when you're questioning your faith after being hurt by your religious community, here are three ways to cope
Credit: Pixabay/CC0 Public Domain

For the past few months, religion has never been far from U.S. headlines.

The Supreme Court has overturned constitutional abortion rights. Congress is debating whether to codify protections for same-sex marriage. Courts have been asked to decide whether religious schools and business owners have to hire, serve or acknowledge LGBTQ members and organizations.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Justice is investigating the Southern Baptist Convention after a consultant’s report revealed a history of sexual abuse and cover-ups—and new lawsuits alleging abuse in the Catholic Church continue to appear.

As an assistant professor of counseling who studies spirituality, I have seen how controversies like these can activate memories and symptoms of religious abuse. They can also be challenging for people who have not experienced abuse but have difficult relationships to religion—especially those who have seriously questioned or left their faith.

People may have built their world around a church or church leader, then discovered their trust was misplaced. They may have been pressured to participate in activities that went against their values, or felt blamed for their story of abuse, gender identity or sexual orientation. They may have been told to stop gossiping when they reported mistreatment.

Religious rejection can be especially painful if it seems as though it’s not only a community rejecting you, but God. These experiences can evoke feelings of anxiety and depression—but there are steps you can take to begin healing.

Many kinds of questions

Therapy often helps people who are wrestling with aspects of their religious lives, whether or not they’ve experienced abuse. For example, people may reflect on the gender roles they were expected to perform, or why they were told not to question leaders’ decisions.

Some, especially evangelical Christians, refer to the process of rethinking their beliefs and religious identity as “deconstruction.” Deconstruction involves reflecting upon one’s beliefs, the way they were developed, and determining what values and beliefs one desires to maintain.

In cases in which people question their beliefs because of a painful experience, it can be difficult for them to separate their higher power from the people who hurt them through religious teachings and practices. In my experience as a counselor, I’ve observed individuals blame themselves; experience confusion about their faith, identity and place in the world; and wonder whether God abandoned them.

For some people, these experiences may result in leaving their faith. This process can be difficult, as family, friends and faith community members may disapprove of this decision, resulting in strained or severed relationships.

Recognizing abuse

Spiritual experiences become abusive when they include emotional or financial manipulation, physical or sexual abuse, discrimination, humiliation or mistreatment. The abuse may be systemic, and perpetrators may have used their authority or Scripture to defend their actions.

For some survivors, abuse can result in religious trauma, when they experience lasting symptoms. According to the latest revised edition of the diagnostic manual for mental health professionals, signs of a traumatic response include recurring dreams, flashbacks, avoidance of activities related to the event, negative beliefs about oneself and the world, feelings of betrayal or detachment from others and hypervigilance.

Counseling

If you believe you or a loved one may have experienced religious abuse or trauma, or are in the deconstruction process, it is important to consider how you can support your mental health and well-being, especially given the complex relationship between faith, identity and trauma. For example, if you have felt harmed in the name of a higher power, it is common to experience confusion or even an existential crisis, in which you might question your purpose and basic assumptions about the world.

First, seek professional help. Licensed professional counselors are trained to identify symptoms of abuse and trauma and can help you process experiences and create an action plan.

Religious communities often stigmatize mental health treatment and treat mental health issues as though they are purely spiritual. They may treat the decision to seek professional help as a sign of a lack of faith in God. However, going to counseling does not necessarily mean you have to abandon your beliefs at the door.

A licensed professional counselor should be able to incorporate your faith to whatever level you find helpful. However, not all mental health professionals are comfortable addressing religious issues in counseling—although there are efforts to improve this through training, ethical codes and updating professional competencies.

To see if prospective counselors can provide appropriate care, you can ask what experience they have integrating spirituality into treatment, and whether they have experience working with religious abuse or with issues that led you to question your religious identity.

Connection and community

Second, connect with others who are going through similar experiences. You may have been shamed for telling your story, or you may have left your religious community feeling alone and betrayed. You are not alone.

Religious trauma support groups like Sacred Wilderness and Reclamation Collective can connect you with others who can identify with your experiences, online or in person. If you are not ready to share, you can read about the experiences of others on Twitter, with hashtags such as #ChurchToo and #ReligiousTrauma, or listen to a podcast like “Bodies Behind the Bus.” However, if you find that your symptoms worsen reading these experiences, take a break.

Finally, find community outside of religion. If you decided to leave your house of worship, you may be grieving that loss of community, and a sense of connection is crucial to mental health. Individuals in isolation have higher levels of anxiety and depression, weakened immune systems and even higher risk of early death.

Community means finding people where you can connect with others authentically and encourage one another. This can come from fitness groups, book clubs, art classes or other interest groups. Take the opportunity to explore what you are curious about and learn more about yourself—and know that recovery is possible.

If you live in the U.S. and are in immediate crisis or having suicidal thoughts, you can call or text 988 or go to 988lifeline.org/chat/ to chat with someone 24/7. Outside the U.S., you can visit findahelpline.com to find support. Provided by The Conversation

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Citation: When you’re questioning your faith after being hurt by your religious community, here are three ways to cope (2022, September 22) retrieved 22 September 2022 from https://phys.org/news/2022-09-youre-faith-religious-ways-cope.html This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.

Keyword: When you're questioning your faith after being hurt by your religious community, here are three ways to cope

TECH'S NEWS RELATED

ETtech Deals Digest: Big-ticket funding for Indian startups far from sight

ETtechIndian startups are facing the brunt of the ongoing tech winter and severe macroeconomic conditions gripping the West. It has been months that any Indian startup has raked in investment in triple digits million. This week was no different as global funding has dipped drastically and the overall funding environment ...

View more: ETtech Deals Digest: Big-ticket funding for Indian startups far from sight

iOS 16 users review – bugs affect social apps the most

When a new iOS version is launched, it is bound to bring some unforeseen bugs. These bugs will also cause some strange problems in third-party applications, and iOS 16 is no exception. An analysis of user reviews in the weeks after the iOS 16 release shows that social networking apps ...

View more: iOS 16 users review – bugs affect social apps the most

Generating New Materials by Mimicking Fundamental Rules Hidden in Nature’s Growth Patterns

Caltech researchers developed a framework to design new materials that mimic the fundamental rules hidden in nature’s growth patterns. Credit: Caltech Inspired by the way termites build their nests, scientists at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) developed a framework to design new materials that mimic the fundamental rules ...

View more: Generating New Materials by Mimicking Fundamental Rules Hidden in Nature’s Growth Patterns

Digital Assets And Fintech Are The Evolution Of The Financial Industry

Influence Of Financial Technology And Digital Assets The Growth Of Fintech And Online Shopping A Rising Need For Data Protection A Crashing Tide Of Cryptocurrencies Fostering Economic Growth In Conclusion (Photo : Kanchanara on Unsplash) The birth of a new business exemplifies the world’s ongoing effort to adapt to ...

View more: Digital Assets And Fintech Are The Evolution Of The Financial Industry

New Hacker Technique Lets Attackers Disable Antivirus Solutions and Infect the Users Device Anyway

A New Method was Discovered and Being Used by Hackers to Bypass Antivirus Solutions The Vulnerability Method was Known as CVE-2019-16098 BlackByte was Found Using the Method to Disable Over 1,000 Drivers Sophos Gave Tips on How Organizations can Protect Themselves Against This Method Lazarus Group was Spotted Using ...

View more: New Hacker Technique Lets Attackers Disable Antivirus Solutions and Infect the Users Device Anyway

Honda Reveals the Design of the Electric Prologue SUV

The Prologue SUV Hybrids and Electric Vehicles Today Honda has finally revealed more details about the Prologue SUV, according to Engadget. Perfect for vehicle owners who don’t like flashy designs, this electric vehicle may just be the perfect choice for you. (Photo :  -/AFP via Getty Images)The interior of ...

View more: Honda Reveals the Design of the Electric Prologue SUV

Learn a new language, skills and more with this self-starters bundle

Let’s face it: Most of us take the internet for granted. Right here in our pocket is a portal to most of the world’s accumulated knowledge, and what do we use it for? Games and Keanu memes (not that there’s anything wrong with either). Instead of looking to the ...

View more: Learn a new language, skills and more with this self-starters bundle

Rocket Report: Falcon Heavy launch on tap; South Korea seeks Russia alternative

Also, the Ariane 6 rocket is inching closer to the launch pad.

View more: Rocket Report: Falcon Heavy launch on tap; South Korea seeks Russia alternative

Food from the printer

How does the Pixel 7 stack up against Apple's iPhone 14 and the Samsung Galaxy S22?

In Apple's shadow, Google takes new route to face recognition on Pixel phones

Elon Musk and Hu Xijin face off on Twitter as Tesla founder claps back at Chinese nationalist influencer over Russia-Ukraine war comments

Octopus Ventures bolsters deep tech investor team

NASA Research Says Moon May Have Formed in Mere Hours

Can Cats and Coyote Co-Exist? Surprising Findings From Suburban Los Angeles

iPhone should switch to USB-C, says iPod inventor Tony Fadell

New solution from Silicon Labs streamlines Amazon Sidewalk developer journey

iCatch Technology AI imaging SoC driving electronic mirror and ADAS advancement

3 Gaming and social trends to watch out for in the metaverse

UK AI investment reaches record $3.6bn despite economic downturn

OTHER TECH NEWS

;