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This is a list of common beliefs that religious trauma survivors hold. On their own, none of these statements would qualify as religious trauma. However, if multiple statements reflect your current or past beliefs, you’ve definitely had some adverse religious experiences. As you go through the list, notice any body sensations that might be clues about how religious trauma may still be impacting you now.

Take note of the statements below that reflect your current or past mindset.

  1. I'm in danger of being excluded from the afterlife.

  2. Someone I love might be excluded from the afterlife.

  3. The end of the world might happen at any moment.

  4. It’s my responsibility to tell non-believers the truth.

  5. Evil spirits want to hurt, tempt, or possess me.

  6. Nonbelievers want to hurt, tempt, or persecute me.

  7. I might commit evil ("sin") without realizing it.

  8. God will punish me for making mistakes.

  9. God has total control over my life.

  10. God designed a clear system of right and wrong.

  11. My salvation depends on me doing things right.

  12. Bad things won’t happen to me if I’m good enough.

  13. I’m a naturally bad ("sinful") person.

  14. I’m a naturally selfish ("prideful") person.

  15. I deserve punishment for being the way I am.

  16. There’s something wrong with me spiritually.

  17. My well-being isn’t a priority to God.

  18. My value comes from serving God and other people.

  19. I need to work to make up for my failures.

  20. My body's natural instincts are wrong.

  21. I shouldn’t trust my emotions.

  22. I should deny my sexual urges or attractions.

  23. Masturbation is disgusting or perverted.

  24. I should resist the temptation of money or ambition.

  25. I should always be joyful or grateful.

  26. I shouldn’t allow myself to be angry.

  27. I shouldn’t have doubts about my faith.

  28. My identity should be based on my religious beliefs.

  29. I should always be loyal to my religious group.

  30. People are watching to see if I’m a true believer.

  31. I should always confess my failures (“sins”).

  32. I need to be forgiven by God for my failures (“sins”).

  33. I need God’s permission or approval before I make decisions.

  34. I should never be resentful of other people.

  35. I should always forgive people who hurt me.

  36. I should always serve God and others, even when it hurts me.

  37. I should always submit to authority, even when it hurts me.

If you counted more than about five things on this list, you’ve been impacted by religious trauma.
Self-compassion, setting healthy boundaries, and correcting thinking errors will all be helpful.
Counseling with a trauma-informed therapist is highly recommended.

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