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

CoteDAzur Tue 27-Aug-13 21:56:45

How can these con artists operate legally? shock

Why did your sister send her there?

DalmationDots Tue 27-Aug-13 22:04:26

It is very popular and well known, huge numbers of the UK's church youth groups take their group each year. A lot of DN's friends had been previous years and said it was a great experience...
I think my sister thought it was a sort of low key safe music festival, a bit of a church service and lots of fun/games.

Valdeeves Wed 28-Aug-13 00:07:54

I think therein lies so many problems with religion. True faith is not about brain washing but I think sometimes it is fallen back on - and me personally, I don't like it.

Ididabravebravething Wed 28-Aug-13 00:13:40

I have been - it is not that woo. tell your sister not to worry.

DioneTheDiabolist Wed 28-Aug-13 00:19:04

The excitement and expectation of a highly emotional crowd experience can make an experience seem more than it is (ever been to a concert?).

Give her a few weeks and see what DN thinks

DalmationDots Wed 28-Aug-13 14:05:22

Yes I agree the excitement and buzz (similar to a music festival/concert) played a huge part but surely this extreme atmosphere shouldn't be created in order to change/persuade religious belief when it is young people involved?
I am approaching this from the point of view of what measures were in place to stop children finding it all a bit much and overwhelming as my DN did.

Apparently DN was told the atmosphere/feeling in the room was the holy spirit...

I agree Valdeeves, true faith and belief in God should not be attained via children going to a 'festival' where such extreme and intense preaching is occurring evoking powerful emotions.

DioneTheDiabolist Wed 28-Aug-13 14:31:50

I assume your DN and her parents were aware that this was a religious thing before she went. Or was she hoodwinked into going?

Are you saying that religious organizations should be prohibited from having such gatherings, but One Direction (for example) should be allowed?confused

CoteDAzur Wed 28-Aug-13 16:58:24

I have nothing against religious gatherings but staging theatrics to convince children that blindness & cancer is being cured as they watch is a con and therefore should be illegal.

Auntfini Wed 28-Aug-13 17:01:58

I went as a teen. IMO it is morally wrong. They hype up the emotion of it in a way that appeals to teens, it's so emotional. I can't really explain what it's like there but I went for years and was, until a few years ago, a very committed, "born again" Christian. I would not send my kids there.

That said, not to worry. In a few weeks her fervour will wane a little

DioneTheDiabolist Wed 28-Aug-13 17:03:40

shock, I missed the cancer and blindness thing. If your DN is still as hyped in a few weeks, perhaps you could ask her how anyone there could possibly know that someone's cancer had disappeared. Also it may be worthwhile to show her the programmed that Derren Brown and (I think) Louis Theroux did on Mass Gatherings and Faith Healings.

MamaMary Wed 28-Aug-13 17:06:20

I'm a Christian and it sounds a little dodgy to me, tbh. But agree with Auntfini, the effects will not be lasting and it will fade over time. I have seen others have these kind of experiences and they don't last.

More concerning is flawed teaching about healing cancer, etc, which could affect the ill and vulnerable.

noisytoys Wed 28-Aug-13 17:20:04

I went to Soul Survivor and Momentum for about 10 years as a teen / young adult. At the time I strongly believed during and immediately after the festival, my belief waned over the year then I went again to have the faith up. Then I saw it for what it is. It is heavily merchandised, popular music (the bands are idolised as much as mainstream bands), there is praise and a feeling of belonging for those who are 'healed', hundreds per night 'give their life to God for the first time and are given free stuff at their conversion', it is just too much of a con for me

DalmationDots Wed 28-Aug-13 18:05:42

Thanks for the replies, great to hear others concerned and your experiences.

DioneTheDiabolist - she and her parents knew it was christian, but not that it was as extreme and as much preaching/coverting young people. They thought it was a music festival (christian music) with lots of fun games/events, different stalls etc. and with services similar to at a church.
I am not saying it should be prohibited, just that it is a very different thing someone being emotionally charged from a boy band they love or a touching song compared to changing their religious beliefs and views.
These young people are purposely put into an atmosphere with lots of hype and peer pressure, then praised if they commit to god. IMO such decisions should be made over time, in an everyday environment and a much less pressured place.
I am concerned that they are not considering the young people's emotionally well being and it all seems not just brainwashing but very extreme. Seems to leave little room for the young people to make their own mind up or choose what they want to believe about God.

Auntfini and noisytoys - interesting to hear you went and now see how brainwashing it was.

I am just so shocked how acceptable this event is seen as by many, apparently most UK church youth groups send their children each year. Really shocking that no one questions whether reducing some to tears and the extremity of it is acceptable. A similar event could take place but with much less hype much more care and respect for young people's well being.

SunshineBossaNova Wed 28-Aug-13 18:27:16

I went to 'Warrior Camp' as a child. It wasn't nearly as slick, but there was pressure on us to 'feel the Holy Spirit'. I remember crying outside the tent wondering why I couldn't get it...

As an adult, I went to an adult event at Wembley, billed as a 'Women's day'. Was it heck - it was a hugely slick promotional device to get women to sign up to a mega-church that demanded tithes and similarly 'healed' all kinds of sickness. Many people went up and were baptised there and then. I took my mum (Baptist) as my 'control Christian' - she was extremely cynical about the whole thing, as I was.

donewiththesebooks Wed 28-Aug-13 19:31:24

I am a Christian and I find all that kind of stuff deeply freaky. There's evangelicalism and then there's mass hysteria. It all just seems to me very shallow and whipped-up and nothing to do with real Christian commitment. As you say, emotional blackmail/pressure on young teens to 'give your life to Jesus' is not OK. A lot of the things they preach at those things are not even true Christianity - it's all just very over-emotional and skewed towards something else imo.

Also, most of the 'churches' who demands tithes and other financial donations are basically just Ponzi schemes. Parish churches might collect for charities during a hymn on Sunday, but that's totally different to demanding a certain amount of money to be part of worship.

I suspect she will come down from the high of it and unfortunately (well I think it's unfortunate, obv) will probably put her off the Christian faith for a good while.

DioneTheDiabolist Wed 28-Aug-13 22:32:29

Done, I don't think it's unfortunate. I think that it can do us good to experience and remember how manipulative some situations can be.

springytoffy Thu 29-Aug-13 00:54:03

I think done meant that it was unfortunate it could put her off the christian faith, Dione

Dalmation , perhaps you could go to the event yourself (or your sister could) to check it out for yourselves? I don't know why people are surprised that what happened in the bible can happen today - the bible clearly states that God is the same yesterday, today and forever. Yes, there can be an emotional atmosphere but emotion is part of who we are. I get emotional about God sometimes, and was very emotional when I became a Christian - it's hard not to be tbh! C S Lewis eg became a christian through rational/academic research. Of course emotions can be manipulated, but so can rationale.

I haven't been to Soul Survivor but have heard a lot about it - mostly good reports, some not so good. I'm not a big-event type of person but some people are and they enjoy it. If God's around then some amazing things can start happening. God can be slick as well as sitting on a donkey iyswim. It's a slick age - might not be to everyone's taste though.

springytoffy Thu 29-Aug-13 00:59:30

C S Lewis called it 'Surprised by Joy' - and joy is an emotion. He arrived at 'joy' on the top of a bus iirc; and his journey to it was an intellectual one. I suppose because he was the business intellectually etc and didn't leap around, fall over, cry etc, his experience can be seen as more trustworthy. Not necessarily imo. I think God is perfectly capable of handling high emotion and making sense of it over time.

stemstitch Thu 29-Aug-13 01:04:23

done here - have nc

Yes, I meant unfortunate in that it could put her off the Christian faith. Obviously, as I am Christian, I think it's unfortunate, especially as what I know as Christianity is NOTHING like these weird hysterical scam concerts.

I don't deny that God can work miracles - obviously if God fits the definition of God then he can do anything. But it's not like people are getting cured left right and centre at your average Sunday service. Most of the time being a Christian involves plodding along, trusting, doubting etc. Not so much whizz-bang and you're cured type stuff. If God just whacked out a miracle every time he wanted to convince someone he existed, then the world would be quite different. There is a scientific explanation in mass hysteria, and that is what I see being displayed at events like that.

My conversion was more like C S Lewis's but that doesn't mean I don't feel emotional about it. However, I tend to keep my emotions to myself. Not saying that everyone has to do so or they're a fraud, but the stuff that SunShineBossaNova describes is just a bit... hmmmm.

springytoffy Thu 29-Aug-13 01:06:53

I wish churches would shut up about money, though. Or shut up about bums on seats. imo if God is in it then all that stuff will be sorted. You'd think God needed a campaign to ensure his awesome self hits the target - laughable.

anyway, that's 3 posts. 1. It gets dusty in here (not too much traffic) which makes for over-enthusiastic posting (quantity not quality) and 2. It's late and I can get my ore in before everyone wakes up.

the blighty lot, anyway.

springytoffy Thu 29-Aug-13 01:14:28

I sometimes wonder if God is ready and willing but we're so sure he's white, british and middle class and refained that we just don't expect him to. Like he turns up to all the parties and everybody ignores him, insisting he's dusty and dull; or that it's all arduous and agonising and torture. Sometimes it is, but not always. Bit like life, really.

That first shall be last/last shall be first thing: socio-economic groups that would could generally be looked down on (so emotional! ) are the ones who often do get the whizz-bang stuff going on: ie the miracles. I know of someone who was healed from paralysis - in a church service (west indian church, as it happens). She felt a heat course through her body and she got up. I know her well and know well that she wouldn't be making that stuff up. yy people will say 'ah but it was emotion/psychological/ blah blah'. but it stopped her kids being carted off by ss who insisted she couldn't look after them (teenagers, wanted to stay with mum). And of course it got her on her feet! She asked for it, she got it. You have not because you ask not type of thing.

joanofarchitrave Thu 29-Aug-13 01:28:41

Jesus avoided making healing into any kind of public spectacle.

MorphyBrown Thu 29-Aug-13 01:41:52
daftdame Thu 29-Aug-13 08:42:09

I agree with spingytoffy.

I don't agree with 'peddling miracles' though and sometimes this may go on. The Medieval Church was rife with it, so not a new thing.

If the people who have received healing are well again it is good enough for me. I would not be suspicious of emotional experiences or miracles from the outset, as springy said, God is the same today and Jesus performed miracles.

Let DN take everything at her own speed. Don't let people take advantage of her but let her grow in her own Faith.

springytoffy Thu 29-Aug-13 09:23:46

The wine at the wedding was a bit of a public spectacle (in fact I read that story the other day and thought it was quite blingy tbh. yy I get the spiritual significance of mundane water being turned into something with power).

He also performed healing miracles in full view of the masses - eg mixing the paste in the mud for the blind man; and of course there's Lazarus. That was in full view of everybody. Sometimes he told people to keep healings quiet but I assume he had his reasons.

I've been to churches with all the charismatic bells and whistles and people falling about etc. I got bored and uncomfortable with it and I'm not sure where I'm at with it tbh, especially the falling over business. But I asked someone to pray for me at the end of a church service not long ago, when they were packing up the chairs and hardly anyone was about. He prayed a very ordinary little prayer - with his hand on my head (I actually put it there lol) - and there was no question that a power thwacked me and my knees went weak. I had to struggle to stay upright (but I was determined!). And that was with a sceptical mindset, so I'm sure God can do just what he likes, how he likes, for his own reasons.

I'm no fan of the big worship events with lots of lights and music and people but that is because I'm a middle aged old and would prefer a nice cup of tea and a sit down brew

Emotion is part of religious experience and it can happen on top of the bus CS Lewis style, or at a church service, or in the middle of a labyrinth or making tea at the soup kitchen. It is easy to get hooked on the religious high but the hard work of faith is living it out and loving your neighbour when you don't like them much, forgiveness and turning up each week at a church which may not be exactly to your taste but that is part of the deal about being a Christian. Add in some social justice as that is what Jesus commanded Christians to do in feeding the hungry, housing the homeless, visiting those imprisioned and most teenagers (and adults to be fair) fall away as it is hard.

My own DS is back from Greenbelt which is a Christian arts and music festival. No altar calls there but it does keep him going till next year through the everydayness of being a Christian.

If DN wants to learn more about the faith she has just made a commitment to then Mumsnet is a good place to start.

Opps - that link should take you to rejesus - shouldn't cut and paste!

springytoffy Thu 29-Aug-13 10:07:10

Then link it again green ?

I've just watched the Soul Survivor you tube thing someone linked upthread - and called odd?? It wasn't odd, it was a festival and everyone was having a good time - as you do at festivals! Not to everyone's taste, of course, but that's your choice. I thought it was lovely seeing all those kids having a good time. What is the alternative, sitting in a dank church hall in hand-knitted sweaters playing ping pong?

headinhands Thu 29-Aug-13 12:30:00

Hi stem. I'm not a Christian anymore but used to be and have been to many of those types of meets along with the dryer common or garden Sunday service. While I now see the whole religion shebang as an 'appeal to the emotions' there is something distinctly manipulative about the slicker more charged meetings that are geared at impressionable youths. As for the comment about banning 1D concerts, as far as I know 1D don't claim to offer their fans eternal life or healing and so on so the analogy is false.

headinhands Thu 29-Aug-13 12:37:38

The best way to shield our kids from this stuff is to model critical thinking and make them aware of the methods used in 'advertising' wether they're pushing religion or chewing gum.

CoteDAzur Thu 29-Aug-13 12:53:39

Imho not sending DC to religious brainwashing camps also works, too.

headinhands Thu 29-Aug-13 12:58:20

What is the alternative,

The alternative is having a good time at a concert without being told that what they're feeling is supernatural.

It's not just the youths that get this treatment. Google Rodney Howard Browne According to Christianity Today, Browne's ministry is known for its focus on what he calls "signs and wonders", characterized by laughing, making animal noises, trances and "falling under the power" during his evangelistic services.[3] This gave rise to the term "holy laughter", and "Holy Ghost bartender"

When I was a Christian I watched stuff like that and thought, ooh they're having a great time blush. I watch it now and I'm almost speechless. As someone further down explained there's a big dose of the Emporers Clothes about these meetings and religion in general.

headinhands Thu 29-Aug-13 13:01:32

Have to say I did go to a Christian summer camp several times when I was younger but it wasn't OTT at all. It pretty much was playing ping pong for 2 weeks and I loved it! I was a strange child. smile

stemstitch Thu 29-Aug-13 13:11:30

Of course, emotion is going to be involved in religion experience. I am quite high church, and I freely admit that the music and smells and bells at Mass appeal to the emotions. But that doesn't mean it can't also be true or valuable. Our emotions are engaged by pretty much every significant event of our lives.

But, as someone else said, if you employ some critical thinking - the whole miracle/talking in tongues/hyper thing is a hallmark of a particular type of thing - it is by no means representative of Christianity as a whole. It seems to be pushed by a few 'personalities'. As someone else said, it reaches a point where it starts to contradict what Jesus actually said about how we should live our faith. It becomes very ostentatious, manipulative and 'we're the best'.

Maybe I'm just an old (26!) fart, but the hyper-pop song thing just seems misleading. I'm not saying all Christian festivals etc. are bad, of course not. Where I draw the absolute line is when they try to ponce money off people. Then it's just a scam.

springytoffy Thu 29-Aug-13 13:16:12

So I suppose, by that reasoning, we should stop taking our kids to weddings - which celebrate two people joining together in a legal partnership. Which is generally promoted at weddings as a Good Thing and enjoyable; a cause for celebration. Which is not necessarily brainwashing, it's having a good time, partying.

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

took me blardy ages to type that, pc kept freezing - it was in response to cote's comment about christian brainwashing.

CoteDAzur Thu 29-Aug-13 13:29:48

I almost wish I was sent to one as a teen.

"The energy in this room is the Holy Spirit"
"No, it's not"
"We just cured cancer"
"No, you didn't"

If you think I'm blunt now, you would have loved me back then. I used to ask people if they realise how stupid it is to believe in stuff there is no proof for. Imagine how popular I would be grin

headinhands Thu 29-Aug-13 13:52:06

the whole miracle/talking in tongues/hyper thing is a hallmark of a particular type of thing

They're in the NT though. Jesus made some big claims about the stuff his followers would be able to do. With those scriptures in mind you can't criticise the Christians who act like they believe it.

headinhands Thu 29-Aug-13 13:55:55

cote. I've often wondered how fascinating it would be for me to go back to a meeting now after all these years. I suspect they would be very interesting but would feel a bit naughty being there just to observe the psychology of it. Like if I accidently laughed out loud the preacher might say 'oh Lord, you're blessing this lady with your joy, thank you' etc etc which would make me laugh even more and it would just go on.

stemstitch Thu 29-Aug-13 13:56:49

Yes but my point is you don't really see it in other denominations in the modern world. It's just a bit suspicious that the ones who proclaim all these grandiose things also just happen to be the ones who want money off you...

CoteDAzur Thu 29-Aug-13 13:57:50

springy - That is not the reasoning at all. Nobody tries to convince children at wedding parties that some supernatural stuff is going on and that they should pledge the rest of their lives to promoting this woo.

headinhands Thu 29-Aug-13 14:00:30

So I suppose, by that reasoning, we should stop taking our kids to weddings

No one claims that being married confers supernatural powers. We don't teach children that being married means you get to live forever. Neither do we teach that they have to be married. It's not the emotions that are being critiqued it's the content of the message; Jesus died for you, you need him, the holy spirit is in this room etc etc.

headinhands Thu 29-Aug-13 14:01:46

Did the Soul Survivor people want money off the OP's DN? Sorry didn't see that bit.

headinhands Thu 29-Aug-13 14:06:46

proclaim all these grandiose things

But it's biblical! It's the NT that promises all this stuff, some denoms just water it down, I think, to preempt the cognitive dissonance that would arrise from actually expecting it to happen.

stemstitch Thu 29-Aug-13 18:18:02

no head, someone else was saying they went to a similar thing and were expected to give money. I would be properly shocked if they were trying to get money out of children.

My comprehension of the NT is probably not advanced as yours, but although I remember the apostles doing stuff like that (also, isn't there an alternative interpretation that 'speaking in tongues' actually meant 'speaking in other tongues, i.e. other languages not what these places mean by it) and this was a miracle because they were uneducated Galilean fisherman and so for them to suddenly start speaking lots of foreign languages would have been miraculous. St Paul also said a lot of stuff about the real point of the Holy Spirit being much more subtle, and the miraculous stuff being, at best, a tertiary benefit and should not be focused on too much.

My main beef with this issue is that it is basically telling people 'If you are a real Christian, you will experience all this stuff because you are truly open to the Holy Spirit. People who don't experience it, aren't proper Christians, but you do, because you're special and proper'. It's divisive and it puts a lot of pressure on people to experience God in a certain way.

springytoffy Thu 29-Aug-13 20:04:03

Soul Survivor is predominantly a celebration. The spiritual stuff was promoted at the dank church halls back in the day and is right on the money (arf) as far as the christian message is concerned - but because it's now got a party wrapped around it it's somehow suspect. Isn't it rather white british middle-class to assume that anything worth its salt supresses emotion? It's a cultural take on life in general that is not necessarily shared by the rest of the world.

It could also be argued that a marriage is indeed a spiritual union and a church wedding ceremony makes that very clear. Do you propose to keep your kids away from those weddings for fear they'll somehow get proseltyzed into a dangerous cult? At weddings we generally celebrate - and, yes, get emotional, as well as serious. So we're flakey if we have a little weep at the cute bridesmaids, blub a bit when we see the beautiful bride and have a bigger, more serious, weep when the b&g exchange their vows. We cry (or I do) because it's just lovely but it's also serious.

I do take exception to being called 'stupid' cote . It's breaking talk guidelines apart from anything else. It's also a cheap shot - which could be levelled back (eg no-one can 'prove' love and yet the human race in its entirety, almost, understands it and signs up to it). Do pack in the name-calling and sneering - ditto the 'no you didn't/no it isn't', like that's earth-shattering revelation but sounds like smarty pants to me - perhaps appropriate at the smarty-pants age, teendom, but not now.

Ditto the jabs of 'yeah, and anyway , these deluded idiots just want your money' <bray>. I agree that some churches can't trust God to sort out the church roof and they resort to the money shit - which I find tiresome, as I said upthread; but they're not the only org that makes it clear that people are going to have to dig into their pockets if they want to see something they value continue - as a community enterprise (I heard recently of a parish that legally stipulates you have to chip into the church fund if you live there - ingenious!). It's not seen as a horror in other orgs, so what's the deal with the church? It seems to be just a way to take an ill-thought-out swipe.

springytoffy Thu 29-Aug-13 20:08:00

re the spiritual snobbery you allude to stem - I think that's covered in the pharisee who prays at the wall, thanking God he is so unbelievably spiritual, unlike the dork next to him. People can be snobs, it's not new. Extremely unpleasant though, I agree.

DalmationDots Thu 29-Aug-13 20:17:26

Anyone been to these festivals and seen if they have methods in place to prevent things getting out of hand, a child getting too emotional and distressed/overwhelmed or too much peer pressure/brainwashing?

I guess what I'm interested in is not whether it is all right or wrong (that is very much subject to opinion and personal religious beliefs) but whether the organisers recognise that the way they run their festival can lead to some children being highly emotionally vulnerable or, as my DN felt, believing they were having physical symptoms e.g. fainting?
Do they have adults who act as non-opinionated and neutral (not for- or against- God) counsellors to help the children who are new to all this or need to chat things through (and perhaps bringing down to reality a bit)?

Do these organisers have points at which they draw a line and remember that these are young people, whose understanding and critical thinking is not as strong as an adult and who we have a duty of care for?

springytoffy Thu 29-Aug-13 21:07:51

Very good point dalmation.

ime of big events like this, people either arrive in a church group or are assigned to groups, with trained leaders (eg we saw on the youtube clip that 'adults' were very much in evidence) ie a clear structure is employed. People who respond to 'the gospel call', after the initial discussion with trained leaders, are furnished with a printed pack and generally kept an eye on, if appropriate. The team point them in the direction of a local, or appropriate, church to be looked out for there - and will generally keep an eye on them until they are settled. Howeve,r some don't want to give their contact details and that is respected: there is a clear tension at this point because they won't force and are mindful to keep that balance between invitation without being pushy, and will back off if the respondent doesn't want 'direction'; but will nevertheless ensure the respondent is furnished with relevant info eg the printed pack.

As for activity within the meetings, I'd be interested to hear from anyone who has worked on one of the (many) teams - I know that the training is rigorous and not just anybody old anybody can get on them.

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


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.

CoteDAzur Fri 30-Aug-13 07:57:47

"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'"

Of course there is no such person smile The point of these organisations is ensnaring brainwashing influencing the young through the hype. Why would they want to dull the effect of their hype machine?

headinhands Fri 30-Aug-13 11:20:47

Maybe SS should employ a team of neutral people who can take the attendees to one side before the concerts and teach them critical thinking and go over the basics of crowd psychology.

CoteDAzur Fri 30-Aug-13 13:31:34

They are more likely to employ an imam and a rabbi for a balanced view grin

DalmationDots Fri 30-Aug-13 15:02:30

Haha, maybe I was being optimistic! I more mean that they train the volunteers or have counsellors available in the medical tent ...but of course, as you say, that is against their agenda.

daftdame Sat 31-Aug-13 12:53:25

Maybe there should be a priest present at every psychology lecture to give a balanced view? Make sure people are aware of the spiritual significance of claims such as 'There is no such thing as free will'.

Interesting thought...

Seriously though you can't have a representative of every belief at every public event. There is no such thing as neutral, the closest you can come to is 'Don't know...'

headinhands Sat 31-Aug-13 17:35:14

What is the the spiritual significance of 'there is no such thing as free will?'

headinhands Sat 31-Aug-13 17:37:16

I don't mind if the person is Jewish, Muslim whatever, so long as they can teach the basics of crowd psychology and critical thinking without.

headinhands Sat 31-Aug-13 17:38:57

Without bias sorry

DalmationDots Sat 31-Aug-13 17:45:49

Maybe there should be a priest present at every psychology lecture to give a balanced view? Make sure people are aware of the spiritual significance of claims such as 'There is no such thing as free will'.

Any psychology lecture I have been to, which has been a few in my lifetime, has not been as intense and full on as the SS experience.
I am not saying an unbiased representative should be at every religious talk/ceremony/worship, just at events where such extreme and intense preaching is occurring as described earlier in this thread.
I'm not saying this neutral person should provide to opposing argument, just be there to provide non-religious counselling and remind the child they have a choice and that this event is a very hyped up atmosphere, things will be different once they are home.

DalmationDots Sat 31-Aug-13 17:49:34

I am also saying this neutral person should only be available because of the children's emotional reactions at these events and so for child protection reasons.
I am sure Derren Brown has such people at his filmings and also does not allow children to be present...

daftdame Sat 31-Aug-13 18:03:45

There is spiritual significance in everything. This is my belief, as a Christian, is this belief represented, at every event? No it is up to me and others to represent it.

daftdame Sat 31-Aug-13 18:16:23

Hyped up atmospheres are everywhere. Political debates, pop concerts even at an aerobics class. How do you define neutral? Does there have to be a non-exercising doctor at circuit training? A non dancer at dance class? Would you feel the same if DN had a woo moment on a ghost walk?

I do think you have to question what is most frightening to you. Christianity does involve belief in the spiritual which is supernatural. A religious experience might be the result so you have to accept this as a possibility at Christian events.

Go along to be the neutral person if you are worried about what this might mean for DN. You would go along to a pop concert if you it might be too much. I don't think they provide counselling there either. Medics yes, they attend all bid events.

DalmationDots Sat 31-Aug-13 18:17:01

Yes, but I am talking about the type of extreme and big event such as Soul Survivor. I am saying there should be a counsellor available, in the medical hut, to talk to any highly distressed or emotional children who are struggling to cope with the extremeness of the event.
They should be a trained counsellor who can appropriately cater for the child's mental health in a very gentle and way. Literally just calming them down if they are feeling overwhelmed and giving them a chance to talk if the child wants.
Similarly, I am shocked at the lack of care/medical staff that seemed to be around. If a child faints in a school setting, the teacher would have a responsibility to send them to the first aider/nurse. At SS the child is told it is God's work and wasn't even asked if they were feeling OK.
I am talking about this from a Child Protection and welfare point of view that I was surprised, given the nature of the event, that this medical service did not have to be on site by law.

daftdame Sat 31-Aug-13 18:17:04

^ that should be big events.

daftdame Sat 31-Aug-13 18:18:21

Well if that is the case, inadequate medical care, you should investigate further.

DalmationDots Sat 31-Aug-13 18:19:22

With regards to other hyped up atmospheres, as I said earlier in the thread:

'Yes I agree the excitement and buzz (similar to a music festival/concert) played a huge part but surely this extreme atmosphere shouldn't be created in order to change/persuade religious belief when it is young people involved?
I am approaching this from the point of view of what measures were in place to stop children finding it all a bit much and overwhelming as my DN did.'

I think we are talking about a whole new level of 'hyped up' here..

daftdame Sat 31-Aug-13 18:25:14

I understand what you are saying but religious experiences are often overwhelming. You can't just 'ban' them.

What do you think it was exactly that affected her in this way?

Do you know it was unscrupulous?

As I have said I think further investigation is necessary before a judgement is made.

DalmationDots Sat 31-Aug-13 18:33:41

From what she told me, and my DSis told me having talked to DN at length. It was the simple overwhelming of it all, her whole beliefs of live being changed quite suddenly. And IMO this all got a bit much because she didn't have much understanding of it all, she has been exposed to different religions, especially Christianity, before but not this side of it. The healing and them asking children to come to the front and to commit their lives to god, scared her. She felt very pressured by both the leaders and her peers. She felt inadequate because she was a newbie to it all and everyone else seemed to know more. She said the atmosphere was so crazy and so extreme.

It is having heard all this, combined with my own look at it all online, that I am shocked. I am a Deputy Head so know a lot about Child protection and child welfare. I am just so surprised, not that this is allowed, but that children are allowed to attend without, what appears to be, appropriate supervision, counselling and medical training of the leaders who take them and available there considering the nature of the event.

The brainwashing, to me, is a whole other issue but I guess down to religious opinions so not worth going there.

DalmationDots Sat 31-Aug-13 18:35:16

And yes, I believe it is unscrupulous but I also accept to the people running it, they believe it is an incredible thing which opens up many youths to their faith. And that with their faith there is no potential for harm.
I am just surprised religious groups are allowed to slip under common child protection laws and good practice.

daftdame Sat 31-Aug-13 18:41:35

Well I guess you have to speak to the leadership, other Christian leaders to gauge what provision there is and whether it is adequate or acceptable.

I personally do not know enough about the event in question to judge. However do think the problematic nature of providing a genuinely neutral person to provide counselling has to be considered when questioning whether they do 'enough'.

headinhands Sat 31-Aug-13 19:13:27

religious experiences are often overwhelming

To the Christian parents who are too concerned; would you be as equally okay if a different religion was holding hyper concerts like SS to recruit new believers in your town? Why not?

Posters keep likening it to other emotionally charged events but One Direction don't promise eternal life or ask the kids to come to the front to promise to follow them or suggest they have the ability to heal cancer.

DioneTheDiabolist Sat 31-Aug-13 19:15:31

OP, ultimately the responsibility for your DN lies with her parents. It is up to them to check out the event, supervision of the group and assess if it is suitable for DN. I don't know about SS, but any large gathering I have attended (music festivals/ foodie matches etc.) have emergency medical assistance, usually St. John's Ambulance where people can be treated for any medical problems including panic attacks and people being overwhelmed by the event.

I understand that you are worried about your DN. Specifically, what questions do you wish to pose to the organizers?

DioneTheDiabolist Sat 31-Aug-13 19:16:34

That should be footie matches.blush

daftdame Sat 31-Aug-13 19:19:45

headinhands My point is that you cannot discredit an event just because somebody is overwhelmed by it. You have to investigate further than this. Faith can be overwhelming but also life affirming and life saving.

headinhands Sat 31-Aug-13 19:47:46

The op said her DN felt pressured by the leaders and the other kids to go up at the end. It wasn't just that she felt overwhelmed.

daftdame Sat 31-Aug-13 19:58:36

Well you have to do something to ascertain how genuine the pressure is then.

I felt pressured by my school to take up a number of extra curricular activities for CV enrichment purposes, however I did benefit from doing some of them.

Not saying the pressure in OP's nieces's case was not unfair just that further investigation is warranted.

headinhands Sat 31-Aug-13 20:22:23

Was the pressure exerted on you to join in the extra curricular activities done in a 'crazy and extreme' manner? Those were the words used.

daftdame Sat 31-Aug-13 20:27:12

Yes, you never saw the Head of 6th obviously!

headinhands Sat 31-Aug-13 20:38:16

So you'd be happy for your dc's to join a religion in the same manner that the op's DN did?

daftdame Sat 31-Aug-13 20:45:36

I don't know enough about the OP's DN's experience. Potentially yes, potentially no.

headinhands Sat 31-Aug-13 20:50:11

So there's a situation where you'd be happy for your dc's to be pressured into committing to something in a crazy and extreme manner?

daftdame Sat 31-Aug-13 21:02:53

It has not been established how crazy and extreme it has been yet.

I would not want my DC to be pressurised in to committing to anything but recognise pressure is quite subjective to the individual. One person's pressure is another's encouragement.

Ultimately I would question the supervision at any event, especially one which will be emotionally charged. I would also have to question whether it was suitable for my DC.

Easy to say in hindsight but in retrospect I would not want to jump to conclusions, if only out of respect for people's religious beliefs. I would, if I felt any child was detrimentally affected, investigate further with a view to tackling this issue.

DalmationDots Sat 31-Aug-13 22:11:51

I understand that you are worried about your DN. Specifically, what questions do you wish to pose to the organizers?

Yes, this started being concerned about my DN but my concern is more general, and I am intrigued how this kind of event doesn't seem to have much child protection or welfare consideration that would be required for other similar but non-religious events if the kinds of sensitive topics were being addressed i.e. your beliefs/life issues etc.
It has now turned into more of a debate on here and I feel like my inital concerns are a bit lost... Why is there not more regulations over this considering it involves children and religion. Children are vulnerable people. My DN is pretty resilient and tough, and was affected not badly but in ways which should have been avoided or action should IMO have happened in response to her emotions and fainting episode.

The children choose to go, and do so with their parent's consent but as my DSis found, the website says there is fun and worship.. it doesn't say there is brainwashing and pressure to commit to god. There was no outline of care available, nothing was advertised to DD over than christian counselling.

The type of care I am talking about may have been available, just not advertised. Maybe there are structures in place, but it seems they weren't strong enough to fulfill their duty of care.

My questions to whoever regulates such events and to SS themselves would be:

What structures do you have in place to care or respond when a child becomes extremely emotional, upset or overwhelmed?

Why do you feel the need to create an extremely hyped up atmosphere in order to worship, surely you recognise this can lead to children being pressured rather than able to explore your religion and, in their own time and comfort, make their own religious decisions?

Why do you choose to practice faith heeling at SS? Do you think it provides the correct image and message to young people who may easily be mislead considering it has been flawed my many notable people? Similarly, leaders providing explanations relating to God for a child fainting surely is dangerous as it neglects to put the child in touch with medical services to investigate the underlying cause of a physical reaction and ensure the child is OK.

How does SS incorporate Child Protection and Welfare considerations into its events? Does it abide by the same regulations and laws as other events and facilities for young people such as schools?

How do you prevent peer-pressure or hero worshiping of leaders leading to children feeling pressured, without being able to give their beliefs true thought and understanding -or through fear-, into committing to Jesus? Surely asking the children to come to the front combined loud cheers, music and a leader urging them will lead to children conforming simply due to the pressure?

daftdame Sat 31-Aug-13 22:23:36

I think you should put the questions to them and I would be interested to hear how they respond.

DalmationDots Sat 31-Aug-13 22:31:17

I will do, and I will let you know smile

daftdame Sat 31-Aug-13 22:35:12

Thanks. smile

DioneTheDiabolist Sat 31-Aug-13 22:55:03

Dalmation, most of your questions are excellent. But if I could propose an amendment to your third question:

"Faith Healing was witnessed at your event. What proof can you provide that cancer, blindness etc. were cured at your event?"

Try to be as specific as you can when putting your questions to the organizers. And (as much as possible) do not factor your own opinion into the questions. It really helps to not give too much away if you want your complaints/questions to be taken seriously. Let them answer and take it from there.

I too look forward to their

LewisFan Sun 01-Sep-13 00:40:18

I used to go to SS - both church in Herts and festival in Shepton... (I left due to personal circs, nothing dodgey with the chuch)

In answer to the above:
Anyone been to these festivals and seen if they have methods in place to prevent things getting out of hand, a child getting too emotional and distressed/overwhelmed or too much peer pressure/brainwashing? yes they do - there are a number of ushers, village (the camp site is broken into villages for ease of navigation) hosts and various other trained counsellors - literally hundreds of them... they're all checked, DBS checked, vetted and "trained" in how to deal with the young people they come across

I guess what I'm interested in is not whether it is all right or wrong (that is very much subject to opinion and personal religious beliefs) but whether the organisers recognise that the way they run their festival can lead to some children being highly emotionally vulnerable or, as my DN felt, believing they were having physical symptoms e.g. fainting?
Do they have adults who act as non-opinionated and neutral (not for- or against- God) counsellors to help the children who are new to all this or need to chat things through (and perhaps bringing down to reality a bit)? again - yes - there are many, many times stated during the week that explain the feelings. The SSites believe those feelings are of the Holy Spirit, in line with bible teaching and are not scary or to be worried about; they discuss it at the beginning of each and every worship time, meeting and seminar - they also tell the young people where to go if they're worried about the sensations they may feel and are equipped to take them aside and reassure them / talk through their thoughts with a child / young person (not in a brain washing way, but in a "if you don't like it.... don't worry" way

Do these organisers have points at which they draw a line and remember that these are young people, whose understanding and critical thinking is not as strong as an adult and who we have a duty of care for? yes - again - duty of care is IMMENSE @ Soul Survivor, both the church and camp; they take safeguarding very seriously and have social workers and various other trained minds and people both on the ground and behind the scenes to take care of the kids. Mostly, things are explained in real English, not decorated / bible bashing stuff, but explained - if Mike (the Pastor of SS church) or whoever is leading the meeting sees "movements" of the Spirit (noises / fainting sensations etc etc) happening they pause the music / talking and explain it - they tell you where to go if you're concerned and reassure that it isn't anything to worry about.

Most of all, the young people have great (somewhat soggy) fun. In all my years of going, I've never heard it definitely told that "we healed cancer / we made the blind see" - it may be worth writing to Mike P and letting him know your concerns and DN's reaction so the team can deal with it better next year...

LewisFan Sun 01-Sep-13 00:42:19

oh and to add - SS have a child protection policy and take it very seriously, as does every other church worth it's salt... I'll see if I can find it online for you

LewisFan Sun 01-Sep-13 01:09:57

ok they don't have the whole policy online (prob cos it's enormous) but I found this:

"Soul Survivor takes the welfare of children, young people and vulnerable adults very seriously. We have been working hard with the Churches’ Child Protection Advisory Service (CCPAS) to revise all our policies and procedures over the past year to do our very best to ensure that our summer events are safe places for everyone. Part of these developments has been to introduce a new role of Event Safeguarding Advisor to work alongside the Event Leadership Team, the Connect Team and others such as the Christian Police Advisor (CPA)."

The Connect team are the specific team for welfare, alongside all the other members of staff around: "The Connect Team are our wonderful team of experienced social workers, counsellors and psychologists who are there to help in a confidential, caring and professional way with whatever issues are raised."

headinhands Sun 01-Sep-13 11:36:10

"movements of the spirit"

And that's where the rubber hits the road. Your movement of the spirit is someone else's self induced hysteria. The leaders won't deal with a child who gets in that state during their meeting in the same way any one of us would in normal day to day life. If a child at a gig/football match was displaying those symptoms it would be taken seriously and the child removed to a quieter place for any medical/emotional support and observation. No one would brush it off as spiritual or whatever because they know it would be deemed highly negligent.

I guess that's what's worrying. If a crying/fainting child is just the spirit working what on earth has to happen before a child is taken away for assistance?

daftdame Sun 01-Sep-13 12:28:37

headinhands For more detail I guess you'd just have to ask the leadership directly. They do have trained professionals attending the evident, counsellors, social workers and psychologists.

However you must realise that you, as a non believer, would probably dismiss any religious supernatural experience in terms of dysfunction, such as 'hysteria'.

Ultimately it seems you find Christianity as a Faith and many of its beliefs disturbing, which means you also are biased, as you have this point of view from the outset. I get the sense you would say of me 'Oh you believe that, you must be mad!'.

However we do, thankfully have religious freedom in this country.

headinhands Sun 01-Sep-13 12:45:35

Religious freedom should never override the rights of a child, or anyone for that matter to make their own decisions about religion without feeling pressured or frightened.

As an ex christian I've been to many of these types of worship meetings and know that even within Christian circles there are many who are concerned about the purposeful hyper intensity manufactured at these gatherings.

As for the 'ad hom' stuff, play the ball, not the player. Join in the discussion by all means but there's no need to speculate about what I may or may not think as it's neither here nor there and does nothing to assuage the op's concerns.

SunshineBossaNova Sun 01-Sep-13 12:47:48

However you must realise that you, as a non believer, would probably dismiss any religious supernatural experience in terms of dysfunction, such as 'hysteria

I'm an atheist, and I don't find any religious supernatural experience in terms of dysfunction. Non-believers are not a homogenous mass who copy Dawkins' FWIW.

daftdame Sun 01-Sep-13 12:55:58

The OP said her DN said she 'felt faint', if she had actually fainted I would expect she would have received medical attention.

I do not know of any mainstream Christian Churches which preach people should refuse medical treatment. Christians do believe in God's healing power but this does not prohibit them from seeking or administering medical attention.

daftdame Sun 01-Sep-13 13:06:42

Sorry if the speculation offended you headinhands I will refrain from posting any such speculations in the future. I also believe children as well as all people generally have the right to make their own decisions about religion without pressure. But would you respect a child's religious belief if they spoke to you about it or would you assume they had been brainwashed?

SunshineBossaNova Pleased to hear it that you do not view all religious supernatural experiences in terms dysfunction. Yes, thinking about it, I do understand that non-believers are not a 'homogeneous mass'.

SunshineBossaNova Sun 01-Sep-13 13:35:57

I'm glad to hear it dame. I've got a lot of believers in my life (friends, family) and would never write off their lived experiences. While I don't believe, I can see what benefits faith gives to people around me, and how some people use that faith to help others. smile

springytufty Sun 01-Sep-13 14:28:52

Hugely encouraged to read that Lewis. Major sigh of relief.

DioneTheDiabolist Sun 01-Sep-13 14:36:34

Head, such hysteria is frequently witnessed at concerts. Unless the child actually faints or presents themselves to the medical caregivers, no one does anything.

headinhands Sun 01-Sep-13 15:05:29

The band don't claim to be channeling any supernatural entity into the arena though? They're not saying things that make the concert goer feel like their world is being turned upside down or whatever the op's dn said.

headinhands Sun 01-Sep-13 15:11:09

As for a child telling me about their beliefs, it depends on if they ask my opinion on their chosen religion or not. If they did I would explain why I don't have a belief myself in an age appropriate manner.

headinhands Sun 01-Sep-13 15:15:40

I respect anyone's right to have a belief but I don't respect the beliefs themselves. That's an absurd notion when you analyse it because some beliefs are unpalatable or just downright bizarre.

headinhands Sun 01-Sep-13 15:27:41

Anyway we're getting off topic again. Op, any luck putting a letter together yet? I did read a disclaimer type thingy on the SS site saying that 1) If anyone at the event is under 18 then they are, at all times, the responsibility of the group/youth leader or over 18 they came with. so I would send a letter to the church your dn went with if appropriate/possible.

daftdame Sun 01-Sep-13 15:43:21

headinhands I think we are talking at cross purposes. To me respect is not synonymous to agreeing with. I can respect beliefs without agreeing with them.

This just means I recognise whatever is not proven has to be taken on faith and what another person has faith in may be different to what I have faith in.

Just because crowd hysteria is a well documented phenoemon does not mean this is what has actually happened or that the psychological explanation of the phenomenon gives a complete explanation.

headinhands Sun 01-Sep-13 16:01:04

(Shall we start another thread about respecting beliefs otherwise I'll end up filling this one with my ramblings)

elliejjtiny Sun 01-Sep-13 16:03:21

I've been to Soul Survivor 3 times and New Wine 3 times as a normal guest and 5 times on the team. My older 2 children (then aged 6 and 4) went to new wine last year with their grandparents.

It's been a while since I went to soul survivor (16 years) but I remember being very closely supervised by the youth leaders I went with and the younger teenagers were more closely supervised than I was. I also had to go through various checks and fill in a lengthy form before being allowed to work on the team at New Wine. I would suggest your sister talk to the youth leaders who were responsible for your DN at Soul survivor if she isn't happy.

Labro Sun 01-Sep-13 16:49:34

Just had a chat with our youth worker about Soul Survivor. As pp have said, the child protection policy is very strict, anyone working there is trained, crb checked and their own church has to complete an extensive reference. Its made clear to youth workers that they are responsible for the care of any under 18's in their group and that the correct ratio of adults to youngsters is complied with at all times (for example our youth goup has to take female and male leaders. Therefore, if your sister is unhappy she should contact the leadership team of the church the child attends. Also to clarify, you say 'her niece' so is this your sisters dd or dn? If her dn then she can pass on to the parents where to address any concerns if they have any, but it sounds like possibly you are getting concerned about something you are having recounted by a youngster and their perception of what went on. These organisations are certainly very 'evangelical' in their teaching as its run primarily by leaders from some of the big london churches. I've been to New Wine loads of times which is kind of the 'with parents' equivilent so perhaps suggest next year that she may like to go to that as they also run groups for all ages but the parents and other adults are still around.

SunshineMMum Sun 01-Sep-13 17:30:04

I'm not sure how strict the health and safety policy can be at New Wine. I was shocked at the sheer number of children being hearded through cattle grids into a stifling barn like structure. Drinks were only at an allotted time and DS ended up in hospital on a drip with dehydration and severe stomach bug, which does the rounds frequently I am told. People randomly drop like stones and I at 5ft was asked to catch a woman of about 5ft 9, I dropped her.

Shallishanti Sun 01-Sep-13 17:36:56

I don't find it hugely reassuring that the youth workers are CRB checked, I'd see that as a basic minimum, and one any organisation would be foolish to overlook. What I'd worry about is whether they have the experience and skills to care for perhaps very vulnerable young people.
eg how would they counsel a young person who beleived themselves 'healed' of diabetes? how would they counsel someone who was gay?

daftdame Sun 01-Sep-13 18:04:11

Shallishanti All these are pertinent questions that I think you would have to find out before going.

As no official response (to the existing questions) has been given ye,t no body knows exactly what has been planned for and whether this is catered for adequately in practise.

I think, given the nature of these big events, you have to seriously question whether your child is adequately supported. They are, I feel quite different to the more traditional C of E services, and Youth Club or Church Fete. I think they are more comparable to a music festival, in terms of size of event and charged atmosphere.

DalmationDots Sun 01-Sep-13 18:44:16

I posted but it hasn't appeared so maybe I didn't press send

Lewis- I am glad to here that, very reassuring. These services didn't reach DN (but I don't honestly know how badly affected she was, only how she and DSis have described it to me)

I am not religious or Christian or anything! I respect others beliefs and have no problem whatsoever with family members or anyone believing differently to me. It is great DN is exploring different beliefs. But...when it comes to potential harm of children or signs of inadequate protection, I do worry.
I suspect structures are in place, but from what I've heard, seen and investigated, I think they could do a lot more and regulations should be tighter for children's events (some attending are likely to be highly vulnerable, DN went with a girl who had just lost her mother to cancer).

While some believe that God will protect them and the atmosphere is the holy spirit/an ok environment to influence faith under, I believe when it comes to young people that more guidelines and tougher regulations need to be put in place. A better balance needs to be found between the religions beliefs and what is (and would be in schools) considered safe and not safe or acceptable.
When it comes to training of church youth workers, I guess this is highly dependent on the church youth worker but I do think the child's well being needs to come before the child's commitment to a faith.

I am composing a letter to send to SS and an official Gov body who looks at child protection and welfare. I just want piece of mind that the structures I talk about on here (e.g. counselling, recognising when things are too much) are in place or to highlight the need for them to the organisers.
It is up to my DSis to contact the church group DN went with if she feels it is needed.

KayHarker Sun 01-Sep-13 19:14:12

I wasn't that impressed with the church that runs our Dd1's youth group. They had an Alpha weekend away and it was all prolonged singing and arm raising combined with falling over and being baptized in the Holy Spirit. I've tried to raise her with critical faculties engaged when it comes to things of faith, and this all seemed calculated to bypass that.

Labro Sun 01-Sep-13 19:47:49

I'd also suggest that anyone interested in Soul Survivor visit their website and read the annual review of what they do that they are required to produce. Its also worth noting that the Soul Survivor festival is affliated to the central Soul Survivor church in Watford. I'm sure the leadership team of Soul Survivor would be more than happy to answer your questions and concerns but do find it slightly odd that you are seeking to contact and involve a goverment organisation who look at child protection and welfare based on one teenagers experience of an event attended by thousands each summer. Obviously that is your right which I respect. Its worth noting that Soul Survivor is also a registered charity so you may find that the government department suggest you contact the organisation themselves for a response in a similar way that a school would ask you to contact the headteacher before taking amy concern to the governors or LEA

SunshineMMum Sun 01-Sep-13 19:51:56

Thousands of men attend the Angus Buchan 'Mighty men' conferences, but I think that most non Christians are unaware of the content of what he preaches. I think that the OP is right to raise concerns outside of the event itself.

DalmationDots Sun 01-Sep-13 22:28:23

I will only be writing to CP regulators should SS's reply not reassure me, which I expect it will from what PP have said.
IMO no harm in just highlighting something, I am pretty sure it will all be covered but, if not, it could add an extra layer of support for many other children who attend these events in the future through just a tiny bit more training of church youth leaders.

Shallishanti Sun 01-Sep-13 23:18:08

the thing is, the youth workers/counsellors at these events have an agenda, which isn't necessarily a child centred one. You would expect a teacher/nursery nurse/youth worker etc, to put the interests of the child/young person first at all times. At an event like the OP describes, I can imagine that there is another agenda, where the religious motivation might trump others. They might (I would hope should) be very rigourous about weeding out predatory abusive types but not be so good at promoting the discipline of putting children and young people first.

daftdame Mon 02-Sep-13 07:28:39

Shallishanti If the counsellors / youth workers are professionals they shouldn't have an agenda.

You could make that comment about professionals in all walks of life to be honest, there are political agendas certainly in everything - cost cutting measures for example, the offer of a promotion through research which does not really benefit the individual(s) asked to participate, the list could go on.

The thing is would you apply the same level of scrutiny to professionals employed to serve other more secular events? (You should because they are just as likely to have an agenda.)

DalmationDots Fri 13-Sep-13 22:14:27

Hi all,
I have had a reply back from SS. I can PM it to anyone who wants to read it in full, it is very long.

In short, the child's welfare is the youth leader who brought them's responsibility. It seems this is where things weren't all quite right for my niece, rather than SS's fault.
They do have measures to stop to much hype- things like not playing background music during preaching and stopping things/telling audience members to leave if things are being too hyped up.
They do have lots of pastoral figures/counsellors (BUT all christian/with a christian agenda and so IMO this isn't hugely reassuring).
They sounded genuinely concerned by DN's experience and want to follow it up with her church which is good.
They are regulated, but by the 'Churches Child Protection Advisory Service'.. I need to know more to know whether I am comfortable with it all.

Overall though a reassuring reply and, while I personally have reservations, it seems they at least try to not let it go too far... Although IMO they do have an underlying agenda to convert attendees which I disagree with but I guess if my beliefs were different then I wouldn't be so uncomfortable with it.

ErrolTheDragon Fri 13-Sep-13 22:20:44

>The thing is would you apply the same level of scrutiny to professionals employed to serve other more secular events? (You should because they are just as likely to have an agenda.)

Can't think what the 'agenda' of other rock festivals would be - other than to sell music and merchandise, but that's not really an agenda in the same way as an evangelistic organisation.

DalmationDots Fri 13-Sep-13 22:22:40

If they pursued their agenda in ways where there was potential for brainwashing or lack of care of a child's welfare, yes.

ValiaH Fri 20-Sep-13 22:59:22

As a youth worker who is JNC qualified and also takes young people to Soul Survivor, I have to say that all the church youth workers I know are professionally qualified (to national standards, not to church standards) and that they all put young people's needs first. As to how someone would counsel a young person who was 'healed' of e.g. diabetes, well I and those that I know, as well as Soul Survivor themselves, state that if someone is healed they must continue to keep taking any medication and get themselves checked out by doctor. In addition, there are teams on site to work with young people and youth workers like if issues of child protection come up during the week, teams made up of social workers, psychologists and other professionals. They also have a team of qualified first aiders made up of doctors and nurses who give their time freely to be at the event. There are many safe guards to protect the young people who do go. I have been to other, different events that have concerned me from a professional and Christian perspective, that have seemed built on hype, but Soul Survivor isn't one of them.

On a more personal note, I have been prayed for at Soul Survivor and healed of various things (emotional and physical) including migraines caused by a food intolerance. I no longer have migraines. I have also seen friends prayed for who have received healing, emotionally and physically, and seen how people who attend these events are encouraged to serve others, rather than seek God for their own gain. Maybe pop down with a day pass next summer and judge it for yourselves? Its around £30 for a day. You'd be very welcome, and I'll be there... if you fancy coming, pm me smile Its an open invite to anyone who's interested.

SunshineMMum Mon 23-Sep-13 17:11:34

Vailia I haven't been to Soul, but to an associated event, that is held at the same venue and is linked to Soul. My son has a disability and as you will know there is a special set up for children with disabilities and special needs. On arrival we were informed that a member of our then Church had prayed with three members of staff there and all had been given the message that DS was becoming a self fulfilling prophecy. The person working on a one to one basis with my son as a member of team in a previous year, was a teenager and definitely not qualified. I'd also have to ask if these people are being 'healed' from their afflictions, why do they need to continue to take their medications?

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