The Song of the Rat: The Watchtower’s War Against Loyalty

I came across an interesting article in called, “Survivor tells of life inside a North Korea concentration camp.” I am ashamed to say that my knowledge of Korea is woefully insignificant. I had no idea they had concentration camps, let alone what a “gulag” is. According to the article more than 200,000 men, women, and children are interned in concentration death camps. (It’s always nice to find out humanity has learned from their mistakes.) In the whole history of this gulag system, only three people have ever escaped the camps. The article is an interview of one of them.

Shin Dong-hyuk was born inside Camp 14. He escaped by climbing over the dead body of his fellow conspirator. He is permanently scarred from the torture and punishments he received as a child and the unspeakable things he was required to do. Not the least of which is what inspired this blog.

When only 14 years of age he informed on his mother and brother who were planning on escaping the camp and they were executed as a result. Camp officials had made it very clear that all conspirators and any connected with them will die. Shin was only trying to save his own skin at the cost of his family. He was still tortured after watching his family executed, but at least he was alive.

When human beings are placed in an atmosphere of self-preservation at the cost of all else, they lack the natural affection most of us take for granted. Shin said he didn’t understand family in the normal sense. Emotion and attachments could only be a liability in such a place where people died every day.

This type of carefully controlled environment reminded me of something—life within the Watchtower Society. Jehovah’s Witnesses are taught to inform on one another “to keep the congregation clean.” They are told Jehovah will hold them responsible if they do not report the sins of one another and to be complicit brings the same death penalty as the sin.

This creates an atmosphere not unlike what Russia endured during the Cold War. Nobody truly trusts anybody else. Most relationships in that “loving organization” are two-dimensional at best. I can relate countless experiences in which I was “called in the back room” by the elders and asked about a situation that I was shocked they knew anything about. Private conversations, harmless get-togethers, choices of entertainment, and Facebook statuses were all things to be reported and used against those who were connected to it.

Shin was tortured because his mother and brother planned to flee. My dad was disciplined by the elders because I told another teenager in the congregation that Dirty Dancing was a good movie. My brother was called in because I read gothic romance and attended a pool party where there was underage drinking. No, he wasn’t involved in either scenario.  A local needs (which is an opportunity for elders to publicly humiliate someone in the congregation by discussing their sin from the stage)  was given in which my family was criticized for getting in an ice fight in a vacant cafeteria of the hospital—days before my mother died there. Only three people were there that day: my brother, my friend, and I. Who told?

I think you get my point. Anytime an organization/country creates an atmosphere of suspicion and snitching they undermine relationships. There are members of that religion that have not only turned in family members for discipline and ultimate death, but then turn their backs on them and never speak to them again because that is what the Watchtower requires! Nobody can trust anyone and family and friends pay the price as close connections cease to exist. The “loving brotherhood” is cold, calculating, and distant as everything is sacrificed for advancement within “Jehovah’s organization.”

Rules must be followed! To ignore the law of God’s only earthly organization is to fall into disfavor and die at Armageddon. Or worse, be disfellowshipped and exist in a purgatory of isolation and fear of inevitable destruction.

North Korea isn’t the only one with a gulag system. Jehovah’s Witnesses have created their own pseudo-gulag system and millions have paid the price with their families and their lives.



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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. I too have escaped the tyranny. How wonderful to now engage with my fellow humans freely, and acknowledge the Goddess, the beautiful mother.

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