Folks, I do not want to join your sect!

Katarzyna Woynarowska

She told me she was almost losing her faith. One of the reasons was that in the Catholic country she did not know where to find help and she had no one to talk to. No support for a lonely woman struggling against a sect that was ruining her life. But there are places where people can find help but one must know where to look for them. The loss of faith is the worst thing - it is the persecutors' victory. Then the sect wins because even if it could not suck in the delinquent in its structures it managed to take him/her out of the Church. And this is what the sect is glad about.
Therefore, we should constantly warn our neighbours against even the least dangerous contacts with those who belong to some sect - their lives can be changed into hell.

That's why I want to write about Anka

Those involved in the Dominican Centre for Information on New Religious Movements and Sects warn me, 'Never write about a concrete person giving his/her details so that one could guess who he/she is. Do not antagonise on the religious level since you will drive in the one who is harassed by the sect to even bigger troubles… For, as I have learnt, members of sects read Catholic papers. It happens that they begin grilling candidates with quotations from Catholic papers. For example, Anka saw them reading 'Niedziela' regularly.'
Anka, let us give her this Christian name, lived in the vicinity dominated by Jehovah's Witnesses several years ago. Unfortunately, such places actually exist in Poland. As far as the number of their members is concerned they are the third religious community in Poland. She did not know about that but even if she had known she would have not been scared. She associated Jehovah's Witnesses with mild, rather polite people, to whom one usually answers 'Thank you, no' without opening wide the door…' and they leave you alone.
She and her husband went to work at the seaside, thus moving from the other part of Poland. They did not know anyone in their new town. They took a bank loan and bought a flat quickly. They could see the sea from the kitchen window. The flat was a bargain. Now they know why. It was in a quiet vicinity - the others knew why. They thought it would be a wonderful place to raise children.
When did they realise that almost all their neighbours belong to Jehovah's Witnesses? 'Rather quickly but we thought that it would not be a problem,' Anka recollects. 'They did not try to impose their ideological chatter. No questions: Do you want to talk about eternal life? But we were moved by their cordiality, warmth, support in every matter. Soon my neighbours were my best friends. In a new place such people are precious. We will give you a lift; we will help you. Please come to us when you need anything - they assured us every day. And we needed their support all the time. Now I think they used it deliberately. They did not show us any real compassion at all.'
'With time some Jehovah's Witnesses whom we did not know began visiting us. They were not our neighbours. It was on purpose. They were polite, exchanging bows and smiles. 'I do not intend to leave the Catholic Church,' I said. 'But we only want to talk,' they answered smiling. 'Such a conversation has no sense,' I responded. They smiled, withdrew and returned after a few days. Then they came almost every day. They made me mad. On the other hand, we did not want to be unpleasant to our neighbours and so we tolerated their constant visits. It was a mistake! In her hometown Anka was firmly rooted in the Church. She belonged to the oasis group and to the Neocatechumenal Way. Thus she was a tough nut to crack. But in the new place, a small town with only one parish, they could not find any involvement. But they thought it was a matter of time. They joined the parish community that had already existed and it had to accept them. Therefore, they did not feel its support.
When their son was born the situation as if calmed down. Her neighbours, whom she still calls 'girls,' came to see her every day. Some of them were young mothers, too and this makes women friends. But while chatting the topic - our faith is good and yours is evil - returned but it was not done aggressively, but delicately, with a slight smile of superiority. Like those initiated into something. Anka did not react to that although she was irritated very much.
'When the elder of the community (they called him that way, an important figure) visited us regularly I and my husband thought this was no joke. We had to define our attitude. And I decidedly ordered that man to leave our home and never come again,' she relates with irritation. I only shouted, 'Folks, I do not want to join your sect!' She understood what she had done in that very moment. From that situation all those living in the block of flats stopped talking to her. They broke all contacts with her immediately. She became as if transparent, as if she did not exist. The 'girls' ignored her in an almost theatrical way. She wanted to talk to them a few times. She explained that if she did not interfere in their faith they should leave her and her family in peace. Silence. When she met them and asked for explanation, they rammed her. With time these incidents became brutal. She was mocked, commented and heard allusions all the time. There were strange phone calls during the night, always when her husband was absent. The banks refused to grant them loans, even small ones. Some banker blurted out that Anka was on the black list. Their mail was destroyed and so they did not get bills and paid them with delay. When their son grew up no children wanted to play with him. And their parents encouraged them to show aggression towards him. Anka found animals' excrements on their mat.
'One cannot live like that. We did not call the police to intervene in these small but constant cases of malice. We did not make any protocols describing some reprehensible incidents. Like they wanted us to receive their faith unnoticeably now they kept changing our lives into hell methodically. When my husband almost lost his job because of being anonymously accused of unreliability I went to the parish priest for advice. He told me one thing, 'You must move out!'
Unfortunately, that advice could not be realised. Having the loans they were connected with the husband's employer, only with his work since Anka lost her job. The firm did not prolong her contract. She heard incidentally that it was due to the bad opinion, which she had from the moment of her squabble with the Jehovah's Witnesses. Then for the first time she felt like a hounded animal.
'Everything you are telling me about Anka's situation seems improbable at first but t it true,' says Rafal who had to struggle with his short adherence to Jehovah's Witnesses. 'Sometimes it seems that the Satanists or economic sects or those using brainstorming are dangerous for us. But actually all sects are dangerous. Recognised as mild and good-mannered Jehovah's Witnesses confirm this stereotype. Those whom they regard as traitors they treat with extreme brutality. The parish priest was right to tell them to move out. But in my opinion Anka and her family should have looked for strong support in their own community and secondly, should have sought help in the Catholic centres counselling such people.'
Agnieszka Lisiecka from the Dominican Centre for Information on New Religious Movements and Sects says convincingly, 'This person can contact us. We can support people experiencing difficult situations by professional counselling. The centre most frequently proposes meetings during which we can get to know the situation of every person. During our consultation hours people can talk to educators, psychologists and theologians - priests. Together with those coming to us we arrange forms of contacts and our help. In this situation it would be advisable to contact a lawyer - what actions Anka can undertake to oppose and finally eliminate the aggressive and terrifying behaviour against her and her family. Addresses of such lawyers are in every town.

"Niedziela" 31/2011

Editor: Tygodnik Katolicki "Niedziela", ul. 3 Maja 12, 42-200 Czestochowa, Polska
Editor-in-chief: Fr Jaroslaw Grabowski • E-mail: