Wait – religion and faith aren’t the same thing?
Nope. They are different.
Religion – a personal set or institutionalized system of religious attitudes, beliefs, and practices.
Faith – something that is believed especially with strong conviction
Faith is the heart – the belief in something or someone. Religion is the social construct surrounding the faith.
So, now that we got that out of the way – on to the real reason I am writing.
I’ve gotten a lot of flack for starting this Integrative Religion Recovery practice. I’m anti-church. I’m an atheist. I have no moral compass. I just need to get back into a church. What I went through in church didn’t really happen like I remember it – I’ve exaggerated it over time.
Nope. Sorry. None of that is true.
You see – there’s that difference between faith and religion. I have faith in God (though it does look much different now than it did 10 years ago, but is there anyone whose faith has remained unchanged over a decade?) but I have little to no faith in the religious systems that abound. Sure – churches (and religious institutions of other faiths) are made up of humans and humans are sinful and fail. They make bad decisions. But sometimes it goes beyond simple human failures.
Sometimes there is a conscious decision to lead a flock astray. Maybe it’s for power. Maybe money. Maybe fame or notoriety. Sometimes the rise to power and the controlling and manipulation of the congregants is a product of a very warped system. This second point is how seemingly good churches (or institutions) become dangerous.
Sadly, I’ve seen and been involved with churches that have become dangerous. I’ve seen it take time- like a slowly creeping fog of confusion. I’ve seen it happen abruptly with the firing of all staff and a sudden fresh start.
Are you at risk? Could your religious institution be corrupt? Are there warning signs that it is headed down that path? Or, have you been in a church that was dangerous and now you are afraid to step back in?
Understanding the techniques used – knowingly or not – is key. Knowledge is power. With knowledge, you can determine if it is a church that is losing its way a bit or if there is something deeper and more sinister going on.
Join me for a look inside the world of cults. Discover what methods are used for manipulation and brainwashing. Dive into some case studies. Gather tools to prevent being taken in by groups like these. Click through this image to learn more about this amazing program.
What questions do YOU have about cults? Let me know in the comments!