During my time as a ministerial servant (before becoming an elder) I was asked to study with a boy in his late teens. His parents were Witnesses but, for a number of reasons, they felt it would be better for a brother in the congregation to study with their son.
Under the direction of my elders I conducted the study and helped my student progress to baptism.
I will never forget the moment his father approached me shortly before the baptism when I attended a celebratory meal with his family. He told me that he had mixed feelings. Puzzled, I asked him why this was so. He explained that, though he was elated that his boy was getting baptized, he was also nervous.
You see, the father had a large family with other children who had been baptized. One had already been disfellowshipped, causing problems for the family due to the rules on shunning. The father couldn’t help but fear that, by making such a commitment, his son was also exposing himself to future pain if he were to ever fall short of the Society’s rules.
At the time I brushed this off and told the father he had nothing to worry about. After all, his son was now effectively an adult and free to make his own decisions. But the point he made stayed with me. Do young ones who get baptized truly understand what they are signing up to? Isn’t it right for parents to be wary of forcing their children into a commitment that could dramatically backfire further down the line?
An elaborate scam
Now I am free from Watchtower’s indoctrination and I can see perfectly well that nobody who gets baptized understands fully what they are getting involved in. The Bible Teach book doesn’t offer a full and frank account of the organization’s teachings, including the important doctrines surrounding 1919 (which is not mentioned once) and the little-known fact that Christ is NOT the personal mediator for most Witnesses (Worldwide Security Under the Prince of Peace, page 10). -1 Tim 2:5,6
“Was Moses the mediator between Jehovah God and mankind in general? No, he was the mediator between the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and the nation of their fleshly descendants. Likewise, the Greater Moses, Jesus Christ, is not the Mediator between Jehovah God and all mankind. He is the Mediator between his heavenly Father, Jehovah God, and the nation of spiritual Israel, which is limited to only 144,000 members.” (Worldwide Security Under the Prince of Peace, page 10)
Nor can it be said that newly baptized ones are fully acquainted with the true history of “God’s spirit-directed organization,” to which they pledge their lifelong allegiance. Never are they pre-warned of Watchtower’s double-standards in the Mexico/Malawi scandal, of the organization’s early racist literature, of Rutherford’s letter to Hitler, of Beth Sarim and the “ancient worthies,” or of Watchtower’s nine-year-affiliation with the United Nations. These details are held beyond reach, either buried in obscurity and trivialized in the Proclaimers book, or available only on the internet on unapproved sites like this.
It is wrong for ANYONE to be duped into making a lifelong commitment based on insufficient information. Such a practice would commonly be classed as a “scam.” But it is especially abhorrent and morally bankrupt to force children into such a binding commitment when the future ramifications could be (and often are) devastating.
Take my case for example. I was baptized at the age of 11. My parents, to their credit, voiced some concerns that I was perhaps too young – but I was insistent and determined. Based on what I had been told, this HAD to be the truth, and I wanted to pledge my commitment to it before the end came. According to my parents, Armageddon was due any moment. They even expressed surprise when I started high school, saying they never expected “the system” to last that long.
Now I am in my mid-thirties, with much of my young life wasted on a “career” of selling false promises to strangers on the doorstep. I now realise that, like so many others, I was conned. But my family warns me that they WILL shun me if I follow my convictions and break with the organization.
I am essentially being held to a decision I made when I was 11. A decision that was made based on false information and misrepresentation. Such a decision would hold absolutely no weight in a legal court of justice, but according to the organization it remains sacrosanct. The decision I made as a child to chain myself to an organization should stay with me until my dying breath. Even if it is based on demonstrable lies and deception, it should still be used as grounds for me to be cut adrift by my Witness family.
Leaders who should know better
To add insult to injury, I now see Watchtower’s leaders, the Governing Body, bending over backwards to get parents to usher their children into the baptism pool. In one of his talks, Anthony Morris III made some disgraceful comments in the video below, in which he essentially told parents to blackmail their kids if necessary to get them dunked. “Don’t swallow that business,” he says of any young ones who might resist (skip to 00:57)…
Then, in his recent zone visit to Sweden, David Splane told parents in his audience that allowing children to follow their heart in matters of faith wasn’t necessarily the “wise” thing to do (skip to 2:40)…
More recently still, as recently as last weekend’s annual meeting, Gerrit Lösch told parents to “steer” their young ones toward baptism (skip to 3:05)…
And finally this morning I open up my YouTube feed to find an appalling video straight from JW.org depicting a young child being baptized (skip to 00:50)…
It’s hard to express the depth of my resentment and anguish at the extent to which the Governing Body is shamelessly pursuing millions of children with the selfish aim of having them herded into baptism pools by their oblivious parents like some sort of grotesque human sheep-dip. To the Governing Body, these children are not individuals – they are human assets to be branded under Watchtower’s ownership as soon after they leave the womb as possible.
Children are born as a blank canvas full of curiosity, wonder and questions. But for Witnesses there can be no questions – there are only teachings that cannot be disputed. This is why there can be no such thing as a “Jehovah’s Witness child.” There can only be children who are indoctrinated into the beliefs of their Jehovah’s Witness parents, and restrained from asking the questions a free thinking person would ask.
It is only when you are an adult and you are able to use your fully matured thinking faculties that lifelong commitments should be entered into. The decisions you make as a child are usually not the same ones you would make as an adult.
It is for this same reason that the Western world gasps in horror at the custom in some Islamic countries of arranged marriages involving children – often with disastrous results. If forcing children into a binding contract with a fellow human is so abhorrent, why should forcing children into a binding contract with a religious organization be tolerated? Especially if the penalty for exiting this organization is shunning by parents and other relatives – thus depriving the person of his or her basic human needs?
A personal battle of conviction
I write this article days after the release of the newly revised New World Translation. My readers will likely be expecting me to focus my attentions on, what is for most Witnesses, a historic event. But I woke up this morning in the midst of a personal struggle with Witness family members who are slowly coming to terms with the fact that my wife and I are now Jehovah’s Witnesses in name only. They have been further warned that this will be the case for only a short while longer – we have had it with this organization. What is their response? They say they will shun us if that’s what Watchtower tells them to do. And no, they’re not that interested in knowing our side of the argument.
As you might imagine, I am seething that I am being held to a decision I made as an eleven-year-old based on misleading information and false promises. To cap it all off, I log on to YouTube and see this picturebook monstrosity of a video that is so clearly aimed at herding a fresh generation of children into their nearest baptism pools. The mistake I made as a child is being repeated worldwide on an almost daily basis.
I should be writing about the “new” New World Translation this morning, but my mind is elsewhere. By inflicting their dogmatism on young minds and entombing children in a religion from which they can never freely escape, despite knowing the number of young ones who are later disfellowshipped, the men on the Governing Body have shown that they are morally bankrupt. And I will continue to shout as loudly as I can by any means possible to make this and other abominations known, despite a recent threat made against this website and others.