Monday, April 6, 2009

Do Jehovah's Witnesses Have Freedom of Religion?

Of course, it depends on the country. Jehovah's Witnesses have successfully defended their religious liberties through litigation in many countries such as the United States. (See Supreme Court Cases Involving Jehovah's Witnesses.) In other countries, they face persecution and limits on their religious freedoms.

Jehovah's Witnesses have prided themselves on advancing religious freedoms. They should be given some credit for doing this. However, the focus of their activism has been to advance their liberties as an organisation. The story is quite different when it comes to the personal liberties and religious freedoms of its members.

There is a troubling contradiction here. It can be demonstrated by considering this standard of religious freedom as stated in Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, "Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief". Article 20 says, "No one may be compelled to belong to an association."

Unfortunately, the organisation of Jehovah's Witnesses doesn't respect these basic human liberties. They compel their members to stay within their association by imposing a nearly intolerable cost for resigning their membership. The penalty for leaving is enforced shunning by family and former friends. This causes many to stay in the organisation, despite their earnest desire to leave. These people don't have true freedom of religion.

Even resigning, with knowledge of the consequences, can be a difficult challenge. I have sent a letter of resignation and several follow up letters (some by certified mail) and I have not yet received a response. I don't know if they have honored my request to be removed from their membership lists. They claim that membership in their religion is voluntary, but their callous refusal to respond to letters of resignation would indicate that this isn't really the case.

Their attitude is highly hypocritical. They petition governments to protect their religious liberties as an organisation, but refuse to extend even the most basic courtesies in allowing their members to exercise their own personal religious rights.

If you would like more information, please see this discussion I started at Jehovah's

Sunday, April 5, 2009

A Good Article About Shunning Among Jehovah's Witnesses

The Bible Research blog has a good article about shunning as practiced by Jehovah's Witnesses, written by someone who has experience with shunning and being shunned. It discusses the consequences of shunning and why it works as a control technique.

Here is a heartbreaking excerpt, "When I was associated with Jehovah’s Witnesses I remember once a disfellowshipped woman with small children had attended a Thursday night Kingdom Hall meeting that ended about 9:45 PM. She was required to sit in the back and she could not speak to or be spoken to by anyone there. When we left the meeting this disfellowshipped woman was still there after 10:00 PM deep in a residential neighborhood with small children and a broken down car. We all did our duty to the Watchtower and shunned her. We did not offer to help her. I never saw her again."

Perhaps it should be pointed out that the leadership of Jehovah's Witnesses eventually said its OK to provide emergency assistance to disfellowshipped people in need. Still, there is a great reluctance to risk breaking the rules by having any contact with disfellowshipped ones. It's hard to believe that anyone would repress their natural human compassion to this extent in favor of organisation rules, but such is the result of the fear and mind control in the Jehovah's Witness organisation.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Shunning in the Twilight Zone

This is a weird video. It shows these strange floating balls that follow people around and identify them as being punished. I guess technology like that only exists in the twilight zone. The rest of the video is more down to Earth. It actually provides a fairly accurate imitation of the shunning practices of Jehovah's Witnesses and other extreme religions.

The Twilight Zone-To See the Invisible Man

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Niece of Scientology's Leader Discusses Disconnection

There has been a lot of talk recently about Scientology with the leaked Tom Cruise video and a video by Anonymous promising to fight Scientology's brutal policies. Now the niece of Scientology's current leader, David Miscavige, is speaking out in favor of the new, controversial and unauthorised biography of Tom Cruise.

Here is an excerpt from a news article where she discusses the policy of disconnection:

"In particular she challenges Scientology's denial that it puts pressure on members to break all contact with relatives who do not support the movement -- a practice known as disconnection.

Hill said it was this policy that broke up her own family.

"As you well know, my parents officially left the church when I was 16 in 2000," she wrote. Having been separated from them since the age of 12, she decided not to go with them.

But she added: "Not only was I not allowed to speak to them, I was not allowed to answer a phone for well over a year, in case it was them calling me."

Hill goes on to detail how Scientology officials intercepted letters from her parents and her friends.

She was only allowed to visit her parents once a year for a maximum of four days, she wrote -- and then only after her parents threatened legal action to get access.

When she returned from these visits, she was questioned to see if her parents had said anything bad about the movement."