Scrupulousity in non-Catholic faiths


Scrupulousity is the tendency to “overdue” practices and restrictions within a religion to an extreme amount in order to avoid sin, unholiness, offending the Divine, etc.

It may well be OCD that manifests in the area of religion, but I’m not a psychologist.

I have not specifically heard of this situation, as a religious issue, in other faiths, though certainly I’ve come across people who seem “obsessed” with their faith.

Is scrupulousity a Catholic issue, or a human issue?

Are there support groups, etc, in other faiths to deal with this?



I would say it’s a human issue, but that religions with more detailed and prescribed ritual would probably be more likely to draw those who are inclined to such behavior (or that it would be more likely to surface in those so inclined who were raised in such a religion). Religions that include a lot of very specific ritual and that teach that if the ritual is not followed exactly dire things will happen–Catholicism, Orthodox Christianity, Orthodox Judaism, I would presume some forms of Islam but don’t know for sure, Traditional Wicca, etc.

Some articles related to this


It’s a human issue…After all, other forms of OCD pop up all over, why not scrupulosity?
I have sometimes thought that there was more than a little of that in John Wesley…Indeed, in the whole Wesley family, there is such a tendency…
John’s saintly mother, Susanna,:frowning: suffered for years from a fear that she was such a horrible sinner that she was certain to end in hell…Only in her later years–and under the pastoral care of her famous sons-- was she able to see that she was simply human (:slight_smile: like the rest of us)…


True, I certainly saw enough of it growing up in a very Calvinist household. I had been focusing on the ritual elements and actions, but there are other forms as well.


I have read several commentaries on the life of Martin Luther that allege his scrupulosity, and conviction that he was an unredeemable sinner, were behind is crisis of faith in particular, his recasting of doctrine on original sin and salvation. someone more knowledgeable here has posted such links and sources before.


This is a wonderful resource for people of any denomination who suffer from scupulosity:

I also recomend reading Understanding Scrupulosity by Fr. Tomas Santa. He has also just released another book about scrupulosity, but I can’t remember the exactt title of it. I’ll look and then post again.

Ok, found it:
Understanding Scrupulosity - Questions, Help, Encouragement.


I guess that attitude could easily come packaged with one where a person acts out a ritual in a kind of mechanistic fashon without putting their heart into it. I wouldn’t say in Catholicism dire consequences result if the ritual is not followed exactly - it’s not as though if you forget to say your penance or something you’re un-forgiven, but I see what you mean.

I know an ex-Christian who was in a very bare-bones sort of Evangelicalism that was convinced she was bad, bad, bad; and those around here were so good and she could never be like them, etc. (Well… other times I think she’d say they were obviously sinners too; therefore hypocrites - I don’t really know if they acted hypocriticly or not). Maybe that’s a way it can manifest itself in a non-ritualist religion. Or maybe that’s just inablililty to accept forgiveness or a result of depression more than scrupulousity in particular.

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