Whenever I think about the Bible, I flash back to some point of time when I used to belong to a patriarchal religious organization. Listening to the elders speak from the platform was a challenge, as I had to wrap my head around the most bizarre ways of thinking. For example, an elder used an illustration about when someone fell down and could not get up. He applied it to "Apostates" — ones who willfully left the organization. He said the "apostates" upon leaving — or being pushed out — lay on the ground and forever complained about how badly they were mistreated. His idea about what ex-members "should" do was "repent and get back in the good graces of the elders and God." I couldn't believe he said elders/God in the same breath. As if the elders and God are equal.
Another way of looking at his comment could be: Am I hearing an admission of abuse by elders in the congregations...?
When Pastor Russell received his channeled information to create a successful cult of followers, abuse was part of the setup. Russell was provided with tools by the channeling entity who called itself "Jehovah." Curiously, their religious doctrines condemn the practice of channeling entities. So, logically my next question is...What made channeling okay for Pastor Russell, but "wrong" for everybody else in the congregation...?
As a result of the channelings, the religion Pastor Russell created consisted of writing books, publishing them, then using all his followers to market them — distribute them door-to-door — for free! That is quite a business plan! Who else but a religion could get away with that type of exploitation! "Service to God," is what the religion calls book-marketing. The "Jehovah" entity promised Russell the plan would work — and it did! The Watchtower is purported by their society to be the most widely distributed magazine in the world! And the Watchtower corporations are all completely tax-exempt, too! Unfortunately, in the wake of this business-religion exist many broken families. One reason? When members get fed up with making money for the organization, and they wish to leave, they get "disfellowshipped" for their insubordination — their "disobedience to God." Once disfellowshipped, they are shunned. Being shunned means they are not allowed to see their family members who may still be obedient to the cult — errrr, God. Many family members don't even know why they are shunning their loved one. The rules clearly state not to have association with such a "sinner" — as they have been judged adversely by elder tribunals. A sinner by the religion's definition is anyone who does not follow the organizational rules, that is, God's rules.
So, when people leave in an attempt to reclaim themselves, set themselves free of the cult activity, be true to themselves, the entire congregation is conditioned to turn against them in a type of mob action. Either the members "shape up" or they get treated as dead — a kind of "spiritual murder."
When the congregation pressures its members in such a repressive fashion, it is true that sometimes members will fall on their face. Because the religion is the crutch and the elders, in effect, knock the crutch out from under "erring" members. Because the "disobedient ones" are co-dependent with the religion, how can they stand? They can't — they easily fall. Upon leaving, members are at their most vulnerable. Members are set up to fail upon leaving, having the fear of disfellowshipping instilled in them from their inception into the cult. Members have been indoctrinated — conditioned — to fear in this way.
So, when the elders and the cooperative ones in the congregation shun such "disobedient" ones, the isolation often became intolerable, and some would crawl back into the "safe" confines of the congregations. For some members born and raised into the cult, this fear was all they ever knew. It is how they were raised. It is how they were conditioned to think.
Thankfully, with the invention of the internet, such a controlling religion can't keep "apostates," — "defectors" — separated and isolated any more. Such ones have banded together in forums in the effort to heal from the religious dogma that was inflicted upon them — in my case, from birth. It is true that my "crutch" was kicked out from under me, and my children are not allowed to speak to me or "help me up."
By "up," the religion means "shape up and get back into the congregation, before Armageddon comes and God destroys you forever."
I write about this matter because I want the world to know what this religion known as Jehovah's Witnesses does to their members in the name of their "loving" God. They call themselves Christians. They call themselves followers of Jesus. They claim "transparency" yet, through my eyes, clearly they have one set of rules for the public and another set of rules for their members. Is this how Jesus behaved when he walked the earth?
The Jehovah's Witness elders' heavy-handed treatment reinforces my desire to stay away from them, even if it means "losing" my children. Using my gift of free will is too valuable to desecrate. My gift of freedom is too precious to waste. And I see lots of great healing going on in those forums! As a result of what I observe, I know healing from religious dogma is fully possible!
"Fear God and give him glory." This scripture from their bible tells me their god gets his power from generating fear within the ranks of their members. Their members are trained to fear god, fear the devil, fear displeasing the elders, fear breaking the rules, fear talking to ex-members — and on it goes.
But, to quote another scripture from their holy book: "...[P]erfect love throws fear outside." — 1 John 4:18 (NWT). If their members had this kind of love, would they have need of fear? Or would they have need of their fear-inducing god? It makes their religious dogma redundant. At least for me.
I have picked up my cot and walked — away in freedom!
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