Are Jehovah's Witnesses a Cult?

Jehovah’s Witnesses Recognize That People Have the Right to Change Religions, Just Not Their Religion

The official website of Jehovah’s Witnesses, JW.org, has a Frequently Asked Section that recently addressed the question of whether or not JWs pressure people to change religions (this site). According to their answer, they don’t pressure people to change religions, and agree with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights when it says that a person should have the freedom to change religions. According to the JW website:

“…these rights carry with them the obligation to respect the rights of others both to maintain their beliefs and to reject ideas that they disagree with.”

This is a very interesting statement, and by “interesting” I mean grossly hypocritical and yet another absolute smack of outright dishonesty on their part. Jehovah’s Witnesses say that people have the right to change religions and that they deserve “respect” when it comes to that right, but this is not something that they offer to those who leave their religion. Not only are those who choose to leave the religion of Jehovah’s Witnesses not given respect, but these people are punished in the absolute worst way. Consider:

Capture change religion

From the official website of Jehovah’s Witnesses.

Let’s Start With Shunning

Leaving the religion of Jehovah’s Witnesses means being shunned and cut off from your entire family and all your friends, even if you’re a “young one,” and no matter your reasons for leaving. Please see the Shunning category of this site for more detailed information.

This shunning is all-encompassing, and is done to anyone who officially leaves or “disassociates” themselves, and to anyone who is excommunicated or disfellowshipped. Parents will typically not speak to children or will keep contact very minimal at best. Children will not speak to parents or siblings who have left. Extended family is also very often shunned; grandparents may not talk to their own grandchildren, if the parents of those grandchildren are disfellowshipped or disassociated.

How is this showing “respect” to those who “reject ideas that they disagree with”? According to dictionary.com, respect is defined as “esteem for or a sense of the worth or excellence of a person,” and “deference to a right, privilege, privileged position, or someone or something considered to have certain rights or privileges; proper acceptance or courtesy; acknowledgment.” Deference is defined as “respectful submission or yielding to the judgment, opinion, will, etc., of another.”

Shunning someone, cutting them out of your life completely and in some cases even refusing to look at them because they reject your ideas about religion, is not “courtesy” and it doesn’t show “submission” to their opinion. Rather, it’s a form of bullying, emotional blackmail, and punishment.

Next, It’s Name Calling

Jehovah’s Witnesses often use the term “apostate” when talking about those who have left the religion, and especially those who speak out against it. This is not a nice term from them; they refer to Satan as being “the foremost apostate” (January 15, 2006, Watchtower), and often say that apostates are dangerous (“…the apostate does not have your well-being at heart…” February 15, 2004, Watchtower).

The July 15, 2011, Watchtower says outright:

“apostates are ‘mentally diseased,’ and they seek to infect others with their disloyal teachings. … We do not receive them into our homes or greet them. We also refuse to read their literature, watch TV programs that feature them, examine their Web sites, or add our comments to their blogs.”

This takes their punishment of those who leave to a whole new level; not only are they to be avoided, but they’re also outright slandered as being “diseased.” Forget that some leave the religion because of being victims of pedophilia or domestic violence, or because of seeing clearly that the governing body of Jehovah’s Witnesses obviously has no direction or guidance from god and has failed in their prophecies time and again. No, any who leave the religion of Jehovah’s Witnesses are “diseased.” Again, how does this show “respect” for someone who has different ideas than them when it comes to religion?

The Hypocrisy

So, apparently, Jehovah’s Witnesses themselves feel no “obligation to respect the rights of others both to maintain their beliefs and to reject ideas that they disagree with.” This obligation of respect is for other people, when someone wants to leave a religion and become one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. When that happens, they deserve respect and deference and consideration, but when someone leaves the JW religion, they deserve to be called “diseased” and actually physically avoided, as if that “disease” was literal.

The practices that Jehovah’s Witnesses have when it comes to how they treat those who leave their religion are shameful enough, but putting this horrific PR-spun page on their website when it’s something they themselves don’t truly follow is outright, blatant dishonesty. I might pose the question to them, Since you claim that it’s so important to respects the beliefs of those who don’t agree with your religion, when are you going to do that? When are you going to give up the practice of telling people that they should shun even “young ones” who leave the religion, and when are you going to apologize for calling these supposed apostates “mentally diseased”? If it’s so important that people be given a choice when it comes to religion and such a basic right they have to be respected for that choice, why not set the example in that? Show the world what it means to respect others and to show deference to their decision, rather than berating the world for doing to your new members exactly what you do to your ex-members.

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22 replies »

  1. My dad recently went back to the JW organization and our relationship has suffered greatly. He used to be my best friend, now I am held at arm’s length. The more I learn about this religion, the more I realize maybe he’s doing me the favor. Thanks for the information on this site. And thank God for giving me the good sense never to fall for their lies and beliefs.

  2. Reblogged this on Writers In Tandem and commented:
    As a former member of Jehovah’s Witnesses who lost all of my family when I left, I can attest to the truth of this article. Jehovah’s Witnesses portray themselves as happy, loving people but there’s a much darker side that people need to see.

    • hi. I’m one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. & I am absolutely miserable. but I feel so bad if I leave I feel stuck. How did you get away without feeling guilt??

      • You remind yourself of all the legitimate reasons you have for leaving, including the cover-up of pedophilia, the domestic violence, the shunning of rape victims, the false predictions and prophecies, the changed teachings, and everything else you can add to that list.

      • What is causing your feelings of guilt? Is it about your family or your beliefs?

        For me, I didn’t feel any guilt towards the religion itself or any god as I realized I genuinely didn’t believe in it. The only guilt I felt was towards my family. I felt guilty, like I would be betraying my family if I left the religion. But I realized, I was not betraying anyone. It was their decision to shun me, not mine, and they know I would always welcome them back with open arms if they asked for the chance. All I was doing was trying to find myself and my own happiness, and be true to myself.

        If you’re feeling guilty towards God, if you still believe in one, here’s my personal logic/feelings on the matter: There are so many religions out there, most of which claim to be the One True Religion, how could anyone possibly know which is the real truth? If God is really a loving, merciful being, then surely he will understand how we could be confused by religion. He made us who we are, and can’t fault us for following our hearts. If he would really condemn us for being true to ourselves or for being confused by the thousands of religions in this world, then he is not a god worth serving, in my opinion. As long as our actions bring no harm to anyone else, should we not just live and let live, and refrain from judging others?

        Additionally, there are so many things wrong with the Jehovah’s Witnesses religion that there’s no way it can truly be from God. Their policies on rape, the child abuse and pedophilia scandals, the indoctrination techniques, the emotional blackmail. The organization does a great job at appearing harmless and withholding information from the rank and file, but there is a darkness if you look deep enough.

        Something that really helped me when I was going through the process of leaving and deciding what I really wanted was talking to other people who were going through or had gone through the same thing. I fully recommend this Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/xjwrg3 or this web forum: http://exjehovahswitnessforum.yuku.com/

        They both are full of wonderful people of all sorts, and they’ve been through just about every horrible thing there is, so you’ll surely be able to relate to someone. If you wanted to keep talking to me, I’d be happy to continue our conversation here or you can email me at janessa7149@gmail.com if you want to talk privately. I know how hard it is to struggle with one’s beliefs and the misery that being on of JWs can impose and I’d be honored to give support to someone who stands where I once stood 🙂

      • Why don’t ex Jws report tactics against outsiders to The FB.I so that others can be warned. Don’t remain silent. rg

      • Think about that miserable sick in the gut feeling not being there every time you had to get dressed. Concentrate on the things you won’t have to experience. Everybody says, get a new hobby. Meet some people. I’m in the infantile stages myself. It’s tricky. I happen to have a sympathetic elder friend. That’s a whole other story that won’t be told here. He could do me in. And he’s not. I told him to do whatever. I knew I was busted for things I said. The utter absurdity of that statement never ceases to amaze me. He’s saving me right now. He’s a great guy. I think he’s listening to me. It’s all very as the French say, “clandestine”.

      • You will feel guilt…….until you get better and heal. Truly. Likely you have been discouraged from getting an education. Our Heavenly Father wants us to serve Him out of love, not guilt. If you truly take the Bible as a whole, what the JWs preach as gospel leave a lot out that I was always advised to “take on faith.” I know different now. I confess it took me a long time to not feel “unworthy” of happiness until I realized I was serving Him sincerely and THEY were the ones that were mislead (or just plain lying). There’s a lot bigger picture in Jehovah’s true word than the tiny bit inside the Watchtower. Our Heavenly Father created us with the most advanced computer than was ever created conveniently located in the six inches between our left and right ear. It’s a shame the Watchtower puts a limit on it’s use when God gave us the knowledge and expected us to use it for our benefit and His purpose. Anything can be used for good or bad…….some religions think using antibiotics is sinful. JWs aren’t far from it. I can remember when you didn’t get disfellowshipped for smoking, but you could for getting your kids vaccinated. I can remember being told the world was ending in October of 1975 too. I could go on, but I’m sure you’ve heard it before. Do what you need to do. You’re getting help may be the only lifeline your family has. Either way, if the elders even find out you have a doubt, sooner or later your going to be cast out as an apostate. That’s just the way it is. If you think, you can’t be there because someone may find out that God’s plan is actually so much more than the control group. Pray for open eyes, an open heart, truth and strength. Your going to need it……..but it will be so worth it and you will feel God’s hand in your life.

  3. Another great article. As usual the propaganda machine is at work, talking out both sides of it’s mouth. I just wish that they would be exposed more on the mental cruelty that they inflict on those that have done nothing wrong but become conscientious objectors to their cruel policies.

    I am one of those people who is not disfellowshipped, not disassociated but just simply could not keep being a part of something that went against my sensibilities. I feel like I am looked at now like some sort of criminal & I have done nothing wrong. I have sometimes felt intimidated when I’m out somewhere & someone that I knew from the religion walks straight passed me as if I am invisible. I have gone home feeling deflated & have had to pick my self up. It is so silly & immature in this day & age to treat someone like that.

    Keep up the good work.

    • hi. I am one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. I am so miserable in this religion. I don’t attend my meetings very much or go out in service and things like that because I’m not happy there anymore. I know when I come to the meetings people look at me and probably say things and it does make me feel bad. understand where you coming from and you hang in there.

  4. I appreciate you posting this. I just read that FAQ then found you on twitter. I can’t believe they think people will fall for that! No pressure? Please. Guilt trip like crazy if your family is in. Never ending ‘informal witnessing’ if you care about someone who is in.

    Rant over. Thanks for posting this. Just found your site, I’ll be poking around. 🙂

  5. Oh, so they shun as the Amish do when you leave their religion. I didn’t know that. That is the ultimate form of judgment on others and the shame of nonacceptance for other differences is not Jesus way.

  6. I often wonder about their “saving” people who are not of their religion, although I appreciate their Family Search website for family tree info.

    • Family Search is a Mormon supported site. The Jehovah’s Witnesses believe when your dead, that’s it. Your done with hope of resurrection, eternal death, or if resurrected and you don’t pass the final test, eternal damnation. Fortunately, the Bible holds out a more hopeful future. Actually, the whole “ancestor” thing is frowned upon except for Jesus. Not that the Savior of mankind isn’t important, just I don’t think the JWs give God’s gift to us mere humans the recognition it deserves.

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