Are Jehovah's Witnesses a Cult?

Yes, Jehovah’s Witnesses Would Literally “Drink the Kool-Aid”

There has been a story circulating around the internet regarding Jehovah’s Witnesses and their level of obedience to their religion’s leaders, a story that is very disturbing and downright frightening. It shows just how far many of them would go when it comes to the instructions they’re given from the religion, whether or not those instructions originate in the bible, and whether or not they include doing something dangerous and even deadly.

The Parallel of Micah’s Prophecy

This story begins in the November 15, 2013, study edition of the Watchtower magazine. The article drew on the story of Micah, a prophet in the bible,. Micah prophesied about a time when the Jews would be under attack by Assyrian forces, and talked about “seven shepherds and eight dukes” who would rise up and protect the people.

Jehovah’s Witnesses love to draw parallels between stories in the bible and our modern times, often coming to odd and sometimes downright confusing conclusions as to how those stories from thousands of years ago actually represent Jehovah’s Witnesses today. This was no exception; somehow, someway, the Watchtower magazine decided that these “shepherds” and “dukes” represent the elders of the congregations today. The magazine offers no explanation for this interpretation, other than to cite 1 Peter 5:2, which tells elders to “shepherd the flock of god under your care.” Apparently, because the word shepherd is used in both scriptures, this is enough to decide that these shepherds and dukes in Micah’s time are today’s elders. Of course, Jesus and Jehovah are both called shepherds in the bible, but for whatever reason, the word is applied to the elders in this case.

The Frightening Instructions

According to the story, in Micah’s time, those shepherds and dukes were able to protect the Jews from the Assyrians. The Watchtower then talked about how the elders in the congregation today would protect congregants from attacks it may suffer from Satan, or any other source.

Their frightening instructions for being protected included the following (bold added for emphasis):

When “the Assyrian” attacks, the elders must be absolutely convinced that Jehovah will deliver us. At that time, the lifesaving direction that we receive from Jehovah’s organization may not appear practical from a human standpoint. All of us must be ready to obey any instructions we may receive, whether these appear sound from a strategic or human standpoint or not.

There are two things to take away from this; one, you may be told to do something that may not appear sound, and two, you must be absolutely convinced this is the right thing to do, that the instructions are from Jehovah himself.

The Facebook Responses

If the above statements on their own are not chilling enough, a Facebook group for Jehovah’s Witnesses posed a hypothetical question to its followers. Below is a screen capture of the question and a sampling of the responses:

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Now, in all fairness, a few people responding to a Facebook question do not represent the entire organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses worldwide, and some who responded said that they would not take some unknown pill. However, no matter how many of their followers said no, even if just one said yes, that they would take an unknown pill if given to them by their governing body, this is one too many.

The level of absolute trust these ones show for their governing body is especially disturbing when you see that two of those who responded actually mention the chance of dying! They openly acknowledge that a pill given to them by their overseers may be the literal equivalent of poisoned Kool-Aid, but they’re happy to take it anyway, no questions asked.

The last respondent even expressed a trust in the elders as “husbands, fathers,” etc., but these are the same elders who hide pedophiles in the congregation and allow young children to be in danger of sexual assault, who commit and endorse domestic violence, and who shun rape victims for “fornication.” Jehovah’s Witnesses also encourage women to stay with violent and abusive husbands, with little regard for their safety or the safety of the children. In other words, these are not men with a good track record of showing care and concern for the health, safety, well-being, or even the lives of the ones they’re supposedly “shepherding.” Yet, they’re trusted implicitly by congregation members.

The Lust for Power

If you want my personal opinion, as someone who spent some 35 years in and around Jehovah’s Witnesses, I am 90% certain that they would never hand out poisoned Kool-Aid or otherwise try to outright physically harm their members. Note, however, that I said 90%, not 100% … and that’s a problem.

In the past few years, I’ve seen the governing body (a small group of men who make up the ultimate authority of Jehovah’s Witnesses) become more and more power-hungry, mentioning themselves personally in many reports about congregation activity more often than they mention Jesus himself, despite the fact that the bible says that Jesus is the head of the congregation, not the governing body. This happened in the latest Yearbook of Jehovah’s Witnesses, a book that reviews the past year’s activity worldwide; Jesus was mentioned 21 times, but “governing body,” or its members individually, were mentioned 31 times.

Capture governing bodyJehovah’s Witnesses have a new translation of the bible, released just a few months ago, and in it, they use the specific term “governing body” in an introduction to the book of Acts, saying that the question of circumcision was posed to the “governing body” for a decision. However, there actually was no such body of men in the early Christian congregation. The scriptures actually say that “older men” were gathered together just this once, to address this one specific question. The governing body of Jehovah’s Witnesses repeat this belief about a “governing body” existing in the early Christian congregation in later Watchtower articles, virtually inserting themselves into the bible itself.

It is also a long-standing belief in the religion that there is a “faithful and discreet slave,” a term taken from an illustration Jesus used, that is caring for, and that has authority over, all Witnesses today. In the past, the religion interpreted this “slave” as being a small number of persons who would go to heaven and rule with Jesus (everyone else who is faithful would stay on a paradise earth forever), totaling 144,000.

If that belief is confounding enough, they have since changed their doctrine to say that they, the governing body alone, are this “slave,” not the entire number of 144,000 who hope to rule in heaven. They have also recently said that ones who claim to have this hope of going to heaven may be “mentally imbalanced.” In other words, if you believe that you’re part of this small group of people who should share this authority over others, the governing body reserves the right to call you crazy.

This elevation in status they have given themselves was accompanied by an elevation of privilege and authority, according to the July 15, 2013, Watchtower. The same illustration Jesus used about the slave said that the “master” (Jesus) would appoint this “faithful and discreet slave” over all his “belongings.” In times past, this was interpreted to mean that the entire group of 144,000 in heaven would be helping Jesus in guiding and directing everything and everyone on the earth. However, this new understanding of theirs is that the “belongings” mentioned would include everything in Christ’s kingdom, including everything in heaven. In other words, the governing body believes they will be equal to Christ, ruling over both heaven and earth, rather than simply assisting him, with the rest of the 144,000, in ruling over the earthly people.

Follow all that?

The problem with being power hungry is that this is a hunger that is never satisfied, and in my personal opinion, I see this happening with the governing body. Most of their assertions regarding their role in the kingdom of Jesus, and their explanations and assumptions regarding this “faithful and discreet slave,” are based on nothing more than their own statements and opinions. When you pick apart these assertions, you see that they are not supported by other scriptures, and you can easily see this greed-driven, growing level of power, privilege, and authority they assign themselves. Once these beliefs are accepted by the majority of Witnesses, however, the assertions and special positions for themselves just keep on coming.

I must ask Jehovah’s Witnesses if they don’t see this long, slow grab for power as something dangerous, and why you don’t see the danger of being so blindly obedient to mere men. Does it not frighten you that they would even make these types of statements? As someone with family who are still Jehovah’s Witnesses, I know this information frightens me.

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10 replies »

  1. Can’t find the numbers for memorial partakers for 2016? Are they leaving that out now because the number has gone up ?? Would someone please post the number on line

  2. Jw.org just released a video documenting the typhoon in the Philippines. They talk about a group of witnesses being told to go to their meeting despite clear warning that the typhoon was going to hit. They were having their meeting when a thirty foot wave hit and swept the building away. Twenty two lives were lost. TWENTY TWO. One young girl from a family of seven lost everyone except one brother. She was orphaned because instead of evacuating like COMMON SENSE dictated, she was at a meeting.
    Instead of offering comfort they read her a couple scriptures and ship her off to the next district convention.
    Well I have a scripture for you: Matthew 9:13: “Go and learn what this means, ‘I want MERCY and not sacrifice.'” The God of the Bible would NEVER ask you to take ANY pill. What we saw in the Philippines however was a SACRIFICE. Every family member still inside is another potential sacrifice. That scares the hell outta me.

    • I saw that on Cedars’ blog and planned on commenting on it in a future post. I couldn’t believe they were told to go to a meeting when everyone else was evacuating. Shameful the games they play with people’s lives. The governing body is blood guilty for so many!

  3. Can you please give me a source where I can find the change in doctrine, saying that only the governing body will be ruling in heaven with Jesus now, and not the 144,000? Thank you!

    • This was brought up in another post and I’m going by the July 15 2013 Watchtower, which says:

      17 What do “all [Jesus’] belongings” include? Jesus did not qualify the word “all,” as if to limit his belongings to earthly things. In fact, Jesus has vast heavenly authority. “All authority has been given me in heaven and on the earth,” he said. (Matt. 28:18; Eph. 1:20-23) His belongings now include the Messianic Kingdom, which has belonged to him since 1914 and which he will share with his anointed followers.—Rev. 11:15.
      18 In view of the foregoing, what can we conclude? When Jesus comes for judgment during the great tribulation, he will find that the faithful slave has been loyally dispensing timely spiritual food to the domestics. Jesus will then delight in making the second appointment—over all his belongings. Those who make up the faithful slave will get this appointment when they receive their heavenly reward, becoming corulers with Christ.
      19 Does the faithful slave receive a greater reward in heaven than the rest of the anointed? No. A reward promised to a small group in one setting may ultimately be shared by others. For example, consider what Jesus said to his 11 faithful apostles the night before he died. (Read Luke 22:28-30.) Jesus promised that small group of men that a fine reward awaited them for their faithfulness. They would share his throne of kingly authority. But years later, he indicated that all of the 144,000 will sit on thrones and share his rulership. (Rev. 1:1; 3:21) Similarly, as stated at Matthew 24:47, he promised that a small group of men—the anointed brothers who make up the faithful slave—will be appointed over all his belongings. In reality, all of the 144,000 will share his vast heavenly authority.—Rev. 20:4, 6.

      As I bring out in the other comments, they say they will be appointed over his belongings, even though the other 144,000 will have thrones. It can’t be both ways; one group can’t be over the other if they see themselves as equals. They also say this reward “may” be shared by others, not “will.” While they acknowledge some type of sharing of authority, they still reserve this special “appointment over his belongings” for themselves.

  4. Fascinating article, “Alex”.

    I am intrigued by this statement you make: “Recently however they have changed this to say that Jesus is the mediator between god and the ‘representatives’ of this spiritual Israel.” Could you please tell me the reference for this statement. I would very much like to read it.

    I also read your open letter to the body of elders. If you’re interested, mine can be found at, http://www.acarpenterfromnazareth.com/2012/03/open-letter-to-body-of-elders.html. Of course it didn’t make a dust-mote of difference. No doubt it wasn’t read at all.

    I look forward to hearing from you.

    • I’m trying to find the reference and get a better understanding of all those details; the “new light” they just received was very confusing, so I sent a note to Cedars asking him for some clarification. I’ll post the reference or clean up the wording as quick as I can, although even without that point you see the power grab that’s been going on recently.

      I also read and enjoyed your letter and will browse the rest of your site today. Feel free to join me on Facebook as well.

    • P.S. As for no one reading your letter, I can’t speak for your [former] body of elders but we’ve seen more and more elders being cut to the heart over the pedophile scandals, changing doctrine and understanding (“new light”), and this same power grab mentioned above. Many are walking away or are having serious doubts, as Cedars’ survey proves, and confidential correspondences are being leaked online right and left, showing that they don’t have the power over individuals as they assume. Your letter may have been read and even if it reaches just one heart or helps one person to open their eyes, it’s accomplished something.

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