Churches in Britain are a “toxic cocktail” of bullying and terror, as parish priests struggle to lead congregations dominated by neurotic worshippers who spread havoc with gossip and manipulation.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, is among the contributors to the report, The Future of the Parish System: Shaping the Church of England for the 21st Century.
One of the authors, Sara Savage, a psychology and religion researcher at the University of Cambridge, reports how increasing numbers of ministers are going down with a new illness, irritable clergy syndrome.
One difficulty is how to motivate the “settled blancmange” of the softly acquiescent majority, described by Dr Savage as “social loafers”. “Bums on pews are often just that,” she reports.
Dr Savage says one of the problems is that churches are hierarchical systems, with all the attendant echoes of feudal society. Thus they elicit bad behaviour such as status seeking, fawning, bullying, passivity, blaming others and gossiping.
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