Indoctrination by Authoritarian Religion

Published on Wednesday, February 24, 2010 By mwinell

Dr. Marlene Winell speaks about the abusive effects of indoctrination by authoritarian religion. Keywords: ex-christian, fundamentalism, ex-fundamentalism, recovery from religion, spiritual abuse, toxic religion, free thought, freethinker, atheism, secular, humanism, deconversion.


  1. Mriana says:

    Marlene, I’ve been meaning to tell you that I thought you and Valerie did a great job with this video, so much so, that I snatched it off of Google and saved it to my comp to listen to again when I felt like it.

    Poltergeist was a hard movie to watch, esp with the preacher, who I found most frightening in the movie, in part because he reminds me of real life preachers, who I always found frightening right down to my FM minister great uncle, when he was alive and esp as a child. The biggest problem was when I was little he tried to convince me that it was not he who scared me, but the devil. I kept trying to tell him, “No, you scare me”, but he would not listen. Even as a teen, he made me quite nervous and anxious because he was part of making my mother and me stay with an abusive man for so many years. After I grew up, I only saw him once in my 20s, which was about 20 years ago. He died recently at the age of 99. I didn’t go to his funeral either. I don’t think any child should be afraid of their relatives, but it’s hard not to be when they are such ministers who attempt to frighten people into believing and impose upon women and children demeaning and dehumanizing things from the Bible, while enabling abuse. That minister in Poltergeist is for some reason a stark reminder to me and gives me the heebe jeebes, so much so that I could not watch it either.

  2. Rachel says:

    I have listened to this video a few times now. The first time I heard it it completely “blew me away”!! This was my first point of contact with you Marlene and remember I was so relieved to finally find someone who understood what I was going through!! Watching this led me to buy your book which had a big impact on me. I am so glad I met you!

    I agree about the horror movies. I watched the exorcist and was terrified. It is scary enough to watch without a religious background, but when you have been “exorcised”, which I was as a child, it scared the heck out of me. You are so right when you say it is child abuse. I relate to what you say about the “thief in the night” film too……I remember running into my parents bedroom in the night scared I would be left behind. Once I couldn’t find the rest of my family and remember the panic trying to find them, phoning round their friends. I was so frightened. That happened a lot.

    My dad always said if you were scared into becoming a christian because of fear of the end times and hell that was a good thing. It didn’t matter how you became a christian…..the only important thing is that you became one!!

    Great eh?!!! As you say what kind of religion does this to people?!

    Marlene and Valerie…….WELL DONE!

  3. disie says:

    hi, i was raised episcopalian, which, back then, was okay, as i loved the painting of Jesus on the wall of our sanctuary. but in 1977 i got into a cult church, which was all form and formulas, and no jewelry, makeup, etc. we had to wear head coverings if we prayed, or we might get attacked by evil spirits. if we were late to a church service, we were told we would be late for heaven – that sort of thing.
    they made my poor husband get re-baptized when he wanted to marry me… they would bring communion to your house if you had it at another church… alot of sick and neurotic things like that.
    as if that werent bad enough, we got involved in extremist groups in the south and midwest usa. there was such prejudice against jews, blacks, gays or anyone else they perceived as ‘other’ or ‘unbiblical.’
    i suffered from mental illness, paranoia, un-named fears – all kinds of emotional imbalance – while part of these twisted organizations.
    when i finally broke contact with them, it was like a breath of fresh air – i could BREATHE again ! i dont ever want to set foot in another fundamentalist extremist church in my life. even now, when i hear some of the old-tyme religion hymns, often it sets about a negative reaction, full of fear. and anger too… that i allowed myself to ever be drawn in to such sick groups.
    now i just love to seek truth wherever i see it.
    i still believe Jesus’ words, and i try to follow them, but all the old “letter of the law” mindset no longer holds me captive.
    yes, i admit, i still have moments when i say, “maybe i’ll go to hell for what i am thinking now…” but as soon as i start to think that way, i counter it with truth –
    truth that sets me free.
    i am also finally able to admit to myself that its ok to be gay, where before i lived a lie. i would sit in church week after week, trying to pretend i wasnt gay – that i had to change in order for God to love me, but again, when i was able to see that God still loves me whatever i am, then i felt i could accept this about myself.
    thanks for ‘listening’ “

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