My invalid baptism, and conversion to the Jehovahs Witness religion


#1

On careful consideration of circumstances, in relation to my past "conversion", by "baptism", from the Roman Catholic religion, to the Jehovahs Witness religion, I would like to make it known, that I no longer consider, either that "baptism", nor the "conversion", symbolized by it, to have been valid. I hereby set forth reasons for this declaration:

Prior to receiving my military conscription "call up" papers, during the 80's apartheid era, in South Africa, I knew very little about Jehovahs Witnesses. I was baptised as a Roman Catholic, had my communion, was confirmed, and attended Catholic church services happily, every Sunday, with my parents, for 23yrs, whilst at school and beyond. all my relatives and family, before them, were Catholic, and so, I had very little reason to change my religion.

I had learnt about the JW religion whilst at school, through a classmate, who had converted to this religion, and who was amongst a handful, who had refused to do "cadets" (marching exercises), after school, an activity that was compulsory for final year, high school students, at the time. The purpose of "cadets", was to prepare one for the compulsory 2yr period of military service, and annual "camps", that would follow, once one had left school.

Right from the outset, following the very short opportunity that I had to experience military service, (I did 1 month of basic training), before managing to obtain a deferment to continue studying, I knew that I did not want to be part, either of the SADF, or of the border war, for which soldiers within the SADF were being trained. This war was essentially an effort to prevent foreign "enemy" soldiers, fighting for democracy, in South Africa (at that time, labeled as communists and "terrorists"), from crossing the border and overthrowing the apartheid government, in SA.

After eventually receiving my military "call up" papers, despite determined efforts to prolong my studies at university, in the hope that the laws would change, as they eventually did, I decided to take the plunge, and ignore my military "call up" instructions, as a matter of conscience. Unfortunately, at the time, "conscientious objectors", were not recognised by the SADF, as qualifying for exemption from military service. Only those who could prove that they were "religious objectors", would be considered for exemption. Weekly attendance at Catholic church services, was not deemed to be sufficient grounds, for an application for such an exemption.

there was very little else left that I could do, after declining an invitation to join the JW religion (I never intended to join the religion), but to discuss my situation with their elders, and accept their advice to reherse a few selected Biblical questions, that they indicated, I most certainly, as an individual, would be required to answer, at a SADF trial and judicial hearing.

Since in those days, JW's were one of the few religious groups that had been classified as exempt from military service, by the SADF, their hearings were ordinarily a mere formality, for finalizing the documention necessary for processing large numbers of their members, to enable them to perform the 3yrs of alternate community service, that the SADF had agreed to allow them to perform.

I on the other hand, as one who had refused largely on an individual capacity, was required to undergo a formal trial, and judicial hearing, before a panel of SADF judges and ministers, and to answer Bible based questions, designed to establish the true motives for this refusal. although wishing to be classified as a "religious objector", I was faced with the distinct possibility of being refused application, with the consequence of a 6yr civilian prison term

After a lengthy cross examination by the judicial panel, I was advised that I had failed in establishing my classification as a religious objector, and could not be exempted from military service, unless I agreed to join the Jehovahs Witness religion.

This agreement was reached between the SADF legal team and a JW lawyer, in a very short span of time, and essentially is what "saved me" from receiving the 6yr prison term, that would most certainly have been meeted down to me, had I refused to serve as a uniformed soldier, in a non-combatant capacity.

I am grateful to those who participated, that I was spared such a prison term, however it does not negate the fact that I was necessarily placed under duress, to join the JW religion, by the SADF, who at my trial, made it quite clear that they would continue to check that I was attending JW meetings, and would recall a 6yr prison sentence, if they found otherwise.

Since my baptism, as a JW, took place not much more than a year, after my trial, I can say for a certainty that it would never have taken place, had there not been coersion placed on me by the SADF, to attend JW meetings, at my trial. I cannot therefore honestly say that my baptism as a JW, took place as a result of my own personal feelings and conviction, but as a decision based on an obligation imposed on me, to fulfill the conditions of my sentence, as a religious objector. For this reason I feel that I am justified in declaring my "baptism" and "conversion" from the Roman Catholic religion, to the JW religion, as invalid. Many may consider this issue as irrelevant, but I feel that it is an important and necessary one for me to make known. thank you


#2

[quote="mostolto, post:1, topic:299140"]
On careful consideration of circumstances, in relation to my past "conversion", by "baptism", from the Roman Catholic religion, to the Jehovahs Witness religion, I would like to make it known, that I no longer consider, either that "baptism", nor the "conversion", symbolized by it, to have been valid. I hereby set forth reasons for this declaration:

Prior to receiving my military conscription "call up" papers, during the 80's apartheid era, in South Africa, I knew very little about Jehovahs Witnesses. I was baptised as a Roman Catholic, had my communion, was confirmed, and attended Catholic church services happily, every Sunday, with my parents, for 23yrs, whilst at school and beyond. all my relatives and family, before them, were Catholic, and so, I had very little reason to change my religion.

I had learnt about the JW religion whilst at school, through a classmate, who had converted to this religion, and who was amongst a handful, who had refused to do "cadets" (marching exercises), after school, an activity that was compulsory for final year, high school students, at the time. The purpose of "cadets", was to prepare one for the compulsory 2yr period of military service, and annual "camps", that would follow, once one had left school.

Right from the outset, following the very short opportunity that I had to experience military service, (I did 1 month of basic training), before managing to obtain a deferment to continue studying, I knew that I did not want to be part, either of the SADF, or of the border war, for which soldiers within the SADF were being trained. This war was essentially an effort to prevent foreign "enemy" soldiers, fighting for democracy, in South Africa (at that time, labeled as communists and "terrorists"), from crossing the border and overthrowing the apartheid government, in SA.

After eventually receiving my military "call up" papers, despite determined efforts to prolong my studies at university, in the hope that the laws would change, as they eventually did, I decided to take the plunge, and ignore my military "call up" instructions, as a matter of conscience. Unfortunately, at the time, "conscientious objectors", were not recognised by the SADF, as qualifying for exemption from military service. Only those who could prove that they were "religious objectors", would be considered for exemption. Weekly attendance at Catholic church services, was not deemed to be sufficient grounds, for an application for such an exemption.

there was very little else left that I could do, after declining an invitation to join the JW religion (I never intended to join the religion), but to discuss my situation with their elders, and accept their advice to reherse a few selected Biblical questions, that they indicated, I most certainly, as an individual, would be required to answer, at a SADF trial and judicial hearing.

Since in those days, JW's were one of the few religious groups that had been classified as exempt from military service, by the SADF, their hearings were ordinarily a mere formality, for finalizing the documention necessary for processing large numbers of their members, to enable them to perform the 3yrs of alternate community service, that the SADF had agreed to allow them to perform.

I on the other hand, as one who had refused largely on an individual capacity, was required to undergo a formal trial, and judicial hearing, before a panel of SADF judges and ministers, and to answer Bible based questions, designed to establish the true motives for this refusal. although wishing to be classified as a "religious objector", I was faced with the distinct possibility of being refused application, with the consequence of a 6yr civilian prison term

After a lengthy cross examination by the judicial panel, I was advised that I had failed in establishing my classification as a religious objector, and could not be exempted from military service, unless I agreed to join the Jehovahs Witness religion.

This agreement was reached between the SADF legal team and a JW lawyer, in a very short span of time, and essentially is what "saved me" from receiving the 6yr prison term, that would most certainly have been meeted down to me, had I refused to serve as a uniformed soldier, in a non-combatant capacity.

I am grateful to those who participated, that I was spared such a prison term, however it does not negate the fact that I was necessarily placed under duress, to join the JW religion, by the SADF, who at my trial, made it quite clear that they would continue to check that I was attending JW meetings, and would recall a 6yr prison sentence, if they found otherwise.

Since my baptism, as a JW, took place not much more than a year, after my trial, I can say for a certainty that it would never have taken place, had there not been coersion placed on me by the SADF, to attend JW meetings, at my trial. I cannot therefore honestly say that my baptism as a JW, took place as a result of my own personal feelings and conviction, but as a decision based on an obligation imposed on me, to fulfill the conditions of my sentence, as a religious objector. For this reason I feel that I am justified in declaring my "baptism" and "conversion" from the Roman Catholic religion, to the JW religion, as invalid. Many may consider this issue as irrelevant, but I feel that it is an important and necessary one for me to make known. thank you

[/quote]

I am not an expert on these issues but I always heard that the two requirements to sin were knowledge and consent. I imagine the same would apply here and it doesn't sound like there was consent. I respect you for struggling over your beliefs. God bless.


#3

It sounds like you may have committed the sin of apostasy and unfortunately, the circumstance of duress may mitigate but does not completely relieve the sinfulness of the act. However, God readily forgives all sins. This is clearly the kind of thing that requires confession and spiritual counseling, if you haven't already done so. Welcome back, and God bless!


#4

most religions consider baptism as a public display of ones acceptance and declaration of membership to a religion. If ones baptism occured under coercion, its not possible to say that one joined that religion voluntarily, nor in my case, to even say, that i was ever a valid or loyal member of that religion. failing to accept baptism, when one has a good understanding of what a religion believes, in my opinion, goes beyond apostacy, because it is a denial of faith in what that religion believes.


#5

This is likely a moot point in some respects, as the JW's "baptism" is invalid in the first place, as they do not believe in the Trinity*

*Do they even use a Trinitarian formula? If not, then it's very much not valid.


#6

[quote="mostolto, post:4, topic:299140"]
most religions consider baptism as a public display of ones acceptance and declaration of membership to a religion. If ones baptism occured under coercion, its not possible to say that one joined that religion voluntarily, nor in my case, to even say, that i was ever a valid or loyal member of that religion. failing to accept baptism, when one has a good understanding of what a religion believes, in my opinion, goes beyond apostacy, because it is a denial of faith in what that religion believes.

[/quote]

Mostolto -

Welcome Home. The Lord rejoices that you have turned back to him and his church. :extrahappy: You did not say if you have gone to reconciliation and you need to do this if you have not done so already. We all are sinners and the evil one tries to find out where we are each weakest. Use your experience to help others. Turn the page and rejoice in the Lord's forgiveness. Heaven awaits for those who persevere.


#7

If the "baptism" was invalid due to improper form and the lack of Trinity (yes) AND the lack of intent of the recipient (yes), AND it was used to avoid an unjust war and refraining of killing innocents (yes)*, is it really a sin?

I mean, it doesn't hurt to go to confession over it, but I do wonder if it is an actual mortal sin or not.

*
*Possible moot point, because they used improper form and lack the Trinity it's already invalid.

*See above.


#8

accepting baptism when someone tells you it is a necessary step, does not necessarily make it voluntary. if one does not have the option to decline, acceptance, may be the only possible choice, in which instance, there is no freedom to choose otherwise. that is not what religious conversion ought to entail. it is a very personal decision that one needs to be able to take, whilst being free to choose, without coercion, or imposed duress. had i known this at the time (27yrs ago). i would have probably delayed my decision to be baptised as a JW, until after my sentence of 3yrs community service had ended. in that way i could have been sure, that my decision to be baptised, would have been voluntary, instead i accepted baptism whilst i was under obligation by the SADF, to remain in the JW religion, thereby making that baptism involuntary and invalid.thank you for your support..


#9

[quote="mostolto, post:8, topic:299140"]
accepting baptism when someone tells you it is a necessary step, does not necessarily make it voluntary. if one does not have the option to decline, acceptance, may be the only possible choice, in which instance, there is no freedom to choose otherwise. that is not what religious conversion ought to entail. it is a very personal decision that one needs to be able to take, whilst being free to choose, without coercion, or imposed duress. had i known this at the time (27yrs ago). i would have probably delayed my decision to be baptised as a JW, until after my sentence of 3yrs community service had ended. in that way i could have been sure, that my decision to be baptised, would have been voluntary, instead i accepted baptism whilst i was under obligation by the SADF, to remain in the JW religion, thereby making that baptism involuntary and invalid.thank you for your support..

[/quote]

Again, they don't use or believe in the Trinitarian formula, so it's not valid anyway.

Someone born and raised a JW whose only baptism was by the JW's would need to get baptized if converting to Catholicism.


#10

[quote="Melchior, post:7, topic:299140"]
I do wonder if it is an actual mortal sin or not.

[/quote]

I agree...that's the basis of my saying that he should go to reconciliation...it gets him to talk to the Priest who may say that no mortal sin was committed.


#11

Welcome home!:dancing:::gopray:


#12

[quote="Melchior, post:9, topic:299140"]
Again, they don't use or believe in the Trinitarian formula, so it's not valid anyway.

Someone born and raised a JW whose only baptism was by the JW's would need to get baptized if converting to Catholicism.

[/quote]

First of all, welcome back to the Church! praise the Lord for your reversion! I would say that though the baptism was invalid (for lack of a belief in the Trinity as well as the divinity of Christ) it matters little in terms of whether or not this was apostasy.

Think of the Donatist heresy and Augustine's teaching surrounding it. While the priests who left the Church were eventually welcomed back with open arms, they still had to be reconciled with the Church. Because, whether fully willing it or not, they did in fact leave the Church.

Whether the sacrament was validly celebrated has no effect on the moral analysis of the situation. Remember, moral analysis comes from three things: object, intention, and circumstance. Let's look at each one individually.

Object: what was done was a formal act of apostasy.

Intention: was the intention to join the JWs, or only to appear to join the JWs? I wasn't quite sure from the OP.

Circumstances: never effect whether an act is objectively sinful, only how much culpability one has around a a given act. I think, given the circumstances, the OP's culpability is greatly reduced. But, that does not change the fact that an immoral object was committed.

Even if we're trying to go the route of applying the Principle of Double Effect, that doesn't work in this case because one of the things that must be present to properly apply the PDE is that it must not involve a sinful object.

Object, intention, and circumstances are what are important here, not whether or not the sacrament was validly a conferred. Remember, even if he had gone to a community that has a valid baptism (e.g. Lutherans) it would still be an invalid Baptism, because you can't be baptized twice.

Sum it all up...to the OP, again, welcome back! It's awesome that you've rejected your JW "baptism." But, you do need to go to Confession. Do not worry! As a priest, I would be honored to hear your Confession and personally welcome you home. I'm sure whoever of my brother priests is so privileged to hear your beautiful Confession will have the same reaction.

Many blessings!


#13

we are Italian immigrants, living in South Africa, a largely Protestant country, who used to attend mass every sunday, with relatives, in the past. we used to often meet up with fellow immigrants, at mass, and it was a very happy occasion, but because of various health related difficulties, we have grown somewhat cold in the faith now, and no longer attend, very often. i have not been to church for at least 25yrs. i miss the services a lot. i would like to be able to discuss the issue of mass and confession, with my cousins in Italy, via skype, as they are quite strong in the faith, and am sure they will be able to give me some valuable advice. i have set myself a goal to speak with our local priest, and do confession, as soon as i can finalise emigration over there. i have not visited my relatives, in 25yrs, in fact the last service i attended, was with my aunt, in Italy, in the 80's. she brought me to a cathedral, and introduced me to an elderly nun, over there, whos life of dedication and sacrifice, left a lasting impression on me. as you can understand, getting over there, to be with them, is an important priority for us, at this stage, so we need all the encouragement we can find.


#14

www.holytrinitycatholicparish.co.za/html/contact_us.html

this is the parish of a respected Italian Roman Catholic priest, from a nearby area, he is the son of 1st generation Italian immigrants. we all used to attend the Durban Italian club together, here in South Africa, in the late 70's. i am considering contacting him via email, in order to ask him for advice, with respect to my excommunication from the JW religion. whether as a baptised member of that religion, i should concern myself about the excommunication ?


#15

[quote="Melchior, post:5, topic:299140"]
This is likely a moot point in some respects, as the JW's "baptism" is invalid in the first place, as they do not believe in the Trinity*

*Do they even use a Trinitarian formula? If not, then it's very much not valid.

[/quote]

im pretty sure JW baptism is valid because they use the right formula, and at least they believe in only one God. Not that it matters in Mostoltos case because "once baptised, always baptised".

Mormon "baptism" is invalid because of their belief in many Gods...and...other ideas.

Mostolto:
Dont concern yourself with the JW excommunication or anything else to do with them. They all mean nothing. Youre out of their denomination, and that`s all that matters.

Be at peace!:thumbsup:


#16

[quote="Battleaxe, post:15, topic:299140"]
im pretty sure JW baptism is valid because they use the right formula, and at least they believe in only one God. Not that it matters in Mostoltos case because "once baptised, always baptised".

Mormon "baptism" is invalid because of their belief in many Gods...and...other ideas.

[/quote]

No...it most certainly is invalid.


#17

You`re right! :blush: i just looked it up in two different Catholic places.
Going to have to remember that one.
Thanks for the correction. :thumbsup:


#18

i am not sure how the JW leaders view my baptism in their church? its been over 12yrs since i was excommunicated. they may have a record of it on file , or they may not. either way, they have very strict regulations for dealing with excommunicated members, that include complete shunning, and even if they accept that my baptism was invalid, their members will still not be permitted to greet or speak with me. i cannot however accept that my baptism in their religion, was valid, for the stated reasons, and not withstanding that i do not intend returning to their religion, this will in any event, make the possibility of re-instatement, a more difficult task, than the predicted 6-12months of meeting attendances, that i estimated would be required, because i would need to first request re-baptism, and i am estimating that this would take at least another year, making a total of 2yrs of attendance, of a minimum of 3-5 church meetings per week, in order to at least have a basis for submitting an application for re-instatement into the JW religion. this is all hypothetical, and better left this way, as i would prefer to forget about all of this. i wish to now focus on making restitution with my families religion, and my relatives, for abandoning the Roman Catholic faith, and being absent from church, all these years. thank you for the input


#19

I have been doing bible study with the jehovah witnesses for more than a year, but I have not been baptised yet as I found strange things with their bible translation, they don't believe in trinity , hell, Mary and church,,,,, can any one help me with the real or original translation of sentence "Peter in this rock I will build my church",,, actually I wanted to convert those jw as they are my friends.


#20

[quote="metan, post:19, topic:299140"]
I have been doing bible study with the jehovah witnesses for more than a year, but I have not been baptised yet as I found strange things with their bible translation, they don't believe in trinity , hell, Mary and church,,,,, can any one help me with the real or original translation of sentence "Peter in this rock I will build my church",,, actually I wanted to convert those jw as they are my friends.

[/quote]

What are you curious about with the translation?


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.