The Unintended Consequences of Religion

consequences of religion

Growing up in church (or any organized religion) can be awesome. The sense of community and belonging, the comfort of long-standing traditions, a place that feels familiar. This article is in no way an attack on religion. 

It is, however, a deeper dive into the unintended consequences some of us might be experiencing after participating in organized religion as a child. 


consequences of religion

Many common organized religions espouse that their way is the right way, and it is wrong to explore any conflicting perspectives or ideas. For children growing up in communities that instill this in them, there may be a feeling of guilt that arises and an inclination toward secrecy when any alternate ways of life are explored. These deeply engrained experiences of guilt and secrecy can show up later in life, in intimate relationships, friendships, and in the way we view ourselves.

Similarly, for those of us who no longer participate in organized religion, it can often be difficult to navigate how our families see us as adults. While some family members are accepting and understanding, others are not. This dynamic may lead to more secrecy, more guilt, and ultimately, a feeling that we can’t be our authentic selves while with our families. 

Sometimes, the consequences of organized religion can be devastating and traumatic. There are many resources out there for those who are dealing with the consequences of religious trauma. We have linked a few of these resources at the bottom of this page. 


consequences of religion

Discovering Our Own Spirituality 

When you read the word “spirituality,” what do you think of?

Some of us immediately think of organized religion. While it is possible for organized religion to provide you with spiritual well-being, it is certainly not the only way. 

In Joy Society, we believe that spiritual well-being is one of the 8 spheres of success (along with family, social, emotional, physical, career, and financial well-being). So, what does spiritual well-being mean? Here’s our definition:

“You are clear about your life purpose. You make choices that align with your values. You seek out knowledge and experiences that further your spiritual growth.”

We encourage you to use this definition as a guide to discovering your own definition of spiritual well-being. Here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • What am I doing when I feel the most connected and present?
  • What values are the most important to me?
  • What do I feel my life purpose is?
  • What experiences or knowledge do I need in order to further my spiritual growth?

Community and a Sense of Belonging

We all want to belong. As adults, it can be difficult to create or replicate the positive aspects of community we experienced in church or temple or mosque. Carrying on cultural traditions, surrounded by others who have similar experiences, and regularly participating in community events are all aspects of organized religion that many of us benefitted from.

Here in Joy Society, we value authenticity and encourage our members to show up as themselves. 

Creating community is a combination of naturally surrounding yourself with people that are aligned with your interests and beliefs, and intentionally seeking places and activities that bring you closer to true well-being.

Resources for religious trauma

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