SHORT CHRISTIAN READINGS SELECTED FOR FORMER JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES
EDITOR'S NOTE: This "unsigned" article is somewhat "dated" -- probably having been authored back in the 1990s. (The anonymous author admits to having used Dr. Bergman's writings as a basis for this article, but several edited factors point to Bergman not being the anonymous author.) Any of the few discussed "issues" which are no longer issues in the 2020s likely have been replaced by even more ridiculous issues. This article is more than worth the time and effort that it takes to read it. Often, it "helps" former JWs simply to "remember" some of the more amusing difficulties heaped upon them in the past by the WatchTower Cult. Those under the age of 30 should read this article just to see what life was like as a JW just before they were born.
Mental Illness and the Jehovah's Witnesses
"Happy is that people, whose God is the LORD" Psalm 144:15. This indicates if a person's God is the LORD, Jehovah, he will be happy. If his God isn't Jehovah he may not be happy. If he is miserable, certainly his God could not be Jehovah. If people are following God in the right way, they will be characterized by happiness. Thus, the mental health of a Jehovah's Witness speaks greatly of their relationship with God, or lack thereof.
Psychiatrists have an important tool they use to diagnose mental illness. For a parallel, consider medical doctors. They use tools like the thermometer and the stethoscope. If a person has a lot of germs in his body, the temperature will rise. A thermometer helps detect the problem. The doctor can also tell a lot about a person's physical health by the stethoscope.
The Big Question
Psychiatrists likewise have a simple tool that they use -- a simple question. That question is, "Are you happy?" If the person says, "No. I am miserable," he has revealed the chief indicator of mental health problems. If a person is happy and is honest, we cannot really say he is sick. Mental health does not look at any disease process in the body tissue. It primarily looks at -- "Are you happy?"
Let's ask that question of Jehovah's Witnesses. "Are you, as a Jehovah's Witness, happy?" Dr. Jerry Bergman's experience of working with hundreds of Jehovah's Witnesses and congregations of Jehovah's Witnesses for over 20 years is that they are miserable people with very few exceptions! They know they are not happy. But are they going to tell that to others? NO! Rarely, will a JW sit down and tell someone else their problems.
A medical doctor has an advantage from doing therapy with a JW year by year. Naturally, when they are coming for help, they are going to tell their medical doctor what are their problems. That is why they pay doctors to help them. JW patients know that they have to be honest and tell how they feel in order to be helped. Imagine going to the doctor and the doctor says, "Well, how to do you feel?" The patient responds, "It is none of your business!" That patient could not be helped very much. Many medical doctors have found a large number of Jehovah's Witnesses to be very unhappy people. Often, they are miserable!
What are some of the problems had by Jehovah's Witnesses? All kinds of mental diseases could be listed. Essentially, the main problems are depression, feeling of helplessness, worry, doubt, and conflicts in the congregation.
The Elders try to enforce extremely rigid -- sometimes arbitrary and ridiculous -- rules. For a few years, wire-rimmed glasses were condemned. If a person came into a Kingdom Hall with wire rims, that individual would have to sit down for a conference. He would be told, "We notice you are wearing wire rims. You are falling out of the truth. We are concerned about this. We think you need help." It becomes absurd after a while. And as you can imagine, trying to enforce this much rigidity and this much conformity, creates problems. When one really believes the Watchtower is God's organization, the Elder becomes God's representative. In a sense, what he says is almost like God saying it. Therefore, if an Elder says a person is immature because of wearing wire-rimmed glasses, that is like God saying you are immature because you wear wire-rimmed glasses! This causes people to feel depressed and to say, "I'm a bad person! I'm terrible!" And naturally they feel guilt, worry and doubt.
Jehovah's Witnesses try to paint a picture to outsiders that they are happy people to give a good impression of the Organization. They want to convey the idea, "We are all happy. Join the Watchtower Organization."
Psychiatrists, psychologists, researchers and other sources have much to say about the emotional problems of the Jehovah's Witnesses. Hundreds of Jehovah's Witnesses were contacted including a number of high-ranking officials in the Watchtower. The leadership typically responds, "But we do not know what to do!" Then they reject solutions. While Jehovah's Witnesses lack happiness, they are obligated to pretend as if they have it.
"Well," you might ask, "How do they rationalize this? How do they go around believing, 'We have the truth. God is with us. He is using us. And yet we are miserable'?" Some of the Witnesses conclusions sound rational even though they are false.
First, they believe that members inside the Watchtower Society are God's people. Everybody outside the Watchtower Society is of Satan. They believe that Satan tries to do everything he can to be nice to those outside of the Watchtower because he has all of them. JWs consider those inside the Watchtower to be Satan's failures. Therefore, Satan tries to make everyone inside the Watchtower Society miserable.
The Witnesses reason that their general unhappiness -- thinking the people on the outside are possibly happier -- proves they are God's people. If you reason through the problem with them in this way, they would probably say, "No, not quite." But in conversation you can see they really believe it.
On the other hand, the WatchTower Society teaches the opposite. They teach that the only ones who are truly happy are those within the organization. They say that those outside are miserable because they are not in God's Organization. The contradiction is somewhat upsetting to Jehovah's Witnesses; but they should at least think about it.
Many Jehovah's Witnesses are aware of the serene contentment of godly Christians. This can cause them some paranoia. Psychiatrically, the most common mental illness among Jehovah's Witnesses is known as paranoia schizophrenia. Most studies show that it is at least four times higher among the JWs than among the non-JWs. One can understand how they would become paranoid. They see people outside of the Organization who seem to be happy, while Jehovah's Witnesses are not happy, and they know that they aren't happy.
When a Christian talks to them about their error, it often makes sense. How would you expect the Jehovah's Witnesses to react? Frightened! It is frightening to people to feel they are wrong. At this point they can either change their beliefs, or they become paranoid or crazy with mental illness! Jehovah's Witnesses commonly refuse to acknowledge any value from what other people have to say.
RAMIFICATIONS OF THE MENTAL ILLNESS PROBLEM
Jehovah's Witnesses constantly point to the worst in everyone else. They are the biggest pessimists in town. When something happens somewhere in what they call "Christendom", they immediately grab on to that and exaggerate it. Jehovah's Witnesses constantly talk about food shortages, and people being laid off. They are constantly worried about droughts and earthquakes. When something like this happens, they all talk about it.
What would you expect from such a negative view of life? People become depressed. Many times Jehovah's Witnesses go home from a day out in field ministry very depressed after talking about all these things. It frightens them. Many school age and preschool JWs have nightmares from what they hear. When parents talk about the tragedies in the world all the time, how would you expect young people to react? They become very frightened and very insecure.
In pointing to the worst in everyone else, Jehovah's Witnesses have a distorted view of people. They are suspicious of everyone. They tend to feel everyone else is bad and out to get them in one way or another. They feel that a large percentage of non-JWs are homosexuals, sexually promiscuous -- thinking only of material things, and are really the lowest sort of people. How do JWs respond to others? If you felt that everyone out there was a homosexual, a murder, or a cheat, you would be pretty careful about associating with those kind of people. Should you be friendly with them? "You'd better not! They might be homosexuals!" Jehovah's Witnesses are fearful of associating with other people.
Jehovah's Witnesses beliefs about other people causes them to isolate themselves. They live in a world of their own. They live in constant fear of everyone else. How difficult to believe "My friends at the Kingdom Hall are the good people, and I wonder about them sometimes. But everyone outside is bad and trying to get me."
Thus, Jehovah's Witnesses can't enjoy other people. They really can't help other people. They are afraid people are going to ensnare them in something -- in all kinds of things. This fear, in psychiatric terms of alienation, is called "anomie". A separation is established. Psychiatric problems are a very significant factor in developing mental illness. If a person has plenty of friends and can satisfy this need for company, affiliations, associations and to feel at one with man, he will go a long ways toward avoiding mental illness.
It would help if Jehovah's Witnesses could satisfy the need of trust within the congregation. In other words, "O.K., everybody out there hates me, and I hate them, but at least if I have my brothers in the congregation, I'll be all right. I'll have friends."
But what happens? What happens when you have an endless list of rules that condemn incredible things? For example, calling a bulletin board a "bulletin board" is taboo. The term is improper because the Roman Catholic church calls it a bulletin board. Therefore, you have to call it an "information board". If you slip up one day and call it a bulletin board, the other JWs will look at you and say, "You are immature. You are not very well grounded. You must be falling away." What a difficult situation to be in! Then people inside the congregation go around and condemn each other. They are suspicious of each other. If a person slips up, they may stay away from him and avoid any unnecessary association -- called "marking" them, and "shunning" them.
Jehovah's Witnesses cannot satisfy their societal needs within the congregation. They cannot feel "at home" and as "one" with those inside the congregation. It's hard for them to respect each other, because they are constantly breaking the minor taboos, and occasionally, some of the major ones. What happens? They feel alone in the world. They feel, "I am the only one! I am all by myself." That is a very difficult feeling to live with.
This condition is incredibly strong in developing mental illness. People with a lot of friends do not tend to develop mental illness. Rather, the people who do not have many friends are the ones who are quite susceptible. Every psychiatrist recognizes this law of behavior. You need friends! It's like the law regarding food. If you do not eat after six months, what is going to happen? You are going to die! If you do not have friends, if you live by yourself, and isolate yourself from other people for six months, you'll suffer mentally. Various scientific terms describe this. A person literally withers away without friends.
The hermit, in contrast, may do all right because he makes up imaginary friends. He talks to them and has fun with them. Or animals become his friends. Since animals do not fully replace people, a hermit tends to act a little strange after a while. The stereotype is that he will become mentally ill and talk to himself. But, why would he talk to himself? He does not really have friends.
Isolation is a very important factor which influences the development of mental illness among Jehovah's Witnesses.
Another contributing factor leading to mental illness is that Jehovah's Witnesses eventually become afraid to talk to each other. For example, if you and I were both Jehovah's Witnesses and I told you all my problems, what may happen?
Consider the problem the Watchtower Society had with wire-rimmed glasses and colored shirts for a period of time. If I sat down and told you I secretly wanted to wear these, what may happen? You may listen and you may understand and try to help me. But you might not. You might go to the Elders and "report" my "sins". Then what? My sin, or my contemplated sin, may become a subject of gossip in the congregation. This commonly happens. The first, second, or third JW in whom I confide may not expose me, but it will happen, eventually. When a JW confides in another JW, that person might listen and seem to try to understand or he may condemn the individual. Then the problem shared in confidence becomes the subject of congregational gossip. What happens next? You would not confide in another JW again! Then what happens? Again, isolation!
DETECTION OF THE MENTAL ILLNESS
A person may ask, "Well, how do you know for sure the mental illness rates are so high among the Jehovah's Witnesses?" What scientific studies are available to show it is high?"
One study was done by an Australian psychiatrist named Dr. Spencer. He included every admission to several mental hospitals all over Australia and determined the number of those admissions who were Jehovah's Witnesses. He did so by asking admitted patients if they were Jehovah's Witnesses. Quite a few Jehovah's Witnesses would say, "I am not." They often would not admit on record that they belonged to the WatchTower Society. One reason for their denial is that the WatchTower Society looks down on psychiatrists. Secondly, many Jehovah's Witnesses are willing to protect the Organization's reputation -- even when they are hurting. In spite of some dishonesty, Dr. Spencer found that paranoia schizophrenia was four times higher among Jehovahn's Witnesses than among the population as a whole. He agrees this is probably an underestimate.
A Swedish psychiatrist named Janner did a study on all those who were imprisoned because of their objection to military service. This was a good sample of Jehovah's Witnesses, because in essence he had access to every male between the ages of 18 and 26. He psychiatrically examined all of them. Janner found that of all those held, 85% were Jehovah's Witnesses. He found the mental illness rate was about 40 times higher among the Jehovah's Witnesses than among the population as a whole. Statistics taken at face value are simply estimates. Probably a few JWs acted insane in order to go on hospital status which was a better atmosphere. Others who were rated as insane were only trying to act insane. Others, because of the trauma of being in prison, actually were insane. However, they may have behaved somewhat normally in their life outside. The estimate is probably high; but it does say the percentage of the mental illness rate is much higher among the Witnesses than among the population as a whole.
A study by Precore in 1949 was an examination of all Jehovah's Witnesses imprisoned because of their objection to the selective service law. He found, 16% were in the hospital for one reason or another. Of these 16%, 44% were diagnosed as psychotic. 50% had medical problems as blindness, deafness, or some other problem. In other words, Precore found that 8% of the total Jehovah's Witnesses diagnosed were psychotic. Psychotic means you are legally insane. 8% means the mental illness rate, according to the study, is again about 40 times higher among Jehovah's Witnesses than among the population as a whole.
Another study was by Rylinder, who examined Jehovah's Witnesses in prison also because of their conscientious objection. He found that the mental illness rate was 32 times higher than the rest of the population.
We are aware of no study where the mental illness rate is the same or lower for Jehovah's Witnesses. The research says, it is much higher.
IDENTIFICATION OF THE REASONS FOR THE MENTAL ILLNESS
Why is the mental illness rate high amongst Jehovah's Witnesses? One common reason is, even though the Jehovah's Witnesses are dedicated to the Watchtower Society, the Watchtower doesn't seem to be very dedicated to Jehovah's Witnesses. They seem to be very callused.
Dr. Jerry Bergman worked at the "First Aid" station at one of the larger summer Watchtower assemblies. One of the JWs working with Berman was a medical doctor. He related to Bergman that at a previous assembly three infants had DIED of sunstroke. Younger children can very easily dehydrate and die in the sun. The doctors thought they would go to the administration and ask them to just make an announcement, "Mothers, be careful! It's hot out here. 90 degrees. Don't put your infants in the sun and leave them there for two hours." They refused. They said, "We can't spend precious microphone time with personal announcements." Both of the doctors later left the WatchTower Cult, and found a real relationship with Jesus Christ.
At the Brooklyn headquarters, a teenager was working on an elevator and fell down the shaft. Why didn't the Watchtower have someone working on it who knew what he was doing? Another was working on a press and lost his arm. They sent him home with nothing! "You can't work here anymore. You can't run a press with one hand." There are similar incidents.
Back in the 1960s-70s, during the WatchTower Cult's influx of new members due to their "1975" predictions, it received numerous written complaints from those naive new members. However, if a JW writes the headquarters a 10 page letter, he may receive a brief response in 6 months, "We've received your letter. Thank you."
Some Jehovah's Witnesses have spent years doing research, even typing sixty pages of their study, and the Society simply responded, "Thank you. We have received your letter. When we get time we will look at it." They do not acknowledge the observations or the value of the report. If the study is wrong they should say, "It is wrong." They sometimes do, but they usually don't.
How would you feel after doing a lot of research and trying to be helpful? After this happened to one JW, he sent another letter saying, "Dear Brothers, if you were a baker and discovered there was poison in your bread, would you say, 'Well, we'll take it out when we have time'?" In other words, "I think I have found some poison in the teaching. If it is poison, you should take it out. Now! If it's not poison you should let me know so I can take it out of me. But let me know!" Again, they were too busy. That's upsetting! One could cite dozens of examples where the Watchtower was not at all responsive to the needs of the Witnesses. On those few, rare occasions when the WatchTower Society does send some limited response that may seem valid and logical to them, their conclusions often are way off.
The Witnesses express a constant concern over the picky stuff. The white shirts were an issue for about 4 years. The wire-rimmed glasses were an issue for about a year. Hair is a perpetual issue. It is said the Jehovah's Witnesses talk about dress more than anything else other than the Amish, Mennonites, and Holiness. The talk is mostly critical of what other people are wearing. They are very preoccupied with this, partially because they are overly concerned with the image they are trying to present. Much is spent on the proper attire to make each one a clone.
Another problem stems from the continual stream of articles in their publications which present ideas that are completely foolish. For example, one idea originating from one of their leaders, Albert Schroeder, is that one's feelings, attitudes, likes, and dislikes are not from the "mind" but from the "heart". They believe that when Scripture says the "heart" reads a man, that the "heart" is literal. They should know the Greek word actually means the seat of the emotions. The Watchtower taught the literal heart is what makes you think! "You do not think in your brain. You just store things away in your brain. The heart does your thinking." They asked at an assembly some years ago, "Now is this a pump? No. It is not a pump. This is where feelings, ideas and spirituality emanates." A clear problem arises from their supposition.
Surgeons have taken the physical heart out of the body and replaced it with a plastic heart or another person's heart. The Watchtower taught the heart is the place of feelings and if you took it out and replaced it with a plastic heart, you would not have any feelings. But what happens when a physical heart is replaced with a steel pump? The person thinks, acts and feels the same way. His feelings don't change.
For a while, the WatchTower Cult taught that if you received the heart of a criminal in a heart transplant (or their blood during a blood transfusion), you would become a criminal. You would take on that person's personality. There is just no evidence for their preposterous idea. It's foolishness! Jehovah's Witnesses talked about this for two years. They have not brought it up for several years now as far as I know. Someone must have let them know the whole idea is just totally wrong, totally fallacious. You can't be saying things like that without loosing more credibility. That "new light" was not very bright! They apparently have not come out to admit their heart idea was wrong, unless it was just recently, but they may have to sometime.
The social problems among Jehovah's Witnesses are critical. Amongst themselves, they say, "When you move into a new congregation, you love everyone, at first. But after six months you find out everyone's faults and they find out your faults. Then the Witnesses don't like each other anymore."
A religion that stresses "works for salvation" inspects their people. They have said, "If you have long hair, you won't survive Armageddon. You will be destroyed forever." So naturally, they are very concerned about outward appearances. To wear wire-rimmed glasses meant for a time a person was obviously lost.
As a result, "I'd better not associate with you. Your badness may contaminate me, causing me to be lost. So, I have to be leery about you." Speakers at the assemblies say, "Remember, not all those on the inside are really Jehovah's Witnesses." Witnesses look around and think, "Maybe he is not really a Jehovah's Witness." They do not really trust all the others. The Witnesses are constantly suspicious of anyone who is different. If a person is different in some why, he is going to be singled out as, "Well, maybe he is not quite a Christian. Maybe he is not a good Jehovah's Witness."
Jehovah's Witnesses look down on certain "differences" amongst themselves. This includes both higher education and lower education. They are very suspicious of college graduates. Not many college graduates are among them. They are also very suspicious of people with very low levels of education. There is pressure for everyone to have a high school diploma -- no more, no less. They are rigid on that. Although if you only have a grade 10 education the pressure usually is not so great.
A JW with a Masters degree or doctorate is very hard for them to deal with. Anyone with education is a threat to them. They are preoccupied with humbling people, especially those who are well known, and those who have good jobs. To what does the humbling amount? Putting you down!
They constantly put down wealth from the platform. In essence they are saying, "If you are wealthy you must not be a Christian. You must be bad, or you are likely bad." The same holds true with education or prominent jobs. What happens under this constant degradation when people happen to be Witnesses and happen to be wealthy? They are going to have a hard time. They are susceptible to an inferiority complex. This is exactly what happens to those who are different.
Jehovah's Witnesses are constantly striving for organizational status within the Jehovah's Witness congregation, since they cannot have much status outside the congregation. Working toward promotions is wrong. They cannot get a good job that may take away from Kingdom Hall responsibility -- that's wrong. They can't do well in sports -- that's wrong. They can't perform in front of an audience -- that's wrong. "You are exalting yourself." You can't do well as an artist -- that's wrong. "You are exalting your own works."
They are constantly criticizing whatever things people do to be liked and to be respected. The Witnesses tend to think the only ones who can earn recognition is the Watchtower Society. All glory should go to the Watchtower Society (and Jehovah). A lot of Witnesses give up their careers. One Witness had the opportunity of going to the Olympics, but they convinced him not to. "Oh, you are bringing glory to yourself and the nation." What happens to these people? They become frustrated. They have no place to say, "Look what I accomplished."
The exception to the restricted personal promotions is within the Kingdom Hall congregation. As a result there is a conflict for status and a power struggle. The men jockey for the position of "Elder". The Witnesses respect that term. They do not just say, "An elder." They say, "He is, an ELDER!" A lot of prestige goes with the office.
Men constantly suggest, "Well, I know Brother Jones does not study his Watchtower every week. I do not think he would be qualified as an elder. I study my Watchtower every week. So, brothers, I would appreciate you taking that into consideration when the appointment for ELDERS is made." Men constantly talk this way. Then when a person becomes an ELDER, others try to shoot him down. If there are 20 elders, one doesn't have much status. If there are only three he has more status. So, "I am an ELDER. These 19 other men are Elders. If I can remove them, I am more important."
A similar scenario happens with the "Pioneers". Constantly, JWs remind other JWs of their own status. "I am a PIONEER!" At an assembly or convention where one may be surrounded by JWs one does not know, within 10 minutes you will know who are the Pioneers, and who are the wives of ELDERS, and even who are the wives of "Ministerial Servants" (deacons). JWs walk by and say, "Hi. I am sister Jones. I am a Pioneer!", or, "My husband is an Elder", or "My husband is a Ministerial Servant".
The Watchtower Society is aware of this effort for recognition, so they say, "Now, brothers and sisters, if you are an Elder, or a Pioneer -- you are just a 'servant'." They tend to put down leaders. Yet, Jehovah's Witnesses know the status of these people within the congregation is respected, so they still strive for positions.
Mental Illness & the Jehovah Witnesses - Part 2
PROHIBITIONS OF THE SOCIETY
Many things are condemned by the Watchtower Cult, and could be discussed. All holidays such as Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving, Mother's Day, Father's Day, St. Patrick's Day, July 4, President's Day, and all the rest are prohibited.
Using certain common expressions -- even well meaning ones -- such as "Good Luck!", or "God's Speed", or "God Bless You" after a sneeze are a "sin".
A person's research into higher education is condemned. Reading most non-Witness books and magazines is condemned. The mind control and the bondage are self-evident. Similar to the Moonies, the Jehovah's Witnesses rarely accept any Christian literature. Think about this, "Why won't a Moony read Christian literature?" Their leader, Mr. Moon, told them not to. Why? His people might trust the real Jesus and quit being Moonies! The Watchtower has the same fear.
Jehovah's Witnesses are pressured to only read the Watchtower and Awake magazines, and other WatchTower literature. The Cult says, "How do you have time to read other literature after reading the Watchtower and Awake first? And I am sure you read them first!" The Watchtower and Awake are not long, about 24 pages. Regular readers come to know what is in the material. It only takes about 45 minutes to read one of the publications. The level of writing is grade six. "Well, don't you meditate on the thoughts?" "I know them all. What else can I do?" "Well, there must be something else you can study."
Dr. Bergman would say, "I've read most of the Societies publications since 1879. I don't know what else I could read." "Well, should you waste your time on those worldly things?" He responded, "Where do you think the Society gets all their material from? They do not sit down and make up all those studies. They do not have a void that is filled as things come to them. They have a large library. They read things. They do research and write articles." Russell himself said that everything he talked about in the magazines, he got from somebody else. He did not originate anything. Russell did say he arranged them in a unique combination. The Witnesses responded, "Well, the material is filtered through theocratic channels. What is not good is taken out."
Dr. Bergman's response was, "How do I know that is true?" Furthermore, he pointed out, "This article quotes from this book. It gave the name and the page of this lexicon. The copyright and the author are given. What is wrong with me looking that up?" They would say, "Well, just look that up and don't read anything else." What an insult to a doctor with 10,000 books!
The Jehovah's Witnesses intellect is stifled when all the answers come from the Watchtower Cult. If you question a teaching, they are sure something is wrong with you. The emotions are stifled. Jehovah's Witnesses are shackled -- putting JWs in spiritual stifling and spiritual bondage. If you shackle someone's mind, could you expect him to stay sane for a long period of time? No. You would expect him to go crazy in time because the Watchtower Society insists, "Don't think. Just accept." A mental crisis is inevitable!
Regularly involving yourself in recreation is also condemned. It is okay once in a while. But if you play regularly, like joining a bowling league, that is wrong! After school sports are wrong. Extra-curricular activity is wrong. Any association with non-Jehovah's Witnesses, except where it is absolutely necessary is wrong. The Kingdom Hall pressures JW children to stay away from "Little League" basball and other local sports activities.
Even things like convertibles and two-door automobiles can be sinful. Why? "Because you need a car that will serve Jehovah." How do you serve Jehovah? Go out in field service! That is what cars are for. What kind of car is best to go out in service? Cars owned by Jehovah's Witnesses should be designed to carry multiple other Jeohvah's Witnesses who are required to go out in field service -- like station-wagons and vans. Sedans are okay if they have four doors. They will not kick a person out for having a convertible. Again, Elders pressure by "put-downs", such as, "Well, he is somewhat immature!"
Blood transfusions are a "sin". The Watchtower Cult's twisted interpretations of Scripture has deceived the people. This single erroneous Watchtower teaching literally has killed thousands of JWs worldwide. Similarly, organ transplants were condemned by the Watchtower from 1967 to 1980. During those years the Jehovah's Witnesses were sure their eternal life was in jeopardy if they received an organ transplant. The WatchTower Cult's supposed "new light" back in the 1930s-40s was wrong, and people died needlessly! Wars and abortions are responsible for death and heartache. The Watchtower Society is equally responsible for JW deaths, and the suffering of those who were left behind.
Interestingly, to visit psychiatrists and psychologists is considered wrong. Desperate Jehovah's Witnesses come to the point where they have no choice but to seek help. Even visiting many doctors was discouraged at one time.
Watchtower President, "Judge" Rutherford, was a cigar smoker. Now, smoking is condemned to the point of saying you will lose everlasting life if you smoke. They believe it is a major sin equal to murder. When they passed the "No smoking" rule back in the 1970s, about 1% of the Jehovah's Witnesses exited the cult.
Missing Kingdom Hall meetings, or assemblies/conventions, is wrong. Missing field service is wrong. Working overtime is wrong. Getting promoted is wrong. Using language or terms not approved by the Watchtower Society, such as "New Testament" ("Greek Scriptures"), "Old Testament" ("Hebrew Scriptures"), or "AD" ("C.E" or "Common Era") is wrong. Bowing ones head out in public when a non-JW prays is wrong. With all these prohibitions you can see why Jehovah's Witnesses are so uptight. They have to be careful not to do something considered wrong. The Kingdom Hall has so many rules to follow!
It is widely known among psychiatrists that a rigid, strict, unloving environment is highly conducive to producing mentally ill people. That is exactly what you have among the Witnesses, a constantly rigid, structured, dictatorial environment.
The Jehovah's Witnesses do not enjoy any of the liberty made available through the "grace" of Jesus Christ. What a contrast to REAL Christianity! Christians are concerned with doing good things. Biblical standards are important. If you have a vice and do something wrong, you do not have to think, "Since my salvation depends on my works, that's it! I have lost my eternal life!"
A Christian should work to overcome sin as the Holy Spirit enables him. A son who displeases his father puts a strain on the relationship. The father may discipline the child but the child certainly remains in his family. The same is true with our Heavenly Father. Jehovah's Witnesses have no understanding of this comforting truth. Imagine the crisis of conscience and emotional turmoil for a Jehovah's Witness trying to maintain salvation by his own frail integrity!
Youthful Jehovah's Witnesses are subjected to great threat to their mental health. A young JW has a difficult time for many reasons. First of all, one's peers are very important. A JW cannot associate with non-Jehovah's Witness peers. "They are all of the world, all anxious to drag you down into their depths." Also things in the school are unacceptable such as saluting the flag. How embarrassing for the children!
JW children are caught in the middle when their parents say, "Don't salute. If you do you will miss eternal life!" Schools have said, "You'd better salute. If you don't you are going to the office." What does the child do? Historically, both sides were very unfeeling and the children ended up suffering the most. They are the ones who really got hurt. It was cruel to expel a child from the school, which was done, or to humiliate them because they would not salute the flag. Yet, the child was only trying to obey his parents. His parents would not salute the flag either! The Society taught that everyone in America should take pleasure in displaying the American flag in 1917. Then they said to salute the flag is to salute the devil, in 1939. What would you expect a child to do?
This affects the JW child's mental health. He is constantly isolated from his school mates. He sees himself as being a social isolate, cast off and different. This affects the child's mental health. What kind of personality would he naturally develop? He is going to be introverted, shy, to himself, fearful, and afraid of other people. Many JWs are well adjusted mentally, but there are a lot more who are not!
This sets up a vicious circle. The JW's attitude is, "I don't like you because you are of the devil." Jehovah's Witnesses, both young and old, often treat other people -- JWs and non-JWs -- poorly, and snub them. In return, how is the public going to treat them? Poorly! So many people do not like them. How would you feel as a Witness regarding other people? Isolated! You would be set off as different and made fun of. Kids in school are in many ways openly cruel to Jehovah's Witnesses. Children have burst into tears and screamed in the classroom because of how their peers react. Unfeeling non-JWs do not know what it is like to grow up as a Jeovah's Witness.
COMPASSION FOR THE JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES
Jehovah's Witnesses have a lot of problems due to their environment. How difficult to be in the Watchtower Cult for a long period of time and remain emotionally well adjusted! Being very aware of this, how should we react toward the Witnesses?
If you were to visit a friend who was in the mental hospital, who was standing rigidly immobile in the corner and stood that way for months, who had to be fed through a tube or he dies -- how would you respond to that person? Would you, like most of their JW visitors, say something like, "I see you have not been reading your Bible lately!" It won't work!
Mental health professionals know that the only way you can really help is love them. Love them! This does not mean to go up and say to a Witness, "Jesus loves you!" The comment is true. But the Witness interprets it as mocking him. The well meaning remark simply upsets him. So you have to convey, "I love you. I am concerned about you, other Christians are, and Jesus is concerned about you." But you have to be very cautious how you communicate your concern. If you walk up and tell them, "I love you," with all his worries about homosexuality, he is going to be sure you have problems. They are going to misinterpret it.
What should you say to them? You might say very little. Quite often Christ said nothing. When they asked Him about being the King of the Jews. He responded briefly. He was not rude. He stressed who He is. In effect He would say, "Let what I do judge me." So how do we work with Jehovah's Witnesses? The same way. Arguing with poorly instructed Christians many times only drives the Witnesses away from Christianity and back into the Watchtower. Some of their people have prepared to leave the Organization, then after arguing with a Christian for three hours, they go right back.
You do not show them you love them by arguing. The main way you show them you are concerned is by translating that concern into action. "Can I drive you to work?" "How are things going." "Can I mow your lawn?" "Can I tell you something I learned? You may disagree, but that's all right. I'm anxious for your thoughts." Then when they give you their thoughts, listen to them. If you want someone to like you, sit down and ask questions and listen. Questions will make a closed mind THINK. Even though you do not agree with what they say and you think it is crazy, say only a few things. You may only say a few sentences; but make them carefully chosen and thought provoking. If you only say a few sentences they will probably remember what you said. They will think about your comments.
If you say 90 sentences they will never think about it. They will say, "Boy, that guy was argumentative! That guy sure is all wrong, trying to push all this stuff." Give just a few good points. Talking of Christ's resurrection, you might say, "I just wonder about this Scripture. Perhaps you could tell me what you think about this." Then give the points and let them think about what you said. They will probably give you a lot of words. Do not agree with the error. You may kindly respond, "I see what you are saying but I do not necessarily agree." Or, "This is an interesting subject and there is a lot to consider, isn't there?"
You will find as a listener, in the first hour the Witness does 99% of the talking. Then in the second hour he does 90%. The third hour he does 80%. Then he will wonder, "What do you think?" He will listen to you because you have listened to him. A law of human behavior is people respond positively to those who listen and are courteous.
Many Jehovah's Witnesses are already disillusioned. These do not need to be pulled away by more disillusionment. You need to draw them toward something else. How do you do that? You make that something else attractive. You do not do that by harping at them.
Interestingly, of the 700,000 Jehovah's Witnesses who left the Kingdom Halls during the decade following their "1975" debacle, about 90% became agnostics, totally disillusioned with all religions and rejecting everything. Many go way overboard and get into orgies and into drugs. Some end up in prisons. Many say, "I am going to do whatever I want to." Are they a lot better off as an agnostic than a Witness? What is accomplished? You have to present the alternative. The 700,000, or whatever the number has grown to be, need to be offered something else. They have left. We can be too preoccupied with knocking down what they had and not with replacing it. Knocking down the straw-man of the Watchtower is easy, but you do not need to knock down what they already do not accept. As a Jehovah's Witness, a person is systematically fed all kinds of bazaar things about the condition of churches. A Christian needs to demonstrate before them what real Christianity is all about.
Realize the problems of the Jehovah's Witnesses. Recognize that they have a hard life. Many of them are sick people; they are severely depressed. They have a lot of emotional problems. They are not contented inside. They are miserable! Many have attempted suicide, and many were successful. You have to be pretty miserable to attempt suicide. Hours and hours of counseling are given to these problems which are in abundance! Although they do not tell you about the problems, realize they are there. Assume they are there; they may not be there. Then respond as a concerned person. Show the love you have to these people. Talk to them. Help them. Show them you have Christ and are following Christ. They are not getting this at home or in their spiritual home, the Kingdom Hall. The Spirit of Christ is not there!
The number one reason given by JWs who left the Watchtower Cult is that they were unhappy with the people in their local congregation. They left due to interpersonal conflicts. "Nobody can get along with each other. There is constant gossiping and constant conflicts." The conflict may be brought about by doctrinal questions, "If Christ was not resurrected bodily, why does this Scripture state..." "Brother, you should not be asking those things!" "Well, why not?" "That indicates you have weak faith! So don't ask! Sit down!"
Doctrine often contributes to the Witness leaving the Watchtower, but the discussion then leads to interpersonal problems. They leave, not so much because of the questions, but because the Witnesses cannot deal with them without getting mad, upset, condemn, or they cannot answer them, or they give very poor answers. That leads to interpersonal conflicts. In fact, since local Elders cannot logically support many of the Cult's illogical teachings, the WatchTower Cult has found that it is better to quickly disfellowship one doubting member rather than take the chance that his doubts will spread to the rest of the congregation. Better to cut off your arm than lose your entire body.
Summarized in one sentence, be "christian" to Jehovah's Witnesses. Show them love and concern.
Some today question whether psychiatrists are valid. It is not my purpose to say they are or they are not. However, Dr. Bergman's research certainly demonstrates that many Jehovah's Witnesses have serious problems with mental illness. Please, do not destroy a Jehovah's Witness's dignity with this information!
What must be destroyed is their faith in the diabolical system of the Watchtower Cult. To be Scriptural, we must warn about spiritual wolves and stop the mouths of the false teachers. Be sensitive enough to separate the Jehovah's Witness deceiver from the one who has been deceived. Many converted Jehovah's Witnesses were once the nice, friendly people who opened their home to a person offering to teach them the Bible. Jehovah's Witnesses are busy searching for people who are curious about the Bible but are naive and Scripturally illiterate, knowing just enough to get them into trouble.
Do the Jehovah's Witnesses have the facts and sufficient information to handle a Bible discussion if a Christian is prepared to deal with them? No. For example, the Witnesses are certain the Trinity doctrine originated from Satan. They are totally confident that the Watchtower Society has exposed a pagan doctrine. Jehovah's Witnesses, point Trinitarians to the Watchtower publication, "Should You Believe in the Trinity?" Then they challenge and pressure Christians to read it.
An answer to Jehovah's Witnesses was written by Robert M. Bowman, Jr., "Why You Should Believe in the Trinity." This book explains the Scriptures and exposes the repeated dishonesty of the Watchtower writers in their publication. If Witnesses would read the book, many of them would lay their Watchtower literature down and leave the Kingdom Hall forever. Are the Jehovah's Witnesses intellectually honest enough to read the book? No! Not even local leaders are open-minded enough to read Christian literature.
Bible discussions that have any depth last only one visit if the Christian does not put on "the dumb act" and veil his knowledge. Otherwise Jehovah's Witnesses will not sit down for second session. They excuse themselves on the basis of accusing the Christian of not having an open mind. For obvious reasons, public debates are rare because the Watchtower has much to hide and little to gain from the publicity. The Witnesses are looking only for "sheep-like" (gullible) ones. Jehovah's Witnesses who find they lack answers set themselves up for a mental crisis.
Fellow Christian, are you prepared to defend the faith? Are you a Witness for Jesus? God assumes you "shall be". Acts 1:8. Will you one day stand before Jesus and admit you never took His Word seriously? We are to "study". Excuses for not knowing the Word of God are not real reasons. Are you ready to show a lost soul that no verse in the Bible says, "Jesus is Michael" or "Michael is Jesus"? The disciples, the angels and the Father all called Jesus the true "God"!
While the Watchtower Gestapo makes the Witness come to your door, the love of Jesus Christ is constraining us to be a Jesus Witness. Are you following Jesus? People say, "But, the Jehovah's Witnesses are difficult to win to Jesus Christ." So are Mormons, Jews, Muslims, those in Shinto and the list goes on and on. But, these are souls for whom Christ died.
Perhaps you would desire a Bible study to examine what the Scriptures teach about who Jesus is, how to have eternal life, or how to defend the faith. For personal help or an in-depth study, (whether you are an ex-Jehovah's Witness, a Jehovah's Witness, or you never have been a Jehovah's Witness), contact the address given at the end of this article.
Friend, are you struggling with problems in your life and wonder where you can turn? Why not so-to-speak, climb up on the couch of Jesus Christ and tell Him all about it? Do you need a counsellor? He is the "Wonderful, Counsellor!" Do you need help in changing your habits and your thought patterns? Jesus is "The mighty God!" Therefore He is powerful enough to help you. Are you concerned about eternal life? He is "The everlasting Father!" In literal Hebrew this means He is the Father of eternity. Your way of eternal life is through Him. Are you searching for peace and satisfaction in your life? He is "The Prince of Peace!" Isaiah 9:6. Consider a biblical example, Saul of Tarsus. His life was totally changed when he addressed Jesus Christ as his Lord in Acts 9:5. Ask Jesus to be your Lord too. He will help you!