“JEHOVAH made man a free agent, holding him responsible for his intelligent acts. Jehovah never prevents man from expressing his mind. Intolerance does not at all apply to Jehovah and those who faithfully obey him.” - Intolerance, by J. F. Rutherford, 1933, page 3
According to “Judge” Rutherford, intolerance has no place among the faithful Jehovah’s Witnesses, because Jehovah God himself, isn’t intolerant. According to Rutherford, who is the paradigm of intolerance? The same booklet explains: “The Catholic hierarchy has been and is the most intolerant organization on earth. Falsely claiming that the pope is the one endowed with authority to interpret the Scriptures, the Catholic hierarchy has kept the people in ignorance of the Bible and influenced them not to read it, and induced them to believe only what the Catholic hierarchy has taught.”
Therefore, in the words of the very leader of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, “intolerance” is defined by:
- One entity being endowed with exclusive authority to interpret the Scriptures;
- Based on that exclusive authority, only those teachings emanating from that leadership and its hierarchy can be believed;
- Keeping the low rank members ignorant of the source of such teachings.
Interestingly, 80 years have past over this drivel, and the Watchtower Society has become everything they have accused the “catholic hierarchy” of, in terms of “intolerance”.
- The ‘Governing Body’ of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, currently composed of 8 members, has self-appointed itself with exclusive authority to interpret the Scriptures;
- Based on that exclusive authority, only the teachings emanated from the Governing Body and its approved hierarchy - namely, the Writing Comittee - can be believed;
- Keeping the low rank members ignorant, either by bullying them to desist from scholarly education, discouraging them to seek information outside the Watchtower literature, misquoting scholars, revisioning and embellishing its own history, ignoring and downplaying doctrinal contradictions, and persecuting and evicting those who express doubts or dissenting opinions.
If, as Rutherford claimed, “Jehovah never prevents man from expressing his mind”, than means that Jehovah gives man the freedom to express his mind without fear of punishment. Abraham and Lot expressed their thoughts openly to Jehovah and they weren’t punished for thoughts that weren’t exactly the thoughts of Jehovah.
Unfortunately, this isn’t the case within the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Although for sure, if brought before a court or the press, representatives of the Watchtower will claim that there is freedom of thought and liberty of choice among the Witnesses, the truth is that there is no real freedom when your choices and expression are limited by the fear of severe punishment for openly expressing even insignificant dissenting views from the official line. The consequent labelling as “apostate”, with the inevitable disfellowshipping and shunning from the community and family members is the Witness’ worst nightmare, and effectively limits their freedom.
Where, then, is the tolerance?
On the same booklet, (page 4), the second president of the Watchtower Society declared emphatically:
“No organization should be permitted to stand in your way of getting the truth.”
The Jehovah’s Witnesses should heed to the above statement of their leadership. The “organization” - the hierarchical structure of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, whose leadership is embodied by the collective “Governing Body” should not stand in the way of each individual within its own ranks to search for the religious truth, to read the Bible independently, and to express freely what that individual learns from his study, regardless if the conclusions drawn are consistent with the official doctrine or not.
If the doctrinal assets of the Jehovah’s Witnesses are entirely sound, there should be no issues in allowing individual members to scrutinize them, because the truth is the truth, and cannot be denied. Why, then, is the policy of the ‘organization’ to stand in the way of the individual members of getting the truth, by demonizing scholarly education and implementing policies of thought control within the congregations? Is there something the leadership doesn’t want the rank and file to learn?
In the words of R. G. Ingersoll: “Tolerance is giving to every other human being every right that you claim to yourself”
I wish my own religious community would live by these words.
Edit: Published also on: http://cfjp.weebly.com/intolerance.html