Can baptism be considered a legal verbal agreement?
Can you please elaborate? This is for my own education.
Religious affiliation is "at-will" in the sense that either party is free to break off the relationship at any time without any legal repercussions, which is pretty much the exact opposite of contract law.
The problem with JW's, is that disassociation and disfellowhipping are simply two different toilets in the same house. IOW Regardless of whether you break off the relationship with your congregation or they break off the relationship with you, the result is the same.
Understandably then, people try to avoid either of these two eventualities and this is where arguments about the validity of one's baptism come in. Both disassociation and disfellowshipping are administered through ecclesiastical tribunal. JW attorneys will argue you agreed to be subject to the ecclesiastical authority of your congregation at the time of your baptism. They will argue that nobody forced you to become a JW. They will argue that you made this choice of your own free will in full knowledge of the consequences of leaving. Even if you were baptized as a minor, they will argue that your conduct after attaining the age of majority demonstrates consent.
There's not much defense against that. (Unfortunately) In the "old days," JW's would announce a reason for disfellowshipping (e.g. immorality. conduct unbecoming a Christian, etc.) and in a tiny handful of cases, it did open the door to a viable tort. But they don't do that anymore and haven't in a long, long time.
I, however, can give a specific example about myself. I was baptized at 13 years old, obviously a minor. Personally I had truly no idea what it "REALLY" meant. We all know the story though, its what you "have" to do, or you are looked down upon.
Well, by the age of 17, I was unfairly DF'd. This was literally still as minor at the time. I had to deal with ALL the negatives that come with being "thrown out" of everything I had ever known. I lost the ONLY people I ever knew, it was highly traumatic.
Most DF'ings occur when we are adults, and everyone knows how hard, and traumatic that is, imagine being a minor.
Suffice to say, that event has truly impacted my life in a negative way. It defined further pain, and mental, emotional suffering, for the rest of my life.
This was done to me due to a verbal "contract", which was created when I was a minor, and the negative actions were also done to me as a minor.
Why could I not sue the org, for abuse to me, both mentally, and emotionally, BECAUSE of a verbal contract that I committed to at the age of 13? I did NOT continue to understand, and become a willing participant into adulthood, I was canned as a minor too.
TD: Minors are not able to enter into binding agreements in the legal sense, but as JW attorneys are fond of pointing out, your conduct after you attain the age of majority (i.e. Continuing to act as a JW) validates the agreement in the legal sense. Any possible claim that you didn't truly understand what you were doing evaporates into thin air at that point.
Except that, even years after reaching the age of majority, you may discover that the vows you made in good faith were based on inaccurate information. Whether knowingly or not, an agreement entered into on false information cannot be held as valid.
Don't hold your breath for a painless baptism annulment though, it'll never happen.
What if the verbal contract is a result of coercion?
How do they prove the verbal contract?
I suspect, if tested, their "verbal contract" with a minor or an adult wouldn't hold water.
There's no need to annul something that doesn't legally exist.
Understood.. but what happens when you uphold your end of the bargain after adulthood doesn't change the fact that you entered the bargain at an age not considered legal. That is why I was comparing it to getting a mortgage that your parents pay while you are still a minor but responsibilities transfer as you past 18. Your parents entice you to enter the agreement but as soon as you say yes is taken and considered to be your own will. So therefore, whatever happens at adulthood may happen, but at that very moment you were not old enough.
In that case, what prevents any other contract to be entered as a child. Wether is a marriage, a cell phone contract or an employment contract.... so long as you continue to uphold your deal until you are 18, then you are ok?
So by WT's standards of verbal aggreement if you promise in front of the whole congregation to brush your teeth everyday you are bound to do so forever? Shee-iit !😕
This just doesn't include jws. Other religions baptize minors, such as Baptists. But if members commit adultery for example, would they be kicked out or disciplined if they leave?
What do Mormons say?