Few stories had the impact that Rick Gonzalez’s Shameful Shunning in a Thousands Words had in 2013. It’s a timeless story and a priceless picture that needs to be shared again and again. Or least until Watchtower stops its mandated Talmud-like shunning policy. You can access the story at: http://aawa.co/blog/shameful-shunning-in-a-thousand-words/
By Joni Valkila
In addition to Watchtower’s concerns about financial donations, the age pyramid threatens their membership. While I don’t have the hard numbers internationally, I have the numbers for Finland.
It is worthwhile to note the following interrelated factors:
1) a low birth-rate among Jehovah’s Witnesses because Watchtower has discouraged its members from having children for decades
2) a decline in the number of converts since the mid-1990s
3) a collapse in the number of baptisms since the mid-1990s
4) young people leaving the organization.
The net result is a very aged population.
We have fairly reliable government statistics about the age structure of JWs in Finland. Guess how many are over 65 years old? It’s 28% of JWs in Finland. This is a population of very poor future prospects.
There have been fewer JWs in proportion to the population since 2001. As the decline no doubt continues, at some point it could lead to a collapse of congregations and the organization. It’s a sinking ship.
Who wants to give their money or time to an organization that doesn’t seem to have a future? Kingdom halls are being sold. The few people who still go to meetings are mostly old people.
But, I have to say though that the product JWs sell—eternal life in a paradise earth, albeit at a heavy price to the members—is very good. Watchtower still might find new markets and millions of new gullible people who want to believe they can live forever, and are willing to give their money to help make that possible.
You can get to know more about Joni Valkila by going to his Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/valkila
Are you curious about Watchtower’s current financial position? If so, John Redwood weighs in with some very sobering news, and it is not pretty. You can read the latest news at https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=2098816283670622&id=100006268126035
On May 10, 1962, my first day at Bethel, I was told that I would need to attend the Monday night study of the Watchtower, if I wanted to have a successful career at Bethel. My first Monday-night meeting occurred four days later, with Fred Franz conducting.
I was 18 at the time and flabbergasted listening to Franz conduct the Watchtower Study. I had never seen anyone convene a meeting like this. He was extremely self-absorbed and acted as if he might be going crazy. He talked in a deranged-like high-pitch and drifted into tangents unrelated to the study article. One inane comment was a premonition he shared with 600-plus Bethelites, in the Bethel Kingdom Hall, saying, “I don’t know when, but I will die on a Friday the 13th.”
There are few ex-JW activists who are more focused than Lee Elder. His website and message about Watchtower’s flawed blood transfusion policy has always been spot-on and well researched. In fact his, ajwrb.org (Advocates for Jehovah’s Witness Reform on Blood) is now twenty years old and still going strong.
Many survivors of sexual abuse among Jehovah’s Witnesses opt to sue the Watchtower Society and the congregation where the abuse happened. This is a very difficult and trying decision to make and subsequent action to take.
These kinds of lawsuits are not tried in a criminal courtroom, although at one level I think they should be. These kinds of cases are filed as civil law suits against agencies that not only hid the abuse but threatened the victims and their families with disfellowshipping if they reported the abuse to the police or others in the congregation. Many of them were told that if they reported the abuse they would cause divisions within the congregation and would not be submissive.
This effectively acted as a gag order. Victims and their parents are not even permitted to tell extended family members about the abuse, leaving the abuser free to find other victims. When the abuser is a direct family member, who lives with the victim, the child often winds up being further abused and knows that going to the elders will not stop the abuse; it might make it worse. So there is no protection, not for them and not for others.
Victims to Victors
Panel Discussion form the 2016 ICSA Conference in Dallas TX
Life After the Cult: Struggles and Successes
Families: Then and Now
Growing up in a cult forces people to define family in two ways. First there is the biological family one is born into. Like most people, that family cares for the physical, educational and spiritual needs of children. Sadly, often the emotional and psychological development are ignored as well as any integration into the larger community outside of the group.
The second definition of family in broadened to the family of cult members, where often people are referred to as brothers and sisters. Socialization outside of the biological family is limited to members of the cult group. There is strong pressure that socialization will not be permitted outside of this group.
It is within these two families that most cult children are raised. Their beliefs and values are controlled by the larger group and those who break the rules about associating outside of the larger group can be disciplined or even cast out. This serves to control the young and maintain their allegiance to the group. They get very little information from outside the group other than what they might pick up in school. Children are taught from a very young age to ignore any information that counters the cult beliefs they are being raised with. And they are taught to shun other children within the group who are not meeting certain standards of behavior. Recently there has been a greater move towards home schooling which serves to isolate the children even more from the larger community outside of the cult.
I am not talking about religion or a religious belief. Although I sincerely hope you will carefully think about any belief system you choose to get involved with.
Spirituality is something quite different from religion or a religious belief. In fact, there are many definitions of spirituality. The University of Minnesota reports:
Spirituality is a broad concept with room for many perspectives. In general, it includes a sense of connection to something bigger than ourselves, and it typically involves a search for meaning in life. As such, it is a universal human experience—something that touches us all. People may describe a spiritual experience as sacred or transcendent or simply a deep sense of aliveness and interconnectedness.
Some may find that their spiritual life is intricately linked to their association with a church, temple, mosque, or synagogue. Others may pray or find comfort in a personal relationship with God or a higher power. Still others seek meaning through their connections to nature or art. Like your sense of purpose, your personal definition of spirituality may change throughout your life, adapting to your own experiences and relationships. (1)