Do Jehovah’s Witnesses force their children to follow their faith? They would answer: No. Let’s take a close look at the facts.
It is a common conception among outsiders and former Jehovah’s Witnesses that parents who follow JW.org force their children into accepting the religion of their family, given they have the lowest retention rate of all religions. It is therefore logical that they would answer this accusation on their website:
So far, so good. But how does this fit in with claims of former Jehovah’s Witnesses that they were indeed forced into the belief?
The solution to this caveat lies in the answer provided by Jehovah’s Witnesses themselves on JW.org and especially in the little word ‘inculcate’.
to cause (something) to be learned by (someone) by repeating it again and again
This definition is very important because it reveals a lot about the belief system of Jehovah’s Witnesses. In an enlightened world, beyond math formulas, you would want your pupil to learn and apply something because it makes sense.
Jehovah’s Witnesses, on the other hand, admit that the only way to make their children love their Jehovah God and consequently become Jehovah’s Witnesses is by repeating the teachings again and again. The notion of inculcating the belief appears often in literature of JW.org:
“What does it mean for parents to “inculcate” God’s standards into their child? It means that they must frequently repeat what they teach him. A small child is like a young tree that needs a little bit of water frequently.” – Source
“The Hebrew word translated “inculcate” at Deuteronomy 6:7 carries the thought of repeating a point often.” – Source
“Spiritually strong parents are prepared to apply the counsel found at Deuteronomy 6:7, to “inculcate” Jehovah’s words in their offspring at every opportunity. To “inculcate” means to teach and impress by means of repetition.” – Source
‘Teach and impress by means of repetition’. Shock and Awe, anyone? The English language has a definition for this kind of upbringing:
What Jehovah’s Witnesses practice is psychological (religious) coercion
“In a psychologically coercive environment, the victim is forced to adapt in a series of small ‘invisible’ steps. Each step is sufficiently small that the subject does not notice the changes or identify the coercive nature of the process until much later, if ever”, states The Neurotypical. This particular technique of coercion is known as the Mere-Exposure-Effect and is a very popular practice in Cults:
“A psychological phenomenon by which people tend to develop a preference for things merely because they are familiar with them.”
What we have here is Jehovah’s Witnesses once again beating around the bush when answering so-called challenging questions. While most Jehovah’s Witness parents may not use violence or other obvious force to make their children go the Kingdom Hall, study and become Jehovah’s Witnesses, employing the method of ‘inculcating’ their religious beliefs in their children is – from a psychological standpoint – forcing them, coercing them into following JW.org. So we can safely assume that it is indeed not a myth at all that children of members of JW.org are forced to become Jehovah’s Witnesses. And if they do make a ‘personal choice’ that goes against their parent’s wishes, the consequences can be disastrous.
Now ask yourself: How many times did your child have to touch a hot stove to learn that it is dangerous? How often did they jump out of the window till they accepted the concept of gravity? But how often did you have to tell them to tidy up their room?
If a chore is attractive enough, if a point you are trying to get across makes perfect sense, if it’s obvious, if it is easy to see how one would benefit from accepting the thought, you will not have to repeat an idea again and again. Also, you won’t have to pressure parents into baptizing their children. If you have to, the problem is not your child or pupil. The problem may be your doctrine. Or your God, come to think of it.