Apostates tend to be an oppressed minority. Such is the cost that sometimes comes from disagreeing with an established religious organization. I'm sure most religions feel uncomfortable with those who leave or express disagreements. Most however, since the dark ages at least, are able to at least remain somewhat civil about the situation without resorting to slander or name calling.
This is not the case with Jehovah's Witness (who are controlled by the Watchtower Society) I know from my experience with growing up in that religion that they often resort to name calling and other criticism of any religion or individual that disagrees with them. Their attitude towards other religions may be harsh, but their view of their own members who leave or express disagreement is far more hostile. I even remember an article in their Watchtower magazine which indicated that apostates should be hated with a "Godly hatred". (Regular hatred might not be so bad, but "Godly hatred" can get pretty scary.
Recently, their Watchtower magazine resorted to calling dissidents "mentally diseased". I didn't pay as much attention to this as I should have when I first heard about it. I have grown somewhat used to this lack of maturity when the Watchtower Society is confronted with any level of disagreement.
I should have viewed this more seriously. After all, it's a personal attack. I would clearly fall into the category of those who they consider mentally diseased. It's also not a small magazine. It is distributed to millions of people and discussed in public meetings around the world. I have a large number of relatives and former acquaintances in that religion who are forbidden to even speak to me, for fear that they will also be shunned. Now they are being told that I am "mentally diseased".
There have been complaints in some countries that this Watchtower article amounts to a hate crime. After some thought, I'm beginning to agree. I'm a big believer in free speech and feel that generous allowances should be made for speech that makes most of us uncomfortable. However, this goes far beyond merely expressing an opinion. It is part of an orchestrated campaign to humiliate, isolate and instill hatred towards a group who are primarily concerned with peacefully exercising their basic human rights to follow their conscience and enjoy freedom of (or from) religion.
I personally feel that the Watchtower Society's treatment of former and even current members is a great crime against basic human rights. It also appears to be prompted by hatred (and probably a considerable amount of insecurity). I look forward to seeing what happens regarding these complaints against the Watchtower Society.
Of course, this is also an extremely insensitive attack on those who suffer from real mental illnesses, so it involves much more than just the Jehovah's Witness community.
For more information, please see this news article from the Independent.