When video of a girls' "powder puff" football game at a suburban Chicago high school made its way onto news broadcast nationwide, parents were outraged and sickened with the sight of girls being beaten and smeared with feces and garbage. What they may not know is that similar hazing incidents are not uncommon at church youth groups. Last year, Living Stones Fellowship Church in Crown Point, Indiana, was sued after students participated in a "Human Vegematic," where 13- and 14-year-olds were allegedly pressured to drink a mix of dog food, salsa, sauerkraut, sardines, potted meat, eggnog, and cottage cheese—after the youth leader chewed it. A 2000 national survey by Alfred University found that 24 percent of youth group members experienced hazing, and that the number of students hazed to join church groups was larger than that hazed to join vocational groups, cheerleading squads, or fraternities. "An unanticipated finding," the report said, "was that nearly half of the students hazed for church groups were expected to engage in illegal activities."

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Articles referenced above include:

Stupid church tricks | Many church youth groups are teaching young people exactly what they don't need to learn (World, August 24, 2002)

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