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A humane consideration of the Jehovah's Witnesses

From: Zachary B.
Sent on: Saturday, February 23, 2013 12:33 PM

Not only am I not a Jehovah's Witness, I'm not even a Christian. I grew up with no religion. I am a "None." That's what pollsters call Americans who respond on national surveys to the question "What is your religious affiliation?" with a single word: "None." But over the years, I've grown curious. I want to know what it's all about.


I try to imagine what it must have been like to be an American in the early and mid-1800s, when what seems to me a particularly desperate brand of Christianity that includes the Jehovah's Witnesses took shape. Textbooks teach the broad social changes: urbanization, industrialization, rapid population growth. But what did this mean to individuals? In a nutshell: filthy living conditions.


In the sanctuary of the Kingdom Hall, I'm seated directly behind a young woman with Down syndrome. She could be as old as 20. She is with her mother. The reason I know the woman is her mother is because of the two empty seats between them; at a certain point, the more distance we put between ourselves and our guardians the more obvious our dependence. She's holding a tablet of paper with extra-big spaces between lines. Someone has written in big, fluid script, "I will not listen to Satan" three times down the sheet, leaving room for her to copy the words underneath. Throughout the morning, she works, painstakingly forming each letter and then holding the page close to her face to admire her work.


According to some old Watchtower articles, members of the "great flock" won't just feed blueberries to grizzlies all day-they'll have tasks too. For example, they will be on post-apocalypse clean-up duty. The article mentions that they will be assigned the job of gathering the bleached bones of the annihilated. You'd have to dream awfully big to be included in the small flock, but the only requirement for becoming a member of the great flock is to be an obedient Witness.

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