If an ordinary person asks what he knows about Jehovah’s Witnesses, then most likely one can hear in response that this is such a sect. For many, the fact that Jehovah’s Witnesses legitimately exist in almost all countries, and in some for more than a hundred years, may be a revelation. Journals “Watchtower” and “Awake!” this religious organization generally got into the Guinness Book of Records, as the most massive ones with a circulation of 46 and 36 million copies monthly!
In some European countries, Jehovah’s Witnesses in general are some of the main religions – in Italy it is the second largest Christian denomination after the Catholic Church, in Germany – the third after the Catholic and Lutheran. In Russia, however, the situation is more tense, although the number of supporters of this faith exceeds 100,000 people.
As early as 1991, Jehovah’s Witnesses were officially recognized in Russia as victims of political Stalinist repressions, after which the Justice Ministry even registered this religious organization. However, in the 90s, when applied to these people, “soft” repressions are resumed – in the press the terms “totalitarian sect” and simply “sect” zip every now and then.
Immediately appeared a huge number of propagandists, sectologists and simply exposers who began to fan the flame of religious intransigence. But the number of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia is estimated at tens of thousands! Do critics know that the organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses is the international and largest of all Protestant in Russia? It is not surprising that the question of perception of the current is quite acute, which is why it is necessary to debunk the main myths about Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Jehovah’s Witnesses are such a sect.
The very term “sect” is not so religious a concept as an insulting label, which is often hung on religious minorities. This word today is happy to be hung on both the clergymen and journalists on Jehovah’s Witnesses, although few people really represent the true meaning of the term. In Latin, secta means “flow” or “direction.” The Greek analogue of the word is the term “heresy”, which also initially did not have the negative meaning that it now acquired. Initially, sects were called political, religious groups, even early Christians were called so! And in English, the word “sect” and now does not bear a negative color. But in Russian with this word are associated exclusively with negative associations. Under the Soviet regime, religious groups hostile to the state system were so contemptuously called. Naturally, the sects were considered enemies of the people, who collaborated with foreign special services. As a result, the neutral term was compromised, today Russian religious scholars try not to operate them. Throughout the world, the word “sect” is used to designate one of the types of religious organizations. “Religious Encyclopedic Dictionary” says that the main difference between a sect and the church is the rejection of the world, the absence of bureaucratic organization and less formalized worship. But Jehovah’s Witnesses do not have an aversion to the world – they lead an ordinary life without going to a monastery, there is no vow of celibacy and renunciation of worldly entertainment. Divine services are also sufficiently formalized, and bureaucracy has its own. There is a theological opposition to Catholicism and Orthodoxy, but this feature is inherent in all Protestant churches, which no one calls sects. Yes, and Jehovah’s Witnesses do not have a charismatic leader, their activities are open, consistent with the laws. In some countries this is not even a religious minority. That is why most independent religious scholars do not refer this religion to sects. It is noteworthy that in the official resolution of the Bishops’ Council of the Russian Orthodox Church “On pseudo-Christian sects” of 1994, Jehovah’s Witnesses are not mentioned on this list.
Jehovah’s Witnesses are a destructive organization with a totalitarian bias.
It is a mistake to call this organization a totalitarian sect, since such a concept does not exist at all. And the term was invented by absolutely concrete people who, on this basis, organized a movement of struggle against this invisible enemy. Facts about hundreds of thousands of ruined families remain fictions. Nowhere in the world of Jehovah’s Witnesses is identified with dangerous cults and sects. In 1999, an official examination was carried out by the Ministry of Justice of Russia, in which it was explicitly stated that the organization’s actions and documents do not contain any calls for violence and inciting racial, national and religious hatred. A sociological examination carried out within the framework of the court in 1998 revealed that the doctrine does not have any negative impact on the family relationship, moreover, it has a beneficial effect on those who are in a state of mental crisis. Psychological expertise has shown that staying in the community has a positive impact on intrapersonal settings. And the linguistic text of religious literature did not reveal any calls to evade the duties established by law, on the contrary, calls for law-abiding. Based on the foregoing, the court found nothing illegal in the activities of Jehovah’s Witnesses, there were no signs of extremist activity. Concerning the accusations of totalitarianism about other churches, one can recall the conquering wars of the Muslim armies, civil strife in the Orthodox clergy, persecutions and inquisition. Often the notion of a totalitarian organization is understood as a certain style of management, which provides for strict control over the lives of members of the organization, the existence of a group of prohibitions and restrictions, and the existence of a system of punishments. Also in the term include the term “zombification” finally intimidating the unprepared listeners. In fact, Jehovah’s Witnesses are urging people to align their lives with the Word of God. Naturally, the coordination carries a number of limitations. However, the fundamental absence of restrictions is a kind of nihilism. In all world religions there are hundreds of restrictions, very tough at times, but no one is in a hurry to declare them totalitarian. Below we will consider a group of myths, which completely disassociate the idea of totalitarianism of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Jehovah’s Witnesses are against the state.
Speaking about the opposition of totalitarian sects to the state, it is forgotten that no church puts the values of the world above its faith, even in Orthodoxy it is said that the Church can refuse obedience if it is forced to retreat from its faith. Jehovah’s Witnesses do not call for the overthrow of the system, on the contrary, their faith implies obedience to the state, as long as it does not require betrayal of their faith.
Jehovah’s Witnesses overly control the identity of people.
Usually, in the proof of this fact, the argument is given that Witnesses are forbidden to communicate with expelled former members of the organization. However, similar rules exist in other religions, even in Orthodoxy: “If someone with an excommunicated church will pray, even if it was in the house: let him be excommunicated (Apostolic rules, 10).” In Islam it says: “Do not take Jews and Christians as friends: they are friends to one another” (Sura 5:51). In a number of Islamic countries in general, the transition to another faith can be punishable by death.
Jehovah’s Witnesses have a centralized management style, which indicates their totalitarianism.
Today this style is usually called the vertical of power. In general, the more religion is traditional, the better it is organized. Such a centralized structure is inherent in both the Roman Catholic Church and the Russian Orthodox Church. In them, the patriarch is practically a king, and his word carries the function of law. Without the blessing of the spiritual father, an ordinary parishioner and step can not step. Today, the bishop can single-handedly dissolve the parish assembly and collect it again at his own discretion.And the reason can be very formal – non-observance of canonical rules. So, cursing the Witnesses for the vertical structure, it is also necessary to scold other religions. Whether such a management system is good or not is another matter.
Jehovah’s Witnesses provoke their adherents to commit suicide.
In many ways people are afraid of sects that they allegedly provoke suicide in people with weak psyche. However, people who study Jehovah’s Witnesses for many years, note that there are few cases of suicide among them, and even those who have suffered from depression for a long time. Such statistics, of course, are not enough to confirm this myth. Again, double standards can be mentioned – in Lutheranism, suicides were observed to prove their faith, during the pilgrimage of Muslims to Mecca, hundreds of people die each year, and the stories of self-immolation by Russian Old Believers are known. However, no one is in a hurry to declare these religions sects.
Jehovah’s Witnesses can not voluntarily leave.
In the community, the victim is allegedly entangled by “tentacles” and finally loses his will. There are also rumors that everyone who has left the community will be punished. It is not surprising, that on this background there are centers of rehabilitation of victims of sects. In fact, there are quite a few people who at one point just tired of being Witnesses and they just left the community. No one forced them to return, did not curse or threaten reprisals. In general, in any country, keeping a person in such an organization against his will is considered a crime. Jehovah’s Witnesses do not have problems with law enforcement agencies. It will be naive to consider that Witnesses have been operating under the nose of European and American bodies for more than a hundred years, and those are blind without noticing the criminal nature. It’s very difficult to come to the community, it requires serious changes, but it’s easy to leave, simply changing your mind. This step is not more difficult to make than in other churches.
Jehovah’s Witnesses conduct extremist activities.
Recently, more often than not, the concept of “totalitarian” sounds new – “extremist.” This particular word is understandable, because this activity is clearly defined and prohibited by law. However, this accusation is ridiculous – Jehovah’s Witnesses are one of the most pacifist denominations, they do not give their children into boxing and karate circles and even are persecuted for refusing to fight. However, in our country for them an alternative service is provided. However, sectologists consider extremist the very condemnation of certain human acts by the Witnesses. But in this case, we are all extremists, because we condemn other people, forbidding children to communicate with bad children. And any religion explains what actions are right and which ones are not. Even Christianity directly refuses the Muslims for salvation, since they do not recognize the dogmas of Christ.
Jehovah’s Witnesses are of commercial interest.
This myth implies that the activities of the community are aimed at making a profit. Non-commercial activities are in no way connected either with the production of goods or with the production of services, the goal of making a profit in it, respectively, is not. Concerning the Jehovah’s Witnesses, one can say that they consistently oppose the extraction of profit from the activities of religious orientation. All their activities are fully sponsored by voluntary donations. And this is easy to verify, since the financial reporting of the communities has never been hid. Literature has always been supplied either free of charge or at cost (some laws require it), classes are also free. In the places of meeting of believers, any commercial activity is prohibited. Against the background of other denominations, this highlights the Witnesses. They do not have ecclesiastical shops and do not provide liturgical services for money. Any embezzlement of personal funds of the community for personal purposes is prohibited. The leaders of the Witnesses live in modest conditions and participate on an equal basis with all in public works.This can be seen during the tour in the New York world community center. And in all the statutes of the organization it is registered, therefore there are no facts confirming this myth.
Jehovah’s Witnesses are not Christians by Christians, it is rather a pseudo-Christian organization.
There is no single and unambiguous concept of who can be considered a Christian and who is not. Each denomination has its own opinion on this score, usually invariably associated with this concept is that which is peculiar to them. In this case, Jehovah’s Witnesses are no exception. Most scholars accept the following criteria: recognition as God’s Scriptures of the New Testament and Jesus as the son of God. But in this aspect, Witnesses are full members of the family of Christian denominations. This community supports the apostolic creed, dating back to the 3rd century, word for word. Many people hear the word of Jehovah, but this is just a biblical name of God, not invented by Witnesses, but borrowed from the Orthodox vocabulary. It is often mentioned that the Witnesses do not recognize Jesus and his divinity, but this is not so. They simply reject the doctrine of the triune God, in particular the dogma of the consubstantiality of the Son and the Father. By the way, this belief is difficult to call primordially Christian, since it took shape only to the 4th century. In addition to Jehovah’s Witnesses, there are many other independent churches and denominations that do not recognize the doctrine of the Trinity. Only in North America there are about 600. However, no one denies them the right to be called Christians.
In many countries Jehovah’s Witnesses are generally banned.
Either way, their activities are really limited in 25 states of Asia and Africa. But this is either countries with totalitarian regimes or Islamic (Saudi Arabia), or communist (North Korea). In such countries, either all Christian confessions are often banned, or only traditional ones are allowed. Yes, there to say – in China, the Roman Catholic Church is banned. But in more than 200 countries and territories, Jehovah’s Witnesses act legally, including all of Europe and the Americas. As seen in all democratic and most developing countries, the community is not at all banned. Moreover, the state supports this movement in every way, in Sweden, Witnesses are officially not allowed to carry military service, in France about 50 associations are exempt from taxation, in Greece and Romania they are given the status of “recognized religion”, and in Italy an agreement with the government was signed. The activities of the community are not prohibited even in Cuba and in Belarus.
Jehovah’s Witnesses are engaged in recruiting people and their subsequent zombification.
This statement is meaningless primarily because missionary activity in itself is the blood and flesh of Christianity. That’s why it became the world religion – Jesus, and then the apostles publicly preached, today they would say that they “recruited” their flock. Jesus told his apostles to preach, what’s wrong with the fact that Jehovah’s Witnesses follow their example? Today, in terms of them, there is simply a substitution of concepts. Jesus Christ preached or still recruited? He zombiroval people or not? Today, the state begins to fight legal nihilism, therefore, one can not publicly condemn the fact that the law is not prohibited. In no normal country is it forbidden to ring the door with a religious sermon. The preaching activity of Orthodox priests is welcome, why should we prohibit the activities of Jehovah’s Witnesses? A zombification could not be confirmed by any specialist, it simply does not exist! Even the methods of NLP, so common in modern society, Witnesses are not trained. All their activity consists in reading to people biblical citations and offering relevant literature. Yes, and what kind of zombification can be discussed, if joining the ranks of the community provides for the refusal of alcohol, smoking, deceptions, foul language, etc.? How can you influence a person so that he clears from this and why then these methods are not used by the state even in matters of re-education of antisocial elements?
Jehovah’s Witnesses take away their property, apartments and money from people.
Admirers of this myth, simply put, blame members of the community for theft. Such an argument is artificially invented, it is an example of the use of dirty technologies in interconfessional disputes. In no court of the world has it ever been possible to prove the fact of organized criminal acts. In fact, the crystal integrity of Jehovah’s Witnesses is their business card, which is known all over the world. You can mention that their management centers have shops in which people themselves put the right amount in cash. And in many countries there are enterprises where only Witnesses are employed at all. These are all well-known facts, which many prefer not to notice.
семьи Families are being destroyed by Jehovah’s Witnesses.
To disprove this myth, one should look at the statistics of divorce among Jehovah’s Witnesses. In those countries where in ordinary families this figure exceeds 50% among members of the community, it is no more than 15%, while those who have already divorced before joining the organization are included here. It is not surprising that the overwhelming majority of Witnesses categorically reject divorce, while retaining the marriage ties better than others. Interestingly, for example in India, the destruction of families are accused of traditional Christian denominations, in particular Catholicism. Jehovah’s Witnesses are one of the most family-oriented religions. Most of the publications in their press are devoted to how to properly and in a Christian way solve emerging family troubles. Divorce remains the most extreme cases, only in case of treason or physical abuse by one of the spouses. A witness has no right to leave his family if his views are not perceived in it. Faithful children and adolescents are encouraged to respect and listen to their parents, even if behavior is far from Christian morality. In Japan, with admiration, they wrote about the Witness who refused a career for the sake of the family, in this country this step looks rather unusual. All this is bearing fruit – in many countries the publication of Witnesses is used even in state educational programs. Agree, it’s ridiculous and ridiculous against this background to hear about the destruction of the community of families.
Jehovah’s Witnesses refuse blood transfusions, as this is supposedly a direct attempt on their life.
This position has a religious character, corresponds to the position of early Christians who refused to accept blood in any form, to which there is evidence of thinkers of that time. It is important to understand the following: Witnesses do not in principle refuse treatment, they simply try to find a method that does not include blood transfusion. That’s why they ask to use alternative methods, which by the way exist, moreover they are more effective and safe. Such a conscious religious position corresponds to the rights of the patient, which is enshrined in the legislation of all democratic countries. How can you criticize the Witnesses for the fact that they prefer some methods to others, even accepting that some kind of propaganda is being carried out at the same time. In this case, by analogy, it is necessary to prohibit all those who preach alternative methods of treatment. This subject is deliberately inflated, proven cases of deaths from non-transfusion units, but the number of infectious infections and complications is enormous. Thus, it is obvious that the problem is primarily of a church-propagandistic nature, not a medical-legal one. But there are similar currents in other religions. So, from the same blood transfusion is refused in some Jewish circles, Judaism and Islam are ambiguous about organ transplantation, in Islam there is a ban on autopsy and even alcohol is banned! But nowhere is there any resentment towards this problem, as in Russia.Meanwhile, a voluntary refusal to transfuse blood is not a violation of the law. Especially Witnesses do not encourage others to do the same, they simply refuse themselves, making personal choices. And the blood transfusion itself is not always a panacea, for example, in the USA in the 70s only 3500 people per year died from hepatitis due to blood transfusion, but today the problem has become aggravated by the spread of AIDS. The expediency of the blood transfusion itself is being questioned today, except for the case with a great deal of blood loss. So do not look at Jehovah’s Witnesses as suicide fanatics who refuse the benefits of modern medicine. Today, more and more people refuse blood transfusions, in the US Witnesses make up only 15% of them.