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About TrueTomHarley

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  1. “Citing a hierarchy that ‘encourages a culture of silence,’ a Quebec Superior Court judge has authorized a class-action lawsuit for current or former Jehovah’s Witnesses in Quebec who were sexually abused by other members as minors....[The plaintiff] alleges she was repeatedly sexually abused and assaulted by her brother, 13 years older, beginning when she was only 10 months old.” Do I understand this correctly? One child abuses another within a family, and it is the fault of the congregation elders? The Canadian judge stated that: “The organization of Jehovah's Witnesses is very hierarchical, led by men, and encourages a culture of silence.” Take the organization out of the picture for a moment. Are we to imagine that the mom and dad of this family would have otherwise marched their kids straight down to the police station to make sure that proper punishment was meted out? There is a part of me that thinks what really gets in sticks in the craw of this judge is that Jehovah’s Witnesses are “hierarchical,” as though any other organization is not, and that they are “led by men,” as though anything less than a free-for-all ought to be taboo. Perhaps she even implies that men are inherently evil, so that the greatest travesty of all is to be led by them. However, says my nemesis: “My guess is that it's not what happened within the family. It was the coverup within the Congregation.” Well—it is not possible to mishandle what you never attempted to handle in the first place. The clear implication of rulings such as this is that religious organizations ought not to look into the conduct of its members, for it is only by doing so that they can find themselves in such a spot as this. “Be like the mainline churches,” the ruling says in effect. “Preach to them on Sunday and be done with it. It’s none of your business whether they apply it or not.” However, the verse Christians feel obligated to follow says that it is their business. “You, the one preaching, “Do not steal,” do you steal? You, the one saying, “Do not commit adultery,” do you commit adultery?” (Romans 2:21) If you claim that your teachings improve the overall moral fiber, you must have mechanisms in place to ensure that that is in fact the case, especially if your view of God is that he insists on a “clean” people, as free of misconduct as possible. Framed in this way, the ruling is a state attempt to regulate religion, and could be argued on that basis. Plus, such thinking completely ignores the far superior role of prevention of child sexual abuse, in order to zero in exclusively on meting out punishment when it occurs, as though that is the means by which the problem will be solved. How’s that project going, anyhow? Thirty years into the all-out war against child sexual abuse, is it just about snuffed out? Or is it only the tip of the iceberg that has been revealed? I’ll take the kids, Caleb and Sophia, video any day, for teaching parents how to protect their children. I’ll take the 2017 Regional Conventions any day, in which every Witness in the world was assembled to hear detailed scenarios in which child sexual abuse might take place, so that parents, the obvious first line of defense, can be vigilant. Who else assembles all its members and then trains them so? ***~~~*** “Jehovah’s Witnesses have a serious problem of child sexual abuse in their midst?” There are two ways of looking at this. 1.) They do not. 2.) They do, but the situation is far worse everywhere else. One must look no farther than who is being outed as perpetrators. If you want to find deviants in most places, you look no further than the leaders. If you want the same ‘catch’ among Jehovah’s Witnesses, you must broaden your search to include, not just leaders, but everyone. A Jehovah’s Witness leader committing child sexual abuse is rare. Not unheard of, but rare. Elsewhere, it is the pattern. Okay, if the leaders are not committing the child sexual abuse, are they nonetheless "hiding it?" How do they compare with other groups? It is a little hard to say. Nobody else has ever found any. They looked the other way, taking no interest in looking at wrongdoing within their midst. Thus, when child sexual abuse was found, it was a.) found entirely independent of religious affiliation, and b.) it was found that the leaders themselves were the abusers. How would members fare in comparison? There is no data. Nobody ever bothered to look. Courts will go where courts will go. Will they take the above into account? Time will tell. There are few organizations with pockets--it doesn’t matter if they are religious or not--that are not being flooded with lawsuits today. In New York State, my own state, the governor has just signed into law a bill greatly lengthening the statute of limitations for child sexual abuse. Out of nowhere has appeared a major sponsor of programming I watch--a legal firm seeking to sign up clients. The ads briefly eclipsed other legal firms of accident litigation running non-stop ads of how “[So and So law firm] got me $3 million dollars, 15 times what the insurance company offered!” Put together, lawyers have become by far the premier sponsors of television. Can a society really endure that way? Make no mistake. No one is saying that it is wrong to sue for grievances. But one must sometimes ask whether there will be any organized group on earth left standing when the suing is done. Of course, there will be some. Governments can just raise taxes to recoup legal payouts. Businesses can raise prices. But groups like the Boy Scouts, investigating bankruptcy at last report, are out of luck. One wonders how other voluntary organizations will fare. The typical person congratulates the client who has come into an extraordinary bonanza via lawsuit. Then he opens his insurance premium bill. It calls to mind, as a rough parallel, the statement of Alexander Fraser that democracy can only endure until “the majority discovers it can vote itself largess out of the public treasury.” The world has become a lawyers’ playground, with massive transfers of money flowing in all directions--the barristers netting a third, they being the only consistent beneficiaries. When the rules of the game change, you can hardly blame the small players for adjusting to accommodate them. There was a time, those my age will remember, when nothing was so crass as for lawyers to advertise. It was against their universal code of conduct, possibly even against the law. It explains the phrase “ambulance chaser”—you actually had to chase an ambulance to sign up a client before another lawyer could. You couldn’t just broadcast to the whole wide world that you were scouring the earth for clients. Someone dear to me was sued several times with regard to property, in another matter that had a very long statute of limitations. When what proved to be the final lawsuit came in, the person sought to make defense through his insurance lawyer, but that one attempted contact several times and could not get a response from the firm bringing suit. Finally, that firm admitted that they were having a hard time locating their client. Seemingly, they had left no stone unturned in seeking business and had finally found “aggrieved” ones whose cases were so tenuous that they couldn’t even be bothered to show up and make them. I wonder, too, whether the popular demand for public apologies isn’t largely just a PR event, or even worse, an encouraged legal strategy to secure a clear admission of guilt, thereafter better enabling future lawsuits. Few things are done for the noble ‘window-dressing’ reasons that are given. At any rate, it is worth noting that when the government of Australia apologized for decades of child sexual abuse, and opposers praised that apology to the heavens because they thought they could thereby embarrass Jehovah’s Witnesses, the victims nonetheless rejected it as ‘too little, too late.’ Better than any apology is prevention. Of course, it is good to call in the grief counselors in the aftermath of a school shooting. But it is far better not to need them in the first place. The situation is a far cry from the Quebec of 70 years ago, during which 400 Jehovah's Witnesses generated 1600 arrests, on charges as minor as peddling without a license but as major as sedition. A key case involving sedition was lost before the Supreme Court of Canada, but was overturned on a rarely-used provision of "rehearing," at which the Court acknowledged that Witness literature and ministry included nothing that incited to violence--a necessary ingredient of sedition--but only contained that which made a powerful faction squirm. The situation is much different today, with altogether different charges, and the game is barely recognizable. But deep within, is the underlying intent not nonetheless the same, cloaked behind a veneer of righteous indignation?
  2. Of course, it makes no sense at all. It IS about people breaking the laws, but the laws they broke are essentially that people cannot practice the faith of Jehovah’s Witnesses. It was the point of a previous thread that becomes more applicable with time:
  3. Enemies of the kingdom message the world over have vastly different techniques but the same identical goal. It is that Jehovah’s Witnesses should no longer be Jehovah’s Witnesses. It is that talk about the hope of God’s kingdom should stop. To be sure, their methods differ. It can even be though as one faction says to another, ‘You’re going about it all wrong!” But the goal is the same.
  4. In the last paragraph I chose my words wrong and wrote ‘also persecutes’ when I meant to say ‘avidly persecutes.’ The window for editing has closed. Can a mod make the change for me, because it makes a significant difference. We do not accommodate gays, but neither do we persecute them.
  5. At the Russian government press conference, journalists asked about the case of Dennis Christensen, who one day prior had been sentenced to over 6 years in prison for practicing his faith. Journalists asked whether Jehovah’s Witnesses can really be considered an extremist organization from a common sense point of view. The president's press secretary said: "We cannot rely on concepts of common sense for governmental purposes." Of course! The knee-jerk response of any jaded person in nearly any country on earth is to chuckle and say “Yeah, it is just like that here.” But there is much more to be seen here. The Russian government is plainly befuddled. The press secretary goes on to explain that the greater issue is not whether Jehovah’s Witnesses are extremist. The greater issue is that Dennis Christensen was found guilty of violating the law that says they are. Surely this is kicking the can down the road. Two months ago, at another meeting, President Putin stated that he really didn’t understand why Jehovah’s Witnesses are persecuted, indicating that the law itself makes no sense to him as applied to Witnesses. To slightly misapply the words of Jesus, “something greater than Capernaum is here.” What? Two scenarios can be advanced—one for all persons, and one for persons of biblical bent. The purely human one is that a powerful and cunning anti-cult movement takes the Russian government unawares. It takes them unawares because it is a Western import, not Russian at all, finding roots in a humanist French NGO dedicated to freeing people from ideas considered socially destructive, and nothing is more destructive to them than religion that includes the concept of authority among its members. The anti-cult movement finds its counterpart in all developed lands, though its methods will differ. There are even divisions among them. The anti-cultists in the West consider the anti-cultists in Russia to be doing it all wrong. One of them says (sigh – it is my nemesis, but there are many others): “Jehovah’s Witnesses need persecution for their beliefs to make sense. With their thuggish behavior that violates human rights, Russia is blowing a huge gust of wind into Watchtower’s sails, fueling another generation’s worth of propaganda.” Of course! They have a “persecution complex” over there—often the charge is made by Witness opposers. Why would their fellow anti-cultists—brothers in spirit if not in technique—be so stupid as to validate it by persecuting them? It is as though he says: “Look—we want what you want, the destruction of the Witness organization. But that is not the best way to do it.” ***~~~*** The second scenario, for those of biblical bent, and it may not be of interest to those not, so they have "permission" to skip this and two succeeding paragraphs, involves the fact that the Witness organization has identified Russia as the biblical “king of the north,” an entity found in the prophesy of Daniel (chapter 11). It is a complex prophesy which many students of the Bible have tackled, involving specific powers (kings) that pass their respective mantles to succeeding powers in often shifting geographical areas, commencing from Daniel’s time down to the present. Does it complicate matters with the Russian government for someone to tell them that the Witness organization says that they are the northern king? Emily Baran, who wrote the book Dissent on the Margins, about the persecution of Jehovah’s Witnesses during Soviet times, said that it did. It genuinely confused the irreligious Soviets and enabled them in characterizing the Witnesses as a political movement masquerading as a religion. The Witness organization goes where it goes in furtherance of its mission to live by and advertise Bible principles, largely oblivious to ones who may think that their toes are stepped on—barely aware of it at all, because they ‘don’t do politics’ at Witness HQ. There is a king of the south, too, these days associated with the United States, and neither king is overly friendly to the interests of Jehovah’s Witnesses. However, because the concept of human rights finds soil more fertile in the West than in the East, Witnesses face few legal impediments to their work in such lands. In fact, the most frequent participant in U.S. Supreme Court proceedings has been the Witness organization itself—sometimes as plaintiff and sometimes as defendant. Of them, Justice Harlan Fiske Stone once said: “I think the Jehovah’s Witnesses ought to have an endowment in view of the aid which they give in solving the legal problems of civil liberties.” The entire prophesy as seen though Jehovah’s Witnesses eyes is most recently discussed in their 1999 publication Pay Attention to Daniel’s Prophesy, which is a discussion of the entire Bible book, not just the chapters involving the two opposing kings. Regardless of who interprets the prophesy, and of what time interval is covered, the kings of the north and south are continually at loggerheads. What is remarkable about the present—and this is only this writer’s perception—is that even when the “kings” declare that they would like to get along, outside forces intervene to keep them "on script." “Wouldn’t it be nice if we actually got along with Russia?” the current American president said during his campaign. President Putin has spoken similarly. At which point, the American press intervenes to virtually ensure that they will not—it is widely recognized that east-west relations are subsequently more strained that in even Soviet times. This dovetails so well with certain biblical passages (Ezekiel 38:4, Revelation 17:17) to the effect that world powers will do things not of their own devising that the similarity is impossible to let pass without mention. One must wonder if former Witnesses, upon seeing unexpected world developments that violate even “common sense,” yet are exactly in accord with long Witness expectations, do not think sometimes that they may have deboarded the train too soon—for in the aftermath of the final contest between the kings of the north and south, a contest whose biblical role has been developing for 2500 years, the “people of the covenant” at last find deliverance. It is to be noted that enemies of Jehovah’s Witnesses present themselves, not as enemies of individual Witnesses, but of the organization that they have chosen, which they somehow portray as having “enslaved” them through various psychological techniques of “control.” In Russia, Jehovah’s Witnesses as people are not banned. Only their organization is. However, most persons are not sophisticated enough to tell the difference, because essentially there is no difference. The Witness enemy is befuddled by it and beats members up with impunity. The police stand by and do nothing because they, too, are befuddled by it. The government is befuddled by it, as noted above. The Witness him or herself is befuddled by it. Everyone is befuddled by it because it makes no sense. It is like this writer saying that I love the Russian people—it is only the Kremlin that I seek to destroy. It is like my saying that the Russian people are free to drive the roads—it is only the roads that are banned. It takes a while to get one’s head around such a notion. Guileless ones are particularly disadvantaged because the presentation itself is steeped in guile. It doesn’t even matter the reason for opposition to the Witnesses. The anti-cultists of the West latch on to different reasons to destroy the Witness organization than do the anti-cultists of the East. A common trigger for denunciation in the West is that Jehovah’s Witnesses are unsupportive of gay rights, and within their community, do not allow for gay sex. This makes them absolute heroes in Russia, which also persecutes gays. Just after the Russian ban was instituted, Angela Merkel even mentioned the two populations in the same breath to Putin—questioning him of his harassment of gays and Jehovah’s Witnesses. (Many Western sources, such as the BBC, edited out Jehovah’s Witnesses so as to focus on gays.) So Russia must scramble to find different reasons. Some Russian sources commenting on recent Witness events mention as a specific objection only that Jehovah’s Witnesses refuse blood transfusions. Even the most staunch advocate of blood transfusion will concede that the group refusing them are not to be equated with ISIS terrorists. No, on so many levels, Witness persecution defies common sense. Whenever things do that, people can be forgiven for wondering if something supernatural isn’t at work as well.
  6. Ringo is my favorite, and arguably the one with the greatest EQ. He is by far the least talented, even as a drummer he is only adequate, but he knows what he has and he uses it to maximum advantage. He is a happy guy who spreads happiness pretty well everywhere he goes. No one has ever called him a jerk, whereas John and Paul have frequently been called that. To me, his voice is the most interesting, and when the other guys would write him a song to sing, that was always a highlight of the album. For whatever reason, I rewrote the joke to remove ‘Dig Deepeeeeer.’ It is a cheap shot. We also contribute mightily toward what we believe. Now it is: Did you hear the one about the ‘prosperity gospel’ preacher who tried to lure them in with Beatles tunes and got stuck on the first line? “You never give me your money. You never give me your mohuhuny. You never give me your muhuhuhuhuhoneeee.”
  7. Did you hear the one about the prosperity gospel preacher who tried to lure them in with Beatles tunes and got stuck on the first line? “You never give your money. You never give me your mohuhuhny. You never give me your money. Dig deepeeeer.”
  8. My hardworking pet and his friend taking a break from their project Better rest up. There will be more work tomorrow
  9. Nah...it is not you, Alan, but me. I post too quickly, without context & sometimes what fits very well in one venue does not in another Brother Laguna was a favorite of mine, though it might not seem so from the following experience: On an endless street in 10 degree weather, (Fahrenheit) we worked the entire morning without a break. Only a few people answered their doors and they may as well not have because I was too chilled to say anything. This would have been back around 1980. When I was single, I used to stick like glue to these guys. With one of them, I became chaffeur of his car in the afternoon running around on return visits. This brother died a few years back in California. He must have been in his upper eighties, if not ninety.
  10. The CO called his final meeting with the elders & I asked him if it would be like Acts 20:37-38 where weeping broke out because they would be seeing Paul no more. “Well...if there is any crying, it won’t be for that reason,” he said. #DecadesAgo #AndyLaguna
  11. Sometimes that is called naivety, Carlos. Sometimes it blows up in my face. Maybe it will here. It might be, not the mark of a better Christian, but a dumber one. Still, at a news conference yesterday, he expressed concern over the prospect of nuclear war. “The danger of the situation escalating is being downplayed,” he said, adding that it “could really lead us to catastrophe.” If he loses sleep at night, I think it is not over the travails of a small religion. It is over the thought of the world going up in flames. In some respects, it is similar to the situation with Pilate judging Jesus. Pilate knew he was being set up. He knew he was innocent. He worked rather hard to free him. But the liars were so insistent, even hinting that to release him would be treasonous, that he eventually caved. After all, it wasn’t his main concern. He tried to do the right thing. That’s how it is with many in the world. They try to do the right thing, but they only try so hard. When the going gets rough, they opt for expediency.
  12. Where do you live? Actually I think the truth lies somewhere between my rosy forecast and your gloomy one. Pressure will ease. After all, if you were a Russian cop, would YOU beat a brother up after what he just said? His statement makes it much harder to thumb his nose at the ECHR, even if he wants to, and he may not. He says that they are Christian, too. That is a huge reversal of the previous line & he didn’t have to say it. Still, he is consious of the majority, as Rocket said. How much freedom of worship will be restored remains to be seen. Maybe the brothers will have to tip-toe around for awhile but if he truly had evil intent, he would not have returned to the topic to say he doesn’t really understand why they are persecuted. Now let’s see how well he holds up as more sinister ones explain it to him and see whose resolve prevails. Probably, Brother Sivulsky has it just right: he is surprised and cautiously optimistic.
  13. Did he say "I really do not understand how to persecute them" or "I really do not understand how they are persecuted"? It is the million dollar question. It is a little like the Twilight Zone episode in which the earthlings were relieved to find the alien's handbook "To Serve Man." Ahh, it means their intentions are good, they said, but at the programs end, they discovered to their discomfort that it was a cookbook. I opt for the second interpretation, and I have only heard the first one here. Given the context of the question, the first interpretation makes no sense. Will it truly be but "ten days of persecution" for our brothers? The most ideal circumstance, and it may not turn on a dime, is for injustice to be reversed and restitution made, a circumstance which will surely be encouraged by the European Court of Human Rights. Thereafter, however, Witnesses will be circumspect in their ministry, maybe using cart witnessing a lot, for the President also said, that with 90% of the country of a certain religious orientation, one cannot throw everything overboard so as to please the "sects." It is enough not to persecute them, which he seems inclined not to do. It will not necessarily be a bad thing for our brothers to focus on being tactful. That has long been the direction of theocratic training, anyhow. These days every wuss of an atheist is attacking the Church, particularly the Catholic Church, kicking the old lady while she is down. Do they think themselves bold? We kicked her while she was up! when it took real courage to do so. But we did so only so that she would release her iron grip on the people, so that other ideas could be freely presented. Once that goal was achieved, we stopped kicking. That's not to say that we do not 'raid each other's sheep,' but all we ever wanted was a level playing field for the free exchange of ideas. Whatever sins she has committed are against God, not us, and he will deal with it in his due time. It is for us to preach the good news and make disciples of those sheep-like who respond. Hopefully that aim can soon get back on track, as we show sensitivity to those of different views.
  14. The ROC has insisted that it did not instigate the ban and I am inclined to believe them. That is not to say that they did not squeal with delight, like kids on Christmas morning, or that some instigators did not have Church connections. But the villainy stems from an anti-cult movement, with French connections, that is active in many lands. Conditions in Russia were ripe, that’s all, just like they were ripe for Communism 100 years ago. Writing Dear Mr. Putin - Jehovah’s Witnesses Write Russia took the better part of a year. There were few publicly available online sources that I did not read during this time, save only for those that were repetitive. The most telling report was one by Joshua Gill, a religion writer, revealing from where most of the trouble came. https://dailycaller.com/2017/07/23/the-french-connection-how-the-russian-orthodox-church-and-the-putin-administration-colluded-with-a-french-ngo-to-destroy-the-jehovahs-witnesses/ I tend to take President Putin’s remarks at face value. There is no reason that he has to say what he does, even expanding it to “JWs being also Christians.” When his Defense Minister, Lavrov, (also on the JW contact list) was asked a similar question months ago, he could not have answered more harshly than he did. I think Putin is being genuine, at last waking up to something that he has barely paid attention to. A president is a busy guy. It is popularly sold that anything that goes down in a country will have his fingerprints all over it, but this is seldom so for matters of ‘low priority.’ Western media excoriates him, but we should not let the propaganda of one king mold our view of the other. I was very careful, in writing the book, not to do that. In the event it was ever read by anyone that mattered, I did not want to sabotage it by being disrespectful or accusing. However, I was not just being expedient. I honestly came to feel it not likely that he was one of the instigators. I admit that feeling wavered in view of the abuses of the last few months, but now it intensifies. Promisingly, he is not cut from the same cloth as many in high government. He was not born to privilege in the ruling class. He started from the ground up, as a regular office worker, and lived with his parents during the early days of his working life. He thus probably retains a feel for the interests of the ‘common man’ that his co-rulers do not. In the end, it hardly matters, because ‘the heart of a king is as streams of water’ in Jehovah’s hands. But it helps if it is neither ice cubes nor steam to begin with.
  15. He said he does not understand why they have been persecuted, adding that they are Christians, too. It shows he won’t be bullied by those telling him otherwise. Distracted by other matters, this may be like the squeaky hinge driving him nuts with time that he is now going to attend to. It is a very good thing. Of course he has known about it, but he has a country to run. This is huge for us. It cannot have been for him. Maybe he is like Ahaseurus & enemies get him to pass a law that he barely pays attention to until Esther exposes them for what they are. ’What is to be done, o Haman, to the man in whose heart the king has taken delight?’ Always we should ‘fear the king‘ and treat him with respect. No potshots ought be made. We thus glorify our God, who can turn the king’s heart like a stream of water, waiting upon him. Everyone hopes that perhaps their letter did the trick. So do I. But it was probably one from a child: https://www.tomsheepandgoats.com/2017/04/i-apologize-to-mr-putin.html
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JWTalk 19.3.22 by Robert Angle (changelog)