David Henke defined Spiritual Abuse by listing five specific characteristics that are found within churches that manifest the
From Watchman Fellowship's Profile of Spiritual Abuse
- Authoritarian Systems and leaders over-emphasize authority
- Image Conscious Maintains high standards to validate specialness to God
- Suppresses Criticism No questioning of doctrine or leadership is permitted
- Perfectionistic Blessings come through performance and noncompliance is punished.
- Unbalanced Abusive religions must distinguish themselves from all other religions so they can claim to be distinctive and therefore special to God. They become unbalanced in their focus on peripheral or intramural doctrines of the faith that eventually eclipse the essential doctrines.
Though not included in Henke's material, I also believe that no discussion of the elements of Spiritual Abuse is really complete without the discussion of Robert Cialdini's information about human nature and tendency which predispose us all to manipulation.
Cialdini's Weapons of Influence
- Reciprocity The rule of reciprocity requires that one person try to repay, in kind,what another person has provided
- Consistency People desire to look consistent
- Social Proof A person tends to view behavior as more correct in a given context (to the degree that one sees others performing it)
- Liking People prefer to say "yes" to those they know and like
- Authority People naturally respond to authority with compliance
- Scarcity People assign more value to opportunities when they are less available—if there are fewer resources and less time to get them, we want it more
The posts that follow in this category examine each element of both Cialdin's influence and Henke's spiritual abuse, each featured in an individual posting.
When you finish reviewing these, move on to the Robert Lifton 101 posts for looking at spiritual abuse from another perspective.
Then download the Series of Podcasts discussing Spiritual Abuse on the Thatmom website.