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National Secular Society

Challenging Religious Privilege

Jehovah’s Witnesses under investigation for “religious hatred” – against their own members

Police in Hampshire are considering whether to bring charges under religious hatred legislation against the Jehovah’s Witnesses. The investigation follows complaints from former Witnesses in Portsmouth who have been branded as “mentally diseased” for leaving the cult in an article in the July issue of the JW’s magazine The Watchtower.

An article in the July issue of the JW’s magazine The Watchtower branded former Witnesses in Portsmouth as “mentally diseased” for leaving the cult.

The article, distributed by Jehovah’s Witnesses across the globe, said: “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.”

The ex-Witnesses are also considering a complaint to the Charity Commission. The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of Britain, which prints church doctrine in Britain, is a registered charity.

The Church is known for handing down harsh punishments to followers who criticise doctrines or raise questions about the faith. 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.”

Published Fri, 30 Sep 2011