This article is an electronic version of an article originally
published in Cultic Studies Journal, 1986, Volume 3, Number 2, pages 204-233.
Please keep in mind that the pagination of this electronic reprint differs from
that of the bound volume. This fact could affect how you enter bibliographic
information in papers that you may write.
My Experience in YWAM:
A Personal Account and Critique of Cultic Manipulation
The following account of the author's experience with a missionary group is
presented as part of our continuing followup to the special CSJ issue (Volume 2,
Number 2), "Cults, Evangelicals, and the Ethics of Social Influence." The
opinions expressed in the article are those of the author alone and do not
necessarily reflect the views of the Cultic Studies Journal or the American
Family Foundation. As always, the CSJ will consider articles, comments, and
letters expressing other points of view.
While recounting her own experience, the author compares training in Youth With
a Mission (YWAM), a Christian missionary group, to what she has heard and read
about involvement in religious cults. She finds that her YWAM training, and the
philosophy which undergirds it, are similar to that described for cultic groups.
Features common to YWAM and controversial religious cults include manipulation
of fear. and guilt, authoritarianism, the denigration of critical thinking,
social exclusiveness, and suppression of individuality. The YWAM Discipleship
Training School, which the author attended in Hawaii, also relied on the
leadership's special interpretation of biblical verses and precepts to inculcate
attitudes and obtain conformity to the group's ways. The author concludes that
while YWAM hopes to create a perfect community, the result is a loss of freedom.
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