After finding out about the demise of my mother's marriage, one of my brothers floated an idea past her by email. He said that if she were to rejoin the Jehovah's Witnesses, the religion he's been enmeshed in for his entire life and the one that she left in 1984, he would allow her to visit him and their two children. You see, once a member leaves, others still in the organization are not allowed to socialize with them. Of course, my mother got around this in the 80's and 90's as her Witness kids were still young and not yet baptized into the faith. Now, with this particular brother having a position of power within the religion, he wouldn't dare risk getting in trouble by hanging out with his mom.
This got me to wondering if the Witnesses are a cult.
I suspected so, but Googled it this morning for confirmation and, indeed, there are quite a few ways in which the religion falls in line with a standard cult. Here are some examples:
"Cult leaders will tell you you can only be "saved" (or can only be successful) in their organization alone. No other organization has the truth, all others miss the mark.
Cult leadership is feared. To disagree with leadership is the same as disagreeing with God. The cult leaders will claim to have direct authority from God to control almost all aspects of your life.
Cults also try to cut you off from your friends and family because they hate others being able to influence you. A mind control cult will seek to maneuver your life so as to maximize your contact with cult members and minimize your contact with people outside the group, especially those who oppose your involvement.
Those who control the information control the person. In a mind control cult any information from outside the cult is considered evil, especially if it is opposing the cult. Members are told not to read it or believe it. Only information supplied by the cult is true.
Mind control cults keep their members so busy with meetings and activities that they become too busy and too tired to think about their involvement.
In a mind control cult like in Nazi Germany or Communist Russia, you must be careful of what you say and do; "The walls have ears". Everyone is encouraged to watch out for "struggling" brothers and sisters and report what they see to leadership. Often information given in deepest confidence is automatically reported to leadership."
My mother is in the midst of composing an answer to her youngest son. I'm sure the idea of being able to see him and two of her grandchildren is tempting, but it would be at the cost of her present beliefs. Of course, she would actually be like many of the Witnesses, not believing much of what is said at their meetings, but realizing that leaving the organization and the shunning that would ensue would be too great a thing to bear.