In the church I was in growing up it wasn’t out right taught but the message was clear that if you didn’t go to an Independent Fundamental Baptist Denomination you were not only decieved and sinnful, but also your salvation was questionable.
The message was that the Independent Fundamental Baptist Denomination had the monopoly on the gospel message and the only way to be truly saved was to get saved from the message that the Independent Fundamental Baptist Denomination brings.
Churches that abuse promote extra-biblical rules and standards and equate them as doctrine or at least as coming from God, with your salvation or spirituality in jeopardy if they aren’t followed.
Trivial matters are brought to attention such as the way one dressed or styles his/her hair, the music one listens to, the clothes one wears, etc.
Members are taught that only God is to handle situations in which leadership may have done wrong leaving the leadership unaccountable.
Spiritual abuse is also the misuse of a position of power, leadership, or influence to further the selfish interests of someone other than the individual who needs help.
Abusive churches are often performance oriented, with an “us verses them” or elitist mentality.
Questioning is often discouraged, forbidden, or branded as a sign of rebellion or lack of spirituality.
Spiritual abuse often occurs subtly for seemingly the “right” reasons, but it can also be blatant for outright selfish financial, emotional or physical gain.The joy of a relationship with God is replaces with a fear of God the “Cosmic Killjoy”.Churches that abuse often focus on the penalty for sin.The leaders take advantage of this by preaching a sermon on how the authority of the leaders shouldn’t be questioned and the cycle of abuse continues as the person is reluctant to even consider that their intuition is correct.Thus the person is stuck at the abusive church, ensnared in the web of manipulation and lies.
Victims are often depressed about their inability to live up to those rules and standards, worried that they aren’t pleasing the Lord, and frustrated that they keep sinning.