Thursday, June 14, 2007

New Religion

When my parents married in '69 (heh, 69), they had a Catholic wedding (I've seen the pictures). I was baptized shortly after my birth (that's what my parents told me, anyhow) and were it not for a fortuitous occurence, would've most likely gone on to attend Catholic services for my entire childhood. However, in '75, my mom was visited by two people who were going door-to-door telling people about their religion. They were Jehovah's Witnesses. My mother was interested in what they had to say, so was visited numerous times by them over the next few months. My dad was against it (he was proud of being Catho-lick), but she finally convinced him that he should give it a try.

Here are some of their beliefs:

Heaven is only for select Jehovah's Witnesses
Heaven is limited only to 144,000 Jehovah's Witnesses
Jehovah's Witnesses are the only true Christians
There is no Hell (it is simply the grave)
Jesus is not to be worshiped or prayed to
All churches (non-JW's) are of Satan
You cannot take a blood transfusion
You cannot salute the flag, stand for the national anthem, or own a flag
If one does not follow the rules of the Watchtower, they will be shunned
You cannot celebrate any holidays (Christmas, Easter, etc.)
You cannot celebrate your birthday
You cannot have friends who are not Jehovah's Witnesses
You cannot understand the Bible without JW literature to explain it
A child abuser is reported to Watchtower elders and not the police
Men cannot wear beards
You are forbidden to use any tobacco products
You cannot read any anti-Jehovah's Witness material
If you see another Jehovah's Witness breaking the rules, you must turn them in to the elders to be interrogated
You cannot celebrate Mothers or Fathers day (it may produce pride)
God only speaks through the "Governing Body" in Brooklyn, New York
JWs in times of crisis, are strongly discouraged from consulting with family counselors, including mental health professionals who are not Jehovah's Witnesses
God will destroy all non-Jehovah's Witnesses at armageddon
You can never question what is printed in JW literature

My parents woke me up on a Sunday morning a few weeks later and said that we were going to the "Kingdom Hall". Being 5 years old, I imagined that we were actually going to be meeting a king. Scary. Instead we went to a house of worship that had no crosses or stained glass windows.

Everyone was very friendly to the new meat, I mean, people. The Jehovah's Witnesses have meetings three times a week (Tuesday evening, Thursday evening, Sunday morning). That was a lot of time for a kid to sit still, but I noticed that there were quite a few other kids that were also Witnesses. On many occasions, my dad took us to McDonalds after the meetings for an ice cream cone. That almost made sitting through the meetings worth it.

As I grew older and time went by, I learned more about the religion and accepted it as the truth (If my parents believed it, there must be something to it). I was a very good reader at quite a young age, so my dad asked if I would be interested in giving a short "talk" (reading from the Bible) at one of the Thursday night meetings. Let's see...go up in front of more than 100 God-fearing folks all decked out in a zoot suit and read a chapter from the Good Book. I didn't have the vocabulary at the time, but if I did, I woulda said, "Fuck off, Dad, and your circumcised donkey dick!" I said I'd give it some thought. He eventually convinced me to give it a shot.

So on one Thursday evening, I went up to the podium for all to see. I was definitely intimidated looking out at all the people, but fact is, most had smiles on their face and wanted me to do well. I did my reading (followed by a short commentary that my dad had put together) and as I left the stage, was greeted with a smattering of applause. Hearing all that clapping directed at me felt quite good. After the meeting, several people came up to me and said that they enjoyed my talk and looked forward to more from me in the future.
I will continue this story next week.


Brian in Mpls said...

How come no blood transfusions?

Thomas said...

From Wikipedia:

The official teaching of Jehovah's Witnesses regards blood as sacred and rejects allogeneic and pre-operative autologous transfusions of whole blood, red cells, white cells, platelets or plasma. This is based on an understanding of the biblical admonition to "keep abstaining from blood" based on Acts 15:28, 29. Although accepted by a majority of Jehovah's Witnesses, evidence indicates a minority does not wholly endorse this doctrine.

To most Witnesses, "collecting, storing, and transfusing of blood directly contradicts what is said in Leviticus and Deuteronomy," so their position is they do not "store for transfusion our blood that should be ‘poured out."

Of course, in current medical practice, whole blood transfusions are very rare, and individual blood components are used instead.

Jehovah's Witnesses have been known to highlight dangers of blood transfusions. Witness representatives have stated that plasma volume expanders are often sufficient to take care of various medical emergency situations.

However, Witnesses explain that their objections to blood transfusions are for religious reasons.

Witness publications have acknowledged that abiding by this doctrine has led to premature deaths due to blood loss, but there are no published statistics on total deaths. However, regarding the single patient presentation of pregnancy, a 2002 medical journal stated: "In the CEMD the very high risk of mortality in women who refuse blood transfusion was highlighted. The death rate in this group was 1 per 1,000 maternities compared with an expected incidence of less than 1 per 100,000 maternities."

In her article in the Journal of Church and State, Kerry Louderback-Wood claims that Witness publications exaggerate the medical risks of taking blood and the efficiency of non-blood medical therapies in critical situations.

Ethical concerns in managing blood crisis situations in pediatric cases has sometimes led to transfusions being administered to children against family wishes. Some medical ethicists contend that "serious ethical violations are currently used to enforce the blood policy" among Jehovah's Witnesses, including the suppression of dissident views within the religion. Witness leaders have defended these policies as obedience to scripture and religious conscience.

Mags said...

Are you a JH now?

Mags said...

Um. That would be JW

Thomas said...

You're gonna have to wait until I finish the story in the next week or two to find that out, Mags (I know how much you dislike spoilers. :P)

the108 said...

How dare they compliment you.... it could have accidentally produced pride.


Anonymous said...

i don't know, after that big "Do NOT" list, Armageddon was sounding pretty sweet! :>

Go ahead, send me to hell, I'll rule over one of the antechambers!


Rocketstar said...

Fucking wack jobs.

Rocketstar said...

No way, thomas is not a JW. He's part buddhist, part agnostic. That's my guess.

~*SilverNeurotic*~ said...

Tom, I don't want to offend you (or your family), but JW sound like a cult. Seriously.

had a friend that was JW back in middle school, I wonder why she was even allowed to to talk to me since I'm not JW.

Thomas said...

Kyra, you'll be pleased to know that the congregation is only allowed to applaud a speaker if it is their first talk. For all my subsequent talks, there was silence as I left the podium.

Proxima, I can be one of your underlings there.

Rocket, good guess. I'll let you in on my exact beliefs as this series continues.

Sil, no offense taken. Many others feel the same. JW's can talk to others. They just are told not to let others negatively influence them (lead them astray).

Anonymous said...

I agree that all religions are of Satan. All wars are because of religion, let's just abolish all religions!