A Response To “The Argument That Jehovah’s Witnesses Are Not Cult Members”

In no way are Jehovah’s Witnesses taught that they are higher than the laws that govern them, and are taught to obey the laws on a national, state, and local level. They are also told to pay any taxes, regardless of whether or not they are fair. A Jehovah’s Witness is expected to keep every physical, material possession, including money earned, any property, presents, money left by a passed loved one, etc.

theocratic warfareYes, Witnesses are taught to obey the government and pay their taxes. Except when that government orders Witnesses to do anything the Society tells them not to do. This includes military services, and even something called “theocratic warfare” (meaning it’s OK to lie to government authorities if the Society or its policies are under threat).

The last part about money earned or inherited is more or less true, though the Society does encourage families to leave their resources to the organization instead of to their loved ones. Again, I think Troy is comparing the Society to extremist groups who live on privately owned compounds and such.

Jehovah’s Witnesses are encouraged to think for themselves, and rational behavior / thinking are almost expected from members. No one is expected to seclude themselves from society and live somewhere special.

Wow. Troy lost me with this one. Need I remind him of the Society’s mantra, “Do not rely on your own understanding?” How about, “Avoid independent thinking?” What about all the times the Society has openly discouraged Witnesses from considering ideas that contradict its own for fear they’ll lose faith in it and its leaders?

Maybe that’s why Troy said that “rational behavior / thinking are almost expected from members?” Or was that a typo?

Sorry. I can be such a wise-ass sometimes.

There is no recruitment or testing that is conducted on Jehovah’s Witness members.

Troy, I’m going to take away your joke book. Seriously, bro.

Every Jehovah’s Witness is trained to be a recruiting machine. Heck, many of them were recruited by other Witnesses themselves! That’s what field service and Bible studies are for! Witnesses are even tested about the Society’s beliefs before getting baptized. So I have no idea what Troy is thinking here. This one’s just weird, not to mention unnecessary. Why even go there?

Is it just me, or are you getting the sense that Troy found a list of “things that cults do” somewhere on the web, and he’s just answering all the items on that list one by one to create his article? Not that that’s a bad thing necessarily…it’s what I’m doing here, isn’t it? But Troy seems intent on using points that get him into trouble needlessly.

Education and Knowledge that goes beyond the realm of Jehovah’s Witness literature is never looked down upon.

This is completely untrue. Again, do I really need to quote the Society’s literature to remind him of this? The Society often frowns on college or other forms of higher education. The perceived dangers of college are a topic of discussion in the literature and even at conventions.

Members are encouraged to live healthy lifestyles, including eating healthy, a healthy sleeping pattern, regular visits to a physician, and balanced nourishment. There are no weird diets or any programs set up that could be potentially harmful to members, and there is absolutely no thought reform methods or brainwashing of members.

brainwashingI was more or less with Troy until the last part about thought reform methods. To be fair, I should point out that terms like brainwashing are really unfortunate. They sound too extreme to be taken seriously. When we accuse the Society of brainwashing, it sounds like they’re taking recruits into secret rooms and pumping them up with drugs while bright lights are shown in the victims eyes. In reality, thought reform methods are quite simple and basic. They wear a person down over time, slowly altering the person’s behavior to conform with a group. Steve Hassan and others can do a better job of pinning down the Society’s methods than I can here.

Having said that, I should point out that it’s unclear to me whether the Society’s leaders know they’re practicing thought reform methods or not. It’s at least a possibility that they don’t see it this way. Some Witnesses have even told me that they know the Society is manipulating its believers, but they thought it was actually a good thing! So it’s hard to know what the Society’s leaders really think about their own practices.

It isn’t so hard to prove that the Society’s general approach to recruitment does incorporate levels of manipulation. The real question is: what levels are acceptable and what levels are not? What constitutes thought reform and what constitutes an acceptable attempt to convince someone that you are right?

Witnesses are encouraged to be honest with each other. There are no secret agendas that the Jehovah’s Witnesses secretly push. All activities they participate in are strictly for religious purposes.

I would basically agree with the first and third statements. The idea that there are no secret agendas being pushed is open for debate. Just do a search for Jehovah’s Witnesses or the Watchtower Society on the web and you’ll find plenty of sites that offer arguments both ways.

In the end, there is no evidence that would be conclusive to a Jehovahs Witness being a cult member.

Not according to your article, Troy. Maybe you should have written an article that reveals the most prevalent arguments being made against the Society and then refute them all, one by one. That’s the sort of article you can end with a claim like this. Right now, you just haven’t earned it. All you’ve done is list a bunch of assertions. In effect, you wrote: “Is the Society a cult? Nope. There, I proved it.”

I’m sorry, but no you haven’t. You need to do better.

If anything, they should be looked on as a legit, established religion or a Christian denomination.

Remember that I’m an atheist. So yeah, to me, the Society’s teachings are as real as any religion’s. I don’t consider this to be a victory for them, but it’s not a point against them either. Many ex-Witnesses would dispute me here, but for me, it’s no big deal either way.

There is no secret agenda, and everything a Jehovah’s Witness works for is strictly religious based.

We just covered that one. It’s debatable, but Troy hasn’t done any debating. He just asserted that it’s all good and demands we agree with him. Troy, that’s lazy. You have to earn it, man. Why not write a bigger, better article as a followup to this one? Assuming you can refute the claims that critics make in the first place, that is. Good luck, buddy.

There are no restrictions when it comes to Jehovahs Witness Dating and the Jehovah’s Witnesses are always adapting to society instead of condemning it.

cults join usI’m sorry Troy, but I don’t think you thought this statement through either. First, there are restrictions on dating among Jehovah’s Witnesses. Regardless of age, Witnesses aren’t allowed to date without a chaperone. They also aren’t supposed to date non-Witnesses. Oh, and don’t even think about pinching her boobs. Even some heavy petting could get you disfellowshipped. So no second base for you, laddie!

Second, the Watchtower Society is very big on condemning the rest of human civilization. Governments, neighborhoods, churches, it doesn’t matter. If you aren’t one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, then you’re worldly and that’s bad. The Society uses a lot of hyperbole to compare “the world” against Jehovah’s Witnesses. See, worldly people are the ones who go fornicating, robbing, and fighting amongst ourselves, while Jehovah’s Witnesses are usually represented as being filled with the very milk of human kindness, decency, and morality. Just pick up one of their magazines and you’ll see the sort of comparisons I mean.

No, Troy is very wrong here. Sorry man, but it’s true. You do read the Society’s literature, don’t you?

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If you have something to say to Troy, you can leave him a comment here. Some at JWD said they had already tried this and Troy simply deleted their posts. So you may want to post your reactions somewhere else, like JWD or even here. If you have a blog like mine, why not post a rebuttal there? Maybe Troy will see our rebuttals and have some responses worth thinking about? Could be fun.

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About The Atheist Geek

The Atheist Geek is a former Jehovah's Witness turned secular humanist. He's a lifelong sci-fi geek and a writer wannabe.
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3 Responses to A Response To “The Argument That Jehovah’s Witnesses Are Not Cult Members”

  1. Yeah, apologists are just unreal. “We’re not a cult because I’m a member and I say it’s not a cult.”

  2. Yeah, I mean, it would be great if he really had something to talk about. I’d like to see something like this presented as a REAL case. The fact that he doesn’t do this makes us suspect he doesn’t have such a case.

    I’d love to see a better argument made somewhere. Personally, for me, it depends on how high you set the bar before a religion can be considered a cult.

  3. Agreed. It really depends on the definition of “cult.” I pointed this out in the comment I left him. And, you know, the whole point of a cult is that a member trying to defend against the idea that it is a cult, will NOT realize it is a cult anyway. And this guy provides no citations from the Bible OR, get this, the magazines! Just word of mouth…doesn’t prove anything.

    Anyway, this is the comment I left:
    What is your personal definition of a cult, Mr. Simon? I think it depends on how one defines what a cult is. If you gave a clear definition at the start of your paper, that may have helped, but according to definitions provided by psychology professionals, this religion does fit the criteria. Even if it didn’t fit ALL the criteria, this relgion still shares some traits in common with what psychologists consider a cult. For example: You’re nor allowed to freely change religion after you become a baptized witness. To do so is considered leaving the truth and is thus considered apostasy. To speak out against the organization is equated with criticizing god himself and is another example of what is thought of as heinous apostasy. And, while the term “mind control” might not be appropriate word choice for having an objective discussion on the matter, the literature often admits to it. For example, some common expressions in the religion are: “Do not lean upon your own understanding,” “we cannot understand the Bible properly without Holy Spirit as provided by the Organization,” “Sometimes we may need to humble ourselves and align our priorities and thinking with God’s organization,” “Someone with doubts needs to be counselled and encouraged to make it back to the meetings,” “we must not follow unrealities or fall victim to worldly or apostate thinking.”

    Oh, and I just couldn’t help but leave a comment on another apologist’s site who loves to bash evolution:

    My question: Tom, if I may ask a question, your definition of micro-evolution is change that is restricted within one “kind.” Would you define kind as species? Because if kind is vague, couldn’t I refer to finches as a kind, considering all finches are finches after all? Because, while “finch” is one word, and we can call it one “kind,” finches are also a suborder.

    His response: Sleepy: sorry, I don’t know. Is kind only finches, or is it finches, robins and turkeys? Dunno. But it’s not crocodiles. Or panthers. Or worms.

    Hahahahaha! 😀 So, finches can evolve into other finches, just as long as they don’t turn into something not called finches. And worms are a whole G*ddamn Phylum!!! Conclusion: Primates can turn into other primates as long as they stay primates, animals can turn into other animals as long as they stay animals, organisms to organisms as long as they stay organisims!

    Sorry, I was excited. I’m pretty hot-headed when it comes to debating people on evolution, science, and atheism. I just shoot people down. Ha.

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