Author Accuses Christian Publisher of Dabbling in 'New Age' Spirituality
(AgapePress) - A leading Christian publisher of youth ministry material is being accused of introducing young people to practices rooted in New Age Eastern spirituality.
[On September 29] the 2005 National Youth Workers Conference [began] in Sacramento, California, but not without criticism. The conference is sponsored by Youth Specialties, a group that one Christian author says introduces students to labyrinth walks, yoga, and contemplative prayer practices. For that reason, Cathy Mickels -- co-author of the book Spiritual Junkfood: The Dumbing Down of Christian Youth -- is advising youth workers and parents to distance themselves from the conference and Youth Specialties.
"One of their goals, they say, is to know God first-hand as a living reality. That's why they're putting kids into contemplative prayer-type situations," she explains. "How do we know God first-hand as a living reality? We read the Word of God because it is God-breathed and it is God-inspired. [What Youth Specialties is doing] is an undermining of God's Word; this is an undermining of the Christian faith."
Mickels also claims Youth Specialties teaches youth pastors to introduce students to ancient eastern spiritual practices.
"Nowhere in God's Word does it say that you take kids on labyrinth walks, [or] that you introduce students to yoga or to contemplative prayer practices where you say a word over and over again to put yourself into what Youth Specialties says is a 'semi-conscious state,'" she states. "None of these practices are in God's Word."
She says parents and youth workers need to be aware that those who approve of putting Christian youth into this semi-conscious state "are the same people sponsoring this Youth Workers' conference."
Mickels, who is former president of Eagle Forum in the state of Washington, contends that Youth Specialties and other evangelical leaders are "blurring the lines" between Eastern religions and the Christian faith. "It's hard to believe that while Christian parents have been fighting against the introduction of yoga and Eastern practices into the public schools, those in charge of training our Christian youth are introducing the same principles into the church."
Among the featured speakers at the Sacramento conference are Mark Yaconelli, who is the director of the Youth Ministry and Spirituality Project, and Doug Fields, the youth pastor at Rick Warren's Saddleback Church in California. Musicians featured include the Chris Tomlin Band, the David Crowder Band, and Jars of Clay (Brown, Agape Press, 9/29/05).