The figure of the “evil other” is a pre-ethical fixation for the religiously-minded paranoid. Everything that one most dislikes or finds threatening can be projected upon others and (usually symbolically) murdered in the age-old tradition of the scapegoat. Such projection engenders – and feeds upon – symbolic (and real) violence.
Predatory on the people who cannot bear to examine themselves, leaders of such movements play on fears of contagion, defilement and stain from without – from the evil others – and project a colonization and epidemic spread of the embodiment of such fears. This defensive projection is unstable because hidden in it is more than a grain of attraction and desire for what they have rejected.
The sin bucket is never full because it never matures into a meaningful guilt. The bucket cannot be emptied since what is rejected cannot be seen in oneself, cannot be recognized, cannot be repented of – or forgiven.
Rather than working on their own issues in humility, they isolate, dehumanize, and demonize others. It’s more exciting, and it allows them to continue to avoid confronting themselves.
While a self-protective and isolated local tribal structure might have some use for this psychology (at least, some might claim this, perhaps in combination with folk magic and other elements), it doesn’t work in any positive way today. The neo-archaic conflation of stain with criminality re-employs the rhetoric of evil and the mechanics of scapegoating in a denial of complexity that is as comforting to its followers as it is complicit in the destruction of the lives, spirits and liberties it claims to champion.
Individual insights and wisdom are drowned out in the mistrust and hysteria of the misled masses, and the people are manipulated into beliefs that work against their own interests at every level. It’s not only the paranoid religious who hide their sins – while making claims to authority! – in the distributed masses. The right-wing haters have discovered the vein runs deep in the American public, and have found myriad ways to leverage it. Terrorists and intelligence agencies alike – and many corporations – have learned that a distributed network of the masses works better than centralization – they form cells, nodes, groups and global networks. The avoidance of accountability at the group, national, and global scales works in much the same way. These are horizontal, not vertical, structures. If you deal with one appearance, several others pop up to replace it. Hate groups shall rise again.
Self-integration, individuation, and transformation seem to be impossible for such to mature into, and they appear to be stuck in the shame/stain/defilement space that exists before the existential experience of guilt and forgiveness (and perhaps grace). Because they cannot move along psycho-spiritually themselves, they continue to fling this childish judgment out onto others. They are underdeveloped as human souls.
I have found that direct confrontation with affected persons and groups is usually fruitless, although it must be done.
Action through affiliation, cooperation, and alliance with others are the better strategies. Humor and satire work to undermine propaganda and to culture-jam destructive memes. It’s also good training for ambiguity tolerance, which is perhaps the first step to many solutions.
Setting a better example, in essays and editorials and public performances, can create new possibilities for points of view. Widely-circulated stories and poetry and interviews and photographs make it more difficult to dehumanize others. Jesus urged his followers to visit people in prison, to treat the stranger with hospitality, to clothe and feed the poor.
I have to remind myself of all of this more often than I would like, both for self-reflection and frustration tolerance. I have to remember that no matter how awful, unfeeling, and unethical some folks seem to be, they are also human and they have their own path. Except in very rare cases, we ought to be able to have a dialogue. I try, but I wish that I were better at seeing the sacred within others sometimes. At times I react with sadness and anger. It’s easier to talk with people who have self-awareness and some modicum of ability for meta-reasoning (becoming aware of your processes of thought as they happen, thinking about thinking) – but I often seem to lack the patience to work things through in as loving and civil a way as I would like.
It’s still something that is very important to me to cultivate in myself. Beyond all the ethical reasons why, there is a reward in it. When you do things – including thinking and believing – that welcome understanding, empathy and compassion for another, when you allow the other to speak to you (and in a sense through you) it’s a powerful reminder of just how human and just how numinous each of us really is – and all of us really are. The paradox of that moment for me is that through paying attention to what can resonate in particularity, one also experiences the divine, complex interconnectedness of all.
It’s been a while since I posted on Jehovah’s Witnesses in the news. Here’s a roundup. Refusals of blood transfusions, resulting in death. Sexual predators and child molestation. Mental instability. Violence. Even a possible kidnapping. The usual.
I am sure that I’ve missed several additional items, but I’ve become too sad to do more than this today.
Jehovah’s Witnesses, you call yourselves “sheep.” If you must have a shepherd, why not seek a more loving one than the harsh caricature constructed by the publishing empire of the Watchtower Society? I grieve for you. I grieve for you.
14-year-old Dennis Lindberg Refuses Treatment for Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia and Dies
Doctors said he needed treatment that included blood transfusions; most children with this form of leukemia recover. However, Lindberg was a Jehovah’s Witness, and transfusions go against the teachings of his religion. He became a Witness while in the care of his aunt, also a follower, who became his legal guardian after his biological father was jailed for drug possession.
As she suffered severe blood loss and her life ebbed away, medical staff urged her husband, Anthony, and her parents, all of whom follow the same faith, to overrule her decision and allow a transfusion which could have saved her, but they refused. She gave birth naturally and all appeared well as she cuddled her baby son and daughter, but she suddenly began to haemorrhage. Her condition was complicated by the fact she was anaemic.
The latest pronouncement on the topic from the Watchtower authorities said that anyone using blood products, even in life-saving surgery, would be “disfellowshipped” – or expelled from the Church. This usually means being shunned by friends and family. However, if “true repentance” is shown, they can be readmitted to the Church. This change was introduced to take some of the heat out of the bad publicity that followed the hundreds of deaths of Jehovah’s Witnesses around the world because of the blood ban. The authorities are reluctant to lift the ban completely — even though there are suspicions that they would like to — because they fear being sued by families who have lost loved ones to the policy which, in the end, would have turned out, after all, not to be the fixed and eternal word of God, but the demands of mere, deluded mortals.
Jehovah’s Witnesses defended yesterday the decision of a young mother who died after refusing a potentially life-saving blood transfusion, having just given birth to twins. To agree to a transfusion would have been a transgression comparable to adultery or sexual immorality, a spokesman from the central office of the British community of Jehovah’s Witnesses told The Times yesterday.
Really? That’s odd, because “sexual immorality” is quite common among Jehovah’s Witnesses. Acceptance of a blood transfusion, even to save a life, is taken more seriously – exponentially so. It’s considered the ultimate test of your faith.
Her right to refuse treatment was respected, enshrined in law, upheld by the establishment – but what of her children’s right to a mother’s love?
What, moreover, of the doctors’ and nurses’ right to do the utmost to save her life? What of our right to decide that any religious belief that condemns its devotees to death is dangerous, pernicious and does not deserve reverence or respect?
Most religions freely allow the breaking of their most solemn laws if human life is at stake. Muslims, if they will starve to death otherwise, may eat pork. Jews, if the situation is life and death, may break the Sabbath or eat and drink on the Day of Atonement.
Should a religion that sits by and allows a healthy young mother to refuse life-saving treatment be afforded the same deference as religions which recognise that human life is paramount?
Ex-JW Rachel Underhill Recalls her Own Brush with Death
“I went into premature labour… [and] was told I would need an emergency Caesarean but it wasn’t until very late that night that my consultant noticed I was a Jehovah’s Witness and what that meant. I’d grown up as one, so even as a child I’d known that I wasn’t allowed a blood transfusion. But never in my wildest dreams did I think that I’d ever need one,” she said.
“When I was in labour… no way was I in any physical or emotional state to say that I might have wanted a transfusion… I’d have been cast out of the religion, which at that point was the last thing I wanted. I needed the network that being a Jehovah’s Witness gave you. Plus it’s a very controlling religion, and I didn’t even think of challenging it.”
She eventually cut her ties with the church. This means she is now free to speak out on issues such as blood transfusions. “I think that in extreme cases, doctors should be able to override a Jehovah’s Witness’s wishes,” she added.
…Jehovah’s Witnesses do use many fractions and components of blood, so if it’s “sacred” to God why the hypocritical contradiction?
They also use blood collections that are donated by the Red Cross and others but don’t donate back . . . yet more hypocrisy.
The Watchtower promotes and praises bloodless elective surgeries. This is a great advancement indeed. But it’s no good to me if I am bleeding to death from a car crash and lose half my blood volume and need an emergency transfusion.
The reason that Jehovah’s Witnesses refuse blood is because of their spin on the Old Testament of the Bible from 3000 years ago.
Modern medicine will eventually make blood donations and transfusions a thing of the past. But when this technology happens it won’t vindicate the Jehovah’s Witnesses and all the deaths that have occurred so far.Their rules against blood transfusions will eventually be abolished (very gradually to reduce wrongful death lawsuit liability). Even now most of the blood components are allowed. In 20 years there will be artificial blood and the Red Cross will go on with other noble deeds.
None of these changes, however, will absolve the Watchtower leaders or vindicate their twisted doctrines. — Danny Haszard
A man who identified himself as Flores’ brother tells ABC15 their family is very upset with the 8-year-old’s family. He said it, “was her fault too… she pressured him.” … Flores lives across the street from Buckeye Elementary School.
She was “askin’ for it” – right?
67-year-old JW Elder in Quebec Convicted: 7-year Sexual Abuse
Found guilty in December 2006 of acts of sexual abuse of a minor – acts which took place between 1985 and 1992 – Marcel Simonin, 67 years old, formerly an Elder among the Jehovah’s Witnesses of Châteauguay at the time of the crimes, has been sentenced to serve 9 months in prison. He will serve the sentence in the community.
Simonin received his sentence last Wednesday at the Châteauguay Court House. At the time of the initial incidents of assault, the victim – a young girl – was only 11 years old.
The mother of the young victim met the individual – who at that time was an Elder, that is to say that he was a speaker during congregation meetings – at the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Châteauguay. He taught the precepts of their way of life and spiritually supported members of the congregation.
After gaining the confidence of this woman and of her daughter, he proceeded to engage in multiple incidents of intimate contact with the adolescent. The incidents included simple touching and full sexual intercourse.
During those 8 years, the assaults took place in several locations; notably, in the defendant’s home, in his car, at the home of the young girl and in the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Châteauguay.
In her verdict, Judge Linda Despots – of the Criminal and Penal Chamber of Court – noted that the victim had lodged a complaint at the age of 16 or 17, but later withdrew that complaint as “she felt pressured by the community and by the threat of being disfellowshipped. It was another Elder, in the Québec region where the mother and the complainant had moved, who persuaded her to write a letter to the authorities of the Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses concerning her experiences with the accused.
Following receipt of that letter, Simonin telephoned his victim to apologize for the events, after having admitted the truth of the accusations. The complainant, allegedly, then forgave him.
However, when in 2003 the young girl again saw the accused during an Assembly of Jehovah’s Witnesses at the Olympic Stadium in Montréal, his presence re-opened her wounds and caused her to re-live the feeling of guilt that she experienced during the years when she had been victimized by the molestations. The young girl then had some difficult years during which she made 3 attempts at suicide and submitted herself to psychological treatment.
In 2005, in order to continue her therapeutic progress and to free herself, the young girl decided again to file a complaint against the accused.
After his wife went to bed, Willick gave the girl a beer. He then kissed, fondled, undressed her and had intercourse with her, Bains said. The victim, now 25, recalled during the preliminary hearing that she was wearing Mickey Mouse underpants at the time. She said the advance began without warning and she did not know what was going on, Bains said.
Wendell Willick, 47, was counselling the girl at the behest of her parents – who were friends of Willick through their church – during the period of the abuse, which began in 1996, when the girl was 14. The court heard during a sentencing hearing that Willick first had sexual intercourse with the girl when she was visiting his home on a weekend pass from a hospital psychiatric ward. The victim, whose name is protected by a publication ban, was in the midst of a troubled adolescence. She had once run away from home and had repeatedly cut herself. … The girl’s trust and spiritual beliefs were shattered, she said in a victim impact statement that was read during the sentencing hearing. “It made me feel like a person of no value with no voice. . . . Parts of myself are missing,” she wrote.
The Crown Prosecution Service is to review the sentence of Michael Porter, the elder in the Jehovah’s Witnesses who was sentenced to a mere three years’ community rehabilitation after admitting abusing little boys (one a baby of 18 months) over 14 years. The leniency of this sentence caused outrage at the time . It also focused attention- as in some other churches’ cases in the past – on the dangers religions run when encouraging undue reverence for senior figures. … I can find no comment on the Watchtower website about the Porter case, or policy on this subject, but a page of warnings against internet chatroom predators.
Judge Tom Crowther opted not to jail the self-confessed paedophile after hearing he had undergone therapy. Dan Norris, Labour MP for Wansdyke, Somerset, and a former child protection officer, welcomed the Attorney General’s decision. “A relieved public will greatly welcome this common sense decision to review this wicked abuser’s sentence,” he said.
When someone commits the sin of literalism, they grip the letter of the law so tightly that they squeeze out the intent with which it was written. …
Anyway, since the child molesters and child-rapists generally don’t attack their victims in front of two witnesses, all the Elders do is ask the perpetrator if he did it. If he says no, then they close the case. So, the pervert goes on preaching door-to-door, telling people how to be righteous, and when he gets another chance, he molests another kid. Then he molests another. Then he molests another. The Elders know. When the kids turn 13 and begin to act out sexually, as traumatized children will, then the Elders punish the kids for being “rebellious.” By punish, I mean cut them off from all friends and family. …
So, you may ask why I wrote this. Haven’t I gotten over it now that I have my own thing? Well, a lot of us have trouble moving on, what with bipolar manic-depression, insomnia, obsessive-compulsive disorder, mommy-issues, daddy-issues, and dysfunctional romantic relationships. These betrayals strike at the throat of our lives, because we’ve been taught that all the other churches follow Satan, and this is the Church of Love. Every other word is Love. But if the word love means anything, it means compassion and mercy for women and children, victims and helpless.
Ex-JW Barbara Anderson Still Fighting – Court Documents on National Television
According to Anderson, she has amassed nearly 5,000 pages of court documents that are presented on a digital CD titled, “Secrets of Pedophilia in an American Religion, Jehovah’s Witnesses in Crisis,” for the general public to examine. After reviewing the CD, NBC apparently became interested in her efforts to substantiate her claim that although church headquarters kept track of sexual abuse cases in a data-base, their rules hindered reporting accusations of child abuse to the authorities. As mentioned in the MSN article, Anderson contends that Witness policies “protect pedophiles rather than protect the children.”…
“The court documents on the CD are full of dialog and documentation exchanged between opposing counsels in 12 different alleged child molestation cover-up cases,” she said. “Shortly before these cases were scheduled to go to open court trial last April, where evidence would expose the responsibility of Jehovah’s Witnesses for secretly allowing molesters to hold positions of authority within the religion, the defendant, Watchtower, secretly settled out of court with 16 plaintiffs paying as much as $12,500,000 in total.”
NBC News reported that it obtained a copy of one of the settlement documents in which an alleged victim in one of the nine cases involving 16 victims received $781,250.
“By absolute insistence of the defendant Watchtower’s attorneys, all of the plaintiffs and their attorneys were required to sign a conditional ‘do not ever talk about this to anyone’ confidentiality order,” says Anderson. “Then the Watchtower organization walked away without admitting any liability,” she said.
Anderson says some of the court documents she was able to obtain “were intended by defendants to be buried for eternity.”
The farm is exempt from property taxes, according to town officials. If the property was taxed, the bill would be about $2 million. … Such religious and other groups are under heightened scrutiny from town officials. A recent court ruling allows governments to reject the property tax exemptions in some cases. Assessors will be taking another look at some organizations as a result, Schoeberl said.
Already on Probation, Jehovah’s Witness Goes on Drunken Rampage with Baseball Bat
She said Roth is deeply involved in a Jehovah’s Witnesses church and “lost his standing” in the church as a result of the charges. He wasn’t allowed to participate in all church activities, although he continues 25 hours of volunteer work a week with the church, she said. …He was fined $350 for breaching a probation order not to drink. On Sept. 23, police saw him urinating in front of a restaurant on University Avenue in Waterloo.
25 hours of “volunteer work” a week? That’s about 100 hours a month, which translates to status as a top pioneer (missionary). Exactly what standing did he lose? How would you like to be talking to this guy about God at your door?
Possible JW Involvement in the Missing Maddie Case
The mystery woman knocked at the door and said she was a Jehovah’s Witness. She was accompanied by a man. Sixsmith said: “I can’t get it out of my head that it may have been Mr Murat and his girlfriend.”
In Brooklyn, the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ Watchtower Bible & Tract Co. of New York sold a building at 89 Hicks St. to Brooklyn Law School. A few months ago it sold a 48-unit elevator apartment building for $14 million.
(Non-JW!) College Students Ban the Pledge
I still don’t salute the flag or do the pledge of loyalty to the piece of cloth. I stand in solidarity with the small group of undergraduate politicians at Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa that voted to ban the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance at their student government meetings.
There was a predictable reaction to this rather insignificant decision: hysteria. One fellow student “became so distraught by the announcement of the ban that she immediately began reciting the pledge” – like starting in with “Hail Mary” or crossing yourself? Has the pledge started to function as a protective talisman? A ward against evil? Oh, dear.
Another accused the student leaders of ‘anti-Americanism’ – yeah, right, uh-huh. The story was posted on the Christian Broadcasting Network website within the week.
Because these students obviously have a little extra time on their hands, and with their holiday break coming up, I recommend that they all read Richard J. Ellis’ book, “To the Flag,” an excellent and little-known work that also ought to be required reading for every grown-up politician who might be tempted to finger-point in the debate over the pledge. “The words of the pledge,” Ellis writes, “have inspired millions, but they have also been used to coerce and intimidate; to compel conformity and to silence dissent.” …
It is a mistake for anyone to place the pledge on a par with the Declaration of Independence, the preamble to the Constitution or even the national anthem when it comes to hymns that bring us together in voice and spirit. But people have long misunderstood and misapplied the pledge.
The dispute at Orange Coast College is mainly about loyalty to government and not the controversial words “under God” in the pledge — the dispute that most recently has drawn our legal and political attention. But it doesn’t matter. Even before those words were added in the 1950s as a bulwark against communism, Americans were hurting each other — literally — in the name of the pledge.
In Pennsylvania in the 1930s, Ellis notes in his book, officials didn’t just expel students from school for not reciting the pledge, they whipped and choked and beat them too. School officials would report these students to government authorities, who then got court orders to separate the parents from their children, sometimes for years. Mobs of citizens persecuted Jehovah’s Witnesses and others who refused to recite the pledge. It took a 1943 U.S. Supreme Court decision, which declared that people had a 1st Amendment right not to be forced by the government into reciting the pledge, to stop the physical violence. But divisions over the pledge clearly remain.
So the rabble-rousing students at Orange Coast College are merely doing what their predecessor protesters have done for more than a century. And the folks who are criticizing them have a long history as well.
Never mind Ellis’ must-read book. Listen to what then-Minnesota Gov. Jesse “The Body” Ventura had to say when he vetoed a measure requiring public school students to recite the pledge at least once a week: “There is much more to being a patriot and a citizen than reciting a pledge or raising a flag.”
Kicked out for Boxing
20-year-old boxer Mary McGee was raised by her grandma, who took her from her mother when she was just two weeks old. Her mother wasn’t there for her — or her brothers. Both brothers have served jail time. One is out, while the other is serving out his sentence on a robbery charge in Colorado (where he has lived since grandma shipped him off to boys’ camp).
Turns out, those nights Mary and her grandfather watched boxing on television were illicit under the strict doctrines of Witnesses. So too was training at the P.A.L. gym, and shadow boxing, for hours at a time, in the back yard.
Mary had just won the Chicago Golden Gloves, one of the premier amateur boxing contests in the country, and members of the congregation read about it in the local papers.
Participating in boxing or another martial art is grounds for the Witnesses’ version of excommunication, called disfellowship. Mary had to quit boxing or move out. She cried and she yelled. She agreed to quit.
But she was 17, and she did what teenagers do when they want to do what they want to do.
She trained in secret, and told her grandmother she was staying late at school. In secret she went with the P.A.L. team to a fight in Indianapolis.
“My auntie lived down there and she saw me on TV and called my grandma. She didn’t know I wasn’t supposed to be fighting,” Mary said. “When I got home, I was out.”
Condemning Religions that… What? Ok, is it Hypocrisy or Irony?
You get kicked out for boxing, but.. sexual predators can be JW elders for years.
“The End of False Religion is Near” – the recently distributed tract known as KN37 (Kingdom News 37) – focused on several “traits” manifested by “false” religion. The end of false religion is near… because just about everyone is about to be destroyed at Armageddon? Because JWs are suddenly going to be wildly successful as the “true religion”? Already it’s a weird message. Clearly the reader is not expected to put together exactly how “false religion” will end, but only to go through some fearful checkmarks to make sure that they align themselves with the “true religion.”
We’ll focus on just one aspect of the tract today, because it’s the part that is most astounding – requiring a gargantuan amount of self-righteousness, hypocrisy, blindness, and sheer nerve. Next to a photo of a man wearing a priest’s collar, it says:
In Western lands church groups ordain gay and lesbian members of the clergy and urge governments to recognize same-sex marriages. Even churches that condemn immorality have tolerated religious leaders who have sexually abused children.
… Do you know of religions that condone immoral sex?
Jehovah’s Witnesses are internationally known to be second only to the Catholic Church with regard to the publicity of their child abuse scandal. The expose dates back to the NBC Dateline program that aired in May of 2002. Since that program aired over twenty different programs in eight different countries have offered the testimony of countless children victimized by the policies of Jehovah’s Witnesses on the sexual abuse of children. Key areas were highlighted that were unlike any religion in dealing with these issues. To name a few;
Two-eye witnesses required before a child’s accusation would be accepted as valid in the face of the molesters’ denial.
Molesters required participation in the door to door canvassing work of Jehovah’s Witnesses to study with prospective members.
Re-appointing pedophiles to positions of authority after twenty years of no further two eye- witness accusations.
Disfellowshipping victims and advocates when they attempted to go public with the child abuse problem in the religion.
Encouraging members to testify as character witnesses on behalf of convicted pedophiles at sentencing hearings.
Advocating the violation of federal laws in reporting child abuse by stating to church leadership that if parents chose to not report abuse it was a personal decision.
Spending hundreds of thousands of dollars using donated Worldwide Work monies to defend the “religious right” of pedophiles to prevent arrest and convictions for child rape.
Maintaining a database of over 23,000 sex offenders within the church most of which have not been revealed to members or law enforcement.
While members were actively denouncing “false” religion for allowing the sexual abuse of children during October and November, here’s what’s been going on…
Most of these multiple offenders were serving in appointed capacity within their congregations in the USA, Australia, Canada and Mexico.
How many current Catholic reports of sexual abuse have been reported in the last thirty days? There are close to one billion Catholics worldwide but just under seven million Jehovah’s Witnesses. Based on those numbers does this appear to be a high amount of bizarre pedophile stories being reported to media from such a small religious group? …
Jehovah’s Witnesses should have a moment of silence for the children their religion has hurt by policies they openly support. They should hang their collective heads in shame for their self-righteous denunciation of other religions on the epidemic problem areas they ignore within their own faith.
How ironic that the Watchtower Society’s protection of sexual predators, child abusers, and pedophiles is condemned in their own tract.
Bush finally decided to veto something after six years: Stem cell research – a bill that even this Congress passed in both Houses.
“Now that’s something to save yer virgin veto for! All the people who might benefit from the research – well, they don’t matter so much. Those are future people – they don’t hardly count, not like those itty bitty blobs of cells so dear to the heart of that God-guy who’s gonna kill all you damn Liberals right soon. What matters is the manly action (superman!) to protect them pre-differentiated embryonic cells from study before they still get discarded. Well, we never said they wuz goin’ anywheres to thrive.”
My first line of thinking on this was simply that if this research doesn’t go forward here, it will elsewhere. Scientists in other countries will move ahead, and we won’t. Meanwhile, Rove is slinking around with his typical misinformation.
Tell me the truth – are there people who believe anything at all that Rove says? Can’t we just bestow a title, like “Duke of Propaganda and Slander,” upon him? Maybe they could have some pagentry, with flags and boots (or slippers?).
But wait! Didn’t Bush already allow limited funding of embryonic stem cell work in August 2001?
I think we should be debating bioethics on several fronts, including this one.
However, I don’t really think the Bush “virgin veto” is about morals or values – or even religious conformity.
It’s not even primarily about his “base” (did you know that’s how “al Qaeda” translates?).
This bill isn’t so much about the research itself. It’s about the funding! It’s about….privatization!
Private foundations and companies have continued funding this research, after all. It’s an investment.
Hmmm…. could it be that there might be private interests who might (gasp) want to be the ones to make all the money on this?
Maybe even…. some major contributors to Bush and the Republican party?
I wonder if someone would do a crosslisting of the likely companies who might profit from internal discoveries and applications and, say, those who were given the Medicare drug benefit to write for our legislative branch? Can we see a list of the companies who are doing this research now, and their campaign contributions?
I’m sorry to say it (and to believe it too), but when this administration talks values and morals, follow the money.
Corruption is a serious threat to our form of government, and all the more so until we have public-funded elections. The news tonight was full of horrified reporters noticing that some Katrina money was wasted and used inappropriately (they don’t mention the money that went to Pat Robertson, though). Still, we haven’t gotten much explanation of the disappearance of much larger sums through the hands of completely different segments of our population (and corporations who have been granted “personhood”).
What would be the benefit to Americans if the research was funded by the federal government, rather than by corporate interests? I’m not a lawyer, but if anyone out there has an informed opinion on the possibilities here, please comment.
If you’re wondering why I haven’t blogged on the current violence in the Middle East, it’s because my opinion is not as well-informed as it could be. I don’t feel qualified to stand forth with an analysis.
I don’t trust much of what I’m hearing in the news, especially knowing that there is a lot of history there. What we are getting is a snapshot viewpoint here and there. My overall feeling so far is that there is plenty of blame, and a fair bit of hypocrisy and spin, to go around. I would like to hear viewpoints from countries that are a lot less involved in that part of the world.
As the violence has escalated more and more people are being killed.
I hope there are people already there (and with greater skill than Condi) who can help negotiate an end to this bloodshed.
I have the distinguished honor of being on the committee to raise $5,000,000 for a monument to George W. Bush.
We originally wanted to put him on Mt. Rushmore until we discovered there was not enough room for two more faces.
We then decided to erect a statue of George in the Washington, DC Hall Of Fame. We were in a quandary as to
where the statue should be placed. It was not proper to place it beside the statue of George Washington, who never told a lie, or beside Richard Nixon, who never told the truth, since George could never tell the difference.
We finally decided to place it beside Christopher Columbus, the greatest Republican of them all. He left not knowing where he was going, and when he got there he did not know where he was. He returned not knowing where he had been, destroyed the well-being of the majority of the population while he was there, and did
it all on someone else’s money.
It’s such a familiar narrative now, and it’s almost comforting to me to see more and more people testifying to it – to know that what I observed and experienced is pretty much the same from congregation to congregation, and not just a matter of my own family or community in the Jehovah’s Witnesses: the fantasies of a paradise earth devoid of all but other Jehovah’s Witnesses, the fatalism toward the coming apocalypse and the lack of engagement in the world, an almost total lack of compassion, paranoia and fear of others, spankings and beatings “out back” at the Hall, the abusive and sometimes predatory nature of many of the elders, the way small slights divide families while larger issues are ignored, the hypocrisy, the mind-numbing repetition in the many meetings – the smallness of it all.
Joy Castro is now a literature professor – it is very heartening to find that so many of us, who were not irretrievably damaged but instead went on to thrive, were able to save our sanity and navigate a different path if we had something else – like intellectual curiosity, a higher sense of ethics, compassion for others – some private treasure to hold onto like a mantra while redefinining faith and value for ourselves.
Three times a week in the Kingdom Hall in Miami, my brother and I strove to sit perfectly still in our chairs. Our mother carried a wooden spoon in her purse and was quick to take us outside for beatings if we fidgeted.
My loneliness was nourished by rich, beautiful fantasies of eternal life in a paradise of peace, justice, racial harmony and environmental purity, a recompense for the rigor and social isolation of our lives.
This bliss wasn’t a future we had to work for. Witnesses wouldn’t vote, didn’t involve themselves in worldly matters, weren’t activists. Jehovah would do it all for us, destroying everyone who wasn’t a Witness and restoring the earth to harmony. All we had to do was obey and wait.
Shortly after our return to the States, my father was disfellowshipped for being an unrepentant smoker — smoking violated God’s temple, the body, much like fornication and drunkenness. Three years later, my parents’ marriage dissolved. My mother’s second husband had served at Bethel, the Watchtower’s headquarters in Brooklyn. Our doctrines, based on Paul’s letters in the New Testament, gave him complete control as the new head of the household; my mother’s role was to submit. My stepfather happened to be the kind of person who took advantage of this authority, physically abusing us and forcing us to shun our father completely.
After two years, I ran away to live with my father. My brother joined me a tumultuous six months later. We continued to attend the Kingdom Hall and preach door to door; the Witnesses had been our only community. Leaving was a gradual process that took months of questioning. I respected all faiths deeply, but at 15 I decided that I could no longer be part of a religion that condoned inequality.
I love my mother, but I also love my ”worldly” life, the multitude of ideas I was once forbidden to entertain, the rich friendships and the joyous love of my family. By choosing to live in the world she scorned — to teach in a college, to spare the rod entirely, to believe in the goodness of all kinds of people — I have, in her eyes, turned my back not only on Jehovah but also on her.
Here’s a bit from “Farm Use” in Without a Net, in which she writes about mealtimes:
“Food becomes a measured thing. Each mealtime, my stepfather dishes himself up from the pots. Then my mother may help herself to half of what he has taken. Then, while he watches, she can spoon half of what she’s taken onto my plate. A portion half the size of mine goes to my brother. If my stepfather wants a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, my brother gets one-eighth. If she gives us more than my stepfather calculates is correct, he beats us with his belt.”
What is it with the belt, anyway? I remember my mother asking my father to hit us with his hand, so that he could feel how hard he was hitting us – but he preferred the belt, followed by a biblical lecture which might well have been a reading from some back issue of the Watchtower magazine. Of course we had all the bound volumes. I remember being beaten one time for standing near to the stereo and looking to him as though I might be thinking about touching it. He wanted his children to be perfect in Jehovah’s eyes – spare the rod, spoil the child. Myself, I always wondered what exactly a “rod” was… I mean, in that context (ha). It always sounded like it might have been a bad translation – anyone know?
There is something inherent in controlling authoritarian communities like the JWs that helps to produce – and serves in some ways to protect – sexual predators of all kinds and, for some reason, especially pedophiles. There was at least one such in my own congregation, who described me as a “perfect little doll” to my parents and who gave me the permanent creeps. He was in his seventies before any charges were made, but I knew deep in my heart that they had to be true. He was convicted – but although he is on lifetime parole, he appears to be a JW member in good standing and according to his stepdaughter even goes door to door and is available for bible studies to families. Three elders of my childhood knew about this (Richard V, Arnold E & Richard M) – and I was simply stunned, even now, to know that not only did they essentially do nothing to protect the children under their care (including me!) but that they didn’t even warn the congregation in any way. While Ralph was “disfellowshipped” for a short time, he simply moved from one congregation to another and in any case we were not told why he was being disciplined. In this case, the predator admitted his guilt and served… one year. This is only one of many such stories.
One of the elders mentioned above was someone that I trusted – he and his family were close friends with my family when I was young. I liked them. After my parents each had their various issues and ins and outs with the JWs, they were less friendly – but I always remembered a very happy time with them at the beach. It’s just another one of those little disappointments. I would have thought he might have done better.
With this going on, they were still pretty keen to accuse me of sexual misconduct based on testimonies from people never named to me – and I was innocent, but gossip spread like wildfire anyway. Yet in my own congregation this was happening and he was allowed to grab me at a wedding and dance “powerful close” to me, the scent of him with his horrible after-shave cologne and his greased hair, his body pressed close to mine making me want to scream and run away. And no one blinks. Here was this known abuser, this pedophile, this control freak, this sadist, walking around smiling. Then there’s me – supposedly this “rebellious youth” – singing Kingdom songs at the top of her lungs at every meeting, trying to be kind and good, being gossipped about and maligned and slandered. When I was later raped (by someone who was not a witness at least) do you think I would go to the JWs for help in a million years? No, I knew better. Because of their views on the nature of God, I even thought that I was being punished by Jehovah for not being more active, for not getting baptised, for asking questions, for not trusting the elders enough… So what DID help? Going to a female psychologist, just long enough to find different ways of thinking about things. Playing the piano. Drawing. Reading fiction. Writing things down to work them out. Taking walks. And, finally, making outside friends, finding outside interests. Most of all, for me, finding a more authentic spiritual path, and discovering – with the help of many fine teachers from all walks of life – how to ask better questions.
“AFTER using children to satisfy perverted lusts, after robbing them of their security and their sense of innocence, child molesters still want something else from their victims—SILENCE. To secure that silence, they use shame, secrecy, even outright terror. Children are thus robbed of their best weapon against abuse—the will to tell, to speak up and ask an adult for protection. Tragically, adult society often unwittingly collaborates with child abusers. How so? By refusing to be aware of this danger, by fostering a hush-hush attitude about it, by believing oft-repeated myths. Ignorance, misinformation, and silence give safe haven to abusers, not their victims. For example, the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops concluded recently that it was a “general conspiracy of silence” that allowed gross child abuse to persist among the Catholic clergy for decades.”
Is this for real? They talk about exactly what they did as silent complicit enables, and then point to the Catholic version? The next step is to talk about the responsibility of the child and his/her parents not to become an “ideal victim”? Sheesh. They do give some tips on protection, but there is no discussion of action at the level of the elders or the organziation. They are very careful. There isn’t even any reference here to their requirement for two witnesses. On the next article, they say (of course it’s “they” because we don’t know the author), “Isolation, rigidity, and obsessive secrecy — these unhealthy, unscriptural attitudes are trademarks of the abusive household.” Dear dear JWs – These are of course the very attitudes that they foster, and they are also the trademarks of the abusive congregation, the abusive religion…. While they claim that wife-batterers don’t often change, they seem to think that pedophiles (with an even more intractable cluster of problems) will. Meanwhile, there isn’t much of a sense from any of their articles here that they would encourage reporting the molestor to the authorities. There are a couple of throwaway lines about some victims or family members who might feel they should report it – just in terms of the laws of some places requiring it, but immediately they invoke the possibility that justice might not be served.
The truth of the matter is that JWs like secrecy and control. In many ways, they treat their people like children – and that family is not always a safe place to be. The propaganda wing at The JW Office of Public Information doesn’t have a contact form, but there is a phone number to call with questions should you be so inclined. Evidentally, they don’t want any kind of paper trail. It’s interesting that they have a separate number for journalists. For any kind of discussion you are redirected to the local level. They’ve got it all worked out – very neat.
If you want to understand more about this issue and why many people think that the organization bears some of the responsibility (and may even have restructured the corporation to prepare for lawsuits), check out Silent Lambs and the Watchtower News Service. They both have a lot of information.
For myself, I think that the pattern of abuse of all kinds (check out those news stories!) is a symptom of large, deep problems. I actually laughed out loud when I saw that they were doing things on the official site with the topic of women’s rights – wow, what a strange idea since in that group women are definitely second-class despite being in the majority in most congregations. They talk about their good works around the world – but look a little closer at what those good works actually entail in terms of “what” and “for who.” However they present their official “face” to the world, JWs are in fact taught to believe that the outside world is an inherently evil place and that all authorities of that world are controlled and ruled by Satan the devil. People in the congregation are taught to distrust all outsiders, including police, judges, and psychologists, and they are even encouraged to lie as a “theocratic war strategy.” While predators (especially male ones) seem to have avrious protections, heaven help the victims of abuse, the confused, the ones with psychological issues, the ones who want a deeper spiritual or intellectual understanding beyond rote repetition, or to have a dialogue or debate. None of the above have any resources in the group itself – none. They are on their own.
If you are a JW who has been physically or sexually abused – please – report it to the police and other appropriate authorities. Don’t listen to anyone who tells you that you can only pray on it and wait for Jehovah. Don’t concern yourself about any so-called “disciplinary action.” You have to have a higher priority. First things first! Stop the abuse before it leads to further incidents – like rape, like murder. Protect yourself. Protect your children if you have them. Do not engage in any interior conversation about not trusting worldly authorities – get out, get help, report it to the police and, if you want, to the elders. There are women’s crisis centers in any moderately sized city. If you are paralyzed with indecision or fear, or even if you somehow feel that you “deserve” what is happening to you, call a hot line, get help. You are NOT on your own in this matter and you can get help. You are taking a big risk if you simply trust the organization to do this – their record is just…not exemplary.