Exclusion of minor children is in violation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child
Norway’s State Administration has settled a case in which it determines that children’s rights are violated when Jehovah’s Witnesses practice their exclusion methods. Children are exposed to negative social control and are held accountable within the organization´s closed legal system – and are judged as adults. All children deserve the same level of rights, not just Norwegian children.
If you are registered as a “recognized religious community” (Act no. 1533 of 19 December 2017 on religious communities outside the national church) in Denmark, you have a number of financial advantages regarding (property) tax and VAT. In addition, members can donate a tax-dectable amount.
In Norway, brave members of Jehovah´s Witnesses contacted the authorities because they felt trapped and did not dare to leave the sect for fear of the personal consequences it would have. Yesterday, Norway’s State Administration announced to the Jehovah’s Witnesses organization that the religious freedom of the members is violated when the organization expels its members. The decision does not mean that Jehovah’s Witnesses will disappear from Norway. They can still practice their religion, they just no longer get millions of tax crowns every year, and then they lose the right to seal marriages.
In October, Jehovah’s Witnesses in Norway were warned that the financial state support was about to end. On the same occasion, the organization was asked whether it wanted to change its exclusionary practices so that it could continue receiving government support. To that, the Jehovah’s Witnesses organization replied no. At the same time, the organization hired a high-profile lawyer.
Jehovah’s Witnesses practice what was previously known as “excommunication” and has since changed name to “exclusion,” probably to create an illusion to the public of a softer punishment.
But excommunication is exactly the same as exclusion. In practice, it means that you are dead to your family and former friends. I know how it works, because I have experienced it myself. If you are walking in the street and pass someone you have known since you were a child, he must pass you by without acknowledging you. If you call home, your parents must hang up immediately. No contact, whatsoever, is allowed. If you become desperate and show up outside your parents’ doorstep, they must must close the door on you – the treatment of an excommunicated member is the same, no matter how old or young he or she is. Imagine how many excommunicated members die from suicide or go back into the cult – not to mention those who do not dare to leave for fear of the treatment they know they will have to endure.
That is precisely why Norway has now had enough. It is inhumane to treat especially children and young adults like this. When I confronted my mom with this, I was told that had made the choice when I chose to be baptized and therefore knew the consequences when I chose to leave the sect. To be clear, I was baptized two weeks after my 14th birthday, had not yet had my first period, had never been in love, or kissed a boy – in short, I had accepted restrictions, I had no understanding of.
The sect strongly encourages you to get baptized as early as possible – after that you are reliable for your actions according to their rules and restrictions. You are held accountable for your actions on equal terms with adults. I have heard of children as young as 8 who have been baptized – and judged as adults when they start asking questions or breaking the sect’s rules.
There has been a citizens’ proposal to deprive Jehovah’s Witnesses in Denmark of their recognition as a religious community. Unfortunately, not enough signed the petition for the Danish Parliament to consider the proposal.
That’s a shame. On the one hand, Jehovah’s Witnesses are immensely happy to receive the economic benefits that the Danish state provides, on the other hand, such a state-supported economy is de facto a symbol of accepting the inhumane, sectarian doomsday cult’s practice, which, with its Gestapo methods, forces the members to rat on each other – with severe personal consequences.
So, what has been Jehovah’s Witnesses reaction to the decision in Norway? Ironically, they state that they are a persecuted minority, that their freedom of religion is challenged, that they are the victims of a crusade that tries to make the lives of the witnesses as difficult as possible, and pressure them to change the interpretation and practice of the Bible’s message, which they of course “have no intention” of doing. It is tragicomic to see how their manipulative rhetoric trickery is turned upside down.
My hope is that more countries will look to Norway as a pioneering country – not only when it comes to financial support and lucrative tax-exemptions for Jehovah’s Witnesses, but for all religious communities, cults, and sect organizations that take children and young people hostage and use social control contrary to the Convention on the Rights of the Child and general common sense. The state must play a greater role – especially in democratic countries. After all, we can only expect more insane religions and sects on our doorstep in the future.
Børn skal ikke straffes som voksne – men det bliver de inden for Jehovas Vidner
At udstøde mindreårige børn er i strid med Børnekonventionen