ABUSE & VIOLENCE IN THE CHURCH, Religious Power and Control, Religious Trauma Institute, Spiritual Abuse, Tithing

Religious Power and Control: Economic Control

Each section of the Religious Power and Control Wheel describes a tactic used by abusers to maintain power and control over their victims. According to Laura Anderson, when the tactics are combined, a system is “designed and intended to exert power and control over others by their rules, requirements, punishments and consequences for not adhering to the specific requirements of the group.”

Many who read here will be able to identify with some or all of these tactics. Earlier topics in this series: Isolation, Minimizing, Denying, and Blaming, Emotional Abuse, Spiritual Abuse, and Threats, Accusations, and Intimidation.

On the wheel, economic control is described as:

*Requiring a portion of paycheck to go to church
*Unpaid volunteer hours at the expense of other commitments
*Devaluization of education (especially women)
*Must trust God to provide vs. charity or personal action
*Guilt tripping over needing to give more time or money to the church
*”God should meet all of your needs”

Show of hands – who has heard “God honors a cheerful giver?” And, that gift must be 10% of your income. Gross, not net, of course. All of you? Most of you? I heard this for years in the church, and we gave faithfully every other week (plus more for special offerings). Even on the weeks we grumbled about it, we were faithful. Never mind that we were living paycheck to paycheck to the point that if we didn’t have enough money for a car repair or water heater, then we went into debt.

Financial control can be as subtle as the message of “God honors a happy giver” to overt threats or intimidation by a high-controlling leader. From TV evangelists who promise healing with your gift of $500 or more to small churches who demand your money or assets to prove your dedication, financial control by abusive leaders can lead to devastating consequences in the lives of the members. Church leadership who refuse to disclose financial audits or balances is a huge red flag. If people are willingly giving their money to the church, they should have access to see how much comes in and where the money goes.

What I found interesting on this list was “unpaid hours at the expense of other commitments.” Many churches want their members serving anytime the church door is open. It’s a free way to get a lot of work out people. Volunteering is not bad, but if you are guilt tripped into taking on a volunteer position that is sucking up way too much of your time, then that is controlling behavior used against you. I recall being in a church where leadership disapproved of families having their kids participate in sports on Sundays. The message was that time taken away from church commitments was not God honoring.

Christian books for wives have inferred that pursuing education is not worth the time or money due to a woman’s God-given roles as wife and mother. Women are also encouraged not to pursue work outside the home and to trust that God will supply for their financial needs. This teaching can leave women in financial crisis later in life if something were to happen to their husband.

What other forms of financial control have you experienced?

5 thoughts on “Religious Power and Control: Economic Control”

  1. I really hope people pay close attention to that last paragraph. If you pair the teaching about women not working outside of the home with the usual teaching about men making the decisions, you may be doubly screwed, especially if he’s a spender and not a saver. Ask me how I know.

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  2. Please don’t get me going about tithing, and specifically 10% gross to your local church (‘bring the tithes into the storehouse’). It’s not always good for my blood pressure!

    Tithes were paid under the law of Moses, but as far as I am concerned we are not under the law at all, but simply in Christ and under grace. The law is obsolete. It never ceases to amaze me how often evangelicals who ostensibly believe in justification by faith and not works of law go on to try to put people back under the law in their church life. Even Calvinists, whom you would think would know better, being supposedly champions of grace!

    Another downside of tithing is it can enable the minister of the church to enjoy a standard of living above that of sections of his congregation. Doesn’t go down a bundle with those struggling on low pay from month to month, and can lead to disillusionment with the church.

    Regular giving proportional to income is fine, but I don’t think compulsory tithing to an institution can be squared with Each one must do as he has made up his mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. The first part of the verse is every bit as important as the cheerful giving phrase.

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  3. It’s amazing how predatory religious leaders can be when it comes to money. I know people who had to give so much that they practically had no money or assets to their name when they left the church. I went to a tent revival service once where the preacher was admonishing on stage what people were giving after they collected the offering. It’s very sad how much money can be pulled away from people.

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  4. Fundagelicalism is a fear based religion.
    Fear that if you don’t knuckle under and believe everything their preachers teach (allegedly from the ‘Bible’) you (generic you) are not pleasing to God, and there can be only one place for you when you die.
    One of the most effective stories they use when they crack the money whip, is the story of Ananias and Sapphira in Acts chap. 4 and 5.

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  5. All religions on the face of this planet are fear based with the desire to manipulate and control populations, sects, and individuals. Each and every religion is top down theology, including the tenants of what we call the “c’hurch,”

    Within each religion is a caste system, whether we choose to admit the truth or not, it is the important verses the non-important, and those of us who are deemed as non-important, it is our “job” to wait on, worship, and give our hard earned resources (including mammon) to those who deem themselves as the “important.”

    Visible christianity, mimics all of the other religions they condemn as “false religions.” All are worshippers of man, and not the Jesus Who walked this planet some 2,000 years ago, and all are focused on money and sex……lots of it.

    Think about it folks……if the Jesus Who actually is our Savior, Teacher, Pastor Man, Redeemer, and LORD of this whole universe, were to actually in the flesh, walk into any c’hurch denomination here on this planet, and begin preaching and teaching those who are warming the pews………….

    ………..would these self righteous and proud pew sitters not rise up and call for Master Jesus to be crucifies all over again……would not the pew sitters get angry and hell bent out of shape for the words that Jesus calls them, as in a “brood of vipers,” and in the end, would not Jesus call out from His Second Crucifixion, “Forgive them Father, for they know not what they do?”

    This is why Jesus is my Supreme Pastor Man here on this earth, not this man nor that man, for Jesus explicitly said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you.”

    I find it fascinating and deeply saddening at the same time, how the power over structure of humanity, use and abuse to their own advantage, and not Christ’s, to ridicule, intimidate, and subdue those who they regard as unworthy.

    All religions use this process to conquer unsuspecting souls. And all tenants of any denominational c’hurch system upon this earth, use the fear factor to abuse souls.

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