I've written about religious bullying recently and I'd like to go into more detail. The purpose of religious bullying, just like the intent of all bullying, is to tear a person down instead of to build them up. Criticism doesn't have to be bullying.
What is so terrible about religious bullying is that the bully always claims to do it out of "love" and "for your own good." But in reality it has nothing to do with love.
There are two main kinds of religious bullying: 1) you're a bad person and 2) you're a heretic.
1) "You're a bad person" bullying consists of constant criticism. Everything the victim does is bad and wrong. The assertion of the bully is that the victim disagrees because he/she is a bad person. Manifestations of this kind of bullying include the following:
- you need to go to confession and discuss x, y or z
- you are....<fill in the blank insult>
- (and my personal favorite) you have no charity
What makes these pronouncements "from on high" bullying is that the bully is suggesting that they are a better person than the victim. We should never presume to judge someone's heart.
2) "You're a heretic" bullying is supposedly done out of a desire to "correct" one's brothers. However, it's never out of love despite what the bully thinks. This kind of bullying is essentially nitpicking. Painting (or even baiting) someone into a corner so you can dismiss their position as heresy and then dismiss them "from on high." This kind of bullying often involves the use of some text as a weapon. Like "that is de fides" <whomp!>. There is no attempt to try to understand the other point of view.