Ministry of Misery: Mental Illness & the Jehovah Witness – Part 2
by Charley Carle
Prohibitions of the Society
Many things are condemned by the Watchtower and could be discussed. All holidays as Christmas, birthdays, Easter, Mothers Day, St. Patrick’s Day and all the rest are prohibited. Saying words as “luck” and “unfortunate” is bad.
Investigation. A person’s research into higher education is condemned. Reading most non-Witness books and magazines is condemned. The mind control and the bondage are self-evident. Similar to the Moonies, the Jehovah’s Witnesses rarely accept any Christian literature. Think about this, “Why won’t a Moony read Christian literature?” Their leader, Mr. Moon, told them not to. Why? His people might trust the real Jesus and quit being Moonies! The Watchtower has the same fear.
Witnesses are pressured to read the Watchtower and Awake magazines. They say, “How do you have time to read other literature after reading the Watchtower and Awake first? And I am sure you read them first!” The Watchtower and Awake are not long, about 24 pages. Regular readers come to know what is in the material. It only takes about 45 minutes to read one of the publications. The level of writing is grade six. “Well, don’t you meditate on the thoughts?” “I know them all. What else can I do?” “Well, there must be something else you can study.” Dr. Bergman would say, “I’ve read most of the Societies publications since 1879. I don’t know what else I could read.” “Well, should you waste your time on those worldly things?” He responded, “Where do you think the Society gets all their material from? They do not sit down and make up all those studies. They do not have a void that is filled as things come to them. They have a large library. They read things. They do research and write articles.” Russell himself said that everything he talked about in the magazines, he got from somebody else. He did not originate anything. Russell did say he arranged them in a unique combination. The Witnesses responded, “Well, the material is filtered through theocratic channels. What is not good is taken out.” Dr. Bergman’s response was, “How do I know that is true?” Furthermore, he pointed out, “This article quotes from this book. It gave the name and the page of this lexicon. The copyright and the author are given. What is wrong with me looking that up?” They would say, “Well, just look that up and don’t read anything else.” What an insult to a doctor with 10,000 books!
Stiflization. The Jehovah’s Witnesses intellect is stifled when all the answers come from the Watchtower. If you question a teaching, they are sure something is wrong with you. The emotions are stifled. The people are shackled putting the person in spiritual stifling and spiritual bondage. If you shackle someone’s mind, could you expect him to stay sane for a long period of time? No. You would expect him to go crazy in time because the Watchtower Society insists, “Don’t think. Just accept.” A mental crisis is inevitable!
Recreation. Regularly involving yourself in recreation is also condemned. It is O.K. once in a while. But if you play regularly, like joining a bowling team, that is wrong! After school sports are wrong. Extra-curricular activity is wrong. Any association with non-Jehovah’s Witnesses, except where it is absolutely necessary is wrong. The Kingdom Hall pressures children to stay away from little league and other local sports activities.
Transportation. Even things like convertibles and two-door hardtops can be wrong. “Why?” “Because you need a car that will serve Jehovah.” How do you serve Jehovah? Go out on service! That is what cars are for. What kind of car is best to go out in service? The Witnesses cars should be designed to carry other Witnesses who need to go out on service, like station-wagons and vans. Sedans are O.K. with four doors. They will not kick a person out for having a convertible. Again, they pressure by put-downs as, “Well, he is somewhat immature!”
Transfusions. Blood transfusions are considered to be wrong. The Watchtower’s twisted interpretations of Scripture has deceived the people. This one erroneous Watchtower teaching kills a thousand a week. Similarly, organ transplants were condemned by the Watchtower from 1967 to 1980. During those years the Jehovah’s Witnesses were sure their eternal life was in jeopardy if they received a transplant. The so-called “new light” was wrong and people died needlessly! Wars and abortions are responsible for death and heartache. The Watchtower Society is equally responsible for death and the suffering of those who are left behind.
Manipulation. Interestingly, to visit psychiatrists and psychologists is considered wrong. Desperate Witnesses come to the point where they have no choice but to seek help. Even visiting many doctors was discouraged at one time. The second Watchtower president, Rutherford, was a cigar smoker. Now, smoking is condemned to the point of saying you will lose everlasting life if you smoke. They believe it is a major sin equal to murder. When they passed the smoking rule about 1% of the Witnesses left. Missing meetings is wrong. Missing service is wrong. Working overtime is wrong. Getting promoted is wrong. Using terms not approved by the Watchtower Society such as “New Testament”, “Old Testament”, or “AD” is wrong. Bowing ones head when a non-Jehovah’s Witness. prays is wrong. With all these prohibitions you can see why people are up-tight. They have to be careful not to do something considered wrong. The Kingdom Hall has so many rules to follow! It is widely known among psychiatrists that a rigid, strict, unloving environment is highly conducive to producing mentally ill people. That is exactly what you have among the Witnesses, a constantly rigid, structured, dictatorial environment.
Salvation. The Jehovah’s Witnesses do not enjoy any of the liberty made available through Jesus Christ. What a contrast to Christianity! Christians are concerned with doing good things. Biblical standards are important. If you have a vice and do something wrong, you do not have to think, “Since my salvation depends on my works, that’s it! I have lost my eternal life!” A Christian should work to overcome sin as God enables< him. A son who displeases his father puts a strain on the relationship. The father may discipline the child but the child certainly remains in his family. The same is true with our Heavenly Father. The Witnesses have no understanding of this comforting truth. Imagine the crisis of conscience and emotional turmoil for a Jehovah's Witness trying to maintain salvation by his own frail integrity!
Humiliation. A Witness growing up is subjected to great threat to his mental health. A young Witness has a difficult time for many reasons. First of all, one’s peers are very important. A Witness cannot associate with non-Jehovah’s Witness peers. “They are all of the world, all anxious to drag you down into their depths.” Also things in the school are unacceptable such as saluting the flag. How embarrassing for the children! They are caught in the middle when the parents say, “Don’t salute. If you do you will miss eternal life!” Schools have said, “You’d better salute. If you don’t you are going to the office.” What does the child do? Historically, both sides were very unfeeling and the children ended up suffering the most. They are the ones who really got hurt. It was cruel to expel a child from the school, which was done, or to humiliate them because they would not salute the flag. Yet, the child was only trying to obey his parents. His parents would not salute the flag either! The Society taught that everyone in America should take pleasure in displaying the American flag in 1917. Then they said to salute the flag is to salute the devil, in 1949. What would you expect a child to do? This affects the child’s mental health. He is constantly isolated from his school mates. He sees himself as being a social isolate, cast off and different. This affects the child’s mental health. What kind of personality would he naturally develop? He is going to be introverted, shy, to himself, fearful, and afraid of other people. Many Witnesses are well adjusted mentally, but there are a lot more who are not!
This sets up a vicious circle. The Witnesses attitude is, “I don’t like you because you are of the devil.” The Witnesses often treat people poorly and snub them. In return, how is the public going to treat them? Poorly! So many people do not like them. How would you feel as a Witness regarding other people? Isolated! You would be set off as different and made fun of. Kids in school are in many ways openly cruel to Jehovah’s Witnesses. Children have burst into tears and screamed in the classroom because of how their peers react. Unfeeling kids do not know what it is like to grow up as a Witness.
Compassion for the Jehovah’s Witnesses
Ministration. The Witnesses have a lot of problems due to their environment. How difficult to be in the Watchtower for a long period of time and remain emotionally well adjusted! Being very aware of this, how should we react toward the Witnesses?
If you were to visit a friend who was in the mental hospital, who was standing rigidly immobile in the corner and stood that way for months, who had to be fed through a tube or he dies; how would you respond to that person? Would you say something like, “I see you have not been reading your Bible lately!” It won’t work! People who help the mentally ill say, “The only way you can really help is love them.” Love them! This does not mean to go up and say to a Witness, “Jesus loves you!” The comment is true. But the Witness interprets it as mocking him. The well meaning remark simply upsets him. So you have to convey, “I love you. I am concerned about you, other Christians are, and Jesus is concerned about you.” But you have to be very cautious how you communicate your concern. If you walk up and tell them, “I love you,” with all his worries about homosexuality, he is going to be sure you have problems. They are going to misinterpret it. What should you say to them? You might say very little. Quite often Christ said nothing. When they asked Him about being the King of the Jews. He responded briefly. He was not rude. He stressed who He is. In effect He would say, “Let what I do judge me.” So how do we work with Jehovah’s Witnesses? The same way. Arguing with poorly instructed Christians many times only drives the Witnesses away from Christianity and back into the Watchtower. Some of their people have prepared to leave the Organization, then after arguing with a Christian for three hours, they go right back. You do not show them you love them by arguing. The main way you show them you are concerned is by translating that concern into action. “Can I drive you to work?” “How are things going.” “Can I mow your lawn?” “Can I tell you something I learned? You may disagree but that’s all right. I’m anxious for your thoughts.” Then when they give you their thoughts, listen to them. If you want someone to like you, sit down and ask questions and listen. Questions will make a closed mind THINK. Even though you do not agree with what they say and you think it is crazy, say only a few things. You may only say a few sentences; but make them carefully chosen and thought provoking. If you only say a few sentences they will probably remember what you said. They will think about your comments. If you say 90 sentences they will never think about it. They will say, “Boy, that guy was argumentative! That guy sure is all wrong, trying to push all this stuff.” Give just a few good points. Talking of Christ’s resurrection, you might say, “I just wonder about this Scripture. Perhaps you could tell me what you think about this.” Then give the points and let them think about what you said. They will probably give you a lot of words. Do not agree with the error. You may kindly respond, “I see what you are saying but I do not necessarily agree.” Or, “This is an interesting subject and there is a lot to consider, isn’t there?”
You will find as a listener, in the first hour the Witness does 99% of the talking. Then in the second hour he does 90%. The third hour he does 80%. Then he will wonder, “What do you think?” He will listen to you because you have listened to him. A law of human behavior is people respond positively to those who listen and are courteous.
Many Witnesses are already disillusioned. These do not need to be pulled away by more disillusionment. You need to draw them toward something else. How do you do that? You make that something else attractive. You do not do that by harping at them.
If 700,000 left the Watchtower, where are most of those people? A study of Jehovah’s Witnesses who left the Kingdom Halls revealed about 90% became agnostics, totally disillusioned with all religions and rejecting everything. Many go way overboard and get into orgies and into drugs. Some end up in prisons. Many say, “I am going to do whatever I want to.” Are they a lot better off as an agnostic than a Witness? What is accomplished? You have to present the alternative. The 700,000, or whatever the number has grown to be, need to be offered something else. They have left. We can be too preoccupied with knocking down what they had and not with replacing it. Knocking down the straw-man of the Watchtower is easy, but you do not need to knock down what they already do not accept. As a Jehovah’s Witness a person is systematically fed all kinds of bazaar things about the condition of churches. A Christian needs to demonstrate before them what real Christianity is all about.
Realize the problems of the Witnesses. Recognize they have a hard life. Many of them are sick people; they are severely depressed. They have a lot of emotional problems. They are not contented inside. They are miserable! Many have attempted suicides and many were successful. You have to be pretty miserable to attempt suicide. Hours and hours of counseling are given to these problems which are in abundance! Although they do not tell you about the problems, realize they are there. Assume they are there; they may not be there. Then respond as a concerned person. Show the love you have to these people. Talk to them. Help them. Show them you have Christ and are following Christ. They are not getting this at home or in their spiritual home, the Kingdom Hall. The Spirit of Christ is not there!
The number one reason given by people who left the Watchtower is they are unhappy with the congregation as people. They leave due to interpersonal conflicts. “Nobody can get along with each other. There is constant gossiping and constant conflicts.” The conflict may be brought about by doctrinal questions, “If Christ was not resurrected bodily, why does this Scripture state…” “Brother, you should not be asking those things!” “Well, why not?” “That indicates you have weak faith! So don’t ask! Sit down!” Doctrine often contributes to the Witness leaving the Watchtower, but the discussion then leads to interpersonal problems. They leave, not so much because of the questions, but because the Witnesses cannot deal with them without getting mad, upset, condemn, or they cannot answer them, or they give very poor answers. That leads to interpersonal conflicts.
Summarized in one sentence, be Christians to Witnesses. Show them love and concern.
Conclusion. The above material is primarily a condensed review from a message by Dr. Bergman, tape T-31A, available from Witness Inc. Some today question whether psychiatrists are valid. It is not my purpose to say they are or they are not. However, Dr. Bergman’s research certainly demonstrates that many Jehovah’s Witnesses have serious problems with mental illness.
Please, do not destroy a Jehovah’s Witness’s dignity with this information! What must be destroyed is their faith in the diabolical system of the Watchtower. I suggest you limit the distribution of this booklet to the compassionate who really want to help the lost find the peace available through Jesus Christ. To be Scriptural, we must warn about spiritual wolves and stop the mouths of the false teachers. Be sensitive enough to separate the Jehovah’s Witness deceiver from the one who has been deceived. Many of the Witnesses were the nice, friendly people some years ago, who opened their home to a person offering to teach them the Bible. Jehovah’s Witnesses are busy searching for people who are curious about the Bible but are naive and Scripturally illiterate, knowing just enough to get them into trouble.
Do the Jehovah’s Witnesses have the facts and sufficient information to handle a Bible discussion if a Christian is prepared to deal with them? No. For example, the Witnesses are certain the Trinity doctrine originated from Satan. They are totally confident the Watchtower has exposed a pagan doctrine. Jehovah’s Witnesses, point Trinitarians to the Watchtower publication, Should You Believe in the Trinity? Then they challenge and pressure Christians to read it. An answer to Jehovah’s Witnesses was written by Robert M. Bowman, Jr., Why You Should Believe in the Trinity. This book explains the Scriptures and exposes the repeated dishonesty of the Watchtower writers in their publication. If Witnesses would read the book, many of them would lay their Watchtower literature down and leave the Kingdom Hall forever. Are the Jehovah’s Witnesses intellectually honest enough to read the book? No! Not even local leaders are open-minded enough to read Christian literature.
Bible discussions that have any depth last only one visit if the Christian does not put on “the dumb act” and veil his knowledge. Otherwise Jehovah’s Witnesses will not sit down for second session. They excuse themselves on the basis of accusing the Christian of not having an open mind. For obvious reasons, public debates are rare because the Watchtower has much to hide and little to gain from the publicity. The Witnesses are looking only for “sheep-like” (gullible) ones. Jehovah’s Witnesses who find they lack answers set themselves up for a mental crisis.
Christian, are you prepared to defend the faith? Are you a Jesus Witness? God assumes you “shall be”. Acts 1:8. Will you one day stand before Jesus and admit you never took His Word seriously? We are to “study”. Excuses for not knowing the Word of God are not real reasons. Are you ready to show a lost soul that no verse in the Bible says, “Jesus is Michael” or “Michael is Jesus”? The disciples, the angels and the Father all called Jesus the true “God”!
While the Watchtower Gestapo makes the Witness come to your door, the love of Jesus Christ is constraining us to be a Jesus Witness. Are you following Jesus? People say, “But, the Jehovah’s Witnesses are difficult to win to Jesus Christ.” So are Mormons, Jews, Muslims, those in Shinto and the list goes on and on. But, these are souls for whom Christ died.
Perhaps you would desire a Bible study to examine what the Scriptures teach about who Jesus is, how to have eternal life, or how to defend the faith. For personal help or an in-depth study, (whether you are an ex-Jehovah’s Witness, a Jehovah’s Witness, or you never have been a Jehovah’s Witness), contact the address given at the end of this article.
Friend, are you struggling with problems in your life and wonder where you can turn? Why not so-to-speak, climb up on the couch of Jesus Christ and tell Him all about it? Do you need a counsellor? He is the “Wonderful, Counsellor!” Do you need help in changing your habits and your thought patterns? Jesus is “The mighty God!” Therefore He is powerful enough to help you. Are you concerned about eternal life? He is “The everlasting Father!” In literal Hebrew this means He is the Father of eternity. Your way of eternal life is through Him. Are you searching for peace and satisfaction in your life? He is “The Prince of Peace!” Isaiah 9:6. Consider a biblical example, Saul of Tarsus. His life was totally changed when he addressed Jesus Christ as his Lord in> Acts 9:5. Ask Jesus to be your Lord too. He will help you!