As my interview with spiritual trauma therapy specialist Kathleen Shannon will indicate, a definition for religious abuse is difficult to nail it down. But according to Caswell and Swindle (2018) religious abuse occurs within three categories.
- Abuse perpetrated by religious leaders.
- Abuse perpetrated by a religious group.
- Abuse with a religious or spiritual component.
There is a good amount of literature about religious and spiritual abuse and what comes up, again and again, is that firstly, religious abuse is ubiquitous in conservative and fundamentalist faith traditions. And secondly, religious abuse has a profound effect on personal well being and mental health.
In this interview, Kathleen and I will be talking about the dominant forms of religious abuse which are:
- Power-posturing and authoritarianism
- Double Talk and hypocrisy.
- Lifestyle rigidity and a preoccupation with performance.
- Top-down communication and the control of doubt and dissent.
- Image control and the pressure to keep everything looking sweet.
- The tendency to think that everyone has to wrong but your group.
- The extra religious tax on women.
What’s interesting in this interview is that as two people who come from two different backgrounds we soon realise that we have a great deal in common. Which begs many questions about what is going on society that Christianity that denominations have been captured by a form of church that has great potential to cause harm.