I had the opportunity to listen in on the touted regional convention of Jehovah’s Witnesses today (September 23 2016) at Baatsonaa. It was themed: Remain Loyal to Jehovah.
Well, the general idea was built on what I call, the quid pro quo hustle. And it this: God is loyal to his servants but to enjoy the benefits of his loyalty, one must FIRST exercise unflinching loyalty to Him. It goes without saying though that this loyalty is co-dependently established on the middleman functionaries who are instructing the listeners. The dramatic bible reading of Exodus 24:3-18 and other subsequent scriptures implied parallels for an instructional authority.
I noticed also that there were lots of dramatisations being used. Its been scientifically demonstrated (or at least in cognitive psychology), time and again, that visual stimuli are better recalled than auditory ones. These dramas were however scripted to appeal to and elicit strong emotive responses. All such dramas ended with a ritual of applause from the audience. The technique was working fine I guess. I see right through these, however.
I noticed persistent efforts of priming the audience. Word pictures, dramatic passage readings and music-video presentations filled the atmosphere during the late hours of the afternoon break.
I missed a few of the opening parts of the afternoon’s session for reasons not worth penning down. I did however meet the part of the symposium of Being loyal as Jesus was…
… When tired – It included a drama that urged the audience to be willing to sacrifice their livelihoods if their work schedules (specifically requests to do overtime from their employers) begun to interfere with the quota of time spent on activities planned for them by these same middleman functionaries who are offering the instruction of what is required for loyalty to God.
… When abandoned – portrayed people who leave the religion as having been influenced by ‘false/apostate’ teachings and consequently developed doubts. No reasons were cited for why these ‘misguided’ folk tend to leave. Apparently, there is some spooky stuff called apostasy on the internet which is even more powerful and deadly than the life-saving truth God has told them to commission the sheep to preach. Jw.org and Jw Broadcasting were the two websites cited as being safe to surf on the Internet.
There is a thin line between a sect and a cult
A second symposium immediately followed a musical interlude and this was the part, I suppose, that flabbergasted the www.ghanacelebrities.com writer and the avoidjw.org composer who had mixed reactions to the endorsed and recommended primitive disciplinary action typical of Jehovah’s Witnesses’ shunning.
This was their reasoning: God, who is loving, is still capable of hate and he has a bunch of things he hates. Your loyalty requires you to shun anyone whom the middleman functionaries have adjudged to be unrepentant. Especially if these rebels are family members. NO! You shouldn’t even pick up their phone calls. The idea is to force the victim to experience emotional distress to the point that their destitution will make them ‘return to their senses’ and seek reinstatement from the middleman functionaries. It’s a silent treatment therapy to coerce repentance. And You, the relative should take the lead by quickly and promptly severing ties. At such religious gatherings, members are asked to quit any and all association. But when under media spotlight such as during The Australian Royal Commission hearings, it is said members don’t actually shun but limit association. It might be a Public RelationsPR stunt, who knows?
Does this shunning strategy work? Looking at the data of disfellowshipped individuals and comparing them to isolated cases of reinstatements, my answer is a big NO!
Shunning is a childish, amateurish and vengeful act that rather incites retaliatory responses. It closes the door for open dialogue which is the ONLY WAY to non-violently resolve a problem. I don’t even consider it to be a catalyst of sorts. Collective & mass shunning have strong correlations with extreme depression and suicidal tendencies for emotionalists. In other words, it seems to say: I’d rather see you dead or in emotional turmoil for your non-conformity to our beliefs.