Deciding to write about this topic was one I thought would interest survivors of abuse. Many survivors are currently dealing with evil in their lives – whether it be evil perpetrated against them to silence them or, just plain evil people – either way, evil will leave a person afraid, hurting, confused and a whole host of other emotions. Surrounded by evil behaviors from good people and evil behaviors and words from evil people, we must understand how dangerous the evil are and how they affect us. This information is so much more involved than just the little I share with readers here. I recommend everyone purchase and read a copy of M. Scott Peck’s, People of the Lie. He covers this topic so well and identifies so much of what we deal with as survivors from the people in the religious cults we came out of. It is a must read for every survivor. I am sure when he wrote this book, he never dreamed it would be applicable to the church and its followers! Sadly, it is. Knowing how to identify and avoid evil and those who are evil will save us so much trauma. All this said, let me take up where I left off in the first part of this topic and discuss the next characteristics of “the evil” that will help us to identify who they are.
Another characteristic of the evil is Narcissism, or self-absorption. According to Dr. Peck, some forms of it are normal in childhood, but not in adulthood. Some are more distinctly pathological than others. He talks about a particular pathologic variant called “malignant narcissism,” a term given by Erich Fromm.
“Malignant narcissism is characterized by an unsubmitted will. All adults who are mentally healthy submit themselves one way or another to something higher than themselves, be it God or truth or love or some other ideal. They do what God wants them to do rather than what they would desire. “Thy will, not mine, be done,” the God-submitted person says. They believe in what is true rather than what they would like to be true. . . what their beloved needs becomes more important to them than their own gratification. In summary, to a greater or lesser degree, all mentally healthy individuals submit themselves to the demands of their own conscience. Not so the evil, however. In the conflict between their guilt and their will, it is the guilt that must go and the will that must win.”—M. Scott Peck, M.D.
He goes on to say the evil are extraordinary in their willfulness. They have a strong will and are determined to have their own way. There is remarkable power in the manner in which they attempt to control others (Peck).
This said, a strong will does not determine that a person is evil.
“It is a characteristic of all “great” people that they are extremely strong-willed—whether their greatness be for good or for evil. The strong will—the power and authority—of Jesus radiates from the Gospels, just as Hitler’s did from Mein Kempf. But Jesus’ will was that of his Father, and Hitler’s that of his own. The crucial distinction is between “willingness and willfulness.”
This willful failure to submission that characterizes malignant narcissism is depicted in both the stories of Satan and of Cain and Abel. Satan refused to submit to God’s judgment that Christ was superior to him. For Christ to be preferred meant that Satan was not. Satan was less than Christ in God’s eyes. For Satan to have accepted God’s judgment, he would have had to accept his own imperfection. This he could not or would not do. It was unthinkable that he was imperfect. Consequently submission was impossible and both the rebellion and fall inevitable. So also God’s acceptance of Abel’s sacrifice implied a criticism of Cain: Cain was less than Abel in God’s eyes. Since he refused to acknowledge his imperfection, it was inevitable that Cain, like Satan, should take the law into his own hands and commit murder. In some similar, although usually more subtle fashion, all who are evil also take the law into their own hands, to destroy life or liveliness in defense of their narcissistic self-image.”—M. Scott Peck, M.D.
What is the cause of this malignant narcissism, this arrogant self-image of perfection? How come it doesn’t afflict everyone? No one knows why. They have not even succeeded in distinguishing between all the different types of self-absorbtion yet. At the time Dr. Peck wrote his book, People of the Lie, there was no definitive answer. Some people can be grossly narcissistic and other not at all.
Another characteristic of the evil is that they are masters of disguise. As mentioned in the first part of this article, because the evil are masters of deception and disguise, it is almost impossible to pinpoint the maliciousness of the evil. Their disguise is impenetrable (Peck). The evil hate the truth that exposes their flaws, their crimes, their manipulations, their deceptions. No cost is too high to pay in order to maintain the disguise of righteousness and respectability. Everyone becomes expendable in order to maintain the façade.
And the last characteristic of the evil that I will cover is this: The evil always hide their motives with lies. The lies are not necessarily blatant or gross lies. “Naturally, since it is designed to hide its opposite, the pretense chosen by the evil is most commonly the pretense of love (M. Scott Peck, M.D.). “Because we are good, loving parents, we are deeply concerned about Timothy.” “Because I am her pastor and I love Susie, I am only looking out for her best interests.” “Because we are your parents and we love you, we are doing this to you.” And yet, not everyone is operating under this disguise. So, then, according to Dr. Peck, it must be a matter of degree and it is difficult to know where to draw the line between those that are “falling” into evil and the “fallen.”
First there is a matter of the degree to which they are willing to sacrifice their victim for the preservation of their narcissisitic self-image (Peck). There seems to be no length to which they won’t go. It will not bother them at all to label their victim and use him as a scapegoat. Then there is also the degree — the depth and distortion — of their lying (Peck). The lies are so many that it is a web of deceit so vast that it is nauseating and overwhelming to those affected by it.
Evil is contagious. It affects those surrounded by it in harmful and destructive ways. It leads to many abuses and crimes. So, it is imperative we are able to identify those that are perpetrating evil AND those who have “crossed the line” and are Evil. Let’s review what we’ve covered thus far:
Evil begins when one denies his lies and abusive actions.
The consistency of the sins is what separates evil and good. The destruction is consistent.
Those who have “crossed the line” are characterized by their absolute refusal to tolerate the sense of their own sinfulness.
Another predominant characteristic of the behavior of evil people is scapegoating. Because in their hearts they consider themselves above reproach, the evil must lash out at anyone who does reproach them. They sacrifice others to preserve their self-image of perfection.
The most typical victim of evil is a child because parents wield absolute power over them. I will add to this that religious leaders can also wield this same power over children.
The evil love raw power in order to control and manipulate others.
The evil project their own evil onto the world. They never think of themselves as evil: on the other hand, they consequently see much evil in others.
Evil, then, is most often committed in order to scapegoat, and the people labeled as such are chronic scapegoaters and blamers. They are consistently placing blame on others for their inadequacies, short falls and wrong doing.
The evil are completely dedicated to preserving their self-image. They are continually engaged in an effort to maintain the appearance of moral purity and righteousness.
The evil are masters of deception and disguise, it is almost impossible to pinpoint the maliciousness of the evil. Their disguise is impenetrable.
Another characteristic of the evil is Narcissism, or self-absorption.
The evil hate the truth that exposes their flaws, their crimes, their manipulations, their deceptions. No cost is too high to pay in order to maintain the disguise of righteousness and respectability.
The evil always hide their motives with lies. The lies are not necessarily blatant or gross lies. “Naturally, since it is designed to hide its opposite, the pretense chosen by the evil is most commonly the pretense of love (M. Scott Peck, M.D.).
In conclusion, because of the church’s attempts to defend the evil they hide underneath their façade of righteousness, I have endeavored to help readers understand how to identify the evil no matter where one may be. For the last several years, survivors of religious abuses have been doing their best to tell the world the evil they have endured at the hands of those they should have been able to trust. The evil are in the church and outside of the church, they are family members, they are neighbors, co-works, employers, politicians – everyday people.
Identifying the evil that surround us will enable us to avoid the contamination to the best of our ability. It will allow us an OPPORTUNITY to avoid it, if at all possible, and not be blind-sided by it. Usually, evil is so subtle that by the time we do realize what is happening, it is too late and the harm has been done. Since there is so much evil lurking underneath the mantle of righteousness that many people wear, we must be all the more wiser and our radar needs to be on the highest possible alert level in order to avoid becoming victimized by it, or worse, fall into it. It’s that serious. Identifying evil and “the evil” can mean the difference between happiness or destruction, life or death. What I have come to realize is there is evil in the church system. The Evil have also made their home there. Yet, there are good people in the church system and they too have made their home there. It behooves us to know who our enemies are and avoid them. We also must be aware that because the evil and the good operate alongside each other, good people can be contaminated and influenced by the evil to do evil things to other good people. Those contaminated by evil can recover and be recovered. They are not lost to it. Only those that have “crossed the line” and ARE evil cannot be recovered. This said, one thing rings true where evil is concerned – its primary agenda is to protect self-image. Any organization where you see a complete focus on preserving a righteous and respectable facade; where the focus is to hide all the dirty laundry and corruption – you will find evil lurking. Be Aware.
**M. Scott Peck, M.D., is the author of, The People of the Lie, and The Road Less Traveled.
One of the problems religious abuse survivors have voiced over and over again is that the “Church” is full of pedophiles, rapists, misogynists, narcissists and physical and emotional abusers. Repeatedly the roar of the voices of the multitude of the victims of these crimes against humanity, drown out the church’s attempts to defend the evil they hide underneath their façade of righteousness. It’s very hard for those who have been victims of evil to understand they are indeed “victims not just of abuse, but of the Evil.” However, once we have a diagnoses and a name to what has been projected onto us, we can then take the necessary steps to escape the evil.
Let me say the Evil are not those who fill jail cells across the world; howbeit, there are evil people in prison. Evil people surround us. They are professionals, politicians, business owners, parents, employers, religious leaders, friends and neighbors. How can this be? All these people have the ability to gain dominion over us. While some of them may have perpetrated crimes of murder, rape, incest and physical abuses, still others may not be designated as “criminals” because their “crimes” are more subtle. They are criminals in that they commit “crimes” against life and liveliness. They attack the soul by destroying growth, self-worth, self-esteem, autonomy and individuality. They are not always direct with their evil. Their “crimes” are so subtle and covert they cannot clearly be designated as crimes. Those who stay in the presence of evil people will be contaminated and destroyed. The Evil are dangerous. The best thing one can do when faced with evil is to run the other way; get away from it as quickly as you can. But in order to IDENTIFY those who are evil, we need some way of being able to do so.
First, we must put a distinction between evil and ordinary sin. “It is not their sins per se that characterize evil people, rather it is the subtlety and persistence and consistency of their sins. This is because the central defect of the evil is not the sin but the REFUSAL to acknowledge it (M. Scott Peck, M.D.). According to Dr. Peck, there is a kind of randomness to their destructiveness. Evil people deny responsibility for their evil deeds. However, evil deeds do not an evil person make. Otherwise, we should all be evil, because we all do evil things.
Sinning is defined as “missing the mark.” This means we sin every time we fall short of perfection. Because we can’t be perfect, we are all sinners. We will “routinely fail to do the very best of which we are capable, and with each failure we commit a crime of sorts – against God, our neighbors, or ourselves, if not frankly against the law (M. Scott Peck, M.D.). Everyone sins.
Evil, on the other hand, is different. Evil begins when we deny our lies and abusive actions. The consistency of the sins is what separates evil and sin. While usually subtle, the DESTRUCTIVENESS of evil people is remarkably consistent. This is because those who have “crossed the line” are characterized by their ABSOLUTE refusal to tolerate the sense of their own sinfulness. This is why they deny, deny and deny they have done any wrong or harm to others. Instead they place blame.
The poor in spirit do not commit evil. Evil is not committed by people who feel uncertain about their righteousness, who question their own motives, who worry about betraying themselves. The evil in this world is committed by the spiritual fat cats, by the Pharisees of our own day, the self-righteous who think they are without sin because they are unwilling to suffer the discomfort of significant self-examination. . . And it is out of their failure to put themselves on trial that their evil arises. – M. Scott Peck, M.D.
“Another predominant characteristic of the behavior of evil people is scapegoating. Because in their hearts they consider themselves above reproach, the evil must lash out at anyone who does reproach them. They sacrifice others to preserve their self-image of perfection (M. Scott Peck, M.D.).” Not only this, but evil people will use their influence to rally others to their cause of protecting their self-image. We see this consistently throughout the country across all denominations where sexual crimes and abuse are exposed against church leaders. As a result, countless “good” people perpetrate evil on other “good” people even though they have not crossed the line to becoming evil. Or have they? When we see consistency in evil actions being perpetrated, then we can say they have “crossed the line.” Many have crossed the line.
Take a simple example of a six-year old boy who asks his father, “Daddy, why did you call Grandmommy a bitch?” “I told you to stop bothering me,” the father roars. “Now you’re going to get it. I’m going to teach you not to use such filthy language. I’m going to wash your mouth out with soap. Maybe that will teach to clean up what you say and keep your mouth shut when you’re told.” Dragging the boy upstairs to the soap dish, the father inflicts this punishment on him. In the name of “proper discipline” evil has been committed. – M. Scott Peck, M.D.
This example is very common in religious circles. Many religious leaders teach that washing a child’s mouth out with soap is perfectly permissible in order to teach the child not to say certain words or, voice their displeasure, or for questioning authority, rules and doctrine. Without even realizing it, good people are taught to do evil things to the vulnerable who have no voice in anything that happens to them. Not only this, the evil teach good people how to become evil and, even believe the evil they perpetrate, is right. In the Independent Fundamental Baptist cult I came out of, we were taught to “break the child’s will.” We were instructed to spank them for every infraction, CONSISTENTLY! This “breaking of the child’s will” could start as an infant! This is evil and it is perpetrated consistently in this sect by seemingly good people.
Parents have complete dominion over children. This puts children as the number one targets of evil. As a result, “when a child is grossly confronted by significant evil in its parents, it will most likely misinterpret the situation and believe that the evil resides in itself. Add to this fact that evil people, refusing to acknowledge their own failures, actually desire to project their evil onto others, and it is no wonder that children will misinterpret the process by hating themselves. (Peck)” This is why children suffer from depression and other mental illnesses. This is why they attempt suicide, run away from home, or lean toward alcohol and drugs as coping mechanisms.
To children – even adolescents—their parents are like gods. The way their parents do things seems the way they SHOULD be done. Children are seldom able to objectively compare their parents to other parents. They are not able to make realistic assessments of their parents’ behavior. Treated badly by its parents, a child will usually assume that it is bad. If treated as an ugly, stupid second-class citizen, it will grow up with an image of itself as ugly, stupid and second-class. Raised without love, children come to believe themselves unlovable. We may express this as a general law of child development: Whenever there is a major deficit in parental love, the child will, in all likelihood, respond to that deficit by assuming itself to be the cause of the deficit, thereby developing an unrealistically negative self-image.—M. Scott Peck, M.D.
Another indication of the evil is the way they are influenced by raw power. When an evil person has power or dominion over others, they are only interested in controlling them. This control causes the evil to neglect the needs, desires and wants of others. It also causes them to treat others disrespectfully; not allowing for their opinions, thoughts and desires to be voiced. The evil will sacrifice good people to protect their self-image AND in order to maintain CONTROL. This is why questioning rules and dogmas is taboo in churches with evil leadership. The evil want blind obedience and unquestionable loyalty. Those who do not meet these criteria are sacrificed in the most vicious and humiliating ways. Many do not recover from the evil projected onto them when they are scapegoated and cast off.
Since the evil, deep down, feel themselves to be faultless, it is inevitable that when they are in conflict with the world they will invariably perceive the conflict as the world’s fault. Since they must deny their own badness, they must perceive others as bad. They PROJECT their own evil onto the world. They never think of themselves as evil: on the other hand, they consequently see much evil in others. The father (in the example above) perceived the profanity and uncleanliness as existing in his son and took action to cleanse his son’s “filthiness.” Yet we know it was the father who was profane and unclean. The father projected his own filth onto his son and then assaulted his son in the name of good parenting (M. Scott Peck, M.D.).
Evil, then, is most often committed in order to scapegoat, and the people labeled as such are chronic scapegoaters and blamers. They are consistently placing blame for their evil behavior and words.
Strangely though, evil people also attempt to destroy evil in others. But instead of trying to do this, they should be trying to destroy the sickness and evil within themselves. The evil are quick to judge sin and sinners and condemn them to hell. They are quick to isolate themselves and their families from others so they can have complete control over their families. They are quick to take action against those that speak out about their abusers and abuses within the church. They are quick to inflict physical punishment or harm to those that disagree with their beliefs, lifestyles and/or do not follow the rules. The EVIL also kill in God’s name.
“The evil are completely dedicated to preserving their self-image of perfect holiness. They are continually engaged in an effort to maintain the appearance of moral purity and righteousness. The evil dress well, go to work on time, pay their taxes, and outwardly look like good people. “The words “image,” “appearance,” and “outwardly” are crucial to understanding the morality of the evil. They intensely desire to appear good. Their “goodness” is all on a level of pretense. It is a lie (Peck).” They cannot and will not look within themselves at the evil they commit and project onto others. They only see themselves as “righteous” and others as “sinners.”
Because the evil are masters of deception and disguise, it is almost impossible to pinpoint the maliciousness of the evil. Their disguise is impenetrable. The evil hate the truth that exposes their flaws, their crimes, their manipulations, their deceptions. No cost is too high to pay in order to maintain the disguise of righteousness and respectability.
Sometimes it is easy for people to commit Evil and not even be aware of it. There are countless people that harass, character assassinate, stalk and verbally abuse people who step forward to report their abuses at the hands of clergy. There are countless Christians who do the same to those who expose lies in doctrine or teaching. What they do not realize is that they are committing Evil in God’s name. These two things should never go together! God and Evil are opposites. Let me explain.
What many do not understand is the working definition of EVIL. “Evil is in opposition to life. It is that which opposes the life force. It has, in short, to do with killing (M.Scott Peck).” When I say this, I am not necessarily talking about murder as we understand murder. Evil can also kill the SPIRIT. Some attributes of human life are growth, autonomy, will, self-respect, dignity, self-worth. It is possible to kill or try to kill one or all of these attributes in a person without physically hurting them. This is done through psychological, emotional and spiritual abuses; or, religious indoctrination through mind control, information control and behavior modification techniques. Let me say emphatically this: Any belief or teaching that causes a person to perpetrate Evil is, itself Evil. It’s fruit will be Evil. The end result will be “soul murder” for the victim.
Religious indoctrination can employ this “soul murder” in order to make others controllable. Soul murder fosters dependency on leadership and the religious system and discourages a person’s capacity to think for himself. This prevents questioning, originality, autonomy and unpredictability in people. It produces “zombies” that are easily managed and told what to do and what to believe. The victims of “soul murder” are innumerable and God will hold religious leaders accountable for each “zombie” they create. Then, these “dead” people are used as pawns to further EVIL by attacking and killing others “in His name.” Yet these “dead” individuals do not know they are dead! They do not realize that their life force has been sucked out of them and replaced with Evil. They don’t know they are Evil because they are zombies. They are only interested in creating other zombies!
Evil then, can be said to be a force that resides inside of us that seeks to kill life or liveliness. And goodness is its opposite. Goodness promotes life and liveliness. Some think that because they go to church, live a good life, are separated unto God or, know scripture that they cannot perpetrate Evil. This is so far from reality and truth! These “Zombies for God” go about killing the souls of those trying to escape the EVIL who are already broken, abused and wounded. The cycle never ends.
Evil is in opposition to God. God wants us to not just have life. He wants us to live life ABUNDANTLY. Satan, however, is a murderer. Jesus said, “He was a murderer from the beginning.” “Evil has nothing to do with natural death; it is concerned only with unnatural death, with the murder of the body or spirit (M. Scott Peck, M.D.).”
God is love. UNCONDITIONAL love promotes healing. Wherever there is this kind of love one can find healing. Wherever one finds unconditional love there will be peace, joy, liveliness and contentment. Evil is deadly. Wherever there is Evil one will find brokenness, pain, depression, anxieties and fear. There will be a loss of dignity, autonomy and self-worth. It leads to death.
By hurling insults at victims, by harassing them, by stalking them, by calling them all manner of names, Satan has just effectively used you to do his will – to KILL. To kill the life force in a person is the worst possible crime against a human being. It is the greatest sin of all. Physical death at least puts an end to suffering. Soul murder does no such thing. It is either done to manipulate and control others or, it is done with the specific intent to cause more suffering and pain far into the future. Life, then, has no joy. Life is painful to get through. Physical death then becomes preferable to life.
Evil is a “choice.” One can CHOOSE to love others and lift them up in order to promote healing and autonomy as human beings. Or, one can CHOOSE to degrade, accuse and hurl insults in order to KILL their soul. If you truly want victims of abuse to HEAL, then stop the verbal abuse, the accusations, the name-calling, the harassment, the stalking. By showering them with UNCONDITIONAL LOVE and support, you will then enable them to heal. Anything less than this is EVIL.
I originally wrote this as an outline on August 20, 2006 to teach in the nursing home. To me, it is a testament to the fact that God had already started opening my eyes to how dangerous man-made religion can be in the lives of its followers. Little did I know at that time, when I was teaching this in the nursing home, that God would extract me from the grips of religious bondage to a fundamentalist baptist sect that was abusive toward women and children and set me on a course to do His will in warning others about the dangers that lurk underneath religion’s mantle. Looking back, I am amazed at how much God allowed me to see of the truth and, I am severely disappointed that I ignored it and continued in my bondage. What a sad reality it is to comprehend that I was being shown truth but could not fully understand the seriousness of it due to religious indoctrination and religiously instilled fear. I have made a few changes and additions to this outline for better clarity and understanding. I sincerely hope that what I am about to cover falls on an open mind and heart that is not blinded by man-made doctrines, rules and religious precepts (the doctrines and commandments of men).
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RELIGION – SATAN’S BIGGEST WEAPON
John 3:1-21 – There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews: The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him.
(3)Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.
Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?
Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit. (You mean you cannot CONTROL the Spirit of TRUTH in God’s people just like you cannot control the wind?)
Nicodemus answered and said unto him, How can these things be?
(10)Jesus answered and said unto him, Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things? Verily, verily, I say unto thee, We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and ye receive not our witness. If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things? And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven. And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. (It does NOT say, “That whosoever believeth in the Pope, Pastor, Priest, Rabbi,or any other religious leader, or the Church, should not perish, but have eternal life.”)
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in HIM should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. (You mean believing in religion, the “man of God” or the “church” won’t save you?)
And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil (Say it isn’t so! Men’s deeds EVIL?). For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.” (It doesn’t say that his deeds are perfect, because mankind is sinful. It says that his deeds are wrought in God. There will be many sinners coming to the knowledge of the truth that desire to warn others about the “greatest deception of all.”)
Verse 3 (highlighted above) tells us that we cannot get to heaven unless we are born again of the Spirit of God. Most people do not understand what being born again means. Some people actually think that means going to a man-made church and serving men who call themselves by religious titles. Verse 10 tells us that Nicodemus, although a religious leader, had no understanding of spiritual things. His RELIGION was keeping him blind to the truth that had the power to save is very soul and set him free from religions bondage. However, he did recognize that Jesus was a ‘teacher come from God’. (verse 2) He was confusing works with faith. Notice how he addresses Jesus as “Rabbi” and “teacher.” He understood that the miracles meant that God was with him. However, he was not willing to let go of a LIFETIME of man-made religious dogma, precepts and rules, coupled with religious tradition, and acknowledge Jesus as “Lord.”
The same is true today. Religious people from all walks of life refuse to let go of a lifetime of religion and tradition to embrace the truth. God has given us his spirit to guide and teach us so that “we might KNOW the things that are freely given to us of God.” Instead, religion has replaced His Spirit with a Pastor, Priest, Rabbi or other religious designation, so that these religious leaders are now leading and guiding God’s people. The Holy Spirit has been SUBSTITUTED. The people have erred and do not even realize it. Because of this, they foster hatred toward those that oppose a wicked religious leader. They persecute, malign and shun those that find the courage to speak the truth and expose the lies and crimes. And, they themselves become secondary abusers complicit in the crimes perpetrated – all because of blindness and refusal to listen when truth is spoken.
(1Co 2:12) Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might KNOW the things that are freely given to us of God.
(1Co 2:13) Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.
(1Co 2:14) But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
— RELIGION BLINDS ITS FOLLOWERS TO THE TRUTH —
It causes people to turn a blind eye to truth instead seeing and understanding it. The reason for this is clear as we shall see from the up coming passages. The Pastors (religious leaders) have caused their flocks to go astray. God holds religious leaders accountable just as he did the Pharisees. Just as the Pharisees instituted their rules aimed at controlling the people, so Pastors of all denominations have done today. As pastors have built unto themselves financial empires off the backs of the poor, they have fallen to corruption. Power, prestige and money are the root of this corruption. The abuses abound and are well hidden by the church and its leaders. Those confronted with the abuses, turn a blind eye to them and support the abusers. Religious followers cannot see past the titles and labels that religious leaders wear that affect clear thought processes. Therefore they both fall into the ditch and it causes followers to become abusers themselves of those that step forward to speak truth. They have rested their lives, their money, their families and their time in religious leaders and church institutions instead of Christ. They have forgotten their true resting place.
2Ti 4:3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;
2Ti 4:4 And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.
Jer 50:6 My people hath been lost sheep: their shepherds (PASTORS) have caused them to go astray, they have turned them away on the mountains: they have gone from mountain to hill, they have forgotten their resting place.
— IT TEACHES AS TRUTH, MAN-MADE ORDINANCES AND RULES —
Man-made ordinances and rules fill the churches of all religions. It is not isolated to any particular sect. Countless multitudes believe every word that proceeds from religious leaders within their respective institutions. As a result, they are led astray through corruption and false teaching.
Just for the sake of an example, I would like to take a look at what the Roman Catholic Church teaches it’s priests about the Pope and compare it to what the Word of God says. What you will notice is that their many rules are based on what MEN SAY Peter is “perceived” to have said or done and not what “Christ” has commanded, said or done. It is also based on man-made religious precepts. This is where corruption rears its head – listening to men and not God. Men can make their own rules in God’s name and force implementation of them. This is exactly what has transpired from the beginning.
In considering this doctrine of the papacy, I will only use the teaching of the church as contained in the dogmatic definitions, the official documents of the ecumenical councils, and the teachings of the Popes. These represent the actual teaching of the church, regardless of what some Catholics believe, what certain priests teach today, or even what some bishops may have written. The following statements are duly documented.
The acceptance of the authority of the Pope and submission to him is necessary for salvation!
“Furthermore, WE(mere MEN, not God) declare, state and define that it is absolutely necessary for the SALVATION of all men that they submit to the Roman Pontif. [Bull Unam Sanctum of Pope Boniface VIII,1302. The Teaching of the Catholic Church by Neuner and Roos, S.J. p. 204, No.342.] (SUBMIT to a MAN and not GOD?)
The Primacy of the Pope
“WE(mere MEN, not God) decree that the Holy Apostolic See and the Roman Pontiff have primacy in the whole world, and that this Roman Pontiff is the successor of blessed Peter, the Prince of the Apostles, and true “Vicar of Christ” head of the whole church and father and teacher of all Christians; that to him in blessed Peter was given by our Lord Jesus Christ the full power of feeding, ruling and governing the universal church as it is contained in the acts of the ecumenical councils and in the sacred canons. [Council of Florence, 1439. Ibid., p. 206, No. 349.] (This is not in scripture anywhere. As a matter of fact, Peter states the opposite about himself in 1 Pet 5:1, 5:3, Acts 10:25)
“If any one, therefore, shall say that blessed Peter the Apostle was not appointed the Prince of all the Apostles and the visable head of the whole church; or that he directly and immediately received a primacy of honor only, and not of true and proper jurisdiction [right of power] – – let him be anathema [excommunicated and condemned] [Vatican Council I, 1870. Ibid., p. 223, No. 374.]”(God does not imply or command this anywhere in scripture. This is a THREAT aimed at silencing those that speak the TRUTH. See 1 Pet 5:1, 5:3, Acts 10:25)
“Hence WE(mere MEN, not God) teach and declare that by the appointment of our Lord the Roman Church possesses a superiority of ordinary POWER(Yes, it IS all about POWER, not about God.) over all other churches, and that this POWER of jurisdiction of the Roman Pontiff, which is truly Episcopal, is immediate; to which all, of whatever rite or dignity, both pastors and faithful, both individually and collectively, are bound by their duty of hierarchical subordination and true obedience, to submit, not only in matters that pertain to faith and morals, but also in those that pertain to discipline and government of the Church throughout the world.” [Ibid., p. 224-225, No. 379] (Well, well…it IS about POWER and CONTROL through SUBMISSION.)
“If then anyone shall say that the Roman Pontiff has merely the office of inspection and direction, but not full and supreme POWER of jurisdiction over the universal church, not only in things pertaining to faith and morals, but also in those things that relate to the discipline and government of the church spread throughout the world; or that he possesses only the principal part, and not all the fullness of this supreme power. . . Let him be excommunicated and condemned!” [Vatican Council I. Ibid., p. 226, No. 382] (MORE FEAR tactics through THREATENINGS.)
Many more quotations could be given from papal decrees, councils and dogmatic statements; but, let’s hear how the dogma of papal infallibility is defined by Pope Pius IX in 1870 at the first Vatican Ecumenical Council:
“Therefore, faithfully adhering to the TRADITION(Not from God. God has no tradition.) received from the beginning of the Christian faith (Says, Who? MEN?), for the glory of God our Saviour, the exaltation of the Catholic religion, and the salvation of Christian peoples, the sacred Council approving (MEN), We teach and define that it is a dogma divinely revealed (Really? DIVINELY REVEALED? – Not by God, Jesus or the Prophets – so this is a lie.): that the Roman Pontiff, when He speaks ex-cathedra, that is, when in discharge of the office of Pastor and Doctor of all Christians, by virtue of His supreme apostolic authority He defines a doctrine regarding faith or morals to be held by the Universal Church, by the divine assistance promised him in blessed Peter, is possessed with that infallibility with which the Divine Redeemer willed that His church should be endowed for defining doctrine regarding faith or morals: and that therefore such definitions of the Roman Pontiff are irreformable of themselves, and not from the consent of the church. But if any one which God avert – presume to contradict this our definition – let him be excommunicated and condemned!” [Ibid., p. 229, No. 388] (God says no such things in scripture; so this is a man-made religious dogma aimed at CONTROLLING people through threats and fear.)
Catholic Statements About the Pope
The Pope is usually and formally addressed as: “Most Holy Father.” [See encyclical by Leo XIII as introduction to the Douay version of the Bible.] (Mat 23:9 – And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven.)
In the Cardinal’s Oath, Pope Pius X is addressed as: “Our Most Holy Lord.” [From the Article “Scriptures for Roman Catholics,” by Dr. Bartholomew Brewer.] (Now they are placing a mere MAN in the place of Christ and making him Lord. In case you didn’t know this, this is deception. 1Co 8:6 – But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and ONE LORD Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him.)
The famous historian Moreri writes: “To make war against the Pope is to make war against God.” [Ibid.] (This is a good way to PROTECT a DECEIVER; through fear of God.)
WHAT POPES SAY OF THEMSELVES [Ibid]
Leo XIII(mere MAN, not God) (1902) said:
“The supreme teacher in the church is the Roman Pontiff. Union of minds, therefore, requires, together with a perfect accord in the one faith, completeSUBMISSION and OBEDIENCE of will to the CHURCH(Not God) and to the Roman Pontiff, as to God Himself.” [Ibid.] (Interesting. Another RULE instituted by MEN to bring about UNQUESTIONING obedience and control to the church and a MAN.)
Pope Pius X (mere MAN, not God) stated:
“The Pope is not only the representative of Jesus Christ, but He IS Jesus Christ Himself hidden under the veil of flesh. ‘Does the Pope speak? It is Jesus Christ who speaks.” [Ibid] (In this statement, we are told that the POPE is CHRIST. This is DECEIT. He is a mere MAN, not God, placing himself in the place of CHRIST – a SUBSTITUTION – a fake in place of the real.)
Pope Pius XI (mere MAN, not God) once declared:
“You know that I am the Holy Father, the representative of God on earth, the Vicar of Christ, which means that I am God on the earth.” [Ibid.] (Well, well…another SUBSTITUTION aimed at POWER and CONTROL of People.)
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As stated earlier, there are other religious sects that can be used as examples where man-made doctrines are being taught that go against the Word of God…. and countless multitudes blindly believe they are necessary in order to please God. So, let’s look at the scriptures and see what they really declare.
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— WHAT THE SCRIPTURES DECLARE–
“The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder . .” 1 Peter 5:1(You mean he wasn’t a “CHRIST and head of God’s People?”)
“Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock.” 1 Peter 5:3(Not LORDS over God’s People?)
“Which when the apostles, Barnabas and Paul, heard of, they rent their clothes, and ran in among the people, crying out, and saying, Sirs, why do ye these things? We also are men of like passions with you . .” Acts 14: 14-15.(Even Paul and Barnabas KNEW that no mere MAN should be worshipped nor placed in the position of Christ.)
“And as Peter was coming in, Cornelius met him, and fell down at his feet, and worshipped him. But Peter took him up, saying, Stand Up; I myself also am a man.” Acts 10:25.(What! Peter did not demand WORSHIP? You mean he was just a mere MAN and not a God?)
Acts10:25-26 “And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in Heaven.” Mathew 23:9(This is self-explanatory.)
In the light of the Holy Scriptures, certain dogmatic definitions and statements on the Pope sound blasphemous! This his how Religion keeps people blinded to the truth of God’s Word. Religion keeps people in bondage. Religion makes up its own rules and institutes punishments for going against them. Salvation frees us from this bondage so that we can worship in “Spirit and in truth”. Religion seeks to control people through their many religious rules backed by threats. Those that do not conform, are killed and/or silenced through threats, coercion, harassment, etc. Remember the Reformation and Inquisition – Over 90 million men, women and children were tortured, mutilated and killed by CHRISTIANS of the Church of Rome under the direction of religious leaders.
Joh 4:23 But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.
Joh 4:24 God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.
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Religion usually teaches a works salvation. If you live a good enough life (works), you might make it to heaven. If you serve in the ministry of the church (works), God will be pleased with you. If you follow all the church’s rules and precepts, God will bless you abundantly (works). If you give of your MONEY (works) to the church, God will bless you.
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Here’s what God says:
Eph 2:9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.
Tit 3:5 Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, . .
Heb 6:1 Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God.
(You mean all these works are considered DEAD WORKS?)
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Religion DEMANDS obedience to the MAN-MADE ordinances, dogmas and precepts instead of obedience to God’s Word. It demands obedience to a list of “Do’s and Don’ts” in order to please God. It demands obedience and loyalty to “the MAN of God” or, the “Religious Institution,”
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God’s Word says:
Mat 15:3 – But he answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition?
Mar 7:9 – And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition.
Mar 7:13 – Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye (Who are Ye? MEN, usually religious leaders.) have delivered: and many such like things do ye.
Col 2:8 – Beware lest any MAN spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.
1Pe 1:18 Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers;
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— RELIGION CREATES CONFUSION IN THE HEARTS OF MEN AND WOMEN —
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The masses would prefer to follow anything but the truth. Why? John 3:20 – “ lest his deeds should be reproved.”
God did not invent religion, man did. Man uses religion to keep people in bondage to an institution instead of setting them free to worship God and obey his will in their lives. Religion is the biggest weapon used by Satan to keep people blind to the truth and in bondage to men, religious institutions, and religious leaders. Religion propagates HATE toward those that disagree or question the lies being taught. Religion harasses those that expose those lies and/or any abuses. Religion tries to silence the voices of TRUTH that God has placed in the world to WARN others about the biggest DECEPTION of all time – that deception is man-made religions owned and operated by MEN who have corrupted the scriptures and would have all POWER, CONTROL, MONEY and PRESTIGE for themselves. Religion has been murdering and abusing for centuries. Please remember that more than 90 million people lost their lives “in the name of God” during the Reformation and Inquisition. Right now, women and children are suffering at the hands of religion and its leaders across the world. This is serious. It’s time to wake up and realize the deception. Religion starts wars, murders its own and others, oppresses and abuses women and children setting them up for sexual exploitation, and incites hatred and violence toward those that disagree or expose the lies and abuses. RELIGION IS SATAN’S BIGGEST WEAPON.
I am sure many of you may be wondering about this topic that I will be writing about. You may be wondering what exactly IS the DARKNESS? I realize that this subject matter will be delicate and, will evoke a lot of emotion in people. But, I also understand that many of you may not realize that the subject I will be covering even exists; and if you know it does exist, you may even believe that it could not be possibly happening in your church. Countless multitudes do not even realize that what I am about to talk about has been going on for centuries and is alive and ongoing today in religious institutions across the globe. As a matter of fact, it has been taking place since the third or fourth century; that’s how long this DARKNESS has been growing.
Before I get started, I would like to tell you about two organizations that are trying to make a difference in the lives of those affected by the DARKNESS – G.R.A.C.E. (Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment) and Together We Heal.
Together We Heal works to provide victims of sexual abuse, rape and incest – aka, the DARKNESS – with the free professional counseling services they so desperately need in order to begin the healing process. But, they cannot help victims without your donations. A victim’s help is only as available as the funds are to hire these licensed, professional counselors for them. Right now, the link on my blog is set up to fund an account that will help to pay for victims needs and to aid them in recovery and healing. Your tax deductible donations go directly to this fund which goes directly to help victims of this type of abuse. As fast as we get money in, it goes out, because the need is so great and so few people give. Right now, we have ZERO religious organizations donating to help victims of this abuse. Why is that? Answer: Because churches don’t really care about these victims. The love of God must stop short when it comes to victims of abuse, rape, incest and sexual assault (the DARKNESS) in the church. Not one church has had the genuine Christian character to step out and do the right thing regarding these victims and support Together We Heal’s fund for victims through my blog. They give to missionaries, but not the abused, victimized, raped, tortured, broken and poor that they are responsible for creating.
Religion’s Cell is also a supporter of Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment (GRACE). This organization is a legal and professional team whose sole purpose is to defend these victims of sexual abuse and, to educate church congregations on the signs of abuse and how to respond to it in a religious environment. If you can afford to support GRACE through the link on my blog, I can assure you they NEED the funds too. Legal and professional help is not free.
Now, let’ talk about this DARKNESS. It is also known as Religious Abuse. I would like to explain what it is, what it encompasses and how it has affected societies and cultures around the globe. When I am done, you should be able to understand and see the scope and magnitude of the true DARKNESS that lies hidden underneath religion’s mantle.
But, before I get into the subject matter, I would like to give you some excerpts from a few recent news stories and then afterwards, ask everyone a few questions. I am warning you up front that these stories will evoke an emotional response in many of you. But I ask that you be patient with me as I cover these because some of these stories are difficult even for me, to read or listen to. All of these stories are recent, by the way. They are cited on my blog HERE, HERE, HERE AND HERE.
BIRMINGHAM, AL. Pastor, Richard Shahan, of First Baptist Church arrested for the murder of his wife. A minister nabbed by police on new year’s day moments before trying to get out of the country.
Reena Ninan has the details. Reporter: Richard Shan was an Alabama-based Baptist preacher with a devout following. This morning, he’s accused of murdering his wife.
Arrested New Year’s day trying to board a plane to Germany. I think he was totally shocked when they — pulled him out of line. And detained him.
Reporter: He was nabbed after a customs official recognized his passport. But the pastor’s lawyers said he was traveling to Germany and then Russia to work for a children’s ministry. Once he got to Russia the chances of extraditing him were nil. (abcnews.go.com 1/6/14)
MUSCLE SHOALS, AL.Authorities say children’s minister Jeff Eddie told them he had so many sexual experiences with children at his church he could not recall all the times he had done it.
A felony complaint police filed against Eddie, 41, said the Highland Park Baptist Church children’s minister admitted to performing oral sex and masturbating children when Muscle Shoals investigators questioned him Sunday.
Eddie, who was arrested Sunday, is charged with 31 counts of sodomy, 2 counts of possession of child pornography, and 2 counts of sexual abuse of a child under the age of 12.
In the sodomy complaint filed against Eddie, police said the abuse came to light after a church member walked in on Eddie with his hands up a minor’s shirt. One of the victims says Eddie engaged in sex acts with him downstairs in the church’s electrical room at least once a month going back to 2011, when the child was 11 years old. The incidents happened until July of last year, the child said, and then happened twice after that. (waaytv.com, Posted: Wednesday, February 5, 2014 11:24 am | Updated: 9:13 pm, Wed Feb 5, 2014)
SEDRO-WOOLLEY, WA. On the night of May 11, 2011, sometime around midnight, 13-year-old Hana Williams fell face-forward in her parents’ backyard. Adopted from Ethiopia three years before, Hana was naked and severely underweight. Her head had recently been shaved, and her body bore the scars of repeated beatings with a plastic plumbing hose. Inside the house, her adoptive mother, 42-year-old Carri Williams, and a number of Hana’s eight siblings had been peering out the window for the past few hours, watching as Hana staggered and thrashed around, removed her clothing in what is known ashypothermic paradoxical undressing and fell repeatedly,hitting her head. According to Hana’s brother Immanuel, a deaf 10-year-old also adopted from Ethiopia, the family appeared to be laughing at her.
When one of Carri’s biological daughters reported that Hana was lying facedown, Carri came outside. Upset by Hana’s immodest nakedness, Carri fetched a bedsheet and covered her before asking two teenage sons to carry her in. She called her husband, Larry, who was on his way home from a late shift at Boeing, then finally dialed 911, telling the operator, “I think my daughter just killed herself. … She’s really rebellious.”
Hana was pronounced dead at the hospital, the cause hypothermia compounded by malnutrition and gastritis. The following day, when Child Protective Services tried to check on the other children,Larry Williams refused to let them in. When police followed up, a deputy noted that the family acted as though Hana’s death was “an everyday occurrence.” Twelve days later, detectives and CPS conducted interviews with the children, but their answers seemed rote and rehearsed, all repeating that Hana was rebellious and refused to mind Carri; one child said he thought Hana was possessed by demons.According to investigators, Immanuel said that “people like [Hana] got spankings for lying and go into the fires of hell,” just before Larry abruptly ended the interview.
When Hana died, she became one of at least dozens of adoptees alleged to have been killed at their adoptive parents’ hands in the past 20 years, and part of a far larger group of children who become estranged from their adoptive families—frequently, as it turns out, large families with fundamentalist beliefs about child rearing. Just within the Seattle area, and just among Ethiopian adoptees who came from the same orphanage and adoption agency as Hana, there has been an unreported crisis of “forever families” that fail. These are adoptions that, in an absence of any real oversight and in environments of harsh discipline, began with good intentions but went profoundly wrong….click here to read more.
Esther Comb’s Story of Rape and Torture
Courtesy Of ABC News.
Joe and Evangeline Combs were Independent Fundamental Baptist. They perpetrated the most heinous crimes against a child. They are now serving 179 years in prison for their crimes against Esther.
Here’s Esther Combs story of abuse as told by ABC News – Part ONE.
What do all of these stories have in common? They are all abuses related to religion and/or its teachings/belief systems.
Who are the victims? Women and children
Was justice served in every instance? No. None of these victim’s perpetrators is behind bars.
Why is the punishment not meted out for these horrible abuses? Because it took decades to pass for these victims to find the courage to speak out. For child abuse, there is no law that allows for prosecution after the fact when such time has elapsed. For sexual assaults and rape of children, the Statute of Limitations has expired in many states. Also, keep in mind that as long as the victims FEAR speaking out, the perpetrators remain free to abuse others. Such is the majority of cases.
What many do not realize is that religious abuse is a broader scope than we think it is. Believe it or not, but the average person has never heard of such a thing. And yet, religious abuse encompasses the following:
Throughout history, every single one of these items mentioned in my list has been going on. Does anyone have any idea who the victims are of every single one of these that I have stated? Women and children. What we need to realize is that these abuses against women and children are going on underneath the church’s mantle. Many people I come in contact with refuse to believe that it is, and yet the reality has been all over the internet in the last several years. If you have an opportunity to peruse my Religions Cell blog, please do. My blog contains an alphabetized list by state and city of news stories of convicted and/or charged clergy for sexual crimes, murder and abuse. This is in no way a comprehensive list. There are thousands of more articles to add. To enter this archive, click here: Clergy Abuse Archive. My blog also has numerous personal accounts of religious abuse survivors and what they endured. I have to warn you that the victim testimonies will make you angry – and here’s why – because most of the perpetrators of these crimes are still free and serving in churches across America. Most of them never served jail time. They are STILL in contact with YOUR children! The number one reason for this? The church leadership covered up the crime and silenced the victims through public humiliation, threats and fear tactics. As a result, the Statute of Limitations ran out on these victims.
Can I ask another question? Why do you think a victim of rape or incest in the church setting would decline to come forward immediately? The answer: FEAR. Victims are threatened by family members, church members and church leadership. Victims are harassed by the same. Victims are humiliated and shamed. Victims are sometimes tortured. Victims are psychologically conditioned by this fear to keep their mouths shut. This is why it can take decades for a victim of childhood sexual assault and abuse to come forward.
As a result, the statistics on these crimes are vastly skewed. The numbers are much greater than what is reported.
Many of these victims of abuse are being blamed by the churches that hid their abuses. This is done to discredit their testimony. Many of these victims are being called liars. This is done to discredit their testimony and protect the abuser. The fact is this: Religious indoctrination has a lot to do with this secondary abuse to survivors of sexual assault and abuse within these institutions. Here’s why:
Religious people may be programmed into believing only what church leadership tells them is true. If leadership says a victim is lying to “hurt the cause of Christ,” then they become militant against that victim.
Religious people may be programmed into supporting religious leadership even if evidence PROVES the crime! Jack Schaap, former pastor of First Baptist Church of Hammond, IN., is a prime example of this. He is serving a 12 year jail sentence for sex trafficking a minor and STILL has a huge following, even in jail.
Religious people may be programmed into doing what leadership tells them to do against victims. Remember that I stated that they can become militant when they are told someone is “hurting the cause of Christ.”
Many religious people even believe they are doing a God a favor by harming these hurting and broken people who are just trying to seek justice for the crimes committed against them.
These are so-called CHRISTIANS that perpetrate the secondary crimes of harassment, slander, public humiliation, stalking and attempted murder! Why? Answer: To SILENCE their voice of truth and protect their religious leaders from prosecution. Why? Because they are “clones” of the religious system they serve through indoctrination. What these victims are doing is speaking out about lies in teaching and/or crimes committed against them. If you are a clone of the system, your mind cannot accept these things as true and it rejects them. That’s the power of indoctrination. It keeps people blind, obedient and willing to do what you tell them to. This is why religious fundamentalism can be very dangerous to any society.
Let’s look at more examples of abuse. The following victims, to date, still have not received justice regarding the crimes perpetrated against them. By the way, there are many more than these from this girls home. Even though many of them reported to police in Arcadia, La., the man responsible for raping and torturing them and allowing others on his staff to do the same, is still a free man.
Those complicit in the crimes are still free as well. How can this be? Answer: I don’t know. But I am sure you have some ideas floating around in your head at this point. Read the New Bethany Book (link above) and then try and figure out how this could possibly be so. Could it be a huge cover-up? I have heard some victims say it is. Honestly, I don’t know. These were children! Needless to say, three decades later, they are STILL trying to get justice served and have Mack Ford arrested. The police have done nothing, to date, on this issue.
Religious abuse carries with it psychological trauma. Many of these victims, as a result of their trauma, suffer with flashbacks of the abuses, PTSD, panic attacks, physical illnesses, cancers, alcohol and drug addictions and mental illnesses. The list of maladies is large and those that are the ones that were to look out for these victims, failed them, shunned them, shamed them and silenced them. Many of these victims need professional help, but cannot afford it. The institutions that allowed these crimes against them to happen, have deserted them, leaving them without hope of help and healing. It is time for religious institutions to be held accountable for the crimes they have hidden (the DARKNESS) and, for protecting the perpetrators from prosecution. It is also time for them to bear the financial load of helping them recover.
This DARKNESS has affected societies AROUND THE GLOBE with the implementation of civil laws in some countries that restrict and oppress women and children, protect rapists and pedophiles, and punish victims that dare to escape or speak out about the abuses. In some countries, it is perfectly legal to burn, torture, maim and kill women and children without recourse. Forcing victims of rape to marry their rapists, is another civil law some of these countries have. And some of these abusive laws can be seen spilling over into America’s laws. For instance, did you know that many states give visitation rights to a rapist if their victim gives birth to a child as a result of the rape? This is no different than marrying the rapist! The psychological trauma and abuse is the same. As a result, more abuse and torture for these poor women and girls. How’s that for the influence of religion on civil law?
As a result of religious indoctrination, victim-blaming has reached pandemic proportions across the world where victims are concerned. Why? Because men and women are not being held accountable for their physical and sexual crimes and murder if it is done in the name of “honor,” “religion,” and “God.” Protecting the religious mindset and keeping laws that propagate this kind of power and authority over defenseless human beings is ludicrous!! The perpetrators of the crimes you are about to see are RELIGIOUS people. They are people that LOVE GOD. They are SERVING God. They THINK they are doing GOD a favor. Yet, they are committing atrocities in his name against women and children. Something just isn’t right with this picture!
Let’s look at some examples of this religious influence across the world:
But these abuses are a result of Islam, not Christianity, you may be saying to yourself. Have you already forgotten your history? Remember the Dark Ages, the Reformation, the Inquisition. It was CHRISTIANS that tortured and mutiliated and murdered over 90 million men, women and children. Look around you and see the abusive religious influences and MINDSETS that are seeping into America. How long will it be before RELIGION influences our civil laws? If you don’t think it has, you are mistaken. Women and children need MORE protection from these crimes against them in the religious setting. Religious Institutions that hide these crimes and harbor rapists and pedophiles need to be dealt with harshly. Tax-exempt status needs to be pulled and arrests should be made in order to deter the crimes and protect our precious women and children.
Religion CAN be good. It can help people. When it is good, it is very good. But religion CAN be bad. When it is bad, it is an EVIL of the worst kind toward women and children.
Thus, the reason for this blog. Educating the public on this hidden DARKNESS is vital. People must understand that it is real and that they may even be suffering from it. Victim’s voices must be heard. This platform is for victims to tell their experiences. They will not be harassed here and their voices will not be silenced. Next, victims need a place to go where they can deprogram. The articles written here are to help them with that deprogramming so they can better respond to life around them as well as overcoming the fear that religion has instilled in them through false doctrine and twisted theologies. Next, victims need resources to help escape the abuse and, in their healing process. This blog provides resources. Victims also need help financially so they can get the professional help and/or medicines necessary to keep them healthy. That’s why this blog has teamed up with Together We Heal to provide a special fund that will provide these victims with the help they need. But, as stated earlier, we cannot help them without your tax deductible donations! Their help is only as available as the funds we have to give. You have no idea how many victims we have had to turn down due to lack of funds! Not one church has stepped up to the plate to financially support a large and growing populous of abused and hurting people. They give to missionaries, but not the broken, bruised, victimized and poor that they are responsible for creating.
To learn more about this serious subject matter, please peruse my blog and read the articles that I have written on this subject. Become knowledgeable and become a supporter of this sect of society – women and children – that have been suffering silently for many countless decades. Also, become a financial supporter. It is only through the donations to Together We Heal and G.R.A.C.E., through my blog, that these victims can be helped and start the healing process. They need help and they need support. It is time for their voices to be heard and laws to change to protect others from the abuses they have endured.
For decades, Religious Abuse has been well hidden within organized religions throughout the world. Those that bear the brunt of this abuse are women and children. In this article, I would like to focus on how it affects children that are raised within, and trapped in, an abusive religious system. My blog is full of articles and stories that cover this topic of abuse against women and children if readers would like to learn more about this type of abuse. First of all, let me explain what religious abuse is, and then I will explain how it affects children. Many have no idea what the definition of that term is. So, what exactly is Religious Abuse?
Religious Abuse – Any harm or violence inflicted by people within any religious sect toward an adult or child that results in harm or trauma physically, emotionally, psychologically and/or sexually and, may even lead to the death of the victim. There are many facets to religious abuse. They are as follows: Emotional Abuse, Physical Abuse, Sexual Abuse and Exploitation, and Spiritual Abuse. Each of these areas of Religious Abuse can be expounded upon here: RELIGIOUS ABUSE – What Exactly Is It? The number one goal of those that inflict this abuse is complete CONTROL of others for personal gratification and/or gain, monetary greed and power.
The most destructive aspect to religious abuse is Spiritual Abuse. Spiritual Abuse does NOT allow for any of the following:
Individuality or autonomy
Independent thinking and reasoning
Freedom of Choice
Freedom of Belief
Questioning of authority, religious rules, religious precepts, or abuses inflicted.
Escape from the abuse and control
Spiritual Abuse DOES demand, in the name of “God”:
Blind and unquestionable obedience to religious leaders
Conformity to all group rules, dogmas and precepts
Punishment of those that disagree or question the authority or rules
Punishment of those that speak out about abuse inflicted by those in authority
The silencing of, public humiliation of, and/or death of, those that continue to disobey and/or speak out about the abuse
As stated earlier, the goal of abusive religions is ultimate control of others. In a religious setting, this can be a breeding ground for the sexual exploitation and abuse of children. Because those in authority use the name of God and Scripture to justify their abuse, the psychological trauma is unparalleled. To the victim, God becomes vengeful, exacting, merciless, unloving, uncaring AND gives permission for “his people” to be abusive in his name.
Because of this demand for religious conformity and control within an abusive system, religious abuse occurs and children cannot escape it. In an abusive religion, children have no rights. They have no choices. They have no voice. The abusive religion requires them to obey without question or suffer the consequences. Many of these consequences are criminal. Many result in the death of the child!
In order to facilitate the programming and behavior modification process, many are put in boarding schools or behavior modification facilities to be “forced” into conformity. Many of these facilities harbor rapists, pedophiles and abusers that perpetrate sexual violence, physical abuse, emotional and psychological abuse and, spiritual abuse. Freedom of choice and belief has no place in any of these facilities. Those that run these facilities are given absolute and unquestionable authority over these children. This type of authority leads to religious abuse and can encompass all aspects as mentioned in my article, RELIGIOUS ABUSE – What Exactly Is It? Non-conformity to the demands of leadership within these places will bring punishment in the form of spiritual abuse, psychological abuse, emotional abuse, physical abuse and, yes, sexual abuse and exploitation. Here are some stories of children that have endured these abuses at the hands of those that should have been their protectors:
All of these children were emotionally and psychologically destroyed through the constant barrage of verbal abuse, physical abuse and sexual abuses. For more stories like these visit my blog – www.religionscell.wordpress.com. Also search the internet…the stories are endless.
You may be wondering how in the world abusers can get away with such crimes against children? Let me tell you how:
Sexual exploitation of women and children in abusive religious institutions is a very difficult subject matter to deal with. Exposing it is an even harder task. It has been going on not just for decades, but centuries! Abusive religious institutions have mastered the art of silencing, shaming, bullying, building loyalty, stalling and, walking away from victims without ever helping them and providing restitution and vindication for the crimes perpetrated against them. Instead they have punished and placed blame on the victims. They have used their religious authority and administrative and financial prowess to effectively destroy and silence any who dare to speak out about the abuses they may have suffered. Character assassination, death, torture, public humiliation and shunning by church members and or family members, are just a few of the tactics that victims have to deal with after coming forward with abuse allegations. To understand what I mean by character assassination, please read my articles entitled “Character Assassination.”
There are several reasons why these “abusers and predators in the name of God” can get away with their abuses against children. One of the main reasons for the lack of prosecution of sexual predators is Statute of Limitations (SOL) laws here in the U.S. that prevent victims of sexual assault from prosecuting their rapists after a certain number of years has passed. It can take decades for a victim to muster up the courage to speak out! Many church leaders are working hard at keeping these S.O.L. laws in place while victims of the abuse are fighting to get them removed.
Another reason is that many of the crimes are perpetrated in foreign countries where our laws do not apply. Many abusers and rapists come back from the foreign mission field to live free lives here in the U.S., never spending one single day in jail for their crimes. Prosecution must be sought in the country where the crime occurs in order for victims to stop their abusers from hurting others. Many mission organizations and foreign churches are SILENCING and placing BLAME on the victims and, are not reporting the crimes done on foreign soil! As a result, predators are going free; many of which, are moving on to new victims. Churches here in the U.S. are moving pedophiles and rapists from church to church instead of turning them over to police. Religiously run homes and boarding schools on the foreign field and here in the U.S. have become safe havens for abusers of children due to laws that prevent state and local authorities over site of the facilities. Another issue is that some of the rapists are still on foreign soil and cannot be prosecuted because of this. The following video is one of the perpetrators admitting to his abuses and living freely here in the U.S.
Despite these frustrations, victims of sexual assault must forge ahead, paving the way for changes in law that will protect women and children in religiously run institutions. Is this an easy endeavor? NO, it is NOT! It takes years to affect change. It takes years to get all the cogs out of the wheels of religiously run institutions that are in place to specifically protect the institution from accountability to victims! Can it be done? Absolutely Yes…if victims will be persistent and join their voices together with all the thousands out there that have suffered the same fate as them. There truly is POWER in numbers.
Freedom of belief is of paramount importance in the lives of adults and children alike. Freedom of belief allows for freedom of choice. Most religions do not allow for either of these and, as a result, religious abuse is rampant and children cannot escape it. Parents and missionaries within abusive and controlling religions become abusers themselves through physical violence, sexual exploitation, incest, rape and emotional abuse of children. It’s time for people everywhere to wake up to what is hiding underneath the “mantle of righteousness” many religions wear. Religious abuse is real and it is destroying lives! It is responsible for people having a distorted view of God and spiritual concepts as well as turning them away from God. The following stories will give you firsthand testimony of what can happen to children in an abusive religion.
Stopping the abuse means that we must find the root of it. The root of the problem seems to stem from inequality, authoritarian leadership and, lack of freedom to believe and choose for oneself. Within abusive religions, these factors affect women and children and lead to abuses not only within religiously run institutions, but in the home.
My first part of this series, Religious Bondage – Behavior Control, touches on how behavior reform can cause people to act in abusive ways toward others that disagree or expose abuse within the religious setting. It also explains the tactics many religious followers use in order to silence someone that speaks out about or reports sexual assault, child molestation and rape, or other abuses. One of the key areas of manipulating and controlling people is to control the flow of information within the group. Doing so, allows leadership to rally the group toward their goals, their preferences, their rules, etc. It also allows for abusers to hide their abuses. Information control is one aspect of Religious Bondage. Religious Bondage is the product of Thought Reform, Information Control and Behavior Modification and, leads to abuse.
As I stated in part one, in order to explain this phenomenon that so few know anything about, I would like to break it down and keep it simple. I will call it, “Religious Freedom vs. Religious Bondage.” There are three parts to religious bondage as stated above. This will be the second part of this series and, once again, I will use Steven Hassan’s B.I.T.E. model from his book, Releasing the Bonds: Empowering People to Think for Themselves, chapter two to show the Religious Bondage, I will compare this to my own model for Religious Freedom. At the end of this chart, I will then summarize.
Flow of information not monitored and controlled
Honest evaluations and input
Access to non-cult sources of information is encouraged
Allowed to read whatever they want to gain knowledge and truth.
Free access to internet, books, articles, social media
Association with former members
Free time to enjoy family and friends
Equality: Equal access to information by leadership and non-leadership
Information freely accessible
Everyone receives the same information
No spying on other members
No “buddy” system present
Outside professional counseling encouraged
Leadership is not “all knowing” and therefore encourages secular professionals where needed.
All information provided is from outside sources
Books, magazines, journals video tapes, CDs, etc.
Non-cult sources studied and discussed in order to understand proper context
No Shaming or Manipulation
No use of public confessions which is the same as public shaming. This is abuse.
Confidential information shared in counseling is kept confidential and not used to manipulate and control congregants.
No sharing confidential information between leadership of like churches.
Use of deception:
Deliberately holding back information
Distorting information to make it acceptable
Access to non-cult sources of information is discouraged
Books, articles, newspapers, magazines, TV, radio, internet, social media
Keep members so busy they don’t have time to think
Compartmentalize information; Outsider vs. Insider doctrines
Information is not freely accessible
Information varies at different levels and missions within the hierarchy
Leadership decides who “needs to know” what
Spying on other members is encouraged
Pairing up with “buddy” system to monitor and control
Reporting deviant thoughts, feelings, and actions to leadership
Extensive use of cult generated information and propaganda
Newsletters, magazines, journals, video tapes, CDs, etc.
Misquotations, statements taken out of context from non-cult sources
Unethical use of confession
Information about “sins” used to abolish identity boundaries
Past “sins” used to manipulate and control; no forgiveness or absolution
(Steven Hassan’s B.I.T.E. model from his book, Releasing the Bonds: Empowering People to Think for Themselves, chapter two)
My thoughts on Information Control:
Information Controlallows for leadership to rally congregants to THEIR cause instead of a victim of abuse or an outsider. Congregants readily believe what leadership tells them and, believe that all victims of abuse are liars that are trying to “take down the man of God” or, “destroy God’s works.” Because leadership limits information, twists truth, and/or outright lies about abuses, congregants have no way of knowing what truth IS due to lack of correct information. But, when in doubt, the congregants will naturally lean toward leadership’s views because all information points to that view as “correct” due to information control.
As shown above, information control is paramount in controlling “perception” in the minds of others. Those who control information, control thoughts. Those who control information, control behavior. Abusive leadership will ALWAYS encourage shunning to stifle the truth. Shunning is very important because it prevents current members from listening to and believing those that have been abused or, have witnessed abuse, from being heard and believed. This is why shunning all former members is mandatory in an abusive religion or cult-like church. Those that continue to speak out after being shunned, will then be stalked and harassed either emotionally or financially by existing leadership and members for not remaining silent. Many different techniques are employed in taking down someone that won’t stop talking to authorities, but the number one technique used time and time again is getting them fired from their job.
Information control also keeps congregants dependent on leadership for “correct” information. Only leadership has the “real truth” regarding every situation; not those falsely accused by leadership or targeted by leadership in order to silence them. Congregants:
Will not believe media reports.
Will disregard facts if those facts go against what leadership has told them.
Will disregard witness testimony as lies meant to destroy their leadership or work of God.
Congregants become secondary abusers to victims of sexual assault, rape, incest and physical abuse who report crimes within the church.
They will stalk those that go to the authorities to report crimes (psychological abuse).
They will harass privately and publicly those that go to authorities to report crimes.
They will use their influence to get them fired from their jobs if they work with members of the same abusive church.
They will alter important documents to make it look like the victim is dishonest, using those documents against the victim to destroy them professionally.
They will outright lie about victims to others.
They will make fraudulent claims against victims to state boards in order to cause victims to lose their professional licenses.
They will use the legal system to attack victims that step forward to report by placing frivolous lawsuits on them.
It will affect victims socially – they will have no friends.
They will pit spouses against spouses and children against parents.
They will use the internet to write articles about them to discredit them and their testimony.
They will use social media to harass a victim.
They will slash tires or break in to the homes or offices of those that expose the abuses, sometimes killing beloved pets in a heinous manner in order to scare and intimidate into silence.
They will commit murder to ultimately silence a victim.
They will rally other family members against those who report crimes. Thus destroying familial relationships.
Any information told in “counseling” sessions with a pastor is used to spread gossip and slander against anyone who dares to speak out about abuses they have endured or expose them, within the church. This information is also used to blackmail congregants into conforming to leadership’s agendas, demands, desires. This information is then shared between pastors of various churches of the same sect in order to control members that leave to go to another church within the same sect. Pastors across the country work together in applying the same pressures and abuses on a congregant that tries to flee the abuse by attending another church within the same sect.
Information Control allows for abuses to continue, hidden. It allows for abusers and rapists to move on to new victims. It ensures that a victim will remain silent. Silence stops the secondary abuse.
The best way for victims to combat and stop these secondary abuses is to report all instances of it to law enforcement and victim advocate attorneys assigned to the case of a victim. Press charges against every person that threatens, harasses or slanders. By using the legal system to show a definitive pattern of harassment and abuse from the abusive church or group, it allows the authorities to either prosecute and/or stop the secondary abuse. If you have pressed criminal charges against a person in leadership within a religious organization, you must understand that witness tampering and harassment is against the law. Reporting every instance to the police ensures that every individual that is involved is held accountable legally. Don’t be afraid to press charges. Don’t be afraid to speak out. By speaking out about abuse and exposing criminals within the religious system, you save lives – lives of children that won’t be molested and raped, trafficked, physically abused and emotionally abused. You will save lives of teenagers from the same abuses. You will prevent rapes and untold trauma to others.
Religious Abuse (Narrated Powerpoint) is the foundation upon which many religious leaders and organizations build their empires. Yet, many people do not understand what Religious Abuse involves. Members of cults and cult-like organizations will use their influence and power to ruin any victim that speaks out about the religious abuses that they have endured. As a cult survivor that spent more than 18 years in an abusive fundamentalist Baptist cult, I will summarize the chart below based on the experiences I have had to deal with personally while in the cult and, while helping other victims of religious abuse. Though it is very difficult to wrap one’s mind around these facts, it is vital that everyone understand that RELIGIOUS ABUSE ( Link to “Religious Abuse: What Exactly Is It?”) is real, it’s dangerous and, it can be deadly. Religious bondage is the product of Thought Reform, Information Control and Behavior Modification and, leads to abuse.
To explain this phenomenon that so few know anything about, I would like to break it down and keep it simple. I will call it, “Religious Freedom vs. Religious Bondage.” There are three parts to religious bondage as stated above. I will cover each part separately in three different articles.
RELIGIOUS FREEDOM vs. RELIGIOUS BONDAGE
Religious Freedom allows an individual to be who they are meant to be as an autonomous human being. They are free to develop their own beliefs, standards, likes, dislikes, hairstyles, clothing styles, ways of doing things, etc. They are allowed the freedom to choose their education and career field. Religious freedom allows for equality between men and women. It also allows them to be the best that they can be for themselves, their families, others and God. But, Religious Bondage leads to inequality; which in turn, leads to emotional abuse, spiritual abuse, physical abuse, sexual abuse, incest, rape, mind control and manipulation, hatred and fear for those trapped in it.
Sounds a bit shocking to contrast the two, doesn’t it? These two types of “religion” are diametrically opposed and lead to very different results. One leads to freedom in Christ, balance, happiness and joy; the other leads to imbalances, fear, control, thought reform, behavior modification, abuse and destruction. What many do not realize is that they may be in religious bondage instead of enjoying religious freedom. This happens when bondage is all that a person has ever known (raised in it); or, when a person succumbs to being spoon-fed their beliefs, doctrines and standards. Some, having never experienced true freedom in Christ due to isolationism and extreme control within the system, fight within themselves against the transformation into that mirror image of the system. These are usually the ones that escape it later on – but not after suffering much abuse and trauma. Many others passively accept the rules, doctrines and standards and then become abusive toward those that do not accept them wholeheartedly. This can lead to hate crimes, stalking, harassment, character assassination, rape, sexual assault and/or trafficking, incest, physical abuse, emotional abuse, spiritual abuse and death for those that do not conform.
Let me break the first characteristic down into two different categories. Using Steven Hassan’s B.I.T.E. model from his book, Releasing the Bonds: Empowering People to Think for Themselves, chapter two to show the Religious Bondage, I will compare this to my own model for Religious Freedom. At the end of this chart, I will then summarize.
RELIGIOUS FREEDOM RELIGIOUS BONDAGE
FREEDOM TO CHOOSE
No regulation of individual’s physical reality:
Choose one’s beliefs
Choose one’s friends
Choose clothing styles, hairstyles, etc.
Choose what to eat
Choose one’s career
Choose where to spend one’s money
Freedom to travel
Freedom to make own personal decisions
Freedom to set one’s own personal boundaries and standards
Critical reasoning skills can be exercised
No FEAR of retaliation for expressing opinions, thoughts and concerns
No spoken or unspoken rules to be followed
Regulation of individual’s physical reality:
Where, how and with whom the members live and associate with.
What clothes, colors, hairstyles the person wears
What food the person eats, drinks, adopts, and rejects
How much sleep the person is able to have
Little or no time for leisure, entertainment or vacations.
Major time commitment required for indoctrination sessions and group rituals
Need to ask permission for major decisions
Need to report thoughts, feelings and activities to superiors.
Rewards and punishments (behavior modification techniques- positive and negative)
Individualism is discouraged; group think prevails
Rigid rules and regulations
Need for obedience and dependency
(Steven Hassan’s B.I.T.E. model from his book, Releasing the Bonds: Empowering People to Think for Themselves, chapter two)
My thoughts on Behavior Control:
Controlling a congregant’s time is key in controlling their behavior and modifying it (behavior modification). Excessive demands on time “in the ministry” or “attendance to every meeting, service and event,” leads to passivity and the ignoring of abuses and reality. Peer pressure plays a HUGE part in behavior modification and is used to influence congregants toward group “rules” and “group think.” Those that fight against the rules will find themselves on the receiving end of punishment from the group. This could entail such things as shunning, public humiliation, gossip and slander, until the person conforms.
What any normal person would view as abuse becomes “normal” with each instance of it in an abusive environment. For example: In the cult I came out of preachers used the pulpit to publicly attack, chastise and humiliate congregants that disagreed, believed differently or, questioned leadership and their doctrines. This IS emotional and psychological abuse; and, it instills fear of speaking out further against leadership. The first time this is done, it is shocking, but as each occurrence of it happens, the gradualism of these attacks becomes normal and even okay in the mind of the congregants. It is seen as “right” and necessary to keep the flock in line with God’s rules; which are usually nothing more than leadership’s rules and preferences. Through this gradualism, the abuse becomes “normal” and congregants become blind to it. Because this abuse is seen as “normal” and “right,” it then is duplicated by congregants against others that disagree as they transition into positions of leadership.
Another example of abuse is toward victims that speak out about their abuse at the hands of leadership and others within the organization. Leadership, because it controls the congregation’s behavior, can rally their members together to:
Use their power and influence to affect a termination of employment, crippling a person financially.
Use local authorities to file bogus complaints and law suits against those that speak out in order to cause them emotional trauma and financial trauma.
Stalk victims that speak out or file criminal charges.
Harass victims that speak out via email, phone, social media and, through personal threats.
Influence other family members to shun the one speaking out.
Influence a spouse to divorce the one speaking out.
Influence children against the parent that speaks out.
Spread gossip and slander about the one speaking out.
Influence family members and others to do bodily harm to the one speaking out.
Those that allow their time to be controlled are the ones that are easily duped into believing the lies and twisted theologies taught from leadership. They are also the ones that rally to the side of the abusers in any given church instead of listening to and supporting sexual assault victims and other abuse victims. Staying busy constantly interferes with critical reasoning skills, stunts spiritual growth and, results in thought and behavior reform. It leads to congregants being obedient, unthinking, “do as they are told” followers of leadership. Because of this, it also leads to blind loyalty to the system and its leadership instead of supporting those that step forward to report the abuse. Followers lose their ability to discern reality and truth; thus, believing the lies they are spoon fed by leadership. They will interpret scripture in light of what they are told by leadership; judging others as leadership dictates. They will be the pawns used in order to mete out attacks against those leadership tell them have falsely accused them or their church. Facts of a situation then become irrelevant in the mind of the congregants and they will fight against those facts and the ones that present them. This leads to abuse as listed above and, even death to anyone that dares to go against the system or its leadership.
Behavior Control is dangerous. It leads to abuse of others. This facet of Religious Abuse must be recognized for what it is and members must flee those religious organizations that practice this in order to control and manipulate them.
From the Author: Words cannot express how proud I am of my son for approaching the subject of Religious Abuse and sharing his perspective on it. This is his first time addressing the issue and, what is even more amazing is that he has allowed me the privilege of putting it on my blog so that others may be helped by it. His name is not on it because he has asked me not to put it on it. He is also the one that put together this presentation to help victims of religious abuse escape. I simply put my voice to it. So, here it is. Please be sure to adjust your volume on the presentation!
(Click to play)
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Religious abuse is an evil which can be difficult to recognize and can lead to chronic depression, rape, intimidation, physical abuse, permanent emotional scarring, and even suicide. Corrupted church leaders of today can use their power and influence to control, extort money, manipulate, and sexually exploit their victims. The effects of religious abuse are vast, but the steps which can be taken to escape from them are not. When victims learn to identify signs of religious abuse in churches and realize that they have personal liberty, they can break free by leaving the abusive church immediately. Victims of religious abuse who completely cut ties and cease contact with the abusive church can recover what is left of their scarred lives.
Power, Money, Control, and Religious Abuse
A dangerous, well disguised evil is sweeping across American churches like a dark beast of destruction, which preys on the lives of even the most devout. It is an evil which is most difficult to recognize, at first, and can lead to chronic depression, rape, intimidation, physical abuse, permanent emotional scarring, and even suicide. Some might argue that this evil originates from the very Devil himself, an attempt to destroy that which is seen by many as holy and pure – the church. This evil comes in the form of religious abuse and can be brought to life through corrupted church leaders in power, monetary greed, and demand for total control of people’s lives; escaping victims must learn to recognize the warning signs, be aware of their personal liberty, and take immediate action to leave the abusive situation.
What could cause such destruction in a person’s life? It’s simple; the impression of absolute power and authority supposedly given by the bible or Jesus can cause almost anyone tempted to become corrupted by it. Once that individual in power decides to abuse the “biblical authority” given to them, believers can become trapped under its rule. There are many ways that victims become trapped under this oppression, but according to David Johnson, two of the main reasons are “they are literally powerless to leave,” perhaps like children born into it, or “because the spiritually abusive system [itself] is a trap” (1991, p. 54). This may be difficult for those who haven’t experienced it to understand, but the cycle of abuse can look something like this: “Out loud shaming, focus on performance, manipulation, idolatry, preoccupation with fault and blame, and obscured reality” (Johnson & VanVonderen, 1991, p. 56-58). Once a person submits to the “authority” of an oppressive church leader, their own sense of personal liberty can be replaced with a sense to obey the “rules” and not to question what is said.
In some positions, a religious leader can become additionally motivated by monetary greed. With the cycle of abuse already in place, they use manipulation in their teachings to convince their victims to give exorbitant amounts of money towards their religious cause or even a personal salary; often attempting to bring guilt on those who do not (McClaskey, 2012, p. 106). Some victims are required to hand over more than 10% of their gross monthly income plus an extra equal or greater margin for regular “gifts” to the leadership, as tokens of their servitude or “commitment” to the organization (McClaskey, 2012, p. 75). This money is often used to build the personal wealth of the leader and to fund the church, continuing the cycle of abuse.
Corrupted power and monetary greed are directly related to a leader’s obsession with having total control over his victims. This begins with a church leader’s power and usurping the authorities they claim were given to them by the Bible, Jesus, or some other religious authority. Victims become convinced their leader has the authority to control them. The control doesn’t stop within the walls of the church; it often “infiltrates into the homes of their believers, with their strange doctrines and rules” (McClaskey, 2012, p. 36). Victims are intimidated, threatened, or in some cases physically beaten into submission (children, teens or spouses) if they don’t comply with the church leader’s rules (McClaskey, 2012, p. 56). Group conformity and total submission to the church “system” are ideas that are not allowed to be questioned in these abusive situations – questioning might lead victims to break free. In many cases, victims who escape are verbally attacked and scorned in front of the church; they lose all group interaction, including immediate family support. Many victims still feel the far reaching, abusive arms of control many years after escaping them. It is this corrupted power, greed and control within the abusive church system which leads to even worse damage in a victim’s life.
Religious abuse can also directly affect other areas of a victim’s wellbeing. If victims believe the abusive teachings, they can have a distorted view of God and spiritual ideas; thereby inadvertently abusing others themselves, like their own children. This often ushers in emotional abuse also; where love and trust can be based upon one’s loyalty to the church or its rules. Paranoia becomes constant, fear of being humiliated or punished is endless, and the pressure to perform and not fail is elevated (Johnson & VanVonderen, 1991, p. 73-77). Sexual abuse is another factor which often associates with religious abuse. A church leader with total control of his victims can easily manipulate them into rationalizing his sexual assault, rape, or exploitation. Sexual exploitation is one of the most common abuses linked to religious cult-like organizations across America (Lalich, 1996, p. 4). Emotional and sexual abuse, along with distorted thinking could eventually lead a victim to consider suicide as an escape, thus multiplying the destructiveness of religious abuse.
How can victims of religious abuse escape? First, they must learn to recognize signs of abuse within a church. David Johnson lists some signs as “power posturing, performance preoccupation, unspoken rules, lack of balance, paranoia, misplaced loyalty, and secrecy” (1991, p. 63-78). Some abusive churches are initially very friendly and appealing, that is also why their trap is effective. Victims often rationalize their abuse, so recognizing that it’s ongoing is vital. Second, recognize that the Religious control is based upon submission of those who believe in it; thus victims must understand their true personal liberty, and that they really don’t have to put up with the abuse. The final step is to break free from the abusive church, including everyone associated with it who could still affect the victim. Victims should completely and immediately separate from every area of interaction with the church. The victim should note that any attempt to change the church is usually futile. Attaining total separation will initiate a healing process.
Once on the outside, victims may immediately begin to recognize the traits of abusive churches. This can empower them to break the cycle of destructive control in their lives and begin to recover from commonly reported experiences such as chronic depression, rape, fear, physical abuse, permanent emotional scarring, and even suicidal thoughts (Lalich, 2013). Victims who have broken free also become some of the best people to help others escape abuse. Escape is one of the most difficult and painful actions that victims can take, but the freedom, healing, and fulfillment that comes afterward is worth more than money could ever buy.
In conclusion, religious abuse is more widespread than one may think. In 1996, there were over 5,000 religious cults in America with more than 185,000 new recruits reported annually (Lalich, 1996, p. 1). If victims are attentive enough to see the warning signs present in an abusive church and they understand that they don’t have to submit to abuse, they can escape and eventually heal from it. The dark, evil beast of religious abuse can be defeated, but only if its tactics and weapons are understood. There are many thousands today who are becoming new victims. When will it ever end?
Johnson, D., & VanVonderen, J., 1991. The subtle power of spiritual abuse: Recognizing and escaping spiritual manipulation and false spiritual authority within the church. Bloomington, MN: Bethany House Publishers.
A messaged for children who were abused in the I.F.B. (Independent Fundamental Baptist) church whose parents will NEVER stand up for them:
This is what I would like to say to you as a mom who is trying to stand up for her kids.
I am sorry for the abuse you endured. I am unhappy that your parents cannot stand up for you. Many parents are too indoctrinated in the I.F.B. beliefs to leave the church to protect their children. Yes, I said LEAVE the church because, if parents stand up for their abused children in the I.F.B. church, they know they will be shamed, shunned and pushed out. My husband and I have finally stood up for our two boys. But, it took them being sexually abused in the I.F.B. church before I stood up. And even then, I was so fearful of the I.F.B. and their tactics, that I had to have a lot of support to stand. I did this by telling my boys it was time for them to tell their stories of abuse since they were adults now and only needed my permission to tell it all. However, the victim has to be strong enough to go through the I.F.B. secondary abuse that will be thrown at them. If they are not emotionally strong then they are not ready to tell their story.
As a Mom, I wanted my boys to talk about their abuse and I would come in as Mom and defend them, protect them from the IFB darts and, validate that I was there and everything they told in their stories was true as I experienced it with them as their Mom. So, I say this to those who’s parents may never see the light: You can find that loving support (the love you wanted from your parents but didn’t get) in others who have seen the light. I guess if you are ready to reach out, then others who understand, will reach back. No one can do this alone. The abuse in the I.F.B. church surpasses that of the Catholics according to G.R.A.C.E. We try to band together and help each other, but yes, in the end, you alone will stand on the stage of the public forum and tell your story if you choose. Many never will and they also have that choice. When all we have left is our story because the statutes of limitations is up, we know we stand together, and yet, alone. There will be no police help for us.
Perhaps some are gifted and can help change the laws. But in the mean time, find a good substitute Mom and Dad that will emotionally support you. Lean on other abuse survivors. There are those who can write articles and play songs to bring attention to the I.F.B. abuse. I shout out to and for my boys that they are HEROES and stand behind them in the wings of the stage when they tell their stories; and I cry because I was too late and am doing too little. Yet, as they tell their stories, I see other victims standing in the audience and giving them a standing ovation; and their parents look at their children in amazement as they attempt to tell them “Sit down” Sit Down. We haven’t sat down yet…we are standing…keep standing.
by Linda Mary Schaap
Look the other way!
Hide the shame, the tears, the ruin, the fear…
Gloss the truth, squash the ‘lie’ –
So no one will interfere…
Deeply festered is a wound so raw
Yet hidden beneath the acceptable.
Pain not erased even by law
For it wallows in a life susceptible…
Looking only straight ahead
Missing the clues of deception,
While atrocious actions multiply
And hearts are broken without detection…
Tear them off! Reveal the truth!
Shed the light on a tragedy!
See what’s right beside you
A soul in need of majesty…
Diminish the hurt by reaching out
Avoid the shock, the awe, the no!
Listening, unfolding each awful truth
Of a story that just couldn’t be so…
Please, don’t look the other way
And cover the deeds of darkness.
Nor silence an innocent voice
Who cries of confusion, shame, and brokenness…