The May, 2015, Awake magazine, published by Jehovah’s Witnesses, highlighted articles about those who are homeless and poor. In those articles, there are the stories of Joe and Martin, both once homeless, both of whom made changes to their lives to finally become employed and find housing; Joe quit smoking to save money, and Martin “took more interest in his appearance.” They did this after starting to study the bible with Jehovah’s Witnesses, and the stories say that the local Witnesses eventually offered them some “help” in finding suitable housing.
These individual stories are significant because, in order to receive any type of assistance from Jehovah’s Witnesses, you need to be at least studying the bible with them and making changes in your life that seem to indicate that you will soon become a Witness yourself. This assistance is then typically minimal at best, as these stories themselves illustrate.
Jehovah’s Witnesses practice no official charitable works for the general public; they have no soup kitchens, no homeless shelters, no shelters for battered women, no educational programs that help people get back into the job market, and don’t even have clothing bins where the homeless can find discarded clothes and blankets.
This is important to consider as, in the same magazine, there is an article talking about post-typhoon mortality rates for girls versus boys, noting how girls in Asian countries are often neglected when it comes to resources and aid. They then seem to chastise those responsible by quoting a scripture from Isaiah 58:7, which says, “Share your bread with the hungry, bring the poor and homeless into your house, clothe someone naked when you see him.”
So shame on other people who aren’t “sharing their bread” and “bringing the poor and homeless into their house” after a typhoon, but hooray for Jehovah’s Witnesses who help the homeless by leaving them with religious literature, studying the bible with them, expecting them to somehow fix their own problems, and insisting they make changes to conform to their demands before they do even the slightest thing for just one of them?
“Giving That Pleases God”
If you’re curious about what type of charitable works Jehovah’s Witnesses perform, note the June 1, 2003, Watchtower, which stated that:
“There is a kind of giving that is even more important than charity… While he took the lead in helping the poor, healing the sick, and feeding the hungry, Jesus primarily trained his disciples to preach… Why not listen to what Jehovah’s Witnesses have to say the next time they call? They come with a spiritual gift. And they know that this is the best way that they can give to you.“
According to their own magazine, the best “charity” they can give to anyone is to preach to them. It doesn’t matter if someone is homeless, or literally starving, or has been wearing the same clothes for a month; it doesn’t matter if they have children who are living on the streets with them and who haven’t eaten anything but garbage scraps for days. The “best way that they can give” is to preach to them. According to the title of the article, this is the type of “giving that pleases god.”
Organized Giving … to Themselves
The same article mentioned above talked about organized giving, saying,
“Jehovah’s Witnesses today are also quick to help when disaster strikes. During the summer of 2001, for instance, torrential storms caused major flooding in Houston, Texas, U.S.A. In all, 723 homes of Witnesses were damaged to some extent, many of them quite badly. A disaster relief committee made up of qualified Christian elders was immediately formed to assess individual needs and to allocate relief funds to help the local Witnesses to cope with the situation and repair their homes. Willing volunteers from neighboring congregations performed all the work.“
In case you missed it, note who was helped during this disaster; “homes of Witnesses” were repaired and relief funds helped “the local Witnesses.” In other words, Jehovah’s Witnesses will organize to provide relief and aid only to other Witnesses.
Note, too, when this aid is provided, as there is no organized effort to support their poorest members in general. When a major disaster strikes, they may pitch in to help, but if your home is in disrepair because you earn a minimum wage or are unemployed or elderly, your chances of being helped are hit or miss.
Charity, or Fraud?
Another interesting point from the article stated:
“One Witness was so appreciative of the help that when she received payment from her insurance company to cover the repairs to her house, she immediately donated the money to the relief fund so that it could help others in need.“
Note what happened here; volunteers did the labor, yet the insurance company paid for repairs. Unless this payment was for materials that were not provided by the above-mentioned “relief funds,” isn’t this fraud? If she got “relief funds” from Witnesses to pay for materials, and didn’t need to pay anyone to actually fix her roof, why is the insurance company paying her any money? Money from an insurance company is meant to reimburse you for costs associated with repairs; they don’t just write you a check for your inconvenience of having a broken roof.
There may be facts not mentioned in the article, but unless I’m missing something, she had no costs for materials or labor, yet took money from her insurance company, which she donated to the Witnesses. This sounds like fraud on the part of both parties to me.
Just Clean Up Your Life, and Problem Solved
Go back again to the stories mentioned in the article above, about Joe and Martin. Note the solution Jehovah’s Witnesses mention for being homeless. Joe gave up smoking and the article said, “Of course, Joe’s decision not only benefited his health but also saved him money.”
As for Martin, “…he applied the same Bible principles that helped Joe, mentioned earlier, to take control of his life. Martin took more interest in his appearance…” and soon found a job.
So according to Witnesses, if you quit smoking you’ll save so much money that it will make a difference in whether or not you can afford a home? I agree that smoking is expensive but honestly, how many packs do you need to smoke to spend the money that could otherwise go toward rent and utilities? And yes, looking like a mountain man might impede your ability to get certain jobs, but what about all the homeless people who look perfectly fine, and the ones who don’t smoke?
The point is, Jehovah’s Witnesses are implying that you simply need to watch how you spend your money and get a good haircut, and presto, problem solved. You can pay rent and get a job just like that. They say nothing about the working poor, meaning those that do work but who still struggle to keep a roof over their heads because of obscene costs of living and low wages, or those who are unemployed simply because there are no jobs to be had. This is beyond shortsighted; it’s just insulting to those who are poor through no fault of their own.
The Poor Giving to Them
Chastising other groups for failing to provide adequate aid after a typhoon when you do nothing to support the poor and homeless is suspect enough, but it becomes even worse when you realize that Jehovah’s Witnesses actually expect the poor to donate funds to them. The December 15, 2013, Watchtower said:
“In one very poor country in Africa, some brothers mark off a small section of their garden and use the funds from the sale of the produce from that section to support the Kingdom work.”
This is despite the hundreds of millions of dollars the Watchtower Society has been earning from the sale of their buildings in New York alone (see this news story). These monies go toward absolutely no charitable works or efforts, as mentioned above. Not one shelter or food line or clothing bin, not one school, orphanage, educational or job search center, nothing.
Jehovah’s Witnesses chastise others for not “sharing their bread” or allowing the homeless into their own home, while taking money from those same poor and destitute and doing nothing to open their own homes to strangers. This begs the question, whom are they expecting to share all that bread, and whose homes are they expecting to be open? All that sharing and helping and charity is great as far as they’re concerned, but only if it comes out of the pockets of others.
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