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Worship and Faith

Is it an invitation, or is it coercion?

You are most vulnerable to high-pressure religious groups when

  1. You are lonely
    • You are homesick for familiar friends and places
    • Your roommate is always out with other friends
    • You miss a significant other who is at another school or elsewhere
  2. You are hurting
    • You just had a fight with your family
    • You are grieving over a person or relationship
  3. You are having a tough time socially
    • Everyone has a date except you
    • You haven’t been recruited by anyone for anything
    • It’s the same dull routine of classes, homework, eating, and sleeping
  4. You are in trouble academically
    • You are struggling with one or more courses
    • You are embarrassed because you have never had C’s or D’s until now
    • You are confused about you major or career choice

Remember, these feelings are all a part of university life and can be confronted and put into proper focus. If they are left unattended, however, they become uncomfortable and are a clear invitation to high-pressure recruiters. Ask for help.

What to beware of

  1. Beware of people with magical answers
    Magic always takes time
  2. Beware of people who are excessively or inappropriately friendly
    There are no instant relationships
  3. Beware of groups that pressure you because everyone else is doing it
    No one knows what’s right for you except you
  4. Beware of groups that relate to you through guilt
    Guilt induced by others is rarely a productive emotion
  5. Beware of invitations to meetings or gatherings that have vague goals
    Being vague is often a sign that something is being hidden
  6. Beware of instant answers
    Instant answers do not always provide long-term solutions

How to choose a religious group

You might begin by checking out a group that represents your own tradition. There will be some similarities, but there will be many differences from your experience back home. Consider giving your heritage another chance.

If you are thinking of joining another group, be sure that members

  1. Encourage relationships with family and friends outside the group
  2. Can help you through some of life’s inevitable crises
  3. Invite open and thoughtful investigation of beliefs
  4. Encourage you to take responsibility for being a contributing member of the greater community
  5. Offer a reasonable and credible belief system that will help you shape and guide your life

Try this exercise

Think back to a time when you felt alone, overwhelmed by decisions, or that the world was falling apart. What kind of help did you need to get through that time? Who were the significant people you could trust? Do you have such people available to you now? How might you find such people? The groups listed under Interfaith Campus Coalition might be able to help.

If you feel pressured by any aspect of campus life, you may also contact:
Boynton Health Service
University Counseling and Consulting Services