Thursday, December 17, 2015

Jehovah Witness promotion of paranoia

Jehovah Witnesses are a sect of the 19th Century American religious experience, that is a bit like the radical reformation of the 16th Century with several unusual doctrines (there is no eternal hell, the soul dies), among which isolate themselves from outside (birthdays, Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving are all pagan and therefore evil), or are done to make themselves appear uniquely enlightened (ie Jesus died on a single 2x4', its a sin to receive a blood transfusion). Probably, the most well known belief is their obsession with the end of the world, since they have successfully been preaching the End is right around the corner for the last 130 years, occasionally setting a date that failed to happen (eg 1914).

Since the Witnesses are obsessed with the End Times, like much of American Protestant Christianity since the 19th century (just look at the LDS, SDA, and general American evangelicals for the last 30 years point to just about anything in the newspaper being a fulfillment of Bible prophecy) they publish in their magazine pictures that are supposed to be scenarios of Witnesses meeting under candle light, in what appears to be some sort of underground setting. For those unfamiliar with Kingdom Hall worship meetings--they are generally about 90 minutes long, with a few, simple songs made by the organization (often songs telling Witnesses they need to do field work), and a 30 minute speech by an elder, then 1 hour long "bible study" based out of the organization's own publication--"The Watchtower." During the 'bible study' portion they have a reader read the paragraphs, then a facilitator read the questions and pick members of the audience to answer them. 9/10 times the answer is repeating exactly what was just read. But sometimes, the answers are not spelled out right there and members are encouraged to think for themselves--as in the case with a picture. Here is the picture used for the October 15, 2015 "The Watchtower" article called "Give us More Faith."


Upon asking the question, there will be several people in the congregation who's hands will jet right up and give detailed answers about how the event is when the evil world will outlaw the Witnesses--forcing them to go underground because they choose to be faithful to Jehovah, while the terrible church of Christendom thrive, but alas, Jehovah's kingdom is not of this system of things, so the Witnesses will preserver in the end and be granted resurrection while others will be destroyed. Generally, the more vivid, paranoid, delusional response will merit greater praise from the questioner. I have seen this several times.  In another one from with in the last year, the people made out how there SEEMED to be letter head, meaning of course that somehow the governing body was still functioning but in secret. The purpose of the pictures are generally to guilt their members into doing more field service, or to scare the more lukewarm members into regularly attending meetings. They also, make a point in how the people are not dressed for Kingdom Hall because its done in haste and in secrecy (Witnesses generally dress very formally whether in "field ministry" or at Kingdom Hall meetings--suit and ties for men with no beards, long dresses for women). Witnesses really hate beards, even in this doomsday scenes the male JWs typically still have no facial hair (although for whatever reason they are ok with mustaches, so some men will have big, ugly, bushy ones).

As a side note, the Witnesses often make it a point to make pictures as multicultural as possible and emphasize they are in their meetings while portraying outside religions as being racist, whereas Witnesses wanting people to believe they are the only ones to overcome this.