Spiritual Abuse Colloquium Slated for April 4

DALLAS (SMU) – A sold-out colloquium on “Spiritual & Religious Abuse: Recognizing, Preventing, and Healing” will take place on Saturday, April 4 on the campus of Southern Methodist University.

The event is sponsored by Perkins School of Theology, the Simmons School of Education & Human Development, and the International Cultic Studies Association, and presented by mental health professionals, clergy and spiritual abuse survivors.


Spiritual and religious abuse are forms of exploitation and mistreatment under the guise of religion, including harassment or humiliation, which may result in psychological trauma. Religious abuse may also include misuse of religion for selfish, secular or ideological ends such as the abuse of a clerical position, or psychological manipulation and harm inflicted on a person by using the teachings of their religion. Abuse is typically perpetrated by members of the same or similar faith, or by those in positions of authority within the religion.


The program will include a breakout session led by Perkins faculty members Dr. Susanne Scholz and Dr. Jeanne Stevenson-Moessner on “Recognizing How Individuals Use the Old and New Testaments to Spiritually Abuse Others.” Other topics covered will include power and control dynamics involved in spiritual abuse, healing after a spiritually abusive relationship, healing from shame and pain for LGBTQ+ individuals, and creating a welcoming church. View the schedule here.  


The event takes place 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. in Harold Simmons Hall, Room 101A.