The Watchtower and Awake from The Jehovah's WitnessesI’m not sure why it took a couple of months for this to become generally known, but a July 2011 edition of the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ official magazine, The Watchtower, included an article which declared former members of the J.W.s “mentally diseased.” The (UK) Independent reports on the controversy that’s been kicked up over this (WebCite cached article):

The official magazine for Jehovah’s Witnesses has described those who leave the church as “mentally diseased”, prompting an outcry from former members and insiders concerned about the shunning of those who question official doctrine.

An article published in July’s edition of The Watchtower warns followers to stay clear of “false teachers” who are condemned as being “mentally diseased” apostates who should be avoided at all costs. “Suppose that a doctor told you to avoid contact with someone who is infected with a contagious, deadly disease,” the article reads. “You would know what the doctor means, and you would strictly heed his warning. Well, apostates are ‘mentally diseased’, and they seek to infect others with their disloyal teachings.”

So you see, according to the Jehovah’s Witness religion, apostasy is more or less the same as an infectious disease you can catch from someone who already has it, and your only defense is to stay as far away from them as possible.

What’s odd about this is that some of the so-called “New Atheists,” such as Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris, have suggested that religious belief may be a form of mental illness — but they’ve been widely vilified, by believers, for having said so. I wonder how many of their fellow believers are going to vilify the leaders of the Jehovah’s Witnesses for claiming — explicitly and overtly rather than just by implication or suggestion — that anyone who dares leave their sect is by definition mentally ill? My guess is the number of such people will be zero.

Added: In a comment below I explain a better way to understand the original Greek expression used in the Bible:

Let me use a similar example that actually is very close to the same thing, from the English language. Let’s say someone tells you that a friend is “heartsick” over something that happened. This is a common expression, which means someone is intensely upset. And it’s used all the time. But, it most assuredly is not the same thing as a diagnosis of heart disease (which is what the JW’s New World Translation does with the verse in question). They’re interpreting a “figure of speech” in the most literal way possible, because they have no fucking clue what that expression meant in koine Greek or how it was used in that language … because none of the translators is literate in koine Greek!

Photo credit: Dan Patterson.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

  • Ken

    Finally they begin to notice the lunacy of this religion. it took people long enough.

    • Oh, I think lots of folks — believers and otherwise — knew about the nuttiness that is the JW religion. The believers have just looked away and consciously ignored it. All believers, after all, to one degree or other are part of the same "club," and ultimately their impulse is not to go after members of that "club." But let Dawkins or Harris or any other atheist suggest religion is mental illness, and BOOM! — they all go berserk. It's hypocrisy, of course, but what can one expect?

  • the leaders of the Jehovah’s Witnesses for claiming — explicitly and overtly rather than just by implication or suggestion — that anyone who dares leave their sect is by definition mentally ill?

    No. They've said nothing of the sort. Most persons who leave JWs simply move on in life, some with the viewpoint that the religion just wasn't for them, some with minor grumbling over this or that feature of the faith that caused them to move on, some with the viewpoint that they couldn't live up to it. None of these are viewed as 'apostates', A fair number evenually return.

    • Re: "They've said nothing of the sort."

      Wrong, They said something EXACTLY like that. They said, very clearly, "Well, apostates are ‘mentally diseased’, and they seek to infect others with their disloyal teachings."

      There is no other way to interpret it. None. Stop making excuses for it and just admit that their words mean what they mean. It won't hurt you to do so.

    • godisagui

      Tom I will not deny that you are an excellent apologist. I also love how your 'don't ask don't tell' policy allows you to engage with apostates despite the loud directives not to from the governing body. In the spirit of that whole "corban" discussion, I'd be worried about how Jesus would view that. That is, if I believed in Jesus. Anyway, much respect. 🙂

      The truth is, in fact, that any baptized witness who expresses verbally that he/she no longer believes what the watchtower teaches to be "the truth" is subject to a judicial committee which will disfellowship him/her for apostasy unless he/she "demonstrates repentance", ironically an impossible task for an honest person who disagrees.

      There are two ways to avoid this outcome. One is to never voice disagreement with the organization, and if you do, be ready to be bullied into taking it back. The second is to not get baptized. This doesn't always work, but an unbaptized person is not subject to official disfellowshipping action, so the likelihood of being shunned is reduced considerably.

      Crazy as this may sound, children are encouraged to be baptized, and parents are encouraged to encourage their pre-teen children to consider baptism. So a 13-year old kid can embrace what appears to be a rite of passage, only to find out five, ten or fifteen years later that he is not allowed to change his mind, and if he does, he either has to pretend he hasn't, or risk being shunned by all of his friends and family.

      In my case I was extremely diplomatic in my wording, saying that I just "wasn't able to exercise faith" in this or that, but I was warned that any casual interaction with my brothers and sisters could be construed as me trying to convince them of my doubts. So I stayed away for 18 months and observed that a total of ONE (out of hundreds) of my friends reached out to ask how I was doing. (Compare John 13:35) After that I started to speak my mind in online forums, which they of course troll, and I was quickly "busted" for doing so. By then I didn't care enough to even meet with them. C-U-L-T.

      I'll check my elders book or an online copy of the new one, but I'm pretty sure that a complete lack of faith (as in "I don't believe Jehovah is real") is a disfellowshipping offense, specifically "apostasy", which brands the person a pariah among even his immediate family.

      This is as strong as I'm going to get with my criticism of my ex-brothers/sisters, but I have to say it:

      Shame on you, and shame on me as well, for not recognizing this for what it truly is: mind control.

    • godisagui

      I'm sorry Tom; I can't let such masterful spin go unexposed:

      "No. They've said nothing of the sort. Most persons who leave JWs simply move on in life, some with the viewpoint that the religion just wasn't for them, some with minor grumbling over this or that feature of the faith that caused them to move on, some with the viewpoint that they couldn't live up to it. None of these are viewed as 'apostates', A fair number evenually return."

      1) What they've said was pretty close to "the sort". If you don't live by these rules (including things like rejecting certain medical treatments, specific rules about sexual acts within marriage, and sharing your disagreements with others), you will be kicked out and ostracized by all, including family, and these will do so because they don't want to be next. Did I twist it?

      2) Your characterization of "most persons who leave JWs" is hilarious. I think you know, but I'll try to give you the benefit of the doubt, that "persons" (watchtowerspeak for "people") have to make quite an effort to have things go as you described. I know.

      As an elder, my job was to make sure that didn't happen. We would try very hard to contact "such ones" and "help" or "encourage" them. If they were to express some specific issue, more "help" would be on the way, and that person was now on the slippery slope towards a judicial committee.

      "Fading Away" is an art, and I know first-hand that your comments and activities will be monitored for anything that can be held against you in a committee meeting.

      Get this in a common context:

      A person "raised in the truth" (reared to conform to Watchtower beliefs and practices) decides to get baptized after hearing for years from her embarrassed parents that she needs to "make progress". Finally she and a less-spirited friend decide to both get baptized. Everyone is happy.

      Four years later she finds out that her choices in career, love, and logic are all dictated by the Watchtower. (This is made evident by the regular "shepherding calls" given by two elders to "encourage" her. So she decides that this isn't for her. Of course she can't tell that to anyone, so she decides to get some friends outside of the religion. Eventually she meets a boy and falls in love. He gets to hear about her old beliefs and shares with her some of the things he learned in college, a place she was "strongly encouraged" NOT to attend. She becomes convinced that the whole thing was crazy, and they both laugh about it.

      They decide to get married in a Catholic church by a priest because his elderly grandparents have always wanted to see that. She is happy to obliger her wonderful new family. Unfortunately, the penalty for going through with it will be that none of her family will be able to attend the wedding, and she will be disfellowshipped for apostasy and never spoken to again until she "repents".

      Does this feel like love to you?

      3) What is your idea of "a fair number"? Once you've seen a card trick explained, you can't go back to being awed by it.

  • So their attitudes are somewhat analogous to that of a man or woman leaving a relationship, like a failed marriage. Most just move on. But there's always a certain few psycho ex-mates that can't let go, who devote all their time and energy to harassing the person they once loved.

    That's the type that the magazine commented on, not at all simply everyone who departs.

    Now, you may disagree with that assessment, but understand that the description was not meant as a medical diagnosis. And whenever someone spends years of their life ardently embracing a cause, immediately followed by as many years ardently denigrating it, it's not so absurd that one might question their mental balance. Perhaps you would feel that way if an ardent atheist suddenly 'got religion' and began ardently trashing atheism.

    • Re: "But there's always a certain few psycho ex-mates that can't let go, who devote all their time and energy to harassing the person they once loved."

      If they'd said that, you might have had a point. But they didn't say that. They said, clearly, explicitly, and without caveat, that "apostates are ‘mentally diseased’, and they seek to infect others with their disloyal teachings."

      Please, don't try to make it seem like they said something other than what they said. 'Fess up to it. It will not hurt you to admit their words mean what their words mean.

      • How many of the sentences/pargraphs before/after are you familiar with so as to know their intent is as you've said it, not as I've said it? I was present when the entire article was considered.

        Moreover, their comment is essentially just a repeat of the Bible verse 1 Tim 6:3-4….."If any man teaches other doctrine and does not assent to healthful words, those of our Lord Jesus Christ, nor to the teaching that accords with godly devotion, he is puffed up [with pride], not understanding anything, but being mentally diseased over questionings and debates about words."

        As JWs represent the Bible, (not that that weighs a lot in your eyes, I understand) they are more-or-less duty bound to apply it's words, and they have done so with the words to which you object.

        • Re: "I was present when the entire article was considered."

          Irrelevant. The words they used are clear, unambiguous, explicit, and plain: "Well, apostates are ‘mentally diseased’, and they seek to infect others with their disloyal teachings."

          There is no context which changes that. None.

          Re: "Moreover, their comment is essentially just a repeat of the Bible verse 1 Tim 6:3-4"

          That's not what it says in any English translation I know of. Here are 3 as a sample (courtesy of Unbound Bible):

          If anyone advocates a different doctrine and does not agree with sound words, those of our Lord Jesus Christ, and with the doctrine conforming to godliness, he is conceited and understands nothing; but he has a morbid interest in controversial questions and disputes about words, out of which arise envy, strife, abusive language, evil suspicions (NASB)

          If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; he is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings (KJV)

          If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to that doctrine which is according to godliness, he is proud, knowing nothing, but sick about questions and strifes of words; from which arise envies, contentions, blasphemies, evil suspicions (Douay-Rheims)

          But of course, translations are unnecessary for people like me who can read the original Greek:

          ει τις ετεροδιδασκαλει και μη προσερχεται υγιαινουσιν λογοις τοις του κυριου ημων ιησου χριστου και τη κατ ευσεβειαν διδασκαλια τετυφωται μηδεν επισταμενος αλλα νοσων περι ζητησεις και λογομαχιας εξ ων γινεται φθονος ερις βλασφημιαι υπονοιαι πονηραι (Wetscott-Hort)

          I will discuss the meaning of the Greek passage with you if you wish. In fact, I invite you to do so. If you can't read the Greek, then we have little to discuss about it. What I will say is that the NASB, in this case, happens to be nearest in meaning to the original. I will stand by that assessment unless you can demonstrate conclusively that it's not true.

          Re: "As JWs represent the Bible, (not that that weighs a lot in your eyes, I understand) they are more-or-less duty bound to apply it's words, and they have done so with the words to which you object."

          Unless you can read the New Testament in its original Greek, then you cannot possibly know what it means with any certainty. You can only take other people's word for what it means. The words of the Bible mean enough to me that I taught myself Greek in order to understand it better. Can you say the same? I doubt it. If that's the case, then don't cast aspersions on my command of the Bible. You don't know me enough to be able to say what I do or don't understand about it. Just because you disagree with me about it does not make me inexpert on it.

          • But of course, translations are unnecessary for people like me who can read the original Greek:

            Of course! Fortunately, people like you produce translations so that dumb people like me can hope to understand the original. Surely we are permitted to use translations. If not, then all international dealings/relations ought to be suspended unless all parties involved are thoroughly conversant in all languages.

            By comparing many translations, even the dunce can get an accurate feel for the original.

          • You sure are "permitted" to use translations. But what you cannot do is tell people like me that the idiotic, dogmatically-skewed translation you personally prefer, says anything other than what the original Greek does.

          • You've objected to "mentally diseased over questionings and debates about words." What do your other quoted translations say? Douay-Rheims says "sick about questions and strifes of words." In view of the context, what sort of 'sickness' do you think the translator had in mind? Tuberculosis, maybe? Or is it not a sickness of thinking, so that "mentally diseased" is not such a bad rendering after all? NASB, which you admire, offers "morbid interest in controversial questions and disputes about words." Does "morbid," when applied to thinking, suggest balance and soundness of mind? Or is "sickness", even "mentally diseased," more to the point?

          • Re: "Douay-Rheims says 'sick about questions and strifes of words.'"

            Yes, just as in English someone can be "sick at heart" over something, but not be "mentally diseased" because of it. The Greek usage is similar in this regard.

            And no, "morbid" does not also mean "mentally ill." Again, this is a reading you would personally prefer, however, it doesn't reflect the usage of the original Greek.

          • Other translations use such words/phrases as "diseased" (Emphasized New Testament; Rotherham), "filled with a sickly appetite" (Epistles of Paul, W.J.Conybeare), "morbid appetite" (A New Testament: A Translation in the Language of the People; Charles Williams), "morbid craving", (An American Translation; Goodspeed), "unhealthy love of questionings" (New Testament in Basic English), "morbidly keen" (NEB), "unhealthy desire to argue" (Good News Bible).

          • Do any of these renderings suggest soundness of mind to you? So the New World Translation's "mentally diseased" is an entirely valid offering. Plus, I already pointed out to you that the term is an adjective (as it is in all other translations), not a medical diagnosis, as you seem to take it. Context (in the Watchtower) made this application abundantly clear…context which you declared (apparently without knowing it) "irrelevant." The last time I carried on that way with regard to the remarks of some scientists, I was immediately accused of "quote mining," as relayed here:
            http://tinyurl.com/62basrk

            Surely that sword must cut both ways. You are quote-mining, harping on that sentence in the Watchtower with total disregard for its context, and doing so in order to lambaste a religion you apparently detest.

          • The "New World Translation" is not really a translation. It's a dogmatically-skewed version of the Bible cooked up by JWs to support their doctrines because the translations which were available to them originally didn't support all of their contentions. In this verse it apples a sense to the phrase used in the Greek which it did not actually carry in the classical world.

          • godisagui

            Tom –

            I thought you were more fair than that. The context of the Watchtower does nothing to mitigate the intensity of the translation, which I agree with you is the real issue – but you realize that the translation is a Watchtower publication as well, right? I mean, you seem to be proud of the Watchtower for their being beholden to the words they used in their Bible. (shaking my head)

            What i'm more concerned with is your inconsistency on the quote mining. i read your link and i think i need to point out the difference between the two situations.

            When Darwin is quoted in the Watchtower with the end of the quote left out, YOU may have the sense to presume the punch, but millions of people will be left with the impression (or sense of certainty) that Darwin had some serious doubts about his findings, and those of us with some semblance of critical thinking left will also be misled, because we were just fed the powerful words of the first half of what he said but were deprived of the counterbalancing force of the rest of his statement. It blows my mind that you are not acknowledging that OBVIOUS attempt to mislead readers.

            In the case of the Watchtower Bible, the choice of the term "mentally diseased" is SO different from even the translations that you provided, and anyone with any experience in marketing knows that it was crafted to be conflated with "mentally ill", which is in fact a medical diagnosis. "Mentally diseased" is designed to replace the compassion (for those who have fallen "ill") with fear (of a "diseased" person who might be contagious). Where exactly in the context of the Watchtower article do they disown or disavow this impression?

            Further, you're using "soundness of mind" – another bit of Watchtower lingo (NWT + regular use in other WT publications) as the standard against which to compare the intent of other translations. Dude, they've got you. You feel that a lack of "soundness of mind" covers all sorts of things, as it does when elders use the term to talk about appointing other elders. IT IS A WATCHTOWER TERM. You're bringing in arcane term to try to fend off the winning argument that the Watchtower translation is extreme (at best). It's almost as good as your comparison of an "adjective" to a "medical diagnosis". (Note: "mentally ill" is also an adjective.)

            If you had (fairly) asked, "Do any of these renderings cause the reader to think that the apostates are mentally ill?", the answer would have been "no, they do not." They are disparaging, but they absolutely do not convey the anything like what the NWT pulls out of it. It was translated to support their hostility toward dissenters, which in 1952 became manifest in the the organization's adoption of the practice of shunning – five years after calling it an unscriptural practice.

            You are defending the Watchtower's quote mining of Darwin and Dawkins, which absolutely is intended to mislead many (and does so successfully), and are accusing PsiCop of quote mining when he did not do it by any measure. (This is demonstrated by your own argument that the Watchtower is just quoting the (Watchtower) Bible.) The translation is the issue, and again, the context of the Watchtower does nothing to walk back the tone of the quote from its own translation.

            THEY'RE TELLING YOU THAT WE'RE MENTALLY DISEASED AND THAT YOU COULD CATCH IT FOR TALKING TO US – RIGHT HERE, RIGHT NOW.

            Do you realize that you could be disfellowshipped for this conversation?

            Yes, the sword cuts both ways.

          • Oops. Gordon Burns (below) has already submitted a list of comparable translations, which I did not notice before submitting mine. Good for him.

  • truthlight

    Please examine the Jehovah's Witnesses who go door to door and come on our property.

    Jehovah's Witnesses pedophiles.
    Many court documents and news events prove that Jehovah's Witnesses require two witnesses when a child comes forward with allegations of molestation within the congregation. Such allegations have customarily been treated as sins instead of crimes and are only reported to authorities when it is required to do so by law, (which varies by state).

    It has also been shown that child molesters within the organization usually have not been identified to the congregation members or the public at large. These people engage in a door to door ministry, possibly exposing children to pedophiles.

    The Watchtower corporation has paid out millions in settlement money already.
    — Danny Haszard abuse victim
    FMI
    http://www.dannyhaszard.com

  • Perspicacious

    Who ever is the PR man in this organization, has well and truly shot himself in the foot.

    • I don't think the JWs didn't say anything they didn't fully intend to say. The Watchtower is largely not meant to be read by outsiders, but by other JWs, and they assume, devout JWs. In other words, it's how JWs talk to each other about apostates.

      • Perspicacious

        New recruits don't know what they are in for.

        • LovingLife

          Oh, my you really don't understand what it means to be a JW. Numbers mean nothing. If someone studies with them and is not interested in living by Bible standards, that is completely their choice. Being a JW is only for people who truly want to live the teachings of Jesus Christ. You cannot even become a witness if you do not wish to live in harmony with the moral standards of the Bible. Those who become witnesses clearly understand that. Those who study but choose otherwise cannot become a baptized witness. Anyone who has been a witness but chooses to follow a different course is free to leave and do whatever they want. If they want to form their own religion and teach their own ideas and philosophies or just drag others after them, the Bible clearly outlines the course for those who wish to remain. The fault is being found with what the Bible says is the correct course for those who want to be faithful to God. For those who believe the Bible is from God, as JW's do, their obedience to him is the greatest issue.

          • Re: "Anyone who has been a witness but chooses to follow a different course is free to leave and do whatever they want."

            Maybe, but the JWs consider such a person "mentally diseased." That's a derisive and insulting attitude and is the opposite of the "live and let live" principle you're trying to convey.

  • LovingLife

    Arguing with those who wish to dissent and justify their behavior is a waste of time and is not wise. Those who want to be faithful to their God will follow his directive on how to handle this situation. Of course, God gives everyone the choice of whether to beieve in him, follow his counsel, or not. Hence this website.

  • Wow! IntenseDebate® in action. I'm impressed.

  • Gordon Burns

    The phrase “mentally diseased” is taken from the NWT rendering of 1 Timothy 6:3,4 “3 If any man teaches other doctrine and does not assent to healthful words, those of our Lord Jesus Christ, nor to the teaching that accords with godly devotion, 4 he is puffed up [with pride], not understanding anything, but being MENTALLY DISEASED over questionings and debates about words” (capitals mine).

    Note how a couple of other translations render this

    Bible in Basic English, (Douay, Darby reads similar
    3 If any one teach differently, and do not accede to sound words, those of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the teaching which is according to piety, 4 he is puffed up, knowing nothing, BUT SICK about questions and disputes of words, out of which arise envy, strife, injurious words, evil suspicions,

    What about the rendering in this trabslation

    The Message Bible
    4 tag them for what they are: ignorant windbags who INFECT THE AIR WITH GERMS of envy, controversy, bad-mouthing, suspicious rumors.

    Calvin Bible
    4 He is puffed up, knowing nothing, BUT SICKENING after questions and debates

    Phillips
    4 then he is a conceited idiot! His mind IS A MORBID jumble of disputation

    King James (The numbers refer to Strongs definitions)
    4 He is proud <5187> , knowing <1987> nothing <3367>, but <235> doting <3552> about <4012> questions

    The meaning of word 3552 by two by two of my dictionaries
    3552. νοσεω noseo nos-eh’-o; from 3554; to be sick, i.e. (by implication of a diseased appetite) to hanker after (figuratively, to harp upon): —  dote.

    3552 νοσεω noseo nos-eh’-o

    1) to be sick
    2) metaph. of ANY AILMENT OF THE MIND
    2a) to be taken with such an interest in a thing as amounts to a disease, to have a morbid fondness for

    If you look at the quote from the Watchtower the words “mentally diseased” are in quotes “ “ The NWT more correctly rendered that verse to show an ailment of the mind. There is no religious hatred laws about it. Plain simple statement from our creator. DEAL WITH IT

    • Perspicacious

      NWT rendering of 1 Timothy 6:3…" If any man teaches other doctrine… Your former President Russell and your former President Rutherford taught many things for many years that time proved them to be wrong. Using the Bible as the standard, it could be said these teachings were apostate. Not true. Not approved by Christ. Are you going to say these men are therefore "mentally diseased".

      • Gordon Burns

        The text of 1 Timothy was for the 1st century Christians. There were people in those congregations that were distorting what they had been told and drawing others after them. As a result "Christianity" broke up into many smaller factions The problem we have today is which "Christian: group has learnt to be the closest to what the 1st century Christians were.

        So for ANY "Christian" group, they SHOULD be applying those words to ANY that leave their group. So as far as say , Catholics, are concerned, those that have become JWs should be viewed as apostate by the Catholics.

        • Actually the meaning of the original Greek phrase used here is not specific to one group of Christians. It's much more general. As I've said, it has a close analog in the English phrase "to be sick at heart" over something.

        • Perspicacious

          When you get false teachers, calling others… " false teachers" and…. " mentally diseased."
          We do have a mental problem. Someone needs help. The symptom's of Alzheimer's Disease
          are:- confusion , mood swings , and long term memory loss.
          False teachers need to work on Christ's words… concerning the end of the world. Nobody knows the day or the hour.
          We can not go off and then print worldwide we know the month and the year. Christ told you nobody knows the day or the hour. Yet you did it again leading up to 1975.

    • Again, what you do not understand … and do not wish to understand … is that the Greek phrasing did not carry this meaning. It's similar to the English "to be sick at heart" over something, or perhaps "to be sickened" over it. It's not the same thing as diagnosing someone as mentally ill, which is the usage you prefer.

  • Dee

    The reference at 1Tim. 6:3,4 taken in context with the surrounding verses is describing what an apostate is.
    It is not describing people who just leave the organization. Nor is the Watchtower Society doing that in it's article.

    Apostates fight against what they once were a part of. Based on the scriptural description, the Watchtower Society is correct in describing an apostate (not a person who just leaves) as "being mentally diseased" and stating that they "seek to infect others with their disloyal teachings as is stated on page 16 of the WT July 15, 2011 journal. If you have not read the article then you do not know the context and may thus be mislead as to what was intended and why and to whom the description actually applies and the appropriateness of that description.

    Consider how the verses are rendered in the NEW ENGLISH BIBLE at 11 Tim. 6:3-5:
    "This is what you are to teach and preach. If anyone is teaching otherwise, and will not give his mind to wholesome precepts–I mean those of our Lord Jesus Christ–and to good religious teaching, I call him a pompous ignoramus. He is morbidly keen on mere verbal questions and quibbles, which give rise to jealousy, quarreling, slander, base suspicions, and endless wrangles: all typical of men who have let their reasoning powers become atrophied and have lost grip of the truth."
    And that is what apostates do.

    The New International Version at verse 5 describes them as "men of corrupt mind".

    The Jerusalem Bible describes them as full of self-conceit–with a craze for questioning everything and arguing about words".

    Young's Literal Translation describes these folks at verse 5 as "wranglings of men wholly corrupted in mind".

    The Watchtower's use in describing apostates as "mentally diseased" accurately applies the scriptural definition in words that synonymous with other translations.

    So if anyone is offended by that, keep in mind that the description of an apostate is not from a man made idea.
    It is the Bible that describes the state of an apostate. Jehovah's Witnesses believe all scripture is inspired of God and if the Bible describes an apostate as being such, they believe it.

    If anyone is offended or takes issue with this description of an apostate, it is not the Watchtower Society they are really outraged at. Their outrage is actually AT THE SCRIPTURAL VERSES describing an apostate. Since the Bible is inspired of God, it is His message to mankind. Thus those taking issue with the Watchtower's use of the word "mentally diseased" are actually at issue with the author of the Bible Himself, Almighty God who inspired the Bible writers to write down his words.

    • Apparently I need to repeat myself: while the JW Bible says that apostates are mentally ill, the original Greek does not mean that. It just doesn't. It doesn't even suggest it. Looking for translations that appear to support your contention that apostates are bipolar or schizophrenic, cannot and will never change that. There were terms for mental illness in classical Greek that do not appear in this verse; if the writer(s) had intended that meaning, they would have used one of them. They did not.

      Keep bellyaching about it all you want … but you will forever remain wrong. Just plain fucking wrong.

      If you need further clarification I will continue to tell you that you are wrong and are using idiotic interpretations of other people's translations in order to support your subjective wish. I can repeat that sentence as many times as are necessary for you to absorb this fact.

      BTW, you do realize, do you not, that the translators of your favorite translation of the Bible are unknown and unnamed? We have no idea if they knew the Biblical languages, and if they did, to what degree of expertise. This makes it an unattested translation; it's unreliable and is not used by serious scholars for that reason. You would do better to throw yours away and pick something superior. If you actually care about what the Bible truly says, that is.

    • Look, the JWs can believe anything they wish to believe. But they are WRONG when they make factual claims about the Greek language that are untrue.Let me use a similar example that actually is very close to the same thing, from the English language. Let’s say someone tells you that a friend is “heartsick” over something that happened. This is a common expression, which means someone is intensely upset. And it’s used all the time. But, it most assuredly is NOT the same thing as a diagnosis of heart disease (which is what the New World Translation does with the verse in question). They’re interpreting a “figure of speech” in the most literal way possible, because they have no fucking clue what that expression meant in koine Greek or how it was used in that language … because none of the translators is literate in koine Greek! All they did was to take existing English translations of the Bible, made sure they fit JW dogma, changed them as needed where they didn’t, and voila! they cranked out their very own Bible translation. It’s a bullshit game and I’m not ignorant enough to fall for it.

    • You are making the assumption that the Watch Tower organisation represents god. It doesn't, it is a cult that fleeces its followers of $millions each and every year!

      • Hello there and thanks for the comment! I agree with you that Watchtower fleeces people … but I take no position as to whether or not it's a "cult." As I see it, all metaphysics … of any kind, whoever presents it, and however they choose to do so … is 100% pure grade-A stinking-to-high-heaven bullshit. This means any organization which bases its authority on metaphysics, and collects donations from people based on that authority, is by definition "fleecing" people.

        As for whether or not they represent "god," I have to assume that anyone who purports to speak for "god," is as likely to be doing so, as anyone else who claims to speak for "god." At least, I have to, until such time as "god" makes his presence known and points out to me precisely who speaks for him and who doesn't. Until he does so, I can't tell the difference between the followers of any given religion.

  • Perspicacious

    The problem lies with those who have printed ,taught and preached false teachings. Who have not stayed within the inspired Word of GOD. "This is what you are to teach and preach." Who have presumed to know, and overstepped the inspired Word.

    • Which is the problem with Christianity's unhealthy obsession with scripture. As Shakespeare so wisely said, "The Devil can cite scripture to his purpose." It's always possible to take words and bend them to one's will, making them say whatever one wishes they said … rather than what they actually were intended to say.

      A more mature religion would have no need of the crutch of writings, and would not obsess and whine and bellyache and kvetch over them, nor yank and twist them in a million different directions. A mature religion would just have beliefs … and be satisfied with them as they are.

  • godisagui

    I think it's important to not confuse the baby with the bathwater.

    I agree that this is what the Bible says. It is very clear that Paul's language was extreme. He also said women should "keep silent" in churches and confirmed their inferiority to men, giving as evidence the powerful truths that 1) adam was created first and 2) the scientific observation that all male animals have shorter hair.

    The Bible also says that a couple thousand years ago it was morally correct to stone to death your relatives who change their mind about Jehovah, and that for your own disobedient children you should drag them before the elders, who will lead their stoning while you watch. It says that a few thousand years before that THERE WERE NO HUMANS ON EARTH. Get real.

    My point is that the religion is offensive because it applies literally the hateful words of Paul found in that scripture. If Jehovah's Witnesses went back to the earlier practice of stoning those who speak against their beliefs, there would be a public outcry because the human race has grown up a bit since then, at least in some areas. The fact that it is prescribed in the Bible doesn't make the Watchtower any more reasonable to decide to enforce it in 2011.

    • No, it's not correct that Paul was declaring all apostates "mentally ill." To use the example I've cited previously … at least once and maybe more than that … the term "heartsick" in English provides a close parallel. To say that someone is "heartsick" over something, is certainly not the same as saying s/he has heart disease. It's a figure of speech in English, today, and it was in Greek, back then.

      Really, it's that simple. The JWs need to get over their fierce dogmatic literalism and stop hypertranslating the Bible. It shows they have no knowledge of what they speak, and they cannot discern between a figure of speech and its intended meaning.

      As for Paul ordering women to be silent in churches, it's true it's there in 1 Cor 14:34-35 (for example), but most Bible scholars consider that an interpolation, mostly because the language of those verses don't match most of the rest of the document, and they logically disagree with a passage earlier in the same letter (1 Cor 11:5) where Paul states that women must cover their heads when they prophesy in church. It makes no sense to say this, but then turn around and say women must be silent. The other Pauline epistles that order women to be silent, submissive, etc. are all actually not by Paul and are pseudepigraphal, aka forgeries.

      • godisagui

        Awesome info – thanks @PsiCop!

        What is the modern English parallel for what Paul was saying of them? I'm imagining it to be, "They're mindfucked."

        • PsiCop

          Try “they’re making themselves sick, obsessing over scripture.” (You see? Even translated into English, the word “sick” works here, but it’s still no diagnosis of an ailment.)

  • godisagui

    Hi Dee!

    Those are good scriptures, but the characterizations they voice are clearly in the eye of the beholder. Of course you know that EVERY cult speaks disparagingly of those who leave in similar terms, right?

    Think about this in the context of the Mormons, or the Moonies, or perhaps Scientology, at least one of which you surely would call a cult. If a person wakes up one day and realizes that he had joined that group while he was young and gullible, and that the arguments that led him to feel the wonderful release of "faith" were incorrect and illogical, and that he did not believe it anymore, his only way out would be to point to the specific language that was used to trap him.

    The objection in the Bible is written by a lawyer and basically says that lawyers who disagree with him are mentally ill. You are correct that I have a problem with the Bible itself, but the Bible writers are somewhat forgivable in that they lived and died in times of colossal ignorance. We would never want to stone to death our disobedient children. I hope.

  • godisagui

    “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.”

    July 2009 Awake p29

    The sad thing, and the thing no one ever talks about on either side of the fence, is that the old men who created this cult really believed it. I've known several of them well enough to get a feel for whether or not they believed it, and I'm sure they did in almost every case. And if you read Crisis of Conscience, it is clear that Ray Franz believed that his mates on the Governing Body were sincere in their belief.

    All i can think of is how Harold Camping must feel.

  • godisagui

    ok i'll shut up now.

  • john

    Would'nt a true quest for truth encourage the individual to submit for discussion an alternative observation to be either proved true or false via the crusible of public debate ? ….Why is it that to maintain the exceptance of our peers … those congregated must either remain silent or publicly refuse to acknowledge any evidence of the emporers nakedness ? Why do we define loyalty to truth as being able to demonstrate the capacity to never …like Gallileo … vocalize any thought that does not agree with what ever management defines until such time as it elects to change its mind ? The reason that the church can not allow for the independant questioning of its Gallileo's is because the presumptiousness of its claim to be the channel through whom God speaks is show cased everytime the individule figures out a better truth than the vicar of Christ . The compulsion to attempt reasoning with an entity whose income is dependant on selling its self as being Gods puppet ..(..thus to question is to be a Korah…rebeling against the one who spoke through Moses ) is an exercise in futility that Jesus spent little of his precious time on .

    • Re: "Would'nt a true quest for truth encourage the individual to submit for discussion an alternative observation to be either proved true or false via the crusible of public debate ?"

      "Public debate" can't always determine "the Truth" of an issue. Veracity is not up for a vote, or for discussion. Veracity is what it is, and it's independent of what people say about it. We do not, for example, debate whether or not the sky is blue.

      Re: "The reason that the church can not allow for the independant questioning of its Gallileo's is because the presumptiousness of its claim to be the channel through whom God speaks is show cased everytime the individule figures out a better truth than the vicar of Christ ."

      Indeed … this is precisely why there is such a significant movement of people in the US who have become anti-science and even anti-intellectual. People who think too much have too many opportunities to wander astray of the "traditional" beliefs people once held. In the minds of any vehement traditionalist, this cannot be permitted, and thinking too much is a sin in and of itself.

    • Krista

      I am a 31 year old woman and I was born and raised a JW. I left JWs about six or seven years ago. Jehovah's Witnesses equate "independent thinking" with Satanic influence. Even those who question, in turn, question the fact that they're questioning because they wonder if it is really demonic influence causing them to be "disagreeable" and rebellious; Satan is luring them away by making them question. Therefore very few allow their own minds the freedom to even think inside themselves! It is a terrible state to live in, one where you question your own judgment constantly because you believe that any misalignment of your thoughts with the Society is something that you need to fix. At that point you say, "I need to pray to Jehovah to make my thoughts in accordance with His thoughts," and so on. You reject your own critical thinking.

      I do not really take offense at this article personally as I am a former JW and I know exactly what they are saying. They've said it for years. Anyone who used to be a JW knows the feeling it strikes into your heart when the word "apostate" is spoken. It is as if you are in the presence of a demon (that is how you feel when you are in the organization). Even to listen to their words – not even converse – would be extremely dangerous because you make yourself susceptible to Satanic influence. I am an apostate by their definition. Do I go out and try to convince others to leave the organization? Not at all. But I do make it very clear that I do not subscribe to their doctrine and I participate in all the "worldly" things i.e. celebrate holidays, birthdays, etc. that they condemn.

      My mother is still a JW. It is her life. She should pursue what makes her happy and gives her purpose. However, the level of cognitive dissonance on her part is staggering. It is an impenetrable wall. There is no point in trying to discuss these matters with her. NO point at all. It doesn't matter if everything they prophesy turns out to be false or if what they say is wrong or if there is corruption or a doctrine that many have believed to be truth for decades (and have been teaching for decades) is announced at a convention to be obsolete because there is "new light." None of this matters because they think any and every thing they are told to think. Any explanation, no matter how nonsensical, is accepted without question. JW will say from the platform that we should question things to "keep proving things" to ourselves and that if we have questions the elders welcome us and so on. The fact is, though, that if you are questioning, it already shows them that you have been influenced by Satan, are spiritually weak (rather than strong for all your studying and meditating upon matters), or have a rebellious spirit.

      Sometimes my mother tells me about here days in service or something she heard at meeting. She does not understand that I have NO desire to even hear about it. When I hear her speak about it or relay some experience or tidbit out of the WT I cannot believe that I used to believe that. On the rare occasion that I am around them in a group (perhaps if they come over and I am visiting my mother – I do not associate with them myself) I listen to the way they talk and the things they say and I just want to run. Sometimes I wonder what she would be like, who she is… if she had her own mind. I will never know her, and she will never know me. I don't even wish she did. That is how much the religion has numbed me to having a better relationship. I know, at the end of the day, that no matter what or who I am or what I do, she will be disappointed and in agony over the fact that I'm not a Jehovah's Witness anymore and will HAVE to blurt out a meeting invitation or tell me how people in the congregation miss me so much and so on. There is never a minute it isn't on her mind. What a way to live. I will stop now since the rest is completely familiar to everyone here.

      • Krista, thanks for commenting and offering your story. What you describe is, unfortunately, very common where fundementalist religion is concerned. The isolation it creates … in folks like your mother … is sad and appalling. Not to mention the division between family members, friends, etc. No moral or ethical person ought to want this, yet they do. Partly because their own Jesus told them that's what he wanted:

        “Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I came to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man’s enemies will be the members of his household." (Mt 10:34-36)

        This is one of the most harmful passages in the entire Bible.

  • MAC

    I suspect their ravings will be met with stony silence mostly because they're inconsequential to most people.

  • Jeremy

    They are such hypocrites about apostates, well shown here: http://www.thebroadroad.com/m/articles/view/Apost