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2022 Convention – Friday Afternoon Review

Written by Lester Somrah and published on August 1, 2022

“Take Delight in God’s Promises of Peace”

This 60-minute symposium focused on five (5) promises of peace made by God. They are God’s promise to provide food, shelter, peace amongst fierce animals, an end to all sickness and the resurrection of the dead.

Jehovah’s Witnesses however add a “spiritual twist” to four of these promises. For example for food, they believe that they “enjoy an abundance of satisfying spiritual food”, meaning an endless flow and consumption of religious material provided by their Governing Body. For shelter, Jehovah’s Witnesses who “dwell with God as his personal guests and remain there are safe from anything or anyone that threatens their faith and their love for God.”

For peaceful relationships amongst the wild animals, Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that the most violent and fiercest human behavior can be tamed by simply joining their captive and restrictive religion – José is given as an example. However, it is difficult to verify his experience and testimony as only a pseudonym is given and the country of residence is withheld.

As for the physical problems of food, shelter and illness, the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses advises the following:

Show your appreciation. How? By studying diligently and applying what you learn. If you lack sufficient material things now, take delight in meditating on future Kingdom blessings. Jehovah will surely fulfill his promises, just as he has always done.

“…keep doing what you can and continue trusting in Jehovah. Also, continue to trust in our loving brotherhood. Our brothers and sisters are true friends who are ready to show love in our time of distress.”

“In the meantime, if you have lost your home or possessions or if you experience loss in the future, keep focusing on Jehovah’s good promises. Strong faith can help you to weather any storm —literal or figurative.”

Today, we are privileged to be among the only group of people who worship Jehovah in the elevated way that he approves, as prophesied in Isaiah 2:2.

In other words, meditate, pray, have faith, study and promote our toxic, destructive beliefs and practices and everything else will be Irie (Jamaican Patois, meaning everything is alright and fine) and peaceful, whilst the Governing Body eat and drink all the “well-oiled dishes” and luxurious wines. Once again Jehovah’s Witnesses have refused to include any practical advise such as betterment through further secular education, job and career advancement, and the like. Pursuing these activities takes away and significantly reduces time that could have otherwise been spent on prayer, “meditation“, studying and promoting harmful and destructive religious beliefs of Jehovah’s Witnesses.

“Follow the Road Map to Family Peace”

This symposium focused on four areas that Jehovah’s Witnesses believe contributes to a peaceful family: Show Love and Respect; Improve Communication; Work as a Team; and Worship Jehovah Together.  

Throughout this symposium a step-family is shown dealing with challenges to each of the four areas above. Max and Irene are Jehovah’s Witness parents who recently got married and each have teenage children from their previous marriage. Irene and her daughter Olivia have recently moved in with Max and his teenage children Gabe and Sue.

What is not shown are how Jehovah’s Witnesses pursue peace as a result of one family member exercising their fundamental right to change his/her religious beliefs. The following areas are an ongoing threat to family peace and its unit:

Child Custody – Jehovah’s Witness parents most times use the benign nature of their extreme, destructive religious beliefs to convince a civil court that the child is better off with them than with the non-Witness parent.

Divorce Proceedings – Jehovah’s Witness marriage partners oftentimes pursue marital peace by either separating or divorcing their Witness spouse who simply change his/her religious beliefs, even though the latter partner poses no physical or emotional danger. Some Jehovah’s Witnesses have gone so far as advising the former mate to initiate divorce proceedings.

Another area that Jehovah’s Witnesses pursue family peace through a misuse and abuse of freedom of religion.

Jehovah’s Witnesses use their freedom of belief and religion to cut-off and shun any family member who is either “spiritually weak”,  disfellowshipped or has changed his/her religious beliefs. This action that divides and breaks up families are promoted/advocated very often through videos and their publications.For example in their book “Keep Yourselves in God’s Love”, page 208, it states:

Loyal Christian family members do not look for excuses to have dealings with a disfellowshipped relative not living at home. Rather, loyalty to Jehovah and his organization moves them to uphold the Scriptural arrangement of disfellowshipping.

The Watchtower, October 2017 page. 16 par. 19 had the statement following:

“Despite our pain of heart, we must avoid normal contact with a disfellowshipped family member by telephone, text messages, letters, e-mails, or social media.

In their letter dated 17 February 2022 to the State Administrator, Jehovah’s Witnesses in Norway, made the following statements under the heading “Disfellowshipping and avoiding those who no longer belong to the religious community is a legally protected religious practice”:

It is therefore both unreasonable and very offensive to imply that believers do not act of their own free will when they choose to limit the friendship with former believers who now show so clearly that they disagree with their values and way of life….

It is therefore an abuse of the religious community law that the religious community of Jehovah’s Witnesses is punished because those who belong to the congregation make a personal and free choice as to how they choose to spend their time with family and friends.

In other words, Jehovah’s Witnesses deflect any responsibility for cutting-off and shunning family members to the private choice of individual Witnessses, that they cannot force other Witnesses to be friends with those who “no longer belong to the [their] religious community”.

For the above reasons, Jehovah’s Witnesses and their Governing Body are absolutely unqualified and do not have the “greatest freeness of speech”  to be giving any advice on maintaining family peace and even more so in the complex step-family portrayed in this symposium.

Loyally Support the “Prince of Peace”

In this lecture, Mark Noumair points to the example of Jesus as someone who pursued peace and that “real lasting peace would come about when God’s heavenly government, as described at Matthew 6:9, 10, overthrows and replaces all present-day violent regimes.” 

In the meantime, he advises Jehovah’s Witnesses and the listening public that when issues such as “unfair tax hikes, blatant injustice, a disregard of the environment etc, are affecting people, they should “preach, share the Kingdom news, and proclaim our support for Jesus’ rule.”

Mark Noumair further advises his audience to ‘Be in subjection and be obedient to governments and authorities.’ This means “obey the laws of the land and pay taxes, to not speak negatively about the superior authorities, and to be careful not to take sides on political issues (not even in our hearts).” For the purposes of this review, I would not delve into any detail about the obstruction and perverting of justice; mishandling, systemic cover-up and stubborn refusal of Jehovah’s Witnesses to report criminal conduct to law enforcement. Time and time again, Jehovah’s Witnesses and other religious fundamentalists such as the Catholic and Anglican Church amongst others, have clearly demonstrated that they must never be trusted with child protection. See “Religious fundamentalists can’t be trusted with child protection” by Richard Scorer.

I will briefly say though that Noumair’s statement most likely has to do with the recent roll-out of COVID-19 vaccines in which some Jehovah’s Witnesses, including elders, were openly voicing and promoting anti-vax sentiments in their local congregations; and perhaps doing in like-manner, conspiracy theories (medical and political). See Announcements – COVID-19 Vaccinations and Respect for Superior Authorities, September 27, 2021, for further details.

Do Not Be Misled by Imitation Peace!

In this final lecture of the Friday Afternoon, Anthony Morris discusses three types of “false peace” that can misled Jehovah’s Witnesses – pursuing material things, marrying an unbeliever [a non-Jehovah’s Witness] and unscriptural divorce; and the world’s promises of peace.

Pursuing Material Things

Mr. Chibisa Selemani is a Jehovah’s Witnesses father living in the south eastern African country of Malawi. In his video narration, Mr. Selemani said that his family are actively involved in participation of his religion’s activities and events. However at a point in time, they began to encounter financial problems and sometimes were unable to purchase basic food items. No explanation is given as to how his family became financially unstable and he omits his educational level, skills and work experience.

Nevertheless, Mr. Selemani decided to go to South Africa by himself to obtain the basic necessities for his family. During his six months stay in South Africa, his participation in his religion’s activities and events (field service and meeting attendance) was drastically reduced and had home sickness. Sometime after returning home, he was promoted an elder in his local congregation.

The fact that Mr. Selemani continued to experience financial problems after his return from South Africa (as stated in his testimony), is evident that the local Jehovah’s Witnesses did nothing to provide any relief to this family. The fact that Anthony Morris cleverly twists the examples of Baruch and Jesus Christ in their pursuit of meager material things, clearly shows that Jehovah’s Witnesses are simply interested in what they can milk, without compensation, from Mr. Selemani and his family and nothing else – study and promote their toxic, religious destructive beliefs and practices and everything else will be Irie, whilst Anthony Morris and his pals eat and drink the finest “well-oiled dishes” and luxurious wines.

When things do go south, Jehovah’s Witnesses will, without blinking any eye, distance themselves from accepting any responsibility for Mr. Selemani’s demise, saying that Mr. Selemani and his family willingly chose and volunteered to promote religious interests at the expense of giving their basic needs utmost priority.  This another classic example of religious exploitation, manipulation, and selfishness by Jehovah’s Witnesses.

Marrying an unbeliever, unscriptural divorce

Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that marrying someone who is not a Jehovah’s Witness, is a form of imitation peace and doing so does not make life easier for the believing Jehovah’s Witness. Adult female Witnesses face this challenge as there are less males than females in the religion. Anthony Morris attempts to scare off single women who are looking for a husband by stating:

the “peace that Jesus gives superior to the pursuit of unscriptural solutions to our problems. For example, marrying an unbeliever —that will likely bring (and it has happened time after time) that person greater pain than the longing they felt when they were single. I’ve personally seen that all too many times in various congregations that I’ve had the privilege to serve in.”

Anthony Morris is very quick to point out the “greater pain” of marrying a non-Witness but is very slow to state that marrying a fellow Jehovah’s Witness has equally caused “greater pain than the longing they felt when they were single”. He fails to indicate the prevalence of extra-martial affairs, emotional abuse, domestic violence and divorce amongst some marriages of Jehovah’s Witnesses. I can count on my fingers the number of failed Witness marriages here in Trinidad and Tobago. I’m sure that others can do the same in their respective countries.

It cannot be a case on the part of Anthony Morris “I am not aware of these situations”, but a deliberate omission and using religion as a tool to unfairly control women.

The World’s Promises of Peace

Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that the peace from God’s Kingdom is so superior to anything anyone else could try to come up with. They appeal to the needs of individuals by claiming that “God’s Kingdom” remove the Devil, overthrow and replace existing ineffective human governments; will remove sin and will physically restore a paradise.

According to The Watchtower, September 1, 1989 page. 19 par. 7:

Only Jehovah’s Witnesses, those of the anointed remnant and the “great crowd,” as a united organization under the protection of the Supreme Organizer, have any Scriptural hope of surviving the impending end of this doomed system dominated by Satan the Devil. They will make up the “flesh” that Jesus Christ said would be saved through the worst tribulation of all human history.

Again Anthony Morris fails to state that only Jehovah’s Witnesses will benefit from the peace of God’s Kingdom and that non-Jehovah’s Witness will be killed by God at the “great tribulation” in what some have described as God’s genocide of the human race. This God can never be pursuing peace!!!

 

2022 Convention Reviews

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Lester Somrah

Lester Somrah writes about the beliefs and practices of Jehovah’s Witnesses on his social media platforms and was baptized as a member in 1998.

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