We have a YMCA being built in our area. I just discovered that our county footed the entire bill for the construction. While we need stuff for our youth, I am not thrilled that it has Xtian ties. It seems like a church/state violation to me. But... 
Apparently they claim they don't proselytize. I wanted to know if it's true. Does anyone know if they mention god or pray during their programs?

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It may depend on the program. But we've been members of our ymca for about 3yrs now. My son went to preschool there and we are signing him and his dad up for adventure guides this year.  They don't proselytize. There is the occasional reference to a bible version on a sign, but no crosses or anything like that. Funnily enough, we lost the best yoga instructor we had because she played Christmas music during a class one time. And by Christmas, I don't mean religious songs, I mean - Baby It's Cold Outside and Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. Someone complained and she was let go. So as far as we can tell, it's a firm policy they actually enforce that there is no proselytizing in their programs.


They also offer scholarships to people who can't afford their programs and do afterschool programs and summer camps and honestly, I trust them more then I do some other places as far as feeling comfortable that my son isn't going to be indoctrinated there.  Hope this helps.

My niece, raised orthodox jewish, went to swimming and gymnastics classes at the North Hollywood, CA ymca. I never heard my sister mention any promotion of christianity at that Y.
i grew up in a YMCA for swimming and horsebackriding programs (this was in the 70's and 80's) a i never recall any churchi-ness or praying.  in fact, i had a big old gay swim teacher that no one was offended by.  but things are a lot more scary (read: religious) nowadays.

Don't know about how it is generally in practice, but the official line is:

Challenge 21

In 1997, at the 14th World Council of YMCAs, the World Alliance of YMCAs adopted Challenge 21 as its modern-day statement of mission for the 21st century:

Affirming the Paris Basis adopted in 1855, as the ongoing foundation statement of the mission of the YMCA, at the threshold of the third millennium, we declare that the YMCA is a world-wide Christian, ecumenical, voluntary movement for women and men with special emphasis on and the genuine involvement of young people and that it seeks to share the Christian ideal of building a human community of justice with love, peace and reconciliation for the fullness of life for all creation.
Each member YMCA is therefore called to focus on certain challenges which will be prioritized according to its own context. These challenges which are an evolution of the Kampala Principles
  • Sharing the good news of Jesus Christ and striving for spiritual, intellectual and physical well-being of individuals and wholeness of communities.
  • Empowering all, especially young people and women to take increased responsibilities and assume leadership at all levels and working towards an equitable society.
  • Advocating for and promoting the rights of women and upholding the rights of children.
  • Fostering dialogue and partnership between people of different faiths and ideologies and recognizing the cultural identities of people and promoting cultural renewal.
  • Committing to work in solidarity with the poor, dispossessed, uprooted people and oppressed racial, religious and ethnic minorities.
  • Seeking to be mediators and reconcilers in situations of conflict and working for meaningful participation and advancement of people for their own self-determination.
  • Defending God’s creation against all that would destroy it and preserving and protecting the earth’s resources for coming generations. To face these challenges, the YMCA will develop patterns of co-operation at all levels that enable self-sustenance and self-determination.
I cancelled my membership at the YMCA where I live. They were very religious and kept trying to get me to go to church events. They had Jesus pictures and bible quotes all over the place.
Thank you for all of your feedback! Wow, it really sounds like it varies a lot from area to area. Knowing my area (small town in North Carolina), it'll probably be pretty Christian. But I guess I won't know until they actually open. I hope, especially since the county paid for its construction, that it'll be secular. I hope it'll fall more on the side of one that fired someone for playing secular Xmas (although that is overboard) than the But I won't hold my breath.

Thanks for sharing that challenge 21. That's pretty scary.
Hi Skeptic!

I've been a member of my Y (near Raleigh, NC) for about a year and a half. My reasoning was that the "M" didn't apply to me, so why should if matter if the "C" doesn't? Also, the Y has child dropoff for 2 hours (as opposed to 1, which is what many gyms have). As previous posters said, aside from the odd Biblical passage on the bulletin boards, it's just a gym. I will say that most of the friends I have made seem to come down firmly on the side of the church-going set, but living in NC that might be the case no matter what gym you joined. It may well vary with region, but I think if you're not overly sensitive to it, you'll probably be fine. I've never encountered someone expecting me to pray before I sweat. ;) Good luck!

That's a good point about the "M" being from it's past, so the "C" could be too. That does make me feel a little better. For me, I will just find bible verses and other things annoying like that (esp. because I know my county paid for the gym's construction). I am mostly concerned about what they may tell my daughter if she ever goes to any of their programs.

We are members of a different gym here (totally secular). It doesn't have childcare and I really wish it did. But it has other things I like. I don't know that I will actually join the Y (although the childcare and indoor pool are tempting) but I would consider sending my daughter to their day camp or swimming lessons if it is secular.  


Thanks for your help. 


I worked there for 5 years in my early twenties and did not come across one thing that was 'Christian' except that we didn't observe any other religions holidays (except for the childcare part that was tied in w/ the school system?)  They have an amazing retirement plan, pay well, and it was the most fun place to work.

They are really good at 'writing grants', which is prob. how they got someone else to foot the bill...  they actually had a person on staff just for that purpose alone. They seem to reeeeeeealy like someone elso to foot the bill for all things Y.  The Y even has it's own 'college' http://www.spfldcol.edu/homepage/dept.nsf/ymca! (no, I did not attend) Pretty hard core there in the back. LOL

It definitly sounds like location is key though LOL we were in E. PA and the bible verses on the machines would NOT have flown in our area!

It should be the Young (and Old's) Everyones' Community Association :)

Best of luck

I know they say grace before meals at camp, but overall I have not found them to proselytize at all. We're members for the programs, classes and workout facilities. None of the Ys I walk into have any Christian decor. I have sent my daughter to sleepaway camp with the Y for the last 4 years and haven't experienced any issues. I also went to a few Y camps as a kid and definitely don't remember any preaching...so even if they did it back then it had no lasting effect on me...and look how I turned out. :)

I don't like the idea of grace before meals. Thanks for the warning. It might not bother me so much when my daughter is a little old. But she so young and impressionable right now.


It sounds like the Y's vary greatly from location to location. I guess I just have to hope the one that is built here is not too religious. I have mixed feelings about the county footing the bill for the Y. I'm glad they are bringing activities for kids and families. But, I don't like the idea of county $ going to something that is potentially have kids pray, etc.

From reading the other posts it does seem like each location is different. I wished the one I had gone to hadn't been so religious. The religion is stated in their principals which they had hanging on the wall. They also had pictures of Jesus on the walls. There was this lady there that kept telling me about her church and so on. I got tired of all that and cancelled my membership.




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