Editor’s note: This article was written by the Lovefraud reader “Adelade.” It refers to spiritual concepts. Please read Lovefraud’s statement on Spiritual Recovery.
Religious and spiritual beliefs are of extreme importance to people. More than their beliefs of themselves, people adhere to religious and spiritual doctrines because they give them a strong sense of continuity, comfort, and meaning. Teachings and rituals often fill in the gaps of what we cannot provide to ourselves or process as a result of living, dying, and the random events in Life that cause us to question, “Why did this happen?”
The first thing that an invading culture or nation does is to take away or abolish the religious or spiritual systems of beliefs of the vanquished. Aside from taking away native languages, this is probably the most humiliating and defeating of all “punishments” delivered to the vanquished because the core beliefs that sustained that culture (tribal, or national) are not only removed, but completely invalidated. Because these core beliefs run so deep, the culture and individuals are stripped of identity, meaning, and value. After the native religious or spiritual beliefs have been dismantled, they are replaced with those of the conquerors. Either go with the program, or risk losing businesses, homes, and/or lives.
Forgiven of their sins
In my personal experiences, my spirituality had always been a factor in how I was easily targeted, and so completely manipulated. I was raised in the belief (religious, spiritual, and cultural) that every human being deserved compassion and understanding. The spiritual and religious doctrines held fast that everyone should be forgiven for their sins and/or crimes, and given the “benefit of the doubt,” as well as a “second chance.”
The perpetrators hear the words of forgiveness and acceptance, and usually exhibit a brief spurt of “regret” for “what happened,” but typically return to their previous damaging behaviors. In some religious systems, it is taught that a person is forever forgiven of their sins and crimes if they accept specific teachings to be true. What this generally translates to for sociopaths is that everything that they ever did, are presently doing, and will do in the future is magically absolved, and all they have to do is speak the words and literally act out scenes of “transformation” for this to be accomplished. In the World Of Sociopath, they are given the “green light” to continue their abuses with impunity because they have “already been forgiven,” according to doctrines.
Using doctrine against me
Organized religious or spiritual groups are the most fertile trolling ground for the disordered because of these facts. In my first marriage, the abusive ex-spath used our marriage vows as a weapon. If I disobeyed the abusive ex-spath, then I was disobeying God. Consequently, he insisted that God had given him the Divine Expectation to exercise “husbandly rights,” and that I was committing a sin if I didn’t give in to his demands, regardless of whether they were sexual, financial, or otherwise. In essence, I would burn in Hell if I disobeyed him.
The second ex-spath used my need for spiritual and religious grounding to his advantage as well. Unlike the abusive ex-spath, the second one painted himself as a devout follower of Jesus, and had experienced “true miracles” that he described, in detail, as evidence of his connection with God. He also played on the fact that he had attended a Bible college and had intended upon becoming a pastor. Of course, he never completed the required courses, but he could spout some religion and passages with incredible and convincing authority. He used my own ignorance of Books and Verses to his best advantage, and all the while asserted what a “humble” person he was and how money had “no importance” to him except as a method to “pay the bills.”
We are what we believe
Whether the entanglement is with a spouse, significant other, parent, sibling, coworker, or member of the church, temple, or program that we are involved in, it is vital to understand the link—and difference—between religious/spiritual beliefs and core self-beliefs.
Precisely how these two systems of beliefs are targeted, exploited, and dismantled by sociopaths is very simple: we are what we believe. If we believe that everyone deserves to be forgiven, then we forgive even when the person clearly doesn’t “deserve” it. If we believe that we are responsible for everyone else’s happiness before our own, then we will set aside all reasonable expectations of reasonable behaviors in lieu of “fixing” everyone else’s problems for them. If we believe that we were born sinners, then we are ashamed of having been conceived and born at all. If we believe there exists a heaven and a hell, then we will act accordingly to enter one and avoid the other, and do so by the requirements of another mortal human being. If we believe that expressions of sympathy and compassion are to be given to everyone, then we feel obligated to tolerate behaviors and choices that are often inappropriate and unacceptable. These are the things that religious and/or spiritual sociopaths intuitively recognize and exploit to their advantages.
Religion and power
When we read about religious or spiritual leaders engaging in the most heinous behaviors and crimes, we have no business even acting as if we’re surprised. Power corrupts, and there is nothing more powerful to human beings than their systems of beliefs. That’s not meant to translate that we shouldn’t feel shocked that someone would abuse their positions of power, but it is a fact that those who are in power didn’t get where they are by simple altruism, even with regard to religious/spiritual leadership. Every human being carries secrets, and no one can claim to be the example or epitome of what their higher power dictates as perfection.
Before anyone chooses to take offense at these observations, I want to clarify that I am not opposed to any individual wishing to adhere to their chosen religious or spiritual beliefs, as long as those beliefs aren’t espoused in hatred or intentional harm. What I hope for readers to take away from this is the importance of caution and self-validation. God, Great Creator, Yahweh, Jehovah, Buddha, Vishnu, or whomever we hold as our “higher power” has already gifted us with everything that we “need” to realize our own potential and value in this vast Universe. If something or someone causes us to feel uncomfortable, DE-valued, unworthy of love, obligated because of their own humanity, negative, or emotionally drained, then we need to step back, re-evaluate our systems of beliefs, and figure out whether our core beliefs are flawed, or the person that’s causing the discomfort is. Then we need to alter our beliefs, choices, and decisions accordingly.
Belief and abuse
I have witnessed countless scams, cons, and abuses perpetrated by “devout” individuals. They used their membership in their churches or temples as a cloak of respectability to continue abusing, exploiting, and ruining other human beings. “God says that you have to ______, or you’re going straight to Hell,” is a verbatim phrase that I’ve actually heard on several occasions from the abusive ex-spath, church members, and religious leaders.
Not one human being is the sole keeper of the direct cell number to speak with God about meeting these requirements. We must trust our gut instincts that we were gifted with, and protect our self-beliefs, first. Without strong boundaries and healthy “Self-isms,” even empathy, sympathy, understanding, and forgiveness is misguided and can result in serious self-damage.
Religious and/or spiritual sociopaths gather a host of minions, as well. Many of these participants themselves have sociopathic tendencies, and find their own sense of influence, power, and control as they enable and assist in the leaders’ machinations. Other minions are so personally damaged or unstable that any association with the leader provides them with false validation and acceptance they will even do murder if it gains the approval of the leader.
A brief and incomplete list of convicted contemporary religious and/or spiritual sociopaths include is available on Wikipedia.
Of all sociopaths, religious/spiritual predators not only destroy lives, but they destroy core beliefs in one’s Self. The religious and/or spiritual sociopath can not only dismantle a human being’s finances, sexual identity, and physical/emotional health, but they have the ability to end lives of innocent men, women, and children in the name of religion.