The second topic I will entertain in regard to “Frequently Asked Questions” found on the Jehovah’s Witnesse website, and how they dishonestly answer those questions, is that of “Are Jehovah’s Witnesses a Cult?” The image you see below is taken directly from their website. Below that is my response. (If you can’t see the image of their site please see the bottom of this post for the text copied from their site.)
Unfortunately they start out by being evasive from the beginning by saying that the word cult means different things to different people. In reality….this isn’t true. Most people view a cult the same way that dictionary.com does. “a religion or sect considered to be false, unorthodox, or extremist, with members often living outside of conventional society under the direction of a charismatic leader”.
It is any wonder they chose to be evasive? With their rules on disfellowshipping (even family members that have left the faith must be completely shunned by all) and blood transfusions (thousand of JWs….including children…..have died over the years due to refusing to accept medically necessary blood transfusions), could the general public consider them to be a bit extremist? I would say so. Do their members live outside the norms of conventional society? Well, their children don’t engage in any after school sports or clubs, they don’t have close association with people outside of their faith, and they don’t celebrate any holidays or birthdays. I would say that is outside the norms of conventional society. Are they under the direction of a charismatic leader? No. They are actually under the direction of 7 leaders that form their “Governing Body” (aka – the faithful and discreet slave). All rules, regulations, procedures, dictates and doctrine come from these 7 men. Dissent is not allowed. All Jehovah’s Witnesses must conform and believe unitedly. Any that openly disagree are disfellowshipped.
The first bulleted point says that the holy scriptures should be the authority on what is orthodox in matters of worship. OK. But do they allow the holy scriptures to speak privately to each individual or does leadership interpret all scriptures and then enforce mandated adherence to their interpretations via disfellowshipping and shunning for those that don’t fall in line? Unfortunately the latter is true. Therefore the holy scriptures are most certainly NOT the authority in this religion. Rather, the dictates of leadership as they choose to interpret scripture are the authority structure.
The second bulleted point says that Jehovah’s Witnesses do not look to any human as their leader. This is true. They actually look to a group of humans as their leaders. Again, it is the governing body. Consider the following quotes that show evidence taken directly from written Jehovah’s Witness publications. It sure seems to me that Jehovah’s Witnesses DO look to humans as their leaders.
“Faithful servants of Jehovah have always been eager to submit to theocratic direction (to the governing body or “faithful slave”). (Read Hebrews 13:7, 17.) We may initially lack full understanding of the reasons for carrying out our assigned work in a particular way. Nevertheless, we are fully aware of the benefits of cooperating with Jehovah in any adjustments that he sees fit to make.” Watchtower 2014 Oct 15 pp.24-25
“Today, Jehovah guides his people by means of the Bible, his holy spirit, and the congregation. (Acts 9:31; 15:28; 2 Tim. 3:16, 17) The guidance that we receive from him is so clear that it is as if ‘our own ears hear a word behind us saying: “This is the way. Walk in it.”’ (Isa. 30:21) In effect, Jesus also conveys Jehovah’s voice to us as he directs the congregation through “the faithful and discreet slave. (governing body)” (Matt. 24:45) We need to take this guidance and direction seriously, for our everlasting life depends on our obedience.” Watchtower 2014 Aug 15 p.21
“We need to obey the faithful and discreet slave (governing body) to have Jehovah’s approval.” Watchtower 2011 Jul 15 p.24 Simplified English Edition
“[A mature christian] does not advocate or insist on personal opinions or harbor private ideas when it comes to Bible understanding. Rather, he has complete confidence in the truth as it is revealed by Jehovah God through his Son, Jesus Christ, and “the faithful and discreet slave. (governing body)” Watchtower 2001 Aug 1 p.14
The final paragraph explains that Jehovah’s Witnesses are not a cult……but they base their explanation on the fact that Jehovah’s Witnesses have helped people to overcome harmful addictions, they’ve engaged in disaster relief, and that they’ve helped some illiterate people learn how to read. While these are definitely commendable actions, they in no way prove or disprove whether or not they are a cult. The only way to prove or disprove if you are a cult is to look at the definition and characteristics of a cult and then compare those definitions and characteristics to your body of work as an organization. Their explanation above is nothing more than a diversionary tactic. The definition from dictionary.com compared with their body of work indicates that they ARE a cult. The following link will take you to another page on this blog. That page will break down Dr. Steven Hassan’s (the world’s foremost leader in cult counseling) BITE method for determining whether or not an organization qualifies as a cult and compares these points to the body of work of Jehovah’s Witnesses. The results are shocking.
Again, it is no wonder they elected to try to divert the reader’s attention away from the definition and characteristics of a cult and instead attempt to focus it on the little bit of good that they’ve accomplished. Focusing on the definition and characteristics does not bode well for them.
The question I really wish I could ask current JWs is, if you refuse to contemplate the questions and concerns of former members……if you refuse to listen to or read anything that is critical of what you’ve been taught to believe……if your church disallows open discussions and punishes those who openly question certain doctrines by excommunication and shunning…..and if you are taught to unquestioningly believe what you are taught, when it is taught to you…..even if it is a complete change from before……and if you are only encouraged to do “research” in publications that have been provided to by leadership or are approved by leadership………how would you ever know if your church is really a cult?
The following is copied directly from JW.ORG if you could not read the screenshot above:
No, Jehovah’s Witnesses are not a cult. Rather, we are Christians who do our best to follow the example set by Jesus Christ and to live by his teachings.
What is a cult?
The term “cult” means different things to different people. However, consider two common perceptions regarding cults and why those perceptions don’t apply to us.
• Some think of a cult as being a new or unorthodox religion. Jehovah’s Witnesses have not invented a new religion. On the contrary, we pattern our worship after that of the first-century Christians, whose example and teachings were recorded in the Bible. (2 Timothy 3:16, 17) We believe that the Holy Scriptures should be the authority on what is orthodox in matters of worship.
• Some think of a cult as being a dangerous religious sect with a human leader. Jehovah’s Witnesses do not look to any human as their leader. Rather, we adhere to the standard that Jesus set for his followers when he stated: “Your Leader is one, the Christ.”—Matthew 23:10.
Far from being a dangerous cult, Jehovah’s Witnesses practice a religion that benefits its members and others in the community. For example, our ministry has helped many people to overcome harmful addictions, such as the abuse of drugs and alcohol. In addition, we conduct literacy classes around the world, helping thousands learn to read and write. And we are actively involved in disaster relief. We work hard to have a positive impact on others, just as Jesus commanded his followers to do.