Walls to Mosaic: Healing from Shame- and Fear-Based Religion
Young people are leaving organized religion, particularly conservative evangelicalism, in droves. They feel constricted by the framework they were told was the “only” right way, and are often weary of and even disgusted by hypocrisy and lack of Christlikeness in the church. Many of them carry wounds of trauma in their exit but without the language or framework to name it trauma. If you find yourself continually burdened by shame about being a bad person, triggered by seemingly innocuous Christian content, afraid to question and think for yourself, or constantly wondering if God is angry with you, then you may have experienced religious trauma. You are not alone, and you can heal. First, we must recognize how religious trauma occurs. It often results from high-control, fear-based religion. Fundamentalist evangelicalism is one such religion, creating lasting and often traumatizing effects in current and former adherents. This book covers topics including biblical literalism, Christian nationalism, anti-modernism, exclusivism, controlling sexual ethics (purity culture and anti-LGBTQ beliefs), and the patriarchy. Each chapter walks readers through the standard evangelical belief on the matter and contrasts this with new, liberating perspectives, while also exploring how evangelical beliefs contribute to religious trauma.
Using memoir mixed with socio-religious commentary, I illustrate the intellectual and emotional path of evangelical formation and deconstruction. Leaving one’s faith home and losing vital relationships can be a heartbreaking process filled with much confusion and uncertainty. Religious trauma only compounds these feelings. With the perspective of a mental health therapist, I connect the dots between certain beliefs and practices and religious trauma.
In order to heal from trauma, part of our task is to recognize where we have been and knit together a new story for where we are going. In part two, I illuminate the scary yet empowering process of creating a new kind of spirituality – whether one ultimately declares themselves a Christian or not. Those recovering from high-control Christian religion will resonate with my story, hopefully find healing in the process, and may even find themselves making amends with a new kind of Christianity.
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