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article imageJehovah's Witness mag investigated under religious hatred laws

By Katerina Nikolas     Sep 27, 2011 in World
Jehovah's Witnesses may have gone too far by claiming in the official Watchtower magazine that former Witnesses who leave the sect are "mentally diseased". Police in the UK have launched an inquiry as the sect may have breached religious hatred laws.
The July issue of Watchtower, the official magazine for Jehovah’s Witnesses, has provoked outrage by referring to members who leave the sect as “mentally diseased.”
Watchtower is distributed to followers around the globe, but it was in England where complaints were raised. Police have opened an inquiry following complaints raised by former Witnesses in Portsmouth, to determine if the magazine breaches British religious hatred laws.
The Independent quotes from the magazine which advises its members to avoid false teachers, saying "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." Jehovah’s Witnesses who leave the sect are also considered apostates to be avoided by Church members. The Watchtower web site advises that Witnesses should disassociate themselves from those who leave, saying “shunning would be appropriate, too, for anyone who rejects the congregation.”Former Witness Angus Robertson told the Independent “The way scripture is being used to bully people must be challenged. If a religion was preaching that blacks or gays were mentally diseased there would understandable outrage.” As the religious group qualifies as a Church charity, complaints may also be brought up before the charities commission.
The Religion News blog says that many consider the Jehovah’s Witnesses organization “to be a destructive cult that destroys relationships and — due to its un-biblical teachings regarding blood transfusions — has caused many needless deaths.” Excommunicated apostates of the sect are now waiting to hear the results of the police inquiry.
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