Sunday, April 5, 2009

The Watchtower Society Resorts to Childish Name Calling

The leaders of Jehovah's Witnesses seem incapable of handling disagreement in an appropriate, civilised manner. Disagreement is simply not allowed. A member who disagrees with official teachings will be expelled and shunned. Any member, such as myself, who tries to peaceably withdraw their membership due to disagreements will also be shunned. These policies shield many of their members from ever learning about the sources of these disagreements. It seems that it is a more expedient for their leaders to isolate their members from controversy, than to allow them to analyse the facts and come to their own decision.

In the age of the Internet, it is becoming increasingly difficult to isolate Jehovah's Witnesses from sources that are critical of their beliefs and policies. Their leaders have responded with tactics that go beyond simple avoidance of former members. They have also found it practical to demonise and dehumanise them. Former members who disagree are labeled as apostates. I personally don't mind the word "apostate" as a simple descriptive term. It merely describes my disagreement with the Watchtower Society, a simple fact that gives me no embarrassment. However, the leaders of Jehovah's Witnesses have attempted to convert this simple descriptive term into an abstract bigoted concept filled with loathing and unreasoned fear.

Consider some recent quotes from the April 15, 2009 Watchtower. "Like their father Satan, apostates target people of integrity." Notice the vague generalisations and black and white thinking. They automatically classify any former member who disagrees with them as a son or daughter of Satan. This saves them from having to consider their concerns. It also saves them from having to feel sympathy towards those who are suddenly cut off from their family and friends, often with no other support network in place. They even try to make themselves appear to be the victims by making the blanket claim that "apostates target people of integrity". The article continues by saying, "No wonder servants of Jehovah avoid all contact with them!" The implication is clear. If you have any contact with an "apostate" or show them any mercy, then you aren't a servant of Jehovah.

Here is another quote from the article. "Satan was the first creature to turn apostate. Modern-day apostates display characteristics similar to those of the Devil. Their mind may be poisoned by a critical attitude toward individuals in the congregation, Christian elders, or the Governing Body."

The antics of the governing body of Jehovah's Witnesses remind me of a child who has a disagreement with another child and calls him him a poopy face (arguably, a far less offensive insult than calling someone a son of Satan) and stops talking to him.

I would find these tactics to be comical and even pathetic if it wasn't for their tragic consequences. This bigoted attitude compromises the humanity of those who follow the paranoid governing body. Natural human affection is sacrificed in behalf of organisational obedience. Love is gradually replace by hate. Consider the following quote from the Watchtower of October 1, 1993 page 19. (See also this link for more quotes about Jehovah's Witnesses' hatred of apostates.)

"Apostates are included among those who show their hatred of Jehovah by revolting against him. Apostasy is, in reality, a rebellion against Jehovah. Some apostates profess to know and serve God, but they reject teachings or requirements set out in his Word. Others claim to believe the Bible, but they reject Jehovah's organization and actively try to hinder its work. When they deliberately choose such badness after knowing what is right, when the bad becomes so ingrained that it is an inseparable part of their makeup, then a Christian must hate (in the Biblical sense of the word) those who have inseparably attached themselves to the badness."

It's scary the way they equate any perceived rebellion against their organisation with rebellion against God. This seems to justify this hatred in the minds of believers in the Watchtower Society.

Please note that I don't return this hatred. I love Jehovah's Witnesses and have great sympathy for them as victims of an oppressive regime. I have experienced the same inner turmoil that comes from trying to bury my natural human inclinations in service to an organisation that claims to represent God. I understand the fear of trying not to anger the vindictive and vengeful God of the Watchtower Society.

Others have commented on the implications of that Watchtower magazine. You might enjoy reading this discussion at Jehovah'

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Death or Obedience?

Jehovah's Witnesses use the threat of death to enforce obedience to their organisation. Disobedience often leads to expulsion and the threat that the disobedient one will be killed by God at Armageddon if he is still disfellowshipped at that time. In the meantime, the person faces a kind of spiritual and social death as he is denied association with his believing family and former friends.

This enforced obedience includes believing everything that is currently taught by the governing body of Jehovah's Witnesses. It makes little difference that their teachings keep changing. They must be accepted until they are changed and then the new teaching must be accepted immediately.

The new blog Death or Obedience explores this subject and asks the question of whether the unique teachings of Jehovah's Witnesses conform to the Bible, logic and reason. It also discusses the consequences when a member dares to question the official teachings of Jehovah's Witnesses.

This blog features a set of audio recordings of Jehovah's Witness elders as they offer "encouragement" to some members who have doubts. The first recording begins at this post. I hope you will check it out.