I just found this article as I was browsing through religious news items. The writer makes some very interesting points about religion in general, and, of course, the jws get a mention in the paragraph referring to cults.
Major Religions & Fringe Cults: Time to Take a Look in The Mirror
I find it amusing that so many people who belong to major religious organisations look upon the horrible practices of the fringe cults without any sense of irony.
The predatory practices of many fringe cults, not only in regard to abuse cover-ups, but also in their recruitment practices, their methods of keeping members locked in, and their viscious silencing of dissenters, does not really differ from many major religions.
I constantly hear people ridiculing the beliefs of destructive fringe cults, while simultaneously ignoring the lunacy of their own chosen faith. Major Christian outlets, like Catholicism and Protestantism, have equally mad beliefs, and have demonstrated their own abilities when it comes to a good cover-up. They have employed all manner of physical and psychological torture in propagating their religions. They have asked for donations, they have excommunicated people, the have swept sexual abuse scandals under the rug, they have infiltrated and medaled in the affairs of government, and still do, the list goes on.
I think anybody reading this blog who is alligned to an organised religion needs to take the shock and disgust they feel when they read about horrible institutions like the Jehovahs Witnesses, Scientology, or even Jones Town, and then apply the same framework for judgement and analysis of practices to their chosen religion. Where do you think these cults learned how to play the game?
I'd like to believe that members of all religions would be able to see a group like the Jehovah's, or the Church of Scientology, or the Moonies, or whoever as a wake-up call, a heads up to the way religious organisations brainwash and bully people. I keep waiting for the penny to drop, but it saddens me that most members of these religions are objective only when it comes to disecting their market rivals, but continue deluding themselves that their religion is unique and not based around manipulative and agressively persuasive tactics.
Cults, religions, whatever you want to call them, are based around persuasive technique of the most agressive and sneaky variety. This persuasion operates on threats that are impossible for objectors to 100% conclusively disprove. They hinge on fear, and cunningly disguise that fact with constant PR talk about love. Love in many religious organisations is only a means of keeping their dupe locked into the sense of belonging any community can create when it apparently loves everybody in that community 'unconditionally'. But there is often nothing unconditional about this love. It is a bonus you are afforded as part of the religion, and something which can be stripped from the member for non-compliance, to devastating effect. You never miss what you never had, and if it is given to you, and then somebody threatens to take it away, it can form the basis for a very strong control mechanism, which is reinforced through mental conditioning. This becomes compounded when you are dealing with somebody who has been born into a faith, because they will definitely miss something which they have always had. People have no problem looking at the childhood of cronically anti-social individuals, who murder, steal, lie, abuse etc, and identifying the fact that he was raised in such a hostile and fucked up environment that he 'never had a chance'. Well the same goes for people raised in strict religious households. They often don't have a chance to break out of their mental conditioning, even when they reach adulthood. To further this, religions allign scepticism with weakness, and query with arrogance.
In constructing a framework for mental conditioning, which is passed to susceptible adult initiates, and then in turn introduced to their children at birth, religious organisations ensure that resistence to their persuasive technique is minimized within one generation. It is hard for adults raised under such constant persuasive manipulation since infancy to realistically question all that they have ever known. This is something which they pass down to their kids, and onto potential adult converts. But why do lowly members do this, and not just the master manipulators at the top? A big reason for this, is because the more people the initiate can convince, the more reaffirmation they reap for themselves in their beliefs. If enough people believe in something far fetched it starts to look less foolish, largely because a greater number have been fooled. Strength in numbers.
Many devoutly religious people tend to fall back on the idea that some very intelligent individuals are devout members of religious organisations, so if they see it as the truth, then it must hold weight. This is a fallacy, being intelligent alone will not protect you from persuasive technique and mental conditioning. Not one intellectual has managed to date to establish conclusively the existence or non-existence of God, Hell or Heaven. Those clever clever people who offer others reassurance in regard to another persons chosen faith, simply by being a member of the same church, are merely guessing and keeping their fingers crossed just like the others. This is where the simian and the genius are one in their lack of conclusive knowledge.
Imagine if George W. Bush starting making claims that if you didn't vote for him, you would be a step closer to a place where pain never loses it's novelty and lasts for an eternity. Imagine if this was surrounded by a campaign which claimed that every vote for him and act of support demonstrated towards him, was in fact a good deed in the eyes of a supreme being who's existence was impossible to disprove and would actually GUARANTEE you a place in an afterlife paradise if you followed George without question. Imagine if George told us all that he was in direct correspondence with this supreme being, and that everything he said was directed by divinity and infallible. Now imagine you were raised from infancy, as were your parents, and their parents, to believe this as bond. Now just remove Georgie boy's name from it and replace it with the appropriate bullshitter of your choice. Bingo. Hopefully you get the picture.