I think a lot here use the word "cult" like the WTS uses the word "apostate." The org IS becoming more and more "cultlike."
Be Fair = Witnesses are NOT a cult!! What about Christians or democracy?
"Inquisitor" all your comments on this thread are ... I fully agree with you, and you seem to get the point.
Actually, Jeffro , I don't think that was my point. It was sacolton's, not mine. =)
I didn't mean to detract from your main point. However, your statement:
How about churches and families that stigmatise same-sex attraction, driving their gay youths to depression and suicide?
raise issues that indicate JW to be a potentially dangerous group for a minority of its members
Let's take a vote.............
All those in favor that the JW's & WTBS is a cult say "Aye"....
Witness, we can agree that technically the Catholic church is a cult. The difference between the Catholics and the JWs? The great majority don't really believe it. Many, many of them go ahead and use condoms, eat meat when they're not supposed to, and do all the other things that go against Catholic teaching--often rather openly and without the harsh sanctions JWs apply. When you talk to them you realize: they don't really think the stuff taught at Mass is coming to them from God's sole channel of communication. For most, it's just kind of a club they were born into.
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.
I have no problem applying the above dictionary deffiniton to sales persons of the Wac tower Society.
The Witnesses are a cult, they meet all of Steve Hassan's identifications for cult status.
I am still in this cult so I am qualified to speak, and no, I do not believe I have the truth.
I think you have to answer this question based on
a) What is the conventional norms and bylaws for a church
b) Does the church use manipulative methods to control believers
You can break an established church law - does that mean the church is a cult - not necessarily. Every organization has to have certain codes of conduct.
What makes a cult a cult is when they operate outside of Biblical principles, where they enforce the rules of men, where they are told to keep in "step with present truth."
I don't remember the Catholic Church changing their teachings every 5 years, even if some of what they teach is obviously wrong.
This thread has been up a while and I did not visit till now. I have not read the arguments/counter-arguments as to classification of the Watchtower as a cult. Robert Lifton defined the matter pretty well, and using his 8 Marks, Randy Watters has applied them all to Jw's. I don't see how it can be successfully denied when examined realistically.
Eight Marks of a Mind-Control Cult
by Randall Watters
Brainwashing has become almost a household word in the last two decades or so. In 1961, Robert J. Lifton wrote the definitive book on the subject, Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism, after studying the effects of mind control on American prisoners of war under the Communist Chinese. Lifton outlines eight major factors that can be used to identify whether a group is a destructive cult or not. Any authoritarian religion should be held up to the light in order to determine just how destructive their influence is on their members. Judge for yourselves.
"Milieu" is a French word meaning "surroundings; environment." Cults are able to control the environment around their recruits in a number of ways, but almost always using a form of isolation. Recruits can be physically separated from society, or they can be warned under threat of punishment to stay away from the world's educational media, especially when it might provoke critical thinking. Any books, movies or testimonies of ex-members of the group, or even anyone critical of the group in any way are to be avoided.
Information is carefully kept on each recruit by the mother organization. All are watched, lest they fall behind or get too far ahead of the thinking of the organization. Because it appears that the organization knows so much about everything and everyone, they appear omniscient in the eyes of the recruits.
In religious cults, God is ever-present in the workings of the organization. If a person leaves for any reason, accidents or ill-will that may befall them are always attributed to God's punishment on them. For the faithful, the angels are always said to be working, and stories circulate about how God is truly doing marvelous things among them, because they are "the truth." The organization is therefore given a certain "mystique" that is quite alluring to the new recruit.
Demand for Purity
The world is depicted as black and white, with little room for making personal decisions based on a trained conscience. One's conduct is modeled after the ideology of the group, as taught in its literature. People and organizations are pictured as either good or evil, depending on their relationship to the cult.
Universal tendencies of guilt and shame are used to control individuals, even after they leave. There is great difficulty in understanding the complexities of human morality, since everything is polarized and oversimplified. All things classified as evil are to be avoided, and purity is attainable through immersion into the cult's ideology.
The Cult of Confession
Serious sins (as defined by the organization) are to be confessed immediately. The members are to be reported if found walking contrary to the rules.
There is often a tendency to derive pleasure from self-degradation through confession. This occurs when all must confess their sins before each other regularly, creating an intense kind of "oneness" within the group. It also allows leaders from within to exercise authority over the weaker ones, using their "sins" as a whip to lead them on.
The "Sacred Science"
The cult's ideology becomes the ultimate moral vision for the ordering of human existence. The ideology is too "sacred" to call into question, and a reverence is demanded for the leadership. The cult's ideology makes an exaggerated claim for possessing airtight logic, making it appear as absolute truth with no contradictions. Such an attractive system offers security.
Loading the Language
Lifton explains the prolific use of "thought-terminating cliches," expressions or words that are designed to end the conversation or controversy. We are all familiar with the use of the cliches "capitalist" and "imperialist," as used by antiwar demonstrators in the 60's. Such cliches are easily memorized and readily expressed. They are called the "language of non-thought," since the discussion is terminated, not allowing further consideration.
In the Watchtower, for instance, expressions such as "the truth", the "mother organization", the "new system", "apostates" and "worldly" carry with them a judgment on outsiders, leaving them unworthy of further consideration.
Doctrine Over Person
Human experience is subordinated to doctrine, no matter how profound or contradictory such experiences seem. The history of the cult is altered to fit their doctrinal logic. The person is only valuable insomuch as they conform to the role models of the cult. Commonsense perceptions are disregarded if they are hostile to the cult's ideology.
Dispensing of Existence
The cult decides who has the "right" to exist and who does not. They decide who will perish in the final battle of good over evil. The leaders decide which history books are accurate and which are biased. Families can be cut off and outsiders can be deceived, for they are not fit to exist!
Our society has multiple definitions for the term cult. Personally speaking, I prefer to only use the term when I know those hearing me speak will understand the context of what I am saying. The term "cult" as most commonly used in reference to Jehovah's Witnesses is in the context of belief systems that forcefully restrict personal freedom while dually set up severe punishment that keep their members locked into obedience.