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by Ron Henzel
     The characteristics of Spiritual Abuse are well-documented, not only in recent literature, but also in church history, and even in the Bible itself.   It is not limited to groups with heretical doctrines or wierd beliefs.  As Ronald Enroth writes: 
... spiritual abuse can take place in the context of doctrinally sound, Bible-preaching, fundamentalist, conservative Christianity.  All that is needed for abuse is a pastor accountable to no one and therefore beyond confrontation. 

[Churches That Abuse, p. 189.]

Even so, few people can readily identify Spiritual Abuse when they see it.  
    And unfortunately, it must be said that this is due to the fact that, in varying degrees, the individual components of Spiritual Abuse are pervasively present in the church itself.  As Enroth also writes: 
... tendencies toward abusive styles of leadership are more prevalent than most Christians realize.  

[Churches That Abuse, p. 205.]

     Thus spiritually abusive leaders have an element of familiarity on their side as they lure people into their groups.  And since few if any people will join a group whose abuse is obvious even to newcomers, conditioning new members to the abusive environment is simply a matter of gradually intensifying the following characteristics over time: 


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Denunciation of Outsiders 
Spiritual Intimidation 
False Unity 
Excessive Discipline 
Coercive Confession 
Painful Exit Process

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