Wednesday, May 21, 2008

An Example Of The Arrogance That Fosters Religious Abuse...

Today, when I checked my email, there was a comment to my last blog. There was something about it that bothered me, but I couldn't quite put my finger on it... so I posted it and tried to respond to it in the comments. But...

As the day wore one, I was more and more unsettled about even having the comment there with a link back to the person's own site. Then I realized what it was that bothered me about the comment. It smacked of the same religious arrogance that I left behind in the church. So, I have decided to post the comment and discuss it in this format. Here it is:
"I have to say that I belong to one of those religions who hears the Protestants say that we aren't Christians. It absolutely infuriated me that any religious group feels they have the monopoly on Christianity. I'm trying to get over the anger because I know that isn't Christlike. But we do believe in Jesus Christ, and we look to Him as our source of salvation. Our views about certain points of doctrine might be different, but our feelings about Him remain.

I have been reading many blogs lately by people who say they have given up on organized religion. What I hear from them is that when they go to church, they feel nothing. I know what they are missing. I have the answer. I can explain it in great detail, but I know most people won't except my explanation. So the best I can do is say to them as Jesus said to those who questioned about where he had come from, "Come and see.""
Hmm... if she had stopped with the first paragraph, there would have been no issue. But she didn't, so... I will get into what I see in this comment, but first here is my initial response that I posted as a comment after hers - trying so hard not to offend or be snarky...
"Hmm... I don't know what your answer is, but if it is belonging to another organized religion, umm... not what I'm even talking about. I am not unfamiliar with the LDS. Whether they are Christian or not is not even the issue in this... Frankly, if I am tired of the legalistic rules-based religion I have seen, the LDS is just as bad as the rest. It is not about what the individual people believe, it is about the attempt by religion - in general - to control the way people think - and what they do... and the abuse that flows from there."
As my comment indicates, this commenter is coming from an LDS perspective. I know this because I went to her website before I posted her comment. I could get into a whole side journey about the LDS and Christianity, but I do not want to turn this blog into a debate on Mormonism.

The real issue I have is with what she said in the second paragraph. Like I said, if she had stopped with the first, that would have been great. But she didn't and here is what I see - a reflection of the attitude that abuses those who disagree. Do you see the contradictions between the first and second paragraphs? 

First of all, no where in my blog have I even addressed my views on Mormonism, let alone accused them of anything. Granted, I have a book recommendation on my sidebar that was written by a former Mormon. But that is not there for it's religious abuse content. It is there for its biographical story of one woman who survived sexual abuse as a child - how she survived and how she overcame. I found it very helpful.

I do not think I have advocated that one denomination has a monopoly on Christianity. I have no power to decide whether someone, no matter who they are, believes in Jesus as Christ or not unless they tell me what they believe (even then, they could be lying ;-)

She makes the point that she doesn't like how others claim to have a monopoly on Christianity. Then, in the second paragraph, she claims she does. How? 
"I know what they are missing. I have the answer."
Ah. But that is not claiming to have superior knowledge. (Note the sarcasm) Hmm... in the second paragraph, she claims to know the truth that all these other churches don't. She claims that she can explain in great detail but most won't accept her explanation. Really. Does anyone else see this as arrogant? 'I have the secret. If you come to me, I will share it with you. But you won't like it.' BLECH! 

Then she compares this (what she has just stated) with Jesus being questioned about where He came from.

This attitude -  the one that says, "I have all the answers that you don't. I know better than you do. I'll explain it to you if you're smart enough to listen." - - - ARGH! This is the attitude in which religious abuse flourishes! It is condescending and does not draw, it repels. 

In the second paragraph, she is exhibiting the very behavior she claims to be infuriated by in the first paragraph. Perhaps part of the reason I recognize it is because I used to be that way, too. *double sigh*

So that is my take on this comment. If anyone sees it differently, I am open to reasonably civil comments. ;-)


deconstructedchristian said...

I've found that most people who think they have all the answers are sadly lacking.

The more answers we find about God, the more questions come up. Spirituality has to be a journey, not a pat answer.

Katherine Gunn said...


Absolutely. When I thought I had all the answers, I was actually nothing much more than a self-righteous pain in the ass.

The journey into freedom has far more questions than answers. Hmm... if we had all the answers, what would be the point of continuing? ;-)

Anonymous said...

"I have the answer. I can explain it in great detail, but I know most people won't except my explanation. So the best I can do is say to them as Jesus said to those who questioned about where he had come from, "Come and see.""

So, this person has the answer, but won't tell us, we have to come to her church and "see" and then all will be revealed. Classic, classic, classic "My way is the right way" crap.

Katherine, I have come to absolutely detest this kind of self-righteousness, partially because people who are searching are so easily pulled in by it, and all it's based on is nothing but the believer's own beliefs. Such people are more often than not victims themselves (willing ones, too) of brainwashing and can't even see it.

Beware of smugness, smug and self-righteous people are often the worst of abusers. And the blindest of the blind, I might add.

If I had the secret, the answers, I would happily share them with anyone who asked. What condescencion. Ugly. Beware.

Barry said...

It seems obvious to me that anyone who claims to have all the answers doesn't understand the questions in the first place.

In my experience the more you learn, the more you realise you don't know.

Stormchild said...


I apologize, Katherine, because it's late and I'm tired, so this may come across more acerbically than I want it to. But I'm going to try.

First... I agree with you completely. But I want to go a little aside, because there's a main point that gets bypassed so routinely I could tear my hair out, and I'd like to focus on it for a little.

When I read the Christian Scriptures there is one theme that jumps off the page at me, over and over again; a theme that I find rarely, very rarely, in the organizations that claim to serve and love the Lord.


*The* *whole* *point* *of* *the* *created* *universe* *is* *that* *something* *that* *is* *NOT* *God*, *something* *SEPARATE* *from *God*, *is* *FREE TO CHOOSE* *to* *Love and serve God*, *and* *God* Himself* *set* *things* *up* *that* *way*.

That separate thing would be us... and rocks and trees and stars and seas, and lions and lambs, and cats and rats and elephants.

Very, very rarely will you hear a minister or a preacher talk about this incredible, paradoxical freedom. We have the right to say NO THANKS to God. And our YES is meaningless unless it is spoken from a free heart and a clear mind.

This is one reason Anabaptists tended to be unpopular. It's about choice, when one is able to choose.

Anyway... God Himself respected our freedom to choose; so much that He even died for it. And after thinking that through, I realized why coercive faith - and proselytization - never felt authentic to me. It's the absolute opposite of this divine freedom.

To choose is so completely different from being forced!

I hope to God I don't sound smug here, because I sure don't feel smug. Trying to live like this, to see the divine choice in every moment and every breath and every event, is like trying to surf on nothing but your bare feet. In a hurricane. There was Someone, once, who was really good at that; but I'm never going to be anywhere near proficient at it.



Meg said...

"It absolutely infuriated me that any religious group feels they have the monopoly on Christianity"

It infuriates this poster that anyone else OTHER THAN THEM, claims a monopoly...

"I know what they are missing. I have the answer. I can explain it in great detail, but I know most people won't except my explanation"

Can I suggest that you may benefit from giving comments like these the 24 hour cold storage test. In my experience, your first reaction is usually to defend yourself, and nobody needs to defend themselves against members of these sorts of groups. If they are so right, why do they have to resort to drive-by attacks like these ones. I doubt this person will come back to talk to you sensibly, its just a diversion for them to create as much chaos as possible.

Sometimes, just giving these comments time to cool gives you a much better perspective on how, and whether, to reply to them.

Katherine Gunn said...


What can I say, except, Yep!


Yeah. I used to think that I had all the answers - or rather that my church did. BLECH!!!


No, you don't sound smug. You sound frustrated. I can relate. ;-)
You said:
"Trying to live like this, to see the divine choice in every moment and every breath and every event, is like trying to surf on nothing but your bare feet. In a hurricane."
Absolutely. The only way we can even do it is with the help of the One who did. :-) Hugs back!


Thanks. Yeah, I know I don't have to post every comment that I get. ;-)
But after consideration (not 24 hours, but about 12), I decided to use it to illustrate a point. I hope I did. ;-) Next time, though, I will not post the comment so quickly...

Beowulfa said...

I agree with all the people who have commented that the more we find out, the more we discover how truly little we know.

@ Storm: I have actually never thought of our freedom that way. You've beautifully expressed it. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

I'm glad you DID post this comment, it illustrates the point perfectly. What better way to learn?

And Storm, very nice post, freedom is truly what God wants for us all, the truth shall set you free.

CZBZ said...

Hi Katherine and "Happy blogging!" ha!

I have a great deal of patience with religious organizations that are attempting to change with the people. For quite a number of years, I abandoned organized religion for many of the same reasons you and others have written about.

People, even earnest and good-hearted people, miss the whole point of worshiping God when they erroneously begin worshipping ego. But I have faith that at some point, the most CERTAIN amongst us will have their undoing, too; and that’s when they’ll likely discover there is something far greater than mortal understanding can ever name, quantify or reason.

Tolerating uncertainty is difficult…that’s why so many of us are loath to do it.

It’s like what I told my oh-so-certain-sister the other day, “Sis, you know what? If you are absolutely certain about God and Religion, then ye lack even the faith of a mustard seed.”

She stared at me, of course. So I continued droning on, “You know how I’m considered to be the spiritual tramp in the family? Well, you are witnessing more faith than you can even imagine each time I step into a chapel. Why? Because I’m not certain and I don’t know and yet, I show up in a fine hat and pantyhose.”

I had my own undoing. By the time my marriage ended, I no longer believed in god. (Nothing kills a girl’s spirit quite like sleeping with Satan, lemme warn ya.) But what I learned during my absence from my religion-of-origin is this: let the mystery be; just let the damn mystery be.

I hope this makes sense, as I’ve told you before---I’m not a biblical scholar but I do have a deep and abiding faith in Christ; for I know what it means to be hopeless, helpless and utterly destroyed and then, to be uplifted by amazing grace.


Katherine Gunn said...


Hmm... thank you. Tears. His grace - His love. That is all I have. I am undone and I will not make it without Him. There is so much I do not know or understand. But I know that using God's name to abuse and confuse is criminal, at best. All I can do is use my voice...


CZBZ said...

Well, Katherine? You have a fine, strong voice, the courage to be uncertain, and the audacity to question the unquestionable. And that's why I love reading your blog.

I revere audacious women who have a fearless desire to break the stanglehold of religious zealotry.

As other people commented on your blog, I think true spirituality liberates, it does not dictate.

If we are so egotistical as to believe we can define God, we'd best check our narcissism-meter and see how high we are on arrogance. I'm thinkin' we're a-stinkin' and we can't smell our own pew.

(((hugs and LOL)))


Katherine Gunn said...


Thanks. *smiling* You're absolutely right.

Anonymous said...

Religious abuse is more widespread than humanity realises at the present time .But thankfully these things are slowly becoming more and more obvious , as people look more and more towards professional studys and medical records that have been thankfully well documented for years .
Many religious beliefs and teachings sadly incorperate psychological abuse within the indoctrinations .It has been discovered that psychological abuse is often more hurtful and has much more long lasting effects than pysical abuse .
Should that really surprise us ? , often these things ammount to no less than continued torment .From perpetrators who have been educated in the art of this , and have so many years of practice .That they can do these things with such subtle ways under the disguise of religious freedom that it is almost imposible to be seen .
Religious freedom and rights is one thing , but it should not be allowed to be above the rights of humanity .

There is a worldwide uprising that has had a guts full of these things , and my vote goes their way .I wait patiently until the time arises that these disgusting dark age practices will be stopped .

It is no longer a matter of if this will happen , but now is a matter of when .