Saturday, 16 March 2013

The Melbourne Age on Jehovah's Witnesses

Is God Cruel? is the question on the cover of the latest edition of The Watchtower. The expected answer is no, but many Australians are asking whether the question is better directed at the Jehovah's Witnesses themselves, and there's some compelling evidence that there is a real problem.

Australia's federal government is currently making noises about removing tax exempt status from controversial religious groups, and the fingers are pointing at the inveterate door-knockers.

The Melbourne Age is running two stories sure to turn up the heat on the Kingdom Halls and the culture of the movement.

In one, in Friday's edition, senior writer Chris Johnston airs concerns from local "cultbuster" Raphael Aron. Whether or not Mr Aron can be relied on for professional distance from his subject is open to some question, but the JW policy of shunning, and allegations of sexual abuse against children, certainly raise legitimate questions.

In the Saturday edition Johnston takes a deeper look, focusing on the stories of ex-members like Bec Taylor. Together the articles do much to shatter the image of Jehovah's Witnesses as a bizarre but reasonably benign variation on a Christian theme. Former members of other minority Christian sects may find disturbing parallels with their own experiences.

Are movements like Jehovah's Witnesses, the Exclusive Brethren, the "Worldwide family" (to use David Barrett's term for the Armstrong sects), or even high-powered charismatic groups like Hillsong, inherently abusive to a greater extent than mainline churches, which tend to be less at odds with the wider society?

It seems that some of the unwanted visitors who knock at our doors clutching copies of Watchtower may be themselves struggling in a web of authoritarian abuse and suppressed doubt. Those of us who have walked a mile in similar moccasins might want to bear that in mind next time they come calling.


  1. The Jehovahs Witness organization is a religious racket cult.They lie, promote false predictions, and are nothing more than a publishing corporation and real estate developer.

    The Jehovah's Witnesses are one of two major groups that sprang up from William Miller's failed prediction of the return of Jesus Christ in 1844. The other major group that formed from the Millerites was the Seventh Day Adventists. The failure of Miller's prediction has come to be known as "the Great Disappointment." There were thousands of true believers who had given up everything they had fully expecting to be taken up with Jesus back in 1844. Much like the recent failed prediction of Harold Camping.

    The JWs are still around after numerous failed predictions of the second coming. I think the most recent was 1975. Since then they have given up on setting the date and reverted to an "any day now" policy. That one is nice and convenient because it never expires.

    The JWs are not without scandals. Child abuse, sadistic mind control tactics, sex scandals, money scams, general bad behavior -- you know, religion. -
    Danny Haszard

    FMI dannyhaszard(dot)com

  2. I understood the JW's a bit more than most of my neighbors ever did, because I had known what it was like to be part of an authority-heavy cult, and of cultic attempts to force members into a kind of a universal mind-set, falsely believing the deception that this was a function of the Holy Spirit. Although I joked about what to do with the door knockers on Saturday mornings, I was cordial and understanding, but firm with them. Sometimes when you met Jehovah's Witnesses during non-witnessing times, it was even possible to see a likeable human being.

    In much the same way as you can look at a Ford from the 1940's, and still see the same Ford mentality in their latest products, you can certainly tell that the JWs, Adventists, and Armstrongites are all spawn of the same movement. They certainly, by degrees, are infected by a preponderance of the same negatives.


  3. Well, if you have any JW friends or family members who are JW's, don't ever join the Watchtower Society because, if you leave, you suddenly become the lowest piece of scum who ever crawled on the face of the earth. Even your own family will turn their back on you as if you were the worst criminal who ever lived. They will tell everyone who will listen that you are mentally diseased and unfit to kidding! They will do their level best to make you lose your job, your credit, lose your home, break up your family and just about everything else short of assassination. Dangerous people to mess with to say the least.

    1. sounds like the wwcog, been there was a witness to their mind set.

    2. And PCOG (Gerald Flurry). What destruction.

  4. On Mr. Aron's March 15 article:
    For someone who has written two books about cults and has “investigated” Jehovah’s Witnesses, how little Mr. Aron seems to know of the issues he has raised. People are disfellowshipped because they are unrepentant violators of Bible principles. (1 Cor. 5:13; 6:9, 10) I’m sure Mr. Aron would agree that one bad apple does spoil the whole bunch. Would he allow his children to have friends who abused drugs or committed theft? Maybe Mr. Aron can inform us about what is being withheld from “potential recruits”. The Bibles teachings on things such as Christmas, Easter and birthdays are plainly spelled out to those we study with and it doesn’t take much research to find out these things are pagan in organ. Mr. Aron, who is an Observant Jew should go back and re-read his scriptures, especially Gen. 9:4; Lev. 3:17; 7:26; Deut. 12:16; 12:23 in the case of the use of blood, and Eccl. 7:1 on the matter of birthdays. Mr. Aron claims we are “not allowed” to do various things, making it sound as though we are captives of some sort. We study The Bible (in my case The King James version for two years with the Witnesses AND on my own) so we can make an informed choice, and adopt these as our values. NO! Mr. Aron’s article IS NOT well written and is full of prejudice and hysteria and he uses disgruntled, vindictive ex-witnesses as his source material.

    On DH's comment, We never said that on such-n-such a day the end would come. We expected certain things to happen and were a little over anxious to see this nightmare come to an end. How horrible!

    1. This is what I mean about the JW's. "Backstreets" compares people who have been disfellowshipped from the Watchtower Society with drug abusers and thieves. "Backstreets" doesn't mention that most ex-JW's are those who voluntarily left the organization because of abuse that had nothing whatever to do with them being "unrepentant violators of Bible principles" - actually, it was the other way around.

    2. The JW's are one of those cults where, if you quit them, they will disfellowship you for quitting and then say all manner of slanderous things about you. "Backstreet", above, is a perfect example of that very thing.

    3. You'd win more friends with honey than with vinegar, Backstreet. Your harsh, judgmental mindset comes across very clearly in your comments. As a reader who does not personally know any JW's, I can only assume your mindset is representative of the rest of the JWs. You can be sure I'll keep a safe distance from any JW's I encounter!

    4. This nightmare? Backstreets, I'm not experiencing any nightmare. I'm enjoy a rich, satisfying life.

      If you see today's world as a nightmare, perhaps you're looking a the world from a very distorted prism. I'd advise you to examine your premises, because the utopia you're looking forward to is just a dream. This life on this world is reality - let's all make it the best reality we can.

    5. Backstreets, you are painfully naive about the history of your religion. The Watchtower specifically stated the end would be October 2nd 1914. Then 1925, the within month of the 1930's, alluded to it for 1975 and specifically within the 20th century. See for scans of specific quotes.

      Further, people are not only disfellowshipped as "unrepentant violators". Many that get baptised in their youth are disfellowshipped when they later come to the realisation that the religion does not teach truth. Whilst branded as antichrist and apostate, really all they have done is grown in their understanding of the religion and the Bible.

      Others are disfellowshipped for things of a minor nature, such as smoking. No normal parent would shun a child for life over such a thing, and so it goes to show how powerful and insidious Watchtower indoctrination is.

  5. And some day, perhaps JW folks, along with remaining folks in other monotheistic cults will finally (in all of their study) discover the truth about early Israel's religion. Hint: It was not monotheistic. At best, it was henothestic, but really much more in line with and shared so-called "pagan" practices more than they want to know. Generally, today's judeo-christian sects are grossly ignorant of the true, "truth."

  6. As the Skeptic said: "I'm enjoy a rich, satisfying life."

    I heartily agree. Once I realized there probably is no god, my life improved out of site. No more angst over the coming apocalypse, no more guilt over sins as pronounced from the lecturn, no more judging others. The last one about not judging certainly added joy to my life, instead of discerning the sins of others, I was free to accept those different to my self and celebrate their differences.

    I've studied the Bible along with many other sources of information to make my informed choice and have much higher values as a result compared to when I saw only the Bible as a source of values.