MUST WATCH: Leah Remini Scientology & Aftermath -Jehovah's Witnesses
Jehovah's Witnesses Recount Stories of Abuse, Estrangement in Leah Remini-Hosted Special
In a special preceding 'Scientology and the Aftermath's' third season, Remini gathered ex-members to discuss their experiences with the church on issues including blood transfusions, justice and women's rights.
Leah Remini kicked off the third season of her A&E series Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath on Tuesday night with a deep-dive, two-hour special on the Christian denomination Jehovah's Witnesses.
On Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath: The Jehovah's Witnesses, Remini led a panel of ex-Jehovah's Witnesses as they explained some of the church's most controversial positions and practices: its belief in Armageddon, disavowal of blood transfusions, disfellowships and subjugation of women.
As Remini explained at the beginning, the special stemmed from letters and social-media messages the production received, asking it to look into the denomination. "I thought Jehovah's Witnesses were just nice people knocking on doors," Remini said. But "We have received many letters, [saying], 'Please look into the Jehovah's Witnesses'" and making the connection between Scientology and Jehovah's Witnesses, she noted.
"Take Scientology, add eight million members, and you've got Jehovah's Witnesses," Lloyd Evans, a former member of the church and author of a book called The Reluctant Apostate, told her.
Jehovah's Witnesses emerged from the International Bible Students Association in the 19th century but was officially given its current name in 1931. Believers differ from other types of Christians in denying the Trinitarian belief that Jesus is divine, instead acknowledging him only as the son of God. Jehovah's Witnesses believe that Armageddon is coming, and when it does, non-Witnesses (or "worldly" people) won't survive and God's Kingdom will be established on earth with only Jehovah's Witnesses populating it. They do not celebrate holidays or birthdays and also famously oppose blood transfusions on grounds of faith.
The church has recently weathered accusations that it helped cover up accusations of child sexual abuse and other misconduct worldwide.
In an early discussion on Armageddon during the special, one man noted that his beliefs stopped him from being friends with "worldly" children, as he believed that those could imminently die once Armageddon came. Another, Nate Quarry, said, "As long as you can understand words, you're being told Armageddon is coming … I had the most horrific nightmares for at least 10 years after leaving the organization."
Believing that those Jehovah's Witnesses who stray from scripture also will not survive Armageddon, followers police each other, panelists said. One means of doing this is "disfellowshipping," or shunning church members who have disobeyed rules that range from adultery to smoking a cigarette; family, friends and church members avoid contact with those who have been disfellowshipped.
Quarry and panelist Sharon Follis noted that they had been disfellowshipped for dating "worldly" partners. Another panelist, Cliff Henderson, was disfellowshipped for having a relationship with a woman while he was depressed. After, he says he made "desperate" attempts to re-contact his family, including showing up at his brother's wedding, where his father rebuffed him.
"The basis of this organization is conditional love," Quarry noted.
At the end of the special, Evans noted, "As a Jehovah's Witness you're taught to look forward to paradise. But you never realize that the paradise is being able to think for yourself." The final sequences showed panelists estranged from family members who are still within the church telling them what they wish they could say in person.
Rev_12:17 And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.
1Co_13:13 Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.
Gal 1:6 I am shocked that you are turning away so soon from God, who called you to Himself through the loving mercy of Christ. You are following a different way that pretends to be the Good News
Gal 1:7 but is not the Good News at all. You are being fooled by those who deliberately twist the truth concerning Christ.
Gal 1:8 Let God's curse fall on anyone, including us or even an angel from heaven, who preaches a different kind of Good News than the one we preached to you.
Gal 1:9 I say again what we have said before: If anyone preaches any other Good News than the one you welcomed, let that person be cursed.
Gal 1:10 Obviously, I'm not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ's servant.