When any given politician is making their campaign promises, or reporting on how they performed over the last year, how much of what they’re saying do you believe? How much eye-rolling do you do? Or would you rather watch To Tell the Truth, because that show contains less lying?
You know the saying: How do you know when a politician is lying? Answer: His lips are moving.
As I attend Jehovah’s Witnesses meetings, assemblies, and conventions; and as I read Watchtower literature; I try to give the speakers and writers the benefit of the doubt. I try to assume that they’re being honest and up front with their hearers/readers, especially with outsiders, aka potential converts.
I’m having an increasingly hard time doing so.
I’m beginning to liken the JW speakers and writers to politicians.
What styles of discourse do politicians and JW’s have in common? Let me list a few.
Doublespeak: Affirming two contradictory statements without acknowledging the contradiction. Example: “Isn’t it wonderful about how blessed the anointed 144,000 are, with their heavenly hope? How great it will be for them to rule with Christ for all eternity!” Contrast that statement with things like, “Humans are designed for an earthly existence, not a heavenly one.” When talking about the anointed, heaven is sold as the best thing ever. But when talking about the “great crowd” believers, earth is where it’s at. “Heaven? Yuck! Who would want that?”
Omissions: At the recent convention I attended (July 2018), one of the speakers quoted John 6:44 like this: “No man can come unless the Father who sent me draws him.” This is one of my favorite verses of scripture, so I noticed immediately that the speaker omitted the phrase “to me.” The verse should read: “No man can come to me unless the Father, who sent me, draws him.” I wondered whether the omission was intentional, purposefully downplaying our need to come to Jesus. Perhaps it was subconscious on the part of the speaker, due to the relentless indoctrination he has been through over the years. There I go again, giving them the benefit of the doubt.
I find myself even giving the governing bully the benefit of the doubt. Some describe them as wolves. I wonder whether they are just as deceived as the common members. Honestly I don’t know. I can just as easily imagine them as oblivious puppets, or as deliberately manipulative shysters. The more I learn, though, the more difficult it is to give them the benefit of the doubt. And I don’t mean that I’m learning about them from inflammatory websites published by disgruntled apostates with an ax to grind. (There are plenty of those.) I’m talking about what I learn from what I hear and read directly from the JW “horse’s mouth.”
Outright Lies: Here’s where it’s really becoming difficult to cut the governing bully and its minions any slack. One recent example I experienced was during the midweek ministry training at the local kingdom hall. The nice ladies acted out a JW inviting a “householder” to attend a kingdom hall meeting. The JW, in pitching her invitation, said that there would be audience participation, and that children are not separated from the meeting, but that they too could participate in the interaction.
That is a flat-out lie.
Yes, children can participate in the question-and-answer ritual, but that would only be children of families in good standing, and who have been prepared for such participation. No visitor, adult or child, is allowed to ask or answer a question. As a visitor, I have tried. I held my hand up for about 10 minutes one evening. If the fictional skit was representing what JW’s actually promise householders, they are being misleading at best, or insidiously deceptive at worst. They’re putting a positive spin on children attending meetings where they’re bored out of their gourds, instead of being offered educational programs tailored to their developmental level.
All of this is very vexing to me, especially when these flat-out lies are being presented by such nice ladies, whom I have actually been befriending at the kingdom hall. I don’t know whether to be angry or heartbroken for these people. I guess I will continue to feel both.