(This is one hell of a flawed featured image. I just really want to write and not lose too much time)
Good afternoon, dear readers!
This blog post has the goal to explain and to bring awareness to the people that lack knowledge about this religion and has to why it is a Christian Cult. I will try to leave aside my personal grudges and biases into this post and write what I know about this very specific cult, based on my experience and from what I’ve heard of other people.
But before I get to write this post, recognizing that some people that read my posts are unable to understand English and that I apologize for not translating every post that I make on my website, I would like to talk openly to a few people about the last post I’ve made about my Transition.
When I wrote that post, I was aware that there are a few people that read those posts. The same way that I’m aware that some won’t, despise the fact that I know some of them are going to ask about my transition once I face them.. even though they are on my social media circles and could easily read those specific posts. After all, that’s why I share them on my Personal Facebook.. so that I don’t have to talk to everyone about everything. And that is perfectly fine, people are busy with their lives and may lack time to read such giant walls of text on the go!
However, with that specific post, I have noticed just how large and influential those posts can be to some people. After I wrote that post and shared it, there were a good number of people that talked to me in private by the use of Facebook’s Messenger. They’ve exposed their feelings to me about what I wrote and all I can say that the response has been all positive and touching!
I do feel kinda guilty however for not giving the necessary attention to every single person that approached me during this week. I work during the week and, when I’m not working, I do spend some time to maintain my appearance (I know.. I’m vain and I spend a lot of time on that but it is something that I like and need to do!). Which allows me to have 1-3 hours per day to do what I want during workdays. And usually, during those days, in general, I’m already somehow tired and, though I do still answer people and am aware of the things being said, I may not give the necessary attention and care that I know I should provide to the people that have approached me in private, worried and exposing their own problems to express their empathy. I am sorry. I am far more free and approachable on weekends though!
The people that I knew would approach me, did. The people that I didn’t expect to approach me.. didn’t (though clearly, there was an impact even to the silent ones since I’m very aware there are a few silent ones that do read my posts either way. Their subtle change of behaviors is enough to prove it). However, there were a few people that did surprised me and approached me.. including someone that I haven’t talked to for more or less 7 years. I’m very glad that this person did, though I do admit that it was very out of the blue and completely off my wildest predictions!
And yes, there were also a few of “those” that I predicted that would ignore that post and.. well, try to “support” me in their own way shortly afterwards. That was genuinely funny, but I’ve held my pride and ignored their attempt. I feel it’s time to take a stance against those type of people. I don’t need your crumbled pieces of bread, go away with dignity please? We all know your “aid” is temporary and you are going to wound me sooner or later. And right now, I can’t allow myself to be exposed to such recklessness from those who feel the need to do their “charity”. Take your “charity” to the puppies and kittens out there without a home or to those that suffered from the fire at Pedrogão Grande. You can go ahead and wave your virtue signaling there, for your cheap and instant gratification dose of “I’m helping”. Because on those cases, though you are doing so for your own egos, at least it helps someone regardless!
All in all, I do really appreciate those that did approached me in private to talk to me about what I’ve posted and shown genuine concern, exposing their own experiences as a way to show empathy. To also that one person that talked to me after all those years! To the family members that I haven’t also talked to in years. To the few local neighbors (they too read) that tried to arrange a place where we could talk and have some coffee. This is the kind of aid that I love, given by everyday people that, too, have suffered in their own way and, though the experiences aren’t similar, the feelings can be understood.. if even not relatable (because who said that you need to have the same exact experience to feel the same emotions?)! Because this is what makes me feel that I’m not that unique and special, that cannot be understood. It makes me feel.. human, like everyone else and not some special unicorn that can only empathize with other special unicorns.
It’s.. funny. How some people celebrate and make sure that everyone knows that they are different from everyone else.. and I’m here, writing in the walls, saying “why did I had to be so different and unique, why couldn’t I just had a simpler life”.
Thank you! 🙂
After that initial sidetrack, I would like to expose the reason as to why I’m writing this blog post in specific. Some people have somehow questioned me about this cult that I was born in and was part of my childhood and even early 20’s. Clearly there is some misconceptions about this cult, given that it is easily seen as just another religion. Since that most of the cult’s behavior remains hidden to those who are not part of it.
And it makes sense. The people that belong to that cult do give the overall impression that they are impeccable people. Overall nice, the model citizen that does no wrong. Saints among the crowd. No one is a saint and this cult is not just yet another Christian religion whose only quirk is that they bother you on the streets or knock on your doors to talk about the one true savior. And that their major controversy is blood transfusions.
No. This blog post is to give awareness as to why this religion is, in fact, a very well successful and large world wide CULT.
First of, let us define the word “Cult”. What is, exactly, a cult?
Many people would define a cult as a small group of religious people that isn’t large or popular enough to be considered a religion. Others hold the belief that a cult is one of those problematic religions that commit mass suicide or hold strange rituals in some abandoned distant area. Others still insist that a cult is a group of people that, stereo typically, wear the same robes, mumble the same words and lose their own self of identity.. like a hive mind that gave up on their previous lives to worship an unorthodox deity or the antagonist of the perceived Maker of the universe (bonus points if they have a creepy stare and hold candles while mumbling broken Latin).
There are other people who have a broader definition for the word “Cult”. That cult can be used in sports, politics or just about anything on which can gather enough people to form a very restrictive echochamber that demonizes the opposition and isn’t open for debate. In short, a more dangerous form of Tribalism.
For me, a Cult is (as I’ve read and find to be more precise and rational than most other definitions I’ve heard) a group of people that met the following criteria:
- A clear and established hierarchy within the group that disregards outside influences and societal norms and rules that go against the group’s ideology;
- Complete and total obedience to the very same hierarchy;
- Communication and forming contacts outside of the social group is frown upon (if not punished);
- Different opinions and ideas within the group are frown upon (if not punished);
- Specific ranks within the hierarchy have the power to influence and supervise their members’ personal life; including their friends, families and sexual activities (and are the ones that can judge);
- Make their members believe that everyone outside of the group is morally reprehensible and should never be fully trusted with anything;
- Inflict paranoia and “purity tests” within their own group over everyone, including their own;
- Ask for their members to give everything they have for the group and, if they do not comply, emotionally manipulate them to feel tremendous guilt over their lack of complete devotion;
- Demonize every member that decides to separate themselves from the group (if not punished);
- Teach their members to constantly monitorize and punish themselves over their own actions, words and thoughts to better fit the mindset of the group without the need of other members to do so;
- The need to recruit more members to the group and indoctrinate their own children (while they are still young and easy to mold to the group’s best interest);
- Inform everyone that their group is the only one that holds the truth and the only path to true happiness;
- Everything that contradicts the group’s views is inherently wrong and evil. Researching literature or to consider information from the outside is extremely discouraged and frown upon (if not punished);
- (Optional but also a sign) The group has a strange obsession over money and material possession;
All in all, a cult is a totalitarian delusional paranoid closed hive mind group that completely antagonizes everyone and everything outside of it. Yes, it sounds awfully crude but it can be applied not only to religion, but even politics, sports, fandom, nationality, etc.
With the criteria exposed, I’ll now present my case as to why the Jehovah Witnesses are, indeed, a successful yet extremely harmful cult.
A clear and established hierarchy within the group that disregards outside influences and societal norms and rules that go against the group’s ideology
The Jehovah Witnesses have made it clear time and time again that they are, in fact, a theocracy. As such, given that they are Christians, God (which they call Jehovah since that’s the name they have established to be the easiest yet accurate translation of YHWH) is the absolute ruler of their religion. They use their own translated version of the bible as their guide.
However, the most powerful men in this Christian cult, who are the ones that receive direct order and guidance from Jehovah, is no other than the Governing Body. As of currently, if I’m not mistaken, it is composed of seven men. These men lead the Watchtower (Watchtower Bible and Tract Society); and these lead and make all the necessary adjustments to their own cult’s ideology.
Bellow the Governing Body, you have other ranks. One rank always above the other. However, if you are an average Jehovah Witness, you’ll, at best, only have to deal with those within a congregation (a specific location where a specific group of people regularly meet in a Kingdom Hall for their meetings). From there, you have the Elders and, right bellow, the Ministerial Servants. Right bellow, you have those who are Baptized. Even bellow, those that Preach. You become a Student once you decide to study the bible with a Jehovah Witness.
When you study the bible with a Jehovah Witness, the hierarchy becomes clearer. You learn that there are those you have to respect, to listen. Because they are, though imperfect humans, chosen by God and automatically know better than you. And their knowledge, which they claim to come from God itself given that they use their own interpretation of the bible, must be obeyed.. even if it goes against the law or societal norms (Acts 5:27-32).
Clearly, the Jehovah Witnesses must respect and fully obey their hierarchy, above any form of government or status quo. However, when there is no contradiction between Watchtower’s teachings, they are told to obey Cesar (Mark 12:13-17). But once there is a contradiction, they are told to obey God at all costs.. even if that means losing their own lives (or, in other words, Watchtower’s interpretation of what is right or wrong which they say to be based on the bible).
Complete and total obedience to the very same hierarchy
Given that the Jehovah Witnesses believe that Watchtower (the Governing Body) are the only representatives and direct link between God’s will and humanity. Given that they are told to obey at all costs, even against any form of government or group. It is to no surprise that Watchtower does indeed expect complete and total obedience from their Witnesses.
To make things worse, if a Witness does not do so, they are punished for their actions or words. The worst penalty that Watchtower can give to a Witness is what they call “Disfellowshipping”, which means that those who have been disfellowshipped need to be shunned by every other Witness (including friends and, most of the time, even family). Witnesses must not talk to a disfellowshipped, engage with them, befriend them. Unless for business related encounters. Given that Watchtower tries to supervise most interactions that their Witnesses do and the constant paranoia among their members, shunning is immediate and almost every Witness will, without a doubt, shun the dissociate at every moment (Romans 16: 17, 18 and 1 Corinthians 5:11-13).
This form of excommunication is defended by Watchtower as an act of kindness, to keep the cult “clean from impurity” and, as an act of love, it is a punishment that the dissociate must meditate and, Watchtower hopes, will bring them back to their cult. And, thus, they are able to keep their members’ complete obedience.. even if some of their members do so with the fear that, if they do not, they too will be disfellowshipped and destroyed in Armageddon (by God’s hand).
Communication and forming contacts outside of the social group is frown upon (if not punished)
From the cult’s perspective, the whole world is wicked.. except for those that follow God’s word (1 John 5:19 and 1 John 2:15, 16). It is wicked, given that they believe that it is ruled by Satan (2 Corinthians 4:4). By their logic to not associate themselves with “bad associations” (1 Corinthians 15:33), it becomes clear that creating contact with those who are “worldly people” (as in, non-Jehovah Witnesses) is frowned upon.
The more obvious it becomes to the rest of the Witnesses that a member of the cult spends a large amount of time with “worldly people”, the risk of the Elders to act upon it rises and the more they will try to inflict guilt to this specific member. If they believe the member is no longer as “pure” as they were, they may be punished; by the removal of privileges and, in some cases, even disfellowshipping their cult member. All that it takes to keep control over their Witness.
To add more to the subconscious of a Witness, they may be told that it is pointless to pursue a deeper relationship with “worldly people” given that they will be destroyed in Armageddon (Psalm 92:7) either way. That it is better to invest more time in the activities and other members of the cult.
Different opinions and ideas within the group are frown upon (if not punished)
The hierarchy within the cult makes it clear that the only acceptable truth (knowledge) is which originates from the top. In short, only Watchtower (Governing Body) is allowed to interpret the bible and come to the conclusions or make changes to the Jehovah Witnesses’ doctrines (ideology).
Given the nature of the cult, to shun those who deviate from the cult’s teachings; it is no wonder that any opinion and idea held by one or more individuals, that is slightly different, is quite frown upon. If this opinion and idea is wildly spread, the individual(s) are labeled as Apostates (2 Peter 2: 1-3), irrational men and women that deserve to be killed in Armageddon (Jude 8-11). Obviously, these cult members are going to be disfellowshipped.
Specific ranks within the hierarchy have the power to influence and supervise their members’ personal life; including their friends, families and sexual activities (and are the ones that can judge)
The controlling and protective nature of this cult is evident once an individual starts to take a more active role within the local congregation. Within the congregation, the Elders and Ministerial Servants are those who serve as Watchtower’s loyal judges and helpers. Or, as they call it, shepherds (1 Peter 5:1-3).
Specifically, it is the Elders that decide and supervise all the actions of the members of their local congregation. Including their interactions with others, words, friends, family, personal life, sexual activities.. anything that is revealed to the Elders. This is done so in order to keep the cult “clean from wrongdoers” and to inflict guilt or to punish their sheep into obedience.
Within the culture of the cult, other non-elder Witnesses (which includes family members) have the duty to warn the Elders if they learn that someone is misbehaving (Leviticus 5:1 and 1 John 5:16, 17). As such, the cult is effective at keeping control over their followers and to act immediately once an individual deviates from the ideology.
Make their members believe that everyone outside of the group is morally reprehensible and should never be fully trusted with anything
As said earlier, the whole world is lying in the power of the wicked one (1 John 5:19). Satan controls it (2 Corinthians 4:4). “Bad associations” are to be avoided (1 Corinthians 15:33). These will be destroyed (Psalm 92:7). The world hates the Jehovah Witnesses (John 15:18, 19).
Thus, with such interpretations of the bible, the paranoia is settled and their members are told to be “apart from the world” (John 17:14). “Worldly people” are never to be fully trusted, since Witnesses are told that the “world is wicked” and hates them deep down.
Inflict paranoia and “purity tests” within their own group over everyone, including their own
To top it all, Jehovah Witnesses are told that there are wolves among their own (Matthew 7:15-20). And, as such, they even judge their own heavily. Fearful that, not only the world hates them.. but also there are those among them that also hate them just as much. Nothing needs to be said more.
Ask for their members to give everything they have for the group and, if they do not comply, emotionally manipulate them to feel tremendous guilt over their lack of complete devotion
Within the cult, their members are told to always place “God’s Kingdom” in first place, above all (Matthew 6:33). Among several aspects of one’s life; a career/job becomes secondary for, otherwise, it may get in a member’s way to reach the ultimate goal (Mark 10:17-23).
Through out a member’s life as a Witness, they are given examples of those who have given their all for “God’s Kingdom” (Watchtower), including real life cases of those who were unfortunate but still managed to attend every meeting and invested entire days of their life preaching. Biblical characters are also reminded now and then (Philippians 2:19-22).
Jehovah Witnesses are told to not compare themselves to others (Romans 14:10-12), this, by itself, does not relief the paranoia and the culture that is built around “purity” and suspicion among each others (1 John 5:16, 17). Thus both of these doctrines contradict each other, as one tells to look for the “wolves” among them and be a witness to one’s actions and words (to judge others, in short) and the other tells to not be harsh on their judgement towards their own. There is a rather thin and not a very clear line to what is deemed as being naive or too judgmental.
Given the constant pressure by the peers, a member of the cult is left with a feeling that they are not doing enough. Not perfect enough. That they haven’t sacrificed enough and aren’t, truly, placing “God’s Kingdom” first in their lives.
Demonize every member that decides to separate themselves from the group (if not punished)
As mentioned several times, shunning is the ultimate punishment that a Jehovah Witness can suffer. The only thing that is worst than a “disfellowshipped”, is being labeled as an apostate. An apostate, according to the cult, is someone that does not speak lightly of Watchtower’s teachings and doctrines (2 Peter 2: 1-3). These will surely be destroyed in Armageddon (Jude 8-11).
“Disfellowshipped” members and apostates are, without a doubt, demonized by the cult (Romans 16: 17, 18 and 1 Corinthians 5:11-13).
Teach their members to constantly monitorize and punish themselves over their own actions, words and thoughts to better fit the mindset of the group without the need of other members to do so
Witnesses are told to avoid listening and pay attention to their hearts’ desires (Proverbs 28:26) and that they, themselves, cannot rationalize and think for themselves without the constant aid and counseling from Watchtower (Jeremiah 10:23). To always renew their mind (Romans 12:2) whenever it starts doubting or deviating from the Watchtower’s teachings. To always renew their personality (Ephesians 4:22-24), based on the doctrines and teachings of the cult.
Pairing up with the constant shame that a cult member feels when they act on their supposed imperfection (Romans 6:21) and that, doing all of this will make God happy (Proverbs 27:11). The fear of being punished and shunned, losing all the social contacts within the cult (friends and family members), losing every contact because they are told not to waste time with “worldly people”.. Jehovah Witnesses are more than tormented within their own minds to always give their all and to be as perfect as possible.
It is no wonder that Jehovah Witnesses are, more than average, likely to have depression and suffer from a mental illness.
The need to recruit more members to the group and indoctrinate their own children (while they are still young and easy to mold to the group’s best interest)
Jehovah Witnesses are very well known to preach (Matthew 24:14 and Matthew 28:19, 20). Publishers are the ones that can officially do so.. and those do not need to be baptized to do so. If a Jehovah Witness does not preach, they are “Bloodguilt”; an expression that means that, if a Jehovah Witness does not inform or aid someone that is perceived as “wicked”, the “wicked” continues to “sin” and the Witness that did nothing is also seen as guilty in the eyes of God (Ezekiel 33:7-9).
To add more to the constant paranoia and mental pressure, Jehovah Witnesses feel the need to preach as much as they can. This includes their own children, when they are quite young (Deuteronomy 6:5-7). Watchtower doesn’t shy away from aiding Witness parents to indoctrinate their young ones (as proven here). Including mimicking popular forms of art style and storytelling to attract the attention of their children (as proven here as well). Teenagers are also part of the demographic that Watchtower takes great interest in (as proven here).
Inform everyone that their group is the only one that holds the truth and the only path to true happiness
Besides what has already been said, that every “worldly person” is wicked, the paranoia against every non-Witness and even among themselves, the cult members are told that being a Witness is the only path that leads to happiness (Isaiah 30:20, 21 and Psalm 37:9-11).
Matthew 7:13, 14 is one of the few biblical texts that give the hope and motivation needed for cult members to keep going on the path that Watchtower as deemed to be the only true answer to life and everlasting happiness. Watchtower, on their website, claim to be the only true religion (as seen here). And they make sure that everyone outside of the cult knows about it (Matthew 24:14 and Matthew 28:19, 20).
Everything that contradicts the group’s views is inherently wrong and evil. Researching literature or to consider information from the outside is extremely discouraged and frown upon (if not punished)
This is perhaps one of the major issues with Watchtower and the Jehovah Witnesses as a cult.
Jehovah Witnesses provide the information needed for their Students to learn more about the doctrines and teachings. However, the Jehovah Witnesses expect their Students to take steps and to prove themselves that they are serious about their studies. They are open, to answer every question asked by the Student. But they will ask of them to attend the meetings. And in the meetings, they are expected to be surprised and to be overwhelmed by the perceived love shared among Jehovah Witnesses (on a superficial level).
From there, the Student may be asked to consider becoming a Publisher. The Student becomes a Publisher and continues to study the teachings of the cult, while reinforcing their new believes onto their neighbors, family and friends.
It is impossible for someone to truly know and have knowledge of every teaching and doctrine that the cult has and expects everyone to comply. But the danger lies when the Publisher decides, without any perceived pressure by their peers, to Baptize. Baptism is a very important decision, for it is a lifetime contract with the cult on which they dedicate their entire lives for Watchtower. There is no way to avoid this verbal contract once it has been done and this is where the perception of the cult, to the recently Baptized, changes with time as they continue to learn more about the cult they are now required to follow until the end of time.. no matter what. Only people who have been Baptized can be officially “Disfellowshipped”. If a Publisher decides to leave the cult before baptism, in peace, they will not be shunned.
Given that it was the Publisher that decided to Baptize, everything that they do, say or think.. it is on them. Which then, from that point forward, guilt is the most defining tool used by the cult to maintain control. Because it was the Publisher that decided to Baptize, it will forever be their own fault (no matter what) if they fail to remain submissive to Watchtower.
Again, besides everything that as already been said about the cult’s belief and perception of the world (non-witnesses), there is a fear to consider or hear opposing information. Given that the cult members are treated as sheep, who are easily manipulated by a mere cough or doubt, it is no wonder that they avoid talking and engaging in debates with those who have knowledge of the cult’s doctrines and teachings beforehand. Though Witnesses are expected to preach strangers, they do so given that most people lack the nuance to what the cult actually believes and demands from their members. Those who oppose the Watchtower’s teachings, that know the details of their cult, their teachings and doctrines.. are immediately labeled as Apostates (2 Peter 2: 1-3).
It is no wonder that Watchtower, among other things, strongly discourages teenagers to pursue higher education (as proven here). To avoid listening or watching videos, articles or even blog posts just as this one. Because, in Watchtower’s eyes, I and other people are deceitful.
(Optional but also a sign) The group has a strange obsession over money and material possession
For a Jehovah Witness, “God’s Kingdom” is always in first place (Matthew 6:33). Pursuing a career or material possessions is quite frown upon given that they interprete those desires as not placing “God’s Kingdom” above all (Mark 10:17-23).
Though donations aren’t a requirement for their members at all, Watchtower still urges their members to give their all for “God’s Kingdom” (1 Timothy 6:17-19). Those who have gathered a fairly sized wealth are pressured by biblical text (just as Luke 21:1-4) and real people within the cult that have contributed their belongings and even entire heritages to Watchtower. Plus, Watchtower doesn’t hold back in expanding their members’ options on how to donate their possessions (as proven here and here).
Plus, oddly, they do sometimes feel the need for their members to know how much money have they spent on certain events or expenses. Further complicating the cult members’ need to always give their best no matter what which, when hearing certain values, will begin to feel the need to donate generously on their own accord.
Even more oddly is how they are told to shun those who are “Disfellowshipped” and still, when it comes to business, Jehovah Witnesses are then allowed to talk to those former members of the cult. Hmm..
Given that the Jehovah Witnesses provide more than enough evidence that they are, truly, a Cult; it would be unfair to compare it to the many other religious institutions who do not apply such drastic measures to keep their followers on their side and fully obedient.
The Jehovah Witnesses use guilt and fear, luring new members into the cult by providing them information little by little. However, the truth about the “truth” only becomes clearer further ahead when the cult member has already been Baptized and it is too late for them to leave the Cult peacefully.
Thus the Baptized Jehovah Witness is either forced to lie to themselves, to doubt themselves over their own thoughts, to be devoid of any critical thought that contradicts the teachings and doctrines from Watchtower.. or face grave punishment in the form of shunning.
The fact that they set themselves apart from the “world”, from forming meaningful contacts with others outside of the cult, to only befriend and spend time with those who believe the same; leaves the Jehovah Witnesses without any form of social life the moment they are officially “Disfellowshipped”. For some of those former cult members, it becomes an emotional blackmail that results on some of them to try their best and rejoin their former cult in tears.. because the cult holds their friends and, most of the time, even family members.
The psychological effects and traumas the cult has on their members can be.. witnessed (hee~).. even after they leave the cult. Skepticism, avoidance, perfectionism and doctrines that have been ingrained on the mind of those who were exposed quite young (such as hearing the news about a possible war, natural disasters, political swifts and so on; which may trigger the doubt that maybe Armageddon is real, despise no longer believing in it).. are just a few examples.
So yes, the Jehovah Witnesses are, indeed, just another CULT.
Thank you for reading this blog post, it was a bit exhausting but I’m glad that I wrote this!
After some thought; I feel that, between the many experiences I’ve already had in my life. Though I could be more active and talk about my transition more often, or about politics.. I feel that those issues have already enough coverage and attention from other better and more popular sources.
I have tried to reach several types of communities, to engage with people on the web about the topics that concern me. From all of those topics that concern me.. I feel that I should be more focused on this cult above all other topics.
The “Ex-JW community” (pretty much any former Jehovah Witnesses), in general, has been more open and willing to engage with the things I write and share about the cult. Including youtubers who have made a name by criticizing this cult’s activity, doctrines and teachings. Though this community is small; it is incredibly fractured into people who still believe in a god, those who don’t, those who are more thoughtful, those who are more vindictive, etc..
I’m not the type of person to talk about facts, to do a deep research into the cult’s past and activities, to debunk into detail every single word. I have my own experience with the cult and I feel that what I can offer the most to those who have suffered by Watchtower’s influence.. is to be a listener and provide the emotional support to those who are still trying to understand this (true and only) reality.
I will try to reach this community and see how things go from there~