Living@Guelph - Choose Your Own Adventure Living
Cult Awareness: Aggressive Religious
Recruiting on Campus

University life offers many freedoms and choices. Some are intellectual, social or recreational; others are spiritual or religious. The diversity and richness of spiritual life on our campus is a fact we celebrate. Your association with a religious group while at university is an important decision, and your participation in campus spiritual life should be a free and informed choice. Yet, unfortunately, aggressive religious recruiting tactics are used by a few high pressure groups to manipulate or intimidate people in to joining their organizations. Here are a few key warning signs that may help you identify these groups:

  • Instant Friendship - group members try to create intimacy. They make you feel special by hugging, touching and flattering you.
  • Isolation - the group becomes your new family. Communication with family and friends is sharply reduced.
  • Fear and Guilt - new members are warned of serious spiritual or physical repercussions for not conforming to group doctrines or beliefs. Information about your former lifestyle is used to blackmail you into staying.
  • "Us Against Them" - everyone outside the group is lumped under one label: outsiders. All critics are enemies, including parents and friends.
  • Control of Schedule - the group encourages you to put their meetings and activities before all other commitments, including educational ones.
  • Control of Thought - individual thinking or questioning is discouraged and unquestioning obedience to the group's leadership is demanded. Doubts and questions are taken as signs of weakness for which you will be punished.

    Many students on campus struggle with feelings of isolation at some point in the year. Thus, the university is an attractive place for aggressive religious groups to operate. If you are ever feeling threatened or harassed by members of religious groups, these people can provide information and assistance:

  • Campus Police (emergency) x2000
  • Counselling Unit x53244
  • Guelph Distress Unit (24 hour service) 824-2431
  • Human Rights Advisor x53000
  • Multi Faith Resource Team x58909