Sunday, May 24, 2009

Heads Up to British Mercy Survivors

The British media is interested in hearing the stories of women mistreated at British Mercy Ministries facilities. Head over to Sean's place for more info.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

It's Time For the Internet's Favorite Gameshow...

HOW!
LONG!
WILL!
IT!
STAY!
UP!!!


Otherwise censorship-happy Exorcist quack and blogger with a Messiah-complex Nancy Alcorn of Mercy Ministries has recently made a blog post about allegations regarding her sexual-orientation appearing in the Nashville Scene's "Jesus Rx" article (which, compared to what else is in the article, is the least of her problems).

Ironically, in the first comment on a blog where Nancy denies being a lesbian, a woman declares her love for her.

Surprisingly, comments mentioning the abuse/mistreatment scandal have not been instantly deleted.

Sean the Blogonaut posted this at February 26, 2009 3:37 AM:

So does this mean that:

a) you will not be requiring applicants to list their sexual preferences

b)that you will not attempt to promote gay conversian propaganda

c)that you will be honest in your representation of statistics associated with your success

d)that you will stop the provision of exorcism as a treatment for severe mental illness

e)That you will be following a more balanced approach to mental health that includes appropriate medical and psychiatric treatment.

I find it disgusting, demeaning and downright unchristian to demonise those who simply ask you to be honest about what services you provide.

I couldn't care less if you you are gay, bisexual or straight it is your organisation's treatment and attitude toward sexuality that is the problem.

And John Weaver of Against Biblical Counseling posted this at February 26, 2009 3:24 PM:

What these blogs care about - and I run one of them - is that the Mercy Survivors get justice. We could care less whether Nancy is gay. We merely report what the papers argue\say (or what Nancy says) and let the readers draw their own conclusions. What we are concerned about is Mercy's shameful treatment of Survivors in Australia, and its use of Restoring the Foundations. Having read the RTF manual, I do not see how Mercy could have ever considered it a productive tool for counseling the mentally ill.

I do not hate Nancy. To be honest, I feel sorry for her, though I admit i have been angered by her from time to time, and by the stuff she has said (particularly her crazy statements about not medicating demons). But there is no excuse for Mercy using deliverance\exorcism (whatever you want to call it) on mentally ill people. All Nancy has to do to stop my criticism is 1) publically - as in newspapers - apologize for her organization's treatment of the Australian survivors 2)not use RTF or any other deliverance manual for treating the mentally ill, but instead use psychotherapeutic counseling and 3) Be transparent about treatment practices. I don't think those are unrealistic goals, but i don't expect Mercy to acheive them.

And this at February 26, 2009 4:54 PM:

Dear Dacia,
I'd like to point out that my blog, against biblical counseling, quoted directly from the Restoring the Foundations manual and from other Mercy material that proved that Nancy did in fact use RTF. There has been precious little similar coming from pro-Mercy advocates.

John

P.S. I'm not trying to be confrontational. Just pointing this out. I'd also like to point out, in case anyone asks, that against biblical counseling refers to specific forms of Christian counseling (biblical\nouthetics counseling and deliverance ministries), not Christian counseling as a whole.

And yours truly posted this at February 27, 2009 12:12 AM:

Wow, Nancy. You left Sean and John's comments up. I'm impressed. I honestly did not expect that. From my own experience I find you and your your organization to be rather unethical, censorship-happy folk.

Speaking of which, here's a link to the article discussed in your blog entry (probably slipped your mind to put it in there, eh?). ;)

Remember how back in May 2008 the first response to the Mercy Oz debacle coming from Mercy America was to delete the "controversy" section from Wikipedia's Mercy Ministries page (they actually traced IP address to Mercy Ministries of America).

And then, in October of 2008, your organization launched a bunch of bogus copyright infringement claims on YouTube videos critical of Mercy Ministries to have YouTube take them down. These weren't just videos that made-fair use of your promotional material and commented on the abuse scandal that your organization had YouTube take down, but also Australian news footage reporting on mistreatment and abuse at Mercy facilities.

This coupled with the "Restoring the Foundations" workbook (which you reference in your books "Cut" and "Violated" and your February 10th, 2008 speech at Capital Christian Center) being leaked to the press and organization's constant denials of using exorcism to treat mental-illness is why I and others (which includes former supporters) find both you and your organization to be remarkably untrustworthy.

And Candace, about about you having "not seen or heard one story where a girl was mistreated because of her orientation" or "have never heard of them using exorcism on anyone"; if you are lying for Nancy, please don't. Two of the women whose stories feature in the "Jesus Rx" article are about exactly that (what happened to Jennifer Wynne was horrible, and Jodi Ferris was chewed out just for looking like a lesbian by Alcorn herself). We've all seen the YouTube video where she brags about the "casting out of demons" performed at Mercy to an entire megachurch.

And kateykat:

"How do you know about what the program is like without ever being through the program??"

From not only listening to women who have been through the program (not just the ones with the scripted "personal testimonies" appearing in Mercy Ministries propoganda), but also listening to former staff members and reading the material used in Mercy's treatment program.


Place your bets, folks.

EDIT:

Sean the Blogonaut posted again on February 27, 2009 3:14 PM:

It is interesting to note that I asked some questions of Nancy - quite direct, on her own blog, yet she hasn't answered. No one I have contacted from Mercy Ministries has ever responded to my emails.

My position on Mercy Ministries is that they probablly do a good job of taking care of pregnant women, sheltering people who have a hard life, providing a safe (very evangelically orientated)environment. Offering love to those wo have experienced abuse/hardship is a wonderful thing.

The treatment of those who have a mental illness, those with different religious backgrounds, those with a different sexual orientation is cause for concern. As is Mercy Ministries public denegration of psychatric care.

My aim in campaigning "against" Mercy has been to try and get them to offer a more balanced approach to mental health care, so that they are not abusing people intentionally or otherwise.

To get them to be honest about their successes, that is, not to use marketing puffery and spin(fine when you are raising money I suppose) when people are tryng to evaluate the efficacy of the service.

To stop them from publically vilifying brave women who speak out against them.

To get them to review and improve their services.

It took 25 years and a scandal to get Mercy to generate statistics on their program - even then, only selected information is revealled.

It took scandal and continued pressure from bloggers,and media to get them to change their use of the RTF.

It took pressure from Media and Bloggers to get an apology for the treatment of Australian survivors

My advice to women who have contacted me is to do their own research, to walk into Mercy knowing as much about the organisation as possible. To not see them as a last resort. That there is always hope.

Mercy Ministries has good intentions but we all know where the road paved with those may lead.

I have been critical even harsh in regards to Nancy and Mercy at times, what motivates me is not hatred of Christians (although I am philosophically opposed to their beliefs) but the care of vulnerable people.

I do find the US vs Them mentality obvious in these comments deplorable. To label detractors and commenters as the “enemy”, to cast us out in the name of Jesus – is to dehumanise us and in dehumanising us any action against us becomes righteous. If there is always agreement, if we always engage in back slapping and glory be to Mercy, then nothing improves.

Credit to Nancy for allowing me to post here, it is not the sort of treatment I have come to expect from Mercy Ministries.
EDIT:

Me again on March 3, 2009 3:34 PM

Candace:
"I rebuke you trolls in the name of Jesus. Go back to the pits of hell where you belong."

I know Christ, and know of trolls, but who are you?

Kimmi_Restored:
"I am so tired of hearing people run their mouths and creating drama. I miss the 'no-drama' mercy bubble. Too bad we can't make the whole 'no-drama' rule to the outside world lol."

Yeah, funny story about that. Mercy actually did try to do that back in October of 2008 by filing DMCA takedown notices on videos critical of them (which included videos Australian news footage and interviews of women mistreated at Mercy facilities).

Tell me Nancy, how does this video infringe on Mercy Ministries' copyrighted material? It was the first to be taken down from my old YouTube channel, not by a claim of copyright infringement from the Sydney Morning Herald (they didn't object ot it being there) but from Mercy Ministries Inc. What about this one? Australia's Channel 10 didn't object to it being on YouTube, but Mercy Ministries Inc claimed that it infringed on their copyright.

Didn't you meet with the women in these videos? This is part of why they found your apology insencere.

And to think you have the gall to claim that you are taking the high road.


EDIT: Me on March 30th @ 9:33am:

Forgive the long interval between your post and my response, Ken Mansfield, someone close to me died this month and I have been grieving.

The way that YouTube works is that anyone can in good faith notify YouTube about a video that they have reason to believe is copyright infringement. YouTube automatically flags and takes down those videos.

From the experience of many folks on YouTube, the "good faith" part is somewhat optional. The takedown notice emails that YouTube sent me specifically said that it was Mercy Ministries Inc that complained to them

This is how it was worded in the emails: "Dear Member: This is to notify you that we have removed or disabled access to the following material as a result of a third-party notification by Mercy Ministries, Inc. claiming that this material is infringing:"

If you contact me through my profile I can forward some of the emails to you.

I do know that you have to disclose your name, location and other identity in order to file a counter–notification. Perhaps that is why you do not want to do it.

What can I say, I like my anonymity. What Mercy did to my account hasn't really hurt me as much as it has it has them. I don't know if you are aware of this, but on Youtube people who use the DMCA as a means of silencing criticism of their ideas and beliefs are regarded as the scum of the earth. Imagine how an organization that uses the DMCA to not just silence criticism (i.e: my opinion videos) but also to cover-up their abuse and mistreatment of women (the Aussie news footage on my account) will be regarded on the internet.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

OBJECTION!!!

If The Tennesean reports that:

Mercy officials in Nashville say that until recently, the group had no control over programs in other countries. Each country's program has an independent board, hires its own staff, raises its own funds and designs its own program.

...

In late 2007, Mercy started an international board to oversee its worldwide operations. All homes now have to sign a ministry collaboration agreement. Under that agreement, each international home is treated as a franchise of Mercy. They are required to meet Mercy's U.S. standards. The agreement also allows the board to sanction or dismiss affiliates that violate the agreement.
(emphasis mine)

and the Nashville Scene reports that:

Alcorn's response was swift. She claimed Australia was a rogue operation, underfunded and running independent of her control. The home was shuttered and an oversight board formed to prevent future incidents. This was not how Mercy did things in America, she said.
(emphasis mine)

Then what was the former executive director of Mercy Ministries Australia doing on the Mercy Ministries International board before 2007 (when, according to the Mercy officials the Tennessean interviewed, it did not yet exist)?



From the October 2004 issue of Charisma:

Mercy Ministries opened its first overseas home in Sydney, Australia, in 2001. A second Australian home opened in 2003 in Queensland. Both homes are overseen by noted Australian worshiper Darlene Zschech and her husband, Mark.

Alcorn recently took her 22nd trip to Australia in a five-year period--this time to discuss details for a third home. In addition, Mercy is looking for property in New Zealand, with the goal of opening a home there in 2005.

(emphasis mine)

From Darlene Zschech's interview with FaithTalks.com:

Mercy Hope: Talk about Mercy Ministries Australia.

Darlene Zschech: Mercy Australia is fantastic. Mark and I, (and please don’t make us out to be heroes, because we’re really not), before we were married had been involved in youth ministry and we always said that one day we’d like to open a place for young women, because, I mean, I struggled with eating disorders, and Bulimia in particular, when I was young, and that overwhelming sense of inferiority. You just know that the enemy comes to seek and destroy and to steal from people their future and we thought that maybe one day we would open a place like that.

It was actually while we were at GMA that we heard about Mercy and we asked whether we could go and visit. So we went, and Mark and I met Nancy Alcorn in the foyer and it was as if we had known each other all our lives. Within 12 months Mercy was born in Australia, and we have two homes there now. Actually, Mark is now heading up Mercy International. And we have a home opening in the U.K., and one in New Zealand, and other homes in Australia. It’s very, very exciting.
(emphasis mine)

From the "who is involved" page on the Hope Rwanda website which, according to Mark's ZoomInfo page, was uploaded May, 25, 2006 (an imageless version is cached here in case he tries to get rid of it):
In 2000 Mark and Darlene launched Mercy Ministries in Australia, a residential program for young women which was founded in America by Nancy Alcorn. Mark is the Chairman of the Mercy Ministries International Board which is overseeing the expansion and development of Mercy into the UK, Canada, New Zealand and Asia.

(screencap'd it just to be safe)


It also turns out Mercy Oz used to keep material on their website as far back as March 2008 saying that Mark Zschech became head of Mercy Ministries International in December 2004.

And you know the Mercy International promotional video that played just before Nancy gave her speech at Capital Christian Center in Sacramento CA on February 10th, 2008? Well, the first Mercy grad giving her personal testimony in that video is Carly Richards, who graduated from Mercy Australia's Sydney home in 2004. I know this because I have been in contact via email with one of Ms. Richards' former roommates from the Sydney home: Naomi Johnson (yes, that Naomi Johnson).

Here is the text of an email she sent me:
yeah carly was in with me... she went through the program in just 5-6months i was there april 04-jan 05 carly came in later in the year (04) and graduated just before christmas of 04. She was one of my roomie at the time she graduated and really is a lovely, sweet girl. But she was basically already the hillsong "praise the lord" jump up and down hyped christian before she came into mercy... she was already the perfect mercy girl before she entered the house and she was loved and petted by all the staff because of this. But she wasn't snooty or anything, she was maybe one of the loveliest most gentel people i've ever know and she was a close friend who i deffinetly loved quite dearly.

(and here's the screencap)

Which begs the question: If Mercy Oz was just Mercy Ministries in-name-only --an independent organization that used a different program than that of Nancy Alcorn's Mercy Ministries-- then how can Mercy Ministries International claim responsibility for Carly Richards' "transformed life" and "restored hope" while claiming that what happened to Naomi Johnson occurred without their oversight (which is even more odd considering how Nancy Alcorn herself had to apologize to the Aussie Mercy Survivors to avoid a serious lawsuit)?

Oh, and with regards to the Kelly Hughes quote, you can read about it here in the comments section. Long story short, Sean the Blogonaut quoted the post of a woman trying to enroll in Mercy from the Mercy Supporters and Friend's wall. When that woman asked him not to use her personal story, he politely respected her request and removed the quote.

Then Kelly Hughes of Harding, Texas (a different woman) who posted this:
Kelly Hughes: the australia homes fell out of line with mercy protocol without nancy's knowledge, and she has since undertaken a huge revision and close observation of their program. everything said about mercy australia, whether it was once true or not, which nancy deems as irrelevant, is now completely taken care of. have no worries. this is a place of safety and healing!

(if you click to enlarge, Kelly Hughes will sue you)

...tried to get that quote taken down from Sean's blog by siccing her lawyer on him (which is totally not what what a cult would do).

(i am trying to figure out how to click to enlarge)
Kelly Hughes: i am trying to figure out how to involve a legal process in order to get my name removed as well. if anyone else has some knowledge about privacy issues related to taking private conversations out of context and using them for one's own purposes, please message me! this is infuriating, but Satan won't bring us down this easily.

Apparently Miss Hughes definition of "private conversation" includes "things posted on a publicly-visible facebook-wall". I am also very interested in finding out what her definition of "out of context" is and how exactly did Sean do so?

Lindsey "Dont'-listen-or-even-talk-to-critics-of-Mercy Ministries-because-they-all-have-penises" Clewell then responds to that post with this:
Lindsey Clewell: could it be something with like...defamation...or something like that?....I dunno.
and
Lindsey Clewell: ....or maybe I made that up....ha! or gave it new meaning!



I take it this must be the kind of keen legal expertise that led to Mercy Ministries DMCA'ing videos making fair-use of their materials for the purpose of commentary and criticism.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Re-Upload of the Jodi Ferris ("Vickie Lucas") Interview



Well, I've up and re-loaded it. The comments are a bit different this time, incorporating new information on Mercy Ministries that has come to my attention.

If you want to mirror this interview, you can download the videos from here (note: You will need WinRAR to unzip them, but most computers already have that anyway).

The screenshots of Mercy Ministries 25th anniversary page (with photos of Peter Irvine) are from here (The photos appear on a "slide-show" .swf file, and Mercy will most likely change it, so I took screencaps):

(click image to enlarge)



(click image to enlarge)


Saturday, October 18, 2008

Someone Must Be Butt-Hurt Pretty Bad...

click image to enlarge

... to have been flagging my videos with false DMCA claims of copyright infringement, which BTW, is perjury. They seemed especially eager to flag videos that mentioned the exorcisms and abuse done by Mercy outside of Australia. As of Oct 15th, 2008, Youtube has suspended my account and I cannot access it even to upload a video to explain to my subscribers what happened. Thankfully, Sean the Blogonaut has uploaded videos to his account telling people my fate. I also give a special thanks to SilverRose72 for mirroring what she could.

Sadly, abuse of the DMCA as a means of backdoor-censorship is nothing new: Creation Science Evangelism has done this before and recently youtube user VenomfangX has filed false DMCA claims against youtube user Thunderf00t and crashed and burned for it.

Apparently the individual who flagged my videos has not only convinced him/herself, but also Youtube, that Nancy Alcorn legally owns the color pink and letter "M" (someone should inform the good folks at Sesame Street post-haste).

I am terribly sorry (no wait, I'm not) to inform whoever has been flagging my videos that the footage of Mercy promotional material used in my videos qualify as fair-use under the comment and criticism clauses of the DMCA.

Listed below are mirrors of most of my videos and descriptions explaining how I beleive in good faith these videos constitute fair-use and that Mercy Ministries Inc has committed perjury by having YouTube take them down:

video
Mercy Ministries Abuses: This video is a mirror of a video from the Sydney Morning Herald's website and contains no copyrighted materials belonging to Mercy Ministries that does not fall under fair-use, especially considering this video was put together by an Australian newspaper The Sydney Morning Herald. This video contains audio footage from former Mercy Ministries clients being interviewed accompanied by photographs of the women being interviewed, Mercy Ministries' Sunshine Coast home, and some pics of Mercy Ministries promotional material.

I had never made any sort of attempt to claim ownership or commercial gain through uploading this video to Youtube. My goal in uploading of this video was to help educate people about the harmful practices of Mercy Ministries Inc and spread this important information to others through the internet. This video's URL on my channel was: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pL_5quQX_Wc. This video was taken down as a result of a third-party notification by Mercy Ministries, Inc. NOTE: This video was the first to be taken down (I received email notification of this from Youtube on October 14, 2008 at 7:16:54 PM).

video
Re: Mercy Ministries: This video was a response to a Mercy promotional video uploaded on Nate Goldfinch's youtube channel. I commented on the Mercy abuse scandal and criticized Mercy Ministries based on the facts that had been reported in the Australian news media at the time. I also used a parody mock-up of the Mercy Ministries and Gloria Jeans logos in order to make fun of the two organizations.

I used parts of the song What Up People by Japanese Metal Band Maximum Hormone in two short parts of the video. Mercy Ministries Inc. does not own the copyright to that song and my usage of that song in my video falls under fair-use as I was using it to make fun of (parody) the background music in Mercy Ministries Inc.'s promotional videos. This video's original URL is: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_xjUZejf71Y. This video was taken down as a result of a third-party notification by Mercy Ministries, Inc.

video
No Cash 4 Mercy: This video was my response to Mercy Ministries' "Campaign 4 Mercy" promotional video. In this video I did use some of the "Campaign 4 Mercy" video, but only to parody it. I then criticized Mercy Ministries and commented on Mercy's harmful practices, advising viewers not donate to the organization. This video's original URL is: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lzZ_S-zNr7Y. This video was taken down as a result of a third-party notification by Mercy Ministries, Inc.

video
The Two Faces of Mercy Ministries: In this video I outlining Mercy Ministries' deception and lack of transparency, using footage from Australian News programs Today Tonight's expose of Mercy Ministries and some brief footage of a speech made by Mercy Ministries Inc. president Nancy Alcorn at Capital Christian Center in Sacramento, California on February 10th 2008, which I comment on and criticize. The video's original URL is: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YHWMZUHcZo8. This video was taken down as a result of a third-party notification by Mercy Ministries, Inc.



Mercy Ministries American Abuse Survivor Speaks Out: These are five videos of Cameron Reilly's interview with Jodi Ferris (then going by the pseudonym "Victoria Lucas") that he gave me permission to upload to Youtube. This interview can be downloaded in it's original audio form from Reilly's blog. These five videos contained no copyrighted material belonging to Mercy Ministries that did not fall under fair-use (I did re-use the mock-ups of the Mercy Ministries and Gloria Jeans logos from Re: Mercy Ministries). Although parts 1 through 4 were taken down as a result of a third-party notification by Mercy Ministries, Inc, part 5 remained up until my account was suspended by Youtube. Part 5 is currently mirrored by other youtube users.

Here are the original URLs of the videos of that interview that have been taken down as a result of a third-party notification by Mercy Ministries, Inc:
  1. Mercy Ministries American Abuse Survivor Speaks Out (1/5): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KlK-SMolDhw

  2. Mercy Ministries American Abuse Survivor Speaks Out (2/5): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d_ygUmonvC4

  3. Mercy Ministries American Abuse Survivor Speaks Out (3/5): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nlTAU55QjEs

  4. Mercy Ministries American Abuse Survivor Speaks Out (4/5): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lrLeYucrTQo


Now here's the good part. Remember what happened when CSE had all those videos taken down with false charges of copyright infringement:



Yeah, I know. Awesome.

This is where I need your help.

Yes, you. I'd be very much obliged.

Do you have a Youtube account and a webcam? Then use it. Upload videos of yourself commenting on what Mercy Ministries is doing. Do you want to remain anonymous? Then wear a mask and do so. If you want use voice-to-text, just tell the people of Youtube what is going on.

Remember to mention how Mercy Ministries America first responded to news of the Mercy Australia abuse scandal by attempting to edit their Wikipedia page in May 2008 to remove any mention of it.

click image to enlarge

In having our videos taken down, Nancy Alcorn will not only be shooting herself in the foot, but hacking it off with a rusty-axe and feeding it to her shelties. When people see Mercy's use of backdoor-censorship, their reputation will go even further down the crapper than it did when the story broke that their mistreatment of vulnerable women was not limited to Australia.

Also I heartily recommend mirroring my videos. You can download a .RAR file of all the anti-Mercy vids I put together from here. You can also download a copy of the Sunday Morning Herald's video file of Naomi Johnson and Rhiannon Canham-Wright being interviewed from here (warning: I could take a while, so go do something while the files are downloading). Just remember that after you have uploaded the videos to use Youtube's annotation feature to place annotations that state that any material belonging to Mercy Ministries appearing in this video is used under fair-use for commentary, criticism, and/or parody with no intention of use for commercial gain (you can also you a video-editor like Windows Movie Maker to add some text explaining this at the beginning if you want, whatever).

And best of all, make your own videos. Be creative, just be sure to mention fair-use. If Mercy were to have more critical videos taken down (especially if they contain little-to-no material originating from Mercy Ministries) it would reflect even worse on them as news of their actions spreads through the series of tubes. If Mercy does not flag them, the material is left up and the word gets out about Mercy. Either way it's win-win.

If you don't have a youtube account, then get one. If you can't get one, then blog about what Mercy has been doing.

You can also contact the good folks at copy#right#@#you#tube.com (just remember to remove the "#"s) and tell them what's Mercy has been doing.

I will be contacting the EFF to see if I can get me one of them fancy, new-fangled copyright lawyers for free.

Godspeed, and thanks for everything,
The Cynic Sage.

EDIT: For those who don't know how, here is a tutorial for making youtube video annotations: