Spain

Jehovah's Witnesses, from the inside: "People commit suicide, but they keep it all very hidden"

Category
Personal Stories
Country
Spain
Date
Source
Copyright 2023 CE Noticias Financieras All Rights Reserved
Citation
(December 30, 2023 Saturday). Jehovah's Witnesses, from the inside: "People commit suicide, but they keep it all very hidden".. CE Noticias Financieras English. https://advance.lexis.com/api/document?collection=news&id=urn:contentItem:6B0M-N7N1-JCG7-83RV-00000-00&context=1516831.

"I was with the Jehovah's Witnesses from the time I was born until I was 45 years old. I left twenty years ago," says Enrique Carmona, secretary of the Spanish Association of Victims of Jehovah's Witnesses (AEVTJ). "I was a normal child, I married a girl who was a Witness, raised a family and had two daughters, but when I was about 30 years old I was told that new rules had come in and that I had to stop talking to my father because - when I was 6 years old - he was expelled."


He rebelled at that directive, and - from that moment on - he started having problems. "As a father he behaved well, normally, he instilled in us to study and to be good people," he assures. "I had no problems with my father, nor my father with me. But they wanted to force me to break off all relations with him and not to take my daughters to see him. I was in the habit of doing that. Every 15 days, we would go to eat at his house and enjoy being with the family".
So Enrique tried to get around this prohibition by telling "the elders" (a figure similar to that of the pastors or priests) that it did not have to be like that, that there was no problem between them and that "if he had problems with God, he should settle it with God". This argument served to placate the council members, but "that message did not resonate with my wife". "She believed that you had to obey the orders of the governing body, which is what they call the big directors of the New York headquarters.
Ultimately, he got the elders to accept that he had a relationship with his father. But his stance caused a rift with his wife."The marriage became complicated, very, very complicated. And it was better to give up. I was angry all day and decided to divorce," he explains during the interview for Libertad Digital. "The lawsuit dragged on", mainly because they did not reach an economic agreement. They did not have the papers until five years after Enrique left the family home.
Until then, since he had not resigned and had not been kicked out, he was still part of the Jehovah's Witnesses. "But I didn't want to belong to that congregation and one day I decided to fix my situation. I went to the elders and asked them to expel me," he says. She didn't imagine then that "what they didn't get with me, that I would stop talking to my father, they got with my eldest daughter. I have hardly had any relationship with her for 15 years," she says.

A secret rule
This was precisely what prompted him to make known what was going on within this religious denomination, legally recognized by the Spanish state since 1971 and recently accepted as a "dangerous sect" in a court ruling. "That caused me a depression and over time I realized that society in general did not know those rules that they have, rules written in a book that is secret for the Jehovah's Witnesses themselves."
"Incredible as it may seem, Jehovah's Witnesses don't know the rules that they are governed by when they make a (judicial) committee. Only those who hold the position of elder within the congregation, which is like a kind of priest or pastor, have it," explains Enrique Carmona. "That's why I decided, along with other friends who were in similar situations, to set up an association in 2019."
That is the year in which the Jehovah's Witnesses Victims Association was born. "We made our statutes, which were much discussed but consensual, as happened with the name." Some thought that using the term victims to designate its members might be too aggressive. But time has proven that this is precisely what they are. This was determined by a recent judgment acquitting the organization, which was sued by the congregation.
What they couldn't get me to stop talking to my father, they got with my eldest daughter. I have hardly had any relationship with her for 15 years

Victims of a cult
The head of the Court of First Instance number 6 of Torrejón de Ardoz, Raquel Chacón, points out as "truthful" the accusations that support the denomination of"destructive sect" on the part of its "victims". And she does so not only taking into account the testimonies provided by the defendant association -formed by former followers-, but also the information published in the press and the studies carried out by experts in the field even before this organization was formed.
In her argumentation, the magistrate refers to the"excessive control" over their followers, the "insistence" on "knowing details" of their personal "relationships", the "supervision" of their private lives and the claim that they should distance themselves from "people who do not share their faith", which is a tool of"isolation and social segregation". The ex-witnesses are "victims" of the congregation as "recipients of harm" and their statements are protected by freedom of expression "even when it may disturb people of that confession".
"We are faced with legitimate criticism of certain generalized behaviors carried out by the Jehovah's Witnesses religious denomination," Chacon points out. "All the declarants proposed by the Association considered themselves victims, and have been accredited, at least as truthful, practices that in a generalized way are carried out and generate a lot of pain, and mentally destabilize the people to whom it is addressed, such as expulsion and all that it entails."
The deep understanding of what being a Jehovah's Witness entails is only achieved by being on the inside, and especially when you want to get out. People commit suicide Former followers and suicides
"The judge has studied the case masterfully," Enrique reflects, "she has given a sentence based on the human reality of the people who testified." As he tells us, there were five marathon sessions of seven hours each. Twelve witnesses on each side testified, and the association also presented another 70 written testimonies . "After the deadline we were still receiving testimonies, we could have provided more than 150".
In any case, for Chacón it was enough with the cases of which he was aware. "The same judge determined in that sentence that their behavior is typical of a sect and that they also have elements of destruction, because of what they do -for example- with families", as Enrique Carmona points out. And more and more people share this opinion. Since the aforementioned court ruling was made public, the association's membership has not stopped growing. In the first days, at the rate of 25/30 new members per day.
"The deep understanding of what it means to be a Jehovah's Witness is only achieved by being inside, and especially when you want to leave," he says. Those who remain in the congregation are forbidden to have contact with those expelled. Families and lifelong friendships are broken. Parents and children stop talking to each other, grandparents do not see their grandchildren, neighbors do not greet each other.... The anger towards those who leave becomes unbearable and many choose not to go on living. "As it is, people commit suicide. But they keep it all very hidden".

Add new comment

Restricted HTML

  • Allowed HTML tags: <a href hreflang> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote cite> <code> <ul type> <ol start type> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd> <h2 id> <h3 id> <h4 id> <h5 id> <h6 id>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Web page addresses and email addresses turn into links automatically.