It has done a lot of damage. Turning people away from a spiritual life, rather than toward it. And those who do turn toward such a perverse form of spiritually become some of the nastiest and most hypocritical people.
Legalistic religion is the kind that is obsessed with rules. Especially rules that have been institutionalized and place religious leaders on pedestals. It’s the type of spirituality where people are easily condemned and are forever trying to please God.
It creates an on going cycle of emotional highs and lows. Euphoric feelings of radical love, followed by feelings of dread at the thought of not being worthy of God’s love.
And none of it is grounded in facts or independent thinking. It’s all a matter of what someone else says is fact, and the impact that message has on you emotionally. This emotional roller coaster is antithetical to the inner peace we all need and are looking for. True spirituality isn’t a torturous pursuit of God’s acceptance. It’s an awakening to radical acceptance.