Ask A Former JW: True Religion and Criticism

Ask A Former JW: True Religion and Criticism

This form was submitted: Feb 13 2005 / 15:55:06
by a visitor with this IP Address:

Name = Drew
Email = drew_anywhere@(edited out for privacy)
URL = http://
Message = I am amazed by the number of anti-Jehovahs witness sites. Other religions have very few in comparison. I wonder if the true religion would have many or few in a world so influenced by Satan?

Dear Drew….anywhere….

I can tell you are a JW yourself because this is a classic formulation and very familiar to me. So I’ll break it down.

The implicit argument rests on some false assumptions. First, there is an analogy between two dissimilar things: a world, which is satanic or as you say “influenced by Satan,” and people who are critical of any aspect of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Isn’t that a little bit like saying that those who oppose the invasion of Iraq aren’t real Americans?

It is true that there are many web sites with advice and warnings about JWs – and you will note that the majority are from former JWs. No-one talks much about the blood guilt of those led astray anymore, but many of these people were treated unjustly, without love or caring or concern or compassion. Their congregations certainly didn’t show the signs of the spirit according to the often quoted, hardly ever followed, 1 Corinthians 13. But of course, you’re not supposed to read their sites… or mine.

There are also many sites that warn about Scientology, the Church of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons) and other, even smaller, groups as well. Would you want to claim that these others should be judged as being “the true religion” (assuming there is such a thing) since many people are also critical of them? Are you really trying to imply that the true religion would be the one most criticized? In that case, I guess we should all get out the cool-aid!

Sometimes criticism is valid, and any group working together for wisdom and guidance would have to be able to freely argue the points of contention. Of course, that is not allowed. I remember being called a “rebellious youth” simply for asking a question for purposes of understanding at a time when I simply looked for guidance from those toward whom I had utmost respect.

In any case, persecution – what JWs (and others) like to rely upon in this kind of argument as proof of their religious status – is about not being allowed to worship God in freedom. It has to do with punishments from cultures and governments which do not allow freedom of religion, who do not allow religious expression outside of what the ruling class or majority can find acceptable, tolerable, and recognizable as valid forms of worship.

Jehovah’s Witnesses have faced persecution – around the world and probably most notably during World War II – but I think it’s a little much to argue (and especially in an underhanded way that no-one outside of a JW or a neo-republican would recognize as valid) that web sites which are critical of JW destructiveness to families, lack of compassion and support, etc etc have a “satanic” dimension.

JWs themselves are so intolerant of others that they won’t even allow a family member to enter a church or a synagogue or a mosque for a wedding or funeral. They want freedom – but only for themselves to control others. The leadership collects benefits, but they don’t allow the people to vote. It is, of course, impossible for the organization to admit it might be wrong about anything, but that “new light” of understanding is blinking pretty hard for a people who haven’t even gotten around to absorbing the milk of human kindness yet.

The fact is that the organization is very controlling, and often uncaring of the spirituality of its members. I have many issues with the hidden leadership, but individual JWs I have met in my lifetime are often fine people. When they write to me with problems and tell me that they cannot talk about them or get spiritual guidance from anyone at the Hall, I feel badly for them. When people, following the direction of the organization, are cruel, simply cruel, to family and friends, it is hard for me to accept that there could actually be so LITTLE spirit, so LITTLE wisdom. Even a few people gathered together in a simple spirit of love know more of God than that.

I believe that the good news of Christianity is about love and forgiveness and kindness, not about the destruction of most of the world and its inhabitants. What kind of good news is that? I don’t believe that God wants us to be slaves in service to any worldly organization nor to any traditions of men, but rather to have a relationship with others such as Jesus modelled. We are meant to see the spirit in every human being. You reference “the least of these my brothers,” and still you turn away even your own when they have been broken or twisted by the psychology of the organization.

Have you asked yourself why pedophilia and sexual issues generally are such a problem in all such authoritarian groups? Ask yourself. Ask yourself why – and “pay attention, hold fast to what is fine.”

Should it turn out after all that God is not the god of love but the god of destruction, then he wasn’t worth my regard or worship anyway. I model myself after Jesus (among others), not Paul, and I don’t believe that God is much interested in our little organizations whether they be based in New York or in Rome or in Jerusalem.

I thank you for your question. It’s a classic, and it has been a healing exercise for me to be forced to think it through, write it out, and give it back. I hope it helps someone else.

Addendum: Response

I did try searching “mormons” before I made the comment I did. Perhaps 20% of the google finds were anti-mormon compared to probably 90% for the witnesses.

I must disagree with your comment on the congregations being without love or compassion. I am sure there are examples of injustice, or where the elders have got it wrong or made mistakes, jumped to conclusions and the such. But from my experience I know them as places of real love and care. I’ve travelled around the world and turned up at congregations where I know no one (sometimes not even the language) and been welcomed like a long lost brother. When someone unknown comes to our hall the witnesses go up and talk to them and try to make them feel welcome. My family were Presbyterian before my parents studied the Bible. When they went to see the minister they were told they needed an appointment, and their letter withdrawing from the church never got a reply.

If I rang an elder in my congregation and said: “John, I don’t think this is the truth.” He’d drop everything and be around in five minutes to talk it over with me using God’s word. Why? Because he’s paid to? Because I give them money? Because he want’s control over me? None of the above. They cares about the congregation.
Alas, they are imperfect. They make mistakes.

I think there must be a true religion. God has always had an organisation that represents him. The nation of Israel in ancient times. The Christians congregations in the first century. (Always imperfect. Alas) But overlooking the mistakes we see the truth. Do we conclude Jesus apostles didn’t have the truth because they made
mistakes? Why would I give up something that makes 95% sense, when nothing else I know scores more than 50%?

You mentioned what the Bible says about God bringing an end to this system. Most Christian religions don’t even know that. I asked a pastor on a plane once what the Kingdom of God is. I asked at least twice in the conversation and she couldn’t answer me! She didn’t even know the basics of what the Bible says.

What is the truth if the Witnesses don’t have it?

Anyway, you are right. I shouldn’t read such sites. It will do me no good spiritually. However I thank you for your thoughts. If there is a God (and we both know there must be) and the Bible is his word (I suspect you are sure of that to) we can all draw closer to him and the truth by studying it. John 17:3 eh?

All the best

Thank you, Drew, for your considered response. I am happy if your experience has been otherwise than those who are critical. I’m not sure that you have fully grasped that my objections have to do the with controlling and corrupt nature of the top-down organization and not with individuals. I don’t approve of any such organizations, nor do I believe that any such group has the whole truth. No, I don’t believe that the apocalypse is near, nor do I believe that the Bible is God’s only word – far from it. But I appreciate your graceful reply and I too wish you all the best.


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