Every year, Jehovah’s Witnesses gather in large cities for their summer regional conventions where they hear various discourses and look forward to new publications and information being released. In one of their most shocking, disturbing, and cult-like moves to date, this year Jehovah’s Witnesses are showing their millions of congregation members a video that blatantly instructs parents to brutally shun their own children if they should do anything that is not approved of by the religion. This manipulative presentation is nothing short of abusive and downright difficult to watch, although if you’d like to try, it starts at about the 3:35 mark:
First note that this woman says that her parents tried hard to do the right thing, to do things “Jehovah’s way.” Says who? Who says that following the Watchtower Society is “Jehovah’s way”? You can visit this website and find the many failed prophecies and predictions of the Watchtower Society, which easily demonstrate that this religion has no reason to claim god’s backing for anything. Does it make any sense that they have some type of holy spirit backing them when they need to consistently change their doctrines and beliefs? I doubt that any god would lead his chosen religion into an incorrect understanding of his own bible, only to then “refine” and change those beliefs. It seems obvious that Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t do things “Jehovah’s way” but the “Watchtower’s way,” and that way can change according to the whims of their governing body, as it suits them.
Interesting, too, that her parents were not doing things according to how it would best suit their family or each member as an individual, but according to the rules and dictates of their religious beliefs. This rigid, demanding way of living one’s life is not healthy for anyone; not for children who need self-expression or for parents who may know their own children better than some strangers who dictate and demand how a family should function.
“I Didn’t Have a Hatred for What Is Bad”
It takes about 30 seconds before the woman narrating the video immediately blames herself for what next happens to her family. She refers to the idea that she didn’t have a hatred for what is bad. Again, says who? Who says that what she is doing is “bad”? This “bad” thing involved loving a man who apparently was not one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. This “bad” thing happens millions of times outside this religion, and yet people somehow manage to find happiness and fulfillment in those relationships. How are they so “bad” and why should she have a “hatred” for the man with whom she fell in love?
The real point, however, is that the video sets it up to blame her for how her family falls apart, not her family and their own actions. In the world of Jehovah’s Witnesses, it’s always the fault of the other person, not Jehovah’s Witnesses and their actions and their rigid, judgmental, demanding beliefs.
All About Everyone Else
The woman then goes on to talk about how she is disfellowshipped (excommunicated) and how it “crushed” her whole family. They were so “crushed” that her father told her that she couldn’t even stay in the family home because she refused to change her “lifestyle.” Bear in mind, she is simply in a relationship with a man who is not one of Jehovah’s Witnesses; she’s not doing drugs, stealing, blowing up federal buildings, or refusing to get a job. She is also apparently an adult by now, because she is seen getting her own place after moving out of her family home. Yet, despite the fact that she is an adult, her family is “crushed” that she is respecting her own feelings about life, love, and relationships, something they refuse to do.
The woman says that she was determined to “do what I wanted.” And? What’s the problem with this? Isn’t this what adults are supposed to do, make up their own minds about relationships, love, morals, and so on? At the 5:00 mark, she says that she didn’t even care that her parents’ “hearts were breaking.”
Let me make it clear. Her parents shouldn’t have broken hearts over the fact that their grownup daughter is making her own choices in life. If it breaks their hearts to see their daughter choose her own beliefs, her own relationships, and her own love, that’s on them, not her.
The video laments that the daughter didn’t take her parents’ “devastation and disappointment” into account, but it’s not her responsibility to do that as an adult. It’s not up to the parents to be “disappointed” that their daughter is now daring to be an adult and is choosing her own path in the world, and it’s not up to the adult daughter to wrap her life around her parents and their feelings. To avoid their disappointment, the daughter would need to remain a child, with her parents making all her decisions and dictating her entire life to her. How far do we take this thinking, to the point of arranged marriages, picking out your child’s career, and deciding where they will live? The parents are also demanding their child follow their religious beliefs, saying what she must feel in her heart about god, the bible, and so on.
Lest you think I’m being overly particular, note this quote from the literature of Jehovah’s Witnesses:
“No one should be forced to worship in a way that he finds unacceptable or be made to choose between his family and his beliefs.”
~ Awake, July 2009
Obviously they didn’t mean to apply this to children of Jehovah’s Witnesses, as they most certainly should be forced to worship, live, and love in a way that they find unacceptable, lest they be forced to give up their families.
Who is to Blame?
The narrator says that she blamed her parents for her situation, and even blamed Jehovah. Well, they are to blame. The daughter didn’t leave home of her own accord; she was kicked out for making a decision not to the parents’ liking. The video shows the daughter trying to get into contact with her parents, yet they won’t even answer her phone calls. It is indeed their fault, for thinking that they can or should toss their child out onto the street and disown her simply because she exercised her own free will and decided that the beliefs of her parents are not her beliefs, and that she was in love with a man her parents were not in love with. Oh, the horror.
While writing this post, I saw a news story of a woman in Pakistan who was set on fire by her own mother for marrying without the family’s permission. The horrific nature of that crime made me literally sick, and while the two are obviously not the same, I couldn’t help but notice the similarities. In both cases, a grownup woman dared to make a choice about a man she loved and what she thought was best for her and her own life. She dared to defy her family by simply falling in love with someone they didn’t approve of, and both paid a steep price for doing something so “brazen.” In both cases, the parents selfishly demanded that the women always do what they wanted, and then took it upon themselves to punish the women when they didn’t fall in line.
Of course, Jehovah’s Witnesses will never see the similarities and they may even be quick to judge this Pakistani mother, saying that she’s barbaric and evil; at the same time, Jehovah’s Witnesses will kick a child out of the family for loving someone outside the religion. Jehovah’s Witnesses will say that those other people are deluded, but will also say that when they shun their own children, it’s done out of love. Those murdering people are horrific, but Witnesses who turn their backs on their children and don’t even answer their phone calls are supposedly loving.
Consider too that the video says that her parents were following the bible example of Aaron, brother of Moses, whose two sons were put to death by god and who was told not to mourn them, as an example to the nation. While Jehovah’s Witnesses may never see themselves as being as barbaric as someone who sets their own child on fire, when your attitude and conduct tells a child that they are dead to you for simply deciding on their own life, when you laud the example of a man who refuses to mourn his own children after being slaughtered in front of him, you really are not as different as you might assume.
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