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Alabama law reins in religious boot camps


Until this year, if you wanted to open a religious
boarding school in a shack in the middle of the woods with your creepy neighbor Ted as
the only teacher, you could. Alabama law wasn’t going to stop you. Alabama law used to exempt church schools
from all state oversight. The laws here were so protective that the
owners of religious bootcamps didn’t even have to tell the state they existed, much
less how they were treating their kids. But this spring Alabama lawmakers passed the
Youth Residential Facility Abuse Prevention Act. It said, “No. You actually have to do criminal background
checks on your staff, your therapists have to be licensed, and you can’t lock kids in
a closet or handcuff them.” Stuff like that. Now we’re not talking about Christian summer
camps here. These are facilities where kids live full-time,
often so they can receive special services. A similar bill that would have regulated church
based daycares got a lot of attention this year, but it ultimately failed to pass. So why did this boot camp bill make it through? Well, it all goes back to a case in Mobile. In 2015, Mobile police raided a Christian
boot camp run by the Saving Youth Foundation Church. What they found horrified investigators. Students reported that school faculty had
been locking them naked in solitary confinement, beating them, and forcing them to fight each
other. It took 5 years and multiple investigations
to finally shut the school down. Three of the leaders were convicted of child
abuse and sentenced to 20 years in prison. Those convictions were in January 2017. By April, lawmakers had presented a bill that
would license and regulate schools like the Saving Youth Foundation. It’s a pretty strict law and covers religious
and non-religious facilities. It’s got nearly 25 pages of rules including
a requirement that the state has to inspect these schools at least 4 times a year. But there were a few rules taken out of the
original bill before it passed. Religious freedom groups protested language
in the bill that banned discrimination based on sexual orientation or using “sexual orientation
change efforts” on students. So lawmakers took out those part of the bill
before it passed. So, it’s still legal for religious schools
to direct schools to “pray the gay away”. But ultimately, thanks to dedicated law enforcement,
students willing to tell their stories, and media attention from outlets like AL.com,
there is an Alabama law that makes it harder to hide behind a church and abuse kids. For Reckon, I’m Anna Claire Vollers.

Otis Rodgers

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3 COMMENTS

  1. Jacob Bates Posted on July 14, 2017 at 6:36 pm

    Spineless officials for conceding to "Religious Freedom" groups.

    Reply
  2. Elmer Atchley Posted on July 18, 2017 at 5:31 pm

    These are people acting under the guise of religion to fulfill the personal desires that have nothing to do with Christianity. I have worked with church programs for all ages for 25 years and yes some things do happen that are not sanction by the congregation by the are dealt with immediately. My experience overall was very positive in so many ways and helped children and teen deal with the stress of today's society by finding a like minded group to gather with and release that stress through praise and worship and fellowship. This lady needs to look into the positive side of church and youth activities. It sure helped me through the years to deal with many things in my life- I was a Sunday School teacher, youth director, bus drive, lawnmower, church maintenance, instructor, Deacon, Pastor. A SGT US Military Police Corps for ten years, A husband, father, Grand father, Uncle, and Great Uncle. I said unto God "Here I'am I" and God has blessed me greatly. I never hurt anyone under my care or supervision! And I never did it for money for it was my calling and someone has to speak and help those who have nothing. I was blessed to be that person. Sincerely.Elmer a servant – KJV Matthew 25:40 "And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me."

    Reply
  3. Brian and Kim Wells Posted on July 18, 2017 at 7:52 pm

    I would never seen my kid to church camp and be force feed that crap.

    Reply
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