Rewriting the JW Implanted Belief List

As a therapeutic exercise, I attempted to rewrite the list of possible EX-JW Dysfunctional Beliefs from Mindful Construct in terms of my own perspective. I meant this to be simple, but it didn’t work out that way. Some of it is rewritten, some of it is explanatory, some of it is questioning – but I’ll honor where this took me and not go back and make the form of the responses consistent.

  1. Jehovah’s Witnesses are the only ones who know God, he has shown them the truth about the world because they are honest and sincere and want to know truth. The Ultimate Deity, if there is one, could by definition be the only one who is and possesses Truth. Many believe that humans can participate in truth and love, but no-one can fully live or possess it. The God of Love shows authentic seekers the path of love within their own context. There are people who try their best to take the path of love in every religion, and outside religion. In every collective group, there are lovers and haters, there is faith and fear. And within each person, it is the same.
  2. Studying the Bible with the Witnesses is the only way to understand the full truth we need to know right now so that we can love and live forever. As a sacred collection of texts, the bible has been and can be a source of spiritual insights. There are many ways to read the texts, but taking small bits out of context is superficial and often misleading. The Witnesses’ interpretations are as flawed as those of any other group, and the claims to authority and transparency are arrogant rather than humble. People have created many methods to pursue truth. Most of them do not involve the shutdown of dialogue, caring, and freedom.
  3. The Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses in New York are God’s channel of truth, like Moses was. They are full of love and truth. The spiritual status of the Governing Body is unknown, just as for any other group who claims to speak for God’s Will. What is known is that the Governing Body is very concerned with organization, legal protections, real estate deals, and authoritative control of membership. Jesus warned of false prophets, and to measure teachings by their accordance with his own. Teachings that inspire fear, self-righteousness and a fundamental dismissal of others are lacking in love and kindness. Judge by the fruits of the spirit (I still like that one).
  4. I am on an evil course in life because I have left the Witnesses and disassociated myself. It would have been a betrayal of my own spirituality and relationship with the cosmos/God to have stayed within the group. My own path required that I explore, inquire, and even celebrate. That my fundamental wellsprings of spirituality could be considered evil suggests that the Watchtower has made of itself an idol. Group membership at its best provides community, love, support, and inspiration –things that are sometimes profoundly lacking within the Witnesses.
  5. Everyone who is not a Witness is knowingly or unknowingly under the devil’s control. The line of good and evil runs down the center of each person’s heart. What we choose to do, how we choose to navigate situations, builds the type of character that we are becoming. If we cannot take responsibility for our shadow sides, we can’t integrate its strengths, and we tend to fall back into projecting evil onto the other. The issue of control that runs through much of this illustrates much in itself.
  6. I should not trust myself. I trust that there is an innermost quiet voice that already knows so much if I can learn to listen. I trust that I can more often than not tell when something is wrong. I trust that to hand your ethics over to someone else is an avoidance of spiritual responsibility and growth. I trust that I can learn to listen to the stories of others before making judgments. I trust that I have understood enough to know – basically at least – what is wrong and right for my path. However, I do not *blindly* trust myself or others. I trust that my understandings are always evolving and that I may make some turns along the way. No-one is completely transparent to themselves, and everyone makes mistakes. It’s easy to believe only what is convenient to believe, so a position of doubt helps to guard against hubris. It’s a matter of balance – to be self-confident and self-trusting, but not to stop listening and learning.
  7. Thinking independently from Jehovah/the Witnesses/the Bible is evil. There is no place to think completely independently – we are all influenced by our culture, our language, our relationships and groups, our education, and many other aspects of existence. However, even the Witnesses have said that it is wrong to put an organization between God and a person seeking/loving God – they just forgot to apply that to themselves. What they mean by thinking independently is to question or debate their interpretations and guidance, to study the bible outside their literature (even within the congregation), or to suggest that there are stronger and weaker interpretations of biblical texts. Even honest questioning – presented to the elders – can get you in a whole lot of trouble. They seek obedience to themselves and their interpretations, and they don’t want anyone shaking things up with actual debates. In this, they are profoundly anti-educational and anti-pastoral. Human beings have a capacity for questioning, for thought, for curiosity – these things can help us to grow and thrive.
  8. The devil is trying to mislead everyone into thinking independently and opposing the Witnesses so they will die when the end of the world comes soon. It seems to be taken for granted that thinking independently will as a matter of course lead to opposing the Witnesses. That’s amusing on a number of levels, so stop and smile here! The biblical devil was once an angel of light, but he became overly proud and lost a sense of his positionality within all things. It seems to be that Sa’tan represents the spirit of unfettered opposition – the principle of duality. He is also presented as God’s interlocutor, a sort of prosecuting attorney, in the case of Job. The sense of evil as something unclean and nonholy is here too, and also possession – being tormented by internal voices. So – in a sense, they are right that if you are possessed by all the internal voices to the extent that your life is centered on opposition to the Witnesses, you’ve missed something you needed for your spiritual path. However – the solution to that is (you guessed it) independent thinking! Why? Because if you are still trapped there, still trapped within these limiting beliefs, you are not independent at all – you’re just living on the flip side of the same mentality. Eventually, thinking, meditating, reading, having dialogue, and experiencing care and kindness will help you to move on from this stage.
  9. People like me who accurately understood the truth as taught by the Witnesses but rejected it are even worse than those who never knew. I am an apostate. People who understood the interpretations and rules of the Governing Body of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society became very familiar – ad nauseum – with narratives that might hold some kinds of truth. There are levels and types of truths. However, to conflate this very limited kind of education with “the truth” can prevent you from continuing on your own life journey – the education that never stops. The word “apostate” has a specific demonized meaning within the JWs. I am not an apostate.
  10. Since I was the spiritual leader of the family, God will hold me responsible for stumbling them and leading them into apostasy. This is a tough one! It is tempting, even now, to accept this teaching and say that ministerial servants, congregational elders, and district or circuit overseers will be held responsible for leading the “sheep” astray. It feels right, but when I apply the method of self-doubt and self-acceptance and caring, I realize that I would only like this to be the case for the sake of all the people that have been damaged and hurt by the organization. There is a sense that retribution would be just. But this scripture was never about retribution; it was about responsibility. Those who are leaders have a special responsibility to care more deeply, to be careful about what they do and say, and to serve the congregations with love. If they are misled about that themselves, and have done their best to be true to the Spirit, one can only hope that the God of Love would judge them as we hope to be judged ourselves. I am opposed to the behaviors often evident, I am opposed to the often heartless judgments, but the path of love says that good must be the response to evil. Ultimately, I think that that those who attempt to use and control others have created their own hell, nor are they ever out of it. Oh, what they are missing!
  11. I am a special target of the devil, now that I have left the Witnesses he will trick me into opposing all that is good and will lead me into suffering and destruction. Projecting your choices onto a demonic creature has never been very helpful to me. The very threat of becoming a target of the devil and demons works to instill fear and a reluctance to leave. It can be a little bit of a self-fulfilling script, too. It’s a very common thing that the new ex-JW still accepts the definitions of all the things they aren’t supposed to do – and goes right out and does them! I’ve seen a parallel here with first-year college students, away from the home rules for the first time. Sometimes that first year is a little wild, and some do self-destruct. Just being able to break rules is not freedom yet. You’re still being defined by others. You can choose not to do that.
  12. Alternatively, the devil will bless me with abundance and prosperity, but it will only be temporary and deep down I will still be an evil traitor. This is a great way to cover all situations – hardship or blessing, anything outside the JWs is evil. There is no necessary correlation between hardship and goodness, or success and evil – or vice versa.
  13. If I practice hypnosis, evil spirit beings called demons will enter my mind and possess me. By doing so I am inviting great evil and harm into my life. Hypnosis is one technique to gain some distance from destructive habits of thought and replace them with more helpful thoughts. It may be a good “jumpstart” but should not replace careful meta-reasoning on your own. You should know and approve of the content in advance, and have established a relationship of mutual respect and trust. If you are very nervous, a recording of the session might ease your anxieties. Also, meditation and prayer can both establish similar states of awareness of the progression of your thoughts and feelings (if you know, or can learn, how to pay attention).
  14. Only someone evil like me would undergo hypnosis to purposefully transform their beliefs after knowing the one and only truth about reality that I’ve known. This kind of self-hatred programming can be very difficult to overcome. There are a whole slew of “if I do this, I must be evil and God hates me” kinds of suggestions to transcend. Some people just accept it and say – “Fine, I’m evil,” but the entry point here is to ask on what basis – really – someone is justified in thinking that they know the “one and only truth about reality” in the first place. An irony here – the methods used by leadership on their congregations sometimes come very close to hypnosis.
  15. My evilness must be even greater than most others because of the depth to which I understood the truth. I was a teacher of the light, now I am in deep shadow. Delving into the shadow-side is sometimes unavoidable and can be a very revelatory experience, but new ex-JWs are in no way prepared for this kind of thinking. I read a lot of Carl Jung before I could even process what he was talking about! So, how about this? In some ways, I was a teacher of light and in some ways I totally missed the light without knowing it. Now, I am more careful about claims of light and darkness, and of such wide-reaching dualistic judgment. Reality involves the blending of light and darkness (cf. Taoism) – think of the sun shining on the leaves, the interplay of light and shadow that creates beauty. Don’t confuse darkness with evil. Evil can appear (at first) as an angel of light, too.
  16. All spiritual or religious belief systems besides the Witnesses’ belief system are special tools that the devil uses to mislead people and invite demons. This is what some other fanatics say, too. The projection of demons onto other religions was a really cool tool for missionaries that tried to pull people away from their religions. It’s no coincidence that contemporary images of the devil look a lot like the Horned God of some more ancient religions – you can even see Pan there! Religions have tended to try to answer the current needs of the community, but if the only way to define membership is by who is not included then I think that is usurping God’s role. Many, many people disagree with me on that; it’s one reason why I have no church membership.
  17. Those who celebrate Christmas and other holidays are under the devil’s control, since it prevents them from understanding the truth about Jesus and Jehovah. Control, again. I actually think some of the ideas about holidays are interesting, but there’s a lot more to the story. Following the history of the transformation of holidays, across different countries, is fascinating. Usually the argument would be that they are of pagan or nationalistic origin. What tended to happen is that the old celebrations were assimilated and transformed into the newer ones, over and over and over again. There is a deeper truth hidden here by the presented either-or; it pretends that all the celebrations are static – they have an origin that is secure and for all time. That is not the case. What relationship holiday celebrations may have to preventing understanding is unknown, but at first glance, it seems reasonable to someone used to accepting what they are told.
  18. Jehovah is the Creator and source of all life. The only way to know truth is to know him. The only way to know him is through Jesus. The only way to know either of them is through the Bible and the Witnesses’ lives and teachings. Lots of people hold to some version of this belief, the central version of which for Christianity is that Jesus is the way and the life. But I think a more profound way to frame this is to think less about assent to beliefs as a measure – and to think more about commitment, caring, responsibility, kindness, openness, listening, and attune-ment. Jesus was one example – for me there are others as well. And, you know, pleasure and fun and creativity are ok – they help. Have you ever lost yourself in doing something you’re really good at? That’s a form of communion – dance, painting, building something…
  19. The only way to know truth is also through the Holy Spirit. Only the Witnesses really have Holy Spirit, that is how they understand the Bible more fully. The Witnesses are alone, I think, in believing that the Spirit is God’s force of action. It’s a little bit like electricity. They are anti-trinitarian, so the relationships are those of separate entities. They believe that Jesus was filled with the Spirit. He was not God, but God’s son. To me, the Holy Spirit is a very interesting topic. Track it through the biblical texts sometime and all sorts of strange thoughts might occur to you. I keep thinking of extraterrestrials… Since it’s so very mysterious and strange, I tend to think of it as a form of love-possession, but it seems to have physical properties too (like a virus? Hmm?). It is the mirror of demonic possession. Very bizarre. There are many testimonials of being filled with the Spirit, and that it’s the only way to know the truth. But the Witnesses don’t believe that they are filled with the Spirit – they only believe that the Governing Body and the 144,000 chosen ones are – so they accept being part of the “great crowd” that gets to live on Paradise Earth after they clean up the bones and stuff. This is part of the way that the Watchtower Society is able to maintain control – because the rank and file are *not* filled with spirit, they have to trust the ones who are. There is no outward display of any of this, nor do they honor the ideas of calling or of spiritual gifts (especially for women!)
  20. I do not deserve to live because I am a sinner, that is why people die (they are too). Again, a common Christian thought, but the other side of this is the “new life” Christians are offered as an alternative. Myself, I don’t think anything deserves to become a living being. Life is not about being deserving. What would that even mean? JWs take it further. It’s not just that we’re all sinners because of events in a long-ago garden experiment, but it’s that there really isn’t any such thing as grace for them. They never use the word. Sometimes they say “loving-kindness” or “undeserved love” to express forgiveness of “imperfection” – but they are very focused on “keeping the congregation clean.” Their idea of service that matters to God is keeping track of how many hours a month people go door to door.
  21. I should not be living for this world but for the New System, when everything will be perfect on the earth. Only perfection is good enough for life to be worth living. I have no idea what perfect life on earth would be, but it still must have some kinks in it, because a bunch more people will be destroyed after the first thousand years. The New System, also called “God’s New World Order” is a kind of terminology that should give everyone pause (cf. Nazi belief-system, secret societies in general, Google “New World Order”). Outside of this truly creepy but undefined idea of the post-apocalyptic theocracy, one can ask whether only perfection is good enough for life to be worth living. I suppose it makes sense if there is an ideal balance of perfection and imperfection that becomes perfection again. After all, what would become of longing, wistfulness, and a million other emotions that require a bit of imperfection to make any sense? Life thrives only under a mix of order and chaos – it needs process and transformation. The New World Order sounds really… ordered. Guess I’ll miss out on that lion/lamb thing. My eyes are on a different sort of prize.
  22. God’s Kingdom, a heavenly government that will destroy all other governments soon, is the only solution to mankind’s problems. Very militaristic! The Messiah was originally supposed to be some sort of military leader, I think. I’m waiting for the day that someone will act out some specific prophecies to try to kick-start the thing. Or wait… maybe that’s already happening. I believe that the kingdom is within you. Even more than that, I believe that the kingship metaphor doesn’t really work for us anymore. The claim to heavenly government really foments a lot of hatred and violence (Google extremists, religious terrorism, witch trials, inquisition, Christian reconstructionists, etc.). I can make no truth claim on this one way or another – it depends on how the scriptures are interpreted, and it depends on the status of the scriptures in your belief system, and it depends on how many levels of thinking you can manage beyond literalism. For me, there are two options. First, no such literal event will happen – at least not beyond what has happened before and is happening and will happen again. Second, there really will be such an event, just as JWs believe, and I will then know beyond any doubt that the God they worship is not the God of Love.
  23. Efforts to make the world better or to change the world now are futile. The world outside the Witnesses is a dark and evil place controlled by Satan. Control again! Efforts to make the world better may or may not be futile – there are a lot of powers at work for both creation and destruction. Working together for good has benefits beyond the benefits to the world because it fosters cooperation, and even can help the economy. In addition, the biblical texts suggest that humans are responsible for the stewardship and maintenance of the planet. If you believe that, then allowing it to become a slash and burn zone may have some sort of repercussions. Last, I hope everyone’s noticed that there’s really no place else to go. What we do with the planet and each other creates the space within which we all must live.
  24. Non-Witnesses cannot be trusted, they will betray me, they have no real loyalty, they do not know real love. We are deep in the time of the end in a loveless world. Developing relationships of love and trust can happen anywhere. Betrayal and destructiveness can happen anywhere. If you expect that the world will be loveless, it probably will seem that way. And if you have few experiences of love and trust, it may be more difficult to trust and love. Do JWs foster trust and love among each other? Sometimes, sometimes not. Some of the policies are distinctly mistrustful, even paranoid, and the view of love is extremely truncated. However, there are also Witnesses who are capable of love and trust – it’s just that it’s more difficult for them to thrive. On the “time of the end” – I believe that every day includes aspects of Genesis and Apocalypse, birth and death, creation and destruction – around the world, and within yourself.
  25. The devil wants us to live for now instead of the New World that God will bring. Flip it. Does God want us to live for the New World, and not live now? If so, why all this urgency about placing literature? Seriously though, many religious traditions express some kind of caution about living *only* for today. Others say that that one *can* only live in the moment. The devil has expressed no opinion on the matter.
  26. Going to college or making a lot of money is dangerous to my spiritual health. Lots of things can be dangerous to your spiritual health, including parochialism and cowardice and paranoia. Your ideas may be challenged in college, and if you don’t know how to debate in a civil way, you might become threatened and lose the chance to learn. If you are solely motivated by money and power, you may forget the essential humanity of others. There are risks and challenges to every aspect of life, including the refusal to think or to be kind, which can be very damaging to your spiritual health.
  27. Success in this world is dangerous to my spiritual health. The more I succeed in life outside the Witnesses, the more I am under the devil’s control. There is no correlation between success and control by demonic forces, assuming such exists. This is another control mechanism.
  28. Non-Witnesses are dangerous to my spiritual health. Being trained to be a non-questioning follower is dangerous when you might be following the wrong person or movement. Either a JW or a non-JW can mislead you into a situation that you might not be good for your spiritual or physical or emotional health. Anyone can be a teacher, but sometimes the lessons are difficult. On the other hand, there are amazing wonderful kind people who can inspire you and help you. Personally, I found more of the latter outside the Witnesses.
  29. Not going to Witness meetings or from door-to-door is dangerous to my spiritual health. God doesn’t care about hours or territory maps. God doesn’t require constant indoctrination from an organization. Or – if God does, such a God is not the God of Love.
  30. I am going to be responsible for the deaths of others when the world as we know it ends because I stopped preaching about the end of the world. I am heartless. It’s heartless to try to make someone feel responsible for the deaths of others just because they do not continue to promote your publishing company and your biblical interpretations. Each person’s path is their own.
  31. I have no future in this world because soon the world as we know it will end and I will die if I do not go back to the Witnesses. If the world ends, none of us will have a future. It’s possible. We might blow the place up or pollute it to death or any number of other things. However, being a JW will not protect me from these things if they happen.
  32. The sincere Witnesses will live happily forever in the paradise without me. If JWs, including my closest friends and family, can imagine living happily forever in paradise without me and without other loved ones, they have lost something very essential. I can only grieve for their loss, and hope that they will someday have access to a view of others that makes them a little less disposable.
  33. Loving people do not leave the Witnesses. Only crazy and/or evil-minded people like me do. Loving people sometimes have to leave the Witnesses. Crazy, evil-minded people sometimes have to stay in the Witnesses.
  34. Jehovah (God) will forgive me if I go back to the Witnesses. Then, and only then, will I be happy and truly satisfied in life. Godd(ess) will forgive me for my mistakes because that is the nature of love. There is no covenant for happiness – happiness is momentary, it sneaks up on you, and maybe you’re most happy when you’re not pursuing the idea but just being-there.
  35. The demons can drive people crazy when they leave the truth. Indoctrinated control mechanisms can make it very difficult for some people to leave everything and everyone they know, but there are methods to prepare yourself and find your way.
  36. The only other explanation for my leaving the Witnesses, if I am not evil, is that I am crazy. The JWs have all of the ingredients to psychologically damage people. People leave the Witnesses for many different kinds of reasons. Higher principles, search for acceptance and love, wanting to marry a non-JW, becoming involved in a self-destructive activity like drugs to escape or rebel, caving under the pressure of maintaining a theocratic outer self under the knowledge of one’s own faults and desires, refusing to shun a friend or family member, witnessing acts of cruelty. The list goes on, the high road, the low road, the middle road, etc. Not a binary.
  37. It is better for me to be locked in a mental institution and be crazy or die than to live successfully as a non-Witness. Then maybe I wouldn’t be evil after all. It would be easier for JWs to scapegoat you in your absence if you would oblige them with an example of why people mustn’t leave.
  38. I am a liar because I dedicated my life to do Jehovah’s will and work and now am purposefully not doing it. Maybe. Depends. To what extent are you convinced that what you were doing, how you were thinking, and what you were feeling were in any accordance with the fruits of the spirit? How about now? Then, there is also the possibility that at age – what, 16? – you might not have fully understood what your dedication would mean. Even if you were an adult convert, there is probably even less chance that you fully understood. It might be helpful to articulate what you are committed to and dedicated to now – and update rather than overturn. Look around – If God exists, it follows that God would understand growth and transformation.
  39. I have taken the evil side. There are only two sides, Satan’s and Jehovah’s. Satan has convinced me to decide for myself what is right and wrong. All this focus on Satan! Could it be that Satan is more powerful than God in their eyes? I believe that I cannot completely decide for myself what is right and wrong, but I have a pretty good idea. In addition to my own insights and feelings, I rely on the narratives of the people involved to round out a contextual point of view. I rely on the thoughts and experiences and examples of people I admire, too. But I don’t rely on any one organization’s interpretation of what non-humans might want or not want from me.
  40. I am like Satan. All those like me who know of but reject Jehovah’s Universal Sovereignty and try to decide for themselves what is right and wrong are not loving. Love is the entry point into starting to understand ethics, but ethics reinforces love. One cannot force empathy or caring – one cannot be told to care as a matter of obedience. I am like Satan, in that I will be “the devil’s advocate” to push a debate to its limits and find its boundaries. I am like Jesus in caring about those who have been hurt or abandoned or not allowed to speak. I leave God to being God. Or Goddess to being Goddess. Or whatever that Ultimate Deity might be that we love to project gender upon. All I know is that love is at once the most humble and the most powerful force in the universe.
  41. I am a betrayer, just like Judas Iscariot betrayed Jesus. I am betraying the loving God and his Son and all those who love them. Therefore I will be betrayed. It is worth remembering that there would have been no religion of Christianity without the kiss of Judas. Does anyone pray for his forgiveness? Betrayal is an action, not an identity. If karma is real, maybe betrayal comes back around. However, leaving a controlling group – even if it’s very difficult – may not be a betrayal at all. Maybe it’s opening your eyes.
  42. Only an unloving person like me would forsake the sacrifice Jehovah made through Jesus by opposing Jehovah’s work being done by Witnesses. The constant association of love with membership is absurd. The work done by Witnesses is to spread a certain theology that emerged at a particular place and time and has its own very specific history. The way to be a loving person is to cultivate kindness and caring and empathy for others just as much as you can.
  43. In a marriage, a man is the head of the household. Some cultures have worked out a division of responsibilities in which the male makes certain kinds of decisions. This is not universal, and may even have developed as a response to an earlier matriarchy. Even within the Witnesses, headship is service and the method is to follow Jesus – for the husband to care for and protect the wife and the household in deep respect and responsibility. Like the stewardship of the planet. It is not an excuse to replicate the controlling aspects of the Watchtower Society within the household. Some will disagree with me, I know, but I also happen to think that each marriage is a team effort, and those who don’t need to rely on certain kinds of roles within the marriage can divide up the responsibilities in whatever ways work out best for them. It’s a task of marriage to do so with mutual respect and fairness.
  44. It is wrong to have sex with anyone, even if you love the person, unless you have a legal certificate of marriage. Marriage is an institution designed to protect assets and the welfare of children. Ideally, a married couple is committed to and deeply in love with one another. They respect each other, they work together, they are honest about their needs and desires, including sexual ones, and through the feedback loops involved in living, they enjoy periods of intense and wonderful sex. Marriage also involves challenges, and there are periods in which things are more tense or withdrawn. On the other side, it is possible to express loving in a sexual way in other situations besides the bond of marriage. That is the decision of the two people involved. There are many kinds of relationships in the bible, but marriage is about family. So, am I saying that all sexuality is ok? Actually, no. It is wrong to have sex with anyone if you view that person as a commodity, or as a tool for addressing your own desires. When your sexual partner is really just a walking doll for your gratification, you’ve not learned anything about either love or sexuality (and it’s obvious, by the way). If you’re having sex only to address some insecurity about yourself, or because you think that’s the only way someone will like you, or because you’re using sex as an escape addition or a power trip – then you’re missing out on the magic. And the magic is what it’s all about.
  45. Any sexuality of any kind outside of a legally recognized marriage, including masturbation, deserves the punishment of death for the unrepentant. The sin of Onan was in disobedience, taking pleasure without responsibility. He was to take his dead brother’s wife to bed as a surrogate so that his brother’s line (and assets) would continue. Instead, he used the “withdrawal method.” Technically speaking, that’s not even masturbation. There is a lot of same-sex love in the bible – David and Jonathan, Ruth and Naomi, Jesus and his apostles. Whether these were sexual relationships too, I don’t know. There are prohibitions on homosexual behavior, but then again these were very close tied (by vocabulary choices) to people who sold themselves to others. If you’re going to rely on Leviticus in any case, read around in the same section about how to treat your slaves and things like that. No – I come back to the same ideas of kindness and caring and respect. If those things are absent, a marriage won’t solve the problem. People love who they love – and where there is love, the spirit is there, too.
  46. I deserve to die just by being born sinful and for overstepping the law of God after knowing the truth. The only way for me and other sinful humans to receive forgiveness and be happy forever is to pray to Jehovah through Jesus. Oh, this list is so long! Ok. There’s nothing you can do to deserve forgiveness, but you can start with being accurate about what mistakes have actually been made. When you can admit that you’ve made mistakes and are trying to rectify them and to learn from them, then the process of forgiveness has already started. If all it takes is an incantation, that’s not very authentic….
  47. I will die at Armageddon because I have stopped praying for Jehovah’s forgiveness of my sins through Jesus. He is the only way to life and truth. Many Christians believe that Jesus is the only way to life and truth. There is some wisdom in that, because Jesus oftentimes illustrated and incarnated that way, and that way is the only way – at least, it’s a really, really, really good way. I will probably not even get to see Armageddon, after all that build-up!
  48. Even if I seem happy for a while living as a non-Witness, eventually if I am a loving person I will realize the truth that the Witnesses were right all along. This one and the next one are very tenacious. There is this feeling that you’ll always see eventually, that you need to come back. Some do! I see no correlation between that and loving, unless it’s that your family have blackmailed you with this and have shunned you meanwhile, so if you want to feel loved and worthwhile, you might feel you have to go back.
  49. Deep down I know the truth — the Witnesses are always right on the main points. I’ve been programmed deep down that the Witnesses might not always be perfect but have always been right on the “main points.” This is so deeply ingrained that it comes up in almost every conversation on this topic. It’s something that even those who have been out for a long time sometimes wrestle with. I had to study for a lot of years before I could shake it, but I feel confident that the Witnesses have some occasional insights, but they are not, and have not, always been right on the main points. Their policies are more destructive than constructive, and more anti-agapic and controlling than loving and pastoral.
  50. I will never really be happy living as a non-Witness. I would have no chance at all for happiness if I was living as a Jehovah’s Witness. In my case, I would also not be living, since I would have refused the blood transfusion that saved my life. I would be intellectually dead because I would have to kill off my talents for inquiry, stop asking questions, stop reading, etc. I would be emotionally dead because I would have to play along with the various petty congregational intrigues and fascades. I would be sexually dead because I’d be trapped in a loveless marriage with a likely abusive JW husband. I would be spiritually dead because I would have to deny years of exploration, insights, mystical communion, and ethics. If I had to live as a Jehovah’s Witness, I could not even work toward becoming the one me in the universe that God might mean for me to become, or be able to accept the me that God somehow loves already. I couldn’t be any me at all without making these things a matter of my deep committment, faith, and life of concern and authentic questioning. I would only be a saleperson, a puppet, a robot.

“It delivers people who have no tolerance for ambiguity from having to make moral choices. It allows self-loathers to project their hatred onto the world. It translates the allure of the world into Satanic temptation, so that those who fear its enticements are armed against seduction. It provides ego balm for the lowly, an identification with the The Chosen. Because Jehovah’s Witnesses believe as little in psychology as they do in philosophy, it tames or numbs the wilderness of the heart by closing valves of inquiry.” – Barbara G. Harrison

Some Humor

I cut off way too much of my hair yesterday… Sigh. So… here are some jokes that friends and relatives have been sending. Enjoy…


‘Hi honey. This is Daddy. Is Mommy near the phone?’

‘No, Daddy. She’s upstairs in the bedroom with Uncle Paul.’

After a brief pause, ‘But honey, you haven’t got an Uncle Paul.’

‘Oh yes I do, and he’s upstairs in the room with Mommy, right now.’

Brief Pause. ‘Uh, okay then, this is what I want you to do. Put the phone down on the table, run upstairs and knock on the bedroom door and shout to Mommy that Daddy’s car just pulled into the driveway.’

‘Okay, Daddy, Just a minute.’

A few minutes later the little girl comes back to the phone. ‘I did it, Daddy.’
‘And what happened, honey?’ He asked.

‘Well, Mommy got all scared, jumped out of bed with no clothes on and ran around screaming. Then she tripped over the rug, hit her head on the dresser and now she isn’t moving at all!’

‘Oh my God!!! What about your Uncle Paul?’

‘He jumped out of the bed with no clothes on, too.

He was all scared and he jumped out of the back window and into the swimming pool. But I guess he didn’t know that you took out the water last week to clean it. He hit the bottom of the pool and I think he’s dead.’

Long Pause.

Longer Pause.

Even Longer Pause.

Then Daddy says,

‘Swimming pool? Is this 546-7213?”


One evening a husband, thinking he was being funny, said to his wife ‘Perhaps we should start washing your clothes in Slim Fast. Maybe it would take a few inches off of your butt!’

His wife was not amused, and decided that she simply couldn’t let such a comment go unpunished. The next morning the husband took a pair of underwear out of his drawer. ‘What’s this??’ he said to himself as a little ‘dust’ cloud appeared when he shook them out. ‘April,’ he hollered into the bathroom, ‘why did you put talcum powder in my underwear?’

She replied, ‘It’s not talcum powder……It’s ‘Miracle Grow.’


An old man lived alone in New Jersey. He wanted to plant his annual tomato garden, but it was very difficult work, as the ground was hard. His only son, Vincent, who used to help him, was in prison. The old man wrote a letter to his son and described his predicament:

Dear Vincent, I am feeling pretty sad, because it looks like I won’t be able to plant my tomato garden this year. I’m just getting too old to be digging up a garden plot. I know if you were here my troubles would be over. I know you would be happy to dig the plot for me, like in the old days. Love, Papa

A few days later he received a letter from his son.

Dear Pop, Don’t dig up that garden. That’s where the bodies are buried. Love, Vinnie

At 4 a.m. the next morning, FBI agents and local police arrived and dug up the entire area without finding any bodies. They apologized to the old man and left. That same day the old man received another letter from his son.

Dear Pop, Go ahead and plant the tomatoes now. That’s the best I could do under the circumstances. Love you, Vinnie


Two sisters – Bubbles and Barbie – had promised their seafaring Uncle to bury him at sea. In due time, he did pass away and the two blondes were determined to keep their promise. They set off from the beach with their uncle all stitched up in a burial bag and loaded onto their rowboat.

After a while Bubbles says, ‘Do you think we’re out far enough, Barbie?’ Barbie slipped over the side and finding the water only knee deep said, ‘nope, not yet Bubbles’. So they rowed out a little farther….

Again Bubbles asks Barbie, ‘Do you think we’re out far enough now?’ Once again Barbie slips over the side and almost immediately says, ‘No, this will never do, the water is only up to my chest. ‘

So on they row and row and row, and finally Barbie slips over the side and disappears. Quite a bit of time goes by and poor Bubbles is really getting worried when suddenly Barbie breaks the surface gasping for breath.

‘Well is it deep enough yet, Sis?’ ‘Yes, finally. Hand me the shovel.’


A nice, calm and respectable lady went into the pharmacy, walked up to the pharmacist, looked straight into his eyes, and said, ‘I would like to buy some cyanide.’

The pharmacist asked, ‘Why in the world do you need cyanide?’

The lady replied, ‘I need it to poison my husband.’

The pharmacist’s eyes got big and he exclaimed, ‘Lord have mercy! I can’t give you cyanide to kill your husband. That’s against the law! I’ll lose my license! They’ll throw both of us in jail! All kinds of
bad things will happen. Absolutely not! You CANNOT have any cyanide!’

The lady reached into her purse and pulled out a picture of her husband in bed with the pharmacist’s wife. The pharmacist looked at the picture and replied, ‘Well now, that’s different. You didn’t tell me you had a prescription.’


A little boy goes to his father and asks ‘Daddy, how was I born?’

The father answers, ‘Well, son, I guess one day you will need to find out anyway! Your Mom and I first got together in a chat room on Yahoo. Then I set up a date via e-mail with your Mom and we met at a cyber-cafe. We sneaked into a secluded room, where your mother agreed to a download from my hard drive. As soon as I was ready to upload, we discovered that neither one of us had used a firewall, and since it was too late to hit the delete button, nine months later a little Pop-Up appeared that said:

‘You got Male!’


A husband wrote the following letter for his wife and left it on the dining room table:

‘To My Dear Wife. You will surely understand that I have certain needs that you, being 54 years old, can no longer satisfy. I am very happy with you and I value you as a good wife. Therefore, after reading this letter, I hope that you will not wrongly interpret the fact that I will be spending the evening with my 18 year old secretary at the Comfort Inn Hotel. Please don’t be upset – I shall be home before midnight.’

When the man came home late that night, he found the following letter on the dining room table:

‘My Dear Husband. I received your letter and thank you for your honesty about my being 54 years old. I would like to take this opportunity to remind you that you are also 54 years old. As you know, I am a math teacher at our local college. I would like to inform you that while you read this, I will be at the Marriott Hotel with Michael, one of my students. He is young, virile, and like your secretary,18 years old.

As a successful businessman who has an excellent knowledge of math, you will understand that although it may appear that we are in the same situation, there is one mathematical difference:

18 goes into 54 a lot more times than 54 goes into 18.

Therefore, I will not be home until sometime tomorrow.


One night, after the couple had retired for the night, the woman became aware that her husband was touching her in a most unusual manner. He started by running his hand across her shoulders and the small of her back. He ran his hand over her breasts, touching them very lightly. Then, he proceeded to run his hand gently down her side, sliding his hand over her stomach, and then down the other side to a point below her waist. He continued on, gently feeling her hips, first one side and the other. His hand ran further down the outside of her thighs. His gentle probing then started up the inside of her left thigh, stopped and the returned to do the same to her right thigh.

By this time the woman was becoming aroused and she squirmed a little to better position herself.

The man stopped abruptly and rolled over to his side of the bed.

Why are you stopping darling?’ she whispered.

He whispered back, ‘ I found the remote.’


On their way to a justice of the peace to get married, a couple has a fatal car accident. The couple is sitting outside heavens gate waiting on St. Peter to do the paperwork so they can enter. While waiting, they wonder if they could possibly get married in heaven.

St. Peter finally shows up and they ask him. St. Peter says, “I don’t know, this is the first time anyone has ever asked. Let me go find out,” and he leaves.

The couple sit for a couple of months and begin to wonder if they really should get married in Heaven, what with the eternal aspect of it all. “What if it doesn’t work out?” they wonder. “Are we stuck together forever?”

St. Peter returns after yet another month, looking somewhat bedraggled. “Yes,” he informs the couple, “you can get married in Heaven.”

“Great,” says the couple, “but what if things don’t work out? Could we also get a divorce in Heaven?”

St. Peter, red-faced, slams his clipboard onto the ground. “What’s wrong?” exclaims the frightened
couple.

“Good Grief!” St. Peter exclaims, “It took me three months to find a priest up here! Do you have ANY idea how long it’s going to take for me to find a lawyer?”


Through a Glass Darkly….

STORY OF THE GOOD SAMARITAN

A Sunday school teacher was telling her class the story of the Good Samaritan, in which a man was beaten, robbed and left for dead. She described the situation in vivid detail so her students would catch the drama. Then, she asked the class, “If you saw a person lying on the roadside, all wounded and bleeding, what would you do?”

A thoughtful little girl broke the hushed silence, “I think I’d throw up.”

STORY OF ELIJAH

The Sunday school teacher was carefully explaining the story of Elijah the Prophet and the false prophets of Baal. She explained how Elijah built the altar, put wood upon it, cut the steer in pieces, and laid it upon the altar. And then, Elijah commanded the people of God to fill four barrels of water and pour it over the altar. He had them do this four times.

“Now,” said the teacher! , “can anyone in the class tell me why the Lord would have Elijah pour water over the steer on the altar?”

A little girl in the back of the room started waving her hand, “I know, I know,” she said, “to make the gravy!”

LOT’S WIFE

The Sunday School teacher was describing how Lot’s wife looked back and turned into a pillar of salt, when little Johnny interrupted, “My Mummy looked back once, while she was DRIVING,” he announced triumphantly, “and she turned into a telephone pole!”

HIGHER POWER

A Sunday school teacher said to her children, “We have been learning how powerful kings and queens were in Bible times. But, there is a higher power. Can anybody tell me what it is?”

One child blurted out, “Aces!”

SUNDAY SCHOOL

Nine year old Joey was asked by his mother what he had learned in Sunday school. “Well, Mom, our teacher told us how God sent Moses behind enemy lines on a rescue mission to lead the Israelites out of Egypt. When he got to the Red Sea, he had his engineers build a pontoon bridge and all the people walked across safely. Then, he used his walkie-talkie to radio headquarters for reinforcements. They sent bombers to blow up the bridge and all the Israelites were saved.”

“Now, Joey, is that really what your teacher taught you?” his mother asked.

“Well, no, Mom. But, if I told it the way the teacher did, you’d never believe it!”

POOR LION

A Sunday school teacher was telling the youngsters about Daniel and the Lions’ Den. She had a picture of Daniel standing, brave and confident, with a group of lions around him. One little girl started to cry. The teacher said, “Don’t cry. The lions are not going to eat Daniel.”

The little girl said, “That’s not what I’m crying about. That little lion, over in the corner, isn’t going to get any food.”

Rant on the So-called Marriage Amendment

Tell Congress you oppose the “marriage” amendment to our Constitution. I did….

How dare you try to amend our Constitution to discriminate against any American citizen? How dare you appeal to hate? How dare you use God for this!

This is so low, so hypocritical. You won’t dabate Iraq, but you WILL debate this?

Is this what you have left to say about “compassionate conservatism”? You’ve let pseudo-christian dominionists (otherwise known as supremacists) gain too much power in our process because you think hate will motivate enough votes that the rigged elections can be rationalized.

These people want to bring back stoning! In America! They are wayyy too concerned with how to control other people. It won’t stop with this – gays aren’t the only people they hate. They want to put women “back in the box” as well, and they are training the children just like little Hitler youth with their home-schooling programs. Some even speak of a return to slavery.

But that’s not even what it’s about, is it? Because in addition to payback to the terrorist christian right – remember these are the people who incited to murder, bombed clinics, etc – this is really about something else.

It’s about insurance. You want to nip that “alternative family insurance” movement in the bud. You know, at the behest of the people who wrote the laws for the prescription drug “benefit”? It wouldn’t look good to talk about poor grandma raising her grandchildren, or the single moms or dads doing the best the can. Noooooo….you have to find that bigotry that remains, and work it, baby, work it.

Meanwhile, the dollar seems (to me at least) ready to plummet, Iraq is a disaster, Iran is about to become a disaster, Halliburton and ExxonMobil walk off with our money, and you don’t think there are any monuments in New York so you’re cutting homeland security funds. People are dying, people are hurting. There are parts of America that are as poor as any third-world nation, but you’re in bed with crony corporatists (when you don’t have prostitutes or long-term buddies from college to sleep with and promote).

You want to lecture us about morality? You want to use our own constitution for power, for hate? You have profoundly misunderstood the nature of this country. This country belongs to WE THE PEOPLE.

You’ve handed power to the executive branch. You’ve destroyed our country. You’ve taken our future. Keep going, and you’ll be showing up for photo ops in your hoods or uniforms or whatever.

The Nazis had their scapegoats too.
Shame on you. Shame on you. Shame on you.

You fundamentalists have lost
the thing most fundamental.
Pharasees again, in code
have lost or burned the message.
You fanatics worship manmade creeds
that will undo us all
And YOU, you terrorists of all religions
your gods will make us fall.

Yes I confess this deep deep flaw,
this remnant of rigidity,
scar-tissue of self-righteousness,
torn open yet again.
Yet one must speak from where one stands
and this is what I know,
I have no room left in my heart
for love toward you to grow.

The evil that your “god” incites
in you and o’er the world,
stains for all time our histories,
we all pay for your sins.
I guard compassion jealously
held selfish in reserve
for the ones you hurt so deeply
and whose stories aren’t heard.

I name you and yours false prophets
because you do define the phrase,
you lead the would-be faithful
always far and further astray.
Placing demon masks
on the faces of our kin,
undoing all the fragile good
that lets us breathe again.

Daily Activism

Power Rankings of Members of Congress

Congress.org scored and weighted 289 variables in 15 categories to determine a ranking of the most powerful or effective Members of Congress.

See Power Rankings by State, Chamber, Party, Committee, Class/Tenure, Position, Influence, Legislation.

Don’t write discrimination into the Constitution.
The measure was put forward by Rep. Rep. Dan Lungren (R-Calif.) only days after a judge in San Francisco declared that barring gay marriage violated the California state constitution. Right-wing leaders’ have used the supposed threat to marriage to energize political involvement by appealing to the worst within their own membership. Trying to use our constitution to demonize fellow Americans is contrary to the spirit of the entire document, and if passed, would mark the first time the Constitution was amended to target a group of Americans for unequal treatment.

Dominionism = Supremacism
We are not Nazis. We are not the Klan.
We cannot allow hate and irrational fears to overtake our country.

E-mail your senators to register your opposition to the discriminatory ‘Marriage Protection Amendment.’
(People for the American Way)

No Nuclear Attack on Iran

Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA) has circulated a letter in an effort to get the Bush Administration to take the nuclear option off the table. This letter, which he is asking members of Congress to sign, reminds the President of the USA of the US commitment under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty that the US, “will not use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon States Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons except in the case of an invasion or any other attack on the United States” or its allies.

Please ask your Representative to sign on to the Markey letter to the Administration.

While we understand the desire to take nothing off of the table during the run-up to what we hope are negotiations, there are some things that must never be put on the table to begin with. Nuclear weapons must not be used in Iran. Their use, or even the threat of use, would undermine America’s non-proliferation leadership, inflame anti-American extremism around the world, and undermine smart, effective problem solving by our elected and appointed leaders. We need a long term solution that lowers the dangers in Iran, rather than an attack that will convince the 182 non-nuclear signatories to the Non-Proliferation Treaty that their continued adherence to the treaty offers them no protection against a nuclear attack by a nuclear nation.

(20/20 Vision

“What Is a Progressive?” – 10 Finalists – Vote Today

If you met someone who didn’t know what a progressive was, which one would help that person best to “get it”? Please vote among the ten finalists at Campaign for America’s Future by Friday, June 2nd at 11:59 EDT. (While you’re there, register for the Take Back America 2006 conference.
(Campaign for America’s Future)

Protect Medical Victims’ Rights – People are First, Profits are Second

For the third time in the last two years President Bush and leaders in the House of Representatives are promoting a bill written by the insurance industry and HMOs (yet again) without regard for the rights of working Americans injured – or even killed – by medical malpractice in hospitals or nursing homes. The bill may even allow drug companies who put dangerous products on the market to avoid accountability. Fight against this legislation, which is overtly designed to tilt the playing field in favor of powerful corporate interests.

Sign a petition urging your Representative to oppose any legislation restricting the rights of those injured by medical malpractice.
(People Over Profits Grassroots Action Center)

The Balancing Act – Paid Leave for New Parents

When you think of “family values” – think of this. The United States is one of only four out of 168 countries studied to not have some form of paid family leave for new moms. We join Swaziland, Papua New Guinea, and Lesotho in not having that policy in place. Nearly 75% of moms are in the workforce, and most families need two working parents to stay afloat. It’s time for our policies and programs to catch up with our modern economy. Yes, with Republicans in power, the chances of success are pretty small. Still worth an effort.

Sign a petition to support the The Balancing Act bill, which includes paid leave for all new parents.
(Moms Rising)

We’re not Buyin’ it – Protest ExxonMobil

Today hundreds of activists are in Dallas, TX attending ExxonMobil’s annual meeting to protest the corporation’s use of our money to fund their active opposition to any development of clean energy solutions for America. In solidarity with these activists, I am writing my representatives in Congress (such as they are) to reject any bill that offers even more giveaways to ExxonMobil (either through even more tax breaks or even more invasive drilling). ExxonMobil uses their obscenely excessive profits to fund professional global warming “skeptics” and refuses to invest in renewable energy sources. It’s time for Congress to adopt REAL energy solutions that reduce global warming pollution, enhance our energy security, and save consumers money – you know, while we still have the lights on to plan.

Protest ExxonMobil’s Slash and Burn Planning
(Union of Concerned Scientists and Save Our Environment)

Napoli: Sodomy of religious virgins might justify abortion

I don’t think I had ever seen South Dakota’s State Senator Bill Napoli speak before tonight. He was commenting on the abortion ban there that would close down – gulp – the only operating clinic that’s left in the entire state (this one clinic has to fly in medical volunteers from out-of-state). Guess there wasn’t really much left to do.

Online NewsHour: South Dakota Bans Most Types Of Abortion — March 3, 2006

BILL NAPOLI: When I was growing up here in the wild west, if a young man got a girl pregnant out of wedlock, they got married, and the whole darned neighborhood was involved in that wedding. I mean, you just didn’t allow that sort of thing to happen, you know? I mean, they wanted that child to be brought up in a home with two parents, you know, that whole story. And so I happen to believe that can happen again.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: You really do?

BILL NAPOLI: Yes, I do. I don’t think we’re so far beyond that, that we can’t go back to that.

Sounds almost sweet, huh? Like the "wild west" reference, which frames the whole thing. In the actual "wild west," women didn’t do very well… Of course, the west wasn’t "wild" when this guy was growing up.

Under what circumstances would Mr. Napoli concede that a woman (or her community) might be allowed to consider abortion? Rape or incest? um… well…. actually….even those cases would have to come under "danger to life of the mother."

A real-life description to me would be a rape victim, brutally raped, savaged. The girl was a virgin. She was religious. She planned on saving her virginity until she was married. She was brutalized and raped, sodomized as bad as you can possibly make it, and is impregnated. I mean, that girl could be so messed up, physically and psychologically, that carrying that child could very well threaten her life.

The case he allowed that might actually "endanger the woman’s life" would be if she were a religious virgin saving herself for marriage" and she was not only brutally raped but also sodomized (because she was sodomized? Does he need some basic sex ed on how pregnancy occurs?). Note that just being a virgin isn’t enough, and that he assumes virginity isn’t actually a choice made in full knowledge and self-value, but only in "religious" conviction (or more likely, quasi-religious pressure).

Note also that the ideal situation is where the community makes the decision for the people involved – both that the woman will carry to term and that the two will marry. What a great basis for commitment – an unwanted, unplanned pregnancy. Maybe we should hear some autobiographies from people who had marriages with that auspicious beginning. I can’t think of many men who would welcome a return of the shotgun wedding either. Oh, and should uncle or brother daddy marry the one they "savage"?

His delivery was shocking. It was almost as if the thought of the brutalization of the woman – oh wait, he said "girl" – was a turn-on for him. The last sentence was a bit of an afterthought. Here is a man who clearly views women as property to be controlled and dominated (and even protected – as property). How is he that much different than the rapist he cites?

In any case, "danger to the life of the mother" is usually interpreted in quite narrow terms – that carrying to term might well result in the literal death of the mother – such as with an ectopic pregnancy or other medical conditions.

 

Is it virgin sodomy that makes all the difference for him? Is a woman who isn’t a virgin less traumatized by rape or incest? Is it all about the qualities of the rapist – the brutalizing, sodomizing defiler of religious virgins? Is it enough to be an anal virgin? (Actually, anal and oral intercourse are on the rise among the "no-sex" pledgers. Hope they don’t catch a disease while they’re trying not to get pregnant without birth control.)

Watch for other moves back to the "good old days" too. For people who are so against abortion, they are oddly and ferociously opposed to the proven factors of reducing the number of abortions: birth control, sex education, women’s education and training, equality, and freedom of opportunity. What next? Barring women from the vote or from owning property? Will American women be disallowed from wearing miniskirts, working outside the home, going to college, driving a car?

Fundamentalist sexism and domination of women looks very similar to me across religions. It’s about the same thing as rape – it’s about power, it’s about controlling and dominating women into a semi-subhuman status. Watch what happens to those women in those communities when they don’t have the abortion. See how friendly their neighbors are to a single woman with a child, or to a struggling family with five. Shall we bring back the good old witchcraft charges too?

In a way, I understand. Some people don’t want to have to face reality. There is so much change, and they don’t know where or how they will fit. It’s clear that many of us will be sacrificed to the Mammon, the "god of money." There is meth addiction, there is crime, there is disrespect to "elders" – surely it feels like apocalypse approacheth. It’s strange that they refuse to look at economic factors – but it’s clear that our children and grandchildren will live in a very different world. My generation is the first that has not (on the whole) done as well as our parents did. So some of us can’t actually face the world we live in – we’ve had it relatively easy and some have an irrational assumption that the world owes us something whether or not we’ve earned it or deserve it (shall we call it the W syndrome?). We pretend that there is no poverty while it’s actually increasing, that all parents must by definition be wonderful people, that kin don’t rape or otherwise hurt one another, that everyone who is the least bit different from our comfort group must be evil, that people who do their own thinking and make their own ethical choices are a threat to those who simply submit to authority (hoping they will be spared?). Some people can’t even really understand that there are other countries or people different than the "folks" on our street – most Americans only speak one language. Of course our own "group" has its problems as well, but if we are not directly affected we tend to ignore that as much as possible. We want to protect our kith and kin and we like to hide in the safe comfort of our folk mythologies.

But these are childish reactions, and they bring out very bad things in us. They bring out the very things that every prophet warns against. America is living in a very thin veil of self-induced hallucinations. Part of the "good old days" mythology has to do with dominating women – oh, and killing Indians in the "Wild West." Violence against immigrants, especially Mexicans, is on the rise.

A religious response would have to listen compassionately to narratives of actual, truthful experience (as you would have your God hear you) before proposing solutions or making judgments. These politicians don’t do that very much – and neither do many of their constituents. Listen to the stories of the women who are desperate enough to abort their pregnancies that they travel hundreds of miles to the only clinic in the state to get it done. Listen to the circumstances by which a woman decides to end a pregnancy – it is no easy thing to decide. The stories are often heartbreaking. There are women who have had abortions and regretted it deeply – this is true. There are women who have not, and paid dearly.

This issue is a handy tool to drive people apart because abortion is a very controversial and difficult topic. Ultimately, though, it is not the job of the government to mandate a woman’s reproductive life. Such decisions have to reside with the woman, with her God (if she is a believer) and in consultation with her doctor.

Maybe that’s the beef – that finally there is a matter in which a woman has the final say-so. How threatening to the fragile male ego.

Roe v. Wade was the compromise. If your daughter or your sister or your mother or your friend were in a position where abortion had to be contemplated, you might think differently. Or maybe not – maybe you’re in that group who wants to turn America into a theocracy – complete with stoning?

Added March 4th: Mark Morford’s reaction to all this is much more strident – and witty. Read "S. Dakota Slaps Up Its Women: Another state you should never visit passes an appalling abortion ban, because they hate you"

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