By Micahmedia at en.wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=13466179
By now, almost everyone reading has heard the news that Prince has died. Though the exact cause of his death is still unknown, there have been speculations that his beliefs as a Jehovah’s Witness may have played a part. Whether or not the rumors are true, it is a fact that Jehovah’s Witnesses are taught to abstain from blood transfusions. If Prince were to have refused treatment and died, he would not be the first to do so as a result of Watchtower doctrine.*
One has to wonder though, how does a person like Prince become a Jehovah’s Witness?
Prince! An artist whose music was so raunchy that Tipper Gore used it as a central example for the need of parental warning labels on CDs! Prince! A man who once wore a yellow suit tailored to expose his buttocks on national television! Prince! A true creative genius who brought a new level of artistry to his craft! We know that tennis star Serena Williams claims to be a member of Watchtower, and that Michael Jackson grew up in the group discontinuing his association in the 80s. But how did Prince get talked into such a conservative yet questionable organization?
The answer to this is Prince was human being, like all of us. He was a man who wanted to be happy, to be fulfilled, to part of something greater than himself. I did not know him personally, but he surely had questions he wanted answered and fears that he grappled with.
It seems that family life was not exactly easy for Prince. It’s been widely reported that he had a difficult childhood, and that he had been married and divorced twice. In 1996, during his first marriage, Prince lost a son to Pfeiffer syndrome just a week after his birth.
Stardom cannot prevent grief, nor does it answer questions or quell fears. Deeply felt loss can cause anyone, including superstars, to seek solace. One of the main messages of the Jehovah’s Witnesses is their doctrine’s promise for eternal life. Adherents are persuaded to believe that anyone who had died will be resurrected to a paradise earth after Armageddon (which the group has been predicting is imminent since the late 1800’s). As a Witness, Prince himself surely hoped to be reunited with the son he lost before his conversion. Like many other high-control cults, Jehovah’s Witnesses use prophetic promises to gain converts and control followers.
Newly interested ones are “love bombed” by the group and made to feel welcomed and included. Congregants of the Watchtower are instructed to include possible new additions by praising them and to specifically “give…fellow believers an incentive to serve Jehovah more fully.” This praise and love baits a person into continuing their association with the group and eventually converting. Once they are fully convinced, the Watchtower continues to use undue influence techniques to control the minds of believers and assimilate them further into the fold.
Just like all other humans, Prince was not immune to undue influence and the conversion tactics used on him. He likely had no idea he was being manipulated and was probably convinced the group had helped him find peace of mind.
Without proper education and a good understanding of how mind-control works, it can be hard for anyone to avoid undue influence. Prince was special, but he was a human, and we can all learn from that.
*It is no secret that I consider Watchtower a destructive cult. The group and its practices are a prime example of undue influence and they truly meet all the qualifications of a cult as laid out in my BITE model. I have coached many people affected by this group and even profile two ex-members in my newly revised version of Combating Cult Mind Control.