I thought that I’d heard it all when it comes to ex-gay ministries. The movie “But I’m a Cheerleader” shows the comedic side of ex-gay rehabs which exist in the U.S., but are dwindling since the closing of Exodus International. It has recently come to my attention that there exists several foreign ex-gay reform camps overseas in which U.S. parents can sign over the rights of their gay teens to be kept and held until they are “cured.” One such camp which is highlighted in the upcoming documentary, “Kidnapped for Christ,” is called “Escuela Caribe” in the Dominican Republic. This “Christian reform school” which resembles a prison camp is funded and run by the American organization, “New Horizons Ministries,” and represents just 1 out of 4 of their overseas programs that cater to eradicating homosexuality. (Note that these foreign “reform schools” also attempt to cure addiction, mental illness, defiant behavior, and even low grades…) These camps have been in operation since the 1980’s.
Teens that are sent to Escuela Caribe are some times physically restrained and captured to be shipped over to the camp. Their money and passports are confiscated and they are not allowed to leave for home until the program is completed, even if they have reached the age of 18. There is no timeline for release, as residents must accumulate points based on work, grades, and behavior and complete a 5 level system which could last from months to years. The camp is surrounded by armed guards and each member is watched at all times. The program director attributes “culture shock” as the cure of their undesired behavior. The camp consists of grueling physical labor, physical punishments (including body slamming, whippings, labor which causes physical injuries, etc.) and emotional punishments (prison-style isolation, public humiliation, mental abuse, etc.), among other activities. Students of the program must ask for permission to even walk across the room, eat, or use the restroom (which consists of a bucket while in isolation). Guards watch their every move and ensue punishment at any perceived mistake. They are not allowed to speak to any Dominicans and all mail is read and filtered. Students (i.e. prisoners) of the camp who attempt suicide and survive are not given help or support, but instead punished for their “defiant behavior.” This is just the tip of the iceberg….
As mentioned previously, a documentary exposing this ex-gay reform school is in post-production and needs donations to fund its world-wide release. “Kidnapped for Christ” follows an 18 year old gay teen who is trapped at Escuela Caribe and not allowed to leave. If you can afford to even give $1, this will help this film be released to the public so that people are aware of this barbaric practice. The goal of the film is to expose this injustice in hopes of changing the laws to prohibit citizens from being sent to these camps. You can learn more about the film and donate at http://www.documentary.org/community/sponsorship/donate?film_id=3846
Watch the trailer to “Kidnapped for Christ:”