Friday, July 1, 2016

Demanding Duggar Cradle, Teen Homes and the Baptist Myth of Family

Welcome to the resource page that accompanies the discussion:

From Demanding Duggar Cradle to Troubled Teen Home:  
Overcoming the Baptist Myth of Family
Friday, July 1st, Dallas, TX

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Cable television's Learning Channel publicizes the wholesome facade of family through the Duggar Family's "19 Kids and Counting" show, but few viewers understand the dark underbelly of their formulaic, high demand ideology.  Considering this reality show family as a prototype and their deep roots in the Independent Baptist movement, this presentation will delve into the variety of extreme measures used to enforce their panacea of a mythical family ideal.

With a special focus on corporal punishment and the incarceration of children in "troubled teen industry" homes, two Second Generation Adult survivors of this system will recount their experiences within this religious movement.  This presentation specifically endeavors to highlight the unique recovery needs of those who have endured the profound trauma of the Baptist residential teen home experience.  Janet Heimlich will explore the challenges of addressing and preventing this variety of Religious Child Maltreatment.

Panel Participants

          Jo Wright. Raised in the jungles of Paraguay, Joanna Wright grew up in James Saint John's pseudo-Christian cult compound of 76 people known as Beulah Land. Her father, an Independent Fundamental Baptist (IFB) minister, was eventually imprisoned there after a civil uprising created by "the Group" (as they chose to be called). She escaped the abusiveness of the IFB system and a violent marriage in early adulthood with an infant and no preparation for living in the outside world. Therapy and growth enabled her to raise three children into independent, educated, and kind-to-the-core adulthood. She also completed two college degrees, studying both criminology (A.S.) and psychology (B.S.). In 1998, Ms. Wright founded Hope4Kidz, Inc. with a focus on foster children placed in Residential Treatment Centers and worked with the Texas State Comptroller to expose and address problems with institutional warehousing of children in foster care. Ms. Wright provided valuable input to The Forgotten Children’s Report in 2004 that resulted in numerous policy changes. After retiring from Hope4Kidz, Ms. Wright now works as both book editor and author while encouraging others in their writing.

          Susan Grotte.  As a teenager in the 1980s, Susan endured 29 months at Hephzibah House, a troubled teen residential home for girls operated by an Independent Fundamental Baptist affiliate in Winona Lake, IN. She has contributed vital information about life within the walls of religious teen homes through many media interviews and documentaries. Her website,, documents the testimonies of her former sister residents and workers at the "boarding home" which continues to operate today. She resides happily in the Midwest with husband and family.

          Sunny Linkfield is a survivor of Straight Incorporated. This abusive teen rehab center, convinced thousands of parents that normal behavior was a sign of druggie behavior. Sunny was an over achiever but became a moody teenager, experimenting with pot, alcohol and a few other drugs. After her parents read an article in Reader's Digest, they dropped her off in a warehouse called Straight Inc. Sunny is now a make-up artist/esthetician and a trainer in retail cosmetics. She was recently interviewed in the new documentary, Fix My Kid, and was also the lead make-up artist for the film. Ms. Linkfield is active with the International Cultic Studies Association. She has been interviewed for NBC Nightly News and has spoken at Columbia University about the troubled teen industry. In April, 2013, Sunny spoke with Congressman Miller's office to modify the bill: Stop Abuse in Residential Treatment Centers for Teens Act. She also organized a seminar in DC on The Abuses in the Troubled Teen Industry. Sunny is active in raising awareness abroad on these abusive teen programs and is fighting for the US to ratify the United Nations Convention for the Rights of a Child. Currently, the US and Somalia are the only two countries who have not ratified the treaty.