Trauma takes many forms and some are unexpected . The definition of the boundaries of trauma has evolved . Currently , a widening river of thought defines trauma more broadly . Religion , and the communities therein , have long been assumed to be a respite from trauma , though institutional infliction of trauma has been well documented in recent years . However , theology , the systematic development and study of religious beliefs and theory , is increasingly being recognized , notably in the misuse of theology , as a source of trauma . The concept is not suggestive that God is directly traumatizing , but rather the human interpretation and application of religious theology can be the source of trauma . Theological trauma is a relatively new area of study and thought and may well be disconcerting to some and downright blasphemous to others . Yet conceptualizing this form of trauma is affirming to those who have experienced it and continue to heal the post traumatic wounds inflicted . Recognizing all forms of trauma is important as we seek to join our patients on their unique journeys of health .
Religious and theological trauma may seem abstract ; intangible wounds from internally perceived and externally influenced faults and inadequacies in the presence of an omniscient God . Religious institutional trauma is generally a better recognized concept for religious trauma . Sex abuse scandals in both the Catholic and Southern Baptist denominations have commanded headlines in recent years and the Televangelist scandals , from the likes of Jimmy Swaggart and Eddie Long , are infamous cultural touchstones from the 1980s . This form of institutional trauma fits a more traditional view of trauma with clear physical violations and financial repercussions . As Laura Anderson , a licensed therapist based in Tennessee , tells The New Republic , “ Religion has been looked at as a fairly pro-social or communal factor ,” and it is still relatively new to see religion as a source of psychological trauma in clinical practice . Yet victims ’ stories , readily available in a variety of media and academic writings , suggest the reality is anything but abstract : it ’ s all too concrete .
Typical examples include interpreting scripture as cover for refusing pastoral leadership based on sex , or exclusion of a pa-