It is unkind, premature and even irresponsible to label people with whom we disagree using pejorative names.
For example, labeling a movement as a CULT.
Consider this example:
Sociologists D. Bromley and A. Shupe once described what they called the Tnevnoc Cult. Membership was open only to women, who were required to shave their heads, change their names, and wear specific clothing once they had entered the group. They lived communally so as to protect them from the corrupting influences of the wider world while they focused on their own growing spirituality within the group. They were forbidden from owning personal possessions, and they were given with minimal provisions for comfort. Initiation included ritually marrying the dead founder of their religion.
People were outraged and demanded to know where this group was located. Eventually, the sociologists revealed that Tnevnoc is simply convent spelled backwards. They were describing the traditional lifestyle of a Catholic nun.
A sweep of various writing on the subject of False Prophets and Cult communities yeilds the following distilled list of warning signs:
Checklist for False Prophets and Cult teachers
1. Purposely changing scripture to suit pet doctrines.
2.Predicting things that do not happen and attributing it to God
3.Attributing Christ's authority to itself
4.Quirky obsession with control issues involving personal health, wealth, education and family relationships
5.Behavior control, thought control, emotional control, and information control
6. Elitist delusions as the "only" truth. Superiorty over all others. Disdain for contrary opinion.
7.Central duty consists of constant recruitment goals
8.Constant emphasis on End of the World nearness and preoccupation with world events as "signs".
9.Using family members as snitches, informants and secret spies
The Jehovah's Witnesses are particularly quick to deny they are in any manner to be viewed as cult like. Note the following article:
February 15, 1994 Watchtower
" Would it be accurate to refer to Jehovah’s Witnesses as a religious group with radical views and practices that clash with what is accepted as normal social behavior? Are Jehovah’s Witnesses a cult?
Cult members often isolate themselves from family, friends, and even society in general. Is that the case with Jehovah’s Witnesses? ...
And they do not live in communes, isolating themselves from relatives and others....
More important, they are engaged in an educational program that has no comparison. ...
It is clear that Jehovah’s Witnesses are as far from being a cult as Jesus was from being a glutton and a drunkard. "
What conclusions are we to draw?
1. The NWT published by the Watchtower inserts the name of their proprietary god Jehovah into the NT where there is no tetragrammaton. They also bend over backward to avoid associating Jesus with divinity.
2.1914 1918 1925....1975 are but a few of the failed predictions for Armageddon that fell flat.
3. The Governing Body of anointed Faithful and Discreet slaves is to be viewed as THE authority without question.
4. Innumerable articles on quack cures, warnings about higher education, and shunning have proliferated throughout the publishing history of this religion.
5.Constant references to the probationary nature of their salvation and the policy of "marking" any errant behavior exerts a rigorous control in Kingdom Halls everywhere.
6. Jehovah's Witnesses don't claim to have "truth", but insist they have "THE Truth" exclusively. From the early years to present times all religon other than themselves are considered the "harlot" and "Satan's false religions".
7. A minum goal of 10 hours for each member is what determines acceptable behavior without exception.
8. No publication, book or discourse has failed to mention "we are living in the Time of the End." This was just as true back 1879 as it is in 2011.
9. Each Jehovah's Witness is charged with personal responsibility for keeping an eye on all members so as to report "impurity" to elders for judiciary action.
In view of the above, what conclusions can prudently be reached?
Are Jehovah's Witnesses False Prophets and Cult members?
I say an unequivocal YES!