Have You Been a Victim of a Hate Crime?
By Craig Perry Mason Stevens
“Have you yourself been a victim of a hate/bias crime or incident? Have you perhaps observed a hate/bias incident, or heard about one from someone else? If so, please share your experience with the class, including the events surrounding the confrontation and the feelings you experienced while it was occurring or you were hearing about it.”
That was a question that Craig was asked as part of a class project. What follows is his submission. I am pleased, with Craig’s permission, to share it with the readers of Watchtower Documents.
I was in a mind controlling cult for almost 16 years. One of the many criteria cults use is to label any who leave with a racist stereotype. Before going further, it may be best we all have an equal understanding of what racism actually is: “Racism: total rejection of others by reason of race, color, or, sometimes more broadly, culture” (Shusta & Levine, 2010, p. 522, par 7).
The members of the cult, many of them considered family and friends, totally rejected me simply because I did not agree in how I viewed the top hierarchical leadership, who were using logical fallacies and other deceptive propagandist tactics, and decided to no longer attend meetings or recruit new followers. Because cults are a culture in their own right, although small in comparison to cultures as we commonly understand them, I have been rejected because I chose not to be a member of the cult anymore. For that I have been labeled “apostate,” “mentally diseased,” and other derogatory connotations: “Suppose that a doctor told you to avoid contact with someone who is infected with a contagious, deadly disease. 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” (Watchtower, 7/15/11, p. 16, par. 1).
Wherever I encounter Jehovah’s Witnesses, whether it is in public, at my home, on the internet, or in class, once they learn of my status, having once been but now no longer, the word “apostate” is used. It is comparable to being called a racial slur. That is how it feels. It is no different. As a matter of fact, right after I was announced to the congregation I belonged to that consists of 120 members as “no longer,” a talk was given to the members equating resignation with their definition of apostasy, which is not nice. From that day forward I have been rejected by every man, woman, and child I once knew. It was like being on the Titanic when it sank, but being the only survivor. I had nightmares afterward, knowing how it works every time, without exception, after seeing it done to others before me. My worst fear came true; I had become “a mentally diseased apostate.”
Initially, the labels I was targeted with hurt badly. It is a painful thing to be called derogatory names when I technically did nothing wrong, especially when called names by people for which I care. I simply spoke my beliefs and was ostracized as an “unrepentant wrongdoer,” their words. I am supposedly a wrongdoer for chewing my leg off an escaping what I realized was a bad situation that kept all of us trapped out of fear – fear of being labeled negatively, for one thing.
To force someone to choose between their way of worship and one’s family and friends is wrong. It is destructive and divisive. Ironically, the Watchtower Society makes the same claims but then enforces something entirely different: “No one should be forced to worship in a way that he finds unacceptable or be made to choose between his beliefs and his family” (Awake!, 7/2009, p. 29, par. 3). New recruits, often intellectuals, do not realize they are soon to be manipulated with typical cult bait and switch tactics when they are initially indoctrinated, but will face total rejection if they ever voluntarily leave, forcing them to remain in the cult indefinitely.
Jehovah’s Witnesses members predominantly suffer from maximum “group effect” and “outgroup homogeneity bias.” These are conditions that make individuals think in biased terms, such as, thinking everyone of a certain race, culture, or genre outside a group, the outgroup, are a specific way or behavior and that everyone in the ingroup are another way or behavior (Baumeister & Bushman, 2014, p. 467, par. 3). An example could be when cult members think those outside their group are worldly, and under the effects of Satan’s system; while, the members of the cult are chaste, good people. The fact is, there could be child molesters lurking in such groups but group effect and outgroup homogeneity bias distort reality in the minds of the members, causing them to have some very irrational, jaundiced, and often dangerous views.
Some may not consider this sort of activity displayed by Jehovah’s Witnesses as hateful, simply because such abusive behavior lacks violence; however, it should be noted that hate crimes are not always violent. Jehovah’s Witnesses have just not been recognized in the United States or rest of the world as a hate group – yet. Their day will come when the majority of others, like myself, will realize what those who have been victimized by such abuses realize: the Watchtower Society is a home wrecking, mind controlling, hate mongering, and destructive cult; and, it should be decommissioned.
December 3, 2014
- Awake! (2009). “The Bible’s viewpoint: Is it wrong to change your religion?” New York: Watchtower Bible & Tract Society
- Baumeister, R.F., & Bushman, B.J. (2014). Social psychology and human nature (3rd ed). Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.
- Shusta, R. M. & Levine, D.R., (2010). Multicultural law enforcement: Strategies for peacekeeping in a diverse society. 5th edition. New Jersey: Pearson.
- Watchtower. (2011). “Will you heed Jehovah’s clear warnings?” New York: Watchtower Bible & Tract Society