TeenPacters Speak Up: Part Two, TeenPact And Me

TeenPacters Speak Up: A Series by Between Black and White

HA note: This series is reprinted with permission from Between Black and White. Part Two was originally published on May 20, 2013.

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Part Two: TeenPact and Me, by Kierstyn King

Kierstyn King blogs at Bridging the Gap.

TeenPact is a christian conservative/evangelical organization that organizes government and civics classes and camps throughout the country. Their goal is to raise a generation of christian leaders (teens) to go and bring the country back “for christ” by encouraging activism and male leadership.

When I think about TeenPact and my time there, I don’t feel anger – like I do with most of my other past experiences. I feel confusion. Because I have so many good memories and experiences that are entrenched in environments that perpetuated the lies that enabled an abusive environment to thrive.

The thing about organizations like TeenPact and NCFCA is that their goal is to raise a new generation of leaders – thinkers, even – to do one specific thing: Take the nation back (for god!). What they don’t count on, is that by giving us the tools and resources to think critically, we’ll actually, you know, think critically and carry that on throughout our adulthood. Which is awesome and I’m really happy that I was allowed to learn that, because it’s served me well and enabled me to become the person I am today. Funny thing though, our parents and the people who head up these organizations get extremely grumpy and upset when we do what they taught us to do (or at least you know, the thinking part of that) without doing the rest of what they wanted us to do.

They teach us how to think, but then, they don’t actually want us to think, they want us to do their bidding.

And this, in a nutshell, is my beef with TeenPact. I’m going to be splitting this into parts instead of writing a book of a blogpost – because some things need to be fleshed out more, so for today, I’m going to concentrate on one particular event that happened while I was staffing.

I staffed one of the GA State classes in 2007. As staff, I helped oversee the voting process – a process which is designed to teach students about how elections work (assuming everyone is honest). The votes were tallied and my friend was a clear winner. I was pleased with this, and a little proud because he had really gone out of his comfort zone to even run. I was appalled, confused, and maybe a little angry when in that back room the Program Director turned to us and said, well, I don’t think he’d make a good governor, we should choose someone else. The founder was there and the high ranking staff wanted to impress him (by discarding the process?) and decided that my friend wouldn’t do it.

So in that back room, the Program Director, and the higher ranking staff decided to choose someone else from the 3 candidates to be governor and told us to be quiet about it. I was 15 (2 weeks before my birthday) and I had no idea how to respond – I was too shocked to say anything and too surprised to complain or dissent, so I stood there quietly, feeling as though my mouth was gaping.

When we left the room with the new results, and with the Program Director deciding that his vote overruled all, I was full of shame and guilt. We announced who won and there were many questions – because in the other room, everyone tells everyone who they voted for, so everyone actually knows who won. People asked me questions and I couldn’t respond. My friend asked me and I was crushed and had to give him the same line I had given everyone else:

“It’s just what the votes were”.

I felt helpless because everyone who I would have talked to about it, was in that room and made that decision. They didn’t expect dissent – honestly, I don’t even think dissent is allowed, though it’s never directly stated – it’s a very homogenous group and anyone who does dissent is instantly cast as weird/strange/anything you don’t really want to associate with.

The staff did what they did because they didn’t want to get in trouble with Mr. Echols. I don’t know what the staff meetings are like, but I imagine that choosing a good face was enough of a requirement to strike fear into the hearts of the interns.

To be continued.

6 thoughts on “TeenPacters Speak Up: Part Two, TeenPact And Me

  1. Matt May 29, 2013 / 7:53 am

    “What they don’t count on, is that by giving us the tools and resources to think critically, we’ll actually, you know, think critically and carry that on throughout our adulthood.”

    Funny how that works, isn’t it? You’re supposed to use these critical thinking skills when it comes to issues that are up for theological debate (infant baptism, pre-millenialism vs post-millenialism, etc). But then when you start applying these same skills to “off-limits” issues (historical accuracy of the Bible, resurrection of Christ, etc), the leaders get all hot under the collar. Suddenly, critical thinking is “dangerous” or “rebellious.”

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    • Headless Unicorn Guy May 29, 2013 / 9:12 am

      But then when you start applying these same skills to “off-limits” issues (historical accuracy of the Bible, resurrection of Christ, etc), the leaders get all hot under the collar. Suddenly, critical thinking is “dangerous” or “rebellious.”

      Not Oldspeak “dangerous” or “rebellious”. Thoughtcrime. The Oldspeak word is “Thoughtcrime”; the Newspeak word is “doublepluscrimethink”.

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  2. Headless Unicorn Guy May 29, 2013 / 9:16 am

    Their goal is to raise a generation of christian leaders (teens) to go and bring the country back “for christ” by encouraging activism and male leadership.

    As in Chairman Jesus’ Red Guard for the Cultural Revolution?

    Storm Troopers for the future takeover?

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  3. Headless Unicorn Guy May 29, 2013 / 9:18 am

    They teach us how to think, but then, they don’t actually want us to think, they want us to do their bidding.

    Blind Obedience. Again, Storm Troopers for the takeover.

    “Ich habe nur meine Befehle ausgefert.”
    (“I was only following orders.”)

    Like

  4. Meg May 29, 2013 / 3:30 pm

    Where are we told to take back the culture or nation for Christ? Jesus says in Matthew 28:19 “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit”. He says nothing about taking back a nation or culture, but has plenty to say about going out and making disciples of men.

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  5. Hester June 10, 2013 / 11:29 am

    So the people who are (allegedly) about “defending the Constitution” rig their internal elections? Last time I checked, the Constitution doesn’t allow for election/voter fraud. But I’m sure these folks got all up-in-arms about ACORN last year. I knew there was a reason I refused to join NCFCA, TeenPact, and other debate organizations as a teenager.

    I also find it interesting that I never once heard anyone from these organizations suggest that teenagers work as election officials/poll workers. They only wanted them to LOBBY LOBBY LOBBY for the CAUSE. Work as an objective observer charged with making sure the democratic process is conducted honestly (whether or not “your man” wins)? Nah.

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