David Roberts at Ex-Gay Watch reports, that responding to recent criticism surrounding the practice of “ministering” to youth forced to attend Love in Action’s Refuge program, program leaders attempt to dispel concerns through vaguely worded FAQs on their site.
Do parents have the right to force their child to come to our program?
There are currently no laws prohibiting Christian parents from rearing their children according to their faith. Because Refuge International, Inc., is a Christian discipleship ministry, no belief is forced on anyone; in Scripture, Jesus Christ never forced anyone to believe in Him.
What will happen if I make my child come against his/her will?
Again, as we trust in the inerrancy of God’s Word, we adhere to the commandments for relationships between parents and children. We believe God is faithful to bless those who strive for obedience to His commands.
Roberts provides insightful analysis of these questions and answers. In conclusion he writes,
Reading over their material, one gets the impression that REFUGE wants very much to be considered a ministry and only a ministry. I can think of a few reasons this may be so. In this case, they apparently want to equate forcing a child to attend REFUGE with forcing a child to attend church (not a good idea but also not illegal that I know of). I’ve never been through an LIA program, but I suspect there is a difference.
And his suspicion is correct.
The leaders of Love in Action / Refuge (LIA/R) claim they do not force their participants to believe their message while the program leaders also shut out the opportunity for their charges to hear anything but that message.
Without access to the news, the Internet, friends, TV, movies or any music but contemporary Christian music, LIA/R staff bombard participants (willing or unwiling) with one message–their message–a message they reinforce with the Bible, psuedo-science, testimony after testimony, and the insistence of parents (who may also threaten to withhold financial support from a young person).
Is it like forcing a child to attend church?
As a survivor of LIA, let me put it in the form of an SAT test question:
Church attendance is to participanting in an LIA/R program
Visiting an army recruiter’s office is to going to war in Iraq with no body armor.