Secularism and the Jehovah’s Witnesses

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Secularism is for people of faith and no faith. The wall of separation between church and state is designed to prevent the tyranny of government interfering in the freedoms and liberty of a citizen choosing their religion and expressing their views without coercion to hold to a status quo.

Some though choose to build of their own free will a further restricted enclosed picket fence rather than the usual attempt to break down or at least jump over this wall. The Jehovah’s Witnesses encourage zero involvement in social and political activism. No voting, no badge wearing, no petition writing, no campaigning. Genuinely no part of this system of things. The Watchtower magazine on belief recently covered.

As Jehovah’s Witness Jukka Sylgren explains:

In addition to my concern for animals, I was troubled by other problems around the world. Eventually, I became involved with a number of organizations, including Amnesty International and Greenpeace. I focused all my energy on supporting their activities. I advocated on behalf of the poor, the starving, and other less fortunate people.

I gradually realized, however, that I could not change the world. Even though those organizations managed to get a few small problems corrected, the big problems only seemed to get worse. It was as if the forces of evil had swallowed up the whole world and nobody cared about anything. I felt powerless.

Rather than deciding that his conscience was best served savouring those small problems being fixed, or the upward historical legacy of social activism, let alone what might happen if there were no committed social activists in the world, he now finds solace in doing nothing but believing in Jehovah.

I’ve gained peace of mind by leaving matters in Jehovah’s hands. I’m convinced that he, as the Creator, will not allow animals and humans to be mistreated forever, nor will he allow our beautiful earth to be destroyed. On the contrary, through his Kingdom, he will soon repair all the damage that has been done. (Isaiah 11:1-9) It brings me great joy not only to know these truths but also to help others put faith in them. I no longer feel that I have to change the world.

So let the mistreatment continue, earth be polluted as anyone wants it will not go on forever – very true we all die eventually. A great speech rejecting this idea that prayer and belief absolved congress and everyone of doing anything on the environment can be found in Senator Sheldon Whitehouse speech:

And I wonder, “Why is it that we are so comfortable asleep, when the warnings are so many and so real?” What could beguile us away from wakefulness and duty? I was recently at a Senate meeting where I heard a member of our Senate community say, “God won’t allow us to ruin our planet.” God won’t allow us to ruin our planet. Maybe that’s why we do nothing: we are comfortable that God somehow won’t allow us to ruin our planet. That seems such an extraordinary notion that I thought I would reflect on it in my remarks this week.

First of all, the statement refers to God: it is couched in religious terms. But is it really an expression of religious inquiry? I think not. It is less an expression of religious thinking than it is of magical thinking. The statement that God won’t allow us to ruin our planet sweeps aside ethics, responsibilities, consequences, duties, even awareness. It comforts us with the anodyne assumption that—no matter what we do—some undefined presence will, through some undefined measure, make things right, clean up our mess. That is seeking magical deliverance from our troubles, not divine guidance through our troubles.

The comfort of religion should not be mind numbing about reality.

Article written by John Sargeant on Homo economicus’ Weblog

Follow @JPSargeant78

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14 Comments

Filed under Environment, Jehovah's Witnesses, Religion, secular

14 responses to “Secularism and the Jehovah’s Witnesses

  1. The Securlar Societyu

    Reblogged this on The Secular Society and commented:
    Great post worth a read.

  2. Destructive cult or benign religion?

    The *Cult* word gets overused,but in some cases it is appropriate.
    The definition of a destructive religious cult is like alcoholism-if booze controls you instead of the other way around you are an alcoholic.
    I was in the Watchtower society Jehovah’s Witnesses,they are not benevolent and won’t let you leave their organization in peace.The Jehovahs are not without scandals-child abuse,deceptive mind control tactics, sex scandals, money scams, general bad behavior.
    Is it a cult?
    If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it’s probably a duck….

    The big difference between Jehovah’s Witnesses and other Christians is that the Watchtower Society’s central core creed proclaims Jesus second coming in October 1914.
    They sometimes try to obscure this today and say that he came *invisibly*.Yes,all other Christains are awaiting Jesus return,the JW say he ALREADY came in 1914.

    Danny Haszard

  3. Brad

    The Jehovah Witnesses spend 100’s of millions of hours trying to teach respect for this earth, far more than Green Peace and Amnesty International combined

    • Feelings are no substitute for action when it comes to making the world a better place to live in. Green peace and Amnesty International are giants while the Society has seen the problems of the world as a sign of end of this system of things.

      As the Watchtower mentions above, those hours are trying to convert people to believe that for all our actions Jehovah will “wipe every tear from our eyes” – Revelation 21:4 So why even try? Their words not mine.

      Solace in just trusting Jehovah, and letting the world get on with it, is a dereliction of the responsibilities we have to each other to make this world a better place in our life time and for those to come.

      Thankfully most people realise that active civic participation is the way to do this.

    • As an ex-JW of twenty years, I cannot recall ANY teachings to “respect this Earth”. However, I do remember many talks that spoke of disrespecting this world, being “no part of this evil system” and “apolitical”. When we consider the Watchtower’s record on eschatology (Batting .000) and the unfalsifiable “new light” that they use to absolve themselves of their egregious former doctrines, then relying on the unseen, unproven, ex-Edomite volcano god Jehovah to “fix” things is misguided, deluded, lazy, idiotic and evil. (with all due respect)

  4. matt

    What you failed to include in your article was the man’s belief that teaching people to live in a way which causes no harm to others is the best way to help them. He is not as you say ‘doing nothing but believing in Jehovah’. You therefore appear disingenuous. Point of fact, if you look at history you will see that we have not changed in millenia and we will continue on our self destructive path until we wipe out all life on this earth. Just ask a climatologist. According to some we have to stop polluting now or we will not be able to turn climate change around. That is not going to happen. We have to have someone with the power and knowlege (God) to fix the problem step in or we are dead anyway.

    • Which bit of him saying the suffering and polluting will not continue forever, Jehovah will solve, [so do not even try to change] did you miss him saying?

      • matt

        John, I quoted the author of this article who said: ‘doing nothing but believing in Jehovah’. (fourth paragraph)

        Your confidence that humans will solve the vastly complex problems we face in our current age of awareness seems naive and full of ‘faith’ no better than mine. Every solution we arrive at has brought with it complications and side effects we could not foresee.

      • The human population has been rising.

        Illnesses that used to wipe out half the population are no more.

        Whilst there will always be challenges, I am saying we are at our best when we work hard together to achieve a better world. I do not pretend all will be solved, but it is worth trying and the successes are not small. They are huge.

        That is not about faith. It is the only thing that has helped the human race to survive. Desire and the effort to do so.

        Never underestimate the commitment of people to change things. It is the only thing that ever does.

      • matt

        I talk to everday people at least once a week John. (door to door) The majority of these people when asked ‘do you think humans can fix all the problems we have’ say no. The area where I live and engage in my ministry is mostly poor, these people don’t see society through rose-colored glasses.

      • No but the Jehovah’s Witnesses offer those glasses for free, with glossy illustrations of paradise. Rather like a travel agent offering a wonder package tour for the mind to distance itself from reality.

        Neither do I claim humans will fix all problems. Being human is to constantly face problems, and then rising to the challenge best we can.

        Ethically we are not absolved from acting because we think something else ultimately will in the end. Cynicism is understandable, but social activism to create jobs, attract investment, improve education would be more useful at raising living standards.

        Read Sen Whitehouse speech in full.

        Besides having had false prophecies and changed dogma most people know a bankrupt salesman when they see one.

        Hopefully you will see that yourself when you start to question the warranty of what you are peddling.

      • matt

        John, I am not trying to insult you. You do continue to miss the point as did the author. As sincere Christians we must engage in the search for people who want to learn about God. The principles Jesus taught, we teach. We expect our students to learn these principles and reflect Jesus personality as best they can. Many people (like myself) who become JW’s were not very nice before. Even people who think they are ‘good’ discover they can improve when they study the Bible. Mainstream Christians regularly scold us for being ‘works-oriented’ (their words). We do not complacently wait for the end of the world, we are trying to imitate Noah, Jeremiah, Paul, etc who wanted warn and educate people. The man in the Watchtower article found a way to help peole he found more fulfilling than what he saw as a useless endeavor.

        As far as the mistakes we have made as a group, who hasn’t? We have improved and continue to improve. We are a progressive organized religion. But that is off the topic now so I would like to stay there.

    • I would rather we used our abilities to combat the problem. The ozone layer repaired itself thanks to banning chemicals we know cause problems.

      It is a question of will, not resigning ourselves to defeat in the face of overwhelming odds.

      That is why the human race is still around. Solving problems together not relying on magic and hoping for the best in the end by divine intervention.

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