Clergy Misconduct, Clergy Sex Abuse, emotional abuse, It's All About the Image, Ravi Zacharias, Religious Power and Control, Sexual Abuse/Assault and Churches, Spiritual Abuse, Spiritual Bullies, Women and the Church

Julie Anne Smith Interviewed on Almost Heretical Podcast: Spiritual and Sexual Abuse

Last Saturday, I had the opportunity to be interviewed by Nate Hanson of the podcast, Almost Heretical.

Nate is the first person to interview me specifically about the Ravi Zacharias sex abuse scandal and ask me why I thought it took so long for the collective church to “get it.” I’ve thought long and hard over the years since I originally published Lori Anne Thompson’s story in November 2017. I’m pretty sure I’m on to something and what it’s going to take for survivors and women to be believed. Have a listen!

Just a note. A listener sent me a really kind email when she heard me say, “I don’t think I’ll ever get over it” referring to spiritual abuse. Unfortunately, when you’re answering questions on the fly, sometimes you don’t realize that you could have done a better job elaborating, so I’ll do that here.

I have done a ton of work processing my spiritual abuse and the trauma it caused me. I remember one time a different pastor read Romans 12 from the pulpit – the same passage that my abusive pastor read over and over again and using it as a spiritual weapon. Part of me wanted to high-tail it out of the church, climbing over pews to escape from the hearing of that particular passage. I was able to talk myself through what was going on and reminded myself that this pastor was not my abuser, and that I was safe.

I’m beyond that place. What I meant by my statement is that I will forever have reminders when I come across songs, scripture, certain theology, ideologies that take me back to those dark days. They no longer paralyze me, but I acknowledge those moments as they have connections with spiritual abuse, and I move forward having full understanding of that former trauma, and now knowing I am in a safe place emotionally and spiritually. I hope that explanation helps clear things up.

2 thoughts on “Julie Anne Smith Interviewed on Almost Heretical Podcast: Spiritual and Sexual Abuse”

  1. Talking of exiting the institutional church, I recently saw the figures for Catholics in Germany. There has been a trend to officially leave both Catholic and Protestant churches for some years now (you no longer have to pay a church tax that is used to finance them).

    Over the last couple of years the figure has been in excess of a quarter of a million per year for Catholics, accelerated by not just the level of abuse going back decades but the attempts to cover it up. I have seen Catholic laity incandescent with rage over what the hierarchy has been up to, especially the covering up of abuse.

    The current Bishop of Cologne Woelki is in the news being perceived to have tried to cover up a report into abuse, and the numbers wanting to officially leave there – you have to register this with the State – have risen so much the servers have crashed.

    The start of a similar trend can be seen in traditionally strongly Catholic countries like Poland and Ireland.

    What is the point of being a member of a church when it is more part of the problem than the answer?

    At least that’s not true of Evangelicals in the States. Oh, hang on a minute …


  2. I just listened to this podcast. The best and simplest way I can explain many unhealthy church cultures is by viewing them through the lens of authoritarianism, a political phenomenon that has a lot more people writing about it than writing about church issues. You mentioned the words “authoritarian” and “high-control” in the podcast, so it seems like you’re familiar with this line of thinking.

    Whenever power is concentrated in a single person or a very small group of people, it’s useful to describe that system as authoritarian. Many churches operate like this. It’s something that is much easier to objectively describe and label.

    You mentioned women’s voices being silenced, effectively taking away their power. You’re absolutely right and CBMW has aided this oppression. At the same time many men’s voices are silenced through teachings like “Elder-Rule” church government in which top church leadership is completely removed from independent accountability from women AND men. It’s very easy to see how women are silenced because of their absence from leadership positions in many church denominations and conventions, but I think we have to recognize that at the same time most men are silenced as well by church government structures that also take away their voices. Christ’s voice, in his entire Church of both men and women, is often effectively silenced through authoritarian systems.

    Liked by 2 people

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