[Orignally obtained on 2000 October 11]
Expert's Conclusions on the Contents of Beliefs, Teachings and Practices of the Religious Organisation of Jehovah's Witnesses.
General information about the religious organisation of Jehovah's Witnesses
The religious organisation of Jehovah's Witnesses came into existence in the 70s of the 19th century, when a certain C.T. Russell founded its first group in USA. He decided to present the public with another interpretation of the Bible and in that way to form a new cult. The creation of personal, 'original' interpretations of the Bible is typical of late Protestantism. The process of formation of those new cults and sects was especially active in USA, because, originally, traditional Christianity had less influence there than in Europe. It is known, that Protestantism completely or partially rejects the Church Tradition i.e. all of the Christian culture (dogma, divine service, sacrament and ceremony, church hierarchy, etc.), with the exception of one part of its Tradition - the Bible, the Holy Scriptures. Thus, this causes a rapture, a gap with historical Christian tradition and opens the way for endless emergings of new 'Christian teachings and beliefs'. If any follower of a given reformer disagrees with him then a new cult is formed, which in turn undergoes divisions. At present, the experts in religious studies number up to 130 more or less stable groups with teachings of Protestant origin and report that new cults of this kind appear all the time, including in this country also.
In 1789 the first issue of "Zion's Watch Tower and Herald of Christ's Presence" was published. From Pennsylvania this cult spread to the other states of USA and in 1884 Zion's Watch Tower Society was officially formed. Since 1909 the centre of the organisation has been in Brooklyn, New York.
A new interpretation of the Bible alone cannot produce a new religious organisation. For this a certain new system of dogma is required and, what is more, a rigid hierarchical structure to force the cult into the masses, to recruit new followers and spread doctrine. That is why from the very beginning and up to this day the main activity of the members of the organisation is to spread the information about the cult and recruit new members. It is called 'witnessing'. Visiting private houses, flats, establishments, enterprises, talking to the passers-by in the streets, neighbours, colleagues at work, this is done in a massed and thorough way, rather like a salesman who will not miss any opportunity to sell his goods. The whole system is working on the principle of a commercial enterprise, which it, as a matter of fact, is. Because of this, similar organisations in the West were refused to be registered as a religion, for example the famous church of Scientology of Ron Habbard.
In 1916 after the death of the founder of the cult, J. Rutherford had become his successor. The number of members in the organisation and the printing of publications had increased. In 1931 the organisation adopted the name of Jehovah's Witnesses in order to "distinguish themselves from the denominations of Christendom". By that time the activity of the sect acquired a scandalous reputation and caused opposition by the early Protestant groups, traditionally influential in USA, and opposition by the government. Numerous court cases followed, where Witnesses were trying to reject the accusations brought against them by the governmental, religious and public organisations, including relatives of the members of the cult and people who broke off their connections with the cult. In 1940's vigorous missionary activity started in different parts of the world causing court examinations and scandals. In 1976 the governing system of the cult was reformed, and now the organisation is governed by the Governing Body, that presently consists of 11 people. Besides the 'religious activities' and the corresponding propaganda provisions, like publication and dissemination of literature, the Corporation is engaged in production of other goods and services, including food stuffs. They own extensive property, land, buildings, hotels and enterprises. Their workers "receive small amount of money for personal expenses. "For the last few decades researchers in this country and abroad have actively been studying the phenomenon of the so called destructive cults. In this country the most commonly and frequently used term for destructive cults is 'totalitarian sects', the term 'anti-social cult' is also used. For the last 5-7 years the problem of destructive cults has become especially pressing in Russian society, this is because of the large-scale activity of such cults. The effects of their activities can be likened to a natural disaster, presenting a global catastrophic threat to the national culture and mentality. Major prerequisites enabling their sectarian propaganda to reach such catastrophic results are: low level of spiritual culture of Russian people, who have lost experience in religious matters, being artificially torn off from religious life for the time period of the last three generations; also the critical state of economical and political conditions in the country, causing instability and conflicts; and also, especially organised and massed sectarian propaganda, with all imaginable means, that finances and technical achievements can provide, at their finger tips.
It should be noted that in the West, where the majority of such cults had started, they have accumulated rather sufficient amount of information about their activities and have acquired appropriate legislation, providing adequate defence of the members of society from their influences. It still needs to be done in this country, meanwhile destructive cults are given carte blanche.
Destructive cults (totalitarian sects) are defined as special authoritarian and hierarchical organisations identifying themselves as: religious, political-religious, psycho-therapeutical, convalescent, educational, as being engaged in study of science, culture, art and so on. They
· practice fraudulent recruitment
· control the consciousness of their members
· use psychological pressure, fear and other illegitimate methods to keep their members in the organisation
· direct their members and their organisation to denial of all existing religious and cultural values
· create an aggressive attitude towards the traditional ways of life of people.
The activity of any association with global anti-cultural orientation, that denies all human culture and experience in their totality, except their own , can be called sectarian, and as such can be named a sect.
The complete analysis of religious beliefs, teachings and other aspects of Jehovah's Witnesses' activities, combined with the definitions given above, positively allow to ascribe their organisation to the rank of destructive cults (totalitarian sects).
Characteristics of a destructive cult (totalitarian sect) in the beliefs and teachings of the religious organisation of Jehovah's Witnesses.
Their whole eschatology, the whole complex of teachings that they are spreading (the idea of the future, 'the end of the world' and 'new life'), undoubtedly are of danger to society. These ideas compose a so called 'nerve' of the whole doctrine and are most actively used to draw in new members, intimidate and keep them. The idea of the approaching end of the world, global catastrophe, that is being spread by Jehovah's Witnesses, is a typical example of provoking massed psychosis, which is highly amoral. A recent experience of the local sect "White Brotherhood" could be recalled to give an idea of how dangerous the spreading of Jehovah's Witnesses' teachings could be for society.
Especially dangerous is the belief of Jehovah's Witnesses that a global catastrophe is going to happen very soon, it can literally happen at any time. This puts the leaders of the sect into a predicament, making them hostages of their own 'theories', because global catastrophe means loss of their power. The organisation of Jehovah's Witnesses stated that after 1914 (a date picked by them) the world catastrophe is bound to occur in the life time of one generation. "Some people who were alive in 1914 will still be alive when this system comes to its end." In a situation like that the leaders of the sect have two options: cardinal change in their teachings or 'provoking' the end of the world, so to speak, 'rendering' help to God in bringing the end about. How it could be done, we can see from the experience of the sect "Aum Shinrikyo". Using weapons of total destruction, they organised and carried out terrorist attack on peaceful non-suspecting citizens. It states in the publications of Jehovah's Witnesses' sect that: "We live under the yoke of this wicked system of things, which soon will turn into dust. We must fight it with all our strength", "at present there already exists a gathered remnant of heirs with Christ". The story could end unexpectedly and life of the whole humankind can end at any time. Thus, all we can do is wait and see what way the thinking process of the Jehovah's Witnesses' leaders will take and what decision they will make: cynically reform the doctrine of the sect, knowing that the members are under absolute control, or bring the matter to a scandalous end. Till then we have to be hostages of the circumstances and the majority of us are kept in suspense about the whole matter.
What is awaiting mankind, according to the beliefs of the sect, or rather what future they are preparing, using the whole might of their resources, is still to be known. In view of Russia's historical past (if we haven't forgotten our past yet), it will be easier for Russian people to imagine and evaluate this coming 'future', than for people in the West. The 'future' is this: "Satan's world" will be destroyed. What is "Satan's world"? "Satan's world is organised human society that exists apart from or outside of God's visible organisation.". Further, it is explained that "Satan's world" includes "false religions" (including all religions except Jehovah's Witnesses), "political systems", "commercial systems", etc. God "will take action to destroy the present governments and set up his own righteous government that will rule the whole earth". "The war of God will prepare the way for a righteous new world . "First of all, those who survive Armageddon will have the work of cleaning up the earth and clearing the away the ruins of this old system" , "on earth there will be faithful men appointed to see that these laws and instructions are carried out." Hence "with all other governments out of the way, God's government will satisfy real needs of the people."
Is it not true, that all this is painfully familiar. This ill-fated idea of the coming paradise for the 'righteous', with preceding destruction of the 'unrighteous' 'goat-like people' (term used by the sect), as well as the idea of "overseers" supervising cleaning away "the ruins of the old system" and making sure that all the laws and instructions are rigorously observed, yes, all this, including the terminology itself, issues from the possessing high wisdom "governing body", builders of paradise on blood. Totalitarian paradise for the survivors "sheep- like ones" is planned to be established for a thousand years. After "all those who are not part of the new society will be cut off", with "the governments and their military might", construction of "totally peaceful and harmonious world free from crime, prejudice and hatred, free from political divisions and war" will begin. "There will be economic security for all ...radiant health...complete security and...unending life."
Apparently "God's war" will not ensure the complete elimination of 'goat-like people' and additional cleansing will be required during the rule of the thousand year paradasaic kingdom. In order to stay in paradise a negligent worker "will have to become honest... Those who come out against God's righteous rule will not be allowed to continue living to mar the peace and joy of others. They will receive an adverse judgement" Reformatories are not provided, discontented are destroyed straight away. Thus, the "sheep-like ones" will shoulder the responsibility of building a new paradise. "Consider the challenging and satisfying work that we will do in construction, landscaping, gardening,... and many other fields. People of older generations in this country who managed to escape the "adverse judgement" and "were allowed to continue living" had the opportunity to appreciate satisfying work in the field of construction and landscaping. Such religious sermons can only arouse indignation in the hearts of these people and desire to send the authors of such theories and distributors of their literature to do construction and landscaping somewhere in the Far North. As for the lost and spiritually disorientated youth, they are risking to tread on a garden rake, by being in danger of becoming victims of totalitarian organisations and getting involved in spreading of their criminal ideas. Jehovah's Witnesses not only promise us a traditional set of paradise 'blessings', but they also say that we will be able to enjoy them forever.
It is puzzling that open preaching and spreading of this ultra-extremist insanity and terror is allowed in this country and in this society, when we have just lived through the similar insanity and terror, bearing loss of millions of lives and of innumerable amount of materials. One publication or public announcement of such plans for the Russians by Jehovah's Witnesses, or of any other similar organisation, must be enough to immediately bring their leaders to trial for encroaching upon life, freedom and safety of Russian citizens. In any case, such organisation must not be allowed to be officially registered , freely spread their propaganda or have any other arrangements. Besides, Jehovah's Witnesses, as a Japanese sect "Aum Shinrikyo", are a sect of foreign origin, governed from USA, which could lead to interference in our home affairs, discredit of the state and undermining of national security.
We believe that free dissemination of these anti-human ideas, propaganda of such antisocial views deeply insults the feelings of all the Russians, irrespective of their origin, political or religious background. The office of the Public Prosecutor must see to it that the organisation of Jehovah's Witnesses is held responsible for its actions.
In their preaching and missionary activity Jehovah's Witnesses actively falsify the Bible and put it to a fraudulent use, gambling on its indisputable authority in religion and art. In order to do that they apply a special system of translations and interpretations with the purpose of twisting, forging and juggling Bible texts in the required direction. By doing that, they discredit orthodox understanding of the Bible. When possible the authoritative, universally recognised Synodal translation, based on the Septuagint, is used, when it is not appropriate then other translations are utilised. Readers inexperienced in Biblical expression, are not able to follow and check all the occasions of substitutions in the texts. For instance, we read in the publication "Bible Topics for Discussion" that God's Son "was created". Further we are referred to the verse in the Bible that states: "the first born of every creature" /Col 1:15/, which from a religious point of view is principally different.
In truth, the barbaric attitudes of Jehovah's Witnesses to the cultural heritage of Christianity are clearly seen in their self-determination and the way they treat Christianity. Members of the sect call themselves Christians (11/1996). They write: "we as Christians..." , they talk about "Christian preaching activity" and at the same time they announce that "they have nothing in common with Christendom" . The level of absurdity and illogical culture of the sect can be clearly seen in what they say about Christianity: "No, the nations and churches of Christendom are not Christian" or ""Christendom" is defined as that part of the world where Christianity prevails"! Jehovah's Witnesses impudently manipulate the church teachings, ways and understanding, in attempt to find the bases for their own antihuman theories. They assert that "Jesus Christ refused to become a political ruler" , but he is ascribed the political rulership in "God's Kingdom". They also say: "not a human being but Jesus is our head", but at the same time they repudiate the church teaching about the divine nature of Christ. In they write: "Jesus does not need an unbroken line of successors", but in they state the opposite: "representatives of the Governing body, consisting of the apostles and older men, came from Jerusalem and passed on to them the gift of Holy Spirit". The last citation is a vivid example of how new artificially created terminology is used to refer to customary things, i.e. the church hierarchy is called "the governing body". Creating and using new terms is also one of the characteristic features of a destructive cult (totalitarian sect). It is significant that in their literature Jehovah's Witnesses, when dating an event, use the expressions "before common era" and "common era". For the Christians the only appropriate way of saying it is "before Christ" and "anno Domini". All that can only be evaluated as a shameless gambling on the authority of the Bible and Christianity for their own purpose, which is: a fraudulent recruitment of people, by winning over their sympathy and resources, posing themselves as "the true Christians". No wonder that the Church considers the activity of sects, like Jehovah's Witnesses, as non-ecclesiastical in essence, provocative, objectively working with the purpose to discredit Christianity. However, in religious culture there is no such thing as 'buying a patent' or 'buying a right to own somebody's intellectual property". That is why no matter how much Jehovah's Witnesses twist the concepts of the historic Christian Church, no one can make them answerable for it.
More exact and complete theological analysis of all this juggling and misrepresentation of Bible texts is not what we have been aiming for, but if such analysis was done, it would have shown the enormity of grievous harm caused by the sect in this field. However, even a simple theological review of the structure of their ideology, propaganda, and system of their moral norms, undoubtedly reveals vividly expressed aggression towards persons, groups of people, nations, institutions, religious organisations and so on. Claiming to be a "religious organisation", Jehovah's Witnesses are particularly aggressive towards other religions, especially to those who have a fundamental historical and cultural background. This is understandable, because it is culture and traditions in particular, that give to the nations and societies stability, which is so undesirable to the sectarian propaganda. Lies, groundless accusations, juggling with facts, threats are employed, insulting religious feelings of millions of people. Here are some typical quotations: "in this 20th century, virtually all religions, not just those of Christendom, share responsibility for wars...and for the severe moral degradation that afflicts mankind."(1.10.1995) Under "all religions" they mean "false religions". "Peace and security - unattained goals. Religions - a great hindrance in achieving peace...The worldwide religious system...will be completely devastated." (1.10.1995)
Blunt denial by Jehovah's Witnesses of everything ecclesiastical is absolutely unacceptable at the time, when Russian society, as a whole, is turning to the values of Orthodox Christianity in search of spiritual ideals and healthy morality; at the time when the Church institution itself is seeking to overcome hard consequences of massed repressions.
Some other aspects of highly antisocial beliefs and teachings of Jehovah's Witnesses clearly show them up as a destructive cult (totalitarian sect). They have imposed many restrictions on their members. Public and political activities, blood transfusions, medical treatment (tests and so on), military service, alternative service, socialising with others are not allowed. Prohibitions of that kind violate human rights and endanger public security. Members of the sect are taught to treat the governments and societies as "God's enemies" that deserve to be eliminated.
Features of a destructive cult (totalitarian sect) are clearly seen in the organisation of Jehovah's Witnesses in the manner of recruiting and retaining the members. They employ fraud, and initially conceal essential aspects of their teachings. Also they use psychological pressure and force, when coercing and then retaining their members in the sect. Experts in the field of study of destructive cults mark out some typical features proving the presence of psychological violence in their practices. All these features can be traced in the activities of Jehovah's Witnesses. Let us consider them in a consecutive order.
1. The way an organisation is governed
- Leaders or "nucleus of leaders" claim to possess exceptional wisdom, they demand implicit obedience to their authority and recognition of their privileges.
At the early stages of existence of Jehovah's Witnesses the founder of the sect and his successors had such authority and privileges. Later on, the "nucleus of leaders", viewed as elite, was formed. Elitism is part of the teachings of the sect. The chosen 144,000 - "co-rulers with Christ" are at the top of the pyramid. Then comes a totalitarian hierarchical system consisting of the "governing body", "elders", "travelling overseers", "judicial committees", etc., organising and directing lives of the main mass of the "brothers".
- The way the members obey the leaders: even if cardinal changes occur in the ideology, the followers are expected to accept them and adapt their own views, thus showing absolute devotion to their leaders.
A vivid example of it is an experience from the history of Jehovah's Witnesses, when prohibition on vaccination of the members of the sect was revoked in 1952. According to the teachings of the sect "the use of blood is prohibited". Thus, blood transfusions, medical treatment where elements of blood are used, and earlier even vaccination, are forbidden. These restrictions are absolutely senseless, because the sect doesn't practice vegetarianism. It is common knowledge that meat retains half the blood volume of an animal. Similar absurd restrictions and demands are very effective in creating a secluded group, different from "those on the outside". Subtly calculated psychological mechanism of "attaching" people to the cult is also a feature of a destructive cult (totalitarian sect). When the law of many countries required vaccination certificate on entry, it presented a problem for the leaders of the sect, since the expansion of their missionary work was jeopardised. The law could not have been abrogated on the demand of the sect. So they decided to allow vaccination purely with the purpose to expand their field of activity and recruitment of new members. Nevertheless all the other restrictions on the use of blood still remain and the organisation's members are persuaded to rigorously obey them.
- Members of the sect are obliged to adjust their behaviour to certain discipline patterns and participate in different activities. There is a prevalence of elite leadership ("God's government", "governing body") and their group ideology, over the individuality of the members. Common members are deprived of their rights.
Members of the organisation of Jehovah's Witnesses are constantly involved in different kinds of "service" which they must regularly report - preaching, visits on which they offer others to join their organisation, etc. Every minute detail is recorded, every hour spent in their activities is reported. In their 1995 yearly report everything is scrupulously calculated "the number of baptised", "the number of pioneers", "the number of congregations", "the number of Bible studies" (4,865,060), "the number of hours of study" (1,150,353,444 world-wide). When someone joins the organisation, he is required to cancel membership in all other organisations, quit traditional religions, even stop being involved in such things of little importance as religious rituals and celebrations and so on.
An anecdotal example of "demonstrative flogging" took place in 1981 when
G. Franz, a member of the governing body and a nephew of the president , was expelled from the organisation for having a meal with a friend who was not a Jehovah's Witness.
When a disputed matter arises in the case of refusal to have medical treatment or preventing somebody from having medical help (blood transfusions are prohibited even for the children of the sectarians), members of the sect are not allowed to deal with the situation according to their own understanding of it. The organisation reserves the right to put pressure not only on the doctors, lawyers and governmental workers, but also on members of the sect who happen to be in such a predicament. It is known that the psyche of a person, whose life is in a critical phase, who has just been in an accident or had an injury, is highly unstable. Any rough interference at that time can be extremely dangerous for one's mental health. Forcing, intimidating, putting psychological pressure on someone who is weak, ill or in a critical state is considered to be a bare-faced crime and is contradictory to the freedom of conscience, human rights and the right of a person to deal with the questions concerning his own life.
2. The way a doctrine is presented
- There are doctrines that circulate inside and outside the sect. Outside doctrines are used as a facade, for advertising. A classic example of it is hypocritically dropping a 'curtsey' towards traditional religions.
It is imposed upon the sectarians to use 'the soft methods' while recruiting in order not to scare away the victims. At the same time recruiting agents are given following directions: "not all people claiming to be Christians (Buddhists, Muslims) fully understand the teachings of their own religion and don't have deep understanding of its doctrines. That is why it is important to involve them in a conversation"
When speaking to a Buddhist it is recommended not to identify themselves as "having something to do with Christendom", when speaking to a Jew they are to say: "we worship the God of Abraham", "we are especially interested in the matter of religious truth". Though it is obvious that this is a bare-faced lie and a recruiting agent is not looking for any religious truth. Similar methods of recruitment are applied to people from other cultures: Hindus, Muslims, etc.
In order to make the recruiters ready for any situation that they might find themselves in, a real encyclopaedia of tricks and contrivances is at their disposal.They must exert influence on people even by the expressions on their faces, while reciting "joyful" or "threatening" fragments of their teaching. When they are performing everything matters - the way they dress, the way they position their hands and feet.
- There is a conviction that the aim must be reached at any cost. Anything is acceptable in order to achieve it. Anything that comes from the leaders is acceptable. Thus, a totalitarian ideology is formed ("us and them" syndrome), denying "them" all their rights and freedoms. "There is only one true religion." As respects "those on the outside" - all means are justified in getting rid of them, 'goat-like people'. The fate awaiting "Satan's world" and all those who do not obey "God's government" is discussed earlier in this document.
- While loudly claiming to love people, talking about kindness and philanthropy and so on, they approve of amoral things. Thus, they condemn the Church for the teachings about hell, saying that God is not capable of causing suffering. Punishment of sinners is not human. At the same time they teach that the "wicked" 'goat-like people' will be annihilated. Apostates will receive "an adverse judgement" and "they will not be allowed to continue living", as if sanctions of this kind do not cause people to suffer. Remarkable, that philanthropy towards "those on the outside" is forbidden, their needs are of no importance.
- Membership in the organisation gives special privileges, awards special opportunities and authority. Only those in the organisation of Jehovah's Witnesses are promised a place in the future paradise, where all their needs will be satisfied, where they will be given immortality, vibrant health, etc.
- They present their teachings as absolute truth. They are higher than any secular laws, that is why the laws can be trampled at any time. Now members of the organisation have to observe the laws of "this system of things" created by Satan, but when "this system of things" soon comes to its end, these laws will be abolished. Meanwhile, members must keep active to speed up the destruction of "this system" and coming of "God's Kingdom".
3. Mechanisms of getting new members and keeping them in an organisation.
- Active and passive ways of recruitment are very methodical, proving that the increase in numbers of the members is the main purpose.
- Recruiting agents undergo special thorough training in all aspects of their activity.
- The atmosphere of "elitism" prevails. The whole system of cult rituals, i.e. ritual of dedication ("baptism"), is a copy or imitation of the rituals of traditional religions.
- Cultivating and maintaining fear in adherents, causes a psychologically unstable and insecure state of the members (one of the ways to do it is by introducing massed restrictions). They achieve emotional peaks by having huge gatherings in the stadiums and other public places. Exhaustive psychological tension is constantly maintained by making the individuals believe that the end of the world is nigh. All new-comers have to go through the tiring process of being taught sectarian doctrines.
- They create or direct to the situations of alienation from families, relatives, friends and colleagues. By actively instilling "intellectual chimeras" into the adherents' minds, the old personality is replaced with the new, more suited to serve sectarian purposes. All traditional values of the past, family bonds, plans, hopes for the future, former interests, jobs, social life are abandoned and crushed. Jehovah's Witnesses demand of their members to break all personal connections outside the sect. All traditional features of life, as public or private holidays (birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, funerals, etc.), national or public ceremonies, rituals are viewed as "tests of faith" inspired by Satan. All these normal things are presented as something that turns people away from God and therefore condemned together with this "wicked system of things".
- Adherents' consciousness is under permanent strict control. It is carried out in the form of reports and diaries. Members are obligated to give talks in front of a group of people. "Travelling overseers" and "judicial committees" also execute current control.
- Members of the cult undergo a change of "sense of time". Ordinary concepts of the past, present and future are altered. The usual comprehension of life, based on traditional culture and values, is not the same any more. A person completely "drops out" from the habitual time-scale. Waiting for the inevitable end of the world in a great nervous tension, one is not able to adequately evaluate his own state and the state of things around him.
- There is a criticism of rational attitude and thinking and demands to actively use one's intuition, faith, emotions, etc. which is very damaging for the ability to mentally see things in proper perspective. There is a demand to refuse rational behaviour in communications with others and in their attitude to the authorities. In their publications these points are given special attention. The publications contain colourful stirring illustrations which help to swallow and digest absurd and illogical ideas.
- Those who want to leave the cult are filled with apprehension, knowing that there could be consequences if they undertake such a step. Warnings about strict supernatural sanctions or death are issued as a punishment for the apostasy. All the apostates will be "destroyed by God". "God's Kingdom is a real government having power and authority."
- The members feel that they are directly or indirectly dependant psychologically and physically. They are financially exploited. Members are employed in numerous commercial enterprises of the sect, receiving "small reimbursement to cover incidental expenses." Charity is practised only within the sect. Numerous restrictions imposed on the members, add to the feelings of dependency. The most amoral restriction is prohibition of blood transfusions for children who are not able to stand up for themselves being dependant on their parents.
Analysis of the psychological methods used for recruiting and dealings with the members within the cult, based on publications of Jehovah's Witnesses clearly shows that the main purpose of their activity is to increase the number of followers in order to mentally, psychologically and financially exploit them. All other aspects of their activity are secondary. Recruiting new members and expanding the sphere of influence is all that matters. A famous expert on destructive cults, doctor M.T. Singer classifies their methods to control the behaviour and mentality of individuals, in the following way:
· taking over personal time of an individual, guiding his thinking process by means of compulsory daily "Bible study";
· creating a feeling of helplessness within a new-comer, at the same time presenting him new role models and behavioural patterns;
· manipulation with rewards and punishment, privileges in hierarchical structure and sanctions;
· cardinal re-evaluation of former life experience and changing one's consciousness by getting him involved in mass gatherings;
· an individual, deviating from the "right path", is made to feel as if something is inherently wrong with him and requires sorting out;
Compromises are not allowed unless they come "from above". Members of the sect are not allowed to join the army and even to accept an alternative service. Helping the wounded is not acceptable because it will help them to go back fighting.
All-round pressure of this kind, used to govern other people, is damaging to one's personality and leads to the loss of one's independence.
According to the definition of destructive cults (totalitarian sects) given by the contemporary researchers studying this phenomenon in this country and abroad, the organisation of "Jehovah's Witnesses" has all the characteristics of such. The organisation aims to achieve total alienation of its members from the "outside world" and all other people. All the values of normal human culture are aggressively denied: religious, spiritual, political , economic, national and legal. Their activity and propaganda rouses religious and national dissension, leads to family and state brake-up. They preach ideas of an absolute superiority of one group of people over the other, which is damaging for traditional ways of life. Spreading lies and threats insults religious and national feelings of others, ruins self-respect.
The activity of the Jehovah's Witnesses' organisation presents serious danger to society. Awaiting the imminent end of the world arouses fear, nervousness, psychosis and contains potential danger of "initiating" the catastrophe by terrorist acts.
The activity of Jehovah's Witnesses is incompatible with international law of human rights and Russian legislation on freedom of worship, education and so on. It also violates the tenets of the Russian Constitution on personal and family rights and freedoms and security of the state.
The contents of their sectarian propaganda, that is taking place under the disguise of their religious preaching, deprives people and organisations of self-respect, undermines mutual understanding and co-operation in society as a whole: on public, state, religious, national and cultural levels. The activity of the organisation does not conform with the purposes and objectives stated in the official registration certificate. The preaching of establishing of totalitarian regime in society, mass repressions, state terror, threats of wars and violence is utterly unacceptable in Russia. It is especially insulting to the Russians, who in the recent past experienced numerous sufferings brought upon them by totalitarian regimes. These people have not yet fully recovered from the tremendous losses they had to bear. Consideration of all these factors against the background of instability existing in Russian society, makes the activity of Jehovah's Witnesses and similar organisations extremely dangerous. That is why the government should undertake urgent steps to provide a legal defence of Russian citizens by decisively suppressing the activities of destructive cults (totalitarian sects) on the territory of Russia.
A list of the publications used, printed by the religious organisations of Jehovah's Witnesses (in Russian language):
"Awake", periodical magazine
Jehovah's Witnesses and Education. New-York, USA,1995
How can Blood Save your Life? New-York, USA, 1994
"The Watchtower", periodical magazine
Jehovah's Witnesses in the Twentieth Century. New-York, USA, 1994
Bible Topics for Discussion. Printed in Germany
What is the Purpose of Life? New-York, USA, 1993
Theocratic Ministry School Guidebook. New-York, USA, 1993
Organised To Accomplish Our Ministry. New-York, USA, 1990
United In Worship of the Only True God. New-York, USA, 1989
You can Live Forever in Paradise on Earth. New-York, USA, 1989
Our Kingdom Ministry, periodical bulletin
How to Start and Continue Bible Discussion. New-York, USA, 1994
Examining the Scriptures Daily. New-York, USA, 1992
Life - How did it Get Here? New-York, USA, 1992
Yearbook of Jehovah's Witnesses. New-York, USA, 1996
Legal address of the religious organisation of Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia is: 189649, St.Petersburg, Solnechnoe, ul. Tankistov, d.4
The Expert's Conclusions are prepared by the specialists of the research group in the field of religion of the Institute of Personality Development of the Russian Academy of Education on the request of the Committee for the Rescue of Youth.
Supervisor of studies,
Senior research officer
Kandidat of Philosophy / signature/ I.A. Galitskaya
Research officer / signature/ I.E. Metlik