THE FOLLOWING INFORMATION IS FROM THE BOOK "THE SUBTLE POWER OF SPIRITUAL ABUSE" BY DAVID JOHNSON AND JEFF VANVONDEREN
When you see people in a religious system being secretive -- watch out. People don't hide what is appropriate; they hide what is inappropriate.
One reason spiritually abusive families and churches are secretive is because they are so image conscious. People in these systems can't even live up to their own performance standards, so they have to hide what is real. Some believe they must do this in order to protect God's good name. So how things look and what others think becomes more important than what's real. They become God's "public relations agents". The truth is, He is not hiring anyone for this position.
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When these characteristics exist in a church or Christian family system, the result will be spiritual abuse. It will be a closed system with rigid boundaries that prevent people from leaving. There will be the perception that there is a lot of evil on the outside, (which keeps people in) and there will be a lot of power postured on the inside to compel you to perform. There will also be tired, wounded people who feel that they are either unspiritual or crazy.