We encourage students and other Northeastern community members to use or modify these ground rules for multi-faith dialogue, which are currently in use at our interfaith activities. They help create a "safe space" for genuine respectful dialogue and cooperation among people of all faiths, spiritualities, and paths. Prepared by the executive director of the Center for Spirituality, Dialogue and Service, in collaboration with various university communities, these guidelines have been used at Northeastern since 2004.
> Tolerance, acceptance, and support: We will come with open minds, open hearts, and open spirits into this group. We will support one another as brothers and sisters, even in our differences.
> Respect for ourselves and one another: We will disagree on points of faith and spirituality. That is a given. In doing so, we will neither surrender our self-hood to the group, nor will we treat any person, religion, faith system, or lack thereof, with disdain or disrespect.
> No proselytizing or attempts to convert others: While holding our own beliefs dear, and sharing them freely and honestly with others, we will never try to dissuade another from his or her faith or uncertainty in/lack of faith, or try to bring others over to our religion. We will work to make this group a safe place for all, where we can learn and teach with no hidden agendas.
> We will let the group know if we "can't go there": If a group activity or behavior involves a true level of discomfort for any of us, especially as it relates to breaking with the tenets of our faith, we will immediately let the group know, and that limitation will be accepted absolutely.
> Responsibility: We are responsible for our own actions, and will take responsibility for hurtful things we may say or do. We also acknowledge that we're not responsible for the actions of others, even if we feel like we are. We realize that others may inadvertently call tenets of our faith into question, without desiring to insult us or our religious beliefs, and that we can embrace such moments as opportunities for building greater under standing among ourselves.
> Confidentiality: Understanding that opening ourselves to others in discussion makes us vulnerable to one an other, we will respect the private needs of one another. Our mutual trust is protected by knowing that whatever we say in the group will stay in the group.
> Everyone is important in this group: We will each do our best to neither dominate conversation, nor to avoid sharing ourselves and our thoughts with the group. We will be willing both to talk and to listen yet, knowing that we may each go through challenging periods in our lives, we will not demand more of another member than he or she is able to offer, and will respect another's need for silence.
How to Make Safe Judgments
The Center for Spirituality, Dialogue and Service is concerned about the potential for harm to students caused by destructive religious groups, and dishonest or high pressure tactics, on our campus. Some people use the word "cults." Without attempting to define whether a group is a "cult" or not, we assert that a religious (or any other) group that practices deceptive and/or destructive behaviors does not belong on campus. The Northeastern guidelines for recognized religious groups bar certain behaviors like proselytization, harassment, evasiveness, dishonesty, or lack of truth in advertising. Here are some of the warning signs for groups that may be harmful to your well-being.
Common Techniques of Mind Control
"Love bombing”:Excessive flattery or love; discouraging your doubts; instant friendship with everyone
Isolation or separation:Suddenly everyone in your circle is a member
Hypnosis:Heightened suggestibility induced through repetition, constant chanting, etc.
Confession, fear, and guilt: Encouragement to reveal sins; loyalty maintained by threat
Confusion:Offering new and/or complex doctrine; replacing old values with new goals and new definitions
Absolutism: Insisting on unquestioned obedience obtained by limiting independent thought or action; promises of a "new you," power, and/or guaranteed salvation
Sleep deprivation or inadequate nutrition
If you think you could be involved with a destructive group, need help, or have any questions, turn to these campus resources:
Center for Spirituality, Dialogue and Service: 617.373.2728
University Health and Counseling: 617.373.2772
We Care Office: 617.373.7518
Don't ever be afraid or embarrassed to just say "no" to a person or group with which you aren't comfortable.