Neil Carter published a post on Sunday, titled “So Long Self: How Christianity Teaches You To Hate Yourself.” It was one of those posts that described, to a T, what evangelical Christianity does to the psyche of a person who, initially, gets fooled by the facade. If you haven’t already, please take the time to read his post.
Although I was raised Catholic, I was involved in evangelical Christianity from the 80’s through the late 90’s. I also worked for a Christian radio station, and was constantly exposed to anti-human music and sermons, alhough I didn’t see it that way at the time. It also didn’t help that I was in the music ministry at church, and as Neil noted in his post, heard anti-human (Christian) music in nearly every business (we both live in the bible belt — same state). Over time, the core message took its toll on my mental health, and depression became my constant companion. However, I kept it a secret from everyone.
Published in the British Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies, Dr. Marlene Winell states:
“Religious institutions have a vested interest in promoting an uncritical view. Mind-control and emotional abuse is actually the norm for many large, authoritarian, mainline religious groups. The sanitization of religion makes it all the more insidious. When the communities are so large and the practices normalized, victims are silenced.
Within many dogmatic, self-contained religions, mental health problems such as depression or anxiety are considered sins. They are seen as evidence of not being right with God. God is called the “great physician”, and a religious counselor or pastor advises more confession and greater obedience as the cure.“
After nearly 2 decades of devotion, I was losing the will to live. I had no where to turn. Keep in mind that this was before there were online support groups, where ex-Christians shared similar, nearly identical experiences and thought processes.
One of the commenters on Neil’s Facebook page wrote:
“It was crazy-making. Depression is a sin because you aren’t appreciating god’s gift of life. How dare you not value yourself as a unique creation! But don’t value yourself too much, because that’s also a sin. Never forget that you’re nothing. But you’re also so special Jesus died just for you. But you’re still nothing.”
Charity, my friend, and a former WP blogger, wrote this comment today in my last post. Here’s an excerpt:
“Christians live in a system designed for self-destruction. I was suicidal from 10 to 25 years old. I was an abused and severely neglected child at home and in Church. The Bible, worship music and prayer constantly beat me down. It’s all perfectly designed to tear a person down then totally blame him/her when he or she becomes physically and mentally ill.”
I came to the conclusion that I was an utter failure at being a good Christian. I’m not talking about prosocial behavior, because I was an ethical person before I went down this path in pursuit of truth. But after years of dedicated devotion, I wasn’t experiencing what other Christians were proclaiming: joy, and the peace that surpasses all understanding, but I pretended I did. I claimed it by faith. I was certain it was me, not Christianity. It pushed me to pray and study more.
I’ve read the comments from evangelical bloggers (including some Catholics) claiming that deconverts weren’t “true Christians™.” I will boldly state that a devout, bible-believing Christian who isn’t dealing with some form of depression, and/or self-loathing, is either a Charlatan, is pretending to be fulfilled, hasn’t grasped the inhumane message of penal substitutionary atonement, and/or is in total denial of reality.
Neil: “It is very much like living in an abusive relationship. You are taught to see yourself as hopelessly worthless outside of what your captor can accomplish on your behalf. Left to your own devices, you are weak and helpless. Yessss, just keep repeating that to yourself over and over again. That’s gooooood…You are doing sooo well…
This is not good news. This is psychological abuse, sugar coated as it is with the vocabulary of love, and it’s made all the more sinister by its pretty packaging and by its inevitable marketing toward children before they are even old enough to say, “Wait a second, these are awful things to say to a person!”
As Neil noted, when you have a steady diet of that message for years. you’ve got yourself a formula for self-neglect and dysfunctional relationships. He writes:
“Looking back over relationships that have gone badly over the course of my life, I see that one thread running through each one of them is this tendency to push aside—to suppress—any awareness of my own needs in order to take care of everyone else.”
There is a sinister, emotionally manipulative formula in the Christian message, and it begins by teaching you negative self-talk. It “ends up becoming a self-fulfilling prophesy.” This, in turn, makes it easier for people in authoritarian positions to control you. You also become prone to having an “overly negative view of humanity.”
Here’s how the formula works:
Neil: “In order to need a savior, you have to feel there is something you need saving from, and that means you have to believe that somehow you are in really, really bad shape. You have to feel that you need saving in the first place. And that means taking whatever your current view of yourself happens to be—no matter how low it already is—and lowering it even further.
At a bare minimum, you have to believe that your flaws, taken together with the flaws of the rest of humanity, are so egregious and offensive to God that someone had to be tortured and killed in your place.”
So, like big corporations marketing unhealthy food and drinks, you’re presented with a clever sales pitch (witnessing):
Neil: “First you highlight the need for whatever it is you are selling, even if it means having to greatly exaggerate how badly anyone really needs what you have. Then you explain to them how easy it is to get what you have, and once you see they want it, you go in for the sale. Evangelism works exactly the same way. It’s a sales transaction, and it follows all the same rules.”
Just like junk food/drinks, there are no warning labels that a steady diet of this will eventually deteriorate your health. Sunday, after Sunday, and throughout the week (especially if you live in a culture where it’s everywhere), you consume, even subconsciously, this psychological junk food—“a skewed view of yourself”, humanity and the world.
Galatians 2:20 “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.”
John 3:30 “He must increase, but I must decrease.”
To sincere mini-me wannabes: the good news is really bad news:
The Christian god is not in love with you. Period! He’s in love with the reflection of himself in you.
In Greek Mythology, Narcissus was a man who was obsessed with and in love with himself.
Think about it.
US Copyright Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107