Friday, 27 June 2008

When is a Cult not a Cult?

The Watchtower, 15 February 1994 shows the Society reacting to being called a cult. We must realise that this article was very poignant set as it was in the wake of the tragedy of Waco. We read,

“Occasionally, anticult organizations and the media have referred to Jehovah’s Witnesses as a cult. A number of recent newspaper articles lump the Witnesses with religious groups known for their questionable practices. But would it be accurate to refer to Jehovah’s Witnesses as a small fringe religious group? Cult members often isolate themselves from friends, family, and even society in general. Is that the case with Jehovah’s Witnesses? Are the Witnesses using deceptive and unethical techniques to recruit members?” - The Watchtower, 15 February 1994, p.4.

A ruthless attorney could have a field day with that statement and as so often with the Watchtower Society they shoot themselves in the foot. They do isolate themselves and the do use deceptive practices as is shown in this and other Reachout publications. However, the article that follows on pages 5-7 with the catchy title, Are Jehovah’s Witnesses a Cult?, puts their defence in more detail. We will look at each major point made.


This is their defence against being a small fringe religious group. Here is a classic case of setting up a ‘straw man’ simply so they can knock it down. In the first article, they define a cult as a small fringe religious group and now they can say they are not one. This argument is easily turned on its head by asking the Witness if the Mormons are a cult. No question that they are to the Watchtower Society but their numbers are at least the same as the Witnesses. A cult does not necessarily need to be small. It is not the size that makes it a cult but the beliefs and the lifestyle.


In response to the fact that cult members often isolate themselves from friends and even society they quote from a Czech newsman, “They are people who are absorbed in humanity.” Not having any access to the original article there is no way of knowing what the man actually said, but is the phrase true of Jehovah’s Witnesses in general. To answer this we quote the next paragraph of the article with comments added [in bold italics].

“And they do not live in communes, isolating themselves from relatives and others. [They might as well live in communes the way the Society tells them to treat their relatives. We are receiving more and more phone calls from relatives of Witnesses who are not Christians, many describing themselves as indifferent to religion, but they are still shunned. The evidence of the way they treat relatives is seen in the Watchtower articles on disfellowshipping and disassociation, as well as the letters in our files] Jehovah’s Witnesses recognize that it is their Scriptural responsibility to love and care for their families. [Again many cases can be brought to show that this is not the advice that some elders give when talking about close relatives who do not want to be Jehovah’s Witnesses] ... How many other religions have an organized system to pay personal visits to every individual in their community? [I am afraid that they do not visit me and many others that I could list. When they do call at a door, it is only to say that they are right and not directly to care for the community]


Having placed this as a bold title, the WB&TS goes on to admit hat there are many things that they teach that are different to recognised churches. We have shown in many of our publications that according to evangelical Christians the teaching of the Society is not based on the Word of God. The Bible that they use has been changed as can be seen from page 16 of this booklet.


A claim is made here that,

“… the veneration and idolization of human leaders so characteristic of cults today is not to be found among Jehovah’s Witnesses.”
Yet, they do not question the Governing Body; they must never indulge in independent thinking but accept every word from their leaders without question. The leaders of the Societyare in a position unique in the earth; to them alone God makes His will known.

In the strictest sense of the words, maybe they are not venerated or idolised but the way they are treated they seen to be given a position that places them at least on a par with Jesus Christ.

Jesus said that He was God and that the way to the Father was through a close relationship with Him. We are told that we should be in Him and He in us. The Society says that He is not God and that the way to the Father is through the organisation. Leave the organisation and you no longer have a relationship with God. We are informed that we can only be in union with Christ and He in union with us. Who is the leader? Not Jesus Christ but the men who are at the top of the Watchtower Society.


It is sad to say but when we examine the defence of the Watchtower Society, we discover that Jehovah’s Witnesses are a cult and most of those on the doorstep will need help to see that. Take them through the information in this booklet and build bridges to them so that they have the opportunity to see another side of the story.

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