Critics of Jehovah`s Witnesses/Neighbors proselytizing minor

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Question
Our 15 year old grandson was visiting us.  He was in our fenced in back yard playing with our dog.  The Jehovah's witnesses next door started talking with him and he ended up in their yard.  He came home almost two hours later with a Jehovah's bible.  I'm furious!  I intend to return the bible to them and let them know what they did was intrusive and offensive.  I'll ask them if they want me preaching my religious beliefs to their children when playing in the back yard.  Are there any laws in NY against proselytizing minors?

Answer
Dear Patricia,

Thank you for not making your question private. Others will benefit from your experience.

I understand your fury completely, however, I don't think the law is on your side specifically. Proselytizing in the US is widely supported under "religious freedoms". The law (like the psychology industry) generally doesn't recognize the reality of cult mind control.

I can't comment on laws of specific states, only in general. In general, in the US, as I understand it (and I am not a laywer), a specific person would be legally obliged to comply if you were to prohibit them from speaking to your minor child only AFTER you prohibit them, and only as an individual. So (assuming New York law is so) this could help only after your child gets involved, and I'm not sure it would apply to a grandchild, unless you have custody.

So instead of legal remedies, I suggest you focus on what's likely to be effective with supporting your grandson's freedom of mind. I would definitely discourage him from pursuing it using gentle methods, but if you use draconian methods, there is a risk it would backfire.

Everyone, and particularly those getting involved, should receive education on what cult mind control is, and how it works. Almost no one has this knowledge, yet it is vital to be intimately familiar with it. Those who are not are at risk. Those who expose themselves to cult mind control tactics, as your grandson is now apparently doing, are at special risk, making this education all the more important.

To avoid the backfire of belligerence that is likely to come if you get draconian with your grandson, I would instead suggest that you lay down a criteria with him, such as: "OK, you can learn about them for a month, but only after you study cult mind control tactics for a month". Since this is fair-minded, he is less likely to respond belligerently. Since it will inoculate him and make him less vulnerable, it is less likely that he will become ensnared by his exposure to the cult.

Please let me know if I can help further.

Best wishes,
Terence

Critics of Jehovah`s Witnesses

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I don't object to Witness theology, but rather their use of social pressure & deceptive manipulations to undermine family ties and control minds. (This may seem contradictory to Witnesses, who draw no distinction between spiritual belief and organizational policy.) I do not engage in theological debate. I support persons impacted by an experience with the Witnesses and advocate early education for everyone so that they can protect themselves from cults by understanding what to watch out for. (It's not what most people think.)

(Ex-)Witnesses: I know how upsetting it is to experience doubts (or anger) about your experience. Time does not heal this wound until you first remove the splinter, which takes more time and effort than you may realize. So, unless you have already put in that time and effort, don't be surprised if you are deeply affected long after the experience. But there is good news! You're NOT an enemy of God for doubting or for failing to meet the requirements of a human organization. An organization that lies cannot be the exclusive spokesman for the God of Truth. Tell me where you're at. I'll understand. I can show you how to begin or continue your recovery and make a life for yourself worth living.

Non-Witnesses: Describe your experience with your friend/relative who is (becoming) a Witness. I can help you understand the Witness indoctrination and social dynamics that are affecting him or her. I can help you put your options into perspective. Keep in mind that people do make their own choices (even though they may sometimes do so under outside influence) and you may not be able to affect this person's choices, even though they impact on you. After all, you do not have the arsenal of tactics that a cult does (and wouldn't want to). A few people manage to save their friend/relative, but don't count on it. What you can count on is navigating the maze more successfully by becoming more informed about your own options.

Experience

I was a Witness for 30 years, and a volunteer at their headquarters in Brooklyn, New York, for a year. I have attended meetings with many Witness congregations across the United States, a thorough cross-section, carefully observing patterns of behavior. Although being a Witness was difficult, and I gradually had more and more doubts about Witness teachings--I was a true believer, so I kept trying to make it work somehow. I stopped attending meetings in 1997 only after receiving an answer to a prayer about doing so, and have since been actively involved in recovery. This includes both my own and supporting others in theirs. Recovery can include reading books, communicating with others in recovery, and participating in support groups and/or therapy. It always involves reclaiming one's own mind and discovering the other sides of the issues that you have been blinded to in the past.

My gradual awakening was socially, psychologically, and spiritually tumultuous. I lost everything from my former life. My suffering was substantial.

But I have gained everything, so it was worth it. Only after beginning my recovery did I gain social, psychological, and spiritual healing and growth, peace of mind, and self-respect. Only then did I discover who I am; and--for the first time--the meaning of real brotherly love.

For more resources on this topic, try these web sites:
http://freeminds.org/
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/freedomofmind/



Education/Credentials
Like most Cult Recovery Counselors, I am a cult survivor. I have life experience, not professional training. Also I feel no need to apologize for that. People with professional training cannot understand what it is like to survive a cult unless they have been through it themselves, which few professional therapists have. Understanding what really happened and what works in this unusual social context is as important as psychological training. Most professional therapists are not specifically trained to support cult survivors. Those who are represent a rare and precious resource.

I sometimes refer people to professional therapists regarding deep personal issues. But surviving a cult is a broad experience with other dimensions. Professional therapy can be very helpful as part of your recovery process, assuming that you choose the right therapist. When choosing a therapist, remember that you are the client and they are a service provider. You are the one who holds authority about the relationship. You get to interview the therapist and decide which one to employ.

Be sure to ask what specific training and experience they have around recovery from cult mind control. Most therapists do not have relevant training. Some carry serious misunderstandings about what cult mind control is; and therefore will misunderstand your struggle. So it pays to be selective as a consumer of professional therapy services.

Past/Present Clients
The Witness organization is not like other churches. Most non-Witnesses really cannot imagine what it is like to be a Witness. The organization has unimaginably extensive rules and monitoring that affect every aspect of life, so there is no privacy and no sense of personal independence. "Independent thought" is considered their greatest "sin".

The organization insists on absolute conformity, and claims to directly represent God; so dissent is not tolerated, and authority is totalitarian. Being a Witness is more like living in China or the former Soviet Union than being a member of a religion as you know it. It was the research of Robert J. Lifton, who was studying--not religions--but totalitarian governments, who first began to illuminate the problem of religious cults around the world, which employ exactly the same tactics as totalitarian governments. His work remains a cornerstone for Cult Recovery Counselors still today. (This may be why many governments are tolerant of cults, to avoid exposing their own control tactics.)

Witnesses often experience unusually dysfunctional lives and an extensive array of personal problems stemming from broken family ties, stunted social development, inner unrest resulting from repressed doubts, inability to defend boundaries, and an extreme, persistent feeling of irrational shame. I can help people impacted by an experience with the Witnesses by revealing in detail the policies and social dynamics in the Witness organization that cause these problems.

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