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Jehovah’s Witnesses in the News – Roundup

Jehovah’s Witnesses in the News – Roundup

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.

Parents and classmates of the boy, who had lived with his aunt for the past four years, cried in disbelief at the judge’s decision. Wherry fled the courtroom in tears.

Anemic 22-Year Old Emma Gough Dies After Giving Birth to Twins

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.

If Blood is So Sacred…

…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

On Sexual Abuse and Predators

Studies in the US suggest they have proportionally four times more sexual assaults on children than the Catholic Church.

JW molester met 8-year-old girl at Kingdom Hall

51-year-old JW Rigoberto Flores faces 3 Felony counts: sexual assault, sexual conduct with a minor, and child molestation of an 8-year old girl.

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

He got nine months of community service… she was 11 when it started…

This is a translation:

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.

Jehovah’s Witness Elder Wendell Willick Sexually Exploited Underage Psychiatric
Patient

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.

Michael Porter Case to Be Reviewed

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.

Fruits of the Spirit…

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.”

NBC – JW Abuse Settlements, Watch Tower Society Knew Of Molesters:

“If the victim couldn’t prove their accusation, they were threatened with ex-communication. That’s what kept this secret in this group for all these many, many years,” she said.

That meant losing touch with family and friends.

“I knew that children here in Tennessee were being molested. I knew of many right here in the area that I live, in Tullahoma, but nothing was being done about it,” she said.

Anderson said years of frustration caused her and her husband to leave the church. She said she hopes speaking out about the issue now will help protect other children.

“They left dangerous men in their position who could then go on and molest more. I read letters and evidence that some congregations who had as many as 30 or 40 children molested,” she said.

The Andersons said they no longer have a relationship with their son, who is an elder in the church.

They haven’t seen their 8-year-old grandson in five years.

No Lack of Watchtower Cash – 300-unit residential building, a 400-space parking garage and a new recreation building planned for Town of Shawangunk

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.”

Witnesses have identified Michaela Walczuch as a woman sighted with the young girl, first in Portugal two days after she disappeared and then in Morocco 41 days later.

From a Current Jehovah’s Witness

From a Current Jehovah’s Witness

Once in a while, I receive a non-hostile email from a current Jehovah’s Witness. Why would a Jehovah’s Witness write to me? Well, sometimes just because of a simple desire for a safe place to vent, or because something that I’ve written has resonated, or because they don’t really feel that they have many – or any – other options. There really isn’t anywhere to go – without fear of reprisal – for caring spiritual counsel within the organization.

JWs who write to me as part of a spiritual exploration, questioning and/or crisis usually do not want to share their thoughts on these matters with others. They are justifiably afraid of the repercussions if a fellow JW were to discover their communication and report it.

I am deeply honored by this kind of contact. It is the most significant validation I could possibly have and I am well aware of the level of trust that is required. It tells me that at least sometimes I’m on the right track. (Thank you.)

I hold as sacred the confidentiality of those who wish to remain unidentified for this reason. Often these communications are held between that person and myself.

In this case, I have permission to post this in an edited version. Names have been deleted and a couple of other details have been changed to protect the innocent. Thank you for allowing me to post it; it is my hope that this will also help others.

I came across your website today after looking for news reports about the Follow the Christ convention I recently attended, and read your blog concerning it with immense interest. I am writing to you as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses in crisis. I am sure you receive many emails a day from people with problems, and I may be just one more! I am feeling quite nervous but I don’t feel I can talk to anyone about my feelings and concerns with regard to my faith (yes, as you know, asking questions is discouraged). I really identify with your position and cannot ignore my doubts anymore. Your blog really hit home with me.

I was brought up in the faith, much like yourself, and my parents got divorced when I was 14. Dad was disfellowshipped as a consequence, and I wasn’t allowed to see him until he was reinstated (over 2 years) which helped me slide into depression, and when I questioned this, I was given a Watchtower reference to cuddle up to, and deal with it. Real comforting. I never got a ‘shepherding call’ from the elders regarding any of this, not even from my uncle who is also an elder. In contrast, I was visited by the Circuit Overseer when I started seeing a girl in High School who wasn’t a Witness, who attempted to barrage me with scriptures and ‘reason’. I thought this was a real double standard – being offered no support when I was in dire need, conversely being slammed when I put a foot out of line.

My mother, a stalwart Witness, taught me to keep a humble attitude and accept all of this, assuring me it would all work out in the end. It is only now that I’m 23 and I’m starting to see all the damage this system causes to people, myself included. I have deep-seated self worth issues, and constantly wonder if I’m going to make it through Armageddon because I feel like I keep screwing up. It’s a constant cycle.

I look around at brothers and sisters in the Kingdom Hall, wondering if they all live in this same constant fear, all the while keeping a firmly fixed ‘kingdom smile’ (which to me sometimes looks slightly disconnected and delusional) to ensure everything appears to be just fine.

Honestly, I could go on and on. I just really needed to get some of this off my chest and talk to someone, and I really appreciate your reading my rant! I am still attending meetings, but I seem to be finding more and more excuses not to go. I know I will have to make a decision eventually, but it will be quite a gradual process I think… I guess I feel like I’m in no-man’s land right now, neither here nor there. I would really value any thoughts or suggestions you might have, and would love to hear about your experiences too!

Again, I thank you for considering what I’ve written here, I feel like weight has been lifted from my shoulders just writing about it.

I look forward to your reply! Regards,

My reply:

You are exactly right that the process of expressing your feelings has value in itself! You might think about keeping a (well-hidden) journal (perhaps a password-protected file on your computer).

The main thing I want to express to you is that you matter. You are not a stamped-out robot off some assembly line. You are a unique person – the only one of you in the entire history of the cosmos. There is nobody else exactly like you. (I know that might sound like a Mr. Rogers song, but what of it?) You are special. Millions of potentialities and synchronicities and actualities combine, moment by moment, to construct you. You have a mind, a body, a spirit – all of which are changing imperceptibly, all the time. The universe plays with you, and earth is your home and your school. As Alan Watts used to say, “the earth peoples.” To some extent, you can choose your direction, your flavor, your habits. You look, you see, you interpret, you act, you think.

Trust yourself. Listen to your heart. You sound very intelligent to me. You sense the wrongness in the air. The self-worth problems (yes, we all have them – it’s one of the most destructive aspects of the group) are hard to overcome. You may find that you bounce back and forth between feelings of worthlessness (you’ll never measure up) and an overinflated ego (self-righteousness, superiority to non-JWs).

Explore the possibilities in-between – the aim is to find your balance point. For myself, I have found that a focus on something else helps a lot for self-integration. Work on yourself, but also help others. Work on a project that you really care about. If you paint or do karate or play the piano or build things or sing or have any kind of skill like that where your mind, body and spirit have to learn to meld together seamlessly in order to do it well, you will see what I mean. Cultivate that. Practice it. Pay attention to the way the habits form and draw on that process of mind/body/spirit memory on other occasions.

At this point, I would advise that as you feel the desire and/or duty and/or pressure to attend, you continue to try to get what spiritual help you still can from meetings and so on. There are some good things, here and there. I don’t recommend a big public break anyway, unless it becomes unavoidable.

While you’re at meetings, though, pay attention to your own perceptions about what “doesn’t fly.” You have identified a lack of meaningful spiritual counsel, heartlessness and lack of compassion, fear-based worship, aggressive intervention for rule-breaking, the fake, fixed smile, so on. Notice more. You don’t have to react, just observe. Pay attention to how these things make you feel about yourself and others. Think that through a little. In the privacy of your own mind, replace what you are observing with more caring, loving alternatives. Actively imagine – and visualize – what it might look like, feel like, if your imagined alternatives were the reality. Change the look on someone’s face, the tone of voice.

Take note of the truly kind people you know and have known there – appreciate them. If you feel moved to do so, praise individuals for specific things. “That was a kind thing to do, helping her out of the car.” They rarely hear authentic praise, and it helps you too. Don’t limit this to JWs, either.

If you pray, pray more. If you feel comfortable talking to the God they have named “Jehovah” – do that (I never was, but that’s just me). However you address God, think about love – and reach in – and reach out – to love.

Orient yourself toward a god who truly loves you and would never want to hurt you (or anyone else). Imagine a love that is so big that it encompasses everything that could ever be, and yet a love that is so unique to you that only you can tune in to its meaning for you. Imagine cosmic arms comforting you, holding you, telling you that it’s all going to be all right. All our words about God are metaphors anyway – use what you can from your own archetypal imagination until it feels like God should feel, until it feels right.

Whether you imagine the metaphors of kingship or fatherhood or motherhood or a protective hen or a quiver through the strings of the cosmic dance, you’ll know it when it feels right. Think of tuning in a station on an old beatup radio. It’s not a matter of “creating your own God,” but of stumbling around until you start to get a glimmer of what a God that is Love itself might be like. Listen for the deep centers from which the spirit of love speaks within you.

Learn about what humility really means (and trust a bit less in the “traditions” of these men in Brooklyn). But don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater, as it were. There are many helpful, loving things that you have learned, too. Build on what rings true (hold fast to what is fine and caring and good). Silently let the destructive aspects start to flow over and around you – harmlessly. Picture them just sliding off of you.

These are things to help you start to turn fear (or anger or helplessness) into something more constructive that will help you find your own way, whatever that might be. These things I am suggesting may seem small, but small habits start to grow and flower in their own way. Some small changes along these lines (explore others too) will be good preparation for you to step into your own path with authenticity and integrity. Research. Think. Feel. Explore. Be kind.

My own experiences are buried in comments and posts. You can read some of my poetry here, and there is a long page of advice to “recovering JWs” here.

I am deeply honored to hear from you. If any part of what I’ve written seems “off” to you in any way, please disregard it. Everyone is a little different, and what helps one person may not be at all useful for another.

Would you mind if I posted a version of this letter to the blog? I would not mention your name, and I could delete any part of this that would in any way identify you. If you like, resend the letter, taking out any part that you don’t want me to post. And if you are not comfortable with my posting any of it, that’s perfectly fine too.

In any case, I’m here for you. There are others, although I would advise some discretion. Some are very damaged, and will be for a long time, maybe always. I’m among the more fortunate ones. I think my curiosity and love of reading went a long way…

Thank you so much for replying so quickly to my email. I have read it over and over, you don’t know what it means to me that someone has taken the time to help me with what I’m going through! And if I may say so, you have a beautifully eloquent style of writing, a pleasure to read! I take a lot from what you have written. You may post a version of my letter if you wish, I only ask that my name is removed. I think I may email you again in the future, and for now wish you the best. Kind regards,

I have some idea of what it means – still just trying to be the caring friend I wish I’d had. I don’t invoke discourses of blessing easily, but I must admit that I do feel blessed (and healed) every time someone out there seems to be hurting a little less because I could help in some small way.

It’s a form of service that returns threefold … or tenfold … or (a) manifold.

(I have a pretty good idea of who might be laughing each of those.)

{{{grins}}}

We cannot live for ourselves alone. Our lives are connected by a thousand invisible threads, and along these sympathetic fibers, our actions run as causes and return to us as results. ~Herman Melville

Brenda Lee DID it!

Brenda Lee DID it!

OH….my….GOD. Oh, sweet lord in heaven.. (string of expletives following, unsuitable for blog publication).

I can’t believe it. Brenda Lee has done what I’ve fantasized about doing since I was 12. I’ve spent a fair bit of time trying not to think about it, for fear that I might actually do it.

A mildly disrespectful, gum-snapping Brenda attended the Jehovah’s Witness Memorial Service (their annual memorial of the Last Supper, at which almost no-one partakes of the “emblems” of wine and bread) and she…PARTOOK!

SHE DID IT!

Excuse the capital letters, but my heart is still racing in empathy.

It’s so nice to know that I wasn’t the only one to think of doing it. Now that someone has done it, maybe it’s time to let go of that particular fantasy (don’t worry, I have others).

Of course, my fantasy continued after that point. I imagined that I would stand up and say that everyone there should partake of the bread and wine, that to refuse the communion made a mockery of the entire ceremony. It reinforced the idea that almost all Jehovah’s Witnesses were unworthy to share in the spirit – at the same time that they thought they would be the ones sheltered from their loving God’s wrath during the Last Days and through the Apocalypse. Yeah, I thought I’d get a chance to preach a little sermon of my own.

I’m in shock. If you haven’t had any involvement with Jehovah’s Witnesses, it will be difficult for you to fully comprehend the transgressive nature of what she did. The only ones that are supposed to partake are of the 144,00 thousand destined to rule in heaven “as kings” with the Christ (Jesus / the Archangel Michael) after Armageddon. Among other things, they don’t mention any “queens.” I’ve never seen anybody partake. Not anybody.

I had recently ordered another copy of Brenda Lee’s book to send to a friend, but when I saw that she had inscribed the book with a message (Truth, love + light… Brenda Lee), I couldn’t bring myself to part with it. I sent my older copy instead.

After finishing my previous post, I clicked on the Technorati tag at the bottom of the post to check on how things were going with Brenda Lee. I came across the video that way. There is a decent (if a little flippant) introduction, and then – with the help of two accomplices – she filmed the whole thing. And here it is:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CcoTE1Skw8A[/youtube]

I was screaming out to John. As much as I’ve tried to convey the effects of having been raised a Jehovah’s Witness, I think he still has a little trouble understanding. I don’t often feel obvious effects of it these days, partly because the work I do trying to help others is extremely healing to me. His own upbringing involved a kind of lukewarm semi-involvement in one of the major protestant denominations, and he’s in the agnostic/atheist camp now. Lately, watching what right-wing fanatics have done in this country, and seeing the daily slaughters over questions of religion in the news, he is even less likely to engage in discussions about spirituality. He smiled mildly at me (yelling “look at this! look at this! She’s doing it! She’s doing it!”) and… well… I guess it’s just one of those things. You had to have had certain kinds of experiences to fully understand. You had to be there…

I somehow thought that if I ever did that, lightning would strike in some way. I would be dragged out by a passel of elders. People would go berserk. Something. Man, she took her time munching that wafer down – very noisy – and gulped down three good swallows of the wine.

And nothing happened. It didn’t even look like anybody said anything to her.

The public is invited to the Memorial, so she was – technically – invited to be there. She wasn’t intruding on a private ritual. A lot more people attend the Memorial than go to the five weekly meetings, or go door-to-door. It’s a chance (as you can hear in the video) for them to preach to newbies, or to family members that aren’t yet JWs, or to the ones that drift in and out.

Of course, they would consider her an apostate for writing a book about her experiences as a JW, and if they had known who she was, they wouldn’t have let her enter. When they print those memorial statistics, just know that one of the memorial partakers is actually an “apostate.” I wonder if they’ll really count her?

I think in a way it was worse for her than for me, because her mother converted when she was a kid. She had already celebrated Christmas and birthdays and all – and then it was taken away. I think that would have been worse than never having known any other way.

I am not baptized according to the doctrine of any religious group. I did participate once in a christian communion – but the circumstances were very unique. At the time, I did feel very moved by the ritual. To me, it’s almost a kind of suggestion, a mind placebo. Or perhaps it’s a kind of witchcraft. I wrote a whole chapter in my dissertation comparing communion and vampirism. When you grow up as a Jehovah’s Witness, you can’t help but think about the symbolism of blood and spirit.

I am still very spiritually driven – I think spiritual independence is one of the aspects of my freedom that I most value.

Still, I feel like whooping in laughter – yes, a kind of mildly wicked kind of whooping – imagining sitting there next to her, and – not being to overcome the expected behavior – whispering, “All right, all right, quit fidgeting! Do you have to chew the gum like that?!?!” and then realizing, and losing my composure, and laughing, laughing, laughing. I would probably have become somewhat hysterical. Even now, I’m not sure that the whole experience wouldn’t have been too traumatic for me to take.

The last time I went to a meeting, many years ago now in my home congregation in Massachusetts, I was hemmed in by older women, then confronted by an elder. And that was before I ever had a web site or anything like that. They just somehow had heard that I was in an MA program in religion. That was enough. I get a shiver even driving by a Kingdom Hall. It’s hard for others to understand. Somehow, at the door it’s different. Everywhere I’ve lived I’ve had multiple visits from JWs, and gradually I’ve gotten to the point where I have conversations, even somewhat enjoyable ones. But I don’t think I could sit through another one of those meetings ever again.

I can’t help wondering if the entire congregation was staring her down. The elders didn’t even corner her later?!?!

Yeah, I’m expecting some expressions of disapproval in the comments. It was a transgressive sort of thing, kind of like having sex on a church’s consecrated alter (Abelard and Heloise found it rather exciting), but she didn’t really disrupt anything in a major way. Heh-heh. She didn’t make a scene. Considering everything, she showed self-control.

I’m sorry, but on this one I have to laugh. I can only laugh. Oh……oh. On the way out, she advised some JW teens to hang in there – someday this would all be over. That congregation is going to be gossiping about this for a long time to come.

I don’t think I would be able to follow through on going to the Memorial and partaking, because I don’t think I’d be able to resist being a little more… theatrical. Knowing that I would have a hard time resisting the temptation to be very vocal and disruptive, I wouldn’t do it. So, no worries, dear rank and file JWs. You won’t be seeing me at the Memorial. You don’t want me to be there, and I don’t want to be there. It’s too traumatic for me. Even Brenda Lee showed some signs of anxiety and stress as the moment approached.

Of course, if hundreds of other people all over the world all decided to do it at once… hmmm.

My adrenaline levels are still high. I can’t believe I’m sitting here. I think I’m going to go outside and giggle helplessly to myself.

Brenda, sweet girl, more details please! Swing by and comment, I beg of you! Send me your phone number immediately! We’ve got to talk!

Breaking down a Watchtower message to the Great Crowd

Breaking down a Watchtower message to the Great Crowd

When my friend Janet sent me a link to this piece from a very recent talk (given by James Rayford at a Kingdom Hall in Houston Texas), I actually forced myself to listen to it. I’m going to comment below, so that you can begin to understand what happens to the self-identified “Great Crowd” (who believe they will inherit a paradise earth after Armageddon) in all those hours of listening at the Kingdom Hall.

This is why they can feel good about shunning their own family and friends if they leave. This is why they can let their children die for lack of a blood transfusion. This is why they look so alarmed if you try to wish them a Happy Birthday or a Merry Christmas.

Matthew 24:14 is Fulfilled, Speaker James Rayford, January 2007 (2.2mb mpg file at DavidGladden.com) (Note 7-25-07: The previous link to the audio has disappeared. Turn on your popup blocker (sheesh) and try this one http://www.savefile.com/files/403256. See also the discussions at Jehovah’s-Witness and E-Jehovah’sWitnesses.)

I’ve created a transcript here (in case the file disappears, as they are wont to do), but you really have to listen to understand the effect this might have had on the audience. All such messages are crafted by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society (despite the ploy of his opening comment). My comments are below.

I’m going to put these notes down here for a minute and just say something to you.

I’d like for you to listen to this very carefully…

For those of us at Bethel we have the privilege of working with the faithful and discreet slave – the governing body – and I would like for you to know how the governing body – the faithful slave – feels about the way things are right now in this system of things, the time period in which you are living.

The faithful slave feels that that have fulfilled Matthew 24:14. This good news has been preached in all the inhabited earth for a witness.

What does the next part of that text say, after?

(a couple of people mutter in the audience)

Yes. The end will come.

Do you know that there are only three countries in the entire world where there are no Witnesses today?

Only three countries. They are Somalia, North Korea, and Afghanistan. That doesn’t mean that the literature is not in those countries, there’s no Witnesses there.

And I mentioned this yesterday to some of the friends, and they wanted to know why, and I will tell you why.

Jehovah does not send his people to any environment where they will be killed.

That’s why there’s no Witnesses there. Those two (sic) countries bear community responsibility. But the good news of the kingdom has been preached.

Matthew 24. Luke 21. Mark 13. Revelation 6. Those scriptures are having their fulfillment. They’re being fulfilled.

So where are you in the stream of bible prophecy?

What is the next prophecy to be fulfilled – the next one?

Do you know?

(silence)

I’m going to read it to you. Turn to Revelation. Revelation 17. Verses 15 through 17.

And he says to me, the waters you saw where the Harlot is sitting means people and crowds and nations and tongues. The ten horns that you saw and the wild beast, these will hate the harlot and will make her devastated and naked and will eat up her fleshly parts and will completely burn her with fire, for God put it into their hearts to carry out His thoughts – or His thought, even to carry out their one thought – by giving their kingdom to the wild beast until the words of God will have been accomplished.

The words of God will have been accomplished.

The anointed – the faithful slave – is waiting for God with this one thought in their hearts.

That’s the next bible prophecy to be fulfilled. For those who know what that means, that triggers the Great Tribulation.

Once that starts, all of you will be locked into where you are now.

Whatever you’ve done, you’ve done. There won’t be any more “well, you know I could have, I thought of, that I might do this, if I had the time.”

This is the time.

What will you going to, what will you do about the time in which you, we, are living?

Be at it urge..urgently. Be quick about it.

The time left is reduced.

First of all, you need to hear this man’s voice – it is very soft and seductive and easy to hear (a little creepy, too, but maybe I’m biased). Anyway, that kind of voice is pleasant, compared to the usual. He draws the audience in with a confidential-seeming aside. He’s an insider, so they will be excited and a little apprehensive with this kind of set-up. Clearly, the message will be special. They are promised insight into the assessment of the governing body! That’s like getting the message straight from God… kinda.

The governing body is actually just the twelve men in New York who act as the ultimate earthly (worldly?) authorities for Jehovah’s Witnesses. They run the Watchtower corporations and set all of the policies of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Note how they are as ambiguously singular and plural as the harlot and the beast.

You’ll note also the repetition reinforcement technique used with the interchangeability between the “governing body”, and “the faithful slave” (who they believe are the remnant of the remaining living members of the 144,000 who will rule with in heaven with Jesus – the Archangel Michael – over the new earth).

The two groups aren’t actually synonymous, even by their own doctrine. The members of the governing body are assumed to be of the 144,000, but not all surviving members of the 144,000 are members of the governing body (official Watchtower statistic: 8,524 memorial partakers in 2005). Wouldn’t it be interesting if one of these spoke out against the organization? (For a critique of the governing body as an embodiment of the “faithful slave” see Six Million Jehovah’s Witnesses Held Captive by Don Cameron, a former elder).

There’s nothing very new or special about the statement about the good news being preached throughout the earth, except that they seem to feel their job is done. (You have to realize that any other christian missionary work ever done by any other religious group doesn’t count.)

(I need to verify this, but I believe that their membership is down and they are “downsizing” many of their unpaid workers, which might be prompting this whole thing.)

JWs have always felt that they were in the end times. The sense of urgency is the same, too.

The deliverance of the saints must take place some time before 1914.
~ Charles Taze Russell, founder of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, “Studies in the Scripture”, 1910 edition

The deliverance of the saints must take place some time after 1914.
~ Charles Taze Russell, founder of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, “Studies in the Scripture”, 1923 edition

Rutherford stressed 1925 as a date for Armageddon, and there are other dates. Check with anyone who was told that the end would come in 1975. Many JWs left when that didn’t happen.

What’s also interesting to me – and I wouldn’t have noticed it when I was still a Witness – is that the content of the good news isn’t mentioned at all. No word here on grace, forgiveness of sins, salvation, Jesus the Lamb of God (or the mediator, or anything involving kindness – only the kingship and destroyer metaphors are used with regularity). The focus is on all the prohibitions, but none of the virtues or insights.

Does this kind of message sound like good news to you? Is it good news to think that most of the world’s population is about to be destroyed? What a lack of compassion. Mostly, it’s this “bad news” that is being spread…

What is important to all concerned is simply how many Jehovah’s Witnesses there are. Even in the three – perhaps recently it was two? – countries, the “literature” is there and those communities bear “responsibility.” It doesn’t even matter how many people come to love or accept the Judeo-Christian God, even the one of their interpretation. Not even the distribution of bibles (a standard missionary move) matters as much as the spread of the literature produced by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society.

I am surprised by the claim that Jehovah (God) does not send people to where they will be killed. God has sent people to where they will be killed on many occasions, according to biblical narratives. Jesus comes to mind, for example. Or the early christian martyrs who were thrown to the lions. Or any of the martyrs of any faith, really. Back in World War II, one of the Kingdom songs (Forward You Witnesses) was written in a concentration camp, where they continued to worship and preach, as they sang about “this time of the end.” Ask any old-timers about the policies regarding Malawi.

It’s also interesting that the usual comments about courage and perseverance in the face of persecution seem to have been dropped.

It seems to me that there are probably some other reasons why the organization is not formally recognized in these three countries… Unmentioned additional countries may ban the JW faith, particularly where there are strict theocracies or semi-theocracies. Just a speculation.

You’d really have to be steeped in JW-speak to understand the reasons for this cherry-picked meandering through Revelation. Note how he lingers on “naked” and “completely burn her with fire.” (She was askin’ for it, right?) The sexual fascination and misogyny is an undercurrent, but I won’t dwell on it here. Let’s just say the language resonates for JWs in many directions, and for many reasons.

The scripture speaks about end times, and empires, and religions, and the kingdoms of the earth, and who-all knows what else, in allegorical and symbolic terms – maybe even in a kind of code. The meaning? Well, there are huge interpretative differences among the different Christian groups about how to interpret. Babylon, Rome, Jerusalem, the Catholic Church, the UN, all “false religion”, the anti-christ, secular governments, blah blah blah. I won’t go into all of the explanations of the beast and harlot and water and horns and such. The thought of explaining the JW doctrine on this stuff gives me a headache. I’m not going there today. I spent too much time peddling this stuff myself. JWs are taught to believe that there is only one correction interpretation of any biblical passage, and that God has given the correct interpretation directly to the governing body via mysterious transmissions of holy spirit. They don’t worry about conflicting interpretations – they just follow whatever the organization happens to say that decade.

Have fun. Google Revelation 17. Get out your bible and read the whole chapter, or the whole book. Do your own research. Or not. Some people can get a little addled and odd after becoming obsessed with the cryptic messages of Revelation (cf. Charlie Manson, David Koresh, etc.).

Basically, the purpose here is to wave around some secret knowledge, reinforcing previous messages and emphasizing the horror to come for non-JWs and anyone else who is not in good standing with God when the Great Tribulation comes as the opening act of Armageddon.

The whole ending, delivered very quietly, will create a tiny little panicked voice in the heart of the regular rank and file Jehovah’s Witness. I felt a little pang inside myself, as you would feel while watching a good play. He effectively delivers the whole crafted sales pitch. Even though he is, as they say, “preaching to the choir,” he is successfully making personal status and diminishing time felt as urgent issues.

This sort of content and delivery makes the audience feel special, and frightened, and resolute – the perfect combination for control. He is pumping up the herd.

Notice that the emphasis is on what someone does, not what they think or what they believe or who they are. It’s not about joy or love or character or insight or prayer or faith or compassion or transformation. It’s about a very specific and very limited kind of work. Care for others – a wider sense of service or devotion – doesn’t enter into it. There is no language of individual calling.

JWs will simply ask themselves whether they are really doing everything possible to be in the best position when they get “locked in.”

They had better stop talking to former brother-X altogether – they just can’t risk being associated with anything outside the “organization,” outside the “Truth.” Better cut down on that outside reading, better quit school, better stop learning karate or piano. All these things take up time. Kindness doesn’t matter anymore. God’s going to kill everybody else anyway.

So what if he’s my brother, or son, or father, or cousin, or friend? What if that person never got any real guidance or help? So what if someone is simply a decent person who’s going through a difficult time and needs the support and help of his or her family and friends to figure things out?

Gotta keep that congregation clean. It’s ideological cleansing. We recoil in horror at the idea of ethnic cleansing, but theocratic cleansing doesn’t seem to bother us so much.

Ironically, it’s also hopeful. If the preaching work is fulfilled, well, maybe they can stop this thankless task? Maybe the hours they spend out in service won’t need to be reported anymore? Maybe the book and magazine distribution to worldly outsiders is no longer important? Wouldn’t it be exciting if the whole mission were re-envisioned?

I wonder if they actually will rethink the evangelical mission if they feel the prophecy is already fulfilled. Probably not, but the thought might occur to one or another of the brighter ones. Of course, they won’t have the courage to ask.

The ending seems dramatic at first, unless you stop to think for a moment. If you believe in the end times, then – logically speaking – the time is always reduced.

Try to imagine leaving this group after years of messages like this for several hours a week. For a JW who leaves or is disfellowshipped, the trauma and fear (and even paranoia) is very real. Add to that the rejection, and being cut off from family and friends who fear to taint themselves with association – even to give spiritual guidance or simple, caring friendship. Follow JWs in the news to see some of the results.

There are no marks of love in any of this.

This is the kind of message that only strengthens my resolve to help and support recovering Jehovah’s Witnesses in any way that I can. If you are a former JW and you need someone to talk with, please feel free to contact me. I’m no guru. However, I “get” what you might be going through, and I don’t have any agenda except to support you, in kindness, with finding your own way, your own path.

(No, I don’t make any money doing this – it’s a part of my own spiritual calling to help if I can.)

Questioning JW Records Disfellowshipping Process

Questioning JW Records Disfellowshipping Process

In the words of Christopher Walken in the role of The Continental, “Wow. Wowie-wow-wow-wow.”

I stumbled across this today while backtracking some google searches that led people to this site. It’s always interesting to see what else comes up under the same search phrases. Go to this page at FreeMinds.org to hear the recordings. It doesn’t take long for someone who is looking for answers to their questions to be shunned. This gives a pretty good idea of their pastoral expertise.

Sick of Lies Conversations with Elders

The following phone conversations reveal the lying, misinformation schemes and doubletalk of elders and other brothers that are often triggered by a conversation with a questioning Jehovah’s Witness who is trying to get truthful answers from the Watchtower Society.

“I get many people asking me why I did this, it started as an idea. I wanted to leave and just disassociating myself seemed pointless because I wanted people to know why I was leaving and not just have a blank statement read to the congregation that I’m no longer one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. I decided that I would get myself disfellowshiped and document every step of the process. I had already been ‘reproved’ for asking to many questions on the subject of evolution, so I decided to continue to ask questions. I phoned up several elders and asked them questions on various topics, including 607, child abuse, UN NGO statue and more. When I first started doing this I started having second thoughts, I decided I would not pursue the matter anymore, I doubted anything would come of the questions and decided to leave it alone. Well it was only two days after asking these questions that the elders told me that they wanted to meet with me in a judicial committee and discuss what I had said. I was very nervous, but I decided to finish what I had started and carry out my project.

During the whole process I listened to questions and comments from other people who have been through emotional distress because of this religion, I tried to incorporate some or their concerns and questions in where I could. All in all I would say that this has been very therapeutic for me, facing my abusers who caused much depression and hardship in not only my life, but many others has made me feel like I took control of the situation and left under my own terms. After the whole ordeal was finished I left feeling no fear and no anxiety, I felt totally free.” – Sick of Lies

A few sample descriptions:

The elder who denies the “Two Witness” rule that protects pedophiles in the congregation as well as the Watchtower’s connection with the United Nations as an NGO (and they are still an NGO) (19:37)

An “anointed” elder is asked about proving the validity of the 607BCE date for the destruction of Jerusalem, gets flustered and says, “If the Watchtower says that’s what it is, then that’s what it is.” He is then asked about how you know you are of the anointed, and what would happen if the caller partook at the Memorial observance. (11:37)

Asking an elder about 607 BCE. (2:59)

The committee begins, they start by stating the reason they are there: “because your questioning everything” then state the reason they feel that I’m asking the questions is “your just trying to show your superiority because you have an education”. The elders in this committee repeatedly run down ‘higher education’ and state how it destroys spiritual minds.

“You’re looking for information that’s outside of what the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society has published… I support what the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society has to say. Those are my beliefs.” Never is the bible mentioned as the highest source, but always the Watchtower.

Questions are asked about how the elders handle someone who is suicidal or mentally ill. The elders simply reply that this is not their concern and they are simply there to assess wither or not the person qualifies for membership anymore. The elders state that baptism is a contract, and that once joined there is “no nice way out”. They take no responsibility for any depression or suicides that occur because of the shunning that results from their decision.

Second appeal hearing Part One. This time Dan is accompanied by Sean who came to provide him support and counsel if needed. Until last meeting where the elders allowed an outsider (Dan’s mother) to attend the entire hearing and even speak freely, this time they state confidentiality / elder privilege / organizational policy prevent any outsiders from viewing judicial committee under any circumstances.

Part two of appeal hearing. Elders ask if the meeting is being recorded and ask him ‘do you want to get in a war with us?’ ‘If this recording is being used for clandestine purposes you are in a heap of trouble’. Also the person is told that a picture he took of the elders was illegally taken.

04/26/06 Final Meeting with elders. Here the person is told the appeal committee has decided to uphold the decision to disfellowship. He is told there will be no more appeals and this decision will not be overturned.

JW District Convention Invitation Received

JW District Convention Invitation Received

What’s a girl got to do to have her house marked with an X on the local territory map of the JWs?

For the second time this week, I received a home-delivered invitation to the District Convention of Jehovah’s Witnesses. The first was delivered when we weren’t home. The second was delivered this morning by a lone man carrying an uncommonly nice leather valise. I think it’s the first time I’ve ever seen a JW at the door by himself; normally they travel in pairs. He didn’t say anything much, no attempt at the usual pitch – maybe he just wanted to get a look. Considering the other visits I’ve received, I wouldn’t be surprised.

I felt a little bit sorry for him. It’s a warm day, and my uphill driveway is difficult enough that we get few visitors at Halloween. So I didn’t ask any questions, didn’t make any statements. I just said “thank you,” and stepped back inside. The man who handed me the tract looked so cheerful. He is confident that he will survive and be part of God’s Kingdom. He thinks it is a literal place in history, and he’s going to see it and live forever on a Paradise earth while all the heretics and blasphemers and miscreants – basically, anyone who’s not a JW – die on the orders of the God of Love, with Christ (the Archangel Michael) arriving on a white horse for the slaughter. Sometimes I think the organization must be talking about an alien invasion of some kind. The cheerful man looks for “deliverance” from the world while not noticing (even as a black man) that the JW organizational structure is designed on the vocabulary of slavery: slave class, district/circuit overseer, and so on. But – each to their own path.

It’s amusing to note the differences between the official JW website and what JWs are actually taught at the Kingdom Hall. The Watchtower Society looks so benevolent online. You wouldn’t know that they were an extremely profitable set of corporations. Common JW phrases and words do not appear on the site. It’s easy to see the vetting by legal professionals and spindoctors on matters such as how to treat exJW family members, how to respond to domestic abuse or child abuse, their stance on pedophilia, in what circumstances it’s ok to lie in court, or even their views on male “headship.” Maybe current JWs don’t read the site, or somehow don’t notice the huge differences, or maybe they just assume that all is fair in “theocratic strategy.”

I looked at the invitation to attend the “Deliverance at Hand” District Convention of Jehovah’s Witnesses. I know for certain that they don’t want me to attend!

Under the text are sepia-toned depictions of “Poverty,” “Epidemics” and “Disasters.” Love the “helmuts” on the vague police/soldier guys, which look like a cross between Darth Vader and a Roman guard. Under these, a curved arrow points down (as transformational timeline?) onto their idea of the post-apocalyptic world. A strange pastoral in the regular JW style, it is set in a valley: Representatives from different races, smiling, tending a crop of flowers. One man pushing a wheelbarrow that overflows with grapes, watermelon, kale, and other produce. A yellow suburban house on the hill. A mountain lion sipping water from a stream, with children petting it – a gazelle and deer nearby.

On the back of the flyer, there is an illustration of a packed stadium, bordered at the left and bottom by a curve dotted with six illustrations (shouldn’t it be seven?) of the globe turned to different locations.

The conventions take place “from one end of the earth to the other” in July. They make a point of saying that no collections will be taken. An offer of a free book (“What Does the Bible Really Teach?”), along with a form to set up a free home Bible study, ends the page. There’s a little sticker for the dates, times, and location of the local 3-day convention.

I wonder how many hours of door to door service is required per book study these days? Per convert?

One feature of the convention “To Whose Authority Do You Submit,” is a “dramatic presentation in a Biblical setting” that promises to “highlight what loyalty to God really means.” They are backpedalling a bit, then, from the obedience and submission themes of last year. That was all about submission to the organization, obeying the dictates of the parrot-elders, and the like. The slight reorientation to God combined with the “Deliverance” theme is a bit troubling.

The last public address points to what is really meant by “Deliverance”:

Deliverance by God’s Kingdom Is at Hand!

Yikes. Ok, let me translate. Ask yourself… deliverance of who? from what? by who? how? when? Go ahead. Guess….

Answers: Deliverance of God’s submissive and obedient true people (i.e. Jehovah’s Witnesses at two levels – the great crowd of sheep, and the 144,000 intended to rule Planet Earth with Christ in heaven) from this evil and worldly system of things, by God and Christ, through global apocalypse. When? Any day now, just like they’ve been saying since the corporation got started.

Here’s the message. Listen up now:
Everybody had better join up with God’s voice on earth, the Jehovah’s Witnesses, lest they be destroyed. Got that? Join us or die. Sound familiar?

Love and compassion and ethics and service to others and patience and reason and gifts of the spirit and all manner of other spiritual qualities and goals and gifts don’t matter. What matters to the JWs is to bring in as many free workers as possible – under a death theat under God’s own authority.

Other evangelists do similar things, of course. Well, religious liberty and all that.

Actually, I don’t recall that there is anything much new in terms of fulfillment of their interpretations of biblical prophecies. If I remember correctly, I think the next thing in line was a united world religion, followed by its destruction by the UN (or a similar worldly organization transcending nations and having military “horns”). Of course there is the little matter of their doctrine, which says that the generation of 1914 “surely will not pass away” before the end comes, but I think they will be forced to see some “new light” on that one before too long.

They are incredible fear-mongers, not unlike the current Administration of the United States.

I do see economic disaster in our future, but again, one mustn’t blame God for our own stupidity and incompetence and greed. Unfortunately, religion is playing a very destructive role all around the globe – from one end of the earth to the other (sigh).

Ironically, I do think that we are poised on the brink of possible world catastrophes ranging from the threat of global warming to the escalations of war into nuclear catastrophe, but I don’t see either of these scenarios resulting in a cleansed earth fit for paradise. You know, unless they really are in contact with an advanced alien species whose earth rep is named YHWH.

The world today is more fearful than it has been in a long time. Apocalyptic pep talks don’t do much to help rebuild world sanity.

If the eagle can fight the dragon and the bear – which isn’t looking impossible – and the conflict escalates further in the middle east, and some bioweapons are let loose just as global warming really starts to accelerate, and the corporate fundies unite and pollute the rest of the planet under the name of their “stewardship” of the earth, then maybe the aliens will come in and rescue us. I guess. But why would they? It’s not as though we’re very good neighbors.

These are the thoughts that can run through your mind when you’ve been raised on this stuff. You can actually have a train of thought like this and weigh the merits of the speculative argument. Maybe it will help me write fiction.

I’m still waiting for someone to connect the dots and hire some blue-turbaned actor to ride through the gates on a donkey. Maybe that’s the signal to the fathership.

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