Hi, JWs!

Hi! I was raised among the Jehovah's Witnesses. It's a Christian sect that's smallish and odd in several areas – maybe even a touch Mormon-y and a touch Jewish-y in a spot or two – but Christian through and through. If you're a practicing JW or an ex-JW (they've got a fierce dropout rate!), you might find some of the writings below of particular interest. (Oh, and if you see any mistaken or outdated JW info here – I left quite some time back! – I greatly welcome corrections.)

Clarifying Jehovah's Witnesses' beliefs

7 May 2012

Jehovah's Witnesses, the people of my ex-religion, need to do a better job of getting their dogma understood by the public. For all the sect's doorstep proselytizing, folks always get the JWs' beliefs wrong.

I have no intent to defend any JW beliefs – they're as goofy as the dogma of any other faith – but I don't mind making corrections so critics at least address actual beliefs. In that spirit, I offer two corrections: Readeth thou more

Of pacifism and Nazi necks

7 Dec 2009

Humans have a sad propensity to bomb, beat, and strangle each other over just about anything. Religion extends the list of potential conflict triggers, with novel contributions like "your God is false" or "your Book is blasphemy". Yet deep within humanity there's also a fragile desire for peacemaking, and no one can deny that religion is capable of working that noble goal into its doctrines too. Whatever our quibbles with religion, we can't criticize pacifism inspired by faith.

Usually. Readeth thou more

Jehovah's Witnesses to youths: "Stop learning stuff!"

2 Dec 2009

Time for another bit of Jehovah's Witness nonsense:

A few weeks back, PZ Myers pointed out a scan from the sect's Watchtower magazine, warning young people of some of the temptations that might lead them into sin. It includes some "dangers" you'd expect from a religious bunch, including

  • Someone dares you to smoke a cigarette
  • You are invited to a party where alcohol and drugs will be freely available
  • "Why don't you post your profile on the Internet?" someone suggests
  • A friend invites you to watch a movie that features violence or immorality


No need to laugh that off just yet. Some of those do pose potentially real concern, not just of the scriptural infraction variety, to people sufficiently young or careless enough. Pretty mild dangers (with the exception of drugs and alcohol), but still things that, say, parents of young kids have to grapple with. 

But then there's the one that provokes the ire of PZ and his readers:

  • A well-intentioned teacher urges you to pursue higher education at a university


Yes, that's right: The Jehovah's Witnesses genuinely do discourage their followers from getting (non-JW) education.  Readeth thou more

Bible stories are boring

23 Sep 2009

I had a throwaway comment I wanted to add in regard to PZ Myers' post on a kook who's been "updating" Norse creation mythology. The Pharyngula site won't take comments now without registration, and currently won't let me register either, so here's the gist of my rejected comment with a little added padding:

It appears that a Norwegian musician named Varg Vikernes is "updating" Norse creation mythology with elaborate ties to modern cosmology. That makes for a blending of two awesome themes, and I'm all for their illicit coupling – assuming there's a proper sense of tongue-in-cheek goofiness behind it all, of course. Based on Pharyngula readers' comments about Vikernes' mental state and his apparent seriousness about his religion, though, I think I'll wait for someone else to meld Odin and the Big Bang before I jump aboard to play along.

Anyway, a commenter named Greg F took note of the relative mediocrity of the Abrahamic creation myth. That's so true; of all the wild and woolly origin myths out there, Genesis' tale is about the most boring I've come across. The rest of the Bible doesn't get much more exciting. That's why any kiddie Book of Bible Stories is always so dull too; it's working with pretty bland material, and all a bored kid can do is read the Ark story, and David & Goliath, over and over. The magic gets pretty thin after that. Readeth thou more

Do religious kids daydream of Jesus?

17 Sep 2009

What kind of daydreams do religious kids have?

They start with the usual, I imagine. As far as I know, I was pretty normal in the drifting-off department. While I wasn't a sports kind of kid, I'd entertain the occasional fantasy of wowing the classmates with the home run they never expected, or knocking that ol' kickball all the way over the big tree in the grade school yard. Sometimes I had more exciting daydreams of gaining awesome superpowers. And, of course, there were no end to the fancies involving That One Girl in the next row or next classroom or whatever – just little secret stories that were clean and cute in grade school (less clean and cute in high school).  

But uber-religious kids have got to have their own special brand of daydream – or at least, those kids with the "funny" religions that put them in the camp of outsider. I was a Jehovah's Witness kid, and that was considered a crackpot variant of the hometown's generic Christianity (when it was understood to be Christian to begin with!). As you'd expect, there was the occasional wisecrack to put up with, plus those embarrassing everybody's-staring-at-me moments when I had to publicly opt out of the Pledge of Allegiance or of a Christmas piece in band. To be fair, I can't say that I was treated awfully because of the wacky religion, but there were just enough jibes to spur a typically overly-sensitive and imaginative kid into irregular "I'll show them all!" fantasies. Here's how one of mine went. Readeth thou more