Abuse can be of any type, such as physical, emotional, sexual, or spiritual. However, over the last few years, there have been growing concerns about spiritual abuse among Christians. Spiritual abuse is often done by a spiritual leader, system, or influential person to dominate and manipulate their followers. Spiritual abuse can be challenging to identify, and many people in the world are not even aware of such abuse.
Spiritual abuse is an act of oppression and domination of the people within a religious organization and forcing them to follow the leaders without their will. Spiritual abuse is emotional and psychological abuse that can be defined as the systematic pattern of abusive and regulating behavior in a religious setting.
Spiritual abuse can give deep scars to those who experience it. Fortunately, the increasing spiritual abuse cases in the churches have given birth to foundations such as Mormon Alliance which are working tirelessly to stop spiritual abuse in the LDS church. The Mormon Alliance is focused to promote freedom, Intellectuality, honesty, Integrity, and quick inquiries in the church.
Although spiritual abuse is not restricted to any specific religion and culture, a person who belongs to any religion in the world can be involved in spiritual abuse and can make anyone its victim.
Spiritual abuse can occur in the following situations.
- When a person insults or mocks another person’s faith and religious sentiments.
- When someone prevents their partner from practicing their religion or hamper their religious freedom.
- When someone uses their partner’s religious or spiritual beliefs to dominate and harass them.
- Forcing kids to practice the religious belief that the other partner has not agreed to.
Spiritual abuse can be more challenging to identify and handle as each person has the freedom of practicing their faith, and it’s their personal right. Therefore, most of the time, victims don’t even realize they are getting abused. Moreover, the offender can also defend the abuse by claiming it’s their own religious freedom.
Notable Signs of Spiritual Abuse
When spiritual leaders in the churches act like a god or claim themselves a messenger of god, they might have suffered from “god syndrome.” Many religious leaders claim that they speak for god and are blessed with healing powers. Not just that, they tell the followers if they have to please the god, they can do it by pleasing the leaders. Most of the time, it has been observed that such leaders are emotionally unstable and usually go through mood swings. Followers who work closely with such leaders might have an idea about their weird behavior that the leaders hide from the outside world.
This happens when the leader demands extreme admiration, praise, and respect from their followers. The followers are forced to stand and clap every time the leader enters the room. If the followers don’t follow it, they have been told that they are not offering themselves to the supreme authority, and it can lead to severe consequences. The leader takes the help of religious text and belief to scare them that they are not following the right path. Besides, leaders also harass the followers with the help of religious addiction and forced confession.
Perfectionism and Strict Rules
If your leader wants you to follow strict rules and laws to prove that you are pure enough to provide your services in the church, it is also considered spiritual abuse. Leaders try to convince the followers that by serving in the church, they are saving themselves. They use this as an excuse to tell their followers that they need to be disciplined and obedient to serve the Lord. In reality, they use the followers to increase their influence. They brainwash the followers and ask them to follow rigid rules so they can gain control over them.
One of the common signs of spiritual abuse is fear. Leaders take help from religious texts to create fear among followers. It increases the dependency of followers on the leaders to take every decision of their life. The aim is to create fear about the dark forces and make people afraid of the spiritual world. As a result, followers become dependent on the leader to seek help from the dark forces that the leader has created for them.