Recovery from Religion
Religious violence comes in many forms. For many LGBTQ+ individuals, it is lifelong verbal abuses, severed attachments within family systems, ostracism from familiar communities or outright physical violence aimed at eradication. For other LGBTQ+ people that violence also includes being subjected to predatory clergy members and unethical clinicians who engage in so-called “conversion therapy” sometimes referred to as “reparative therapy”. These approaches hold no evidence-based utility and are more of a reflection of the depraved values of the organizations and individuals that advocate for their use.
The long-term suppression of healthy sexual and gender identities often has clear consequences to mental and sexual health. Many have utilized the term religious trauma to describe the consequences of hateful rhetoric and other abuses leading to various forms of psychological distress. When an individual functions from a state of hypervigilance, perfectionism, shame, or self-hatred, it manifests in various harmful ways. The consequences of these distorted beliefs significantly contribute to states of depression, anxiety, PTSD, eating disorders, OCD, and addiction issues. These are just a few examples of how unchecked demeaning narratives influence LGBTQ+ individuals.
Whether you’re someone who identifies as spiritual, atheist, or currently struggling within a religious affiliation, James’ approach is one that values your innate realities over concepts of higher powers that may be eroding your full humanity. It is great that many people get a sense of community and comfort from their faith, however, that is a privilege for those who conform to mainstream ideologies and heteronormative demands. This privilege does not negate the fact that popular concepts of God rose to prominence, not because of the quality of its truth, but through violence and coercion. James believes critical thought, mental flexibility and curiosity are essential to the health of an individual and to society as a whole. James advocates that whatever your worldview, it is one that should make you a better person, not a lesser version of yourself.