With Rick Santorum emerging as a leader in the Republican race for president, his bona fides as a Religious Right leader are unquestionable (save for some members of the Ron Paul campaign). But Rick Santorum isn’t just close to traditional Religious Right organizations and activists: the former Pennsylvania senator also has ties to even the most fringe parts of the movement.
As a parent of six children, I am very cognizant of the impact of media and entertainment on our kids. In Battle Cry for a Generation, Ron Luce takes the first important step: educating and equipping parents like me. It’s our job to take the next step, parenting our children and helping them navigate the culturally hostile world that they and their peers live in twenty-four hours a day.
Luce focuses on challenging a youth-culture which he claims promotes sexual promiscuity, secularism and homosexuality, listing in his book: “Morally corrupt films and television programs; An increasingly perverted music industry; The pornographic invasion of the internet; Civil initiatives promoting gay marriage; Battles to remove the Ten Commandments from public buildings, and fights to take ‘under God’ out of the Pledge of Allegiance.”
Luce’s organization Teen Mania, which hosts teen-orientated prayer rallies, was recently featured in an MSNBC documentary Mind Over Mania where former interns at his organization shared their experience and described Teen Mania’s cult-like practices. Teenagers who went to Teen Mania’s Honor Academy work as telemarketers for Luce, crawl through mud as part of the academy’s extreme boot camp projects, undergo sleep deprivation, endure verbal abuse, are refused medical treatment in favor of ‘faith healings,’ and participate in exercises such as eating “vomit-inducing foods before repeatedly rolling down the hill” on the campus, and being driven away from campus and told to walk back to campus while carrying a large cross. Many people who left Honor Academy now share their stories on the blog Recovering Alumni to discuss the physical and emotional abuse and severe anxieties that resulted from Luce’s group.
Mostly concentrating on recruiting young people to work for his Honor Academy, Luce also is involved in anti-gay activism, including speaking at a rally to promote Proposition 8 in California. While Rick Santorum’s close ties to the traditional Religious Right are well-established, his support for fringe and cult-like groups such as Teen Mania should continue to surface as his presidential campaign gains even more traction.