A young man goes before the French government and testifies about his life as a Jehovah’s Witnesses. In an excerpt of that testimony he explains how ill equipped he is to face the real world outside of the JW community. Do you think this is a healthy environment for any child to be in? Read his testimony and see what your answer would be.
You can read the full transcript at this link.
President: Did you have time to play with your friends outside of the community? Did you participate to secular celebrations or events?
Nicolas JAQUETTE: Relationships with others are obviously something children are very sensitive about, mostly when it has to do with parties or celebrations which are, indeed, moments of social cohesion. To give a good image to the cult children are allowed to socialize with others but in a very limited and supervised fashion. Amongst what is repeated to them regularly we hear: "you have friends in the congregation, don't make friends with anyone anywhere else. Bad association destroys useful habits." In other words, seeing friends from outside will spoil your faith by allowing into your ideas that are contrary to what the cult teaches you and push you to leave your religion. People from the outside world are constantly demonized. Linguistically speaking we say that someone is "in the truth" to designate a Jehovah Witness. By constantly hearing this as a child we come to a point where we can't separate "Jehovah's Witness" and "Truth". Simultaneously,
people from outside are called "the world", which all the JW literature describes as nasty, possessed by the devil and bound to be destroyed. Demonization applies to friends at school of whom we learn to beware. We also learn, however, how to evangelize them while respecting the law imposing secularism at school. We are, therefore, prepared to consider them potential enemies. Thus, the child meets his\her friends at school with both an agenda to proselytize them and a fear of them. They'll push friendship only far enough to show that Jehovah's Witnesses are not a cult as evidenced by their ability to make friends.
Holidays are a particularly delicate topic for JW children even if we try to teach them that it's not the case. Each year, they see Christmas and the new year pass as if they were ordinary days and then hear their friends talk about their presents. As a
reaction to their pain they have to reply that Santa Claus doesn't exist, that they know the truth and that that is a lie. We are thought slogans to protect ourselves against the pain of such a discriminatory type of circumstance. Not being allowed to go to a birthday party and not even being allowed to have ours celebrated. I don't even know how old my parents are. They never celebrated their birthdays. To ordinary people that day allows them to see time as it goes by for others. I don't have that notion, even for those who are close to me. That can sound like a banality but if we think about it seriously, those situations piled up to one another become quite a heavy load to carry in the end. If we manage to leave the movement we
realize all the power we were subjugated by and how un-adapted we are to the real world. We have to learn to live a real life.
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