Thursday, September 28, 2006

Dealing with Spiritual Abuse

BURBANK, CA: One of the workshops at the addiction counselors' annual conference this afternoon was Queers 101 -- What Every Addiction Counselor Should Know About Lesbian/ Gay/ Bisexual/ Transgender clients. The presenter, Joe Amico, had been booted out of his position as a successful senior minister of a mainstream Christian denomination when he came out as gay. He then became an addictions counselor, and has spoken and written widely about the topic.

Someone in the audience asked Amico to talk about the spiritual dimension of recovery for LGBT people. He said that many LGBT people had suffered what he calls spiritual abuse in the churches, in the form of sermons that brand homosexuality as a sin and tell queer people that they will burn in hell. As a result of such spiritual abuse, many LGBT people had extreme difficulty with the 12-step approach, riddled with God references as it is. Amico referred the questioner to an article Amico had written about the topic. Source.

Spiritual abuse is one more reason why it's important to have a secular option. No doubt one of the reasons why the LifeRing meeting at the LGBT Center in San Francisco is so popular is that LGBT people can work on their recoveries here without constant reminders of past painful religious experiences that filled them with shame and self-loathing.

On religious intolerance of LGBT people, read Elton John's statement with commentary, here.


Anonymous said...

hi marty;
i've been reading "stuff" on the 'unhooked' site for a couple of weeks now, mostly the forums, some of the toolbox, and some of your blogs.eventually, i might go to a meeting(vancouver,canada) or contribute to the forums, but, hey, it's only day eleven this time around,and i don't feel on solid enough ground to start sharing with others much(too too many "day ones" in the recent past).

i'm replying to your blog because it's the first time i have seen mention made anywhere on 'unhooked' of the lgtb community, of which i am part and which is quite large in vancouver.
the 'unhooked' website is posted on the health bulletin board at the lgbt community centre, where i volunteer one morning a week, but it is only a very small sheet. we could use a poster, i think!
'the centre' has a daily aa group, specifically for lgtb people, and vancouver has three lifering meetings, open to all.

i know aa has some groups specifically for lgtb folks........what is your personal opinion on 'segregating'minorities if they so wish?
i can see both a lot of advantages and some's not "just" the spiritual abuse from some churches, but many(most????) of us have experienced the same or similar in our families, schools,work and society at large, though it is lessening......

seeing from your blog that there is a lgbt group in s.f., i guess lifering sees you know anyone in vancouver who might start such a meeting?

thanks for doing what you do, and HOW you do it,and pulling such interesting material together.oh, and for putting up with my typing; one finger only, very slow, hence no capitals, as i would never get done
bye for now,

Marty N. said...

Dear anon:
The LifeRing meeting at the LGBT center in San Francisco has attracted a group of people who like the concept and like each other. Most of the participants, but not all, are queer.
I personally am very much in favor of groups forming around their particular interest or common bond, such as this one.
I don't know anyone in Vancouver at this time who is interested in starting an lgbt meeting there, but if you post a notice on the board you may get a volunteer. You could also contact the BC LifeRing phone number and the folks who convene the other Vancouver meetings to see if they know somebody.
There's no need to avoid meetings because you only have 11 days or have had a lot of day 1s. In fact, avoiding meetings may be a way of setting yourself up for more day 1s. Nobody in meetings is judgmental about time, and in fact in LifeRing meetings generally you aren't required to say your time. You can if you want but you don't have to, and we certainly don't begin meetings with a time roll call. So forget about feeling embarrassed and get yourself into the meetings asap, please.
And thank you for the comment! I appreciate your feedback.