“(Contraception is) not okay because it’s a license to do things in the sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be. They’re supposed to be within marriage, for purposes that are, yes, conjugal… but also procreative.”

-Rick Santorum

It’s easy to dismiss Rick Santorum as the clown prince of the GOP. I find myself doing it because some of his positions are ludicrous, like prenatal testing encourages abortion. Or that we should end public education and all children should be home schooled. He believes that the Bible is our guidebook and that the Constitution should be minimized. He is the fundamentalist candidate for sure, and there is nothing democratic about fundamentalism. At its core, fundamentalism is totalitarian. Rick Santorum, although amusing, is also very dangerous.

There are other disturbing things about Rick Santorum. One of those things is that he has been a vocal supporter of Ron Luce’s Teen Mania Ministries, stating “As a parent of six children, I am very cognizant of the impact of media and entertainment on our kids. In Battle Cry, Ron Luce takes the first important step in educating and equipping parents. It’s our job to take the next step parenting our children and helping them to navigate the culturally hostile world they and their peers live in 24 hours a day.”

What Santorum is referring to is Luce’s book, Battle Cry for a Generation, a book that enables our nation’s youth to understand the importance of faith and encourages them to defend it against the onslaught of secular thought found in their schools and in popular culture. In plain English, it discourages youth to think for itself. It discourages critical thought. It’s goal is to ‘dumb-down’ kids. In the book, Luce identifies the enemies of youth as “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.”

For those who aren’t familiar with Teen Mania Ministries (est. 1986), one of the largest Christian youth ministries in the United States headquartered in Garden Valley, Texas, its goal is to brainwash our youth, then send them out into the world to brainwash others. Teen Mania boast six major programs and, given Luce’s position on pop culture, it’s no surprise that one is The Center for Creative Media (for those who want to express their faith while working with television, film, graphic design and other media) and another is The School of Worship where young musicians are encouraged to use their music for the glory of God. If the brainwashing aspect of Teen Ministries isn’t scary enough, how it’s accomplished is horrifying.

On their site is a section called Extreme Camps, described as ‘A Life Transforming Experience.’  The activities are presented as fun, like Paintball, Extreme Olympics, and Extreme Pool. Then there’s the Splash Kingdom water park and something called E.T.A.C., or the East Texas Adventure Course. Here’s what they don’t tell you: Attendees crawl through mud, undergo sleep deprivation and verbal abuse, and are fed vomit-inducing foods. A documentary on MSNBC, entitled “Mind Over Mania,” showed a dish of live worms being served up for dinner. It may well be a life transforming experience, but not one of a positive nature as evidenced by the kids who have survived their ordeal to tell their story on a blog entitled Recovering Alumni.

On the Recovering Alumni site, you will learn the true extent of the brainwashing America’s Christian youth are subjected to. In the “Josiah Project,” Luce indulges in blatant gay bashing:

“Hi, I’m Ron Luce and today on Acquire The Fire we are going to talk about what does it mean to be a real man, to be a real man of God not some sissy little limp-wristed thing bouncing around acting like some pansy little Christian. It’s about being a man of God like Jesus. Stay tuned if you want to be a real man.”

Their need for the interns to stick out the year in the Honor Academy is continuously rammed home. This is what brainwashing is all about. Says one of the alumni,

 “They are told that if they leave the Honor Academy before their full year is up, their ability to be successful in life will be severely hindered and that even their future marriage is probably doomed since they presumably can’t keep a commitment. They are also told that they will be out of God’s will and therefore disobedient and rebellious. If you’ve never been to the HA, that might sound unconvincing or even trivial. But let me tell you, it is CONSTANTLY hammered into your brain by all levels of leadership to the point that most interns won’t even entertain the thought of leaving for fear of sinning against God.”

Ron Luce, founder of Teen Mania Ministries, presents his mission as a “battle.” On stage, images of weapons are often used. He uses current and former members of the U.S. Armed forces at the Battle Cry stadium events, encouraging teens to become warriors in the battle.

One watchdog site, called Acquire the Evidence (a play on Luce’s own Acquire the Fire) notes that Luce spends much of his time talking about how corporate America makes money by targeting the teen market without showing concern for their moral decay, yet many former product managers and advertising executives from companies such as Gillette, Proctor & Gamble and Leo Burnett Advertising have held high positions in Teen Mania Ministries. Luce himself has managed to make a tidy profit off teens. The ministry’s tax return for the year ending 2004 showed him earning $127,500 a year, while his wife earned an additional $35.000.

There’s no question that Rick Santorum is out of touch with the needs and beliefs of the majority of Americans, but he’s also out of touch with reality. What he supports is a Christian lunatic fringe organization that would teach the youth of America that it’s wrong to question and to think for themselves. Today’s youth is America’s future. I shudder to think what might become of this nation should they inherit it.