The Student News Site of Loyola University Maryland

The Greyhound

The Greyhound

The Student News Site of Loyola University Maryland

The Greyhound

Theology department hosts film screening and discussion concerning LGBTQ+ spiritual abuse


On Mar. 12, Dr. Jill Snodgrass and Dr. Zachary Smith of Loyola’s theology department invited students to a Zoom meeting to view and discuss “Love the Sinner: A Dialogue Between a Queer Filmmaker and Evangelical Christians,” a short personal documentary directed by Jessica Devaney and Geeta Gandbhir. Attendees also viewed a slide presentation by Dr. Snodgrass concerning the major indications and detrimental impact of Nonsexual Spiritual Abuse on the LGBTQ+ community.

The film explored the life experiences of Devaney and how these experiences were highly influential on how she viewed society and how society viewed her, particularly with her deep immersion in Evangelical Christianity in her family and at church in Orlando. 

After becoming a well-known activist and founder of a production company, Devaney found herself even more motivated to highlight the struggles and abuse experienced in underrepresented communities following the Orlando Pulse nightclub shooting on June 12, 2016. She cited this tragedy, as well as the testimonies of pastors and affected members of the LGBTQ+ community in Florida, as significant contributing factors towards encouraging increased acknowledgement of biases and prejudices in religious communities.

“It was like a regular night for me going to Pulse on a Latin night,” Norman Casiano-Mojica, a survivor of the Pulse shooting, said. “I was actually at the point where I’m leaving and we heard the first two gunshots.” Norman, along with many others, had their lives forever changed or even taken after the heavily traumatic experience.

Those who witnessed the event from the outside looking in gained new perspectives, even those directly involved in church leadership.

“I think all of us now are realizing what a cold and dead term tolerance is,” Dr. Joel Hunter, a senior pastor of an evangelical church in Longwood, Fla., said. Dr. Hunter claims to recognize the hypocrisy of church leadership, stating that “cooperation” and “compromise” between those of “unique identities” is both possible and worth striving for in order to spiritually accomplish more for the LGBTQ+ community.

Following a brief intellectual discussion between students and the hosts concerning the film and its importance within today’s world, Dr. Snodgrass, professor and co-author of “The Religious Locations of LGBTQ+ Survivors: Survivors of Christian Nonsexual Spiritual Abuse,” offered the audience a presentation concerning Nonsexual Spiritual Abuse (NSA), which she defines as “coercion and control of one individual by another in a spiritual context,” highlighting that targeted individuals “[experience] emotional abuse as a deeply emotional personal attack.”

Dr. Snodgrass went on to cite Dr. David Ward in her analysis of the combinations of psychological, spiritual, biological, and social impacts of NSA on those who fall victim to it, and highlighted the frequent misuse of biblical scriptures that “becomes abusive when [they] are reconstructed into abusive discourses that emphasize the agendas of certain individuals or institutions.”

In particular, these agendas, according to Snodgrass, continue to target the LGBTQ+ community even after the events in Orlando.

“NSA can disrupt and even shatter one’s assumptive worldview, feel like a threat to existence, and can disrupt one’s affective and neurobiological experience of religion and spirituality,” Snodgrass said. These, Snodgrass notes, are only three of many impacts of NSA felt by LGBTQ+ individuals. 

A continuous effort to uplift, support, and provide valuable resources and voices to those individuals who may suffer from the effects of Nonsexual Spiritual Abuse, the attendees agreed, is the best starting point for initiatives on campus and in each other’s communities to promote universal acceptance and equality for all.

For more information concerning LGBTQ+ services and counseling, please visit Loyola’s Resources page for clubs, organizations, and contacts both on and off campus.

Check back with The Greyhound for additional coverage of department-sponsored events.

Featured Image courtesy of Jonathan Simcoe via Unsplash

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All The Greyhound Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Activate Search
Theology department hosts film screening and discussion concerning LGBTQ+ spiritual abuse