Mack Moore ex-JW Recovery writes:
Yes, that is how they want people to esteem the magazine. They believe it is the unique mouthpiece of God. They call their organization “God’s wife”, and “the visible part of God’s organization”. They believe that by reading The Watchtower and related publications, they are receiving “spiritual food” from God. Not from their leadership, but from God. Not the bible, their publications.
They won’t admit it, but they even consider The Watchtower more important than the bible, for members can be (have been) punished for reading the bible independently, not under the guidance of of Watchtower publications. It is necessary, they believe, to let the organization contextualize bible passages for them, or they might “misunderstand”, which is contrary to the paradigm of direct inspiration of the holy spirit. Spirituality without inspiration is a sham.
They tell a story that “God has always had a visible representative on earth” (no matter how incommunicado), and strongly imply that, for the past 150 years, being God’s representative has been their role. They even claim that there have been “Witnesses” in existence throughout history, even though their organization was only founded in 1879. That’s, ahem, revisionist history.
While they don’t officially claim to be inspired prophets, they do make that claim unofficially, again and again and again. They frame their language very carefully so as to allow for plausible deniability in this respect, because they know it’s impolitic to claim to be an inspired prophet. But that’s what they believe. They repetitively encourage members to believe it, even though they don’t come right out and say it because doing so would be bad marketing.
Jehovah’s Witnesses are a cult. All cults use cult mind control. A given organization that doesn’t use cult mind control is not a cult. Cult mind control is the simultaneous application of many tactics designed to overwhelm a subject’s capacity to reason and make an original decision, and instead mentally conditions them to accept the group ideology without challenge.
The Witnesses claim to respect reason and original decision making, but then they actively undermine these things. Actions speak louder than words!
These tactics are multi-faceted and multi-layered. It takes great skill to perpetrate cult mind control. All leaders and members mutually enforce on one another, but they don’t call it “enforcement” or “cult mind control”, and don’t realize what they’re doing. They are conditioned to behave in certain ways, but they don’t realize that those behaviors are collectively known as “cult mind control”, and they don’t realize that all cults engage in those same behaviors.
Jehovah’s Witnesses call it “encouraging” one another, and “keeping the congregation clean”. Ideological purists consider an ideological mistake to be “spiritually unclean”, not realizing that “spiritually clean” means—not getting all the details right—but rather, radiating love in imitation of God, who is love. (1 John 4:8)
So they use their misprioritization of ideas over love and their obsession over ideology as an excuse to do hateful things to each other, including orchestrated deception, social pressure, psychological abuse, and repetitive indoctrination (brainwashing) centering around an unchallengeable ideology enforced in a totalitarian way in a closed socially-separatist community setting.
They permanently shun and cut themselves off, even from immediate family members, just for having disagreed with the organization. This is how cults destroy families. Ideology can be used to justify absolutely anything.
Cults take their ideology with deadly seriousness. They don’t tolerate dissent. They persecute dissidents into changing their minds; or if they won’t, they are expelled (in the case of political cults, they are executed).
I was a Jehovah’s Witness for 28 years. I remember many times being presented with such questions. They are meant to bolster courage, but they use shame and social pressure as motivation. They mean well, because they imagine that they are helping their members “stay on the narrow road leading off into life”.
There certainly are times for courage. Inspiring people to be their best is admirable. However, inspiring people and motivating them with shame and social pressure are not even similar. Treating The Watchtower magazine as if it were holy—as if it were the mouthpiece of God himself—is an indication of cult mind control and charlatanism, even if it’s unintentional.
Though holy spirit and angels are certainly active, God does not have a human mouthpiece today. Humans who claim to represent God are charlatans and political power mongers, although sometimes they mean well. Yes, it is quite possible to perpetrate great harm while motivated by good intentions. Good intentions are not enough.
There actually have been times when Jehovah’s Witnesses were faced with that choice, risking hanging to read The Watchtower. Why? Because many countries have banned Jehovah’s Witnesses and their literature for good cause, including Egypt, Dominican Republic, Argentina, Russia, Gabon, Uzbekistan, Angola, French Guiana, Albania, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Malawi, etc. Stories of hardship suffered by Witnesses in these and other countries are circulated to other Witnesses around the world for motivational purposes.
Perhaps cults (organizations that perpetrate cult mind control) should be banned everywhere. However, the Witnesses cannot conceive of any good cause, and don’t realize they are perpetrating cult mind control, which is mental slavery. They don’t get that there’s a problem with taking ideology too seriously. They don’t get that intellectual alignment with theology is not spiritual experience. One only learns to recognize these problems after exit and during recovery.
Like all cult members, Jehovah’s Witnesses actually do mean well (at least the rank and file do). They don’t realize they are perpetrating great harm, and making themselves slaves of men, by prioritizing ideas over love. Cultism boils down to ideological totalitarianism.
That which is “spiritually unclean” is not actually a mistaken idea, nor failure to submit to men pretending to speak for God; rather, it is failing to walk in love. And the correct response to “spiritual uncleanness” is not hatred or abandonment; rather, it is radiating love unconditionally.
God is not ideas. “God is love.” (1 John 4:8)
If you're interested in learning more about cults and mind control, please follow my Quora space "Freedom from Cult Mind". Thank you.