Knowing how much Everett loves the Mormons, I had to post about the recent Watchtower tract wedged in my door while we were away. The title is, The End of False Religion is Near!, and it has to be the strongest piece of Jehovah's Witness literature I've ever seen. I'm tempted to scribe it word-for-word since I could not find a copy of it on WatchTower.org, but I have determined it's part of a month long campaign for the Witnesses; you may receive a copy of it soon if you haven't already.
The reason I say it's the strongest piece of literature I've seen is because this tract comes close to outright stating that modern Christianity of any demonination is false religion, souring politics and paving the way for Armageddon. It asks questions to determine what is false religion and gives deliberately vague, thinly veiled examples that are easy to recognize without qualifying as libel. A few examples:
1. By teaching the concept of souls going to Heaven after death, churches are practicing false religion by going against Christ's statements that the dead will be resurrected.
2. Jesus Christ is referred to as "a widely respected religious figure".
3. Church groups that ordain homosexuals as clergy members or condone child molestation by religious leaders are practicing false religion.
4. The harlot spoken of in Revelation is false religion. The beast with seven heads and ten horns represents the world's political leaders who listen to the harlot and use false religion to justify their actions.
5. Eventually, the "rotten tree" of false religion will be struck down by the beast upon God's instruction.
The solution? Call a Kingdom Hall and ask the Witnesses to show you how to escape false religion through their instruction in the Scripture.
Some of you may know that I was raised as a Jehovah's Witness. Mom met some in G-town when I was two, and she liked their message. I went with her to the Kingdom Hall in town and participated in the Bible studies at our apartment or at an elder's house. I read the materials, but had too many questions. By the time I was 8, I began to realize there were some problems when the elders couldn't answer the questions I had about calculating the rings on one of the Cedars of Lebanon, or about the Trinity, or the missing references to Jehovah in the Holy Scripture, or about the 144,000 people from the 12 tribes who would go to Heaven after Armageddon. Eventually, I went only to the Nisan 14 services under protest, and finally stopped going when I was 12.
I find it very interesting that the Witnesses are proclaiming themselves so strongly that they are the true religion--they always have, but not by blatently attacking Christianity as they do in this pamphlet. I learned during my time at G-town Baptist that the Southern Baptist Convention considers them a cult because they have a different translation of the Scripture and use supplemental books to teach about their faith. Irony? Maybe.
Another reason I found the tract interesting is it made me ponder my world view based on what I learned in childhood. Halloween has really stemmed this thought wave for me, and it's similar to what I went through last Christmas. See, Witnesses do not pledge allegiance to the U.S. flag or celebrate birthdays because they see it as putting a false idol or oneself above God. Witnesses don't celebrate common holidays, like Christmas, Halloween, or Easter, because the modern celebrations are based in pagan rituals. As a child, when my classes had holiday or birthday parties, I went to the principal's office and sat in the quiet tolerance of the secretary at his desk, drawing on copy paper. I didn't dress up for Halloween. I didn't meet Santa Claus. I didn't believe in the Easter Bunny or the Tooth Fairy. No chocolate bunnies, marshmallow Peeps, or stockings filled with fruit and candy canes for me. The closest day I had to Christmas was when Mom brought home the layaway box from Sears with our back to school clothes.
Last Christmas, we made a concerted effort to make sure CJ had a separate birthday and Christmas because of their proximity to each other. I dove into making a birthday cake and buying birthday toys whole-heartedly, but struggled with Christmas. As beautiful a sight as our trimmed tree with presents beneath was, I felt a faint pang of guilt, as if I were wrong in having it. I still haven't decided about Santa. I'm leaning toward teaching CJ that Santa is a personification of goodwill towards others, not a separate being, but I don't want calls from angry parents because my kid told their kid Santa ain't real. This Halloween, I was relieved that CJ's daycare has banned costumes as it means no one will have the experience I had of being the only kid who didn't dress up.
Don't even ask me where I stand on the Tooth Fairy or the Easter Bunny. I haven't gotten that far.
Because Witnesses do not believe in the concept of the Trinity, and this was drilled into my head at an early age, I don't believe in the concept that 1=3. To me, the Bible is mainly a collection of creation myths and attempts to explain fantastic phenomena beyond human comprehension at the time, and a way of defining a purpose because people need some sense of purpose. In my personal worldview, I confess I take things a step further and do not believe that Jesus Christ was the literal Son of God. I believe Christ was an exceptional man, very wise and compassionate for his time, who taught great concepts that should be followed. I don't know if Christ thought he really was the Son of God, but I believe that he was certain his death would cleanse the sins of mankind, as God said. Despite my doubts of Jesus' divinity, I accept my salvation without reservation--as I see it, God said it, Jesus believed it, and since we have no proof when it comes to religion, the intent is good enough for me. I'm not comfortable calling myself a Christian, though, because I don't follow the Old Testament, and really only follow what Jesus is recorded as saying in the Gospels themselves--love your neighbors, help the poor and sick, keep the government out of the churches and the churches out of the government, don't judge. Those are my basic morals, and I really don't care what food I should or shouldn't eat, who sleeps with whom, what days I should sit in a tent in my backyard, or whether or not I'm completely righteous and everyone else is going to Hell. I don't even believe in Hell!
As you can imagine, I've been thinking about these things a lot since Christopher was born. While I would rather not taint him with my unorthodox way of thinking, I know the questions will eventually come. While I would like for him to learn about God and the basic stories of my youth, I don't want his knowledge coming from propaganda or from politicized churches spouting judgement and hate in their proclamations of God's Word and Love. I want him to have an open mind about other religions and cultures, but not so open that he becomes lost and doesn't know what to believe--or becomes so open that he accepts any old doctrine that comes along without looking at things from a critical point of view.
This parenting stuff is hard. Forget about diapers, meals, and the constant supervision. That stuff is easy compared to these thoughts keeping me up at night while my baby soundly sleeps.
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