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Persecution Complex

Jehovah’s Witnesses know they are God’s people.  They don’t just believe it, they know it to the core of their being.   As a result, God’s enemy, Satan, is also their enemy and wants to destroy them.  Wants it bad.

Satan uses a number of different weapons in his war against JWs, everything from their own bad qualities (greed, lust, etc.) to family members who oppose their belonging to the cult to national governments who ban their religion and persecute them.  They see anyone who isn’t a JW as a potential threat – an us-versus-them mentality.  They also see persecution as a sign that they’re doing it right.  After all, Jesus told them to expect persecution.  Well, he told his first-century disciples to expect it, and he was right.

JWs often end up becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy because when they take a stand on an issue they won’t back down for anything – well, most of the time.  Back in Nazi Germany, they managed to get on Hitler’s bad side, and were rounded up and herded into concentration camps, receiving a purple triangle for their stubbornness.   Many died in those camps.  JWs view that whole episode as a badge of honor and practically worship the survivors.

Back in the 1970s the African nation of Malawi passed a law that required all citizens to purchase a political party card.  JWs refused because of their stand of political neutrality.  It could easily be reasoned that because there was only one political party, the country being ruled by “President for Life” Banda, that it would not violate their neutrality to purchase the card, viewing it as more of a tax than delving into politics.  However, the Watchtower Society would not back down on the issue, and the JWs in Malawi experienced a number of waves of persecution where their crops and homes were burned, many were beaten, raped, and even murdered by gangs of thugs, the government egging them on.

At the same time, a curious double standard arose in the hallowed halls of the Brooklyn headquarters.   JWs do not perform military service and will even refuse to perform alternative service, and consequently men of military age spend years wasting away in prison to pay for their impudence.

At the same time the JWs in Malawi were suffering, a veritable get-out-of-jail-free card was handed to Mexican JWs.  In Mexico, men of military age were required to obtain cards that identified them as members of the reserves who had completed a year of weekly training sessions.  Possession of this card was necessary in order to obtain a passport.  Instead of taking a stand, for some reason the Watchtower Society agreed to allow the brothers there to bribe government officials in order to obtain a card under the table.

Excuse me?

How were these guys making decisions?   Dart board?  I thought Bible standards were the basis of their policy making.  I don’t know what the motivation was for this shocking double standard, but it horrified one member of the HQ staff who took the time to document the whole thing and later include it in his book, “Crisis of Conscience.”

These guys were (and are) deciding who would die for standing in opposition to the government and who could get off easy by bribery.

The governments aren’t the only entities lusting for the blood of JWs.  JWs in the early part of the 20th century were very in-your-face in their preaching, marching around with sandwich signs and shouting “religion is a snare and a racket” in front of churches, using sound cars in rural locations to blast the local livestock (and farmers) with sermons, and generally being a nuisance.  Needless to say, these actions failed to evoke kindly feelings on the part of townspeople.  JWs were tarred and feathered, beaten by mobs, and jailed for their trouble, heroes all.

Luckily for me, by the time my family joined JWs, they had dialed it back a few notches and were concentrating on the peaceful-new-world message.  Still, we heard lurid reports of what was happening in Malawi, and we were told to expect the same sort of mistreatment when the Great Tribulation started, leading to God’s swooping in and rescuing JWs in the form of Armageddon.

The reports on Malawi scared the bejeezus out of me and many other kids at the time, some of whom had nightmares about it.  I tossed uneasily in my bed many a night contemplating being beaten or raped for my religious beliefs.  I even formulated a plan to cut my hair short if persecution developed so that I wouldn’t be as easy to catch by the hair.  I doubt that hair would have factored in to my inevitable capture as I’ve never been even slightly athletic.

Perhaps the most ominous threat to the average JW is Satan’s henchmen, the demons.  More about that next week.

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9 responses »

  1. Douglas Porter

    HOW COME THEY DON’T PRINT THAT MALAWI MEXICAN INCIDENT IN THE WATCHTOWER OR AWAKE AND EXPLAIN WHAT REALLY HAPPENED? I TOLD MY WIFE THE OTHER DAY, ITS NOT ALWAYS WHAT THE ORG TEACHES YOU THAT YOU SHOULD PAY ATTENTTION TO. PAY ATTENTION TO THINGS THEY ARE NOT TELLING YOU. THAT’S WHAT OPENED MY EYES TO A LOT OF THINGS. SHE JUST SAYS I’M BEING NEGATIVE. ITS SCARY, ASK THE AVERAGE JW WHAT HAPPENED ON BOTH SIDES OF THE MALAWI MEXICAN INCIDENT AND THEY DON’T KNOW NOTHING.

    I’M OUT PEACE

    Reply
  2. Oh, the nightmares! I still have them, about Armageddon. I was raised a witness (birth – 20 years old), never baptized though. My father was an “unbelieving mate”. I would cry uncontrollably as a kid because my father was not going to be with us in paradise. Man what a number this does to kids.
    Thanks for this blog. It really helps to know someone understands the brainwashing I’ve gone through. 🙂

    Reply
    • Amy, I remember just the same, crying over my mother not being in paradise. Utter child cruelty in my opinion.

      To this day, it’s still one of my most vivid childhood memories and I wish it wasn’t!

      Reply
  3. Yet, internal “persecution” is allowed…..like shunning an elder and his family because their teenage son was “seen” smoking a marijuana joint with “worldy” boys on a street corner while talking to unwholesome women. The parents denied this, as did the boy in question, and were subsequently forced to leave the congregation. I was told by my parents it was due to politics of the hall. Politics? Really? The family in question received the modern day equivalent of tarring and feathering. Shame Shame.Shame.

    Reply
  4. This has been a wonderfully informative post, I love it (despite the morbid content, haha). Yours is easily one of my favourites.

    Is the Raymond Franz book good? Have you got much read? I’ve read only tiny bits because of my already formidable reading list.

    Have a lovely day 🙂

    Reply
  5. DS – Thanks! Yes, “Crisis of Conscience” is a must-read. I read it a few years ago, and any remaining shred of regret I had about leaving JWs was obliterated. A real eye-opener.

    Reply
    • Reading it right now. I never got baptized, but was raised as a JW. My sister is DF’ed and so my older sister doesn’t talk to her and our mother barely does. Just a cruel religion. I found it so interesting that the Watchtower went from Rutherford saying that no true Christian would be in an organized religion to today where the JW’s say that they have the only true religion. I just got to the bit about Malawi and Mexico (along with JW’s suffering in prison in the Dominican Republic for not serving in the military). I love the part where Raymond Franz wrote a down-to-earth tidbit on what the society really said to the Mexican branch. He says:

      “Paying brides to corrupt officials is done by Jehovah’s Witnesses in other Latin American Countries. If the men of the war machine are willing to be bribed the risk is theirs. At least you are not paying the bride to the actual war machine itself- only to a colonel or other officer who pockets the bribe for himself. If brothers’ consciences will let them make a ‘deal’ with some official who is ‘on the take’, we will not object. Of course, if there is trouble they should not look to us for help. Since everyone down there is doing it and inspectors make no issue about faked documents, then you at the Branch Office can just look the other way too. If war comes that will be time enough to worry about facing up to the issue of neutrality.

      Faithfully yours in the Kingdom ministry.”

      Sad, but that is exactly what Fred Franz said in a play of words in the actual letter he sent to the Branch Office in Mexico.

      It never really occurred to me about how the Governing Body affects peoples lives. It seems that it is just JW dogma that rules and what the Bible says doesn’t come into play too much from what Raymond Franz is saying in this book.

      Man, this book is a real gut puncher. I got royally drunk the first day I read it. Raymond basically exposed what I was taught and believed for a great majority of my life was a lie. Can’t punch you in the guts harder than that.

      Reply
  6. Another great blog!

    I remember the Malawi persecution. During that time, while we were on Christmas break from school that year, a bunch of Witness kids came over to our house and we all sat and wrote letters to the Government over there, by the hundreds–we all used the same letter and hand-wrote the content relating dismay and sadness over such atrocious persecution, trying to change our penmen-ship with each letter…and counting the “time” as we wrote.

    I was quite shocked a year ago to find out about the double standard that took place at that time, one stand for the Malawi “brothers and sisters” and an opposite stand for the ones in Mexico. You did a really great job of demonstrating the inconsistent application of their “faith”, by the governing body. Sadly–the cult-members will never hear about this TRUTH.

    Thanks for being so honest with facts that NEED to be told!

    Reply
  7. Raised a JW. The internet saved me. I’m now 50. All the web sites from ex JW’s set me free. It is a cult!

    Reply

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