I am going to post the following quote twice. Once…it its entirety for the purpose of continuity. And once with interjected quotes from publications of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
The quote is from one of the few surviving members of The Peoples’ Temple (aka Jim Jones’ Cult). It has now been over 36 years since the fateful day that saw 918 brain washed people take their own lives at the behest of a charasmatic leader they thought was speaking on behalf of God by drinking cyanide laced Flavor Ade. But the sting of such a tragic event never subsides. The idea that not only are there human beings out there that desire to exercise control over other peoples’ minds and freewill….but that there are millions upon millions that are just as ready to give up that control is both astonishing and frightening.
When a person or group of people claim to speak on behalf of God but offer no proof as to their claims of Divine appointment….yet still recruit followers by the droves…..it is evidence of clever propaganda and dangerous mind control coupled with lack of critical thinking skills. This is the perfect recipe for a charasmatic leader(s) to insert his/her own corruptions, limitations, interpretations and agendas under the facade of Godly direction.
This is sadly exactly what happened in Jonestown on November 18, 1978. The recipe was perfect for disaster. But it didn’t happen in one day. Sadly, that day was just the culmination of decades worth of deliberate fear mongering and mind control. Simply put….people don’t join cults. They are recruited or born in. And their ability to analyze and critically think isn’t stolen overnight. It happens subtly…..over time.
I literally got chills and had difficulty swallowing when I read what this survivor of Jim Jones’ Cult had to say. The similarities to life as a Jehovah’s Witness are shocking. Quite honestly it made me embarrassed to have been so seemingly obtuse and unobservant to have been a part of this danger for so much of my life. And it scares the hell out of me that my kids are subjected to their techniques every other week.
To live your life in such a way seems almost unthinkable. Yet this is the stark reality of life as a Jehovah’s Witness….only…..they don’t see it this way. A rank and file JW will gladly tell you that his thoughts are always in line with current teachings and that he has no doubts in their leadership. He will tell you that he doesn’t want friendships with those outside of the religion because he doesn’t want his faith to be eroded. He knows that if he ever leaves the organization he will lose the only friends and family he has, but he is ok with it because it helps him to make sure he “never slips up”. He is trained to view such emotional blackmail as a safety net……a “loving” provision from God. He self justifies the emotional and mental abuse heaped upon him by this organization because he knows no better.
Let’s take a moment to break the above quote down now with direct quotes from Jehovah’s Witness publications interjected as they fit:
“When your own thoughts are forbidden, when your questions are not allowed and our doubts are punished…..”
“[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.” Watchtower 2001 Aug 1 p.14
“Thus “the Faithful and discreet slave” does not endorse any literature, meetings or websites that are not produced or organized under its oversight. … For those that wish to do extra Bible study and research, we recommend that they explore Insight on the Scriptures…” Kingdom Ministry Sep 2007
“False religious propaganda from any source should be avoided like poison! Really, since our Lord has used “the faithful and discreet slave” to convey to us “sayings of everlasting life,” why should we ever want to look anywhere else?” Watchtower 1987 Nov 1 p.20
“[Avoid] questioning the counsel that is provided by God’s visible organization” Watchtower 1983 Jan 15 p.22 (Under the Subheading “Avoid Independent Thinking”)
It is taught that you cannot maintain a relationship with God unless you obey each and every teaching put forth by leadership. Private ideas are not allowed. Anyone that hears of another JW that is harboring thoughts or ideas that are not in line with current JW teachings is to turn this person in to the “elders”. The church elders will then meet with this person to determine if the allegations are true. At this point, the person has the opportunity to “repent” and accept all teachings as true again. If the person refuses to recant and insists on maintaining his own thoughts…..he will be disfellowshipped. He doesn’t even have to spread these private thoughts in reality. He need only think them. I am living proof of that. The above screen shots are taken from the “Shepherd the Flock” book – A secret manual belonging to church elders that gives them a listing of what people can and cannot be disfellowshipped for. What you see above are “offenses” that carry the disfellowshipping penalty.
“…when contacts with friendships outside of the organization are censored, we are being abused”
“We must also be on guard against extended association with worldly people. Perhaps it is a neighbor, a school friend, a workmate, or a business associate. We may reason, ‘He respects the Witnesses, he leads a clean life, and we do talk about the truth occasionally.’ Yet, the experience of others proves that in time we may even find ourselves preferring such worldly company to that of a spiritual brother or sister. What are some of the dangers of such a friendship?” Watchtower 1994 Feb 15 p.24
“While some contact with worldly people is unavoidable – at work, at school, and otherwise – we must be vigilant so as to keep from being sucked back into the death-dealing atmosphere of this world. … Let the world go along in its way, reaping its bad fruitage in the form of broken homes, illegitimate births, sexually transmitted diseases, such as AIDS, and countless other emotional and physical woes.” Watchtower 1987 Sep 15 p.12
“Our choice of associates. Of course, some contact with unbelievers — such as at school, at work, and when sharing in the ministry — is unavoidable. It is quite another matter, though, to socialize with them, even cultivating close friendships with them. Do we justify such association by saying that they have many good qualities? “Do not be misled,” warns the Bible. “Bad associations spoil useful habits.” (1 Cor. 15:33) Just as a small amount of pollution can contaminate clean water, friendship with those who do not practice godly devotion can contaminate our spirituality and lead us into adopting worldly viewpoints, dress, speech, and conduct.” Watchtower 2013 Feb study ed. p.24
“Either you are serving Jehovah God or Satan the Devil. Regardless of your answer, if you follow the unrighteous ways of the world you cannot be serving the true God, Jehovah.” You Can Live Forever in Paradise on Earth p.208
It is taught that although your family and friends outside of the church may mean well…….they are not on God’s side. And if they aren’t on God’s side, then they are being subtly controlled by the devil. They will seek to infect you with disloyal teachings that will draw you away from God…..therefore…….they must be kept at a distance.
“When our heart aches knowing we have made friendships and secret attachments that will be forever forbidden if we leave, we are in danger. When we consider staying in a group because we cannot bear the loss, disappointment and sorrow our leaving will cause for ouselves and those we have come to love, we are in a cult….When family and friends are used as a weapon in order to force us to stay in an organization, something has gone terribly wrong.”
“Are you personally proving yourself holy with regard to not associating with family members or others who have been disfellowshipped?” Watchtower 2014 Nov 15 p.14
“Really, what your beloved family member needs to see is your resolute stance to put Jehovah above everything else – including the family bond. … Do not look for excuses to associate with a disfellowshipped family member, for example, through e-mail.” Watchtower 2013 Jan 15 p.16
“Consider just one example of the good that can come when a family loyally upholds Jehovah’s decree not to associate with disfellowshipped relatives. A young man had been disfellowshipped for over ten years, during which time his father, mother, and four brothers “quit mixing in company” with him. At times, he tried to involve himself in their activities, but to their credit, each member of the family was steadfast in not having any contact with him. After he was reinstated, he said that he always missed the association with his family, especially at night when he was alone. But, he admitted, had the family associated with him even a little, that small dose would have satisfied him. However, because he did not receive even the slightest communication from any of his family, the burning desire to be with them became one motivating factor in his restoring his relationship with Jehovah.” Watchtower 2012 Apr 15 p.12
As a Jehovah’s Witness who has woken up to the fact that you are in a dangerous cult……you have have a painful decision to make. Do you stay in and go through the motions, or do you leave? It really is a difficult decision to make because many JWs have absolutely no friends and no family OUTSIDE of the organization. You’ve willingly confined yourself within this Orwellian JW bubble for your entire life because you thought that’s what you needed to do to maintain your faith and be saved. You have been taught your entire life to distrust the entire world around you. So…..do you dive head first into the unknown…..with no friends….no family and no support? Or does cognitive dissonance take over? Do you bury your thoughts, emotions and feelings and return to the cult because you feel like you have nowhere else to go and the thought of braving such a task alone is too much to bear? The quote directly above (from the April 15, 2012 Watchtower) sums up perfectly the intentional mindset that leadership seeks to instill. Emotional blackmail is viewed as a positive thing, in the hopes that it will shame friends and family into returning to the organization. But conversely, it also works in reverse. The knowledge that one will be disfellowshipped if he dares disagree with leadership and the foregone conclusion that he will be forever shunned by his very own family can be enough to keep an individual from ever leaving to begin with. Unfortunately, family and friends are used as THE most effective and vicious weapon possible.
Gulp. Tell me again how this organization DOESN’T qualify as a cult.?