Toxic Faith & Political Abuse
Spiritual practice should calm and ground you – so you feel hopeful, refreshed, more generous, and more compassionate. Religion and philosophy should promote ever-increasing access to your wise mind or Higher Self. But some movements block connection with your inner wisdom by hammering a terrified, guilty, censoring, or rejecting message. This is spiritual abuse.
As I watched this year’s presidential conventions, I saw how toxic faith gets used by political groups. I realized that any movement, ideology, political campaign, or faith tradition that makes you afraid of the world, afraid of what lies ahead, afraid of change – of losing things as they are, is manipulating your good heart. This is political abuse.
Think about the ideas you’re being asked to support. Watch closely the interpersonal behavior of those at the helm. Allow yourself to notice: Who benefits most from this notion? If you were physically, sexually, or emotionally abused as a child, you become more vulnerable to being lured into abusive political or religious doctrines as an adult.
Here’s another short list of signs you’re in an abusive church or religion or campaign.
- You (or someone else) are physically hurt or threatened by a person in a power position.
- You (or someone else) are sexually approached by a person in a power position.
- Your intimate relationships are not respected by those in authority.
- You’re encouraged to only socialize or converse with those whose beliefs are the same as the group.
- You’re discouraged from consulting other sources (e.g., news venues, literature, holy scriptures) not endorsed by the group.
- You feel you can’t trust your own reason to help you discern truth.
- You feel you can’t make art – or you’re discouraged from trying art forms (e.g., dance, writing, sculpture).
- Meditation is not encouraged. Neither is solitude or quiet reflection.
- Your inner exploration stays invisible or unheard.
- You notice in-groups and out-groups that are not discussed openly.
- You’re afraid of what the elders say about you (or would, if they really knew you).
- You feel alienated from your higher power.
The main reason I wrote Wife Material was to resist the tyranny of a church that tried to lay claim to my mind. I wanted it back. I desperately needed to mute the dogma in my head, so I could listen to my higher self.
Exercise for Re-establishing Contact with your Higher Self
Get out your notebook and a pen. Get comfortable. Write for five minutes on the following.
What makes me slightly uncomfortable about my church (or faith group or political party) is . . .
Set down your journal and do something else for a while. Later today, tell someone else what you wrote – anyone who will listen and not shame you.
I believe you can trust your deepest inner wisdom to guide your thoughts and choices.
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