French philosopher Blaise Pascal once noted, "Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction."
A case study for this statement can clearly be evidenced by the Governing Body Of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
The Governing Body present themselves as ‘lovers of Truth and righteousness’ who are the only persons on this planet who speak for God. This doctrine is at the very core of the beliefs of Jehovah’s Witnesses. One either accepts that Christ is exclusively using the ‘Faithful Slave’ ( in actuality the Governing Body ) or one should not even refer to themselves as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses .
Apparently God informs the Governing Body exclusively what the inhabitants of this planet need in the way of spiritual direction, and he does this a little at a time primarily through a magazine that they publish bi-monthly.
The Watchtower, with its cheerful covers in full color is regularly providing lovers of truth and righteousness with their spiritual "measure of food supplies at the proper time." The problem with an outsider looking at these claims, is that it then becomes difficult to identify who to accuse of the genocide perpetrated on the basis of this belief - a group of men whose ever shifting policies result in the injury and death of hundreds of innocent people, or the God who they claim instructed them to tinker with these important doctrines.
The Governing Body seem quite content to blame God for these deaths, but their collective consciences seem unable to grasp the realties of what has really happened here, that is - that they have consistently enforced policies that have killed people and then absolve their own part in these deaths, by passing on the blame to God for instructing them to do it. The specter of Nuremberg rises to haunt them.
The Governing Body have played Russian Roulette with lives and then passed the responsibility for their failures onto a God, who if the Bible is to be believed, despises their very existence for the way that they have treated the ‘lowly ones’.
Death by ‘Shifting Policy’. The reality is that many hundreds of people have died or been seriously injured needlessly due entirely to their lack of understanding of the very Book of which they claim to have sole representation. The shifting Factor VIII policy, the shifting organ transplant policy, the ‘adjustment’ in neutrality issues, and now the shot-in-the dark attempts at understanding what constitutes so-called ‘major’ and ‘minor’ blood fractions, have stripped families of their loved ones. Like the incompetent British Generals at the Battle Of Passiondale’ in WWI, they have described their victims are heroes, and while these fallen innocents lie forgotten in shady corners of their theological graveyards or washed down the lonely gutters of the passing decades, it is their offspring, not the self-styled 'Glorious Ones’, who learn to live with their grief.
I well remember the unfortunate Jehovah's Witness whom I met in a non-US country, imprisoned for years for refusing his daughter a blood transfusion. His life became a long litany of homosexual rape and brutality. He now exists a broken man. His ordeal may never have had to be endured, given the recent shifts is what was once considered an immovable scriptural edict.
Many have lost their lives or spent years behind bars for a refusing to engage in non-combatant activities offered to them by their Government rather than enter the military services. Again shifting policy at the hands of God / GB has changed that scenario, so now persons can avoid being sent to jail and exercise their conscience over non-combatant duties. Yet innocent blood has already been spilt and somebody is responsible.
Another example :
Death by Disfellowshipping - Let me offer the GB a challenge, especially given that they herald themselves self-confessed ‘lovers of Truth’?. Why not publish in the Yearbook for 2003, the statistical figures for those who have killed themselves due to having been disfellowshipped. A disciplinary procedure that is so open to interpretation that each decade the WTS changes its policy on how to treat such persons. They have used as an offensive weapon the most natural right that belongs to people, that of the expecting the love and loyalty of a family.
Many years ago I fished out of the river the body of a kind-hearted JW who had been disfellowshipped for smoking. He struggled with this addiction, and was also one of the most gentle people that I have met. He could not bear to live with his ‘failures’ and the prospects of being shunned by those whom he had come to respect. He left behind a wife and two small children. Did the GB offer to feed this fatherless family, or clothe them? Hardly. When in a hardly controlled anger I spoke with a Branch Overseer in the land I was serving in about the matter, the best he could offer, was ‘Step, these things happen’. Think about the implications of this statement. ‘These things happen……My question is, ’ How often?
Had this poor man committed this ‘sin’ prior to the change of policy towards smokers in 1972, when smoking was still a matter of conscience and not a dictate, he would not have been ‘shunned’. He is one of hundreds whose lives have been bought to an early end by their attachment to flawed theological policies. The GB well knows that my figure of ‘hundreds’ of suicides over the past few decades is a conservative one.
A more subtle, but equally dangerous reaction to WTS thinking is :
Death by Non-Life. Mircea Eliade once stated. "A person who steals the vision of another has murdered his soul". These dramatic words capture, I believe, the essence of one of the WTS most collectively damaging concepts. In order to separate its adherents from the rest of humanity and subsequently control their lives, the WTS has with determination and singularity of purpose, severed individuals from the creative urges that are so important to mankind and his progress. Potential Doctors, researchers, ecologists, artists, poets, musicians, intellectuals have been stirred into the melting pot of WTS life in an attempt to stifle the unique voice that cries out within each of our hearts.
In doing this, the WTS approach a Hitlerian mentality in trying to extinguish all those within its system, those it sorely needs to survive, who have any ability to think for themselves and work by initiative and creativity, rather than edict and fear. Hitler in killing the Jews, also killed the heart and brain of Germany, exactly what it needed to survive.
Any loyal Jehovah’s Witness who strays onto this Board and reads this message would need to determine in the own hearts where the blame for these deaths lies, somebody has caused them. The GB claim that each JW makes their own decisions, based on the individual ‘Bible trained’ conscience. This is scurrilous nonsense crafted to allow them to appease the brothers and the authorities. People have been coerced into making decisions that have endangered the safety of themselves and their families and in many cases resulted in death.
As for me, as far as I am concerned, any person who behaved in such an irresponsible and precarious fashion, killing people by policy changes voted around polished corporate tables, is in my opinion worthless as a human being. Any man who did so should be languishing in jail with any other common criminal.
The Watchtower draws attention to Jesus Christ’s view of the Pharisees by making the following comment:
Jesus viewed most Pharisees as self-seeking, merciless money lovers who oozed hypocrisy. (Matthew, chapter 23) They accepted the entire Hebrew Scriptures in the light of their own explanations but attached equal or greater weight to their oral traditions. They said that their traditions were "a fence around the Law." Far from being a fence, however, their traditions invalidated the Word of God and perplexed the public .Part of a ‘perplexed public’ is now asking you whether you are willing to accept that by inciting people to die for your cause, you are in fact guilty of exactly the same attitude you decry in others, and in fact are equally as guilty of the murder of the innocents, as they are.