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“Horror Stories From Tough-Love Teen Homes”

Yes, I’ve been away six weeks or so. I have a lot of catching up to do. Here’s an article from even longer ago, from Mother Jones of all places, regarding the legacy of Lester Roloff of all people [link].

I honestly thought all the Roloff-sponsored girls’ homes went the way of all flesh when Roloff himself died in a plane crash in 1982. Turns out I was wrong. Also, Roloff’s situation turns out to be not as simple as it was presented to me way back when: at least some of the marquee conversion stories of the women in the Rebekah Homes were overstated at best, and there were discipline practices at the homes that sound to me like torture:

Karen Glover, a Navy veteran who attended Indiana’s Roloff-inspired Hephzibah House as a girl, described what she calls “the bowel and bladder torture.” The girls were given bran, made to drink lots of water at breakfast, and then denied bathroom access until lunchtime. There was no apparent reason for this treatment, Glover says, save reminding the girls who was in charge. Dave Halyaman, assistant director of Hephzibah House, would not respond directly to Glover’s claims. Instead, he offered to put me in touch with two pastors who had daughters there. “We have our critics, but also people who think very well of us,” he said.

I hesitate to say this, but it doesn’t sound like Dave Halyaman understands that fidelity to the truth doesn’t mean presenting a competing version of the truth in the hope it will overshadow an unpleasant or unwelcome truth. That’s what is unhelpfully sometimes described as “spin.”

This seems to be a common approach in fundamentalist circles, to respond to a direct question with an irrelevant counter-proposal. And yes, I am sort of creeping up on the Chuck Phelps situation here.

I would encourage readers to read through the article I’ve linked above. It troubles me somewhat that topics like this are not much discussed inside the community. I can’t convince myself that Kathryn Joyce is entirely engaging in propaganda here, and it bothers me a lot that people in the community don’t devote more effort to self-policing.

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