“Je suis Charlie” – Why events in Paris should be a wake-up call for Jehovah’s Witnesses
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charlieI was in Zurich making my way home from a series of Jehovah’s Witness-related gatherings in Europe when I first heard news of the terrible events in Paris on January 7th.

On that awful day masked gunmen burst into the offices of the Charlie Hebdo French satirical newspaper and slaughtered 12 people in what appear to have been reprisals for the publishing of depictions of the prophet Muhammad.

A further five were killed in the days that followed as the suspects tried and failed to evade the authorities by taking hostages.

At this point you are probably wondering “yes, but what does this have to do with Jehovah’s Witnesses?”

Simply put, the events in Paris teach us two chilling lessons, (1) that religious bullies will always try to silence those who criticize them, just as Watchtower repeatedly tries to silence its critics through slander, misrepresentation and threats of ostracism, and (2) that society in general offers little or no protection against harmful cults, because it ultimately fails to recognize the immense threat posed by undue influence underpinned by religious dogma.

Silencing the critics

I was recently myself accused of trying to silence people when I made a stand against “aggressive activism” in a recent YouTube video and accompanying JWsurvey article. Those leveling this accusation at me seemed to confuse the offering of an honest opinion in a persuasive way with some form of censorship.

I can only hope such people have witnessed the chilling events in Paris and have found the opportunity to reflect on what genuine denial of the democratic right to free speech really looks like.

If I really wanted to set about silencing people who disagree with me, I could do far worse than to take a few pages from Watchtower’s book. A good start would be to get any websites taken down that use my material in a way that fails to serve my agenda, just as Watchtower did in January of 2013 when JWsurvey was taken offline for 24 hours for the heinous crime of making a secret elder’s letter on child abuse available.

I could also lobby YouTube to take down any videos from critics that happen to reproduce my words in a manner of which I disapprove, just as Watchtower did only last month when they had one of my videos removed from YouTube simply because it featured the un-embellished words of Tony Morris.

If I were feeling especially malicious, I might find a way of violating the basic human rights of my accusers by somehow coercing their family members to ostracize them – perhaps based on specious public claims about their mental state, just as Watchtower does through its shunning policy (so recently underscored in the following sickly piece of propaganda in the April 15th Watchtower)…

disfellowshipping-provision

To download the full magazine, click here.

I do not suggest for one moment that Watchtower’s shunning policy is somehow on a par with violent Islamic extremism, but the truth is there are some very concerning parallels that must be addressed.

A common denominator

If there is one thing all cults are good at, it is silencing their critics and stripping them of their basic rights. Islam does this through overt threats of violence and slaughter toward any who oppose or insult its prophet and teachings, while other cults like Watchtower find more subtle, insidious means of gagging their opponents, as mentioned above.

At this point you might be screaming “but Islam isn’t a cult, it’s a religion of peace!” And I wouldn’t blame you for assimilating the default position of almost all politicians and journalists, who have a vested interest in keeping everyone happy by making appeasing “one size fits all” statements about a religion they apparently know nothing about.

But the simple truth is, the most cursory study of the Quran and its accompanying Hadith reveals a religion brimming with hatred and intolerance of any who refuse to subject themselves to it.

Non-believers (“infidels”) and apostates are not to be accommodated in any form other than as slaves. They are to be subjugated or destroyed, just as any who reject the message of Jehovah’s Witnesses can expect a feathery annihilation once Armageddon arrives and hungry birds summoned by angels begin to circle.

The only explanation I have so far heard from Muslim apologists is that the numerous incitements to jihad in Islamic texts are to be taken figuratively, or refer to some form of “inner jihad” – a battle within oneself. But this explanation, at least from the perspective of this jaded cult survivor, simply doesn’t cut it – especially when you consider that the earliest mass conversions made by followers of Muhammad during the birth of the religion in Arabia were made, not by administering hugs and being nice to people, but by the sword.

Knowing your enemy

Islam is not a religion of peace, just as Jehovah’s Witnesses is not a religion of love. To say otherwise is to disregard the written teachings and commands of either or both religions.

Yes, the majority of Muslims are peaceful, and we should be thankful that this is so. Civilization as we know it depends on this being the case. But the fact that the innate humanity of most Muslims can cause them to ignore or re-invent passages in their sacred texts that summon them to “make war on the infidels who dwell around you” (Quran 9:123) in no way lets their religion (specifically its holy book) off the hook.

By the same token I know for a fact that there are Jehovah’s Witnesses who refuse to shun their disfellowshipped family members (albeit secretly in many cases), but this does not represent a “get out of jail free” card for the Governing Body, or excuse them for their grotesquely immoral prohibitions on so much as emailing Witness family members who have left. (see w13 1/15 p.16 par.19)

As much as many refuse to accept it, the events in Paris were not the product of a few mindless psychopaths who would have found some other excuse to gun down cartoonists if they weren’t Muslims. We have all just witnessed the inevitable result of a lethal cocktail of harmful, absolutist ideology and traditions coupled with extremely potent and persuasive undue influence techniques – and not for the first time.

Unwilling to intervene

Once you allow yourself to fully grasp this realization there is something even more chilling to consider, and that is the total impotence of society in general to even recognize the problem, let alone deal with it.

Governments that mobilize and devote huge resources around a mantra as abstract as “the war on terror” without acknowledging their real enemy, Islamic fundamentalism, hardly seem equipped to grapple with the complexities of cult mind control and the damage it inflicts.

This is why authorities in countries that pride themselves on democracy and adherence to human rights flounder at almost every opportunity to deal appropriately with cults like Jehovah’s Witnesses when they mishandle child abuse, or tear families apart through mandated shunning.

At the very least such behavior should be met with the withdrawal of tax exempt and (it should go without saying) charitable status. If there is one area in which you CAN slap a cult’s wrist, it is on their balance sheet.

Instead, time and again intolerant organizations such as Watchtower are allowed to thrive as those in power look the other way, so terrified are political leaders of being perceived as (you guessed it)… intolerant.

It is for the same reason that bright young girls and boys continue to be radicalized into Islamic extremists: because governments refuse to accept the true, horrifying scope of religious indoctrination through undue influence.

Without even a willingness to address the problem of cult mind control (or whatever name you wish to assign it), there is little hope of authorities exploring means of inoculating young ones against these vile techniques, or reprimanding groups that utilize them to such deadly effect.

This merry-go-round of ignorance, ineptitude and injustice was one of the most depressing discoveries for me when I first awakened from cult indoctrination, and the events in Paris and the way they are being spun by the mainstream media are an unwelcome reminder of the broken world I live in – a world where the violent silencing of an opinion is followed by whining calls to “respect” the very thing responsible for pulling the trigger.

 

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Related video…

***I understand many of you will object to the tone of this article by saying that it contravenes the religious neutrality policy of this website. However, I have never been against people holding their own private beliefs, merely against these being inflicted on others. I feel recent events are an important reminder of what happens when we allow people free license to bully and intimidate people whether for religious or political imperatives, and I wanted to use this opportunity to explain why it is that we live in a society where groups that engage in such behavior are allowed to thrive.***

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185 Responses to “Je suis Charlie” – Why events in Paris should be a wake-up call for Jehovah’s Witnesses

  1. Jill Hileman says:

    I struggle with any ideology that finds no qualm with female subjugation. My acceptance, even understanding, of religious conviction is strong, but my understanding of undue influence as Cedars describes is stronger.

    I once chose to rest *my entire life* in wait for a god named Jehovah to make my lonely little existence worth living. The organization emblazoned with that name told me, ultimately, that my only hope was either to marry well or fall into full-time proselytizing ranks. Clearly I was not of any importance or value outside of being defined by these religious men.

    Apparently the god that created me didn’t endow me with a worthwhile mind of my own accord.

    Any religious organization will face this brick wall, even if it takes millennia to get through the malaise of rote belief. They cannot infantilize sex, gender, race or creed without backlash–> to protect something that defies true humanity creates angry drones and creates enemy ‘sub-classes’. There are no winners except those who profit from the clash.

  2. Found Tobelies says:

    Jill,

    I know what and how the WT teaches, so I understand your point of view. I agree there is no joy in living alone.

    As for female subjagation, women differ in what they want. Some more, others less. Complete equality between a man and a woman? That would be intolerable for me.

    Maybe some man would be willing, but then, what kind of man have you got?

  3. Excelsior! says:

    Jill and the rest of the group,

    Most men these days recognise the essential need for women’s rights. I am a feminist, in the sense that I view men and women as completely equal. Men and women both have the right to full control over their lives and decisions. Men are not superior to women, and women are not superior to men. We are biologically divergent, but equal in ability, intelligence, etc etc.

    Jill, I hope that the comments of our resident “Christian” do not in any way mask the majority of men’s view, which is that women are equal.

    The bible is problematic in this regard. I choose to view the subjugation of women as a culteral rather than a spiritual choice.

    Jesus poured out the Holy Spirit on both men and women equally at Pentecost of 33 AD. Both men and women spoke with tongues etc.

    Jesus chose to appear to women first, after his resurrection.

    Women will receive the same level of authority in Heaven.

    This is an issue that many religious folks have a sincere opinion on, and we must repect that.

    However, the way that this “Christian” writes needs to be addressed yet again!

    Jill was not making the point about there being no joy in living alone! Sorry to speak for you, Jill, but I did not take that point away from what you wrote! Did anyone else?

    Our resident “Christian” is quite entitled to find equality between the sexes intolerable. That is their right. We must tolerate their right to have a differing opinion to us.

    The last sentence is very offensive, though!

    “maybe some man would be willing, but then, what kind of man have you got?”

    Whether Jill has “a man” or not is completely irrelevant to this point! It also implied that either, Jill can’t get a man because of her “intolerable” views, or that this “man” is in some way deficient for not finding Jill’s belief in equality “intolerable” too!

    There’s no “maybe” about it! The majority of men fully support equality for women. I do not know anyone who thinks that women are in any way inferior. Does anyone else in the group?

    Our resident “Christian” has learned absolutely nothing from the drubbing he received earlier, so, regrettably, it’s time for round 2.

    Here’s a good tip for all of us to remember. I do this with all my posts. Re read them. Check to see if our points have been put across in a polite and respectful way. Our resident “Christian” could benefit from this advice.

    Now, let’s look at how we can tell if someone is a Christian or not, shall we? I humbly refer us all to the words of St. Paul, in his letter to the Galatian congregation.

    Galatians chapter 5: 22, 23 (Good News Bible)

    “But the Spirit produces love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, humility and self control. There is no law against such things as these”

    This is how we judge whether someone is a Christian or not. We look to the fruitage. Do the words and actions of a professed Christian have these qualities as their fruitage?

    St. Paul has a warning for all of us in chapter 6 of Galatians:

    Chapter 6: 3 – 5

    ” If someone thinks he is somebody when really he is nobody, he is only deceiving himself. Each one should judge his own conduct. If it is good, then he can be proud of what he himself has done, without having to compare it with what someone else has done. For everyone has to carry his own load.”

    My sincere advice to all those with faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is to prayerfully and humbly review what they do, say and write, in line with these verses. We do not have the right to judge others. That is the role of the CHRIST.

    I hope that my sincere attempt to reach out to those with faith will be received in the spirit in which it is given – as a way to unite us all as human beings.

    My honest opinion is that the words of our resident “Christian” have not resulted in the fruits of God’s Holy Spirit being manifest.

    Peace be with you,

    Excelsior!

  4. anonymous says:

    @Excelsior. I saw that comment too and wondered if he was deliberately goading or joking.

    I don’t know but I think that most men do think that women are inferior but most are at least smart enough not to talk about it out loud. For me, I think that most women don’t think one way or the other whether women are smarter than men. They just don’t like being treated as inferior without even being given a chance to show how smart they are.

    @Found Tobelies: It is very difficult for women to be taken seriously in this world. It is also difficult for a very short man to be taken seriously. People have the idea in their heads that the smaller the person, the smaller the brain and intelligence. It’s not until they get to know a woman intimately or a short man to “get” the intelligence of another person. It’s the same with color of skin and even body size.

    With first impressions, people tend to have more respect to the better looking or thin girl than to a girl or woman not so good looking. With first impressions, tall men are given more respect than the short fat man. This thinking is shallow. The better looking girl or young man is more likely to get the job over a not so good looking person and get help with a flat tire. Poor people get less respect than rich and so on.

    People have preconceived ideas about other people and even animals they don’t know until they widen out by getting to know others intimately but most people tend to stick to small circle of friends. It isn’t right but it’s human nature.

    You commented “What kind of man would that be?” You are talking about subjection I think and not inferiority but you used the word inferiority, so let’s go with the word inferior. You are saying that women are inferior. Is that what you were saying or were you talking about subjection? Are you talking about how much better it is to be married to an “inferior” woman? If you just want an inferior mate, you are better off to get a dog. A dog won’t talk back. A dog will be in complete subjection as long as you provide food for them every day and you don’t hit them to make them afraid of you. But if you are looking for an inferior woman for a mate, you are looking for a woman who is stupider than you are. Is that what you are looking for? If so, it sounds like a pretty dull life to me.

  5. anonymous says:

    Cedars, can you delete my above comment that is awaiting moderation? I am going to make a short comment instead. Thanks

  6. sirius says:

    @Cedars Thank you to your understanding of one of the tenants of Islam. If I may clarify by introducing a few points of this Ayat (below) from their Surat At-Tawbah (The Repentance) 9:123. For the record I am no muslim!

    ”Yes, the majority of Muslims are peaceful, and we should be thankful that this is so. Civilization as we know it depends on this being the case. But the fact that the innate humanity of most Muslims can cause them to ignore or re-invent passages in their sacred texts that summon them to “make war on the infidels who dwell around you” (Quran 9:123) in no way lets their religion (specifically its holy book) off the hook.”

    1) Believers (Muslims) will rush to the defense of their Koran, in fact there are common hard-wired excuses used & one of them is that the Koran can only be fully understood if you know Arabic. The authorized Tafsir (interpretation) shows “fight” versus war. This being said, you are spot on with your understanding of “the most cursory study of the Quran and its accompanying Hadith reveals…”. The authority of interpretation are only by such as so-called Islamic scholars, Imams, Mullahs, clerics & Ayatollahs (Shia). They can easily squeeze in “war” through the lame logic of “just cause” by self-defence (Surah 17, Ayat 33). So, fight can mean war! Why most muslims say/use fight can be fight by way of words or non-violent practices.

    2) I do have issues with the whole concept of humanity (not in your context) but “tolerance/respect” as implied in the koran & it’s worth honorable mention. In reading the Koran 2x I have yet to see what we (non-muslims) understand it means. Frankly, there is little humanity in the Koran ONLY the caste system of believers and non-believers. The koran spends an abhorrent amount of time on the evils of those pesky non-believers (2/3rds versus 1/3rd). I suspect you understand “people of the book” (Jews & Christians) are meant to be treated as Dhimmi – treatment of non-muslim minorities under islamic rule. Worth mentioning too, is England’s “no-go” zones of which you may be quite familiar with. The non-assimilation Ayat of Surat Al-Mā’idah (The Table Spread) 5:51 per Yusuf Ali in part, “…take not the Jews and the Christians for your friends and protectors: They are but friends and protectors to each other. And he amongst you that turns to them (for friendship) is of them….” Somewhat shocking to understand wholesale discrimination of a race(Jews) & religious discrimination(Christians) as acceptable stemming some 1400yrs from a God? In essence muslims are meant NOT to be governed by non-believers, hence the self-removal from main-stream society yet they enjoy all the benefits of the infidel/kafier society!

    The once hard fought religious freedoms has now been turned against us as they demand forced respect and understanding like a parallel legal/financial system, & Halal foods(non-pork) through “Shira Laws” even with spattering’s of honor killings (i.e. Adultery). Slippery slope happening before us and we are to tolerate the intolerant?

    dogstar

    IMHO

  7. Ed says:

    I’m a big supporter of removing uncharitable religious groups of their tax free status.
    Maybe one day when our lawmakers fully understand the undue influences of many religions we will have a better world.

    This track maybe 30 years old but it ring so true today

  8. thinkngal says:

    I read Sam Harris’s book when it first came out and read those passages about Islam while cringing….however, after some years of seeing the results of fundamentalist Islam on its believers I understand at last what Sam was saying. At that time I thought it was a racist thing to say because I didn’t know any better, but it’s fundamentally the so-called holy books of religion i.e. the Bible or the Koran that these believers are following. The books themselves are fundamentalist and the moderates pretend its not so!

  9. Warren says:

    As most of you know JW teach that a man made organisation is going to ban religion, i have always reasoned that would include, Muslems, Islam, for any man made organisation to do that would mean total war, war for a very long time, just look at the conflicts in the middle east, it won’t stop, we all need to learn how to co exist in this world, because like a lot of things the interpretaion by JW is wrong, on so many things

  10. cinical says:

    You are a cinical…

  11. XXX Redtube says:

    At this point you are probably wondering “yes, but what does this have to do with Jehovah’s Witnesses?”