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.