Youth Specialties - "Christianity is an Eastern Religion."

Youth Specialties President Declares, "Christianity is an Eastern Religion."

November 8, 2005 - Mark Oestreicher, president of Youth Specialties (an organization that officially partnered with mega Christian publisher Zondervan in 2003), has declared Christianity to be an eastern religion. Youth Specialties has been promoting eastern religion/New Age practices (yoga, labyrinths, contemplative prayer) into their national youth and pastor's conferences for some time now, but to our knowledge this is the first time the organization has publicly commented on this.

On October 27th, Mark Oestreicher (Marko) stated the following on his website in response to recent criticisms and complaints Youth Specialties has been receiving. We later learned that the same comments were being emailed to those who wrote to the organization with questions about their New Age leanings:

On Eastern Religion and Christianity:
"Christianity IS an eastern religion. It has all its roots in the East! It's a bit baffling to me that people lose sight of this, and insist on creating a false separation [see note below] between eastern religions and (apparently) western Christianity."

On Yoga:
"[Y]oga is really just about stretching and slowing down. Sure, yoga, I suppose, could focus on Hindi [Hindu] or Buddhist gods or something - but it can also focus on Christ. We received a couple stomping-mad complaints about the yoga at the National Pastors Convention, saying 'putting your body in those positions invites Hindi [Hindu] gods to enter your body.' I'm sorry - this just sounds like heresy to me. If we don't believe Hindi [Hindu] gods actually exist, then why are we concerned about them entering our bodies?"

On Contemplative Prayer:
"If a Buddhist is using a breathing exercise to bring some peace to her life, well, bless her. But that should have no bearing on whether or not I choose to focus on my God-created breath."

"On saying words over and over again: well that sure is taken out of context. It's not like we would suggest someone grab any word ('Tree!' 'Towel!' 'Beer!') and chant it over and over again-which is her implication. There is a wonderful spiritual practice, however, of repeating a phrase from the Bible and seeing what God reveals to you about it (or about Him, or about you). It's prayer: not a chant."

NOTE: New Age teaches that there is no "separation" between any of the religions and tries to eradicate the gap between opposing forces. For more on this, see A Time of Departing.

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