Hot on the heels of its promotional video about the Philippines typhoon, JW.org has released a short film aimed at promoting the preaching work among young people.
The film is the latest in the “What Your Peers Say” series. Ironically, Watchtower has written numerous articles dissuading young ones from succumbing to so-called “peer pressure,” but peer pressure is evidently not such a bad thing if Watchtower gets to choose which peers you should listen to.
We start with a sister named Cameron setting off in a kayak with her friend. The impression is given that Witness youths are free to lavish their time on recreational pursuits.
“When we’re growing up, we all have to make decisions. We all have to choose which path we will take,” says Cameron. No hint is given that the penalties for going back on the ‘choice’ of becoming a Witness include estrangement from loved ones and stigmatization as being “mentally diseased.”
“Our ministry, teaching others about the bible, has always been an important part of my life,” reflects Cameron after telling us that she was raised a Witness.
If the sole purpose of the ministry of Jehovah’s Witnesses was “teaching others about the bible,” likely this website would not exist – or we would at least have very little worth writing about.
The more ugly reality, ignored in Cameron’s monologue, is that you can be a believer in the bible, Jesus AND Jehovah – but still be deemed worthy of a gruesome death if you fail to bend your knee to the self-proclaimed authority of seven men in New York.
Cameron’s video goes on to reveal how she was inspired by her local friends as well as accounts in the Yearbook to plan a preaching trip to Malawi. She relates experiences that she enjoyed, such as “sharing a seat with poor people” on the bus, and preaching in a home where she was invited to give a presentation in front of the household.
The video concludes by showing Cameron again enjoying recreational activities back home in America – hiking with friends, joining a picnic, and playing with a ball.
The viewer is left with the impression that the Witness faith is entirely benign, that Witnesses teach people about the bible in poor countries, and that they have the “best life ever” – including fun recreational activities.
Apart from the video’s strong coercive aspect, the timing of its release is also intriguing. Why?
JW.org has recently released the program for the upcoming regional conventions (formerly known as district conventions). When you turn to Friday afternoon, you notice a symposium entitled “What Must Be Kept in Second Place?”
Eating and drinking, concerns about health, and even family ties are similarly to be knocked down the pecking order by Witnesses wherever seeking first the kingdom is concerned.
Getting away with it
The devaluing of family ties that Witnesses can look forward to at this year’s convention follows the pattern set last year, when convention audiences were reminded to shun disfellowshipped loved ones as an act of loyalty.
Regrettably, JW.org’s slick charm offensive will always whitewash over niggling doctrinal details such as the above, leaving countless young Witnesses enthralled by the glossy spin and PR.
Back in the late nineties I was one of the many Witness teenagers hoodwinked into believing that higher education should be spurned, and that by surrendering your youth to serving Watchtower you will attain the “best life ever.”
I now find it amazing that Watchtower can misrepresent its own teachings with such impunity. And it seems to have the media precisely where it wants them, at least for now.
Every year we see newspapers and TV stations emphasizing the financial gains to local communities from hosting Witness conventions, whilst turning a blind eye to the more sinister connotations of what is actually taught at these events. I believe 2014 will be no different, despite Watchtower brazenly putting its cards on the table in the above program.
That’s why it is so crucial that we expose such blatant hypocrisy and propaganda at every opportunity, especially with the future happiness and prosperity of so many young ones at stake.
With the media seemingly in Watchtower’s pocket right now, you can be sure that if we don’t speak out, nobody else will.