Preparing Ex-Jehovah’s Witnesses for Child Custody
“My wife started studying with Jehovah’s Witnesses five years ago and recently left me, taking our children with her. The Jehovah’s Witnesses are not encouraging her to go back to me even though according to their policies, she doesn’t have Scriptural grounds for a divorce because there was no fornication involved. She filed for divorce and is dragging me into a custody battle over our children. Watchtower lawyers are assisting her free of charge while I am spending thousands of dollars with a lawyer who knows little to nothing of how destructive and deceptive the Jehovah’s Witnesses are. I am worried that if she gains full custody of our children, the Jehovah’s Witness belief system will alienate them from me, just as it did to my now ex-wife.
For example, the other day, my five-year old daughter told me that she is afraid that I will ‘die’ when Armageddon comes because I am not a Jehovah’s Witness. When I asked her where she got this idea, she told me that the people at the Kingdom Hall have been telling her that I am ‘bad’ because I ‘don’t serve Jehovah’ and that only Jehovah’s Witnesses will be ‘saved’ when Jehovah kills all the ‘bad’ people at the end of this system. I am concerned how being exposed to this kind of teaching will affect my relationship with my kids, and I think this religion is indeed a destructive cult. Do you have any literature that I can present to the court to help me show the dangers of this religion and gain legal custody of our children?”
We feel sad for you in this situation. It is heartbreaking to hear of another family torn apart through this destructive religion. You mentioned how the Jehovah’s Witnesses are “not encouraging her to go back to you,” even though there was no “fornication” involved. It is true that they claim to uphold this Scriptural requirement for divorce. However, in a recent publication of the Watchtower, the Society now grants Jehovah’s Witnesses an out on this issue by claiming that in abusive situations involving the physical health of spouse or “absolute endangerment of spiritual life,” a Jehovah’s Witness spouse may “obtain a legal separation” if that person’s mate “constantly” tries to “make it impossible” for the Jehovah’s Witness to “pursue true worship.” 1. Thus, it is likely that your Jehovah’s Witness ex-spouse is using this excuse for obtaining her divorce by claiming that your criticism of her religion endangers her “spiritual life.”
As you noted by the experience you had with your five year old, you have good reason to be concerned over the Jehovah’s Witness belief system and how it will affect your children’s relationship with you if your ex-spouse gains legal custody. The fear of being “destroyed” at Armageddon is a fundamental teaching of this religion. So, it is only a matter of time before your children will be cautious around you for fear of being exposed to “apostate” (anti-Jehovah’s Witness) beliefs, literature and practices that would cause them to loose their salvation and be “destroyed” with you at Armageddon.
For example, as you have likely already experienced with your ex-wife, if she gains full legal custody to raise your children as Jehovah’s Witnesses, you will have conflict over celebrating birthdays and holidays with them, because they will be taught that these celebrations are evil and condemned by God. If they ever need a blood transfusion, not only will you have to fight your ex-spouse for the right to authorize the transfusion, but you will have to fight to convince your children as well, because they will be told by the Jehovah’s Witnesses that it is better to die for refusing a transfusion than to risk loosing their chances for future resurrection after death. They will also be taught that all other religious beliefs are part of the evil “Babylon the Great” system that God will destroy at the “end of the world,” so your children will be afraid to learn about your religious beliefs and/or attend church with you. Finally, the religious programming of Jehovah’s Witnesses will make your children fearful that if you gain full custody, they will “die” in the “great tribulation” at Armageddon because you would not take them to the Kingdom Hall to be “saved.”
Thus, the religious beliefs of Jehovah’s Witnesses are indeed a cause for concern — especially if your ex-spouse gains full custody of your children. However, many judges are apprehensive about discussing the subject of religion in the courtroom. They do not want to take the chance of appearing to be biased against a particular religion. Thus, rather than focusing strictly on your concerns about the beliefs of Jehovah’s Witnesses, your emphasis needs to be upon the Jehovah’s Witness lifestyle — and how Watchtower policies create an unhealthy environment that endangers the psychological and emotional health of your children and jeopardizes your relationship with them.
Furthermore, it is important to realize that your battle for legal custody is complicated by the Watchtower policy of employing “theocratic war strategy” to lie in court. “Theocratic war strategy” is the Jehovah’s Witness term for “hiding the truth by action and word for the sake of the ministry.” In the article entitled, “Use Theocratic War Strategy,” pages 285 to 286 of the May 1, 1957 issue of The Watchtower explain:
“No sooner had she appeared on the street than a Communist officer asked her if she had seen a woman with a red blouse. No, she replied… Did she tell a lie? No, she did not. She was not a liar. Rather, she was using theocratic war strategy, hiding the truth by action and word for the sake of the ministry. …A great work is being done by the witnesses even in lands where their activity is banned. The only way they can fulfill the command to preach the good news of God’s kingdom is by use of theocratic war strategy. …So in time of spiritual warfare it is proper to misdirect the enemy by hiding the truth. …Today God’s servants are engaged in a warfare, a spiritual, theocratic warfare, a warfare ordered by God against wicked spirit forces and against false teachings. …At all times they must be very careful not to divulge any information to the enemy that he could use to hamper the preaching work.”
The Watchtower definition of a “lie” goes along with their view that one can say something false without considering it lying if they are doing so to protect the goals of the Jehovah’s Witness ministry. In Insight on the Scriptures volume 2, pages 244 to 245, the Watchtower Society states:
“Lie. The opposite of truth. Lying generally involves saying something false to a person who is entitled to know the truth. …While malicious lying is definitely condemned in the Bible, this does not mean that a person is under obligation to divulge truthful information to people who are not entitled to it.”
Thus, in a court custody case, a Jehovah’s Witness ex-spouse or a Watchtower attorney may feel justified in providing false testimony under oath in order to protect the reputation of the organization and gain legal custody of the children with the goal of raising them “in the truth” (i.e., Watchtower indoctrination).
To this end, theocratic war strategy can be seen illustrated in the advice the Watchtower provides in their child custody manual entitled, Preparing for Child Custody Cases. This manual instructs Jehovah’s Witnesses to overcome the controversial policies of the Watchtower religion by denying or minimizing the extent of certain practices and presenting a faulty image of the Jehovah’s Witness lifestyle to the court.
One example of this deception can be seen on pages 42 to 43 of this manual where the Jehovah’s Witness practice of advocating full-time “pioneer” service (door-to-door activity) over obtaining a college career is downplayed by presenting career goals and other interests to make Jehovah’s Witness children appear “normal” to the court. On page 42, under the section entitled, “Direct Examination & Responses For Young Witnesses,” the Society lists several questions to ask Jehovah’s Witness children to prove that they have “normal” goals and dreams that other young people who are not Jehovah’s Witnesses also enjoy. Since children who are raised as Jehovah’s Witnesses often are discouraged from pursuing outside interests, 2. on page 43 under the section entitled “EVIDENCE OF YOUNG PEOPLE,” the Society warns the person asking the questions not to let all of the children list “pioneer” service (door-to-door activity) as their ultimate career goal. They state:
“This can be used to show that they are normal. Identify and interview young people from local congregations who have been raised as Jehovah’s Witnesses and, in the eyes of the presiding overseer, are spiritually minded but also enjoy the normal healthy things that young people do. They don’t have to be competitive to enjoy sports. Be careful that they don’t get the impression that they are in a demonstration at the circuit assembly, when they would show that the first things in life are service and going to the Kingdom Hall. Show hobbies, crafts, social activity, sports, and especially plans for the future. Be careful they don’t all say that they are going to be pioneers. Plans can be trade, getting married and having children, journalism, and all kinds of other things. Maybe you can show an interest in art and the theater. They must be clean, moral, honest, but with the interests that you would expect from other young people.” —Preparing for Child Custody Cases , p. 43
By this example, you can see how Jehovah’s Witness children (and parents) are trained to present a different impression of their interests to the court, than they would give to a Jehovah’s Witness audience at a Circuit Assembly or Kingdom Hall. Therefore, you will need to be prepared to prove your case against the lifestyle of Jehovah’s Witnesses by providing documentation from official Watchtower literature to counter the deception that Watchtower trained layers and Jehovah’s Witnesses will undoubtedly portray of their lifestyle to the court.
Your goal in presenting the following documentation will be to demonstrate to the court that if your Jehovah’s Witness ex-spouse obtains full custody of your children, her Jehovah’s Witness beliefs and lifestyle would alienate your children from you and endanger the psychological, emotional, physical and social health of your children. Your argument would be that awarding full custody to the non-Jehovah’s Witness parent would be in the “best interest” of the children by providing a better opportunity for them to have a good relationship with both of their parents and a more balanced lifestyle that would maximize their social, educational, occupational and economic potentials. To this end, you will find the following quotes from official Watchtower material helpful.
(Click the article reference links below to view printable PDF copies of the following quotes.)
TWO WAYS THE JEHOVAH’S WITNESS LIFESTYLE ISOLATES CHILDREN FROM THE OUTSIDE WORLD AND HINDERS THEIR EMOTIONAL, PSYCHOLOGICAL, PHYSICAL, AND SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT:
The Jehovah’s Witness lifestyle builds fear of the world by claiming that everything about “life outside Jehovah’s organization” is under Satan’s control. Thus, Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that participation in the world’s politics, religion, entertainment, music, sports, and dancing could bring a person under Satan’s influence.
The Jehovah’s Witness lifestyle discourages children from associating with non-Jehovah’s Witness peers, participating in extra-curricular, after school activities, pursuing a four-year college degree and full-time career interests outside of the Watchtower religion. Thus, young adults who were raised as Jehovah’s Witnesses often have difficulty adjusting to society due to the discouragement they received against pursuing these opportunities to develop their social, educational and occupational skills in their youth.
ALL LIFE OUTSIDE JEHOVAH’S ORGANIZATION IS UNDER SATAN’S CONTROL.
“According to the Bible, Satan is the god of this system of things, so that, whether the nations are aware of it or not, they serve him. …It is organized the way Satan wants it—to keep mankind under his control. …The world subscribes to Satan’s unrighteous standards, thus making him its god. …It is the satanic ‘air’ breathed by the world today, the spirit, or general mental inclination, that characterizes his whole wicked system of things, the satanic thinking that permeates every aspect of life outside Jehovah’s organization. …Thus, Satan’s world will meet up with Jehovah’s righteous judgment.” —Revelation—It’s Grand Climax at Hand!, 1988, pp. 228, 234
THE WORLD’S SPORTS, MUSIC, DANCING, POLITICS, RELIGION, AND ENTERTAINMENT ARE UNDER SATAN’S INFLUENCE.
“Be alert, also, to other designs of Satan, Sports, music, and dancing, for example, have become a prominent part of his world’s entertainment. …Satan, however, has deceptively promoted the view that they pose no threat of harm… If religion and politics are part of Satan’s system, is it not foolish to believe that the entertainment promoted by the world is free of his influence?”—The Watchtower, August 1, 1986, p. 14
“The world’s music, movies, videos, and television are designed to appeal to young people. They propagate the corrupt teachings of demons! But should this be surprising? Think about it. If false religion and politics are part of Satan’s world—and they clearly are—does it make sense to believe that the entertainment promoted by the world is free of demon influence? You young people in particular need to be on guard not to ‘let the world around you squeeze you into its own mould.’ ” —The Watchtower, May 15, 1994, p. 18
JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES REJECT UNNECESSARY ASSOCIATION WITH NON-JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES AND PARTICIPATION IN EXTRA-CURRICULAR, AFTER SCHOOL ACTIVITIES:
“They hope their young ones will want to pursue careers, not as athletes, but as ministers of God. So Witness parents encourage their children to use after-school hours principally to pursue spiritual interests, rather than to excel in some sport. Participation in organized sports, we believe, would expose Witness youths to unwholesome associations. …So, if Witness youths feel the need for extra recreation, their parents encourage them to seek such recreation with fellow believers…” —School and Jehovah’s Witnesses, 1983, p. 23
“Some in the congregation may be inclined to invite worldly acquaintances and unbelieving relatives who have no interest in the truth to social gatherings… However, is this wise and in harmony with the Scriptures? …Why should we have unnecessary social contact with people who still pursue worldly ways and who have not become worshipers of Jehovah? …They fail to appreciate that attendance at social gatherings with worldly, unprincipled people can weaken their faith and corrupt them. …Everyone wanting to practice the truth should search out associates who are devoted to Jehovah and who will help him to walk in the truth and contribute to his progress in serving God.”—Our Kingdom Ministry, June 1989, pp. 1, 4
“What About After-School Activities? …Yes, it is not easy to maintain balance when it comes to extracurricular activities. …Think, too, of the moral dangers. Would you be associating with wholesome friends who will be a good moral influence? What would be the subject of conversation? Could the influence of teammates or members of a club have an adverse effect on you? …How about using your time to help others spiritually? Interestingly, some young ones among Jehovah’s Witnesses in Japan start to make the ministry their career while they are still in school.” —Awake!, December 8, 1986, pp. 16, 18
“While school counselors will hold out one kind of career, Christian parents can stress goals that will satisfy the child’s growing interest in serving Jehovah, such as pioneering, Bethel, and missionary service.” —The Watchtower, August 1, 1986, p. 29
“Parents, it is unlikely that your children will highly value spiritual matters unless you do. So hold forth the goals of pioneering and of missionary and Bethel service. Help them to appreciate that the ministry is a career with a future and that there is no real future in worldly careers.” —The Watchtower, August 15, 1987, p. 20
“What Career Will You Choose? …Should I go to a university and seek a career as a doctor, a lawyer, or a scientist? …Or, as a youth devoted to Jehovah God, should I choose the full-time ministry as my lifetime career, thus ‘remembering my Creator in the days of my youth’? …He quit college, got a part-time job, was baptized, and soon qualified to become a pioneer, a full-time preacher. Harry thus embarked on a new career. …The contagious pioneer spirit had rubbed off on the young ones. By the time they reached high school, practically all of them had set full-time service as their goal. …She and the other youths in the congregation never gave a serious second thought to anything else.” —The Watchtower, April 15, 1986, pp. 28, 30
“What Career Should I Choose? …The prime obligation for Christians today is to preach the Kingdom message. (Matthew 24:14) And youths who take seriously this obligation feel compelled to have as full a share in this work as possible—even if they are not naturally inclined toward preaching. …Instead of pursuing full-time secular jobs, thousands have chosen to serve as full-time evangelizers (pioneers). …Emily, who gave up a career as an executive secretary to become a pioneer, says: ‘…Yes, the full-time ministry is the most satisfying, exciting career imaginable!’ …Most pioneer ministers support themselves with part-time work. …Still, some ask, Would it not make sense for a youth first to obtain a university degree and perhaps pursue the ministry later? …Nevertheless, is a university degree always worth the huge commitment of time and money it demands? … ‘A [university] degree no longer guarantees success in the job market,’ says the U.S. Department of Labor. …Would a university education steer you toward or away from your spiritual goals? Remember, a high income is not a Christian priority. …How might being immersed in an atmosphere of intense competition and selfish materialism affect you? …The pressure to maintain high grades has caused some Christian youths to neglect spiritual activities and thus become vulnerable to the onslaught of secular thinking promoted by universities. …In view of these facts, many Christian youths have decided against a university education. …But often there are apprenticeship programs, vocational or technical schools, and short-term university courses that teach marketable skills with a minimum investment of time and money.” —Awake! May 8, 1989, pp. 12-14
“Perhaps you plan to enter the full-time ministry as a pioneer. Really, no career choice could bring greater satisfaction. …What about pursuing supplemental education away from home, perhaps living on a campus? Would that be wise in view of Paul’s warning that ‘bad associations spoil useful habits’?” —The Watchtower, September 1, 1999, pp. 16-17
THREE WAYS THE LIFESTYLE OF JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES ALIENATE CHILDREN FROM THEIR NON-JEHOVAH’S WITNESS PARENT:
- Jehovah’s Witness children are taught to avoid exposure to the religious beliefs of their non-Jehovah’s Witness parent and to believe that Jehovah God will kill their parent because he or she rejects the Watchtower religion.
- Jehovah’s Witnesses are told to hate, shun, and avoid all who “reject” the Watchtower organization. Thus, children raised as Jehovah’s Witnesses would be required to limit unnecessary communication with their non-Jehovah’s Witness parent who criticizes the teachings of the Watchtower.
- The Jehovah’s Witness parent who gains legal custody of his or her children is encouraged to psychologically alienate them from their non-Jehovah’s Witness parent by training them during visitations to reject the thoughts and actions of their non-Jehovah’s Witness parent.
The Watchtower teaches that all other religions, especially sects of Christianity (which they call “Christendom”) comprise the system of “Babylon the Great” which will be destroyed by Jehovah God in the future battle of “Armageddon.” It is taught that during this time, all “wicked” people (those who are not loyal Jehovah’s Witnesses) will die and only those who “come to Jehovah’s organization” will be “saved” to live forever in a paradise on the earth. Thus, the non-Jehovah’s Witness parent is viewed as a “wicked” person who will not survive Armageddon into the earthly Paradise. Providing the court with documentation from the following Watchtower articles will reinforce your claim that if your children are raised as Jehovah’s Witnesses, the doctrines that they would be taught would endanger the health of your relationship with them.
“One thing hard for many people today to understand is that there can be and there is only one true religion. Why do they rebel against such fact? It is because this would mean that all the other religions are false, and this would include their own religion. …in the midst of the world’s greatest tribulation, all false religions will be wiped out and only the one true religion will survive.” —The Watchtower, January 15, 1976, p. 47
“We recognize Babylon the Great as being all of false religion. She is ‘the mother of the harlots’ because all the individual false religions in the world, including the many sects of Christendom, are like her daughters, imitating her in committing spiritual harlotry.” …As the principal part of Babylon the Great, Christendom will become a lifeless ruin… The Christendom that once rejoiced …will find herself conquered and abandoned.” —Revelation—It’s Grand Climax at Hand!, 1988, pp. 244, 270
“WE ABHOR the reproach that Babylon the Great, and Christendom in particular, has cast upon the name of the only true and living God, Jehovah. …WE ABHOR Christendom’s adherence to Babylonish teachings. …WE ABHOR anti-God philosophies and practices, so common in Christendom. …WE ARE RESOLVED to move forward fearlessly in making known Jehovah’s declared judgments on Babylon the Great and in warning of the imminence of God’s war of Armageddon.” —The Watchtower, April 15, 1989, pp. 18-19
JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES MUST AVOID EXPOSURE TO OTHER RELIGIONS LIKE “POISON.”
“Some have exposed themselves to possible spiritual contamination by tuning in to religious radio and television broadcasts. …False religious propaganda from any source should be avoided like poison!” —The Watchtower, November 1, 1987, pp. 19-20
“But if the worshiper of God wishes to please Him, he will exercise caution and select wisely to avoid vocal and instrumental music that is inspired by false religious beliefs or that focuses on immorality and demonism.” —The Watchtower, June 1, 2000, p. 27
SALVATION IS ONLY FOUND IN THE WATCHTOWER RELIGION.
“And while now the witness yet includes the invitation to come to Jehovah’s organization for salvation, the time no doubt will come when the message takes on a harder tone, like a ‘great war cry.’ ”—The Watchtower, November 15, 1981, p. 21
“A third requirement is that we be associated with God’s channel, his organization. …To receive everlasting life in the earthly Paradise we must identify that organization and serve God as part of it. The fourth requirement is connected with loyalty. …Will you meet this requirement by telling others about God’s Kingdom?” —The Watchtower, February 15, 1983,
“The situation of God’s present-day servants will be like that in which Noah and his family found themselves during the Flood. Shut up inside the ark with the swirling waters of destruction around them, likely they were awestruck by this demonstration of divine power and must have prayed earnestly. … During the great tribulation, it will be just as imperative that we follow the leadings of the holy spirit and obey Jehovah’s instructions through his organization.” —The Watchtower, September 15, 1991, p. 17
ONLY “GOD’S PEOPLE” (JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES) WILL SURVIVE ARMAGEDDON.
“Before this earth can become a paradise, wicked people must be removed. …This will happen at Armageddon, which is God’s war to end wickedness. …This means that no wicked ones will be left to spoil the earth. Only God’s people will survive.” —What Does God Require of Us?, 1996, p. 10
“As to the people of our day, not all who are offered Jehovah’s life-giving water accept it. (Isaiah 6:10) At Armageddon, all of those who have chosen to remain in a spiritually lifeless and sick condition will be given to salt, that is, destroyed forever. (Revelation 19:11-21) However, those who have been faithfully drinking these waters can hope to survive and see the final fulfillment of this prophecy.” —The Watchtower, March 1, 1999, p. 21
“Any who hope to be ‘concealed in the day of Jehovah’s anger’ must ‘seek righteousness…’ and ‘practice Jehovah’s own judicial decision,’ rather than criticize it. …Any who hope to be considered by Jehovah’s appointed Judge as ‘sheep’ to be spared at the ‘great tribulation’ must prove themselves to be ‘righteous ones,’ actively aiding and supporting Christ’s anointed ‘brothers,’ who form the ‘faithful and discreet slave’ class. …The only ones to whom the Bible extends hope of surviving the ‘great tribulation’ are Christ’s ‘brothers,’…” —The Watchtower, April 1, 1982, pp. 30-31
JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES ARE TOLD TO HATE, SHUN, AND AVOID ALL WHO “REJECT” THE WATCHTOWER RELIGION.
If the non-Jehovah’s Witness parent at one time embraced the teachings of Jehovah’s Witnesses and was baptized but later officially left by either being “disfellowshipped” (kicked out) or “disassociated” (writing a letter to Watchtower leadership renouncing his or her association with the organization), all Jehovah’s Witnesses (including children) are required to “shun” the former Witness, calling him or her an “apostate” and limiting as much contact with the person as possible. Family ties and “normal family affections” may continue if the ex-Jehovah’s Witness lives within the home, but if he or she is outside the home, Jehovah’s Witnesses strive to have as little contact as possible. They are told to “hate” that person with “Godly hatred” and “avoid” them, even refusing to say a simple “hello” to that person if family matters do not require contact. Even if a non-Jehovah’s Witness parent never embraced the teachings of the Watchtower organization, but “rejects Jehovah’s organization” and expresses criticism and opposition to the beliefs or practices of Jehovah’s Witnesses, he or she will be “hated” and “avoided” like one would avoid “poison.” You can use the following quotes from Watchtower literature to demonstrate to the court how the Jehovah’s Witness shunning policies would psychologically alienate your children as they would be required to view you as “poison” to their spirituality!
THE WATCHTOWER POLICY ON EXERCISING “GODLY HATRED” FOR THOSE WHO REJECT THE ORGANIZATION:
“More than that, we want to hate those who willfully show themselves haters of Jehovah, haters of what is good. …We hate them, not in the sense of wanting to do them harm or wishing them harm but in the sense of avoiding them as we would poison or a poisonous snake, for they can poison us spiritually.” —The Watchtower, June 15, 1980, p. 8
“Godly hate is a powerful protection against wrongdoing… Are we doing that? …Apostates are included among those who show their hatred of Jehovah by revolting against him. Apostasy is, in reality, a rebellion against Jehovah. …Others claim to believe the Bible, but they reject Jehovah’s organization and actively try to hinder its work. …a Christian must hate (in the Biblical sense of the word) those who have inseparably attached themselves to the badness.” —The Watchtower, October 1, 1993, p. 19
THE WATCHTOWER POLICY ON SHUNNING:
“Her parents had been disfellowshipped. She was not, but she voluntarily disassociated herself by writing a letter withdrawing from the congregation. …She moved away, but years later she returned and found that local Witnesses would not converse with her. …Such shunning would be appropriate, too, for anyone who rejects the congregation. …By also avoiding persons who have deliberately disassociated themselves, Christians are protected from possible critical, unappreciative, or even apostate views. …Imagine, too, how the wrongdoer’s brothers, sisters, and grandparents felt. Yet, their putting loyalty to their righteous God before family affection could be lifesaving for them. …Thus, a man who is disfellowshipped or who disassociates himself may still live at home with his Christian wife and faithful children. Respect for God’s judgments and the congregation’s action will move the wife and children to recognize that by his course, he altered the spiritual bond that existed between them. Yet since his being disfellowshipped does not end their blood ties or marriage relationship, normal family affections and dealings can continue. The situation is different if the disfellowshipped or disassociated one is a relative living outside the immediate family circle and home. It might be possible to have almost no contact at all with the relative. Even if there were some family matters requiring contact, this certainly would be kept to a minimum, in line with the divine principle: ‘Quit mixing in company …not even eating with such a man.’ ” —The Watchtower, April 15, 1988, pp. 26-28
“In the case of where a father or mother or son or daughter is disfellowshipped, how should such person be treated by members of the family in their family relationship? …God’s law does not allow a marriage partner to dismiss his mate because his mate becomes disfellowshiped or apostatizes. …A father may not legally dismiss his minor child from his household because of apostasy or disfellowshiping, and a minor child or children may not abandon their father or their mother just because he becomes unfaithful to God and his theocratic organization. …Of course, if the children are of age, then there can be a departing and breaking of family ties in a physical way, because the spiritual ties have already snapped. If children are of age and continue to associate with a disfellowshiped parent… Then they must consider how far their spiritual interests are being endangered by continuing under this unequal arrangement… Satan’s influence through the disfellowshiped member of the family will be to cause the other member or members of the family who are in the truth to join the disfellowshiped member in his course or in his position toward God’s organization. To do this would be disastrous, and so the faithful family member must recognize and conform to the disfellowship order. How would or could this be done while living under the same roof or in personal, physical contact daily with the disfellowshiped? In this way: By refusing to have religious relationship with the disfellowshiped. …But to have religious communion with the disfellowshiped person—no, there would be none of that! The faithful marriage partner would not discuss religion with the apostate or disfellowshiped and would not accompany that one to his (or her) place of religious association and participate in the meetings with that one. …Hurt to such one would not be authorized, but there would be no spiritual or religious fellowshiping. The same rule would apply to those who are in the relation of parent and child or of child and parent.”—The Watchtower, November 15, 1952, pp. 703-704
“Yes, when a person chooses to leave Jehovah and the way of life set out in the Scriptures, faithful family members typically experience deep anguish. ‘I love my sister very much…I would do anything to see her come back to Jehovah!’ Maria, whose brother turned his back… says: ‘… I especially miss him at large family gatherings.’ ” —The Watchtower, September 1, 2006, p. 17
“This brings a test upon a Christian when a marriage mate, a child, a parent, or another close relative is disfellowshipped or has disassociated himself from the congregation… the principles of which apply equally to those who are disfellowshipped and to those who disassociate themselves… Hence, we also avoid social fellowship with an expelled person. This would rule out joining him in a picnic, party, or trip to the shops or theatre or sitting down to a meal with him either in the home or at a restaurant. …Relatives Not in the Household: ‘The situation is different if the disfellowshipped or disassociated one is a relative living outside the immediate family circle and home,’ states The Watchtower of April 15, 1988, page 28. ‘It might be possible to have almost no contact at all with the relative. Even if there were some family matters requiring contact, this certainly would be kept to a minimum…’ ” —Our Kingdom Ministry, August 2002, pp. 3-4
“And we all know from our experience over the years that a simple ‘Hello’ to someone can be the first step that develops into a conversation and maybe even a friendship. Would we want to take that first step with a disfellowshipped person?” —The Watchtower, September 15, 1981, p. 25
THE WATCHTOWER POLICY ON READING LETTERS FROM “APOSTATES”:
“For example, what will you do if you receive a letter or some literature, open it, and see right away that it is from an apostate? Will curiosity cause you to read it, just to see what he has to say? … If, out of curiosity, we were to read the literature of a known apostate, would that not be the same as inviting this enemy of true worship right into our home to sit down with us and relate his apostate ideas? …Well, if we would act so decisively to protect our children from exposure to pornography, should we not expect that our loving heavenly Father would similarly warn us and protect us from spiritual fornication, including apostasy? He says, Keep away from it!” —The Watchtower, March 15, 1986, pp. 12-13
THE JEHOVAH’S WITNESS PARENT IS TOLD TO PSYCHOLOGICALLY ALIENATE CHILDREN FROM THEIR NON-JEHOVAH’S WITNESS PARENT.
In an article entitled, “Family Problems Solved by Bible Counsel,” The Watchtower of November 1, 1986 lays out guidelines to train a Jehovah’s Witness parent how to “prepare” his or her children to reject the beliefs and practices of the non-Jehovah’s Witness parent during visitations. It states that the “basic reason” that Jehovah’s Witness ex-spouses fight for custody of their children is to indoctrinate them into the beliefs and lifestyle of the Jehovah’s Witnesses religion. 3. An example of how this indoctrination leads to alienation of the non-Jehovah’s Witness parent can be seen on page 28 of the article where it states:
“What, though, if the unbeliever tries to undermine godly training? Preparation for the visits is the key! One Christian mother whose ex-husband became an apostate reported: ‘Before the visit, I would study with the children about how their conduct would be regarded by Jehovah. We would act out situations. I would say: ‘If your father says this or that, how will you answer?’ ”
Then, after providing several examples of how visitation and custody rights can be used to indoctrinate children, the article goes on to admit:
Thus, this article along with the others quoted in the previous sections above provide valuable evidence that you can present to the court on why granting custody of your children to your Jehovah’s Witness ex-spouse would seriously endanger your relationship with your children through this policy of psychologically alienating them from listening to your thoughts, beliefs, and actions.
FOR INFORMATION ON THE BIBLE’S VIEW OF SHUNNING SEE:
TWO WAYS THE MENTAL AND PHYSICAL HEALTH OF JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES IS ENDANGERED BY THIS LIFESTYLE:
- Jehovah’s Witnesses are not permitted to think for themselves by reaching conclusions on doctrines or practices contrary to those dictated by the Watchtower Society. All Jehovah’s Witnesses know that voicing any disagreement would bring sharp criticism from Watchtower leadership and endanger their status within the organization. Thus, any Jehovah’s Witness ex-spouse who gains custody of his or her children must support all of the practices of the Watchtower lifestyle in raising his or her children as Jehovah’s Witnesses.
- Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that it is better to let their children die by refusing a blood transfusion than to sustain their lives by disobeying what they believe is “God’s law on blood.” Since children raised as Jehovah’s Witnesses are taught that taking a blood transfusion would cause them to loose their chance of future resurrection and eternal life, they are trained to fight and refuse blood transfusions to death, even if these transfusions are ordered by a court of law.
THEY MUST AVOID “INDEPENDENT THINKING” AND “DOUBTS” AND VIEW THESE AS TACTICS OF SATAN.
The Watchtower demands unquestioning submission to its teachings and practices by claiming that “independent thinking” and “doubts” about its policies are evidence of “pride” and “wrong thinking” promoted by Satan, the Devil, and condemned by Jehovah God. They must not allow any “tinge of doubt… to linger” in their hearts.
“Avoid Independent Thinking …Satan called into question God’s way of doing things. He promoted independent thinking. …How is such independent thinking manifested? A common way is by questioning the counsel that is provided by God’s visible organization. …Fight Against Independent Thinking …Yet there are some who point out that the organization has had to make adjustments before, and so they argue: ‘This shows that we have to make up our own mind on what to believe.’ This is independent thinking. Why is it so dangerous? Such thinking is an evidence of pride. …If we get to thinking that we know better than the organization, we should ask ourselves: ‘Where did we learn Bible truth in the first place? Would we know the way of the truth if it had not been for guidance from the organization? Really, can we get along without the direction of God’s organization?’ No we cannot!” —The Watchtower, January 15, 1983, pp. 22, 27
“So important is it never to raise the voice in bitter criticism of the Lord’s organization or its appointed representatives. …Those who despise Jehovah’s teaching include individuals who criticize and complain about Jehovah’s clean organization and its rules for maintaining peace and good order. …They would allow each one to be guided by his own private reading and interpretation of the Bible instead of being brought into a unity of people trained to live and act according to the lofty principles and reminders of God’s Word.” —The Watchtower, May 15, 1984, pp. 17-18
“Another sly tactic of the Devil is the sowing of doubts in the mind. …If some tinge of doubt about Jehovah, his Word, or his organization has begun to linger in your heart, take quick steps to eliminate it before it festers into something that could destroy your faith. …Then, do not hesitate to ask for help from loving overseers in the congregation. …They will help you trace the source of your doubts, which may be due to pride or some wrong thinking. Has the reading or listening to apostate ideas or worldly philosophy introduced poisonous doubts? …Cut off anything that feeds such doubts.—Mark 9:43 Stick closely to Jehovah and his organization.” —The Watchtower, February 1, 1996, pp. 23-24
Jehovah’s Witnesses refuse blood transfusions on the basis of the Watchtower’s misinterpretation of Genesis 9:3-4, Leviticus 17:13-14, and Acts 15:28-29. While these passages prohibit the eating of blood, they say nothing against organ transplants of which blood, an organ of the body, functions when it replaces the blood lost through transfusion into the veins. 4. Jehovah’s Witnesses allow all other organ transplants, yet they ban blood transfusions. This inconsistency in their position is hard to reconcile given the clear fact that the Bible says nothing against the transfusion of blood into the veins. Yet, regardless of strong medical evidence that demonstrates that blood does not get metabolized (eaten) by the body when transfused, Jehovah’s Witnesses maintain that blood transfusions fall under the same condemnation that eating blood does in the Scriptures.
Furthermore, they claim that anyone who unrepentantly accepts a blood transfusion does so at the peril of loosing eternal life. Thus, faithful Jehovah’s Witnesses accept death, rather than break the Watchtower’s policy against blood transfusions. While a Jehovah’s Witness may tell the court that his or her refusal to accept a blood transfusion is based upon his or her “own research” on the subject, he or she knows that the penalty for rejecting the blood policy of the Watchtower Society would lead to expulsion from the organization (i.e., disfellowshipping). Therefore, fundamentally the Witness’ decision to reject blood is based upon whether he or she desires to remain one of Jehovah’s Witnesses—not whether the blood position of the Watchtower Society is logical and consistent with the Scriptures.
“Yes, even in centuries past, people saw that God’s law ruled out both the taking of blood into the veins and the taking of it through the mouth. Realizing this may help people today to understand the position that Jehovah’s Witnesses take, one that accords with God’s stand. While highly valuing life and appreciating medical care, true Christians respect life as a gift from the Creator, so they do not try to sustain life by taking in blood.” —The Watchtower, June 15, 1991, p. 10
“In view of the seriousness of taking blood into the human system by a transfusion, would violation of the Holy Scriptures in this regard subject the dedicated, baptized receiver of blood transfusion to being disfellowshiped from the Christian congregation? The inspired Holy Scriptures answer yes. …the receiver of a blood transfusion must be cut off from God’s people by excommunication or disfellowshiping. If the taking of a blood transfusion is the first offense of a dedicated, baptized Christian due to his immaturity or lack of Christian stability and he sees the error of his action and grieves and repents over it and begs divine forgiveness and forgiveness of God’s congregation on earth, then mercy should be extended to him and he need not be disfellowshiped. He needs to be put under surveillance and to be instructed thoroughly according to the Scriptures upon this subject, and thereby be helped to acquire strength to make decisions according to the Christian standard in any future cases. If, however, he refuses to acknowledge his nonconformity to the required Christian standard…he must be cut off there from by disfellowshipping.” —The Watchtower, January 15, 1961, pp. 63-64
“What would happen, they wondered, if a Witness wavered and accepted a blood transfusion? Would he be ostracized by the Witness community? The response would depend on the actual situation, for disobeying God’s law certainly is a serious matter, something for the congregation’s elders to examine. …Doubtless such a Witness would feel very bad and be concerned about his relationship with God. Such a person may need help and understanding. …The clear Biblical command leaves no room for compromise. (Acts 15:28, 29) Violating such a divine law would be as unacceptable to a Witness as condoning idolatry or fornication.” —The Watchtower, February 15, 1997, p. 20
THE WATCHTOWER PROMOTES MISINFORMATION ABOUT THE RISKS OF TRANSFUSION AND THE ALLEGED SUCCESS OF ALTERNATIVE THERAPY.
While any medical procedure involves risk, Jehovah’s Witnesses are often led to believe that the risks of contracting serious diseases or dying from a transfusion are far greater than dying from the less-reliable use of non-blood alternative therapy. However, as the following quote from the September 1999 Consumer Reports article states, the risks of contracting diseases from blood transfusions are significantly less than they used to be:
As the chart shows, the likelihood of infection from a two-unit blood transfusion is substantially less than the chance of being murdered or of being killed in an auto accident during the year… That change reflects an impressive improvement in the blood supply. In 1983 the AIDS virus was present in as many as 1 out of 100 units of blood. Today the odds are an estimated 1 in 676,000. Hepatitis C contamination has fallen from a similarly high prevalence to about 1 in 103,000 units… Transfusions save nearly 10,000 lives a day…” —Consumer Reports, September 1999, pp. 61-63
Although, blood transfusions are much safer today than they were 30 years ago, Jehovah’s Witnesses continue to promote the use of alternative therapy over blood transfusion in all cases. One of the most common no blood therapies advocated is the use of plasma volume expanders. While these may help in the case of severe blood loss where volume is an issue, these expanders do not carry oxygen and no alternative therapies exist that can replace the needed oxygen carrying cells lost in cases involving serious blood loss where low blood count and low hematocrit readings threaten a victim’s life. In these cases, nothing but a blood transfusion can preserve a life. Yet, Jehovah’s Witnesses are misled to believe that alternative therapies solve all problems as the following Watchtower articles illustrate:
“People often question the refusal of Jehovah’s witnesses to accept blood transfusions. During the questioning, a student raised hypothetical emergency situations in an effort to bypass the Scriptural prohibition mentioned in Acts 15:20, 29.
Student: ‘Well, suppose somebody was just coming to the hospital. They’ve got a few seconds to live. The only possible way out is a blood transfusion. Well, what’s your answer to that? I mean, that’s murder if you don’t let them accept that.’
Witness: ‘That situation doesn’t exist. Wherever there are cases where a person … let’s say comes in off the highway here … and there is extreme loss of blood. Every emergency room, in every hospital, has a plasma volume expander which can …’
Student: ‘Plasma doesn’t replace blood, though.’
Witness: ‘The need there is to keep the volume up in the system. It’s not the blood so much that’s needed then, but the volume that must be replaced. These expanders will do it. They are used in emergency situations; they are recommended by Civil Defense organizations when blood is not available. Obviously it works—it has worked on thousands of Jehovah’s witnesses.’ ” —Awake!, February 22, 1976, p. 15
“Most who refuse blood, for religious and/or medical reasons, yet accept alternative therapy do very well medically. They may thus extend their life for many years…” —The Watchtower, June 15, 1991, p. 12
COURT ORDERED TRANSFUSIONS ARE REJECTED BY PARENTS AND CHILDREN.
It is not uncommon for a Jehovah’s Witness parent to try to convince the court that if he or she is granted custody of the children and they need a transfusion, he or she would allow the non-Jehovah’s Witness parent to authorize a transfusion. However, even if this were the case, this is no assurance that the minor children who have been brainwashed by the Watchtower Society to “fight” a court ordered transfusion with “all the strength” they could gather would accept the non-Jehovah’s Witness parent’s authorization of something they believe would cause them to loose eternal life. Many such cases of young minors fighting court ordered transfusions are hailed in Watchtower articles as heroes of the faith, along with articles instructing Jehovah’s Witness parents to train their children how to defend their position against judges, courts, doctors and nurses who would seek to force blood transfusions upon them. Likewise, the November 22, 1970 issue of the Awake! featured an article in which a parent who forcibly removed her newborn baby girl from a hospital to prevent a blood transfusion was “vindicated” and presented as a courageous mother who honored Jehovah God.
“A doctor was getting ready to force a blood transfusion on a newborn baby girl. The mother, Mrs. Lynn DeWaal, one of Jehovah’s witnesses, pleaded with the physician to use the alternate, safe, light treatment, phototherapy. He angrily refused. Courageously the mother with the help of her family took the baby out of the hospital, though two doctors tried by force to detain them. … In an interview with The Telegram on April 3, he recounted another case… ‘…Before the doctor gave a transfusion its parents came to Kingston Hospital and took the child. Toronto doctors decided to abide by the wishes of the parents against a transfusion and ironically,’ said Dr. Delahaye, ‘the child survived.’ Ironically, so did the DeWaal baby. Ironically, so has every other infant of Jehovah’s witnesses that has been removed from a hospital to avoid exchange transfusion. Not so ironically, six children of Jehovah’s witnesses in Canada have been taken from their parents, given forced blood transfusions and brought back dead. …Eunice Devina has been protected by a parent who felt obliged to disagree with a doctor. By her normal development, vigorous growth and contentment her mother’s decision has been vindicated.” —Awake!, November 22, 1970, pp. 12, 15
“How strenuously should a Christian resist a blood transfusion that has been ordered or authorized by a court? … If a Christian is asked to submit to something that would be a violation of God’s higher law, the divine law comes first; it takes precedence. …The highest law of the universe—God’s law—requires that Christians abstain from blood… God’s law must be obeyed!” —The Watchtower, June 15, 1991, p. 31
“In some places a so-called mature minor is granted rights similar to those of adults. Based on age or mature thinking, or both, a youth may be viewed as mature enough to make his own decisions on medical treatment. Even where this is not the law, judges or officials may give much weight to the wishes of a youth who is able to express clearly his firm decision about blood. Conversely, when a youth cannot explain his beliefs clearly and maturely, a court might feel it has to decide what seems best, as it might for a baby. …A 12-year-old girl was being treated for leukemia. A child-welfare agency took the matter to court so that blood could be forced on her. The judge concluded: ‘L. has told this court clearly and in a matter-of-fact way that, if an attempt is made to transfuse her with blood, she will fight that transfusion with all of the strength that she can muster. She has said, and I believe her, that she will scream and struggle and that she will pull the injecting device out of her arm and will attempt to destroy the blood in the bag over her bed. I refuse to make any order which would put this child through that ordeal…’ …instructing our children in God’s perfect law on blood does not primarily mean trying to instill fear of blood. …the fundamental reason why Christians object to transfusions is not that the blood is polluted but that it is precious to our God and Life-Giver. Our children should know that, as well as that the possible medical hazards of blood give added weight to our religious position. If you have children, are you sure that they agree with and can explain the Bible-based stand on transfusions? Do they truly believe this stand to be God’s will? Are they convinced that to violate God’s law would be so serious that it could put at risk a Christian’s prospect for everlasting life? Wise parents will review these matters with their children, whether they be very young or almost adults. Parents may hold practice sessions in which each youth faces questions that might be posed by a judge or a hospital official.” —The Watchtower, June 15, 1991, pp. 16-18
Just as the Watchtower articles quoted above explain, the May 22, 1994 issue of the Awake! features 12 pages documenting the stories of Jehovah’s Witness “Youths Who Put God First” by refusing blood transfusions, even fighting doctors, nurses and court orders for the right to die for their religious beliefs. Thus, a Jehovah’s Witness ex-spouse who attempts to persuade a court to grant custody with the idea that they would allow a transfusion or allow the non-Jehovah’s Witness parent to make the decision regarding the transfusion, completely disregards the Watchtower’s strict policy on this issue and the programming that the children would receive if they are raised in the Jehovah’s Witness religion.
FOR MORE INFORMATION ON JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES AND BLOOD TRANSFUSIONS SEE:
THE USE OF CORPORAL PUNISHMENT ON JEHOVAH’S WITNESS CHILDREN:
Sometimes there are cases where physical child abuse from a Jehovah’s Witness ex-spouse is suspected. While the use of the “rod” in spanking is endorsed by the Watchtower Society, they do not advocate angry whippings or severe beatings that accompany child abuse. 5.
RESOURCES TO HELP
Custody battles are often time-consuming and financially expensive to fight, but when you consider the cost of paying child support, fighting over visitation, and facing emotional and psychological alienation from your children, it can be far costly to resign custody to your Jehovah’s Witness ex-spouse. Since most lawyers lack the knowledge and expertise to adequately defend non-Jehovah’s Witness clients against the deceit of Watchtower trained lawyers in the courtroom, the majority of responsibility to provide strong evidence for your case falls upon you — the non-Jehovah’s Witness parent.
Two factors put you at a disadvantage with the courts: 1) The general tendency of the courts to favor religious upbringing for children and 2) their tendency to discount the existence of thought reform and mind control tactics employed by certain cult-like religions, such as the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Make sure that you have your photocopied documentation of the quotes provided in this article accessible during your case, and keep your focus on the lifestyle concerns related to the Jehovah’s Witness environment and the strong tendency of this religion to foster alienation between the non-Jehovah’s Witness parent and his or her children so that you are not drawn into a dispute over religious doctrine which cannot be litigated and would not be tolerated by the court.
Courts require documented evidence, affidavits, and neutral parties (i.e., eye witnesses) to support a case. These can be difficult to obtain. However, there is one expert that we recommend. His name is Duane Magnani. He is a former Jehovah’s Witness who has over 20 years of experience in advising non-Jehovah’s Witness parents involved in custody disputes with their Jehovah’s Witness ex-spouses. He is the most knowledgeable person in handling these types of cases and often when his name appears on court documents, Watchtower lawyers counsel their Jehovah’s Witness clients to settle out of court, rather than face him in their legal battles.
Whether or not you choose to use his services, we highly recommend that you obtain a copy of his custody manual entitled, Refutation of Preparing for Child Custody Cases. This manual provides a point-by-point analysis of the Watchtower custody manual, Preparing for Child Custody Cases, and contains powerful documentation that you will need to counter their strategies during your suit. You can contact Duane Magnani and order his materials through the following website link:
JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES AND CHILD CUSTODY – EXPERT CONSULTANTS
Another source for help in litigating child custody cases involving Jehovah’s Witnesses is an organization called, JW Child Custody. They have been involved in assisting the non-Jehovah’s Witness spouse in child custody cases internationally since 2001. You can contact them through their website at: www.jwchildcustody.com. Also, you can visit The Attorney’s Forum here to obtain free legal advice.
Finally, considering the nature of the belief system that your children will be exposed to through the influence of your ex-spouse, it would be wise for you to provide a healthy religious alternative for your children to counteract the suppressive belief system of the Watchtower. We recommend that you find a Christian church with a balanced Biblical worldview, where fear and guilt tactics are not used to manipulate or control the beliefs and practices of its members. A healthy religious alternative would also include Sunday School classes and fun activities for children that will help them form strong friendships with God-honoring, moral peers. These peers would contribute positively to their social development and help counteract the conditional love and performance-based approval that they will be experiencing in the Jehovah’s Witness religion. Although your ex-spouse will seek to influence your children in the Jehovah’s Witness way of life, if they are given the freedom to experience a healthy religious alternative, free from oppression and psychological coercion, there is a good chance they will chose the healthier, more balanced non-Jehovah’s Witness lifestyle as adults and have healthy relationships with both of their parents.
1. See the 2008 publication, Keep Yourselves in the Love of God, p. 221: “Absolute endangerment of spiritual life. A spouse may constantly try to make it impossible for the mate to pursue true worship or may even try to force that mate to break God’s commands in some way. In such a case, the threatened mate would have to decide whether the only way to ‘obey God as ruler rather than men’ is to obtain a legal separation.—Acts 5:29.”