The Dark Side of Religion and Its Leadership
“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” 1 Peter 2:9 NIV
I did not grow up in church, and had no requirements to attend church on Sundays. There was no Bible or spiritual literature in my home to nurture my faith at an early age. I did not have a real encounter with the presence of God until the age of twenty-six. At that time, my mind was changed. It was as if there was such a shift in my thinking that it almost seemed unreal. Darkness lifted off of my mind in such a way that it appeared like I could see the dark shadows leaving, like in the movie “Ghost” starring Patrick Swayze, Demi Moore and Whoopi Goldberg. I had been living with tremendous internal pain.
I was led to purchase my first Bible ever, a concordance, and a Bible Dictionary. I devoured this material like food that I could not stop eating. There was insight and revelation that came. Visions were opened up to me; I could see things in the heavenly realm. These spiritual insights opened me up to the light of God’s presence, and how this presence should manifest in the world as light. I was having real encounters with God, and learning the way to access real light, truth, holiness, peace, joy and righteousness.
I submitted my life in a spiritual house of worship under spiritual leaders and teachers who guided me and helped me to grow spiritually. They taught me how to take hold of faith and prayer to experience the supernatural power of God. I discovered purpose and the plan of God for my life in the world. There was such freedom and wholeness in my being. I was healed from emotional sickness and brokenness. My spirit was free and excited about life, and wanting to see others get whole. I experienced no controlling factors in the spiritual house that I got nurtured in; no fear, no dark persuasion, no manipulation. It was indescribable. If I could sum up these basic lessons of light that I learned in my early spiritual formation, it would be these:
Lesson One: Faith is our compass. It is the way to please God. Faith demonstrates that we trust God to fulfill his word.
Lesson Two: Love is our guiding principle as we encounter every human being on the face of the earth.
Lesson Three: Touch others with love in our family and the world.
Lesson Four: Use our gifts and resources to benefit others so that they, too, can discover faith, love, hope, purpose and destiny.
Lesson Five: Do no harm to any soul on the earth because that soul belongs to God. When we harm others, we harm God.
Lesson Six: Keep our lives clean and pure from wickedness. Manage our appetites with contentment. Live in light.
Lesson Seven: God can see and know all things. There is no hiding place from the Holy Spirit. We need the Holy Spirit to partner with us in the work of service to the world and for all that we do.
As I experienced these lessons and sought to walk them out in life, I had visions of light. I was taken in my encounters with God to a heavenly realm, and was shown how light and darkness would operate in the world. I was given an understanding of the workings of the mind, and how it can be influenced for light or darkness. I was able to see light and darkness operating through people. I could see when darkness would appear like light.
I witnessed people with more than one face. I could read the energy of environments and could smell disease and death, even when people looked well. For many of these things, as they would appear in the natural, I was not given release by the presence of God to share these insights. I had to ponder them in my heart for a season. I heard the voice of God say during one of these visions, “I am going to teach you to see the darkness of people’s minds and teach you to help people to be aware of it and to get them free.” This understanding led me into the world of psychology and working with minds that went to dark places in their life experiences, families and the world. My interest has been uncovering the darkness of religion on the mind, and the leadership of religious systems who practice darkness.
God is leading me to uncover the darkness of religion, its leaders, and the impact on the minds of people, to bring healing to individuals, families, cities and world. Understand this: God did not create religion. Religion is an ego-driven human attempt to understand God by categorizing God in rites, rituals and rules. Religion in its purity is supposed to bring the real light of God to the mind and elevate people to a higher state of consciousness. Religion at its best will bring human beings in alignment with the presence of God, and help them live out the nature of God in the world.
What is God’s nature? Love, peace, joy, mercy, forgiveness, kindness, gentleness, meekness, faithfulness, patience, justice, righteousness and more. God’s nature is not dark, contradictory, controlling, manipulative, exploitive, conniving, greedy, arrogant, prideful, rude, abusive, hurtful, discriminatory, prejudice, deceptive, perverted or hateful. When these characteristics operate in religion and its leaders, this is not the mind and presence of God. This is darkness working at its worst!
The dark side of religion, and its leaders will manifest in these traits with no real moral conviction of the impact that these behaviors have on human society. There are leaders who can ignore the candle of God’s presence, and engage in dark thinking and behaving without thought. It has become a part of their lives. It has even become a part of many religious systems, and many personalities hide in the pretense of light, but live with two faces or multiple personalities. God is moving in the earth with such vast power that many religions, and their leaders who have been corrupted by darkness, are going to crumble. Some religious systems never started out for the purpose of bringing light. The intent of their formation was darkness appearing as light. Some that started out in light, have grown in darkness as they begin to get out of alignment with the presence of God.
When we as a people do not deal with the broken places in our soul, this brokenness becomes an avenue for darkness to express itself. When there are compromised moral standards, the doorway of darkness is opened up, and it never wants to be exposed to bring healing in the system. Darkness always looks for broken personalities in order to infiltrate into a religious system. I will start uncovering some of these traits so that we will know what to look for, and make a determination about our religious affiliations.
When darkness has permeated the system, and there is a vacillation between dark and light behaviors, we will witness this same spirit operating through many others in the system. There is a door that is opened in the hearts of those who are in the highest levels of leadership that gets filtered down. This spirit is manipulative and controlling. The modus operandi is to control people for its own selfish agenda and lead them down a compromised path. It is always to contaminate the true light of God.
In a religious system that has opened the door to darkness, people are merely used for the purpose of the system, not for the righteous standards of God. Anyone who can see these discrepancies and speaks to them, this person or persons will be a threat and a target to discredit, ostracize, ignore and destroy. When we operate in true light, and dark areas are pointed out in the system, those who are at the highest levels of the system who want light will move to bring about healing and change in the system, so that God’s light can come forth. The opposite will be experienced when the system and its leaders want to remain in darkness; it will move to destroy the bearers of light.
There are three broken personality types in a religious system at high levels of leadership that, when operating in darkness, will have an effect on the whole system at every level. In some systems, all of these personality traits can operate through one personality. The way that we are going to recognize and detect this darkness is through the eyes, behaviors and speech (words).
- Machiavellian- This dark personality trait will manifest in leaders that focus on self-interest as the prime motivation. Image, superficial appearances, cruelty and ruthlessness with no real mercy is the way they operate. Everything that they do is strategic. All actions are well thought out and planned in advance. They will use whatever is necessary to get their way. They will even create disorder in their own house or team. Every action is calculated by this dominate thought: “What is in this for me and how will my public image be impacted by my actions”
- Narcissistic -This dark personality trait is a challenging leader to work with. They have an obsessively inflated ego, self-worth and importance. They believe that they are super special creations of God, and no one is more special than they are. Their status is above normal. They are not comfortable with the ideals and gifts of others. They only pretend to be interested. They will sabotage their own team to get their way. Discord is a strategy of their leadership. They struggle to accept criticism, or disagreements to what they desire to do. There is an insatiable need to be flattered, approved and praised. They love the spotlight, and will find one, steal one, or create one every chance that they get. They only want to be surrounded by people who will fulfill their ego needs. Yes, voices only please is their motto!
- Psychopathic- This dark personality is a charismatic and charming leader. Charm is one of their most powerful traits. However, the charm is superficial and not genuine. Their actions are calculated and they have no real depth of feeling. They experience no empathy or pain for their actions committed against others. As a matter of fact, they are incapable of real empathy. They can destroy a life or situation with no mercy. Lying, secrets, obsessions, and illicit appetites are some of their most dominate behaviors. They even know how to act humble while working their deeds with secret and danger.
The commonality of all of these dark leadership types in any religious organizations is that they have a desire to control the gifts and resources of people for their own interest and the interest of the system. Their behaviors can be passive or aggressive. Manipulation and control are always at the forefront of how these personalities lead. They play with darkness because they have no revelation or conviction about the all- seeing eye of God! (Proverbs 15:3, Ecclesiastes 12:13-14)
I offer this writing to help us to first gain an awareness and understanding that can help us to recognize these traits, not for judgement, but for prayer, healing, and to determine how to work with, and or to come out from under these leaders and systems. When we see leaders with these traits, and systems under their influence, we are looking at broken souls and broken religious systems that need God’s intervention!