Symptoms of Religious Addiction

© 1993 Paschal Baute

Inability to think, doubt, or question religious information and/or authority

Black-and-white, good/bad, either/or simplistic thinking: one way or the other

Shame-based belief that you aren't good enough or you aren't doing it right

Magical thinking that God will fix you/ do it all, without serious work on your part

Scrupulosity: rigid obsessive adherence to rules, codes of ethics, or guidelines

Uncompromising judgmental attitudes: readiness to find fault or evil out there

Compulsive or obsessive praying, going to church or crusades, quoting scripture

Unrealistic financial contributions

Believing that sex is dirty; believing our bodies or physical pleasures are evil Compulsive overeating and/or excessive fasting Conflict and argumentation with science, medicine, and education

Progressive detachment from the real work, isolation and breakdown of relationships Psychosomatic illness: back pains, sleeplessness, headaches, hypertension

Manipulating scripture or texts, feeling specially chosen, claiming to receive special messages from God

Maintaining a religious "high", trance-like state, keeping a happy face (or the belief that one should...)

Attitude of righteousness or superiority: "we versus the world," including the denial of one's human-ness. Confusion, great doubts, mental, physical or emotional breakdown, cries for help

The ultimate temptation of the believer is to assume that his or her way to God is the best or only way for others. The particular Way to God becomes what is adored, not the ineffable and incomprehensible Mystery to which we give the name of God.

In essence we have become addicted to the certainty, sureness or sense of security that our faith provides. It is no longer a living by faith, with hope and growing in unconditional love.

Adapted from When God Becomes a Drug, by Leo Booth