The Watchtower Society utilises manipulative techniques and environment to recruit and maintain their membership.
Members are encouraged to spend time away from secular (worldly) activities, such as higher education and unnecessary extra employment, so as to spend more time pursuing ‘kingdom’ activities (Groenveld, n.d.). The JW’s are encouraged to fellowship with other JWs and to abstain as much as possible from ‘worldly’ relationships (Sherrill, n.d.; Pay Attention to Yourselves and the Flock [PAYF], 1991:22). Interaction with the world is only through business and witnessing. In proselytising they are often verbally abused and further alienated from outside contacts.
In the WT doctrine takes precedence over people. For over thirty years JW’s were not allowed, on the threat of expulsion from the organisation and rejection of God, to receive vaccinations on the basis that it was “a direct violation of the everlasting covenant God made with Noah after the flood” (The Golden Age Magazine 4/2/1931:293). Furthermore until 1980 Jehovah’s Witnesses considered organ transplants as cannibalistic (WT 15/11/1967:702 cf. WT 15/3/1980:31). After changing its policy on both these issues, without apology or compensation to those whose lives are damaged as a result of loved ones dying, the WT still demands its followers unconditionally to abstain from blood transfusions.
The WT proclaims boldly that it is the only organisation today proclaiming the ‘Truth’, whether it be theological, psychological, medical and moral. The Watchtower asserts: “If we are to walk in the light of truth we must recognize not only Jehovah God as our Father but his organization as our mother.” (1/5/1957:274). It is taught that God is the head of the corporation, the divine One who directs the organisation (WT 1/6/1985:19). Russell, the sect’s founder boldly proclaimed “the truths I present as God’s mouthpiece” (WT 15/7/1906:3821 as quoted in Reed, 1995:77) continued similarly by the WT claiming that it is the sole channel of communication God is using today . No questioning or criticism of God’s visible organisation is allowed .
The organisation requires confession that goes beyond legal and therapeutic boundaries (Gordon, n.d.). Members are encouraged to confess nonconforming thoughts, feelings, and actions to the group as an act of self-surrender and a display of loyalty to the group’s ideals (Hassan & Das, n.d.). The confessions are accompanied with criticism and self-criticism to lead to change (CDC, n.d.).