When Religion Leads to Trauma

When Religion Leads to Trauma
AP Photo/Jon Gambrell

"We think of church as a place of healing and transformation, and it is," says Michael Walrond Jr., co-pastor of the First Corinthian Baptist Church in Harlem. But for some, he says, "religion has been more bruising and damaging than healing and transformative."

Pastor Mike, as he is called, leads services in a renovated art deco movie palace on Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard. Under his direction, the church has taken a lead in confronting an issue that few other religious institutions have tackled: what some call religious trauma syndrome.

You won't find this condition in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, which clinicians use to make their diagnoses. But the term has been gaining currency with psychotherapists, counselors and others who work with people who are recovering from the harmful effects of religious indoctrination.

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