Political neutrality has long been a hallmark of Jehovah’s Witnesses, at least in theory if not always in practice. Any use of national flags, whether by means of saluting or displaying them, has traditionally been viewed as a forbidden form of idolatry – a rejection of “kingdom rule” in favor of human governments.
For example, a 1977 Watchtower insisted that “while respecting the rights of others to do what they want, Jehovah’s Witnesses do not share in flag ceremonies.” (w77 1/15 p.63)
Imagine, then, the surprise of many devout Witnesses to behold the spectacle of at least two kingdom halls in Chile displaying the national flag at the front of their buildings – alongside the JW.org logo!
Chile has a special two-day national celebration, known as Fiestas Patrias, on September 18th and 19th. On these two days, ALL public buildings are to display the national flag, either on a flag pole or otherwise adorning the front of the building. Any institutions that refuse to show the flag do so at the risk of paying a fine.
Though reportedly some congregations would rather pay the fine than display a national symbol on a building dedicated to worship, it seems not all the bodies of elders in Chile see it as a problem.
Some have suggested that the disparity has been caused by congregations being instructed by the branch that they can decide for themselves whether to show the flag or not, but that if they refuse to show it they will be liable themselves for paying any fine. This has yet to be verified.
Whatever the thinking behind this, to display national flags at the front of dedicated kingdom halls flies in the face of the supposed political neutrality stance – an issue that was highlighted so graphically by the Mexico-Malawi scandal of the 60s, 70s and 80s. It seems that the extent to which Witnesses observe political neutrality depends largely on what part of the world they live in and, crucially, how much money is involved.
One pro-Watchtower website has already expressed frustration at the issue. JW-Archive.org showed the photos with the comment: “My question to the Chilean brothers is… Why not just pay the fines? I am sure Brooklyn would pay them for you if you requested.”
If reports that Chilean elders were told to go it alone by Watchtower are really true, then “Brooklyn” would likely not be as enthusiastic to dip into its coffers on this matter as many Witnesses would like to think.
152 thoughts on “Kingdom halls in Chile display the national flag”
I’m colour blind .. . Looks like a white flag to me.
“Know ye the truth, and the truth shall set you free” (Veritas vos liberabit)-John 8:32
I’d like to add a little Chile back-story and it involves an organization which boldly proclaims the above motto and has a global representation. Prior to 1975, Chile was under Marxist regime (Allende). The pro-republic activists staged a military coupe d’stat with assistance from the aforementioned “truth-seeking” global organization, and for 15 years held power under the regime of Pinochet–a regime that accused of dropping pregnant women from airplanes, but is known to have “vanished” rivals and opponents. After it’s revocation of authority near 1990, the regime stepped down, but its key individuals were given amnesty and remain in Chile.
Even though the current administration of Chile appears more democratic, persons having been under a regime using “undue influence” would likely continue to have a cautious approach to government mandates and requests.
(And, no, not saying Watchtower = C*A.)
No. I am not confused John. I simply asked what is the difference between Venus and Serena Williams parading their Wimbledon victories by running around the court with their National flag, or, the Estonian young Sister who almost represented that country (under its flag) in Eurovision.
Or, even Bethel lads back in my day waving an England flag in a match against Brazil… one of them, a little worse for wear after the match, even taunted jokingly “Brazil are Nuts!”.
Surely you can see the difference between an act of Idolatry and simply supporting the side??
Yes. I am familiar with the concept of double standards…. when they exist. Perhaps my patch was a little less “strict” than yours?
Now, if the congregation in Chile was ordered to stand in the forecourt and salute the flag whilst the National Anthem was played… swearing allegiance. Would that not be slightly different?
Gem, why were the girls running round holding the flag?
Because they were proud to be American and subjects of America.
Same with the boys watching football. They wanted THEIR country to win, because they were English, and they were proud of their country and all it stood for.
The society has always said that JWs are subjects of Gods kingdom and should not be supporting any earthly kingdom or country.
In the time of Rutherford I seem to remember there was an indoor assembly with flags all along the sides of the building. In later pictures of this, the flags were photoshopped out. Why? Because the society did not want to see any national flags at their convention.
As an x jw I would ask you please to refrain from attempting to put a tiny bit of respectability on watchtower. This cult is an obscenity to all of mankind. Guilty of murder, rampant paedophilia, wrecking families and lying through its teeth.
2000 Wrong, wrong, wrong all way`s wrong. Wake up to reality, the “Flood” never happened. Exodus never happened. I can go on but I do have better things to occupy my free mind.
Sorry Jerry: I am an X JW too… I just find your comments on this subject a little “over the top”.
Alanv: Thank you for your reasoned approach. Footie is not my game…Rugby is…and, I follow England. Can’t see any problem with that… but, I don’t worship the lads!
The truth about watchtower is way over the top. Do you forget that obscene awake boasting of murdering children by denying blood transfusions? What about the list of 22,270+- paedophiles kept from everyone by watchtower. Mexico Malawi Scandal, more watchtower sanctioned murder/rape! Spouse abuse, suicides, severe psychological issues, countless broken homes and Shunning! All because of inhumane watchtower policies. GEM do not accuse me of being over the top. All of the above are FACTS and this is the tip of the iceberg. You may have made a great escape but you never got away. This is a very sinister, obscene and highly dangerous cult and as long as I live I will do all that I can to eradicate watchtower. Do you really think that watchtower should be treated with kid gloves? The gb should be put up against a wall and shot!
Which religious group would you suggest is being used by God? Or have you become atheist?
Please go to google maps and search for Kingdom Halls in chile. Then go to street view and you will see at least half of them have flag poles. Why a Kingdom Hall would need a flag pole is beyond me.
Try and see through your general hatred and focus on the topic under review, Jerry.
You are entitled to your point of view…and, so am I. Cedars, wants it that way.
As I mentioned oin a previous comment, as a JW child I was prevented from joing the cubs by the JWs as they declared that saluting the flag was unBiblical and idolatrous.
The undue influence of that little JW cult, one of CHristendom’s ugliest corners, diminishes the lives of everyone associated with it, not purely those murdered through the blood ban, those assaulted by paedophiles and told to keep quiet, and those whose families have been wrecked by shunning.
Every ‘achievement’ of this obscene little outfit in its 135 year history has been negative.
Do you honestly think that I should love watchtower?I detest this obscene cult and nothing will change this. GEM I believe that your agenda is pro watchtower and this is evident to more than I. Focus on the topic, watchtower display`s National flags, end of topic, ipso facto. How can any humanist condone what watchtower is guilty of? Could you tell a victim of child rape to see through the hate? Every word and deed from watchtower is wrong! You condone its crimes? Not I! Opinions? I am talking of facts, this is not an opinion. It is your right to be an apologist for watchtower. It is my right and duty to dwell on the terrible facts. If you can not see the dichotomy between opinion and fact then your perceptive power is seriously flawed. Be honest and declare your true affiliation to all on jw survey. You are being disingenuous and you are so obvious! Call my unwavering stance on watchtower`s crimes against humanity whatever you like.
You, Gem, are excusing the JWs for their hypocrisy in displaying the national falg.
If you, GEM, are genuinely an ex JW, the JWs do not excuse you of anything. You, in their eyes have already been executed by Jehovah, and they cannot wait for your actual grisly end at an imminent Armageddon.
Why try and make excuses for these people who regard you as something to shun and who believe you are trash who needs to be purged in order to make way for their ‘JWa only’ paradise earth?
@Rowland and Anonymous.
My friends well may we question GEM`s motives. We can see how evil and sinister this cult is. The facts have exposed and condemned watchtower in the eye`s of all rational people. Perhaps sufficient time has not passed for GEM to be rid of cognitive dissonance.It well maybe that I lack tact but I see no “grey area” when it comes to watchtower. It is never my intention or my prerogative to judge any individual. But I will never apologise for condemning the pure unadulterated evil that is watchtower.
Gem, are you really an ex-JW? I have my doubts about that. Jerry is absolutely right. It is not even acceptable for any ordinary JW to wear anything that even resembles a flag. Either you are unaware of what it’s like being a JW or you are pretending to know what you are talking about. The Watchtower wants celebs pretending to be Witnesses so they aren’t going to be disfellowshipping them for stuff that an ordinary Witness would do. It is a double standard and we all know that.
@ Jerry: and, all the other bully boys who can’t think for themselves:
No. I do not think you should love the Watchtower.
What is wrong in offering an opinion? In this case, where is the act of Idolatry? I didn’t say it was right to display the National flag… just the JW attitude is not to salute and pledge allegiance to it! That was always the case.
Please get off my back… I am not Pro-Watchtower at all.
But, I am pro exposing the Truth in all matters.
Cedars is doing a splendid job in opening up a tidy forum for debate…open to “open-minded” people as well as those who come over as “beyond being able to reason”
Obviously displaying a national flag, in a rational mind, is not an act of idolatry. Nor indeed, is saluting it at a parade of cubs.
In JW minds and literature, however, any recognition of a flag, is idolatry. Therefore the dislay of the Chilean flag on Kingdom Halls in order to avoid payoing a fine is utter hypocrisy.
A persecution complex GEM? Bully Boys? All? A typical knee jerk reaction from a watchtower sychophant. You obviously are unable to differentiate between opinion and fact! Now in your “opinion” I am a “Bully Boy”. In my opinion you are still an active cult member. If the facts hit you in the face you still would not get it. I will not be making any further effort with you. You deceive to flatter. Good luck to you and your fellow watchtower appologists.
So, what was said to Serena and Venus Williams for parading around Wimbledon with the Star bangled banner?… to the Estonian Eurovision applicant, a JW sister, who was to represent her country? and, was Hank Marvin following WT orders by turning down his OBE (CBE?)
Quite right, in a rational mind, the mere displaying of a flag in NOT an act of Idolatry, Rowland.
Precisely my point! It is not double standard at all.
And where is it written that “any recognition of a flag is Idolatry”… in JW literature?
Personally I think if the Crown wished to bestow an Emeritus honour on a musician, or a couple of proud ladies wanted to display their national team…whom they represented…that is their conscience.. sits OK with me. Not that WT doctrine means much to me any more!
Gem. Of course parading the flag after winning at tennis is not idolatry. Likewise saluting the flag at the end of a cub’s meeting is not idolatry. Rational people know that.
JW doctrine and diktats are not rational. That is why I could not join the cubs. That is why my mad JW mother did not vote. She was loyal only to Jehovah’s Kingdom (aka the WTBS publishing corporation to which she devoted her pension and free labour).
We do not need you, Gem, to define idolatry and to decide what is rational. This post and comments are about the double standards of that grubby little corner of Christendom, that ugly little stain on the world that is the JW outfit.
Gem, the most important thing to the Society is their image. If the Williams sisters walk around with the U.S. Flag, the Society will ignore it because they don’t want to look bad if they would disfellowship them for doing it. It’s the same with any other celeb. What the Watchtower puts in print and what they actually do, are two different things. It’s the same with Knorr pledging his allegiance to the U.S. government so he could get a passport and then at the very same time, insisting that the brothers and sisters in Malawi couldn’t buy a 25 cent party card and having to suffer all the persecution they had to suffer for his hypocritical decision.
The Society will turn the other way if they know that the Kingdom Halls in Chili are putting up flags because to draw attention to it, might hurt their reputation. They are hypocrites. That is the reason for Cedar’s post here. That is what the discussion is all about. Don’t call us bullies for drawing attention to the double standard.
From “Bully Boy”to “Boot Boy” there is only one poster here hurling insulting names to all and sundry. Frankly my dear, I do`nt give a damn!You can pog ma thon as we say in Gaelic. You have abolutely no chance of getting an apology from me. Are we all wrong and you are right! Excelsior, Anonymous and I agree that you are in a minority of one. Call me one more insulting name and I will ask Lloyd to throw your ass out of here.
It is unfortunate that you had to refer to other posters as “bully boys”. As someone who has been bullied in the past, I have not read any comments that I would describe as “bullying”.
Indeed, if I were to use the “b word” here, I would have to say that you fit that label a whole lot better.
Your point is correct. However, the WTBTS have historically derided others for idolatry regarding any symbol of a government other than God’s Kingdom. I was shocked that the Williams sisters draped themselves in the Stars And Stripes. It was certainly not in line with WTBTS dogma from the nineties, when I left. It would have stumbles people of my generation for sure!
Your flag at Bethel would equally have been viewed with horror.
There is hypocracy here of the most disgusting kind. PEOPLE DIED IN MALAWI BECUASE OF THIS CRAP. That is why people have posted as they have.
Please, don’t use the B word in vain. It does your credibility no favours here. You have not been bullied. Your opinion, nebulous as it is, has been critiqued, that’s all.
Peace be with you
…and Gem, you are right about wearing the colors of your favorite sports teams. It is the same as wearing the flag of your country and there’s probably articles about not making idols of your favorite sports teams too and if there are articles like that, most Witnesses will ignore it and the Society won’t disfellowship anyone for wearing the colors of their favorite sports teams. It’s much the same as they won’t come right out and say that any other literature, other than Watchtower literature isn’t “banned”. They know how far they can “push” the limits. It’s numbers the Society cares about and they know if they push the limits too far that people will wake up to how just much like the Pharisees in Jesus day, they really are. That is the only reason why they say one thing and do another. Most Witnesses that have been in the cult for a long time, realize the double standard, but don’t think about it. If they think about it, they’d all come to their senses but their senses have been dulled to the point of not being conscience.
@Excelsior: All I did was agree with the summary of another poster.
I was then pounced upon by boot boys making flying accusation about my allegiance to Watchtower.
That is bullying and I feel I need an apology.
Thank you to You and Anonymous for acknowledging the simple point I wanted to make. Not everyone in my time would view waving a flag as Idolatry… supporting your favourite side or team.
What happened in Malawi was horrendous. I spent hundreds of hours at the time, collecting Protest signatures to send to Hastings Banda…so, I resent being branded as a Watchtower apologist when I have shared my own story on this forum for all to read.
Gem, what made you sound sympathetic with the Society is when you said Jerry was “over the top” with his comments.
@anonymous: His comments about me and my supposed allegiance to Watchtower were “over the top”, hurtful and unjustified.
I deserve an apology for such ignorant behaviour.
Personally, as a JW, I would never display a flag… no more than I would kiss a Swastika.
By extension of this argument…should every JW rip off the National Flag from their car number plates? Let’s have a little reasoning here.
John I have been labelled a “Bully Boy” a “Boot Boy” and accused of being ignorant. I would ask you to ban GEM for these personal attacks. GEM is at odds with most rational posters.
Then why did you attack me for making a simple observation and backing the Poster before me?
You did wrong by implying, and then others followed, that I was a JW apologist.
You are an unreasoning thug, Sir.
Ban me if you will… let the Boot boys win. How dare you!
The list goes on. “Thug” Please get shot of this silly person.
Gem, it isn’t ex-JW’s that are saying that displaying a flag is idolatry. Just look in the Reasoning book under Neutrality. We aren’t attacking you for you not looking at displaying a flag as idolatry. Are you new in the “truth?” This thing about the flag goes back to WW2 when it was taken to the U.S. Supreme court. The Society took a stand then and has, as far as I can remember still holds to the same doctrine about the flag. The only thing is that JW’s aren’t to show disrespect for it but that’s it. Anything else is idolatry.
My brothers and sisters,
What has happened to us? What has happened to our love of our fellow man? To our ability to let love cover over transgressions?
None of us is perfect, we all make mistakes and misspeak.
No matter what we believe, whether we believe in God or the Flying Spaghetti Monster, or whether we don’t believe in God at all, or even whether we don’t care whether or not there is a God, what has happened to our Love of our fellow man?
I don’t have to remind anybody that we are all in this world together. This is the only life we have. How can we waste a precious minute of it fighting, name calling, judging, squabbling like little children?
It would break my heart if all of this is because of a religion we once believed in. In that case, we have let them win because we have allowed them to cause us to lose all sense of our humanity, our love and human decency.
I appeal to all of you to let love cover over everything.
Yes, I agree. We shouldn’t fight among ourselves.
When I first left the JW’s, I was an apologist as well. I even tried to encourage some to come back to the meetings, to enjoy the social occasions and to make changes from the inside. It was only with more time, with the way I was treated by “brothers” who were hard-liners, and more research that I discovered how thoroughly evil and dangerous the WT really is.
If someone tried to force me to hate the JW’s too quickly, it might have backfired and made me come to the conclusion that there isn’t anything good outside of the ‘Organization’.
Fighting and name calling like this reminds me of the opposition to Hitler; they simply couldn’t agree or get along well enough to eliminate the evil in their midst.
If we all work together, we could take down the Watchtower!
I’m not in the mood for blocking posters just for having a different, albeit bizarre point of view. I propose a ceasefire. Will everyone take a deep breath and stop making inflammatory remarks and taking offense? That should calm everything down and we can wipe the slate clean. GEM thinks the putting up of national flags by kingdom halls in Chile is no big deal, almost everyone else disagrees. Can’t we just leave it there?
Gem, I am sorry that I made you feel bad about your comment.
@anonymous: For the record… I am “old school”. I would have nothing to do with any National symbol…for whatever reason.
I was simply pointing out recent examples of JWs who have “flown the flag” and reasoned that maybe that these are not acts of Idolatry and allegiance. I have not been a JW for since 1984.
If Serena and Venus can get away with it then why not some Chilean backwater? The congregation isn’t paraded in the forecourt being forced to chant a pledge and rendering a salute are they? I don’t get it.
I guess I grew up in a divided home where we skated on the edge of compromise and used our conscience a little more in many matters.
As they say in Yorkshire…any road up… I am not welcome here so I shall say farewell to many I was growing to respect and who have helped me close a very painful chapter of my own life.
Thank you anonymous.
For the record I was not agreeing with your view. I agreed that supporting a team is not idolatry TO A NORMAL HUMAN BEING. This is not the view held by most JWs. They would be councelled by the elders for potentially stumbling other people. It is true that not all Congregations interpret the many, many rules exactly the same, so it is possible that YOUR experience was like this. As you have read from many other posters, this was NOT the experience e of all.
If you feel that you are not welcome here then I am sorry about that. I do not want you to go, but I must stand up for folks like Jerry who you accused of being a bully and a boot boy. He has lost HIS ENTIRE FAMILY to the cult. He is not in the mood for compromise right now.
This is the last comment I shall make on this topic, or GEMgate as it is rapidly becoming. Suffice to say that I need to remember to be tactful and remember that we are all human beings with human feelings. We all need to remember this in our comments.
Peace be with you
Hi Gem. I didn’t mean to offend you. There are so many who defend the Watchtower and so that thought occurred to me because you seemed pretty liberal for the rank and file.
I didn’t grow up a Witness but married a “born in” and so we clashed over a lot of things that I didn’t agree with either. My husband complained every day about his lot in life because he had to work in a factory to support us and so I offered many times to work full time so he could go to school to get a better job but he looked at higher education as evil and so every day I had to listen to his complaints about his work situation and so when it came to college, I put my foot down and insisted that if our kids wanted to go to college that they could and he relented and let them go. Two of them tried it and left because they didn’t like it but they all went to technical school. But I never agreed with a lot of things that the Society said and let him know and so at least our kids can’t hold that against me. So, I know what you talking about.
We are told over and over again in our literature that we aren’t to gossip but in field service, that is all what some people would do and then another group, you couldn’t say anything about anybody. We aren’t to get involved in politics and yet groups in service would complain about certain parties, being very much involved in politics and we weren’t supposed to be like that either, even elders would do that and yet I’d be treated like a pariah if I mentioned some tv show that I liked, like Monk.
If the elders haul me before a committee for apostasy, I will tell them that if they disfellowship me for apostasy, I have so much “dirt” on so many different people in the congregation and if they want to play dirty, so will I. Believe me, they won’t disfellowship me. That thought keeps me awake at night, remembering all the terrible stuff they said about each other behind each others’ backs. LOL
Your posts, GEM, give some cause for optimism. Much as the WT bosses may try to impose an iron clad uniformity it is clear they have failed and are failing.
In your JW experience flying a flag, it seems, was not regarded as idolatry. In mine, as in many others it was.
Of course, as Excelsior, myself and others have explained, for normal, sane and sound people, flying a flag, wearing a team shirt, is not idolatry.
JWdom, however, is not normality. It is a perversion of honest thought and a fulfilled life.
I came on here today to see if you had all stopped picking on Gem. She is so obviously upset. I enjoy everyones opinions, but to attack like that was mean. She was of course going to respond and it got out of hand. Please stop now.
Patrice, GEM is a man. I, too, do not want GEM to go, but he must make his own decisions and must account for his own comments.
Peace be with you
Yes excelsior I agree. I just do not agree with everyone having a go. It was bandwagonning.
Sorry Gem for mistaking your gender. I still dont want you to go.
I do not agree with what you say.
But I will defend to the death
your right to say it.
Gem, I too hope you will stay. But I understand you must do what your heart tells you to do.
We must have had a full moon somewhere last night! Or, maybe it was something in the water!
How does the Watchtower explain this to the Malawi survivors.
So what about all the new US citizens who take the oath?
Here it is:
I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform noncombatant service in the Armed Forces of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law; and that I take this obligation freely without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; so help me God. So how does that work?
All other religions have been avoiding fines and displaying the flag so why not the JWs. 2 out of the whole of Chile wow that’s a real bone crusher. I think an undesirable has planted them there.
Bloater- when I was a child JW, the Elders, mags, books the lot, were keen to remind us that JWdom was not a church, not a religion and no part of Christendom. That the ‘Satanic’ churches display flags is no excuse. The JWs are idolatrous in those halls. No doubt Jehovah has noticed and will zap them early on when he finally gets around to doing his Armageddon.
And he will execute you, too, Bloater – Jehovah knows your real name – for interacting with apostates on the internet.
The fact that even ONE congregation would fly a national flag is significant. This is idolatry as far as many JWs are concerned.
Do you have proof that “an undesirable has planted them there”?
You have made a number of posts here. I hope that you will do your research on your religion. There are many posts here that will help you. If you find errors, then let the site know, and they will correct them.
Please, the women and children of your religion need your help. Help us to change the unbiblical policies of the governing body.
Peace be with you,
Could you please at least try to be a bit more diplomatic in your comments?
If I were a Witness still, your comments to Bloater would be of no use whatsoever. Telling them that they’ll die at Armageddon is going too far, sir.
I respect your opinion but you do tend to get a little carried away! Who are your comments for? We all know that the WTBTS is a cult and has committed serious crimes. If your comments are for thinking or waking Witnesses then ask yourself, are these kinds of comments going to help them?
My dear sir, you are a good and passionate man. There’s so much you have to offer.
Please, Rowland, try to put yourself in the shoes of the ones you are writing to, and craft your comments to offer support and polite debate.
Peace be with you,
Thanks for your advice, Excelsior.
I fear that JWs are often unaware of the murderous nature of their core obsession, namely the slaughter of the greater part of humanity at Armageddon. Indeed, believing JWs have sometimes accused me of hate when I have pointed this out.
This is indeed ironic, as I, like you, wish trapped JWs a life of freedom from the malign control of their cult bosses. They, by definition, cannot wait for our execution, so long as they remain mere unpaid and unloved tools of the Watchtower outfit.
JWs who come on any forum and interact with apostates are already defying their cult bosses. Exactly what causes any one of them to wake up from their pathetic and harmful delusions, is difficult to determine, and probably varies from individual to individual.
Being faced, via ridicule, with the absurdity of their position, may, I hope, be helpful in some cases.
There are reports that say the fine is non-existent. http://www.eldefinido.cl/actualidad/plazapublica/5770/La-inexistente-multa-por-no-izar-la-bandera-nacional/
I am an ex-JW who was born into the into the cult in 1946. I disagree that JWs always have been against displaying national flags. During my youth there was an international assembly and the flag of every delegate’s country was displayed on his/her badge. There also was a brochure showing all of the flags and what countries they represented. The idea was to show the extent of their work. Also at some point in my youth I was told that at one time Kingdom Halls in the US displayed the US flag in order to back up their claim that they respected the flag but did not salute it.
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