Groomed to Doubt through Spiritual Abuse

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“Are you sure?…”

As children we have a childlike faith. It just is. Faith that our parents are always right and acting in our best interest. Faith that we can take things at face value and learn to operate in this world based on the feedback we get from the prominent people in our lives. In my childhood, I also developed a very simple kind of faith in God. I grew up going to church every Sunday and my experiences there constructed another faulty corner of my belief system. In my last post I shared one of these experiences, and now I want to describe a recurring church experience that fueled the belief that I could not trust myself.

Every Sunday that I went to church, I took with me this simple and childlike faith in God. It was a natural, simple belief that just was. I didn’t try hard to make it happen. I sat in Sunday School and church and took in everything I was taught about what it meant to believe in and love this God and what it meant for him to love me. I believed everything they told me because as a child, I didn’t have much else to compare their teachings to and didn’t learn to question it.

In my early teenage years, a new pastor came to our church. He was charismatic at the pulpit and presented himself very humbly and earnest in person. In his sermons he went into deep detail about all the ins and outs of the Bible.  Our church esteemed him as our all-knowing leader who was very close to God. I pretty much took everything he said as golden truth.

Sunday after Sunday I listened intently to his sermons. By my teenage years, my depression was becoming more uncomfortable for me and I started hungering for comfort. Sitting in those services, I was the epitome of vulnerable… A hungering heart, a simple faith, an obedient listener. Sometimes I found comfort in the sermon. I would grasp at some words or phrase or Bible verse that assured me that I was loved and that I was accepted, that I was good enough. But this doubt about myself and my faith kept growing within me. It was a confusing, gradually consuming “merry-go-round” feeling. I would leave church feeling lighter and assured, but over the week more and more doubts would grow. I didn’t have the perspective at the time to understand why. But now I see the huge twist that was happening.

Every Sunday, at the end of almost every sermon, the pastor would challenge all of us. He would challenge us with this kind of question: “Now, you may have told God that you want to follow him. You may have prayed at various times throughout your life for his forgiveness. But, take some time now to look deep in your heart and ask yourself, are you sure? Have you really made the decision to follow God? You may think you have, but today, why don’t you be sure? Make that commitment anew. Show God, once again, that you are serious and genuine in your belief.”

It seemed like a good admonishment on the surface… It seemed like the pastor wanted us to know God and that’s why he challenged us. It seemed like a good thing when people would go to the front to pray, crying and contrite. It seemed like it was good because, well, of course it would be good to want to be sure that we were following God… Who could argue with that? But how come myself and the other people there weren’t jumping out of our pews joyful and alive every week? How come, for me, my depression grew worse and worse and I grew more and more anxious about my faith? My doubts about the genuineness of my faith grew so strong that at one point I went to talk to the pastor and asked him for help with it… I told him I was so doubtful about whether or not I really did love God. He took out a pamphlet of The Four Spiritual Laws and walked me through it. He assured me that if I had faith and believed, then I was okay. In his office he validated my faith; but from the pulpit he didn’t.

The twist worked away at my soul. It is the same twist at the heart of all kinds of abuse, the twist that teaches us to doubt ourselves through contradicting messages. There I sat in church, with my simple faith, along with hundreds of other people with their faith (why ELSE would they be at church if they didn’t have some level of desire to know God??) and Sunday after Sunday, the pastor shot arrows, challenging us to MAKE SURE that we were serious about following God. Our actions showed we were serious. But the faith that we were already demonstrating was ignored. Instead, we were admonished to be better, to believe better, to decide stronger, to commit more deeply.

The questioning started digging underneath my faith, slowly hollowing out a pit of self doubt and confusion which easily spread to every area of my life too. I was groomed to doubt all of my feelings, all of my “simple faiths” about anything else. It was one of the most powerful, churning lies at the root of my struggle with depression.

My next post, “Spiritual Abuse and Emotional Ravaging” will put a spotlight on the emotional damage that happened to me at church…


66 response to "Groomed to Doubt through Spiritual Abuse"

  1. By: Carla Dippel Posted: 30th June

    Ethereal Highway, thanks for such a heart-warming comment and I’m really glad you decided to share your voice! I came through with faith at the other end of my experience but I can sure understand how this is not everyone’s story. I am happy to hear that you are finding peace and healing. Sending you a big hug! I hope you’ll share again.

    Patricia, what you contribute here is so valuable. I have found truth in many other religions too and it all works to compliment each other and make the picture fuller. Thank you for being here and sharing your hope and honesty, your wider vision.

    ~Carla

  2. By: Patricia - Spiritual Journey Of A Lightworker Posted: 30th June

    Carla, it takes a lot of courage on your part to talk about religious abuse because it does open you up for attack from those righteous souls who think they know it all.

    What I am about to say, some would say that I am going to Hell for. For those people, I say, we will see. The Catholic church held at least two Councils of Nicea sometime in our ancient history (somewhere between 1200 and 1600 A. D. I never remember exactly what century they did this but it is history.) and totally took the Bible apart and rewrote it by leaving out huge parts of it and rewriting others to suit the needs for control of religion by the Catholic church. I believe that is why the Bible teaches us about a “punishing” God. I believe the Bible is shame based, for just that reason. Yes, they are just my beliefs. If you believe differently I am fine with that. You have the right to your beliefs as much as I do. I don’t expect everybody else to believe the same things that I do. I also don’t expect to be “preached” at because my beliefs are different than yours.

    I rarely reject or don’t publish a comment on my own blog but today I did just that. I have posted a few comments like the one above from Carrie and Adam on my blog because like Carla, I try to honor everyone’s views even if they are different than mine. The comment that I didn’t post today on my blog was an invitation to check out the man’s blog. I did. Carrie and Adam would love it. It was Bible quote after Bible quote about salvation. I have been “saved” in 2 different churches in my youth and baptized into the last one when I was in my late 20’s. My view of God goes so much further than that. I do my best to love God and my neighbor and myself to the very best of my abilities. I belief that God is in each of us and that we are each God in human form. I have some Christian beliefs, some Buddhist beliefs, some Hindu beliefs. I have a personal relationship with God. Notice I said personal, not religious. Jesus had a personal relationship with God. To me religion is man-made. Spirituality is God-made. I don’t expect anyone else to share my beliefs. I don’t even care if you share them or not. Just don’t expect me to share yours. One of the only Bible verses that I ever quote is the “Judge not lest you be judged.” Judgment is in God’s court, not mine or yours. Nobody is perfect.

    Thank you Carla and Darlene for sharing the honesty and openness that you do when you write about your journey through recovery. I don’t see any bitter people here. I do see some hurting people and some that would like us to believe that they are not hurting. Most of us who come here, come here in honesty and hope for recovery.

  3. By: Ethereal Highway Posted: 30th June

    Hi, Carla. I understand your post. I was spiritually abused as well. I am blown away by the comments here, too. Especially the contradictions of those who seem to feel such a driving need to attack your view. I feel sorry for those people. The double-bind they live in IS hell. They are in hell and they don’t even know it and are probably completely unconscious about how that manifests in their lives. It reminds me of some of the reasons I’m an atheist. That area of my life is the area in which I usually experience the most peace these days. There is no way I could even attempt to heal from all the other stuff if I were still trapped by crazy-making nonsense. Take heart, dear Carla. As you can see, many understand and accept you. I do, even though I am atheist. I’ve been reading here for a while now, but I just had to pop in and say that I think you’re a class act – a real stand-up lady. (And please tell your mother that I am up for adoption.)

  4. By: Carla Posted: 29th June

    Emily, I give you a big welcome hug! I’m so glad you left your thoughts here, and shared your very compassionate heart. It is good to know you as a friend and thanks for your encouragement. Love, Carla

  5. By: Shanyn Posted: 29th June

    We do not see the world as it is, we see the world as we are. The circumstances change our lenses enough that our own perspective cannot be fully shared by any other – sometimes we wear similar brands and can have empathy as well as sympathy. I was searching and praying for something that I could offer to us all because this discussion has not been an easy one for any of us – and this is what I have to offer, that which I rest upon without doubt or question:

    “Neither death, nor life … nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God.–Romans 8:38, 39”

    Nothing, no one in all of creation can separate us from the LOVE (yes, LOVE) of God. It’s all about love folks, and I’ve seen more love here than in many other places and I’m thankful for it! Thanks for your open hearts and spirits and your considered words that have given us all so much in this exchange.

  6. By: Vivian Palmer Harvey Posted: 29th June

    LOL, about persecution…yes indeed, many good Christians and Christian organizations take pleasure in so called “persecution.”

    Maybe you don’t, Carrie and David; but what you have said so far is bringing some heat of opposition. Why do you suppose that is?

    Certainly not because you are “suffering for the sake of the Gospel”, but because in your quest to be Right, to “speak the truth” at least your interpretation of it, you have completely ignored the fact that, people who have suffered abuses ( repeated real life sexual assault, harassment, beatings,emotional,mental,spiritual abuses)are living in a different universe than yourselves, which you really do not care to understand.

    You really do not care, apparently, to listen, to”weep with those who weep”, to consider how you could possibly lend a helping hand …instead.. you offer a Scripture club with which to further punish and intimidate.

    Not once have I heard you express Christ compassion; instead you have thrown doctrine and more doctrine, your interpretation of scripture, your theological foundational teachings..at these people.

    Have you ever considered that, while forgiveness is deeply and strongly emphasized inside church walls, that these individuals have already forgiven in whatever way they can at this time?

    Have you ever considered that each person walks their own journey, and you have no right to manage or dictate how they do that.

    My peers( survivors of missionary boarding school) and I have no issue with forgiveness..it is HOW forgiveness is used against them/us which is problematic; have you also considered that the majority Christian church uses “forgiveness” as a weapon?

    Have you ever thought that to those like the hurting and victimized individuals… who (also are made in Gods image..just like your selves)
    can only see it, forgiveness, as an FU ?Why?

    It is because with all the super spiritual demands for forgiveness, individuals in the church who are concerned about “saving Gods reputation” and their own…have no interest what so ever to change the abusive things, situations or even consider the impact of their own actions.

    Those which dump heavy loads of burden, condemnation, minimizing the wounded child or adult; counter attacking these who are trying real hard to tell you that something is terribly WRONG with the Christian church.

    Whose reputation are you trying to save? If you had an ounce of Christ compassion, you would sit down and be quiet long enough to consider that these people have suffered long enough.

    So, instead of crying “wolf!” Why don’t you do some thoughtful evaluation of what you really believe, and what these little/big ones have endured, and how you can help with a real-life hands on approach.. and stop your ridiculous claims to suffering for Christ..

    I have heard and seen a great deal of narcissism and grandiosity in dealing with Christian organizations and Christian leadership, yes, individuals who can not see past their own toes or their nose.

    I keep wondering when Christians will get off their ivory pedestals and begin to ACT like hands and feet and arms of Jesus Christ.

    Take some responsibility for your own acts; quit blaming these wounded ones; act like you care; sit down, be quiet and just listen…

  7. By: Emily Posted: 29th June

    Carla,

    I’ve been following your blog since the begining and have always found your insights encouraging to my soul. I have never felt prompted to comment before now but I as I sit here reading this long list of interactions I’m crying at all the pain that has been expressed (intentionally or not since anger and defensiveness often come from a root of pain). I have never – on this blog or in our private conversations – heard you blame God for your hurt or say that you have given up on Him. My heart hurts for you when I read some of the attacks that have been written here and yet you also have so much support. Your journey speaks of hope and life and I encourage you to keep writing and sharing despite the downsides of opening yourself up so publicly.

    Emily

  8. By: Carla Dippel Posted: 28th June

    I am blown away by the response to this post and the interaction that you have all participated in here. There are so many nuggets of truth in what you have all shared, and I sincerely thank each one of you for participating. It is a very hopeful reality that even though some people, all throughout history and in so many different ways, have taken the truth and twisted it for their own ends, other people can see the twists, declare the real truth afresh, and light the lights on a path of healing.

    Manuel, your perspective is refreshing. Nothing on earth will give us 100% truth, and I like your relational idea, that even our relationship with religion can be an exchange rather than a one way street. George, welcome here! Thank you for the recommendations and encouragement. Cal, that is such a wounding lie, that we are not okay “unless”… Thanks for championing “being a Person”.

    Justice Writer, thanks for highlighting that Jesus never dealt with people by “throwing stones” at them. He always engaged in relationship. Moreheads/pith, welcome to you as well. You’ve summarized the heart of what so many have shared about their “religious” pain- how the spiritual abuse caused us to question the worth of our very souls. Splinteredones, I agree that it comes down to the individual choosing the truth that will help them live their best life here. For me, this means starting with loving myself.

    Susan, thanks! Nikki, I like the picture of church being a place where we share “food” with each other. I think that has happened here today! Jeannette, thank you for sharing your anger here. I love what you say about God being angry at the system of lies that has evolved… And I believe along with you that he has the compassion and patience to see us through, and that that is enough. Those are beautiful words.

    Mel, thank you for “surfacing”! I’m glad that you did. I’m sorry to hear your story, and thank you for speaking out about it. Lenora, thanks for touching on so many good points. The healing process will definitely be unique for each of us. Marjie, I really like those quotes! I’m glad you brought your comments over to the blog too! ?

    Ligeia, I really appreciate your comment. Thanks for the constructive challenge to “hunt for, stalk, and find, then understand and apply” the truth. You describe the journey as more of an adventure than a robotic contortion… and that’s a huge dose of freedom.

    Carrie and Adam, I was really sad to hear of the pain and abuse in your own pasts. You don’t have to strive to convert anyone here~ we’re on the path already! I sincerely do wish you healing.

    Love, Carla

  9. By: Ligeia Posted: 28th June

    Over the years I have gone through a lot of consideration on the subject of the Christian Faith, which may also be applicable to other faiths. And so here are my thoughts, I hope they help.

    Religion is not the answer to all the ills in the world or self. Religion is an opportunity to find fellowship, or solace as one faces their life and the meaning of it and to perhaps find others of like minds so that as a community one can create a better reality in the world, and find comfort when facing the trials.

    And God (by many names all over the planet)and perhaps the creator of the Universe as indicated by ‘divinely inspired’ religious text, still puts to each of us that we have CHOICE in all things. We want the answers to be easy, the effort to come from some where else, for everything to be okay all the time. But it’s not, the answers have to be hunted for, stalked, and found, then understood and applied. The effort has to be motivated from within, sustained by commitment and in the end determined if it was worthwhile. And everything is not always going to be okay…because as long as every man/woman/child has choice, the probability of ego and personality making more impact than spirit, is always going to outweigh right action, speech, or otherwise.

    This was a really good post…it’s important to address the issue of what struggle the spirit goes through. We send or allow far too many conflicting messages…we need to think for ourselves and find our truth.

  10. By: Marjie Knudsen Posted: 28th June

    I posted a similar comment on the facebook site earlier and feel it would be good to re-post here.
    Carla’s post is very honest and heartfelt.
    A couple of quotes come to mind from the Dalai Lama regarding religion…

    “All major religious traditions carry basically the same message, that is love, compassion and forgiveness, the important thing is they should be part of our daily lives.”

    Another good quote from the Dalai Lama:
    “If you have a particular faith or religion, that is good. But you can survive without it.”
    It’s not about church or religion at all… it’s about helping one another with love and kindness – no matter what the religion or beliefs of others.

    Thank you Carla for being brave enough to write this post. Much love to both you and Darlene for helping so many people on the road to wholeness.

  11. By: Lenora Posted: 28th June

    Spiritual abuse is often passed from generation to generation in much the same way as violence and other forms of abuse. (They can, of course, go hand-in-hand.) Sadly, it is not uncommon for an abuser to genuinely believe (incorrectly) that he or she is acting in the best interests of the person (s)he is abusing–especially if the abuser’s belief system was itself formed in an abusive environment where doubt is considered unacceptable and fear is used as a means of control. It is a self-perpetuating cycle, and there are, in my opinion, clear examples playing out in the comments above, in addition to those referenced from people’s past experiences.

    To those reading who are not Christians (or are not sure if you are or not), I hope you will not give up on this blog or feel excluded, in spite of any insensitivity or lack of awareness you may observe in some comments. We welcome–and very much need–your input. Splinteredones, I especially appreciate what you shared and respect that you have found your own path. Ultimately, that is what each of us must do. I am a Christian, but I have also learned much from the teachings of Buddhism and from other wisdom literature. (e.g. mindfulness meditation, as I understand it, is very similar to the ancient Christian practice of centering prayer and has helped me tremendously; Lovingkindness is another concept which *should* be recognizable to people of all faiths.)

    To those who have distanced yourselves from the Christian faith in large part because of the pervasiveness of ignorant and even abusive attitudes and behaviors, I can well understand why you would make such a choice. Please know that not all Christians feel or behave this way, but we have a lot of work to do in this department. There are loving, welcoming Christians and Christian communities (churches) who embrace uncertainty (Sometimes we call it “mystery.”) and encourage questions and thoughtful exploration, rather than condemning it. I’m attending an annual Worship & Music retreat this week in the mountains of North Carolina which has been a tremendous infusion of oxygen in my own faith journey ever since I began attending it 10 years ago. But if your only exposure to “Christianity” has been something far more toxic, you may need to do a little research to find a healthier community or resources. (I will also point out that, sadly, spiritual abuse is not limited to within the Christian faith.)

    If you are a Christian and you find yourself telling others how to think and live, I respectfully suggest that it might be a good time to review Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount as reported in Matthew’s Gospel (particularly Matthew 7:1-5 in which we are reminded to remove whatever is in our own eye before attempting to remove a speck from someone else’s). There are many other relevant scriptures from the Bible, such as the admonishment to be quick to listen and slow to speak (James 1:19), but I believe that although scripture can be instructive, it should not be used as a weapon, so I have no interest in a pointless round of “proof-texting.” As others have mentioned, many Christians are unaware of (or in denial about) church history and the all too human political and other factors in how scripture and doctrine have been passed down and taught through the years. This kind of history has real consequences in our theology–our understanding of God–today, and I believe we each have a responsibility to educate ourselves and to shine a light on that darkness.

    Carla and Darlene have both written eloquently about how important it was for them to question their own belief systems on their road to healing and wholeness. This process of examining, questioning, and– where appropriate–*revising* is not only okay–it is *essential* to health and (I would argue) to faith.

  12. By: mel Posted: 28th June

    Hi Carla
    Just thought I’d surface and show some support for your touching message about spiritual abuse.
    As a young teen, before my grandparents took over raising me, my mother used religion and spiritual abuse to separate and isolate our family. Her boyfriend threatened to leave her if my brother and I didnt convert to his religion. Needless to say, I didnt feel comfortable with this threat trusting God would never expect a mother to abandon her children for someone making such demands.As my mother stood by his side, her boyfriend used to preach how unruly and disrespectful children we were. Holding his bible he read telling us parents have the right to murder their disobedient children. Spiritual abuse is and can be used on so many different levels.
    I know this is such a sensitive topic but feel it is crucial to speak out about it.
    Thanks Carla!!

  13. By: Shanyn Posted: 28th June

    Well said Nikki…Love the last line so very much…blessings!

  14. By: Jeanette Posted: 28th June

    Gosh, all I can say is how much respect I have for Carla and Darlene, how angry I am at this moment at seeing them attacked, how angry I am at this moment for all the suffering many of us have endured because of religious systems that lacked everything they taught, which would be love, compassion and even justice. There were and are so many children who have been used and abused, wounded severely in these systems, not only in body and spirit, but in their psyche, in their minds, where things get so so so twisted and their lives are stolen from them. My life was stolen from me. And I am angry about this. I am ANGRY ABOUT THIS! My faith has been crushed into the ground.

    The good news is that God knows this. He knows what has happened to each of us. And he is just as angry. Not at us, but at the system of lies that did this to us. And he has all the compassion and all the patience in eternity to see us through. This is about all I can recover from my faith, but I think it’s enough for now. To just know this. It’s enough.

    Hugs,
    Jeanette

  15. By: Nikki Posted: 28th June

    I will say this much Jesus didn’t come to die on the cross for just “Christians” matter of fact before then there was no such thing as “Christianity” instead read John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that He sent His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish but have every lasting life”

    Jesus didn’t die for a denomination he didn’t die for that church or this church He died so that all could be reunited to God through Him by us accepting the free gift of salvation from GOD by grace thru faith.. not of our own works less we should boast.. God has given us all that free will to choose it is not our place to shove it down anyone’s throat!

    Carla shared her heart, she spoke the truth of how it was for her. How dare anyone tell her she is wrong.. how dare anyone tell another person that. That is not our place! Further more when we stand before God we are not going to be accountable for anyone else but ourselves therefore it is not our place to stand in judgment over someone else .. there is a difference between righteous judgment and wrong judgment. Righteous judgment judges the sin not the person and the wrong judgment is when we judge the person.. Jesus tells us in Matthew 7:1-5 about wrong judgment

    Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.

    with that said there are good churches out there but I know that I would not have seen the truth as long as I stayed up under man’s doctrine.. do some research on the doctrines that accompanies these denomination.. research the founders you will see they are man’s interpretation of scripture … our Walk with Christ is not Him the preacher the denomination we attend and the individual .. it is only with Christ and the individual… true enough we are to have fellowship with one another but Jesus is the author and finisher of our faith no one else..

    Church is suppose to be a triage for the sinners a place were the wounded and the hurt go to seek compassion, hope, and peace not a country club for self-made saints. I am not saying that to be judgmental but to make a point. Going to church is not the same as the bride of Christ.. the bride of Christ is the body of believers ..

    Carla you allow God to lead you on all these matters keep writing. Don’t let anyone cause you to veer from the road of recovery because truth is many of these denominations do lead folks into bondage ..

    Organize religion has never produced saving faith only in Christ can we find that.. church is suppose to be a place of worship and fellowship but in this fallen world we live in often that is not the case!

    Now please don’t think I am writing this out of anger or that I am being rude but that the central point I am trying to make is this:

    Christianity is not for the arrogant nor the proud but it is for the beggar who knows how to share a morsel of bread with another beggar. We are to be loving not judgmental..

  16. By: Susan Posted: 28th June

    Carla; I love the way you are able to identify the various types of abuse and speak out about it. Great message….AGAIN! Thank you for sharing!

  17. By: splinteredones Posted: 28th June

    Wow! I go off to meditate on compassion, primarily for many commenters here, and this place explodes! So I’ve decided to kick in my two cents (probably more like 30-35) because it seems the discussion needs some perspective from a completely outside source.

    My father was abused spiritually by the christian church and vowed that he would not put his daughters thru that mess. He is originally from backwoods northern Maine. He took me to his old Church when I was a teenager. It was a snakecharmer, holy roller church. I know that this will seem outlandish to many readers here, but many of y’all do not sound far from the dogma pony show that dad saved me from.

    There are some basic facts about Judeo-Christian faith that I see, coming from the outside, that are rather nonsensical. For those of you spouting versus from the Bible I must ask — which one? You have so many. So much harm and suffering is committed by folks who hang onto a sentence or two to justify so much ill doing and thinking. Let us not forget that in the Canonical Courts of the 1400s the text of the “Bible” was picked thru three times. Surely to hang onto any short verses as “God’s Word” is short-sighted to say the least. Who knows what the (inevitably) Big Guy really had to say?

    As far as Christ goes, here again who knows what has been included/excluded in various texts thru the Ages. Some writers were around his time, others hundreds of years after his death. There is frankly so much confusion as to what the guy really said/did I would think that anyone pursuing the truth would only be confused by picking and choosing.

    I personally do not believe in a Universal God Figure. I believe that by following the basic tenets of Compassion, gratitude and correct speech, along with other instructions for my chosen Path, that I am enabled to do more good than bad for the planet and all of it’s sentient inhabitants. My goal is to become Enlightened, but not so that I can escape the cycle of life death and rebirth, but so that I can walk the Earth helping all. Basically this means I am giving up my own personal salvation from Suffering for the good of all others. It’s called Boddhitsatva.

    Life is suffering. That’s all there is to it. Our job is to be as good in thought word and deed as we can be, good defined as Compassionate. In my faith my experience is up to me. Thru study and for me at this time mostly my own personal mindfullness meditation I can leave the Earth a better place. To be reborn 47 days later to make it still better.

    Since I am talking with what looks to be a largely Judeo-Christian crowd I know it will be easy for you to throw your books at me and largely dismiss these words.

    It’s not about what some guy said to or about another guy in the relatively short term of your religious base. It is about treating one another with love compassion and gratitude. Try taking responsibility for your interactions in this world. Your faith has done so much harm and violence thru it’s own marketing.

    Be gentle. Be kind. Be compassionate. Be honest. Be thoughtful. The rest will figure itself out. Namaste, Peace Out.

  18. By: Moreheads/pith Posted: 28th June

    Spiritual abuse is a form of butchery, it targets the being, the soul, the emotional balance of a person. When done to children it is particularly hanious as they have little recourse but to belief and later question every choice they make including their belief in god. All religions can be found wanting; have had those who’ve used it’s message to gain power over others. This kind of abuse is akin to soul murder which can take a great deal of effort over come. Many of us have suffered this abuse and we each have different ways back. Making a judgment by religious standards does not help anyone over come and thrive.

    If anyone is interested here is a very good book on the subject. “Soul Murder: The Effects of Childhood Abuse and Deprivation” Leonard Shengold

  19. By: Justice Writer Posted: 28th June

    When I first read Carla’ post, it brought me right back to the whole concept of ‘pleasing God’ vs ‘trusting God’. For one who already suffers with the aftereffects of child abuse, further revictimization comes easily. Now, I am speaking for myself, so bear with me. In learning what trusting Jesus Christ really means, church leaders have a responsibility to ensure they are not causing the sheep to turn away from the Shepherd. Did Jesus ever yell condemning accusations at His followers? What did He do to Peter? Yes, the word is also intended to correct us, but not to be hurled at the sheep. At times, my pastor will teach on a topic that convicts my heart. Great! This is an area I obviously will take to the Lord, pray about, and meditate on God’s word. We are to work out our salvation with fear and trembling. There were several comments early on which pointed out the importance of trusting God above man…any man.

    When someone is hurt by a pastor or other spiritual mentor, it can be devastating. In my own experience with spiritual abuse, the Lord reminded me not to put any man on a pedestal and that truth will be received through the working of the Holy Spirit and God’s word. If I were told I hurt someone in this way, it would break my heart. In love and humility, I would contact that person privately. My prayer is for Carrie and Adam to look at this from a different perspective rather than taking such a defensive stance. Carla’s testimony to what took place in her heart and soul should in no way be questioned. It is valid.

    Humility is true greatness..

  20. By: CAL Posted: 28th June

    Hi;

    Coming from an environment of all forms of abuse, including spiritual, I understand why many people are leaving comments. What I was taught to believe was that there was this punishing God, and there was a Satan.
    God only cared about me or would only love me if I was ”good” I spent years living a facade of pleasing,approval seeking and self hate.
    Church was regular on Sundays, as was sunday school. Wednesdays were for Bible study. I was repeatedly told that I was full of the Devil and that God was going to punish me for being bad.[If you laughed, cried, or made any noise that upset the parent then God was going to get me.
    Subsequently ,I experienced my own ”EXCORCISM” as you see I was possessed. Fortunately I was in a Spiritual program for substance abuse or I may have been committed to a Hospital for a long period of time.I am not here to say wether there is or isnt a God but I do know for a fact that what ever ”A PERSON” believes to be true,it will be true to them and them only.I also believe that I need to question everything written or told to me including the Bible,and I or any preacher has no right to tell others how they ought to live or to believe, especially an innocent vulnerable child. People who ”preach” are known to be Shame bound and love to project their crap onto others in a righteous way. Amen

  21. By: Manuel Jones Posted: 28th June

    God bless you Darlene and staff for all the good that you do. The world has so many hurting people. Maybe a few will find some answers(help) here. A few more answers(help) will be found at Church. A few more at the grocery store talking to someone who has a loving smile. God is not limited to how he can speak to us. Since God is love and love heals all wounds, let’s first seek the lover of our souls. I’m sure he’ll guide us to a place of healing then in time a place of sharing that which we have received (from Him).

  22. By: George Posted: 28th June

    To Carla,

    You my friend are dead on with your post.

    I had a five page letter prepared to help Carrie and Adam with the correct way they should be reading and using the scriptures. As I was preparing it and rereading their post I realized even tho they may have no clue they are missusing scripture, taking it out of context to fit what they want it to say. Sadly what alot of abusive churches and leaders do. I knew what I had to say would not register in there heads and would only be considered an attack on my part. It is sad to see they are addicted to religion. I then decided I would not take part in the abuse they so freely had no problem dealing to you.

    I say to you Carla keep writing, your blog was refreshing to read. For anyone out there that wishes to learn of what an abusive church and people are like. I strongly suggest two books by the same author. The first being “Toxic Faith” the second being,”More Jesus, Less Religion” by Stephen Arterburn.

    Taken from the back cover of Toxic Faith.

    “Most of us began our journey into faith with trusting hearts. Yet incidents of abuse, media accounts of perverted religion, personal dissappointments, loss, betrayal, and even unrealistic expectations of God can cause us to develop a warped or damaged view of faith. Too often, what began as an authentic relationship with God deteriorates into defective faith with an imcomplete or poisoned view of God – one that allows the relgion, not the relationship with God to contol our life.”

    Be well, and keep stepping forward
    George

  23. By: Karol Posted: 28th June

    Hi,

    I’ve been reading all the comments on this blog post and I’m confused.

    Why is everybody ganging up the commenter Carrie G?

    What has she done wrong?

    Is ganging up on one commenter a “encouraging, uplifting and empowering” thing to do?

    – Karol

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 28th June

      Karol,
      The comments are about Carla’s post. Everyone is expressing an opinion ~ which is the point of a blog and not “everyone” has said anything to Carrie. I would hardly say that Carrie has been ganged up on, nor has anyone indicated that she did something “wrong”. I published her comments on this blog and we have the right to respond to her comments on this blog. Are you suggesting that everyone should agree with her, and because some have not agreed with her, she is being ganged up on? Carrie did not agree with Carla in the first place, and she started to judge Carla, and others reacted to that. Some would say that Carla is being “bullied”, but you think it is Carrie that is being “bullied”. interesting. Having said that, maybe you could add a little clarity to your accusation?
      Darlene

  24. By: Vivian Palmer Harvey Posted: 28th June

    Yes, the juxtaposition for me was and is:
    God loves you! By golly you’d better do everything he says or you are an imp of satan..a demon helper.
    So..God loves the whole world, but leave out one jot or mark of command, and you are going to suffer an eternity in hell.
    The commands in the scripture, can be summed up in two commmands:
    *love God with your whole heart, soul and mind
    *love your neighbor as you love yourself

    I see a common point in evangelical settings:

    Doctrines are held up as Gods final word.
    Never mind the fact that with all the translations of scripture in the world, with all the time past, language changes, loss of original meanings and redefinition, plus the fact we have never heard the intonations, seen the body language and understood the ancient Hebrew culture of Jesus or the Abrahamic era. We have a Roman/Greek foundation for our culture which flies in the face of Semetic thought.

    The Might Makes Right world view overrides our interpretation of scripture.
    Looking at interesting sources like Dr. Philip Greven’s book, Spare the Child, helps us see what our social history is, and how it affects our doctrines and interpretations.
    Greven is social historian.He addresses issues of abuse within the Christian world.

  25. By: Carla Dippel Posted: 28th June

    Carrie and Adam,
    I am alive and well and finding my freedom~ I have never had a stronger faith or been more at peace about it. It blows me away that you think you know how God will judge me (as you hinted at in your last comment). What I also don’t understand is how you can be so sure about your truth, even your understanding of the Bible verses you have quoted, if you believe you cannot trust your own hearts and minds?… To me, that is the most difficult thing in what you say. You contradict yourselves. Living so disconnectedly was at the very root of my depression and anxiety.

    Christina, I love that verse and your freedom-filled comments… Thank you so much for sharing it. I held on so tightly to what other preachers and leaders told me because I didn’t trust myself to make my own decisions- they didn’t teach me to trust myself because, just like you said, they wanted me to give them my power so they could feel more powerful. I am re-connecting with myself again so I can be congruent and walk with my own two feet. Hugs to you.

    Vivian, I agree those “shoulds” are hell to the soul. Like so many people have shared here, living under those rules is devastating. I hope there is some good light shed here that will help people a bit further on their path of healing. Thanks as always Vivian.

    Annette, I echo Darlene’s response too- this is not a “Christian” blog and people of any faith are welcome here. I have seen the same thing as you have- all kinds of people are in religious places and outside of religious places. I think that is a hard thing for a lot of people to reconcile, and with good reason! Thanks for sharing.

    Shanyn, “church burn” is a great way to put it… It is scary for people to talk about spiritual abuse or share their true feelings because they might even fear that they’re putting God down, or they fear the wrath of the leaders who will try to shut them up (I know that feeling), not to mention rejection from friends and family. Just like you have said, spiritual abuse generates the same kind of fear as all other kinds. Thank you for sharing your compassion and your heart here Shanyn.

    Splinteredones, thank you for sharing this important comment! I believe there is truth to be found everywhere, and I’m glad that Darlene’s comment assured you that you are welcome here with whatever kind of faith you have. I appreciate your encouragement and your brave honesty as well- thanks for contributing your valuable perspective.

    Sheila, it is so good to see you here!! I really appreciate your comment. Condemnation is a very suffocating, confining thing in itself. I have found that in my judgments of other people, I naturally judge myself because it’s impossible to measure up to the standard of perfection, just like you say. It’s like a boomerang. There is so much more to life. Thanks Sheila. Hugs to you!

    ~Carla

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