If you haven’t already read the article on dysfunctional beliefs, I recommend you do so before continuing here.
Because to be honest, this article is pretty dark. But it needs to be shared. And I would feel better knowing that you have a nice flashlight handy before we move further into the darkness together.
So are you ready now? (At least open up the article in a new tab so I know you can refer to it as needed.)
The Jehovah’s Witness cult
I have had no religious upbringing, nor do I consider myself religious. (Spirituality however, is an entirely different matter, which I won’t get into here.)
So I make the following statement not from the mindset of any Biblical warfare, but simply from the perspective of psychology.
The Jehovah’s Witness organization is a cult — in that it:
- Censors all of its members’ reading material through the Watchtower Society.
- Prohibits its members to refer to any other media (including internet) or alternative scriptures for answers to important questions in life — even gain a better understanding of the Witness scriptures. This means no individual interpretation allowed.
- Prohibits member dissent from the orders of each Kingdom Hall’s network of Elders, which is why child abuse has been kept hush hush and has been rampant within the organization.
- Prohibits its members from interacting with non-Witnesses, beyond the extent of trying to convert them.
- Threatens its members with disavowment should they consort with non-Witnesses beyond the extent of trying to convert them (that includes any family members who have left are not a part of the organization).
- Threatens its members with Hell-sentences should they invoke disavowment (which is explained below) — and this is some serious brainwashing.
So why am I getting into all this heavy stuff?
Because whether or not you are affiliated with the Jehovah’s Witness organization in some way, by looking into their dysfunctional beliefs, you can start to see the depths of your own. And you can start develop your discernment to spot out dysfunction built into other organizations (or cults) that make up society as a whole.
And why would you want to do that?
You need to do so in order to develop your own mindful construct, which will ultimately put you in charge of commandeering your emotional health for the better.
Jehovah’s Witness apostasy
I once knew a former Jehovah’s Witness. He had left the organization two years before meeting me. He was a brilliant, beautiful young man whom I was very privileged to know.
Now because he was a Jehovah’s Witness, and he “knew” the word of God and turned his back on it — he sunk beneath the level of a mere non-Witness, or someone ignorant of the word of God. This psychological burden wrecked havoc in his life, yet he was too cognizant of the organization’s inconsistencies (and his unanswered questions) to return to its clutch.
In this way, he became an apostate. Apostasy is literally a Hell-sentence according to the organization. (When the Apocalypse passes and the Earth is destroyed, apostates are prohibited from entering God’s New Kingdom.)
In the time that I knew this man, he shared with me what he titled, “Entrenched Beliefs Buried Deep in a Former Jehovah’s Witness’ Psyche: A Self-Analysis.”
It is essentially an exhaustive list of the dysfunctional beliefs he inherited from the Jehovah’s Witnesses from a very early age. You might see some that echo beliefs that have been ingrained within your own mind. Or, they may be so foreign to you that they easily illustrate how dysfunctional beliefs can be.
Refer to it with an open mind; that is, recognize that these beliefs were ingrained into him, even if they seem unimaginable to you.
Limiting Beliefs from the Bible/Witnesses:
1) Jehovah’s Witnesses are the only ones who know God, he has shown them the truth about the world because they are honest and sincere and want to know truth.
2) Studying the Bible with the Witnesses is the only way to understand the full truth we need to know right now so that we can love and live forever.
3) The Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses in New York are God’s channel of truth, like Moses was. They are full of love and truth.
4) I am on an evil course in life because I have left the Witnesses and disassociated myself.
5) Everyone who is not a Witness is knowingly or unknowingly under the devil’s control.
6) I should not trust myself.
7) Thinking independently from Jehovah/the Witnesses/the Bible is evil.
8) The devil is trying to mislead everyone into thinking independently and opposing the Witnesses so they will die when the end of the world comes soon.
9) People like me who accurately understood the truth as taught by the Witnesses but rejected it are even worse than those who never knew. I am an apostate.
10) Since I was the spiritual leader of the family, God will hold me responsible for stumbling them and leading them into apostasy.
11) I am a special target of the devil, now that I have left the Witnesses he will trick me into opposing all that is good and will lead me into suffering and destruction.
12) Alternatively, the devil will bless me with abundance and prosperity, but it will only be temporary and deep down I will still be an evil traitor.
13) If I practice hypnosis, evil spirit beings called demons will enter my mind and posses me. By doing so I am inviting great evil and harm into my life.
14) Only someone evil like me would undergo hypnosis to purposefully transform their beliefs after knowing the one and only truth about reality that I’ve known.
15) My evilness must be even greater than most others because of the depth to which I understood the truth. I was a teacher of the light, now I am in deep shadow.
16) All spiritual or religious belief systems besides the Witnesses’ belief system are special tools that the devil uses to mislead people and invite demons.
17) Those who celebrate Christmas and other holidays are under the devil’s control, since it prevents them from understanding the truth about Jesus and Jehovah.
18) Jehovah is the Creator and source of all life. The only way to know truth is to know him. The only way to know him is through Jesus. The only way to know either of them is through the Bible and the Witnesses’ lives and teachings.
19) The only way to know truth is also through the Holy Spirit. Only the Witnesses really have Holy Spirit, that is how they understand the Bible more fully.
20) I do not deserve to live because I am a sinner, that is why people die (they are too).
21) I should not be living for this world but for the New System, when everything will be perfect on the earth. Only perfection is good enough for life to be worth living.
22) God’s Kingdom, a heavenly government that will destroy all other governments soon, is the only solution to mankind’s problems.
23) Efforts to make the world better or to change the world now are futile. The world outside the Witnesses is a dark and evil place controlled by Satan.
24) Non-Witnesses cannot be trusted, they will betray me, they have no real loyalty, they do not know real love. We are deep in the time of the end in a loveless world.
25) The devil wants us to live for now instead of the New World that God will bring.
26) Going to college or making a lot of money is dangerous to my spiritual health.
27) Success in this world is dangerous to my spiritual health. The more I succeed in life outside the Witnesses, the more I am under the devil’s control.
28) Non-Witnesses are dangerous to my spiritual health.
29) Not going to Witness meetings or from door-to-door is dangerous to my spiritual health.
30) I am going to be responsible for the deaths of others when the world as we know it ends because I stopped preaching about the end of the world. I am heartless.
31) I have no future in this world because soon the world as we know it will end and I will die if I do not go back to the Witnesses.
32) The sincere Witnesses will live happily forever in the paradise without me.
33) Loving people do not leave the Witnesses. Only crazy and/or evil-minded people like me do.
34) Jehovah (God) will forgive me if I go back to the Witnesses. Then, and only then, will I be happy and truly satisfied in life.
35) The demons can drive people crazy when they leave the truth.
36) The only other explanation for my leaving the Witnesses, if I am not evil, is that I am crazy.
37) It is better for me to be locked in a mental institution and be crazy or die than to live successfully as a non-Witness. Then maybe I wouldn’t be evil after all.
38) I am a liar because I dedicated my life to do Jehovah’s will and work and now am purposefully not doing it.
39) I have taken the evil side. There are only two sides, Satan’s and Jehovah’s. Satan has convinced me to decide for myself what is right and wrong.
40) I am like Satan. All those like me who know of but reject Jehovah’s Universal Sovereignty and try to decide for themselves what is right and wrong are not loving.
41) I am a betrayer, just like Judas Iscariot betrayed Jesus. I am betraying the loving God and his Son and all those who love them. Therefore I will be betrayed.
42) Only an unloving person like me would forsake the sacrifice Jehovah made through Jesus by opposing Jehovah’s work being done by Witnesses.
43) In a marriage, a man is the head of the household.
44) It is wrong to have sex with anyone, even if you love the person, unless you have a legal certificate of marriage.
45) Any sexuality of any kind outside of a legally recognized marriage, including masturbation, deserves the punishment of death for the unrepentant.
46) I deserve to die just by being born sinful and for overstepping the law of God after knowing the truth. The only way for me and other sinful humans to receive forgiveness and be happy forever is to pray to Jehovah through Jesus.
47) I will die at Armageddon because I have stopped praying for Jehovah’s forgiveness of my sins through Jesus. He is the only way to life and truth.
48) Even if I seem happy for a while living as a non-Witness, eventually if I am a loving person I will realize the truth that the Witnesses were right all along.
49) Deep down I know the truth — the Witnesses are always right on the main points.
50) I will never really be happy living as a non-Witness.
Clearly, this list would be the perfect programming for any robot slave.
The master creates his robot servant, and then programs it in such a way that it can never, ever leave the grip of its master’s control. The robot’s existence can only be justified by its loyalty and allegiance to its creator (the Witnesses act as the gatekeepers to God’s New Kingdom).
From a psychological perspective, this is an incredibly unhealthy way for any person to live. It is deep, dark, mind control.
Where to go from here
If you couldn’t make it through the list, that’s okay. You’re not obligated to read something dark if right now you don’t see the value in doing so.
If you did make it through the list and you are having negative reactions to it, I encourage you to sit with and explore those feelings deeper. Please refer to the “What you can do to get functional now” section of the dysfunctional beliefs article when you are ready to mobilize these uncomfortable feelings.
If you are a Jehovah’s Witness, or an apostate, then thank you for reading. It is my hope that it reached you somehow. I want you to know that you are not alone — there are networks of support out there for people just like you. People have recovered from leaving the organization, and they have been able to reprogram their dysfunctional beliefs and start a new life.
I encourage you to believe in yourself, no matter what anyone — Elder or otherwise — has told you. If you don’t yet believe in yourself, or your ability to recover from leaving the cult — know that I do, and I will continue doing so.
Beliefs are strong, but we’re in this together
Beliefs are strongest when they remain unquestioned. It is by uncovering them and looking through them that we can begin to choose beliefs that are healthy for us — not the harmful ones that are handed down to us.
It is through introspection and self-acceptance that we can begin the process of honoring ourselves.
And we are not alone in this — dysfunctional beliefs are everywhere. We are in this together.