Jehovah’s Witnesses sometimes risk their lives to uphold their beliefs.
In order to respect their religion, they are ready to go very far.
‘In my head, I was in jail’. Emma, a French 63 year old woman, came out from Jehovah’s Witnesses last year.
She prefers to stay anonymous. She tells ‘in my husband’s family, there were few Jehovah’s Witnesses and himself was interested in. When they offered me free sessions of Bible studies at home once a week, I accepted because I was curious and a faith person’.
In reality, she did not study the Bible but a book about the Society, giving the doctrine of Jehovah’s Witnesses. They gathered to change biblical quotations at their convenience. The first aim of those meetings was to ‘warn you against Christians and destroy the foundations of Christianity’ she adds. She has to adopt a new Bible, ‘The Scriptures, the New World Translation’ instead of her Jerusalem’s Bible. Then, she started to be a participant of public Sunday meetings and other meetings in small groups during the week.
For Emma, it was at the beginning the ‘Paradise on Earth’. Afterwards, she started to realise the proper bad influence Jehovah’s witnesses had on her family, relationships, social life, health and her mental balance.
Jehovah’s Witnesses are everywhere around the world. From the most active country to the less one, they are present in Africa, Asia, Europe, Oceania, North of America and South of America. They claim themselves as being part of the Christian community.
The first community’s followers appeared in the 1870’s and has never stopped to spread in the wildly world.
The history of Jehovah’s Witnesses began when Charles Taze Russell started leading a group of Bible studies in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Originally they were known as a students group made in order to study the Bible. Then witnesses have experienced major schism in 1917 when Joseph Franklin Rutherford began his presidency of the movement. Rutherford, who announced 1925 as the date of Armageddon, has given a new direction to the movement and created the name “Jehovah’s Witnesses” in 1931.
Jehovah’s Witnesses expect paradise into hell.
Emma goes on telling her experience. ‘Very fast, I was encouraged to go door to door to evangelise and I was asked to write to the priest who baptised me to make me scratch of Catholic baptism registers.’ She had been renamed by immersion in a bath for that.
Concerning their health, their reasons are religious. Both the Old and New Testament command to abstain from blood (Genesis 9: 4; Leviticus 5:10 p.m.; Deuteronomy 24:23; Acts 15:28, 29). In addition, in God’s eyes, blood represents life (Leviticus 5:14 p.m.). So in obedience to God, they choose not to absorb blood.
Recently, early April 2015, a pregnant Jehovah’s Witness’ has refused a treatment ‘harrowing’ for hospital staff and the baby died.
Her doctor, Dr Callaghan, said ”This woman had a long-held commitment to the Jehovah’s Witness faith and that’s how she chose to die. We are all entitled to die with dignity. When your foetus is in utero, it is inextricably tied to your life.”
In October 1995, a Jehovah’s Witness’ patient died after bleeding occurred when issuing her third childbirth (placenta previa). She had refused a blood transfusion. The refusal was documented and reiterated by the patient’s husband and mother.
After her death, the patient’s heirs had civilly sued the obstetrician gynecologist to obtain compensation for their injuries and are made to plaintiff, alleging that it had finally respect the will of the patient to the end. Judges have even allocated damages to the practitioner for enduring what they considered ‘a process abuse’.
William H. Bowen is also a former Jehovah’s Witness. He spent 43 years part of the American Jehovah’s Witnesses, including 15 years as an “old” which is the equivalent of a real community’s Minister. Following the discovery of child sexual abuse committed within the organisation, known and hidden by it, he left to found the Witnesses Silentlambs, ‘lamb’ to symbolise the victims reduced in silence. It is an association of victims of sexual abuse within the organisation of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
He denounces that if a victim, or her/his family, tries to report the facts, he/she faces serious risks. He/she can be excommunicated because of slander against man declared innocent.
William H. Bowen explains that in 2002, a Jehovah’s Witnesses’ database has reported 23,720 cases of sexual assault and rape. ‘Today, I believe that the database contains more than 40,000 names of child molesters’, he states.
The number of active Jehovah’s Witnesses in the world was around 8 million in 2013 and keep growing about 150,000 new a year. That means that in 2020 the number of Jehovah’s Witnesses assets will be slightly above 9 million.
In 1997, the most conservative estimates indicated that the number of Jehovah’s witnesses would be in 2020 at least 12.5 million (Holden A., Jehovah’s Witnesses, Portrait of a contemporary religious movement, 2002, p.1). It is approximately 3.5 million less than expected in 2013.
Emma continues to tell that she was invited to be a pioneer, that is to say a hundred fifty hours door to door. ‘And they suggest you, during your holidays, to choose a region to evangelise and to be holidays pioneering (one hundred hours per month)’.
She quotes: ‘Overnight, when I left that sect, I found myself alone because, for twenty years, I did not have the right to see other people than Jehovah’s Witnesses. I had to stop seeing my friends and family.’