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Knocking Documentary on Jehovah's Witnesses
May 22, 2007 6:39 AM   Subscribe

"KNOCKING opens the door on Jehovah's Witnesses. They are moral conservatives who stay out of politics and the Culture War, but they won a record number of court cases expanding freedom for everyone. They refuse blood transfusions on religious grounds, but they embrace the science behind bloodless surgery. In Nazi Germany, they could fight for Hitler or go to the concentration camps. They chose the camps." View Trailer for KNOCKING, a surprisingly well-reviewed documentary about Jehovah's Witnesses, which airs tonight in most cities on PBS's Independant Lens. ..Filmmaker Q&A
posted by thisisdrew (63 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
The thing is, they haven't actually witnessed anything. It's hearsay. They're more like Jehovah's Gossips.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 6:42 AM on May 22, 2007 [7 favorites]




I was raised a Jehovah's Witness and left it under my own power when I was 14 because I realized that I am an atheist and somehow the two just weren't compatible.

But while I disagree with almost everything they believe in, I really have no hard feelings about the organization or the people.

Thanks for bringing this doc to my attention. It'll be interesting to see as someone who knows enough about the inside to spot biases and errors but also doesn't think the group has any inside track on the truth.
posted by obfusciatrist at 6:59 AM on May 22, 2007 [1 favorite]


I just had a 30-minute through-the-screen-door discussion with a JW yesterday and am now the happy owner of two Watchtowers and a booklet "What does the Bible really teach?" -- the knocker has been knocking at this house for 20 years and she listed all the former owners by name. Good God.
posted by stbalbach at 7:04 AM on May 22, 2007


For those of us who can't watch videos at work, what the hell is "bloodless surgery"?
posted by bonecrusher at 7:06 AM on May 22, 2007


My only exposure to the JWs came while I was working as a bartender/server at a wedding/reception hall in a hotel about 15 years ago. We had maybe 10 JWs on staff, all girls. They were some of the most pleasant, funny, sarcastic, witty and generally fun people I've ever worked with, not to mention very attractive. Of course, they were not allowed to socialize outside of work with anyone not in the church, but I'll always remember them fondly. I couldn't believe they had anything to do with the stereotypical door to door JWs I had seen around and heard about since they seemed so much in tune with the general culture and zeitgeist and I never heard them utter any kind of dogma or exhibit any kind of close-minded behavior or other group-think, other than, of course, that they wouldn't socialize outside of work. So with all that said, I'm looking forward to watching this.
posted by spicynuts at 7:06 AM on May 22, 2007


Tell you what though, from my time in Bone Marrow Transplant: There is NOTHING more frustrating than a JW with treatable leukaemia.
posted by Silentgoldfish at 7:06 AM on May 22, 2007


Anecdotal sample of one Jehovah's Witness: real nice guy, trustworthy, kind, repectful, just the right balance of willing to talk about his beliefs but not forcing them on anyone.

Being a healthy young man he had an interesting balance of lustiness directed at images of women, combined with polite restpect.
posted by StickyCarpet at 7:07 AM on May 22, 2007


So like, I knew this guy, his parents disowned him because he didn't want to join their Church of the Controlled.

Very sad. He was a nice guy, and just *whoosh* lost his parents. Just like that.
posted by four panels at 7:09 AM on May 22, 2007 [1 favorite]


They refuse blood transfusions on religious grounds...

The April issue of Anesthesia and Analgesia (one of the main anesthesiology journals) had a number of articles on caring for Jehovah's Witnesses in the OR.
posted by TedW at 7:09 AM on May 22, 2007


They refuse blood transfusions on religious grounds, but they embrace the science behind bloodless surgery.

Umm, not to shit the thread or anything but it's not exactly like their opposition to blood transfusions have been a benefit, medical or otherwise. Quite the contrary, it's led to numerous deaths.

I just find that a strange thing to say right after the line about "freedom for everyone." They've fought for the freedom to kill members of their flock under unwavering religious dogma.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 7:14 AM on May 22, 2007 [2 favorites]


For those of us who can't watch videos at work, what the hell is "bloodless surgery"?

"Bloodless medicine/surgery" is just a name for a number of techniques including the use of blood substitutes, limiting the amount of blood drawn for labs, and a number of other things that minimize the need for transfusions. Although it is publicized as a specialty in itself, in reality, most of these things are done for all patients, as blood is an expensive, limited resource and transfusions are not risk-free, so all physician's try to limit the use of blood. Here is a description of the program at my hospital.
posted by TedW at 7:15 AM on May 22, 2007 [1 favorite]


I was a JW until my early 20's, at which point I realized that I had alternatives. And ultimately, I discovered I wasn't really interested in religion.

But like someone mentioned above, I have nothing against them. My mother and younger brother are baptized, door-to-door types, and in a lot of ways I'm proud of them. I think if you're going to do the religion thing, you should do it - like anything in life - with your whole heart.
posted by precocious at 7:17 AM on May 22, 2007 [2 favorites]


I've liked the JWs I've met, but I talked recently with a Seventh-Day Adventist guy who's convinced they're all hellbound because they don't recognize Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Sigh.
posted by pax digita at 7:19 AM on May 22, 2007


I just find that a strange thing to say right after the line about "freedom for everyone." They've fought for the freedom to kill members of their flock under unwavering religious dogma.

Although I don't entirely disagree with that statement, there have been a number of freedom of speech cases brought by JW's, particularly involving such things as the Pledge of Allegiance, which they refuse to recite based on their disavaow of nationalistic practices such as oaths and pledges.
posted by TedW at 7:19 AM on May 22, 2007 [1 favorite]


Good post. All I knew about JWs previously was that they weren't allowed to have birthday parties in elementary school. I always thought that was kind of mean.
posted by Afroblanco at 7:24 AM on May 22, 2007


So like, I knew this guy, his parents disowned him because he didn't want to join their Church of the Controlled.

There are some JWs who take blood, and they are not kicked out if they do - there is a strong "act on your conscience" rule that takes place when it comes to things like family or personal health. They encourage members of the congregation to follow their conscience in accordance to what they believe.

In other words, his parents disowned him because they chose to, not because the religion told them to. Chances are, there were also other things in play, other strains in the relationship that you don't know about.

And even if there were not - his parents are not representative of every JW. Most of them wouldn't do something so extreme without good reason, but then, what religion do you know of that doesn't have its "purists" who act extremely?

It'll be good to see a documentary that gets the truth out about the religion - the good AND the bad.
posted by precocious at 7:26 AM on May 22, 2007


It'll be good to see a documentary that gets the truth out about the religion

Unfortunately, some of us don't live in the USA. Hopefully though, someone will upload a torrent of this after the screening.

I wonder why so few of the great PBS documentaries get uploaded to BitTorrent? I'm still dying to see Awake My Soul.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 7:48 AM on May 22, 2007 [1 favorite]


I knew a man who was dating a woman in the JWs, and she was shunned because he was legally married (though separated) at the time. She still had to go to church, but no one could talk to her and she couldn't take part...
posted by chuckdarwin at 7:52 AM on May 22, 2007


The thing is, they haven't actually witnessed anything.

That word means more than you think it means. Witnessing here is the telling, not the seeing.
posted by mendel at 7:56 AM on May 22, 2007 [2 favorites]


Australian documentarian, John Safran, was *really* bothered when his weekend peace was disturbed by unwanted door knockers with religious agendas, so he went to Utah and made this hilarious short film about knocking on the doors of religious folk and trying to convince them to be atheist.
posted by nickyskye at 7:57 AM on May 22, 2007 [2 favorites]


I'm with Afroblanco. In elementary school, the only reason I knew that we had neighbors who were JW was because on Halloween the kids avoided knocking on the door of one house. I remember standing on the sidewalk in front of the house with friends, all of us feeling sorry for their kids, discussing how awful it was that they couldn't dress up with us and weren't going to get any candy.

For all I know they didn't even have kids. Funny how we just assumed there were Halloween-loving children being held hostage in there.
posted by miss lynnster at 8:00 AM on May 22, 2007


I've had dealings with JWs twice in my life. Once was in high school, in which my then-girlfriend had been raised in the faith. I don't think I've ever seen a force so completely capable of breaking one's will as having experienced elementary school as the kid who couldn't participate in the holiday party, who couldn't wear a costume on Halloween, and who didn't get to have birthday parties. Couple that with some seriously intense social pressure not to cohabititate too much with the outside world, and the imperative to go door-to-door spreading the word (where 95% of responses are classifiable as rude or abusive), and you have yourself a recipe for one extraordinarily broken 17-year-old.

Second was last summer, when I answered the door to find two crisply attired women at the door, who had come because they saw my grandmother's obituary in the paper, and wanted to use the opportunity to inform me that there really was a very good chance that she was not, at the moment, burning in hell, even though she was a nonbeliever, because those silly mainline Christians are totally wrong about that lake of fire and brimstone thing, so even though Grandma was a dirty heretic, she's out on a technicality! It was the single time in my life in which I was so shocked that I had no response; the sheer callousness of their showing up at our house, to exploit a tragedy, removed any doubt I had about any silver lining this church may have.

I grudgingly respect the free speech cases they've fought, but realize that it was not for any greater interest in liberty qua liberty, but rather an end-around for championing their own (often misguided--how many deaths do you think are directly attributable to their superstitions regarding blood?) beliefs.
posted by Mayor West at 8:02 AM on May 22, 2007 [1 favorite]


I really have no hard feelings about the organization or the people.

Obviously you've never had the buzzer of your fourth floor walkup go off on a Saturday morning, when you were sleeping off a vicious hangover, only to have two middle-aged women at the door telling you that acknowledging your birthday is a sin.

Those people are FUCKERS! At least the Mormons come when you're awake and wear name tags so you can suss them out before you open the door.
posted by Mayor Curley at 8:07 AM on May 22, 2007 [1 favorite]


Some JW's came to my door a few weeks back. The guy talking to me, well, at me, was much more rude than any other I've met. After a couple of minutes of blank-staring and nodding, I just said, "I gotta go. I can't do this anymore." People try to convert me every single day it seems. Once I even told a woman I was half-Jewish (I'm not) so she would leave me alone, and she still didn't. I thought about simply telling people that I'm an atheist, but it's hard for a nerdy black atheist in Detroit to get a date, and these recruiters talk to each other, I think.
posted by jdotglenn at 8:15 AM on May 22, 2007 [2 favorites]


You had me until you said "PBS".
posted by tadellin at 8:25 AM on May 22, 2007


My brother, who's not much of a patriot otherwise, has run off JWs at shotgun-muzzle-point after ordering them to recite the Pledge of Allegiance or accept immediate execution.
posted by pax digita at 8:34 AM on May 22, 2007 [1 favorite]


I was going to post my story about trying to have sex with a Mormon girl through her rubber underwear... but then I read Mayor West's story and decided against it.
posted by chuckdarwin at 8:40 AM on May 22, 2007


PeterMcDermott: Unfortunately, some of us don't live in the USA.

Keep an eye on either BBC4 or More4 listings. Most likely, BBC4.
posted by vbfg at 8:41 AM on May 22, 2007


My brother, who's not much of a patriot otherwise, has run off JWs at shotgun-muzzle-point after ordering them to recite the Pledge of Allegiance or accept immediate execution.

I gotta try that.
posted by docpops at 8:41 AM on May 22, 2007


I am a sociology and religious studies major, and I have always been interested in the newish religions, so I love it when they come to my door. I'll stand out on the stoop with them for forty minutes talking about their beliefs, while my partner listens through the window at me, incredulous. Usually, though, they only come once, as I make it clear that not only am I gay and atheist, I have been with my partner for most of a decade. I would think that would make them try especially to convince me of my wrong, but usually they just give up. An ailing friend of mine has made friends with one of the doorknockers, and she comes over every month or so to visit with him and have tea, but she has to sit in the veranda, with her back to the window, so that her (male) keepers in the car outside can see that everything is appropriate.

As a kid though, my little brother's best friend was JW, and had Turrett's. That poor, poor family. :)
posted by arcticwoman at 8:57 AM on May 22, 2007


And count me in as hoping for a torrent - this doc sound great but I am a Canuckistani.
posted by arcticwoman at 8:57 AM on May 22, 2007


They refuse blood transfusions on religious grounds...

Yeah, that's pretty much all I need to know. Fuckin' idiots.
posted by notmydesk at 9:08 AM on May 22, 2007


my little brother's best friend was JW, and had Turrett's.

wow. with real machine guns?
posted by quonsar at 9:12 AM on May 22, 2007 [2 favorites]


I can't be a Jehovah's Witness. I didn't see Jehovah's accident.
posted by sephira at 9:16 AM on May 22, 2007


I was raised a JW and although I quit in my late teens (I realized I was agnostic), I didn't find anything 'spirit breaking' about not being able to celebrate holidays. Explaining why I didn't was tiresome, however.
My father, mother and most of my family on my mother's side are still active, my cousin is getting baptized this weekend.

I got several beneficial things from being raised in that faith. A love of history. I don't fear public speaking, I know what it's like to be an outsider. It takes courage to walk up to stranger's doors on weekends (when you much rather be lying around watching cartoons), not knowing if you get a friendly chat or a shotgun blast to the face.

It's interesting to read of other's experiences with JW's. Some of the stuff I hear doesn't sound like behavior condoned in the Kingdom Halls I grew up in. But perhaps things vary from place to place.

My girlfriend, who is an ex-Mormon tried watching the Frontline documentary on the Mormons, but couldn't, due to mixed feelings she still has.

I wonder if KNOCKING will have the same effect on me...
posted by black8 at 9:32 AM on May 22, 2007 [1 favorite]


Betty Butterfield visited The JW's Kingdom Hall.
posted by MotherTucker at 9:33 AM on May 22, 2007


The JWs are a cult as far as I'm concerned, although that term would be anathema to them and controversial to those who think that a cult has to fit a strict set of parameters to be defined as such. I was with the JWs for a few years as a teenager. Let's just say I didn't have what you would call a normal adolescence.

I do give them this: they stand up for what they believe in, and the Supreme Court cases of the 1930s and 1940s involving them are considered hallmarks of constitutional law. As Supreme Court Justice Harlan Fiske Stone wrote, "The Jehovah's Witnesses ought to have an endowment in view of the aid which they give in solving the legal problems of civil liberties."

Here's an interesting perspective from a former JW who's also the narrator and writer of the documentary referred to in the FPP.
posted by blucevalo at 9:33 AM on May 22, 2007 [1 favorite]


I have a hard time believing that anyone would be silly enough to follow a religion that clearly states only 144,000 of them actually get to the big show, running the rest of humanity for the next millenium or so. Yet, nearly 7 million followers (never mind "adherents,") are vying for those 144,000 seats.

Imagine the competition. Man, I bet they would out-holy the hell out of each other for that particular game of musical chairs. "Faithful and discreet slave," my ass.
posted by FormlessOne at 9:36 AM on May 22, 2007 [2 favorites]


I gotta try that.

docpops, FWIW, even he agrees it's more useful to slam the door wordlessly on them and deep-six whatever copies of Watchtower they might leave behind. Threatening people at gunpoint and speaking harsh words just adds to the negative energy awash in the universe. And if a longtime drunken Navy snipe wrenchbender can be persuaded of that point of view, there's hope for lots of us.
posted by pax digita at 9:42 AM on May 22, 2007


Zadie Smith's novel "White Teeth" includes a number of JWs as minor characters, which presents an opportunity for some discussion and explication of their beliefs. I'm not sure how accurate it is, but it was interesting nonetheless. I had no idea they were so apocalyptically oriented.
posted by hwestiii at 9:46 AM on May 22, 2007


Yeah, that's pretty much all I need to know.
And pretty much all you'll ever know. Well done.
posted by Abiezer at 9:55 AM on May 22, 2007


My small town has a fairly large contingent of JWs, and some of them are among the kindest people I've ever met... One woman in particular has been coming to my house for 12 years, about once or twice a month, and I usually spend about 30 minutes visiting with her... She knows she'll never "convert" me (I'm a mostly-atheist agnostic ~ if that makes sense ~ depending on what day you ask me), but we have wonderful, mutually respectful, and intelligent conversations about religion and life in general... I consider her a friend and she has given me some great advice about personal and family problems in the past (and it was totally non-religious-based advice, just neutral life-experience advice that was very helpful)...

I consider her religious beliefs to be wacky, but no wackier than any other religion's beliefs... The biggest difference between JWs and "regular" Christians (at least in my personal experience) is that JWs are totally willing to discuss other beliefs and non-beliefs in an articulate way without getting high and mighty... They know what they believe and they know why they believe it, but they also know why other people don't believe the same things they do (most of them are very knowledgeable about other religions)... They go about their witnessing mission without condemnation or ridicule of others, and without a "holier than thou" attitude, which is a lot more than I can say for most of the other mainstream Christians in my town.
posted by amyms at 10:04 AM on May 22, 2007 [1 favorite]


My favorite fact related to JWs is that Prince converted a few years back when his mother died. He can't even sing half of his old songs anymore. The best part is he even does the door to door thing.
posted by gauchodaspampas at 10:27 AM on May 22, 2007


That explains the demonschlong he was sporting at the Super Bowl.
posted by kirkaracha at 10:51 AM on May 22, 2007


And pretty much all you'll ever know. Well done.

Just another stupid cult, man, ready to sacrifice their kids. Letting your kid die because you don't believe in blood transfusions isn't any different, to me, than stoning your kid to death because your believe she dishonored you.
posted by notmydesk at 11:20 AM on May 22, 2007


They refuse blood transfusions on religious grounds...

Yeah, that's pretty much all I need to know. Fuckin' idiots.

They also refuse military service, ole pal, substantially reducing their need for blood transfusions.
posted by Mister_A at 11:22 AM on May 22, 2007


I have a couple of their books. Their anti-evolution book, "Life - How did it get here?" is an interesting piece of propaganda, absolutely packed with misquotes and dishonest, misleading writing.

Their main source for their book was Francis Hitching, who is repeatedly quoted as an authority on evolution (14 times, I think), when in fact he lacked any kind of scientific education and mostly wrote about dowsing and the paranormal. But even with this laughable source material, they have to resort to selective quoting!

The funniest part of the book is the chapter where they explain that God must exist, because without him Moses ("and all the wise men of Egypt") would have had no way of knowing to put "A beginning" as the first of ten stages of creation. It just boggles my mind.
posted by martinrebas at 11:40 AM on May 22, 2007 [1 favorite]


vbfg writes 'Keep an eye on either BBC4 or More4 listings. Most likely, BBC4.'

Yeah, I know that they show a lot of them in the BBC 4 Storyville Slot, but the problem is that they never list those channels in the newspapers. And although I do use the Radio 4 website, it's a pain in the arse if you want to see more than whats on for the next two hours.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 11:46 AM on May 22, 2007


The blood transfusion issue is a huge strawman that people seem to be incapable of resisting whenever the topic comes up. Jehovah's Witnesses are not to be confused with Christian Scientists (who refuse all medical treatment). JWs are not fatalists/determinists but refuse blood (eaten or transfused) not because some preacher decided it would be a good idea, but only because they see clearly God's prohibition against eating blood, in scripture. Beginning at Genesis 9:4 (which predates the Law Covenant given to the Isrealites) and mentioned over and over through scripture including that which was directed at the first century Christian congregation in apostolic times at Acts 15:29 ("abstain from blood"). Blood is, according to scripture, (for multiple reasons) a Big Deal to God. While transfusions themselves were unknown in Bible times, if your doctor ordered you to abstain from alcohol, would he have a problem with you taking it intravenously?

So, a JW's refusal to take a blood transfusion is not due to some death wish. It is a line that they see as drawn by God that they will not step across. JW refusal to consume blood should also not be confused with being kosher. For example, scripture directs a hunter drain the blood from an animal before eating, (pouring it out on the ground as recognition that the blood/life belongs to God) but we all know that some fraction of blood remains in the meat. Similarly, it is up to an individual JW's conscience as to whether one would accept medical treatments that might involve some blood fraction (as do some vaccines, etc.).

Similarly, other JW beliefs are based upon their study of scripture and not simply a doctrine. In fact, if there is any ONE thing that differentiates them from other "Christian" religions, it is that they do not subscribe to a clergy/laity model. Each and every JW is a student of the Bible. Therefore, they do not believe in "hell" as a place of fiery torment for immortal souls (in fact, they do not find evidence of the Greek concept of immortal souls in scripture), the Trinity Doctrine (godhead) seeing the scriptures consistently referring to God, his Son and the Holy Spirit as separate entities/things. Many confuse this with "not believing in Jesus", however they believe that Jesus is everything other Christian religions believe (Lord, Savior, Messiah)— they just don't confuse him with his Father (who is always spoken of as a separate entity even after his ascension, for example in Rev. 1:1).

While I can understand why, for a variety of reasons, many/most are not interested in discussing religion/Bible/beliefs you must also understand that JWs do this, not because they are masochistic or have doorbell fetishes, but because they see this as the Christ-given mission of true Christians (Matt. 28:19,20) and a work that was prophesied to be carried out (earthwide) particularly in the Last Days (Matt. 24:14).

Jehovah's Witnesses do appear to be an anomaly in an age when people, in general, are "lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power" (2 Tim. 3:4,5) and "will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires" (2 Tim. 4:3). But an honest person has to give them credit for doing what cannot be easy — attempting to share what they have learned with others in a 21st century environment.
posted by spock at 12:30 PM on May 22, 2007 [8 favorites]


this hilarious short film about knocking on the doors of religious folk and trying to convince them to be atheist.

Thanks, that was great!

I do give them this: they stand up for what they believe in, and the Supreme Court cases of the 1930s and 1940s involving them are considered hallmarks of constitutional law. As Supreme Court Justice Harlan Fiske Stone wrote, "The Jehovah's Witnesses ought to have an endowment in view of the aid which they give in solving the legal problems of civil liberties."

Yeah, as a consciencious objector I had good reason to be grateful to them. I try to remember that when they knock on the door and annoy me.
posted by languagehat at 12:55 PM on May 22, 2007


They go about their witnessing mission without condemnation or ridicule of others, and without a "holier than thou" attitude, which is a lot more than I can say for most of the other mainstream Christians in my town.posted by amyms

Yep,

And the ones who come round to my place are definitely mildly unhinged, creepily holier than thou and bore me rigid.

So there you go.
posted by Jody Tresidder at 2:13 PM on May 22, 2007 [1 favorite]


spock

Your apologia of JW practices motivated me to browse JW and Christian-related Wikipedia articles. I came away from that browsing session with the sudden realization that the only thing that separates mainstream Christianity from widely recognized fringe groups such as Jehovah's Witnesses is the veneer of authenticity provided by two millennia of perceived unbroken history.

To use an obviously flawed parallel, two millennia will turn a female sexual aid into a priceless artifact, and a trash pit into a veritable well of archaeological treasures.
posted by The Confessor at 2:32 PM on May 22, 2007


JWs are not fatalists/determinists but refuse blood (eaten or transfused) not because some preacher decided it would be a good idea, but only because they see clearly God's prohibition against eating blood, in scripture.

That's what I said. They're fuckin' idiots.
posted by notmydesk at 4:02 PM on May 22, 2007


So, a JW's refusal to take a blood transfusion is not due to some death wish. It is a line that they see as drawn by God that they will not step across.

Also, JW publications over the years have mentioned how blood transfusions and vaccinations cause moral insanity, sexual perversions, repression, inferiority complexes and petty crimes. So it's not just about what some god says in some book.
posted by martinrebas at 6:00 PM on May 22, 2007


I used to work as an editorial assistant in the risk management division of health care publishing company. Once when I was working at the company, I had helped edit an article on contingency plans that hospitals must adopt in case they admit Jehovah's Witnesses who refuse transfusions. I spoke with several Jehovah's Witnesses, and they were generally reasonable about suggesting alternatives to blood transfusion or being willing to sign waivers and informed consent forms that indicated they were knowledgeable of the risks of going without a transfusion. In fact, several believed that increases in HIV, AIDS, and other bloodborne pathogens were vindications of their stance against blood transfusions. Many Jehovah's Witnesses also accept auto-transfusions (i.e., donating their own blood and receiving it in a transfusion later), which has become more popular for non-Witnesses as well.
posted by jonp72 at 6:14 PM on May 22, 2007


I have a hard time believing that anyone would be silly enough to follow a religion that clearly states only 144,000 of them actually get to the big show, running the rest of humanity for the next millenium or so. Yet, nearly 7 million followers (never mind "adherents,") are vying for those 144,000 seats.

Imagine the competition. Man, I bet they would out-holy the hell out of each other for that particular game of musical chairs. "Faithful and discreet slave," my ass.


Not that it shoudl get in the way of a good snark but JWs do not believe that they in competition for those 144,000 spots. They are not seeking a salvation that will get them into heaven but a salvation that will allow them to live an eternal, corporeal life on earth after Armageddon.

Every year, all Jehovah's Witnesses are given the opportunity to claim a position among those 144,000 during Memorial by consuming the consuming the body and blood of Christ. If you think you're one of them all you have to do it bite and eat but pretty much all members just pass it on. They're content with the reward they think awaits all of us if we just accept the truth as they understand it.

I wonder if being raised a JW made it easier for me to eventually accept my atheism. Hell, as far as JWs are concerned is not a fire and brimstone existence but simply the cessation of existence. As an atheist I agree that when I die I'll go to their hell. I'm ok with that.
posted by obfusciatrist at 6:54 PM on May 22, 2007


I just watched this show tonight and found it very interesting. To be sure they are a fundamentalist religion, and I am not religious, let alone fundamentalist, but some of the things they have fought for and won in the courts are friggen huge decisions in our day to day existence. They where thrown in jail during WWII for refusing to salute the flag, the SCOTUS ruled 8-1 against them, saying the government was allowed to FORCE compliance to patriotic displays, forget all the complaints that Bush is a dictator, this is real dictatorship. Yet, they continued their judicial fight, they where mobbed, castrated and all manner of other assaults. Eventually because of their struggle the SCOTUS essentially came to reversed itself within a handful of years. The right to publish controversial material, the right to dictate personal medical care, all these are protected because of the JW.

Fuck man, I don't agree with much in the JW canon, but they don't try to take over the government and make everyone conform to their rules, and they don't blow themselves (or others) up to advance their cause, and as a society we owe a hell of a lot to their judicial fights.

So yeah, throw around as much snark as you like, personally as whacked as I think they are, in general I'd take them as neighbors over many other fundamentalist goons, and if more people employed their tactics we'd be half way to that fairy tale they cling to.
posted by edgeways at 9:09 PM on May 22, 2007 [1 favorite]


That is a good point edgeways. While religion and politics are virtually inseparable in many people's minds (and religions' practice) JWs are politically neutral (worldwide) and do not involve themselves in the political process. They do not attempt to legislate their beliefs in order to force others to adhere to them by some artificial legal edifice. They will work for the fair application of a country's laws through the legal system and, as mentioned, that benefits others. Your example shows that such legal protection can be transient however, and change over time depending upon which way the winds are blowing (reasonable or unreasonable - often because of a fearful atmosphere driven by times of nationalism/war).
posted by spock at 6:17 AM on May 23, 2007


They will work for the fair application of a country's laws through the legal system and, as mentioned, that benefits others...

Yeah, yeah - and the non-stick saucepan people have reason to be grateful to NASA researchers (if I remember my urban legends about the invention of Teflon accurately).

JW's have terrific PR - no doubt some of it legitimate.

Frankly, they need it.

(Yes, I've read quite a few Watchtowers as a matter of fact. The articles are childish and horrible. And, no, I am not rude to the door-knockers, though my show of respect is quite worthless).
posted by Jody Tresidder at 7:29 AM on May 23, 2007




Sweet link, blucevalo

(I loved one of the comments there warning that a certain type of convenient fib to unwanted JWs could have you reported "to their congregation elders". And then you'd be really sorry!)
posted by Jody Tresidder at 11:39 AM on May 23, 2007


(I loved one of the comments there warning that a certain type of convenient fib to unwanted JWs could have you reported "to their congregation elders". And then you'd be really sorry!)

No, that's not what the comment meant. The JWs keep loose track of disfellowshipped members, and rarely the elders will contact them to give them a second chance, as it were. To show up out of the blue as a disfellowshipped member no-one in the area knew about, you'd draw more attention to yourself from senior members who would specifically want to talk with you instead of the typical "canvass the neighbourhood" door-knocking.

It was the first thing I thought of as a nearly-JW when I read that suggestion -- that establishing a connection to the JWs might make them even more interested in you than if you were an anonymous householder.
posted by mendel at 1:22 PM on May 23, 2007


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