The Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses, the organization’s spiritual leadership, are encouraging their flock to avoid everybody who is not a member of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Why? Complying with these terms is a prerequisite for survival in Armageddon.
Many Jehovah’s Witnesses deny being part of a Cult. And yes, it is certainly true that Jehovah’s Witnesses far outnumber many well-known cults and do not live in a secluded compound somewhere in the wild. The single fact that they live among non-Jehovah’s Witnesses is often used as an argument to prove they are not a Cult. But this viewpoint is short-sighted: It is not where you live but how you live that identifies you as a Cult.
Keeping this in mind, the latest Study Edition of The Watchtower is another fine example of Cult 101. Speaking of the association Jehovah’s Witnesses should have if they would like to survive Armageddon, the Governing Body recommends the following in the article Watch Your Associations in these last days:
To avoid spoiling our useful habits, we must not have as close associates those who practice bad things. This applies not only to associating with unbelieving wrongdoers but also to associating with those who claim to worship Jehovah but who deliberately violate his laws. If such professing Christians engage in serious wrongdoing and do not repent, we do not continue to associate with them. […] Although we want to be kind even to those who do not follow God’s laws, we should not become their intimate associates or close friends. […] Maintaining Christian integrity is far more important than becoming popular with people who do not live by Jehovah’s laws. Our close associates should be those who do God’s will. […] Although bad associations spoil useful habits, good associations produce fine results. Consider Noah, who lived in an evil world but had no desire to make its inhabitants his close friends. […] Noah certainly did not seek the companionship of ungodly people. […] As worshippers of Jehovah, we need to imitate Noah and his family and obedient first-century Christians. We must keep separate from the wicked system of things around us and seek upbuilding associates among the millions of our faithful brothers and sisters.
How does this make Jehovah’s Witnesses a Cult?
Among the criteria mentioned in the checklist Characteristics Associated with Cultic Groups (Revised) by Janja Lalich, Ph.D. & Michael D. Langone, Ph.D. is this bullet-point
Members are encouraged or required to live and/or socialize only with other group members
Obvious, right? If you confine your social activities solely to your group, avoiding the outside world in terms of socializing beyond what is work- or school-related, you don’t have to live in a secluded fortress to qualify as a Cult.
Expanding on that, consider this trait of a Cult:
The most loyal members (the “true believers”) feel there can be no life outside the context of the group. They believe there is no other way to be, and often fear reprisals to themselves or others if they leave (or even consider leaving) the group.
That’s exactly the kind of attitude we find encouraged in the above quotes from the August 2015 Watchtower. This is also enforced in another study article in said issue. Under the heading Prepare now for Life in the New World the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses writes the following:
Are we submitting to theocratic direction now? If we are doing so, we are preparing for everlasting life under Jehovah’s rulership. […] If we cooperate with those taking the lead today, perhaps finding contentment and joy in new assignments of service, we are likely to have the same attitude in the new world.
In other words:
Happiness now and in paradise as well as everlasting life itself depend completely on loyalty (“cooperation”) to “those taking the lead” – which is the Governing Body, or “Faithful and Discreet Slave”.
How does this cooperation look like? The Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses leaves no doubt:
At that time, the lifesaving direction that we receive from Jehovah’s organization may not appear practical from a human standpoint. All of us must be ready to obey any instructions we may receive, whether these appear sound from a strategic or human standpoint or not.
This is not the only case where the Governing Body demands utmost loyalty:
We need to obey the faithful and discreet slave to have Jehovah’s approval. – July 15, Watchtower 2011, page 24, Simplified English Edition
To act consistently with our baptism for life and into the Greater Noah we must submit to and cooperate with that slave and its legal instrument, the Watch Tower Society. – October 1, Watchtower 1959 October 1, page 583
Does this fit the description of a Cult? Let us take a look at our checklist:
The group displays excessively zealous and unquestioning commitment to its leader and (whether he is alive or dead) regards his belief system, ideology, and practices as the Truth, as law.
Questioning, doubt, and dissent are discouraged or even punished.
The leadership induces feelings of shame and/or guilt iin order to influence and/or control members. Often, this is done through peer pressure and subtle forms of persuasion.
What we can take from this
This is a new low on their Cult-ish paranoia slash excitement “strategy”. It appears they are prepping their members to go full spiritual AWOL. This new issue shows once again that there can’t be any doubt what being a good Jehovah’s Witness means: