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Monday, December 22, 2008

Is Minnesota Teen Challenge Effective? #1

Posts criticizing Minnesota Teen Challenge on Dump Bachmann have gotten strong criticism from a Dump Bachmann contributor (Bill Prendergast) and a supporter of the mission of the blog (Jonerik). This is adapted from a post reponding to this critism. I'm moving this discussion over to Lloydletta's Nooz. Teen Challenge gets support from the usual suspects among the theocrats, but also Amy Klobuchar, Barack Obama, Keith Ellison and Linda Berglin. Recently an event sponsored by Minnesota Teen Challenge's "Know the Truth" program was cancelled at South High.

Comment on MnIndy:
Patrick G

Teen Challenge is a joke! The clients I have had there don’t make it. They are taught the bible will cure everything. I think most people who go there from the “system” think it will be easier than jail. I would never recommend this program. Its nothing more than a taxpayer parasite.
Avidor 12.19.08 - 4:53 pm | #

Ken, anyone can post anything. But I hope that isn't right about MN Teen Challenge being a joke. I've heard good things... but not for a while because I haven't been listening for it.

Holly Cairns 12.19.08 - 5:00 pm | #

Then anti-immigrant activist blames the immigrants and minorities for the mortgage crisis.


You haven't admitted that banks were forced to give mortgages to minorities and illegal aliens who couldn't afford them. What's up with that? 12.19.08 - 5:08 pm | #

Back to the topic:

Teen Challenge doesn't claim 100% of the people who commit themselves to their program and to Christ are cured of their addictions but the success rate is much higher than many other secular programs. The principles are like AA which requires turning yourself over to a higher power except that Teen Challenge identifies that higher power as Jesus Christ. Many, many afflicted people have found themselves saved from the curse of drug and alcohol addiction through this program. One would think this would be cause of celebration.
jonerik 12.20.08 - 11:39 am | #

Actually Teen Challenge is highly critical of AA. A City Pages article in the 90s discusses that. Teen Challenge is excellent at PR. I'd like to see peer reviewed studies, not their own inflated claims of their success rate.

I wish that *anyone* here who wants to write anything critical of *any* recovery or charity program would do some real, genuine homework--about the positive AND negative aspects of that program--before going into print.

The fact that crooks give money to a recovery/charity program doesn't make that recovery/charity program corrupt.

The fact that some people criticize a recovery/charity program doesn't mean that it's a "cult" or a "scam" or something like that.

What if you found that some of the *directors* of that recovery/charity program were involved in some unethical illegal activity? (And that's not the case with Teen Challenge, I'm making an extreme hypothetical.) Even if you found that some of the *directors* of that recovery/charity program were involved in some unethical illegal activity, even if you had hard evidence of that--that wouldn't justify an irresponsible, poorly researched shotgun style attack that hurt the entire organization.

At this writing, I still believe that Teen Challenge has done a lot to help kids and adults in desperate need of help, here in Minnesota--and I'll continue to believe that until someone shows me serious evidence to the contrary. I disagree deeply with their theology, they have some grubby associations with Bachmann and others--but I haven't been hearing horror stories about how they treat clients, I've been hearing how they *helped* clients, for years.

I don't think Sen. Klobuchar is interested in backing a "scam" or a "cult." I don't think it enhances the credibility of this blog to disparage Teen Challenge without turning in some serious evidence proving it's a bad thing. Go after Petters, Vennes, and Bachmann, sure--but just because they touch something doesn't mean that something becomes evil and worthy of attack.

The recent "get Teen Challenge" thing that's going on here on Dump Bachmann has nothing to do with me. And I'm not going to back it until it can be shown that Teen Challenge does more harm than good. We've got more than enough targets already, the evidence of the malignity of Teen Challenge is not in, and I'm not going to sign off on the kind of smear of the innocent that Bachmann does.
Bill Prendergast

Bill, Ken has carefully researched Teen Challenge, and has done some excellent reporting on the issue here on Dump Bachmann. His point hasn't been just that they are a problematic organization because of their connection to Vennes. He has also pointed to other sources about the organization. The mainstream papers - the Strib, Minnpost etc. are slacking on their jobs by failing to report on Teen Challenge.

My feeling is Teen Challenge should NOT be publicly funded by the taxpayers. Publicly funding this program is equivalent to state sponsored religion. When this has been challenged in the courts in other states, Teen Challenge has lost public funding.

I have real issues with "therapeutic" programs that promote Ex-gay ministries (as Teen Challenge does), and that fail to serve people who don't want to be forced to state they are "converted" to christianity in order to get help. I am equally skeptical of alternative medicine such as homeopathy.

Teen Challenge reminds me of the Discovery Institute (which promotes Intelligent Design Creationism). They are excellent at Public Relations and building relationships with politicians. They are less successful at showing real evidence based results.