Religious narcissism is similar to regular narcissism, but dressed up in snarky, spiritual clothes. Many people have left God, believing it was the church that was hateful–not realizing they were victims of religious narcissism.
A Religious narcissist is a person who was probably a narcissist to begin with, discovered religion and now uses it as a tool to manipulate other people. It’s important to note religion did not create the narcissist, but the narcissist has discovered religion and uses it to control their relationships.
Not everyone who is a little controlling or has needs is a narcissist, but the chances are if you go through the steps of narcissism and find most of these markers in a relationship it is probably better to move on with your own life.
It’s helpful to understand the narcissist’s mindset. Studies have shown that most narcissists rate extremely low on the empathy scale. They view life through the lens of their own feelings and needs and see all other people as existing to serve them.
The McGregors have written a book The Empathy Trap about the narcissistic triad where the narcissist targets empathetic people to use them, while apathetic people enables the situation. An apathetic person can sometimes end up targeted and used as a flying monkey because they don’t recognize the signs of narcissism. The apathetic person has ideal dreams of everyone getting along. Of course anyone who has ever dealt with a narc realizes such a dream is impossible.
- Narcissists lack empathy
- Narcissists use everyone—including the apathetic
- Narcissists manipulate
- Narcissists don’t get mad, they get even
- Narcissists discard you when you no longer meet their needs
In just about everything they do, Narcissists break the golden rule:
“Do unto others as you would like them to do to you.”
Many ACONs* reject their parent’s religion and there is a good reason for this. When you are the child of a parent who is insensitive to your needs and lacks empathy, how can you know God cares for your heart?
People raised by a narcissistic parent struggle with going to church or praying because they see God as a reflection of the people who told them about God. If their parents abused them in any way, they often imagine God is exactly like their parents.
I have a friend who has suffered all forms of abuse at the hands of her father and she often says to me through tears, “What kind of fucked up god is this?” I tell her the God I know looks, acts and treats people just like Jesus.
If only narcissistic Christian parents would own their mistakes and ask for forgiveness then many relationships could be restored. Most ACONs realize this will not happen because narcissists cannot stoop to such humility. Narcissistic Christians lack empathy for other people including their own children.
I watched an episode of The People’s Court where a woman took her mother to court for not paying her back after several years. The heart of the matter is this was not as much about money as it was about a lack of parental love. This narcissistic mother cannot forgive her daughter for not having her children baptized. As a result she refuses to have a relationship with her beautiful daughter and granddaughters. My heart breaks as the daughter waits to hear if her mother wants to have a relationship with her. Such rejection shows a lack of God’s love.
Here is what God says to all ACONs:
I have loved you with an everlasting love–
therefore with loving-kindness have I drawn you
and I will continue My faithfulness to you.
Just as C.S. Lewis’s Narnia is frozen over from the spell of the white witch, the religious narcia landscape is iced over with self. The only hope for those escaping such a situation is for Aslan/Jesus to move hearts.
*ACON — Adult Children of Narcissists
As we embarked on this journey, feel free to add your stories and comments.