That “C” word – CULT

by Lady Lee 66 Replies latest watchtower beliefs

  • Aussie Oz
    Aussie Oz

    It uses deception in recruiting new members (e.g. people are NOT told up front what the group is, what the group actually believes and what will be expected of them if they become members)

    GB, disfellowshipping and shunning

    When i was 'in' and had bible studies that were serious and likely to progress to baptism etc

    i went to great affort to stress the organization, disfellowshipping and shunning with them. Those issues did not bother me then, but i wanted them to know clearly that it was no easy change your mind religion. I guess for most, they never got that sort of input from their study teachers?

    and perhaps thats why i never did have a study get baptised!!

    As for the whole cult debate... i must say i find it hard to say out loud...Not that i don't see it mind you, just seem to have a problem verbalizing it!


  • sizemik
    people who have physically left but still are mentally under group control deny they belonged to and were abused by a cult--clinging to such rationalizations as "It's not a cult, it isn't like they were Jim Jones". These are the problems with that "C" word.

    That's their reasoning . . . and entirely what you'd expect. I wouldn't expect the Branch Davidians or Jim Jones' crowd to consider they were in a cult either . . . they were the "chosen ones" too.

    Like I said previously . . . the JW's have caused more harm to their members than all the so-called extremist cults put together times 10. The elements are all there, albeit more subtle and insidious. They are a top-down high-control group that damages it's members through mis-guided medical doctrines, significantly elevated levels of suicide, mental illness, sexual deviancy, and harsh shunning of family members.

    They have the exact same mind-set as the so-called extremists . . . they just haven't had their "Armageddon" yet.

    Anybody can hold on to a contrary opinion if they wish . . . to their own detriment.

    They are the very epitome of a cult . . . and anybody who realises this should be singing it from the rooftops . . . not pussy-footing around peoples sensitivities or getting bent out of shape over opinions of a definition.

  • carla

    I don't know how anybody could not think of the jw's as a cult. In casual conversations with people when they ask about jw-ism they almost always respond with, "wow, sounds like a cult!".

    Perhaps political correctness stops people from freely calling a spade a spade these days. They don't want to 'offend' anybody. While this group/cult tears families and lives apart everyday and they are worried about offending them? makes no sense to me.

    I struggle with victim or willing victim often and flip flop back and forth so much so I annoy myself!

  • TotallyADD

    It took two years for me to wake up about the WT before I started to call it a cult. Even then the word would kinda stick in my throat. Now the word comes out freely. As lady lee said the key is to acknowledge you were a victim. That is very true. I may be wrong but I think when one finally comes to grips on the matter that they are a victim that is when the healing begins. Like lady lee said when confronted with your abuse for the first time many will say "all it was not that bad". It's kind of not seeing the forest for the trees thinking. Hopefully as the evidence of what happens to the victim comes out this will finally force the person to see what really happen to them. For the victim it is like a "oh my god" moment. They finally see and learn to accept what really happen to them. I am not saying this is easy. It is not. But with this break through comes healing. As far as the "C" / cult word is concerned the Wt. is. No doubt in my mind now but it took time. I like the phrase that the R&F are called "victims of a cult" where the Wt. is called a "cult". It kind of but things into perspective for me. Thank you lady lee for such a imformative thread. Totally ADD

  • Lady Lee
    Lady Lee

    When I was in college one of my courses was to design an research project, implement it and then report our findings. MY group of 3 students chose physical abuse of children.

    I wanted to know whether people would self-identify with the idea they were physically abused as children. This required 3 steps.

    1. Question 1 was simple. "Were you physically abused as a child?"
    2. A series of questions asking them about how they were disciplined physically by their parents or care-takers. Questions included being hit with a open hand to being hit by objects and where on their body were they hit (face, head, arms, back, buttocks legs) They were also asked if any discipline resulted in bruising, welts, bleeding or broken bones.
    3. A final question asked them again if they thought they had been abused physically when they were children. This was added to see if they changes their minds by the time they ended the questionnaire.
    4. Frequency of the abuse was asked on a scale Never, once in my life, occasionally, several times a week, daily etc.
    5. Age and gender was also asked to see if we could determine whether there were changes based on the time period (was there a greater incidence of abuse 20 years ago vs 10 or 5 years ago and were boys more likely to have been physically abused than girls.

    The questionnaire was given to college students who were mostly between the ages of 18 to 21.

    Our results were fascinating. One student said he or she had been slapped across the face with an open hand once in her life. She said she had been physically abused. This really surprised us because we had decided being slapped once in your whole life would not be considered physically abused. But we realized that if a person had never been hit, that 1 slap would have been traumatic for that person.

    At the other end of the scale we had people who were hit on a daily basis with anything from a wooden spoon or belt to a piece of wood. No one said they had any bones broken as a result of the "punishment" but many said they had bruises and welts afterwards. Of this group it was surprising to us that so many respondents said they had not been abused even though they had been hit on a daily basis and hit hard enough to result in bruises or welts on their body.

    Only a couple of people change their answer at the end of the questions about being physically abused.

    My point here is that people don't like to use what they consider words that place them in the"victim" role. We have a strong tendency to minimize what happens to us and a great part of that happens when we mislabel our experiences. People will say things like, "It wasn't so bad," or "I deserved it". or "I could handle it"

    Minimizing the extent of the discipline allowed them to continue to see the abuse as benign. It allowed them to believe they were not powerless in the situation. (By definition children are powerless over the choices their parents make and how they are disciplined).

    People hate to feel powerless even when they are small and are the victims of people a lot bigger than they are. If I say I deserved it then I trick myself into believing I had some degree of power over the parent's reactions to events. When we say "It wasn't that bad" we minimize the extent of the harm and that we have some degree of power over our reactions to abuse.

    On another track here about incest. When I started talking about sexual abuse and specifically incest, I could see people take an emotional step backwards away from me. They didn't like this word incest. It was dirty. The word held a lot of negative connotations to it. At the time not too many people were using this word in public but I was on TV talking about it or in classrooms or at lectures. People didn't want to think about it. I didn't like the word in the beginning either. I brought up so many negative feelings with it. But that is what it is. Using a different word for it didn't change what had happened to me.

    I also saw an interesting need for people to minimize their experience when I was in a small group of incest survivors and we were talking about the word victim. No one wanted to use that word. it meant they were powerless. Here they were as adults, no longer at the mercy of their abusers but they absolutely refused to say they were victims. But they were victims. Finding some other word to describe their experiences wasn't going to change the reality that as children they were powerless. The point now was that as adults they were taking back their power. But They really didn't want to go there. To accept the word meant they had to accept that hey had no power to change things when they were being abused.

    Now my point in telling you all that is this:

    People don't want to use the big bad words like abuse, victim, cult to describe their experience. People often prefer to soften the ugliness of the word cult by using the less severe term "high control group". Does that change the fact that the WTS and its leaders are responsible for thousands of people being beaten and killed so they can claim they are persecuted? Those Witnesses in Malawi who were being beaten raped or killed "for standing up for the truth" by not buying a 25 cent ID card were not just part of a high control group. They were in a cult that demanded that they die for the cause. Thousands of people have died because they refused medical treatments that required blood because the cult they belonged to demanded that they refuse blood or risk being toss to the curb AND they were told they would lose out on life in a paradise if they did not obey. That is pretty severe even for a high control group.

    I get that it is hard to say "I was in a cult". But it is the truth. (The real truth not the version of ever-changing truth the WTS spews out) We don't want to feel vulnerable or powerless.

    But I will tell you a couple of mornings after I gave birth to my second child I felt totally powerless when the doctors said my daughter might need a blood transfusion. I saw no way around secretly signing the papers to permit the transfusion. My husband and the elders were on the way and they would be there before any decision was going to be made. I was going to be forced to sacrifice the life of my child That was a lot more than high control. They had almost total control.

    Some words have a lot of power in them. They carry the weight of stigma of victimization, or powerlessness.

    But like the women in the support group we are no longer in that abusive situation. We may be suffering some long term effects but we are out. We are free. And minimizing where we were won't help us reclaim the power they had over our lives.

  • Nickolas

    It's not surprising, at least to me, that this topic has generated almost as much heat as light. But may I add a bit of linguistics (light) to the conversation?

    There is nothing inappropriate about the word niggardly. Perhaps if you deliberately misspelled it with an e instead of an a, but in conversation it is just a descriptive word. It means cheap or miserly and has no connection whatsoever with a bigotted take on skin colour. The two words derived independently but they have no doubt affected each others interpretation over time. Niggardly, like faggot, is still appropriately used in some segments of modern, English speaking society, but only by elderly speakers. It is being drummed out of the vernacular because it sounds like something else. The differences with the word faggot are two. One is that it has a couple of meanings, one derogatory and the other (cigarette) not but the main difference is it is slang. Whether the word is offensive, or taken by the hearer as offensive, should depend on context, ignorance of the genesis of the English language notwithstanding.

    Another example, use of the slang word "fanny" may be considered completely appropriate in the United States but can be very offensive in the United Kingdom, not because the British are prudes and the Americans are boorish but because the meaning of the word is quite different in each of the countries.

    The point I am trying to make is the effect of using the word cult is entirely dependent on the sensitivities of the listener.

    Connotations of the word cult range from an enthusiastic following to something dark and evil. Use the word in conversation with someone who will without question take the latter connotation to describe what that someone sincerely believes in, like a Jehovah's Witness, and you will have uttered a deeply offensive slur. You will have closed the door on the conversation, maybe never to open it again.

    So, go ahead, call a spade a spade, but don't expect roses in return.

  • sabastious
    Interesting. You provided criteria that you felt made Witnesses a cult. My point was, the same criteria, applied to every other religion proves the same point.

    All religions ARE cults.


  • Nickolas

    Yes, sab, they are. But say that to a Christian (of whatever flavour) and he will be offended. Look at the incendiary reaction when someone legitimately brought the parallel of the RC church into the conversation. It is a legitimate, descriptive word, but it is also inflammatory because it is not always used as a simple descriptive noun but sometimes with spite, hate and vitriol.

    I loathe the WTBTS for what it has done to people, but I draw the line at hate. Hate is human acid. It eats away at the psyche, what some might call the spirit or the soul, and you won't even recognise it happening to you.

  • sabastious

    Nick, it's important for Christians, and other cult members alike, to understand the concept of benign cults or even just benign aspects of cults. The word needs to venture out of the "swear word" arena, imo.

    The NFL is a cult
    CNN is a cult
    Fox News is a cult
    Newspaper printeries are cults
    The Salvation Army is a cult

    JWN is a cult.


  • Nickolas

    Context. Use the word "spade" in a racial context and it is offensive, and always will be. Use the world "cult" in a religious context and it is offensive, and always will be.

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