Thursday, 20 February 2014

Are The Jehovah's Witnesses A Cult?

A lot of people claim that the Jehovah's Witnesses are a cult. As you would expect the Jehovah's Witnesses deny this claim completely.

If only there was a checklist that could be used to to see if the Jehovah's Witnesses fit the universally recognized idea of a cult. Oh, there is. The International Cultic Studies Association (ICSA) has such a checklist.

It is important to note that ICSA has a introduction stating:

"ICSA does NOT maintain a list of "bad" groups or "cults."  We nonjudgmentally list groups on which we have information. Groups listed, described, or referred to on ICSA's Web sites may be mainstream or nonmainstream, controversial or noncontroversial, religious or nonreligious, cult or not cult, harmful or benign. We encourage inquirers to consider a variety of opinions, negative and positive, so that inquirers can make independent and informed judgments pertinent to their particular concerns. Views expressed on our Web sites are those of the document's author(s) and are not necessarily shared, endorsed, or recommended by ICSA or any of its directors, staff, or advisors."
ICSA also state that the checklist is not a definitive checklist. So without further ado on to the checklist; and whether the Jehovah's Witnesses meet the criteria.

"The group displays excessively zealous and unquestioning commitment to its leader and (whether he is alive or dead) regards his belief system, ideology, and practices as the Truth, as law."

An easy yes for the Jehovah Witnesses. The Governing Body are the law. Question them and you are gone.

"Questioning, doubt, and dissent are discouraged or even punished."

Another easy yes. Question anything and you will be disfellowshipped.

"Mind-altering practices (such as meditation, chanting, speaking in tongues, denunciation sessions, and debilitating work routines) are used in excess and serve to suppress doubts about the group and its leader(s)."

Maybe. The amount of hours that the Jehovah's Witnesses have to put in could be classed as a debilitating work routine. With weekly meetings, Bible study, and door knocking for the regulars. Then if you climb up the ranks you have to put more hours in like the pioneers do. OK, yes.

"The leadership dictates, sometimes in great detail, how members should think, act, and feel (for example, members must get permission to date, change jobs, marry—or leaders prescribe what types of clothes to wear, where to live, whether or not to have children, how to discipline children, and so forth)."

Yes. The Governing Body has a ton of rules that dictate how the Jehovah's Witnesses dress, think, act, and feel. They have rules on dating and how married couples can love one another (It is in the Elder's 'secret' handbook). Disciplining children is done when parents have to have little or no contact with their children if the children leave the faith.

"The group is elitist, claiming a special, exalted status for itself, its leader(s) and members (for example, the leader is considered the Messiah, a special being, an avatar—or the group and/or the leader is on a special mission to save humanity)."

Oh Hell yes. The Jehovah's Witness claim to be the 'one true religion' and that 144,000 of their members will be raised to Heaven while all of the others will merely live in Paradise on Earth. As for the leaders being on a 'special mission' in the 2013 edition of the New World Translation the words 'Governing Body' were used to describe something which was most definitely not a 'Governing Body'.

"The group has a polarized us-versus-them mentality, which may cause conflict with the wider society."

Yes. Other than the whole 'one true religion' belief everything outside of the religion is described as 'worldly'.

"The leader is not accountable to any authorities (unlike, for example, teachers, military commanders or ministers, priests, monks, and rabbis of mainstream religious denominations)."

Yes. The Governing Body of the Jehovah's Witnesses class themselves above everyone. They claim that they are acting on inspiration from God/Jehovah.

"The group teaches or implies that its supposedly exalted ends justify whatever means it deems necessary. This may result in members' participating in behaviors or activities they would have considered reprehensible or unethical before joining the group (for example, lying to family or friends, or collecting money for bogus charities)."

Yes. Unethical behavior and activities. Any religion that would deny the use of a blood transfusion to save a life based on a sketchy reading of the book of Exodus would have to be classed as unethical. Especially when they ignore other 'rules' laid out in Exodus - such as men not shaving.

"The leadership induces feelings of shame and/or guilt in order to influence and/or control members. Often, this is done through peer pressure and subtle forms of persuasion."

Yes, although to be honest the pressure and persuasion from the Governing Body through the congregation Elders is far from subtle. Check out the literature from the Jehovah's Witnesses on disfellowshipping parents and children if you want to see pressure.

"Subservience to the leader or group requires members to cut ties with family and friends, and radically alter the personal goals and activities they had before joining the group."
Yes. Cutting ties with family and friends is what the Jehovah's Witnesses do best. Their practice of disfellowshipping leaves those who leave the Jehovah's Witnesses with no contact with family and friends that remain in the organization.

"The group is preoccupied with bringing in new members."

Yes. They are famous worldwide for knocking on people's doors trying to convince people that the 'end is nigh' but Jehovah has a plan, and you can find out more about that plan at the Kingdom Hall.

"The group is preoccupied with making money."

Yes. Hit the Internet and just look into the various schemes that the Jehovah's Witnesses have been involved with for the purpose of making money for the Headquarters.

"Members are expected to devote inordinate amounts of time to the group and group-related activities."

Yes. As already discussed there is the meetings, Bible study, door knocking, and pioneering. Plus you have to spend hours reading the Awake magazine and the Watchtower magazine so you know their version of the truth.

"Members are encouraged or required to live and/or socialize only with other group members."

Yes, without a doubt. Jehovah's Witnesses are like flies round shit. They hang out together and rarely associate with anyone who is not one of them.

"The most loyal members (the “true believers”) feel there can be no life outside the context of the group. They believe there is no other way to be, and often fear reprisals to themselves or others if they leave (or even consider leaving) the group."

Yes. Yes. Yes. The loyal Jehovah's Witnesses only associate with their own people unless it is at work. As mentioned they believe themselves to be the 'one true religion' and the reprisal is shunning if anyone leaves.

So, every answer is a yes. Although the checklist is not necessarily definitive getting a check on every single thing pretty much implies a cult.

The checklist can be found on the ICSA website along with other information concerning cults and their practices.

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