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How to Overcome Fear of Churches:

Not all Shadows are Reflections of the Stained Glass

What does the term ‘church’ mean to us? Are they simply structures with a cross affixed to their facade to distinguish one public building from another? Are they a refuge for all, a space where our community gathers for both joyous occasions and moments of sadness? Perhaps some prefer to see them as a sanctuary; extending support to those in need? In the past few decades, communities are telling a general story of those who attend, and who they house. So, when does ‘fear’, if ever, have an acceptable connection to these places of worship?

Fear of Churches Contributing to Declining Attendance

fear of churches

It’s widely understood that the number of people attending church services has been steadily declining over the past decade. People are preferring less conformity and opt for alternative locations to celebrate weddings and christenings. And this includes those of their recently passed family members. Private homes and gardens or special locations that have a personal connection are now more popular than ever before. 

Clergymen are being replaced by celebrants or other alternative guidance. After all, it is about the love and caring intentions of those family and friends who are attending or departing.

So this then begs the question: Why are we leaving the church? 

The Ripple Effects of Religious Scandals

A concerning factor was hearing of the atrocities where children were sexually abused by the clergy. When this abhorrent act began to be exposed, the media continued to headline each individual story until a judiciary had reached a verdict. 

Over time, brave victims would come forward and speak of their personal encounters with a particular clergyman who had devastated their childhood and adult lives, either or both personally and professionally. A media floodgate was opened and it appeared that the same specific religious communities would repeatedly feature. The stories were similar although were randomly located around the country. 

The Fallout for Religious Institutions

It was only a few decades ago, one well-known church and school community had hundreds of institutions for boys across the nation, but it seems due to the exposure and adverse publicity, the name of the church community is now practically non-existent. There are properties that may have remained educational institutions but they now carry a new name. Also, simultaneously most now have become co-ed, which is a completely opposite mindset to how the public once viewed private schooling during the last half of the 20th century.

Where are these once-well-received religious communities now? Have they simply gone ‘underground’ and continued business as usual, or have they self – scrutinised, reviewed, and improved their practices, especially towards children? Only time and the media will tell. 

The Long-Term Effects of Fear of Churches

What has become of those children—now adults—who suffered during those years of abuse? While most may have chosen to remain silent, how are they and their families coping with adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and the unpleasant character traits that are now haunting them? 

The plethora of varying actions/reactions that these children have incubated can surface at any age. Quite often, some adults are not even aware why their actions are sometimes incongruent with their usual behaviour. They’ve not yet been able to ‘connect the dots’ with their past. 

Mental health issues such as anxiety, anger issues, stress, PTSD and depression are just a few of the most common symptoms that can be disguised as character traits or other personality reactions and all too often the cause is due to sexual abuse. 

The Lingering Trauma of Childhood Abuse

Another concerning factor is that the victim does not become aware of the connection between past memories and those character traits until well into adulthood or middle age. By this time, the damage that has been caused in current families and friendships is often irreparable. This then not only leaves the victims struggling to cope with life in general, it is compounded by new relationship issues and loneliness.

Too many children (research has shown approximately 1 in 5) have experienced sexual abuse. So, how many suffered from this adversity under the stained glass shadows of the church with an assumption that parents believed children were perfectly safe.  It leaves the question hanging. Is this why the fear of churches is a major concern and are there a large number of people prepared to talk about? If not, there are ways to recognise and break that fear.

I am living proof that it can be done with simple and easy techniques.

If this story resonated with you, you may send me an email at donna@mydreambox.me or send your enquiry to our contact page.

Here’s another interesting story, click here.

Copyright © 2024 Donna Arnold. All rights reserved.

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