This week I came across an online article entitled, “When Religion Leads to Trauma”. The article discusses the impact of condemnation by one’s own congregation for example, “Gay, lesbian and trans people are told that God condemns them, unwed mothers that they are living in sin, and many natural human desires are deemed evil”(Schiffman 2019). According to the article, the psychological impact of negative religious experiences is becoming more recognized by a variety of religious organizations, and groups like Dr. Harold G. Koenig and his team at Duke University, and Dr. Marlene Winells organization, are seeking ways to combat the symptoms of such experiences. What I found most interesting about the article is that people are coming together and recognizing that people can be hurt by something that is supposed to be good, and attempting to find ways to combat this type of trauma. It seems like many organized religious groups are condemning groups that weaponize religious teachings but I had not seen any long term solutions being instituted to attempt to solve the problem. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that specialized therapeutic techniques are being developed to best help people experiencing religious trauma, and I think it’s so important because reflecting on the group discussion of religious experience at the beginning of the semester it appeared that a significant portion of the class had experienced some sort of religious trauma that soured them towards a religious group.
This information makes me wonder, What really must change to reduce the number of people who feel victimized by religion? Is it going to be a congregation by congregation change? Is it even possible to prevent people from being hurt by religion? What do you think of the new awareness and medical treatment for people with religious trauma?