For spiritual health and wellness, I’ve had to replace special church jargon with everyday language.
For spiritual health and wellness, I’ve had to replace unique church jargon with everyday language. Psychology articles about high control religious groups /churches/cults tell us that jargon or loaded language has the effect of creating an “us” and “them” separation with the people around us. This lingo makes no sense to folks outside of the group and is only understood by the members.
Here’s a list from my group that’ll blow your mind. Keep in mind, I bought into all of this myself, so if I laugh or sound amused, it’s toward me as well.
This referred to church people outside of our religious group. This was a term based on the belief that the current religious system was symbolic of Babylon in the Old Testament, where God’s people were held captive and needed to come to the Church of God organization. This was used to characterize anything done by those in other religions (e.g., lifting up both hands in praise, pastor birthdays & anniversaries, selling chicken dinners, soulful singing styles, choir robes, specific musical instruments, and the list goes on).
Realize that you are dealing with grief–plain and simple. Leaving means loss. Loss of friends, reputation in the community, innocence, community, and definitely time. Don’t minimize the trauma involved in exiting and don’t minimize the loss you feel.
Here are a few methods to heal from the anxiety of leaving a toxic, high-control fundamentalist group. Remember that spirituality has to be based on our personal relationship and walk with God and not just the practices and performance of a particular religion or even a feeling.
Was it painful to walk away from my reputation, position (Church Elder) and friends held dear for 35 years? Extremely, excruciating. Did I meet good examples of Christianity and come in contact with wonderful people and have good times there? Yes I did. Could I have gone away quietly and never said a word about the negative things I encountered? Well, If I were a different person, probably so, but that’s not me, and I’m glad it’s not. From the feedback I’ve gotten over the last few months, it was helpful to others and myself to air out the truth of what I see. It was important to break the code of silence, “the smile and don’t talk about it” syndrome that had remained in the back rooms, on phones calls and in corners after church services for many, many years. I needed to have truth and genuineness in my life.
This post is mostly for those who might be curious how I got to this point in my life of not working with my denomination. Primarily, because I wanted the second half of my life to be under God’s control and not the control of men. I wanted to get to know God for myself and have the freedom to obey, teach and do what he was imparting to me. Under the current system in our church, that would be impossible. I was not willing to live my one life under the ownership of anyone and least of all leaders that were simply trying to hold the status quo together for their various personal reasons and no longer interested in spiritual growth. It’s a true saying that you cannot rise above your teachings.
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.