I have been speaking to a few people lately and it seems that only a few people (like myself) are saying what a lot of people are thinking. I have seen the effects of an abusive church and I have seen the casualties along the way. So below are some signs to look out for which may indicate that you in an abusive church.
Taken from the Church Mafia website
- There is strong, control-oriented leadership. (Authoritarianism)
- The use of guilt, fear, and intimidation by the leadership to manipulate members and keep them in line.
- Followers led to think that there is no other church quite like theirs, and that God has singled them out for a special purpose.
- Other, more traditional churches are put down as being less “holy” or “religious”. Self-righteous, Arrogant, Prideful attitudes are common (Elitism)
- Subjective experience, especially public or group testimonials (sometimes coached), are encouraged and emphasized.
- Many areas of members’ lives are subject to scrutiny, and the church standards established are usually based upon the life-style adopted by the leader.
- Rules and legalism abound.
- Members not following rules established by the leadership (or threatening exposure of the manipulation and abuse) are often labeled “Reprobates”, “Dupes of Satan”, “Jezebel” or “Bastard Ministries” and are dealt with harshly. They are often talked about in a negative light from the pulpit. Ostracism of former members and excommunication of dissenters are common.
- For members choosing to leave a spiritually abusive church, returning to the realm of normalcy is difficult.
- Oftentimes a spouse will show more loyalty to the church/pastor than to their spouse.
- Oftentimes members of an abusive church will see what is wrong, but “turn the other cheek” out of fear.