$1.4 Billion. Is THAT all?

The article said 1.4 million, someone pointed out, not 1.4 billion.

I wrote this post in too much haste. I should correct it, I suppose. But 1.4 million is still a lot of dough, and a lot of dough was the point. Besides, it is only a matter of a zero or 3. And what is a zero? Nothing! Why make such a fuss over nothing?

...............

You know, it’s all very well that this fellow wins the $1.4 billion Templeton Prize and I don’t. “He’ll be throwing his worthless gold in the street, someday,” I chuckle gleefully. Oh yeah, I am having a wonderful time here.

https://news.yahoo.com/physicist-marcelo-gleiser-science-does-not-kill-god-090100672.html

There’s nothing here that I haven’t said. There’s nothing here that tens of thousands of people haven’t said. “Hee hee, hee,” I mock this poor fellow. “Just wait till he gets his tax bill. nyuk nyuk nyuk.”

Atheism is inconsistent with the scientific method," he told them. “Atheism is a belief in non-belief. So you categorically deny something you have no evidence against."

Everybody who has any sense says that and nobody pays them $1.4 billion.

I'll keep an open mind because I understand that human knowledge is limited," he added. There’s money in them thar open minds.

I mean, he didn’t actually do any work. He just gussied up common sense a little and held out his hand for the payoff.

“The author of five English-language books and hundreds of blog and press articles in the US and Brazil, Gleiser has also explored in depth how science and religion both try to respond to questions on the origins of life and the universe,” the article says. 

Actually, I’ve just written four, not five books, and my blog posts are on many things, not just...oh...wait....the article’s not talking about me. It’s talking about someone with a cool 1.4 billion. I wouldn’t take it if you got down on your knees and begged me.

This fundamental curiosity unites science and religion, though each provides very different answers: science has a methodology, where hypotheses are eliminated.

"Science can give answers to certain questions, up to a point," Gleiser pointed out.

"This has been known for a very long time in philosophy, it's called the problem of the first cause: we get stuck," the physicist, a father of five.”

Maybe that’s where I went wrong. I didn’t have five kids. I should have had more.

"We should have the humility to accept that there's mystery around us,” he says. “He accuses the "new atheists" of doing a disservice to science by making an enemy out of religion: notably British scientist Richard Dawkins.” 

Uh, yeah. Haven’t I said the same thing, like, forever?

It's extremely arrogant from scientists to come down from the ivory towers and make these declarations without understanding the social importance of belief systems.....When you hear very famous scientists making pronouncements like ... cosmology has explained the origin of the universe and the whole, and we don't need God anymore. That's complete nonsense," he added. “Because we have not explained the origin of the universe at all."

Ha ha ha! Wait till he is flooded by “friends” who want a piece of his prize, ‘earned’ by pointing out what any donkey of a believer could have pointed out. Then he’ll be sorry. Then he’ll wish that I had been awarded that prize, and not he.

But it will be too late. He’s stuck with it. Ho Ho Ho. I’ll send him my address just to mess with his mind a little, but I won’t accept his prize, no matter how much he pleads.

Sheesh! 1.4 billion. It’s all in who you know.

Now, hand me that hammer so I can tap the starter on my car, the way you have to do to get it running. “Go get em, Tiger,” I tell myself. They’re running a ‘Buy One Get One’ at WalMart today.

[edit.....The article said 1.4 million, someone pointed out, not billion.

I wrote this post in too much haste. I should correct it, I suppose. It’s still a lot of dough. Besides, it is only a matter of a zero or 3. And what is a zero? Nothing! Why make such a fuss over nothing?

 
 

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Skirmish #200317

Those New Testament epistles reveal abundant energy devoted to countering those who oppose. See how Paul battles with the “superfine apostles” at 2 Corinthians 11, for instance. Why think it would be different today?  

...............

I'm not completely sure what this thread is even about. Offhand, it seems like an attempt by the hypercritical people to get the picayune and the righteous-overmuch people going. 

We all know what Jehovah's Witnesses believe. So whatever is seen is Chili either squares with it or it doesn't. 

If it does, then there will be some trickery involved to get people all incensed over it. It may be fraud by photoshop or trespasser sabotage. Or there may be something circumstantial or cultural that we know nothing about..

If it doesn't. then it will be corrected, now or later. It always is. 

Once I came after you with the charge that you had an agenda and you responded with: 'Of course, I have an agenda.' I said to myself: 'The old pork chop is right. He does has one. So do I. So does everyone.' Stay here any length of time and it becomes clear who the players are and what are their agendas. They range in shades of from off-white to downright black. Thus everything anyone offers ought to be seen in this light, and the posts of some ought to be 90% dismissed on this basis alone.

The ideal is what C.T. Russell stated, that he would accept a truth even if it was from the Devil himself. But the reality is, how would you know it is the truth? Far more likely is it that he is just lying like he always does, using abundant tricks of the trade to make you think he is telling you the truth. The tools for lying are legion today, far more than in Russell's time, what with photoshopping and all. Even without photoshopping , we all know the reality of information selectively given without context or in manufactured context in hopes that people will come to false conclusions, so that Wayne finally has to say: 'I'll go down there myself and shake the truth out of those bad brothers (if bad brothers they be).' Obviously that is something few brothers can do, not just on account of resources, nor even on account of time, but on account of best use of time.

And if we get so worked up about reports from those whose agendas are manifestly cockeyed, if not downright foul, in these days of photoshop, what on earth will we do in the days of 'deep fakes', a day that is rapidly dawning? If anyone doesn't know the term, a casual Google search will reveal that it is the manipulation of video evidence, so that any head can be attached to any body and be made to say anything the poster wants? Are you going to lose you're cookies, then, when a GB member appears in skin tight pants smoking weed to recommend that we all start showing a little more sympathy for the Devil? Because you know that day is coming.

(My own prophesy, by the way, is that deep fakes will instantly be turned upon children, as technological advances usually are, for the sake of ratcheting up the bullying that they are already taking their own lives over. Since generating those deep fakes is only possible with an abundance of still photos to feed into generators, any source of those abundant photos is going to be sued off the planet. It will not be enough for social media sites to say that what they did was perfectly legal at the time and was agreed to by their users. Laws will be reinterpreted to say that they have violated them. You think lawsuits today have gotten out of hand?)

So you have to go by someone's manifest agenda. In this regard, Billy’s comments are among the most appropriate, even if he is prickly is his presentation. Witness the modern sanctification of the term 'whistleblower'. Whistleblowers are useful, of course, but they are more useful in blowing the cover off an evil organization. Almost all of the self-styled  'whistleblowers' on this particular thread think  that Jehovah's organization is evil. If you are one, like me, who doesn't think that, then you discount their comments on that basis alone.

People's veracity should be judged by always keeping in mind their overall agenda.

It is like a WT article that dealt with those occasional Bible accounts that are downright strange and even paint God in a bad light. 'All we see is a little snippet,' it said. 'What do you do with a close friend who has had your back and earned your trust over time and you know him through and through, but then you hear a bad report about him? Do you say: "YEAH! I knew it! He is a rat!" ?

Unfortunately, it is a crazy age we live in in which loyalty is seen as the mark of a chump, and there are many people who are that way.

It is like when I pointed out that the Geoffrey Jackson on Twitter was not the real Geoffrey Jackson and Wilma took a breather from bludgeoning everyone with irrelevant scriptures to say 'How do you know that it is not him?' It has his picture, doesn't it? 'He' even said pray for our brothers in Russia.

Duh. You know it is not him because she says that it is. Presently it was revealed that ‘he’ didn't give a hoot in hell for 'our brothers is Russia.' - kill them all as far as he is concerned. It was all a ruse so as to capture the attention of naïve brothers and redirect it to unflattering reports elsewhere.

Oh, yeah. Sure. He’s going to start up a Twitter account. After all he’s said about social media. Look, if they ever did do some amazing about face and start giving updates on Twitter, it would be a dramatic change in method of communication. There would be ample notice on trusted channels that such change was about to happen.

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........................

These are the problems I see when witnesses from a free society don’t understand the prospects of other countries. They think they can instill western values in areas that reject them.”

Exactly 

“Therefore, the only ones worthy of accommodating the brotherhood in Chile, are Chilean Brothers, no one else.”

Exactly.

When Billy is hot, he’s hot.

It is not unlike the situation described at Acts 21:20

“and they said to him: “You behold, brother, how many thousands of believers there are among the Jews; and they are all zealous for the Law.  But they have heard it rumored about you that you have been teaching all the Jews among the nations an apostasy from Moses, telling them neither to circumcise their children nor to walk in the [solemn] customs.  What, then, is to be done about it? In any case they are going to hear you have arrived.  Therefore do this which we tell you: We have four men with a vow upon themselves.  Take these men along and cleanse yourself ceremonially with them and take care of their expenses, that they may have their heads shaved. And so everybody will know that there is nothing to the rumors they were told about you, but that you are walking orderly, you yourself also keeping the Law.”

The governing arrangement back then assumed authority to do such things, even telling Paul to act differently from what he would otherwise do, so as to counteract hurtful reports and reassure others.

They were not to be second-guessed in such decisions. They “girded themselves as men” and directed a course of action that easily could have been criticized by ones having inadequate knowledge of the culture and circumstances.

In fact, on ancientsocialmedia.com back then, they did take a lot of heat for it.

.......................

My throat got dry on the trail the other day so I stopped in at the saloon for a brew. I grabbed my mug, threaded my way through the floozies after telling the barkeep to keep those drinks coming, and settled in for some serious contemplation of the vicissitudes of life.

”Join us for some poker, pardner?” came a friendly voice from the next table. A Chilean flag flew over that table on some days, but not others. Why not indulge him? I took the chair offered and the dealer shot out the cards. The friendly stranger took a quick peak at his then put them face down on the table.

Presently, looking sly as could be, he picked his cards up again and slowly fanned them face side out, and I was surprised to see that he had a full house. I heard some tittering from the floozies, and I weighed his hand against mine with an inward smile. I would hand this gringo his head on a platter.

But then my conscience started to beat me. This was going to be too easy, like taking candy from a baby, and I don’t cotton to beating up on babies. “Say stranger,” I said. “Did you know that you are doing it all backwards?” 

”Don’t worry,” he replied. “I know what I’m doing. The public has a right to know.”

”Maybe some good will come out of it,” he spoke up again. “The name’s Wayne, by the way. Pleased to meet you. Maybe we’ll have the pleasure to meet again someday ,” he said chattily as I raked in every dollar he had laid down.

How’s that for admiring him, Billy. Out here on the trail everything is relative.

“Admirin’s got nothing to do with it.” 

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Here is a Picture of My Scrabble-Cheating Brother BEFORE Donning His Halloween Costume

I don’t believe it! My brother won ANOTHER Scrabble game? How? Through his usual method, of course. Through cheating! Here is a picture of my brother BEFORE he put on his Halloween costume: 27D604A6-C047-427A-8957-E74518E943EB

He always cheats. He cheats and cheats and cheats. And whenever he wins a game in that way (through cheating), he will climb atop a slide or something and taunt me!

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This is a photo of my mother taking my brother and I probably to church, where we would supposedly learn to be moral,upright, and honest. She succeeded beyond her wildest dreams with me of course. But my brother grew up to be a notorious ne’er do well, known far and wide for Scrabble cheating.

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Do I never win? Yes, sometimes I do. Sometimes all the cheating in the world, even his extra stash of letters, does not help him. And when I do win, do you think he is a good sport about it? Does he look cute to you in these photos? Well, JUST LOOK at how he changed the paint job on my Datsun pickup!

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photo: (final photo) SilverElephant

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A Successful Program of Alternative Civilian Service in Taiwan

In modern times, some governments have proved progressive (and some haven’t)—willing to substitute neutral civilian service for military service. Taiwan instituted such a program in 2000. Kou-Enn Lin, director general of the program, recommends it to other nations during an interview with a Witness representative. Approved applicants to the system are assigned sites such as hospitals, government offices, nursing homes; there are sixteen possible venues. It’s not “very light work,” Kou-Enn makes clear, because the purpose is to substitute for, not exempt from, military service. It is a win-win, he maintains, and he cites figures to indicate a satisfaction rate of 90-97% among the agencies to which applicants are assigned. The greater goals of religious people are to serve, he says. They fit right in and need no discipline; they attack their work with enthusiasm. “At one time we had a situation where there were people with religious conscience in jail and people with little conscience outside of jail. Resolving this contradiction shows our respect for human rights.”

He concludes with: “It’s good to have a system in parallel with regular military service as an alternative. That’s the solution. The results and benefits exceeded what we expected. Human rights, religious suppression; all of these things can be resolved. I really hope other counties will come and draw lessons from our experience.”

See: “A Successful Program of Alternative Civilian Service in TaiwanJW Broadcasting, August, 11, 2017

From chapter 6 of Dear Mr. Putin – Jehovah’s Witnesses Write Russia

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A Class Action Suit in Quebec

“Citing a hierarchy that ‘encourages a culture of silence,’ a Quebec Superior Court judge has authorized a class-action lawsuit for current or former Jehovah’s Witnesses in Quebec who were sexually abused by other members as minors....[The plaintiff] alleges she was repeatedly sexually abused and assaulted by her brother, 13 years older, beginning when she was only 10 months old.”

Do I understand this correctly? One child abuses another within a family, and it is the fault of the congregation elders?

The Canadian judge stated that: “The organization of Jehovah's Witnesses is very hierarchical, led by men, and encourages a culture of silence.”

Take the organization out of the picture for a moment. Are we to imagine that the mom and dad of this family would have otherwise marched their kids straight down to the police station to make sure that proper punishment was meted out?

There is a part of me that thinks what really gets in sticks in the craw of this judge is that Jehovah’s Witnesses are “hierarchical,” as though any other organization is not, and that they are “led by men,” as though anything less than a free-for-all ought to be taboo. Perhaps she even implies that men are inherently evil, so that the greatest travesty of all is to be led by them.

However, says my nemesis: “My guess is that it's not what happened within the family. It was the coverup within the Congregation.”

Well—it is not possible to mishandle what you never attempted to handle in the first place.

The clear implication of rulings such as this is that religious organizations ought not to look into the conduct of its members, for it is only by doing so that they can find themselves in such a spot as this. “Be like the mainline churches,” the ruling says in effect. “Preach to them on Sunday and be done with it. It’s none of your business whether they apply it or not.”

However, the verse Christians feel obligated to follow says that it is their business. “You, the one preaching, “Do not steal,” do you steal?  You, the one saying, “Do not commit adultery,” do you commit adultery?” (Romans 2:21) If you claim that your teachings improve the overall moral fiber, you must have mechanisms in place to ensure that that is in fact the case, especially if your view of God is that he insists on a “clean” people, as free of misconduct as possible.

Framed in this way, the ruling is a state attempt to regulate religion, and could be argued on that basis.

Plus, such thinking completely ignores the far superior role of prevention of child sexual abuse, in order to zero in exclusively on meting out punishment when it occurs, as though that is the means by which the problem will be solved. How’s that project going, anyhow? Thirty years into the all-out war against child sexual abuse, is it just about snuffed out? Or is it only the tip of the iceberg that has been revealed?

I’ll take the kids, Caleb and Sophia, video any day, for teaching parents how to protect their children. I’ll take the 2017 Regional Conventions any day, in which every Witness in the world was assembled to hear detailed scenarios in which child sexual abuse might take place, so that parents, the obvious first line of defense, can be vigilant. Who else assembles all its members and then trains them so?

***~~~***

 

“Jehovah’s Witnesses have a serious problem of child sexual abuse in their midst?”

 There are two ways of looking at this.

1.) They do not.

2.) They do, but the situation is far worse everywhere else.

One must look no farther than who is being outed as perpetrators. If you want to find deviants in most places, you look no further than the leaders. If you want the same ‘catch’ among Jehovah’s Witnesses, you must broaden your search to include, not just leaders, but everyone. A Jehovah’s Witness leader committing child sexual abuse is rare. Not unheard of, but rare. Elsewhere, it is the pattern.

Okay, if the leaders are not committing the child sexual abuse, are they nonetheless "hiding it?" How do they compare with other groups? It is a little hard to say. Nobody else has ever found any. They looked the other way, taking no interest in looking at wrongdoing within their midst. Thus, when child sexual abuse was found, it was a.) found entirely independent of religious affiliation, and b.) it was found that the leaders themselves were the abusers. How would members fare in comparison? There is no data. Nobody ever bothered to look.

Courts will go where courts will go. Will they take the above into account? Time will tell. There are few organizations with pockets--it doesn’t matter if they are religious or not--that are not being flooded with lawsuits today. In New York State, my own state, the governor has just signed into law a bill greatly lengthening the statute of limitations for child sexual abuse. Out of nowhere has appeared a major sponsor of programming I watch--a legal firm seeking to sign up clients. The ads briefly eclipsed other legal firms of accident litigation running non-stop ads of how “[So and So law firm] got me $3 million dollars, 15 times what the insurance company offered!” Put together, lawyers have become by far the premier sponsors of television. Can a society really endure that way?

Make no mistake. No one is saying that it is wrong to sue for grievances. But one must sometimes ask whether there will be any organized group on earth left standing when the suing is done. Of course, there will be some. Governments can just raise taxes to recoup legal payouts. Businesses can raise prices. But groups like the Boy Scouts, investigating bankruptcy at last report, are out of luck. One wonders how other voluntary organizations will fare.

The typical person congratulates the client who has come into an extraordinary bonanza via lawsuit. Then he opens his insurance premium bill. It calls to mind, as a rough parallel, the statement of Alexander Fraser that democracy can only endure until “the majority discovers it can vote itself largess out of the public treasury.” The world has become a lawyers’ playground, with massive transfers of money flowing in all directions--the barristers netting a third, they being the only consistent beneficiaries.

When the rules of the game change, you can hardly blame the small players for adjusting to accommodate them. There was a time, those my age will remember, when nothing was so crass as for lawyers to advertise. It was against their universal code of conduct, possibly even against the law. It explains the phrase “ambulance chaser”—you actually had to chase an ambulance to sign up a client before another lawyer could. You couldn’t just broadcast to the whole wide world that you were scouring the earth for clients.

Someone dear to me was sued several times with regard to property, in another matter that had a very long statute of limitations. When what proved to be the final lawsuit came in, the person sought to make defense through his insurance lawyer, but that one attempted contact several times and could not get a response from the firm bringing suit. Finally, that firm admitted that they were having a hard time locating their client. Seemingly, they had left no stone unturned in seeking business and had finally found “aggrieved” ones whose cases were so tenuous that they couldn’t even be bothered to show up and make them.

I wonder, too, whether the popular demand for public apologies isn’t largely just a PR event, or even worse, an encouraged legal strategy to secure a clear admission of guilt, thereafter better enabling future lawsuits. Few things are done for the noble ‘window-dressing’ reasons that are given. At any rate, it is worth noting that when the government of Australia apologized for decades of child sexual abuse, and opposers praised that apology to the heavens because they thought they could thereby embarrass Jehovah’s Witnesses, the victims nonetheless rejected it as ‘too little, too late.’ Better than any apology is prevention. Of course, it is good to call in the grief counselors in the aftermath of a school shooting. But it is far better not to need them in the first place.

The situation is a far cry from the Quebec of 70 years ago, during which 400 Jehovah's Witnesses generated 1600 arrests, on charges as minor as peddling without a license but as major as sedition. A key case involving sedition was lost before the Supreme Court of Canada, but was overturned on a rarely-used provision of "rehearing," at which the Court acknowledged that Witness literature and ministry included nothing that incited to violence--a necessary ingredient of sedition--but only contained that which made a powerful faction squirm. The situation is much different today, with altogether different charges, and the game is barely recognizable. But deep within, is the underlying intent not nonetheless the same, cloaked behind a veneer of righteous indignation?

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To be added to TrueTom vs the Apostates!

 

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On Good Works

If I come across someone in the ministry, church person or not, who does some kind of good works - say, running a soup kitchen, I do nothing but say good things about it. It is undeniably a good work, and we are not doing it.

I don’t say anything about painting the Titanic. I don’t say anything about Jesus instructing his disciples to put first the kingdom proclaiming work. I’ll get to those things, but only later. It is a matter of prioritizing and of building connections with the one I am speaking with.

Would Victor (my nemesis) advise helping people? The side he has chosen doesn’t even know how to do it. In the US, there are two political parties. Both say they want to help people. Neither says that they want to hurt them. Yet they incessantly squabble and between them nothing gets done. 

Google the one about the Red Cross raising half a billion dollars in the aftermath of the Haiti earthquake and then squandering almost all of it:

https://www.propublica.org/article/how-the-red-cross-raised-half-a-billion-dollars-for-haiti-and-built-6-homes

How is that world he has chosen doing in its goal to fight injustice and suffering? Does he almost have it snuffed out?

Jehovah’s Witnesses direct their blows where they will do the most good - publicizing what is the permanent solution. He shouldn’t go patronizing them as though he’s found a better way. If anthing, his is the course that comes up short. Our people are not so naive as to think that human rulership will remedy suffering and injustice. If anything, it is the cause of it.

Paul says it. You do good towards all & especially those related to you in the faith. (Galatians 6:10)

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No Common Sense Here

This post is a compilation of three existing posts:

This Has Nothing to do With Common Sense,

One Last Chance for Religious Freedom in Russia,

’I Do Not Understand Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses,’ Putin Says.

There is no material that is new. Redundant material has not yet been edited out. It is for inclusion in one or both of my latest books, Dear Mr. Putin - Jehovah’s Witnesses Write Russia, and TrueTom vs the Apostates!

Nothing is within about recent charges of torture. That is for a future post.

~~~~~~~

 

At the Russian government press conference, journalists asked about the case of Dennis Christensen, who one day prior had been sentenced to over 6 years in prison for practicing his faith. Journalists asked whether Jehovah’s Witnesses can really be considered an extremist organization from a common sense point of view.  The president's press secretary said: "We cannot rely on concepts of common sense for governmental purposes." Of course!

The knee-jerk response of any jaded person in nearly any country on earth is to chuckle and say “Yeah, it is just like that here.” But there is much more to be seen here.

The Russian government is plainly befuddled. The press secretary goes on to explain that the greater issue is not whether Jehovah’s Witnesses are extremist. The greater issue is that Dennis Christensen was found guilty of violating the law that says they are. Surely this is kicking the can down the road. Two months ago, at another meeting, President Putin stated that he really didn’t understand why Jehovah’s Witnesses are persecuted, indicating that the law itself makes no sense to him as applied to Witnesses.

To slightly misapply the words of Jesus, “something greater than Capernaum is here.” What? Two scenarios can be advanced—one for all persons, and one for persons of biblical bent.

The purely human one is that a powerful and cunning anti-cult movement takes the Russian government unawares. It takes them unawares because it is a Western import, not Russian at all, finding roots in a humanist French NGO dedicated to freeing people from ideas considered socially destructive, and nothing is more destructive to them than religion that includes the concept of authority among its members. The anti-cult movement finds its counterpart in all developed lands, though its methods will differ.

There are even divisions among them. The anti-cultists in the West consider the anti-cultists in Russia to be doing it all wrong. One of them says (sigh – it is my nemesis, but there are many others): “Jehovah’s Witnesses need persecution for their beliefs to make sense. With their thuggish behavior that violates human rights, Russia is blowing a huge gust of wind into Watchtower’s sails, fueling another generation’s worth of propaganda.”

Of course! They have a “persecution complex” over there—often the charge is made by Witness opposers. Why would their fellow anti-cultists—brothers in spirit if not in technique—be so stupid as to validate it by persecuting them? It is as though he says: “Look—we want what you want, the destruction of the Witness organization. But that is not the best way to do it.”

***~~~***

The second scenario, for those of biblical bent, and it may not be of interest to those not, so they have "permission" to skip this and two succeeding paragraphs, involves the fact that the Witness organization has identified Russia as the biblical “king of the north,” an entity found in the prophesy of Daniel (chapter 11). It is a complex prophesy which many students of the Bible have tackled, involving specific powers (kings) that pass their respective mantles to succeeding powers in often shifting geographical areas, commencing from Daniel’s time down to the present. Does it complicate matters with the Russian government for someone to tell them that the Witness organization says that they are the northern king? Emily Baran, who wrote the book Dissent on the Margins, about the persecution of Jehovah’s Witnesses during Soviet times, said that it did. It genuinely confused the irreligious Soviets and enabled them in characterizing the Witnesses as a political movement masquerading as a religion.

The Witness organization goes where it goes in furtherance of its mission to live by and advertise Bible principles, largely oblivious to ones who may think that their toes are stepped on—barely aware of it at all, because they ‘don’t do politics’ at Witness HQ. There is a king of the south, too, these days associated with the United States, and neither king is overly friendly to the interests of Jehovah’s Witnesses. However, because the concept of human rights finds soil more fertile in the West than in the East, Witnesses face few legal impediments to their work in such lands. In fact, the most frequent participant in U.S. Supreme Court proceedings has been the Witness organization itself—sometimes as plaintiff and sometimes as defendant. Of them, Justice Harlan Fiske Stone once said: “I think the Jehovah’s Witnesses ought to have an endowment in view of the aid which they give in solving the legal problems of civil liberties.”

The entire prophesy as seen though Jehovah’s Witnesses eyes is most recently discussed in their 1999 publication Pay Attention to Daniel’s Prophesy, which is a discussion of the entire Bible book, not just the chapters involving the two opposing kings. Regardless of who interprets the prophesy, and of what time interval is covered, the kings of the north and south are continually at loggerheads. What is remarkable about the present—and this is only this writer’s perception—is that even when the “kings” declare that they would like to get along, outside forces intervene to keep them “on script.”

“Wouldn’t it be nice if we actually got along with Russia?” the current American president said during his campaign. President Putin has spoken similarly. At which point, the American press intervenes to virtually ensure that they will not. Today, it is widely recognized that east-west relations are subsequently more strained than in even Soviet times. This dovetails so well with certain biblical passages (Ezekiel 38:4, Revelation 17:17) to the effect that world powers will do things not of their own devising that the similarity is impossible to let pass without mention. One must wonder if former Witnesses, upon seeing unexpected world developments that violate even “common sense,” yet are exactly in accord with long Witness expectations, do not think sometimes that they may have deboarded the train too soon—for in the aftermath of the final contest between the kings of the north and south, a contest whose biblical role has been developing for 2500 years, the “people of the covenant” at last find deliverance.

It is to be noted that enemies of Jehovah’s Witnesses present themselves, not as enemies of individual Witnesses, but of the organization that they have chosen, which they somehow portray as having “enslaved” them through various psychological techniques of “control.” In Russia, Jehovah’s Witnesses as people are not banned. Only their organization is. However, most persons are not sophisticated enough to tell the difference, because essentially there is no difference. The Witness enemy is befuddled by it and assaults members with impunity. The police stand by and do nothing because they, too, are befuddled by it. The government is befuddled by it, as noted above. The Witness him or herself is befuddled by it. Everyone is befuddled by it because it makes no sense. It is like this writer saying that I love the Russian people—it is only the Kremlin that I seek to destroy. It is like my saying that the Russian people are free to drive the roads—it is only the roads that are banned. It takes a while to get one’s head around such a notion. Guileless ones are particularly disadvantaged because the presentation itself is steeped in guile.

It doesn’t even matter the reason for opposition to the Witnesses. The anti-cultists of the West latch on to different reasons to destroy the Witness organization than do the anti-cultists of the East. A common trigger for denunciation in the West is that Jehovah’s Witnesses are unsupportive of gay rights, and within their community, do not allow for gay sex. This makes them absolute heroes in Russia, which avidly persecutes gays. Just after the Russian ban was instituted, Angela Merkel even mentioned the two populations in the same breath to Putin—questioning him of his harassment of gays and Jehovah’s Witnesses. (Many Western sources, such as the BBC, edited out Jehovah’s Witnesses so as to focus on gays.) So Russia must scramble to find different reasons for persecution, since a prime Western reason is not a problem in its eyes.  Some Russian sources commenting on recent Witness events mention as a specific objection only that Jehovah’s Witnesses refuse blood transfusions. Even the most staunch advocate of blood transfusion will concede that the group refusing them are not to be equated with ISIS terrorists. No, on so many levels, Witness persecution defies common sense. Whenever things do that, people can be forgiven for wondering if something supernatural isn’t at work as well.

~~~

Dennis Christensen “has spent the last 20 months in a cold cell with suspected drug dealers and only been allowed to meet his wife, separated by bars and a corridor, twice a month. If convicted, he could spend up to a decade in jail,” writes Andrew Osborn for Reuters. How much do you want to bet that those drug dealers now know their Bibles quite well? Alas, that may make them more unwelcome in Russia than had they landed the area distribution franchise for Drugs-R-Us.

He must have his moments of despondency. He must. But you would never know it. He is serene in appearances, and sometimes even cheerful. Jehovah’s Witnesses could not have wished for better examples to face the Russian bear than he and his wife Irene. See how he typifies the spirit of 1 Peter 2:23:

“Christ suffered...leaving you a model for you to follow his steps closely....When he was being reviled, he did not go reviling in return. When he was suffering, he did not go threatening, but kept on committing himself to the one who judges righteously.”

Has he wavered in his love for his adopted homeland? He “does not regret that he moved to live in Russia. ‘It is one of the best decisions that I have made in my life, and it brought me much happiness,’” he tells the Reuters reporter. This despite his being anything but starry eyed. “To call me or other peaceful Jehovah's Witnesses extremists is the greatest stupidity that I have ever heard!" he says. “Of course I hope that he (the judge) will be just," he said. "But I also know which country I’ve been living in."

Only a month ago, President Putin, when asked, stated that the equating of Jehovah’s Witnesses with terrorists was “of course...complete nonsense,” something “you need to carefully deal with,” and later, “so this should be looked into” since “Jehovah’s Witnesses are Christians, too.” We may soon learn just how carefully he means to deal with and look at it, as the time of Dennis’ sentencing has arrived. As for Irena, “I’m not afraid of anything and Dennis is not afraid either,” she told Reuters.

I have never seen a picture of him in which he is not mild, even well dressed. He actually broke into song at one hearing via Internet, before the guard told him to shut up. Could one ask for a better example? The symbolism is complete. His surname points to the one he follows. Even his carpenter profession lines up. Even his last project as a free man spotlights the idiocy of branding him an “extremist”—building a playground for the community children. Would members of the only other group in Russia officially designated “extremist,” ISIS, also build a playground for the community children? Maybe, but it would be a long time gaining my trust to let my children play on it. On January 23, the prosecutor requested a sentence of 6 years and 6 months in prison. Why not add 6 days to the request to make it a nice, biblical 666?

It's déjà vu for Jehovah’s Witnesses in that country, whose period of freedom has lasted only 27 years. “The only difference is that at that time [of the Soviet Union] they were called 'enemies of the people'. Now they are called 'extremists'," says Irena.

Journalist Osborn does what all journalists must do. He probes for the actual reason that Jehovah’s Witnesses are opposed. Usually all one must do in such cases is read the charges of the prosecution, but here in the Christensen case the charges are ridiculous, and the ‘crimes’ easily refuted. So Osborn hits on one spot of contention after another, but presently puts his finger on the real trigger: “Russia has been the most outspoken in portraying it as an extremist cult.” He refers, perhaps unknowingly, to a burgeoning anti-cult movement which finds conditions fertile in Russia for a perfect storm, but which is active everywhere.

The reason that Putin declares it complete nonsense to call Witnesses “extremist” is because it is. As such, he and his in government would never have dreamt of doing such a thing. However much any of them may dislike Jehovah’s Witnesses, ISIS has taught them what extremism is. They are not so stupid as to confuse the two.

Likewise, the dominant Russian Orthodox Church did not originate the ban against the Witnesses. That is not to say that some of them did not squeal with delight like kids on Christmas morning, but it was not their idea. The thinkers there are not particularly happy about it, for the same set of laws that declare it a crime to proclaim the superiority of one’s religion in the case of Jehovah’s Witnesses might easily be turned against them.

No, problems with the Church and the suspicious government merely make for excellent tinder. The spark that sets it off Osborn identifies with: “Russia has been the most outspoken in portraying it as an extremist cult.” It is a determined anti-cult movement that sets the match to the tinder. It is not even Russian originated, but like Bolshevism itself, is a Western import. Religion writer Joshua Gill has outlined how a French NGO dedicated to protecting people from ideas considered socially destructive—the manifest goal of anti-cultism--sent a well-known emissary to Russia who spread that view with missionary zeal, maximizing his existing status with the Russian Orthodox Church.

The anti-cult movement ever seeks to extend its reach. Only in Russia does it find conditions ripe for the perfect storm, but its influence is afoot everywhere. The match was even literal in 2018 Washington State, where six attacks resulted in two Kingdom Halls burnt to the ground. Of course, that is not the intent—to incite violence. Anti-cultists speak against it, for the most part. But when you yell “CULT!” in a crowded theater, who can say what will happen? The correct term, non-incendiary and chosen by scholars for just that reason, is "new religious movement."

Assembling material in preparation for ‘Dear Mr. Putin – Jehovah’s Witnesses Write Russia,’ I became more and more convinced that the anti-cult movement was behind it all, and it is a conviction that has only strengthened since. In the book’s introduction, I wrote:

“Does Kuraev really mean to suggest that prosecution presented no intelligible arguments at the Supreme Court trial? An observer of the trial might well think it. He might well wonder just what does the government have against Jehovah’s Witnesses? There must be something, but it is not stated. At one point the judge asked the prosecution (the Ministry of Justice) whether it had prepared for the case. A decision had been plainly made somewhere from on high and it would fall upon the judge to rubber-stamp it. Of course, he did, perhaps because he wanted to remain a judge. The actual reasons behind anti-Witness hostility were never presented. So I have presented them in Part II, along with how they might be defended.”

I even went on to caution members of my own faith:

“Some Witnesses, truth be told, will be uncomfortable with Part II and might best be advised to skip over it. They will love the idea of defending the faith but may be unaware of the scope of the attacks made against it, some of which are truly malicious. Deciding to sit out this or that controversy will earn them taunts of ‘sticking one’s head in the sand’ from detractors, but it is exactly what Jesus recommends, as will be seen. Not everyone must immerse themselves in every ‘fact,’ for many of them will turn out to be facts of Mark Twain’s variety: facts that “ain’t so.” You can’t do everything, and most persons choose to focus on matters most directly relevant to their lives.” 

That caution is repeated, with even greater applicability, in the newer ebook ‘TrueTom vs the Apostates!’ The book is not recommended to all Witnesses. Read it if you want a specific reply to charges laid against the faith. For those able to focus upon forward motion only, the book is not recommended. For those not, it is. The line that invariably gets the largest applause at Regional Conventions of Jehovah’s Witnesses is: “Would you like to send your greetings to the brothers in Bethel [headquarters]?” The hard work and integrity of these ones is appreciated by all. So not everyone will feel the need to check out every derogatory report.

In some respects, the Witness organization appears to this writer to be out of step with regard to the attacks it faces today. With a long history of persevering in the face of religious threats to stomp it out of existence, it seems slow to acknowledge that religions are mostly licking their wounds these days, and it is the irreligious world, with anti-cultists in the vanguard, that most vehemently presses for its downfall.

See Reuters article, by Andrew Osborn

And one from BBC Russia, by Viktor Nekhezin

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………

 

At a December 11. 2018 meeting with the Council on Civil Society Development and Human Rights, one council member, Ekaterina Shulman, addressed President Putin: “There is a list of organizations, for which there is information that they are involved in terrorism and extremism. There are 489 of them, and 404 of them are Jehovah’s Witnesses.”

Pressing her luck, she continued: “Here I will take a sinister pause. There could be an abundance of claims against Jehovah’s Witnesses—they don’t allow blood transfusion, don’t send children to hospitals, [ed: not a charge that I have heard before] but they definitely are not calling for violence or committing it.”

Putin’s response was: “We should treat the representatives of all religions in the same way – this is true, but still, it is also necessary to take into account the country and the society in which we live. True, this does not mean at all that we should include representatives of religious communities in some destructive, or even in terrorist organizations. Of course, this is complete nonsense, you need to carefully deal with it. Here I agree with you.”

Later in the meeting, Putin returned to the topic and added: “Jehovah’s Witnesses are Christians, too. I don’t quite understand why they are persecuted. So this should be looked into. This must be done.” The Washington Post and Time picked up on the story the next day, the Post saying that he “has pledged to look into the reported persecution of Jehovah’s Witnesses.”

Now, what to make of this?

Yaroslav Sivulski, the press secretary for JWs in Russia, stated: “We have noted the president’s reaction with surprise. If he knows about the whole situation, then probably his reaction could change something. We hope that he will give instructions to have the matter examined and something may happen. Though, knowing the realities of our country, there is not much optimism.” Okay, so they’re not breaking out the champagne just yet.

The online community of Jehovah’s Witnesses was a cynical bunch, by and large, with many thinking Putin was just being slippery. In fact, since translating from Russian to English poses challenges, one Witness understood him to say: “Jehovah's Witnesses are also Christians, for which I do not really understand how to persecute them,” as though he was searching for more effective ways to do it. Hmm. Did he say "I really do not understand how to persecute them" or "I really do not understand how they are persecuted"? It is the six-million-dollar question. It is a little like the Twilight Zone episode in which the earthlings were relieved to find the alien's handbook "To Serve Man." ‘Ahh, it means their intentions are good,’ and they breathed easily, but at the show’s end they discovered to their discomforture that it was a cookbook.

I tend to take President Putin’s remarks at face value. There is no reason that he has to say what he does, even expanding it to ‘Jehovah’s Witness are also Christians,’ contradicting prominent religious people who say they are not. When his Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, who was also among the officials that Witnesses contacted via a letter campaign launched in hopes of averting the 2017 ban, was asked a similar question last year, he could not have answered more harshly than he did. I think Putin is being genuine, at last waking up to something that he has barely paid attention to. Maybe it is like the hinge squeaking in the background somewhere that he has barely noticed but now it is driving him nuts. Perhaps he will even pick up his WD-40, go lubricate it himself, and subsequently vent his wrath upon whoever allowed such idiocy to take center stage in the first place, painting his country before all the world as a nation of goons--in the spirit of Ahasuerus avenging Haman.

A president is a busy man. It is popularly believed that anything that goes down in a country will have his fingerprints all over it, but this is seldom so for matters of ‘low priority.’ Of course, this is not low priority for Witnesses, but it can hardly be otherwise for him. At a subsequent news conference, he spoke to the danger of nuclear war, which he hopes the West does not get too cavalier about: “The danger of the situation escalating is being downplayed,” he said, adding that the lowering of thresholds for nuclear capability “could really lead us to catastrophe.” If he loses sleep at night, it is not over the travails of a small religion. It is over the thought of the world going up in flames.

Western media excoriates him, but it cannot be wise to let the propaganda of one king mold our view of the other. I was very careful, in writing the book, Dear Mr. Putin – Jehovah’s Witnesses Write Russia, not to do that. In the event it was ever read by anyone that mattered, I did not want to sabotage it by being disrespectful or accusing.

It wasn’t that hard to do—for example, by spotlighting the two, likely three, times that Russia, not the United States, saved the world from certain nuclear war. Lieutenant Colonel Petrov spotted an incoming missile from the U.S. on his screen, correctly judged it a malfunction, and against orders, did not relay the report to the excitable Kremlin. Second-in-command Vasili Arkhipov refused to sign-off with his two fellow officers to launch a nuclear attack during the Cuban missile crisis—thwarting an attack that had to have unanimous backing. Nikita Khrushchev arguably brought that crisis to a close with his last-minute telegram to President Kennedy.

However, in refraining from criticizing Putin personally, I was not just being expedient. I honestly came to feel it not likely that he was one of the instigators. I admit that feeling wavered in view of the abuses of the last few months, with Witnesses physically accosted by police, but now it intensifies. Promisingly, he is not cut from the same cloth as many in high government. He was not born to privilege in the ruling class. He started from the ground up, as a regular office worker, and lived with his parents during the early days of his working life. He thus probably retains a feel for the interests of the ‘common man’ that his co-rulers do not. In the end, it hardly matters, because ‘the heart of a king is as streams of water’ in Jehovah’s hands. But it helps if it is neither ice cubes nor steam to begin with.

He didn’t have to say it, is the point. He could have issued some boiler-plate beatitude of how ‘the situation is serious and we continue to monitor it closely.’ He certainly didn’t have to say that Witnesses are Christian too, thus showing that he will not be shoved around by ones who insist they are not. His statement makes it much harder for Russia to thumb its nose at any upcoming ECHR verdict, indicating that he has no intention of doing that. How can his words not ease the pressure on Jehovah’s Witnesses in that country? After all, if you were a Russian cop, would YOU violently accost one after what he just said?

Still, he is conscious of the majority. How much freedom of worship will be restored remains to be seen, since he observes that with 90% of the country being of a certain religious orientation, one cannot throw everything overboard so as to please the "sects." It is enough not to persecute them, which he seems inclined not to do. Maybe the brothers will have to tip-toe around for a while, and it will not necessarily be a bad thing for our people to focus on being discreet. That has long been the direction of theocratic training, anyhow. If Putin truly had evil intent, however, he would not have returned to the topic to say that he doesn’t really understand why Jehovah’s Witnesses are persecuted. Now let’s see how well he holds up as the more devious ones labor to ‘educate’ him on the topic. We will see whose resolve prevails. Probably, JW representative Sivulsky has it just right: he is surprised and cautiously optimistic.

In some respects, it may prove a replay, with hopefully different outcome, of the situation with Pilate judging Jesus. Pilate knew that he was being set up. He knew Jesus was innocent. He worked rather hard to free him—that much is clear by reading any one of the gospel accounts, and the conclusion is inescapable upon reviewing all of them. But the scoundrels were so insistent, even hinting that to release Jesus would be treasonous, that he eventually caved. After all, it wasn’t his prime concern. He had a province to run. He tried to do the right thing. That’s how it is with many today. They try to do the right thing, but they only try so hard. When the going gets rough, they opt for expediency.

The Russian Orthodox Church has insisted that it did not instigate the ban and I am inclined to believe them. That is not to say that prominent ones were not delighted at the outcome, or that some instigators did not have Church connections. But the villainy stems from an anti-cult movement, with French connections, that is active in many lands. Conditions in Russia were ripe, that’s all, just like they were ripe for Communism 100 years ago, which was also imported from abroad.

Writing ‘Dear Mr. Putin - Jehovah’s Witnesses Write Russia’ took the better part of a year. There were few publicly available online sources that I did not read during this time, save only for those that were repetitive. The most telling report was one by Joshua Gill, a religion writer, revealing from where most of the trouble came.

“The Russian Supreme Court’s July 17 ban on the Jehovah’s Witnesses was the result of a decades long conspiracy funded by the French government, blessed by the Russian Orthodox Church, and sanctioned by the Putin administration…The latest phase of that plan first garnered international attention with Russian authorities’ arrest of a Danish citizen.” That would be Dennis Christensen, arrested May 25, 2017 for conducting a congregation meeting after the ban had gone into effect, and still in prison at this time of writing, (December 2018) his case only recently coming to trial.

Gill spotlights the role of Alexander Dvorkin, the Russian Ministry’s Expert Council for Conducting State Religious-Studies. That Council exists so as “to investigate religions that deviate from Russian Orthodox teaching and to recommend actions against those religions to the state.” They have recommended taking strong action on non-majority faiths. Mr. Dvorkin is also vice president of the European Federation of Research and Information Centers on Sectarianism (FECRIS), a French NGO dedicated to identifying as a “sect/cult or a guru the organization or the individual which misuses beliefs and behavioral techniques for his own benefit.” It is an organization fully funded by the French government, and it may be remembered that that government tried to eliminate Jehovah’s Witnesses by imposing a 60% tax on their activities in 1998. The tax was steadfastly appealed by Jehovah’s Witnesses until it was struck down by the European Court of Human Rights fourteen years later.

The Daily Caller article reveals the depth of Dvokin’s misinformation and dislike of Jehovah’s Witnesses. “Their adepts recruit failed university enrollees, and people on vacation as well; they have a wide range of psychological influence, especially on the unstable minds of adolescents and youths,” he says of them and the Hare Krishnas. He has encouraged the public to “take part in the fight against sects, file complaints and collect raw data so that the local authorities can react quickly.” In a 2009 documentary called ‘Emergency Investigation: Jehovah’s Witnesses,’ he compared Witnesses to drug dealers. The Journal for the Study of Beliefs and Worldviews attributes instances of public violence against Russian Witness members to that documentary, just as the violence visiting Kingdom Halls in Washington State is similarly stoked by the inflammatory use of the C-word. Is the FECRIS mission of identifying as a “sect/cult or a guru the organization or the individual which misuses beliefs and behavioral techniques for his own benefit” not exactly the battle cry of the anti-cultists worldwide?”

Mine was the minority view among the Witnesses I spoke with. “You are a better Christian than I am,” one said. “You always expect the best from people. I don't believe a word a politician says.” Note that his distrust is of “a politician,” not of Putin specifically, though he hardly sings his praises. One could even say that it is a sign of being “insular”—they are all the same to him. Having said that, they are all the same to many persons today—it is hardly a quirk of him alone. Why, long ago Mark Twain even said that politicians must be changed as frequently as a diaper—and for the same reason.

It is true that I try to think the best of people. Am I a “better Christian” in this instance? Or just a dumber one? Time will tell.

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the ebook ‘Dear Mr. Putin - Jehovah’s Witnesses Write Russia’ (free).... and in the West, with the ebook ‘TrueTom vs the Apostates!’ (free)

The Reproach of Child Sexual Abuse Falls on the Abuser

In Jehovah’s Witness congregations, victims, parents, or anyone else, have always been free to report allegations of child sexual abuse to the police. The troubling reality is that many chose not to do it. They alerted congregation elders and went no further. Why? Because they thought that by so doing, they might be bringing reproach on God’s name and the Christian congregation.

That situation has been resolved. The May 2019 study edition of the Watchtower, reviewed via Q & A participation at all congregations of Jehovah’s Witnesses—it will escape nobody—addressed it specifically: 

“But what if the report is about someone who is a part of the congregation and the matter then becomes known in the community? Should the Christian who reported it feel that he has brought reproach on God’s name? No. The abuser is the one who brings reproach on God’s name,” states the magazine.*

The problem is solved. Can one bring reproach on God or the Christian congregation by reporting child sexual abuse to police? No. The abuser has already brought the reproach. There will be many who had long ago come to that conclusion, but now, unambiguously, in writing, for elders and members alike, here it is spelled out.

From the beginning, child sexual abuse controversies as related to Jehovah’s Witnesses have been markedly different from those of nearly anywhere else. Incidents have mostly been within the ranks of the general membership, come to light because the Witness organization takes seriously passages as Romans 2:21-22, and investigates wrongdoing within its midst so as to “keep the congregation clean” in God’s eyes, something that they think He demands:

“Do you, however, the one teaching someone else, not teach yourself? You, the one preaching “Do not steal,” do you steal?  You, the one saying “Do not commit adultery,” do you commit adultery?” (Romans 2:21-22)

Elsewhere it is the leaders being looked at exclusively. Usually, no mechanism at all exists that the wrongdoing of religious members comes to light. When the police nab John Q. Parishioner, it is as much news to the church minister as it is to the public. When was the last time you read of an abuser identified by religious affiliation unless it was a person in position of leadership?

As I write this, it now appears that the time has come for Southern Baptists to take their turn in the hot seat. Just eight days prior to this writing, a Houston Chronicle headline (February 10, 2019) announces: “Abuse of Faith - 20 years, 700 victims: Southern Baptist sexual abuse spreads as leaders resist reforms.”

Who are the victims? Entirely those who were abused by leaders. The latter “were pastors. ministers. youth pastors. Sunday school teachers. deacons. And church volunteers.” Were any of them just regular church members abused by other regular church members? No. There is no apparatus for that to ever come to light. The church preaches to them on Sunday but otherwise takes no interest in whether they actually apply the faith or not. Doubtless they hope for the best, but it is no more than hope. Only a handful of faiths make any effort to ensure that members live up to what they profess.

It has always been apples vs oranges. That is what has long frustrated Jehovah’s Witnesses. With most groups, if you want to find a bumper crop of pedophile abusers, you need look no farther than the leaders. With Jehovah’s Witnesses, if you “hope” for the same catch, you must broaden your nets to include, not just leaders, but everybody. It is rare for a Witness leader to be an abuser, the rotter in San Diego being a notable exception. It is the rule elsewhere. The most recent Witness legal case, involving a lawsuit in Montana, involves abuse entirely within a member’s step-family that did not reach the ears of the police, which the court decided was through leadership culpability.

To account for this marked difference in leadership personal conduct, this writer submits a reason. Those who lead among Jehovah’s Witnesses are selected from rank and file members on the basis of moral qualifications highlighted in the Bible itself, for example, at Titus 1:6-9.  In short, they are those who have distinguished themselves in living their religion. Leaders of most denominations have distinguished themselves in knowing their religion, having graduated from divinity schools of higher education. They may live the religion—ideally, they do, but this is by no means assured—the emphasis is on academic knowledge.

Add to the mix that Jehovah’s Witness elders preside without pay, and thus their true motive is revealed. Most religious leaders do it for pay, and thus present conflicting motives. One could even call them “mercenary ministers.” Are they untainted in their desire to do the Lord’s work or not? One hopes for the best but can never be sure.

Confounding irreligious humanists who would frame the child sexual abuse issue as one of religious institutions, two days after the Southern Baptist exposé, there appeared one of the United Nations. On February 12, the Sun (thesun.co.uk) reported that “thousands more ‘predatory’ sex abusers specifically target aid charity jobs to get close to vulnerable women and children.”

“There are tens of thousands of aid workers around the world with paedophile tendencies, but if you wear a UNICEF T-shirt nobody will ask what you’re up to. You have the impunity to do whatever you want,” Andrew Macleod, a former UN high official stated, adding that “there has been an ‘endemic’ cover-up of the sickening crimes for two decades, with those who attempt to blow the whistle just getting fired.” Sharing his data with The Sun, Mr. Macleod “warned that the spiralling abuse scandal was on the same scale as the Catholic Church’s.”

All things must be put into perspective. Child sexual abuse is not an issue of any single religion, much less a tiny one where otherwise blameless leaders are perceived to have bungled reporting to police. It occurs in any setting in which people interact with one another. The legal system being what it is, one can prosecute child sexual abuse wherever it is encountered. The tort system being what it is, one prosecutes primarily where there are deep pockets. Arguably, the child sexual abuse issues of the Southern Baptists have taken so long coming to light is because that denomination is decentralized in organization, presenting no deep pockets.

With the May 2019 Watchtower mentioned above, finally the reporting issues of Jehovah’s Witnesses are fixed. Anyone who knows of abuse allegations may bring those to the attention of the police, and regardless of how “insular” or “no part of the world” Witnesses may be, they need not have the slightest misgivings about bringing reproach on the congregation. Both goals can proceed—that of societal justice and that of congregation justice—and neither interferes with the other.

Witness opposers were not at all gracious about this change, that I could see. Many continued to harp on the “two witness” rule of verifying abuse, for example. It becomes entirely irrelevant now. Were it a “40-witness” or a “half-witness” rule, it wouldn’t matter. It is a standard that guides congregation judicial proceedings and has absolutely no bearing on secular justice.

“Well, it only took a landslide of legal threats around the world to force their hand on this,” opposers grumbled, as they went on to claim credit. Why not give them the credit? Likely it is true. Everything in life is action/reaction and it would be foolish to deny the substance of this. Once ones leave the faith, people within lose track of them. It is easy to say: “Out of sight, out of mind,” and opponents did not allow this to happen. They should seriously congratulate themselves. Many have publicly stated that their opposition is only so that Jehovah’s Witnesses will fix their “broken policies.” Now that they have been fixed, one wonders if their opposition will stop.

Members have been given the clearest possible direction that there should be no obstacle or objection to their reporting whatever allegations or realities they feel should be reported. Few journalists will hold out for elders marching them down to the police station at gunpoint to make sure that they do, even if their most determined opposers will settle for no less.  There are some experiences that seem to preclude one’s ever looking at life rationally again, and perhaps child sexual abuse is one of them. The only people not knowing that the situation is fixed are those who are convinced that Jehovah’s Witnesses are evil incarnate whose charter purpose is to abuse children, and they will not be convinced until there is a cop in every Witness home.

With a major “reform” making clear that there is absolutely no reproach in reporting vile things to the authorities, some of the most virulent of Witness critics lose something huge to them, and the question some of them must face is a little like that of Tom Brady—what on earth is he ever going to do with himself after he retires? A few face withering away like old Roger Chillingsworth of the Scarlet Letter, who, when Arthur Dimmesdale finally changed his policy, “knelt down beside him, with a blank, dull countenance, out of which life seemed to have departed. ‘Thou hast escaped me!’ he repeated more than once. ‘Thou has escaped me!’

This will not be the journalists, of course. Nor will it be the legal people. Nor will it even be Witness critics in the main. But for some of the latter, former members who are vested in tearing down what they once embraced, it will not be an easy transition. They almost have no choice but to find some far-fetched scenario involving “rogue elders” that could conceivably allow something bad to yet happen and harp on that till the cows come home. There are always going to be ‘What ifs.’ At some point one must have some confidence in the power of parents to be concerned for their children, and for community to handle occasional lapses, particularly since governmental solutions have hardly proven immune to abuse and miscarriages of justice themselves. It is not easy to get between a mama bear and her cub.

All told, it would appear that even if the leaders of Jehovah’s Witnesses practiced child sexual abuse themselves, their “contribution” would be the tiniest part of an overall endemic. But since they do not—since their alleged sins are failing to report on what some members have done, the efforts of their apostates to paint them as a prime source of the degradation is but vengeful. They deliberately construct a damning and inaccurate picture of the faith that others in lands less enamored with human rights act upon.

 

*This point is not absolutely new, but it has been made more prominent by being included in the weekly Watchtower Study meeting. A similar point is made in the Appendix of 'Keep Yourselves in God's Love,' a 2008 book, which formed the basis of study in the Congregation Book Study format, and is presently one of two books studies by each person in the course of presenting themselves for baptism:

On page 223, the book reads: "In rare instances, one Christian might commit a serious crime against another--such as rape, assault, murder, or major theft. In such cases, it would not be unchristian to report the matter to the authorities, even though doing so might resort in a court case or a similar trial."

~~~

 

Q: “I do believe that Elders are using this 'excuse' [clergy-penitent privilege] to refuse to give evidence in court cases. Am I right in this thinking ?”

No more so than a motorist uses the posted speed limit sign as an “excuse” to explain why he was driving that fast.

Clergy-penitent privilege, like doctor-patient and lawyer-client privilege, has long been part of law, on the supposition that these three relationships cannot work without the expectation of confidentiality. Elders of Jehovah’s Witnesses, who for legal purposes correspond to clergy, use this law where appropriate, as do clergy, doctors, and lawyers everywhere. Ironically, barristers have managed to whittle down two of the three applications. The only one still standing is their own.

Sometimes I wonder why that should be. Strip them of it. Why should they be allowed to “enable” child sexual abuse? Make them report to police anything they learn from a client as soon as they learn it. Of course, they would scream to high heaven that they have noble reasons not to do this. I would agree with them. It makes their job (specifically, that of the defense attorney) all but impossible. 

The point is that there are noble reasons for the other two relationships to exist, as well. Exercising them does not automatically make you a lover of child abuse. And I keep coming back to that November 20th, 2011 Democratic and Chronicle article that two thirds of all professionals who ARE mandated by law to report child sexual abuse fail to do it: “Studies across the country over the past two decades have consistently shown that nearly two-thirds of professionals required to report all cases of suspected abuse fail to do so,” it said.

I know of no other scenario on earth where, when confronted with an issue with obvious legal implications, consulting with one’s attorney first would be spun as an evil, as it is when Witness bodies of elders speak with Watchtower Legal first. This is done, not to evade law, but to ensure compliance with it.

Unless there has been human error, JWs always act in compliance with law, but the outrage over CSA (and the disillusionment with religion) triggers reinterpretation of law to present it that they did not. In some instances, the plain equivalence of Witness elders to clergy has been denied, partly on the basis that they are “not paid.” An irreligious world can relate to spiritual things only if they can be reduced to what is easily understood—money. The concept of serving out of love for God and humanity is completely beyond them and they are sometimes given to spin it as a matter of wanting power or control.

From the book TrueTom vs the Apostates!

 

 

04

 

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I May Have Called Him a ‘Big Baby’ a Time or Two, But Nothing More.

I seriously got under the skin of owner of one opposition site. (I don’t quite know who runs it, but this fellow is definitely a main player, if not the owner) Both on his site, where I was banned, and on Twitter, where he, almost with every tweet, taunted and insulted me, and I let most of them stand unanswered, never responding in kind. I may have called him a ‘big baby’ a time or two, but nothing more.

Several chapters of True Tom vs the Apostates are based upon my interactions with him.

One of the corkers came when he took issue with the December WT about women in trying relationships and he DAILY tweeted his urging to various women’s groups, tagging them each time, that they look into such “appalling" "orders" from an organization with absolute "control" over its women. They failed to respond. He kept it up for over 50 straight days! In time I wrote a counter article and began appending my tweets to his, such as:

“Sheesh! Even Jehovah’s Witnesses do not call EVERY SINGLE DAY!”

and my favorite (around day 50):

“It’s as though he says to [these women’s groups]: ‘GOD****T, ANSWER me when I’m talking to you!!’”

                        —-

And just LOOK at what happened to my Datsun pickup when I parked in his  lot!

I thought I was going incognito, but apparently not.

                       

9A99010E-787F-4FBA-AFEC-2FDC4E4C7AA0

Photo credit: Silver Elephant 

 

In my chapter ‘On Women. Part 1’ I described him thus:

I think it will turn out as when the ever-capable female British intelligence officer commented to Foyle, of the television show Foyle’s War, about the full-of-himself male officer that she, for the time-being, had to play second fiddle to: that he was overconfident and not really too smart. He would overreach and fall of his own weight. She had seen it before.”

And I was NOT the one who, on first laying eyes upon him, called him a “bearded slob.”

For he life of me, though. I could not bring myself to rebuke this brother. As much as I think we overdo it sometimes, and I just cannot get my head around Old Testament prophets being as obsessed over their dress and grooming as we have sometimes made them out to be, there IS something to be said for changing out of your tee shirt before filming your ‘podcast.’

 

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At the Genesee Brew House

At the Genesee Brew House, all waitresses and restaurant staff are full employees of the High Falls Brewing Company and enjoy equal benefits. 1250B204-8D91-488B-BCE4-FE5D35E93A7F
This puts their work a cut above many waitressing jobs. Is there internal transfer to and from the adjacent brewery? I asked. No, it doesn’t often happen, our waitress said. She knew of no examples. She characterized those in the Brewery itself as lifers.

I told her my beer joke and she laughed. She didn’t guffaw like a donkey, and she didn’t collapse rolling on the floor in convulsions.  But it was a good solid laugh, not one of those “I’d better laugh at this old duffer’s lame joke so that he does not take it out on his tip, the way he looks like he might do.” No. it was an honest laugh. (Nor am I a bad tipper.)

My wife and I held out for a window seat, with a view of the High Falls. After lunch, we walked the unshoveled pathway by the farther fence. F47848FF-7D86-435A-840B-EF9F4B7E6F30
During summer, one does well to sit on the balcony just outside and afterwards walk the Platt Street bridge over the Genesee River that bisects Rochester. Looking out another window, we spied yet another of the horses on parade that found a permanent home when the parade exhibit was through and the creatures were auctioned off for charity. Well over one hundred are scattered throughout the area, each fiberglass and each with painting. This one, just across the street, may be closest to its home, because the idea originated with High Falls Brewing, the makers of Twelve Horse Ale. CBB2B9C6-B522-4192-9961-05791C6D988C

The restaurant itself is on the second floor of the 1904 building, which was first a bottling plant for Standard Brewing Company, then a succession of other businesses, ending up for 30 years a plumbing supply house, before being purchased by the Genesee Brewing Company in 1982 and converted to a restaurant 30 years after that. On the first floor is both a gift shop and museum of local beer history, with some emphasis on dodging the authorities during the days of prohibition. BD702881-78FC-4FAE-ADE7-34FADBA294B2
One poster recounts how “the city’s brewing industry also benefited from [German] migration [of the mid-eighteen hundreds] and from the growing theory that beer was healthy. (It was sometimes referred to as “liquid bread”.) This frustrated temperance advocates.”

A poster on the wall from bygone days advises buying Jenny by the case, and that is just what some visiting friends of ours from Rhode Island did, only they bought a case of Genny Cream Ale, which comes in a green box, not red. (for a friend, they said, as they plunked it down in our breezeway while they stayed with us.) 3E9A13E7-934B-4EA0-A89E-66136CB5EFF6
As sometimes happens with local attractions, they had stumbled upon the restaurant before we did, and it was on their visiting itinerary.

And the joke? Its setting is from many decades ago. A night worker, all alone on graveyard shift, had only to circle the huge tanks of brewing beer to ensure that all ingredients were mixing properly. Dead tired and thoroughly bored, sometime after 3 AM, he fell in and drowned. The commotion was huge the next day, with police and reporters all gathered around, when one of the latter ventured that his death must have been a horrible way to die. “No, I don’t think so,” said the supervisor, looking very thoughtful, “because he climbed out four times to go to the bathroom.” A920598F-1C7D-4D27-91D1-E823F3E9EFCB

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