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Churches that Abuse
by Dr. Ronald Enroth

Book Review by Pat Knapp

(A "9+" on a "10" scale)

The intent of Churches that Abuse is to answer:

1. When does a church cross the line into abuse?

2. How does abuse take place, sociologically/behaviorally?

3. What are the red flags to be aware of?

4. When should a member consider bailing out?

5. What are some of the issues of getting out?

6. Is there hope once out?

How does it accomplish this?

In clear and empathetic form, Dr. Enroth provides short stories of those who have gone through the fire of abusive churches. He mixes a well-honed sociological perspective with a solid knowledge of cults and churches which act like them, painting a vivid --and I believe--accurate picture of abusive churches.

How good of job does he do?

Having come out of 13-plus years of a highly abusive church myself, and having spent the past eight years in personal recovery and ministering to others, I would rate his work a 9+ on a 10 point scale. I found myself drawn in to the stories, reminded not only of the content of what makes up the abuse, but also of the feelings that come as a result of involvement in such systems.

While Ron deserves much praise for this excellent, very readable work, Zondervan deserves applause as well. Much courage and integrity is evident in naming names and not backing down when much pressure to compromise came. In our current Christian culture of peace at any price, and not wanting to offend, calling "a spade a spade" is refreshing.

The book is not at all imbalanced or a glitzy tabloid work. Quite to the contrary, it is a solid example of a balanced, well thought out piece of research, and more than generous representation of the churches it speaks of.

Short falls? (Or why not a "10"?)

It's hard to say: Perhaps a short appendix would have been useful. Or a summarized list of organizations/resources that could help in the healing process of those abused. A summation of the major points at the end of the last chapter might have been beneficial. Then again, if other readers are like yours truly, they might skip the stories and illustrations drawn from them and move directly to a concise summation and miss much of substance in the process.

Of books that have come out during the post 10 years on the subject of religious abuse, this is a definite must-read, both for the beginner in this area of religious abuse as well as the more informed.

Books and eBooks by Gary F. Zeolla, the Director of Darkness to Light

The above book review originally appeared in The Shield newsletter in 1992.
It was posted on this Web site February 1998.

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