Religious Abuse - If and when did you experience religious abuse? What was it and by whom?

All,

 

I have been doing a lot of reading about the history of religion. Just a hobby. I ran across the following definition:

Religious Abuse is the crushing inner psychological, spiritual and emotional damage suffered by members of authoritarian communities of faith whenever its spiritual authority is twisted by spiritual leaders to achieve a desired goal through unethical, cruel and damaging means.

 

What was your experience in your time in the great MoCh? If so who, what, way, where and when?

 

Gene

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I wouldn't have ever described my experience as religious abuse. I feel like those who hurt me in this religious system did so unintentionally and because they were afraid for me or loved me. However, I have seen people outright abused and manipulated in the name of the church.

 

The first person to come to mind is my sister-in-law. Her ex-husband used the patriarchy as license to control her and others around him. When she didn't want to have a fifth child, he said that God gave him inspiration for the entire family and he felt they should have another baby. She would cry and cry when they were trying because she couldn't imagine having another child. Luckily they didn't conceive.

 

When they were getting divorced he continued trying to pull the "I'm the spiritual head of the household" card and tell her what God wanted for her and their family. He got the bishop on his side and dragged her into his office constantly so they could double team her and try to guilt her out of it. Because he was the head of the household he gave her no access whatsoever to any of their bank accounts or funds and withheld the money she needed to hire an attorney and divorce him.

 

I know this is a domestic situation, but in the Mormon church women are taught that their husband is their spiritual leader, so I think it's religious abuse too. They covenant in a ceremony that is central to everything they believe to hearken unto their husband as he hearkens unto God. And this opens the door for already controlling and abusive people (like her ex) to use a very effective and deep form of manipulation.

I agree with you Astro Logic.
and more so when they compound the shame by how filthy of a sin it is when it's actually a natural and normal part of one's sexual development.
I cant remember any abuse by one person, but I’m reasonably certain I’ve been damaged by the MoCh.  The more I read other ex-mormon stories and think about my experience, the more damage I see.

My personality is such that I’ve always been a worrier, and it appears certain the church greatly magnified my worries with their false teachings about Satan, Hell, and being left-out of the happy Celestial group.

Often in my youth, when praying, I would worry about Satan coming and overpowering me because of the Joseph Smith story.

Also, being a perfectionist, my inability to “keep all the commandments” created a great amount of stress on me.

I had good parents and siblings that I enjoyed greatly, but I often was in the depths of despair, fearing I would not have a family in the next life because I could not be perfect. 
I finally read the book “Believing Christ” that said Christ can justify us through his sacrifice, and allow us to become perfect in the distant future.  That seemed like a good plan, but I saw two problems with it. 

First, the book is not an official church book.  Second, I still understood that you had to do ALL you could do before he would do the rest, and I never had the feeling I was doing ALL I could do.  I rested and played too much.  It still seemed like I had to be perfect.  I had to constantly be working for the building of the kingdom at the absolute limit of my strength and abilities.  Could never let-up.  Sounded and still sounds like impossible perfectionism to me, as well as a big contradiction to the scripture “Take my yoke upon you…. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light”

I’ve had an anxiety disorder and nearly constant depression for at least 35 years.  I have no way of knowing how much of those problems are due to the church teachings, but I’m fairly certain they are responsible for a considerable amount.

Another abuse was brainwashing me to give a lot of my income to fund brainwashing of more people.

Another is taking a great deal of my time that could have been put to better use.

Another is teaching me bad science that I had to unlearn.

Another was causing my wife to be unable to be near me from day one and leaving me because I wasn’t perfect and didn’t do what god told her I should do.

Another was causing the alienation of my family that I love.

The church has done me some good, but I don’t think I’m overstating it when I say the abuse outweighs the good by at least a thousand times.  Probably much more.
Astro Logic, I can't be sure the church caused my wife to be unable to be near me, but she was a driven mormon and appeared to take the teaching to be perfect to heart more than me.  She was also obsessed with keeping her sexuality hidden, not daring to show any skin below her neck.  She, like my mother and some other females I've known, seemed to be sexually repressed.  Probably due, in part, to the church teaching that sex is a horrible thing outside of a narrowly defined use.

I was guilty of no major "sins", but even minor sins freaked-her-out, despite the fact she was not "perfect" either.   The fact that I had masturbated in the past was a huge sin in her mind, and she wouldn't believe me when I said I had stopped when we started dating.

Another huge sin to her was the fact that I had not been as careful with the "sacred garments" as she thought I should have been.  I had some in the basement, that got wet when the basement flooded and I had laid them out in the utility room to dry and had forgotten them when I moved to my other house.

She indicated that one huge thing about me that bothered her was that years earlier when I dated her, god revealed to her that I was supposed to ask her to marry me at that time, and I had not.  I guess I can’t lay the blame for that one on the church, because it teaches that no one can have revelation for another person unless they have authority over that person.  I think that's right anyway.  Hard to tell for certain.  Which church teachings are gospel and which are not is hard to pin-down, not to mention that they change constantly.

Astro Logic, I do remember wondering if she was trying to punish me for not asking her to marry me the first time. 

Your thoughts are interesting and something to think about.  It sounds like you have some good ideas on the subject.

Uggghhh...Having a spouse like that would drive me crazy.
To paraphrase Scottish philosopher David Hume, sometimes it's not so much the quantity of suffering in the world, but also the quality of it, that leads us to doubt the existence of an all-powerful, benevolent God.  I say this because I had similar feelings to yours in the church. And while feelings of diffidence and anxiety still pervade my conscious from time to time, I can proudly say that now, once I stopped attending church, I felt considerably less like a hypocrite.

Due to the fact that started this I guess that I should say more.

 

I will just take one example and that is the MoCh doctrine, (non-doctrine) on people with black skin. This damned doctrine originated, as best I can tell to placate the slave holders near Independence MO. we sold out the slaves by stating that they could not really become members of the church. I can understand panic and fear leading to a bad decision,

BUT they allowed generation after generation grow up beleiving it. They let me grow up with that sh## it my head. That is abuse.

They also defended it. If you read Brigham, Mark E, Joseph F, Mormon Doctrine etc you can see that it was not only believed but expanded. Some how the doctrine pops up in Joseph's translation of the scrolls.

I was at the LA temple last week tending kids while the recomended ones were in the temple. The top dog at the visitors center wanted to know why I was not inside. When I mentioned the doctrine of Blacks he dismissed it as something that was a long time ago. I replied that it should have been corrected a long time ago. Then he made the mistake of mentioning Prop (H)8...children will now grow up with the evil homosexuals stamped in thier minds. UGH!!!!!!!!!!!  

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