Staged Kidnapping: Like a Nightmare Thief in the Night

In my novel The Nightmare Thief, an adventure company stages mock kidnappings during role-playing games. Players pay for the privilege. They warn the cops ahead of time. They know the kidnapping’s coming, and that it’s only make-believe.

But that’s not the way it worked for a bunch of kids at one Pennsylvania church.

Church Stages Kidnapping of Youth Group.

Teenagers at the Glad Tidings Assembly of God Church in Middletown, Pa., were surprised when they attended a youth group meeting at the church on March 21 and were ambushed by what seemed to be real kidnappers.

Adults, including an off-duty cop, brandished weapons and put bags over the heads of the children, ages 13 through 18, and forced them into a church van. The group was driven to the home of an assistant pastor, who was presented before the group with a seemingly bloodied and bruised face, according to Dauphin County District Attorney Fran Chardo.

One of the adults used a real AK-47, though the gun was unloaded.

Yeah, the men came in screaming and waving an actual Kalashnikov at the kids before they shoved them to the floor, tied them up, bagged their heads, dragged them to a van, and drove them to a basement where they were isolated and interrogated. The kids didn’t know the kidnapping was fake. And their parents were not informed of the church’s plans.

The church leaders who organized the fake hostage situation later told law enforcement that the event was meant to be a lesson to the children on how Christians are persecuted in places around the world, but the “educational” event may actually constitute a crime.

At the very least it constitutes stupid, deliberate cruelty. The church “leaders” (I use the term as snidely as possible) did everything possible to convince the teens this was an actual kidnapping. They wanted them to experience real terror and a genuine fear for their lives.

Camouflaged men screaming in a 13-year-old’s face while waving an AK-47 at her. This isn’t education. It’s sadism.

As a parent, I’m horrified. And if this is modern Christianity in action, God help it. Somebody fire these bullies.

12 responses to “Staged Kidnapping: Like a Nightmare Thief in the Night

  1. It’s stories like this that reinforces my belief that joining a group is a bad idea. I belong to nothing. With groups it is always one bunch thinking they are better than the other bunch. Pretty much shows so called religious people are just as untrustworthy. I may be a misanthrope but I have never harmed anyone.

  2. I literally have no words! Horrifying!

  3. This is horrific. And surely the cop should have known better? Unbelievable.

  4. Isn’t there a law against being such a total lunatic?

  5. I agree that this is horrifying and incomprehensibly stupid. Fire them? Absolutely. But please don’t judge all Christians by these geniuses, Rich. Just as I hope you don’t judge all Christians by Westboro Baptist Church, or by the Pearls (those paragons of parenting). Remember, these are the ones making the headlines, pretty much a self-selecting population. Feeding the homeless and building orphanages in Haiti don’t draw the same media coverage, but these, too, are part of modern Christianity. Happy Easter.

    • Agreed. I wanted to call out these idiots because they need to know they’re not only harming the kids, they’re undermining the message of Jesus. Which was not to invoke terror and burning resentment in people’s hearts, but radical empathy and compassion.

      Happy Easter!

    • No, it’s not in me to castigate an entire group of people for the idiocy of a few with the lone exception of the loathsome Westboro freaks. That is one group I would love to take on, bullhorn to bullhorn. They threatened to come to Jacksonville to desecrate the funeral of one of our fallen servicemen. I think they must have seen how we felt about that idea because the lowly cowards that they are opted not to come. But if they had…well, I would have become so hostile to them, giving them worse than what they dish out to the point of making a national scene. Some people just deserve the worst.

      • I agree completely, but I would also add the Pearls, the geniuses who wrote the “beat your children for Jesus” parenting books, which may have led some folks to kill their kids. Don’t know what Bible these two groups are following, but it is apparently different than mine.

  6. I swear if someone did this to my kids, Hell hath no fury like the wrath of Dana Jean when you f with my kids.

  7. I am way too angry to comment on this right now.

  8. Okay, no I’m not. Could I be spurred into violence? Yes, I believe I could…. I’m with you Deej–touch one of my cubs? Don’t get too attached to your head.

    Why am I still so often surprised at the idiocy and cruelty of man?
    (You have no idea how hard this was for me to write with all of the swear words omitted. That article made me so mad!)

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