"EXTREMIST" by Oxford Dictionary:
"A person who holds extreme political or religious views,
especially one who advocates illegal, violent, or other extreme action."
"A person who holds extreme political or religious views,
especially one who advocates illegal, violent, or other extreme action."
On February 12, 2017 the Huffington Post wrote an article identifying how to determine whether or not a religion qualifies as "extremist." The article, written by James Schubel, and who is a professor at Religious Studies and Asian and Middle East Studies at Kenyon College, concluded the following after researching the topics of indifference, radicalism and intolerance. He stated: "The problem with “religious extremism,” in the negative way in which it is commonly used, is not an excess of religion, but rather a lack of humanity. The Christians who taunted us at the town square did not do so because of something essential and undeniable in the Christian faith. They did so because they refused to recognize the humanity of those with whom they disagreed." (Bold ours)
The last sentence, for the vast majority of ex-JW's, rings a bell of which sound is not easily taken away! In fact, the sound may last for a lifetime as the victim attempts to navigate life and envisage the remainder of their life without the company of their loved ones. It has been the long standing policy, as sanctioned by the Governing Body, that any member who leaves the organization MUST be shunned by their family who remains - and this in lieu of spiritual counseling by elders if the remaining family should be discovered associating with their ex-JW family member, even if by text or email. It is also fact that if continued attempts to visit or contact their ex-JW family member should be discovered, they may themselves be subject to disfellowshipping. Here in lies a very interesting paradigm. When we think of "extremism," we often associate it with terrorism. Now, I am not suggesting that the Governing Body are terrorists, however terrorist's modus operandi, as it pertains to inflicting measurable fear in others, often will resort to kidnapping and holding ones hostage, demanding specific demands be met in lieu of punishing their captors.
The Governing Body has likewise, adopted a spiritual-like manner of taking hostages when it comes to shunning. How so? They have placed certain policies in place, or sanctions, holding family members from visiting or socializing in any manner with their loved ones who have left the organization. In fact, there are numerous articles which the Governing Body states that a member who has been disfellowshipped may miss their family and in time return to the organization to once again have association with his/her family that remain. They therefore say, in such articles, that even a slight measure of communication with the disfellowshipped family member may be just enough to prevent them from returning to the organization. Notice this article: The Watchtower 2013 Jan 1 p.16 - "Do not look for excuses to associate with a disfellowshipped family member, for example, through e-mail." Notice also this recent article: Watchtower 2017 Oct p.16 "Despite our pain of heart, we must avoid normal contact with a disfellowshipped family member by telephone, text messages, letters, e-mails, or social media." Therefore, the members that remain are strictly, even upon punishment, forbidden to even email, text, or call their loved one! Is this not a form of taking one hostage? Is it not indeed a form of spiritual extremism? The following article helps us appreciate the level of extremism the Governing Body is taking: "By cutting off contact with the disfellowshipped or disassociated one, you are showing that you hate the attitudes and actions that led to that outcome. However, you are also showing that you love the wrongdoer enough to do what is best for him or her. Your loyalty to Jehovah may increase the likelihood that the disciplined one will repent and return to Jehovah." Watchtower 2011 Feb 15 p.32
What is wrong with this statement? The Governing Body has all adherent's believing that if you leave the organization, you are an unforgiven sinner. For example, in November of 2016 I stopped attending meetings. I didn't sin in any manner, I just left. In January 2018, my disassociation letter was read publicly to the congregation. In the eyes of the organization, I am an unforgiven sinner, though I have committed no sin. I just left . . . as is the case with tens of thousands every year. Is this not extremism? Is this not a form of holding family hostage?
What may lead a member to leave the Jehovah's Witnesses? The reasons may vary. But such things may be due to child abuse, elder abuse/mistreatment, disagreement with doctrine(s), recognition of deceptions/lies, guilt feelings associated with shunning of others, etc. What is interesting is this: The organization has spent tens of millions of donated dollars, over a period of many decades fighting for their religious rights in over FIFTY major cases around the world to date. And yet, the basic fundamental rights they argue in world courts - are the exact same rights they deny their own members. Geoffrey Jackson of the Governing Body was caught lying to the Australia Royal Commission in 2015. When asked by the court's attorney if members are aloud to "just leave," brother Jackson affirmed that they are "free to leave if they choose." Yet . . . we all know this to be a distortion of the truth. For we all know to leave means - leaving your family behind, for the rest of your natural life! Thus, untold thousands of followers are identifying themselves as "PIMO" members, meaning "Physically In Mentally Out." They choose to stay to avoid losing their family.
In the above definition of "extremism," the Oxford dictionary mentioned "violence," as part of the defining marks of "extremism." Often we think of violence as physical, but this is not always the case. Notice these different types of violent behavior's, as defined by World Health Organization and "World report on violence and health":
Violence can be divided into three broad categories:
- self-directed violence
- interpersonal violence
- collective violence
Clearly, "larger groups" may also include those of religious organizations. The Catholic church engaged in atrocities during the inquisition that were horrifically violent. But in today's world, violence has taken on many different forms. One may even think of the pain inflicted on another in school, as bullying has been identified as a form of violence that has lasting effects on the victim, and has resulted in the public authorities placing hard punitive sanctions against children who engage in such behavior.
The Governing Body has incorporated an absolute uncanny level of psychological control over its followers over the last number of decades. Included among these are the harsh level of shunning of family, much of which is taking a harsher and harsher turn for the worse as time progresses forward. It was of recent (2018 Regional Conventions) that it was highlighted that shunning would now include those who have become "inactive" members . . . even when the scriptures tell us to "keep admonishing the weak." Is shunning biblical? Most of us are aware that it is, but ONLY in very specific cases, but still allows for association. In every single instance in which God's Word speaks of staying away from certain individuals (to protect our own spiritual health), it is always speaking of those who practice evil, those who consistently cause division in the congregation, and those who have left Jesus teachings, but still, the bible does not forbid association when it comes to shunning. For instance, we are admonished to "follow in Jesus footsteps closely," in the scriptures. Satan was, and is the absolute epitome of an apostate, or opposer of God. Yet Jesus still spoke with him. Jesus ridiculed the Pharisee's, yet still spoke and had dealings with them. Jesus rebuked the tax collector's, yet still ate with them! The real problem is that the Governing Body believes that THEY ALONE stand as God's agents on earth, and if you leave the organization - you have in fact left Jehovah. All this accompanied with ZERO biblical proof of their scriptural appointment! IT IS AN INTELLECTUAL DECEPTION. IT IS A LIE!
I am reminded of a scriptural account (Luke 9: 49) when the apostles were walking along with Jesus. John noticed a man expelling demons off on his own. John said to Jesus, "He is not one of us." In other words, he was not a disciple of Christ . . . John wanted Jesus to rebuke the man. Jesus told John, "Do not stop him. He who is not against you is for you." So even though this man was not a disciple of Christ, Jesus still acknowledged the man in a positive light. To have the power to expel demons was through the power of Jehovah. Therefore, it was Jehovah who approved of the man expelling demons, and evidently found enough faith in the man to give him the ability to do so. Notice how Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary reveals the essence of this particular situation in Luke 9:43-50 :
"What greater honour can any man attain to in this world, than to be received by men as a messenger of God and Christ; and to have God and Christ own themselves received and welcomed in him! If ever any society of Christians in this world, had reason to silence those not of their own communion (intimate feelings and beliefs), the twelve disciples at this time had; yet Christ warned them not to do the like again. Those may be found faithful followers of Christ, and may be accepted of him, who do not follow with us."
When we contrast that account to the manner in which the Governing Body has demonized many tens of thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands just by simple disagreement to Governing Body doctrine, or other issues, it is not difficult to discern that their posture on the subject is anything but following the act of love that Christ displayed, and warned against it! How incredibly cruel of the Governing Body, and of the followers to demonstrate this level of unkindness, and really . . . violence, especially in view of the fact that many who leave the organization still accept the teachings of Christ Jesus. And again, the bible makes perfectly clear that ONLY those who have rejected Jesus, and turned themselves over to the "minding of the flesh," "evildoers," "idolatrous," "ones who cause divisions in the congregation," are the ones who should be shunned. (Romans 1:30 ; 1 Tim 4:1,2 ; Jude 1:4 ; 2 Peter 2:1) In the majority of cases, this is not the situation with ex-JW members. In fact, when one examines every scripture related to those who have turned their back on Christ and his heavenly Father Jehovah, they will quickly think, "Wait! I am not any of those!" And again, in the vast majority of cases that is true. No human on earth, including the Governing Body, have the authority to proclaim righteous people, people who are NOT of the type mentioned in God's word who are wicked - may align them as such for the simple reason that they consciously cannot support what they believe to be an organization led by REAL apostates of Christ . . . imposters - wolves in sheep's clothing! There is no mistaking that it is a form of violence to treat others in this fashion, ones who again, still call on their Lord and Master Jesus - just not inside the JW organization!
In addition to the violent behavior inflicted upon ex-JW members through such things as shunning, removal of privileges in the congregation over petty issues, not allowing sisters any form of privilege whatsoever, and other control and punitive measures, the organization has also placed certain verbiage within the scope of their literature which may only be described as perhaps the most presumptuous and extreme claims an organization can make under heaven. And that is to be selected by Almighty God himself! This too is extreme behavior, when there is no evidence whatsoever that Almighty God had chosen this organization as his own. (WT 2009 Feb 15 ; WT 2013 July 15 ; WT 2001 Aug 1 ; WT 1981 Dec 1) Perhaps the most extreme of this would be that it is all based on dates . . . and constantly changing dates at that, and no biblical record to solidify their claim!
The manner in which the organization has treated its members, especially those who have left can only be defined in two ways. - It is unbiblical. It is inhumane. As such . . . it is the opinion of this brother in Christ, and as a previous member for 45 years, that the Governing Body of Jehovah's Witnesses, including their followers are indeed extremists as it relates to the unscriptural and often cruel treatment of those who yet remain as Christ sheep, but existing outside the scope of the organization. Many of us who were once members can attest to the cruelty of the policy of shunning looking at it from the inside . . . and from the outside, as well. From inside, as previous members, we all knew how cruel it was yet passed it as something that was holy in God's eyes - yes, as rendering to God a "sacred gift." Yet, we never truly researched the topic of shunning as it relates to God's word, and whether or not it was holy to do so. We are, as members, instructed to completely and utterly rely on the Governing Body and their research teams to have it right. To research outside the Governing Body's template of literature is considered tantamount to apostasy. Funny . . . even though we are admonished scripturally to "keep testing" as to whether we are in the faith!
Yes . . . it is my honest and sincere belief that the Governing body fit the description as "extremists," with a different kind of violence . . . but violence nonetheless. They have abused Christ' sheep. By perverting the scriptures on shunning, they have condemned untold tens of thousands of righteous people to a lifetime of pain and deep suffering through unscriptural policies that literally rip once-loving families away from the arms of their children, their mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters, grandmothers etc! And they proclaim they are rendering "a sacred service to God" by doing so! They have heaped a massive level of anathema (ecclesiastical curse) upon those who remain, by using fear as a template for retention, and upon those who have exited! It is a massive level of unholy behavior that has no place among those who have a reverential fear of Jehovah, and of the Son. May our Lord Jesus forgive their colossal trespass of scriptural duty and authority! But also may they be summoned to give answer - and may they be held to account.