Rob Schwarzwalder

A Google search of the phrase “drum circle” comes up with some interesting entries. It’s linked to such things as “occult meet-ups,” “PaganSpace” and “New Age Connections.”

“Drumming” is an occult practice used in pagan rituals. Designed to connect people with “earth spirits” and other demonic forces, such “circles” are associated with witchcraft and shamanism. Put simply, this practice is not Christian.

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While that might seem obvious, consider the case of a woman at the University of New Hampshire who, according to the Boston Globe, “is in critical but stable condition at a Massachusetts hospital (after ingesting) anthrax spores released from animal-skin-covered drums” (“Drummer’s Anthrax Case Spurs a Public Health Hunt,” Boston Globe, January 4, 2010).

Having worked closely with then-Secretary Tommy Thompson at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services during the 2001 anthrax crisis, I know something of the grim horror of this disease. It strikes fear into the most seasoned public health professionals. It is a gruesome malady not to be taken lightly.

That’s one of the reasons why the report of this young woman’s illness is so troubling – but not the only one. The drums around which she danced were provided by the United Campus Ministry (UCM) in Durham, N.H. The UCM is a self-described “ecumenical Christian ministry” sponsored by several old-line Protestant denominations. Its Web site says that it is “committed to the teachings and model of Jesus Christ” while also being “a ministry of inclusivity and openness.”

Given that Jesus’ claim to be the only way to God was exclusive, “inclusivity” in the sense this group means – “open” not just to anyone but, apparently, virtually any idea or belief – is an odd way to describe a supposedly Christian ministry

And sadly, what is missing from this organization’s lengthy “Mission and Ministry” statement is any reference – any – to the Bible. No mention of Scripture. Or, for that matter, of the cross of Christ. Of His atoning death or bodily resurrection. Of historic Christian teaching of any sort.

To offer commentary on this descent from Christianity into demonic ritual is almost too painful. Spurning the miracle of the Incarnation for the devil’s false promise, the new pagans are lulled into the artificial, undemanding spirituality of darkness. They revel in the folly of “drumming” and other pagan rites, not knowing that they are inviting the embrace not of God but of His sworn Enemy.


Rob Schwarzwalder

Schwarzwalder, senior vice president of the Family Research Council, is a member of the Evangelical Theological Society and graduate of Western Seminary (Portland, OR).