Image from a Watchtower publication depicting the future for non-believers at Armageddon.
The March 15, 2015 article “What ISIS Really Wants” by The Atlantic is a brilliant piece of journalism offering real insight into what drives this religious movement. I highly recommend it.
What scared me reading this article is how well my Jehovah’s Witness mind could understand ISIS psychology. If the Bible was the book for ISIS and not the Quran – they might be indistinguishable from Jehovah’s Witnesses or another fundamentalist Christian group, and we might be praising them for their Godly devotion. In fact, reading this article I was thinking to myself that if I was a devout Muslim, I would have only two choices: Decisively denounce ISIS and possibly my entire faith, or join them.
To my mind, you cannot serve God halfhearted. If you know his will, you serve him in truth to your best knowledge.
ISIS represents a literal interpretation of the Quran. In that sense, they seek to follow their book to the best of their ability. Part of me can admire that, is even sympathetic toward them – except for the fact that it goes against everything that makes us human. Evil things cannot come from God, unless our God is Satan.
Likewise, it serves no purpose to repeat the virtues of Jehovah’s Witnesses, while at the same time sugar-coating the hateful propaganda that comes out of the pages of the Watchtower. Hateful practices are not Christian. Using the caliphate as a comparison to the Jehovah’s Witnesses theocracy is perhaps a bit shocking, but certain practices of the JW organization are so loathsome that they need to be exposed in the clearest light possible.
Imitate The Zeal – Slaughtering Apostates
Perhaps you think comparing these two religious organizations is ludicrous. After all, Jehovah’s Witnesses are widely considered politically neutral, and are known for their non-violence. But Jesus taught us to look beyond the outward appearance and into the heart:
“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean.” (Matthew 23:27)
“Like a coating of silver dross on earthenware are fervent lips with an evil heart.” (Proverbs 23:28)
I recently started an Instagram account @beroeanpickets. Within days, someone had taken it upon themselves to ‘warn’ everyone about me, and I received threats of physical violence against me and my family, involving the word hospital.
Granted, this is anecdotal evidence of just a single individual – and in all fairness, physical violence is not encouraged. Most Witnesses are ‘peace loving’. But as this article will demonstrate, the members of the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses are cultivating feelings of hate in their followers by what they write about apostates.
The November 15, 2011 Study Edition of The Watchtower had a study article which contained the following in its opening paragraph:
“Jehu was a champion of pure worship. In carrying out this role he was energetic, prompt, relentless, zealous and courageous. Jehu manifested qualities that we would do well to imitate.“
And later the study explains:
“The prophet Elisha sent one of the sons of the prophets to anoint Jehu as King and to instruct him to kill every male of the apostate house of Ahab.”
“Jehu announced that he intended to hold ‘a great sacrifice’ for Baal. (2 Ki. 10:18, 19) ‘This is a clever play on words on the part of Jehu,’ says one scholar. While the term employed here “generally means ‘sacrifice,’ it is also used of the ‘slaughter’ of apostates.”
“It is true that Jehu spilled much blood. Yet, the Scriptures present him as a courageous man…”
“Though the thought of violence is unpleasant, we should realize that in those days, Jehovah used his servants to carry out his judgments.”
While violence is not permitted now – it would be under a theocratic government. That is exactly what the caliphate proclaims to be: a Theocracy. And under theocratic rule, certain laws apply that don’t normally apply. The Atlantic article states:
Before the caliphate, ‘maybe 85 percent of the Sharia was absent from our lives,’ Choudary told me. ‘These laws are in abeyance until we have khilafa’ —a caliphate—‘and now we have one.’ Without a caliphate, for example, individual vigilantes are not obliged to amputate the hands of thieves they catch in the act. But create a caliphate, and this law, along with a huge body of other jurisprudence, suddenly awakens.
Yes, in their current state, Jehovah’s Witnesses describe themselves as “limited by the laws of the worldly nation in which we live and also by the laws of God through Jesus Christ”, according to the following Questions from Readers:
The Watchtower 11/15/1952 pg. 703
So being “limited” in the sense we cannot use physical violence – even against our own flesh-and-blood – how is a Witness to follow the direction of the Governing Body to show “courage” like Jehu against apostates? Just how are we told to “imitate” him?
Loathe, Hate and Abhor!
On the godly quality of hate, the Quran teaches:
Allah abhors disbelievers – Surah 35:26
Yet in contrast, our King Jesus Christ said:
“If you love those who love you, what reward will you get?” [Are not even ISIS members doing that?] (Matthew 5:46)
Jesus said we will recognize his true disciples by their fruit, their love. True Christian love is not just the smiling and hugging at assemblies – greeting those who agree with you. It includes loving those who hate you.
Yet, as Jehovah’s Channel of Communication, his very spokesperson on earth, the Governing Body knows better than Jesus. In fact, they outright contradict him! The Watchtower of October 1st 1993 states:
“A Christian must hate (in the Biblical sense of the word) those who have inseparably attached themselves to badness … they are not curious about apostate ideas. On the contrary, they feel ‘a loathing’ toward those who have made themselves God’s enemies, but they leave it to Jehovah to execute vengeance.”
Yes, The Watchtower tells it’s adherents to HATE apostates. Consider just how consistent this hate speech has been over the last 60 years:
The Watchtower 7/15/1961
The Watchtower 7/15/1974 pg. 442
The Watchtower 10/1/1952 pg. 599
The Prophet Said, ‘War is Deceit’
In the Paris attacks of November 2015, at least one of the terrorists had previously posed as a refugee in Greece. The subtitle comes from the Hadith – Bukhari 52:269.
There are two forms of lying to non-believers that are permitted under certain circumstances, taqiyya and kitman. These circumstances are typically those that advance the cause [of] Islam – in some cases by gaining the trust of non-believers in order to draw out their vulnerability and defeat them. (Source)
Jehovah’s Witnesses are also at war. The Watchtower, January 15, 1983, p. 22: “This fact cannot be overemphasized: We are in a war with superhuman foes, and we constantly need to be aware of this.”
“So in time of spiritual warfare it is proper to misdirect the enemy by hiding the truth. It is done unselfishly; it does not harm anyone; on the contrary, it does much good. Today God’s servants are engaged in a warfare, a spiritual, theocratic warfare, a warfare ordered by God against wicked spirit forces and against false teachings… At all times they must be very careful not to divulge any information to the enemy that he could use to hamper the preaching work.” (Watchtower 5/1/1957 pp. 285-286)
Such misdirection and hiding information recently is making headlines in relation to the Organization covering up Child Abuse. If the Australia Branch kept over 1000 cases of pedophilia hidden from the authorities, how many cases are on the list in the United States, or even world-wide?
Bringing reproach upon Jehovah’s Name – deceptive practices coming to light.
Anyone who watched the videos of the court would feel a disgust in their stomach for the way in which several people made misleading claims. I highly recommend you review some of the outrageous misleading statements made in the Royal Commission of Australia’s probe into child molestation. Take for example the false statements of Terrence O’Brien (Head of Australia’s Branch), and how the lawyer tries to save face.
Allah, as a spiritual anti-doctor, causes increased disease in the heart of disbelievers:
“Allah increases their disease.” (Source)
When, in the summer of 2011, Jehovah’s Witnesses started calling apostates “diseased” (see the image above), The Independent wrote an article wherein the spokesperson for the Watchtower Society blatantly lied:
“Rick Fenton, a spokesperson for the Watchtower Society, insisted last night that ostracisation was “a personal matter for each individual to decide for himself”. “Any one of Jehovah’s Witnesses is free to express their feelings and to ask questions,” he said. “If a person changes their mind about Bible-based teachings they once held dear, we recognize their right to leave.”
It is not a personal matter to shun, when there are organizational punishments for those who continue to associate with organizationally shunned individuals. A Witness is not free to express their feelings of doubt in the Governing Body without consequences – as I have personally experienced. If we were free to do so, we would not be labeled as apostates for speaking truth to our readers. And we might have the right to leave – at the cost of having our family and friends loathe us, view us with disgust.
Jehovah’s Witnesses engage in organizational torture by their unloving practices of shunning, breaking up families and causing severe suffering and damage to the victims. This policy of hate needs to end. Those who dare to speak against the leadership face torture. Those who dare to leave face torture. Those who have left will continue to be tortured until they break down and return.
[Torture is] the deliberate, systematic, or wanton infliction of physical or mental suffering by one or more persons acting alone or on the orders of any authority, to force another person to yield information, to make a confession, or for any other reason (World Medical Association, 1975).
[Torture is] any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by, or at the instigation of, or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity (United Nations, 1987).
Because ostracism can be so deadly, researchers think we have developed acute sensitivity to it. It can freak us out even more than being hit, ridiculed or yelled at, causing our bodies and minds to suffer exquisitely. Our need to belong is so strong that we experience psychological and physical effects right away. Neuroscientists have found that social rejection is experienced much like physical pain — connected to the same neural circuitry.
That Jehovah’s Witnesses resort to forms of psychological torture poses ethical questions. Does the end justify the means? It is often asked – “Is torture bad when it seems to give results?” The organized psychological torture among Jehovah’s Witnesses results in a “clean congregation” and makes many who left, return to the congregation.
In the International Journal of Applied Philosophy, 2005, an article appeared titled “Is Torture Ever Morally Justifiable?” Seumas Millar tries to defend the position that in some extreme emergencies it is morally justified. Even so, he states that this should not be ‘institutionalized’.
From the outsider’s viewpoint this seems a ridiculous premise to even consider, but to the insider, the very matter of eternal life is at stake. There is no more important “result” for which to contemplate such measures than eternal salvation. Knowing that salvation is not tied to an organization but to faith alone, makes such torture especially hard to bear, because it serves no justifiable end.
Allegiance & Vehicle for Salvation
ISIS obeys the words of their book to the letter. Everything they say is backed by their scripture. But obedience to the edicts of the Caliph carries the authority of the will of God. From The Atlantic article we first mentioned at the beginning of this article:
“The caliphate, Cerantonio told me, is not just a political entity but also a vehicle for salvation. Islamic State propaganda regularly reports the pledges of baya’a (allegiance) rolling in from jihadist groups across the Muslim world. Cerantonio quoted a Prophetic saying, that to die without pledging allegiance is to die jahil (ignorant) and therefore die a ‘death of disbelief.’”
The same can be said for JW.ORG as a vehicle for salvation, and obedience to the organization is a form of baya’a (allegiance). A review of the Watchtower studies of 2014 shows that the most important thing for a Jehovah’s Witness today is obedience and sacrifice to the Organization.
Enter the New World Society – the Theocracy. Its leader? Christ – ruling invisibly. Its representatives? The Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses. As recently as the annual meeting of 2015, the Governing Body confirmed that they are God’s spokespersons. Speaking out against the Governing Body is a rebellion against God himself.
In the second baptism question of Jehovah’s Witness the candidates align themselves with this Salvation-Organization:
“Do you understand that your dedication and baptism identify you as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses in association with God’s spirit-directed organization? Having answered yes to these questions, candidates are in a right heart condition to undergo Christian baptism.”
The underlined sentence indicates that someone who does not associate with this organization is not in a right heart condition to undergo Christian baptism. Therefore, other Christians who are not making recognition of this organization are false.
Just like it is a duty for every Muslim in the world to join the Caliphate – according to ISIS – it is the duty of every Christian in the world to “leave false religion” and join the Organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses – according to the Watchtower. Those who refuse to listen to the coming judgment warning, face ‘death’ at Armageddon.
To Do the Impossible
Christ gave his life for his enemies. (Romans 5:10) He was ridiculed. He loved them. (Matthew 12:32) He was tortured. He still loved them. He was put to death. He died for them.
By all means, condemn what is evil, expose falsehoods; but do not harbor hate for your fellow man in your heart. Turn the other cheek. Love your enemies – this is the clearest answer we can give to all the hate in this world. Forgiveness and love are central to Christianity.