Kidnapped for Christ, premiering July 10th on Showtime

Imagine if during those troublesome teen years that we have all experienced to varying degrees, you found yourself awakened in your own home by complete strangers, told to pack and then carted off to a strange school in a foreign country, where you were summarily physically and emotionally demeaned while your every move and correspondence was monitored leaving you almost completely cut off from your family and friends. Then add to that notion the fact that  all of the aforementioned injustices were done with not only your parents’ consent but also their explicit approval and substantial financial backing? Sounds like something that you might expect from an episode of Damages you say? Couldn’t possibly happen in America you believe? Well not only are such incidents and places anything but fictional, they are apparently more common  in America (and, in fact, around the world) than any of us might imagine according to the new documentary Kidnapped for Christ, which premieres on Thursday, July 10 at 7:30pm on Showtime.

Thought-provoking and frankly almost surreal, this award-winning documentary captivates from the very start by chronicling the scary truth behind the bad seeds among the largely unregulated billion dollar industry built around “trouble teens” by drawing back the curtain on Escuela Caribe,  a controversial Christian behavior modification program in the Dominican Republic for troubled U.S. teenagers.  Perhaps most interestingly, the documentary was lensed by evangelical filmmaker Kate Logan who set out not to do an exposé, but instead to document the positive effects boarding schools like Escuela Caribe could have on young people dealing with behavioral issues. Logan’s personal journey to understanding, which involves disprovingthe hypothesis with which she began the experience,  not only adds unexpected balance to this project but also informs the heart and soul of the documentary.


Entrance toe Escquela Cariba Shool

That such a school would ever throw open their doors to a documentarian is a revelation in and of itself. But because of her considerable evangelical background, Logan was considered an ally and as such granted unprecedented access and allowed to spend a summer on the Escquala Caribe campus where she meets David, a 17-year-old honor student from Colorado, sent to the program shortly after coming out to his parents; Beth, a 15-year-old from Michigan suffering from debilitating panic attacks; and Tai, a 16-year-old Haitian-American girl from Boston experimenting with drugs to cope with childhood trauma.  Primarily through the eyes and experiences of these three youths, Logan unravels the heartbreaking, painful and sometimes violent reality behind the reforms at Escuela Caribe and the horror stories of the students literally held captive there. From being taken by force in the middle of the night to rumors of physical abuse, and staff imposing arbitrary and degrading punishments on their young and clearly fragile charges—Logan uncovers a litany of abuses that run counter to the Christian values the school publicly espouses.

That said, the documentary is not an indictment of Christian education, but instead of the alarming number of educational institutions across America and abroad that engage in cruel and unusual practices using religion as subterfuge for both their actions and the manner in which they prey upon the hopes and fears of desperate parents.

Executive produced by Lance Bass, Mike C. Manning and Tom DeSanto, Kidnapped for Christ has already won several awards including the Special Jury Award Winner of the 2014 Nashville Film Festival and the Audience Award for Best Documentary Feature at 2014 Slamdance Film Festival.

Kidnapped for Christ  premieres this Thursday, July 10th at 7:30pm on Showtime.

Watch the trailer below:

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