her on an insane journey into the absurdities of fundamentalism, internet advocacy, politics, entertainment and mass media evangelism. In the grand tradition of Terry Southern and Gore Vidal!
Click here to order.
Sunday, September 4, 2011
Left: Lester Roloff as he appears in my high school yearbook.
Anderson Cooper 360 did a two part segment called 'Ungodly Discipline' about life in the fundamentalist girl's home, Hephzibah House. It included a violent description of a forced gynecological exam by an unlicensed HH worker, the practice of shunning, talking about how you're not going to make it in the outside world and how authorities just do not want to step across the boundaries into the hurdles of parental law and church/state separation.
This is not limited to Hephzibah House, or even the IFB movement. There are many teen lockdown facilities, accused of abusive tactics, across the country. Some have been endorsed by people ranging from Dr. Phil to Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.
Independent Fundamental Baptists occupy a special rung in the Inferno for their creative use of the teen behavioral modification industry. Many of the homes are classified as ministries of churches. That way, few will challenge their abusive tactics because government officials do not want to be seen allegedly broaching the wall of separation of church and state.
Is this hypocritical or what? The same people who called 'separation of church and state' a lie from the devil whenever their rights to proselytize in public schools are challenged are now digging that phrase back up to hide decades of abuse.
Lester Roloff was mentioned in the Anderson Cooper report. I remember a week long revival in my church, Trinity Baptist of Jacksonville, Florida, that was held by Roloff. A banner with the words 'separation of church and state' was stretched across the auditorium.
When I look back to my Christian school days, it's difficult to forget the revival meetings conducted by Lester Roloff. His meetings usually turned into sing a longs. Perfect when logic or reason won't hold the congregation's attention!
I could never figure out his cues to the girls! It seemed his girls would jump up and sing at a moment's notice before Roloff started singing. Did they work this out prior to the meeting? Were the Roloff girls able to absorb the thoughts of their leader the same way the women who followed Charles Manson were able to cue their courtroom antics?
Bob Gray, pastor of Trinity, called them 'Baptist Nuns'. His nun comment actually was a reference to the girls who stayed at the Victory Home for Girls in Florida. They attended school with us at Trinity Christian Academy and, thus, were spared the educational difficulties experienced by those subject to Accelerated Christian Education. At least, they were able to get into most community and state colleges in Florida.
When I think of Gray's term 'Baptist Nuns', I realize that's exactly how I regarded the Roloff girls! As 'Baptist Nuns'! I now realize that unconscious way of looking at Roloff girls was part of the problem. Gray, as readers of this blog know, was arrested for multiple accounts of child molestation. Years before his arrest, I spoke with someone about the rumors of Gray's crimes. "You have to understand, one of them has a troubled background." That sentiment would eventually be posted on the Fighting Fundamentalist Forum after his arrest.
The 'troubled background'? Her deposition revealed she had been forced into Roloff's Bethesda Home. Her mere presence at the facility, regardless of circumstance, would now be used against her to show that she had a troubled background.
Survivors from the different homes are finally coming together thanks to social networking sites like Facebook.
There were those who spoke out in the 1970s. They were interviewed for a 60 Minutes report on Lester Roloff. Those who came out of the Roloff schools in that era did not have the option of an internet. If they wanted to keep in contact with others, they needed to have a good memory for last names and access to a telephone book. Those coming out of this system have spoken of a practice called being 'put on separation' in which close friendships are discouraged.
It became easier to find people after the internet. There were message boards and news groups to post at. One needed to be knowledgeable concerning search engines and key words. There was also the reality, as I found out during the early days of this blog, that if you start making waves you can get kicked out by the powers that be. This would severely limit your ability to acquire information.
Facebook put an end to the ideological monopoly held by self styled gurus and message board owners. No more would you need to go through a message board to contact an individual. Facebook made it more democratic and even though you can still get booted off groups you can make contacts with individuals within the group. It's very difficult to maintain control over a whole group of people using Facebook since no one has veto power over who can or cannot enter a discussion.
Naturally, there have been critics of Facebook. Critics have charged teen home survivors with not having a sense of fair play, fighting all the time and that's just from their supporters! Harsh words have been spoken by activists against other activists. It's easy to get panicky when flame wars spring up. If we don't address them, are we aiding in a cover up? If we do, are we expressing division? Are we providing another reason we may delay progress?
Alexis Parks, in her book American Gulag, writes that a teenager's challenge to parental and social values must be treated with "respect, honest dialogue, and an example of tolerance and self-questioning." Parks writes, "Striving for independence is a necessary a stage of development as crawling is to an infant."
What is true for an individual is probably true for groups. An individual can't change unless s/he wants to. A group or nation can't change unless the majority of people want to. That can't happen without a national dialogue. We can't reason with the nation unless we can first reason with ourselves! That's the stage we're at now.
We're doing a pretty good job of piercing the national media. ABC News and Mother Jones have produced articles and profiles of survivors and both have mentioned a convention the Survivors of Institutional Abuse plan on having in February 24-26 in 2012.
This is an on-going process. Speaking as someone who, although never in a teen lockdown facility, did experience IFB education, I can say that many of us weren’t brought up learning the Seven Effective Habits of Successful People. We were not taught to work and play well with 'heathens'. Those prejudices were instilled in us during our formative years. Of course, we're going to have some growing pains! That's what all this is.
We need to accept that nothing is going to come quickly or easily. If we want success, we must sometimes make decisions based on cold reality. We're going to have to develop a degree of toleration for different viewpoints. Most of us have been alone as we carried the battle on our shoulders for decades before we even realized there were others in the battle. There are others in the battle. Some with more experience. Others with more passion. Most with their own ideas about how the battle should be fought. Some of us won't be in the battle for the long term. It will be like tag team wrestling. You're it!
Baptist Nuns or Troubled Girls? It's the Baptist equivalent of Madonna/Whore.
They are neither nuns nor 'troubled girls'. They are adult women with the same problems all of us, male or female, have when it comes to dealing with trauma while living in America during a recession. Nevertheless, the shared trauma must be addressed.
CNN: Anderson Cooper 360 Ungodly Discipline
ABC: Biblical Reform School Discipline: Tough Love or Abuse?
MOTHER JONES: Horror Stories From Tough-Love Teen Homes.
SIA Organization: Survivors of Institutional Abuse.
Sunday, May 15, 2011
The problem of child abuse and collusion (its partner in crime) is worse than we expected. The cover up first begins in families, then eventually extends into the corporate world. We see the results of child abuse in everything from looking the other way when police abuse their authority, to people shrugging off various degrees of corruption in their businesses, communities, and government.
If you can cover up child abuse in your family and church, it is a piece of cake to cover up other scandals within your government. We learn to cover up from our families and so-called moral leaders. When will we grasp that the final fruit of child abuse is nothing less than the disintegration of a nation?
The major reason churches, and corporations, turn their heads when one of their own is caught abusing a child, is because they are afraid the scandal will prompt investigations leading to the loss of their personal liberties. When will government, business and church leaders realize the more they cover up the crimes of their cronies the more they put freedom at risk?
Don’t they realize that when people grasp how unreliable private industry and churches have been when covering up the dirty deeds of their child molesting friends, a knee jerk reaction amongst the citizenry, which will result in more controls, is to be expected? And rightly so!
It is a shame that I even have to mention the loss of freedom in the same context as fighting child abuse. Isn’t fighting child abuse a reason in itself? Do I really need to parade the threat of freedom’s loss in order to get churches, and businesses, motivated to police themselves?
If we do not police ourselves, people will eventually demand a tighter regulation on churches, girl’s homes and other organizations that supposedly exist to serve the interest of the American family.
This book is a tool designed to open people’s eyes to the threat child abusers, and their corporate enablers pose to the freedom of us all.
We cannot afford to wait for religious organizations to purify their ranks nor can we wait for our government to 'catch on'. It is our responsibility to arm ourselves with knowledge that will empower us to stand up to our abusers and hold them accountable.
Click here to order.
Friday, April 29, 2011
I am quoted in this article which mentions that 'rumors' have been spread that the headmaster was fired because he made inquiries regarding abuse. The truth is about to come out as many survivors of New Bethany are doing interviews and are giving accounts of their abuse that have long been repressed.
Here is a letter to the editor I just sent to the Amelia Monitor:
Thanks for publishing that article about Amelia Academy. I would also like to thank Dr. George Martin for making the inquiries into the abuse allegations concerning the teacher responsible for many nightmares experienced by the victims from New Bethany, a school that was closed down due to inquiries regarding abuse. It was not our intentions for anyone to get fired over this. Even though Mr. Anderson, the new headmaster states the inquiry had nothing to do with Martin's dismissal, that's a pretty difficult pill for some of us to swallow.
My former pastor, the late Bob Gray of Trinity Baptist Church and founder of Trinity Christian Academy (Jacksonville, Florida) was charged with over five counts of child molestation with many victims spanning decades. One of them clear back to 1949! I'm sure he would have passed a background check and been declared an asset to the school he founded.
We are not spreading rumors. Here are the facts: Dr. Martin communicated with New Bethany survivors after being contacted by a concerned parent to make an inquiry into abuse. He did and we now hear he was fired. Our experience has shown that when private schools have no oversight regarding these matters, the potential to either ignore or cover up such abuse is pretty high. What do you think our conclusions might be?
Pardon us if we harbor some doubt as to the integrity of Mr. Anderson's denial. If Martin was fired for making the inquiries, that is more of a threat to the safety of the children of Amelia Courthouse than a teacher who, although passing a background check, has a string of survivors sounding the warning call of abuse.
Tuesday, April 12, 2011
Kudos to both women for their courage in speaking out!
Saturday, April 9, 2011
ABC’s 20/20 finished #1 in the 10 o’clock hour for the 2nd week in a row among Adults 18-49. The ABC newsmagazine also won the hour among key Women (W18-33/W18-49) 20/20 featured Elizabeth Vargas’ yearlong investigation into the Independent Fundamental Baptist Church.
Wednesday, April 6, 2011
The fundamentalists practically control the military and the rest of the country and now L.A. and NYC are finally catching on? Will be watching!
This Friday on 20/20:A RELIGIOUS SUB-CULTURE MANY AMERICANS HAVE NEVER HEARD OF, YET HAS THOUSANDS OF CHURCHES ACROSS THE COUNTRY ... CHURCHES THAT CRITICS CLAIM CAN FOSTER PHYSICAL AND SEXUAL ABUSE.
Friday, March 25, 2011
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
Michele Tresler-Ulriksen, author of Reform at Victory, is reported to be dead at 41. Details are sketchy, but the spokesperson at her Facebook profile writes that Michele died of accidental overdose. The Survivors of Institutional Abuse, an organization Michele volunteered her services for, cannot give details of her death until further information. Most of her adult life was taken up with writing and publishing Reform at Victory, a memoir of her time at Victory Christian Academy in Ramona, CA, a teen lockdown facility that was closed down due to abusive practices in 1992. It also concerned Carrie Dunn, whose pseudonym in the book is Christi, a girl who died on premises after a stack of drywall fell on her.
Michael Palmer, the man portrayed in Reform at Victory as ‘Brother P’, allegedly tried to open a home in Iowa. Michele contacted the local media and authorities concerning Palmer’s connection to the abusive school he operated in Ramona, CA. The Fort Dodge Messenger published Troubling Legacy by Abigail McWilliam in 2009 that reported Palmer was scoping out buildings in that area.
“The last place she said Palmer might be opening a home is in Hawaii!” said Dwayne Walker, director of media and research at SIA Organization. “
Jodi Hobbs, the President of SIA Organization, credits Michele’s book and dogged pursuit of Palmer’s whereabouts for inspiring her to create SIA Organization.
“The Survivor’s of Institutional Abuse would not be here without Michele.” Jodi says, “Michele inspired others to speak out and share their own testimony of what happened to them. She was an advocate of getting the laws changed and spoke out at numerous events against abuse. Her tireless efforts changed many lives and gave others the strength and courage to come forward. SIA Organization’s first convention will be dedicated in her honor for her commitment and tireless efforts in getting the word out and speaking against institutional abuse.”
Condolences are being left on her Facebook profile.
Links and Articles:
Reform at Victory
Troubling Legacy by Abigail McWilliam
Lockdown: Are Teens and Taxpayers Paying the Price for ‘Christian Reform Schools? by Michele Ulriksen
How Faith Based Initiatives help unlicensed reform schools thrive by Michele Ulriksen
Christian School Confidential article about Reform at Victory.
Wednesday, February 16, 2011
The teen behavorial modification industry is a billion dollar business leaving a trail of human wreckage in its wake. In February 20012, survivors who were abused as children in child care facilities will come together in Long Beach, CA for healing, empowerment and to share their stories with the world!
"What I want to do is bring about awareness, empowerment and healing to adults who have been in these types of circumstance."
President of SIA Organization
and survivor of facility in Ramona, CA
"I am happy to no longer be alone. Yet heartbroken, that there are so many of us. Together I really believe, we can finally be heard!"
survivor of facility in Arcadia, LA.
The Survivors of Institutional Abuse invite you to join us as we stand united with one voice!
For more info:
HB2721 has been introduced in Oregon to repeal Oregon's religious defenses to homicide, manslaughter and ciminal mistreatment of children so that all laws will require all parents to obtain medical care for sick children, regardles of their religious beliefs.
The House Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on this bill on Feburary 21. Please urge your state legislator to vote for HB2721.
For more information, please contact "Children's Healthcare Is a Legal Duty" at 503-584-1455 and the email is: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Saturday, January 29, 2011
I played a role in the school getting shut down by introducing a former student to a cable access producer. He interviewed her while I ran camera and helped edit the final product. The producer, a man named Jon Boag, took the video to the Department of Children's Services. Within the scope of a year, an investigation commenced and the school was closed down.
Survivors of Victory contacted me wishing to hold a reunion. Elizabeth was at the reunion and portions of the documentary were actually shot on VCA property. I was also interviewed.
Guess what? Debbie Harry is scheduled to introduce Bloodbath when it premieres at NYC's Museum of Modern Art on February 12, 2011.
For info on the movie: Bloodbath.