Are Jehovah's Witnesses a Cult?

Only a Cult Would Applaud a Ten-Year-Old Girl for Shunning Her Disobedient Sister!

At one recent convention of Jehovah’s Witnesses, a ten-year-old girl named Melody was trotted out onto the stage, to talk about her experience of being one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. The speaker noted that Melody had just been baptized last year; for those not familiar with the religion, being baptized officially makes you one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, beholden to all their rules and potential punishments.

Melody is asked what Jehovah gives her strength for, and her answer is nothing less than absolutely heartbreaking. She states that one of her sisters, who is disfellowshipped [excommunicated], got in touch with Melody at the time of Melody’s baptism, and wanted to stay in contact with her.

For those who are unaware, or who may not realize why this conversation would take place at all, Jehovah’s Witnesses practice a severe and harsh form of shunning against those who have left, or who have been ousted from, the religion, as Melody’s words demonstrate:

First off, understand that no one, absolutely no one, should have an issue with this child herself. Melody is obviously a very intelligent young lady; however, it’s also obvious that her participation has been the result of manipulation and control. Her words are chosen carefully, and she openly admits that, if she did keep in contact with her sister, it would be difficult to stop communicating with her, so no doubt her heart isn’t in it, as they say.

As an atheist, I don’t adhere to the bible’s words for guidance, but Jehovah’s Witnesses do, yet they pick and choose which of those directives to follow. This instruction, and seeing even young children being applauded and commended for turning their backs on their own siblings, seems to fit the description of the “last days,” in the scripture at 2 Timothy 3:3, where it mentions those who would have “no natural affection.”

Wasting a Child’s Life

What I also found very sad is that Melody is a mature young woman, more than capable of being on stage, speaking in front of a crowd. Her composure and poise might serve her well in any other settings, where she could use her obvious intelligence, speaking abilities, and maturity to excel in academics, volunteer activities, or even politics.

Yet, as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, she will be given a consistent barrage of counsel to forsake career aspirations in order to dedicate more hours in service to the religion. She will be constantly told that the end of the world is imminent, and any pursuit of higher education will be a waste of time, and potentially even a danger to her spirituality.

“What, though, of higher education, received in a college or a university? This is widely viewed as vital to success. Yet, many who pursue such education end up with their minds filled with harmful propaganda. Such education wastes valuable youthful years that could best be used in Jehovah’s service.”
-The Watchtower, April 15, 2008; “Repudiate Valueless Things”

No Personality

What is also distressing, and something to which I can personally attest to as a female who grew up in this religion, is that Melody is wearing the women’s uniform of Jehovah’s Witnesses. She is dressed in a distinctly dowdy, ill-fitting, drab, skirt-and-sweater combo that is common with women who are Jehovah’s Witnesses, and which is entirely devoid of personality, self-expression, individuality, and style.

No, there is nothing actually wrong with what Melody is wearing. Her dress is neat and clean and modest, and she’s an adorable young lady no matter what. My objection is that I can’t imagine the outfit is what Melody would want to wear, if given her own choice. As a ten-year-old girl, she is probably old enough to express herself and her tastes in her wardrobe, and may not want to look so matronly and dull.

As a contrast, note the outfit on this young lady; the picture is taken from an online modeling agency.

This young lady’s outfit is modest and neat and clean, just like Melody’s; it’s also fun and stylish and expressive, which is why it would no doubt be given a “thumbs-down” from Jehovah’s Witnesses, especially for a child who would be on their stage. Anything that calls any attention to you as a person, even just a tiny bit, is typically squelched and dismissed.

This type of control over self-expression is not just strict; it’s an earmark of a cult. Steven Hassan’s BITE model, which discusses a group’s level of control over a member’s Behavior, Information, Thoughts, and Emotions, brings out that cults, “control types of clothing and hairstyles,” and “discourage individualism, encourage group-think.” (Read more about how Jehovah’s Witnesses fit the model of cults at this link.) I would say that Melody’s outfit lacks any individualism whatsoever, yet fits the cookie-cutter lifestyle that is often adhered to by cult members.

A Plea for Her Sister

Of course, the worst sign of a cult in this entire experience is Melody being controlled and manipulated to the point where she is not allowed communication with her own sister, and is applauded for this by other adults. What’s worse, Melody seems proud and pleased with herself for making this horrific gesture.

Children in the Westboro Baptist Church.

I fail to see how this is much different than Hitler Youth who were made to feel proud when spewing venom toward the Jewish population of their day, or the children in the Westboro Baptist Church who gladly hold signs saying, “God hates f*gs,” and the like. These children are not just taught to be judgmental and downright hateful to others, but they’re also indoctrinated to feel pride in those things.

I know Melody is not looking to kill minorities or even chant about how much god hates them, but Jehovah’s Witnesses do teach that anyone who is not in their religion, including former members, will die a horrible, fiery death at Armageddon, any day now. In truth, Melody is being taught to think that her sister deserves that horrific death, complete with fireballs from the sky, for leaving her religion. She is proud of the “strength” she has in cutting her own sister out of her life.

Expecting imminent, fiery destruction of everyone who is not in your religion, turning your back on your own sibling just for not belonging to your group anymore, being proud of doing that; only a cult would teach a ten-year-old child these things. Poor Melody is certainly wearing the uniform of her cult, and I can only hope her sister will be patient and still be there for her when the girl grows up and decides to leave it.

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15 replies »

  1. I saw this too, it is certainly despicable. I was constantly set to choose one parent over the other from the age of eight, when my mother left the Witnesses and my parents divorced. This set me up for internal conflict and anxiety that took me another 40 years to learn to deal with.

  2. At 10 years of age a child is not voicing opinions formed from her own rational thought processes, she is voicing the opinions of her parents and elders who have indoctrinated her to become a little religious clone of themselves. To varying degrees all devoutly religious parents do this to their children and I believe that ending this form of mental abuse should be the no. 1 social cause of the 21st century. Imagine a world where all children were taught ABOUT religion, where to graduate they had to learn the history and basic tenets of all the world’s major religions. Imagine them as young adults having the mental ability and desire to examine evidence and decide for themselves which, if any, religion to follow. Idealistic? Unrealistic? Maybe. But that doesn’t make the goal any less desirable or worthy. At 10 years of age I too was a victim of this kind of abuse and for as long as I live I will fight to make this treatment of children as socially unacceptable as any other kind of child abuse.

  3. When I walked away from this cult, I was immediately shunned, and it took some time for me to get over that hurt . But the one thing that truly gave me finality, was sorting out all of my clothes, and donating every single skirt, blouse, and dress, I owned to charity! 🙂
    I look back at the few pictures I have of those years that i’d spent endlessly trying to please a god that never would be pleased, and I wonder how I could walk around looking such a frump, in an effort to fit in?
    I’ve never been a follower of fashion, but there are so very many ways to dress that can be modest, but still attractive – as you showed so well in your picture example 🙂

  4. Very sad story. One that I am all to familiar with. My oldest sister left this organization and I had no relationship with her for years. I finally saw the light when I found out that my own grandfather was a pedophile. His great granddaughter was one of his victims. We have obtained proof. Very few knew about it because the congregation covered it up. He was an elder and was never removed. We are all sinners. I know that. But to commit a heinous crime and still be allowed to help guide the congregation. How sick is that.

  5. I remember as a child, my sister had a part in the district assembly in Reno, Nv (this was back in 1979). She developed a horrible rash that engulfed her whole body (from head to toe). It was not just ichy but painful. She wore something that was comfortable and modest but the PO did not like what she wore and he told her she couldnt be on the part if she wore what she had on. It was horribly embarrassing for my poor sister and she was young at the time. I could have choked the guy. GRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR

  6. Excellent. I know that I made note of their apparel in one of my comments. I am glad you mentioned it in your article. Why is this relevant? Because we can all remember being laughed at as a child because of the way we dressed. I so love your videos and your website. Love and a apostate hug from Kansas.

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