Cult...Cult...Cult...Cult!

by Cold Steel 32 Replies latest watchtower bible

  • ReallyTrulyAthena
    ReallyTrulyAthena

    After all these years of being out of the WTS, I'm finally getting around to reading Combatting Cult Mind Control in its entirety. Although I'm only a few chapters in, the "a-ha" moments are already piling up.

    My wife thinks all religions are cults, except hers. (She's Greek Orthodox.)

    My beau thinks the same (that all religions are cults); he was raised Serbian Orthodox (but for quite a while now, he has aligned himself most with the Taoist belief system and honestly could care less about "religion").

    Ding - Agreed. I took your succinct write-up and copied it for future reference/use, thanks!

    I think it disturbs some former members to think they were in something that turned out to be a cult.

    OTWO - I'll admit: it disturbed me mightily. I remember seeing the words "JW" and "cult" in the same sentence for the first time in about 2001 and just about flipped. Seriously, I almost lost it emotionally (the vision is so clear -- my fists: clenched by my side; eyes: closed tightly; the scream: near-primal from my throat, wailing, "Noooo! I was NOT raised in a cult!"). Even though I had been DFd for several years by that point - I. Just. Did. Not. Know. It sent me into a tail-spin, but I'm here to tell the tale of continued reading, research (and boat-loads of therapy).

    They have personalized the words and take offense at them, instead of looking at the meaning of the words.

    cult classic - I hear ya. I was one of those that personalized...at first. But I got over it Whereas I previously chose to "emotionally charge" words (such as 'cult' and 'apostate') - I finally realized that by doing so, it limited me in my understanding and my ability to move past them. Once I learned acceptance and how to better manage my emotions surrounding my upbringing, I could then drop my prior superimposed definitions...and move forward onto the next level of the journey.

    RTA

  • Cold Steel
    Cold Steel

    I've noticed that the JWs I've been in contact with just don't know the scriptures. They give me the impression of memorizing some scriptures, but very few of them seem to READ the scriptures. When discussing the Bible, many of them say they'll "write it down and get back to you." The Bible study they advertise feeds them the verses they need, but even simple questions tend to send them back to check those questions out with other sources...and, not being a JW, I don't know what those sources are.

    At the Kingdom Halls, do they not study the scriptures chapter by chapter? Or do they say, "Today's topic is what happens when you die," and then only the verses they use are fed to them?

    How are the meetings structured? They have a church service on Sunday, but what sort of Sunday School classes do they have? And don't they have some sort of meeting on Wednesday? (My grandfather had a Kingdom Hall across the street and sometimes, when it snowed or he felt like attending a religious service, he'd get dressed up and go over.)

    In another thread, someone talked about a fellow who wore a beard and that some of the elders counseled him on that. What business is it of an elder whether someone has a beard?? What else do elders counsel people on? I'd really like to know. And if someone replies, "With all due respect, Elder Jones, I'll wear a beard if I please, just as the Savior did!" -- what then?

    These are the things I'm really clueless on.

    ...

  • leavingwt
    leavingwt
    I've noticed that the JWs I've been in contact with just don't know the scriptures.

    Simply put, JWs are not allowed to hold personal opinions on the meaning of Scripture. As such, it's all a formality. They've memorized 25 verses or so, but the meaning is simply whatever they're told -- at this particular moment. The leadership has routinely re-interpreted MAJOR dogma, over the years.

    LOYALTY to the leadership is more tangible/important to JWs than a personal relationship with Christ or a deep understanding of Scripture.

    Even long-time JWs are often completely ignorant of alternate views of Scriptures. Example: John 10:16. How many JWs realize that Christianity has taught for centuries that the Other Sheep = Gentiles? Not many.

  • I<3MYGod
    I<3MYGod

    I was in the cult for 25yrs....It is a cult in every sense of the word.

  • Terry
    Terry

    The key ingredient is in healthy relationships of your own choosing.

    If you can't be around people you love---something is really wrong.

    Everybody is a sinner according to scripture. No one sin is better or worse than another and yet--getting kicked out can happen.

    It should ONLY happen if the accused is unrepentant or dangerous to others.

    But, the category of disfellowshipping situations has broadened so greatly it includes supposition and inference rather than proof on some things which don't involve molestation--while at the same time requiring two witnesses and stone cold proof when it DOES.

  • Heaven
    Heaven

    If JWs are a cult, I'd like to hear how they qualify as such.

    There are 8 criteria used to identify a group as a cult developed by Robert Lifton from his work on thought reform. They are as follows:

    Dr. Robert J. Lifton's Eight Criteria for Thought Reform

    1. Milieu Control. This involves the control of information and communication both within the environment and, ultimately, within the individual, resulting in a significant degree of isolation from society at large.

    2. Mystical Manipulation. There is manipulation of experiences that appear spontaneous but in fact were planned and orchestrated by the group or its leaders in order to demonstrate divine authority or spiritual advancement or some special gift or talent that will then allow the leader to reinterpret events, scripture, and experiences as he or she wishes.

    3. Demand for Purity. The world is viewed as black and white and the members are constantly exhorted to conform to the ideology of the group and strive for perfection. The induction of guilt and/or shame is a powerful control device used here.

    4. Confession. Sins, as defined by the group, are to be confessed either to a personal monitor or publicly to the group. There is no confidentiality; members' "sins," "attitudes," and "faults" are discussed and exploited by the leaders.

    5. Sacred Science. The group's doctrine or ideology is considered to be the ultimate Truth, beyond all questioning or dispute. Truth is not to be found outside the group. The leader, as the spokesperson for God or for all humanity, is likewise above criticism.

    6. Loading the Language. The group interprets or uses words and phrases in new ways so that often the outside world does not understand. This jargon consists of thought-terminating clich├ęs, which serve to alter members' thought processes to conform to the group's way of thinking.

    7. Doctrine over person. Member's personal experiences are subordinated to the sacred science and any contrary experiences must be denied or reinterpreted to fit the ideology of the group.

    8. Dispensing of existence. The group has the prerogative to decide who has the right to exist and who does not. This is usually not literal but means that those in the outside world are not saved, unenlightened, unconscious and they must be converted to the group's ideology. If they do not join the group or are critical of the group, then they must be rejected by the members. Thus, the outside world loses all credibility. In conjunction, should any member leave the group, he or she must be rejected also. (Lifton, 1989)

    Jehovah's Witnesses have all 8, therefore, they are a cult.

  • InterestedOne
    InterestedOne
    even simple questions tend to send them back to check those questions out with other sources...and, not being a JW, I don't know what those sources are.

    They have a 2-volume "encyclopedia" called "Insight on the Scriptures" as well as a little brown book called "Reasoning from the Scriptures." The JW I'm studying with mainly refers to these sources when I ask him questions. He was willing to order them for me, so I have been reading them for myself. These books explain most of the commonly raised scriptures in such a way as to show how they supposedly fit the overall WT doctrine. The JW's I have talked to seem to think that these books are objective, credible, and scholarly. However, they do not independently evaluate them. They will occasionally consider portions of non-WT sources that agree with the WT. However, whenever a non-WT source says something that disagrees with the WT, no matter how sensible, they assume that the WT is correct. Therefore, when they tell you they are "researching," they don't quite mean what most people mean. When they research, they are simply looking for information that reinforces WT teaching in their minds, which for the most part means digging into other WT publications.

    At the Kingdom Halls, do they not study the scriptures chapter by chapter? Or do they say, "Today's topic is what happens when you die," and then only the verses they use are fed to them?
    How are the meetings structured? They have a church service on Sunday, but what sort of Sunday School classes do they have? And don't they have some sort of meeting on Wednesday?

    To answer your question, you have to go and observe. Sunday is a public talk and a WT study. The public talk means an elder chooses from a list of outlines generated by the WT and speaks what the outline says. The WT study is where the congregation goes over that week's WT study article (not from the public version of the WT with the colorful pictures, but instead from an internal version of the WT called the "study edition" which has less pictures). Each paragraph in the article is numbered. There are questions at the bottom of each page with numbers corresponding to the paragraphs. One man on the platform reads a paragraph, then then another man on the platform asks the corresponding question, then people raise their hands to answer. The man on the platform calls on people and a "microphone man" goes to the person and gives them the mic to answer. Although many just answer by repeating what was in the paragraph, at times some people expand a little bit on the question, but it is always a mixture of other WT teaching they have learned. I have never heard someone answer in such a way that disagrees with what the paragraph said. So, although on the surface it has the look of a "group study," it is really just a repetition of what the article says.

    As for Wednesday (or another weeknight), that is the combination of Book Study, Theocratic Ministry School, and Service Meeting. They go over a section of the WT booklet that is assigned for that year. This year the booklet is about Jesus' life and is called "Come be my Follower." The booklet has the same numbered paragraph/question structure as the WT study articles. After the book study, they do have something called Bible Highlights and a Scripture reading. Here they do take a section of scripture chosen by the WT and comment on it. Sometimes it sounds like they are reading from some kind of commentary that I'm not aware of - perhaps another internal WT pub? Not sure. I'm not privy to all of their internal publications because my "Bible study" "teacher" says I'm "not ready" to read them. Some of these internal publications are "Organized to do Jehovah's Will," "Benefit From Theocratic Ministry School," and their "Kingdom Ministry" newsletter. I directly asked if I could have or borrow them & even offered a donation for them, but my "teacher" staunchly refused. After that, they go into methods of approaching people and how to handle "conversation stoppers," etc. They do little skits to demonstrate. There's also another talk given by an elder on a topic chosen by the WT for that week's service meeting.

    At the beginning and end, they sing a song (chosen by the WT) and the elder prays. The songs are out of a WT songbook, and the lyrics reinforce their ideas - even singing about things like how we should be loyal to those who "take the lead," etc.

  • Botzwana
    Botzwana

    Funny...When someone would say to me that the literature is at a 6 year old reading level as a criticism I would always fire back.."Oh, is it too much for you to handle"

    Witnesses think they are loving but they can be REAL dicks when they want to be.

  • carla
    carla

    If you are serious about learning about what a cult is I suggest you start with Lifton, Margaret Thaler Singer, Hassaan, and they will lead you to a few others whose names escape me at the moment. Research, research and research some more. Learn about thought reform, etc.....

  • daisyduke
    daisyduke

    Interested One is completely right, you really almost have to start attending and observe to really grasp the whole consept.

    As I write this, my husband and two children are at that "Thursday night" meeting. And dreadidly tomorrow morning is my "bible study" which is actually just a study of their "What does the Bible Really teach book" which I have "studied" with different "teachers" and myself read over at least three times now.

    I could go on and on, but the previous posts pretty much sum it up. I can only hope that I can "tactfully" "persuade" (words I am pretty sure someone at the congregations "thurday night" meeting is saying right now) my family (husband) to see it for what it really is.

    I have had much help on my realization w/ research and observing this site... thanks everyone.

    I am not a genious with words, but anyone with half a mind to think for themselves can see through it...it just may take a while...and attending a few "conventions" .

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