Article: Why are Jehovah's Witnesses considered to be a cult?

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Why are Jehovah's Witnesse considered to be a cult?

When one reads extensively on religious cults one topic that keeps on cropping up is the idea that radical religions use mind control on their members. Today there exists some controversy amongst social scientists whether mind control theories have any scientific merit in relation to religious movements, but for the sake of argument lets assume that they do.

Now to reason on the point there is a book called “Popular psychology: An encyclopedia by Luis A. Cordón.”
In it there are the details of five steps that can be used to accomplish coercive persuasion (called brainwashing in the book).

They are:
1. People are put in physically or emotionally distressing situations
2. Their problems are reduced to one simple explanation, which is repeatedly emphasized
3. They receive unconditional love, acceptance, and attention from a charismatic leader, if the subject will come to him.
4. They get a new identity based on the group identity.
5. They are subject to entrapment (isolation from friends, relatives, and the mainstream culture) and their access to information is severely controlled. The members agree to a few small changes but then demands begin to gradually increase. When the demands become unreasonable, it's too late, and COGNITIVE DISSONANCE is reduced by continuing to go along with the demands.

So lets see how Jehovah's Witnesses fare on these five points.

1. People are put in physically or emotionally distressing situations
In 2001 a gallop poll on the website faceyourfearstoday.com, public speaking was second only to snakes as the top fear experienced by Americans.
Now all baptized Jehovah's Witnesses as well as approved publishers are expected to partake in regular public speaking by doing monthly door-to-door preaching activity. If they do not, they are not viewed as an active Jehovah's Witness.
Furthermore all baptized Jehovah's Witnesses and approved publishers are expected to join the Ministry School. Here they are subjected to immersion therapy where they stand on stage and either present a talk to the congregation (if you're a man) or re-enact door-to-door ministry (if you're a woman).
So not only does the society generate the problem, preach regularly or be viewed as a lesser citizen (inactive), but they also provide the solution by giving training to cope with the stressful situation which they have created. The long term effect is a case of Stockholm syndrome.
Note: Point one deserves a full yes tick.


2. Their problems are reduced to one simple explanation, which is repeatedly emphasized
Satan rebelled against Jehovah. Satan caused Adam to sin. Therefore illness, wars and all of mankind's problems can be directly or indirectly attributed to the devil.
If anything bad happens, it is Satan's fault. If anything good happens, it is Jehovah's kind hand.
The solution to the problem is just as simple: Preach the good news of the kingdom so you can reply to Satan's challenge.
Depressed? Preach.
Scared of H1N1? Preach.
Alcoholic friend? Preach.
Dog died? Preach.
Tired of preaching? Preach.
Note: Point two also deserves a full yes tick

3. They receive unconditional love, acceptance, and attention from a charismatic leader, if the subject will come to him.
This one deserves only half a tick.
The leader in this case would be the Watchtower Organization itself. At the highest level it is the nine ruling members of the Governing Body in Brooklyn NY and at the lowest level the local congregation elders who are picked for the job because they are loyal organization men. But one would have to say that they are not charismatic at all. The last fire of the Governing Body went out with the death of Judge Rutherford back in 1942. Since then the Governing Body has been a dour and solemn creature with as much charisma as an undertaker's accountant. The local elders are not allowed any charismatic presence either because it is systematically drilled out of them. If you have ever been to a Jehovah's Witness convention you will know what is being talked about. Snore.
Next comes the unconditional love. The Governing Body DEMANDS unconditional love instead of GIVING unconditional love. It has made deadly mistakes over the past decades, for example changing position on the blood issue, but will not apologize for any mistakes and it still demands unconditional loyalty and love from all its members.
Now the reason for half a tick.
It gets one because the Society expects its members to confess all their 'sins' to the local elders. Have you been reading independent literature online? (Called apostate literature because it has views other than the governing body's). Confess!
Have you spoken to a member of your family who is no longer a witness? Confess!
Has your wife given you oral sex? Confess! (Yes oral sex is illegal in the Jehovah's Witness religion)

4. They get a new identity based on the group identity.
Ever wonder why Jehovah's Witnesses dress so similar?
It because they are forced by the organization to project the same identical conservative image. Those that rebel are viewed as outcasts and are shunned.
Insignificant things like wearing a beard or having the latest hair style could be viewed as being rebellious. But it goes much much further than physical appearance.
Thought patterns are groomed to be identical as well. Organization life has to be the individuals prime concern. The individual is taught to police their own thoughts.
Independent or critical thoughts against the organization is strongly discouraged.
Note: Another full tick here, checked off with a big fat red marker.

5. They are subject to entrapment (isolation from friends, relatives, and the mainstream culture) and their access to information is severely controlled. The members agree to a few small changes but then demands begin to gradually increase. When the demands become unreasonable, it's too late, and COGNITIVE DISSONANCE is reduced by continuing to go along with the demands.
Jehovah's Witnesses are not allowed to read or look at anything that is critical of the organization.
Expressing discord can result in shunning or even disfellowshipping.
The dis-fellowshipped individual's witness family and friends are not allowed to have any contact with the individual, so information is severely restricted in both directions. The dis-fellowshipped person cannot tell their family why they have been dis-fellowshipped and the family cannot explore any critical thinking with the ousted member. Prospective members of Jehovah's Witnesses are encouraged from their first bible study to start giving of their time to attend meetings. These demands grow until the individuals life is consumed by the activities associated with the Watchtower Society. All other activities are now viewed as secular and is of secondary importance.
Note: Another big yes tick here

So all in all, four and a half out of five ain't bad, wouldn't you agree? :-)

Greetings

Watchtower Information South Africa

The original article that was written by Watchtower Information South Africa can be found here.


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