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Snake Handling in Worship....You Can't be too Careful

Some things you don't forget.

Like that time I was doing magazine work with Tom Pearlsenswine. He was new then, and deadly serious. This was back when the magazines had no pictures on the cover - back when there was only a list of the articles within, like Craigslist. We were working with the issue about Snake Handling in Worship - that article had top billing. Now, in all fairness to Pearlsenswine, how do you offer an article about snake handling in worship?

"Sir, we are speaking with our neighbors about the alarming practice of snake handling in worship," he led off.

“I don't think we have to worry about that here," the householder quite sensibly replied.

Soberly and deliberately, Pearlsenswine answered: "You can't be too careful."

No, you can't. The article Tom offered focused on that verse in the last chapter of Mark, really the only verse you could have written such an article  from:

Furthermore, these signs will accompany those believing: By the use of my name [Jesus] they will expel demons, they will speak with tongues, and with their hands they will pick up serpents, and if they drink anything deadly it will not hurt them at all. They will lay their hands upon sick persons, and these will become well.”    Mark 16:17,18

It’s an odd verse, to say the least. You mean we have to carry snakes and Draino with us, in case anyone wants proof of discipleship? I mean - use of God's name, obedience to the Christ, proclaim God's Kingdom, love and unity among selves, no part of the world - yes, all these things we hear about as earmarks of discipleship. But snake handling? Drinking poison? It doesn't really fit the pattern, does it? You can't quite imagine Jesus saying it.

Further, the New Catholic Encyclopedia (1967) notes that "it's vocabulary and style differ so radically from the rest of the gospel, that it hardly seems possible Mark himself composed it," - that is, verses 9-20, not just verses 17-18. Of course, the King James Bible of 1611 uncritically runs all verses, but not so newer translations - translations which, counter-intuitively, are generally more accurate, since they reap the benefits of archeological progress - that is, the discovery through the years of more ancient manuscripts. And the most ancient manuscripts are without verses 9-20.

The New International Version, wishing to spare its readers boring details, inserts just before verse 9, the phrase "the most reliable early manuscripts and other ancient witnesses do not have Mark 16:9-20." That's further than most translations go. The Revised Standard Version, wishing to step upon nobody's toes, states: "Some of the most ancient authorities bring the book to a close at the end of verse 8. One authority concluded the book by adding after verse 8 the following: [text supplied]....Other authorities include the preceding passage and continue with verses 9-20. In most authorities verses 9-20 follow immediately after verse 8; a few authorities insert additional material after verse 14."

They're all "authorities!" No attempt is made to distinquish the windbags from the knowledgeable. Choose whichever you like. All roads lead to heaven. It’s the classic milquetoast take-no-stand approach.

The New World Translation is more helpful. It lists (through abbreviations - the key to which is provided in the preface) just which "authorities" (manuscripts and versions) contain the passage and which do not. If you're a student of the Bible, and not just one willing to be talked down to with drivel about "authorities," this information is crucial. You can do research. And you will find that the manuscripts not including the verses are more ancient than the ones that do. Bible translator Jerome, in the fifth century, said that "almost all the Greek codices [are] without this passage."

And yet, it's not such an obvious fraud as the more cleverly written insertion  at 1 John 5:7 that explicitly states the Trinity. That insertion appears in no manuscript before the sixth century CE. Since its only effect is to plainly state a doctrine not plainly stated anywhere else, it's hard not to conclude that it was stuck in for that purpose by some Trinitarian translator getting madder and madder in the course of his work that his favorite dogma is not really in the Bible, so he determines to slip it in himself.

Yet, if Jerome, in the fifth century, said almost all Greek codices were without the extra verses of Mark, that means that some included it. So few translations pull the verses entirely (as many do with the 'trinity' insertion); instead, they footnote it.

It’s not real clear just why extra verses would have been added to Mark, but you might get some idea through reading that last chapter. It ends very abruptly, so maybe you can picture some scribe, who likes tidy endings, figuring he might "flesh it out" a little. Maybe he thought there actually had been an ending which, somehow, got lost, so he figured he himself would rise to the occasion. You’re not really supposed to do that, but perhaps it is understandable.

Mark’s style is abrupt. There’s strict economy of words. Not chatty at all. It lends that gospel a peculiar power, even an urgency. For example:

And on that day, when evening had fallen, he said to them: “Let us cross to the other shore.” So, after they had dismissed the crowd, they took him in the boat, just as he was, and there were other boats with him. Now a great violent windstorm broke out, and the waves kept dashing into the boat, so that the boat was close to being swamped. But he was in the stern, sleeping upon a pillow. So they woke him up and said to him: “Teacher, do you not care that we are about to perish?” With that he roused himself and rebuked the wind and said to the sea: “Hush! Be quiet!” And the wind abated, and a great calm set in. So he said to them: “Why are you fainthearted? Do you not yet have any faith?” But they felt an unusual fear, and they would say to one another: “Who really is this, because even the wind and the sea obey him?”   Mark 4:37-41

Much more gripping than Luke’s account, found at Luke 8:22

Note, too, Luke’s account of a woman seeking help from Jesus:

And a woman, subject to a flow of blood for twelve years, who had not been able to get a cure from anyone, approached from behind and touched the fringe of his outer garment, and instantly her flow of blood stopped.   Luke 8:43-44

 

Luke, it must be pointed out, was a doctor. But Mark wasn’t, and apparently had little patience with the breed. His description of the poor woman is that "she had been put to many pains by many physicians and had spent all her resources and had not been benefited but, rather, had got worse."

 

Pop would approve.

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So snakes are not necessary in one‘s book bag. This is very good news and makes it likelier that Indiana Jones may someday become a Witness. He does, after all, know God's name.

 



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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)

Pinks, Purples, Greens, Blues and Cold

I knew summer was close upon us when the Lilac Festival kicked off last weekend. That’s the only way I knew. The weather sure gave no clue. I've seen R-rated weather before, but this was obscene. Joan Osborn performed Sunday and, just like when Lot’s wife became a pillar of salt, she became a pillar of ice. I mean, she must have. When guitar strings began superconducting, she swore to herself she would never ever ever come to Rochester again before July. I wasn’t there, so I don’t really know, but if she has any sense, that’s what she did.

And Ricky Lee Jones, the day before, must have been blown back to New York City or wherever she came from. It was gale force winds that day. My son was biking back from Ithaca that day and tells me he had to lean against the wind nearly the whole time. That’s fine until the wind abruptly stops and you must think quick to rebalance. He really should have pulled over. How come I didn't teach him better?

But by Monday, the weather was looking up. Upper 50’s, that is, which isn’t all that great, and with a breeze, no less, but also with full sun. I made plans to get to that festival and, as family head, I ordered Mrs. Sheepandgoats to come with me, but she said ‘forget it.’ Naturally, she cherishes every opportunity to be with me, but it was only 55 stingy degrees, and she has not much use for outdoor festivals until it’s ...say, at least, mid-sixties. Of course, she could wear a parka and tuque. Everybody could, and that would solve the weather problem, but nobody wants to do that. The Lilac Festival is the first "coming out" event of the season - the first real occasion for people watching - and you don’t want to show looking like a weather-grizzled prospector from the backwoods.

See, lilacs are an early blooming plant, right up there with tulips and azaleas - and before rhododendrons, so the festival either must come in early May or shed the name Lilac Festival. Several decades of tradition argues against shedding the name. Just be grateful it's not the Crocus Festival. And Highland Park, it must be said, was truly splendid that day. Brilliant blossoming pinks, deep lilac purples, hues of green, even some yellows springing up everywhere, all splashed against bright blue sky. It's no wonder those ancients went bonkers come every spring. It's glorious to behold. You bring your camera that day, and snap pictures of all you see. Photos are digital, after all, and cheap. If they don’t turn out, you just delete them. Therefore, if you can stand the weather, you come down around suppertime, grab a plate of food from the venders, and munch it down listening to free concerts amidst the beautiful backdrop. Then, you head back home and go about your business. Without ever intending to, I've fallen into a habit of yearly Festival posts. Starting now, therefore, I'm opening a Lilac Festival category.

Monday was cowboy day; all musicians wore cowboy hats. Now, cowboy music would not ordinarily be my first choice, but you have to take what you can get. After all, I’m one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, not some nutcake religious fanatic, and I'm not about to freeze so as to take in the better-known artists of the prior two days. Plenty of Rochestarians are willing to do so, however. We are very serious about our Lilac Festival, and I am told those two frigid days were well-attended. But for me, no. Cowboys it will have to be. A fellow by the name of Jarrod Niemann played at 5:30, putting out a solid show with spontaneity and humor. He didn’t actually wear a cowboy hat (he wore the same hat that he does here) and he doesn't do the twangy country stuff. Strictly a one man show with acoustic (though plugged-in) guitar and no back-up musicians of any sort. It can’t be that easy to hold the stage that way, and chilly weather inhibited audience feedback at first, but he had a strong voice, likeable presence, clever song-writing, and the easy-going confidence to interrupt himself mid-song with obser……are those drug dogs?…..vations appropriate for the…….are those lilacs? Did I tell you I’m allergic to lilacs?…..event. Some honky-tonk and good-time songs, with one or two off-color references which, of course, went right over my head. Not a bad show. If he comes to your town, you might want to see him.

Afterwards, I might have slipped away home, for the sun was thinking about setting, but Jarrod said to stay put for the next cowboy, Jamey Johnson. Of course, I’m used to doing as I’m told, so I hung around, a little reluctantly at first, but in time I was drawn into that second performance, as well. This next fellow had backup. And lots of twang....isn't it steel guitars that do that? Exactly what is a steel guitar, anyway? He planted himself stolidly center stage, immovable (unlike the writhing guitarist to his right) singing anthems with an attitude, as if to say "if you don't like it, leave!" I didn't notice that anyone did. I, too, stayed to the end.

The final two days of the festival returned to the meteorlogical misery of the first two days, so as to achieve symmetry, no doubt. During the next week, the temperature climbed into the mid-80's. ...Sigh....

 

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Tom Irregardless and Me               No Fake News but Plenty of Hogwash

 

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 Military-Industrial Complex and Jehovah's Witnesses

During the Vietnam war, America's younger generation broke from the older, and broke decisively. Student protesters besieged the White House, chanting "Hey Hey LBJ, How many kids did you kill today?" President Johnson's successor, Richard Nixon, fared no better, since his name suggested the clever, if obscene, "Dick Nixon before he dicks you." Mohammed Ali was drafted into the military and refused to go, famously declaring "no VietCong ever called me nigger." Exactly. What quarrel did he have with people halfway around the globe? Bigger concerns back home. If the 'kings' couldn't get along, how did that become his problem?

Back then, you heard a lot about the military-industrial complex, that cozy relationship between big business, the armed forces, and government, each feeding the other, thus facilitating perpetual war. Young people signaled they resented the manipulation, and would no longer stand for it. But where did that expression come from - military-industrial complex? Probably some long-haired, over-educated peacenik?

In fact, for those who believe in stereotypes, it came from the most unlikely of persons: Dwight D Eisenhower, nicknamed Ike, who served as Supreme Commander of Allied Troops during World War II. Afterwards, a grateful United States elected him President in 1952 and again in 1956. In his 1961 farewell address to the nation, he cautioned of a growing military-industrial complex.

Now....this is not the type of warning you'd normally expect from a general or President. Patton wouldn't have said it. Nor would George Bush, who landed on that aircraft carrier crowing "Mission Accomplished!" Ike's children said Eisenhower originally intended to warn of a military-industrial-congressional complex, but he dropped the last term, for fear of annoying Congress.

But maybe that warning from the President is not so strange, considering Ike's background. Cruise the internet and you will find sites that describe him as the nation's only Jehovah's Witness President. Here, for example. I mean, it's right there on the internet, so it must be so, but could it really be? Jehovah's Witnesses don't usually join the military, let alone become Supreme Commander of Allied Troops. Nor do they enter politics, let alone become President.

As is often true about things pertaining to us on the internet, it's not true, but there's a grain of truth to it. Ike was raised in a Witness home, or at least, his mom was very active in the faith, though apparently not his dad. When Ike was a boy, his home was used for meetings. Ike and his brother left the Witnesses, but his mother remained active until her death. In the mid-seventies, Modern Maturity magazine ran this quote from Melvin Eisenhower, Ike's brother:

Mother and Father knew the Bible from one end to the other. In fact, Mother was her own concordance: Without using one, she could turn to the particular scriptural passage she wanted. . . . We had an ideal home for I never heard an unkind word between Father and Mother. They lived by the cardinal concepts of the Judaic-Christian religion. (as quoted in Awake magazine, 4/22/75)

Yeah, that pretty well fits the profile of an active Witness. They usually know that Bible inside  out.

During the Presidential election campaigns, Ike wanted to win. So did his handlers. Therefore, he played down his Witness connection, which would surely have sunk his campaign. (See Melvin's quote above, where the faith is cryptically referred to as "the cardinal concepts of the Judaic-Christian religion." Don't you think he'd just say "Presyterian, if that's what it was? Doesn't it look as though he's trying to avoid mentioning something?) Ike let on he was raised 'Protestant' - a good catch-all term at the time for anything not Catholic or Jewish. I can't fault him for this. I mean, I can just see those political cartoonists skewering a Witness background....frankly, even I would have enjoyed a crack at it. There would be Ike and his wife standing in front of the White House, holding up the Watchtower.  The emblazoned cover would cry: Can Presidents Bring Peace? Oh, yeah, they'd have had a field day with it!

Come to think of it, doesn't military-industrial-congressional complex sound a lot like the big business, big government, big military triumvirate that Jehovah's Witnesses used to carry on about?  Or was it that big government and big military were combined as one, with the third slot going to big religion? I forget. That terminology (but not the thinking behind it) was dropped decades ago; old-timers still use it, but their numbers are dwindling fast. Ah, well, no matter. Close enough. I'll grant JWs credit for the phrase. As already stated, you'd normally expect a general and President to be cozy with any military-industrial-congressional complex. You wouldn't expect them to warn against it, as if like a prophet.

So maybe that JW background left its mark, after all.

Somehow, this all reminds me of Joel Engardio, another fellow who was raised a Witness, but who left because he wanted to make the world a better place now, rather than want to wait for some intangible God's Kingdom to come around and do it. Mr. Engardio is today a well-respected NPR journalist;  a few years ago, he produced a documentary film about us called Knocking, one of the few fair shakes we've ever had from the media. I wrote about it here. (Another, more modest 'shake', is here.)

Did Eisenhower, too, leave the Witnesses because he wanted to make the world a better place now, and not later? After all, it seemed to most of the free world that civilization was at stake during the 2nd World War. World War I was billed as the war to end all wars. Alright, it hadn't turned out that way, but maybe one more try would do it. Besides, what choice was there? One had to respond to aggressors. Such was popular sentiment.

If so, Ike must, at least sometimes, have had second thoughts about the pathway to a better world. In the wake of the battle of Normandy, wasn't it he who wrote, 'one could walk hundreds of yards and step upon nothing but rotting human flesh'? And from his farewell 'military-industrial complex' address to the nation

Disarmament, with mutual honor and confidence, is a continuing imperative. Together we must learn how to compose differences, not with arms, but with intellect and decent purpose. Because this need is so sharp and apparent I confess that I lay down my official responsibilities in this field with a definite sense of disappointment. As one who has witnessed the horror and the lingering sadness of war -- as one who knows that another war could utterly destroy this civilization which has been so slowly and painfully built over thousands of years -- I wish I could say tonight that a lasting peace is in sight.

Yeah, don't we all. Does anyone think, though, that through human efforts, it's any closer in 2009 than it was in 1961?


 

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The Oct 15, 1980 Watchtower tells of a WWII soldier who became one of Jehovah's Witnesses while enlisted. Efforts to speak with his superiors about his new-found neutrality went nowhere. So this fellow wrote Eisenhower's mom! Sometimes you have to do that.

One especially testy exchange turned around quickly:

As I entered the headquarters tent, where all the “top brass” had gathered, I didn’t salute.

One of the officers said: “Don’t you salute your superiors?”

 


“No, Sir.”

 


“Why not?”


Respectfully, I gave my reasons, based on my understanding of the Bible. At that the officer said: “General Eisenhower ought to line you Jehovah’s Witnesses up and shoot you all!”


“Do you think he would shoot his own mother, Sir?” I asked.


“What do you mean by that?” he shot back.


Reaching in my pocket and taking out Sister Eisenhower’s letter, I handed it to him. “I just received this letter from the General’s mother while waiting for you to call me.”


As he read the letter, which you see reproduced on the opposite page, the other officers also gathered around to look at it. Thoughtfully, and with a greatly changed attitude, he handed it back to me. “Get back to ranks,” he said, “I don’t want to get mixed up with the General’s mother.”

 

 

 


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Abilene, Kansas.
                                    August-20-’44.
Mr. Richard Boeckel.

Dear Sir:-
  A friend returning from the United Announcers Convention of Jehovah’s witnesses, informs me of meeting you there. I rejoice with you in  your privilege of attending such convention.
  It has been my good fortune many times in the years gone by to attend these meetings of those faithfully proclaiming the name of Jehovah and his glorious Kingdom which shortly now will pour out its rich blessings over all the earth.
  My friend informs me of your desire to have a word from General Eisenhower’s mother whom you have been told is one of the witnesses of Jehovah. I am indeed such and what a glorious privilege it has been in association with those of the present time and with those on back through the annals of Biblical history even to Abel.
  Generally I have refused such requests because of my desire to avoid all publicity. However, because you are a person of good will towards Jehovah God and his glorious Theocracy I am very happy to write you.
  I have been blessed with seven sons of which five are living, all being very good to their mother and I am constrained to believe are very fine in the eyes of those who have learned to know them.
  It was always my desire and my effort to raise my boys in the knowledge of and to reverence their Creator. My prayer is that they all may anchor their hope in the New World, the central feature of which is the Kingdom for which all good people have been praying the past two thousand years.
  I feel that Dwight my third son will always strive to do his duty with integrity as he sees such duty. I mention him in particular because of your expressed interest in him.
  And so as the mother of General Eisenhower and as a witness of and for the Great Jehovah of Hosts (I have been such the past 49 years) I am pleased to write you and to urge you to faithfulness as a companion of and servant with those who “keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus”.
  There can be no doubt that what is now called the post-war period is the “one hour” mentioned at Revelation chapters 17 and 18. Ten here being a symbol not of just ten nations but rather of the whole number or all of the nations, then if we have a real League of Nations acting efficiently as a super guide to the nations of earth at the close of this war that should be ample proof.
  Surely this portends that very soon the glorious Theocracy, the long promised Kingdom of Jehovah the Great God and of his Son the everlasting King will rule the entire earth and pour out manifold blessings upon all peoples who are of good will towards Him. All others will be removed.
  Again may I urge your ever faithfulness to these the “Higher Powers” and to the New World now so very near.

  Respectfully your in hope of and as a fighter for the New World,

  Ida E. Eisenhower

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Tom Irregardless and Me    No Fake News but Plenty of Hogwash

 

 

 

 

 

 

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)

Enemies

As if it happened yesterday, this gem appears on a recent Australian jurisprudence questionnaire:
 
"Some Jehovah’s Witnesses approach people in a predominantly Roman Catholic neighbourhood and play a CD, entitled ‘Enemies’, to them. The CD describes all organized religions as ‘instruments of Satan’ and then viciously attacks Catholicism in particular. Do you think that the law ought to prohibit conduct of this kind? Discuss with reference to rights and the public/private distinction."
 
So a certain blogger assumes it did happen yesterday - why would she not?  and fires off a response:
 
“Oh I really believe this scenario. It’s exactly what they’d do. Not what I ever would have done. I never had that sort of conviction. Oh how embarrassing! No wonder other churches call them ”weirdo religious strangers”. They call other churches “enemies” and “instruments of Satan” for goodness sake!”

Well, for goodness sake, it DOES seem mean-spirited, doesn't it? But it didn't happen yesterday. It happened eighty years ago. And it was a phonograph record, not a CD. Enemies was published in 1937, and was distributed for less than ten years. Someone's doing a hatchet job here, hoping to embarrass me. But the book and record was entirely appropriate for its time. In fact, given the same circumstances, I believe Jehovah's Witnesses would do it again.

In the wake of World War I, the mainline churches had proved themselves enemies of God, of Christ, and of man. They had, on both sides, stoked and cheered the conflict which would claim 16 million lives, and an additional 21 million wounded. With another world war approaching, they showed every sign of resuming that role. Yet in the interim, they presumed to slide right back into that cozy seat of representing the Prince of Peace, claiming to speak in his name. And, showing their break with the Bible was complete, after the first war - dubbed the Great War, until it was dwarfed by an even greater World War II - they abandoned all pretense of God's Kingdom and trumpeted the man-made world government substitute, the League of Nations, hailing it as the "political expression of the Kingdom of God on earth."Of course, it wasn't, and the League went down twenty years after it's birth, trampled by that second world war. Yes, the religious leaders of Christendom were the enemies that record referred to.
 
Eighty years later, it's hard to appreciate how enthusiastic church leaders were for the war, how they worked as cheerleaders for both sides. It doesn't seem believable. Surely, there must be an exaggeration. But, reflecting back, British brigadier general Frank Crozier stated: “The Christian Churches are the finest blood-lust creators which we have and of them we made free use."


A few more quotes of the day, in all cases by high-ranking clergymen, not lone renegades:
 

Bishop of London A. F. Winnington-Ingram urged the English people: “Kill Germans—do kill them; not for the sake of killing, but to save the world, to kill the good as well as the bad, to kill the young as well as the old, to kill those who have shown kindness to our wounded as well as those fiends . . . As I have said a thousand times [!], I look upon it as a war for purity, I look upon everyone who died in it as a martyr."   (Perspective (a Journal of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary), Vol. X, No. 1, Spring 1969, p. 78)
 

And from the other side? The archbishop of Cologne, Germany, said the following to German soldiers: “Beloved people of our Fatherland, God is with us in this fight for righteousness where we have been drawn in against our wish. We command you in the name of God, to fight to the last drop of your blood for the honor and glory of the country. In his wisdom and justice, God knows that we are on the side of righteousness and he will give us the victory.”   (La Dernière Heure, January 7, 1967 (Belgian newspaper)).

 
In America? An editorial in the Christian Register says it all: “As Christians, of course, we say Christ approves [of the war]. But would he fight and kill? . . . There is not an opportunity to deal death to the enemy that he would shirk from or delay in seizing! He would take bayonet and grenade and bomb and rifle and do the work of deadliness against that which is the most deadly enemy of his Father’s kingdom in a thousand years.” (The Christian Register, Vol. 97, No. 33 (Aug. 15, 1918), p. 775. (Quoted in Preachers Present Arms, Ray H Abrams, p. 68.))
 

Sure, such fighting words might come from a general. And in the midst of war fever, from a statesman, or a patriot, or a businessman, or the average citizen. But from the church, the institution claiming Christian leadership, asserting they and they alone speak for Christ? It's not a tad at odds with Christ's own words? “By this all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love among yourselves.” (John 13:35) If you don't prove discipleship when it counts, during wartime, just when do you prove it? And after the war, should those clergy sweep their bloodthirsty record under the rug, and once again presume to speak in Jesus' name? Jehovah's Witnesses didn't think so. If Enemies seems mean-spirited today, it wasn't a fraction as mean-spirited as the catalyst that prompted it.
 

Now, you gotta admit, it would take GUTS to distribute that book and play that record. Nowadays, every wussy milquetoast of an atheist takes swipes at religion on his anonymous blog, but Jehovah's Witnesses went eyeball to eyeball with those enemies, in person, and what's more, they went to members of their flocks. Introducing Enemies to a convention audience in Columbus Ohio, Watchtower President Rutherford declared: “You will notice that its cover is tan, and we will tan the old lady’s hide with it!” So I don't want to hear Sam Harris the Atheist whining about how moderate "good" churches don't condemn their more belligerent brethren - and how they refuse to "call a spade a spade." We did it before he was in diapers, and did it with a courage that he could never match.
 

From the 1975 Yearbook of Jehovah's Witnesses:

 
 

The phonograph work was not carried on without opposition. Ernest Jansma tells us: “There were cases of some having their phonographs literally and viciously smashed right before their eyes. Others had them ruthlessly thrown off porches. One brother in the Middle West stood by and watched an angry farmer blow his machine into oblivion with a shotgun, then heard pellets whine past his auto as he left the scene. They were vicious and religiously fanatical in those days.” Amelia and Elizabeth Losch tell of an occasion when the recording “Enemies” was played for a crowd on the porch of a certain home. After the talk ended, one woman took the record off the machine and broke it, saying, “You can’t talk about my pope like that!”
 
Today, the influence of the clergy is insignificant compared to what it was then.  I mean, they're respected so long as they stay in their place, but their place is much reduced from what it once was. In the days of Enemies, their place was anywhere they wanted. They kept a stranglehold upon popular thought. Catholics, in particular, as you may have heard your great-grandparents say, were not allowed to read the Bible. That's what the priest was for, and he would explain it as he saw fit, in accordance with church doctrine. In town after town, Jehovah's Witnesses would place literature with interested persons, and clergy would follow and demand it back. Such was the command they enjoyed, that they often got it.
 
Frankly, if Christendom's influence is a ghost of what it once was, Jehovah's Witnesses get the credit, in my view. The Enemies campaign was but one of many back in those days. See again that previous post for another. Look, Wilbur and Orville Wright are credited with inventing the airplane. That doesn't mean we wouldn't have planes had they never been born. Someone else would have invented them. But they were the first. They had the foresight and guts to persevere with a notion everyone else thought was rubbish.
 
Some, taking the opposite view of the blogger quoted in the third paragraph, grouse that Jehovah's Witnesses have become too cordial with other religions, that they have made their peace, that they have wimped out. But there's no point in kicking the 'old lady' while she's down. We kicked her while she was up. Nowadays, everybody kicks her. So why should we? Whatever account she must render is with God, not us. All we ever wanted to do was loosen her hold on people, so they would not be afraid to listen to new ideas. That was accomplished decades ago.

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More early history here.

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Tom Irregardless and Me        No Fake News but Plenty of Hogwash

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)