Wording of "mentally diseased" press release - feedback?

by cedars 43 Replies latest watchtower scandals

  • cedars

    Hi everyone

    As some of you may know, I am working with trailerfitter and cantleave in helping Amelia with her efforts to complain about the latest "Apostates are mentally diseased" article. She has an appointment with local police tomorrow afternoon, as she has lodged a complaint under the 'hate crimes' act. It has been suggested that this issue may merit some media coverage, and with this in mind I have prepared a draft press release. I would appreciate some feedback on the wording (bear in mind it has been written for the UK media).

    Here it is:

    Jehovah’s Witnesses who disagree with church leadership branded “mentally diseased” by hierarchy

    September 11 th 2011 marked the tenth anniversary of the notorious terrorist attacks in New York and Washington. It also marked a fresh wave of emotional terror in an ideological warfare that has been waged for decades against an oppressed minority that is spread all over the world, but of which most people know little if nothing about. This group is trapped in a religion that they no longer believe in, but they remain associated with it for fear of being separated from their believing friends or relatives who are conditioned into shunning those who disagree with the religion’s leadership.

    Jehovah’s Witnesses are well known for their door-to-door preaching activity as well as their refusal to accept blood transfusions. What few people know about Jehovah’s Witnesses is that once you become one, it is almost impossible to leave without suffering serious consequences. New converts to the religion take an oath at baptism to acknowledge the leadership of Jehovah’s Witnesses as representing God’s spirit-directed organisation. If they subsequently reach the conclusion that God does NOT direct the organisation, they are branded as being what is commonly termed an “apostate” and are shunned by church officials and their own family members alike. As a result, many Witnesses remain trapped in the religion for years, pretending to recognise the authority of the self-appointed hierarchy for no other reason than to maintain contact with their family members. These “trapped” Witnesses of an unknown number live in constant fear of having their true beliefs discovered, and being ousted from their own families.

    On Sunday, September 11 th 2011, at Witness meetings all over the world, an article was discussed from the July 15 th issue of the Watchtower magazine, which is published by Jehovah’s Witnesses. The article dissuaded any individual Witness from watching any news items in which former Witnesses are interviewed, or from visiting any websites or forums on which Witness beliefs are debated.

    The purpose of the article was evidently to block any current Witnesses from discovering the truth about the organisation’s history, and its increasingly discredited beliefs. The article also condemned “apostates”, namely any who turn their backs on the organisation and its belief system. In one forthright and abusive statement, the article declared that so-called apostates are “mentally diseased”, and that they “seek to infect others with their disloyal teachings.” This statement was read out at 1,533 congregations throughout the UK, and at least 107,210 congregations globally. Although the statement was discussed and commented on, any who voiced their objections to the wording of the statement would have been silenced by Church leaders, and likely ejected from the meeting.

    The claim that those who disagree with the Witnesses are “mentally diseased” stems from the Church’s internal version of the Bible. Needless to say, it is a highly offensive expression both for disaffected Witnesses and for those who suffer from genuine mental illnesses. Under current UK law, the wording of the article may even constitute a “hate crime”.

    The article also used an analogy in which any Witness who rejects the Church’s authority is said to be infected with a type of “contagious, deadly disease”, and that for this reason, other Witnesses should avoid contact with them at all costs.

    All over the middle east, the Arab Spring is freeing people from oppression and tyranny at the hands of ruthless dictators, and yet even in developed lands there are those whose lives are influenced on a daily basis by a tyrannical religion that they desperately wish to leave but are unable to, for fear of being separated from their loved ones. To add insult to injury, such ones are now being labelled as “mentally diseased” if they make the mistake of speaking out against the Church’s leadership.

    Thoughts please?

  • punkofnice

    Tonic stuff. I love it!

  • Open mind
    Open mind

    Overall, I like it. The opening sentences are a tad sensationalistic, IMO, but that's just one reader's opinion.

    Also, I would suggest a rewording of this sentence:

    The claim that those who disagree with the Witnesses are “mentally diseased” stems from the Church’s internal version of the Bible.

    I would change it to read "....stems from the Church's "New World Translation" of the Bible.

    "internal version" implies that the JW's have tweaked the Bible to suit their own doctrines. We know they have, but eliminating this particular jab at the JWs MIGHT keep an on-the-fence JW from rejecting the article entirely.

    Again, a real bang-up job overall.

    Best of luck.


  • nugget

    I am not sure about referencing september 11th as people can be extremely sensitive about how that is applied. I understand the need for an eye catching introduction but not sure if this works.

    Perhaps an alternate approach might have been that whilst on september 11th people across the world were coming together to remember loved ones and families and were drawn closer forgetting differences in an act of rememberance, Jws across the world were being taught that family members who choose to leave their religion were mentally diseased and must be cast out of the family. The watchtower sees these as the living dead and uses offensive language to demean their concerns and vilify them in the most disgusting manner.

    I also think that it will be worth referencing the fact that the Watchtower publicly states that such shunning is a private decision of family members but members know that it is a command to shun and that they themselves can suffer the same fate if they do not comply. This message is emphasised in articles such as this one but also in other articles studied by the faithful this year. This can affect minor children as well as adults.

    I think the idea of the press release is brilliant just tighten it up a bit as journalists can tend to have a short attention span.

  • cedars

    Thanks, obviously the September 11th needs to be referenced to some extent because that is the date that this article was discussed at meetings around the world (for congs that have Sunday meetings) although I accept that the opening needs to be worded in a less sensationalist tone.

    Thanks for that great feedback!!

  • InterestedOne

    In the paragraph where you bring in the "mentally diseased" quote, I got sidetracked by the opening sentence because it brings in topics such as the history, the discredited beliefs, etc. and sounds a bit like an attack with word choice like "discovering the truth." The info about "mentally diseased" and contagious, etc. got kind of buried in the paragraph and lost its punch for me. The opening sentence of that paragraph might still be useful, but maybe it could be re-worked to avoid taking away from the power of the "mentally diseased" part. Since the title of the press release includes "mentally diseased," I think it would be great if you could find a way to draw the reader's attention to it more compellingly. I don't have any suggestions, and I have to run to work, but that's just what I noticed as a reader.

  • AnnOMaly

    Nicely worded. I like it.

    I concur with Open Mind's suggestion and nugget on the September 11 segue.

  • iamwhoiam

    "The purpose of the article was evidently to block any current Witnesses from discovering the truth about the organisation’s history, and its increasingly discredited beliefs."

    Can you pick another word other than "evidently"?...lol

    Also, in that article, there was a footnote on the bottom of that page that gave the definition of an "apostate". Does anyone know where that definition came from and how it compares to the definition in the Oxford English Dictionary (industry standard)?

  • happyexjw
  • cedars

    Don't think I'm not taking all these suggestions on board by the way, because I am!! I will be cherry picking the best of them and posting the re-worded release for final approval.

    In the meantime you'll all be pleased to know that things are moving on nicely regarding Amelia's showdown with the cops tomorrow!

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