Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Mind Rape and the Christian Right

From Truth Dig:

By Chris Hedges Jul 21, 2013

Noel Lyons, a member of the U.S. Ski Team from 1976 to 1981 and once one of the country’s top professional skiers, found herself in a Vail, Colo., hospital in the spring of 2010 after another round of binge drinking. “I had given up on myself,” she would say later. Her boyfriend and sister decided she needed rehabilitative help. Because their resources were limited, they turned to the free Total Freedom Program, a Florida ministry for women and men that identifies itself as Christian.

Cate Iannello, the wife of the leader of Total Freedom Program, “Pastor Guy,” met Lyons in July 2010 at the Orlando airport and drove her to what she called “the girls’ house,” a yellow ranch house in a nondescript neighborhood of nearby Ocoee. Lyons says she arrived “scared out of my mind” and holding a decorative pillow with the image of a buffalo on it. Because the pillow had “past associations” that could evoke demons, she was soon told to put it in the trash.

Lyons walked into the living room with the pastor’s wife. She met a woman there who introduced herself as Connie Prince, “the house mom”—a position Lyons herself would assume eventually. She was introduced to about five other “girls,” all white and ranging in age from the 20s into the 50s, who lived in the house.

The house mom rifled through Lyons’ bag of clothes. She pulled out particular garments and told her, “Well, you won’t be wearing that.” Prince confiscated the small amount of money Lyons had, her Ambien sleeping pills, cellphone and phone card.

“Later on I found out it was inappropriate or had accursed symbols,” Lyons said of the confiscated clothes when we met at the home of a friend outside Philadelphia where she was staying.

Lyons, now 50, toured the group house with a woman named Susan. Susan, in her early 20s, showed Lyons the bedroom the two women would share. It had bare walls and three beds with mismatched sheets, three dilapidated dressers and one closet. Lyons was then taken to the kitchen, where she sat with other women at a table for prayers and dinner. Afterward the women went into the living room for Lyons’ “praying in” ceremony. She was instructed to sit on the floor. The women sat in a circle around her.

“Then they make sure I had no tattoos, which are accursed items,” Lyons said. New arrivals with tattoos had to be specially anointed to excise the demons that the ministry claimed were embedded in tattoos.

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