Friday, 1 November 2013

Holier than thou...

So it seems I ruffled some feathers with my recent 'Jehovah's  Witness' photo. This morning, I received an email from an American acquaintance who lives part time in Merida. Below, is her missive, and my answer.

*****


Dear Stewart,

I read with interest your comments on Facebook. Since the ladies you spoke to would not comply with your request for their names and addresses I felt it proper to give you mine so you could visit. My name is ****** and my address is ******. My husband and I have been Jehovah's Witnesses for some 50 years, in fact we are in Merida now and ***** is giving the public talk at our Kingdom Hall next Saturday. If you don't care to visit us please contact ******* as he and his family have been Witnesses their entire lives.

I can't blame the ladies for not giving you their personal information. In this day and age would any woman give a complete stranger her name and address? Would you? I certainly wouldn't. When out in the ministry I will give a stranger my name and email if the person seems interested in studying the Bible. Many want to know why God permits suffering and when will wickedness be done away with on the Earth. We do our work because it was a command from Jesus Christ to witness and teach God's word to people just as he did. (Matt. 28:19 & 20) We are only following his direction. If an individual is not interest we move on to someone who is.

It grieves me that you find it necessary to bother innocent women on the street that are only doing their godly duty. It has rarely happened to me as most people admire our work and are grateful someone has taken the initiative to bring good news to their door.

So please phone if you would care to come and discuss the Bible's message. I look forward to hearing from you.

Regards, 


* * * * * 

Hi *****,

Nice to hear from you, and welcome home! 

Indeed, I know that you and ***** are Jehovah's Witnesses, as well as ****** and his family, and I have always appreciated that none of you have ever tried to force your beliefs on me. Please thank ****** for bringing my Facebook posting to your attention. 

I have no issue with Jehovah's witnesses per se - my quarrel is with anyone who comes uninvited to private houses, intending to indoctrinate others with their beliefs, be they Jehovah's witnesses, Mormons, Catholics, Jews, Muslims, or Devil Worshipers, all of whom would receive the same treatment. I believe religion is a private matter - the aforementioned groups are free to practice and believe what they wish, in the confines of their own homes and religious premises, or indeed, in public places where preaching is permitted, and people have the choice to listen or walk away. My issue is with ANYONE who brings religious messages to private houses, uninvited. 

While I understand your point about ladies not wishing to give out their personal information, I am sure you will agree with me that there seems to be a strange discrepancy in the fact that they feel free to visit houses uninvited, yet don't offer a welcome to people who wish to visit them? Of course I have no interest or intention of visiting them, but feel it is a valid way to make the point. 

You (by 'you' I mean Jehovah's Witnesses in general, not only you personally) believe you are doing as commanded by God. Many of us disagree with that, and therein lies the problem. Clearly your (again, JWs in general) behavior isn't going to change, since 'you' carry this belief. It's important therefore that 'you' understand the reason for the hostility you encounter sometimes. 

You mention that if a person is not interested, you move on to someone who is. If only that were the case! Why then, do the same witnesses come through the street week after week, knocking at the same doors? If indeed it was only once, I would tolerate it (indeed, I did, on the first occasion, many moons ago). To have the disturbance in the street week after week (indeed generally speaking more than once a week) is surely a gross invasion of privacy by anyone's definition? And they don't knock once and move on. They knock again, and again, and again. The 'Mexican' way to handle unwanted visitors such as these is to disappear inside the house and ignore the visitors. It's amazing how quickly the street empties of people, doors close, windows close, and blinds go down when the witnesses appear. You would think the street to be uninhabited, or a small atomic explosion to have occurred!

The British way is rather more confrontational however. I'm sure you are familiar with the prevailing British belief that religion is a very private matter, having spent a long time in the country yourself. I can also assure you that in Britain, visiting witnesses tend to receive a rather ruder welcome than the toned down version I provide here! I can't speak for Texans, never having lived there, but when I lived in New York, I found people to be quite opinionated (to say the least) and am sure that being 'out in the ministry' there must be an experience in itself. 

I've always thought that it is best to avoid discussing religion (and often politics) with friends. I have friends who are Catholic, Jewish, and Muslim, and personally believe little of what they do. I know that. They know that. They don't try to force their beliefs on me, I don't force mine on them. As Benito Juarez said, 'respect for the rights of others is peace'. The right to believe what one wishes, in the privacy of one's home, without unwanted  propagandists at the door should be a primary one. 

I appreciate your offer to contact you if I wish to discuss the bible's message. That is the way it should be done, allowing me to initiate the contact if I wish. 

Hope you will enjoy your stay in Merida! The weather has not been great recently, and we have had a horrendous rainy season, which seems never ending. I was hopeful it was over, but now the nortes have started arriving, yet without enough strength to clear across the peninsula, resulting in a lot of wet and humid weather, and I see the forecast is for continuing unsettled weather for the next 10 days at least. 

Saludos

Stewart

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