The Cult of Christian Inner Healing Prayer Ministry

Conspirituality Episode 47

By now, unless you are new (in which case I’m not sure whether to say I’m sorry, or possibly sup, welcome to the shitshow), you’ve heard my story and the follow up post about my experience with “inner healing prayer ministry” administered by one Denise Richeson Hughes of her own 501c3 nonprofit called Transformation Ministries, Inc., founded in the fair city of Nashville, TN.

  1. I’m going to write a profanity-laced Medium article about it.

The Triple Threat

The similarities between Elena Brower and Denise Hughes are eerily familiar, but before this point, I had no language with which to talk about them. The host of Conspirituality, Mr. Matthew Remski, mentions the phrase triple threat co-opted from show business and repurposed within the realm of feminist-type female influencers to refer to women who have:

  1. a very carefully cultivated image (in the show it was named as fashion sense, but I think the broader application is their public image in general), and
  2. killer business instincts

Here’s the Truth

I am not often well spoken. I get nervous during interviews. I trip over my words sometimes. I need time to process before I can thoroughly answer a question. I might be on the spectrum, and I definitely have social anxiety; I need to know how something might go before I can agree to it. I feel uncomfortable being the center of attention.

More Similarities: the “Workflow”

As Mr. Remski goes on to describe the “workflow” of a specific situation between Elena Brower and one of her constituents, I realized that it could summarize my entire relationship with Denise in a general sort of way.

  1. They notice someone vulnerable in their vicinity;
  2. They use the vulnerable person to demonstrate the magical quality of their material to their other followers.

Image is Everything

It has long troubled me that Christianity both creates attachment disorders in its followers (because the recipe is built into the theology) and then speaks the language of attachment to offer appealing — but ultimately empty — promises to maintain their hold on people. Conveniently, when the person starts to wake up to the fact that they are being sold an illusion, they are then blamed for their own brokenheartedness, and cast aside.

A Confusion of Boundaries

The blurring and manipulation of boundaries were what kept my head spinning even while I was still fully under Denise’s spell. It seemed that the rules were always different for me, and when I tried to pin them down, they would change again.

Power in the Wrong Hands

The podcast does not overemphasize this, but does posit in a couple of different places: they believe the better alternative for help with personal problems is a licensed psychotherapist. Coming from a background of having known several good ones, this is understandable.

Image source: Kevin Garcia on IG

Cognitive-Dissonant Messaging Within the Inner Healing Circle

As a ritual abuse case, I was a trophy held up by the ministry as proof of how skilled they were, that they had the ability to work with someone like me and effectively support me, when many other ministries (and even therapists) in the area refused to try. This served several purposes:

  1. It ingratiated me to them, because I was supposedly so fortunate that they were willing to try to help me since there were few other viable alternatives. Indeed, Denise repeated a story to me several times about how she had chosen to work with me because she felt like God had told her to do so, but since she only took on 1–2 ritual abuse cases at a time, it meant she’d had to turn down several others who were “crying and pleading and begging down on their knees” for her to help them. (Subtext: so you best be grateful for what you get from me, because other people aren’t so lucky.)
  2. It also gave me the warped feeling of being special; that I was “chosen” by Denise to be a client when others had been rejected, which seems to me a prime example of stigmatizing AND co-opting vulnerability, as mentioned in the podcast.

These Days

I no longer buy into the messaging of Christianity, that I am broken and in perpetual need of something to fix myself — something that only God (and his people) can provide. And periodically I still spend undue amounts of time doing things like writing Medium posts like this one, to try to convince others that they aren’t broken, either.

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