About Harvard Chaplains
The Harvard Chaplains nurture the spiritual/ethical lives of students, faculty and staff, and help them learn to listen to those who believe differently.
Harvard Chaplains agree to honor the religious freedom, human dignity, conscience, personal spiritual welfare and the religious tradition of every person to whom they minister.
About Destructive Religious Groups
One last word . . . be careful! Some students in past years have had painful experiences with certain destructive religious groups-groups not affiliated with Harvard Chaplains or with the University in any way, and not subject to the collaborative code of non-proselytization and mutual respect on which Harvard Chaplains has been founded. These groups have tended to be less than candid about who they are and what their agenda is, as they contact (and, in some unfortunate cases, harass) students, particularly newcomers to Harvard. They tend to be characterized by some of the following:
- a leader who claims divinity, or a special relationship to God
- a leader who is sole judge of a member’s actions or faith
- aspirations to total control over a member’s life
- development of unhealthy emotional dependence on the group or leader
- prohibition of critical analysis or independent thinking
- exploitation of a member’s finances
- exclusivity and isolation
- ego destruction, mind control, manipulation of a member’s relationships with family and friends
You’re especially vulnerable to destructive religious groups if you’re lonely—or feel overwhelmed by decisions or responsibilities—or find yourself wishing for someone else to organize your life or your priorities. All Harvard Chaplains are committed to mutual respect and non-proselytization; we oppose religious harassment and manipulation, and we affirm the roles of personal freedom, doubt and open critical reflection in healthy spiritual growth.
If you believe that you are being recruited or harassed by a non-Harvard Chaplain group—or if you’re concerned about a friend—contact any of the chaplains listed on this site.
We’re here to help you have a healthy, happy experience of your own spiritual journey while you’re here at Harvard.