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:


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).


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.


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.


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:

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

READ THIS NOW!

Well, what are you waiting for?

Jesus RX: The untold tale behind Mercy Ministries' one-size-fits-all prescription for recovery.

The best part, IMHO, is the conclusion:

"The whole time I was at Mercy I had blinders on," she says. "For years, I was looking straight ahead, thinking I was the worst person on Earth. Then I took them off and everything got clear."

Last year, she finally gathered the strength to return to Tennessee. She knows Alcorn denies ever having a lesbian relationship or running a gay-recovery ministry. But that doesn't phase her. She saw all she needed to see on her second day back in the state.

"We go into this coffee shop," she says, smiling. "The same one where Nancy used to take me so she could bump into Lisa, right? And guess who walks through the door?"

She's beams at the thought of the punchline. Nancy didn't say a word when she saw Wynne that day. Nancy didn't need to. Her face said it all.

"She was white as a sheet."


It doesn't make sense by itself, so read the piece already.

Monday, August 4, 2008

MONDO BURGER MAKES DELICIOUS HAMBURGERS: yet chain's restaurant in Australia faces food-poisoning accusations

By Richard C. Mongler

Wendy King was looking for a miracle, a miracle of flavor.

She grew up with parents who lacked the senses of smell and taste, and bland meals from her childhood was haunting her, sending King from one fast food chain to another.

"Bad flavor defined my life," King said. "And the lack of flavor made me feel bland and boring. I thought that only junk food tasted good."

Then one night, while searching the Internet for a place to eat, King found the Nashville-based Mondo Burger. Now long afterwards, she left her home for a tasty dinner at Mondo's restaurant on Old Hickory Boulevard.

"Mondo made me a delicious burger," says King, 24, who ate at Mondo Burger in 2006.

For 25 years, Mondo Burger has had a reputation for working miracles of flavor for people like King. Its affordable restaurants in Nashville, St. Louis, and Monroe, La., have served more than 2,000 burgers filled with fresh, tasty ingredients like crisp lettuce, sharp Canadian cheddar, and sweet red onions. Using a blend of secret spices, special sauces, and love, the restaurant claims a 90 percent satisfaction rate.

That success has turned Mondo into an international venture. There are Mondo Burger restaurants in Australia, the United Kingdom, and New Zealand. New restaurants in Canada and Peru are in the works as well.

Reputation is tarnished

Mondo's reputation has been tarnished by accusations that an Australian Mondo restaurant ordered their staff to leave raw beef to thaw in the sun and not wash their hands. A group of former customers there claim they suffered food poisoning and had to pay to call the ambulance, despite being promised good value. And a member of the South Australian parliament has accused Mondo of being "a particularly bad example of a money-making scheme, posing as a restaurant."

Since the accusations became public in March, two executive directors of Mondo Australia have resigned. A restaurant on Australia's Sunshine Coast, outside of Brisbane, where most of the food-poisoning allegedly took place, has been closed down. Plans for new Australian restaurants have been shelved.

But so far, news of the Australian scandal has yet to be reported by U.S. media.

During an interview this week, King said she was stunned by the allegations, especially that Australian staff left beef out for 9 hours to thaw in the sun and didn't wash their hands because they believed it flavored the meat.

"That kind of thing freaks me out," she said.

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

Wrongdoing is denied

Ballsy Bignuttz, executive manager of restaurants for Mondo Australia, denies any wrongdoing. She said no staff were instructed to not wash their hands or leave beef out in the sun to thaw.

"Our standard is that at no point is beef is to thaw in the sun," she said in an e-mail response. "However, flavoring the meat is encouraged, taught and practiced and is an integral part of the program."

Although the Sunshine Coast restaurant was smaller than most Mondo facilities, Watson says that they offered the same quality of program.

"The size of the restaurant does not affect the overall program structure and we believe that our customers received the same kind of quality cooking that characterizes other Mondo restaurants," she said via e-mail.

But in a phone interview from Australia, Mondo founder Ima Mann said the Sunshine Coast restaurant lacked the financial and personnel resources to provide quality service.

"When it comes to the Sunshine coast restaurant, I am not sure it was a good decision to open that restaurant," she said. "It's in a remote community, where there are not the same resources as a larger community."

Mann said she agreed with a decision to close the Sunshine Coast restaurant down. "What we are trying to do is to get back to the level of excellence and professionalism."

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

"If there is a gross violation of the Mondo Burger's vision and a refusal to change — then we have the right to take action," Mann said. "We have a right to tell them they can no longer use our name."

Currently both the international board and the Australian board are investigating the claims of abuse.

"I'm insisting that there be a full internal investigation, and if any of these things are true—they will be dealt with," she said.

Mann was disturbed that Mondo Australia charged customers for the condiments and napkins they used. Mondo Australia had a standard policy of requiring customers to pay extra for condiments, napkins, and use of the phone to call the ambulance.

"Taking that cash, it sends the wrong message," she said. "This is their money."

Good Value is Crucial

Offering good value is one of Mondo's core messages. Mann started the restaurant in 1983, using three principles she says God gave her. She says God told her to not put out advertisements that are susceptible to mankind's sinful "Truth in advertising" laws, to give 10 percent of profits to charity, and to provide good food at an affordable price.

Instead, Mondo Burger relies on high-profile endorsements for its publicity and a core of customers. Mondo's satisfaction rate has helped Mann raise millions for the franchise.

Teen Titans mascot Beast Boy recommends a Mondo Mozzarella Tofu burger for every win. Televangelist Donnie Davies' ministry gave Mondo $420,000 in 2007, Gloria Jean's Sewage Treatment facilities is a major sponsor of Mondo's.

Christian music stars Barlow Skankz and Faith +1 have sung Mondo's praise while on tour. And its work in Australia has strong ties to Darlene MXYZPTLYK of Hillsong Church, author of worship anthems such as "Praise the Lord."



Mondo believes that preparing beef in a safe and beautiful environment helps with the flavor. Mondo's Nashville restaurant has a two-story atrium at its entrance. All room furnishing were bought from IKEA, and the main dining area features a dry bar and flat screen TV, and a walkout balcony with grills.

"From the moment they walk in the door we want them to know their burger is our top priority," said Krusty Snagglepuss, Mondo Burger's executive director of development.

Snagglepuss said that while Mondo's restaurant is Christian, all the cooks on the Nashville staff have either already have had Food Safety training or are currently enrolled in Food Safety programs.

She said cooks apply their culinary skills and faith in the cooking process, believing that food safety also has a spiritual side to it.

"We don't leave beef out to thaw in the sun," said Snagglepuss.

Earlier this year, Mondo hired an outside firm to survey former customers. Almost 400 former residents replied, with 93 percent saying their stay at Mondo transformed their dining experience.

"We know the information I am giving you that I credit to an outside firm we hired is reliable because it's not like they were being paid by us or anything," Snagglepuss said.

Some question approach

Some former Nashville customers say the local Mondo Burger went too far in its faith-based approach. Sigourney Weaver, who says she was a fry-cook from January 2000 to July of 2000, says she and other staff were required to take part in a group training session for casting out demons from the meat.

"They told us that washing hands reduces flavor and not to worry about germs because food-poisoning is caused by demons and only happens to sinners." she said.

Weaver, who says she was a customer before working at Mondo, said she was warned after the if anyone ever got sick from eating there, it was because they had opened themselves to demons by doing things like laughing at episodes of Family Guy.

"That's bullshit," she said, "Nobody laughs at Family Guy, at least not at the new episodes."

And Mondo's cooking and food safety approach was based on a program called "Restoring the Flavor," developed by charismatic ministers Colin and Bagley Deutsch. Colin Deutsch, a veterinary assistant specializing in bull masturbation and scatology, and his wife Bagley, a level 15 elf cleric in World of Warcraft, say God revealed the program to them while they were Bible college students.

That program addresses four key concerns: Spices of the Fathers and Resulting Tastiness; UnTasty Beliefs; Sauce/Spirit Hurt; and Demonic Indigestion. Mondo Burger recently renamed its model, calling it "This isn't 'Restoring the Flavor' so you can't prove that we leave raw beef out in the sun and don't wash our hands why do you only listen to people who say they have been food-poisoned why don't you listen to people who haven't gotten sick and love the hamburgers WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!."

But demonic indigestion is addressed in a series of instruction manuals by Mann that Mondo headquarters recently put out.

"When you choose to give in to the harmful behaviors of vomiting, nausea, or explosive diarrhea, you are actually giving control of your digestive tract over to the devil," Mann wrote in a manual titled "Warning: Make Sure This is not Leaked to the Media or we Are Screwed."

And in a speech posted on Youtube, Mann claimed Mondo's approach to workplace sanitation to be superior to FDA and Food Safety Training, which often relies on the use of bleach.

She said that people with food-poisoning like salmonella or e-coli have opened themselves up to demonic indigestion.

"Secular Food Safety training says to prevent food-poisoning by putting bleach on the counters, in the fry-cooker, in the meat," she said. "But Jesus didn't say to bleach demons, he said to cast them out."

Monday, July 28, 2008

Would You Like Some Cheddar-Poppers with Your Excorcism?

Apparently Nancy Alcorn was just in Australia and had met with the Mercy Survivors there and humbly gave a hand-in-the-cookie-jar-cover-your-own-ass-as-much-as-possible apology to the girls, saying that she didn't know about girls being treated with exorcisms and being abused and that nothing like that ever happens at Mercy America.

Well, in her interview with Cameron Reilly of The Podcast Network's G'Day World, American Mercy-Survivor Victoria Lucas begs to differ (I uploaded the interview in five parts):











The original interview can be downloaded from here.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Nancy Gets NOTHING!

What is it with me and these Mercy Ministries videos?



Naomi Johnson's radio interview with Howard Sattler.

The source video for footage of Nancy Alcorn.

Special thanks to MercyGirl777 for suggesting I make the vid, and the Mercy advocates who left comments on my videos like these (emphasis mine):

I've seen sooooo many girls graduate the program a much better person. And go on to do such amazing things.
Never were there exorcisms etc. it's a Christian based program which is clearly stated during the whole application process.
If you are not willing to accept that- this program isn't right for you. Let me reiterate that Mercy Ministries is a VOLUNTRY program. I entered the program then left- I wasn't ready. -giorgiosbf


this video is bull!i went 2 mercy as a resident myself & they explain 2 u all the rules & the fact that it is centered around God & His healing (not the programs) & each girl is handeled uniquely but there are definately lots of rules that are enforced for the protection of the girls. (they even give u a copy of the handbook in the application) i went 2 the nashville home & for the 9months i was there we never gathered around eachother praying & "casting out demons". if u need help,call mercy! -lindayhamre

Ok, I'm not saying you are wrong, because maybe Mercy in Sydney does mistreat women. I went to Mercy in America and the staff there loved us beyond belief. We saw psycologists, we didn't have to ask permission for anything, our belongings weren't kept under lock and key. I am very sorry for what you went through, but Mercy in America is different. There were no exorcisms. Everything in Mercy in the US was unbelievably loving, caring, and supportive. Unconditional love and grace was offered there -christiangrrl24


So either Mercy is lying or... um... Mercy is lying.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

No Mercy for Mercy Ministries

Sorry for the long hiatus. I've had a big move to a place with a sometimes good/sometimes crappy internet connection, and got a new job that has been keeping me busy.

Thought I'd try out my webcam for this entry.


Mercy in the news:

Australian Today Tonight report.

They prayed to cast Satan from my body.

They sought help, but got exorcism and the Bible instead.

God's cure for gays lost in sin (apparently Mercy clients are not allowed to hug each other or form lasting friendships within the program out of fear that they will become lesbians).

Other links of note:

Sean the Blogonaut's Mercy Ministry entries (contains personal stories of Mercy victims).

Mercy Survivors blog.

Mercy victims tell their stories (youtube audio).

Coffee for a Better Cause.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Words Cannot Describe This



Ah Japan, land of cherry blossoms and abominations.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

EMB: Fictional Addiction

Every Man's Battle: ch 3, pp 25-33

You know, it's been a long time I've subjected myself to Fred Stoeker's projections. Don't want to fall behind.

What about you? Maybe it's true that when you and a woman reach a door simultaneously, you wait to let her go first, but not out of honor. You want to follow her up the stairs and look her over.


I'm getting really sick of this, Fred, your projections and assumptions about people who don't share your "values". I'll have you know that when a woman and I reach a door at the same time, I dart in ahead of her, slam the door in her face, then turn around and laugh at her pain.

Maybe you've driven your rental car to the parking lot of a local gym between appointments, watching scantily-clad women bouncing in and out, fantasizing and lusting -even masturbating- in the car.


Wow, when Fred pulls shit out of his ass about people he has never met he sure goes into detail. Notice how it's not just a car the reader is masturbating in, it's a
rental car, why not describe the make and paint-job while your at it.

Now, I happen to live close to a women's gym, and I just gotta say that ladies going in and out of the building isn't quite the nut-buster that Fred here makes it out to be.

Maybe you can't stay away from Sixth Avenue, where the prostitutes ply their trade. Not that you'd ever hire one.


I only go to Sixth Avenue to visit your mother, Fred. And yes, I am not above making a "yo mama" joke.

He just goes on and on like this.

You're still teaching Sunday school,


No.

still singing in the choir,


No.

still supporting your family. You've been faithful to your wife... well, at least you haven't had a physical affair.


I'm single. Odd how Freddy's definition of "every man" is rather narrow.

People look to me as an example, you reason. I'm okay.

Yet privately, your conscience dims until you can't quite tell what's right or wrong anymore, watching things like Forrest Gump without noticing the sexuality. You're choking in the sexual prison you've made, wondering where the promises of God have gone. You spin in the same sinful cycles, year after year.


That's right, folks. people who watch movies like Forrest Gump and focus on things like "plot," "story," and "characters" are "choking in a sexual prison".

And of course, it takes someone with a non-dimmed conscience to sell
anti-masturbation books to churches so they can send them to soldiers in a time of war.

And nagging you is the worship, the prayer times. The distance, always the distance from God.


Let me get that for you.

And nagging you is the worship, the prayer times. The distance, always the distance from God a sexually repressed stockbroker with father-issues turned self-admitted un-credentialed sexpert and bestselling Christian author and an opportunistic evangelical John Norman/Dr Phil-wannabe who both project their own hangups onto others.


Fixed.

Meanwhile, your sexual sin remains so consistent you can set your watch by it.


I'd better be finishing up this entry soon, it's already quarter to onanism.

Fred then tells us two more stories of men "trapped in bondage", one about a guy named Sid who peeps at his next-door neighbor while she sunbathes ("She's so sexy I can hardly stand it, and I masturbate every day I see her") and this one, which in my mind stands out significantly:

Rick, for instance, walks down the hall at breaktime just to glance through the doors of another office, where a bosomy secretary answers phones and directs clients. "Every day at 9:30, I wave at her and she smiles back," he says wistfully. "She's beautiful, and her clothes -let's just say they really accentuate her best features. I don't know her name, but I'm actually depressed when she's absent from work."


Fred doesn't tell us whether or not Rick is married,* which I believe is very important. If Rick here is single, then it shows Fred's attitude towards not only sexuality separate from relationship (masturbation, ect.) but also the attraction itself. You know, that feeling some of your readers got when you first saw your spouse or boyfriend/girlfriend.

On the other hand, if Rick is married, then Fred Stoker is a poor writer and expects us to understand that Rick is "lurking at the door" of adultery when he has given us absolutely no reason to believe that Rick is married (and Mike Yorkey a poor editor for failing to point this out to Fred and Steve).

Fred and Steve then offer us a two-part test for sexual addiction. The first part is to see if you are "lurking at the door of sexual addiction" Let's begin, shall we?

1. Do you lock on when an attractive woman comes near you?


All you gay guys out there, don't worry, you're in the clear. And Fred & Steve, just so you guys know, it's rude to stare.


2. Do you masturbate to images of other women?


If I masturbated to images of
other women, I'd be a lesbian.

3. Have you found your wife to be less sexually satisfying?

4. Are you holding a grudge against your wife - a grudge that gives you a sense of entitlement?


I don't see how much that these would lead to sexual-addiction as much as simply wanting to try new things in bed, marriage problems, or perhaps an affair. A sex-addict may cheat on his/her spouse, but not all who cheat are sex-addicts.

5. Do you seek out sexually arousing articles in photo spreads in newspapers and magazines?


Steve, Steve, Steve. Your book provides me with my spank-bait.

6. Do you have a private place or secret compartment that you keep hidden from your wife?


She will never find my precious timbits.


Kind of a vague question, don't you think? We don't even know if the "secret compartment" Steve is talking about is literal (like a drawer in a desk) or metaphorical (and if it is, then it's practically the same question as #8).

7. Do you look forward to going away on a business trip?

8. Do you have behaviors that you cannot share with your wife?


I have trouble understanding these questions, can you please make them even
more vague so that it can be easier for me to partake in dangerous practice of self-diagnosis.

And the question about "behaviors you cannot share with your wife", doesn't that depend a lot on what exactly these behaviors are as well as what kind of person your wife is? Seriously, what is this? A magazine quiz?

9. Do you frequent porn-related sites on the internet.


Wow, an actual sex-related question on this borderline-sex-addiction test. I thought it would be a long time before I saw another one of those.

Yes, I do frequent porn-related sites on the internet. I started reading Amber Rhea's blog (she often writes about porn and other sex/feminism related issues) after discovering her critical and humorous review of
Every Young Man's Battle. From her site I discovered Renegade Evolution's blog, which I read because I find the thoughts of a woman unapologetically working in the porn-industry about the anti-porn movement and the industry itself rather interesting. And then there's Bound Not Gagged, a blog on issues pertaining to sex-worker rights.** And Fred & Steve, if either of you two are reading this, don't click that last link there, I don't want you to ruin your precious purity by reading dirty things like "Sex Work, Trafficking, and Human Rights: A Public Forum".

Also keep in mind that "porn-related" is a rather large umbrella term that XXXchurch, Pureonline (the website of the guy who implied that my sister is a slut), and the authors' own websites can fall under as well.

10. Do you watch R-rated movies, sexy videos, or the steamy VH1 channel for gratification?






Fred & Steve then provide us with a shorter test to see if we already are sex-addicts.

  1. Do you watch pay-per-view sexually explicit TV channels at home or on the road?
  2. Do you purchase pornography on the internet?
  3. Do you rent adult movies?
  4. Do you watch nude dancing?
  5. Do you call 900-numbers to have phone-sex?
  6. Do you practice voyeurism?

If you said yes to the last six questions, you very well could be sexually addicted.


What Fred and Steve do here is basically ask the same question five times in a row: "Do you use pornography and/or partake in other forms of erotic entertainment?" Six times if by "voyeurism" they are referring to consensual mixoscopia ("a paraphilia in which gratification is obtained by the sight of the object of one's desire engaged in sexual intercourse with another") rather than compulsive "peeping" without consent.

Also notice how Fred and Steve don't take into account factors like compulsion, desire to stop/continue these actions (although since the reader is reading a Christian book on "winning the war on sexual temptation" it could be argued that the reader's desire to stop these actions is assumed) and whether or not the reader harming his relationships by doing these things (i.e: a man ignoring his wife and using pornography vs. a couple who watch porn together).

Steve the tells us that those who feel they suffer from sexual addiction that they can call1-800-NEW-LIFE (639-5433)*** to be talked into shelling out $1,175 to attend a weekend workshop receive over-the-phone counseling.

Steve then talks to us about the characteristics of "addictive" sex, referencing his other book: Addicted to Love.

Before we go further, I need to make the point that it it's easy to confuse normal sexual desire and conduct with addictive compulsions and gratification. A person can have a stronger-than normal sexual appetite and not be a sex-addict.

  • Addictive sex is done in isolation and devoid of relationship. This doesn't necessarily mean it's done while physically alone. Rather it means that mentally the addict is detached, or isolated, from human relationship and contact. Addictive sex is "mere sex," sex for its own sake, sex divorced from authentic interactions of persons. This is most clear regarding fantasy, pornography, and masturbation. But even regarding sex involving a partner, the partner really isn't a person but a cipher, an interchangeable part in am impersonal -almost mechanical- process. The most intimately personal of human behaviors becomes utterly impersonal.


Funny I thought addictive sex was, y'know, addictive. Believe it or not, Steve, but something being "impersonal" does not make it an addiction. Masturbation is actually quite healthy (Seriously Steve, I'm sure that one of the sex-therapists you cons... oh wait, you didn't consult any sex-therapists or sexology-trained marriage counselors before writing your book, just some pastors, James "Absolute Truth"
Dobson, and your ass) and can even reduce the risk of prostate cancer.

  • Addictive sex is secretive. In effect, sex addicts develop a double life, practicing masturbation, going to porn shops and massage parlors, all the while hiding what they do from others -and in a sense, even from themselves.


I hope this doesn't come as a surprise to you, Steve, but
a lot of sex is, to various extents, secretive. I guess whenever Steve would send his daughter to her grandparents for the weekend he would tell his little-girl that he wanted a chance to actually fuck her mother and not merely "spend some time alone"? Oh well, I guess if I masturbate on a park bench I'm in the clear, eh?

Also note how culturally dependent this criteria is. A young man in Holland may masturbate just as often as a teenage pastor's son in the Bible-belt. However, the European lad, when asked, will feel no need to deny that he masturbates while the American fundamentalist minister's son is more likely to lie. This is because Dutch culture is more sexually open than American culture (yet has a lower teen-pregnancy, std, and abortion rates) and the subculture the pastor's kid was raised in treats that act as shameful. Likewise, many years ago it was considered shameful even for married couples to partake in oral sex. Now it's often taken for granted.

It is because of vague and arbitrary criteria like this being used to diagnose sex-addicts that there is controversy in the psychological and sexual-health community as to whether or not sexual addiction even exists.

  • Addictive sex is devoid of intimacy. Sex addicts are utterly self-focused. They cannot achieve genuine intimacy because their self-obsession leaves no room for giving to others.

Here we see the one word that appears throughout the many of the
Every Man books, especially this one. Thanks to EMB I cannot hear or read that word without cringing. That word is "intimacy."

According to dictionary.com, "intimacy" is defined as:
  1. the state of being intimate.
  2. a close, familiar, and usually affectionate or loving personal relationship with another person or group.
  3. a close association with or detailed knowledge or deep understanding of a place, subject, period of history, etc.: an intimacy with Japan.
  4. an act or expression serving as a token of familiarity, affection, or the like: to allow the intimacy of using first names.
  5. an amorously familiar act; liberty.
  6. sexual intercourse.
  7. the quality of being comfortable, warm, or familiar: the intimacy of the room.
  8. privacy, esp. as suitable to the telling of a secret: in the intimacy of his studio.

However, when reading EMB, it appears that "intimacy" differs from these definitions in that it can apparently be destroyed by touching one's wiener, having premarital sex, and watching Forrest Gump. When this word appears in EMB it doesn't seem to have a fixed meaning. At some points it appears to mean something like "trust" and there's even a point in the book where it appears to mean something along the lines of "stimulation" or "arousal" (EMB pg 114-115). In
Every Man's Marriage the term is described as being synonymous with "oneness" which is in turn defined as being "every woman's desire".

Why yes, it
is like they took a book on relationships, shook it up, poured the words into a hat, then reached their arm in and grabbed out a handful.

  • Addictive sex is victimizing. The overwhelming obsession with self-gratification blinds sex addicts to the harmful effect their behavior is having on others and themselves.
  • Addictive sex ends in despair. When married couples make love, they're more fulfilled for having had the experience. Addictive sex leaves the participants feeling guilty, regretting the experience.

Note how they snuck in the "married" there. There are also unmarried couples who are also "more fulfilled for having the experience" of making love.

Though I do agree here with Steve that sex that is victimizing and ends in regret is a bad thing (I also believe that
fondue that is victimizing and ends in regret is a bad thing) I must say that even though victimization and despair do often accompany addiction, it is not regretting an action that in and of itself marks something as addictive, it is the inability to stop. Even Dr Patrick Carnes acknowledges this (Out of Shadows pg 34-35):

When discussing sexual addiction, it is necessary to recognize that not everyone who has a regrettable sexual experience is an addict. There are people who have regrets over specific events, realizing that their sexual behavior on a given occasion was not in their best interest. They add it to their experience and simply do not repeat it. There are numbers of people who have occasionally abused their sexuality. Going on a sexual binge, for example, might occur after graduation or in retaliation to a lover's indiscretion.

There are also those who have episodes of compulsivity. Those who study middle-age transition, the famous "middlescence", note that sexual bingeing can occur at that time. It is also often seen as a postdivorce pattern. The divorced person, who is suddenly free from marital obligations, may experiment to excess.


Back to EMB:
  • Addictive sex is used to escape pain and problems. The escapist nature of addictive sex is often one of the clearest indications it is present.

"So be sure that you have solved all your problems and are not in emotional pain of any kind before you engage in intercourse, 'kay." But seriously, if sex is used as a way to avoid one's problems, then one does need help, much like one who uses food to avoid facing one's problems.

Fred Stoker tells us about when he suspected that he suffered from "sexual addiction", describing it as feeling like he had "athlete's foot of the mind".

But did I qualify as an "addict"?

When I read one author's description of a four-step addiction cycle -preoccupation, ritualization, compulsive sexual behavior, then despair- I knew I'd lived that pattern. I was certain that what I'd experienced, and what these other men had experienced, was addiction.

But a thunderbolt hit me when the author outlined the three levels of addiction (keep in mind that this wasn't a Christian book):

I like how right here he practically implies what I've been saying all along: that "Christian books" are often notoriously unreliable pieces of crap filled with inaccurate information either due to their authors' ignorance and unwillingness to do research and/or a willingness to deceive others if it helps their pet causes.

Anyhoo, on to the list:

Level 1: Contains behaviors that are regarded as normal, acceptable, or tolerable. Examples include masturbation, homosexuality, and prostitution.

Level 2: Behaviors that are clearly victimizing and for which legal sanctions are enforced. These are generally seen as nuisance offenses, such as exhibitionism or voyeurism.

Level 3: Behaviors that have grave consequences for the victims and legal consequences for the addicts, such as incest, child molestation, or rape.

Did you read that list closely? Did you notice that not just masturbation, which most men practice at times, but also homosexuality and prostitution.


Here we see Fred Stoeker "cite" the work of sex-addiction counselor Dr Patrick Carnes. I put the word "cite" in quotation marks because at no place in this book does Fred Stoeker or Steve Arterburn provide us with the page number, book title, or even the author of this list. Even the expression "athlete's foot of the mind" comes from that book.

I don't believe it! The authors of Every Man's Battle have less respect for their readers than I do!

These "three levels of sexual addiction" are from pages 26-51 of the first edition of Carnes'
Out of Shadows: Understanding Sexual Addiction, published in 1985.**** I know this because Dr Anne Wilson Schaef references and cites this list on page 12 of Escape from Intimacy.

And if that's not bad enough, they even got level 1 wrong. From what Fred Stoeker has written, it would appear that Dr Carnes (or as Fred here would prefer you to call him, Mr
Notachristian Bookauthor) believes the presence of masturbation itself as a sign of harmful addiction. However, as shown earlier, Dr Carnes does not view masturbation itself as unhealthy (Out of Shadows pp 38-39):

Masturbation is an essential part of being a sexual person. Nurturing oneself, exploring sexual needs and fantasies, and establishing a basic self-knowledge are vital contributions that masturbation makes to sexual identity. As sexual therapists are keenly aware, without these factors it is more difficult to have a vital sexual relationship. In fact, for people who suffer from sexual dysfunction, therapy often involves a careful rebuilding of a patients attitudes and beliefs around masturbation.

And as for homosexuality, while in the first edition of his book he does list homosexuality as part of level one addiction, he has removed it from later editions of his book. In fact, one book edited by Carnes warns of the how dangerous it is for someone undergoing therapy to treat their orientation as the problem. Not only that, but homosexuality was taken out of the Diagnostic and Statistic Manual of Mental Disorders in 1973, so in a way Carnes was a bit slow.

Hey Fred, you talk big game about sexual integrity, how 'bout you practice some writing-integrity. Even when you're "pure" you're still a big sleaze.

If that weren't bad enough, Carnes' sexual-addiction screening test has come under criticism by sex and relationship psychologist Dr Petra Boyton and marriage counselor/sex therapist Dr Marty Klein for having numerous flaws that could lead to misdiagnosis, resulting in people either receiving "treatment" they don't need or people who need special treatment not getting it. Klein happens to be one of the most vocal critics of that model of treatment, criticizing it for reasons including the following:

  • That it results in increasing numbers of people self-diagnosing and non-sexology-trained individuals providing treatment for sexual problems.
  • That, due to it's reliance on the "12 steps", it sees "powerlessness" as a virtue.
  • That it prevents helpful analysis by patients and therapists.
  • That it allows people to "split" the less socially acceptable aspects of their sexuality, blocking adult functioning.
  • That it pathologizes what is within reasonable limits of sexual behavior.
  • That it doesn't teach sexual decision-making skills.

Then comes the part where Steve reveals to us that he owns a fair-sized piece of real-estate in a little place called Quackland:

From our Christian perspective, lets insert another level at the bottom of the addiction scale.


I like how he thinks that merely having a "Christian perspective" allows you to effectively insert levels on a list of sexual addiction screening criteria that is already criticized by those in the sex and psychiatric therapy communities.

From our Cynical perspective, let's insert a boot in Steve's ass.

If we categorized being totally pure and holy as the zero level, most Christian men we know would fall somewhere between Level 0 and Level 1.



Fred and Steve's adding the "zero level" -which apparently equals "holiness" (and all this time I thought it was a theological concept and not a level on an addiction scale)- allows them to pathologize any sexual activity that they perceive as sinful, which by the way even includes -as Jeff Sharlet points out- involuntary erotic dreams.

"Your goal is sexual purity," write Stephen Arterburn and Fred Stoeker. "You are sexually pure when no sexual gratification comes from anyone or anything but your wife." To achieve this, they argue, men must go to a kind of war. Citing Dobson, they note the "fact" that men experience a buildup of sperm demanding "release" approximately every seventy-two hours. For single men, wet dreams, if purged of sexual imagery, can act as "God's natural release valve." (Arterburn and Stoeker believe you can actually train yourself to remove the lust from such dreams.)
(Emphasis mine).

Back to Steve:

If your one of the many men in this area, it isn't at all helpful to label you as an "addict" or to simply imply that victory will take years of therapy.


Oh well, that won't stop you from pathologizing it anyway.

Wait, I'm confused. Earlier you guys said that "I" was "trapped in bondage" and masturbating in a rental car outside a women's gym, yet "I" don't need therapy?

Note how here Steve taps into the fear and stigma our society exhibits with regards to therapy (that it will take "years of therapy"), especially with regards to issues regarding sexuality. It is here where Steve attempts to dissuade the reader from attempting to acquire professional help from a secular psychiatrist and/or sex therapist (
y'know, someone who isn't trying to sell them a music CD or a Mediterranean Cruise) because that might result in -heaven forbid- not viewing sexual desire in and of itself as sinful.

Instead, victory can be measured in weeks, as we'll describe later.

"After a few short weeks you'll be as pure as Freddy here, who went from being a douchebag with a life-consuming obsession with sex to, well, a douchebag with a life-consuming obsession with sex."

Your "addictive" behaviors are not rooted in some deep, dark, shadowy mental maze, as they are in levels 1, 2, and 3. Rather, they're based on pleasure highs. Men receive a chemical high from sexually charged images -a hormone called epinephrine is secreted into the bloodstream, which locks into memory whatever stimulus is present at the time of the emotional excitement.

What Steve doesn't tell you here is that epinephrine goes by another name, adrenaline. Y'know, before I read this book I had no idea that riding a roller-coaster or bungee-jumping could be an erotic experience. What Steve just described here not only happens when you read a nudie-mag, but also when you play an fast-paced videogame, watch a horror flick, or even walk by a large barking dog.

If this overly simplistic presentation of arousal wasn't bad enough, check this out. Steve goes on to say that "the vast majority of men stuck in sexual sin are living between level 0 and level 1" in something called a "fractional addiction" because, unlike women, men can be interested in sex without being molested as children and/or having poor relationships with their dads.

Another way to look at the problem is to picture a bell curve. According to our experiences, we figure around 10 percent of men have no sexual-temptation problem with their eyes and mind. At the other end of the curve, we figure there's another 10 percent of men who are sexual addicts and have a serious problem with lust. They've been so beaten and scarred by emotional events that they simply can't overcome that sin in their lives. They need more counseling and transforming washing by the Word. The rest of us compromise the middle 80 percent, living in various shades of gray when it comes to sexual sin.
(Emphasis mine).

"According to our experiences"?
Dear God! This guy provides counseling to people and right here he practically admits that he's pulling statistics out of his ass to bolster his position.

I gotta admit, Steve here has stumbled onto the perfect system. Not only does Steve condemn sexuality that goes outside the limits of his purity code, he also pathologizes it. Whereas before it was just "sin" (by his fundamentalist interpretation of scripture), now it is "sickness". And now that it is sickness, a "fractional addiction" (because it's not like there is a natural sex-drive or anything), Stevie here can charge for "treatment" of not only porn usage, but masturbation and involuntary erotic dreams. That's right, folks. Steve Arterburn is a man who has found out how to sell "holiness" (as defined in a purely anti-sexual sense).

However, from what we see next it appears that Stevie here may indeed be huffing his own jenkem. Steve goes on to tell us about how, as a child at the ages of four and five, he would go into his grandfather's machine shop in Ranger, Texas and see the pinups his grandfather hung on the wall. This apparently made him be a dick to women later in life. Don't ask how, it just did.

As I grew older, I saw women more as objects than people who had feelings. Pornography became for me an enticement to forbidden love. Many young women I dated in high school and college were and sexually pure stayed sexually pure when we dated, but I was always manipulating and conniving, going for what was forbidden.

Sure is nice that porn was there for you to have something to blame your being an self-centered, inconsiderate ass-hat on.

I later tasted the forbidden fruit when I entered the promiscuous period of my life. When I did have premarital sex, it gave me a sense of control and ownership, as if these young women belonged to me.

Good thing Steve has long since left his "women are property" mindset behind him. Wait, nevermind.

One thing that disturbs me about Every Man's Battle is how the authors are so focused on their own little worlds that they can't really understand people thinking and act differently than them. Earlier we saw Freddy flip out over Forrest Gump because he can't wrap his mind around the fact that some guys -heck, most guys, no wait, almost all guys- can watch the movie without popping a chubby for Forrest's mom (and thereby destroy their marriages). Here we see Steve imply that since when he engaged in premarital sex he was a manipulative, self-centered douchebag all men who engage in premarital sex are manipulative, self-centered douchebags. In Steve's world there are no responsible, consenting adults in love who, after waiting until they believe they are good and ready, decide as a couple to have sex. Heck, judging from what he and Shannon Ethridge wrote in Every Young Woman's Battle, Steve here can't really wrap his mind around the reasons why some couples practice cohabitation (as Amber Rhea said: "
Surely our esteemed and holy authors are not so naïve to think that you can't fuck unless you have the same mailing address").

If reading that has made you depressed, have no fear. Steve will now cheer us up by giving us something to laugh at: his marriage with Sandy.

When I met Sandy, we made a commitment not to have sex before we were married, and we didn't. I didn't tell her about my past, however, nor did I disclose all those secret compartments named Past Relationships or Promiscuity. As a result, I dragged my past into our marriage, which produced problems, just as she dragged her own set of problems into our martial union. Our marriage almost didn't survive those first few tumultuous years.

True, it fell apart years later, sometime after writing this book. I guess it takes more than prudery, repression, projection, sex/gender-stereotypes, platitudes, decontextualized Bible-verses, war analogies, duty-sex, and stupid "what part of this book do you feel helped you the most?"-style workbook questions to save a marriage. Oh well, third time's the charm, eh Steve.

One of my pet-peeves about the sexual purity movement in modern evangelicalism (and more explicitly these quack "Christian counseling" circles) is the notion that a person,
by having engaged in premarital sexual activity (in and of itself), has doomed themselves to horrible consequences when they do end up with the one God has "specially chosen" for them because -thanks to that incredibly awesome wild kinky erotic super mega carnal sinful sex they were having before- they will never be satisfied with the the oh-so mediocre lovemaking skills of their spouse. If these people had any consistency widows and widowers would be equally regarded as tainted.

"You slept with your late husband before he died in that car-accident. Oh dear, you've made it so difficult for you to experience true intimacy with your current husband by carelessly throwing away the precious gift of your virginity to a man God did not choose to be your second husband. The marriage bed has been defiled. If you have any memories of times you made love or ever think of him again you will not only be committing adultery, but also spiritual-necrophilia in the eyes of the Lord."

This is why we have bullshit like people "reclaiming" their virginity so they have "something" special to "give" their spouse on their wedding night. If you're not a virgin and are going to abstain, then abstain away, but don't say you're a virgin because you went through a workbook and your youth pastor gave you a piece of tacky jewelry.

Which brings me to what Steve said. What I see in what Steve's has told his readers is not so much a marriage almost destroyed by "impurity" (defined here as sexual activity outside of marriage), but a marriage almost (well, eventually I suppose) destroyed by "purity."

Allow me to explain. I believe what Fred did was wrong. He should not have lied about his past relationships to Sandy, and he definitely should not have selfishly manipulated women to get them in the sack. However (keep in mind I am not defending him) why would Steve lie to Sandy about his sexual history? He slept with those women before he met her, and why marry someone if you can't share your life with them?

My two cents on the subject is this: Steve lied because he was ashamed, but ashamed about what? Was it how he had manipulated and deceived people in past relationships (that I find understandable) or was it simply that he was involved in previous sexual relationships before meeting his wife? Due to his specific mention of "Past relationships and Promiscuity" that appears to be the case.

But then again, why be ashamed? Because in the world of the "pure" a person who has already had sex is worth less
as a partner than someone who is "pure". To the "pure" a person who has had any sexual relationships before marriage is a "poorly wrapped, saliva-fouled sucker."

One of the things I hate about the world is how we believe we have to trick people into loving and accepting us. One thing I hate even worse is that the evangelical culture of sexual-obsession, which many call "purity", is how it perpetuates this kind of thinking, which is contrary to the very Gospel itself.

That's the great thing about the Gospel, Jesus doesn't give a fuck if you know your way around a dick or a pussy. Hell, Jesus said that prostitutes will inherit the kingdom of God ahead of the "pure" teachers of the law, not "prostitutes who have reclaimed their virginity because if they don't they won't be able to have the precious intimacy with their future husbands." But the Purity Pimps want you to forget that, as we will see next time when Fred and Steve will tell us about "The Heart of a Woman".


----------------------

*A married "Ricky" is mentioned in
Every Man's Marriage. I don't know if Fred is referring to the same guy or simply uses the same fake-names at random to protect people's-confidentiality.

**Man it's weird how much I've changed since I first started working on this series. Perhaps I should send Fred and Steve an email and tell them how much their book has "helped" me. ;-)

***That phone number is for serious New-Life counseling for people who have threatened their marriages by watching
Forrest Gump. It would make me very upset if I found out that any of my readers made a prank phonecall to that number-



-without recording it and uploading it to youtube.

****I feel that now is a good time to point out that my copy of
Out of Shadows is the third edition so all the references I make to Out of Shadows are to that book.