I had thought I had become completely jaded when it came to American Christianity’s ever-flowing haterade for women and children. Money-wasting, unconstitutional abortion restrictions? Saw them coming. Conscience clauses? Old hat.
But this one took me aback. Mainly because it takes place 35 miles from my house.
Welcome to New Beginnings Girls Academy.
New Beginnings describes itself as a character-building facility for “troubled teens,” and what Jeannie Marie heard in church that day was that this might be a place for her daughter to heal. While jogging earlier that year, the 17-year-old (whom I’ll call Roxy) had been pulled into a vehicle and assaulted by a group of men. Since then, she had begun acting up at home, as well as sneaking out and drinking. Two weeks after seeing the girls in church, Jeannie Marie and her husband left Roxy in McNamara’s care with the promise that she would receive counseling twice a week and stay at New Beginnings no longer than two months. “It sounded like a discipleship program,” Jeannie Marie recalls. “A safe place where a daughter can go to have time alone to find God and her direction.”
What would Jesus do with a troubled rape victim? How about cutting them off from family and breaking them! That ought to do it.
She was monitored day and night by two “buddies,” girls who’d been there awhile and knew the drill. They accompanied her to the shower and toilet, and introduced her to a life of communal isolation and rigid discipline. Girls were not allowed to converse except from 6 to 9 p.m. each Friday. They were not allowed contact with their families during their first month, or with anyone else for six months. By that time, Roxy said, most girls are “broken,” having been told that their families have abandoned them, and that the world outside is a sinful, dangerous place where girls who leave are murdered or raped.
It goes on. Force feeding, isolation chambers, oh how it goes on. And it’s all legal! Yay faith-based exemptions! After I posted this on Facebook, I’ve heard more tales of this place. And I’m frothing with white hot rage.
How long are we going to let people hurt children under the banner of faith?
EDIT: Survivors of NBGA have started a site here.