Thanks again for all your input. I have sent it in with a couple of changes to paragraphs as badseed suggested and toned down the statement on shunning - thanks Slimboyfat. I also reworded the reference to child protection to toughen it up a bit.
I'm not worrried about the length, there is a local man who regularly has letters far longer than this published. I will keep you posted on whether they publish our letter. Well done everybody, good team effort.
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.
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 satisfy this obligation. It’s unsurprising that a group who are preoccupied with the imminence of Armageddon show a lack of interest in charitable acts towards non-members and take no part in the life of the local community.
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 Jehovah’s Witnesses. Unquestioning obedience - the constant theme of the literature, songs, prayers and meetings - is enforced through a culture of fear.
Those who voice concerns about the organisation’s teachings or practices are expelled, prohibiting loyal JWs, including close family members, from future contact with the individual. In recent years at least one prominent member of the organisation has been ‘disfellowshipped’ for speaking out about a child protection policy that put the reputation of predators above the safety of their victims.
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 any lack of specific landscape screening on the southern boundary of the site seems less of an issue.