J’accusé – Editor called a “liar”

This website hadn’t even been formally announced when I got the following contact message (August 2, 2011):

"Mr. Editor - You are a liar. There I said it, and I won't take it back.
You don't even identify your self [sic] (everyone else seems to!), so I guess that lets [sic] you tell lies about Jehovah and think you can get away with it.
You know why your [sic] a liar? Because this is what you said -
"In the 1970s, Jehovah’s Witnesses continued to promote and encourage their abusive ideas of “tough love.” I clearly remember my little brother taking many a trip down the aisle to the Kingdom Hall bathroom (or outside to the parking lot) for a spanking. Even in this day and age where spanking your child can get you arrested in some jurisdictions, there are still locations in many Kingdom Halls that have been set aside as “spanking rooms.”
That's a lie and you know it. You think you can reach back fourty [sic] years and make up something that isn't true. I am a Jehovah's Witness for 20-years [sic] and I have never seen a single child spanked in a KH. I guess you are not a Witness of Jehovah anymore [sic] if you ever were. Maybe you are lying about that too. You're [sic] new blog or whatever it is all lies and you just want to trash good peopel [sic] who love and worship Jehovah. The Bible says, "It is necessary to shut the mouths of these, as these very men keep on subverting entire households by teaching things they ought not for the sake of dishonest gain. A certain one of them, their own prophet, said: Cretans are always liars, injurious wild beasts, unemployed gluttons.”(Titus 1:11-12) You Mister "editor" are a cretan and a liar and a coward. Who are your [sic] really and why do you tell lies about Jehovah?"

I tried to reply, but the email address bounced as undeliverable.

No matter…

I’ve been called worse in my life. You know, “sticks and stones…” and all that. I don’t know if the writer is a male or female – or where this person might live. But I’m guessing that many of the visitors to this website who have been Jehovah’s Witnesses will know from their own experience, that I am telling the truth.

So what was the Watchtower’s position on physical (corporal) punishment of Jehovah’s Witness children? Remember that I was a child of the 1950s and 1960s. Let the Watchtower answer for themselves:

*** w73 9/15 pp. 556-558 What Kind of Training Do Children Need? ***
19 However, in order for a program of instruction in God’s Word to be effective, it must also include loving discipline. This is because children are not naturally inclined to do the right thing. It is as the inspired Bible proverb says: “Foolishness is tied up with the heart of a boy; the rod of discipline is what will remove it far from him.” (Prov. 22:15) The word “discipline” has the thought of giving training that molds and corrects. Thus it involves frequent repetition of instruction so that the child is motivated to comply with it. But discipline involves more. As most parents well know, a child is often not corrected simply by words. (Prov. 29:17, 19) Therefore disciplinary training may also include chastisement or punishment administered with the purpose of correcting the child. But should this form of discipline ever include spanking? Is there truth to the old adage: “Spare the rod and spoil the child”?

20 Worldly authorities on rearing children frequently say: ‘No, the child should never be spanked. Avoid frustrating the child by using such strong measures to change his natural inclinations.’ A New York Times editorial, April 5, 1972, said: “‘Spare the rod and spoil the child’ is a wrong-headed adage that continues to get approving nods from self-appointed upholders of ‘the old virtues.’ It is difficult to fathom why the administration of premeditated, painful punishment by a bigger and stronger person could instill anything other than the belief that force triumphs.” But is this view correct? Is it a mistake to use physical punishment for the purpose of correcting a child’s wrong course of conduct?

21 God is man’s Creator. There is no higher authority. His Word is very clear on the matter. It says: “Do not hold back discipline from the mere boy. In case you beat him with the rod, he will not die. With the rod you yourself should beat him, that you may deliver his very soul from Sheol [the grave] itself.” (Prov. 23:13, 14) The life of the child is at stake. If he is allowed to pursue a wrong course, it will lead to his own unhappiness and eventual death outside God’s favor. Thus the Bible says: “The one holding back his rod is hating his son, but the one loving him is he that does look for him with discipline.” (Prov. 13:24) It shows real love on the part of a parent to do whatever he can to correct his child, including spanking him. This is God’s way. “For whom Jehovah loves,” the scripture says, “he disciplines; in fact, he scourges [whips or lashes] every one whom he receives as a son.”—Heb. 12:5, 6.

22 Why does God do this to his children? “For our profit,” the apostle Paul said, “that we may partake of his holiness. True, no discipline seems for the present to be joyous, but grievous; yet afterward to those who have been trained by it it yields peaceable fruit, namely, righteousness.” (Heb. 12:7-11) Children, for their own benefit, need such discipline. It is part of the training that is ‘according to the way for them.’ (Prov. 22:6) The rejection by the world of such disciplinary training is largely responsible for the tremendous increase of juvenile delinquency and the resulting trouble and shame it has brought to parents.—Prov. 29:15.

23 Contrary to popular opinion, children appreciate it when parents show a genuine interest in them by providing reasonable guidelines and restrictions on their activities. Some children may complain at times because of the discipline, but they learn to love and respect parents who show a genuine interest in their welfare. On the other hand, failure on the part of parents to administer the discipline that children so much need is likely to cause a child to resent his parents. A popular magazine not long ago told of a fifteen-year-old girl who slipped into a bad course of conduct and brought shame upon herself and her family. Grieved by her conduct, she said to her father: “Daddy, you should have demanded that I behave years ago, and when I didn’t, instead of talking to me, you should have blistered my behind. When I didn’t make good grades, why didn’t you make me? Did you think I was so dumb I couldn’t make better grades?”—McCall’s, July 1969, page 114.

24 Parents, show that you really do love your children by giving them the discipline that they so desperately need. Heed the wise counsel of God’s Word. Teach its wisdom to your children. Develop within them a love and respect for the Creator, Jehovah God. By doing this you can be confident that you are ‘training up your children according to the way for them, and that they will not depart from it.’ (Prov. 22:6) This will eventually mean for them endless life in Jehovah God’s glorious new system of things. How grateful your children will be to you for preparing them to enjoy this!

That’s my reply. I hope the person who sent the email reads this and maybe takes back that part about me being “a cretan and a liar and a coward.” OK, maybe I am a “cretan” and a “coward” – but it would be nice if the writer could change that “liar” bit to something a little less disparaging – at least in this particular situation. Oh, and about my identity? See below…

The Editor (John Hoyle) was an active Jehovah’s Witness for over fifteen years, leaving in his mid-20s. He still has a few JW relatives who he rarely sees except when one of them dies. He lives in Oregon with his beautiful wife and a loving little Maltese, edits Ex-JW.com, and is webmaster for several other JW related sites.


J’accusé – Editor called a “liar” — 8 Comments

  1. I was a JW from the age of five until I left at the age of 50, in 1997. I have seen many harsh disciplinary methods used at the Kingdom Hall and in the parking lots (and in vehicles in parking lots) during those 45 years. We didn’t call it a “spanking room” per se, but a nicer way of putting it was The Mother’s Room. We mothers would take our children there to change a diaper, rock a baby, nurse our baby, or to just get away from the boring program going on in the auditorium. I recall several times when I was attempting to nurse my child and get him to sleep, a mother would jerk the door open, jerk her child’s arm, drag him into the Mother’s Room, and beat his butt until it was red. The child would scream and wake up my baby. So I guess the purpose of the room was multi-fold. But the worst part of it came, for me, when I worked in a mental health clinic as a transcriptionist. I heard via earphones dictation from the mental health therapists their version of therapy visits with some Jehovah’s Witnesses teenagers, and I could never report any of it due to confidentiality papers I’d signed with my employment records, but these kids would tell of being brutally whipped and threatened once they got home from the meeting because they’d dozed off during a meeting, or had been caught writing a note, or any number of other things. So the harsh discipline continued, and needless to say these kids grew up and moved away from the Organization, never to return. (From what I’ve been told by those who know them.) So, even though it wasn’t a spanking room entirely, it sure went on and I witnessed it through three children, 10 years apart, so I’d say probably 15 total years. I’ve heard adults threatening their children during meetings, and I’ve seen them take a 12″ ruler from a diaper bag and whack the little one on the leg, or appear as though they would, to get the child to be quiet. That’s my experience, and I am not a liar either.

  2. I was a witness from age 17 to 43. Got baptized November 7, 1970. I will never forget a conversation I participated in when I was a single 21 year-old “sister”. I was out with a group of sisters going door-door. One sister was praised for spanking her SIX-week old infant, for crying during the service meeting. I too, ignorantly applauded her. When my son was born I dutifully required him to sit through the meetings with no toys. At 2 and 3 years old, encouraged by the other members of the congregation, I would take him to the bathroom, into a stall and spank him for moving around, crying or talking during the meeting. However, when he was about 3 1/2 we were at the park one day. I saw a woman with her 4 and 6 year old boys. The boys had been fighting. The woman was spanking the 6 year old shouting, “don’t hit, don’t hit” each time she swatted him. I decided then and there to stop whacking my son. Good thing, too. Later we learned that he was “autistic”.

  3. My father hit us like a man with four arms. His hands were looser than a Lada’s camshaft and he burst my nose once, because I dared to suggest that his opinion was unreasonable. The society did promote beating. I’ve talked to hhundreds of ex witnesses and have never heard anything to contradict the editors comments. Great piece!!

  4. I sometimes get comments like this on my site. It’s entirely possible that this person never saw or heard of such things themselves. Not that this means anything, really. Not all Kingdom Halls are alike. Some suck worse or less than others. Maybe they should have thought of that before calling you a liar. It sure would have been the smarter thing to do.

    Has this person every considered the P.R. ramifications of their comments? It isn’t hard to picture the author stabbing away at their keyboard with both index fingers, lips pinched as they grumble about worldly people and kids today. Watchtower magazines are surely pinned to the walls of their room with highlighter scribble on every cover. Their neighbors hate them because they won’t stop playing Kingdom Melody tapes at horrendous volume through the night.

    Yeah. That’s the kind of person who draws me to my Kingdom Hall. Save me a seat while I park the car. Yippee.

    To my fellow ex-Witnesses, remember this: it’s always better for us when they act crazier than we do.

  5. Evidence does not matter to the defenders of the Watchtower.
    I might say I too witnessed the corporal punishment doctrine
    of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Not to me, but the sister in good standing(according to
    The Society, not society) taught me to hit my child.
    I did once too hard and will be forever sorry for that. I felt so evil.
    Later I gave her a “punch buggy” slapping and she reported me. It is true.
    Where is The Evil Place of the Double Standard? Anybody know?

  6. I can vouch for the truthfulness of what you say. When I was growing up in Hobart Congregation (Tasmania), the Watchtower conductor once climbed down off the stage and whacked his young daughter in front of everyone, in the front row of the hall.

  7. I’m thinking J’accuse must have gone to a very unique Kingdom Hall than the rest of us, or maybe he was one of those who got the spankings and blocked it from memory. As I remember it, not only was the rod not spared at the Hall, it was always encouraged to be used at home. There was a “sister” in our Hall that had a child one year older than mine. I couldn’t concentrate on the “talks” because of the constant slapping of her little girl. I had my son sitting on the floor at my feet one Sunday, he must have made a sound she didn’t aprrove of..(though I didn’t notice) and she got up from her seat and walked back to where I was sitting…and without a word to me, snatched my little boy up and took off to the “spanking” room. I was furious!! I got right up, went into that room and took my son in my arms. I told her to never put her hands on my child again, that I didn’t treat my son that way! Yes, it happens and from all of the comments, we all know who the liar is. J’accuse!!!

  8. The spanking is so true. We’d spank our children because of peer presssure. Hey the elders and the spiritually mature brothers and sisters promoted it. I, too, spank my little girl from the age of 2-6 years old for not staying quiet during the meetings, for talking during the meetings, or for moving around too much during the meetings. My own sister, her aunt, encourage me to do it. She even said to give a really hard slap on my baby’s tigh so that it would burn her and make her obey. I am very sorry that I acted this way with my first born and ONLY daughter. Hope that she can forgice for that.

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