PODCAST: When Religion Hurts You feat. Laura Anderson

by | Dec 7, 2023 | Podcasts | 6 comments

When religion hurts you podcast featuring Laura Anderson

Can church actually cause religious trauma?

Today on the podcast I’m talking with Dr. Laura Anderson, an expert in the complex trauma that we often find in religious circles. You can’t necessarily point to one particularly bad thing; but it’s all of these little things that add up that can cause CPTSD symptoms.

And we talk about about how to recognize trauma; what trauma is; why it often occurs in religious circles; and what we can do about it.

Plus I bring in a bit of my story! I found that Dr. Laura’s book really helped me put words to a lot of what I’ve felt over the last two decades, and gave me some of the missing pieces that I needed. 

Or, as always, you can watch on YouTube:

What is religious trauma?

What makes Dr. Laura Anderson unique in her field is that she’s not coming at this from the point of view of: “All religion is harmful and Christianity is bad.” She actually sees the good in faith and religion and the good that God can do in our lives.

But that doesn’t mean that controlling institutions don’t cause real harm, and she’s on a mission to help us recognize religious trauma so that we can get out of controlling places and flourish in religious spaces that are healthy. 

Plus she takes us on a journey of healing from religious trauma! 

Things Mentioned in the Podcast


When religion hurts you featuring Laura Anderson

Have you ever experienced what you think may be religious trauma? Let’s talk in the comments!

Written by

Sheila Wray Gregoire


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Sheila Wray Gregoire

Author at Bare Marriage

Sheila is determined to help Christians find biblical, healthy, evidence-based help for their marriages. And in doing so, she's turning the evangelical world on its head, challenging many of the toxic teachings, especially in her newest book The Great Sex Rescue. She’s an award-winning author of 8 books and a sought-after speaker. With her humorous, no-nonsense approach, Sheila works with her husband Keith and daughter Rebecca to create podcasts and courses to help couples find true intimacy. Plus she knits. All the time. ENTJ, straight 8

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  1. Stefanie

    Thinking about how the same event can affect different people differently, and how your research says that people raised in healthy churches had the best outcomes, while people raised in toxic churches had worse outcomes than people who were raised without religion, I’m wondering if the two groups of people could have attended the same church. Like, is it less an issue of “healthy church” versus “toxic church” than it is “people who take everything to heart” versus “people who are skeptical of church teachings”?

    I’m just wondering because I’m in a relatively healthy church now, but there are little things that bother me based on my trauma, and the doctrine is pretty traditional. I wonder how these things will play out for my kids – will my kids be traumatized if church tells them that sex before marriage is sin? I was traumatized by this teaching (the on-off switch Laura was talking about). But I also see the temptation to worry about every little thing anyone in church says to my kids. Right now, I’ve been ok with the kids ministry curriculum. It’s mostly just “God made the world,” “God loves you,” “God helps me be brave,” etc. I don’t know what the teen ministry is like.

  2. Laura

    I enjoyed this podcast and ordered Laura’s book! I have dealt with church hurt pretty much since I was in 1st and 2nd grade while I went to weekly catecism classes. When the teacher talked about sin and making sure that we follow certain rules throughout Lent, I felt the pressure to be perfect. This need to be perfect plays out in other areas of my life to this day, at age 47.

    Other church hurt I have experienced was almost 30 years ago not long after I accepted salvation at a charismatic church. The pastor was basically a male chauvinist and believed women should know their place which is to be barefoot and pregnant, let the man make all the decisions, and not work outside the home. I still see this played out in some church circles, even women’s Bible studies. What I cannot understand is how the women who were raised with these beliefs don’t seem to question them and are perfectly okay with letting their husbands be in charge. Some women have told me that I have to agree with this belief because “the Bible says so” and that I have a rebellious spirit. They would tell me I need to pray for God to change my heart. But He wouldn’t.

    Even though I have found freedom through Jesus and have learned about different translations, what certain verses in Greek mean, and understand the character of Jesus, I still feel some church trauma. I want to speak out against these toxic teachings and have tried to in the past, but was just met with uncomfortable silence.

    So much of what Laura talked about resonated with me and I just cannot wait to read this book which I will have to highlight, use sticky notes, and just claim as mine.

  3. Leia Wileur

    This was one of the best podcasts based on content. There was so much to unpack. An important take away… it’s not all in my head, my body carries the trauma and it can’t be thought away. Thanks both Laura and Sheila.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I’m glad you liked it!

  4. Healing

    Wow! I’m actually reading this book right now and am about half way through it!

    Crazy how whenever I’m reading books, Sheila will do a podcast about them! Same thing happened with “The Body Keeps The Score.” … which I might add, was referenced in this book, When Religion Hurts You.

    Loved this podcast!

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      That’s awesome!


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