Presidential hopeful Amy Klobuchar pledged money for anti-gay ministry that thinks Pokémon is a gateway to drug addiction
Democratic presidential hopeful Amy Klobuchar requested half a million dollars in 2008 for an anti-gay religious rehab program that claimed Pokémon leads to drug addiction.
Senator Amy Klobuchar tried to “earmark” $500,000 for Minnesota Teen Challenge (MNTC), an anti-LGBT+ ministry which offers rehab services and drug addiction prevention programmes in schools.
“Earmarking” is a practice, now used less often, which allows lawmakers to put aside federal money for projects that are important to them.
According to paperwork from the senator’s website, accessed by The Intercept and captured by the Wayback Machine, Amy Klobuchar requested the money for the fiscal year 2009 “for the Minnesota Teen Challenge to expand their drug prevention education efforts for teenagers” via its “Know the Truth” prevention programme.
An MNTC newsletter from the same year reads: “One of the goals of the Satanic church is to make evil cute and cuddly.
“They are accomplishing this goal through games such as Pokemon, Dungeons and Dragons, Majick, and Ouija boards.
“Television is full of shows about witchcraft including Sabrina and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Popular children’s books like Harry Potter have real demonic spells included.
“Secular music is becoming increasingly evil. Marilyn Manson has Satanic altar calls at his concerts. Much of what our society reads, watches, and listens to is demonically influenced.”
Also from around the same time and accessed by The Intercept, an application form for a teen rehab programme lists problems young people may have struggled with, including “stealing”, “eating disorders” and “homosexuality”.
A letter in the pamphlet from Rich Scherber, MNTC director then and now, states: “Our children are being desensitised to the evil and corruption all around them.
“Music continues to scream messages of hate and violence. Pokémon is loaded in demonic symbolism and evil power. Majick cards are based on supernatural power and teach witchcraft. Television glamorises and glorifies sex.
“Everywhere around us, compromise is normal, evil accepted, and the mention of Jesus Christ hushed. These ‘games’ are pure and simply divination… Teen Challenge is an essential tool used by God to rescue those whose lives have been destroyed by Satan.”
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While evidence of these beliefs are not easily available now on either the MNTC website or the website of its “Know the Truth” programme, clients in rehab programs are still prohibited from bringing “secular music” and “clothing with skulls”.
In its FAQ section, the organisation claims: “We are chemical dependency program; we do not discriminate based on sexual orientation.”
However MNTC is operated by Assemblies of God, the largest Pentecostal denomination in the world, which is vehemently against LGBT+ people.
The Assemblies of God position paper on “homosexuality, marriage and sexual identity” reads: “The Assemblies of God affirms the sexual complementarity of man and woman and teaches that any and all same-sex sexual attractions are to be resisted.
“Consequently, believers are to refrain from any and all same-sex sexual acts or conduct, which are intrinsically disordered.”
It also states: “The Fellowship supports the dignity of individual persons affirming their biological sex and discouraging any and all attempts to physically change, alter, or disagree with their predominant biological sex—including but not limited to elective sex-reassignment, transvestite, transgender, or non-binary ‘genderqueer’ acts or conduct.”
Minnesota senator Scott Dibble argued against state funding going to MNTC in 2013. He told MinnPost at the time: “When a gay person is immersed in an environment like that, they can’t help but think there’s something deeply wrong with them.
“Some of those [homophobic] values are inseparable from their approach. It does not work for the GLBT person… It’s fine for those at Teen Challenge to believe what they want, but should taxpayers pay for those beliefs?’”