There is a PEW chart that maps religious denominations (in the US) by their political leanings. A vertical line represents the average, and each denomination is represented by a bar, portions of which fall upon the Democratic (blue) and Republican (red, also known as GOP, for ‘Grand Old Party’) side of the line. The most Republican is the LDS Church (Mormons), falling 70% on the Republican side. The most Democratic is the African Methodist Episcopal Church, falling 92% on the Democratic side. Where do Jehovah’s Witnesses fall? Surprising to some, they are not in the middle. 7% of them lean Republican and 18% lean Democratic. Given that Witnesses say they are “no part of the world,” one would expect an even split.
Of course, 7% and 18% add up only to 25, not 100. This brings us to a third measurement of the chart: the numbers who report no leaning whatsoever. Here the figure is exactly what one would expect: 75% for Jehovah’s Witnesses. No other group comes close. The next largest group of ‘no leanings’ is Hindu, with 26%. Mormons, mentioned previously, are 11% non-leaning; African Methodist Episcopalians are 4%.
It is no surprise that Jehovah’s Witnesses, by far, lead the pack with a 75% ‘non-leaning’ rating, but why isn’t it 100%? I suspect it is three factors at work. 1) People self-identify for the survey. Those who report themselves as Jehovah’s Witnesses for the survey are not necessarily the same as the Witness organization itself would report; they will include many Witnesses who are not ‘active,’ as well as some who are not Witnesses at all but find themselves drawn to what they stand for. 2) Most Witnesses have very slight engagement with political doings. They focus on ‘God’s kingdom,’ and they see that in concrete terms—as a real government, and not merely a motivation of the heart, something that is the pattern elsewhere. They’ll take in what news they do take in small doses from the media, and the media is overwhemingly Democratic. 3) In the case of the current President, they say “He is bombastic, whereas I try to be polite.”
I alluded to this chart for a return visit with a man who described himself as a black nationalist. He had ventured the opinion that Jehovah’s Witnesses knew their Bibles better than anybody else out there, but he was suspicious of their being Trump supporters. I showed him how, if anything, they were Obama supporters, but then went on the develop the greater picture of their neutrality. His pre-existing view points to the frustration of one of our sisters, who said that as a Bible-believing woman, she is commonly expected to be Republican, which these days means a Trump supporter, and she has to keep pointing out that it is not the case with her.
The best way to be truly neutral is to be ignorant of politics, and many Witnesses immerse themselves in ‘kingdom interests’ to that degree. Some deliberately flee from hearing anything political so as to achieve that end of complete neutrality. But for those who are not so inclined, the following is a primer of American politics, as neutral as I know how to present it. We are people, after all, and can be counted upon to develop opinions on whatever we are exposed to. However, those with opinions know enough not to bring them into the congregation, where they can only disrupt the peace, to no end. All human governments will drop the ball. Usually, it is a bowling ball. As people contemplate the vulnerability of their right and left toes, thus their politics is decided. Witnesses endeavor to steer clear of what divides, and so keep whatever opinions they may develop to themselves.
The left is generally globalist. That part appeals to Witnesses, except that it is ‘government by man,’ and that part does not. The right is generally ‘my country first,’ which does not appeal to Witnesses, except that it is more likely to uphold traditional moral values, which does. The news media overwhelmingly (over 90%) votes democratic, and thus cannot be depended upon to be impartial in what it covers. ‘Left,’ or ‘liberal,’ is not synonymous with ‘Democrat’—rather, it is a large subset of it. ‘Right,’ or ‘conservative,’ is not synonymous with Republican—rather, it is a large subset of it.
Regardless of who is doing the reporting, they all tell it through their own eyes. The right ever portrays itself as “moderate“ and refers to the other side as the “far left.” The left does exactly the opposite, and the right becomes the “far right.” Why is it that the media is overwhelmingly liberal? A local woman reveals it in a promo for her news outlet, saying that the goal of a journalist is to “find truth’ and “shout it from the rooftops.” When you do that, “change happens,” and “that’s amazing!” with a glow in her eye that is close to orgasmic. Long gone is the reporter who stands in a spot where I cannot be because Mrs. Harley is making me do some fool maintenance project around the house and tells me what is going on over there. People become journalists because they want to bring about change, the goal of liberals. Conservatives—the name itself says it—think the present course is basically okay, and any change they favor is gradual and within the system. Thus, journalists are almost always Democrats.
The current American president shatters the mold of communication by using a new avenue of it. In itself, I am not so sure what is wrong with a leader that tweets. Always the complaint of the people is that “government is not transparent.” I can think of no better cure for that than tweeting, going over the heads of the reporters and directly to the people, to tell what the leader is doing. I think that reporters object to it for just that reason—it cuts them out of the loop. They also don’t like it because of the wild lack of decorum. They are used to leaders, and themselves, being spoken of in hushed tones approaching awe. But few outside their own group think that the politicians are deserving of such awe, so I’m not sure that puncturing a balloon is such a bad thing. The Bible does observe that being deferential to those in power is a good thing, however, which defers back to to the traditionalists in communication.
It's not the easiest thing to stay truly neutral—the goal of Witnesses. Geoffrey Jackson of the Governing Body, Australian-born, spoke to the challenge of staying truly neutral while struggling in the back of one’s head with the thought: “I hope that idiot doesn’t get into power.” One wonders just what idiot he had in mind. And a circuit overseer—speaking on his own, I assure you—addressed a group of pioneers as to how imperative it was to stay neutral, and told them: “Now, we all know that Trump is crazy, but…” Whereupon, one pioneer sister looked at another and said: “I know that my father is a good man. And he voted for Trump.” No, it is not so easy as it looks.