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Haggard och ledarhaverier

Haggard och ledarhaverier
07/11/06 11:42 Kommentarer
Katastrofer i ledarskap

Finns det så stora skillnader mellan svensk kyrkokultur och amerikansk megakyrka att en ”Haggard”-händelse är avlägsen? Det finns skäl att fundera över det uttalandet som gjorts av Stefan Gustafsson, generalsekreterare i Svenska Evangeliska Alliansen, liksom EFKs ledare Anders Blåberg som hävdar att det bara är en tidsfråga innan det händer i Sverige. Ted Haggard, symbolen för en framgångsrik ledare i den amerikanska evangelikala kyrkan, 5-barnsfar och med inflytande ändå in i Vita Huset. Stark abortmotståndare, och stark motståndare till erkännande av homorelationer, i dagarna avslöjad som drogmissbrukande homsosexuell under många år. Amerikanska pastorers kommentarer på en del blogsidor pekar på att man knappast ställer sig de grundläggande frågorna: hur ser vår kyrkostruktur ut, vad är vår ledarideologi, vad gör vi med makt- och framgångskulten etc? I stora drag håller man sig till diskussioner kring privatmoraliska frågor och ”accountability”, ett slags kontrolltänkande som knappast har hindrat dem som velat bryta mot de etiska reglerna att också kunna göra det i det förgångna.

I den utsträckning ”superledar-modellen” får spridning hamnar många ledare i riskzonen. Jag tror det finns ett antal skäl att se upp:

- Det har redan skett i Sverige. Knutby är naturligtvis det senaste och ojämförligt mest omvälvande. I ett sektsammanhang med rötter i svensk pingströrelse har ledare getts oinskränkt makt över sina efterföljare med mord, mordförsök, anstiftan till mord som de mest uppseendeväckande konsekvenserna. Men envisa rykten gör gällande att promiskuös sexualitet, maktmissbruk och utnyttjande av medlemmar förekommit i stor omfattning. Det är alltså inte så långt från oss. Samtidigt tycker jag att det ödesmättade ”det kan hända hos oss också” behöver nyanseras. Kyrkan har överlevt personliga misslyckanden och syndafall hos ledare genom historien. Jag vet inte vad som ska läggas till Knutby för att tänka sig något värre, mera uppseendeväckande?

- Spridningen av maktstrukturer typ apostoliska nätverk. Det angivna skälet till att skapa apostoliska nät är att försöka hindra katastrofer a la Ted Haggard. Problemet är dock att man i många av dessa strukturer ser hierarkiskt och kontrollerande på ledarstrukturen. Det blir en riskfylld situation om ”starka ledare” drar till sig beroendesökande ledare. Du fyller mitt behov av att se ut som en framgångsrik ledare, så fyller jag ditt behov av någon som bekräftar dig och försöker hjälpa dig att övervinna dina svagheter. Detta ömsesidiga beroendeförhållande är ytterst riskfyllt. Att Lotsa Ledare är en delikat uppgift för inte får sammankopplas med en auktoritetsställning. Vi har stort behov av apostoliska personer i kyrkan idag, men vi behöver vara uppmärksamma på vilken inflytandeposition de får.

- Enmans-ledarrollen ser ut att tilldra sig fortsatt intresse, inte minst bland unga pastorer som tappat respekt och förtroende för den församlingsledningsmodell vi haft, som byggt på kombinationen av anställda och frivilliga, församlingsmötesbeslut och verkställande funktioner för dem som anställts. Denna långsamma, ibland plågsamma, och sällan visionärt öppna modell är skapad för säkerhet och delat ansvar, men kan lätt tolkas, och fungera, som ett motstånd mot Andens tilltal genom en karismatisk entreprenörledare som inte har tålamod eller är intresserad av att invänta hela församlingsflocken innan han går framåt. Det finns viktiga experiment som görs för att pröva nya möjligheter för församlingsbyggande, men den ”företagsledarform” som vi hittills sett växa fram är inte speciellt förtroendeingivande.

- Mediafokus är också något som lätt drabbar svenska ledare, och som är baserat på ett framgångstänkande. Kristen TV, personal ministries, ”kändis”-kultur i största allmänhet drabbar ledare med stor kraft. Det kan få som konsekvens att ledaren kommer att uppfatta sig själv som ”större än livet”, och den idoldyrkan som efterföljare grips av distanserar ledaren från verkligheten. Han kommer att uppfatta sig som en som spelar enligt egna regler. Hans ministry visar bilder på honom framför 10,000-tals lyssnare. Under och mirakler flödar kring honom när han ber för sjuka. Hans artiklar andas självsäkert kunnande på alla livets områden; bön som ger skuldfrihet, familjelivsprinciper som fungerar, tolkning av profetia och hur man går över kulturgränser; inget är honom främmande.

Behöver vi inte en svensk diskussion där frågan om ”andligt ledarskap” blir belyst lite mera på bredden? Kallelsefrågan, personliga kvalifikationer, gåvoutrustning, handledarskap och många andra viktiga frågor skulle behöva pratas om i en öppen förtroendefull gemenskap, där erfarenheter från gamla och nya sammanhang finge blandas

Heartland sparar inte på bestraffningar

Heartland sparar inte på bestraffningar
28/11/06 11:46 TeologiKommentarer
SPARE THE ROD? NOT AT HEARTLAND CHRISTIAN ACADEMY, A BOOT CAMP FOR TROUBLED TEENS RUN BY PREACHER CHARLES SHARPE

In the 19 months since he arrived at Heartland Christian Academy, a boot camp for troubled teens in northeastern Missouri, Matt Smith has been paddled more than 300 times -- sometimes for infractions as minor as looking at a girl or passing a note. Last September, when he refused to stand with his nose pressed against a fire extinguisher as a punishment for being loud, a staffer broke his arm by twisting it behind the 14-year-old's back. Not surprisingly, Smith says he would like to leave Heartland. "They take the Bible and turn it into a punishment," he says. "I hate this place."

However much he hates it, though, Smith isn't going anywhere. With a juvenile record of assault, he was sent to the sprawling campus 150 miles north of St. Louis by court order, and with the blessing of his custodial grandmother, in February 2005 and placed in the care of Charles Sharpe, a millionaire insurance tycoon turned preacher. Sharpe, who has poured more than $50 million of his own money into building Heartland, enforces an educational philosophy heavy on discipline for 104 troubled students, mostly from the Midwest, who range in age from 5 to 17: daily Bible study, strict rules and corporal punishment with a 2 1/2-ft. wooden paddle. "The only thing these kids understand is pain," says Sharpe, 79. "We've created a society where kids are in charge, and it's causing a complete breakdown." Adds his wife, Laurie, 47 who runs the girls' dormitory: " Swatting [paddling] is biblical. You have to teach a child to live right."

SHARPE: "The only thing these kids understand is pain."
Boot camps are nothing new in this country, but Heartland, with its emphasis on religion, is one of about a dozen last-resort schools that have flourished in Missouri, where the state's interpretation of freedom of religion permits such faith-based facilities to go unregulated. "We don't monitor, we don't supervise, and their discipline policies are not regulated by state authorities," says Jim Morris, the spokesperson for Missouri Department of Education. "We tell parents to ask lots of questions."

Most mainstream child-development experts criticize boot camp techniques -- separating kids from their families, subjecting them to humiliation -- as ineffective, even harmful. "These programs create in parents a sense of crisis. If you don't act, your child will end up in jail or dead on the streets," says critic Robert Friedman, a clinical psychologist at the University of South Florida and an expert on teen mental health issues. According to Maia Szalavitz, author of a new book about boot camps, Help at any Cost, the heavy use of punishment doesn't necessarily build strong character. "The idea that you need to break people down to fix them may produce compliance, but that's all, " she says.

Heartland, in particular, has been accused of taking discipline too far. After multiple reports of abuse, including a student whose eardrum was punctured during an altercation with a junior staffer, a dozen deputy sheriffs and juvenile officers raided the campus in 2001, removing 115 students. Although charges were eventually dropped and the majority of students have returned -- and been joined by recent arrivals -- law enforcement has kept an eye on the facility. "He's not an educator, not a child expert, not even an ordained minister," says Lewis County prosecutor Jake DeCoster of Sharpe. Sharpe's take is even harsher. In a 2002 sermon, he called DeCoster "a pawn of Satan." (As for Matt Smith's broken arm, the sheriff determined that it was not an assault.)

Sharpe's students pay no fees in return for a commitment to stay until graduation, but if they leave early they are billed for back tuition of $600 a month. "I wanted my kids to get through these years without a criminal record and without getting pregnant," says Sheri Farley, 48, who sent her six children to Heartland when they became violent and sexually active during adolescence. One recently graduated; two still remain at the facility. "I don't agree with everything they do, but my kids were totally out of control."

Founded in 1995, Heartland grew from a promise that Sharpe, the son of poor farmers from Newark, Mo., made to God after his second wife began suffering from anxiety attacks. "The Lord spoke to me. He said, 'Build this place or your wife won't make it,' " he says. Sharpe, who had long been contemplating creating a school with the profits from his insurance company, Ozark National Life Insurance, designed a program where every minute of a student's day is choreographed: Wake-up is at 5:30 a.m., followed by daily Bible study, classroom instruction and evening church services. Students have chores ranging from pulling weeds to scrubbing toilets. Lights out in the sex-segregated dorms is at 8:30 p.m.

"If you don't pray, you get swats," says a sophomore at Heartland.
Seventeen-year-old Sam Calicotte from Hannibal, Mo., was smoking pot and cigarettes when her mother sent her to Heartland. She didn't like it at first, but now Calicotte happily mops floors and talks about going to Bible college one day. "I've learned to finish what I start," she says. "There's lots of rules to keep you in line." And punishment for breaking them. Isolation, food deprivation and hours of extra chores are common. Girls who misbehave are forced to wear a grannyish "ugly dress"; unruly boys put on a bow tie and a suit. Teens who run away or self-mutilate must wear an orange jumpsuit for at least a month and, most days, several students are paddled. Some punishment techniques have been dropped including digging graves to "bury an attitude" and eating "Heartland stew," a mixture of table scraps and leftovers.

Over the years, child welfare authorities have intervened at Heartland, which shares a sprawling campus with a Bible college for non-delinquent adults. During the 2001 raid, investigators learned student Josh O'Rourke, then 16, was paddled more than 50 times the previous year and forced to sit in a metal chair overnight. His father, Jim, who lived at Heartland and participated in the beating, had accused his son of stealing $100. (Jim O'Rourke ultimately pleaded guilty to child abuse.) At the same time, five staffers were arrested for forcing 11 teenagers to wade into concrete-lined pits of manure up to chest height.

Jurors decided the manure case did not meet the definition of child abuse in Missouri. And Sharpe makes no apologies. "The kids said, 'We don't want to go to school.' Okay, we'll show you what life is like without schooling," he says. "The next day, they decided school wasn't so bad." Although no charges are currently pending against Heartland, a registered sex offender -- one of seven who worked at the facility -- pleaded guilty four months ago to charges of making lewd remarks to a 14-year-old girl. Sharpe responds that he does not turn his back on anyone: "Our job is to take care of people who are messed up."

Heartland's legal problems may not be over yet. Mark Stajduhar, now 20 and married, told PEOPLE that four months after arriving at Heartland in 1999, he was sexually assaulted in the dormitory by a male student supervisor. The abuse, he says, continued for months. "He was bigger than me," says Stajduhar, now a freshman at Culver-Stockton College in Canton, Mo. "If I told someone, I knew I'd be accused of being a homosexual." Stajduhar filed a report with the local sheriff's department in 2003, and a criminal investigation, the sheriff says, is ongoing. Stajduhar has also hired a lawyer and filed a class action suit against Heartland that was served last November. "I'm not saying it's impossible but I don't know about it," says Rob Patchin, Sharpe's grandson and the boy's dorm supervisor, of Stajduhar's claims. "And I'm sticking to that."

Whatever happened in the past doesn't matter to Christine Pugh, 38, who sent her daughter Danielle Walker, 16, and her son, Brent Moore, 15, to Heartland when they began sneaking out of the house at night and hanging out with a rough crowd. "How they deal with an unruly child is probably not a lot different than in a prison. I don't have a problem with that, " she says. Danielle returned home after two years and is making minimum wage at McDonald's, studying for her GED. "Before, she was very argumentative, Now you just go, 'No, it's not open to discussion,' and she accepts it. And she dresses more modestly," says Pugh. Adds her stepfather, Mike: "We think she grew from it." And Danielle? "Parents should spend a day there," she says, "to see what really happens."