I have taken on board a lot of the feedback and have produced a second draft that is significantly different. Please let me know what you think, I have to email it tomorrow if it is going to be published this week. The Berwick Advertiser often print long letters so that shouldn't be a problem. Please don't be offended if I have not gone along with some of your ideas I promise I have given all of them plenty thought. Thanks again for all your help.
Reverend Knox set the planning committee an interesting challenge with his objection to the building of a new Kingdom Hall at Scremerston - I’m going to hazard a guess that local planning policy has very little to say about the Arian Controversy. 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 in 1996 for the crime of independent thinking - a punishable offence in the bizarre world of religious cults. I still have close family members in the organisation and I have no hesitation in saying that there are many good people among its ranks. Shortly we will all be invited to marvel at the speed and efficiency of their building project, it is likely that 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.
The control that is exercised by a small group of elderly men in New York reaches out to influence every detail of the lives and thoughts of their followers. Unquestioning obedience is the constant theme of the literature, songs, prayers and meetings.
As a registered charity the Watchtower organisation has a legal duty to meet the ‘public benefit requirement’ and to show that benefits are “balanced against any detriment or harm”. Unless proselytising counts as public benefit it is difficult to see how they can satisfy this obligation.
It’s unsurprising that a group who are preoccupied with the imminence of Armageddon show no interest in charitable acts towards non-members and take no part in the life of the local community.
Control of its membership is enforced through a culture of fear. Those who voice concerns about the organisation’s teachings or practices are disfellowshipped, prohibiting loyal JWs, including close family members, from all future contact with the individual. In recent years at least one prominent member of the organisation has suffered this fate for daring to speak out about the organisations appallingly ineffective child protection policy.
Perhaps the most serious detriment caused by this high control group is seen in 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 probably park considerately, come and go quietly and keep their premises tidy, but don’t confuse cordiality with friendship. “Only Jehovah's Witnesses…as a united organization under the protection of the Supreme Organizer, have any Scriptural hope of surviving the impending end of this doomed system dominated by Satan the Devil." Watchtower 1/9/89 p.19
In this context the lack of specific landscape screening on the southern boundary of the site seems less of an issue.