A while back someone posted a question on here about Jehovah's Witnesses and asked if they can be considered a cult.
I was born and raised a JW and was disfellowshipped when I was 18. It wasn't until several years later that I realized they really are a cult.
When you say cult, you think of a small, isolated group of people that lives off in the woods somewhere with a single leader that might be married to a dozen preteen girls. Obviously that's not what you see when you look at JWs so you don't think they could be a cult.
However, when you look at the most common characteristics of a cult and compare that with the practices of JWs, the conclusion can be made that they are a cult.
A few main points:
- Cults follow rules as decided on by a man or group of men. JWs follow the guidelines set out by a group of men in the headquarters called the Governing Body.
- You are not allowed to question the leadership. Questioning the leadership's rules will lead to you being labeled an apostate and being shunned by all JWs.
- You are not supposed to read or listen to anything that is critical of the JWs organization. Going to a church or attending other religious groups is forbidden. They will ask you to read their literature, but they will not read any religious literature you provide to them. They believe all churches are from Satan. They won't even go inside a church because they believe it's the devil's house.
- Members are expected to devote the majority of their time and money to the group. JWs are supposed to go preaching door to door at least once a week and have to attend two meetings a week. The rest of the time they are supposed to be studying JW publications. You are strongly discouraged from going to college. The world is ending so they say you should spend all of your time preaching and trying to convert people.
-Exclusivity - JWs believe they are the only ones that God will not destroy at Armageddon. They believe salvation can only be achieved by following the JWs rules, associating only with JWs and by attending JW meetings on a regular basis.
- It is impossible to leave on good terms. If you commit a sin, or just disagree with the JW's teachings, you will be disfellowshipped. Disfellowshipping is when a group of three elders decide you are a unrepentant sinner and should be shunned. When you are disfellowshipped JWs can no longer talk to you, not even your JW family. They believe shunning you will force you into repenting and coming "back to Jehovah" a.k.a. the religion.
Disfellowshipping is very traumatic. Since you are not supposed to have relationships with anyone outside the religion, when you are disfellowshipped you are cut off from your entire social network. People have gone into depression and have even committed suicide when they are disfellowshipped.
Why do they Go Door to Door Preaching?
The reason why JW go preaching door to door is because they believe that is the only way to save people's souls. They believe in Armageddon which is when Jehovah God will destroy all wicked people, leaving only the good people to repopulate the earth and turn it into a paradise like in the Garden of Eden. They won't admit this to you, but they believe the ONLY people Jehovah won't kill are Jehovah's Witnesses. So their goal is to convert as many people as possible into becoming Jehovah's Witnesses before the "end" comes.
Lies and Deceit
Now, if you were to ask a JW if any of this is true, they will say it's not, or that I'm twisting the facts because I'm a bitter exJW. The JW leaders basically teach that the ends justify the means. In other words, they are taught that it's okay to lie about the JW's rules and practices, so outside people don't form a negative opinion of JWs.
They know if they tell people the ENITRE truth about their religion they would never get anyone to join.
Think about it- if a JW came up to you and said, "Hi, would you like to join our religion? You can't accept blood transfusions, even if your life is in danger, you have to follow all the rules as set out by a group of men's interpretation of the bible, you'll be discouraged from associating with your family and friends that aren't JWs, but if you want to leave you'll be shunned by all JWs." No one would join and they know that.
Now, don't get me wrong, the vast majority of JWs are good, law abiding people who think they are doing the right thing. But they are brainwashed. Think Pleasantville or Stepford Wives.
If anyone has any questions please feel free to check out: http://exjehovahswitnessforum.yuku.com/
It's a support forum for exJehovah's Witnesses, those who are thinking about leaving the JWs, and others who are interested in learning about the JWs.