Religious Trauma

Where to begin? Where to end for that matter? Although we all have very different beginnings, our end is the common thread we share with one another. But is there an end to the trauma that we have experienced through religion and its counterpart, religiosity? Maybe not. Maybe it’s just managed like other forms of PTSD. Minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day, week by week, month by month, year by year.

Sound too dramatic? Sadly, it’s not. For many, the post-traumatic results of religious abuse can last for years. That abuse can take many forms: the child who was made to feel worthless due to “original sin”; the preteen who was shamed for their gender identity; the teen who was made to feel her sexual feelings are taboo; the young adult who was convinced he had to give his young life going door-to-door or for some other ministry, because he’d get a better spot in heaven; the adult who drank the Kool-Aid of destructive teachings, like the doctrine of double predestination, eternal conscious torment, and a wrathful, vengeful god.

These are but a glimpse of the abuse. Dig a little deeper and the rabbit hole gets very dark, including many churches turning a blind eye or, worse, contributing to marital abuse, child abuse, sexual abuse and much more. Is it any wonder that there are a growing number of people leaving religion and the church?

As the Kool-Aid wears off during our deconstruction and we experience withdrawals—including rejection from family and friends, a major identity crisis, and floundering around grasping at any bit of the God we thought we knew, sometimes feeling like our Source of Light is slipping through our fingertips—we have one another. We have each other to share our experiences and to process this “spiritual evolution” we are going through.

We, who have gone through the withdrawals, have many names as this diaspora of Christians becomes more and more prevalent, including Exvangelicals, outcasts and heretics. There was a time I thought the idea of “ex” or “out” or, certainly, heretic was to be feared and ashamed of. Now, I am honored to be among the “ex’s” and the “out’s” and the heretics.

We are among the first on the frontline of bringing a new way to share and enjoy our experiences of spirituality without religion or religiosity and the control, judgment and abuse that come with it. Where to begin? Where to end? Let us not forget the past but let us also not dwell on the past. Let us use the past to make us stronger and wiser and help us create new beginnings. Let’s begin now.