In the July 15, 2011, edition of the Watchtower, there is a study article titled, “Will You Pay Attention to Jehovah’s Clear Warnings?” This article is somewhat notorious for having referred to apostates of the Jehovah’s Witness religion as “mentally diseased,” accusing such apostates of “seeking to infect others with their disloyal teachings.”
While recently reviewing this article, I noticed that a footnote defined apostasy as, “a standing away from true worship, a falling away, defection, rebellion, abandonment.”
That’s an interesting statement, because that’s not what apostasy means at all. According to Merriam Webster, apostasy means, “an act of refusing to continue to follow, obey, or recognize a religious faith,” and “abandonment of a previous loyalty : defection.” Dictionary.com defines the word as, “a total desertion of or departure from one’s religion, principles, party, cause, etc.”
Note the difference; according to Jehovah’s Witnesses, apostasy means leaving “true” worship, but according to the actual dictionary, an apostate is someone who has left any religious faith or previous loyalty. Scientology, Islam, and other such religions use the word apostate to describe those who have left their religion, and the term has even been given to political dissidents.¹
Why They Do It
There is a simple agenda behind Jehovah’s Witnesses twisting the meaning of this word, and misrepresenting it, in this way. This is done so that Witnesses can more readily use the term “apostate” to degrade and insult people who have left their religion, and specifically to ensure their current members don’t listen to those former members.
In the religion of Jehovah’s Witnesses, apostates are not people who have simply left the religion; they are not a group of people who might just miss out on the salvation that Jehovah’s Witnesses promise. Apostates are not even described as just being lazy, or rebellious, and so on.
Consider carefully how apostates are described in that article above; they are “cunning,” using “false arguments,” “deceptive” and “twisting scriptures.” The article says flatly, “Clearly, apostates do not have our best interests at heart. Following them would only divert us from the road that leads to eternal life.”
This type of loaded language is meant to frighten Jehovah’s Witnesses away from even talking to these apostates. By saying that apostates are “cunning,” Jehovah’s Witnesses can make their members think that an apostate will fool you, or somehow trick you into believing their words. The minute an active Witness begins to believe the words of an apostate, they might convince themselves that they must simply have a weak or childish mind, and not that the apostate might actually be telling them the truth.
When you add these words to the bold statement that apostates have left the “true” religion, Jehovah’s Witnesses are then further indoctrinated to think that their religion is ultimate truth, and that they just need to work harder to accept that truth when presented with any type of contradictory information from those evil, tricky apostates.
What is also very interesting from this article is that the Watchtower doesn’t attempt to refute anything that apostates say; this is a very, very important point. The Watchtower claims that apostates use “false arguments,” but I would ask, Where? How? In what way? What information in this website, or any such “apostate” website, is “false”? On this website, I use actual quotes and even screen captures from Watchtower literature, as well as reliable outside news sources and reference materials. I’ve never misspoken or misrepresented my experiences in the religion; if anything, I’ve kept quiet about those experiences, out of regard for my family.
On this website, I have picked apart Watchtower doctrine and their application of scripture, but how is this “twisting scriptures”? Watchtower has their interpretation and I have mine; no one is twisting anything.
Pointing out the Watchtower’s failure to notify authorities in cases of child molestation is not “deceptive,” as their own elders and governing body member testified to this practice during the Australian Royal Commission Inquiry. It is not “deceptive” to show how Jehovah’s Witnesses have constantly predicted the end of the world, and have consistently changed their statements about this and many of their teachings, as those words are found in their own literature. (Please see this page on JWfacts for a long list of lies from their own literature, including those that promised the end of the world.)
Who Is Really Being Deceptive
Despite not being able to show one shred of evidence for apostates using false arguments, note how the Watchtower magazine, and the organization, are being deceptive. They have made deceptive statements on their website about the ban they are currently facing in Russia (see this post). Governing body member Geoffrey Jackson was very deceptive on the witness stand during the Australian Royal Commission Inquiry when asked about corporal punishment in the religion (see this post). They state that they don’t shield child abusers from punishment, but are currently facing a $4000 per day fine from one courtroom in California alone for failure to produce records regarding abusers in their religion (see this post). As you can see from that page on JWfacts linked above, Watchtower has consistently misquoted outside sources, and have been caught lying in their own literature about statements they themselves have made.
Despite all this bad behavior, however, Jehovah’s Witnesses paint apostates as the deceitful ones who are “mentally diseased.” The Watchtower outright lies, time and time again, but if someone were to leave the religion because of those lies, or point them out to others, then suddenly they’re the dangerous ones, who have left the “true” religion, a religion that is not above rewriting their own history, and even the actual dictionary if it suits them.
¹In 1628, in the UK, Sir Thomas Wentworth, Earl of Strafford was declared ‘The Great Apostate” by Parliament for changing his political alliance. “Strafford in Ireland, 1633-41: A Study in Absolutism”
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