I’m Beginning to Think All Ministers Are Abusers

Reader’s Question

My father is a minister, and he and my mother are both ministers’ children.

When I was 16, I got pregnant and my parents took me to quietly get an abortion. I have also watched my parents con people for various things and for money for many years. I have seen no signs of empathy or conscience from them when it comes to their actions or others’ feelings. They seem like predators to me, and as I have read up on things and looked upon the way I was raised, I can see they were actually abusers.

Religion is an abusive business in my opinion. I married an abuser and had two children with him. My ex-mother-in-law is also religious and demanding and hateful. My son is 28 and talks to me like a dog. Is it genetics that has created this or just watching his father treat me with disrespect? His father is a big shot with the government, and I am a massage therapist. I’m coming to terms more and more with my own issues and what reactions I developed from all the abusive relationships I’ve been in. I finally cut ties with my ex-husband and more recently have cut ties with my parents. I essentially only have a relationship with my daughter and my grandson. My daughter is already divorced.

Do you have any advice for me or comments about my actions? It is very difficult to be without family. But with the family I have, I think it best to sever ties.

Psychologist’s Reply

Religion in itself is not an inherently “abusive business.” However, conscience- and character-deficient people have used the “cover” or facade of religiosity or even invoked the name of God to commit all sorts of harmful behaviors toward others. In my book In Sheep’s Clothing [Amazon-US | Amazon-UK], I have written extensively about people who hide behind God or religion to cloak their malevolent intentions. I have even more to say about character-deficient people in my soon to be released book Character Disturbance [Amazon-US | Amazon-UK].

Sometimes relationships can be so toxic that the best way to protect yourself is to sever all ties. However, once a person has addressed all of their own “issues,” learned to set and enforce reasonable boundaries and limits, and learned how to respond to the “tactics” of malevolent personalities, it’s possible to engage with them without being victimized.

It’s important not to equate your opinions about religion and spirituality with your experience with the abusive characters in your life. Religion is like any other “instrument” of personal faith and self-development, and as such, flawed men (and women) can use it for good as well as for evil.

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