The University is a world filled with exciting people and interesting ideas. In most instances these represent two of the constitutive elements that make life at college good, rich, and strong. At the same time, you might find that sometimes you feel homesick, lonely, unloved and overwhelmed in this community. You may decide to turn to a number of persons or groups for support during these times, including religious organizations. In most instances you can expect a good experience with most religious groups at Penn. However, at these times of stress and uncertainty high-pressure religious groups may seek you out and try and recruit you.

Some ways to identify high-pressure groups:

Observe the group’s responses to you and how you feel. If you can answer “yes” to three or more of these statements, you should seriously reconsider your involvement.

  • The group seems to be perfect. Everyone agrees and follows all orders cheerfully.
  • The group claims to have “all the answers” to your problems.
  • The group offers “instant friendship.” They will not take “no” for an answer; invitations are impossible to refuse without feeling guilty and/or ungrateful.
  • You are asked to recruit new members soon after joining.
  • The group insists on total obedience to their leaders and discourages questions or doubts as signs of weak faith. You may be rejected or shunned if you persist in asking questions.
  • Your parents and friends are described as being “unable to understand or help you” with religious matters.
  • The group encourages you to put their meetings and activities before all other commitments, including studying.
  • The group puts down your past religious, social or political affiliation.

If you can answer “YES” to any three of these questions, you should consider talking to a University staff member or administrator. Remember…

  • Your mind is a gift! Don’t waste it, use it!
  • You don’t have to be manipulated!

…If you have any questions, call the Office of the Chaplain at 215-898-8456 or email the chaplain directly.