A Certain Lack of Judgment
What principal would let this decidedly twisted individual
anywhere near kids?
A new HBO documentary, recently previewed on ABC's Nightline, highlights Fatica's Hard as Nails Ministry, an operation he runs to bring wayward kids back into the Catholic Church. "I'm not the smartest tool in the shed," he jokes. "I'm just a regular guy. But what I do know is I live here, right now, and I was born for this era. There's something big that God wants to do with me."
That thing, in Fatica's view, is to "shake kids up" through passionate presentations at Catholic high schools. Fatica screams, points, and jumps around stage. He points out when girls are overweight to show the kids "how we really treat people." Most shockingly, he allows kids to whack him across the back with a steel chair while he tells the room, "I want you to know that Jesus loves you!"
Fatica says that his steel chair antics have multiple purposes. The first is appeal. "It's hard to get young people's attention in this era," he says. "So we use this experience to help them." He continues, pointing out that the excercise is really about love. "St. Francis, to show people that he sinned, jumped in thorns ... I'm just following what the saints do."
Some worry that his style can push the envelope too far, advocating violence and aggression. The documentary highlights one young person who appears to have a broken arm. "It's all about praising Jesus," the boy says, "and if I have to get hurt praising Jesus, that's just what I'm going to have to do." In one Vermont high school, parents complained, and told him to leave the building.
But an emotional Fatica is sure Hard as Nails is a valuable project. "I think God is proud of me," he exclaims. ABC's Nightline profiles an HBO documentary about Justin Fatica who encourages followers to hit him as part of religious teachings.