There are many faiths in the world that do it. Child baptism that is. But there are relatively few that hold a child to a rigid contract of ever changing beliefs with the expectation that the child will unequivocally obey any and all dictates as he/she gets older no matter what they change to or how often they change……with mandated shunning by friends and family alike being the penalty for breach of contract. Personally, I am not a fan of baptizing any child into any faith. Will God favor your child because you baptized him/her in the faith that you happen to hold dear? If so, how is that fair to a child born to a different family in a different hemisphere, who is being taught to have a different faith in a different God? As parents, we don’t tell our children what career to have or what recreational interests to have or what political party to affiliate with, so why do we insist on choosing their religion for them?
Alas, in most cases, child baptism doesn’t have a tragic ending. Take for instance the Christian faith of Catholicism. Merits of their beliefs aside, I have many, many Catholic friends……and many, many former Catholic friends. Most were baptized in the faith as infants. Yet none are shunned by their friends and family members for daring to believe differently than what is taught by the religion they were born into. That’s called normal. That’s called unconditional love. That’s called allowing people to have freedom of thought and expression. And it is NOT allowed amongst Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Jehovah’s Witnesses have long railed against the Catholic idea of infant baptism……citing the idea that an infant isn’t old enough to really choose for him/herself. Yet paradoxically, the following Youtube video shows Tony Morris III of the governing body of Jehovah’s Witnesses, using mental manipulation and coercion to try to get young Jehovah’s Witnesses to become baptized.
In this video, he states that God must make young ones “firm in the faith”. Then, speaking to such young ones, he says “the only way you are getting through this storm, the great one, is your relationship with God.” What storm is he talking about? The impending doom that Armageddon will bring. Below are a few quotes from their publications on the imminence of this date, what it means for non-JWs and a few artistic depictions they like to show small children.
Watchtower 2006 5/1 p.12
“Very soon, Bible prophecy shows, God will bring this vicious, cruel system of things to an end:
Watchtower 2001 7/15 p.11
“God’s heavenly Kingdom was established in the hands of Jesus Christ in 1914, and we are now proclaiming the message of hope with more urgency than ever before. Why? Because among the blessings of Kingdom rule is the imminent end of the present wicked system.”
“There are billions of people who do not know Jehovah. Many of them in ignorance practice things that God’s Word shows to be wicked. If they persist in this course, they will be among those who perish during the great tribulation.” Watchtower 1993 Oct 1 p.19
“Really, our survival involves being devoted to Jehovah God and learning about the kind of conduct and deeds that please him. (Zephaniah 2:3) Rather than following the majority today and ignoring the clear signals that we are living in such important times, we need to “keep close in mind the presence of the day of Jehovah.” Jehovah’s Witnesses can show you from the Bible how you can be a survivor of this upcoming day.” Watchtower 2015 May 1 p.8
So, what’s more insidious than scaring young children by telling them that God is going to kill billions of people soon and showing them pictures of what the destruction will look like? Telling them that they must have a relationship with God to avoid being part of that destruction. And why is that so insidious? Because they teach that THEY and THEY ONLY (Jehovah’s Witnesses) are going to be favored by God and be spared of his wrath……and that the only way to be part of this Godly pardon is to implicitly obey leadership. Listening to and obeying leadership = having a relationship with God. You cannot have a relationship with God without them.
“But Jehovah’s servants already belong to the only organization that will survive the end of this wicked system of things.” Watchtower 2007 Dec 15 p.14
“But Jehovah God has also provided his visible organization, his “faithful and discreet slave”, made up of spirit-anointed ones, to help Christians in all nations to understand and apply properly the Bible in their lives. Unless we are in touch with this channel of communication that God is using, we will not progress along the road to life, no matter how much Bible reading we do.” Watchtower 1981 Nov 15 p.27
Now listen to the 51 second mark of the video. He says that “unless you are a toddler”…..”as you get older, you are responsible for yourself”. What does that mean? Scroll back up and look at the quotes from the JW publications and pictures I posted above. This is what is shared with JW children on a regular basis. Any JW child that is old enough to read and make sense of the pictures shown is considered by leadership to be old enough to “be responsible”. In other words, if the child is old enough to understand the teaching that Armageddon is coming…….and that non-JWs will be killed (those that have not been baptized in the faith), then that child is old enough for God to take his wrath out on him/her by killing him/her at Armageddon for NOT choosing to be baptized. They won’t come out and say it, but the insinuation is that 6 to 7 years old is old enough for a child to be responsible for him/herself.
This is a LOT for a small child to think about and it is what my children are going through this very moment. I try to be the voice of reason and calm with them. My oldest child used to cry openly and often because I wasn’t going to be “in the paradise” with them…….that she “didn’t want me to die”. At such a young and tender age she had already taken hold of the belief that I was going to be destroyed. Think back to when you were a child. If you watched a movie or read a story that scared you…..what happened? Did you calmly reason that it was just a fictitious movie or book? Or did you hide under your blanket…..convinced that your closet was making growling noises? Exactly. At that age…..our imaginations run wild. JW leadership knows this, which is why they try to bombard children at such young ages. As vividly as you could imagine the monster in your closet that night……that is how vividly a JW child imagines the mass genocide at Armageddon.
Tony Morris moves on with an example of an older child……one that is approaching 16 year old. He surmises the child saying “well…..I’m not ready to get baptized.” What’s the solution to that? He then surmises the parent replying to the child by saying “ok, well let’s hold off on your drivers license.” Yep. Coercion, pure and simple. Bribery. Whatever you want to call it. Holding the freedom and sense of accomplishment that being able to drive can bring to a teenager hostage is just plain wrong. What is so maddening then…..is why they do it. They teach that God is omnipotent. He can read your heart. So, is God really going to be satisfied with YOU or your child for bribing your child into baptism?
Tony’s final remark in this video is again, aimed rhetorically at this unbaptized teenager. “So you’re ready for your license but not ready to dedicate your life…….explain that one to heaven.” This can only be taken as a threat. That’s what it is. It is another way of saying “if you are 16 years old and you aren’t yet baptized as a Jehovah’s Witness yet, good luck explaining yourself to God when Armageddon comes. You’re as good as gdead.” In just about one minute of talking, this JW leader accomplishes coercion, threat, mental manipulation and fear mongering in the minds of all JW youths that hear this message. It is sickening.
But why? Why do they want children to be baptized so badly? It really is simple. Control. You see, there are two main baptismal questions that are asked at the time of baptism. The second one is this: “Do you understand that your dedication and baptism identify you as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses in association with God’s spirit-directed organization? Having answered yes to these questions, candidates are in a right heart condition to undergo Christian baptism.”
What no young person ever thinks about is the gravity of this question and the implications it has on the rest of his/her life. The words “in association with God’s spirit directed organization” officially bind the child to the organization for life. The child is, from baptism on, obligated to live his/her life within the rules of the JW organization and to implicitly obey any and all instructions, teachings and beliefs no matter how many times they change, and whether or not they make sense. As a JW child, you don’t know it yet, but you are trapped. They don’t share all of the times they’ve falsely prophesied with you as a child. They don’t tell you that thousands have been harmed and/or died because they used to forbid vaccinations and organ transplants just like they forbid blood transfusions today. You are not informed of the litany of law suits that have been filed against them due to their ongoing organizational policy that protects pedophiles. They hide information from you. If and when you find this information out…….AFTER you have been baptized……. it is too late. You are trapped. If you dare bring it forward to the congregation, you will be put on trial and disfellowshipped (excommunicated) like I was. Once you are disfellowshipped, your family and friends will shun you. It is a vicious, cold, calculated and heartless plan.
THIS is why baptism is so important to JW leadership. Once you are baptized, they know they have a stranglehold on you. First, they speak badly about former members and anyone that is critical of the organization. You are warned to stay away from such ones. You are to shun former members and disregard any negativity you hear about the organization. This acts as the first layer of protection to keep members in. After all, if association and information are strictly controlled, the odds of a current JW obtaining any information OTHER than that which is approved are greatly reduced. But let’s just say it happens. Let’s say you get curious and you do some unapproved research. You learn about their false prophesies. You learn about their child abuse problem. Now what? THEY KNOW and YOU KNOW that if you bring your knowledge forth, you will be disfellowshipped. So what are you going to do? Pretend you never saw it so you can still have contact with your family and friends? Or pull the chord on the organization…….knowing that your family and friends will sever ties with you?
This is the second layer of protection. It is a psychological term known as cognitive dissonance. Basically your brain will not allow you to hold two conflicting beliefs as true. You cannot hold your faith to be the only one true religion AFTER you have found out the real truth about their history. You must dismiss one or the other. Far too often, the real, honest truth about the history of JWs is compartmentalized in the brain and dismissed for one reason and one reason only. The JW that learned it cannot handle the reality of knowing that he/she has been hoodwinked for his/her entire life. It is the ultimate blow to one’s self esteem and perception of intelligence. He/she cannot handle the reality of knowing that he/she will be completely shut off from his/her friends and family forever. Simply put, it is mentally and emotionally easier to sweep what you’ve learned under the rug than it is to start your life over with no support from family and friends who now view you as dead. It is harsh. It is sad. And it is very effective.
When a child is 8, 9, 10, 12 or 14 years old and contemplating baptism as a JW, the above three paragraphs simply are not thought about. The only things a child thinks about at that age are 1) making mom and dad happy by becoming baptized and 2) making God happy by “dedicating their life” (and thus taking responsibility for themselves to be saved at Armageddon). They have NO IDEA of the implications that this life-long contract holds. They have NO IDEA that “dedicating one’s life” really means agreeing to implicitly obey the instructions of current human leadership. They have NO IDEA that the outpouring of love they are feeling from their family and from the congregation for making this decision will be turned off like a faucet should they ever cease to believe as directed.
But you know what the child WILL think about should he/she choose NOT to get baptized this year or next year or the year after? Sermons like this one that emotionally and mentally manipulate and frighten them.