Bullying in the Church. You’d have thought, wouldn’t you, that a place meant to be known for healing, love and acceptance is also known for intolerance, bigotry and bullying. Sadly, extreme churches showing this kind of behaviour are generally the only ones who make the news – for example, the infamous ‘Westboro Baptist Church’; those who just quietly do the work of Jesus are never mentioned. Well, we can’t have Good News on the news media, now can we? 😉
Therefore, I must say first up that bullying does not go on in every church. My church, for example, is known for its acceptance of people from every walk of life from lawyers right up to the homeless 😉 And especially the homeless. We see every homeless person coming through those doors as Jesus wanting a hand. When I was naked, you clothed Me, and all that (Mt 25:36). And there are many, many churches out there which are similar; they simply show the love of Christ without partiality to all who would come.
But unfortunately some churches are still known for their insularity, exclusivism, dogmatism, and their intolerance for anyone who even slightly ‘strays’ from the ‘path’. Awkward questions are discouraged. Invariably, the leadership’s authority is unquestioned. Everything is tight as a drum with no wiggle-room, and the Bible is to be believed absolutely as inerrant, inspired and infallible, and ineligible for discussion. The belief systems are laid down in stone and woe betide anyone who tries to change that. The idea of believers being ‘…transformed from one degree of glory to another…’ (2Cor3:18) is fine as long as that transformation occurs in accordance with the approval of the group. Instead of a real, fluid, living Relationship with Jesus Christ, members are confined entirely to the straitjacket of rigid belief held by the leadership. I could go on, but that’s enough negative for now.
What does all this have to do with bullying? Well, these types of churches predictably use bullying tactics to keep their members – whom, don’t forget, Jesus died to set free – in line. And I recently read an article on Paul Ellis’s ‘Escape to Reality’ blog which, along with its discussions, has become for me the ‘go-to’ article about church bullying. It describes what church bullying looks like, and how it is used to control those in the group. So, if there’s any potentially dodgy behaviour going on in your church, simply look at this list – it is not fully comprehensive, but helpful commentors have added other items – and see what you think. Some of this stuff I didn’t even realise was bullying, but when you look at it, it really is. One day, I might compile this list myself with all the additions. But, for now, take a look at Paul’s article. It’s quite the eye-opener!
Click the graphic below to go to the article: