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Stories have the power to change the world … they inspire us, teach us, connect us. This is the thirty-fourth installment in the “Stories That Change The World” series.

I have a private Facebook group for moms of LGBT kids. We have more than 1,600 moms in the group. The group was especially created for open minded Christian moms of LGBT kids who want to develop and maintain loving, healthy, authentic relationships with their kids. Our unofficial nickname is Mama Bears because are both cuddly and fierce when it comes to loving and protecting our kids.

One of the bonuses of the group is that many of the moms become LGBT advocates and pour their hearts into working to make the world a kinder, safer place for all LGBT people to live.

Janie Romine is one of those Mama Bears.

Janie recently went undercover in order to help a reporter from ABC news investigate conversion therapy camps for LGBT youth. She was recruited by ABC News and the work she did helped create a documentary that aired on 20/20.  The documentary exposed horrific abuse and torture of LGBT youth that takes place at these camps.

I asked Janie to share, in her own words, what she discovered while doing the undercover work and pretending to be a mother who was considering sending her son to the camp.

Janie

“Parents cannot visit once their kids are enrolled. All correspondence and communication is monitored and censored.

It’s a money making venture so just like privatized prisons there is no incentive for a quick turnaround. The minimum commitment is 2 years. One boy had been there since he was 12, turned 18 the week after we were there and was being put out since his family didn’t want him back.

The Bible and the belt were what Brother Gary said he used to get the kids on the right track. However there was a room without windows at the top of the stairs that we weren’t allowed to enter and I suspect it was used for isolation, perhaps even more than that.

The tuition is $1,750/month and the families must supply suits and ties and work clothes as the boys grow.

Sending birthday gifts and Christmas gifts aren’t allowed. Only cash or gift cards can be sent and I suspect those are never given to the boys.

I wasn’t aware at the time that Brother Gary had a criminal past but I was also not surprised. I don’t believe he had any credentials or a college degree. I believe he was a self professed pastor.

Because he operates under the guise of being a church facility his income (which exceeds $500k annually) is tax free.

There is always a waiting list – because that many parents are that messed up.

Because parents keep sending their kids to him and the money keeps pouring in, Brother Gary believes God is endorsing his work.

The kids at the camp are made to work 16 hour days, 7 days a week.

Brother Gary informed us the kids go to school 4 hours a day, which he said was “mostly the Bible and a little math” and claimed the state considers his teaching as complete and transferable. They get Jesus and Geometry.

The kids are basically trained to be manual laborers. They have no exposure to the arts or science or anything in the outside world. There are no phones or internet or cable tv. They are literally held as prisoners by people who appear to be religious zealots but may be nothing more than people using religion as a weapon for their own pleasure and personal gain.

Surely Jesus weeps.” – Janie Romine

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The fact that camps like this exist is horrifying and disturbing. It is hard to read Janie’s description but it is something that needs to be known.

I was glad to hear that one of the so called pastors was prosecuted, convicted and sentenced to 20 years in prison, but, I think it is important to point out that there would not be a market for these camps if churches did not teach that all same sex relationships are sinful.

As long as we have churches, Christian leaders and Christian organizations teaching that the bible condemns all same sex relationships there will be Christian parents looking for a way to “help” their kids.

So, in conclusion, I want to include a list of people who I consider to be indirectly responsible for the torture and abuse that go on at these camps. These people have a lot of influence and many Christian parents listen to what they teach. I personally hold them responsible for the pain and suffering that so many LGBT youth endure. No matter how kindly or lovingly the message is delivered it is damaging and leads parents to harm the children that they love and cherish.

Franklin Graham

Tony Perkins

James Dobson

Robert Jeffress

Anne Paulk

Michael Brown

Janet Parshall

Greg Laurie

Al Mohler

John Piper

Jim Daly

Roger Jimenez

David Lane

Jerry Fallwell, Jr.

And any other pastor, Christian leader, church or Christian organization that holds the position that all same sex relationships are sinful.

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Serendipitydodah for Moms is a private Facebook group created as an extension of the Serendipitydodah blog. The group is secret so that only members can find it or see what is posted in the group. The group was started in June 2014 and presently has more than 1,400 members. The space was specifically created for open minded Christian moms who have LGBT kids and want to develop and maintain healthy, loving, authentic relationships with their LGBT kids.

For more info email lizdyer55@gmail.com

 

 

 

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