“Do We Really Need a Hashtag #DontKillGrandma?” Said the CBS Doctor.

The reason that the Governing Body can say “follow the direction of secular authority” and still have that count as spiritual guidance is that (with some exaggeration) Jehovah’s Witnesses can do it, and non-believers cannot. It’s not monolithic, of course, but as a system of proportions the above  can be said, as long as you qualify it an admission of exaggerating. It becomes hyperbole—the most effective of literary innovations—Jesus used them all the time—its effectiveness inferred with the observation that people of common sense get the point and people without do not.

“Following the direction of secular authority” in this case, entails putting up with delayed gratification. Those within the Christian congregation are better at that than those without. It entails the willingness to obey. Those within the Christian congregation are better at that than those without. It entails the ability to put love of neighbor above self-interest. Those within the Christian congregation are better at that than those without. “Do we really need to have a hashtag, #DontKillGrandma? said the CBS medical doctor recently. Yes—they do, if present trends are anything to go by. Witnesses don’t, but they do. This “proves” that the Witness organization has done well imparting Bible principles into its members, since there are plenty of churches today fingered as spreaders of the virus. 

Jehovah’s Witnesses have put themselves among company in which peer-pressure is going to nudge them in the safer direction. Non-Witnesses, many of them, have put themselves in a place where their peer-pressure will nudge them in just the opposite way. Do not think that peer-pressure is nothing. It is the reason that we look at our photos of yesteryear and marvel at how we ever could have thought those dorky styles did anything for us.

I even told the CultExpert, the one with the hashtag #FreedomOfMind, that my people are, by and large, more responsible than his. You don’t think that some will use their “freedom of mind” to tell the government what it can do with its regulations? 

Vic Vomodog called on me the other day, trying once again to entice me into his sinister cause. I protested that he was wearing no mask, but he laughed at me! I told him how foolhardy he was, but he said that the danger is past—our state is one in which the rates peaked long ago, and are in steady decline. I pleaded with him, yet he waved me down with derisive hand gestures, just like opposers do in the dramas. However, the moment he stepped onto the public sidewalk, a truck loaded with emergency Covid 19 supplies bound for Texas jumped the curb and knocked him into the trees! And I can’t even visit him in the hospital—they’re not permitting that yet.

 

 

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Minneapolis Burns—How to Stop the Violence

I proposed (facetiously) in ‘No Fake News but Plenty of Hogwash’ that there be ‘A Shooting Channel.’ Put all shootings on ‘The Shooting Channel’—white on black, white on white, black on white, black on black. Ban shootings on all other channels. Let viewers decide for themselves which ones are horrible and which ones are yawners. Otherwise, the media comes along later and starts a race war.

Beyond question, the current happening is horrible. Still, when it is shown 20 times a day—how can that not be seen as deliberately stoking rage that will result in cascading calamity to totally innocent persons. The tiny Minneapolis businesses burned out in the days following were predominantly minority-owned. I think it is not such a foolish statement to say that those who would stoke this rage are “the enemy of the American people,” extreme that the statement may at first glance appear. The wide-spread rage in Charlotte a few years ago was inflamed by reports of a white police officer shooting a black suspect, Lamont Scott. When it turned out that the cop was, not white, but black, this correction was barely noted—even though its absence ensured widespread violence.

It is an article of faith among the reformers of this system of things that “sunlight is the best disinfectant,” and that “When you shine the spotlight of journalism on this or that evil, the cockroaches disappear.” They may disappear, but that does not mean that they die. They just go elsewhere, and one is faced with the scriptural truth of Ecclesiastes 1:15: “That which is crooked cannot be made straight.“ ‘God’s kingdom come‘ such as Jehovah’s Witnesses proclaim is up to the task, but as for human efforts? The track record is not promising. More often than not, they take a horrible event and make it worse.

Along comes the #CultExpert to lambaste expressed determination to stop the spreading violence as “inciting violence” itself. Is it?

Violence is not a solution!” he said. “Powerful forces from outside the U.S. and from within are deliberately stoking conflict and division. @realDonaldTrump needs to be flagged by Twitter when he advocates violence. FB should change policies ASAP to protect our democracy.

What the POTUS had said that Twitter flagged was: “These THUGS are dishonoring the memory of George Floyd, and I won’t let that happen. Just spoke to Governor Tim Walz and told him that the Military is with him all the way. Any difficulty and we will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts.” 

Said I to the Cult Expert: “I grant that he could choose his words more carefully—he is very much of a barroom brawler—but when cities are burning and when the small businesses of mostly minority persons are being destroyed, is it realLy “advocating violence” when he says as POTUS he means to restore order? I don’t understand this at all.”

Throughout history, there is scarcely an example of putting down riots with “love,” and the (black) mayor of Atlanta implored people to “go home”—they were “dishonoring the memory of George Floyd. Maybe Jesus could quell one with loving persuasion, but the CultExpert all but gags at his mention. He is a left-wing loon, methinks, and it damages his credibility. This personally works out well for me, because he calls Jehovah’s Witnesses a cult—along with a few score, if not hundreds, of other groups. He shoots his credibility with regard to them all, I think, and in some ways it is a shame, because some of them really do seem “out there.” But it is for them to defend themselves—it is not for me to investigate and do it for them. I might come to the conclusion that it is a lost cause. I only know about us.

But when you expand your definition of “cult” to include half of the country, as he does, it is a pretty good indication that you have drunk too much of the Kool-Aid yourself.

However, back to his tweet. Included in it was: “Powerful forces from outside the U.S. and from within are deliberately stoking conflict and division.” He seems to have got that right. Tweeted Sheryl Atkinson on May 30th: Minnesota officials: "Every person arrested last night was from out of state." Locals: "We don't know these folks." Exactly. But the two disagree on who those “powerful forces” are who are “deliberately stoking conflict.” Steve thinks it included those who want to put out the fires.

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photo from: BusinessInsider.com

Shortly after my post, I was called out on it by one of my own people: “He’s advocating shooting the looters brother. That’s murder.”

When this happens from someone you have regard for—and since she is a spiritual sister, I do—you do not go for the jugular such as is the pattern on social media. You strive to see the other point of view:

“Would the one murdered agree that those looting and burning are his ‘brothers’ honoring his name? I’m not so sure. But these are incendiary times. Other views exist. I said what I said but I would not pursue it online any further. Man doesn’t have the answers and anything done is shooting himself in the foot one way or the other. If people see if differently, I have no problem with that. They may be right. Thanks for your message.”

She: “I hesitated to reply. Didn’t want to publicly. If the police or civilians shoot looters for looting...we’ll that’s murder. The President advocated this on Twitter. There are people who would take this tweet as permission to shoot on sight. Dangerous to say the least. Anyway....I don’t get involved with politics, but pay attention to what is going on. Don’t agree with Hassan often, but he’s right about twitter flagging Trump. IMO.“

Okay. I did say that he might have chosen his words more carefully. Still, it did not occur to me that the tweet might be taken as an invitation to vigilante justice. Maybe it should have. Maybe if I had my sister’s formative background—whatever that might be—it would have.

Jehovah’s Witnesses do this all the time with each other—take a preliminary position and them immediately walk it back when it finds opposition. The reason they can do this so readily is that they realize that this life is not the “real life” of 1 Timothy 6:19. Don’t take it into the Kingdom Hall. Ideally, don’t form views in the first place—“must.stay.neutral” tweeted another brother, implying it would not be a piece of cake for him—but if you are a flesh-and-blood person who takes in information, that is much easier said than done. For that reason, there are many brothers who do not take in information, and I do not criticize them for that. It is far easier to stay neutral that way, though it does compromise your ability to relate in the ministry. It is another reason that I do not append a link to the JW website on any of my social media profiles, something many brothers seem to feel almost obligatory to do. Everyone has his own way of looking at things and even his own quirks—if you link to the website it suggests you got it from them.

Meanwhile, from another quarter entirely, Mr. Admin noted that “the 17-year-old who took the video of George Floyd being suffocated and killed by police on Monday...[who] took the video as proof of police brutality and the pain felt by thousands of people around the country...has been receiving numerous questions about why she didn't fight off police for the duration of the 10 minute video depicting police kneeing Floyd in the neck. In her response, she says that she was scared as a 17-year-old to attempt to fight off any cops or help Floyd.”

Me: “That strikes me as not a bad answer from a 17 year old. Everyone has a smart phone these days and it is in the culture that if you see something you record it. It is the fellow cops who saw fit to not interfere that you have to wonder about.“

 

 

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‘Using’ the Pandemic to ‘Recruit’ - Sheesh! What is it With These Nutcases?

It must really confound those who accuse the JW organization of being a cult that few people are behaving better these days, or more reasonably, with more of an eye toward the public good. That #CultExpert tweets about how Jehovah’s Witnesses manipulate people, and I reply that their followers put his to shame for vanquishing COVID. Jehovah’s Witnesses immediately transferred all gatherings to Zoom and issued strong counsel to observe government-recommended social distancing—which our people will observe because they strive to be obedient. But his followers? Some will observe social distancing, no doubt—probably even most, but is his mission statement ‘Freedom of Mind’ really compatible with obedience to secular authority? You don’t think some will use their ‘freedom of mind’ to tell the government to buzz off—‘We’ll party on the beach if we feel like it!?’—thus spreading COVID far and wide?

Doubtless they expected ‘scare-mongering’—‘using’ the present crisis to scare new ones into the fold—and in fact, there have been accusations of that. But you really really have to stretch the point if you go there. The lead post on jw.org is the most socially responsible contribution imaginable, replete with suggestions on how to cope with isolation and resulting loneliness. With people beside themselves with anxiety, unable to cope in many cases, you don’t think that is a valuable contribution, perhaps THE most valuable? After all, if your psyche breaks down, all the physical relief in the world does you no good.

It reminds me of the verse on muzzling the talk of the ignorant ones by doing good. To be sure, hostile ones are still criticizing—but in doing so,  they are also plainly revealing their ignorance, and in some cases, their hate.

In fact, I don’t quite go there with the CultExpert, for some of the groups he monitors really DO seem pretty strange—so I don’t go there, though I do think about it—I almost want to say: “LET them join a cult if it helps them get through this and save their sanity! What are you offering in lieu—that we should put our hope in the next crop of politicians? Haven’t we been down that road countless times before?”

Affirming some cult idiot’s charge that I am ‘using’ the pandemic to ‘recruit,’ (to anyone concerned about that, I reply that on the 200th contact I will ask if they want to convert and then they can say ‘no’—in the meantime, it’s just conversation—don’t worry about it) I have many times tweeted that lead post to persons, sometimes in response to a specific plea like with Mr. Fiend, and sometimes I just throw it out there—with good results in both cases. Sometimes the tweets are retweeted. Unless you are a snarling ‘ain’t-cultist,’ people do not misunderstand—they know that you are trying to help.

As always, you tailor your tweet to the person. To persons who appear secular, you say (this one was lamenting a suicide she had read about): “It is a terrible thing. Healthy people struggle when their routine is uprooted, let alone persons unwell to begin with. I sent this to someone who tweeted that he was frankly losing it. There is a spiritual component to it, but it is mostly on combatting isolation and loneliness”—and I attach the link.

To someone decidedly irreligious, you might say: “As a suggestion—nothing more—here is a series of posts on how to cope with isolation and loneliness. Upended routines are driving everyone up a tree. My turn is probably next. Like Bob Dylan: ‘The riot squad is restless, they need somewhere to go.’” I like to play the Dylan card—it doesn’t mean that you have to. You also don’t exempt yourself—hence the ‘my turn is probably next,’

My new pinned tweet is: “With #mentalhealth under assault and even balanced people buckling under the stress, I can’t imagine a better read than this one on coping with isolation and loneliness from #JehovahsWitnesses,” as I include a link to the post.

Note the hashtags. Ages ago my daughter said to me: “They’re hashtags, Dad, not crosstags.” Hashtags are fair game on social media, whereas tagging individuals directly is generally considered rude, unless you know full well that they will welcome it. Hashtags will draw in anyone else who monitors the subject—as an experiment, enter a hashtag anything on social media to see what comes up. You can even use it as your own filing system if you choose a hashtag unique enough.

It can, however backfire. If the hashtag is of any controversial topic, it can bring in people who want to argue, even insult. In the case of Jehovah’s Witnesses, there are disgruntled former members—‘apostates’—that can be attracted—in fact, they almost surely will be. “Oh, yeah,” you can mutter. “They’ll come alright. As surely as flies to dung, they will come!” But you should not say this because, while you are comparing apostates to flies, you are also comparing yourself to dung—so you should seek another metaphor.

My #mentalhealth hashtag drew in some mental health people, some of whom expressed great appreciation. But true to warning, my #jehovahswitnesses hashtag drew in some ‘apostates.’

“The rather large elephant in the paragraph [about the comfort JWs offer] is the Jehovah’s Witness shunning policy.”

But I replied (in three tweets):

“There is hardly an issue here. Those who would trigger a ‘shunning policy’ are those for whom, at the present time, the last thing in the world they would want is to abide by the principles of those who wrote the article. Even so, they are welcome to take from it what they will.”

“The thoughts expressed in the article are non-denominational, offered freely to all, even those on the outs at present with JWs. It’s meant as a public service. One need not take it. One can always put trust in the politicians, medical staff, and economists to fix matters.”

I looked at the detractor’s profile and discovered that she was one who was trying to torpedo the JW organization’s status as a charitable religious organization, something that they plainly are:

“In fact, it is an excellent post for consideration of the @CharityComms, though not written for that reason. Look, nobody is everything to everyone. But they will recognize that we are well past the time for nursing grudges—not with C19 threatening the mental health of the planet.”

It shut her up! I couldn’t believe it! It is unheard of! ‘Apostates’ never ever EVER give up—I’ve had to block some—and yet she gave up. There is no finer proof of 1 Peter 2:15 than that: “For it is the will of God that by doing good you may silence the ignorant talk of unreasonable men.”

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Dave McClure—the CO Beaten up as a Child, and the Reversal of Freedomofmind

When the U.S. Supreme Court ruled (1940) that children MUST salute WHEN told to do so, with NO excuses, the phrase “freedom of the human mind” defended the minority, Jehovah’s Witnesses. The words were employed in the Court’s minority opinion. Today, the phrase “freedom of mind” is used to attack them! along with other ‘cults.’ It is an amazing reversal—from defending the rights of the minority from majority assault, to defending the rights of the majority from minority assault!

How does the minority pull off such a threatening stunt? Through ‘mind control’ and “brainwashing!’ It is an incredible charge and an 180 reversal of history! Freedomofmind.com is the url of the “cultexpert,” the founder of the BITE model, the means through which the nefarious minority manipulates members of the majority—through Behavioral control, Informational control, Thought control, and Emotional control. It is always someone else’s fault with these ‘anti-cultists’—its founder has progressed to calling half the country a victim of political mind-control! He’s not drunk too much of the Kool-Aid himself?

THAT is the takeaway point to be gleaned from the following article. It is not the point I had in mind when I initially wrote it. But it is the point that best endures:

....

Dave McClure

I worked with Dave McClure the circuit overseer—I used to stick to those guys like glue—one fine morning in the 1980’s. “We’re just calling on our neighbors in order to....” he began. The householder glanced at the Michigan plates on his car—it didn’t exactly suggest to a New Yorker that the man was a neighbor. “Neighbor?” he said. But Dave was never ever at a loss for words. “Well, I’ve got to fly the flag!’ was his chipper comeback.

It was a perfect comeback. Michigan plates that year featured the most colorful backdrop of numerals against a flag that I have ever seen. Brother McClure was newly assigned to our circuit and hadn’t yet switched over his plates—you’re allowed a certain time interval to do so, I believe. I mean, it can’t be a requirement from the moment you cross the state line.

But it was a perfect comeback for another reason. When he was a boy, Dave McClure routinely got beat up by classmates for not flying the flag, or at least not saluting it. He told his experiences at a special assembly in Niagara Falls, New York. As only Brother McClure could do, he made getting beat up almost sound like fun—I mean, this is the fellow who, when in the presence of friends and confronted with something unexpected, would repeatedly and furiously move his hand from breastbone to abdomen and back again. He was just “staking himself,” taking no chances, as he would explain, 

In 1940, the Minerville School District v Gobitis U.S. Supreme Court ruling held that Witness children could be compelled to salute the flag. Walter Gobitus was a Jehovah’s Witness whose child did not. Witnesses view declining the flag salute in any nation as a matter of avoiding idolatry. They connect the salute with God’s words to Moses that “you must not make for yourself...a form like anything that is in the heavens above or on the earth below or in the waters under the earth. You must not bow down to them...for I, Jehovah your God, am a God who requires exclusive devotion...”

Walter, then 10, had told the local school authorities: ''I do not salute the flag not because I do not love my country. I love my country, but I love God more, and must obey his commandments.'' Didn’t cut it with the Supreme Court.

The Court decision signaled open hunting season on Jehovah’s Witnesses. Mobs surrounded them in their public preaching work. Many were accosted. Some were tarred and feathered, some were forced to drink castor oil. At least one was lynched. They were rounded up in their ministry and crammed into local jails, sometimes without charge—they were contemptible enough in the eyes of respectable society so as to be denied the rights afforded everyone else. One brother tells of how he would always carry a toothbrush with him in the ministry so as not to be unprepared should he spend the night in the hoosegow.

Note the majority Supreme Court opinion of Justice Felix Frankfurter: “National unity is the basis of national security. To deny the legislature the right to select appropriate means for its attainment presents a totally different order of problem from that of the propriety of subordinating the possible ugliness of littered streets to the free expression opinion through handbills.” Note his contempt for the “possible ugliness of littered streets” from handbills, such as Witnesses were known for.

Justice Harlan Stone was the lone dissenter. He wrote that “the guarantees of civil liberty are but guarantees of freedom of the human mind and spirit and of reasonable freedom and opportunity to express them .” Note how “guarantees of freedom of the human mind and spirit” were presumed defenses for those who would think outside of the mainstream; note today how ‘anti-cultists’ have turned that logic on its head so that a ‘cult’ taking ones outside of the mainstream constitutes a violation of “the freedom of the human mind and spirit.”

Shortly thereafter, probably aghast at the violence they had unleashed, the Court had a change of heart. Three members signaled their changed views. Two others retired and were replaced by those thought more attuned to individual liberties. The matter came up for review again, wending its way though lesser courts until it ascended to the top Court. The plaintiffs in the case were named Barnett, Stull, and Lucy McClure. Dave was the young son of Lucy.

The decision reversed. The new majority opinion (released on June 3rd, Flag Day, 1943):

''If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein,'' Justice Robert H. Jackson wrote.

The new minority opinion , written by the former winner, now the loser, Felix Frankfurter, included the grumbling:

“As has been true in the past, the Court will from time to time reverse its position. But I believe that never before these Jehovah’s Witnesses cases (there were many more besides those concerning flag salute) …..has this Court overruled decisions so as to restrict the powers of democratic government.”

Yes, that’s how it is with governments, democratic or not. They want more power. They don’t want to give it up. A certain amount is necessary, of course, so as to maintain public order and safety. Witnesses cede it to them willingly and render obedience. But when they grab for yet more - the consciences and souls of their citizens, someone has to call them on it. And that someone has often been Jehovah’s Witnesses.

The topic came up 45 years later. The first George Bush thought it a fine idea for teachers to lead their classes in mandatory flag salute. His electioneering opponent, Michael Dukakis, did not. The New York Times reviewed the JW items of decades past and even tracked down some of the original participants. “Mr. Gobitis,” it wrote, “now a 62-year-old piano tuner in Belgium, Wis., has followed the 1988 salute debate closely, and a bit disgustedly. ‘It's hard to comprehend why they're raising this issue again,’ he said. ‘They're ignoring our constitutional development and history.’ It reminded him, he said, of a passage in Chapter 16 of the Book of Revelations. ‘To Jehovah's Witnesses,’ he said, ‘all this political fanfare boils down to is 'the croaking of frogs and expressions inspired by demons.’”

And you know, I just can’t get over the reversed use of that phrase, “guarantees of freedom of the human mind and spirit and of reasonable freedom.” Then it was used to protect the minority from the majority. Today anti-cultists use it to protect the majority from the minority, lest ones of that minority ‘deceive’ them by ‘manipulation’ and ‘mind control.’

As for Dave McClure, my old Circuit Overseer, if he ever had thoughts about the 1988 brouhaha, he never shared them with me. But then, he would have moved on by then to another assignment—he served our circuit just around 1980. He passed away in Florida several years ago.

 

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Anti-Cultists Jump on the JW Video Encouraging Brothers to Hold Steady During the Virus Time

It took no time at all for the anti-cult crowd to latch on to that recent Stephen Lett video about how the brothers are doing worldwide in the face of Covid 19. (6 have died in Italy). Of course, he made remarks about being ‘deep in the last days’—and they were all over that. He was declared ‘oppontunistic’ and exploitive of current events so as to maintain control over members. Sheesh!

Now, Stephen Lett is a very unusual figure—Witnesses love this guy—but there is no one who over-emotes like this fellow. Sometimes I think a spokesman less ‘polarizing’ in his mannerism would be better suited, but who can say? He shows love for the friends, and maybe that overrides all else. I wrote up a post on him previously.

At any rate, I posted a few tweets of my own to kick back at some of these accusations—if that be what they are. As to the ringleader of the anti-cultists, who does not specialize in Jehovah’s Witnesses but also does not exclude them, I do not treat him as an enemy, and I am neutral as to his overall mission. To the extent he notices me, he doesn’t treat me as an enemy either, and if he does I take no offense. Mutual respect works here.

I posted:

A worldwide plague and concurrent financial collapse JWs do not dismiss as ‘one of those things,’ but their end-time words long precede this. Plus, they are nothing but cooperating with gov’t authorities in trying to contain virus

It is irrelevant to general society if it is accompanied by complete cooperation with govt authorities as they try to contain such, which is the case with JWs. After all, it is not them partying on the Fla beach.....1/2

Also, people cannot be buffeted about by such calamities as world plague & financial collapse and just shrug it off. An ‘end-time’ view is as good as any to cope. Few cooperate with gov’t containment efforts as JWs do. They promptly calledoff their door2door & are not the problem...2/2

The trick is to allow other viewpoints to exist besides your own. Tolerance. JWs in no way undermine govt efforts to control virus. Besides, until all chips in, who are you to say they are wrong? It has to be a ‘wait and see.’

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Persecution of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia—and Identification of Those Who Instigate It.

The New York Times today reports the torture of a member of Jehovah’s Witnesses in the Russian campaign to eliminate the faith. It is the second such instance of torture coming to light. [edit—several more came within a few days] Arrests are commonplace. More commonplace are raids with the confiscation of personal property. 200 Jehovah’s Witnesses were recently place of the federal list of extremists, which means that bank accounts are frozen and they can no longer transact routine financial business.

With an active and prolific critical, at times hate, campaign being waged against Jehovah’s Witnesses online, it is reasonable to think that it indirectly instigates persecution of them in Russia. It is reasonable to think that it indirectly instigates the torching of two Kingdom Halls in the United States during 2019, both of which burned to the ground.

Many groups are harassed in Russia, but it is Jehovah’s Witnesses who are head-and-shoulders the primary target. Why? It boils down to Jesus’ words: “If you were part of the world, the world would be fond of what is its own. Now because you are no part of the world...for this reason the world hates you.” (John 15:19) It is no more complicated than that. Hatred against Witnesses may be cloaked as reports from a “whistleblower” or complaints of those who would advocate freedom from “mind control,” but at root the motivation is simply disturbance that ones should choose to be “no part of the world.” No villain on TV ever says, “I am the villain.” Instead, he paints himself the wronged one with a merited score to settle—and the program director strives so that we all see his point of view. We must not be obtuse.

From TrueTom vs the Apostates!—“The book Secular Faith - How Culture Has Trumped Religion in American Politics attempts to reassure its secular audience through examining the changing moral stands of churches on five key issues. The book points out that today’s church members have more in common with atheists than they do with members of their own denominations from decades past. Essentially, the reassurance to those who would mold societal views is: ‘Don’t worry about it. They will come around. They always do. It may take a bit longer, but it is inevitable.’ Jehovah’s Witnesses have thwarted this model by not coming around.”

What Secular Faith is saying is that churches have in many respects ceased being “no part of the world”—and having done such, are not hated, since “the world is fond of what is its own.” Jehovah’s Witnesses, and almost they alone, are yet remaining “no part of the world”—and that is why they are hated. That is why they have “apostates” who are off the charts in expressing vitriol. “Apostates” (within the Christian context) can be expected to proliferate in direct proportion to how the main body stays separate from the world. As such, Jehovah’s Witnesses should almost be proud of theirs, for in them they are validated. A religion that has made its peace on the “five key issues” of Secular Faith—what’s to apostatize from?

Anti-Witnesses scream “Cult!” like patrons scream ‘Fire!’ in a crowded theater. Are Jehovah’s Witnesses a cult? To the extent they are, it is because the Bible is a cult manual. The behavioral, informational, thought, and emotional “control” that anti-Witness activists complain about can be found in the urgings of the New Testament writers themselves. The words indicate no more than people living by the Bible, living peaceably in this world while they look to the righteous new one to come with the arrival of the kingdom Jesus taught his followers to pray for, the one the Bible describes as “the real life.” (1 Timothy 6:19) The agenda of the virulent Witness detractors is simply that no one should think in such an “impractical” way. 

A faith that remains “no part of the world” is thought socially backward, even socially harmful by some. But that hardly means it ought not be allowed to exist, particularly since it dovetails with Jesus’ words. “There has only been one Christian,” Mark Twain too cynically remarked. “They caught and killed him—early.”

I am not even sure that Witnesses should run from the word. It may be well instead to highlight its origin. It is the same origin as ‘cultivate’—which denotes ‘caring for something’—and in a religious sense it refers to ‘caring for the matters of the gods.’ Okay. I’ll take it. Jehovah’s Witnesses ‘care for the matters’ of God. They trigger opposition from ones who don’t want them to do that. They trigger opposition from those who have crossed over to embrace various aspects of the world—the world that Jesus says not to be part of.

This is clear in the testimony of one witness testifying for the prosecution in the Russian trial that would ban the JW organization. She complained of “complete and total control of life by the Administrative Center.” Asked to give an example of this, she reported her expulsion from the congregations after she “began her close, but not officially registered, relations with a man.” In other words, she wants to violate, within the congregation, the Bible sanction of ‘sex only within marriage.’ The Witness organization does not allow it, and she spins it as “complete and total control of life,” hoping to get the Russian Justices riled up.

Look, it is fine to adopt the standards of the world so long as one goes there to do it—don’t bring it into the congregation. She signed on for such Bible-based standards, now she wants to change them—and when thwarted in that attempt, she seeks to get the organization that got in her way banned at the Russian Supreme Court! It is no more than revenge. It is no more than insisting the standards of the greater world be accommodated in the Christian congregation.

Disfellowshipping itself is a last-ditch attempt at discipline, when all else has failed, to ensure that a member not bring standards of the world, no matter how commonly accepted elsewhere, into the congregation. Is it harsh? It certainly can be spun that way, but as ought to be clear by considering Secular Faith, no denomination has succeeded in obeying Jesus’ direction to remain “no part of the world” without it.

History testifies that among the reasons Christians were viciously persecuted in the first century was that their rituals were said to include cannibalism. Obviously Jesus’ followers did not do this, but from where might the charge originate? Might one look to the following passage in the sixth chapter of John, which begins by quoting Jesus?

I am the bread of life. Your forefathers ate the manna in the wilderness and yet they died. This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that anyone may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread he will live forever; and for a fact, the bread that I will give is my flesh in behalf of the life of the world.

Then the Jews began to argue with one another, saying: “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” So Jesus said to them: “Most truly I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in yourselves. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has everlasting life, and I will resurrect him on the last day.”

When they heard this, many of his disciples said: “This speech is shocking; who can listen to it?”...Because of this, many of his disciples went off to the things behind and would no longer walk with him. So Jesus said to the Twelve: “You do not want to go also, do you?” Simon Peter answered him: “Lord, whom shall we go away to? You have sayings of everlasting life. We have believed and have come to know that you are the Holy One of God.”  (6:48-69)

What of the ones who did not “come to know” that Jesus was the Holy One of God? What of the ones who “went to the things behind and would no longer walk with him”? Did they thereafter leave their former co-disciples to worship in peace? Or did some of them draw from these words proof that Jesus would recommend cannibalism to his followers? And if some advanced the notion, might there not have arisen ones in the congregation who pinned the blame on Jesus himself for saying the words that got the persecution ball rolling; ‘What a blunder!’—I can imagine some saying (though not in his presence).

It makes me think of the uproar raised over child sexual abuse within Jehovah’s Witnesses today. They are comparatively successful at preventing it—nobody, but nobody, has gathered every single member on earth (at the 2017 Regional Conventions) to consider detailed scenarios in which child sexual abuse might take place so that parents, obviously the first line of defense, can remain vigilant. But the world has little success at preventing CSA, so it focuses on punishing it after the fact, securing the barn door after the cows have fled. Routinely, we read of individuals arrested over CSA allegations. Unless the arrest is of a member of the clergy, the one detail that never accompanies such reports is that of the individual’s religious affiliation or lack thereof. Yet with Jehovah’s Witnesses, that detail is never lacking. Why? 

Plainly, it is that the Witness organization attempted to do something about child sexual abuse—they did not just close their eyes to it—and now detractors are trying to spin it as though they love the stuff. Jehovah’s Witnesses are well-known as a religion that “polices its own.” It is an attribute once viewed favorably, but now in the eyes of critics, it is spun as intolerable “control.” Those taking the lead in the Witness organization thereby came to know of individuals accused of CSA, and their “crime,” if it be one, is in leaving it up to affected ones themselves to report rather than “going beyond the law” to do it themselves. Time will tell how vile that sin is found to be, but it plainly falls far short of actually committing the CSA themselves, which is the pattern elsewhere. 

As with Jesus and his remarks that can, in the scheming of dishonest ones, be spun into encouragement of cannibalism, so the JW policy on CSA is spun by similarly dishonest ones to indicate that the organization is determined to nurture and protect it, whereas nothing could be further from the truth. Three times before the Australian Royal Commission, Geoffrey Jackson of the Witnesses’s Governing Body pleaded for universal, mandatory reporting laws, with no exceptions—if that could only be done, it would make the job of the Witness organization in policing its own without raising the ire of those outside the congregation “so much easier.”

Continuing his cross-examination, Justice Angus Stewart said: “Leaving aside the question of overriding mandatory law from the civil authorities...” I almost wish that Brother Jackson would have interjected at this point, “I wish you would not leave it aside, for it would solve the problem.” The greater world cannot make a dent in preventing childhood sexual abuse, and so it puts the onus on those who are trying to do something about it. Alas, our best lines invariably occur to us too late—had Brother Jackson picked up my line, it probably just would have got their backs up—and then (gulp) he would have looked at me with displeasure.

More on the Russian connection here.
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‘Born Into the Faith’

The one area where detractors have some validity is in saying that the children of Jehovah’s Witnesses did not make the same choice as did their parents. The parents searched, sometimes for decades. They weighed both paths carefully before choosing the pathway of serving God over the pathway of pursuing the common goals of the world. Their children have never made this search—they were ‘born into the truth’—something we portray as a great asset, and yet something that contains the same drawbacks as being born into wealth. We probably are naive to think that ‘born into the truth’ does not make one vulnerable in some respects. 

The first generation makes the wealth and is thereafter grounded in life. The second generation inherits it, and deprived of that values-forming experience, becomes insufferable, unappreciative, profligate, isolated from the common people—some combination of the foregoing. It doesn’t have to work that way, but it does often enough for the pattern to become a stereotype. 

What’s a wealthy person to do? Cast his son out to live in the refrigerator box until he earns his own wealth? Obviously not. Better to be born into wealth than into poverty. Better to be born into a spiritual paradise than into a spiritual dessert. But the wealthy parent that has any sense makes his son experience what he did himself to the degree possible—makes the kid start on the factory floor as a regular worker, for example—makes the kid earn privileges, doesn’t just hand him things—makes him work his way into his inheritance. 

The Witness parent who simply expects the offspring to ‘make the truth your own’ without allowing him a glimpse into the other side—well, couldn’t that be likened to the wealthy parent who expects his offspring to ‘make the family wealth your own’ without allowing the character-building and adversity-overcoming experiences that were instrumental in his own formation?

It is a matter of degree as to how that is done—I would not suggest that nobody is doing it—and each family must find its own way. Since the beginning of time, parents have endeavored to bring their children up in principles they have convinced themselves are true. Since the Industrial Age at least, general society has tried to pull those children away into its own chosen paths. There certainly is no educational reason that children should be schooled away from their parents at ages as young as 4. It is for societal reasons that compulsory public schooling began. Children ought be separated from the pernicious influence and prejudices of their parents, the thinking went, to make them more compliant to the greater aims of the greater world.

So Witnesses are going to train their children in godly principles—that is only to be expected. It is not the case that if you leave children untrained, they will grow up free, unencumbered, and when of age, with choose their own values from the rich cornucopia of life’s offerings. No. All it means is that someone else will train them. The anti-JW activists are only bellyaching because they want to themselves be those trainers—they do not raise the same protest with regard to the children of anyone else.

 

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If You’re Going to Bewail Manipulation, Bewail it Where it Counts

The speaker’s wife gave one of the first comments at the Watchtower Study—on the very first paragraph. It sort of fit, since the theme was on making wise decisions and following through. Still, she ‘shoehorned’ it in a bit—it wasn’t a perfect fit. She said how she had not been manipulated to become one of Jehovah’s Witnesses—it had been her own choice and one that she did not regret.

Well, who said that she had been manipulated?—that’s why the comment had an artificial flavor to it—the paragraph itself contained no hint of it. Furthermore, pushing the limits of the 30-second goal for comments, put in place so that no one loquacious person steals the show, she found it the stupidest notion in the world for anyone to suggest that. Manipulation? How ridiculous.

Plainly, someone had thrust that idea at her recently, maybe some sorehead that she had run across at work or among the neighbors—that it is no more than manipulation with Jehovah’s Witnesses—that’s why they believe and act as they do. It is the classic technique of the mainstream bully—to assert that one couldn’t possibly depart from the ordinary unless they had been manipulated to do so, and “unfairly” manipulated at that—had the “manipulation” been in that bully’s direction, there would be no problem with it.

You can apply this to anything. The reason you bought a Chevy is that you were manipulated by their ads. The reason you cheered for the 49ers is that you were manipulated by San Francisco. The reason you went to college is that you were manipulated by the guidance counselor. The reason that you died for your country is that you were manipulated by that country to think the cause noble—nobody of any other country thought so.

Really, Jehovah’s Witnesses least fit the accusation of manipulation, because they, unlike the above examples, represent persons who were actively searching—they were anything but moldable pieces of dough. They were dissatisfied with the status quo, dissatisfied with where life was heading, dissatisfied with the goals society set before them, and they took upwards of a year looking over a new model, weighing and trying it on for size, before committing to it. All this was done in familiar surroundings without leaving trusted routine—as opposed to the above examples of college and military, in which one is immersed 24/7 in unfamiliar settings, a classic tool of manipulators.

Well, if you are going to talk manipulation, talk it with something that counts. That’s why I liked Mark Sanderson kicking back at the petty application of manipulation with a major one. In his annual meeting talk about not being fearful, he quoted Hebrews 2:15, that “through [Jesus’] death [God] might bring to nothing the one having the means to cause death, that is, the Devil, and that he might set free all those who were held in slavery all their lives by their fear of death.”

Sanderson cited the Nuremberg trials, in which various Nazis who had committed unspeakable atrocities were asked the simple question, “How could you do those terrible things?” “What did they say?” he asked, and then related the answer they had given: “We had no choice. If we didn’t obey they would put us to death.”

“Those people could be manipulated,” Sanderson said. “They could be controlled. They could be made to do the most wicked things because they were afraid.” Exactly! If you are going to bandy about words as “manipulate” and “control,” don’t trivialize the terms—do it with an example that matters! Don’t do it with an example of choosing this life course or that life course, neither of which will extend beyond 80 years. Do it with the example of control and manipulation that will gain you the reputation of a mass murderer to last throughout all time. Maybe that’s why the resurrection of the dead was one of the first Christian teachings to come under attack, even during the time of the apostles; the teaching thwarted the goal to keep people afraid so that you can make them do what you want.

Was it coincidence for Sanderson to speak as he did or did it represent kicking back at these petty people who put all their stock in the here and now, equating acting by faith as “control” and “manipulation?” I don’t know, but I wouldn’t mind seeing more of it.

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An Entirely Unexpected Gift of Politics—Revelation of the BITE Man

Steven Hassan is the David Splane of anti-cultists. He is the Great Explainer who works tirelessly in their behalf. He is the originator of the BITE model of “mind control”—Behavioral, Informational, Thought, and Emotional Control! He is the man who, as a youth, was naive enough to join the Moonies—the robe-dressing, flower-hawking Moonies! and now, having quit them, he insists that even the most intelligent people [such as himself] can be misled into a cult. 

Of course, there are only so many Moonies in the world. Mr Hassan expands the C-word into ever more frontiers, and one of them is Jehovah’s Witnesses. You would think that it is the only one, to hear JW detractors carry on, but it is but one of an ever-growing stable. I have witnessed JW opponents on social media counseling each other as to the most effective way to conduct themselves, referring back to the BITE model of Hassan as a guide, as though he was a cult leader of himself.

His horizon’s continue to expand. His current book is: “The Cult of Trump—A Leading Cult Expert Explains How the President Uses Mind-Control.” A review of it begins with: “Can’t understand why a loved one would vote for Donald Trump? Let the experts who spend their lives studying cults help break it down.” Of course! A vote for Trump is completely inexplicable otherwise! Only cult delusion can account for it. When you think that half the country has fallen victim to cult influence and mind-control, it is strong evidence that you have drunk too much of the Kool-Aid yourself.

So he comes out of the closet. He reveals himself. He is a leftist—nothing more. He is of the victimization society. I’m glad to see it, for it undermines his alleged expertise elsewhere—like with JWs, for example. Up to the point of his new book on Trump, one can begin to suspect that maybe, just maybe, Jehovah’s Witnesses are like a cult. They pay far more attention to their Governing Body than other groups do to their leaders. They certainly take their faith much more seriously than do others, and they deviate from the accepted goals of society in fundamental ways. 

Yes, you can just begin to envision it—and then Hassan, who got the ball rolling in the first place, comes along and says half the country is under the spell of a cult leader! Okay. That it says it all. He is just “out there” himself, just upset that his candidate did not win, and that recognition qualifies whatever he has said about Jehovah’s Witnesses or anyone else.

It’s not that the idea of influencing people is ridiculous. It is the over-application of the idea that is. No meaningful outfit does not incorporate some application of “behavioral, informational, thought, and emotional control”—the most striking example is that of the family. Is it really brainwashing that he objects to—or is it just brainwashing that is not his? Read him as he carries on about Trump and realize that the spillover will taint his mission with regard to anything else.

Leaving the sects that were his bread and butter far behind, he tweets: 

We need to have a fundamentally NEW conversation about how we interact with Trump supporters.  Online arguing doesn’t work. When we label Trump supporters as “dumb” or “evil”, it only reinforces their own image that they are persecuted and cuts off any chance of them changing.”

“Though I know it’s hard to do when they say such vitriolic things, we need to imagine they are stuck inside a religious cult. How would we try to get them out?  At first, we would make sure to avoid argument and really try to CONNECT. This may take a while but is vital.”

“After we’ve established some trust and rapport, we need to be delicate. We don’t rush to talk about Trump (they will still be defensive and unmovable).  We need to find a subject that has parallels to their situation but doesn’t feel personal (i.e. Chinese Communist Brainwashing)”

“Using that example, we can highlight examples of behavior control, information control, thought control, and emotional control.  Very delicately, we can ask them questions about their beliefs and reflexively listen to the answers without ANY judgment.”

What if they bring up the economy?” I interjected. It worked for Bill Clinton—“It’s the economy, stupid” instantly trounced all other considerations and won him the election. I follow Mr. Hassan on Twitter. When he returned the follow, I promised that I would take no cheap shots. I find this promise hard to keep these days, since his new horizons strikes me as no less absurd than his old. But I have, more or less, kept it.

Incredibly, he answered me privately, though DM. He recommended that I read his book! Nobody answers privately on Twitter, yet that’s what he did. My only explanation is that he saw my Twitter banner, which suggests that I am a Witness—it’s an advertisement of Dear Mr. Putin - Jehovah’s Witnesses Write Russia—and he simply assumed that if he gently gave me opportunity, not publicly where I would not dare respond lest my OVERSEERS take note, but in private, like Jesus pulled aside the deaf man so as not to put him on the spot, that I would gratefully let him take me by the hand so as to escape from the JW cult!

I don’t troll the guy. Everyone has a right to prevail on their own feed. I am not disrespectful when I reply and I don’t do it often. The next time he advised me, this time publicly, to read his book, I responded that I had a book, too. A third party to the thread tweeted that he had no book. “Get off your duff and write one!” I replied with a smiley emoji. “It is apparently the price of admission.”

Hassan stays at it—keeping on the watch:

Has everyone seen this video of Donald Trump?  Senior cabinet members grovel in the exact same way Scientologists do with Miscavage.  Does this LOOK like a healthy organization to you? This is not normal.  This is cult behavior.”

“He has actually said just the opposite,” I replied, “that his advisors do not have to agree with him and he likes the mix they bring to the table. To be sure, not many of them last too long.”

He says often what he thinks people want him to say or what he is told to say, but actions are what count!”

“I don’t see it, Steve,” I wrote. “To get a job, you must convey that you are a “team player” Try putting on your resume that your talent lies in challenging or broadening out the boss. Most bosses want a cohesive team that will recognize who leads. Have other presidents not done this also?”

Of course! Trump does bully on his feed, but the Presidency has been called the “bully pulpit,” after all. It is just that he is better at it than others that gets into Steve’s craw. If he bullied on Steve’s side, I can’t imagine him having any problem with it. It’s not mind-control that bothers him. It is the mind-control that is not that from his side. I barely restrain myself from playing devil’s advocate far more than the little bit that I do. There are genuine reasons to dislike Trump, and plenty of people take up those reasons.  You cannot really call him a bull in a china shop, because to do so you must accept the premise that government as usual is a china shop. Junkyard dog in a junkyard may work, though. But this additional “mind control” charge strikes me as pure looniness. It’s not my cause anyway, being a Witness, but I do appreciate how the Trump presidency has served to flush out the BITE-man.

How is it that SO MANY people in this country are STILL under the spell of Donald Trump?” he tweets.

“Though most of us throw our arms up in disgust or confusion, the answer to this question is actually quite simple:”

“Trump, the Republican Party and the right-wing media industrial complex are manipulating the public. They are employing the same techniques advertisers and public relations professionals use but have done so in an even more potent way.”

“They harness fear.  They repeat messages over and over again.  They disorient with conflicting messages.  They wage war on detractors.”

It is not that they don’t do it. It is that everyone else doesn’t do it as well.

We somehow think that “mind control” and “brainwashing” only exist in Hollywood movies but they are very REAL phenomena and through the relatively new medium of the internet, we are seeing mind control like we’ve never seen in human history.”

“The only remedy is knowledge. We need to educate ourselves so we can educate others.  If you want to understand more, let me know,” thus taking for granted his role in disseminating true knowledge. 

Still, I want to take his message to heart. There is on the big bad forum where I sometimes hang out an unabashed Trump advocate. Can I help him break free from his cult? Mr. Hassan sets the goal:

At EVERY point in this process (and I’ve been doing this for 40+ years for people lost in cults) we want to be gentle and caring. Arguing or TELLING them they are wrong will accomplish nothing.  We want them to have their OWN “Aha!” moment.  We never force it.”

Okay. I will try with this fellow James. Let’s see if I can help him to have his own “AHA!” moment. It won’t be easy because he is a blockhead. But I owe it to him to try.

Hello James. Have I told you lately that I feel love for you, just like Jesus felt love for the rich young ruler? I only want to help you—you must believe me. I do not want to take your trump-trump away. No.

But I have noticed—I say this only because I love and respect you—that whereas you used to be the most fun and pleasant person to be around, lately you have turned into a mean-spirited so-and-so. Do you even realize that the “Arab” you just spit at was actually a Jew?

Have you noted that the President does name calling? Do you think this is very nice? How do you expect other countries to respect this country if it’s leader is not nice? [Have your “Aha!” moment yet? No? Well, let’s continue] 

Hitler was not nice, was he? I know that we will agree on that. See, I am trying to build a bridge to you. I am establishing trust and support, and I will be delicate. Stalin was not nice either. And Pol Pot—what a meanie he was! These are facts I am telling you, James. I know that you will recognize that, for you are very smart. Trump is just like them. See? I am attempting a fundamentally new conversation with you, James. Thank you for allowing me to prove my point.

Alright, that’s enough! Am I my brother’s keeper? If he comes around, so be it. I hope he does, but there is only so much one person can do.

If Trump hadn’t been elected President, I would not have had the gift—an entirely unanticipated one—of Steve Hassan the anti-cultist revealing to all that he is just another political leftist.

 
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Putin to Restore Religious Freedom to Russian Jehovah’s Witnesses Before the End of 2020?

It was said on another forum—and was to be on the basis of pure political expediency. Could it be?

Two recent developments have occasioned specific rebukes from the U.S. State Department. 

1) the sentencing of 6 Witnesses to jail terms of 2-3 years.

2) the torture of at least 7 in Surgut, which Russian authorities at first denied but ultimately said proved necessary because the Witnesses resisted with martial arts techniques.

Of course, every other faith is kept track of as well—it is not just Jehovah’s Witnesses. Still, a State Department release of last year specifically mentioned just two groups. 1) Muslims, and  2) Jehovah’s Witnesses. The rest were all lumped into a single third category: 3) Others.

Of course, Trump might always consult with his son-in-law who can recall to him his dealings with the Witnesses from whom he purchased Bethel buildings—that they were people with whom “a handshake deal meant something.” He lavished praise on them in that video that JW.org took down as the Presidential campaign got underway, presumably so that no one would not attempt to portray Witnesses as part of Trump’s election machine—they are serious about neutrality over there.

The (relatively) optimistic prediction may well be right, but I am not holding my breath. The two Presidents did want to get along, but I am not sure that the moment has not passed. Any overtures between them have been soundly scuttled by the American media. It is even as though when the kings of the north and south indicate that they would like to agree, outside forces intervene to make sure that they cannot, as though to to enforce the current understanding of Daniel’s prophesy that the two will hate each other’s guts right down to the end.

It is also possible that Trump senses in his meeting on religious freedom an opportunity to defuse accusations that he is anti-Muslim. It is Muslims who are under attack today, probably more so than Christian groups, and probably spurred on by the perception of how readily a certain strain of that belief goes on to embrace violence. Who can say what Trump is up to? To say he is a bull in a china shop, one must accept the premise that the status quo among world and national leaders is a “china shop.” But he might well be likened to a junkyard dog in a junkyard. Who can say where he goes next?

At any rate, he sidesteps an agenda of climate change policy and hosts his own religious freedom meeting instead. Religious freedom is embedded in the U.S. Constitution, primarily the Bill of Rights. Climate change is not, and Trump plainly doesn’t trust it, viewing it as a mostly concocted wedge to drive socialism more firmly into the world fabric. Instead, he goes to country after country, as though Capitalist-Man wearing a cape, to cut deals. He reverses decades of policy that holds that making disadvantageous deals trade-wise will trigger political change, as newly monied populaces rise to overthrow the tyrannical governments that rule them, like a worldwide “Arab spring.” There is not much evidence that it works that way. It certainly didn’t with the Arab spring, and China is doubling down on its willingness to oppress, even in the face of material prosperity.

So will the (relatively) optimistic prophesy come true, that Putin will reverse JW persecution by year’s end? He points out that: “Neither care about Jehovah's Witnesses, specifically, but they both care about political optics, and pragmatically, about fairness.”

I agree that they are both pragmatic. But Trump is firmly resisted. And Putin may be as well. The New York Times speculated that he may not be so firmly in control as is assumed, partly because after he says: Why are we persecuting  Jehovah’s Witnesses? This must be looked into! the persecution does nothing but intensify. Even as the JW ban was under consideration, one pundit asked: Why would they do it? There was no question that they could, but why would they? They do nothing but make themselves ludicrous and thug-like on the world stage. But it has been “pedal to the medal” since. The succeeding act was to rule the New World Translation as extremist—not a Bible at all—and thus paint themselves before all as breathtakingly ignorant, since anyone with even a modicum of scholarship knows that it is.

The anti-religion campaign has only intensified. Deprived of the New World Translation, Jehovah’s Witnesses there resort to any translation. So courts have found that some verses even there are actually “extremist,” as happened with Psalm 37:29. In doing so they have bought into the thinking of the BITE model promoted by “anti-cultists” in the West. Such has become the wisdom that carries the day in Russia, however stretched the idea might be. It’s founder, Stephen Hassan, has just written a book about Trump: “The Cult of Trump—a Leading Cult Expert Explains How the President Uses Mind Control.”

When you think that half the country has fallen under cult influence, it is evidence, in my view, that you have drunk too much of the Kool-Aid yourself. It is also evidence that the entire BITE anti-cult movement is little more than a political movement. It is little more than a tool of the left. It is the new culture of victimization elevated to sainthood. Now, Mr. Hassan is a former “Moonie”—a group that is commonly regarded as a cult in both the new and the old sense of the word. Whether it is or not is for other people to judge. One way to apprise his present work is to judge it an effort to atone for his prior work—not just to atone, but to save face. “How could he have been stupid enough to join the Moonies?” is a question that many will ask. Of course, few are wont to admit that they could be stupid—hence the emotional appeal of a mindset that holds that even brilliant people can be misled by “cult” techniques—we are all that vulnerable. Having established the concept, it is then extended to the point at which half the country is deluded.

Experience is counted as a plus in some areas and roundly derided as making for bias in others. If I write a book about the persecution of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia (which I have), the fact that I am a Witness makes me incapable of accurately relating events in the eyes of many. But it doesn’t happen with him. He is hoisted upon the shoulders of others and paraded around because his thinking better accords with the irreligious humanistic thinking of the day.

At any rate, this anti-cult advocacy has been allowed to define Russia’s response to any religion not on the “approved list”—which in the Christian category, there is only one: the Russian Orthodox Church. One would think that the idiocy of declaring Jehovah’s Witnesses extremist would collapse eventually under its own weight, but it may not—again, because it fits in with the humanistic thinking of the day. It is not so much “mind control” that these anti-cultists are concerned about; it is mind-control that is not theirs. “At one time [Christians] walked according to the system of things of this world, according to the ruler of the authority of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience,” Paul says at Ephesians 2:2. Yes, the prevalent thinking of today surrounds us like air and has the same “authority.” Buck it at your own social and reputational peril.

Here is a Russian Orthodox priest who air-bombs a certain city with holy water as a strategy to combat the “heavy drinking and fornication” that, in his opinion, afflicts the population there. This action is not viewed as extremist. The peaceful preaching of Jehovah’s Witnesses, who manage within their ranks to avoid both heavy drinking and fornication, is extremist, however. One wonders if the word will not shatter someday at the stresses placed upon it.

Tying in a thread from yesterday about the Florida school shootings, I pointed out that two possible courses of actions were proposed, though neither agreed to because the inability to yield is the lifeblood of this system of things, though Witnesses have learned to do it without fuss: either outlaw rapid-fire guns or allow armed veterans and/or teachers to patrol the halls. Neither of those two courses, were they to be found in Russia, would be viewed as extremist. However, Jehovah’s Witnesses, who circumvent the entire problem by living now the standards that they see prevailing in the new system—they categorically renounce violence—are.

It is this world that is extremist, and not the Witnesses at all. However, this world has the upper hand at the moment, so expect similar atrocities of reason to prevail. Once in a while a bone is tossed our way. One Witness got out of pre-trail lockup when a judge ruled that the prior judge had shown prejudicial bias. She had rebuked the Witness with: “You are not a prisoner of conscience and you have nothing to do with the first Christians. You should not speculate on this...” He is and he does, and the second judge ruled that she had been out of line to muzzle the thought.

 

 
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)