By Rev Dr Neil C Damgaard.
A university as big as ours is always vulnerable to outside infiltrators who view us as a rich target for recruitments for questionable or even dark purposes. Few want to admit this because we very much want to have a happy and positive outlook on life.
However, there are always outside groups of various stripes, flavors and pathologies who would, if possible, enlist or draw vulnerable students into their traps using thought reform and a heavy emphasis on top-heavy authority.
They may not all even be fully conscious of setting traps, infused with their own apparent sincerity. Recently a rumor across the internet (and to some of our UMD staff) has suggested that a relatively new group, posing as a Bible study platform, is said to be recruiting young college females for trafficking enslavement.
Allegedly this has happened in several other universities and in large-box stores in malls too. We are looking into the veracity (or not) of this recent concern. Studying the Bible in small groups is of course what many of us in chaplaincy and our recognized campus groups are about. Inviting students, faculty and staff to all kinds of spiritual small groups is germane to what we do.
The Protestant Chaplaincy, CRU and Intervarsity are very careful about leadership entitlement as is the Catholic Campus ministry. However, we also hope for everyone on our campus community to be watchful and careful about individual invitations by personnel who do not appear to be known among us.
The chaplains in the UMD Center for Religious and Spiritual Life are always anxious and available to consult about any suspicious recruitment or canvassing that goes on, especially when the weather is good. Last year we hosted our first area conference on spiritual abuse on campus and next week I will be attending a similar conference in Hartford.
I will seek to learn more about this recently surfaced group which might be a danger. An excellent on-line resource is the website for the International Cultic Studies Association at https://www.icsahome.com In the meantime, best wishes for a continued happy and fruitful semester!
Rev Dr Neil C Damgaard ThM, DMin