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Posts tagged ‘Ex-Jehovah Witnesses’

Different approach in organisation of services #3

Radio calls and booklets

Today the Jehovah Witnesses are the biggest known Bible Student Group in Belgium. At first they could find Bible Students groups associating with them and start growing from the previous preparations of those groups. But they too had to see members leaving them.

Français : Jumet (Charleroi - Belgique) - Chap...

Français : Jumet (Charleroi – Belgique) – Chapelle Notre Dame de Heigne (XIIe siècle) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As result of the broadcastings in the mid 20° century, in French and sponsored by the Brethren of Dawn from the U.S; 3 Belgian families were interested in the Present Truth. It was Brother Armand Lechien who got in touch with Brother Félix Pilarski through the mail service of Radio Luxemburg: Brother Félix aimed him towards Jumet. These 3 families left the movement they were members of (the Jehovah Witnesses) because they thought the teachings they heard were not in harmony

with the Scriptures. The Polish-Belgian Brother and Sister Wlodarski had got French brethren and sisters in their circles and found more brethren from the French Association des étudiants de la Bible coming more and more frequently to serve the Word of God (brother François Wozniak, Kosmalski A. Liszka, T. Kubiak, J., Osorowski S.,TF et Ed. Pilarski, Speil, a few from Saint Etienne and many others …..); the family Kula, their younger daughter and one son attended the meetings, in the following years just like in France, pilgrim brethren came from the United States and later from Poland.

Courcelles coal mine ” 6 périer ” Souvret

The families – Armand et Louise Lechien – Ernest et Helena Duchateau –  Edmond et Jeanne Henrioule decided to have meetings during the week (on Wednesday and Thursday) to study the Figures of the Tabernacle. With their agreement, the families Wlodarski and Kula joined them. The studies were held in two languages with the help of a translator (2 languages were spoken French and Polish).

Brother Félix Pilarski and other brethren worked a lot for these meetings because they spoke French perfectly.
Brother Félix Pilarski made a handsome contribution to the development of the meeting of Courcelles with edifying biblical discourses and his visits. He was also personally active in the country of Liège and in Brussels where he had a deposit of booklets. Other brethren also paid many visits; among them we can mention Brother Joseph Wozniak, Adolphe Debski, and others.
After Brother Ernest Duchateau died suddenly, meetings continued for some time. When Brother Lechien died after a quite long disease, we could see a repetitive thing around the house churches, the ecclesia of Courcelles disappeared in the mid 70’s.

Former town hall of Jumet, where the film “Why did He come to earth?” of the Bible Students was given.

On October 24th 1987, the ecclesia of Jumet organised two projections of the film “Why did He come to earth?” in the community City Hall of Charleroi. Those shows were announced with advertising: posters in public places, advertising in the city with loudspeakers, spots on local newspapers radio and TV, display on electronic screens, distribution of leaflets.
More than hundred persons attended these film projections. Leaflets and tracts were given to the participants but only few asked for further information and other booklets.

Soothed to sleep with man’s talk

Very soon in history the majority in Christendom went running after the false teachers. The myths were more pleasing to the ear than the actual truth. They were soothed to sleep with it. Early on the Brothers, as true followers of the Lord Jesus Christ, were in the minority. Their faith of the true gospel was of ‘origin’ pure, by the human impurities it was swung back and forth by the years gone.

In Belgium and the Netherlands remained Bible Faithful following Jesus’ command and continued preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God.
The first nor the second world war had kept them from it, even though many of them were anxiously looking forward to the action of the two warring camps, because they were against fighting, and because they adhered to a faith that was not liked by anyone.

That Jesus and his apostles spoke about the news that there would be established a Kingdom on earth, that would be ruled by Jesus Christ and in which the faithful of all ages would have a place alongside their Lord: i.e. as co-rulers, this sounded obviously not fine in the ears for them (the German Fuehrer wished to be the only ruler). But the cheerful message for humanity survived now the fight under people and brought unprecedented peace in some families.

The doctrine of Christ’s reign on earth was first treated as highly symbolic, gradually became labelled as a very questionable and useless thought and was ultimately rejected as an absurd invention of heresy and fanaticism.
God’s light happily extinguishes not; it is an eternal flame. The people of Israel in ancient times also reached detritus. They even served other gods. Nevertheless, there remain at this time believers in the One God and history now could repeat itself. Faithful to God those bible students wanted to share their findings and in spite the continuous opposition dared to go against the most popular doctrine of men.

Getting a base in Holland

After attempts from the Netherlands were made to bring Truth to England (in the 16th Century) and having a flight of truth seekers to the New World in the 19th century, now letters of truth seekers from the New World could again send truth to Europe.

The teachings of Elias Smith and John Thomas now, the time was ripe, an opportunity was given to a ‘resurgence‘ of Bible Faithful. They also found their way across the ocean and in all English-speaking countries they could find a foothold.

Through the centuries, the Gospel of God’s Kingdom, which was preached by Jesus and the apostles, showed a dynamic force which has all the opposition of powerful religious groups defied and still serves as the sole basis of faith for those who want to search God.

Website of the Brothers in Christ or Christadelphians in the Netherlands - Website van de Nedrlandse Broeders in Christus

Website of the Brothers in Christ or Christadelphians in the Netherlands – Website van de Nedrlandse Broeders in Christus

In 1956 in the Netherlands finally the group of Brothers in Christ could get solid and communities as “de Broeders in Christus“, arose in Den Haag (The Hague), Amersfoort, Ede and Groningen.

From 1957 officially recognised, seeing it as our duty to our Lord to make his name known among the people in our area, as well as among other nations, they made work of it to go around billing leaflets. They kept their focus on the Bible as the source of all knowledge and followed the guiding principle of the word of our Lord, “Freely ye have received, freely give.” They also began to spread the magazine “Met Open Bijbel” (With Open Bible) of which Rudolf Rijkeboer was the driving force.

Vanishing interest

It clearly appeared that after the ‘golden age’ with the children boom and citizens of Belgium having their life becoming better, the interest for the biblical message of Truth is vanishing with time passing on.
The Bible Students saw their number of members in ecclesiae decreasing.The visiting brethren and sisters from the Christadelphian Bible Mission (CBM) for 25 years made regular visits to put leaflets and pamphlets in the postboxes. Their short visits trying to get people on the street interested in the works of Christ and in the promises of God, did not work out. At the time (early 21° Century) they wanted to give it all up and several Christadelphians left Holland to return to England or to go to Australia.
At the end of the 20° Century some Bible Students with ex-Jehovah Witnesses formed the Vrije Christenen or Free Christians. In that movement was also the non-trinitarian Baptist Marcus Ampe very active. Even before he himself became a Christadelphian he had already brought others to the Christadelphian faith. In Flemish Brabant and in Hainaut, plus on the net, with him, again an effort was made to bring the Good News of the coming Kingdom.
The Belfry in Mons

The Belfry in Mons, one of the meeting places of the Free Belgian Christadelphians

Last year brother Marcus tried to get several Bible Student groups together, but failed because of their will to have a certain power and the will to keep everything in control themselves. Plus some, like our confrères which we ourselves could not get over the bend to join the other Christadelphians in Belgium, made it impossible to have the different bible Students exchanging ideas, meeting sessions and information about their where-about and working. For our Australian brothers, of the Australian Bible Students, the CBM members were not close enough in following the teachings of brother Dr. John Thomas and mixing with the too loose teachings would dilute the whole system (they thought).

The man from the North and his organisation, have most of the Bible Students (except the JW) living in Belgian. But they resisted in giving the addresses of their ecclesiae in Oostende, Gent, (Brussels) and Antwerp. this made that the few but very active Christadelphians from Brussels, Leuven and Mons, could not meet with more Christadelphians in Belgium.
We too had to face the difficulty of bringing people together in peace and where confronted with a loss in our ranks, but our invitation is still open to join as members of the Body of Christ, united in the love of Christ.
We are convinced that our preaching work is important and that even when we do not reach so many people in Belgium, we do hope we can reach some others far away from us. We do hope that our voice may also sound in the darkness and bring some light to people we do not know, but who we do hope to meet in the Kingdom of God. We look forward to meet many new faces, happy to be under the Guidance of the Lord and not bounded by single people, but constructed on the cornerstone Jesus Christ.
Though we may have a different approach in organisation of services we do believe we all should go for the same truth and for the unification under Christ, by which each group might have a different name, but is willing to be united in spirit, sharing to build up and construct positively working to help each other entering the gate of the coming Kingdom.
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Preceding articles:
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Please do find out more about the Christadelphians and find further related articles:

  1. Not all christians are followers of a Greco-Roman culture
  2. Two new encyclopaedic articles
  3. Who are the Christadelphians
  4. What are Brothers in Christ
  5. Discipleship way of life on the narrow way to everlasting life
  6. Christadelphian people
  7. Christadelphians or Messianic Christians or Messianic Jews
  8. About the Belgian Free Christadelphians
  9. What Christadelphians teach
  10. Small churches of the few Christadelphians
  11. Priority to form a loving brotherhood
  12. 19° Century London Christadelphians
  13. Breathing and growing with no heir
  14. Commitment to Christian unity
  15.  Parts of the body of Christ
  16. What part of the Body am I?
  17. The Church, Body of Christ and remnant Israel synonymous
  18. United people under Christ
  19. Fellowship
  20. The Ecclesia
  21. The Ecclesia in the churchsystem
  22. The ecclesia or Christadelphian church
  23. Our relationship with God, Jesus and each other
  24. Our ecclesia or Christadelphian-church
  25. Intentions of an Ecclesia
  26. An ecclesia in your neighbourhood
  27. Communion and day of worship
  28. Christadelphians today
  29. Small churches of the few Christadelphians
  30. Who Celebrates Easter as Religious Holiday
  31. Eostre, Easter, White god, chocolate eggs, Easter bunnies and metaphorical resurrection
  32. Learn how to go out into the world and proclaim the Good News of the coming Kingdom
  33. Harvest in Belgium
  34. Building up the spirit of the soul
  35. No reconciliation possible between CBM and Duncan Heaster from Carelinks
  36. Priority to form a loving brotherhood
  37. Change of name
  38. Quibbling siblings united or allied children of an organisation or a church
  39. Small churches of the few Christadelphians

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Watchtowers’s new face

From September the 1st 2012 the Jehovah’s Witnesses their official website  came into the new world.

Three in one plus …

The Governing Body takes the lead in directing the work of Jehovah’s Witnesses

Three websites managed by Jehovah’s Witnesses were consolidated into just one official website, www.jw.org. The updated website promises to have concise answers to Bible questions and offers information about the societies preaching work, along with facts about their branch offices, Kingdom Halls, and conventions in the section about Jehovah’s Witnesses.

For those looking for reports on topics and events affecting Jehovah’s Witnesses worldwide, they should be albe to find the right answer in the news section. There are also features for families, teens, and children. As with the old website Our website  audio and digital editions of many of their publications are provided.

By revamping JW.org the mighty organisation tries to get more people at a single point of contact, so that they have a better picture about whom, where people are seeking to access Jehovah’s Witnesses online.

The website looks fresh and inviting and they also thought of the non hearing. Those with hearing difficulties can go to the section Watch Sign-Language Videos and study the Bible using sign-language videos.

There are still other websites from the Jehovah Witnesses which have a very official look but claim  not to be affiliated (??) with the Pensylvanian office: “JWnews, JW news and Jwitness.wordpress.com are not affiliated with the official watchtower, jw-media or the jw.org sites.”  Who is than in charge? They write: “The content we link to on The JWnews is generated by members of the public. The views expressed are those of the public and unless specifically stated are not those of The JWnews. Appearance within this website does not constitute endorsement.”

Major shake-up of the organization

Could it be that in the near future we may look forward to a new major shake-up of the organization like in 1975, when the duties of the President of the Watch Tower Society became dispersed and delegated to the various committees, who were (and still are) directly answerable to the Governing Body. Some Jehovah Witnesses say that they can openly talk about differences of interpretation of Bible verses. They say they can discuss the Watchtower writings at the Kingdomhall study sessions.

Watchtower publications give conflicting impressions about whom is leading the organisation.

In the book Bearing Thorough Witness(also quoted from above) the following assertion is made on page 110:

“The Governing Body relies on God’s holy spirit for direction. Its members do not regard themselves as the leaders of Jehovah’s people.”

This was reiterated on page 23 of a recently released 2012 brochure entitled Who Are Doing Jehovah’s Will Today? where it says:

“The Governing Body looks to the Universal Sovereign, Jehovah, and to the Head of the congregation, Jesus, for guidance. (1 Corinthians 11:3; Ephesians 5:23) Its members do not regard themselves as the leaders of God’s people. They, along with all anointed Christians, ‘keep following the Lamb [Jesus] no matter where he goes.’”

From the above two quotes (both from fairly recent publications) it would be relatively straightforward to conclude that Governing Body members are not to be considered as the leaders of Jehovah’s Witnesses. However, things become confusing when we read the many quotes similar to those below where the Governing Body is said to “take the lead” in the organization. {The Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses – Explained, JW Survey}

“The faithful and discreet slave today is represented by the Governing Body, who take the lead and coordinate the Kingdom-preaching work throughout the earth.” (w09 2/15 p.28 par.17)

 “The Head, Jesus Christ, supplies the body members with what is needed for good cooperation, coordination, and spiritual nourishment. (Eph. 4:15, 16; Col. 2:19) In such respects, the Governing Body is organized to take the lead as Jehovah directs them by holy spirit.” (w08 5/15 p.29)

“Today, we can observe those making up the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses, other anointed overseers, and men of the “great crowd” who take the lead among us.” (w89 9/15 p.21)

“Local elders and members of the Governing Body take the lead among us; hence, we should respect them and pray that God grant them the wisdom needed to govern the congregation.” (w89 12/15 p.21 par.5)

“So we can observe the faithful men today who take the lead among us, particularly those of the governing body of the ‘faithful and discreet slave’.” (w69 6/15 p.367 par.3)

There is also the following quote where Jehovah’s Witnesses are admonished using the bible to show obedience to the Governing Body:

“Though members of the Governing Body are slaves of Jehovah and of Christ, as are their fellow Christians, the Bible instructs us: ‘Be obedient to those who are taking the lead among you and be submissive, for they are keeping watch over your souls as those who will render an account; that they may do this with joy and not with sighing, for this would be damaging to you.’—Hebrews 13:17.” (w98 3/15 p21)

It is difficult to imagine how a group of men who “take the lead” among and “govern” God’s organization, and who should be obeyed by Jehovah’s Witnesses, should not therefore be considered as their “leaders”. However, this is precisely how the Governing Body wishes us to think of them. On the one hand, it appears they seek to be viewed as humble fellow worshippers – but on the other hand they ask Jehovah’s Witnesses to view them as “those who are taking the lead”, and obey their direction accordingly.

The ones saved

Surprisingly they now say that they shall not be the only ones being save. They suddenly seem to agree that many millions who lived in centuries past and who weren’t Jehovah’s Witnesses will have an opportunity for salvation. As we do believe, they agree now that the Bible explains that in God’s promised new world, “there is going to be a resurrection of both the righteous and the unrighteous.” (Acts 24:15) Additionally, many now living may yet begin to serve God, and they too will gain salvation. In any case, at last they got to understand that it’s not our job to judge who will or won’t be saved. That assignment rests squarely in Jesus’ hands. (John 5:22, 27.)

When we look at those in charge we do see we individuals who profess to have Jesus as their leader and role model,but they still think they are the chosen to be the only guides to bring people to the Truth. As Governing Body members their thoughts and reflections should be consequent and according the teaching of Christ plus in accordance with the Law of God. They consider themselves as the most perfectly people to understand what God is willing from humanity. they also should be aware of their function and its responsibility, certainly when they tell the world that it are they who are the representatives of the Slave Class, or God’s earthly organization.

Still the same organisation

Knowing that Christ’s apostles were never sheepish about having their personalities and foibles exposed in the early Christian writings,those people should not mind that they are exposed to the world and that a clear picture of them is given to those who are interested. But for years the organisation has been a closed mysterious organisation, where outsiders, not to speak of insiders never could get a clear picture of the working of this powerful organisation. It is this mysteriousness that also made people believe that it is a cult in stead of an other denomination. Certainly with all the stories, true and invented, going around and several ex-Jehovah Witnesses taking revenge on the organisation in which they felt trapped for so many years. Angrinessand frustration have proven the best grounds for lies and for counter-attacks.

World headquarters of the Watch Tower Bible & ...

World headquarters of the Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society of Pennsylvania, Brooklyn, New York, U.S.A. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Biblestudent Movement background

An other problem, certainly for other Biblestudents, like us, is that they presented the founders of the Biblestudent Movement as their founders and depicted us as schism groups of Christendom. They still consider being the first seed of what began at the end of the 19th century. At that time, a small group of Bible students who lived near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in the United States, began a systematic analysis of the Bible. They compared the doctrines taught by the churches with what the Bible really teaches.

In the northern part of America there where several people, like the English doctor John Thomas (1805 – 1871) who had some strange experiences when leaving the old world. Their experiences changed their way of life totally and they took to the Holy Scriptures to find more about life, the reason why we live and what is going to happen with us when we die. All over the country, in small communities the searchers started to find other interested people and started meeting at different private locations. More and more groups of sincere Bible students could be found and Charles Taze Russell came also in contact with dr. Thomas and other pupils of him, called the Thomasites at that time.

In the time of the growing Millerite or Adventist movement Thomas and Russell tried to order the many ideas presented by the different preachers of those new movements. Thomas did not claim to be any kind of prophet, or in any way inspired, and found that every individual should take up his own responsibility to come to the Truth. For him it was clear there had not to be any pope, cardinal or some higher person to be in charge of an organisation to be called church, because we had the most high priest, Jesus Christ.

Thomas his work was continued by Robert Roberts (April 18, 1839 – September 23, 1898) and became a prolific author and the editor of The Christadelphian Magazine from 1864–1898.

Russell, Rutherford and Knorr were the last presidents of the Watch Tower Society to hold any real power

Charles Taze Russell got also more followers and began in July 1879 publishing a monthly religious journal, Zion’s Watch Tower and Herald of Christ’s Presence. In 1881 he co-founded Zion’s Watch Tower Tract Society, a non-stock, not-for-profit organization, and in 1884 the corporation was officially registered, with Russell as president. In 1914 it was Charles Taze Russell who founded in London, England, a corporation of the Bible Students, under the name International Bible Students Association. Some Jehovah’s Witnesses publications cite this corporation as publisher or co-publisher.

Russell and the other Bible Students, as the groups of such Good News bringing teachers where called, was to promote the teachings of Jesus Christ and to follow the practices of the first-century Christian congregation. Since Jesus is the Founder of Christianity, according to Thomas and Russell it is him who should have the honour to be called the founder of our church or organization. (Colossians 1:18-20)

Follow or quit

The legal counsellor and autocrat Joseph Franklin Rutherford more and more took power of the Watchtower group of Biblestudents and made many other sincere Biblestudents leave his growing organisation which became a dictatorial organisation, where every body had to follow the board of directors. With the years less of argument was accepted and all those who objected were summoned to leave.

It is that closed organisation which has tried unbending to dominate a movement which they called the only serious Biblestudents. They obstinately presented to the public that Russell was their founder and that all other denominations where false teachers.

By featuring so prominently on the Society’s DVDs, Governing Body members give themselves “undue attention and honor”

We doubt that the Watch Tower Society and the many congregations of Jehovah’s Witnesses worldwide would be able to get loose again from the control of the Governing Body. We also have the impression they do not openly say what they really think or how they would like their followers to think. Sometimes we get the impression they talk to what people would like to hear, so that once they get more interested they can be brought into the organisation by the duos who give the house to house studies.

Distorted talk

The matter of the saving is one which we could look into further. Do they still not strongly believe that those who are looking for Jehovah now, should become Jehovah Witnesses before Armageddon. When Armageddon strikes, Jehovah’s Witnesses do feel that they are the only ones who will be saved. The answer to one of the  “Frequently Asked Questions”, “Do You Feel That You Are The Only People Who Will Be Saved?”, is therefore both self-contradictory and misleading.

The new website of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania may be looking more openly and inviting but once again it has been covered with many blurs of double talk, incompleteness, inflected and twisted half truths.

Task for the Bible-student movement

They continue undaunted to present themselves as the spokesman of the Biblestudents and the shame of it is that more Bible students withdraw in their own little cocoon and not associate with other Bible-students to form a bigger block to come out to the world as presenters of the Good News of the coming Kingdom of God. The last few years we also noticed that less Biblestudents organisations were willing to come onto the internet or to propagate the gospel and to spread newsletters or (free) magazines to the general public.

If all those individual Bible students and Bible researchers stay on their own and are not willing to co-operate with other Biblestudents than we shall see  a decreasing group of the Bible Student Movement.

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Please do find additional reading:

Jehovah’s Witnesses—Who Are We?

Do Jehovah’s Witnesses Feel That They Are the Only People Who Will Be Saved?

The new JW.org – Watchtower’s attempt to tame the internet

The Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses – Explained + inclusive: Has anyone ever left the Governing Body?

Getting To Know Our Governing Body

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  • Jehovah’s Witnesses offer 3 day convention (jwitness.wordpress.com)
    The Jehovah’s Witnesses’ convention, “Safeguard Your Heart!” will run Friday through Sunday at the Kaua‘i War Memorial Convention Hall in Lihu‘e.
  • Should Jehovah’s Witnesses be feared? (lampandherald.wordpress.com)
    Many people who have become aware of the child sex abuse scandals that have plagued the Witnesses’ movement have become highly suspicious of their activities. Some watch groups have warned residents that if they have children at their homes, to keep an eye on them at all times when Witnesses stop by their door. Some residents have feared Witnesses coming to their property due to the Watchtower Society’s alleged policy of protecting pedophiles.
  • Ten Years Behind A Bible, My Life in the Jehovah’s Witnesses (personal) (everything2.com)
    Many people over the years have asked me whether I truly was one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, and some have even asked that I write about my adventures. First of all, yes, it is true. I was once a member of Jehovah’s Witnesses. I was “in the Truth” for about ten years. There’s a long story behind my joining, some of which I wrote about in Drop Kick Me Jesus, Through The Goalposts Of Life. If you want just the adventures, the fun stuff, skip to the Anecdotes section. But first, the background.
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    Life as a JW is more than just knocking on doors, it’s about attending meetings. There are five of them (or were, maybe things have changed in the past twenty years). Firstly, there are two back-to-back meetings, usually on a Sunday. One is a public talk, given by an appointed and approved member of the congregation (although visiting elders often give this talk). The talk must be based on an approved outline, and audience members are encouraged to look up any Bible references. This is followed by the study of an article in a Watchtower magazine. Someone is appointed to read each paragraph, and an elder asks questions printed as footnotes. Audience members then answer the question. rinse repeat. Again, subtle brainwashing – over time, verbalising the approved answers has each individual “make the Truth their own”.
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    There are two other big congregation meetings, both connected with the “field ministry”, the Theocratic Ministry School and the Service Meeting. The School is (or used to be) a series of lessons taken from a Watchtower Society book (available online here) – any approved member can be enrolled in the school, and there are assignments designed to help people become better teachers. Each week there are assigned Bible readings and associated topics, and a five-minute presentation is expected from each student. The Service Meeting is an elder-led series of announcements and demonstrations, again related to door-to-door work.
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    Finally, there is the Congregation Book Study, which carries out a Watchtower-study style of “discussion” using material published by the Watchtower Society; this takes place in smaller, home-based groups of between ten and twenty souls.

    Add up the time of the meetings (five hours) and the time needed to prepare (usually another five at least, if one is doing it right),and that’s quite a sizable chunk of time, a big investment for anyone. The idea is to get the Society’s ideas deeply inculcated into newcomers, such that the teachings take, at least on an intellectual level. Call it brainwashing if you will, but it’s pretty effective, especially given the demographics of the members.

     

  • Attorney claims sexually abused children ignored by Jehovah’s Witness church (lampandherald.wordpress.com)
    In a recent Facebook post, attorney Steven Unthank acknowledged the courage and sacrifices made by children of a congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Victoria, Australia where Unthank said that the children suffered sexual abuse at the hands of fellow church members.

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