This flyer was attached to my door today. It is a pamphlet from the Jehovah’s Witness. Now I must admit I don’t know too much about the Jehovah’s Witness, other than they refuse blood transfusions, and they go door-to-door trying to recruit folks with their magazine (The Watchtower). Indeed, I remember as a kid adherents to this particular brand of Christianity would show up at our door from time to time. When the doorbell rang and my folks saw that it was Jehovah’s Witnesses they would shush us and pretend to not be at home. When I got a little older, I would actually answer the door and politely tell them ‘thanks, but no thanks, we were not interested’. Although my parents are believers they are Catholics and have no truck with those Jehovah’s Witnesses; ironically my parents fail to understand why I have no truck with Catholicism or any other fanciful belief system. Anyhow, this pamphlet piqued my curiosity about this particular brand of Christianity.
The first place I started was with the pamphlet. The information contained on the inside was aimed at answering the question posed on the front – can the dead really live again? Obviously, the answer proffered is yes, there will be a resurrection. The motivation for this pamphlet, and the hook to recruit folks to the religion, is to demonstrate that belief in god can allay fear (of death) and provide comfort (reuniting with dead loved ones). These are some of the usual drivers of religious belief – allay fear and provide comfort. But what evidence do they provide in this pamphlet?
The ‘evidence’ that the dead can really live again is that the Bible says that there will be a resurrection. And can you trust and believe the Bible? Yes, they conclude, and they provide 3 reasons. 1) The bible says that God is the creator of life; 2) The bible says God has resurrected humans in the past; 3) The bible says God is eager to do it again. So you can believe and trust the bible because, well, the bible says all these things and so they must be true. Huh? What kind of evidence is that? Perhaps if you don’t think and reflect on your beliefs these three bits of information will constitute evidence. I think that’s is what most (all) religions count on – that their adherents don’t think too deeply (or think at all) about what is in their scriptures or reflect on the fundamental tenets. In fact I have heard this from a family member who is a believer – they don’t want to think about the illogic and fallacy of religious beliefs – they don’t want to question.
I wonder if this particular type of proselytizing is met with any measure of success. It must because there are about 8 million Jehovah’s Witnesses around the world. They believe in pretty standard, bat-shit crazy stuff like the Protestant bible is the inerrant word of God, secularism is morally corrupt, secularists are under the influence of Satan, humanity is in a state of sin with salvation arising from Jesus’ sacrifice, that we are in end times and God’s kingdom will be established on earth following Armageddon. They prohibit sex outside of marriage, homosexuality and homosexual marriages, and abortion. They also shun those who fall out of favour or don’t adhere strictly to the tenets of the religion (similar to the Mormons and the Scientologists). They differ from other brands of Christianity in that they reject the trinity (the father, the son, the Holy Ghost), and hell (a plus in their favour). They believe that exactly 144,000 Christians will be stamping a ticket to heaven – even if you only consider Jehovah’s Witnesses as the sample pool, the chances are not great that you will get to heaven (<2%).
One of the interesting things I found out in my brief research of this religion is that they do not celebrate holidays, including Christmas and Easter (as well as birthdays and other holidays). This discovery provides some context for a peculiar event in my past. My wife and I would, on occasion, hire a couple to clean our house. One time we hired them to clean our house close to the Christmas holidays, and owing to the fact that they had always done a good job, my wife and I bought a little gift for them. When we presented them with the gift they looked really uncomfortable and politely refused. I always thought this odd, but now I think they were actually Jehovah’s Witnesses.