I am Shannon. I am both an atheist and a former cult member. I wanted to see how many of us are former cult members.


I was a part of Teen Mania's Honor Academy in Garden Valley, TX. I was there from January 2001-December 2001. I would have stayed a second year, however, my parents wouldn't support me any additional time.


You can read my story, and many others, at www.recoveringalumni.com




Shannon Kish

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My dad recently drove his church bus to Acquire the Fire. I explained to him and to his pastor that it was affiliated with a very abusive cult (Honor Academy). I never got a response from my dad's pastor. Instead, he just took an offering to buy next year's ATF tickets. 


Do you feel like ATF can lead to kids joining Honor Academy? Is there any other part of Teen Mania that's also abusive? 


Hi Shannon.

I've been to ATF. It was my first ever time attending a gathering like that. I was with my youth group. I don't remember anything about HA. My memory isn't all to well when it comes to my past with my youth group. But since it was on the subject of cult I think I would like to add this to it.


I used to be part of a Youth Group for a non-denominational church in my town. It was great for a young christian who was ignorant like myself. It's been many years since I've associated myself with the group, but I am not kidding when I say they have formed a cult here in little Sparta. The youth pastors separated from the church when they weren't receiving (stealing) enough money to fund their little group. They have those teenagers convinced that if they leave the group then they will be devoured by the devil through people who aren't associated with them.


Those who do leave the group are talked bad about behind their backs. I know I've been put in a bad category by them from what few friends I have in that group. They think they have the power to control others. The tell the kids they have the spirits of biblical characters in their bodies and they have to purge themselves (I.E. starvation, hours of prayer, burning their belongings). I remember one of the pastors telling me she was coming to my house to burn all my Harry Potter books if I didn't get rid of them and repent for my sins of reading them.


We weren't allowed to sit with the boys and girls mixed together. We had to be separated. Even on a camping trip, the guys slept all the way on the other side of a LAKE! We rode in separate buses. Ate dinners in separate rooms.


There's so much more, but I don't want to take up much room. I think I'll do some research on HA and a few other groups like that.


Thanks for reading.


I consider all of my religious upbringing to be cult indoctrination but I realize you are talking about something more intense here.  For a while I was in a youth group at an alliance church that was sort of Hitler Youth inspired.  There was lots of talk of health mind, body, and spirit and a lot of activities designed to provide all three.  Sometimes we had these complicated games where we had to accomplish different physical tasks to get to stations where we would be drilled on biblical trivia or how we might respond to different questions.  There were badges you could sew on your uniform if you completed various levels and stuff like that.  It seems so long ago now and a lot of the details are really fuzzy for  me, but I do remember a couple of the boys really well - great athletes, really knew their bibles, and were eager to get out there and start challenging  the non-believers.
Thank you. I think it made me a stronger person though, but whether or not that is a good thing remains to be seen.
I can't imagine growing up in a cult. I was raised a liberal Episcopalian by my mother with the occasional French Catholic traditions imposed by my father's parents. When my parents agreed to compromise on a Southern Baptist church I quickly realized the congregation was all bat-shit crazy, read the bible for insight and stopped believing in God. I was about 11 or 12 when that happened.


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