A family judge in Leicester, England has determined that the seven-year-old son of a Jehovah’s Witness mother should be removed from her care due to “emotional harm” being caused at home, so reports the Daily Mail.
School officials testified that the boy (who cannot be named) had been disruptive in class multiple times whenever bible-related topics are discussed. During one lesson discussing the crucifixion story, he destroyed materials with scissors and was quoted as saying, “nobody’s telling true stories about Jehovah.”
The boy is also reported as having told school staff that he “could not be with people who didn’t believe in Jehovah,” and has spoken “contemptuously” about a non-Jehovah’s Witness bible.
It also appears his father was deemed as unfit. The boy is quoted as saying “I don’t love daddy at all,” describing him as “really mean.” Whether these claims are true, or a result of the mother’s conditioning, is unclear. Testimony heard by the judge seems to suggest the parents were involved in a feud, and the boy found himself in the middle of it.
After hearing all sides of the matter, Judge Clifford Bellamy ruled the boy would be better off in the care of foster parents. In his ruling he is quoted as saying: “I am satisfied that (the boy) has suffered emotional harm… I am satisfied that the fact that (the boy) has been immersed by his mother in her religious beliefs and practices has been a significant factor in causing that emotional harm.”
Though a case of this notoriety is rare, negative results stemming from Watchtower’s undue influence upon children are not uncommon. Being highly impressionable and trusting, most children do not see a need to question what their parents teach them. Many children brought up as Jehovah’s Witnesses are easily molded by the “us vs. them” attitude that is inherent to Witness beliefs.
I personally can recall having a feeling of superiority over non-Witness children as a young child. Growing up, I was trained by my own mother, congregation elders, and Watchtower’s publications to believe that everyone who was not a Witness (including my then non-believing father) would be destroyed at Armageddon—and their carcasses eaten by birds. My young life was filled with images of the terror and destruction that awaited all those who rejected the “Truth.”
This indoctrination by Watchtower has led to the break up of countless families such as mine, as Witnesses follow counsel to shun those who leave the organization for fear of being destroyed themselves.
Fear learned at a young age is often difficult to unlearn. Even those of us who wake up and leave the organization will often encounter the thoughts of devastation we were conditioned with. Tragically, the resulting fear and guilt can lead some down destructive paths, even to suicide.
It isn’t hard to see how this boy, caught between quarreling parents, and being fed Watchtower doomsday stories, might have acted out in school. In his young mind, he is a crusader for truth. One can only hope that being away from family and Watchtower pressures will help him see the beauty of the world and how to peacefully exist in it.
The family’s case will be revisited again this summer by the Judge.