Equipping Teens to Recognize Cults

Every day we hear of a new cult in our society—we read about it in the newspaper or see it on television,” says Mary Lagerwey, author of Stuff to Know When Cults Come Knocking, a new high school course published by Faith Alive Christian Resources. “I’ve never had to convince kids that cults exist.”

Lagerwey, who teaches a comparative religions class at Illiana Christian High School in Lansing, Ill., wants youth to be prepared to deal kindly and knowledgeably with cult members because she knows most kids will encounter them at some point.

The course includes two introductory sessions on cults and then digs in with sessions that examine Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, New Age groups and activities, occult groups and activities, and recent destructive cults such as Branch Davidians and Heaven’s Gate.

The course includes fun activities and skits and encourages interaction with people of different beliefs. Lagerwey challenges kids to think about what we can learn from cult members, such as their high level of commitment and the way faith penetrates every aspect of their lives.

In 20 years of teaching about cults, Lagerwey says she has found that teens usually end up believing more firmly in Christianity. “Comparing religions makes Christianity’s strengths shine through,” she explained. Noting that teens want to raise questions and have them answered, Lagerwey added, “Teenagers want parameters, and they want to know why Christianity is right and worthy of their life’s allegiance.”

Stuff to Know When Cults Come Knocking is available through Faith Alive Christian Resources. For more information, call 1-800-333-8300 or visit www.FaithAliveResources.org.

About the Author

Rev. Bonny Mulder-Behnia serves as family ministries pastor for Rosewood Christian Reformed Church in Bellflower, Calif.

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