Nov 212009

I generally avoid using terms such as mind control cult when talking  about Jehovah’s Witnesses, but every so often the writers of the Watchtower publish something that makes it hard not to. Although I was a Jehovah’s Witness for over two decades and have been out now for over a dozen years, it still amazes me the degree to which Witness leadership seeks to exercise control over their followers.

The November 15, 2009 Watchtower study article (page 6 par 19) contains an example of this:

When we are being represented in public prayer, we need to display reverential “fear of God.” (1 Pet 2:17) There may be a proper time and place for some actions that would be inappropriate at a Christian meeting.(Eccl 3:1) For instance, suppose someone sought to have all in a group link arms or hold hands during prayer. This might offend or distract some, including visitors who do not share our beliefs. Some marriage mates might discreetly hold hands, but if they embraced each other during public prayer, those who got a glimpse of such conduct might be stumbled. They might think or get the impression that the couple was focusing on their romantic relationship instead of reverence for Jehovah. Out of deep respect for him, let us therefore “do all things for God’s glory” and avoid conduct that could distract, shock or stumble anyone.- 1 Cor 10:31,32; 2 Cor 6:3.

The first step to understanding this paragraph is grasping the concept of “being represented in prayer.” Not all Jehovah’s Witnesses are allowed to pray at meetings. Only “spiritually mature” men are allowed to open or close meetings with prayer lest some spiritually less mature man (or God forbid, a woman) might say something not in keeping with current Witness teaching or something that is otherwise inappropriate.

The idea of being stumbled over one thing or other is a common theme in Jehovah’s Witness teaching and culture. Jehovah’s Witness leadership take perfectly valid warnings about stumbling from Jesus and Paul and effectively employ them to their own ends. If they want to prevent the rank and file Witness from engaging in some practice or from adopting some form of dress or grooming, all they have to do is mention that someone might be stumbled over it. By doing that, they implicitly give permission for all Jehovah’s Witnessnes to be stumbled over it. At that point all the true Witnesses will refrain from that behavior.

By doing it that way they have effectively banned the practice or mode of dress without doing so explicitly. They have avoided the appearance of a mind control cult while exercising  the same amount of control over their followers as would any cult.

  8 Responses to “Behavior (Control) During Prayers”

  1. With all due respect, really as a Witness of over 30 years, it’s not hard to understand at all as to why a non-Witness, unaquainted with the Scriptural basis for what Witnesses do or don’t do, allow or dis-allow would view our practices as “mind control”. Fortunately for us as an organization we are not trying to appeal to the masses and thus waterdown what we feel our Scriptural stance on matters should be. I suppose if we did we might be as large as many other so called main stream churches. Rather our concern is upholding what the Bible teaches, striving to imitate the example of Christians of the first century before “Christianity” became stripped of it’s Chritian identity. Oversight of the congregation is carried out with an insistence on adhearance to the Bible, not to popular opinions. Lovers and seekers of truth will see this and be drawn to Jehovah’s people not through coercion or trickery but through use of their own powers of understanding and personal examination of our beliefs.

  2. Jeff, I was a Witness for about 22 years, 10 as a ministerial servant and another 10 as an elder – the first 5 of which I also served as a regular pioneer. I am very familiar with the basis of what Witnesses do or don’t do, allow or disallow. I see no Biblical basis for many things that the Witness leadership teaches – this one included.

    When I was still a Witness, during prayer I would almost always either hold my wife’s hand or put my arm around her. It wasn’t a matter of being romantic, but rather a matter of the two of us standing before Jehovah in prayer as a united couple – the “three-fold cord.” I can’t imagine that anyone would stumbled over it unless the idea had already been suggested as it was in that article.

    I don’t think that other religious organizations’ not addressing minutiae such as this has anything to do with watering down the Bible’s message or principals. It has more to do with them treating their members as adults, rather than children who need to be told whether or not they should hold their mate’s hand or put their arm around them during prayer.

    While I agree that Witnesses are not lead according to popular opinion, I do think they are lead by the collective opinion of the governing body and their helpers. As a longtime Witness, I’m sure you realize that when things like this are addressed in the pages of the Watchtower that it indicates that they view it as a problem. I’m amazed and appalled that those who claim to Jehovah’s channel of communication to mankind would have so little else on their minds that they would even think to address something like this.

  3. Dear Jeff:

    There is no such thing as “Christians of the first century” as the term “Christian” did not even come into use until at least 200 years after Jesus’ supposed murder. look up Nicean Counsel circa 340 A.D. (year of our lord).

    What you believe Christianity to be is actually “Paulinism” …. derived from his teachings… the world’s greatest salesman – Paul…

    Thank you,

  4. Well, I am intrigued. Jeff speaks as a devout JW should. In many ways it sounds like myself and my family. I am sixty three years old, the fourth generation JW, until I began to see much of what I have read on this site.
    David, you are also interesting. So do you believe that Paulinism, which is so much of the new testament was in error or worse,Paul was espouseing his own ideas and not God’s or Jesus
    Just curious.

  5. I would also like to add that the section about how to pray publicly was almost funny if it was not so sad. Small minds going beyond what is written and controlling every aspect of the JWs life.

  6. This is a very good summary, I located your web page checking yahoo for a related subject and came to this.thank you for post Behavior (Control) During Prayers | Doc Bob’s Blog .

  7. Greetings Doc Bob and Friends; 9-14-2010 Dallas Tx.
    As a JW of 24 yrs., now an Ex-JW since last year. I remember the governing body telling the congregations to “NOT” read anything from any outside source (circa 1985). I thought at the time that was rather crass of them, since I think I can decide for myself what is reasonable or not (I had been a JW for about 1 yr.). AS you may know this was as a result of the book “Crisis of Conscience”.

    Last year I found a copy and reviewed parts of this book and its story, from the brother that was in such a close and intimate position being in the governing body.
    In looking for a copy of this book I realized that many of the libraries that once had it on their shelf, had for some reason lost the books, I finally found one copy of it (several cities later). My conclusion about why these books were being lost was JW’s were removing them off the library shelves so they could not be read (just my intuition).
    Why do I say this? After seeing the lack of love in the congregations and negative experiences I lived through with people that called themselves JW’s, I thought to myself, this is not that unreasonable what the Ex-JW’s brother was saying.

    Experiences as a JW’:

    A little background on my experiences over these years to support this thought that somethings wrong here. In scripture most of us are aware that forgiving is required to be a Christian. In applying this I realized that myself being a Christian of only 1-2 years I was the one doing all the forgiving of brothers and elders that than been baptized for many years.
    The JW’s Org. tells us to not keep an account of the injury, (why would Paul write other Christians telling them about that person calling himself a brother, that had done him wrong?). I guess that scripture got missed in the WT lesson.
    I’m going to recount several of these episodes that happened to me (I’m not hung-up on these, but use them as a tool for “Food for Thought”).

    1. My first bizarre episode was at the steps of a Kingdom hall in 1985. I had arrived at the hall to meet an elder. I was there early by about 30 minutes more or less, then another elder arrived there before the elder I was to meet with arrived. This first elder flipped out over the fact that I was there waiting. Since I was there to go over my baptism questions, I cringed but didn’t say a thing. This elder was a very young brother and had such an arrogant attitude that it was shocking to say the least. My thought was he was meeting someone that he did not want me to know about (funny how intuition works). This was the first of several really negative episodes over the next few years.

    2. In going to a JW’s convention the next year, I meet an elder at a luncheon, he ask me if I knew how to get back to the west side of San Diego where the hotel he was staying at was. I told him such and such to the best I could help. Turns out I had told him to make a U-turn at a light that was at a very busy intersection. Later at the convention I got “the full load dumped on me” from him. I guess he was having a bad day (not a very level headed attitude for someone that could decide the fate of a persons judicial dis-fellow shipping matters), I gave him the benefit of the doubt.

    3. I married into a JW’s family of about 30 yrs. in the faith that had about half of the children in the faith (3), and the others (4) not. The father was a hard scotch drinker and had been relieved of being an elder over whatever the reason was at that time. Later I found out why; he had a problem with the use of his tongue as Paul warned of, and was presumptuous.

    My first negative episode with him was after spending a C-note on him and his wife for a nice dinner with their daughter (my wife )and myself. As most persons are aware of, we all experience digestive rumblings after eating sometimes and our bodies are telling us to “relieve ourselves”. Well before I could make a run to the restroom, I had a small “breaking of wind”, as we say. This led to an out and out blow-up that (not me, I held back) he got so worked-up over, its really sad to think that someone calling themselves a Christian could do that (over something so unimportant) and then go out door to door looking to find new followers.

    This led to a full breach of his applying the scripture ( don’t let the sun set on your anger without settling the matter quickly)that he would not receive me over the next several years or even any brother that knew him well, so we could settle this.

    4. I had a new electric guitar (very expensive) I had purchased and never used. I allowed a brother that had been several years as a JW’s borrow it. Later he being un-employed, I gave him some work at my shop. I even told him the pass code to get into the shop. He had his son with him, and when at the shop entered the pass code incorrectly. The police arrived and detained him while his son was present. Turns out he had a major rape sheet of criminal activities. Soon after I call to tell him I was needing the guitar back, I arrived to pick it up and is was reduced into every possible part.

    There were many other experiences I had over the years, but I think you get the idea, something in the congregation of JW’s are really wrong. Well I spent numerous hours thinking why or how these things could happen. Finally in 2009 I decided to leave the JW’s.

    The “Truth” was shockingly simple, JW’s don’t teach Jesus Christ. They teach the assumed name Jehovah, which in their own “Aid to Bible Understanding, pg. 884, states the a monk named Raymundus Martini in the 13th century coined this name “Jehova” by inserting the vowels from the name Adoni.

    Understand this; they are trying to have a relationship with the God of the Old Testament without having or being in union with Jesus Christ. They use the name of Christ sparingly at the meetings, but just enough to give the impression that Christ is being taught. Rather than a baptism into Jesus Christ, they have a baptism into Jehovah on the basis of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. They just do not get it, unless you have the “Love of Christ” which is defined as remaining in his word (doing the few things he ask us to do) which he (Christ) got from his Father in Heaven, he will not present you to the Father.

    I have lost a wife and children, the elders can be so controlling and dogmatic it is sad to think of all the broken families and lives. But this is why most of you are here posting or reading.

    I propose the following :

    1. With the aid of persons as yourselves, that have experienced these things, we unite to form a “TRUE UNIVERSAL CHRISTIAN CHURCH” based on teaching Christ, that without watering down or compromise, that allows interested non-Christians to understand what Gods basic requirements are for all of us in Christ. This church would unit Christendom by the “Known” facts of truth in Christ, and cut through the differences that create multiple churches and interpretations as they now exist.

    2. We need to unit and use our JW’s training to do as they do, but with the proper scriptures that expose their failures in love.

    IF we use “Love” most all of us know what this means, be considerate, thoughtful, kind, ect.] . If we use “Legalism” it gets confusing as the JW’s do, because they then need many books to understand the Bible.

    I say this for this reason; when the two “Witness” of chapter Revelation 11 arrive (Wither John the apostle or Elijah or Moses) whomever these two prophets are, they will feed us on the true and exact issues we are missing at this time.

    3. I believe that there is no salvation other than Jesus Christ, and since he has all authority on earth and in heaven (at least until he presents it back to GOD the Father after the marriage of the Lamb , after the second resurrection and judgment) , and all the Christian church enters into Gods “DAY OF REST” will we know and understand everything.

    SO we must develop better LOVE.
    Kind regards,
    Dewayne Riddle , Dallas tx.,

  8. Really?…Why are Ex Jehovah’s Witnesses so worried about what the Watchtower says?…Move on already…Well done Jeff ( ;