Bill McNamara is the head of New Beginnings Ministries, which describes itself as a character-building facility for “troubled teens” in Missouri (it has operated under multiple names in Florida, Mississippi, and Texas). It’s exactly the kind of place you’d expect it to be in virtue of being a “faith-based teen home”), namely a place where teens are subjected to what I suppose McNamara would term “strict discipline,” which to most reasonable people would be just another word for abuse.
New Beginnings is typical, however, of the unknown number of “troubled teen” homes catering to the Independent Fundamental Baptist (IFB) community – a web of thousands of autonomous churches linked by doctrine, overlapping leadership, and affiliations with Taliban-style training camps such as Bob Jones University. IFB churches emphasize strict obedience and consider teen rebellion an invention of worldly society, thereby attracting already reality-challenged parents who are facing typical teenage behavior. Fear of government intrusion is of course so pervasive that IFB congregations are primed to dismiss regulatory actions against abusive facilities as religious persecution.
The list of horror stories from these kinds of facilities is, in other words, a long one.
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