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Is there a contradiction with regard to freedom to change one's religion?


Anna
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I have posted this issue before, but it was during the time of the hot topic of the persecution in Russia and maybe got overshadowed by it. A poster brought it up again in one of the threads so I thought I will try again to post it as a topic. My goal is not to sow doubts, nor to promote some false ideas, but rather to get to the bottom of this as I feel it is a valid question. The summary of the problem can be seen in the quotes below:

Referring to people leaving their religion to join Jehovah's Witnesses:

"No one should be forced to worship in a way that he finds unacceptable or be made to choose between his beliefs and his family".  Awake 7/09 page 29

AND

Regarding those disfellowshipped from Jehovah's Witnesses:

"Really, what your beloved family member needs to see is your resolute stance to put Jehovah above anything else - including the family bond.....Do not look for excuses to associate with a disfellowshipped family member, for example, through email" p.16, paragraph 19, Study WT Jan / 2013

In the above situation we are assuming that the reason for disfellowshipping was because of changing one's religion and/or apostasy (not because of immorality etc.)

 

 

 

 

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I get it. You don't agree with child baptism. I don't either. However, whatever criticisms I have of the org...I will never regret my dedication to Jehovah God.

One cannot claim that the organization doesn't coerce people into remaining members when the are literally being blackmailed with the threat of family estrangement if they leave. To add context this is the elders letter instructing them to disfellowshipped someone who has apostate beliefs.  Mind you this says nothing as to whether or not they are promoting their beliefs just that they have believed that differ from what this aside he says they need to accept. however even if they

Let's baptize pregnant mothers.........

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Jehovah doesn’t coerce anyone, neither do we as JWs coerce anyone to stay as JWS. We are free to leave at any time. In the end all will make an accounting to God individually. If someone comes to reject  some of the organization's teachings and cannot in good conscience continue to support a religion they have come to believe is false, they must in good conscience leave.  However, in doing so, they may have to sacrifice their relationship with their family as well (if they get disfellowshipped for it). This leaves the individual in a very difficult situation, to either stay in the faith hypocritically, in order not to lose their loved ones, or to sacrifice their relationship with loved ones in order to satisfy their conscience and be free of hypocrisy. Neither of these situations is ideal for the individual nor their loved ones.  Do the scriptures give a solution to this problem?

This hypothetical situation assumes the individual does not promote their opinion, nor do they cause any disruption in the congregation, it is merely their conscience that is at odds with them.

 

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One cannot claim that the organization doesn't coerce people into remaining members when the are literally being blackmailed with the threat of family estrangement if they leave.

To add context this is the elders letter instructing them to disfellowshipped someone who has apostate beliefs.  Mind you this says nothing as to whether or not they are promoting their beliefs just that they have believed that differ from what this aside he says they need to accept.

however even if they were what's wrong with that? Don't JWs apostasize from their religious all the time? Why is it ok for  individuals to leave their respective religions, join the WT organization,  and speak out against their former religion but if someone who was previously a witness did this very thing then they deserve to be punished?

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I usually try not to focus on the fact that JW's baptize young children because I believe that it's wrong to threaten someone of any age into remaining a member of a religion that they no longer believe in.  That being said one of the final straws for me was sitting in an elders/ms meeting  and listening to the circuit overseer her encourage the elders to allow young children to get baptized and insisting that they set the example by getting their children baptized. 

" we don't want to teach the friends that  waiting to get baptized is a good idea" 

" we want to capitalize on young ones interest in the truth" 

 Now I'm certain that he wasn't being malicious in the statements because he likely believed that getting them to join the religion was the right thing to do.  Nevertheless JW's are continually being encouraged to baptize their children at a young ages.  In some instances the society has even implied that if a child is in baptized by the time they're able to drive a car and they asked to get a license the parent should make it clear to the child that if they are at an age when they can drive then they should be at an age to dedicate their life to the organization. The most recent yearbook mentions an eight-year-old getting baptized. It's clear to me that Jehovah's Witnesses are desperately trying to bolster their numbers to counteract the flood of defectors.  It's also clear that their primary goal is to get children trapped in the religion as early as possible.  The sooner they can get them baptized the sooner they can start threatening them with family estrangement if they try and leave. And as I said before at the very least the society hopes that the threat of disfellowshipping will  keep those who do try to fade silent. 

 

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4 hours ago, Albert Michelson said:

 It's clear to me that Jehovah's Witnesses are desperately trying to bolster their numbers to counteract the flood of defectors.  It's also clear that their primary goal is to get children trapped in the religion as early as possible.  The sooner they can get them baptized the sooner they can start threatening them with family estrangement if they try and leave. And as I said before at the very least the society hopes that the threat of disfellowshipping will  keep those who do try to fade silent. 

I think your reasoning on this is wrong on several levels.  The JW religion is not about how many numbers it has. If that were the case, then we could more efficiently and easily bolster our numbers by doing what religions of Christendom have done; water down the scriptures and tell the people what they want to hear and what is comfortable for them. We could allow smoking, turn a blind eye to adultery, fornication and homosexuality, support patriotism, celebrate all the holidays and Birthdays, have blood transfusions......you get the drift. 

The objective of the JW organization is not about numbers but to keep it morally and spiritually clean. It's about quality not quantity. And as @JW Insider remarked on the other thread, which puts it in a nutshell "We are counting on Jehovah's spirit to help us find the ministry that feels the most like what we would expect if we saw the first-century Christians trying to fit into the twenty-first century"

 

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6 minutes ago, Anna said:

If that were the case, then we could more efficiently and easily bolster our numbers by doing what religions of Christendom have done; water down the scriptures and tell the people what they want to hear and what is comfortable for them.

That's not how cults thrive, they thrive by convincing their members that they have a unique form of worship. 

And you may be right perhaps the bolstering of numbers isn't the primary goal. But you can't deny that witnesses love talking about the growth and how jehovah is "blessing the work"

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3 minutes ago, Anna said:

limit the amount of images which say basically the same thing, as these tend to clog up the thread.

Sorry, you guys are pretty reasonable as fare as admitting simple facts go. For some witnesses unless I show them 10,000 pictures of young JW kids getting baptized then it doesn't happen and I'm a liar. 

Same goes for almost everything else i say. They act like they've never been to a meeting or convention. 

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2 minutes ago, Albert Michelson said:

Sorry, you guys are pretty reasonable as fare as admitting simple facts go. For some witnesses unless it showed them 10,000 pictures of young JW kids getting baptized then it doesn't happen and I'm a liar.

Well, there's at least one pre-teen that gets baptized at most conventions and assemblies, so it's nothing new, and visible to all.

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13 minutes ago, Albert Michelson said:

That's not how cults thrive, they thrive by convincing their members that they have a unique form of worship. 

We would have to define first what a Cult is, and how it operates, in order to have a conversation about this. But this would be off topic on this thread. I am sure there is a topic on this subject somewhere on this forum though.

16 minutes ago, Albert Michelson said:

witnesses love talking about the growth and how jehovah is "blessing the work"

Well duh! 9_9

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