Are Jehovah's Witnesses a Cult?

The Obscene Greed of Jehovah’s Witnesses Now Asking Children to Donate Their Money to the Religion

As part of the 2015 program of conventions for Jehovah’s Witnesses, a video was released that portrays a young girl holding a coin in her hands while in a Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses, imagining buying an ice cream cone after their meeting. She then sees her mother putting money in a contribution box at the Kingdom Hall, and rethinks her plans for her coin. She envisions new Kingdom Halls being built along with JW literature being produced, and then happily puts her own money in the contribution box as well.

Many people have commented on this video online, pointing out how ludicrous it is for the governing body of Jehovah’s Witnesses to be panhandling toward children, expecting them to give up their tiny allowances to a religion. This certainly is a very good point, but I saw something entirely different when I watched the video.

Don’t They Have Enough Money Already?

Let’s first talk about the money angle when it comes to this latest video from Jehovah’s Witnesses. The governing body of this religion is currently selling off properties they own in Brooklyn, New York, and are building a new headquarters elsewhere. Their Brooklyn properties are estimated to be worth up to $1 billion, while they’re spending just $11 million on one new building. This is in addition to the hundreds of millions of dollars if not more that they bring in every year through conventions, property flipping, and the like. Please see this post for a detailed explanation.

Now, after making all these hundreds of millions if not billions of dollars from their business schemes, they need the pocket change of children? For what, exactly? As I bring out in that post cited above, Jehovah’s Witnesses perform no official charitable works save for some sporadic disaster relief rebuilding that is performed by unpaid volunteers and which typically helps only a small handful of fellow Witnesses, not the general public. For what, exactly, do they now need the small coins of children?

More to the Story

Most people who have written about this story have focused on this angle, of a big, rich religion holding their hands out for the coins of children so they can line their own pockets. This video touched me for a different reason, however, and I hope readers understand what I’m about to say.

Growing up as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses can be a tough road for most little kids; as many people know, Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t celebrate birthdays, Christmas or Hanukkah, Easter, Halloween, or any holidays (see this post). This means no gift giving, no decorations, and no parties. They rarely even use the word “party” when talking about any type of group activity, and often refer to gatherings as “get-togethers,” since a party may imply too many festivities. (True story) Even their own literature portrays these gatherings as somber, almost serious occasions where people don’t do much more than play board games or just stand around and talk:

Capture6

Yes, guard yourselves against those having any type of fun as a teenage JW and instead, stand around in your frumpiest clothes while avoiding the urge to actually smile, or blink.

Not only do JW kids go without typical holidays, parties, and festivities, but Witness families often take their children to tour the printing factories of their religion as a “vacation,” and governing body member Anthony Morris even chastised parents for taking their children to an amusement park versus such a factory tour. (Hear his discourse at this site; these comments are at around the 16:00 mark.)

kidsAdd to this lack of fun and festivities the constant requirements for going out in their preaching work, attending meetings and assemblies, and never-ending study of the bible and JW literature, and you have a clearer picture of life as a JW child. This constant drudgery, to which I can personally attest, means that the smallest of treats were often all you had to make your life more enjoyable. That one Saturday when your mom was sick so you actually got to stay home and watch cartoons rather than dress up and go preach, or that Sunday when your family decided to get ice cream rather than doing more preaching after the morning meeting, were rare for most children I knew and very, very special.

Maybe that’s why I personally found it so unbelievably obscene to see this video, encouraging children to actually donate their own money to the religion rather than buy a simple ice cream cone for themselves. Everything about this religion, even when it’s directed at the children, is about what you can do for them, and not about what the religion does for you. As I bring out in this post, the message JWs often give to their children is that Jehovah is a browbeating, demanding, tightfisted god who is always disappointed in them. Now he wants your ice cream money as well.

kids2

Children going on a factory tour with their families. I couldn’t find the original copies of these pics so I blacked out the snarky meme someone had made, but you get the picture. This is how children of Jehovah’s Witnesses are expected to have fun.

While Jehovah’s Witnesses often claim that theirs is a religion of love that builds strong families, I see things very differently. If they really loved their children, they would want them to be happy and would be encouraging them to actually enjoy a few simple things in life, like an ice cream cone. This doesn’t mean teaching children to be selfish, but it means teaching them that life is to be enjoyed, not just consistently sacrificed for a religion. When you love someone, you want them to enjoy their life, not have it slowly drained from them through drudgery and constant demands, and you want to provide things for them that will add to that enjoyment.

I don’t have children but I do have a baby sister and when she was little, because I didn’t have much money, I would often take her to the dollar store and tell her that she could pick out five things. I can’t remember a happier time for either of us, watching her carefully choose her five small toys or coloring books, and then taking them back to my apartment where we would play or sit and color together. Not only were they happy times together, but they were really all that my sister and I had; she never got birthday presents or Christmas presents, never got an Easter basket or had fun hunting for Easter eggs, never dressed up for Halloween or got any Halloween candy, never got a Valentine’s Day card or candy, and really never got presents or candy or anything from anyone, at all, ever, save for the things I would buy her. I was never able to give her those things either, and it hurt me as much as it hurt her. I wanted her to work hard and learn to be a responsible adult, yes, but I also wanted her to have a fun, happy childhood, not a tedious and demanding one.

I can’t imagine the idea of telling my sister that we were going to donate that five dollars to our mega-rich religion instead, or make her feel obligated at that young age to donate her small allowance to an organization that already had hundreds of millions of dollars while she had so little. Loving parents provide for their children and their happiness; they don’t hold out their hands and guilt-trip their children into providing for them. Even Jesus said, “There is more happiness in giving than in receiving,” (Acts 20:35), but for the leaders of the religion of Jehovah’s Witnesses, they seem to do nothing but hold out their hands and take and take and take, and now right from the piggy banks of little children. That’s not providing for anyone’s happiness but their own, and that’s not love.

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7 replies »

  1. I think all you jehova witness are so brain washed god is unconditional love and yet you say you can’t celebrate ones birthday when life is a gift from god and I honestly feel your religion is more man made then anything else as far as I’m concerned your nothing but a cult feeding on weak minds.Its all about money being put into the watchtower pocket it’s such a scam I believe in god and I’m a very spiritual person but anyone who says you can’t do this or that if it’s not hurting anyone is truly brainwashing you because god is all about love and he wants us all United in love .you probably don’t want your followers to go to weddings or celebrate birthdays etc. because that will only mean less money going to the watch tower if you spend it on something else like a joyful celebration.I respect all religion as long as they’re not man made to manipulate its followers .

  2. You cannot blame the religion for the actions that unperfect sinners make. Whether your Governing body, elder, pioneer etc. You have free will and are fighting the same battle against saten. Humans are bound to make mistakes yes even awful ones. Such ones should be disfellowshiped and in due time Jehovah will take care of those who taint his name. Never allow people to et in between you’re relationship with Jehovah. Regardless of what is happening you need to remain close to Jehovah if he is in your heart. Don’t stop praying and tell him how you feel. Yes many things can discourage that is what saten wants to do. Dont forget Genesis 3:15. We still have fun we rollerskate we go to swim parks we parties for no reason with cake. Back then people just weren’t creative some parents were to poor to take kids to do things or to be creative at home. Don’t let that come between you and jehovah. Xo

  3. Thats how I remember it: lots of drudgery, endless studying WT and bible, plus daily bible reading,plus days text before school, weekly family study then of course personal study, hours of ministry, then preparing for ministry, preparing for talks and how you imagine a worldly person to respond to you (the puzzlement when IRL nobody responded how you imagined) also the feeling that God was always disappointed in me, I wasnt good enough, he always wanted more. I was RUBBISH at placing mags getting RVs or bible studies whilst my mum dad and sister clocked up LOADS, and were all pioneers. It made me feel like a failure that I couldnt get anyone interested! Of course I went on many Bethel tours in England France and once in germany even on fucking holiday we would go to all the meetings, have to bring all our meeting books and literature AND study for it whilst on holiday we would have to go preaching on holiday too. The meetings encouraged children to be constantly on look out to PREACH and witness to peers at school, to teachers, in our homework to bring Jehovah into it for a witness. ARGHHHHH! It was embarassing having to clock people at school to try and insiduously bring the to Jehovah, or stay after school to talk to the teachers about God because mum asked me to do it. Getting into theological arguments at age 7 with my favourite teacher who was trinitarian and never liked me the same after me trying to force him to not believe in trinity. Or abuse I had shouted at me at young ages from parents of friends at school cos I had invited them to my house under the guise ‘to play’ but really for the book study. I know I could have done so much better at school if Id been allowed to focus on school work as much as I focused on witness study. I would have finished uni too. I could have got a decent job. As witness children and adults you are living for the future not in the now, you miss everything in your real life for something that is supposed to happen in the future, but which you might not make it to anyway if God decides that actually your heart is not properly in it. I feel like I was a walking dead feeling nothing but dead inside or if I did get to feel emotions it was always WAY too much over the top that I couldnt wait to feel nothing again – until I left 12 years ago and then I felt like a baby ejected into the wide open world, naive but also warped messed up, and completely behind in everything that normal people took for granted having to learn the basics of common sense. Having family still in it that barely sees me anymore, my sister was my best friend before and I get to see her once a year and her children but only at my mums house for a couple of hours and then its back nothing. My parents whom I love and I know love me in their way but I know also value their religion and the jws more than me and my children. They dont seem to have interest for my children and Im always dreading the day they forget about them altogether because I wont let them anywhere NEAR a KH. Its no wonder I have depression, anxiety, no confidence, no self esteem and regularly think about suicide! Thanks Jehovah you are (the) nuts.

    • Thank you for sharing your experiences Alexandra – once again you share in such an honest, transparent and thought provoking way – none of which we experienced growing up in the “truth”.

      Dear Amalia,

      Your childhood mirrors mine.

      Amalia I have been where you describe emotionally and it is not a good place…I am so sorry to hear you are hurting. I never felt like I fit in or got any true comfort or feeling of “family” from the congregation I attended as a child. I appreciated your comment on having to learn normal, common sense, “life” stuff other people take for granted being taught in childhood. I too have experienced the effects of being taught we were born sinners and never good enough – that we always had to prove we were faithful. It has effected so many areas of my child and adult life I could write a very depressing book if I had the time! I too suffered and still suffer from low self-esteem and self-doubt. I was never asked what i wanted to be when i grew up – its a question every child deserves to be asked as it implies to a young mind that they have a talent in something and something to “offer” the world. My mother came into the “truth” out of an abusive marriage. I now see she was an easy target. Despite the promise of a happy family life the religion promises, my home as a child was filled with sadness, guilt, depression and anger. I have 3 siblings and we all experienced mental health issues at points in our lives. I have no doubt living in the “truth” was a cause. I left around age 15 when I felt I had some courage to have an opinion and not be told how to feel, think, act. Please be encouraged and give yourself some credit that you had the intellect and courage to question a religion that TELLS, DIRECTS AND MONITORS it’s members thru guilt and fear. I wanted to believe this was God’s religion and he was directing their actions as they claim! Yet a loving God would not tell me I’m “less” or unable to be in a leadership or counselling role because I’m a woman, or allow his “people” to decide with no education or training how they should handle and discredit victims of sexual abuse. I am appalled by some current witnesses coming on this forum and attempting to sugar -coat and “explain” how things really are. They are right in one thing – no one is perfect – but that doesn’t excuse anything. The real God doesn’t direct humans to judge others…he allows us the gift of acceptance
      of others and most importantly ourselves. God is love. Please love yourself.

  4. I’ve know about Jehovah’s witnesses since the 1970’s my mom studied for a years & then ceased & eventually called them a bunch of phonies. My dad studied also neither of them got baptized. I studied & was baptized in 1987.

    I never found genuine true love or lasting love in any cogregation.
    The only time I saw my spiritual bro & sisters was when I made my meetings
    I never got a phone call or any invites
    I think the watchtower society is pathetic

    The governing body members don’t work at real jobs & how they are able to buy FRENCH CUFF SHIRTS & CUFF LINKS & NICE SUITS I HAVE NO IDEA I guess the green handshakes are true. By the way don’t try to call bethel & ask to speak to a governing body member YOU WONT BE ABLE TO!!!!!!!!!!! WHY NOT? I guess they have to hide from all the sexual molestation lawsuits. WELL TO ALL THE MEN ON THIS GOVERNING BODY; PAY YOUR VICTIMS & STOP APPEALING

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