International experts meet in London to discuss “UNDUE INFLUENCE” of extremist groups

London

A group of international experts will come together in London on the weekend of August 22-24, 2014 to address some of the major concerns relating to the undue influence of extremist groups and cults. Scientology, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and Islamic extremists are just some of the groups that will be considered. The context of their discussions will be the impact these groups have and the control they are able to maintain over people’s lives. This is an invitation only meeting. The meeting/workshop led by Steve Hassan - Freedomofmind.com will be recorded and the information will be shared with a wider audience at a later date.  One aim of the workshop is to enable mental health professionals to gain a better understanding of the impact on people’s lives of “undue influence” by extremist groups and cults.

Undoing the damage of such groups is a huge task for governments and agencies who often struggle trying to understand their inner workings and cultures. Dealing with the fallout and damage is often left in the hands of professionals who are still trying to develop appropriate response and recovery techniques.

Some Government policy initiatives such as “social cohesion” are directed to the integration of such groups into mainstream society. But these policies do not directly address either the immediate or the ongoing impact of the beliefs and ideas disseminated by such groups. These cultish groups promote ideas that weaken or destroy family and societal relationships. The result is the creation of a continuum where mental health issues exist at one end – and extremism and terrorism at the other.

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Rebranding Jehovah’s Witnesses – same business, same beliefs, same abuses

Like something out of the classic movie,“2001, A Space Odyssey,” an “obelisk like” image has suddenly appeared in an apparent attempt to rebrand and create a new marketing image for the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society. This particular obelisk (clearly a marketing ploy) can be found floating around the Internet and on Facebook in various incarnations (all rip-offs of a evangelical songwriter’s album cover – Link). It is often presented displaying these words:

“The world will know. 8.1.2014.”

They rarely hint at exactly what we all should expect to have “known” on that date. Our guess is this online phenomena may have been part of a concerted effort to advertise the beginning of a new door-to-door witnessing effort by local congregations to promote their corporate website and to change their public face.

This new campaign began on August 1, 2014 in the United States and continued at least through the first weekend of that month. Jehovah’s Witness publishers showed up en masse in neighborhoods and on street corners distributing a tiny 4-page flyer, “Where Can We Find Answers to Life’s Big Questions.” Their current answer seems to be the new version of their website, JW.org.

The Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses, or whoever runs the marketing company trying to rebrand Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Watchtower Society, apparently underestimates the intelligence of those who make up “the world.”

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The World Remembers Watchtower Victims

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Hope and connection brought people together around the globe on July 26, 2014. Organized through Facebook, the day became one to remember and quite unlike any other, marked from sunrise to sunset with tributes and respectful activism taking place in significant public and private locations.

It was a day that saw individuals of all ages who have been shunned and ostracised by their Jehovah’s Witness families make themselves visible in dignified, loving and purposeful ways. Several actually took flowers and cards to places where they had in the past experienced rejection and pain. Many memorialized the moment by taking photos and sharing their personal experiences where everything connected with the day began – the Facebook page “Watchtower Victims Memorial Day.”

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“Truth Be Told” – How Successful Could it Be?

Truth Be Told posterI am very excited about the potential for Gregorio Smith’s compelling, fast-moving documentary, “Truth Be Told.” I am sure that if it is seen by enough people, it will alter public opinion about Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Watchtower Society.

Why? Because this film accurately captures the culture of undue influence from an organization that clearly violates the basic human rights of its members, their families, and especially the children of members.

In this documentary, former Jehovah’s Witnesses candidly talk about the emotional and psychological harm they suffered because of the policies and practices of the Watchtower Society.

The film includes heart-wrenching recollections and personal experiences about the long-term effects upon children who are forced to proselytize door-to-door. The psychological damage that results from enforced shunning of non-believing family members and friends. What happens when critical thinking skills are suspended? The lost opportunities because of the negative stigma attached to higher education; and how it feels to be unable to pursue one’s passion for art, music or science, or a young adult’s shattered dream to be a doctor, educator, librarian, journalist, writer or other professional career dreams.

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Blood Transfusions – Watchtower “Truth” vs. Fact

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According to Lee Elder, Director of AJWRB (Associated Jehovah’s Witness for Reform on Blood), most Jehovah’s Witnesses believe “…blood transfusions are bad medicine and the equivalent of playing Russian Roulette.”

The Watchtower has so thoroughly indoctrinated them about the potential risks of transfusions, even in life and death situations where doctors and emergency technicians have no viable alternatives, “…that the mere thought is totally abhorrent to many of them.”

These irrational fears often persist for years even among former Jehovah’s Witnesses. One can only guess at how many injured and sick Jehovah’s Witnesses and their non-baptized family members have died from lack of proper medical treatment since the mid 1940s when the Watchtower first introduced their “No Blood!” doctrine.

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