I always sit in the same spot, just outside Starbucks in a vestibule area with a table in the air-conditioned space. I say “always,” but not today.
Somebody with two laptops and a table filled with business ledgers was in “my” favorite spot!
So, I took a tiny wooden table inside the coffee shop on a long padded bench next to 3 other identical tables.
As the ClickBait banner ads like to say: “And what happened next was simply unbelievable!”
Two guys I recognized sat down next to me, but how did I recognize them, and from where? Bingo!
My brain started whirring like a battery-operated toy guillotine!
I was instantly tense–and I really hate that this happens when I’m around J-Dubs. In fact, it angers me I should feel anything at all; especially nervousness. So, I tried using my anger at being nervous to embolden myself to make the most of any opportunity I had.
I did a quick search on Google for an article on Catholic Priest Pedophilia and clicked. When the article appeared, I casually tilted my laptop screen toward the two Dubs so they could easily see it. Then, I got up for a minute and pretended to make a phone call. I wanted them to see the article and let it register.
When I returned I sat down and put my phone away. The rats nibbled the cheese!
“Are you Catholic?”
The Dub with glasses pointed at the article.
I feigned momentary confusion.
“Oh, uh–I was raised by my Grandmother and she was Catholic. I am just amazed the Catholic Church was trying to hide child sexual abuse and not reporting to police.”
I made a face.
The other Dub was a bit younger than the first. He had on a dark sports jacket, which was way too hot to wear on a Texas August summer day with a temperature of 106 F outside. He spoke up.
“We’re Jehovah’s Witnesses and our Organization holds to Bible standards of purity. We maintain a clean congregation because we aren’t afraid to exclude sex offenders. The Catholic Church cover-up shows no love of their members at all, otherwise they’d get rid of priests who molest. . .blah blah blah. . .”
I let him crank the handle until the other joined in with his follow-up. They should have paused. They should have determined what MY thoughts and feelings were. Instead, they were giving me an impromptu speech! I said to myself: “They are going to count this as time in service!”
While they jibber-jabbered, I clicked on the Royal Commission (RC) website. I pretended to listen; nodding my head and making interested facial expressions.
When the website popped up, I felt my heart leap inside my chest.
I jumped in.
“How do you guys handle it differently. I assume you get pedophiles and creeps just like the other religions do, right?”
You should have seen the faces when I said that; it’s like I said, “You guys shit your pants, don’t you?”
Dub #1 assured me Jehovah kept his people clean. Holy spirit did such and such and blah blah blah. Dub #2 let me know JW’s have no priests, as though calling somebody “priest” or not calling them that made any difference whatsoever!
I quickly tried to figure out the best way to get them to commit themselves to a set-up indefensible position which I might get them to do–before showing them the RC in Australia on my laptop.
“How many Jehovah’s Witnesses are there worldwide?”
“Do your members have different standards in other countries?”
“Are there congregations someplace with lower standards and more pedophiles than America? Surely it wasn’t clean all over the world?”
They reassured me emphatically, Jehovah’s Organization was spit spot, clean as a whistle, higher-standards, smelled like roses and their shit did NOT stink. . . blah blah blah. . .
I needed just one more commitment on their part.
“Don’t you think the media, the newspapers, and TV programs may have greatly exaggerated how bad the Catholic Church handled the cover-up just for ratings and scandal purposes?”
Oh boy–they jumped right on that one!
JW # 2:
“The Catholic Church was covering up because they didn’t want bad publicity and investigations conducted by authorities outside the church uncovered their disgusting policies going back years and years.”
JW # 1:
“If the media exaggerated, the Church would have sued them for defamation and libel.”
I nodded with a thoughtful expression on my face.
“So your denomination is completely different in every way possible?”
JW #2 could not see my laptop screen at all, but JW #1 could–he just had not been looking at it while I spoke. But, as JW #2 continued to speak, I caught sight of the blood draining out of JW #1’s face and saw his lips moving as he silently read what was on my computer screen.
“If you really want to see for yourself how different Jehovah’s people are, you are always welcome at any of our congregation meetings . . .”
I jumped in.
“While you were talking a minute ago I thought I’d do a Google search on Jehovah’s Witnesses and pedophiles so I could read for myself about you guys. I notice this popped up.”
Dub #1 looked at Dub #2 and a kind of electric signal zapped from one to the other.
I swung my screen around so the other Dub could see what had shocked the hell out of his partner.
I continued speaking as he read to himself.
My heart was pounding in my ears! I don’t think I’ve been as nervous in my whole life!
“From what I’m reading here, the Royal Commission on child sexual abuse has uncovered 1006 files of unreported cases in Australia of pedophilia an sex abuse in Kingdom Halls of Jehovah’s Witnesses! Did you know about this?”
Had I dropped my pants and shat on the table in front of these two Brothers, I couldn’t have produced more disgust, shock and overwhelm at this moment!
Immediately they went into a rigid, stern-faced denial!
“No no no, that can’t be right.”
“It’s got to be lying allegations. Somebody is trying to sue for money and . . .”
“Lots of people will lie to get an out-of-court settlement and . . .”
“There are sometimes local churches who plant false stories against witnesses so that . . .”
I jumped back in.
“WHAT IS A GOVERNING BODY MEMBER? They are going to question one of them THIS FRIDAY on television!?”
Dub #1 had swiveled my computer screen back toward his face and he was scrolling and reading and the other Dub was jabbering. . .ignoring me altogether. . .asking his partner for clarification.
IT WAS SWEET TO SEE, let me tell you!
TOTAL PANIC! It was as though I were Norman Bates in his mother’s wig and I had pulled back their sacred shower curtain, stabbing them repeatedly while they stood there bleeding all over the bathtub! The report finished and it was silent. Neither said anything for a moment or two.
Marion Crane slumped forward and grabbed the shower curtain–death filling her eyes with a cold, blank stare. . .
I grabbed my laptop from in front of Dub #1 and pulled it back toward myself.
I clicked on another link I had loaded and swiveled the laptop back to the J-Dubs.
“LOOK AT ALL THESE NEWS AGENCIES! They are all reporting on this. . .this. . .SCANDAL!”
Guess what our fine Brothers did next? They went totally into denial!
You should have heard the excuses!
- News media exaggeration
- False reports
- Attack of persecution by the churches in Australia because the witnesses were converting so many of their members into J-Dubs.
- Infiltration by apostates into the congregations in Australia!
- Jesus had been attacked in the same way by Jewish priests!
- The news story was the beginning of the Great Tribulation–Satan’s final attack. . .
- This was proof JW’s are THE TRUE RELIGION because persecution only comes on REAL Christians
And so on–and so forth—and more and more . . .
I began to remind them: THIS IS WHAT YOU SAID THE CATHOLICS CLAIMED to deflect from responsibility!
“Don’t be upset–your Governing Body fellow is going to clear things up on Friday, apparently!”
Again they grabbed at my laptop! I mean–really! No manners at all.
But was I enjoying this? Oh, you bet your sweet ass I was!!
I found the Royal Commission link again and they re-read about the GB summons.
“I think I read that this has been going on for many years–I can’t believe nobody ever told you folks about this. ARE YOU NOT SUPPOSED TO KNOW?”
Dub #1 mumbled a denial–but a not very convincing one!
And then it happened! It was like a sudden mental telepathy between the two of them–they turned on ME! The expression on their faces was dark like tornado weather–and the twister was headed straight for my trailer!
“Who did you say you were?”
Dub #2 asked menacingly.
“You never asked me. I didn’t say. My name is Terry.”
“Have you ever been one of Jehovah’s Witnesses?”
His face was like a malevolent Pitbull.
I had to decide quickly what I was going to say. I didn’t want to lie. But also, I didn’t want them to somehow dismiss everything they had just encountered. If I was a mentally diseased Apostate–they WOULD dismiss everything as an encounter with the spawn of Satan!
I chose to fight fire with fire. I would resort to THEOCRATIC WARFARE!
“Good Lord, no! I’m an Agnostic. I’ve never belonged to any church. Why do you ask me that?”
My face was the very portrait of innocence!
The two Dubs relaxed quite instantly–I could see their body language.
They didn’t answer me.
Instead, they shuffled uncomfortably.
“We run into ex-members now and then. They bring up stuff like this just to try and stumble us in our faith in Jehovah.”
Both of them ignored me!
The two of them moved to go. There was definite bitterness hanging in the air.
“I’m sorry this upset you. I guess if I were the member of some religion that I thought was pure and clean and undefiled and I suddenly discovered it had THOUSANDS OF PEDOPHILES in it that church officials had covered up—I’d be upset too!”
One of them grumbled something inaudible.
“Well, at least you’ll have more compassion for Catholic priests now that you know how it feels to experience corruption.”
The two J-Dubs gave me the most poisonous look of pure HATRED I’ve ever seen on a human being’s face in my life!
They left straightaway. No cordial good-byes. Nothing. Just space between us.
I confess to a feeling of total exultation–a kind of singularity of personal triumph!
It’s been an hour since the incident. I now feel a letdown.
I hurt those guys. I hurt them deeply. I don’t feel so good about that.
I was busy playing a nasty personal game of “Gotcha” and I really wasn’t in my right mind.
I should have cared more about them as people. I should have had compassion. I should have left the door open. There’s only bitter feelings on their part–not a glimpse of light.
This was an ego trip on my part–maybe even some kind of personal revenge. As such, it was a bit ugly of me.