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Are Jehovah's Witnesses a cult?

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Whether the Jehovah's Witnesses are actually a cult will depend on who you ask, and how they define the word "cult."
Here are some opinions on why some people consider JWs to be a cult or not.

  • Using the accepted definition of cult JW's cannot be defined as such. The best way to understand any religion is to be educated about its specific ideology/theology and then make an intelligent assessment. Please refer to the link on the right for more information on this subject.

  • My first hand experience with the Jehovah's Witnesses lead me to no other intelligent and informed assessment that they are cult-like and have controlling practices. One of the reasons they have this stigma is because they use "scare tactics" on potential recruits and mind control on members.

  • Definition of Cult: A religion or religious sect generally considered to be extremist or false, with its followers often living in an unconventional manner under the guidance of an authoritarian. ... Obsessive, especially faddish, devotion to or veneration for a person, principle, or thing.

  • Every individual has personal experiences that causes them to be biased to certain degrees. This is why it is necessary to keep personal views separate from factual data. There are no "watchdog groups" such as America United that list JW's as being a cult.

  • Q: What is a cult? A: A cult is any group which teaches doctrines or beliefs that deviate from the biblical message of the Christian faith. It is very important that we recognize cults and avoid any involvement with them. Cults often teach some Christian truth mixed with error, which may be difficult to detect. There are some features common to most cults: They do not adhere solely to the sixty-six books of the Bible as the inspired Word of God. They add their "special revelations" to the Bible as equally authoritative. They do not accept that our relationship to Jesus Christ is a reality "by grace through faith" alone, but practice instead a salvation by works. They do not give Jesus Christ, the divine Son of God, full recognition as the second Person of the Trinity, composed of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Some of these groups are Jehovah's Witnesses, Mormons, the Unification Church, Unitarians, Spiritists, Scientologists, and others.

  • Please note: The above explanation of a cult is as defined by some of the Christian faith. However, please note that Merriam Webster's Dictionary defines a cult as simply "an unorthodox or spurious religion."

  • The JWs are a cult because they try to cut you off from others who do not have the same beliefs, including family.

  • No. Unlike the churches, JWs don't have a minister or priest telling them what to do and not to do, they make their own decisions, based on their own study of the scriptures. If a Witness changes his friends after studying the bible, it has been his choice.

  • Are Jehovah's Witnesses a cult? Jehovah's Witnesses do not hold ritualistic meetings, nor is their worship cloaked in secrecy. Non-Witness author Julia Mitchell Corbett notes: "When they meet, usually more than once a week, in Kingdom Halls (their meeting sites are not called churches), most of their time is spent in Bible study and discussion." Their meeting places are clearly marked with a sign. The meetings are open, and the general public is invited to attend. Unannounced guests are more than welcome.

  • A cult is a religion that is said to be unorthodox or that emphasizes devotion according to prescribed ritual. Many cults follow a living human leader, and often their adherents live in groups apart from the rest of society. The standard for what is orthodox, however, should be God's Word, and Jehovah's Witnesses strictly adhere to the Bible. Their worship is a way of life, not a ritual devotion. They neither follow a human nor isolate themselves from the rest of society. They live and work in the midst of other people.

  • They are cult-like because they are NOT allowed to read any kind of religious material (any books on God or religion in general that is not published by the Watchtower Tract Association)because they believe you will be 'brainwashed'. They also do not encourage spending time or making 'friends' with non-witnesses. And, they usually end up cutting themselves and their children away from family members.

  • It's less about their church's religious ideas, and more about the fact that they do not allow their members to read books that the church hierarchy haven't approved. It shouldn't matter what religion you are a member of, you should be allowed to read the books you want to. Also, if a member decides to leave the church, other members, including family and friends are expected to break off contact with them.

  • I think that the only reason Jehovah's witnesses are considered "cult-like" is because their beliefs differ from orthodox christianity. That in itself should not be a reason as they use biblical support for every belief they hold. In my experience with friends who are JW's they haven't been isolated from outsiders or family that have left. My friend's father was disfellowshipped (kicked out for cheating on his wife and not being repentant) and none of his family were told to ignore him. Maybe the halls around here are more liberal though. But I think that it is the duty of all Christians no matter what they believe to "love one another" as Christ taught-that is the most important thing.

  • I see many definitions of a "cult". Most lists of cult like behavior include: Strong control from a central authority whose pronouncements are not open to question, Strict control over members lives including family matters and within the marriage, the insistence on dedication to the cause as being more important than family ties. Despite their insistence that all the beliefs are taken from the Bible, The JW's do match all the above points. The "Governing Body" act as the "Faithful Slave" of Jesus Christ on Earth, dispensing knowledge which is "Spiritual Food" directed by the Holy Spirit. The primary vehicle for this is the Watchtower magazine which is studied in depth every week at the meetings with only passing references to carefully selected scriptures. Members must live according to the rules of the faith. These include abstaining from premarital sex, recreational drugs and smoking tobacco all of which are punishable by disfellowshipping. You may also be disfellowshipped if you openly disagree with the teaching of the Governing Body. Disfellowshipped ones have to be shunned by fellow Witnesses even close family unless they live together and then with some withdrawal of association. Members attend 3 Meetings a week and also spend time in "House to House Ministry" Failure to attend is frowned upon unless you are ill. there are rules on dress, personal appearance , the choice of entertainment and suitable music to listen to. They also teach that this world is about to be destroyed by God, that they only will survive and the rest of us will be slaughtered with our bodies left to be food for the carrion eating vultures. This is the "Good news" they preach so enthusiastically.

  • I was raised in the JWs. My parents were JWs. Parts of my family are JWs. I can assure you all that they are a cult, and a pretty bad one, too. There are too many examples to mention, to go into detail I'd have to write a whole book (which many have been done, by the way), but basically, the reason why the JWs should be considered a cult, can be summed up by this: Whatever the GB (the self-proclaimed "wise and faithful servant"), of the Watchtower Society says is true, is true! The GB could tell the JWs that God was a white pit-bull terrier, living on Mars, and the JWs would be obligated to believe it, or face disfellowshipping, shunning by family, the (internal) fear of death at Armageddon (for not being a JW any longer), etc.

  • I am one of Jehovah's Witnesses. I am also a very open minded and a strong individualist. If anyone were to ask me about another culture or belief system I would always tell them to learn about it from someone who practices said system and then make up your mind. I have heard the Mormons called a cult, are they? I have talked to members and I do not agree with their teachings, but that does not mean I would ever label them as a cult. The word "cult" brings bad thoughts to most peoples minds and to call something "cult like" is really just a way to slander someone or something. There are few real cults out there. Just different people with different ways of being.

  • The organization is considered cult-like because 1.) the organization discourages individual interpretation of Scripture, relying instead on the teachings of the elders; 2.) the organization goes against the teachings of other churches & denominations quite explicitly, claiming its teaching is the only correct interpretation; 3) the organization disowns those who leave the organization, and discourages those still within the organization from having any contact with those who have left. ... Some may feel that these criteria apply to various denominations and churches that are not considered to be cult-like. I cannot disagree with them. I will say, though, that there are denominations & churches which do not meet these criteria.

  • I am a Protestant Christian, and I am not a Jehovah's Witness, but over many years have discussed religion when they visited our neighborhood, and have read much of their literature. It is my opinion that they are not a cult, although their extremely conservative religious position may seem so to many observers. To my observation, they are simply a very strict Christian organization.

  • No, it is simply a religion

  • Yes. See the Related Link. Of course any Jehovah's Witness would say that no, they are not a cult. But they teach things contrary to the Bible. The problem is that they claim to relate everything back to 'God's irefutable Word' in the Bible. However, they refuse to use (in a serious way) any translation of the Bible except their own- the New World Translation - which any Bible scholar (whether Christian, Jewish or neither) regard with concern as a very skewed, warped and misleading translation. The problem with their Bible is that it was translated after Charles Taize Russel had founded the JWs and therefore this Bible account had to take count of his skewed beliefs, rather than base your beliefs on the Bible as handed down since the time it was written, and carefully translated by expert bible scholars ad historians. Sadly, JWs are usually lovely, sincere people, but refuse to accept that their warped beliefs are all based on a lie. One could easily forgive them this, but the fact that they regard my firm belief, as a Christian, in the Trinity, is the work of the devil, I resent somewhat.

  • As a matter of fact.. its funny because most people would have the same response as you would.. but just to keep it simple we simply base all of our teachings from the bible and not based on what men say ... so whenever j.w talk to people notice how each one of them directs the householders attention towards the bible for example.... John 14:10 states this "Do you not believe that I am in union with the Father and the Father is in union with me? The things I say to YOU men I do not speak of my own originality; but the Father who remains in union with me is doing his works." so in the same since we are speaking the things that our heavenly father has instructed us to speak of which is from the bible.

  • No, they are not they believe in the bible and follow instruction from the bible.

    Jehovah's Witnesses do not meet the common understanding of a "cult". This is usually understood to mean a group of people that are characterized by ritualistic forms of worship. That follow a charismatic individual and usually live outside of mainstream society, isolating themselves from contact with others.

    This is not the case with Jehovah's Witnesses. They have no rituals but meet weekly for bible study and prayer (similar to many other religions). They have no special dress and do not recognize any single human leader. They live, work and play within the local community and actively seek contact with their neighbors by visiting them on a regular basis.

  • I believe that it is not a cult. Of course, I don't count things as a cult unless you cannot leave. The chief complaint he seemed to have against the Witnesses is that they might ask you to leave when you don't want to!

    When I go to a Democratic National Convention, I do not mind that they expect me to think alike on the party platform, not ask awkward questions of "our" candidates, and not wear "Bush/Cheney 2004" campaign buttons! And I don't find it cult like of them to wish me to leave if that's how I feel!

    Likewise with the Witnesses. They aren't easy to join. But they aren't a cult. That label has been thrown on every group someone doesn't like from the Latter Day Saints, to the Catholic church, to the United States Military and even college fraternal organizations. The only thing I ask in each case is - can they leave? And with the exception of the military (special case!) all those groups let members leave, and frankly, wouldn't dream of holding them against their will!

    Do each of those groups wish you to think like them, primarily - or exclusively - associate with them, and help strengthen the group? You bet. But that's a good thing, not a bad.

The World Book Encyclopedia says that "traditionally, the term cult referred to any form of worship or ritual observance." By that definition ALL religions are "cults."
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