Teen Mania’s Honor Academy is suspending operations for this year, based on dwindling attendance and funding. The Christian youth bootcamp, which has been accused of being a hotbed of abuse and financial scandal, has been struggling since the headquarters in Texas was foreclosed on earlier this year.
Founded in 1986, the group’s purpose is as follows:
Today the mission of Teen Mania’s youth ministry is still to provoke a young generation to passionately pursue Jesus Christ and to take his life-giving message to the ends of the earth, and hundreds of thousands of parents, teenagers, church leaders, and ministries from all over North America and around the world have joined Ron and Katie [Luce] in this mission along the way.
According to WORLD Magazine:
The Honor Academy, a year-long program combining work and biblical studies, was once one of Teen Mania’s largest revenue sources, bringing in seven-figure profits in the mid-2000s. During that time, the program approached 1,000 participants per year, but barely more than 100 are currently enrolled, and fewer than 100 enrolled for the coming year.
That might have something to do with the fact that the group is currently on Charity Navigator’s list of top 10 most financially insolvent charities in the U.S. So Teen Mania has suspended the program.
With all the financial issues involved in the death of this ministry group, the obvious next question is: will enrollees get refunded? WORLD reports yes:
Current students each paid $8,400 to participate in the Honor Academy, but that price was scheduled to increase sharply in 2015. Teen Mania employees have told members of an Honor Academy Facebook group that incoming interns who have paid down payments on the coming year will receive full refunds.
One parent confirmed that to WORLD. Scott Green, pastor of First Assembly of God in Natchez, Miss., told me his 18-year-old daughter had been planning to attend the Honor Academy since November 2013 but pulled out last month due to Teen Mania’s instability. His daughter’s account contained more than $6,000 — much of it from donations — and he said Teen Mania refunded “every penny” less than two weeks ago.
Green said his daughter had a backup plan and will begin college next month, but other parents are complaining their students are left without viable education options.
I can only hope that founder Ron Luce will be held not only accountable for the financial ruin of the organization, but also for the abuses that occurred at the academy in God’s name. But perhaps that’s asking too much.