There is a myth out there that unless the church is part of some far-out cult it is 100% safe.
The truth is there are churches that abuse, even in mainline and evangelical protestant denominations.
The book perpetuates the myth some as the examples are given from more cult-ish groups.
No, not every church abuses. Sometimes otherwise healthy, vibrant churches can have unhealth, abusive pockets or sub-groups in them due to the negative influence of one or two leaders. And emotionally abusive parents can visit spiritual abuse on their children even in an overall healthy church.
The outline of the chapters in the book gives an excellent guide for evaluating one's church experience and if it is abusive:
Ten characteristics of churches that abuse:
* Abusive churches use fear, guilt and threats:
1. Control-oriented leadership
2. Manipulation of members
* Abusive churches see themselves as special:
3. Spiritual elitism (e.g., dogmatism)
4. Perceived persecution
* Abusive churches foster rigidity:
5. Lifestyle rigidity (e.g., legalism, performance oriented)
6. Emphasis on experience (e.g., experience of leaders is key source of truth)
* Abusive churches discourage questions:
7. Suppression of dissent (e.g., dogmatism--only our view is right; "trust and obey")
8. Harsh discipline (e.g., legalism, shunning, control of dating & family relationships, etc.)
* Abusive churches make leaving painful:
9. Denunciation of other churches (e.g. salvation is only through us, our brand of faith)
10. A painful exit process (shunning, humiliation, starting over in relationships and/or financially)