Terrorism: The psychologically damaging effects of Rapture theology
On May 19, 2011 At 6:42 pm
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Dr. Marlene Winell, a psychologist and ex-Fundamentalist Christian, who wrote Leaving the Fold, and Tracy Williams, an ex-Christian, have done a video discussing the psychological effects of the doctrine of Rapture theology. This particular doctrine hijacks important developmental stages, causing fears of abandonment or attachment disorders, which I mentioned before when I posted about Andy Thompson's video, "Why We Believe In Gods". This particular psychological abusive doctrine Dr. Winell describes as a form of terrorism and child abuse.
Ms. Williams explains how this theology still affects her, despite leaving Christianity five years ago. She says the fear is so strong that she still has flashbacks due to this teaching. She gives an example of a moment that caused a flashback, but the reality of situation was actually different from what she felt and thought.
Dr. Winell explains how damaging and traumatizing this sort of indoctrination can be and how it is abusive to young children. She explains that terrorism is the use of violence, including violent and terrifying images, to control another person. A fear of abandonment can develop and often does develop at an early age with children, which goes back to the attachment disorders I mentioned before, because it hijacks this very important developmental stage of proper and healthy attachment to caregivers.
Ms. Williams mentions rejection, which causes me concern too, given that those who actually believe this theology could feel rejected after the 21st and potentially do something drastic, such as kill themselves, unless they get help. It would not be the first time someone committed suicide due to religious beliefs. Ms. Williams also tells about her childhood in relationship to this theology and the feelings of rejection.
I grew up in Wesleyan theology, where no man knows the day or the hour, not even Jesus knew, which is in the Gospels, but even though we do not know, we were suppose to be ready for His Second Coming, by striving for perfectionism- otherwise known as Christian Perfection. For many, it was a perpetual weekly visit to the altar, if not twice a week, because they were not the perfect Christian, the perfect child of God, which Wesley himself stated was not possible in this lifetime. However, Wesley stated, that despite not reaching perfection until we are in heaven, we still had to strive for it, thus the perpetual visits to the altar, because humans are never good enough. If Jesus were to return and you had not Sanctification or even tried to be perfect… Ceiling Cat is much nicer. OK maybe not in my version, because the humans were not so perfect, but in hindsight, when I thought about what I had written, some of the teachings from my childhood, though not as blatantly obvious, are in that story. In my relatives' version of the Second Coming, only the souls are taken to heaven, because there is no use for the body. Since there is no need for the body, it is left behind and the soul is perfected in heaven, so that justifies the corpses, even before the Second Coming.
Add to that, several people in my family have committed or attempted suicide over a variety theological doctrines and beliefs. Either way, people die due to this asinine doctrine and other doctrines like it, no matter what one calls it- Rapture, Tribulation, Second Coming. It is all the same and it could very well lead to many deaths, in my opinion. Even so, I did not realize that I ran the story, like a plane crash, right into that doctrine until a day or so after I wrote it, but at the time I humourously covered it up well. Regardless, despite the humour I put in my story, the outcomes of all of this belief could be extremely serious come the 22nd.
Dr. Winell explains how the idea of abandonment implies that there is something wrong with the person. Thus it is not just fear, but also shame and unending guilt cycle. So can we get off the merry-go-round now and live healthier lives? Unfortunately, Christian parents think this type of fear is a good thing and children become adults, still having this fear of abandonment. Sadly, it is not just Camping who teaches this sort of theology. Many groups, both Calvinist and Wesleyans, teach this and the aftermath of it all might not be so funny.
Dr. Winell and Ms Williams discuss more on this subject in the video below, as well as what Religious Trauma Syndrome (RTS) is and how to get help. As they both said, we are not laughing at you for believing this theology, because we have been there ourselves.
Religious indoctrination in a repressive, authoritarian religion can be serious child abuse with life-long emotional consequences. Many people are taking steps to recover and there is help available. Go to Journey Free for more information and resources.
Mriana is a humanist and the author of "A Source of Misery". She has two grown sons and raises cats. She enjoys writing, reading, science, philosophy, psychology, and other subjects. Mriana is also an animal lover, who cares for their welfare as living beings, who are part of the earth. She is a huge Star Trek fan in a little body.
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