This article by Caleb Hannan was originally published in the Nashville Scene and can be viewed here.
Caleb reports that To Write Love On Her Arms has parted ways with Mercy Ministries amid claims of abuse. We at Mercy Survivors applaud this decision, and wish to thank TWLOHA for taking a moral stand. It’s encouraging to know that TWLOHA have cut ties with Mercy Ministries, because we hope this move will save others from going through the mistreatment that so many former residents of Mercy Ministries have been through while in their program. It is our hope that young people in need of treatment will instead be encouraged to turn to programs that have qualified counselors, and where proven techniques are used in cooperation with medical practitioners.
TWLOHA have a website packed with information and resources for young people who may be struggling with various issues. If you would like to check them out, they can be found here.
Back in October we wrote about Mercy Ministries, a Nashville-based Christian treatment center for young girls. According to a handful of former residents, Mercy withheld medication, attempted to cure patients with exorcisms and had about as much compassion for the gays as Rick Warren, despite allegations that its own charismatic leader, Nancy Alcorn, was in fact a lesbian.
In the months since, Mercy has been fighting to preserve its reputation on two fronts; filing baseless copyright infringement suits against its internet detractors and watching as the backlash in Australia, where the allegations first gained widespread notice, continues to grow.
For Mercy, however, the controversy almost seemed like a blessing. After all, nothing fills the fundraising coffers faster than some perceived persecution (especially when your leader stands accused as having something of a Christ-complex). And it’s also another benefit of believing in demonic oppression: It offers a simple explanation for everything.
Negative press? Must be Satan!
But it seems one Mercy supporter isn’t buying that line of reasoning…
According to a former survivor, Mercy’s partnership with suicide prevention non-profit To Write Love on Her Arms (TWLOHA) has ended. TWLOHA started as a blog post on MySpace in March of 2006, about founder Jamie Tworkowski’s experience helping a 19-year-old addict named Renee make it through the five days before she entered treatment.
Tworkowski and friends decided to print t-shirts to help pay for Renee’s time in rehab. Pop-rock acts like Anberlin, Switchfoot and Paramore (represented by lead singer Hayley Williams, pictured above) decided to wear said t-shirts and in no time TWLOHA was a global phenomenon, reaching thousands of kids in dozens of countries.
Mercy, as a fellow Jesus-lovin’, young-woman helpin’, Christian music-endorsin’, non-profit was a natural ally. And up until recently, TWLOHA was reportedly donating a percentage of their t-shirt sales to Mercy.
But word is that TWLOHA, after being contacted by a Mercy survivor with her own horror-story, has quietly dissolved that relationship. TWLOHA has thus far not responded to any calls or e-mails, but the writing is on the wall, literally; Mercy is no longer one of TWLOHA’s top friends on MySpace.