Dark Christianity
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May 2008
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dogemperor [userpic]
more on Planetshakers, and thanks

LJ-SEC: (ORIGINALLY POSTED BY [info]crazyjane13)

First of all, thank you to everyone who responded to last night's post - it was incredible to wake up and find so much information and support in the emailbox. I'm still going through all the links and info, but I've seen enough to be pretty alarmed.

My daughter (who's nicknamed "Falcon" for convenience on LJ) actually doesn't live with me, but on the Gold Coast in Queensland. (We're in constant contact, and I tend to rack up quite a few frequent flyer miles.) Now, that area's been pretty religiously conservative, historically speaking, but in a way that I guess I'd label "old-style conservative". While being very much concerned with the morality issue as regards sex outside marriage, people in that area have not been politically active, nor in any way engaged in recruitment. In many ways, it was the church I grew up with - a lot of mostly older people who were vaguely quite nice and ready to help out, but absolutely not pushy.

In recent years, though (probably about the last 3 or so, from what Falcon says), there's been an influx of much more evangelical groups. While they're mostly Brisbane-based (the state capital, about 150 km away), they hold camps and "retreats" for high school kids on the Gold Coast. Falcon described them as "really full-on" affairs. Apparently new people get buddies who look after them - there's a lot of hugging and affection between complete strangers, and these buddies sit with them during meetings and Bible studies, and pray with them.

The meetings seem to be a mixture of high-energy music and emotion, and intensely moving "calls". Falcon said a number of kids were talking in tongues, fainting and convulsing, and there was a lot of screaming and crying as well. Usually after those meetings would come a very quiet time where the kids were encouraged to pray and talk about things that were bothering them.

Once she'd joined, she found a lot of kids in her local Anglican church had also become members. They were encouraged to buy Hillsong CDs, to reject secular music (I think the term she used was 'worldly') ... she was being advised on how to dress (don't wear black, don't wear strapless tops), what to read, etc. They'd pick her up for Bible study and youth group - even if she felt ill, they'd still turn up on the doorstep and try to persuade her to come so they could all pray for her. I'd given her a relaxation CD, which she snapped in half on the advice of the other kids in the group. They also convinced her that she had a "gift" for the ministry, and - when I went up to see her last year - she told me that she had been lined up to go to bible college.

(I asked her last night which college they'd recommended - she said Surf City Bible College. After looking it up through a referral site, they're apparently affiliated with the Assemblies of God.)

Now, although I'm pagan, I had no problem with the idea of any of my kids following other religions. But I was starting to worry, especially after I saw the extent to which she had no other friends outside her church, and was even preaching to her family. Funnily enough, it was the fact that I'm a scholar of religion myself (doing my Phd) that finally led us to connect. She started asking questions at Bible study, and was stonewalled - would come back to me and we'd go over things in detail. Over time, she decided to pull away, and eventually became a pagan herself, practising as a solitary with very occasional social contact with other pagans.

She made a point of formally advising her church that she was leaving. The youth pastor was, apparently, horrified. Over the next couple of months she was constantly being contacted via MSN Messenger, having SMS messages left on her phone saying that her friends were praying for her to come back and the youth group leader visited the house on a couple of occasions. At school, she'd get approached at lunchtimes by former church friends saying they were concerned for her "soul" and were praying for her. I believe there was even an approach to her guardians to try to enlist them.

It seems to be dying down a bit, but it was really quite intense for some time there. I've now advised her to change her IM nickname and block any contacts from these people. She's in touch with some supportive friends of mine who are just keeping an eye on her. As far as the face-to-face contact goes, she's still employing the response she used the first time someone confronted her about it, "Thanks, I appreciate it, but I'm happy where I am".

After reading all the responses to my last post, I've decided to look into her school, to see if the principal will be sympathetic to an approach. Guess we just have to wait and see.

So, thanks again, to everyone who responded and all the info and support.

Current Mood: thanks