Kidnapped for Christ

Expected to attend: Director Kate Logan

A teenage girl is awakened in the middle of the night, forced to get dressed, and then sent away with her abductors. A teenage boy is dragged from his home, pushed into a car, and then hustled onto a plane at an airport. These American teens and many like them, some with troubled pasts, are taken to Escuela Caribe, an American-run Christian behavior-modification school in the Dominican Republic. There they are subjected to “cultural shock therapy” designed to make them more compliant with the school’s Christian reform program.

One straight-A student, David, is at the school solely because he is gay (sent there to be reformed, like the others, by his evangelical parents). Extreme exercise, exhausting physical labor, strict obedience to exacting rules, isolation, compulsory repetitions of religious texts, physical beatings, and even worse punishments (for minor infractions) are all part of the program.

As an unbiased evangelical Christian herself, documentary filmmaker Kate Logan was granted unprecedented access to the school. She thought she was documenting a benign alternative-therapy program and was shocked to discover what was really going on—just as the school began to curtail her access. Logan worked for more than five years to see her film completed amidst lawsuits and threats from the school and parents. The result is a riveting exposé (produced by Lance Bass) that throws light on the vast, previously unknown, worldwide abuse and exploitation of teens by an unregulated multi-billion-dollar industry.

USA, 2014, 85 min.