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Church Youth Trained for UNESCO’s “Culture of Peace”

by Berit Kjos

For background information, read 

Conforming the Church to the New Millennium and Serving a Greater Whole

Note: All the links to the ELCA conference website are now obsolete.



2000 AD

"The Lutheran Youth Organization of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA)... voted to support ecumenism... and to develop a conference for gay, lesbian and bisexual youth. Lutheran youth should 'be ready for a big turn-around....'" ELCA News Service, 1997, reporting on plans for the AD 2000 youth 'Gathering.'"[i]

"There should be a commitment to building a 'culture of peace.'... It is a process by which positive attitudes to peace, democracy and tolerance are forged through education and knowledge about different cultures.”
[2] Our Creative Diversity, UNESCO

"As communities of faith and interdependent people rooted in our faith, we now unite for the sake of peace and healing among religions, peoples and nations, and for the benefit of the earth and all living beings." The United Religions Charter (Draft, 1999)

"From the prophet even to the priest, everyone deals falsely. For they have healed the hurt of the daughter of My people slightly, saying, ‘Peace, peace!’ when there is no peace." Jeremiah 8:10-11

The youth “Mission” statement sounds good: “To make and nurture disciples of Jesus Christ.” But what kinds of “disciples” do their leaders in the ELCA (Evangelical Lutheran Church of America) envision?

And why do the plans for “Gathering 2000” – their summer conference for over 25,000 youth - echo UN buzzwords such as equality and social justice, cultural and interpersonal competence, peaceful conflict resolution and sustainable environment?

These questions troubled Terry Fossan, a mother who wants to train her children to follow God.[3] She grew more concerned after visiting the youth conference website. “My son has been encouraged by the Lutheran Church in our community to attend this Gathering 2000 being held in Saint Louis, MO,” she wrote me. “I remember a few of the goals from a paper that my son brought home: to break down barriers, help the environment, etc.  I definitely have alarm bells going off.” 

The youth conference troubles me, too. I grew up within the Lutheran state church in Norway, went to a Lutheran college after immigrating to the United States, then left the denomination in the seventies when our pastor spent more time teaching from the "now testament" (newspapers) than from the Old or New Testament.  As in thousands of other churches, his emphasis was on "relevance" rather than revelation, on the world's ideas rather than on God's Word.  

To resist the growing cultural pressures to join this spiritual slide, we need to understand some of the reasons for alarm: 

1. A disturbing distortion of God's Word and His gospel has crept into independent as well as denominational churches across the country. A growing public "consensus" tells us that God would be more pleased with politically correct tolerance and conformity than with obedience and faithfulness. The new goals are validated by selected Scriptures and by reinterpreting contrary Scriptures. 

2. Pastors and church leaders are persuading their congregations that the church must change in order to be relevant in the next century. The main strategy for transformation used by the ELCA and other educational institutions is the Hegelian dialectic -- the consensus process. Young and old are urged to participate in group dialogues led by facilitators trained to conform the members, including Christian resisters, to a pre-planned group consensus.  (See Mind Control) and summary of The Change Agent)

3. All these pieces fit together within Total Quality Management, which churches and schools from coast to coast are adapting for their own purposes. Business and government leaders around the world may tout the success of this management process, but when it is used to develop "quality" human resources, watch out. Operating through the consensus process, it destroys individual faith and Biblical values.  It presses all participants into a collective mold that fits the UN vision for the 21st Century global workforce and "sustainable community."

4. An emphasis on service that fits a political agenda. 


 To understand the politically correct nature of ELCA's Gathering 2000, please visit its website for an overview. Among the promotional pages, you will find a section on Bible studies. That may sound good until you examine some of it. Take a look at the study on Resurrection and Community. Notice that the essence of the cross and resurrection are strangely absent. 

That didn't surprise me. Some years ago I heard a far more disturbing report about the Lutheran St. Olaf College, Minnesota's venerable "college on the hill" where I studied nursing.  But even there, multicultural education has replaced biblical integrity, and a new multicultural emphasis has opened the door to Hindu and Buddhist professors who promote Eastern spirituality instead of biblical truth.[4] The beautiful chapel, once a sacred sanctuary for worshipping God, has become a moral battleground.   

One spring morning in 1989, English teacher Rebecca Mark gave the chapel talk. She first introduced the point of her message:

"To speak the words, 'I am gay. I am proud to be gay,' at this place where silence has reigned too long, is not enough. I am not alone. ... I am called upon to be the voice of many who have been silent. ... 

"As a gay woman I speak through the earth. The word gay comes from the goddess Gaia, the Greek earth mother goddess. I speak not as a sinner, but as the Mojave shaman. . .  I speak from the voice of thousands of gay spirit leaders, healers and teachers in Indian culture. . . .  I speak as . . . those who have known death and rebirth. And I too mourn. . . . " 

Ms. Mark mourned the cruel slurs and rejection suffered by gay students, and she was right to do so. God calls us to love, not hate those who miss the mark. His love reaches out to all who hurt, including those who yield their bodies to promiscuous lifestyles, whether homosexual or heterosexual. But her call reached far beyond a condemnation of cruelty. It sent a vision of multicultural solidarity that demands a radical change in the very heart of Christianity. It summoned God's people to not only approve promiscuous and destructive lifestyles,[5] but also embrace the pagan spirituality that sacrilizes sex.  

She ended her talk with a sensual poem by an American Indian woman who blends  lesbian love with a spiritualized earth mother. Then she invited the students and faculty -- all who "can wear the pink triangle proudly" -- to come forward as a "sign of community and liberation." Singing  "We are gay and straight together," they streamed to the front of the church to claim the badge of their new identity.         

The enthusiastic response was no surprise, for today's culture prefers tolerance to truth. So did ancient Israel. "Why do you tolerate wrong?"[6] God asked the people He loved, knowing that their presumptuous tolerance would lead to violence and destruction.  They didn't listen.


The driving vision of UNESCO's Culture of Peace is multicultural oneness. Never mind that such interfaith unity requires Christians to set aside Biblical values.  Biblical Christianity doesn't fit UNESCO's Declarations on Tolerance or on Religion.  But those who walk with God can't participate or approve of pagan practices and homosexual lifestyles. Unless we rewrite the Bible, God's Word and pagan lifestyles will clash. (See The Message)

Yet, ELCA's Gathering 2000 will include a Multicultural Youth Leadership Event scheduled to start on June 25, before the main conference. Here, 

"participants have several opportunities to meet in ethnic specific caucus groups to discuss their vision for the ELCA in the new century. From these caucuses, the next Multicultural Advisory Committee (MAC) is chosen."

The above web page defines Multicultural as "more united in our own cultures and to break cultural barriers."  The 1997 ELCA youth planning committee expressed full approval of the multicultural lifestyles of the various sexual preferences. Accordng to an ELCA newsletter, they discussed-- 

"'developing a pre-gathering conference for gay, lesbian and bisexual youth.'  The conference 'would provide a safe place for gay, lesbian and bisexual youth and offer workshops, keynote addresses and/or other programs that address the specific personal and faith issues facing gay, lesbian and bisexual youth.'"[7] 

Their ethnic "caucus groups," which would discuss the vision for the ELCA in the new century, would operate according to the consensus process. Their website indicates many such group sessions, which would indeed break down barriers and help establish a new vision for a church which has chosen to replace the timeless ways God taught us long along. 


  Like other churches across the country, the ELCA has implemented the organizational pattern of Total Quality Management – a system that becomes far more manipulative when used to manage human resources than when used for “quality” production at a company.  But its use in churches makes sense to those who want to conform the church to a changing world.  In 1994, most mainline denominations, including the ELCA, signed a contract with the U.S. Department of Education titled "Statement of Common Purpose of Religious Leaders."  Since promising to help parents with their children's education, religious leaders have become increasingly supportive of the new outcome-based (TQM) education system. Today, they are trailing close behind the universalist Pied Pipers both in UNESCO and in our U.S. education department.  

Take a look at the outline for Gathering 2000. Like business and government plans, the ELCA conference plans begin with a vision, then progresses through other standard TQM points. The following points are listed on the same web page  in slightly different order:      


Whether the setting is a church, workplace or government agency, the TQM vision and mission statements must express an inclusive, non-controversial idea. It must be inspiring enough to mobilize the all-important community (a mystical “greater whole”) to press together toward a common, collective goal.  Sensitive questions and dissent are rarely tolerated, since unity and conformity is an essential outcome. The “Vision” for the Gathering 2000 fits right into this picture:

“The ELCA Youth Gathering creates a safe place for youth to experience the community of Christ and be encouraged to respond to God's call to service in the world.” 

What does the author mean by the “community of Christ”?   Clearly not those who believe that Jesus Christ is the only Way to the Father.  Such a narrow view would conflict with its multicultural goals and values.  In fact, when you read the “Biblical basis” for the conference program, you see that the Bible has been reinterpreted and the church “reinvented” to fit the more politically correct global perspective. 


The conference website lists its goals without explanations. Like the promotional literature used to win public consent for the transformation of our schools, the goals have been written to sound good. Read them now, then review them after you see the values that follow:  


The ELCA standards for developing human resources bear a striking resemblance to the UN plan for the “optimum mental health of the population.”  (See The UN Plan for Your Mental Health) The World Health Organization and its U.S. partners have been marketing their programs for Healthy People, Healthy Families, Healthy Communities, and Healthy Cites across our nation with much success. Few realize the intrusive aim behind the noble promises.

The UN-US plan for monitoring attitudes and values under the banner of "mental health" has already won amazing acceptance in communities across the country. Much of its support comes through the participation and cooperation of "healthy churches" that limit their teaching to positive, politically correct goals validated by selected Scriptures.  Turning a deaf ear to Biblical commands and warnings that might offend "the community," many follow the strategies used by educational change agents to silence opposition. 

Within this vast, interconnected global management system, uncooperative churches that refuse to conform to the new "tolerant" and "seeker-friendly" standards are viewed as unhealthy.  Looking at its own descriptions, the ELCA youth ministry exudes health:

”Developmental assets are positive experiences and qualities that young people need to grow up healthy--think of them as building blocks of healthy growth and development. The framework of assets was developed by Search Institute of Minneapolis, Minn., and is grounded in years of research with hundreds of thousands of adolescents." 

The new health standards for our schools require that students be concerned about the "health" of their community -- a concern that motivates them to participate in "service learning" programs and the corresponding consensus groups.  So does this youth ministry. Its "Positive Values" (at web site, click on Developmental Assets and scroll to chart) include “caring,  equality and social justice,  integrity, honesty,  and responsibility." (To see what these words mean in the new context, see Character Training For Global Citizenship)

The ELCA shares its vision for “equality and social justice” with the United Nations and its globalist partners in this country. Their goal is to redistribute the world’s resources, eliminate the gap between rich and poor (global socialism), and establish worldwide solidarity. This uniformity, based on conformity with UN beliefs and values, would surely do away with individual rights and religious freedom.  (See The U.N. Plan for Your Community)

The youth ministry’s “Social Competencies” sound just like the competencies listed in educational frameworks in states across our country. They include planning and decision making, interpersonal competence, cultural competence,  resistance skills,  and peaceful conflict resolution.  All these "competencies" require participation in the consensus process, where each youth must be willing to compromise their beliefs and seek "common ground."  Biblical absolutes have no place in this dialectic exercise in group conformity. (See Mind Control) 

Finally, the competencies listed under “Positive Identity” include personal power, self-esteem,  sense of purpose, and a positive view of personal future. You may wonder, as I do, how “personal power” fits Scriptures such as this:

"I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing." John 15:5

In the context of this youth conference, it may not really matter. We have seen how Scriptures are being reinterpreted to support cultural goals and social solidarity. Storytelling becomes a perfect vehicle speeding the process by re-imagining God, the Bible, and Self.


 Ponder this interesting twist of truth: 

“Stories give us our sense of identity…. They define our place in the world. Without stories we no longer know who we are, nor do we feel known by others. Sacred stories connect us with people as well as help us ask the question, 'How am I me?'" 

Actually the Bible answers that question -- and for the past centuries, Christians have faithfully sought His timeless wisdom rather than man-made myths and stories. As the same web page points out, “at some point in our history, storytelling in the US went underground…” But today, youth who seek empowering myths rather than the old truth don't have to search long:

"The Gathering will create a space to hear the sacred stories that shape our Christian identity.   We hope that Gathering 2000 is all about truth-telling. Young people feel powerless, alone, afraid when someone else is telling their story. Our role is to create a safe space within which young people can tell their stories and explore how their stories are shaped by God's story."


"Sociologists tell us that millennial youth, those born after 1982, are seeking close bonds with their parents and other relatives as a way to find security in an uncertain world," explains the conference website. "The Gathering will promote and facilitate the bonding process… not only between young people and their parents, but also between youth and the other significant adults in their lives."  

Perhaps this promise sounds good to you. But if you, like Terry Fossan, want to teach your child to follow God, you may not want your child to be personally mentored by another "significant adult." Look what else is involved:

"ELCA Youth Ministries supports an adult presence with youth that is less directive and more in the style of coaching. …  Before they come to the Gathering, each youth participant will be asked to identify an adult mentor, someone other than the counselor who will accompany them to the Gathering. … There also will be banks of computers at the Gathering so young people can keep in daily contact with their mentors." 

This mentoring system usually involves assessments and some sort of monitoring as well as training in the appropriate attitudes and values.  May I suggest you read about "wise" surrogate parent figures in Clinton's War on Hate Bans Christian Values?


To see the extent of the compromise, compare the ELCA values statements with two sets of similar messages from UNESCO:

1. The first set of quotes (in black) represent the outline of values from the conference website. 

2. The second set of quotes (in red) are taken from UNESCO’s  Declaration on the Role of Religion in the Promotion of a Culture of Peace

3. The third set (green) are the “Six fundamental objectives and challenges” which will guide Koichiro Matsuura, in his new role as Director-General of UNESCO (UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization). This Japanese diplomat and former Chairman of UNESCO's World Heritage Committee brings his quest for religious unity in diversity into the UN agency that, in turn, guides our new, revolutionary education system: 

Value 1: "INCLUSIVENESS AND DIVERSITY ... “Jesus came so all might have abundant life, life that transcends differences and erodes boundaries. All of God's people will be able to fully engage in that abundant life because of the images, language or actions of the Gathering leaders and participants.”  (Gathering 2000)

“We live in a world in which isolation is no longer possible.... We are all interdependent and share an inescapable responsibility for the well-being of the entire world.

"... we call upon the different religions and cultural traditions to join hands... and to cooperate with us." (UNESCO's Declaration on Religion)

"Achieving Universality ... ensures that certain values, such as human rights [see Trading US Rights for UN Rules] and democracy are communicated, accepted and practices as truly universal values. It should awaken and cultivate in the minds of people a consciousness of being 'citizens of the earth.'" (Head of UNESCO)

Value 2: "DIALOGUE ...  Dialogue starts with the assumption that there will be a win/win outcome. To engage in dialogue, there must be honesty, integrity, trust, collaboration and respect. In a dialogue, listening comes first, imagination is just as important as intellect and every contribution has merit.” (Gathering 2000)

[Remember, dialogue refers to the consensus process used by schools, business, government, etc. to mold compliant group members willing to set aside individual beliefs to achieve collective unity]

"We will promote dialogue and harmony between and within religions, … respecting the search for truth and wisdom that is outside our religion. We will establish dialogue with all, striving for a sincere fellowship…”  (Declaration on Religion)

"Rallying the 'Wisdom' of the World ... In order to solve the diverse problems facing humanity in the 21st century, [UNESCO] must... rally the “wisdom” of the world." (Head of UNESCO)

Value 3: "COMMUNITY ... The Gathering is a spiritual community and not simply an event or program. As such, its leaders seek to establish, nurture and grow collaborative networks [networks that push participants into the mold of the changing, evolving system] that identify and utilize spiritual gifts in a spirit of service.” (Gathering 2000) 

“Our communities of faith have a responsibility to encourage conduct imbued with wisdom, compassion, sharing, charity, solidarity and love....

We call upon the institutions of our civil society...."  (Declaration on Religion)

"Reaching out to a Wider spectrum of Society … strengthen its cooperation with the national commissions of Member States, universities and research centers as well as with the non-governmental organizations in each country, and enhance its efforts at the grassroots level." (Head of UNESCO)

Value 4: "Giftedness ... The Gathering is committed to growing every person into an effective disciple of Jesus Christ by getting them in touch with their giftedness, and providing the training and mentoring necessary for them to carry out their ministry. (Gathering 2000) 

"We emphasize education for peace, freedom, and human rights, and religious education to promote openness and tolerance." (Declaration on Religion)

"Contributing to Peace ... The Organization must make greater efforts to consolidate the concept of "a culture of peace" and at the same time inculcate certain important values such as tolerance and non-violence into the minds of children and youth. (Head of UNESCO)

Value 5: "Sustainability ... As stewards of God's kingdom, we seek to build and/or support a sustainable environment by the prudent use of resources, both human and material.” (Gathering 2000)  

"We commit ourselves to a civil society which respects environmental and social justice.... We…call for sincere acts of repentance and mutual forgiveness, both personally and collectively... to Earth and all living beings."  (Declaration on Religion)


"Utilizing All Human Resources for Sustainable Development  … intensify its actions to support sustainable development. " (Head of UNESCO)

In the envisioned sustainable communities, conflict will be absent because everyone will have embraced the new collective mindset. Everyone will think and work in groups, despise individualism, and choose to serve -- not God or family -- but the community, a mystical entity called "the people" under Communism (as in The People's Republic of China)


There is nothing wrong with training for servant-hood if the primary object of our service is God. He calls us to serve one another in His name, bringing His love to the hurting and needy everywhere. But when we yield our hearts to a lesser master -- or allow the state and its partners to dictate the use of His time -- we will ultimately find ourselves in bondage. And when those lesser masters serve an agenda that undermines His Word, the spiritual danger grows. 

To understand the problem, please read Serving a Greater Whole, which shows the political and transformative purpose behind "serving the community" and "service learning." The goal is not simply to help the poor and the broken. It is to change the values and perceptions of the participants.  

Service plays a big part in the multicultural pre-Gathering. As part of its Servant Events, the youth conference website provides a link to Journeys 1999, "a resource compiled by the ELCA Outdoor Ministries staff to assist you in locating information on programs for volunteer community service, social ministry, hunger/justice education and high adventure in the outdoors."  It also plunges well-meaning youth into a world of liberal political and social activism that trades Biblical values for socialist idealism.


Beliefs Based on Bible New Age, earth-centered blend
View of self Individual Part of a greater whole
Values Based on Bible Human idealism based on consensus
Morals  Biblical Boundaries  Sensual freedom
Rights  Personal freedom  Social controls
Economy  Free enterprise  Socialist/Collective
Government  By the people  By those who control the masses (through consensus)

Ponder the following suggestions from Servant Events in the light of the above warnings:

"Plan for learning experiences: What can you anticipate learning from the local residents, cultures and community? How will you learn about hunger and justice concerns? What activities and experiences will you use to help people prepare for the experience?  [page 5]

"Building Our Many Bridges ... Urban cross-cultural experiences and community service projects. ... These events also explore political, social and historical dynamics of urban poverty." [page 12, emphasis added]

"Cross-cultural experiences with the Lakota people...."

"...attend powwows, worship in a traditional sweat lodge and listen to stories about the Shoshone and Arapaho Tribes." [page 14]

"Work with our environmental stewardship staff on eco-ethics and spend an evening with our peace and justice staff...." [pages 14-15]

"Habitat for Humanity ... "Work in constructing low-income housing.... study environmental stewardship. Participate in an evening of multicultural dancing...." [page 16]

"Cross-cultural experiences, community service projects, assisting with a day camp program, interacting with local residents, learning about issues of poverty and visiting historical sites on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation." [page 17]

"Urban Immersion: Participants will gain a firsthand awareness and understanding of the urban environment and its racial, ethnic, cultural and religious diversity." 

Programs for social activism such as the above are usually designed to shake the faith of a Christian youth, pressuring them to conform their understanding of economic, environmental, and spiritual issues to the new global ethic. The greatest danger lies in the facilitated dialogue in consensus groups. Remember, in a group dialogue, each youth must follow the rules, be willing to compromise firm beliefs for the sake of the group, choose collective rather than individual thinking, and avoid debate, dissent, or anything else that might offend a group member's comfort zone.  

Mentioning Biblical warnings concerning homosexuality, "other gods" or other lifestyles, would surely offend those whose goal is a new pluralistic vision of One collective Humanity, serving One God, on One Planet.  This universalist vision sounds true to those who don't understand God's plan for salvation, but its distortion of Truth deletes the heart of the gospel:  the "good news" that through His death on the cross, Jesus has saved us from bondage to sin and death. 

In today's politically correct culture, it might seem more "Christ-like" to interpret selected Scriptures from a social action perspective rather than from God's eternal perspective as shown in the Bible. To see an example of this shift, look at the comparisons in The Message, Eugene Peterson's popular paraphrase of the New Testament. 

      Let me say it again, service itself is good.  God tells us to "serve wholeheartedly."  No one demonstrated the role of a servant more perfectly than did Jesus Christ Himself. The real issue is: Whom do we serve?  God makes it very clear that we cannot "serve two masters. Either [we] will hate the one and love the other, or [we] will be devoted to one and despise the other." (Matt. 6:24)  

     We see this choice today. Those who serve the mastermind behind the globalist agenda will hate God and His followers. The warning rings loud and clear in Romans 1:  

"God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator..... 

"For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due. 

"And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind... being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents... who, knowing the righteous judgment of God.... not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them." Romans 1:24-32.

    The last phrase points to the consensus process. The group or collective won't tolerate those who don't "approve of" what they do.  That's why a similar list of sins includes this reminder:

"...all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. But you must continue in the things which you have learned...." 2 Timothy 3:12-14

     We can't delight in God and His peace unless we "continue in" His truth.  That may seem impossible at times, but "He who calls you is faithful, Who also will do it."  (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24)

Only in Christ, can we be one. When freed by the cross, cleansed by His blood, and filled with His life, we can truly stand together as equals before Him -- no matter what gifts we have been given or what sins we have committed. [8]   In Him, we are free to share in His victory, vision, hope and service, even in the midst of the most difficult circumstances. "Blessed is the people whose God is the Lord!" 


[1] "ELCA Youth Organization Ready for "Turn-Around,"  ELCA News Service, August 4, 1997.

[2] Our Creative Diversity, Report of the World Commission on Culture and Development (UNESCO Publishing, 1995) page 45.

[3] Not her real name. If you need to contact her, we can help you.   

[4] Among the books authored by St. Olaf College faculty and endorsed and reviewed on page 5 in St. Olaf (November/December 1994), were The Limits of Scripture: Vivekananda's Reinterpretation of the Vedas by Anantanand Rambachan, a religion faculty member, and Consciousness and the Mind of God  by Charles Taliaferro, which offers "a holistic understanding of the dualist person-body relationship." Rambachan leads a weekly Hindu fellowship for Hindu students and others interested in Eastern spirituality.

[5] Romans 1:32.

[6] See Habakkuk 1:13; Revelation 2:2, 2:20 (NIV)

[7]"ELCA Youth Organization Ready for "Turn-Around,"  ELCA News Service, August 4, 1997.

[8] 1 Corinthians 6:9-11

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