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Christian schools getting away with physical abuse and sadistic mind games thanks to religious exemptions

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A blockbuster new report from Vice shows how some fundamentalist Christian schools in the United States take advantage of religious liberty laws to get away with blatantly abusing their students.

Although such abuse of students is illegal, Christian schools that are purportedly set up to serve troubled teens often evade scrutiny for alleged abuse allegations because they have secured exemptions from oversight regulations thanks to their designation as religious institutions.

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“In many states, such exemptions are written directly into the laws meant to regulate residential youth facilities — that is, religious schools are never subject to the rules in the first place,” Vice explains.

As an example of how this plays out in the real world, Vice points to facilities run by Clayton “Buddy” Maynard, a Florida preacher whose schools have regularly faced abuse allegations from students. Even though his Panama City-based Heritage Boys Academy closed in 2010 amid abuse allegations, he opened up a new school called the Truth Baptist Church in the same city just two years later, after a criminal case against him fell apart in 2012.

Maynard received no scrutiny for opening yet another school for troubled teens, experts say, because of the exemptions awarded for religious institutions.

Liz Sepper, a religious liberty expert and law professor at Washington University in St. Louis, explains to Vice that religious schools “don’t need to apply, go into court for the exemption” because “the law never applied” to them in the first place.

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What this means is that abuse allegations often have to be tackled by local law enforcement agencies on a case-by-case basis.

“Restoration Youth Academy in Prichard, Alabama… remained free from oversight until now-retired Captain Charles Kennedy of the Prichard Police Department received a phone call from the mother of a boy who said he’d been abused at the facility,” Vice writes. “Kennedy… recalled [finding] a naked boy locked in a closet, widespread allegations of physical abuse, severe exercise, and sadistic mind games. Staff had even encouraged a suicidal student to shoot himself with a gun he didn’t know wasn’t loaded.”

Read the entire report at this link.

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Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. Unlike other news sites, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

We need your support to keep producing quality journalism and deepen our investigative reporting. Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Invest with us in the future. Make a one-time contribution to Raw Story Investigates, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you.



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Conservative columnist blasts GOP as ‘partisan hacks for whom hypocrisy is second-nature’

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On Tuesday, President Donald Trump once again ripped into The Squad, this time to undercut an emotional press conference in which Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MN) described the conditions her Palestinian relatives live under.

“Sorry, I don’t buy Rep. Tlaib’s tears. I have watched her violence, craziness and, most importantly, WORDS, for far too long,” the president tweeted. “Now tears? She hates Israel and all Jewish people. She is an anti-Semite. She and her 3 friends are the new face of the Democrat Party. Live with it!”

Sorry, I don’t buy Rep. Tlaib’s tears. I have watched her violence, craziness and, most importantly, WORDS, for far too long. Now tears? She hates Israel and all Jewish people. She is an anti-Semite. She and her 3 friends are the new face of the Democrat Party. Live with it!

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Trump-worshipping artist unveils insanely disturbing new painting — and the internet is having a field day

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Jon McNaughton, the Trump-loving artist whose worshipful portraits of the president have drawn comparisons to North Korean propaganda, has unveiled a new painting that many Twitter users find deeply disturbing.

The new painting, which is titled "The Masterpiece," features President Donald Trump sitting at an easel and preparing to unveil a painting of his own.

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Trump-loving evangelicals don’t want Mike Pence as president because he has too much ‘decency’: WaPo columnist

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Washington Post columnist Elizabeth Bruenig this week talked with Ana Marie Cox on her "With Friends Like These" podcast about how evangelical Christians have an almost apocalyptic fervor for supporting President Donald Trump.

Bruenig, who is herself a practicing Catholic, earlier this year traveled to her home state of Texas to get a sense of how evangelicals were feeling about politics headed into 2020.

What she found, she told Cox, was a group of Christian conservatives who are even more devoted to the president than they were just three years ago when they helped power his electoral college victory.

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