I had an interesting discussion over the weekend with a coupe of witness on the carts. I asked them if they put much thought into the rights/wrongs/consequences of writing letters to Russia before doing so or did they just do it without thought because the GB asked them to. One said yes, they would always do what the GB said to do because they completely trusted that the GB would never ask then to do something that is wrong. The other one, perhaps not wanting to appear as a non thinker declared that he has thought about it.
However when I started to ask questions about how the letter writing would sit with their stated policy of neutrality it was clear he had not thought about the issue in those terms at all, and admitted as much. What was really interesting was that I actually got them to admit two things: 1. Their offical statement of neutrality excludes lobbying, and 2. Their writing letters constituted an act of lobbying, a violation of their stated policy. (of course they did try to weasel out of that one by at first claiming that their letters were merely to "inform" the Russian Govt of how they felt, but this was easily debunked by referring them back to the instructions the GB provided with the request to write letters. They eventually agreed that if one followed those instructions then yes the letter would constitute an act of lobbying. We further discussed how sending millions of them multiple times to multiple Govt officials really amounted to a denial of service attack on the Russian postal system, and was really no different to an organised peaceful protest march at the Kremlin with picket signs.
So having basically admitted to compromising their stand on neutrality they resorted to special pleading. They claimed that it was OK to Lobby, in this particular instance, because blah blah blah.... the reason is not really important, one can always find a reason to compromise ones principles if they look hard enough.
I pointed out that this is the same philosophy that leads to another immoral act - lying. One can special plead that in certain situations lying is justified because the person asking the questions is an enemy. (classic example: testimony at the ARC) Or because you are defending God's interests. Or because God approved of you doing so (classic example: Jacob lying about his identity when he could have just told his father that Esau had sold the birthright to him instead of playing charades)
So I asked them, even though they are currently carrying out their worship in a peaceful way what would prevent them from acting violently if God asked them to do so? We both agreed that God had done so in the past, that he had his human representatives carry out his violent judgements, but they claimed they would not violate the command "though shall not murder" NOW because Jesus changed that way of doing things. I pointed out that when they pray for God's Kingdom to come they are praying for and supporting the judgement of millions of people, the sentence of that judgement being the murder or violent deaths of those ones. They are merely outsourcing the carrying out of that penalty to their God. As a thought experiment, what would they do if God changed his mind again (which the Bible shows he is quite capable of doing)? At this the cognitive dissonance was too strong and they tried to run off....
I pointed out that even though Abraham should have known that murder is wrong, that child sacrifice is wrong, he was happy to do both when he believed that God was authorising it. I challenged them: Wouldn't you, like Abraham, commit murder if you believed God (or his representatives) was asking you to do it? Would you not stone me as an atheist right now if God sent a message saying you did not have to wait for Him to exercise vengeance, he was going to be too busy, you could do it for Him right now? At this point they did walk away claiming I was evil and was only trying to tear down a good and sincere religion.
So to sum up what I learned from this discussion and thinking it through is that special pleading will always compromise even the most righteous or ethical of positions, and while it may be harmless in some cases it can easily lead to more extremist actions in others - suicide bombing for one: "Though shall not kill.... except where God authorises me to do so." Morality and principles in these cases are discarded in favour of blind obedience.