This week we talk to filmmaker Aaron Kaufman. He is known for producing Robert Rodriguez films, and more recently for directing the documentary on Jehovah’s Witnesses for Vice TV Crusaders. Aaron was raised a JW and his doc focuses on the data base of sex abusers the JW’s have which they have refused to make public. Plenty of scientology parallels in this discussion.
Here is Aaron Kaufman’s IMDb page:
The Vice TV, Vice Versa episode:
What is disfellowshipping? From Wikipedia
We talk about the characteristics of a cult. Dr. Janja Lalich has this on her website, it is one of the best lists in my opinion.
In case you have difficulty reading the screen shot:
- The group displays an excessively zealous and unquestioning commitment to its leader, and (whether he is alive or dead) regards his belief system, ideology, and practices as the Truth, as law.
- Questioning, doubt, and dissent are discouraged or even punished.
- Mind-altering practices (such as meditation, chanting, speaking in tongues, denunciation sessions, or debilitating work routines) are used in excess and serve to suppress doubts about the group and its leader(s).
- The leadership dictates, sometimes in great detail, how members should think, act, and feel (e.g., members must get permission to date, change jobs, or marry—or leaders prescribe what to wear, where to live, whether to have children, how to discipline children, and so forth).
- The group is elitist, claiming a special, exalted status for itself, its leader(s), and its members (e.g., the leader is considered the Messiah, a special being, an avatar—or the group and/or the leader is on a special mission to save humanity).
- The group has a polarized, us-versus-them mentality, which may cause conflict with the wider society.
- The leader is not accountable to any authorities (unlike, for example, teachers, military commanders, or ministers, priests, monks, and rabbis of mainstream religious denominations).
- The group teaches or implies that its supposedly exalted ends justify whatever means it deems necessary. This may result in members participating in behaviors or activities they would have considered reprehensible or unethical before joining the group (e.g., lying to family or friends, or collecting money for bogus charities).
- The leadership induces feelings of shame and/or guilt in order to influence and control members. Often this is done through peer pressure and subtle forms of persuasion.
- Subservience to the leader or group requires members to cut ties with family and friends, and radically alter the personal goals and activities they had before joining the group.
- The group is preoccupied with bringing in new members.
- The group is preoccupied with making money.
- Members are expected to devote inordinate amounts of time to the group and group-related activities.
- Members are encouraged or required to live and/or socialize only with other group members.
- The most loyal members (the “true believers”) feel there can be no life outside the context of the group. They believe there is no other way to be, and often fear reprisals to themselves or others if they leave—or even consider leaving—the group.
The Australian investigation into child sex abuse in the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Australian Royal Commission Final Report
Aaron mentions Ruben Ortiz podcast
One of the first people to successfully sue the JW’s, Candace Conti is the Julie Christofferson of the JW’s.
Leah’s list of recommended books on healing from trauma: