On January 7, 2015, a group of Islamic militants stormed the offices of a comedic Paris newspaper and opened fire, killing 12 staffers before fleeing. They did this to avenge cartoons the paper had printed of their prophet Mohammed, believing the cartoonists had been disrespectful of their religion.
On that same day, millions of Jehovah’s Witnesses sat inside their homes and Kingdom Halls and prayed for their God’s “new system” to come. Lest you think these two incidents have nothing in common, note that the Islamic extremists killed 12 people. That “new system” for which Jehovah’s Witnesses pray will kill over 7 billion.
Armageddon, According to Jehovah’s Witnesses
For non-JWs, let me explain some basics about their beliefs. When Jesus told his followers to pray, “let thy kingdom come,” Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that “kingdom” to be a government that will be ruled over by Jesus, and which will replace all human governments on earth. Jesus will have 144,000 “co-rulers” in heaven, and all other persons deemed worthy of eternal life will live on a paradise earth, being governed by that kingdom. These ones will have the earth to themselves after Armageddon, which Jehovah’s Witnesses believe is a war between god and Satan. This war will destroy Satan, as well as any people on the earth who don’t worship Jehovah. This means, according to their beliefs, anyone who is not one of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
The people that JWs think will be destroyed include those in other Christian religions, those in non-Christian religions, atheists and agnostics, elderly persons, handicapped persons, and everyday nice people who just happen to not be Jehovah’s Witnesses. You could be a saint feeding poor orphans in Africa and it wouldn’t matter; if you’re not one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, you will die at Armageddon, or so they believe.
Not only do Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that everyone on earth who is not a JW will die at Armageddon, but they also believe that this Armageddon will mean fiery, horrific deaths for them, as is often depicted in their literature. Even children are shown being killed in this terrible fashion.
Make no mistake; Jehovah’s Witnesses are not violent and will not do any of this killing themselves. They don’t allow their members to fight in wars or have jobs where they may need to carry a gun; they’re not even allowed to take up martial arts or boxing as a profession. However, they’ll be more than happy to sit back and watch their god do this killing of anyone and everyone who doesn’t agree with their beliefs, and who doesn’t worship god how they think god should be worshiped.
While the actions of these two religious groups may be worlds apart, how is the mindset or attitude any different? Both groups think that perfectly innocent people who may be quite nice and even very loving, productive members of society deserve to die, simply because they don’t worship their god or believe the way they believe.
Religious Death Threats and Bullying
Being okay with the death of another person who doesn’t believe the way you do is the worst form of religious intolerance, but Jehovah’s Witnesses use this thinking to employ what I call religious bullying, or mental and emotional blackmail. This bullying belies their claim of being a religion based on love, and one that builds strong family bonds.
Consider what I mean by this. If someone decides to be baptized as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, and then later leaves the religion, it’s assumed that this person will eventually die at Armageddon, regardless of their reasons for leaving.
Children of Jehovah’s Witnesses are openly taught this belief, that their god will eventually kill them if they don’t become Jehovah’s Witnesses, or if they should leave the religion. How is this not emotional blackmail and bullying? JW parents don’t threaten to actually physically kill their children, but do threaten to cut them off from their entire family and everyone they know through harsh shunning, and tell them that their god will kill them eventually, unless they worship as the parents demand.
Lest you think I’m exaggerating, those images posted above are featured in literature which is used and studied with children; this illustration on the left is taken from “My Book of Bible Stories,” which is a storybook meant specifically for children. Note that it’s not just animals and adults being destroyed by god in this terrible flood, but a mother is holding her very young baby in her arms as they wait for the flood waters to rise.
The message is unmistakable. “If you don’t do what we say and worship how we say, god will kill you, even if you’re a baby.” Jehovah’s Witnesses use this threat of ultimate death to keep children thinking and feeling the way they demand, and to keep them in the religion despite any doubts or disagreements they may have. They’re so hellbent on believing that all non-JWs will die at Armageddon that they readily include their own children in that thinking, and gladly teach them this belief from an early age, raising them with a virtual death threat looming over their heads.
No, That’s Not Love
Jehovah’s Witnesses might counter this argument by saying that god is the one who talks about Armageddon and the deaths of everyone who is wicked, and that they “love” their neighbors so much they go out and warn them of their impending doom with their preaching work. My response is that Jehovah’s Witnesses interpret the bible and those predictions about Armageddon to include anyone who is not a JW; that’s not what the bible itself says. The bible talks about the destruction of the wicked, not the destruction of those who, for example, realize that Jehovah’s Witnesses have a long history of failed predictions, those who realize that Jehovah’s Witnesses mistakenly apply the law of Moses to rape victims by threatening them with disfellowshipping if they don’t scream during their attack, those who have left the religion after having been molested as a child or after learning of so many cases of unchecked molestation in the congregations, women who have left their violent and abusive JW husbands, and so on.
It’s not loving to assume that anyone who disagrees with you or who sees your own failings as a religion is wicked, or to assume that someone who leaves your religion for all these very legitimate reasons deserves to die. It’s not loving to depict anyone’s death in such a graphically violent and horrific manner. It’s not loving to threaten your children with those images either.
I’m a Writer, So Kill Me Too
The attacks on the newspaper in Paris were done because of cartoons that poked fun at a prophet. Well, I’m a writer who does a lot more than poke fun. I call out Jehovah’s Witnesses on their horrific policies and practices that make their religion a breeding ground for pedophiles and wife beaters, their hypocrisies and double standards when it comes to victims of child rape versus adult women who have been raped, their abusive and unloving attitudes toward women and children especially, their gross misapplication of scripture that feeds their love of power, and a host of other serious topics.
According to the beliefs of Jehovah’s Witnesses, I deserve to die a horrible and tragic, probably fiery death at the hands of their god because of that. Every time they pray for that “new system” to come, they are praying for their god to execute me.
The thought of 12 cartoonists being killed for their irreverent, satirical humor is probably shocking enough for you, but the next time Jehovah’s Witnesses come to your door, remember that they, in effect, are waiting for the same thing to happen to you, to me, and possibly even to their own children and other family members. Why? Because we believe differently than they do. Period. That makes you a victim of their unique form of extremist thinking, whether you realize it or not.
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