If there’s one saying used among Jehovah’s Witnesses (JWs) that I truly dislike, it is this: “He’s not doing anything about the Truth right now.” This is used to indicate that someone isn’t active but there’s still hope they might return.
The Watchtower has threatened an Irish ex-Jehovah’s Witness with monetary damages and “compensation to the fullest extent of the law” in their attempts to have a website he founded taken down. The problem is that Jason Wynne, the original owner and creator of the website and the focus of their lawsuit, seems to be the wrong target. He no longer has any control over the website.
The following “letter of dissociation” was submitted by “Carlos Fernandes” to the elders of his local Kingdom Hall in Portugal. While it is long and detailed, we were impressed by his calm approach and solid reasoning. We are pleased to reprint it here with Senhor Fernandes’ permission.
“Have you yourself been a victim of a hate/bias crime or incident? Have you perhaps observed a hate/bias incident, or heard about one from someone else? If so, please share your experience with the class, including the events surrounding the confrontation and the feelings you experienced while it was occurring or you were hearing about it.”
That was a question that Craig was asked as part of a class project. What follows is his submission. I am pleased, with Craig’s permission, to share it with the readers of Watchtower Documents.
[The complete document is available for PDF download here: Click to View]
In the last few years, there have been numerous “adjustments” in the Watchtower organization, both for doctrines and procedures. While many readers find these revisions enlightening, there are still many brothers and sisters concerned about all these changes and what it means for Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Change is never easy, especially when it comes to doctrinal changes. You can be told that something is “truth” for years – even decades – only to have it changed within one simple article. Why is it so difficult to accept that a doctrine we had long believed as being based on the scriptures – turns out not to be?
The fundamental reason is the way our brain is hard-wired. Beliefs (whether religious or otherwise) are designed to enhance our ability to survive; they are biologically designed to be strongly resistant to change.
“Belief” is the name of the survival tool of the brain designed to enhance the danger-identification function of our senses. Beliefs extend the range of our senses so that we can better detect danger, thereby improving our chances of survival as we move into and out of unfamiliar territory. Beliefs, in essence, serve as our brain’s “long-range danger detectors.”
Because our senses and beliefs are both tools for survival, our brain considers them to be separate but equally important. In other words, beliefs operate independent of our sensory data (evidence). Beliefs are not supposed to change easily or simply in response to evidence. If they did, they would be virtually useless as tools for survival. A police officer unable to believe in the possibility of a killer lurking behind someone with a harmless appearance could easily get hurt or killed.
As far as our brain is concerned, there is no need for data and belief to agree. They each augment and supplement one another. They are designed to be able to disagree. So when data (or evidence) and belief come into conflict, the brain does not automatically give preference to the data.
This is why beliefs (even erroneous beliefs) do not die in the face of contradictory evidence. The brain doesn’t care whether the belief matches the data. It cares whether the belief is helpful for survival. Period.
Mom, my younger brother, and I were baptized on a cold day in September 1999, my final year at school. It was a day of uncertainty. I had recently gotten my unbearable bouts of depression under control, and I finally made the decision to dedicate my life to Jehovah and Jesus…and their organization.
To me that day was bitter-sweet. It was a day filled with fear; fear of failure, fear of not measuring up, fear of whether what I did was right, and fear of the unknown. You see, I had a very turbulent childhood – the impact of which I only recently discovered. My mother was my everything; nature was my playground, and a dad’s acceptance was the elusive mirage I tirelessly sought. Needless to say, this rough and tumble, yet sensitive boy was the unsuspecting pray of men and older boys whose sexual thirst got the better of them. Their seductions and traps left me confused and overwhelmed by the contradictory kaleidoscope of images of myself, of life, of masculinity …and of God.