If I could offer my perspective. Issues around free speech are some of the most difficult. Balancing the right of someone being able to say what they want against the "harm" that might cause. A specific instance of this is someone being able to sue for libel in the civil as supposed to criminal courts. Speaking as a non-lawyer there are crimes of inciting racial or religious hatred and we have seen people prosecuted for inciting riots recently by writing on Facebook etc. If you feel that a crime of inciting religious hatred has been committed then you should consult a lawyer may be as a group and discuss this with the police - it may be worth going up a level or two as regards your standard bobby on the beat. There is more infromation on this on Wikipedia or the BBC News website at http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/3873323.stm . However while the internet is a really useful resource - particularly as regards legal advice the internet should always be tripple or quadruple checked!!! I also don't know what caselaw there has been on this but in general I would guess that the courts would not find someone guilty of a crime for a heated religious debate even if that did involved some name calling. If there is a specific threat e.g. We are going to kill a named individual that should be reported to the police. However having said that I would consider exercising some commonsense. I have had some deeply troubling things said about me - I mostly think though that people look at where they are coming from and draw their own conclusions. If a group says that another group is mentally disturbed then I think people are not going to think much of the first group. Religions unfortunately say some deeply disturbing things about other religions - and they consider that they are the one and only true faith and indeed sometimes go further and believe that they should and have a duty to "save" non-believers from hell etc. I am not an expert on Jehovah's Witnesses but I believe they have some of these characteristics and are a very evangelical sect. If there is no immediate danger, I would personally carry with my life and proclaim what I saw as the correct religious viewpoint. Unfortunately religious spats can get very bitter indeed as on occasion can political ones. I normally reckon that I have won the argument when people resort to name calling and personal insults! But I know from personal experience that it is distressing. I also appreciate that JW may operate some of the techniques more associated with cults and may say to other family members that otherJW family members who have left mainstream JW that they are beyond the pale etc. I understand that JW is a form of Christianity - indeed takes more heed of Christ may be then other versions of Christianity and I would say to those people and indeed any intolerant JW look at the teachings of Christ particularly parables such as the Good Samaritan and those that you should love like yourself are those that you may view as beyond the pale like the Samaritan and I am no expert (!) but quite a lot of the teachings of Christ are about tolerance. I hope this helps give my viewpoint and you may personally take a different one. But do come back to me with any further points, comments or information on the situation. Thanks again for emailing and very good luck! Best wishes Mike HancockMike Hancock CBE MP 1A, Albert Road SouthseaTel: 023 92 861055
Member of Parliament's reply to my email regarding "Mentally Diseased" Watchtower
I am very impressed by such a detailed and considerate response from an MP.
I understand that JW is a form of Christianity - indeed takes more heed of Christ may be then other versions of Christianity
I am no expert (!)
I am not an expert on Jehovah's Witnesses but I believe . . .
Sorry to have to say this AA . . . but this guy's a waste of time . . . by his own admission.
If I may suggest . . . you need to pick your target. Most MP's can be researched on the net for past issues etc. And unfortunately, a high percentage have no idea. Check your local Human Rights legislation on line . . . and maybe put the issue before the HRC for comment.
This issue relates to official church teachings in a published journal . . . not simply a name-calling spat, as he seems to view it.
If a group says that another group is mentally disturbed then I think people are not going to think much of the first group.
He makes a good point.
I think it's good that he gave such a comprehensive and thoughtful response, but I think he was basically talking himself out of doing anything by falling back to the line of "well so long as nobody's about to die, then it can't be all that bad" (paraphrasing).
Just because violence hasn't ensued in the immediate aftermath of this hateful Watchtower, doesn't mean our lives aren't considerably more difficult as a result of the blatant religious intolerance that is being fostered by the Society. Freedom of speech has been abused to a profound extent in this instance to ostracize and undermine those who think differently from the Governing Body. It's obviously not a subject Mr Hancock knows a great deal about, especially if he thinks that JWs "take more heed of Christ may be than other versions of Christianity" - he clearly hasn't done his homework. In my experience, politicians like him only tend to sit up and take notice if there is a significant media storm brewing, and then they start to take things seriously. That's why I'm slightly more optimistic about a possible article in a national newspaper to raise initial awareness, and then hopefully get some political cogs turning.
His name rang a bell with me, and I found out it was because of his penchant for attractive Russian assistants.
You may get further with him if you dye your hair blonde (if it isn't blonde already) and learn Russian!
Well done for trying though Amelia, I really admire your bravery and tenacity.
I think the only recourse any of us would have against the WTBTS (may you all have peace!) would be a CIVIL suit for things such as slander, libel, violation of civil rights, etc. But unless they commit a crime (assault, battery, false imprisonment, murder, etc.), they'll be treated by the authorities as just any other religion. Folks have to remember: the annals contain probably more legal suits brought... and WON... by the WTBTS than virtually any other religion out there. Any attorney/legislator even considering taking them on... is going to find that out... and think. Perhaps twice. The WTBTS has already anticipated what they MIGHT be sued for... and so have issued letters/published articles that lay a foundation for defense. Right now, suits related to pedophilia aren't proving that easy for them, but that's because of all the exposure as to the same within the Catholic church. Other issues, however, don't have as sympathetic juries or court/legislative officials.
Don't look to the government to champion you against the WTBTS. It won't happen unless the government stands to lose something (i.e., tax revenue)... or the PUBLIC AT LARGE is becoming intolerant of something they're doing. Or the ACLU gets involved (which, I have personally found out, is highly unlikely, given their frequent siding WITH the WTBTS). Most in the public, however, are NOT going to be sympathetic at all... because they think us "crazy" for having had anything to do with the WTBTS in the first place. "You made your bed/reap what you sow..."
Again, peace to you all!
A slave of Christ,
a very balanced reply from the member of parliament.
thanks for all the work you have done on this issue. It is so much clearer to me now how our probs with the WBTS stand in relation to the law.
because they think us "crazy" for having had anything to do with the WTBTS in the first place. "You made your bed/reap what you sow..."
They may see it that way, but it's not like everyone had a choice; I was born into it, and frequently from a couple of years old beaten into going to meetings, and ministry. Like many young ones, I resisted it, but there is only so much beating you can take, not to mention that I was young and naive, while most adults you have much interaction with praises this religion as the moral, upright thing to do. It's like telling an abused wife that she made her bed so must stay with her sick husband.
It's not like a made a choice, or really understood what I was involved in. When parents, siblings, extended family, mostly everyone you know (like some other JWs in the area, was home-schooled to avoid worldly kids) believe in it, you can be rather trapped. I think even some people that join didn't exactly have lives that made it easier to be much else.
However, the average person won't help, because sadly, everyone is flawed, and people find it so easy to just be self-centered; they have so many pressures, things to struggle with, that they don't the energy, let alone time or finances, more importantly, power, to help others they may want to. Hence, they close themselves to it, rahter similar to how JWs ignore the idea that some seemingly nice people will die at Armageddon. As for the governments, why stop a religion that promotes poverty - are there not always riots from the working-class, upset with their lot in life? JWs are sweet music to the government ears; did I mention that they supposedly never cheat on tax, don't do much crime, won't rebel against the government. In fact, for all the socialist (left-wing) ideals that the Watchtower's paradise would provide, it's view of this system as temporary, it's willingness to be a second-rate citzen really provides such an incredible support to the right-wing, that many businessmen would feel uneasy - in fact, more submissive than capitalism could ever dream of.
I think on reading that seeds have been sown and things like this people remember. If issues do indeed turn up again then this guy is going to remember you correspondance with him. He was aware of 2 aspects of the JWs,, he is not an expert but acnowledged that they are a cult. That is fact. Further educating the public will heighten resistance against them . From my earliest teenage years I knew they falsely predicted the end of the world. My mother mentioned it recently. ( she is 70 yrs old). I am seriously considering making a leaflet to distribute in my town,.. my wife is always trying to turn conversations around to the belief with her friends. I do not want to hear or see it in the house. After she called me Mentally diseased too ( this is recently) I knew where she had got the statement from....I feel stongly of subverting ever effort she makes to preach futile.
We learned how to make effective leaflets at college last year so not to hard to achieve...
trailerfitter, We learned how to make effective leaflets at college last year so not to hard to achieve...
hope you scan it for us when you do