I had that same light go on in my head a few years ago. I work in Roanoke VA and when the JW's had there convention (1st one i didn't go to) I thought it would be a big deal. I thought I would see JW's everywhere. I didn't see ONE. the convention came and went and not one person mentioned them. THey create a world in which they are big, but when you step back it's only there reality.
Don't Ignore Us!
When i met my girlfriend about two years ago, i knew allmost nothing about the JWs. I didnt know about:
- no holidays
- who jehovah was supposed to be (but i might have figured it out on my own)
- any theology (144000, 607, 1914, "gods organization", etc. etc.)
- that preaching was important
I am rather surprised that this argument goes on and on among ex-JW's. I would expect arguments about atheism vs. Christianity vs. belief in something else. But this still surprises me that we cannot agree whether JW's are in a cult or just another church. My thoughts are that many ex-JW's don't want to think they were tricked to (iow "dumb enough ") join a cult.
We have to learn that intelligence has virtually nothing to do with it. JW's are not a typical church. For their members, WTS attempts to control the behavior, the information received, the thoughts, the emotions. They use fear as their motivator. They have more secrets to learn, the higher up a (male) member gets.
Are there destructive churches galore out there? YES. Some to a lesser degree and some to a higher degree than JW's. Most "churches" don't control the members' lives so much, but there are enough that do.
On the flip side of my thoughts, there are ex-JW's that want to feel "special" in that they were recruited or born into a cult. Some may want attention from friends or family to be understanding or pay attention to them. Others may just want that "special" excuse in the privacy of their minds for their depression or failures in life. Just as some don't want to think they were tricked, these ones may want to think that being tricked is a valid cop-out in life or that being tricked makes them now more knowledgeable than the average Joe about "being tricked." They may want the world to be aware of this scam. I sort of relate to this- it's kind of like knowing about time-share/vacation club scams and wanting to tell others, "Why do you people keep going to the sales seminars when we all should have the knowledge that they are scams?" We learn that we don't all have the knowledge and we start shouting. Same with the JW cult.
I have no doubt that WTS is a dangerous mind-control cult. I cannot worry about which religious groups may be similar or just as bad. I went through my "special" phase and I now realize they are not even much of a special dangerous mind-control cult. They are not as whacky as the Mormons or the Scientologists (the other large cults) and they are not even close in their control over the members as many smaller groups. Still, they recruit door-to-door and try to reach everyone, so information is needed about them to reach the public. Someone else can educate people about groups they know about. All I really know is JW's, so that is the cult I will tell people about. Information in general will prepare people for any destructive dangerous groups out there.
But I also learned that most people don't know squat about JW's and don't want to know. That's fine. How much do I care to learn about Scientology or Methodists? When I mention being in the JW's, some people talk about being in a destructive church, sometimes a mainstream one. I accept that their view is valid and I don't have to "top" their ideas of what high-control is by comparing the JW's. Knowledge is good, but most people want to ignore all the churches/religions. I tend to agree with them.
Hey Found Sheep I'm just up the road from you.
When I served where the need is great (see confessions of a wayward pioneer) we had an old storefront for a hall. Later we bought an abandoned synagogue. Orthodox Jews can only sell an abandoned synagogue to a group that intends to use it for religious services. I doubt if we'd see KH's like that today in this country. Now they look like drive in cleaners, liquor stores etc. just a box.........absolutly no class.
I think everybody is right, Witnesse's work hard at looking normal and living normal lives while waiting for humanity to be slaughtered. In that they are like the pod people... normal looking on the outside, inside aliens that wanted to take over the world one person at a time. In realility we believed some very far out things and shot ourselves in the foot re education and Blood.
Even when I was a pioneer I was embarassed because being a JW was so lame.
The complete makeover of the Kingdom Halls and the image conscious emphasis upon having respectable cars and homes and "reasonable" incomes and insurance so as to project the impression of normalacy have been taken to heart and with each year the religion has evolved further from inflamatory, raging doomsayers toward unremarkable, unexceptional, unnoteworthy, irrelevant.
The JW religion has a very long way to go before it would resemble anything close to mainstream normalacy. Fanatic JW's would consider those with respectable & reasonable material things as worldly. Poor JW's would consider them materialistic. The downfall of the JW religion will be it's not having enough sense in it's Leadership to go from religious Movement to Mainstream religion. I will give the Mormans credit for having the sense to do that with their religion.
Think About It
I agree JWs and other protestant groups are more alike than many would wish to admit. But everyone involved in the discussion, so to speak, has an interest in emphasizing the differences.
Jehovah's Witnesses themselves don't want to believe they are just like any other religious group, they are God's people.
Evangelicals don't want to admit similarities because they want to paint JWs as a totally aberrant and destructive sect in contrast to their true Christianity.
Ex-Witnesses tend to accept the Evangelical presentation of Witnesses as especially bad because often it fits their own bad experiences.
OntheWayOut...I agree with most everything in your post. In fact if you boil down all you said it is the same message. Noone outside cares about the JWs.
Noone is waiting for the next issue of the WT with bated breath (not even JWs) . Noone other than a few confused exJWs worry about their message of doom. They are an uninteresting, unremarkable, unattractive sect that is struggling for identity in a modern postMillennialist era.
My first KH was a 12x16 log cabin with an outhouse and we prided ourselves that it was not pretentious or showy like the other worldly churches.
I'd bet that there's quite a few JW's around too young to remember that circuit assemblies in rented barns were once the norm. I'm not young, but not completely decrepit either and I can remember endles rows of hard metal seats in chilly tobacco barns.
I remember that by the time the first KIT was released, the JW's had moved up to rented high school gymnasiums. --Quite a bit warmer than a barn, but the bleachers had no back rests.
Church owned assembly halls are the norm today. They may not be ostentatious in architecture, but that is about as far as any claim of austerity can be stretched.
Peacefulpete, ... hi nice to see you back on here.
Ask a new person what they believe and then ask someone who has been in for 50 years. They will be worlds apart. Old fogies cling to the older paradigm but their voices are largely ignored and are being phased out
So true, perhaps this is one reason why so many of us 'old fogies' are shocked awake what??! ..... the 'truth' today is almost unrecognizable from 50's and 60's!
No kidding all I heard was constant complaints of my old truck with dirt on it and prying questions of whether I had insurance or what sort of mechanical repair it was in. Glad you could make the meeting but don't you see how clean and organized we are ? Then there's the complaints of paying for everything . Good grief .They really are a real estate developing book publishing corporation. The end is so close they always need new stuff to enslave everybody . corporations are greedy entities and love to enslave people usually using fascist means.