Videos from the 2016 summer regional conventions of Jehovah’s Witnesses are being revealed online, and they are nothing short of brutal. In one stunning, jaw-dropping account, an obviously struggling father is lauded for giving up a job opportunity in exchange for more time spent adhering to the demands of the religion:
Commanded to Provide, Not Just Study
Interesting to note that the man’s employer already gives him time to attend the meetings of Jehovah’s Witnesses, so what is this man missing or would he be missing from taking this new opportunity? At the end of the video, the man’s little girl talks about their family study that evening. This is disturbing; the man would give up a job opportunity just for family study time, especially considering how economically depressed his family is, given the small and humble home of theirs?
Yes, the bible says to teach your children and instruct them, but it doesn’t say when or on what schedule. The man couldn’t come home an hour later each evening and still instruct his child? The mother couldn’t pitch in and study with the children as needed? This structured, scheduled family study is something that was created by Jehovah’s Witnesses and pushed even more when they went from two weekly meetings at their Kingdom Halls to just one; they then said that the other evening should be used for a “family worship” night. Again, this was their idea, their instructions, and not something commanded in the bible.
Note too that the bible does command that a person provide for his (or her) own household:
Certainly if anyone does not provide for those who are his own, and especially for those who are members of his household, he has disowned the faith and is worse than a person without faith.
~ 1 Timothy 5:8
The bible doesn’t say that you need to provide a comfortable lifestyle for your household, but you are obligated to work and put food on the table, and in today’s tough economies and shrinking job market, that can mean exercising some discretion so you don’t put a job at risk. The video isn’t clear as to what would happen to this man if he were to refuse this job opportunity, but many of us who are experienced in the work world know that refusing any assignment from your boss can make them angry enough to get rid of you altogether. To turn down an assignment, promotion, transfer, etc., simply for the sake of being home an hour earlier so you can immerse yourself and your family in more religious indoctrination seems risky; again, the point being, this is the religion telling him to spend that time indoctrinating his children in their beliefs, not the bible telling him that.
The gross hypocrisy in this is worth mentioning; the governing body of Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t work to provide for themselves or their families. They are supported by the religion. The religion itself also practices no official charitable works, so if that man and his family were out on the streets because of his decision, it’s not like they could visit the soup line set up at the local Kingdom Hall. Yet, the religion is all too happy to risk his livelihood, his means of support, when they’re not the ones who would need to suffer the consequences of his decision.
Outside, Looking In
Jehovah’s Witnesses are rarely concerned with how their behavior, religious beliefs, and needs affect other people; for one thing, people “in the world,” or those who are not Jehovah’s Witnesses, are pretty much dead to them. They believe that any day now, any minute now, Armageddon is coming and all those people, including their bosses, are going to die. Why worry about their opinions then, since their lives are so immaterial?
Another reason they aren’t much concerned is that their religion comes first, above all else. I can respect this to a certain extent; in my own personal life, I wouldn’t allow someone to tell me that I need to give up an opinion, friend, spiritual pursuit, hobby, and so on. However, Jehovah’s Witnesses often forget how much accommodating other people, especially employers, need to do for them. A JW employee will insist that they be given time off for their summer conventions, when the circuit overseer is in town, and so on. I’ve heard of JWs who refuse to even touch holiday decorations at work, much less put up signs advertising a Christmas sale, and ones who won’t sell cigarettes when working a cash register. If an employer balks at accommodating these things, they can be accused of religious discrimination.
A JW employee in a hospital or medical setting will reveal confidential medical information to elders if they see a JW patient doing anything they deem questionable, such as taking blood, terminating a pregnancy, and so on. One JW woman I know told me that a JW nurse reported back to the elders on a gynecological procedure she needed to have done; the JW nurse told they elders that this procedure can sometimes be performed as a substitute for an abortion. The elders demanded the JW woman show them her medical records to prove she wasn’t pregnant at the time and needed this procedure for other medical reasons; certainly the patient had grounds to sue the JW nurse and the nurse’s employer! Consider these huge legal issues for an employer when it comes to confidentiality and their liability, and in just trying to run a business. Yet, Jehovah’s Witnesses often act as if the employers are creating such a terrible situation for them by simply asking them to do their jobs, which brings me to my next point.
Oh, the Persecution!
What is also bothersome but becoming too common with these videos produced by Jehovah’s Witnesses is the misapplication of scripture for the man’s situation, and their hysteria and dramatics. When contemplating his decision, the man reads Romans 8:36-37:
36 Just as it is written: “For your sake we are being put to death all day long; we have been accounted as sheep for slaughtering.” 37 On the contrary, in all these things we are coming oﬀ completely victorious through the one who loved us.
How exactly was this man being “slaughtered” or “put to death,” even figuratively? His employer states that he gives him time off for his meetings so his schedule and his religion are being accommodated. The man isn’t facing a prison sentence or concentration camp; he just needs to think about a job opportunity with a longer commute.
Here too Jehovah’s Witnesses are playing up any and all outside influences or life away from their religion as persecution and a problem that doesn’t actually exist. The mere thought that someone might need to curtail the time spent with the religion’s indoctrination – not miss it altogether, mind you, but just curtail it – is considered a living death and spiritual slaughtering. I would assume this is part of their methods of controlling their members; don’t dare step away from the religion and its incessant teaching, indoctrination, inculcation, etc., because then you might not want to step back.
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