our fears are limits if we don't challenge them common and obscure irrational fears of religion

Our Fears Are Limits — Ten Common and Obscure Irrational Fears of Religion

Join us for an adventure.  Let’s explore the top ten common and obscure irrational fears of religion.  This journey will give you insight into fears that come from religion.  Our fears are limits if we don’t challenge them.   Conquering irrational fears is key to personal growth.

Religion masquerades as a social institution of peace and solace.  In reality, it is the breeding ground for irrational fears.  These fears are rooted in ancient religious myths and superstitions.  They still hinder personal growth and perpetuate limited perspectives in our modern world.  It’s time to break free from these fears and embrace a more enlightened perspective.

What is Fear?

There’s no consensus about what we fear.  Scientists disagree on whether fear is a psychological construct or a discoverable event.  (1)

For example, many people have a fear of heights.  What they actually fear is falling from a high place.  They don’t fear the high place itself.  That is an important distinction.  They fear the effects of gravity, which causes them to fall.

But, if you ask the same people who are afraid of heights if they are afraid of gravity, they will say no.  They don’t understand that gravity is the culprit behind their fear of high places.

Religion is a lot like gravity.  It is the true culprit behind your deepest fears.  Our fears are limits if we do not challenge them.  So, let’s start challenging some fears.

Empowering Ourselves by Overcoming Fear

The cultural narrative can program fears through accepted beliefs and values.  People in the jungle can recognize the sound of snakes moving from other creatures.  At the same time, people in the city cannot.  People who live in the city are tuned to the sounds of specific loud event triggers.  In contrast, those who live in the jungle cannot identify sounds in the city.  They fail to identify sounds that could be a potential danger.

The fight, flight or freeze reaction causes fear in people.  However, we do not know if animals or insects associate this reaction with fear.  People can learn to associate this primitive reaction with almost any stimuli.

What are you afraid of?  What is fear to you?  Fear is any trigger that takes over your body to react to danger.  The fear response is more prevalent in people with phobias and hyper-religious beliefs.  (2) Phobia and religious beliefs are irrational fears.  These are, by far, the hardest to overcome because they can be triggered so easily.

Dealing with the fears we don’t face means we live in a state of anxiety.  When we live in a constant state of fear and anxiety, it will affect our health.   It will have an adverse effect on your thinking.  This is why empowering ourselves by overcoming fear is a major step in personal growth.  Remember, our fears are limits if we don’t challenge them.

Ten Common and Obscure Irrational Fears of Religion

Here are the ten fears we want to examine based on the number of people that they affect:

1.  The Importance of the Fear of God
2.  Fear of The Devil and Demons
3.  Fear of the Afterlife
4.  Fear of Outsiders or Unbelievers
5.  Fear of Retribution by Religious Authorities
6.  Fear of Chanting and Singing
7.  Fear of Confession
8.  Fear of Prayer
9.  Fear of Religious Paintings and Artwork
10.  Fear of the Om Symbol and Fear of the Ankh Symbol

As you read through these fears, take note of those that resonate with you.  Write them down in your journal.  We can use these fears to explore what memories and emotions we associate with them.

1.  The Importance of the Fear of God

importance of the fear of god fear of chanting fear of confession fear of religious paintings fear of the om symbol fear of prayer

The fear of a higher power we call God is the linchpin for all other religious fears.  It’s a concept that has been intertwined with various religious doctrines throughout history.  The fear associated with God is often repressed.  This fear mimics the fear of natural hazards or life-threatening situations.  It is a fear which is created by the programming of religious belief.  It stems from our fear of the unknown linked to a higher being.

The Fear of God motivates believers to adhere to the moral codes of the region.  If you fail to meet these standards, you face divine judgment and the loss of afterlife benefits.

Divine punishment is a concept across different religions.  This fear manifests in various forms.  The most common myths are the fear of eternal damnation, suffering in Hell, or the fear of karmic justice.  It’s important to discern between the consequences of your actions and irrational fears.

There are several other fears associated with God.  This underscores the importance of the fear of God as a foundation of our mythology.

Hellfire and damnation is a fear deeply ingrained in some religious beliefs.  This anxiety leaves you apprehensive about the consequences of your actions.  Living in a constant state of fear makes you susceptible to obscure, irrational fears.

Religious Scrupulosity is often observed in those with obsessive-compulsive tendencies.  It involves irrational fears of committing religious offenses or sins unwittingly.  It can also manifest as an obsession with rituals and the fear of not adhering to them perfectly.

Divine retribution is the belief that bad things happen because of divine judgment.  This fear can hinder personal growth.  You can become paralyzed by incessant self-judgment and blame.

Anathemaophobia is a lesser-known fear of being excommunicated or ostracized.  Expulsion from your religious community has personal and, in some cases, financial consequences.  The religious community becomes part of the identity of believers.  The fear of losing your religious identity and social support is distressing.

Theophobia is the obscure, irritational fear of the divine.  This fear is often rooted in a lack of understanding or an aversion to the unknown.

2.  Fear of the Devil and Demons

The counterpoint to an imaginary friend is an imaginary enemy.  Religion creates the fear of demonic forces.  This is a strategy that comes from Assyrian and Persian mythology.  By creating unseen adversaries, it places believers in a state of perpetual fear.   This is an opportunity for organized religion to provide the antidote to this evil — for a price.

Demons come in all shapes and sizes.  From the Djinn of the Middle East to the Tengu of Japanese myth, evil spirits are found in many myths.  People are fascinated by the folklore and superstition around evil forces.  Some people have genuine fears that have a profound impact on their lives.  It triggers irrational anxieties about certain places and nightmarish scenarios.

The fear of the devil and demons reigns supreme.  It captivates our imaginations while simultaneously leaving us in fear.  Myths about devils and demons are deeply entrenched in the human psyche.  Religions depict devilish entities as a symbol of temptation, chaos, and evil.

Our fear of devils stems from the idea that spirits can harm us, corrupt our lives, and lead us astray.  The question arises — is this fear rational or simply a struggle with our Ego?

The indoctrination of children imprints them with the fear of the devil and demons.  Our fascination with evil coexists with our desire to explore the unknown.  While these entities provoke anxiety within us, we, paradoxically, find them captivating.

Demons and devils occupy a prominent place in culture, literature, and cinema.  We see them centerstage in horror movies and fantasy novels.  As a subject of intrigue, they blur the line between our fears and our fascination.

3.  Fear of the Afterlife

fear of the afterlife fear of the devil and demons fear of the ankh symbol

One of the primary obscure irrational fears is the anxiety about afterlife rewards.  This fear arises from the anxiety about falling short of religious expectations.  There is great anxiety about not living up to the moral codes of their religion.  So, they live their lives focused on the hallowed realm of Heaven.  This fear is intricately linked with the dread of experiencing Hell’s torments.  The uncertainty about making it to Heaven leaves many in a constant state of dread.  It drives them to seek redemption and salvation.

Divine judgment and the afterlife go hand-in-hand.  Many people worry whether their actions will be good enough.  Such fears may stem from feelings of guilt or remorse for past mistakes.

For those who believe in reincarnation, the fear of an uncertain future can be haunting.  The idea is that your actions in the present determine your next life.  This can lead to a constant state of apprehension.  However, the belief in reincarnation also represents an opportunity for growth and improvement.  It motivates people to learn from their past experiences and make better decisions.

Existential dread, the fear of death, often accompanies the fear of the afterlife.  The fear of ceasing to exist entirely can be paralyzing for some individuals.  Not knowing what happens after death is a common trigger for fear.  This is why organized religion is so popular.  It offers reassurance in an afterlife and the continuity of existence for a price.

4.  Fear of Outsiders or Unbelievers

Religion creates an “us versus them” mentality, leading to religious intolerance.  This fear often stems from the belief that adhering to your faith is the only path to righteousness.  Sectarian beliefs create prejudice against individuals who follow different religious beliefs.  The fear of diversity and the unknown hampers social cohesion.  This fear inhibits the harmonious coexistence of diverse communities.

One of the most common and obscure irrational fears is that of the unknown.  Humans are wired to be cautious when encountering anything unfamiliar.  People without the same religious beliefs are often viewed as evil.  It is essential to debunk the fear of people with different beliefs.  We need to encourage open dialogue with those with other beliefs.

The clash between different cultures is fueled by sectarianism.  These concerns stem from religious or lifestyle stereotypes.  These preconceived notions lead to unfair biases against those outside the religious cult.

Many religious leaders discourage contact with those outside the faith.  This is because outsiders can bring new ideas.  People with a different point of view are likely to point out inconsistencies. This could cause members to question their beliefs.  When people question their beliefs, they may leave the religion. The loss of membership impacts the cash flow.

5.  Fear of Retribution by Religious Authorities

Religious authorities enjoy a great deal of power in the lives of their followers.  But their power also illicts fear.   This fear is particularly prevalent in more hierarchical religious structures.  The risk of disappointing religious authorities may lead to severe consequences.  It ranges from the loss of prominent positions to even ostracization or excommunication.

Questioning deeply ingrained religious beliefs can generate a formidable fear within believers.  Fear of blasphemy or heresy can prevent believers from examining their faith.  It is a boundary to exploring alternative perspectives.  This fear restricts personal growth and intellectual development.  There is no tolerance for a more inclusive interpretation of religious teachings.

The fear of losing relationships tied to religion prevents people from leaving.  Fear of ostracization and excommunication are only the beginning of religious persecution. Religions still torture and execute those who do not adhere to the religion.

These fears trigger the same response as our natural fears.  It feels the same as the fear of predators, dangerous animals, or insects falling from high places.  It triggers our fight, flight, or freeze response.  It’s why people with sincerely held religious beliefs are the most violent.

6.  Fear of Chanting and Singing

This is one of the obscure irrational fears of religion.  This fear often stems from an inherent fear of vulnerability.  When we sing or chant, we expose a part of ourselves, allowing others to witness our raw emotions. The fear arises from the concern of being judged or ridiculed. This social fear leads to self-doubt and hesitancy.

Some people are so ashamed of their singing voice that they fear doing it.  This fear makes them apprehensive to sing in any group, from birthday parties to spiritual gatherings. Those who fear chanting and singing learn to avoid situations requiring this.

In a society that often values conformity, many develop a fear of standing out.  Chanting and singing are viewed as acts of individuality.  Individuality is not a trait that is widely accepted, especially in conservative circles.

7.  Fear of Confession

One of the primary reasons for fearing confession is the fear of being judged by others.  Humans are social animals, and society places certain expectations on us.  We fear that confessing our mistakes or personal struggles will undermine our image.  The possibility of facing rejection or disappointment can be terrifying.  This leads many to keep their confessions and secrets locked away.

To confess is to expose our vulnerability.  We all have our insecurities, fears, and imperfections. Exposing these defects is scary. It can make the act of opening up a challenging task.  The fear of being rejected, mocked, or taken advantage of can dissuade us from sharing.

Vulnerability is often perceived as weakness.  Being perceived as weak affects their standing within their circle of contacts. It takes a brave soul to confront their societal vulnerability. It takes courage to confess their deepest fears.  The fear of confession has consequences.   We worry about the potential fallout or how others will react to our truth.

8.  Fear of Prayer

Imagine a scenario where you and a close friend are dining at a fancy restaurant.  Suddenly, your friend folds their hands, closes their eyes, and whispers a prayer.  At that moment, a wave of discomfort engulfs you.

It’s a confrontation of differing worldviews. It’s a fear of something unfamiliar and intangible.  Now, there is something that separates you from your friend. You’re not alone in experiencing this unique emotion.  There exists a wide range of reasons behind the fear of prayer.

Humans are creatures that are often hesitant when it comes to embracing the unknown.  Praying is associated with practices tied to specific traditions.   The belief in a higher power and the ability to communicate with it are signs of delusion.  So, praying can be unsettling for those who prefer rational behavior.  Embracing the unknown requires a leap of faith.  So prayer can be seen as a plunge into the vast abyss of uncertainty.

Prayer can be a part of the societal and cultural norms that surround us.  In some cases, these norms create a fear of judgment.  People can be ostracised for failing to adhere to the established practices.   The fear of prayer might, therefore, arise from the potential social repercussions.  You could be labeled as a heretic for not taking part.  Or you could be labeled a religious fanatic for doing it.  Prayer exposes your beliefs publically.

For some, prayer may be associated with painful memories or experiences.  The trauma inflicted in religious contexts is the issue.  This happens when prayer is used as a means of manipulation.  It can create a deep-seated fear or aversion.  Past experiences can leave lasting imprints on your psyche.  Thus making the act of prayer a reminder of those negative encounters.  Healing from these experiences requires an evaluation of the issues related to praying.

Praying is often used as a litmus test. It’s a tool to observe who complies with this ritual in a public setting. Therefore, it is a public declaration of assimilation into the religion. How you respond is crucial. If you do not go along, you risk being labeled as an unbeliever.

9.  Fear of Religious Paintings and Artwork

Art has always been a realm that ignites varying emotions within different individuals.  Some find solace and inspiration in religious paintings and artwork.  Others might see it differently.  They experience an opposite reaction — fear.  For some individuals, the sheer proximity to religious themes triggers irrational fears.  This stems from various factors such as personal experiences, cultural influences, or phobias.

Religious artwork can depict dramatic scenes.  Many popular motifs symbolize divine judgment and retribution.  For those burdened with guilt or anxiety, these themes evoke a sense of impending doom.  This intensifies their irrational fears of religion.  Depictions of angels, demons, or other supernatural beings can be unsettling.  The vivid depiction of these entities and what they represent stems from our fear of the unknown.

Scenes of someone being possessed by evil spirits or demons can be deeply unsettling.  They trigger the fears of those already susceptible to irrational fears.  The thought of losing control over your own body or mind is a common source of anxiety.  Some may seek hidden meanings within religious paintings.  This can lead them to develop unfounded conspiracy theories or bizarre interpretations.

The fear of being deceived by hidden symbols gives rise to irrational fears. The themes within religious artwork become the source of nightmares.  Here, the symbolism takes root, which reinforces the phobia of religious art.

Certain cultural norms instill fear or disdain for specific religious subjects.  The depictions may be associated with taboos or long-standing biases.  These fears can be challenging to unravel. This is because they are ingrained within a person’s upbringing and beliefs.

Religious artwork carries centuries of historical narratives.  They often involve stories of persecution, torture, wars, and political strife.  These dark tales can resurrect fears and anxieties associated with such turbulent times.

For some, it is not the specific symbol that triggers fear.  It is a general irrational fear of all religious symbols, known as pantophobia.  This fear might be rooted in traumatic experiences.  These experiences prompt feelings of dread associated with any religious iconography.

10.  Fear of the Om Symbol and Fear of the Ankh Symbol

The obscure irrational fears of symbols that represent other beliefs are common.  The fear of symbols, like the Om symbol and the Ankh symbol, comes from prejudice.  People fear being associated with a particular religious group or face discrimination.  So, they attach an irrational fear of any symbol, regardless of its actual meaning.

The influence of movies and media cannot be underestimated when exploring irrational fears.  The use of religious symbols in horror movies or novels creates links with our deepest fears.  This connection can influence individuals’ perception of religious symbols.

The Om symbol, originating from Hinduism, is recognized as a sacred sound and a spiritual icon.  However, some fear this symbol due to its perceived mystical nature.  The fear of the unknown is part of it.  The association of Om with religious practices they do not understand also contributes to their fear.

The Ankh symbol is associated with ancient Egyptian culture.  It represents life and immortality.  Some people fear this symbol, considering it an omen of ancient deities.  They connect it with supernatural forces they think might still hold power.  The fear of the Ankh symbol stems from a lack of understanding.  They don’t know about the symbol’s true meaning and significance.

Overcoming irrational fears related to religion requires knowledge and understanding.  Learning about each symbol’s significance, history, and context can help dispel misguided fears.  Discussion, dialogue, and exposure to diverse religious practices can broaden perspectives.  It encourages people to appreciate the symbolism rather than fear it.

Conclusion — Our Fears Are Limits If We Don’t Challenge Them

Confronting the common and obscure irrational fears perpetuated by religion is crucial.  Revealing the facts behind the fear helps us to dismantle their power.  This alone will provide a step toward personal growth and a more inclusive society.  By challenging these fears, we can transcend the limits they impose.  Then, we have the opportunity to develop spirituality rooted in compassion and understanding.  It is time to break free from the fears of religion.  Instead, let’s embark on an enlightened path toward a more fulfilling and inclusive spiritual journey.


(1) What is fear?  The National Library of Medicine.
(2) Irrational fears.  Scientific America.