Soul survivor- DN's strange experience

(147 Posts)
DalmationDots Tue 27-Aug-13 21:51:05

My sister and her niece came over yesterday, DN has recently come back from the Soul Survivor camp. I have heard of it before but thought it was a sort of music festival, big church services etc type event. I am not christian.

DN went with her youth group, she wasn't particuarly religious before - she went to the group to socialise. On Monday she spent the whole time telling me about how God cured people there of things like cancer, blindness and other disabilities. She truly believed this had happened. She said she went up to the front and committed in front of thousands her faith. She said she felt like she fainted and that was god taking over her life and body.

My sister later, away from DN, said she was a bit concerned how intense the experience was, and perhaps a bit brainwashing. Apparently the talks were also so intense she cried.

Both me and my sister have no problem whatsoever with DN being a Christian, she loved her time there and I'm glad she is such a sensible, lovely girl. I'm not trying to be anti-religion in any way, but I was just shocked this scale of event happens and how they look after the young people who could get really worked up about it all. Is DN's experience usual? How do they stop (accidental) brainwashing occurring and let the young people make up their own mind with such drastic and extreme worship?

Anyone got more experience? Thanks

springytoffy Thu 29-Aug-13 21:15:26

(I have had a fair bit of missionary training and there is a whole science around it eg respecting someone's 'culture' [endless interpretations of that btw], not being pushy; getting the message across without ramming it down people's throats etc. It's a fine art which necessitates a lot of sensitivity. The bottom line is ALWAYS respect.)

springytoffy Thu 29-Aug-13 21:19:18

Sorry, I said that ^^ because the teams who work at events like Soul Survivor have had similar training.

DalmationDots Thu 29-Aug-13 21:45:38

'getting the message across without ramming it down people's throats'

I'm not talking about people they can go to for more preaching/affirmation of religious points, more someone to go to for emotional support. Someone who isn't going to say 'this is amazing, you now are saved by god, he will help you through this. Keep believing. The bible says X. You felt the holy spirit, that is why you feel so emotional' (equally not the opposite - stop believing)
BUT... someone to say 'it is ok, you have discovered something new and big about your religion. You need time to think and decide what you truely believe away from the hype here. It is ok whatever you believe. It is normal to feel overwhelmed and a bit upset, it is a very heightened atmosphere here and there is a lot of pressure. Would you like to talk about how you feel?'

Someone completely neutral (not someone who is a trained missionary - whose aim and priority it is to ensure you DO believe in god, rather than to ensure your emotionally wellbeing and happiness WHATEVER your beliefs, culture, opinions etc.)

Do you see the difference?

Although I am glad these young people do seem to have adults about. I'm getting at whether these adults recognise the duty to care for the child is paramount, and that is not just to care for their religious beliefs.

SunshineBossaNova Thu 29-Aug-13 21:54:38

springy

I mentioned tithing above. It wasn't a 'swipe' at churches needing money to survive - it was a specific megachurch that has been accused of cult-like behaviour and of operating like a Ponzi scheme. I'm not sure where you got 'deluded idiots' from, but it certainly wasn't my post.

I was sharing a specific experience I had, not shitting on all Christian activities.

SunshineMMum Thu 29-Aug-13 22:15:17

I still think of myself as a Christian, however I agree whole heartedly with the OP's concerns. As a family we were left reeling after events surrounding New Wine 2011 and we left our Church for good the following August, after much prayer. I can't go into the circumstances, but suffice to say I say it has altered my perception for good.

springytoffy Thu 29-Aug-13 22:17:13

ok, point taken Sunshine - I was summarising the general approach upthread (another page, can't be arsed to link)

I know of those megachurches. It is a erm curious situation. I am minded of cultural differences (eg some african cultures - not ALL african cultures!). No, not excusing, just trying to see it in context eg extreme poverty. I don't like it either - but I'm not there, and don't know enough about it iyswim. For a while I went to a repulsive american church in london (NOT saying all american churches are repulsive here!) which had a keen interest in money. Twas vile imo.

Anyway, so far, so curious. I get what you are saying Dalmation and perhaps it would be an idea for people like that to be about. You're not going to find it among christians, though. We really do believe that God is safe and can weather all excesses and ground a person.

headinhands Thu 29-Aug-13 22:23:03

I don't think my interpretation of Jesus' claims are advanced. He says in Matthew 16 v 18 ^they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover."

What's your interpretation of that?

SunshineMMum Thu 29-Aug-13 22:34:53

I have spent a lot of time in prayer and reflection having stepped back from a very Charismatic Church. As to the experiences we had at New wine and the teachings of ministries such Angus Buchan, it has left me wondering whether a God of all creation, would lead us to worship in such narrow and prescriptive way.

springytoffy Thu 29-Aug-13 22:36:12

So sorry to hear that Sunshine it sounds awful.

Can I ask if the upset was about God, or christians?

springytoffy Thu 29-Aug-13 22:39:01

ah, christians. I know how upsetting christians can be sometimes.

SunshineMMum Thu 29-Aug-13 22:42:16

All I can say really is that we saw and experienced quite a few manipulations of the truth and inadequate/perfunctory pastoral care, throughout the week. We haven't lost faith in God, but would have to ask many questions before we joined another Church.

Auntfini Thu 29-Aug-13 22:46:37

Ive lost my faith in God after things I've seen at new wine/soul survivor/ charismatic gatherings in general.
I can't get my head around any of it now.

Also I have led on ss. The leaders are not particularly trained and priority is always religious well being, not just well being iyswim

SunshineMMum Thu 29-Aug-13 22:54:37

Aunt fini don't lose heart, there will always be genuine Christian experiences at these events, it is just for me personally, prayer, refection and good spiritual counselling are essential. I don't believe that healing of life time hurts, be they physical or spiritual, have to be as instantaneous and spontaneous as those events would leave you to believe.

GrimmaTheNome Thu 29-Aug-13 22:58:24

Dalmation ... interesting questions you raise. Having been brought up in a (moderate) Christian family but as a teen/student attended whatever Christian rock concerts and 'house parties' were available ... I'd take a small bet that the sort of neutral pastoral care and de-hyping you might hope to find would be absent. I certainly never came across any such.

I don't think its necessarily deliberate manipulation - the people probably really do believe that the atmosphere is generated by the Holy Spirit (though its remarkably similar to what may be produced by a good gig, as I discovered later!).

DalmationDots Thu 29-Aug-13 23:01:41

Auntfini - it is sad to hear that the child believing in what SS believe is the 'right' god/christianity, comes before the child's well being. It makes me angry that this kind of thing is allowed and that child protection isn't bigger. This sort of extreme hype/emotion stirring/brainwashing and attitude would not be allowed in schools, even faith schools, so why is it allowed here.

Ok it hasn't harmed my DN, but has the potential to emotionally harm other children and seems, to me, emotional blackmailing. If you don't feel the holy spirit, god doesn't love you. Come to the front and proclaim your life to god, that is what we all want, that is what will make all your friends happy.
How is this ok?!!?

I am considering emailing Soul Survivors to get some official answers but then think maybe I need to get a life and not dive into a potentially pointless religious debate with some admin person who will no doubt send a stock reply to my email. What do you reckon? Maybe I'd be better emailing some sort of official child protection/children's rights agency... Or am I going too loopy over something which in reality if just life?

DalmationDots Thu 29-Aug-13 23:10:44

GrimmaTheNome - I know, I do understand these people are genuinely thinking they are doing the right thing. But in many ways that doesn't make it ok still. I don't blame these people, more official governing and regulations (surely these exist for all events involving young people) for not recognising the potential harm.

Imagine if there were similar events for athiest young people. Lots of emotional music about life played, motivating talks about how to succeed and live a good life. Stories of how those around us all care and love us, really emotional videos (like on comic relief but even more powerful) which tell us what occurred in the people featured lives is down to them not believing in god but taking control themselves. Motivational talks, songs etc that we all have it in us to achieve and live how we want, and that we shouldn't be influenced by anyone else.
BUT that all this was achieved through brainwashing, telling them to reject god to achieve this, that belief in god holds us back. A bit of brainwashing and some sort of equivalent misleading act to the healing (can't think of what!! maybe a derren brown type trick!). All things which reduce the crowdof young people to tears, make some faint and invovled huge peer pressure to make all those there take on this atheist attitude. Imagine the uproar and controversy and child protection issues that would arise...
This would all be just as bad as what SS runs, but I'm pretty sure would be banned/seen as not right.

springytoffy Thu 29-Aug-13 23:12:19

I lost my faith because of christians too, for a long time. I'm back now and I don't put my faith in christians any more iyswim.

However, I am horrified to hear that the training at soul survivor is lax - how long ago did you work there fini ? Perhaps address your concerns [about these events] to your Bishop? They're not just there to wear a frock.

headinhands Thu 29-Aug-13 23:15:37

How about emailing both op? While you'll definitely get a concerned and scripted 'we're only showing them Jesus' love' email I certainly don't think it should put you off getting in touch with them, I personally would like to see their response. A bit more googling will probably reveal other parents/adults who've had these concerns about young people and SS and you might get some ideas for further action.

Auntfini Thu 29-Aug-13 23:18:33

7 years? Same at new wine.

In fact on one occasion at new wine the youth leader who had taken a group from church tried to get them to wind up the worship session- after 3 hours teens were singing 'I surrender all' over and over in chorus along to the worship leader. She thought it was inappropriate and emotionally unfair, and she made her teens leave and go to bed. She wasn't working for new wine though, and shouldn't have been the only one to realise that that sort of emotionally charged moment is quite unhealthy for impressionable young people. IMO.

springytoffy Thu 29-Aug-13 23:24:03

If you don't feel the holy spirit, god doesn't love you. Come to the front and proclaim your life to god, that is what we all want, that is what will make all your friends happy.

I don't think they're saying that, though - especially not the first.

I DON'T think you are making a fuss about nothing - and, again, I would suggest you take this up with your Bishop, at least as a first port of call. You can be sure there is a huge debate going on within the CofE about the charismatic expression of christianity; and perhaps he (still a he) will be able to give you some pointers. He is the equivalent of a religious MP iyswim. You won't be the first to raise concerns about this.

Talking of which, I'd also raise this with your MP. Religious freedom is such a hot potato and my guess is that this is why hands are tied up to a point: it is almost impossible to quantify emotional abuse, especially within a religious context.

However, if these events, aimed at young people, are not rigorously ring-fenced with appropriate pastoral protection, I'd be the first to call for an inquiry.

GrimmaTheNome Thu 29-Aug-13 23:26:39

Dalmation - I don't think the fact its not deliberate makes it OK either. But because it's a church thing its generally assumed to be a Good Thing.

Amused by your analogy - remembering the publicity about Camp Quest which er, encourages kids to indulge in, er, critical thinking in between a bit of high ropes and abseiling. Shocking stuff. grin

springytoffy Thu 29-Aug-13 23:27:59

While you'll definitely get a concerned and scripted 'we're only showing them Jesus' love' email

Really? She may not, actually headinhands

However, if she did, I'd create merry hell, frankly. I really would create an absolute stink.

DalmationDots Thu 29-Aug-13 23:57:47

springytoffy - sorry maybe that wasn't the best way to explain the way I see it as blackmailing, I am getting hyped up and angry about it all myself! Apologies that comment from me was definitely misleading.

I will follow it up and let you all know what/if I hear back smile

GrimmaTheNome - :D love the sound of Camp Quest, maybe I should recommend it to DN for next year...

headinhands Fri 30-Aug-13 00:39:16
CoteDAzur Fri 30-Aug-13 07:50:24

springy - Nobody called you "stupid" and that post was indeed about what I was like as a teen. A full paragraph about Talk guidelines and what is appropriate, indeed hmm Get over yourself.

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