After Prince’s death, George Cook (an elder at the Kingdom Hall where Prince attended JW meetings) was reported to have said the church does not have a problem with Prince’s reported addiction to prescription drugs because “that’s a personal matter.” “Brother” Cook made this statement after Prince’s death in April, 2016 and before the memorial at the Saint Louis Park JW Kingdom Hall in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Many celebrities were in the audience, including some who were also Jehovah’s Witnesses.
The Guardian (August 21, 2016) reported that many powerful synthetic drugs such as oxycodone, fentanyl, lidocaine and U-4770 (a synthetic drug that is eight times more powerful than morphine*) were found in Prince’s home. The presence and the amounts of those drugs strongly suggested that he was absolutely addicted to drugs.
This leads us to ask if the JW elders at Prince’s Kingdom Hall suffer any remorse? They clearly sent a message that money and fame talks when they jumped on the publicity train (with the permission of Watchtower’s leaders in New York) by allowing their “Jehovah’s Witness church” to be “heavily involved in the star’s memorial service.” **
Please note that these same elders, seemingly without any reservation, participated in and managed Prince’s funeral and memorial, and yet some of them with decades of judicial hearings under their belts, have disfellowshipped many ordinary Jehovah’s Witnesses for using or being addicted to cigarettes or opiate drugs. Their actions have resulted in anguish and despair due to their strictly enforced and hard-hearted “shunning” of those addicted to drugs. Rather than “practice mercy” by offering support and encouragement to find treatment for an addiction, they would rather punish those addicted – ostensibly to keep the “organization (Jehovah’s Witnesses) clean.”
According to the Surgeon General of the United States, addiction is a “chronic disease of the brain” that has, for far too long, been treated as a “moral failure, a character flaw.” This is exactly how Jehovah’s Witnesses have shamefully handled these cases by simply ignoring the realities and “disfellowship” members who suffer from addictions.
These elders and their leaders should remember the words, “For the one who does not practice mercy will have his judgment without mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.” Those words are found at James 2:13, a scripture favored by Watchtower leaders when instructing elders to forgive pedophiles – actual criminals who express “repentance” and then go on to molest and rape more JW children.
All these appointed representatives of the Watchtower religious system are hypocrites. They are exactly like the scribes and Pharisees that Jesus described as those who “bind up heavy loads and put them on the shoulders of men.” He described their hypocrisy by saying, “All the works they do they do to be seen by men.” Jesus then told his audience to “not do according to their deeds, for they say but they do not practice what they say.”
We can not judge the musician and performer known as “Prince” because we do not know or understand the nature of his illness or addictions. He paid the ultimate price for using – perhaps overusing – legal (and possibly illegal) drugs. But we can express our opinions about those Jehovah’s Witness elders who may have been aware that he had health problems that led to his addictions. We can also point out that Prince “got a pass” from the elders that other rank and file Jehovah’s Witnesses would never have enjoyed – even when their circumstances clearly called for “mercy.”