Boot Camp Accountability

I saw this story about a 15 year old girl dragged behind a van at a Christian boot camp several places, but I don’t remember where first, so no hat tips.

It should go without saying–but I’ll say it anyhow–that this type of brutal punishment, assuming that the story proves to be correct, fails the “what would Jesus do” test. Of course there are always those who somehow discover that Jesus would always do whatever they want to do.

What I wanted to call attention to is the simple matter of accountability. I think people who do this sort of thing don’t expect to be called to account by others. They take a radical approach and they find people to manage their ministries who will tend to say “yes” rather than challenge them. There is a need for disciplined environments for some young people, though I personally doubt that the “boot camp” approach actually has any lasting value. But such environments should have more accountability and more observation than other environments simply because the leaders and teachers of such programs are in a position of tempting power over others. If they have a tendency of any kind to tyranny, anger, or sadism, they will be provided with opportunities, and since they are working with kids who have been labeled “bad” such people will believe they can get by with things they would not otherwise. History shows that they can.

There is a dangerous tendency amongst Christians today to look toward fast, brutal methods of restoring discipline. I would suggest that a much more Christ-like approach would be much longer term, consistent, non-violent, and loving. I’m not saying delinquent young people do not require punishment at any time, but the boot camp craze, which thankfully seems to be dying down, was the penal equivalent of fast food.

Similar Posts