Do we prevent somebody being hurt by superstition or faith by rejecting and challenging those things? 

Is it mistaken to support organised religion in membership or donations?

If people do good because they are human, not because God prompts them then is it right to risk giving God any credit when they alone own their good?



Toxic Faith by Stephen Arterburn & Jack Felton (Oliver-Nelson, 1991)


FROM Toxic Faith (a summary by B. Jackson)


This is Part C entitled 10 Rules of a Toxic Faith System

1. The leader must be in control of every aspect at all times

1 There is no such thing as a system where the leader attempts to rule every part of the life of others for that cannot be done. Any inappropriate control is toxic.  A toxic faith may limit itself to interfering in marriage and that is enough to make it a disgrace.


The leader is most likely to want to be in control not of everything but of the things he or she considers important to her or him. In the case of a Catholic priest, it may simply be the wish to dictate to others what they must believe. It is too much pressure on a religious leader to attempt to be in control all the time. 

2. When problems arise, find a guilty party to blame immediately



2. Christians blame Satan when things go wrong and they love blaming the media for their problems as Christians as well. Adam and Eve get the blame for original sin and our wish to be independent of God.
When Catholic treatments for sin, the sacraments, blatantly fail, the Church says it is the recipients fault for not being sincere enough. 

3. Don't make mistakes

3. The Church supposedly hates sin for it does damage. Mistakes do damage too. They often do worse damage than sin. Deliberate or not, the wrong action will be seen as evil.

4. Never point out the reality of a situation

Any human organisation is in danger of that. But religion because it besots people with the promise of salvation and scares them half to death makes this problem virtually inevitable. An example, the mothers of Ireland had to have known that priests were sexually abusing their children - they did nothing and indeed punished their children for complaining. The priest was a man of God and even if he did evil he didn't do evil.


Religion protects its notions from being shown implausible or wrong by telling you that God has the full information and you do not.

5. Never express your feelings unless they are positive

Christianity certainly never taught that - and that its ironically one of its endless flaws.

6. Don't ask questions, especially if they are tough ones

6. The Catholic Church says that if you don't understand its doctrines you must pray for understanding. It adds that many of these doctrines are mysteries that only God understands. Here is an example, God is said to forbid contraception no matter how much good it seems to do for he knows better than us. 

7. Don't do anything outside your role

7. The Catholic Church lays down a role for women that gives them less advantages in life than men.
8. Don't trust anyone


Even the worst of religions needs its people to trust somebody. Each religion argues that it is right therefore it makes out that those who contradict it are untrustworthy.

9. Nothing is more important than giving money to the organization


No religion is that blatant. The problem is not one of religion being solely about money but of religion taking people's money when it has no counselling role, tells them rubbish and makes huge claims and provides no evidence or at least dodgy evidence?

10. At all costs, keep up the image of the organization or the family

10. Catholics were conditioned by their parents and the bishops to look up to the bishops and priests as demi-gods. This led to Ireland doing nothing about the open secret of clerical sexual abuse. And the bishops covered up the crimes of their priests and gave them new parishes to find new flesh. The excuse that they thought that moving the priest would help is glaring. That could not have been their motivation at all. Nobody is that stupid. Plus they knew from experience that moving only moved the problem elsewhere. 


1. If Jim Jones was a 10 and totally healthy is a 0 then most families and churches would fall somewhere on the spectrum. Healthy would go from few to some toxic behaviours, unhealthy from frequent to compulsive toxic behaviours. How toxic we were is a matter of debate. There is no question that I/we had dysfunction. How much is (in my opinion) a fruitless sidetrack. Whether it is one cancer cell or a thousand, let's call it cancer and ask God to root it out.
2. This book was extremely helpful to me because it gave me crucial insight into what was happening to us. If we understand what toxic faith is and what drives it, we can recognise it and choose never to walk in it in any degree.

Condensed by Bill Jackson