For many people the church is a place of refuge, solace and strength. This is a place where they may feel comfortable and closer to God. Church is a place of beauty and community, yet for some the church represents a mirror on their personal failures, and a reminder of a deity they don’t believe they can ever appease. In the worst cases this belief can morph into fear and that fear can become Ecclesiophobia.
A church at it’s base is a structure of architectural design, so unless you are fearful of architecture there is likely you fear something besides the actual building. The fear is likely found in two separate areas.
What Causes Ecclesiophobia?
The first of two primary causes for the fear of church lies in the fear of being accountable to a deity. This notion flies in the face of what is perceived as self-determination. If, in fact, you are responsible for your actions then there may be reason to fear the place that represents the authority of the one to whom you may be accountable.
The second cause for fear may be due to the people who actually attend the architectural structure. You may have had negative experiences with those individuals or you may struggle with social anxiety. You may also feel the people who attend church would be hyper-critical of you if they felt you were not living up to the standards of that particular group.
Either reason may be based on personal experience or by observing someone else you care about that may struggle with a similar fear.
Symptoms of Ecclesiophobia
Those who struggle most with this fear will visibly tense when they come in visual contact with a church building. This might be expected, but they may also tense in the presence of a recognized pastor or those known to attend church.
Other symptoms may also include…
- Elevated heart rates
- Air hunger
- Panic attacks
- The urge to flee
The role of fear can be profound in those who struggle with the concept of life after death and what decisions may need to be made in order to attain a better life in the hereafter. If that concept isn’t settled in the mind of the individual it can contribute to a profound sense of fear.
How to Overcome Ecclesiophobia
Because this fear may be lodged in a fear of the unknown a therapist may be required to help you come to terms with the fact that we can’t control every circumstance in life, but we can learn ways to respond in areas of uncertainly and fear. They can work to help you logically unravel the fear and assess the underdeveloped part of your brain that responds logically instead of emotionally to fear triggers.
The fear of church is also referred to as:
- Church fear