I sing – The baptism of minors must end with Jehovah’s Witnesses. A former Gelderland co-founder of Jehovah’s Witnesses defends this in a letter to the House of Representatives and the Department of Legal Protection. The institution points out the main consequences of baptism: social exclusion if the group is left after baptism.
Henry Dahlem (50 years old) from Aalten is a former Jehovah’s Witness and initiator of the Foundation against the watchtower. In doing so, he is fighting the social exclusion that occurs when Jehovah’s Witnesses turn his back on religion. Because of the archaic environment, a former Jehovah’s Witness is declared “socially dead”. “Friends and family: No one is allowed to talk to you anymore. This has major emotional consequences,” emphasizes Dahlme.
He adds that the danger of exclusion begins with baptism. “Baptism is a pledge of allegiance to the organization.” Jehovah’s Witnesses are familiar with adult baptism, but children and adolescents are sometimes baptized as well.
See also: Henry takes a stand against the “discriminatory flight” of Jehovah’s people
According to former Jehovah’s Witnesses, minors are not aware of the major consequences of baptism. Dahlem: “Compare it to buying a house or getting married. That’s also only allowed when you’re 18, because it’s a big choice.” In a letter to the House of Representatives and the Minister of Legal Protection, his foundation called on politicians to take action against it.
promise of life
Frances Peters, ex-Jehovah, also knows the main consequences of baptism. “It’s a promise for life. Some kids are 9 when they’re baptized, others are between 10 and 12. I was 15. As a teenager, you feel connected to the group and do what everyone else is doing. You can often make up Your own opinion later. For example, you can fall in love with someone who is not Jehovah’s Witnesses.”
She says the effect of baptism is enormous. “Because if you decide otherwise, you will lose everything. A year before I was officially expelled, I was no longer welcome with some still-active relatives of Jehovah’s Witnesses. I was even told I was responsible for rupturing family ties. All the misery that followed our departure.”
The exclusion of the baptized organ causes a lot of grief and even suicides
This is also what former Jehovah’s Witness Wim de Guig says. He thinks politicians should do more. “The government must start seeing the urgency. They have one job: protecting civilians. Right now, they are letting people use their own devices.”
Religious freedom is often the argument for non-interference. His wrongdoing is believed. “There is something else going on here. This is a form of intentionally driving people into misery. Baptized organ removal leads to a lot of grief and even suicides. You can’t hide that under the rubric of religious freedom.”
Watch how Wim de Guig, Frances Peters and Gideon Nagtigal experienced their departure from Jehovah’s Witnesses:
However, such a ban on baptism won’t be enforced anytime soon, says theologian and church historian Peter Nissen. “In the Netherlands, religious freedom is an almost sacred tradition.” He says that because of the separation of church and state, the government is not quick to interfere in religious matters.
“Compare it to circumcision: it is an extreme ritual, and it puts religious freedom in contradiction to the right to bodily integrity. Yet it is permitted.” As long as public order is not at stake, the government will not intervene quickly, he says. “These kinds of issues only have a chance in public debate.”
In Belgium, Jehovah’s Witnesses were convicted last year for the consequences of social exclusion of former members, and for inciting discrimination, hatred and violence. But the appeals court recently overturned this ruling.
The Henry Dahlem Foundation is now preparing to file a similar lawsuit in the Netherlands. Dahlme especially wants politicians to think about reducing social exclusion. “It begins with baptism. It is not without obligation,” he says. It is completely different from being a member of a football club. You can no longer switch. That’s the point.”
Reply of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Holland:
In response, a spokesperson for Jehovah’s Witnesses in the Netherlands wrote:
“Jehovah’s Witnesses do not have infant baptism, and children raised in Jehovah’s Witnesses’ homes are not necessarily baptized.” Baptism is a personal choice of each individual that is not carried out under duress.
“Although Jehovah’s Witnesses feel very sorry if their child does not share their faith, they still love him or her. They will not sever their relationship with their child just because the child does not want to become a Jehovah’s Witness.”
The organization also notes that the opinions of “disgruntled former members” should not be taken as representative or correct.