Abuse in the Name of Christianity

The horrors suffered by LGBT kids and others at a 'therapeutic' school are at the center of the new documentary Kidnapped for Christ — and the experience of making the film changed its director's mind about religion.

BY Trudy Ring

October 10 2013 6:00 AM ET

Left: director Kate Logan

Logan emphasizes that Escuela Caribe is one of many such schools, part of a $2 billion industry, operating with little or no oversight from any government to monitor educational quality or basic student safety. “I want people to be aware that this is a problem, and it’s a problem we can do something about,” she says. She hopes audiences will call on governments to hold these schools accountable.

Escuela Caribe, she notes, is under different management now than when she filmed there, but she remains skeptical about the school’s mission. “I don’t think there’s any reason to have a ‘therapeutic’ boarding school,” she says.

The experience also helped make Logan skeptical of religion; she says she is no longer a Christian, evangelical or otherwise. Her beliefs changed gradually over a lengthy period, she says, but what she witnessed at the school definitely figured in the process. “I’d say that my observations and experiences at Escuela Caribe played a significant role in my transition away from organized religion,” she says. “After hearing so many staff members at the school proclaim that God had called them there and that God’s hand was at work through the school, and then seeing them verbally and physically abuse children, I simply could no longer believe that I myself was capable of hearing from God. If these people could be so wrong, how could I have faith that I could hear God and not also be so wrong? That was really the beginning of the erosion of my Christian faith.”

Logan wants to make other films that deal with LGBT issues and religion, she says: “I’m really interested in the struggles of people who are LGBT and are trying to keep their faith.” She is straight and married, but she is a strong LGBT ally, with a sister who is bisexual.

Before directing other films, though, she’s looking for other “day jobs” — she just finished working as a coordinator on an episode of PBS’s Independent Lens — and putting the final touches on Kidnapped for Christ.

What audiences see in Sacramento will be a finished product, she says, but it may need some sound work or color correction, and she and her team are raising funds for that. They had a successful IndieGoGo campaign to raise production money, and donors who wish to contribute now can go through the International Documentary Association, she says.

Also helping to raise funds is former ’N Sync member Lance Bass, who recently signed on as an executive producer. He came to the project because he was acquainted with another of the executive producers, actor and erstwhile Real World cast member Mike C. Manning, and has “kind of been a champion for the film,” Logan says.

Logan adds that she hopes those who attend the Sacramento screening will offer feedback that will help her market the film; she’d like for it to get a distribution deal for either television or theatrical release. But most of all, she wants to raise awareness.

“The number one thing is that Escuela Caribe is just one of a number of these schools,” she says. And that constitutes a problem, she adds, but “it’s a solvable one.”


Kidnapped for Christ will screen at 2 p.m. Saturday at the Crest Theater in Sacramento; click here for tickets. For more information about the film and making donations, go here. And watch the trailer below.

Tags: Religion

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