When You Wake Up

Photo by Alex Wein

by Jesse

I hope when you wake up

You find me dead and alone

No breath left in my lungs

No beat of my broken heart

I hope when you wake up

These 20 pills will kill me

That the strength in them

Is stronger than my fight

10 of them could kill me

I’ll take 10 more

Just to make sure

So I can go into my freedom

I’m sorry for leaving you alone

I can’t keep fighting to be sober

I can’t keep fighting to stay alive

I can’t keep living this way

And I don’t have the strength

To fight my way

Through it all

I’ll take shot after shot of vodka

Until I’m completely incomplete

I have no feelings left

To stay and keep you all happy

I’m saying goodbye soon

After I say goodnight

The end of me is my destiny.

About Jesse: Jesse is a survivor of an abusive residential treatment center. She struggles with addiction.

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Master’s Commission USA-What You Need to Know Before Applying

Master’s Commission USA is now accepting applications for 2012-2013.

Here’s what you need to know before you or your child applies to the program:

According to cult experts, Master’s Commission falls under the category of cult/new religious movement. On March 24, 2011, founder of My Cult Life, Lisa Kerr, was interviewed on North Carolina’s Public Radio WUNC with James Tabor, chair of the Department of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte; Sean McCloud, an associate professor of religious studies and American studies affiliate at UNC-Charlotte; Benjamin Zeller, an assistant professor of religious studies at Brevard College. Listen to the interview here: http://wunc.org/tsot/archive/Examining_Cult_Culture.mp3/view

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Master’s Commission May Be Cult-Like

I recently received an email from a  young woman who was considering going to Master’s Commission. I do not endorse or support Master’s Commission and I believe they may be a cult.

I don’t recommend the program or any Master’s Commission for many reasons, but the following reasons outline specifically what I experienced there:

Some of the intensive indoctrination techniques they employ (and consequently things to look out for) include:

  •  removing people from their normal surroundings and friends, often with weekend “trips” and “retreats”
  •  sleep and sensory deprivation
  •  development of a deep emotional debt
  •  public confessionals
  •  low-risk relationships (unconditional acceptance)
  •  fear of punishment or damnation for even thinking about leaving the new “family”
  •  viewing all of the outside world as evil or satanic so that any desire to return to it is also evil.

Other things to be on the lookout for are:

  • leaders who claim divinity or special relationships with God and insist on being the sole judge of a member’s actions or faith
  • demands for total control over members’ daily lives (one of the hardest to recognize once involved)
  • isolation and exclusion from the surrounding community
  • demands for control of members’ finances
  • absolutist views toward difficult life problems and spiritual questions
  • special (exclusive) promises of salvation or keys to spiritual understanding (i.e.: “It is only through adherence to our beliefs and our rules that you can be saved”).

Finally, I realize that when I was 17 deciding on whether to go to MC or college, the deciding factor for me was that I wanted a closer relationship with God. I wish I could say that I got that, but I didn’t. What I got were people manipulating my thoughts of what God was, and placing themselves in the position of authority in my life. No human being should do that. “Absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

To specify more, I’m going to go through and talk about each one of the above mentioned traits a bit more:

  • Removing people from their normal surroundings and friends, often with weekend “trips” and “retreats”–On several occasions, we’d have meetings or events that would happen in MC and we’d be told that our parents “probably wouldn’t understand, so it’s best we don’t tell them.” This fits in with removing people from their normal surroundings and friends. If you consider where the church dorms are, and the amount of time you’ll be spending away from your friends and family, this is just a common sense thing. You WILL be removed from your friends and won’t see them.
  • Sleep and sensory deprivation–During my third or fourth year in MC, I developed migraines due to sleep deprivation. My doctor told me that I needed to sleep more, and I told him I didn’t have a choice due to the work and time obligations Master’s Commission put on us. I was prescribed medication for it, but it often didn’t work because it had to be taken at the onset of a headache and we were working so much I didn’t keep my medication on me. I’d sometimes have to leave a project in tears because my migraines hurt so badly.
  • Development of a deep emotional debt–this occurred any time the pastors gave us something or helped us out; whether it was one-on-one counseling or a very tiny paycheck.
  • Public confessionals–we were repeatedly asked to go before the entire MC group and confess some sin were struggling with. We were also made to do private confessionals, too.
  •  Low-risk relationships (unconditional acceptance)–it’s very easy to enter into this group and gain acceptance but it’s very difficult to leave. if you do leave, you lose all your friends.
  • Fear of punishment or damnation for even thinking about leaving the new “family”–this is actually true. you will get punished if you leave the “family.” and they DO call you a “son” or “daughter in the house” and “family.”
  • Viewing all of the outside world as evil or satanic so that any desire to return to it is also evil–anyone or anything who disagrees with their theology or dictatorship can be seen as satanic. We were often told that if we questioned them we were rebellious and being rebellious was from Satan. So we were basically being satanic if we rebelled against them.

 

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Master’s Commission Misrepresents College Offerings

According to the Master’s Commission International Network, they’ve partnered up with West Coast Bible College and Seminary, a bible college which is not acredited through the Department of Education.

Taken from WCBC’s website, “WCBCS undergraduate students can apply for admission into a Masters program at Liberty University. Admission is not 100% guaranteed, but it does provide a viable option for our students to continue on with their education.” Although this sounds appealing, and legitimate, take a closer look at the statement provided by Liberty University. Liberty states that they do not accept students from an unaccredited college (WCBCS) and students will be on probation for one semester.

Screen shot of WCBCS webpage: 27-Mar-2012

I point these issues out because Master’s Commission and the co-founder, Lloyd Zeigler, has always had a way of sharing information with the students and parents hoping they won’t check into what he’s saying. As a charismatic leader, Zeigler has misled many students this way.

If you wonder what their courses look like, just check this out:

As many of you may know, this isn’t college coursework. Unfortunately, Master’s Commission recruits young adults who’ve typically just graduated high school. They may not have attended college, so they may not know that this college coursework will not get them a degree, nor will it be college-level work.

On another note, Master’s Commission affiliated evangelist, Jeanne Mayo, is coming on board as a faculty member. Jeanne Mayo is not a credentialed teacher, or a professor with academic teaching experience. She is a youth minister.

On another note, some of their “doctoral level faculty” acquired their doctorate from West Coast Bible College & Seminary, which means nothing in the real world. Check it out here: even Jeanne Mayo and Lloyd Zeigler are now “Drs”.

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Mercy Ministries

(This article was originally published on RH Reality Check)

Two young women I recently spoke with in intimate and heart-breaking interviews learned the hard way that celebrity Christian endorsements and pretty pink websites can’t cover up the dark, abusive side of Mercy Ministries. Over the past few weeks, they’ve shared stories with me of Mercy staff’s use of coercive control and domination to attempt to “treat” them of their medical and psychological disorders and how Mercy required mandatory HIV and STD testing, as well as detailed confessions from the girls about their past sexual relations (specifically about any lesbian or bisexual experiences) upon intake.

Mercy Ministries is a Nashville, Tennessee based group which was accused of misrepresenting their counseling and recovery services to young women in Australia in 2008. The misrepresentation in Australia was two-fold. First, they claimed their services were free but had the girls sign over their government checks. Second, the ministry claimed to be using licensed therapists and professional counseling methods.  In 2009, Mercy admitted their guilt in misrepresentation on both counts and paid back $120,000 of government aid it had wrongly taken from the girls who attended—in Australia. Although the media attention reached the United States, the founding group (based in Nashville, TN) was never investigated further. Instead Nancy Alcorn, the founder of Mercy Ministries took the investigation as a sign from God that the group was under “spiritual attack” and took fundraising efforts into high-gear.

In 2009, founder Nancy Alcorn’s blog stated:

Since [the scandal], we have reorganized the governing structure of Mercy Ministries to bring new levels of oversight and accountability, have increased our funding efforts, and are in the process of opening two new homes—one in California, one in North Carolina—over the next two years. (Emphasis my own)

The most interesting part of the statement is a complete disregard for the admittance of guilt for misrepresenting their services. Instead, Mercy put extra effort in “increasing funding efforts.” Could this be because the scandal brought a large loss of donation support? Plenty of evidence can be found online about sponsors who cut off financial support and stopped their endorsements of the ministry program after the scandal occurred. Hillsong Church in Australia is one such group. In 2009, they issued a statement about their involvement with Mercy Ministries claiming that they cut all ties with the group.

…[W]e sever any affiliation with Mercy Ministries internationally, and would not be associated with any attempt by Mercy Ministries Inc or Mercy Ministries Ltd, to recommence within Australia, under that or any other name…We would encourage those, that any investigation involves, to cooperate fully.

Religious groups like Mercy are hard to pin down when it comes to accountability—legally and otherwise. Abuses in large-scale ministries can range from financial irresponsibility, mis-allocation of funds, exorbitant salaries for founders, violation of employment laws to medical malpractice. Abuses like these often get overlooked until a whistleblower within the group speaks up. “These groups often operate under the radar of government oversight,” Marci A. Hamilton, shared with me when I spoke with her last week about possible government oversight of a group like Mercy Ministries. Professor Hamilton, author of God vs. the Gavel, is one of the United States’ leading church/state scholars, specializing in issues involving religious entities that harm others. Hamilton is also an advisor for victims in many clergy abuse cases, including cases involving child abuse.

Upon further investigation, I found Marci’s statement rang true. When I inquired about Mercy Ministries licensing with the state, Grant Lawrence Director of Communications for the Department of Mental Health, confirmed my suspicions that Mercy Ministries is not licensed by the Department, which gives group and residential homes guidelines and best practices. (They are licensed as a child-placing agency by the Department of Child Services which only governs children under age thirteen.) The Department of Mental Health also oversees the young adults within these facilities, providing each young woman with a social worker and licensed medical care. If Mercy isn’t licensed by the Department of Mental Health, how can they claim to be providing proper medical treatment and licensed therapy to young women who are rape and sex trafficking victims, suffer from depression and are suicidal? They can’t.

According to Mercy’s own website, qualifications to work at the program include a bachelor’s degree and maturity in their relationship with God. Although the site claims that their counselors have either a master’s degree in counseling or psychology (or be working toward such a degree) and meet state licensing requirements, there are two issues with this. One, statements from Mercy graduates counter this statement. Many residents claim that their counselor was not certified, trained or experienced to deal with the issues they faced such as depression, anxiety, eating disorders, and suicidal thoughts. Two, Mercy is not licensed with the Department of Mental Health nor are they a licensed medical treatment facility. They are governed by their own Board of Trustees which doesn’t include medical or counseling personnel. Three, even if their staff is licensed, as they claim, the real issue is the curriculum they teach and what they consider “best practices” as opposed to what secular therapists use as standard practice.

In upcoming articles on Mercy Ministries, I’ll continue to examine the stories of two young women whose lives were negatively impacted on the group, the curriculum and therapy “methods” that were used to treat them and what experts in the field have to say about groups like Mercy.

According to graduates, Mercy Ministries has a dark side that even the bright pink logo can’t hide.

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The Lincoln Messenger published a series of investigative articles here:

Mercy Ministries: Two Success Stories

Mercy Ministries: Two Fathers Views

Mercy Ministries responds to its critics

Mercy Ministries needs more than the Bible for its treatment methods

The Psychology Industry Blog: Treatment Facility, Mercy Ministries: Harm Continues to Women Patients?

For Mercy Survivors Blogs, see here:

The Truth About Mercy

Mercy Survivors

More links here provided from The Truth About Mercy.

This is not a complete list. If you’d like to contribute links or articles, please email Lisa Kerr at mycultlife AT gmail DOT com with “Mercy Ministries Info” in the subject line.

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