Bachmann Gave To MN Addiction Recovery Center Credited With Exorcisms
Bruce Wilson printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Wed Jul 13, 2011 at 07:28:11 PM EST
[Update, July 15, 2011--Often Talk To Action articles come out a year or two (or ten) before the issues they cover become politically salient. I originally posted this story in October 2010, and it's more relevant now than ever, especially given Truth Wins Out's undercover investigation and subsequent expose' of Marcus Bachmann's addiction recovery clinic, which features "reparative therapy" for LGBT clients. But that's not Michele Bachmann's only tie to fringe, religiously-based forms of psychotherapy. As covered by Karl Bremer of the Minnesota Independent back in October 2008, Michele Bachmann's political campaign recycled tainted campaign contribution money by giving it to Minnesota Teen Challenge (run by the Assemblies of God) which, as covered in the story below, seems to be preoccupied with all things demonic including, perhaps, exorcism.]
[Update, continued--Though it's downplayed and covered up, the "reparative therapy" approach typically includes room for casting out "gay demons", but that's in turn part of a wider emerging paradigm in evangelical Christianity. As described in the 2001 Christianity Today article Possessed or Obsessed?, "Stunning numbers of North American Christians believe demons may be at the root of apparently natural maladies or temptations."--that phenomenon was part of a wider paradigm; see Christianity Today's 1998 story, Do Demons Have Zip Codes?. ]

"I began manifesting demons nearly immediately after entering into the Teen Challenge program, and a lot of demons were cast out over a three month period." - Brandon Barthrop

[image, right: cover of October 2002 Minnesota Teen Challenge newsletter]

In April 2009, the Minnesota Independent covered MN congresswoman Michele Bachmann's donation of over $9,000 to Minnesota Teen Challenge, a faith-based addiction recovery program which has received over 10 million dollars in government funding according to  a January 2010 story by the Minnesota Independent's Andy Birkey. Teen Challenge is an outreach ministry under the Pentecostal denomination the Assemblies of God.

What sort of addiction recovery treatment does Minnesota Teen Challenge offer? 2001 MTC graduate Brandon Barthrop, who now runs a non-traditional inner-city ministry, credits his successful recovery from drugs, satanism, and "warlocky" to a Minnesota Teen Challenge regimen involving the exorcism of myriad demon spirits. As Barthrop wrote in 2008 on his ministry website,

"I'm sure I was completely demonized my whole life until I got born in heaven in October 1999 when I was court-ordered to Minnesota Teen Challenge for drugs. I was completely strung out on all kinds of drugs. I was permi-fried from acid, and lived in a continual LCD trip. Tracers, shadows, and darkness abounded. I began manifesting demons nearly immediately after entering into the Teen Challenge program, and a lot of demons were cast out over a three month period. Everything afterward became much brighter spiritually and physically. I was told I was the worst case they had ever seen in Minnesota Teen Challenge history."
Barthrop's experience may seem bizarre to Americans unfamiliar with the exorcism movement in contemporary America but as a 2001 Christianity Today article explained, "Stunning numbers of North American Christians believe demons may be at the root of apparently natural maladies or temptations."

In the video, below, Brandon Barthrop explains "toking the ghost" and describes being saved at Minnesota Teen Challenge. "One of the first promises I received from God at Minnesota Teen Challenge when I first was born again in October 1999 - the holy spirit came to me, I was a warlock, a drug addict, and he said 'I will make you more high than all the drug addicts. And I will make them jealous of how high I get you, says the Lord.' "

In 1999, the year Barthrop was ordered into the Teen Challenge program, Marjorie Cole published her book Taking the Devil To Court. A faith-based addiction recovery counselor, Cole says she wrote her book (copywrite 1999) while working as a counselor at Minnesota Teen Challenge. In a video of a seminar presentation based on her book, Cole describes the need to deal with "generational curses" and "ancestral demons" and explains, addressing her audience [see video segment 2, at ~57:00],

"Let me ask you something - because I know this is what you're thinking - 'Well, how many demons do I have in me anyway? Or how many can I?' Well, I suppose we could go up to the amount from zero to at least 2,000, because that's a legion."  

Minnesota Teen Challenge is not the only TC addiction recovery center associated with exorcism. In a May 1, 2010 blog post, as I covered in a recent Talk2action story, Director of 180 Men's Teen Challenge Denver Daniel Petruska suggested that demon-casting occurred daily at his center,

""Life at Teen Challenge is far from what most of us know as normal. In this podcast the Teen Challenge staff talks about what a normal day is like around the center. Listen in and get a sneak peek of everything from routine schedules, teaching topics, mentoring moments and deliverance from demon possession as the staff takes you on a six-minute tour of a day in the life of Teen Challenge.""

Petruska's post was accompanied by a podcast of an interview he did along with 180 Men's Teen Challenge Assistant Director Matt Lane, in which Lane described an exorcism at the center,

"He just started spitting up on the floor and growling, and just saying some of the craziest stuff that you've ever heard. And after several minutes of prayer he just became very calm and started to speak clearly again, and all the staff just looked at each other and knew that God had removed a demon from him."

The 180 Men's Teen Challenge Denver center is one of three supervised by Ken Summers, a member of the Colorado State legislature running in the 2010 mid-term election. During the summer of 2010, Columbine Courier reporter Emile Hallez Williams exposed the practice of "reparative therapy" at Summer's Teen Challenge centers. Advocates of "Reparative therapy" claim it can change basic sexual orientation (e.g. gay-to-straight.)

The pattern extends further: the Lansing, Michigan branch of Teen Challenge teaches something called "Cleansing Stream" as part of its educational program. Lansing is not an anomaly. Texas megachurch pastor Randy Garcia who serves on the ministry board for Teen Challenge Texas, promotes the Cleansing Stream program, as does the Missoula, Montana Christian Assembly Foursquare Church that lists Teen Challenge Montana Outreach, run by Jan Henderson, as one of its ministries.

The Foursquare Church also runs a Cleansing Stream ministry, and as the June 2010 TCM newsletter describes,

"Three staff and all the ladies just finished an eleven week course entitiled [sic] "Cleansing Stream"...Wow!  We all gained knowledge and insight on how to walk in the Spirit, overcome temptation and confusion, to speak words of life and how to commit each day to the Lord!   The ladies of Montana Outreach experienced God's freedom not only in the areas of physical and spiritual healings, but several received the baptism of the Holy Spirit!"

In September 2010, Sarah Palin headlined a fundraiser for Teen Challenge Montana.

Cleansing Stream is a now-international ministry, run by Chris Hayward and launched to prominence [see midway into linked story] from Jack Hayford's Van Nuys, CA Church on The Way, that presents a PR and advertising-friendly version of exorcism in which demon-casting is rebranded as "cleansing" and "deliverance" and the process of removing demon spirits or demonizing influences is depicted as similar to being washed by pure water from a stream or jumping into a cool mountain lake.

Jack Hayford is no minor figure in the evangelical world - he headed the International Foursquare Gospel denomination for five year during the first decade of the new millennium and gave the closing prayer at George W. Bush's inaugural prayer service in 2001. Hayford has also endorsed a theory, from his close colleague C. Peter Wagner, that the early 1990s downturn in the Japanese stock market happened because the new Emperor had intercourse with a succubus.

Along with Wagner, Hayford has played a major role in promoting the demonology-centric ideology of the Apostolic and Prophetic movement, that Wagner has helped pull together since 2001 under the banner of the New Apostolic Reformation. Cleansing Streams Ministry head Chris Hayward is an apostle in the biggest of Wagner's NAR entities, the International Coalition of Apostles.

Few Americans are even aware of the existence of Wagner's growing empire, which includes, among its apostles and prophets, notables such as the Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, President of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Council (which claims to represent 16 million Hispanic born-again Christians), TheCall founder Lou Engle, who has earned a name in the American secular world campaigning against gay rights and abortion and for leading a December, 2009 "Prayercast" against health care reform, and Ed Silvoso, whose International Transformation Network has spearheaded the Christian right's effort at political takeover in Hawaii.

And as the case of Minnesota Teen Challenge would seem to suggest, there are real world consequences to the spread of Wagner's movement. As Talk2action contributor Rachel Tabachnick explains in Generational Curses, Deliverance Centers, and the Kingdom Health Care System,

"With the "Apostles and Prophets" leading the way, much of the Religious Right is becoming increasingly obsessed with a war on demons. In this worldview every obstacle from microphone static to cancer is a manifestation of an attack by the devil. The belief that America is under satanic attack can be seen in dialogue on healthcare, education, foreign policy,  and has become integrated into faith-based programming and other social services.  Time and money are being spent on holding back and expelling demons from individuals, communities, and nations."

One of the most egregious examples of exorcism-based health care has been Nancy Alcorn's Mercy Ministries. In following video, taken from a speech Nancy Alcorn gave on February 10, 2008 at the Capital Christian Center in Sacramento, California, she states,

"We deal with areas of demonic oppression. If there's demonic activity, like if somebody's opened themselves up to the spirit of lust or pornography, or through lots of promiscuous sexual activity or something like that, then we open the door to demonic power. And secular psychiatrists want to medicate things like that but Jesus did not say to medicate a demon, he said to cast them out - and that's supposed to be a part of normal Christianity."

Alcorn served for two years, in the early 1980s, as Director of Women for Nashville Teen Challenge, and one of Alcorn's Mercy Ministries disciples currently serves as an intern at Teen Challenge in Birmingham, Alabama.

In 2008, Alcorn's Mercy Ministries effort in Australia was the center of a scandal that erupted when her addiction recovery centers were accused of performing exorcisms, "cruel treatment", and taking government payments.  

Nancy Alcorn's blog describes (and features video from) a September 2010 mass-baptism of Mercy Ministry girls in a swimming pool at the residence of Mercy Ministries funder, real estate developer Buzz Oates.

Attending the event was TheCall founder Lou Engle, who claims homosexuals are possessed by demons and has been criticized for inciting antigay hatred in Uganda, where a bill looming before the Ugandan Parliament threatens to mandate the imprisonment or execution of Uganda's gay population.


For $10-million in tax dollars the government should take a look at the Minnesota Teen Challenge's books.  This sounds like a boondoggle to me.

If the federal government insists on supporting demon casting out, they should take bids.  Also, I'd want to see some quality control to ensure that we taxpayers are not paying top dollar for minor demons.  

The best solution is for the federal government to get out of the demon casting business and leave it strictly to private enterprise.  

by mayfly on Mon Nov 01, 2010 at 07:38:02 PM EST

That could wind up relatively cheap on a per-demon basis.

by Bruce Wilson on Mon Nov 01, 2010 at 11:02:46 PM EST

but I loved your comic relief, Mayfly! Especially leaving it to private enterprise! After all, isn't that what they preach? Biblical capitalism? Why are they taking government money, anyway?

by phatkhat on Thu Jul 14, 2011 at 01:40:25 PM EST

Back in the day, it was strictly LSD in my little circle. None of us ended up smoking pretend joints in our 30's, either.

by nogodsnomasters on Mon Nov 01, 2010 at 08:06:25 PM EST
...I'm half suspicious Barthrop said this intentionally.

by Bruce Wilson on Tue Nov 02, 2010 at 06:47:34 AM EST
from his description. Also - any idea if or how this place might connect with Backmann's own home church? Or Marcus' business (e.g. outsourcing exorcisms for reparative therapy)?

by Uncle Glenny on Wed Jul 13, 2011 at 11:39:21 PM EST

The ladies of Montana Outreach experienced God's freedom not only in the areas of physical and spiritual healings, but several received the baptism of the Holy Spirit!tapetes personalizados

by antichero on Sun Jul 15, 2012 at 12:09:46 PM EST

Mercy Ministry girls in a swimming pool at the residence of Mercy Ministries funder, real estate developer Buzz Oates. smarsh

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by volf698 on Wed Jul 25, 2012 at 07:23:42 AM EST

Teen Challenge, and one of Alcorn's Mercy Ministries disciples currently serves as an intern at Teen Challenge in Birmingham, Alabama.

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