Jehovah’s Witnesses plainly don’t fit the traditional definition of cult that we all grew up with. Time was, if you fell under the spell of a charismatic leader, withdrew from society, and began doing strange things, you just might be a member of a cult.
However, the goal posts have been moved! There is a new definition of cult, and by this definition they do fit. If you belong to a group in which there is significant human authority and if you think outside of the mainstream box, you are a cult. The BITE expert even thinks half the country (United States) belongs to a cult for voting for the candidate he disfavors, a circumstance I think dilutes every other stand he takes. I mean, if you think half the country is in a cult, is it not evidence you have drunk too much of the KoolAid yourself?
This changed definition explains why when Yaroslav Sivulsky (as related in Don’t Know Why We Persecute) is asked about cult accusations, he does the only thing a reasonable person can be expected to do—he doesn’t understand the question. He notes that “we don’t have the features of a sect, because we are not isolated, we have no leader who is controlling everybody, because we are open to society. We go to the people, not hide from the people in forests of somewhere else.” He hasn’t kept up with the latest machinations of men; he has a real world to live in.
So the question becomes how do you adapt to this new definition of cult?
One way is simply refuse to accept it. “Cult” has had specific meaning for centuries, and just don’t budge from that specific meaning. The only reason it has changed in recent years is because humanists are intent upon snuffing out religion that becomes powerful through organization. If it is only a matter of uncoordinated individuals each acting (or more often, not acting) upon his or her own personal interpretation of God, that is less of a threat to them, and they are okay with it. Disconnected individuals are relatively easy to pick off or assimilate, but it is much harder with members of a centralized coordinated group.
Another way of dealing with the updated definition is to accept it but also point out that the Bible thereby becomes a cult manual. It plainly speaks of a first century group in which there was significant human authority. That gathering of the apostles of older men in 49CE (Acts 15) sent out decrees (decisions) to the congregation that were to be observed. (Acts 16:4-5)
A supplemental response is to revert to the original meaning of “cult,” for it comes from the same root word as does agriculture. Whereas agriculture is literally caring for the earth, cult in the religious sense can be taken as caring for the matters of God. I’ll take it. It is not too different from serving as ‘guardians of doctrine.’
Or one can point out the advantages of being able to cooperate. One can observe that in response to direction from their governing body, Jehovah’s Witnesses instantly suspended physical meetings for virtual, and instantly donned the masks deemed protective. If that protocol was the secret for eradicating the virus and if everyone in the world had been a Jehovah’s Witness, Covid 19 would have shoved off long ago. I told the CultExpert, who has the byline, “Freedom of Mind,” you don’t think at least some of those flying your banner will use their freedom of mind to tell the government to take a hike?
And should it turn out that such protocol is not the way to eradicate the virus, that quickly becomes apparent, clearing the path for another protocol to be devised. Indeed, the doctor who wrote the White House with the medical regimen that quickly cured Trump when the latter came down with kiss-of-death Covid thinks there will some day be the equivalent of Nuremberg trials for those who let hundreds of thousands of people die by discrediting and even withholding treatment of an eminently treatable disease.
But when some follow the guidelines and some don’t, you never come to know if they work or not. Covid ravages the globe as each one is arguing his or her own point of view and the result of either course never comes to fruition. JWs would have spared the world that. “Freedom of mind” anti-cult addicts would have perpetuated it.
One can also be very resourceful and turn that cult taunt (for that is how it is usually intended) on its head, the same way some innovative police years ago dealt with the taunt “Pigs.” They advertised that is stood for Pride, Integrity Guts, and Service. In the same way, as applied to Witnesses, cult can stand for Courage, Unity, Love, and Truth.
The villains don’t own the dictionary. We can make as much use of it as they. In the case of hostile ex-Witnesses, we can even adapt the Freddy Mercury song:
We’re the apostates, my friends
and we’ll keep on fighting till the end
No way we’ll lost this
Be sure you choose us
Cause we’re the apostates of he world.
Meanwhile, displaying far more freedom of mind than the freedom of mind specialist could ever dream of, the recent announcement from HQ is that “they do not oppose vaccination. Many of the Bethel family have chosen to be vaccinated. We view health care as a personal decision and do not attempt to make such decisions for others.” (an amalgamation of two separate announcements) I have quipped that you can even tell whether a bro is vaccinated or not by how they read the announcement:
HQ IS NOT AGAINST vaccination. We view health care as a personal choice.
HQ is not against vaccination. We view health care AS A PERSONAL CHOICE.
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