I’m sharing this research because part of being a stable Christian is being aware of the pitfalls of religion. Frankly, any business, social or religious organization can become a cult. Just have the wrong people in leadership and there you go. As I talk to Christians, many are unaware of what makes up a cult. The word has such negative connotations, especially in the post-People’s Temple/Jim Jones age. The idea that cult members are these rabid, zombie-eyed deadheads who make no sense when they talk is a misconception. If one listens to , for example, Scientology interviewees, these people are sane, intelligent, educated people who simply thought they were joining an organization where they could make a difference. They didn’t think they’d give up hundreds of thousands of dollars, their freedom and the physical and mental well being of their loved ones. They got reeled in.
Well, we’re back with another portion of an interview conducted this year. This is another portion of an earlier interview. This person, who grew up in a fundamentalist Christian church, talks about why it was difficult for children in this performance-based religion, the church politics that created such a system, the disruption caused by this system to her relationship with her family, and shame-based church disciplines. I know for me and my family, it was damaging to hear over the pulpit that there is no favoritism in God’s church and that partiality was a sin, and then to see it all around you not from the lay members but the leadership.
Approx. 16 minutes, voices have been altered.
This is a beautiful and touching story of recovery from a religious system with a damaging atmosphere. This interview was conducted with a young lady who was saved as a child only to realize that several detrimental things from the church followed her and others into their adult lives.
- She mourns very little connection with her natural blood relatives. The church was considered her family where holidays and other times were not spent knowing her relatives.
- John 9:31 that God does not hear sinners’ prayers was drummed into the doctrine to such a point that often some adults from the church have trouble praying to God because they feel God will not hear them. (I want to address this later in a separate blog. This was taught incorrectly and out of context).
- She remembers it as a male-dominated religion where the women and children did most of the suffering. (I remember a Joliet, IL Pastor of our group gathered young men together to apologize to them for things they endured as children, but it was an all-male meeting when overall girls suffered disproportionately more troubles to adhere to standards)
- She remembers the strong focus on God as a God of judgment and not much emphasis on God’s love.
approx. 15 minutes
When other people are being used for the personal gratification of a leader or an organization, that is religious abuse.
You may wonder what is religious or spiritual abuse?
It’s not anger at going to church when you’d rather stay in bed or learning scriptures you thought were boring or sitting through long tiring sermons. Religion can become abusive when it involves a spiritual system that has developed either around a particularly authoritarian charismatic leader or domineering spiritual authority leading a church or group of churches. When that authority is misused against a person through bullying, intimidation, manipulations and inappropriate physical touching, that is spiritual or religious abuse. Continue reading “What is Religious Abuse?”
This is part 2 to this interview, a chronicle of a family’s church struggle under an authoritarian Pastor. Approx. 18 minutes. ( the beeps you hear are names and locations that are blocked).