Crying ‘Mercy’: Christian Women & Mental Health

Crying ‘Mercy’: Christian Women & Mental Health May 4, 2016

One of the reasons I started the Femmevangelical blog was to reflect out loud about my own fraught spiritual journey from rule-based fundamentalist evangelical Christianity, to progressive-thinking Christianity and interfaith activism, to an even wider and more inclusive worldview of the cosmic significance of the love and justice Jesus brought to society, and the impact of his life and message on the trajectory of history and the evolution of humanity.

Needless to say, my focus tends toward where non-contextual biblical literalism; punitive, man-made doctrine; and patriarchal authority structures of the church distort and contradict the life and message of Jesus to oppress and harm people–especially girls and women.


My book Femmevangelical: The Modern Girl’s Guide to the Good News shares stories of just a few of the women who have shared my journey, asking the tough questions and calling out dangerous interpretations and practices of the religion and their consequences for girls and women. To do so requires revealing our own painful stories of succumbing to suppression and abuse of all kinds and levels in our adherence to rigid, damning beliefs about who God is, how God operates, and who we are as women according to our religious identification.

The purpose of the book is two-fold:  To tear away the veils of Christian history, theology and institutions that obscure another truth, deceiving women into submitting to un-Christ-like subordination and brainwashing; and to highlight the often hidden knowledge needed to embark upon a spiritual path to claiming the freedom, equality and wholeness that Jesus actually came to Earth to model and impart. Femmevangelical encourages and supports the risk, hope and faith it takes to follow our instincts and fulfill the real gospel: using our lives to create the world in which we were truly made to live.

Waking up, finding our voices, and healing into a renewed and inclusive spirituality is central to the theme of the book. The lives of girls and women in the U.S. and around the world depend upon our speaking up.

Jennifer Miller
Jennifer Miller

This week I had a conversation with journalist Jennifer Miller about her critically important Slate article ‘Mercy Girls’, which investigates and relays the stories of some young women and families who looked to a Christian ministry called Mercy Multiplied for help in their struggles with trauma and healing, addiction and mental illness. But the Christian-based program they entered was not what they expected, and the experience only created more trauma.

Miller gives these women a voice, explores both the benefits and drawbacks of faith-based therapies, and shines a light on the gaps in the American mental health system that leave people without the care they need and force them into perhaps inappropriate and unhealthy alternatives.

One of the women highlighted in Miller’s article reveals how her traumatic experience with Mercy Multiplied ultimately woke her up and, by her own volition and choice, empowered her: “Through Mercy Ministries, God has removed the tape from my mouth and given me back my voice.”

Listen in on our brief and impassioned conversation about ‘Mercy Girls’ and please share widely.

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