If you saw a child holding a knife to the throat of a dog, what would be your reaction? Applause, or concern for both the dog and the child?
How about preteen children dressing up as prostitutes, how would you respond to that? Would you approve? If you saw those same preteen children threatening to cut a baby in half to settle an argument between two women, what would you do? How would you respond? Would you be amused, or would you think that perhaps a call to child welfare or social services would be in order?
Jehovah’s Witnesses are encouraged to use one evening per week for Family Worship, or a time for the family to do projects and research on their own. Many Jehovah’s Witnesses spend time with their children and teach them bible lessons during Family Worship, and that’s all well and good, but why do those nights have to include dressing your children as prostitutes, holding a knife to the throat of the family dog, or learning about slicing babies in half?
Note this picture shared on a Facebook page. For those without a bible background, Aaron was the brother of Moses and acted as high priest for Israel after they escaped Egypt. One of his jobs was to kill the animals brought to the temple as sacrifices.
I might excuse a certain amount of animal killing by children if it’s done in the context of hunting, or on a farm and for food. I’m half Native American and know that in my culture, as with many others, the boys were taught to hunt from an early age and the girls also taught how to slaughter and prepare animals.
This picture, however, is not depicting a child learning how to hunt in order to feed a family. This child is learning how to kill an animal for no reason other than the fact that his god demanded it of him, and even at his tender age, his parents see nothing wrong with him acting out this scene with a real knife and a real dog.
Keep in mind that some murderers start out by hurting and killing small animals before they move on to humans. Of course this child is not a murderer and no one is teaching him to murder, but the point is, these killers show a gross disregard for life at an early age, so that they become immune to the idea of killing another human being as the years go by. If you outright teach your child this lack of regard for life by having him dress up and threaten a dog with a knife for fun, what are you teaching him about the value of life in general?
This may seem like a leap, but note that Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that any day now, Armageddon will come and Jehovah will destroy every single person on the planet who is not one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, and this event is often depicted in their literature in the most graphic of ways. (See this website for quotes from JW literature on this subject.) Non-JWs are often drawn as suffering horrific, violent deaths during Armageddon, and many pictures have included little children being killed during this time as well.
When I was a JW, the attitude of, “Who cares about them and their life since they’re not one of Jehovah’s Witnesses” was common. One woman even said about her ex-husband, a non-JW with whom she was having a disagreement, “Oh well, who cares, he’s going to die at Armageddon any day now.” Yes, they do teach a gross disregard for life that is easy for children to pick up on.
This picture is one of the more disturbing when it comes to these projects for Family Worship night. Again, for those with no bible background, Solomon was a king of Israel who was presented with a judicial case of two prostitutes who were arguing over a baby, both women claiming it was theirs. Solomon decided to settle the argument by having the baby sliced in half, and the real mother stepped forward and said that the baby should be given to the other woman instead. According to the story, the woman who was not the mother was perfectly okay with the idea of the baby being cut in half, so that neither of them would have it. Solomon is praised for his wisdom in creating a scenario that would so slyly reveal the real mother, who loves her baby so much that she would rather see it be raised by another woman than be killed in such a fashion.
Let’s pick this apart for a minute. Prostitutes. A baby being held by its ankle. Sharp knives threatening said baby. A woman being perfectly fine with having a baby sliced in half right in front of her. Sounds like good, clean, family fun, right?
Consider this scenario in other contexts. Remember, these two women who were arguing were prostitutes. That means those two little girls in that picture above are pretending to be prostitutes. Please explain how this could be acceptable in any other setting. Can you imagine parents letting their preteen girls dress as streetwalkers so they could act out their favorite R-rated movie? Did these parents explain to the children what is meant by a prostitute? Did they explain how a prostitute has sex with men in a variety of perverse ways, is treated like a piece of meat, may be forced to perform abhorrent sexual scenarios, and may have sex with many men at one time, all for money?
Teaching children that threatening to slice a baby in half for any reason is downright disturbing; I don’t care how much Solomon is praised for his supposed wisdom in this case, it’s not a lesson for children to learn, and especially not in the way it’s depicted in the picture above. The illustration on the far right is from “My Book of Bible Stories,” a book meant for young children. Holding a baby by its ankle is physical abuse, as is threatening to slice it in half with a knife. Some might argue that the story turned out fine since the baby wasn’t actually cut in half, but since when is it okay to abuse or threaten a child’s life to learn something about the parents and how they’ll react? If police put a gun to a child’s head and threatened to pull the trigger unless the parents gave them information they needed, those police would be facing criminal charges themselves, and rightly so.
How would these parents feel if this scenario was acted out but with a real baby? Would you volunteer your baby to be held by its ankles by a large man holding a big knife so it could seem more real to the children? Will the children learn that threatening a baby’s life is an appropriate way to settle a conflict or to force honesty out of parents? “Mom, you know you took the last cookie, even though you say you don’t know what happened to all the cookies in the kitchen, so either confess or little Jimmy gets it.”
They’re Just Children
Before you dismiss any of these questions, remember how impressionable children are, and how they often cannot create safe boundaries at an early age. It’s easy for parents to assume that a child would not transfer this story to any other scenario, but how can you be sure? Children see a karate movie and they start kicking each other as soon as it ends, or they see a scary movie and are convinced there are monsters under their bed. Children are like little sponges; Jehovah’s Witnesses count on that when it comes to indoctrinating their children, yet they see no problem in allowing children to absorb stories of animals having their throats slit, prostitution, and babies being abused and sacrificed. I would wonder if child welfare agencies would feel the same way.
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