After the president and founder of Teen Mania Ministries sharply criticized MSNBC for airing its "Mind Over Mania" documentary on Sunday, the network issued a response saying his accusations against the network are false, and they have told him so.
TMM president Ron Luce says “Mind Over Mania” casts his ministry in a “very inaccurate and negative light” by not fully explaining video and audio clips of TMM events and by trying to make the ministry out to be a cult.
He is also accusing filmmakers of lying in order to gain access to TMM's Honor Academy interns and ministry leaders for interviews. He says TMM was told by filmmakers his ministry would be just one component of a series on religion in America, but the “mockumentary” didn't at all turn out as he initially thought it would.
In an email to The Christian Post on Tuesday, however, MSNBC disputed his claims, saying, “MSNBC strongly disagrees with Mr. Luce's characterization that what was broadcast in Mind Over Mania was inaccurate. MSNBC did not approach Mr. Luce and his group under false pretenses and we have shared those thoughts with Mr. Luce.”
The Garden Valley, Texas-based TMM is a globally-recognized youth ministry and is the umbrella organization over well-known youth events like Acquire The Fire. The ministry's mission is “to provoke a young generation to passionately pursue Jesus Christ and to take his life-giving message to the ends of the earth.” But Luce says “Mind Over Mania” makes it seem like a cult that uses mind control tactics to manipulate young people.
The documentary features former interns from Teen Mania Ministries who say the group did them more harm than good and may even be a cult.
In response, Teen Mania stated that it “welcomes any question of our motives and our methods in communicating the gospel of Jesus Christ and are dedicated to using feedback to create a better experience for the young people we serve, but MSNBC’s Mind Over Mania segment ultimately takes issue with the fact that many of the Biblical tenets celebrated in Christianity are at odds with our current culture.”
Since the documentary aired Sunday night, individuals have taken to Twitter to express their opinions about TMM and its Honor Academy.
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“Happy with the #mindovermania documentary,” Twitter user Shannon Kish posted on her account. “Though they only touched the surface of Teen Mania and its problems.”
Another post by Cassie Hendon said, “Watching an 'expose' on Teen Mania on msnbc. Sorry, not buying that TM is a cult.”
One blogger, who is identified only as “A Friend of Teen Mania” and claims to be an Honor Academy alumni, is trying to rally support for TMM by compiling the testimonies of current and former Honor Academy interns who say the ministry positively impacted their lives.
Though TMM, like any organization, has its faults, the blog's author says, the ministry's leaders have always been willing to discuss any concerns and as such are much more supportive than the documentary portrays them to be.
“I have seen firsthand the efforts made to correct any injustice and I have experienced nothing less than humility from the executive leadership when any alumnus has brought a situation to light,” the blogger wrote. “I, being an alumnus of the Honor Academy and a lifelong partner of the organization can say wholeheartedly that I endorse the motives and character of the staff and executive leadership team.”