It was in the summer 2012 that Jehovah’s Witnesses around the world were first introduced to Caleb and Sophia, the Governing Body’s new animated poster kids.
Their first cartoon adventures, which were distributed in DVDs at conventions and on the organization’s JW.org website, caused outrage even among many non-JWs. Watchtower’s blatant attempts to indoctrinate children using fear and paranoia created a wave of dismay that will have gone largely unnoticed by most ordinary JWs.
Since they first burst on to our screens, Caleb and Sophia have been taught by their troubled parents that Jehovah is pedantic enough to hate certain kinds of plastic action figures, that he wants kids to give their ice cream money to Watchtower, and that failing to pay sufficient attention at kingdom hall meetings can carry the death penalty.
But Watchtower apparently isn’t done with stripping JW kids of all innocence and individuality. Now the Governing Body wants them to challenge any classmates with gay or lesbian parents, and remind them that if mommy and mommy (or daddy and daddy) don’t change their ways they will lose their tickets to paradise.
It’s hard to know where to start in verbalizing one’s revulsion at the proud ignorance and homophobia on open display in this CGI monstrosity, but I will do my best.
Firstly, Sophia’s bewilderingly-orange mother manipulates her daughter with a metaphor that entirely misrepresents both homosexuality and Watchtower’s views regarding it. Sophia is asked to picture a man traveling with a bag, the contents of which trigger the airport security systems because he is carrying a prohibited item.
Homosexuality is explained as being the forbidden item the man must surrender before being allowed to travel on to his desired destination: paradise earth.
Anybody remotely in tune with reality understands that homosexuality is not a “choice,” as so often portrayed by Christian fundamentalists. Straight people are born straight, and gay people are born gay. Just as it would be outrageous to ask a straight person to start being gay, it is impossible to expect a gay person to live a lie and stop being who they are. And yet this is what fanatics like Watchtower demand of them.
Secondly, the metaphor implies that if the traveler chooses against surrendering the forbidden item, the worst that will happen is that his ticket will be cancelled and he will be forced to browse the duty free before hailing a cab and making his way back to the hotel. But that is not how it works according to Jehovah’s Witness teachings.
If the metaphor were accurately and fully followed through, we would see the traveller being bundled away by security and thrown into a 1940s cattle cart, along with all others deemed undesirable by the Governing Body, before being dispatched to the great extermination camp of Armageddon.
This is not a case of “follow us, or don’t fly,” this is a case of “follow us, or die.”
But this doomsday aspect of Jehovah’s Witness theology is so repugnant to most ordinary people that Watchtower must do its best to obfuscate it wherever possible.
Even most JWs you may encounter on the street, if pressed on the matter, will deny that literally billions of people, including children, are in line for mass slaughter if their hopes and expectations come to fruition. Their continued state of subservience to their religion depends on them not thinking things through to their fullest, most grisly conclusion.
All that deception and mischaracterization aside, arguably the most repugnant and disturbing aspect of this vile cartoon is that it sets out to recruit JW children to impose the organization’s homophobic bigotry on any classmates who happen to have gay or lesbian parents.
When I was growing up as a JW I recall being indoctrinated into believing that homosexuality was to be condemned. But I don’t remember once being told to actively seek out homosexuals, or children of homosexuals, to badger them with my beliefs. All that, apparently, has now changed. Watchtower has thrown its hat in with all the other sickly Christian evangelicals whose crusade is to stamp out homosexuality wherever it surfaces.
If you want to see what the end game is of preaching hate in this way, you need only watch the documentary “God Loves Uganda,” which is currently running on Netflix. It shows how U.S. evangelicals have taken a loathsome message that has zero credibility in their homeland, and cynically flooded Uganda with it – a country whose populace have limited access to education and are therefore easy pickings for those who spew ignorance and bigotry.
And before I am accused of trying to persuade people towards atheism by making this film recommendation, I should point out that two heroes of the film are Reverend Kaoma and Bishop Senyonjo. By the end of the film, I wanted to reach into my screen and hug them both.
Despite being Christians they could plainly see the real danger posed by evangelical homophobic fanaticism, and were doing their best in the face of unspeakable brutality to urge love, respect and tolerance.
Now it seems Watchtower, having already embraced televangelism, are also now quite happy to count themselves among the small-minded homophobic hate-mongers who stain our society. And rather than lead the hateful charge themselves, the likes of Tony Morris and his Governing Body cronies are content to hide behind a newly-formed army of school-age foot-soldiers who will take the heat for them.
- Metro article
- Independent article
- Inquisitr article
- The Friendly Atheist article
- Rawstory article
- Complex article
- Wetpaint article
- Pink News article
- Wonkette article
- Gaystarnews article
- SDGLN.com article
- Same Same article
- Newnownext article
- The Daily Dot article
- The Stranger article
- The Gaily Grind article
- Dangerous Minds article
- TheNewCivilRightsMovement.com article
- Progressive Secular Humanist article
- JoeMyGod.com article
- Watchtower’s New “Toy Story” – What Parents Need to Know
- Sparlock a year later: Non-JWs in uproar on YouTube
- Cough up kids! Watchtower needs your ice cream money
- “Pay attention or die” – A disturbing glimpse of JW child indoctrination at work