Missouri lawmakers pushing to crack down on religious boarding schools after abuse allegations

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Colton Schrag says he only recently started speaking out about his experiences at a Christian boarding school in southwest Missouri.

“It really hit me about a year and a half ago. I was going through my divorce, and I was going to counseling,” Schrag told FOX4. “And the counselor kept talking about all the stuff, making me aware of all that abuse, all that stuff was abuse, no kid should be getting thrown through walls and body-slammed.”

Schrag is now one of many former students at religious boarding schools in Missouri testifying in favor of a proposed law to put more oversight on those schools.

“We are one of the only states in the country that provides religious waivers for these types of residential facilities that care for children,” said State Rep. Keri Ingle, D-Lee’s Summit.

“It’s a form of religious abuse, using the word of God or using the concept of religion to justify abusing children,” Ingle said.

Schrag’s parents sent him to boarding school after he began skipping school and smoking pot. Schrag said the abuse started immediately.

“If you were in trouble, you were constantly worked out until you threw up,” Schrag said.

Another time, Schrag was forced to wear a bathrobe for weeks on end as a form of punishment.

“I myself am a Christian, and I can’t support anything that attacks any religion,” Schrag said. “But I also can’t support a school that abuses children in the name of a certain religion.”

The push to put more oversight on Missouri’s religious schools has support from both sides of the aisle in Jefferson City.

“I certainly want to hand credit to the news, the press on this because they really did get out and dig this up and bring this to our attention,” said State Rep. Rudy Veit, R-Cole County.

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