toxic behavior

It often surprises people that there is toxic behavior in Spiritualist Churches.  In the realm of spiritual communities, one might assume that kindness, compassion, and unity prevail. However, just like any other sphere of society, religious organizations are not immune to the scourge of bullying. It’s a topic often brushed under the rug, as we hesitate to believe that fellow believers could harbor ulterior motives. Yet, it’s essential to open our eyes to the harsh reality that bullying can infiltrate even the holiest of spaces.

In this post, we’ll delve into the signs and symptoms of bullying within religious organizations, shedding light on this uncomfortable truth and offering guidance on how to recognize and combat it.  Bullying is not unique to Spiritualism; it can occur in any religious or social group. Recognizing when toxic behavior crosses the line is essential.

Why do bullies succeed in churches?

Sometimes, others overlook the signs. It’s crucial to recognize these behaviors, as they can be divisive and harmful. Remember, what’s unacceptable elsewhere should not be tolerated in your church. Address it for the well-being of your community.

Bullying in religious organizations can take various forms, but the underlying theme is the misuse of power and manipulation. In many cases, it starts subtly, with individuals insisting on having things their way. They resist group decisions and adamantly push for their preferences, unwilling to accept any changes unless they propose them.

This stubbornness often escalates into intimidation tactics. Bullies may adopt aggressive attitudes, making it challenging for others to voice their opinions. Some resort to threats, creating a hostile environment that leaves others feeling powerless.

Triangulation is another strategy they employ. They manipulate and draw others into their orbit, creating a group dynamic that supports their bullying behavior. This group not only reinforces their point of view but can also put immense pressure on church leaders.

Private criticism of leaders is a common tactic.

Bullies undermine the authority of those in charge by spreading negative opinions behind closed doors. The people they talk to may unknowingly take up their cause, believing the bully’s perspective without any valid reason.

Inflexibility is a hallmark of bullies. No matter how much attention they receive or how many conversations are held, they refuse to move from their position. It’s either their way or no way at all.

Public confrontations are their modus operandi. Bullies often raise their concerns in congregational meetings, using aggressive language to force the hand of leadership. These public outbursts can create tension and division within the community.  Respect for authority is a selective trait for bullies. They demand respect for their own authority if they hold leadership roles but show little regard for others in authoritative positions.

They often cloak their manipulative behaviors in spiritual terms, attempting to justify their actions with seemingly noble intentions. However, their actions rarely align with their words, revealing that it’s more about power and control than spirituality.

When confronted with their behavior, bullies tend to deny, fight back, or resort to lies. They are not willing to be held accountable for their actions, further perpetuating the toxic environment they create.

Perhaps the most concerning aspect of dealing with bullies in religious organizations is the harm they inflict on those who stand in their way. They rarely admit wrongdoing, as their focus remains squarely on their own interests, often at the expense of others.

Summary of Toxic Behavior

To summarize, here are ten signs that may indicate you’re dealing with a bully:

  1. They Insist on Their Way: Bullies resist group decisions and demand things be done their way.
  2. Intimidation Tactics: Some use attitudes, unyielding stances, or even threats to intimidate others.
  3. Triangulation: Bullies create alliances to pressure leaders by manipulating others into sharing their point of view.
  4. Undermining Authority: They privately criticize leaders to erode their authority.
  5. Inflexibility: Bullies refuse to budge from their position, regardless of discussions.
  6. Public Outbursts: They bring up their issues in congregational meetings, often in a confrontational manner.
  7. Disregard for Authority: Except for their own authority if they hold leadership roles, they show little respect.
  8. Misusing Spirituality: Bullies may use spiritual language to mask their true motives, which are often about power.
  9. Resistance to Accountability: When confronted, they deny, fight back, or lie, avoiding accountability.
  10. Harming Others: They hurt those who oppose them but rarely admit wrongdoing.

Bullying is a destructive force that can infiltrate any organization be it religious or social. It’s essential to recognize these signs and take action to address and prevent such behavior. What may be unacceptable elsewhere should not be tolerated in your church. By identifying and addressing bullying, you can promote a healthier, more harmonious spiritual community.

Rev. Colleen Irwin
Reverend Colleen Irwin is a Spiritual being having a human experience as a Blogger, Wife, Mother, Mentor, Healer and Public Speaker living in Rochester New York. Colleen, a Natural Born Medium, teaches, lectures and serves Spirit when called upon. She remembers speaking with Spirit as a child and learning how to share this knowledge with others has been an adventure that she captured in her book “Discovering Your Stream”. Colleen has been mentored by Reverend Jack Rudy, and ordained as a Priest in the Order of Melchizedek by the Reverend Dan Chesboro through the Sanctuary of the Beloved. When she is not doing her Spiritual work she is a volunteer docent sharing Susan B. Anthony's history to visitors of the Susan B. Anthony House in Rochester. Her trust in Spirit gave her a new title – PREVIVOR. She now uses her platform to educate others about the BRCA genetic mutation and how one can take control of their health and well-being.
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