Are Jehovah's Witnesses a Cult?

Has the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses Committed Blasphemy in Encouraging Young Children to Be Baptized?

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From a video on the website of Jehovah’s Witnesses; this boy, young enough to have a teddy bear on his bed, is praying in front of a picture of him getting baptized. Click the picture to be taken to the site.

In theology, blasphemy may refer to the crime of “assuming to oneself the rights or qualities of God.” (From dictionary.com) While I personally don’t claim to being a Christian, consider the “rights” that most would naturally assign to god and to god alone. This would no doubt include the right to decide who gets a reward and who gets a punishment after they die, the right to decide if a person is properly repentant of their sins, the right to accept someone into a personal relationship with him, and the right to decide what is and what is not acceptable to him. Please don’t make me look up scriptures to prove those points; I’m going to be very presumptuous and assume we can all agree on these.

This makes it a very serious matter when someone says that congregants should agree with their opinion when it comes to any of these things, and especially if their opinion doesn’t agree with bible teaching. This is not just presumptuous and arrogant; when talking about religion, it borders on blasphemy. Yet, this is very close to what a member of the governing body of Jehovah’s Witnesses did recently at a public discourse in Germany, in coercing parents into ensuring their children are baptized into the religion when they’re as young as nine years old.

The Problem With Baptism

First understand why baptism is such a serious issue with Jehovah’s Witnesses, and why it’s different from other religions. Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t baptize their babies as they see baptism as a sign of a personal dedication to god; their book Reasoning From the Scriptures states:

“Christian water baptism is an outward symbol that the one being baptized has made a complete, unreserved, and unconditional dedication through Jesus Christ to do the will of Jehovah God.”

So, no baby baptisms as a baby cannot dedicate himself or herself to god or any religion. However, very young children of Jehovah’s Witnesses are not only baptized into the religion, but JW parents are being counseled more and more to “encourage” their children toward baptism at a young age. How is this a personal dedication to god if you’re only getting baptized to get your parents off your back?

The danger of this step, and this is something that non-JWs must understand, is that if a person is baptized as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses and is then later disfellowshipped (excommunicated), they are completely shunned by everyone they know, including family. This can happen even to “young ones,” as was brought out in a public discourse at their 2013 District Conventions.

However, if a person never decides to become one of Jehovah’s Witnesses and get baptized in the first place, their family contact may be somewhat limited as they get older, but they’re not outright shunned. Therein lies the danger for children who are coerced or otherwise pressured into getting baptized when they’re too young to make this decision on their own; they are now held to that decision as an adult, and may be punished for changing their minds by losing their entire family.

The other problem with baptizing children this young is that there is no scriptural precedent for this, but there is scriptural precedent for having them wait until they really are adults. Jesus himself was 30 when he got baptized, and while religions may debate the reasons for this, note what Jehovah’s Witnesses say about it in the book Insight on the Scriptures, Volume 2:

“At the age of 30, the age at which David became king, Jesus would no longer be subject to human parents.” 

In other words, Jesus waited until he was an adult and fully responsible for himself before he decided, all on his own, to get baptized. So, according to Jehovah’s Witnesses, Jesus waited to become an adult and fully independent of his parents at age 30 to get baptized, but also according to Jehovah’s Witnesses, children today should be getting baptized when they’re 9 years old and because their parents want them to do it.

You Want to Agree With Our Opinion, Don’t You?

During a public discourse in Germany in May of 2015, governing body member Mark Sanderson talked about children as young as 9 getting baptized, and brought out how the governing body had previously and publicly commended parents whose “quite young” children were getting baptized. He then asked the audience directly, “Do you share that viewpoint of the governing body?”

The governing body. Not god, not the bible. The governing body. Their viewpoint. You know, the one that completely contradicts what the bible and therefore, supposedly their god, says about baptism. That viewpoint?

This is where the blasphemy comes into play. By offering a viewpoint that is different than the god they worship, and then asking congregants if they agree with that personal viewpoint, they are assuming the rights of god himself. Supposedly god has the right to say what makes a person acceptable to him and god has the right to set out requirements for that person, but the governing body inserts themselves into that equation. They offer a different viewpoint and then ask if followers of their religion agree with them, rather than bringing out what the bible says and asking if they agree with the bible’s teaching or with what god says.

Don’t get me wrong; if one of Jehovah’s Witnesses wants to study the bible with their child and take them out preaching and to the Kingdom Hall and teach them the doctrine of Jehovah’s Witnesses, that’s one thing. We’re not talking about teaching children certain doctrines, however. We’re talking about a viewpoint when it comes to your personal relationship with god that is not only not supported in the bible, but which completely contradicts even their own interpretation of the bible, and then asking followers if they agree with the viewpoint of men, not if they agree with what the scriptures say. By saying to their congregants, “This is what we teach, we have decided what is the standard for when a person should be baptized,” and then pressuring them to agree with what they teach even though it contradicts what their god teaches, they are elevating themselves above god himself. Blasphemy.

Of course I could be wrong on this; as I said, I don’t personally adhere to Christianity or any religion in particular, and it would be inappropriate for me to say that someone shouldn’t presume to speak for god and then do the same myself. However, if this teaching of “our opinion is the standard, even when it isn’t in line with the bible” isn’t blasphemy, then at best it’s an outright contradiction of their own words about the point of baptism in the first place. Either way, I don’t think a nine-year-old child should be making any decision if the consequences of that decision are beyond their comprehension, and I don’t think I’m wrong about that.

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6 replies »

  1. I was 13 when I was baptized and doing so made perfect sense in my limited worldview. Baptism is a contract. There are questions that are asked and the candidate must affirm their agreement. “Do you understand?” When you say yes, you are agreeing to stand under that contract.

    All 50 states require a person to be 18 years old before entering a contract. Parental consent is required, but is it consent or coercion that is applied? 2015 Convention said that toddlers are protected by the goodness of their parents at Armageddon, but after that you could be held responsible if you are not baptized. “If you are old enough to drive, you are old enough to get baptized.”, etc. Fear of destruction at Armageddon, denial of getting a driver’s license and similar tactics are coercion.

    “Contract coercion occurs when a contract agreement is entered into under conditions involving harm or threats of harm. State and federal laws require contracts to be entered into “knowingly” and “willingly” by all parties. Thus, if a party signs a contract due to coercion, the contract generally will not be considered legally enforceable.”

    Imagine a class-action suit by ex-JW’s to have their contracts nullified. It would also automatically move the minimum age of baptism up to 18. Those of us who are shunned could no longer be shunned. The implications are interesting.

  2. The Watch Tower Society claims to follow the patterns set by Jesus and first-century Christians. As you pointed out, Jesus, a perfect man, waited until the age of 30 to be baptized. “Regarding first-century Christians, historian Augustus Neander states in his book General History of the Christian Religion and Church: ‘Baptism was administered at first only to adults, as men were accustomed to conceive baptism and faith as strictly connected.’” (Watchtower 4/1/06, page 27) The Governing Body is deliberately exercising undue influence causing parents to exercise undue influence over their minor children to enter into a contract that they can never rescind without dire consequences. This is no different from minors who become Scientologists and who sign a billion year contract.

  3. I was thinking the same thing. I’m glad that there is someone that can put the words that most of us are thinking down & put it in a way that is hard to argue. The GB & their cronies are becoming desperate I think. The numbers might be dropping off in the western countries where they need future money donors & free labour.

    At the end of the day, I hope that these kids will grow up & get educated at school about critical thinking skills & be aware of religious scams (cults) so that they can see the negative consequences of undue coercion. That way they can put more effort into humanitarian causes or the environment & science. We don’t need more people being trained to go around picking on other people about their faith, conning them to waste their lives on a fallacy or fancy buildings where people pretend to worship in. We need people that want to seriously help future generations. Religious scammers are not the answer. After all, Jesus said “you received free, give free”.

  4. I might be way off on this but just wanted to say , why baptized at that young age, in other bible, koran? believes a young age of maturity is 9 to 12 for marriage, I don’t know if any connections, but farther investigate to be done, if time will come and ISIS come in wanting to chop Christians heads, this child will know I got baptized, and will say and may get kidder by this methos, these ppl are trained to not care at all, child or not.alot of , and including JW they just don’t use the bible. The have at least 3 ways, can’t really explain but really look into Fritz Springmeir wriittings.. the JWS is a man made Religion, and the churches are the big part of the NWO. Really. If you refuse to research than you not giving hour own life and your family a change to see the real truth, and risk hour life for something that true and pure… Man made Religion is not at all what you think it is.so hope you open you eyes, and it’s on your shoulders to really understand what is really going on.no one should shun anyone, that is not helping that is the opposite, just like it’s a satanic ritual for not drinking the bread and we on memorial you are doing a satanic ritual by not drying it.. so much more to learn.

  5. Good point. I don’t know if this specific instance is blasphemy; if it is, then there are many things that might be called blasphemy. E.g. the judicial committees (“decide if a person is properly repentant of their sins”, copied exactly from your article, lol). But it’s new to me that they put it this bluntly! Normally they would say something like, “Will you follow this loving direction from Jehovah provided through the faithful and discreet slave?” Means exactly the same, but then it appears to come from Jehovah instead of bluntly saying, basically, do you agree with us?

    I’m happy he puts it this way, the more the mystery of the “faithful slave” is dropped, the easier people can recognize it’s a cult and following of men.

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