Can A Good Church Become A Cult?

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.

Continue reading “Can A Good Church Become A Cult?”

The Things I Allowed.

No matter how badly other people behave, you have to heal by looking at yourself and how YOU are handling their actions.

One of the first questions my therapist asked me was not about my religion but about me.  She was getting me to focus on MYSELF. I had to stop talking about everything wrong in my life.  I am usually very intense about everything, and when I would come, I would talk about all of the weird things that were going on at church and in my life.  Then it finally hit me. I realize that the things that I was complaining about in life were the result of the things I allowed.

No matter how badly other people behave, you have to heal by looking at yourself and how YOU are handling their actions.

Continue reading “The Things I Allowed.”

Story #4 Continued – Live Interview-Story of Recovery from a Church of God childhood-Part 2

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.

UPSTAIRS DOWNSTAIRS CHURCH STRUCTURE

downloadI began to wonder as I looked around my church if I was in an episode of  Upstairs/Downstairs?  Is there a servant class and an upper class.  There are the ministers and then the lowly people who can only speak a certain way to the leaders etc.  We went one day when our pastor was sick to visit and one person exclaimed  in wonder and awe of his position, “how do I encourage my pastor”.    I bristled at this ( not visibly) but I thought “the same way you would anyone else who was sick”.  Somehow we’ve got it twisted that a Pastor is someone other just a man or woman who are kept by God like we are by the same Spirit.images

A reader of this blog reminded me of another essential reason abusiveness happens in our American churches, and that is an incorrect church structure. The church is supposed to be comprised of many members who make up the body of Christ. I Corinthians 12 gives us a picture of God’s church and the balance that’s supposed to happen in the body. This is the opposite of pastoral authoritarianism.  I think incorrect church structure is a breeding ground for corrupt leadership. Whenever we fail to follow scripture in any area, we’ll suffer some negative consequences. If the Pastor constitutes all the decisions and all of the leadership, then that is not the scriptural definition of the body of Christ. Continue reading “UPSTAIRS DOWNSTAIRS CHURCH STRUCTURE”

What is Religious Abuse?

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?”