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Religions and Cults


For all those wanting to leave their sect, cult or religion.


Apart from sexual abuse by priests, Christian religions can engage in cult behaviour and can have damaging psychological impacts, particularly when imposed on young children. In the Catholic community, the clergy can be involved, quite intrusively, in your family, personal and private life.

Some may be more affected by the rules, regulations, brainwashing, indoctrination, dogma, fear and guilt than others. Here is a list of some of the ways that it can traumatise people, as described by a person of Catholic upbringing:
  • Instilling feelings of guilt about even quite minor transgressions of prescribed and proscribed behaviour, e.g. so-called venial sins. For these, if unforgiven, unrepented or unatoned for by penance, the penalty is time in the fires of purgatory before entry to heaven.
  • Fear of torment in hell or purgatory if a person "still has the stain of sin on their soul" at death. In the case of mortal sin resulting in going to hell, this torment will last for eternity. The fire of purgatory is as intense and painful as that of hell, but you eventually get released into heaven.
  • The doctrine of limbo, where the souls of innocent but unbaptised people are supposed to go after death. There's no suffering there, but neither is there the eternal bliss and enjoyment of the "beatific vision" i.e. being in the presence of god. This doctrine can cause misery for the parents of miscarried foetuses, stillborn babies, or those who died soon after birth before they could be baptised.
  • The confessional, in which all sins have to be confessed to the priest, and be subjected to further intrusive questioning about the details. This can then involve the social stigma of "Stations of the Cross" or withdrawal from Holy Communion during Sunday mass.
  • Particularly traumatic childhood episodes can result from the concept of "impure thought", which the confessional priests are wont to interrogate.
  • The teaching that it is a "mortal sin" to attend any kind of service in a non-Catholic church can lead to further mental trauma.
  • The "once a Catholic, always a Catholic" teaching can lead to the torment that there is no escape from the church's dogma and its authority as the "one true religion".
Other Christian sects and denominations can have similar traumatising effects caused by the indoctrination of children. Should children not be protected from these torments? Do they not have a right to be free from religious coercion, as in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights?

Read an account of one person's experience as a Christian here.

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