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Doomscrolling Through 2020 and Getting Out of the World

Avoiding Masks in Public—the New Snake Handling. The Huffington Post Weighs In

The Huffington Post is an irreligious source that works fairly hard to exalt “reason” and persuade that faith is for chumps. Alas, religion behaves in such a way as to give them plenty of easy shots. Like this one from a former church missionary, now a skeptic, who says:

“The best testimonies in church were always from addicts and ex-cons who started with, “If it weren’t for God, I might be dead by now.” In 2020, I wonder the opposite. If it weren’t for no longer believing, I could be dead by now.”

This is because, in the writer Karen Alea’s view, the more Bible-believing someone is, the more likely they are to blow off “COVID-19 [as] a hoax, or even if it’s not a hoax, God will protect them from it.” She cites a study that say 55% of believers are convinced that God will protect them from the virus. They gather in defiance of government advisories and see efforts to curtail services as tricks of the devil to which they will not fall victim.

In the effort to convey that those who believe the Bible are nuts and even harmful, since they downplay (or ignore) masks and social distancing, the Huffington Post does not mention that the largest group of evangelizers BY FAR (since every member preaches the good news—until not long ago, from door to door) had no problem at all with complying with the recommendation of government and health policies—even acting ahead of them. We always take a hit from these religionists, because their deeds are ascribed to us, even though ours are 180 degrees opposite.

Jehovah’s Witnesses immediately shut down all congregation gatherings, even before governments starting decreeing it. There was about a week in early March when it was stated to congregations that the group whose turn was to clean the Kingdom Hall would sanitize every touchable surface both before and after meetings, but this lasted only a week. A letter from the Branch subsequently stated all physical meetings would be suspended. And yet congregation members missed nothing—the succeeding week all meetings were held via the Zoom app.

At the same time, the trademark feature of Jehovah’s Witnesses, the house to house ministry, was suspended for the first time ever. It was one of the constants of life—“there is death and taxes and Jehovah’s Witnesses” and then it was no more. The New York Times acknowledged this shift—it is a tidal wave historic shift—though because they share the same “enlightened” view of Bible-believers as the HuffPo, they managed to convey it as though it was only for outward appearances, that contrary to the Governing Body’s statement about putting life first, they didn’t give a hoot about life and were frustrated the pandemic would deprive them of their powers to “manipulate people”—oh yeah! these anti-cult crazies have guzzled far too much of their own Kool-Aid—still they did acknowledge it.

Why doesn’t the Huffington Post acknowledge this example that flies in the face of their “Bible-believers are reckless” narrative? The answer is contained in the question—they don’t want things to fly in the face of what they believe. Man, that is irritating! It is like the Black Nationalist I spoke with in the ministry who allowed that Jehovah’s Witnesses know their Bibles more than others, but he still looked upon them askance because he thought they were Trump supporters. It’s like Jen, who told me how people just assume that she, as a Christian woman serious enough about the Bible to visit their home, must necessarily be a Trump supporter. How she answered I do not know, but I know how I answered the Black Nationalist: that the Pew Research people report that Jehovah’s Witnesses are apolitical, and to the extent they are not, they lean slightly Democrat. But the feature of the chart that immediately strikes one is their distinct lack of participation on either side—in sharp contrast to any other religion surveyed. In fact (this is just my guess), if it were not for the fact that participants in such surveys self-identity, even the low participation rates revealed would be much lower still.

So here we have the Huffington Post striving with all its irreligious might to convey that Bible-believing is reckless, when in fact, not only are Jehovah’s Witnesses more responsible than the church Christians they consider, but they are more responsible than the Post’s own skeptical readers! They must be. The Cult Expert’s hashtag—he of the BITE model—is “freedomofmind.” You don’t think at least some of his followers will use their freedom of mind to tell the authorities where they can go with their advisories?

Now, this is not to say that Jehovah’s Witnesses have given up on their ministry, but they have shifted to methods not necessitating personal contact—letters, phone calls, online, informal situations, and the like—not as thorough, probably, but the best that can be done under the circumstances—maybe a little like how the ministry slows notably, but does not stop, during the atrocious months of winter.

So the Huffington Post ignore the example of Jehovah’s Witnesses that flies in the face of their ‘Bible-believers are reckless’ narrative because they are irreligious. Writer Karen Alea ignores it however—well, who can say why she ignores it?—but it is very likely that she does not know about it. And why does she not know about it?

Because the church community she hails from collectively does all it can to spread the fiction that Jehovah’s Witnesses are not Christian. And why do they do that? Because they buy into the completely illogical trinity teaching, and Jehovah’s Witnesses do not. The verses that can be used to support the trinity would, if seen in any other context, be instantly dismissed as figure of speech, and yet they take it all literally. No wonder her former chums declared that her problem was “logic” that was holding her back from God’s blessing. Now—in fact, there is something to not thinking you can figure God out, but that is not the same as incorporating completely irrational notions into your definition of him.

Portions of what Alea observes about her previous church connections would be unsettling to any of Jehovah’s Witnesses—even given that the Huffington Post will not paint faith in a flattering way and when they cover Jehovah’s Witnesses, they rip them apart, too.  For example, with regard to her pursuing the “gift of tongues,” she followed the advice to “Just let it come,” the leader said. I decided I needed to break through this rational thinking stifling me and so I followed their directions and emulated some of the sounds of speaking in tongues I heard coming out of the mouths of the people surrounding me. As I did, their prayers got louder with excitement. Adults, leaders, people who had put their lives on the line for God could tell I was being blessed and it roused their souls. I repeated the same odd five sounds again and again like a child starting to talk.” Most of Jehovah’s Witnesses would regard this as flirting with demonism—you don’t try to override your common sense—if it doesn’t make sense, don’t do it.

This one is more than a little screwy, too: She writes: “I believed God would put things in my path to bless me or test me. Both would make me stronger in my faith.” In fact, overcoming trials does make one stronger—this is true for believers and non-believers alike—but does God “put things in her path to test her?” How does that square with the verse Witnesses read all the time, and now reading Karen’s article, I can better see why: “When under trial, let no one say: “I am being tried by God.” For with evil things God cannot be tried, nor does he himself try anyone.” (James 1:13) It is a seemingly subtle aspect of belief—that God causes suffering—that translates into a huge and deleterious shift of outlook.

Of course, Karen’s moved on from religion, now—she’s “currently a skeptic”—but how much of it is due to the nonsense she was required to swallow in the first place? She is preaching her new gospel: “Christianity is based on one singular belief: Jesus raised from the dead. Once you believe in one miracle, the pathway is paved to believe in the next. Not all branches of faith go as far as handling snakes, but they’re all rooted in the one miracle that overrides our intellect.

Does it really “override our intellect” or is it just something that we don’t know? Now, the trinity—that overrides our intellect. That is said to be beyond our powers of understanding even by its most ardent advocates. But the resurrection? Once you accept the premise that God created life, what is so hard about accepting that he can restore it? Haven’t you ever fixed something that was broken?

At any rate, she has described the course she once embraced as “spiritual terrorism.” She writes of how “gathering together [was] the best way to get out the message and be heard. But accompanied by their belief that God is protecting them against a government mask mandate, these particular groups of Christians are spreading more than the Word of God.

Well, if it kills huge swaths of people, as appear to be the case, I guess I can see her point of view as to what is “spiritual terrorism.” Still, somewhere along the way, even in a footnote, I would have been happy had the Huff Po said Jehovah’s Witnesses do not carry on that way—and they are the most evangelistic of all.

 

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