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 Jehovah’s Witnesses 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 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.

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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, and watch this video to hear these instructions:

This shunning is all-encompassing, and is done to anyone who officially “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 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
  • 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.

ostracismNext, 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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