A Canadian mother has been left distraught after her daughter fled home due to her newfound faith as a Jehovah’s Witness.
Cassidy McCarville has since told reporters she didn’t run away but “chose her religion over her parents.”
The 15-year-old became a Witness two years ago, and has since become “fanatical,” going out preaching rather than doing her schoolwork according to her mother, Candis McCarville-Wier.
When Candis grounded Cassidy last Tuesday, thus preventing her from attending a meeting, the teenager fled home. Candis contacted the police who traced her to a Vancouver hotel to which Cassidy had been taken by a “friend’s mother.” But the police refused to bring her home after determining she was “not in any danger and had not committed any crime.”
Said one family law expert, Tracey Jackson, “I think probably the police are looking at this and saying it’s futile. ‘I can go find your child, bring the child home, and the child will just run away again. And I’m not going to do that 100 times — I have other things to do.'”
Candis, side-by-side with husband Jeff Wier, gave an emotional interview to CBC, in which she described how her daughter’s attitude toward non-Witnesses had deteriorated since her conversion.
“She thinks that because we’re not Witnesses she doesn’t have to listen to us,” Candis said, adding, “People who are not in their faith are considered ‘worldly’ and they say it’s best to avoid ‘worldly’ people because they’ll negatively influence them.”
Her husband Jeff lamented the impact Cassidy’s involvement with the Witnesses has had on her socially.
“Her social life has changed 100%. She went from being very social, [with] many friends of many different backgrounds, all good well-raised kids, I knew most of them, they’re all good kids, to now she only associates with Jehovah[‘s] Witness[es]. We have really no anger towards the Jehovah[‘s] Witness[es] themselves, but Cassidy’s involvement with them has been detrimental to her.”
When prompted by a reporter to describe what state her daughter is in, Candis immediately replied “brainwashed… brainwashed cult.”
“I’m sure that there are great people in this faith, y’know?” she added, “But there are also some freaks. And my daughter, my experience with this has been that like… it’s made her fanatical.”
Cassidy texted her parents on Thursday night, telling them she had taken a bus to Okanagan to stay with a cousin.
Open to interpretation
In reviewing this story, you have to wonder how this teenager’s reckless actions could have possibly found support from members of her congregation. One 1992 Awake! article entitled “What if My Parents Don’t Support Me in My Faith?” has this to say…
“Does this mean, then, that there is nothing you can do to improve the situation at home? Not at all. Take young Joe, for example. He describes the amount of spiritual support given by his unbelieving parents as ‘limited.’ Yet, Joe admits that he may actually have contributed to their lack of support. How so? Well, it seems that when Joe first began studying the Bible with Jehovah’s Witnesses, he did little to apply what he learned to his personal life. So he continued to disobey his parents. Naturally, they saw little reason to study the Bible themselves, much less encourage more Bible study on his part.
What about you? If your parents are unbelievers, do your actions give them reason to believe that you are serious about wanting to serve God? Christian wives are told to win over their unbelieving husbands by their fine conduct. Could your parents likewise be ‘won without a word’ if you were more obedient and respectful toward them? (1 Peter 3:1; Ephesians 6:1-3) If so, would they not be more likely to support you?” (g92 1/8 p.20)
The above counsel seems quite balanced. Children of unbelieving parents are urged to be “obedient and respectful,” which would surely involve respecting a parent’s right to impose discipline.
However, an earlier Watchtower article has this to say…
“When required by an unbelieving parent to do something that would directly violate the law of Jehovah God, the child would be guided by the counsel in the Bible: ‘We must obey God as ruler rather than men.’ ‘He that has greater affection for father or mother than for me is not worthy of me.’ ‘Children, be obedient to your parents in union with the Lord, for this is righteous.’—Acts 5:29; Matt. 10:37; Eph. 6:1.” (w60 12/1 p.736)
It isn’t hard to imagine how a teenager like Cassidy, especially if goaded by external influences, could interpret being banned from attending a meeting (or, worse still, being made to attend counselling) as a “violation” of the “law of Jehovah God.” This would explain her extreme actions in fleeing home, seemingly with the support of at least one Witness adult who is sponsoring her behavior.
It is impossible to know exactly what is going on in this teenager’s head, but I cannot help but sympathize with her traumatized mother. Candis McCarville-Wier turned to the authorities in her hour of need, and they let her down badly.
In determining the girl to be in no immediate danger, the officers in question gravely underestimated the insidious nature of cults in their ability to control minds and sever family ties. A teenager may not be in physical danger, but he or she can certainly be in psychological danger.
As to whichever Witness adult is responsible for paying Cassidy’s hotel bill, he or she should be ashamed – as should Cassidy’s local elders for their apparent indifference.
One elder reportedly told CBC reporters they would “never ask a child to leave their parents.” That may be the case, but Cassidy’s elders have clearly failed in their duty to encourage her to do the right thing by returning home immediately to her legal guardians. In showing such negligence, and disrespecting the rights of her mother, they have brought shame on themselves and their religion.
- CBC news report
- 2009 article “Another Heartbreak Caused by Jehovah’s Witnesses Beliefs–with addendum”
- JWsurvey articles on child indoctrination
Apologies in advance. Both videos are embedded from CBC, which insists on playing ads before the story appears.