Jehovah's Witnesses' secret weapon: The best reward package in the industry

2 Apr 2008

The promiseA trip back to my JW past: For all the negative things I could say about the Jehovah's Witnesses, I can think of a few good things as well. First, like Mormons, they tend to be "good neighbor" types. And on matters Biblical, I think there are actually areas in which they come to saner, back-to-the-original-intent readings of scripture than do sects hanging on to fossilized readings set in stone by long-ago pontificators.

That said, those things make for really weak praise. A Witness may be a friendly neighbor who'll return your garden shears on time, but he's still a gullible goof who returns the shears along with an unasked-for copy of The Watchtower and the question, "So, do you ever wonder Who made shrubbery so beautiful?" And having a more "accurate" reading of scripture is like having a more "accurate" insight into the truth of The Three Little Pigs – it remains a wacky acceptance of utterly unbelievable fiction as reality. (On top of that, there are indeed areas where JW interpretation of scripture is more loony than the average: blood and birthdays are good starting points.)

But regardless of whether or not it stands as "correct" interpretation, there's one bit of proprietary Biblical dogma that scores the JWs more marketing points than I think many realize. Simply put, Jehovah's Witnesses offer the best eternal reward package in the religion industry.

The JWs will tell you up front: both you and they (except for their elite cadre of 144,000) are not going to heaven. Huh? Christianity without the heavenly reward? That's like Las Vegas without the jackpot or the pasties – what's the point?

Don't worry, the Watchtower boys have you covered with something better than the mainstream's vague, rather unsettling vision of pointlessly floating about the clouds for eternity singing Kumbaya. As the JWs loudly proclaim in their infinite publications, you're going to live right here on an Earth restored to its original, pre-"oops" Garden of Eden condition. Forever.

All vegetarians!If that strikes you initially as a letdown, just let it sink in for a few seconds. An eternity on a perfect garden world - the one we all know and viciously resist leaving (even those mainstream believers who insist there's a better place a-waitin'). Think of climbing the world's peaks, swimming its every sea, studying and playing with its every creature. (It's okay, they're all plant-eaters now, even the spiders and sharks. Shh, don't think about that too hard, it spoils the dream.)

Think of an eternity smelling every flower, learning every skill, cooking every dish imaginable (well, except meat, of course, but I hear you can do a lot with bean tempeh). Imagine painting and making music and sculpting all you want (fig leaves over the naughty bits, thank you!).

Sunrises and sunsets and all of nature's beauty, with no pain or tears, all day, every day. With your loved ones at your side, even those once dead, never to leave you again. Instead of fluffy angel stuff, you'll spend forever enjoying every human pleasure (some within the proper confines of marriage only, of course), on this planet, made explicitly for us.

Whew! Okay, the disclaimers in there – no meat, no illicit excitement, no risk – are cause for concern; more than a few will wonder whether that'll really satisfy everyone. (Or anyone.) But I'd be willing to give it all a try – it just may beat the current world where lots of us die (sometimes horribly) before even getting to sample life's pleasures, and where those blessed with long life often see it end in pain and senility just as they're starting to get things figured out.

You Can Live Forever in Paradise on EarthYes, the JWs' "New System" sounds like the best reward package going (discounting really nutcase offerings like the Muslim male's woman-hating "72 virgins in heaven" fantasy. What did those 72 do to deserve that fate?) Added to the JW promise is a nice, simple logic that even makes its likelihood seem higher than the typical heavenly promise. Think about it: God's original plan was for Adam, Eve, and their interbreeding (ewww) offspring to live forever on a paradise Earth. Things got derailed with all that sin business, but if God is going to set things right again, why wouldn't he set them back on the original track? Why would he in effect let puny Adam and Eve (and Satan) force an eternal derailing of his Paradise Earth plan, making him cobble together a Plan B of finding work for everyone in his home Upstairs? (Unneeded example: If you built Rover a fine custom dog house to live in for all his days, and whoops, he made a boo-boo in there, would you sensibly clean the house and put him back in it, or would you decide from that one mistake to ditch the dog house and bring him permanently into your living room?)

It's a great promise, far more appealing than the heaven stuff, and I'll say it's even more sensible too. Alas, there's just one Leviathan-sized fly in the Witness ointment: It ain't true. There's not a lick of evidence supporting the claim of this scriptural interpretation over some other interpretation, or the claim of ancient goat herders that their scriptures came from a God, or even the existence itself of that God. Oh well.

At least you can understand the appeal that the New System holds for the JWs. If I had reason to believe that any of this stuff were true, theirs is the paradise I would go after. Well, assuming I could stand the righteous JWs and their blood-soaked Old Testament persecutor until delivery of the promised reward, of course.

(Unrelated, but going back to the hypothetical JW who thanks the Creator for the beauty of shrubbery: At a JW convention – "Assembly" in the lingo – in line for overpriced stadium food, I overheard one Witness comment to another on the fruit selection: "Jehovah sure knew what he was doing when He made cantaloupe". Exact words. And here I thought God was all about making bananas the perfect fruit.)

Comments

More have died from their Watchtower spiritual and medical quackery than Jim Jones and David Koresh and the other death cults combined!

Jehovah's Witnesses beliefs:

A) They are at your door to recruit you for enslavement to their watchtower corporation,they will say that "we are just here to share a message from the Bible" this is deception right off.

B) Their 'message' is a false Gospel that Jesus had his second coming in 1914.The problem with this is it's not just a cute fairy tale,Jesus warned of the false prophets who would claim "..look he is here in the wilderness,or see here he is at the temple..."

C) Their anti-blood transfusion ban has killed hundreds if not thousands

D) once they recruit you they will "love bomb" you in cult fashion to also recruit your family & friends or cut them off. There are many more dangers,Jehovah's Witnesses got a bad rap for good and valid reasons.

99% of the world has rejected the teachings of the Watchtower Jehovah’s Witnesses, the darker truth is they are a destructive and oppressive organization.

defaithed's picture

I hear you, I hear you. Amen, spread the word!

I tend to disregard the cultish dangers you mention that involve peer pressure (including disfellowship, preaching to family, etc), but I really shouldn't. While those "congregational" aspects never had a firm grip on me, they are very powerful forces to some current or past members, and can really mess people up psychologically and emotionally.

The blood transfusion ban is, of course, the most outright dangerous bit of JW dogma. It's also one that really makes no sense Biblically. There's absolutely no reason to read "blood transfusion" into what can easily be seen as a clear proscription against eating blood - especially when so many other areas of scripture are interpreted far more creatively! Adding to the absurdity is refusing a life-saving procedure, in the name of the sanctity of blood as a symbol of life.

Can't the Watchtower poobahs receive a "revelation" notifying them that it's now OK to take transfusions? (And that same "revelation" could conveniently add a few more decades to Armageddon's arrival date as well. That train just is not pulling into the tracks, is it.)

As far as biblical teachings their New World Translation they like to brag about is a seriously bastardized translation of the earliest available manuscripts. Bastardized to slant toward their belief system of course.

And as regards muslims and their wacky 72 virgin thing - I've never really been into prudish chicks anyways. ;-)

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defaithed's picture

Back in the day, I held a certain pride that the JW bible was indeed a more accurate, back-to-the-original translation than the well-known translations of other sects. I read quotes from "scholars" who praised the JWs' New World Translation as being the most true to the original texts.

Of course, who was providing me these claims and quotes? The JWs. Where was my BS detector, which should have been demanding unbiased verification of those claims? It was in indefinite sleep mode, having been trained by religion to lie down and hibernate.

Re the 72 virgins: I don't know any more about the teaching than that number 72. Maybe there's a wink-nudge implication that in heaven the gals act far differently from the chaste ladies back home in Saudi Arabia or wherever? Hubba hubba.

Hi, my name is Shanti Sherna from Ukraina. I'm 27 y.
I just love to read this forum articles & topics discussed here.

regards
Shanti,

I honestly have to disagree with you on this point. LOL

 

I've read through a lot of your blog, and on a side note, I have to say that it MIGHT have been a little easier for you to walk away if your family was drifting away and you had friends outside the congregation. We were ABSOLUTELY forbidden to have worldly friends and our WHOLE family was in "the truth", so my brother and I were a lot more susceptible to the cultish control than might have been the case for you. That having been said, more on topic, GOOD LORD I cannot even tell you how much I hated the thought of the new system. All my life (I just turned thirty and have only been out of the organization for about six years) I was TERRIFIED of the thought of Armageddon - not because of the great tribulation (even though that did scare me) but because first; there were people that liked and cared about even if I wasn't allowed to have friends in the world and it really made me sad to think about them dying - and not being able to express my sadness over their death because that would be traitorous to god somehow.

 

Beyond that, I liked what we humans have made. Knowing that all art; painting, literature, sculpture, architecture, music, film, video games, any sort of artistic product, EXCEPT what the Witnesses made would be destroyed filled me with dread. No matter how beautiful and paradisaic the new system might be, it could never make up for the loss of all that humanity's created over the course of its existence. Plus, I'm not a nature boy - I like nature, I love natural beauty, but I'll admit - I like it from a distance. A picture of a tropical beach; a panorama of a lush jungle. I don't want to actually BE in the dirt and bugs and crawly things. Not my cup of tea. Having to farm; weave my own clothes; build my own house; live without cities (remember - Nimrod built the first city and he built it to be in opposition to Jehoprah; ergo, we'll have no cities in the new system) all of that was TORTURE to me. Having to spend ALL OF ETERNITY living in some sort of G-rated commune farming with no intellectual stimulation whatsoever? TORTURE!!!! I don't know about you, but growing up, most of the people I knew (older than me) seemed to be adamant in their belief that there'd be no (or hardly any) advanced technology in the new system. I can't even remember how many times I had to listen to people saying something along the lines of "and there won't be any cars or planes or trains; and it'll be fine! cuz we'll live forevar!11! if you have to take ten years to visit a friend or relative on the other side of the planet cuz you had to walk there, it's ok - cuz you'll live forevar!!!". TORTURE!!! No technology? Really? I have live for all eternity with nothing to read but the watchtower, nothing to listen to but kingdom melodies, living in my own personal little house on the paradise? HELLLLLL NO!!! I used to actually sometimes think I'd rather die in Armageddon than live in THAT eternity. Not that living forever (or at least a very much longer amount of time than I'm going to) isn't appealing; but living in THEIR version of "paradise" forever? No thank you.

defaithed's picture

"I have to say that it MIGHT have been a little easier for you to walk away if your family was drifting away and you had friends outside the congregation."

Without a doubt, that made it easy for me. I've come to realize that I was in an unusually accomodating situation! I know it's far more difficult for many other people, whose family and friends remain in "the Truth"; for them, it's really throwing away everyone closest to them. My hat is off to everyone in that situation who manages to escape; they're far tougher than I needed to be!

Re fear of the New System: Very interesting take on things – and, I have to admit, a surprising one to me too! I don't believe I ever heard of any JW expressing fear of the New System (at least, no one said anything like that to me!).

In my case, I never pictured that all the works of mankind would be destroyed. Maybe that idea is in a publication I missed, or maybe it's an area where different JWs imagine different things, but – to the degree I thought about it at all – I imagined that, sure, we'd still have boats and buildings and all kinds of stuff in the New System. Maybe pre-NS art, music, etc. too, as long as it wasn't sacrilegious stuff (and I'll grant that, from the fundamentalist viewpoint, that does whittle the offerings down a lot). 

Cars? Trains? I myself never heard a prediction one way or the other on that; my assumption would have been that, sure, we'd still have them if they were needed and the bad effects (pollution, etc.) were mitigated (divinely?). Or maybe we wouldn't need them, and then, hey, that's great, because, you know, eternal life in paradise to the max! (Translation: Maybe the NS story is as vague as "life in heaven" scenarios, after all...)

In any case, I guess I imagined that we'd still have as much technology and art and other good man-made things as we wanted (as long as it was also Pleasing To The Lord and all that). And on a personal level, I was pleased as could be about the thought of living down close to the animals and bugs. But that's because I was a kid, and was already outside trying to play with all the animals and bugs I could catch. : )

Now, all that said, there was still one quiet horror lurking below all that Tribulation + NS stuff, and you touched upon it: Billions of dead people denied entry because they didn't have the right religion. Including Grandma and Grandpa and all those school classmates and...

We kids did ask about that, and the answer was always some sort of vague cross between "That's why Jehovah's giving them a chance now" and "When the NS comes, you'll be happy and you won't worry about it". Or something like that. Essentially "don't think about it". 

It seems to work on kids. But I'm certain that had I stayed with "the Truth" into my 20s, that point would have caused an ever-widening crack in my "faith". My thinking now is this: If, bizarrely enough, it should turn out that the Christian God is real and "the End is nigh" and all that, then I would praise Adam for having chosen his wife over God, and I would likewise throw in my lot with humanity, not some invisible sky alien. If that means passing up God's little "reward" and going down with my loved ones, then so be it! I can't respect anyone who'd choose otherwise. 

I want to say I stumbled upon this for the first time today.  I was feeling rather blue, and after reading a this very funny article, by the way you write with a great comic flare!.  My heart really went out to the life time JW.  I was brain washed at a youngish age.  I was still a Sr in highschool, but was married with a baby.  I became a willing target.  It scared me to death!  In 1972 the book you would read from every day was all about the torture of JW in the concentration camps in Germany during WWII.  It was filled with stories of martyrs gruesome deaths and all the fear motivation you could ever want.  I became afraid to leave my house, except to go to every meeting and door to door.  I was a good little JW!  They disfellowshipped me, and truely, wrongfully.  They never even had a private meeting with me, only one phone call to ask me questions.  I was shocked when they announced it between the public talk and the Watchtower study.  I had three babies by then, and I came with my cousin, who now could not take me 3 miles to home.  Wouldn't even take the kids.  It took a very long time for me to deprogram from all of that.  So I get your pain.  But besides all of that, wich was over 30 yrs ago for me, reading this made laugh!  Living in my own personal house on the prarie!!!  very funny stuff.  My gay dar tells me you would never have been happy there any way.  Hope that you have found a loving belief system that works for you and lets you know how splendedily created you are!!!!!  Yes and you too, really?, cause you sure don't believe what I believe.  Hahahaha 

defaithed's picture

Wait – are you saying accepted a ride to a Jehovah's Witnesses' meeting with your kids in tow... received a surprise disfellowshipping during that meeting... and then couldn't even get a ride home again because you were disfellowshipped? Wow!

Thanks for sharing that touching story. I'm glad it's long behind you and you're able to look back on it with a sense of humor.

Incidentally, I appreciate the memory you bring back about reports of JW experiences in Nazi Germany. I don't know what book you were reading from, but I recall that the JWs' annual yearbooks – smallish hardcover books, I forget the exact name of the series – often held such stories. And I don't doubt the stories overall. It's well known that the JWs were among Hitler's targets for enslavement or extermination, and I've heard sources – not only Witnesses – reporting that the JWs comported themselves admirably in terms of refusal to compromise their beliefs, at any cost. (See this note.)

When I was kid, the yearbook stories focused on JW persecution (that word got lots of use!) in troubled African counties such as Malawi. The tribulations were by no means as large scale as WWII, of course, but there were indeed harrowing tales told by JWs in those lands, with reports of strong-willed "brothers and sisters" who refused to renounce their faith. (I best recall an alleged incident in which a mob tried to hang an unrepentant "brother" in (I think) Malawi, but the rope broke – and broke again on a second lynching attempt, and again on a third, after which the awed mob let him go. This was, of course, played up as a possible miracle, just as the persecutions themselves were always given as examples of what JWs must be prepared for during "the tribulation" accompanying Armageddon.)

Naturally, I don't know that the specifics of all such tales are true, but there's no reason to doubt that JWs have been harshly persecuted at some times and places, and that many displayed tremendous courage in response. While I don't care for the religious dogmas of the JWs or of any faith, any persecution of people for their beliefs is even more despicable, and my heart goes out to all victims. We've got to sway the believers with reason and humor – sometimes gently so, sometimes more assertively, and at times even with mocking laughter. But never with outright prejudice or physical action!

Which brings us right back to your disfellowshipping experience, and arguably an ugly bit of religious persecution committed by the JWs. Elders of the congregation, you're free to disfellowship a member according to your own rules – but leaving that person stranded without a ride home borders on the religious persecution you normally decry!!

Yes, I was a young mother, and they were my world. It was very abusive, but they served their purpose for good in my life, and I was delivered from them sooner than later. I keep a christmas tree up year round.  It is so beautiful. Covered in my grandmother's heirloom jewels.   I say to people who hum bug christmas cause it is fake and only once a year, to stop being fake then and do it every day,  Deny, Nay nay nay,,, always embrace!!!!

 

defaithed's picture

In case anyone reading this doesn't know: the Jehovah's Witnesses don't celebrate Christmas in any way. Like you, I now enjoy Christmas trees (I don't keep it up all year, but hey, I like your idea – why not have it up all year?).

Here's an interesting little twist of fate: As a (JW) Christian, I didn't have any Christmas celebration whatsoever. Now, as an atheist, I decorate a tree, play Christmas music, make gingerbread cookies, give presents – the standard modern (and, let's face it, secular) package.

Thanks for writing!

seems like you all are just letting satan control you.

defaithed's picture

Either that, or I'm controlling Satan.

Hey Luce. Fetch me a sandwich. Pronto.

If you ask me, I have nothing against JWs, or any subgroup. For me, it doesn't matter which group we affiliate ourselves with as long as we all believe in one thing -- that God is powerful, he is the all mighty, and he wants the best for us. 

I agree! It is in His word that says "... love the brotherhood of believers." So for me, it doesn't matter which group you belong as long as you believe and praise God and that you acknowledge Him as your personal savior, redeemer of your soul who loves you unconditionally and died on the cross for you. Religion can never save us.

defaithed's picture

Well. That nicely excludes not just non-believers, but also every Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, animist, etc. – i.e., the majority of believers too.  

In other words: "It doesn't matter which religion you belong to... as long as it's my religion."

And there you have it, folks. Religion in a nutshell. 

I respect all types and kinds of Religion. And if your religion, with all the rewards as a positive reinforcement make people better, then I have no qualms about it. I respect that your Religion share your spiritual beliefs and rituals about God. I just hope that every Religion would respect each other. After all, it is not our Religion that can save us, but our faith and our spiritual connection and personal relationship with God as well as our actions. 

Jehovah Witness are the true religion worldwide but satan knows that and he's using every aspect avaialble to turn you from the truth if you would please give it a chance you will learn alot like Satan is the ruler of this world this is his system and Jehovah is trying to prove a point that we can not survive without him and that we as humans do not have the right to rule ourself (as you can see with the goverment) its a test of faith satan wants up not believe thats why he lied to eve and got us in this situation but Jesus made a way so that we could live for ever thats why he died on the cross because only a perfect person could take back the debt ...I been studyin for a short period of time but i have learned alot its amazing but we are living in the last days The End of this system of evil is unknow because only Jehovah knows the day not even Jesus knows but whenever the goverment fails it will first turn on religions but when the goverment tries to mess with Jehovah's people (Witnesses) the End will coome Armageddon is a war with the goverments vs Jesus nd his followers and Jesus will prevail He and the 144,000 that the bible speak will rule as a Heavenly Goverment and will crush all mankind goverments and the wicked people

defaithed's picture

I was about to call out this comment as a fake, as a JW would not say "Jesus died on a cross". The Watchtower Society teaches that a correct translation of the Gospels has Jesus nailed to a stake, not a cross. Stake vs cross is not a big theological deal for the JWs, but they are adamant on that point.

However, you state that you've been studying for a short period of time, so I'll assume it's an honest mis-stake (har har) and you believe what you write. I'll simply add this: Before you go getting yourself baptized and buying into everything you're told (if it's not too late), you owe it to yourself to rigorously investigate the JWs' claims. After all, if what they're saying is true, your attempts to debunk those claims can only fail and leave you in stronger possession of the truth (or The Truth, as they like to write it). Skeptically scrutinizing the claims is only paying proper respect to yourself, the makers of the claims, and the claims themselves.

A great place to start would be those "last days". The JWs have been proclaiming "the last days" for decades now – about a hundred years – and it still ain't happening. At what point are you willing to label that prophecy as wrong? If you're not willing to consider conditions that would disprove the "last days" claim, you're simply not taking the claim seriously.

You'll also want to look into the "Jesus as sacrificial debt-payer" aspect of the JWs and Christianity in general. Start by asking whether it makes any sense whatsoever that you and I would bear criminal responsibility for Adam and Eve's alleged "sin" – what kind of travesty of justice is that? And "only a perfect person could take back the debt"? Why? How is the Creator of the Universe bound by such silly rules? And what evidence is there for this claim of debt repayment to begin with?

After that, the business of "crushing all mankind goverments and the wicked people" deserves a close look. Why believe that? And again, is it just, as claimed? Who are these "wicked people"? According to the JWs, it's all the people who don't accept their faith, or at least accept key points of it (Jesus as sacrifice, etc.) – regardless of whether those people are good or not. Ask the JWs about this. Ask about your neighbors, your friends, your family members, those who try to be kind and try to live good lives, but who don't happen to follow the JWs or even Christianity. They're going to be "crushed" as "wicked people"? Why? How is that remotely just? If Jehovah were to destroy well-meaning, kind people for the "crime" of not believing in him, wouldn't that make him a murdering psychopath of the most vile sort? If not, how? Would you want to follow a god who murdered people for thought crimes? Why?

Lots to think about. Just remember, as you begin those Bible studies with the JWs, the words that they and all the doomsday religions love to tell would-be converts: "It's not too late!"

You're (I hope) still able to give the claims of the JWs the proper, respectful scrutiny that any claims deserve. Now's your chance. It's not too late!

note you have good and bad in all people in all faiths that dont mean your in the right faith trust your heart look at whats happening around the main proof you need  is right in front of you the wise one will see and live a happy family life dont let you be fooled.

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