Recently the website FaithLeaks posted some outlines and videos that will be used for the upcoming 2018 regional conventions of Jehovah’s Witnesses. After looking them over, all I can say is, Move along folks, there’s nothing new to see here.
Obey, Obey, Obey
One video and discourse, “Future Events That Will Require Courage—The Attack by Gog of Magog,” yet again demanded that congregants blindly obey the organization and congregation elders, even if the instructions given make no sense, or are downright hurtful, as the video itself demonstrated. The video skit showed one congregation being divided into two separate congregations, and a woman being concerned for how families in that congregation were being split up accordingly. This included one elderly woman whose children and grandchildren would be going to a different congregation!
I personally would need to question why elders would split up families like this; I might understand certain scenarios, such as two men from the same family who were both elders, and a need to spread those elders across separate congregations. However, an elderly woman being isolated from her children and grandchildren sounds downright cruel and even negligent; seeing your elderly relative at congregation meetings not only reinforces family bonds, but it can also ensure that the family is keeping watch over her! When someone is of a particular age, it’s good for family to note any changes in their physical health, mental clarity, and the like. Without seeing this woman at congregation meetings, this might necessitate the family going out of their way to visit her more often throughout the week, to ensure she’s in good health. Yet, despite this outrageous arrangement, the elderly woman was blindly resolute to simply do as she was told.
It was also obvious from this skit that the elders never consulted with anyone in the congregation that was being split as to their preferences or feelings. They simply made their decisions without concern for the opinions of the people actually being affected by those decisions, and then expected those ones to fall in line and blindly, mindlessly obey.
(Please see the YouTube video below for a snippet of this skit.)
Stop Elevating Them; They’re Just Men
Jehovah’s Witnesses might be quick to jump to the defense of elders and say that they need to make decisions as to what’s best for a congregation, but there are a few problems here. Number one, who are they to arbitrarily decide this? Elders are amazingly imperfect men, no more able to make a good decision than anyone else! Congregation members are just as intelligent, mature, wise, and able to make good decisions as these elders, so why wouldn’t they be consulted, and allowed to be part of that process? For elders to make these decisions on their own is insulting to congregants, infantilizing them, treating them as children who need direction and control.
I would also think that what’s “best” for a congregation is to listen to each member, and let their feelings and opinions dictate these decisions! A religion is not a business, where decisions are made based on what will bring in the most profit; a religion is supposed to exist for the spiritual needs of congregants, so that it can comfort and console people during troublesome times, bring them closer to their god, and strengthen family bonds. Running a religion like a business, with elders making arbitrary decisions without any concern for the opinions of those below them, just demanding that these ones toe the line, makes that religion… well, a business, not a religion, and certainly not one that exists to care for individuals and their needs.
And Obey Some More
This skit then showed the elders discussing how important it was for congregation members to blindly obey them, now and in the future, as surviving the end of the world might depend on that blind obedience. This fear tactic is shameful and disgusting, but is also nothing new; Jehovah’s Witnesses have been predicting the end of the world, with these same demands for blind obedience in order to survive this upcoming doomsday, for decades.
“Obey me so you survive the horrible doomsday that is about to be upon us” is not only unhealthy, insulting, and abusive to congregants, but it’s also a sign of a damaging, dangerous cult. Once followers are indoctrinated to believe that their religion’s leaders know more than them, that they cannot or should not rely on their own intellect or feelings, and that they must obey those leaders no matter the instructions, poisoned Kool-Aid is not usually far behind.
No, I don’t truly believe that Jehovah’s Witnesses would ever become a suicidal cult, but members already sacrifice their time, money, chance at a higher education or for bringing children into this world, friendships, hobbies and interests, and even their family to the religion. Since Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t allow blood transfusions even in emergency situations, they can also literally sacrifice their life, and a child’s life as well. This strict and unquestioning obedience demanded by Jehovah’s Witnesses doesn’t then need to involve poisoned Kool-Aid for the religion’s members to lose everything for the sake of this blind obedience.
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