I used to be a dominionist without even knowing it.

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I’ve written about dominionist Christianity extensively, so I won’t describe it at length here.  One of the most toxic and abusive doctrines of dominionism is that if you are vulnerable in any way — if you are poor, sick, disabled, mentally ill, or even a person of color (in dominionist doctrine, people of color are believed to be derived from the line of Ham, the son of Cain, who was Adam and Eve’s “bad” son — in the past this has been used as “biblical” justification of slavery) — these are all indications of God’s disfavor and people “afflicted” with these things deserve their lot.   In contrast, God’s favored people are always rewarded with great wealth, perfect health, and no disabilities.  They are also usually white and Republican.  This is why dominionist Christians feel no obligation to show compassion toward the sick, poor and disabled (as Christ would do) — because to help them would be to go against God’s will.   It’s also why they seem to think unlimited power and greed (and oppression of others) is perfectly moral.

But getting back to myself.  While I was never a dominionist Christian or even a conservative evangelical, my attitude in the past toward myself was a very negative, self punishing one.   I always had at least a nominal faith in God, but I truly believed he disliked me and my terrible luck, my bad relationships, my inability to form close relationships, my emotionally abusive family, and my poverty were all punishments God was inflicting on me because he hated me.    I looked at others and saw how fortunate they were (or at least seemed to be) and felt like God must like them much better.  Sometimes I thought God only put me on earth as an example to others of what not to be.

This made me feel completely worthless and made me want to hide in shame from the world.   It made me painfully shy, which only exacerbated my problems meeting people and socializing.    In my recovery from narcissistic abuse, I realized this negative, self defeating narrative was self inflicted due to internalizing abuse inflicted on me when I was young.   I began to realize that I had good qualities and never had the chance to develop them.

I like myself now.  No, I’m not living my “dream life” (that would involve traveling all over the world and writing bestselling books) and I will probably never have a high powered, high paying career at my age.  I probably won’t ever achieve all my dreams, but really, who does?   I’m still on the lower end of the income scale, but I wouldn’t say I’m impoverished anymore.   I have enough money to be comfortable and even buy a few luxuries (like occasional inexpensive vacations, beach trips, new books, the occasional dinner out, and nice clothing).

I’m still alone (not in a relationship), and even though sometimes that’s lonely and I even occasionally feel sorry for myself, I also know I prefer things that way for now.  I’m still working on myself, trying to find out more about me and what God wants for me (and what I want for myself).

I feel fortunate to have two wonderful adult children, both of whom I have a great relationship with, and three awesome cats.   I also live in a beautiful part of the country, with endless opportunities for photo taking and just enjoying the natural world.  Not everyone is so fortunate to have that.

Recovery from narcissistic abuse coupled with reframing God as a benevolent and loving Father who wants all his children to be happy and healthy rather than as a punishing and hateful bully who favors some of his children over others (and rewards them primarily with wealth and material abundance) has made all the difference.

I think this is why I find Christian dominionism so triggering and scary.  Not just because it’s become a real threat to our basic freedoms and rights, but because it’s a toxic, abusive, and hateful belief in an avenging, constantly angry, narcissistic God who likes to bully and punish the most vulnerable.  That sort of God, to me, is as bad as the devil.   I think that God was made in his narcissistic control freak human makers’ own image.

I’m so glad I don’t believe in that God anymore.

 

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13 red flags of a dominionist church.

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I’ve written about Christian dominionism before, especially as it relates to our current political situation here in America, but what exactly is it, and how can you tell if your church has gone dominionist or has dominionist tendencies?

What is dominionism?

First, we need to define dominionism.  What exactly is it anyway?  Basically, it’s a postmillennialist theology that was started by Rousas Rushdoony in the 1960s, with the publication of his tome, Institutes of Biblical Law.  It has its roots in Calvinism, and is in fact Calvinism on steroids.   It’s a form of theonomy, or theological totalitarianism, that teaches that God has mandated humans to prepare the world for Christ’s return by “christianizing” the “7 mountains” of society: government, family, media, education, religion, entertainment/arts, and business.   They seek to do this by installing only Christians (specifically, dominionist evangelicals) into the top echelons of each of these seven “mountains”  who will then work on changing them.   One of the tasks of the people mandated to transform the “government” mountain is replacing the Constitution with Old Testament biblical (Mosaic) law.   In fact, they’re busy doing this right now, which is why there are so many dominionist Christians in the Trump administration.  Dominionists (and many “normal” evangelicals also)  believe that Trump has been “anointed” by God as a “wrecking ball” to help bring about God’s kindgom on earth.   Many people have compared dominionism to ISIS and the Taliban, two extremist factions of Islam that also don’t recognize the separation of religion and government and have made laws based on the Q’uran (sharia law) the law of the land in some Middle Eastern countries.

Dominionism isn’t a denomination.  It’s an authoritarian theology that has infiltrated a variety of Christian denominations in America, mostly evangelical, fundamentalist, or pentecostal (you’re pretty safe from it if you’re in a mainline or liberal Protestant or Catholic church — for now).  Dominionism has flown under the radar for years and has gone under several different names:  New Apostolic Reformation (NAR),  Manifest Sons of God, the Latter Rain movement (an early incarnation from the 1970s), Kingdom Now,  Kingdom Theology, Joel’s Army, and other names.    It’s actually a fascist and nationalist political agenda wrapped up in Christian piety.  As a post-millennialist doctrine, it has a different eschatology from “normal” evangelicalism, which is traditionally pre-millennialist and therefore teaches that the Tribulation and Rapture will occur before Christ returns.   “Normal” evangelicals (and mainline Christians who believe in the Second Coming) adhere to the biblical teaching that we have no way to know when Christ will return, and there is no way to “prepare” for it, since God’s kingdom is not of this world.

Dominionism is heretical for many reasons but mostly because it says Jesus can’t return until the planet is “Christianized.”   For Americans, this means a installing a theocracy based on Old Testament laws.   If that sounds a lot like radical Islam to you, that’s because it is.  Their agenda is eventual world domination (dominion) and a One World Religion.  This is unbiblical.  We were never called to force certain religious beliefs on others, only to spread the Gospel.  To force a religion on society by way of its laws negates the concept of free will.  It also corrupts both the religion and the government.   This is why the Founding Fathers were clear about the separation of church and state.

The Bible also never says that only Man can change the world for Christ.  In fact, we cannot facilitate Christ’s return ourselves because we can’t even know when He is returning (Mark 13:32).

God’s kingdom, according to John 18:36, is not of this world.   But dominionists believe it very much is and to be pleasing to God, the world must be changed to Jesus’ liking.   Dominionism is also extremely authoritarian and very cult-like.    Many survivors of spiritual or religious abuse came from churches that embraced tenets of dominionism and reconstructionism.

Here’s an excellent (and scary) description of dominionism from a political research website:

Dominionism Rising: A Theocratic Movement Hiding in Plain Sight 

Dominionism has been working its dark magic within American evangelical churches,  and even some charismatic Catholic churches.  Now that it’s infiltrated our political system, it threatens the integrity of our Constitution and our freedom.  Many of the current GOP in high level positions, and some members of Trump’s staff are actively trying to install dominionist doctrine into our laws.   Here are 13 red flags to look for.

1.  The church uses military imagery or language.  This is a very visible and immediately obvious red flag of a dominionist church.  Such symbolism indicates a church that has no respect for the separation of church and state — and even believes it is mandated to change the law of the land to its liking.  Ads and educational materials include military imagery such as shields, swords, guns,  images of soldiers at war, sometimes combining the cross with nationalistic symbols like American flags.   They use terms like spiritual warfare, warrior for Christ, soldier for Christ, prayer warrior, POTUS Shield, Joel’s Army, etc.   God himself is portrayed not as a loving Father, but as constantly angry, full of wrath and vengeance, intolerant, and punishing for the smallest infractions.    Extreme nationalism is prominent too.  America is believed to be God’s chosen nation (the “new Israel”) mandated to convert (by force, if necessary) the world.

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2.  The church tells you how you should vote.   In America, this nearly always means voting for the “pro-life” candidate, regardless of how immoral that candidate may be in other ways.   Abortion and to a lesser extent, homosexuality, are the two pet “culture wars” issues given outsized importance by these churches.    This red flag alone though does not indicate a dominionist church, since many conservative and fundamentalist/evangelical churches frown on abortion and homosexuality.  But taken in context with other red flags, it’s still something to be on the lookout for.    Be wary of any church that tells you to vote Republican, says Trump is “God’s anointed,” or rails on about abortion and homosexuality constantly but doesn’t seem to care  very much about other moral issues such as greed, pride, pedophilia, poverty, racism, human rights abuses, adultery, dishonesty, or cruelty.

3.  The church encourages you to leave your non-believing loved ones.   Dominionist churches operate very much like cults because in fact they are cults.  Cults such as Scientology very often coerce their adherents into disconnecting with non-believing friends or family members, who are demonized.  Enemies of Scientology are called “Suppressive Persons” or SPs for short (here’s more about my own short foray into Scientology, in case anyone is interested).    In dominionist churches, anyone who isn’t a believer — even other kinds of Christians — are said to be doing Satan’s work.   In fact, some dominionists believe that non-dominionists are naturally evil because they come from Cain’s bloodline (they believe that the “right kind” of Christians are from Abel’s bloodline) so they are predestined for Hell no matter what (I told you this was Calvinism on steroids!)

So if your church leader tells you a relationship you have is sinful or accuses your friend or family member of being of the devil because they believe differently or have a lifestyle the church disapproves of, and they tell you you must cut off that person to avoid God’s wrath,  run away as fast as you can.  Dangerous people and organizations both attempt to isolate their prey from the people they love in order to control them.   It’s a form of divide and conquer.

4.  The church says we can and should seek signs and wonders.  Many evangelical churches emphasize “signs and wonders” (spontaneous healing, “glory clouds,” speaking in tongues, deliverance, exorcism, laying on hands, etc.) as a physical manifestation of the holy spirit.  Pentecostal and charismatic evangelical worship services focus on attempting to bring about these supernatural phenomena and as a result, it’s hard to not get drawn in by all the intense and uncontrolled emotion.  Dominionism goes a step further, saying humans are mandated by God to “manifest” signs and wonders, since God is in each of us.   This is very similar to New Age teaching.  In fact, many dominionist churches, such as the Bethel megachurch in California, are a strange hybrid of Christian fundamentalism and New age religion (Bethel is also known for an odd and disturbing practice known as “grave sucking.” ).    Dreams are also given great importance, and even quasi-occult practices such as astral projection are practiced: there are dominionist preachers and authors who claim they have traveled to heaven (and hell).   Signs and wonders (miracles) may be real for all I know, but I don’t think it’s a good idea to be conjuring them for their own sake or as “proof” God exists.   I think it could even be dangerous (not all supernatural occurrences come from God), so if you belong to a church that says you must take part in such occult activities or that something’s wrong if you can’t speak in tongues, conjure a “glory cloud,” or heal people spontaneously, find another church.

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Attendees at Bethel Church catching manifested gold dust from a “glory cloud.”

 

5.  The church says certain people are “anointed,” or chosen by God — and says you must obey those people.   In this regard, dominionism has been compared to the Roman Catholic Church, which believes in intercessors between us and God, such as popes, priests and bishops.   In dominionist churches, certain people are “anointed” (often self-proclaimed) as prophets or apostles, and they have dominion over everyone else.    To disobey or resist such an “anointed” person is considered a sin.   Since these churches consider Trump to be “anointed by God” (regardless of his continued immorality and lack of repentance for his sins),  to disagree with Trump means you disagree with God himself and have a “jezebel spirit.”

If your heart tells you something is wrong, I think it would be immoral not to disobey.  We were given a conscience which is a gift of God, and helps us manifest the holy spirit in the world (the same way our minds do — it is godly to use our critical thinking skills!)  While good works may or may not be necessary for salvation, they certainly are a “good fruit” proving we are using the conscience and thinking ability we were given and acting in a Christlike manner (even if we are not Christians).  Who can argue with that? It sure wasn’t Satan who gave us brains and a conscience!

If you know your leader is doing something immoral,  I think it’s the godly thing to call it out or at least refuse to take part in it.   What if your pastor asks you to perform a sexual act on them or cheat on your spouse?  Is to refuse to do so immoral? I certainly hope not!  I think there are always circumstances in which disobedience is not only the correct thing to do, it’s the only moral thing to do.

6.  The church puts great importance on blind obedience.   This ties closely with #5.   Dominionist churches put an inordinate amount of emphasis on unquestioning submission to authority, often quoting Romans 13, which says that every man in a position of power was put there by God, and therefore we are not to question God’s will.   Using this logic, even Hitler, Stalin and Mussolini were placed in power by God.   You could also ask a dominionist why Barack Obama was so vilified by the religious right, since according to their doctrine, he must have been put there by God as well.   Not only is blind obedience valued over critical thinking (which is a sin), to insist on “rights,” including civil rights, is considered to be satanic.

Here’s a thought experiment.  Dominionists might want to ask themselves if undergoing an abortion in China is the godly thing to do, since Chinese law mandates a couple must not have more than one child — and therefore to refuse an abortion is to disobey the law.    Likewise, would the American Revolution have ever happened — or any revolution in all of history ever happened — had disobedience or resistance to authority not come into play?

On a side note, I’ll add that dominionist child rearing methods are extremely authoritarian and oppressive, even cruel.   The goal of such draconian and harsh parenting is to “break the child’s will,” as you would “break” a horse — but really what happens is the child grows up to be a broken person unable to think for themselves, afraid to experience genuine emotion — and all too often becomes an abuser themselves.

7. The church preaches the “prosperity gospel.”  While not all prosperity gospel churches are dominionist, all dominionist churches preach the prosperity gospel.   Dominionism is really a sort of hyper-Calvinism, which states that God blesses those who please him with financial and material rewards (“name it and claim it”).   So if you are poor or struggling,  then you deserve your poverty.   You’re displeasing to God in some way, or your faith isn’t strong enough and God is trying to “awaken” you to the error of your ways.   It would therefore be wrong to offer such a person help because that’s interfering with God’s will.  The prosperity gospel also puts a great deal of emphasis on tithing, which I describe in #8.

8.  The church puts great importance on tithing and “donations.”   Even if you are poor and can’t feed your family, you are told you must tithe a large portion of your income to the church.  Failing to tithe the right amount is considered sinful.   This is another red flag of a cult, because cults always find ways to extract large amounts of money from you, often promising you nebulous things such as greater prosperity, happiness or peace of mind in return.    Failing to attain those goals means you have failed — or are displeasing to God.   The church is like a gambling casino: the house always wins.   It is always right, you are always wrong.  If you belong to a church whose leader is extremely wealthy and flaunts that wealth, and the poor are blamed for their own financial condition,  run.

9.  Women are treated as second class citizens.  Women are held in very low regard in dominionist churches, though not all churches that order women to be “helpmeets” and submit to the authority of their husbands, fathers, and other male relatives are necessarily dominionist.  They could just be ultraconservative.   But again, this is something you will see in dominionist churches.   Of course, abortion is forbidden in most conservative churches, but if birth control is also frowned on (outside the Catholic Church), and women are told their only value is to have as many children as God gives them, or if having many babies is referred to as “building an army for Christ,”  that should be a howling red flag.   The Quiverfull movement, which the Duggar family is a part of, is a fairly recent manifestation of dominionist theology at work.    The Taliban in Islam has very similar views of women and their proper roles in society.  In such a misogynistic environment, abuse is rampant.

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Scene from the Hulu TV series, The Handmaid’s Tale.

 

10.   Abuse is concealed, denied, or excused.   Women and children are extremely vulnerable to abuse because of their second class status.   Since the man is regarded to be biblically mandated to have headship over his wife and children — and because questioning authority is frowned upon and even condemned as sinful — reporting abuse or defending yourself or your children against it can be dangerous.   Many women who tell their preachers about the abuse are shamed and coldly ordered to go back home and try to be better wives, or to “make the best of it.”  Sometimes they are even accused of bringing it on themselves, and told they can stop the abuse by being more pleasing or obedient to their husbands.    Because a woman may be saddled with many children, or have been cut off from her family and friends (see #3), she may have nowhere to turn to get any help or relief, which takes us to #11.

11. Disdain for psychiatry, psychology and the mental health profession.   This attitude toward the mental health professions is very similar to that of Scientology, which also takes a very dark view of them.   In many dominionist churches, the only acceptable kind of therapy is that given by a Christian (dominionist) practitioner, who is rarely trained in psychology and counseling, and will often give advice that is not based on the client’s best interests but rather on obeying the religious doctrine.  For example, they might tell a gay person their sexuality is an abomination to God, and they need to undergo “conversion” therapy, or they might tell a wife she must obey her husband and try to “make the best of things” even if she and her children are in danger.  A secular therapist would encourage the gay person to accept themselves as they are, and urge the woman to leave her abusive husband and connect with people who can help her.

12.  The church demonizes the vulnerable.   I’ve already discussed the way dominionist doctrine demonizes the poor, blaming them for their lack of prosperity.  But it also demonizes the disabled, the sick, and other vulnerable groups of people.  Because dominionist doctrine holds that God blesses his elect with perfect health and wealth, a godly person would never become poor, sick or disabled.  Misfortune is only visited on those who don’t believe or who are morally offensive to God.   To suffer misfortune then, means you are doing something wrong.  The fault is always your own.  This is an extremely narcissistic, even sociopathic, worldview — and nothing at all like Christ, who loved the “least of these” the most.    Dominionists apparently have never read the Sermon on the Mount.

13.  The people are just…weird.   When people join cults, if they stay any length of time, eventually the indoctrination and mind control tactics begin to take a toll on their personalities and even their appearance.   Many people have noticed, for example, the “Scientology stare” so common in Scientology adherents like Tom Cruise.  This is a creepy blank stare, often combined with a fake smile that fails to reach the eyes.   I’ve never spent time in a dominionist church, but my fascination with it has led me to watch Youtube videos of dominionist preachers and public speakers, and almost all of them have that weird, robotic, predatory, almost psychopathic stare.  Watch videos of Paula White (Trump’s “spiritual advisor”) if you want to see a real world example of what I mean.

If you’re still not sure whether the church you attend has dominionist leanings, there’s an easy way to tell if it’s a good church or a bad one:  ask yourself if it bears good or rotten fruit (Matthew 7:17-18).   If the church is doing good works and helping others (without coercing them to convert),  its leaders seem humble and kind, and the congregants seem happy and contented without repressing their real desires and emotions, then it’s probably a healthy church environment.  If the leader seems distant (or “above” his congregation), the congregants seem fakely perky and happy (or miserable and afraid), and the overall feel of the church is one of fear, negativity, and anger,  it may not be a dominionist church, but it definitely could be a toxic one.

Insanity is our new normal: the rise of the Christian Taliban.

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Scene from Hulu’s version of The Handmaid’s Tale

 

Something I’ve been saying a lot lately is that there is no such thing as a conspiracy theory anymore.   That’s because America has gone insane and all the crazy tin-foil hat theories we might have scoffed at ten or twenty or even just five years ago are actually happening right now.

One of them is the rise of the “Christian Taliban” a/k/a Christian Reconstructionism and Christian Dominionism.

The following excellent and well-researched article defines in great detail what this dangerous and ungodly cult believes and what it plans to do here in America — and it’s succeeding.  It’s a long article but definitely worth reading to the end.

Dominionism Rising:  A Theocratic Movement Hiding in Plain Sight

The takeover of the Republican party by Christian Dominionists and Reconstructionists is very scary and very real.  They believe that certain Christians (the “elect”) are ordained by God to take “dominion” over America; this belief is based on the Genesis story where God told Adam and Eve to “take dominion” over the earth and “subdue it.”  To them, “subduing the earth” means exploiting it unsustainably (because God will clean up the mess).  They think that those who believe that subduing the earth means sustainable stewardship are showing a lack of faith in God’s ability to replenish what humans take from it (their attitude is analogous to the arrogance of teenagers who trash the house after a party and expect their parents to clean it up as opposed to responsibly cleaning up their own mess).

Their goal is complete control and a replacement of our Constitution with Old Testament Biblical law, complete with harsh capital punishments for countless offenses and sins. Women would return to being chattel and having no rights. Gay people and non-believers and many others who don’t conform to the forced regime could be stoned to death (as they did in the Old Testament) or otherwise eliminated.   The teaching of science (especially evolution) would be banned and public education would be eliminated.   Birth control would most likely be outlawed and abortion could carry a death penalty.   Higher education would be discouraged, especially for women.  Critical thinking of any kind would not be allowed.  In a fascist, totalitarian theocracy, you can control your subjects much better if they are unable to think for themselves.     

This is no exaggeration. There are a number of Dominionists/Reconstructionists high up in the Republican party right now.   Ted Cruz is one of the most famous.   So is Mike Pence.   And that’s just for starters.    Their brand of Christianity is the American version of Sharia Law. The sort of oppressive, authoritarian society described in the 1985 novel The Handmaid’s Tale could actually become reality here.  

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These people have great wealth and influence and know how to infiltrate politics at every level and get politicians to do their bidding.   It’s very possible they could succeed.   They believe that Trump, though not particularly religious himself (most of these Dominionist types are well aware of his sinful lifestyle and lack of repentance) has nevertheless been appointed by God as a sort of “wrecking ball” with the intention of destroying our democratic institutions and democracy itself as we know it, to make way for the totalitarian theocracy they believe God wants installed in America before he will allow Jesus to return.  These people compare Trump’s rise to power to King Cyrus of Persia in the Old Testament.   These Puritan-like Calvinists believe that it is their moral duty to take from the poor, disabled and other vulnerable people and give to the already wealthy because they are God’s chosen people (according to their Calvinist beliefs, their wealth and power means that God favors them).   They also believe that slavery is “benevolent” — the leader of the Dominionist movement, R. J. Rushdoony, actually said that “some people are born to be slaves.”

This ugly and hateful theology is NOT real Christianity and is in fact alien to anything taught by Christ and is the polar opposite of His message of love and compassion for the “least among us” in the Sermon on the Mount.   Their dreamed of theocracy is all about control and power by a wealthy few and the subjugation, suffering, oppression, and death of the masses.   In their Orwellian way of twisting the meaning of words to their own benefit, “religious freedom” to them means not the freedom to worship as you choose, but the freedom to oppress and punish others who worship differently than you do.  

These sick, blackhearted people are religious terrorists who will destroy this country and our freedom if they are not stopped in their tracks. They are a much more real danger to us than ISIS or Muslim jihadists, who are unlikely to be any real immediate threat to us.  Yet these same homegrown terrorists are the ones instilling hatred and fear against Muslim terrorists, who operate the very same way in the name of Islam (and of course most Muslims are not like that, just as most Christians are actually good and decent people).  

Wake up, people! This could happen here. We can’t be complacent and assume it won’t just because it sounds insane. It is insane, but insanity is the new normal.  We can’t ever accept it as normal. 

My Fundamentalism of the 1960s Has Changed for the Worse—Considerably Worse

This article from one of my favorite bloggers is about how religious fundamentalism, like politics, has also moved so far to the “right” since the 1960s that these churches now resemble dangerous cults more than churches, and they seem preoccupied with control, a doctrine of hate and punishment, and make excuses for the abuse of women and children.

Jesus Without Baggage

We became fundamentalists in 1958 when I was 7, and I ate it up! We joined a Freewill Baptist Church and I was with those churches until 1970. However, I did not absorb fundamentalism only from FWB churches; my strongest influences were from the Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) movement which was even more fundamentalist than the FWB churches.

We subscribed to John R. Rice’s influential paper The Sword of the Lord, which I read devotedly. I also read many of John Rice’s booklets, including Bobbed Hair, Bossy Wives, and Women Preachers. In addition, I read articles and books by other IFB leaders such as Bob Jones, Jack Hyles, and Oliver Greene. I listened to Lester Roloff on the radio. Other fundamentalist influences were Carl McIntire and the Moody radio station. I was pretty much saturated with fundamentalism.

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Characteristics of Fundamentalism in the 1960s

Like evangelicals, fundamentalists subscribed to…

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My love affair with Scientology.

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Credit: South Park: What Scientologists Believe – Business Insider

In the late seventies, I flirted with $cientology (the $ sign isn’t accidental). This happened when I came across one of its books (one of the only ones not written by its founder L. Ron Hubbard, who was not only a malignant narcissist of the highest order, but also a very bad writer), an easy to read and humorous “self help” book called “How to Choose your People,” by a writer named Ruth Minshull. The book was discontinued in the early 1980s, most likely because it wasn’t written by Hubbard and was therefore not acceptable “scripture.” Hubbard, a monstrously narcissistic and sociopathic cult leader, couldn’t stand having to share the spotlight with anyone else.

“How to Choose Your People” was entertaining and well written, and I found its idea of something called “The Tone Scale” intriguing and it seemed to make sense. (In fact, I think it’s one of the very few tenets of Scientology that has any validity). I liked the idea that emotions ran on a sort of continuum, with one logically leading to the next. Every human being can be placed somewhere on this “tone scale.” Although most people move around on the scale according to their mood, everyone can be placed at a “home” tone, where they will be most of the time. The “tones” ranged from Apathy (the lowest you could go–this would be where severely depressed and suicidal people are) to Enthusiasm (very happy and contented people). Each tone was assigned an arbitrary number, although no one ever explained what those numbers meant. *

There were two “emotions” around the middle of the scale, called Covert Hostility (1.1) and No Sympathy (1.2, making it slightly “better”). Although not at the bottom of the scale, while I was involved in Scientology (and the related Dianetics, the mental “technology” that is similar in some ways to psychoanalysis and serves as a tool to brainwash its members), Covert Hostility and No Sympathy were considered by most Scientologists to be the two worst places to be on the Tone Scale. No one wanted to be labeled a “1.1.” Because if you were, it meant you were a Suppressive Person–that is, a sociopathic person who could harm the Church and its members. If you were pegged a “1.1” or a “1.2” you could be excommunicated or punished by a cruel form of shunning (which I was subjected to at one point).

The traits of someone with a “tone” of Covert Hostility or No Sympathy are exactly the same of those of the malignant narcissist. Here is a picture of the tone scale as it appeared on the cover of Minshull’s 1976 book. (There is an expanded tone scale too, which has additional levels, but for our purposes this one is sufficient).

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Click image for larger view.

The love bombing phase. 

So I finished Minshull’s book and was intrigued enough to go to the local Scientology Center (on New York’s upper west side–I was living in Queens, NY at the time) and find out more. They gave me a “personality test,” that was supposed to identify what my issues and weak points were. There were 200 questions on the test, but when I was done, someone sat down with me and went over my results and convinced me I needed Dianetics auditing or classes in Scientology (much cheaper than Dianetics auditing) to overcome these weak points. The recruiter was very convincing and friendly, and assured me I would only be set back $15 to sign up for the HAS course (Hubbard Apprentice Scientologist aka “Communication Course”), which was really training in something called Training Routines (TR’s) which were actually brainwashing techniques, only they don’t tell you that when you sign up.

At first the TR’s were very seductive–they were fun and actually seemed to work. They did seem to help me be able to “confront” people better. The TR’s involved things like sitting in a chair staring at someone as long as you could without reacting, laughing, or looking away. After this, the ante was upped to something called “bullbaiting,” where the person could try to get you to react and “lose your Confront” by insulting you, trying to make you laugh, or calling you names. There were higher levels of TR’s that involved walking across the room, touching things, asking if birds could fly, and reading passages from “Alice in Wonderland.”

All these things were supposed to help you communicate with others better and raise your “tone,” but in actuality, these were all brainwashing techniques that would eventually result in giving you the infamous blank stare that many Scientologists seem to have while under the cult’s thrall.

The ante is upped. 

cartman_emeter

After I “passed” the Communications Course (by getting a “floating needle” on a lie-detector type of device called the E-Meter), I was convinced without too much difficulty to sign up for the next course, the HQS course (Hubbard Qualified Scientologist). That one set me back $250. (The prices are probably much higher today). By this time of course, I’d been sufficiently indoctrinated that $250 for further “processing” and “training” didn’t seem that bad. It didn’t take much to convince me to hand over the money. The prices of the courses (or “auditing,” if you take that route, become higher the further up the “bridge” you go. At higher levels, they run thousands of dollars. Most people don’t have that sort of money, but can “pay off” the expense by allowing themselves to become slaves to the Church — usually by working on site, or at higher levels, by joining the Sea Org, Scientology’s paramilitary organization in Clearwater, Florida. It’s at Sea Org that you hear all the horrible stories of abuse, starvation, imprisonment, the destruction of families, the separation of children from parents, and even the deaths of a few Scientologists who failed to toe the line or became, in Scientology parlance, SPs or “Suppressive Persons,” just because they still had a mind of their own or balked at the abuse meted out on them.

Back to my own story. In order to help pay for the HQS course (because in those days $250 was a lot of money, especially for a 19 year old) it was suggested I work at the Scientology Center (actually a Mission, which does not offer higher level training and auditing) part time, answering phones and opening and distributing mail. The position (called a “post”) paid nothing, but I got “credits” to help pay for the course. Of course, by now I was spending most of my free time at the Center, because right after “work” it was time for the classes, which ran about 4 hours a night (5 days a week).

Students were closely monitored and every class ended with a session on the E-Meter. If you were caught yawning or daydreaming you were told you had a “misunderstood word” and had to go back and re-read Hubbard’s unreadable material to try to find the word you did not understand. You were not allowed to move on until you found the word and “passed” on the E-Meter. I began to realize I wasn’t having much fun anymore, but if you criticized Scientology or its “teaching technology” in any way, you would be sent to Ethics.

e_meter
Scientology E-Meter

Scientology’s real agenda begins to emerge. 

No one wanted to be sent to Ethics. If you were sent to Ethics, it meant there was a problem and you were considered a “Potential Trouble Source” (PTS) and disciplinary action would be taken. I was sent to Ethics about three or four times, all for very minor transgressions such as minor criticism–or catching a cold (more about that later). The punishments ranged from having to re-read material to find “misunderstood words” (and be “passed” being connected to an E-Meter), to cutting off friends and family members who could be potential “Suppressive Persons” or enemies of Scientology (you would be required to write them a letter telling them you were cutting them off), to shunning, to excommunication.

One time I came to the Center with a bad cold. I was immediately sent to Ethics because according to Scientology’s deluded doctrine, if you became ill, it meant there was a “SP” in your life who was hostile to your involvement in Scientology and by default, you became a PTS (potential trouble source). Sniffling and sneezing, I sat down and held the two metal cans of the E-meter. I was asked a bunch of questions about anyone in my life who was hostile to Scientology. You couldn’t lie, because that would be picked up by the meter. At the time, I was dating a guy who thought Scientology was stupid, and I told them that. I was ordered to “disconnect” from him, or be excommunicated. I had to write the boy (who I was still in love with) a letter telling him I was disconnecting from him because he was hindering my progress up the “bridge.” I cried while writing to him, but it did get mailed and I did disconnect.

Later, I almost had to write a “disconnect” letter to my own father, who I had once dumbly admitted had been making fun of Scientology. I was able to get out of that one by insisting he really wasn’t opposed to my involvement and just liked to make jokes about lots of things. But I did know other people there who were ordered to disconnect from family members, sometimes their entire families. I have heard of some Scientologists even being forced to disconnect from their own children. Looking back, I recognize this as the cult-equivalent of what a narcissist does when they attempt to isolate you from friends and family members. It’s a way to weaken you by cutting you off from your support systems so they more completely own you.

Shunning is another disciplinary measure, and I was once subjected to it (I cried while “auditing” a student, which I’ll describe in more detail later). I was told although I would still be required to fulfill my job duties and attend classes, no one would be allowed to speak to me and I was allowed to speak to no one (unless it was directly related to my job or something I was learning). It was horrible. This torment on for several days, until I was “passed” up a level and allowed to be spoken to again. But before that could happen, I had to go up to every high level member and employee, make amends to them and “re-introduce” myself. I also was required to do some tasks to “make up” for whatever “sin” I’d committed. Some involved things like cleaning bathrooms or washing dishes. But others could get pretty weird. I’ll describe the task I was required to fulfill in order to be re-accepted into the group.

Scientology’s vendetta against mainstream mental health and the part I played in it. 

lronhubbard

L. Ron Hubbard: pulp science fiction author turned self-proclaimed messiah.

It’s well-known that Scientology has always been very hostile to mainstream psychology and psychiatry. L. Ron Hubbard thought of psychiatry as the worst evil to befall mankind. My theory about this is based on his malignant narcissism. When he first developed Dianetics (the “auditing technology” that resembles psychoanalysis in some ways) back in the early 1950s, Hubbard had attempted to get it recognized in the psychiatric community as a valid form of psychotherapy. Of course, Hubbard had no psychology degree (and in fact, had lied about much of his background). The psychiatric community refused to promote his ideas or his book, “Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health.” Hubbard, enraged by their rejection of his “brilliant technology,” turned against the psychiatric and psychological communities (and marketed his book, at first, through ads in pulp science fiction magazines, where he was already known as one of their contributors).   Eventually, he decided to turn his ideas into a new religion and named it Scientology.  Now, he could make more money than he ever could as a mere author, and never have to pay a dime in taxes.

That’s the background that will explain the task I was assigned to do to get back in good graces with the Church. I was given a list of names of psychiatrists and psychologists and told to go to the library and look up each one in the phone book and get their phone numbers. Okay, that was easy enough. I headed back to the Center with the phone numbers filled out, hopeful that this would fulfill my duty.

But no, they weren’t done with me yet. I was told to go home with the list of names and phone numbers, and call each of the doctors and ask them what they thought about Scientology! As someone who hates phones and alway felt awkward speaking on them, I felt like I was in some kind of nightmare. I also had to LIE to them and tell them I was a research student doing a study for a university program.

But I did do it. A few of the doctors refused to call me back, or I only got to speak to their secretaries, who couldn’t give me an answer, but most of them I got to actually speak to, and as would be expected, most of the responses were negative toward Scientology. Apparently, my research was sufficient. Finally, I was then allowed to “make amends” to all the higher level staff members and the shunning was lifted.

Ironically (or maybe not so ironically), a year later, I entered college as a Psychology major.

Disillusionment and return to reality.

Toward the end of the HQS course, you are told to recruit other people into Scientology. I had to go outside, no matter what the weather, and try to talk people into coming up to the Center to take its personality test. The more advanced TR’s taught in this class became increasingly bizarre. These sessions could go on for hours, and as part of the training, I was also required to “audit” other students and conduct TR’s on them. If they proved difficult or uncooperative, I was the one who was blamed and was not allowed to stop “running the TR’s” until my student had passed on the E-Meter. If it went on all night, then so it did. You were not allowed breaks to eat or rest, and neither was your student.

This is what led to my “shunning” punishment. What happened was I was so exhausted from lack of sleep and hunger that I burst into tears in the middle of running a session, and was immediately sent to Ethics and that’s how I got shunned. I was stunned by their total lack of empathy. You were never allowed to show any emotions other than fake happiness (“Enthusiasm” on the tone scale); showing any “low toned” emotions like fear, grief, frustration, pain, or anger was “bringing ‘case’ on post” and you would be sent to Ethics or punished for doing it.

I thought about leaving, but didn’t dare–because they threatened you with something called “Fair Game.” No one ever explained exactly what that was, but in Hubbard’s indecipherable scripture, “fair game” appeared to imply the Church reserved the right to stalk you, torment or even kill you if you “blew” (left). I’d also paid so much money into it by this point and spent so much time with them that I was hesitant to toss in the towel.

Shortly before I was to graduate from HQS (which I never did finish), I was sent to talk to a recruiter about my next “step up the bridge.” I was told I should sign up for “Life Repair,” which cost $6K. I told the recruiter I did not have that kind of money. The recruiter turned to the hard sell at that point. He told me to get a bank loan or ask my parents for the money. Neither was possible. There was no way I could pay back the bank, as my other (paying) job was part time and paid only $2.75 an hour (minimum wage at that time), and my parents were not the type to hand over large sums of money, even for something legitimate.

Finally, after two hours of unsuccessfully trying to get me to sign up for this $6,000 auditing package, the recruiter gave up and was quite hostile to me after that. He not only told me that I must not really be interested in moving up the Bridge, but that I was probably a Suppressive Person and an enemy of Scientology because I would not put myself in huge debt to continue to be brainwashed.

It was at this point I left the Church. I just didn’t care anymore. I had gradually come to realize that the “emotional tone” of the organization was somewhere around Covert Hostility and No Sympathy–which was quite interesting since those were the tones that were the most hated and feared and were the realm of the dreaded Suppressive Person. In other words, Scientology was a psychopathic, narcissistic cult, founded by a psychopathic malignant narcissist (1.1 on his own Tone Scale) whose ravings (and fabrications as a “war hero” among other things) are legendary. What they were really doing was projecting their own emotional tone (malignant narcissism) onto those who disagreed with them.

I also realized how I had been gradually seduced into this sociopathic organization through misrepresentation, manipulation, threats and lies. The personality test and the inexpensive and fun HAS course that promised to help me feel happier and more confident was merely the “love bombing” phase before the abuse that would come later and increase over time. I did NOT want to become one of the upper-level Scientologists, with their blank, weird stares, creepy smiles and total lack of empathy. Just look at Tom Cruise today: does he even seem human anymore? Hell, I’d rather be a Suppressive Person any day.

I didn’t get nearly as far up the “Bridge” as many other people, and therefore did not experience some of the trauma and torture inflicted on members who are more deeply enmeshed with this cult. Eventually they WILL take over your entire life. For anyone interested in finding out more about the evil mindgames this cult plays, its psychopathic paranoia about both government agencies like the IRS and its hatred and fear of traditional psychotherapy and psychiatry, and the horrific (and sometimes fatal) punishments inflicted on many of its members and their families, I highly recommend either of these two websites that call out Scientology for what it really is.

The Ex-Scientologist Message Board: http://www.forum.exscn.net
Operation Clambake: The Inner Secrets of Scientology: http://www.xenu.net/

This is also pretty interesting, and what they actually believe is NOT a joke.
South Park: What Scientologists Believe (Business Insider):
http://www.businessinsider.com/south-park-what-scientologists-believe-2015-3

*****

* I just read that the numbers assigned to the emotions on the Tone Scale come from E-meter readings. In fact, Hubbard did not invent the E-meter. It was invented by a Freudian psychoanalyst named Volney Mathison, who used it on his psychotherapy patients.  It was called the Electropsychometry meter.  Hubbard bought the rights to the E-meter, and adapted it for use in Dianetics and Scientology auditing. The readings on the E-meter determine a person’s emotional tone.

Here is a picture of Volney’s E-meter, before it was co-opted by L. Ron Hubbard:

volney_emeter

Do we give “the narcs” more power than they deserve?

demon2

In my last post, I ranted about a few bloggers that targeted me when I began to move on from my righteous anger at what my narcissistic parents and ex did to me.  About a year ago, I reached a point where my rage at “the narcs” was no longer serving me well. I began to see things in a new way–that my narcissists were victims themselves and that’s why they became so abusive.   These bloggers didn’t like that.  As far as they were concerned, I was a traitor to the narc-abuse community  as well as a narc-sympathizer. They told me I was evil and going to hell.

But that’s also when I began to see myself a lot more clearly and realized what I needed to do to begin to heal.  Why? Because while righteous anger is good and healthy when you’re trying to go No Contact or get away from abusers, once it no longer serves that purpose and you have gone No Contact, all that rage has nowhere to go.  At that point it becomes hatred and begins to poison your soul. And there isn’t anything more toxic to healing than hatred. These bloggers have become so trapped in their rage it has poisoned their souls and they have become what they hate. Unfortunately for them, they are utterly blind to it.

When I began this blog, I was a lot more angry at my narcissists, and narcissists in general. If you read some of my early posts (within the first year or so), you will notice a lot more rage and even hatred toward narcissists than in my later posts. As long as I remained in that anger, I was A-OK with these bloggers. And at the time, that anger was healthy. It was how I processed the whole experience of being an abuse victim, and it validated my decision to go No Contact. It wasn’t a bad thing and I don’t regret it. But at some point, I began to chafe at the constant narc-bashing I saw, and wondered if perhaps “the narcs” were being given more power than they actually deserve.

I’m going to make an analogy here, because it ties right into this idea. I can’t embrace fundamentalist religion for a number of reasons, but here is one of them: some fundamentalists (not just Christians, but Muslims too, and really, fundamentalist anything) gives the entity commonly known as the devil or Satan a lot more power than he/it deserves. They seem to equate his power with that of God. They tell us the world is under Satan’s dominion and we must repent and believe exactly as they do or we’re going to hell. They tell us Satan planted scientific evidence that indicates evolution exists (which means he somehow got bones into the ground that looked half-human, half-ape.) They tell us he brought every bad thing that exists to the world–disease, famine, death, war, you name it. They tell us God has allowed this because of “free will.” They quote the Bible (or Q’uran, or whatever–to back their claims). But if Satan exists at all, he’s merely a fallen angel–with about the same amount of power as Michael, the archangel–he doesn’t even come close to God’s level of might. Would Michael be able to do what God does? Would he be able to create life and rule the universe? Of course not–the idea of it is laughable. To give the devil that much power is an insult to God, in my opinion. In fact, God himself created Satan!

The power some religious people give Satan causes a lot of people to fear God because God seems to exist solely to punish humanity (who “disappointed” him by sinning) for giving in to or being fooled by “the adversary.” The whole God vs. Devil argument seems like an enormous cosmic opera, with God continuously waging war with this all-powerful entity who represents evil to God’s goodness–but in the end, God’s behavior is just as “evil” as Satan’s–judgmental, authoritarian, punishing, jealous, and controlling. In fact, I would say that God acts quite a lot like a…malignant narcissist. People have turned away from religion or are put off by it because of this punishing, negative view of God as Holy Avenger. And among those who embrace it, how many are doing so out of fear, and not out of genuine love for God? If your father was an authoritarian, punishing parent, you may “love” him but you will never be able to have a healthy relationship with him. You probably did what he said because you HAD to, not because you wanted to. You feared his wrath if you did not. You find it difficult to be happy or grow into a loving, joyful person with a satisfying life and relationships because your father’s wrath and judgment became internalized. It continues its live on inside you, as an inner critic that continues the abuse in the form of self-abuse. I think that’s often the case with fundamentalist religion too. It’s nothing more than brain-washing and negative programming whose intent is to frighten and control.  What sort of God would even WANT his creations (who he holds in contempt for even questioning that might) to quake in terror at his presence?  A narcissistic God who craves power and control, that’s who.

The point of this isn’t to make a point about religion, though (that’s a whole other post I will probably never write). Many narcissistic abuse survivors talk about narcissists as if they were actual demons. They talk about them having almost supernatural powers over the rest of us. Yes, it’s true, their behavior is dangerous and can destroy the souls of those they abuse. But they don’t have any more real power than anyone else. They are broken people, not devils. Their brokenness is what causes them to abuse others. In their own minds, I don’t think (in most cases) they actually know what they’re doing. In their own minds, they may even think what they do is the right thing–or they don’t think about it at all. They are incapable of seeing their own narcissism and how it destroys.

Some narcissists are sociopathic and actually take pleasure in hurting others. But I think that only applies to those at the top of the spectrum–the ones who have turned malignant. Most narcs are simply unaware of the way their behavior impacts others. It was programmed into them just as surely as many victims were programmed to remain victimized throughout their lives.

FATHER-FORGIVE-THEM

Narcissists are emotionally retarded, so much so they are incapable of having enough empathy to be able to stop playing out the elaborate (and mostly useless) defense mechanisms they constructed to protect themselves. They aren’t devils and don’t have any real supernatural powers; they are merely blind and stupid. Dangerous? No doubt they are, and it’s always best to go No Contact. An angry rhinocerous charging toward you isn’t evil; it’s just doing what nature has programmed it to do. It defends itself by attacking even though you mean it no harm, because that’s in its nature and it assumes you will attack first. While the rhino isn’t evil and doesn’t get its thrills from watching you bleed to death, it does what it does and it’s best to get as far away as you can. Same thing with a narc, who (unless they have become malignant or sociopathic) isn’t evil; he or she is reacting to internal programming that was probably instilled when they were very young and defenseless. In their emotional stupidity and blindness, they think you are going to attack them (or think you are already attacking them), so they instinctively jump on the offense and launch “pre-emptive” counterattacks on you. They lie to themselves about your intentions AND their own (and I think most of them actually convince themselves these lies are the truth). They may even even think what they do is “for your own good.” Just like that authoritarian, punishing father or that judgmental, angry, jealous God.

So what’s so wrong about thinking narcissists are evil and have supernatural powers or are possessed by demons? After all, they do act pretty evil. They nearly destroyed us with their abuse. They made us incapable of living happy, normal lives or developing any self esteem. Thinking of narcissists as these powerful evil entities from the depths of hell is natural when you realize what you’ve been up against and what their actions did to you. The righteous anger you feel also helps you get away from them. I think at first, thinking of narcissists as having that much power is a healthy thing because it gives you the motivation to remove them from your life. Here’s the problem with it though. Righteous anger isn’t meant to be permanent. It’s a fight-flight response that ensures survival, but when the danger has passed (and you know your going No Contact was justified), it becomes bad for both body and soul. Besides building up unhealthy levels of cortisol (the fight-flight hormone) in the blood that can lead to physical illness, never-ending rage in the absence of an enemy has nowhere to go but inward–or turn itself on innocent people. It becomes hatred and hatred will eventually destroy its bearer. You begin to see “the enemy” everywhere and are constantly on the offense/defense against real or not-so-real monsters. You begin to see narcissism everywhere, even in normal human behavior. You live in paranoia and terror and the world seems like a hostile, evil place. Your fear of supernatural and uncontrollable forces beyond anyone’s control (even God’s) can even cause you to become a narcissist yourself, in self defense.

acceptance

You can’t heal until you can let go of that rage. That doesn’t mean enabling a narcissist or staying in contact with them. But it means moving on and letting go of hatred. At some point in my healing journey, I was no longer able to hang onto my rage. I began to see them as victims too. Of course, this was heresy to some of the narc-abuse bloggers. But by thinking of them this way, they held a lot less power over me. I became less afraid. You can’t feel terrified of something that is pitiful and broken, and by seeing them as pathetic, toothless victims who were crippled emotionally, they seemed sort of…powerless. It wasn’t until I was able to do this that I began to turn my attention in toward myself–and what I could do to change me. If you’re constantly slaying dragons, you can’t have self-awareness because there’s no room for it. In your mind, if you stop fighting, you will be killed. What people don’t realize is that if you never put down that sword, even after the dragons have disappeared, you turn that sword on yourself.

Narcissistic abusers want you to be afraid. They want unlimited power. They want to control your mind even when they’re not there. So, to hold onto hatred (which is fueled by fear, so there is always terror present wherever hatred exists) is really just giving them what they want–control over your mind and soul. Ironically, thinking of them as broken people is the opposite of enabling them. What would a narcissist hate the most? Being seen as pitiful, impotent, powerless, broken, emotionally retarded people. It’s really the only way you can begin to undo the negative programming that keeps you trapped in fear and keeps you from growing into a whole person. It’s also the best revenge, because then you can thrive in spite of their efforts to keep you down.

“The Duggars: Abuse and Conservative Religion”

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Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar; Josh Duggar (inset)

The article I’m going to post is about half a year old, and was written following the sexual abuse scandal involving Josh Duggar (the Duggar’s oldest son) of the reality show 19 Kids and Counting.   I haven’t watched all the episodes, but I firmly believe that sexual abuse as well as malignant narcissism is a huge problem in the Duggar family.   Josh is probably not the first abuser.  His parents, Michelle and Jim Bob, are both very controlling and both use their ultra-conservative religion to control and shame, and isolate their kids from learning anything on their own.   The fame and fortune from their reality show no doubt provides a ton of narcissistic supply to both Michelle and Jim Bob.  I see many of their kids as scapegoats and flying monkeys.   Josh seemed like he was a Golden Child.

I’m posting this article now because it’s still relevant. Sexual abuse is not going away anytime soon and has been with us probably as long as human beings have been around.  What do you think of the Duggars?  Do you think Jim Bob and Michelle genuinely love their children, or are their children just props in the narrative of moral and religious “perfection” they’re selling to the world?  Will any of them ever dare to break free of the prison of their huge, dysfunctional family and its narcissistic rulers?

The Duggars: Abuse and Conservative Religion

Until a few weeks ago, I had no idea who the Duggar family was. To my surprise, it appears that many people in North America have been following this conservative Christian family. Further, the Duggar’s seem to be very influenctial among various Evangelical Christian lobbying groups. It seems that they have become a sensation because of their reality TV show, 19 Kids and Counting. Even as I read some things about the family in the news in recent weeks, it seemed to me that the Duggar’s were faux celebrities much like the Kardashian’s and Paris Hilton: they never really did anything but yet they seem to be famous.

I received an email from one of my colleagues, a psychologist in another part of the country, who asked what I thought of the Duggar’s and the current sexual abuse scandal. It was her question that prompted me to learn more about the family. While I have clearly never met the Duggar’s nor have I watched their TV show, what I found in the press seemed to fit the pattern of domestic abuse.

Read the rest of Lou’s article here.

Trolls and lack of motivation.

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I thought I had my lack of motivation all figured out, and thought I’d conquered it, but obviously I haven’t, since I’ve been posting a lot less than I used to and it hasn’t gotten any better. I can’t figure out my lack of motivation, because I love writing and blogging has brought me so much insight into myself and my place in the world, and even moments of joy.

I was all set to write up a new post last night (albeit, not a long one). Whenever I start a new blogging session, I always check my comments first. Lately I don’t seem to be getting as many. I have more viewers and hits overall than ever before, but fewer people are commenting. I’m not sure why. I don’t know if this is something to worry about or not. Maybe it’s silly, but I wonder sometimes if people are put off by my frankness and occasionally unpopular opinions. Obviously, they’re reading, and I do know some people appreciate my frankness, so I guess I shouldn’t worry. I know one of my most frequent commenters (who was actually my #1 commenter for awhile) is busy writing a book right now (and also hasn’t been feeling well) and even Opinionated Man doesn’t seem to be getting as many comments these days, so maybe it’s not just me. Maybe it’s just my stupid narcissism making everything all about me and taking everything personally. Maybe it’s just because I’m posting less, duh.

So anyway, last night I was going to write something about covert narcissism and avoidant personality disorder and whether or not they might actually be the same thing. After all, covert narcissism isn’t recognized as a real disorder but AvPD is. I’ll probably still write that article but I do find lately I’ve been veering away from the topic of narcissism and this blog is becoming more of a general interest blog.

I opened up my laptop, and as is my habit, checked my comment folder before starting to write. And the first comment I saw was a very trollish comment which I won’t bother quoting because of how hateful it was. I sent the comment to Trash anyway. The comment wasn’t merely critical (I’ll still approve those and usually respond to them in some way); it was an attack on my character because of an article I posted MONTHS ago. The writer of the comment objected to what she or he felt was my being too soft on narcissists. Bible verses were used to fuel their rage and personal attack on me.

I hate that. I can take criticism if it’s constructive, but can’t stand judgmental people, and I especially can’t stand people who use religion as an excuse to act like assholes. The Bible is wonderful, but so many people these days use it to back up unacceptable behavior, as if this is their holy mission and right. It’s very narcissistic. Churches are filled with narcissists who used scripture as a way to intimidate those they disagree with, so they don’t have to take any responsibility for their cruel and vicious personal attacks. The Internet is full of them too. I can’t say whether or not this person is a narcissist, but their behavior displayed splitting and black and white thinking, and the “us versus them” mindset so prevalent today. Of course, to this person, I’m one of “them.” What they’re doing has a name: religious abuse.

jesus_cares

I know I shouldn’t have taken the comment personally. I know that as a blogger who focuses on a sensitive issue, angering people sometimes can’t be avoided. People are sometimes going to disagree with you. You are going to have haters and trolls, especially if your blog becomes widely read, as this one has. It comes with the territory. I know many people read this blog and get a lot out of it, and still get far more positive comments than negative ones, so why I am allowing one stupid negative comment to intimidate me enough to make me not want to post? But that’s exactly what happened: I decided not to post anything at all last night because of that stupid comment. I said to myself, “I’m over this. I don’t want to deal with these haters anymore. I don’t think I should even blog about narcissism anymore.” It’s true that I have been focusing less on narcissism because I feel like I’ve pretty much said everything there is to say about it already. But I allowed this one comment to destroy my motivation to write about anything at all!

I have a message for that commenter should they read this: I don’t care what you have to say. You’re a bully and a jerk. This is MY blog, and if you don’t like it, don’t read it! Go read something you agree with instead. It’s my blog, and I can write about whatever I want and you have no right to dictate to me what I can and can’t say. You may have a valid point in your opinion and the right to express it, but you have no right to personally attack me. I’m going to continue to write honestly about what I feel, not to please you. You do not intimidate me and neither do the Bible verses you spout to make it seem like you’re on a personal mission from God when in fact your behavior is itself very narcissistic. But thank you for giving me an idea for a new article.

I love blogging and don’t want to ever stop. I’m not going to let one judgmental malcontent ruin my motivation or put a damper on what I love to do. It took me too long to get to where I am. I’ve allowed myself to be intimidated by people like that for my whole life, and it’s a big part of why I never achieved much of anything and always doubted myself and eventually gave up anything I ever undertook.

“Soulmates in Hell: Religious Narcissists–Evil in Disguise. “

jesus_cares

I stumbled on a new blog and just read this article. Every word the author says is true. I’ve known so many religious types who use religion as a tool to abuse. These are truly the wolves in sheep’s clothing. Unfortunately, such people’s children are often turned off my the whole idea of God and religion because it becomes so triggering.

Soulmates in Hell: Religious Narcissists–Evil in Disguise
By Larry Giddens

If you have had the unfortunate experience of being in a relationship with a narcissist with religious pretensions, you know how difficult and confusing it can be. The narc spouts scripture and postures as “holy”, and they use religion to create a veneer of “godliness”.

Now, I’ve read various articles on the topic that seem to miss the point, which is, that a religious narcissist will just drive you crazy with their constantly letting you know how much better they are than you, or anyone else, for that matter. There is no situation for which they won’t butt in with some scripture quote, and no conversation that won’t soon turn into a sermon, just to let you know that while you have mundane, everyday concerns like whether you need to buy milk, their mind is on “the things of God”.

The rest of this article can be read here.
http://soulmateinhell.blogspot.com/2015/10/religious-narcissists-evil-in-disguise.html

To My Non-Christian Friends: What You Should Know

This is one of the most intelligent articles I’ve ever seen written by an evangelical Christian. I don’t have much more to say, just read the article, because everything I could say is already said here.

I’m a Christian, but so many Christians disappoint me because they cannot tolerate the fact that my Christianity isn’t exactly the same as their Christianity. I wish all Christians would think more like the person who wrote this article.

All My Roads

non-christian

I am a Christian. As a Christian- particularly one of the Evangelical bent- mine is a tradition that has a reputation for abrasive condemnations of those who aren’t Christians: screaming brimstone and judgment from street corners, condemning alternate viewpoints and pushing legislation in an attempt to perpetuate our own beliefs. We’ve not exactly painted ourselves in a good light.

But the flag under which Christians are called to die isn’t one of religious propaganda, nor is the heart of our gospel a ‘turn or burn’ story. That said, there are things I- as a Christian- hope, want, pray, desire and truly want all non-Christians to know.

Here’s a few of them:

1) You are a person, not a project.

When I look at you I don’t see a box to be checked, a sinner to be saved, a victory to be won or a task to be accomplished. I see…

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