My local congregation has been in the news this week following a successful application for planning permission for a quick build. A local vicar objected because the application described it as a building for "Christain worship".
I have decided to write a letter to the editor which needs to be emailed asap. Here is what I have written, your comments and suggestions are welcome.
Reverend Knox set the planning committee an interesting challenge with his objection to the building of a new Kingdom Hall at Scremerston. Their ruling that local planning policy has very little to say about the Arian Controversy was probably wise. When the vicar went on to hint at an unpleasant reality behind the public face of the Watchtower he made an important point that deserves further comment.
I was raised in the sect and was an elder in the Berwick congregation before being ousted for “apostasy” in 1996. I still have close family members in the organisation and I have no hesitation in saying that there are plenty good people among its ranks. Shortly we will all be invited to marvel at the astonishing speed and efficiency of their building project. If they opt for their well rehearsed “quick-build” method the hall will appear at a rate that will astonish their new neighbours.
Uniformity can achieve impressive things but it comes at a crippling cost to the individual.
Under the headline “Avoid Independent Thinking”, their official journal “The Watchtower” contained this warning…
"In the world, there is a tendency to reject leadership. As one lecturer said: 'The rising education level has improved the talent pool such that followers have become so critical that they are almost impossible to lead.' But a spirit of independent thinking does not prevail in God's organization, and we have sound reasons for confidence in the men taking the lead among us." (15/9/89 p23)
Only in the strange world of religious cults - and North Korea - could independent thinking be made to sound like a crime.
In a bid to counter the ‘rising education level’ the most recent edition of the Watchtower condemns young members to a lifetime of menial work - “ young Christians are encouraged to pursue spiritual goals, getting only as much education as is required to meet their basic needs .” (15/11/11) Disciplinary action is taken against elders whose children pursue higher education.
The organisation’s control over its members is enforced through a culture of fear. Members who “take the red pill” and voice concerns about the organisation’s teachings or practices are promptly disfellowshipped, preventing loyal JWs, including close family members, from ever speaking to them again. At least shunning is a soft option when compared to execution which they regret is no longer possible.
“We are not living today among theocratic nations where such members of our fleshly family relationship could be exterminated for apostasy from God and his theocratic organization as was possible and was ordered in the nation of Israel..Being limited by the laws of the worldly nation in which we live … we can take action against apostates only to a certain extent.” (WT 15/11/52)
Perhaps the most appalling indictment of this high control group is the willingness of otherwise sensible people to sacrifice their lives, and the lives of their children. The cover of the May 22 nd ‘94 edition of their magazine “The Awake” showed photographs of twenty six children under the heading “Youths Who Put God First”. Sickeningly it celebrated the obedience of these young victims who paid the ultimate price for the organisation’s prohibition against blood transfusions.
Jehovah’s Witnesses will make good neighbours to the people of Scremerston. They will park considerately, come and go quietly and keep their premises tidy, but don’t mistake cordiality with friendship. The new building will exist for the sole purpose of promoting their central doctrine, the imminence of Armageddon. The destruction of every non-JW man, woman and child is their greatest wish and constant prayer - and the subject of countless false predictions. In this context the lack of specific landscape screening on the southern boundary of the site seems less of an issue.