Crazy Christianity: Jehovah’s Witnesses

What it’s all about:

Jehovah’s Witnesses are arguably the most strict practicing Christians in today’s society. They believe themselves to be the “true” Christians and reject many popular ideas in other versions of Christianity. They do not believe in hellfire, or the inherent immortality of the soul. They believe that when you die, you are in a state of nonexistence — both physical and spiritual.

armageddonThey believe an Armageddon will occur when satan attacks Jehovah’s Witnesses and god is forced to step in and destroy all governments and those people that do not follow him. Witnesses believe that Armageddon will be triggered by the United Nations (you can’t make this stuff up…) which is represented by the scarlet-colored wild beast of the book of Revelation chapter 17 in the scriptures (source). After Armageddon, god will choose 144,000 of his most loyal, trusting Witnesses to help him lead the Earth which he will transform into a paradise similar to the Garden of Eden and they will serve on his council of government. Those that have died before the Armageddon took place will gradually be resurrected and judged based on their current actions (rather than their past deeds) for a thousand years. After that thousand years has passed, Satan will be sent to Earth one last time to test those left and “the end result will be a fully tested, glorified human race. Christ will then hand all authority back to God.” (source)

Which leads me to the next big difference between Witnesses and most other forms of Christianity: Witnesses do not believe in the trinity. They believe that God (or “Jehovah” derived from the biblical name given to God in the Tetragrammaton JHVH or YHWH) is the creator of all things, the “one true God”, and is therefore the only thing worthy of worship. Jesus, or Christ, is God’s only direct creation and the holy spirit is God’s power in the world. They also believe Satan to be a fallen angel, once perfect in the kingdom of God who now comes to Earth to mislead people and create evil and human suffering.

h2E92B97DWitnesses do not celebrate birthdays, Christmas, Easter or any other “typical” holiday as they believe them to be derived from Pagan rituals and, therefore, not properly representative of their Christian faith. They also refuse to pledge allegiance to any country, take part in any nationalistic celebration or song and vehemently refuse to serve in the military. They do this because they feel that Christianity has no nationality and one’s allegiance should only ever be to God and nothing or no one else. “They consider secular society to be morally corrupt and under the influence of Satan, and most limit their social interaction with non-Witnesses.” (source) This places them in a state of segregation from everyone else (including fellow Christians who are not Witnesses) by choice, until they are called upon to evangelize. All members are required to evangelize and each must submit a monthly log of their activity. If you do not, you can be considered inactive and eventually be “disfellowshipped” and shunned by the community — an act highly dreaded by those that faithfully follow.

Worship involves frequent church meetings on the local level as well as national/international meetings that are more like conventions . They prefer their own translation of the Bible called, New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures, and are taught how to read the scriptures by a governing body composed of all men (surprise, surprise) called, The Watch Tower Society. These men create publications that are to be given as much weight as the Bible itself and are not, under any circumstances, to be re-interpreted or challenged in any way (to do so would result in their being immediately disfellowshipped). If one publication comes out as being in disagreement with a previous publication, it is said that God is gradually revealing his will to the Watch Tower Society and they can, therefore, only publish what they know, when they know it.

Why it’s harmful to society:

Jehovah’s witnesses are incredibly strict and un-wavering in their approach to a faithful life and can sometimes take it too far. I was watching a television show in which young, talented musicians were given the opportunity to be the opening act for some of the biggest artists in the music industry. One young man was selected to open for Nikki Minaj, giving him the opportunity to live out his life-long dream and potentially make a name for himself. As a part of the show, they would fly out the family members so that they could be there to share in their child’s once-in-a-lifetime opportunity with pride and support. However, this poor young man had to experience the happiest moment of his life without the approval of his mother (who happened to be a Jehovah’s Witness) as she refused to take any part in the demonic, worldly concert. She chose a distorted worldview over the happiness of her own son and as a result, he felt abandoned by her and ashamed of his dream. No parent should ever make their child feel this way.

Another thing Witnesses vehemently oppose are blood transfusions. Receiving a blood transfusion is grounds for expulsion from the religion and should always be rejected — even in life and death situations (?!?!?!). They base this belief on their interpretation of Acts 15:28-29 which states,

“For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things: that you abstain from things offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from sexual immorality. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well.”

There is zero tolerance for sex outside of marriage, homosexuality, drunkenness, gambling, illegal drugs and tobacco. Witnesses must dress modestly and follow a strict patriarchal home-life in which divorce in only permitted in the case of adultery (per the Bible). Any divorce not a result of adultery (a scriptural divorce) or a legal separation due to excessive abuse or disdain for the union (“absolute endangerment of spirituality”) is considered illegal and any re-marriage considered adultery. “Marrying a non-believer, or endorsing such a union, is strongly discouraged and carries religious sanctions.” (source)

This leads me to the reason I believe the Jehovah’s Witness style of Christianity is most harmful to society: segregation. They segregate themselves and their children from the outside world and all others that are different from them. Their children are never given the opportunity to learn about the world and make decisions about it on their own which causes a great deal of intolerance and un-acceptance. I believe we become better, more fulfilled people when we are surrounded by people who are different from ourselves. I believe that is the only way we can truly learn and grow. Strip that away and we are nothing but the product of our parents and a slave to their ideals.

Believing you are living the “one and only” truth and being completely un-accepting of other beliefs is never a good thing. It’s arrogant and ignorant and when both of those traits come together it almost always spells disaster.

Why it’s not as bad as the others:

(for Violetwisp 🙂 ) Jehovah’s Witnesses are one of the only Christian religions that I know of to take the Bible and the teachings of Christ almost completely literally. They jumped in head-first and committed to the entire sha-bang. There is no scripture plucking, no hermeneutics, no personal ideologies, just one way — God’s. As much as I disagree with their worldviews and their decisions to take literally a book filled with awful, harmful things, I have to admire their commitment to a less than wonderful lifestyle all for the sake of what they believe. You will never come across a Jehovah’s Witness apologist, and I like that.

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Crazy Christianity: Christian Science

In an attempt to highlight the many, many different branches that have grown from the tree of Christianity by way of human interpretation, I have decided to start a little mini series spotlighting some of the most interesting ones. I wanted to start with Christian Science since it happens to be one of the most interesting I have come across in quite a while.

What it’s all about:

MARYBAKEREDDYThe Christian Science religion was founded in 1879 by a woman named Mary Baker Eddy. She was sickly most of her life and after suffering a fall that inflicted internal injuries in 1875 she turned to the Bible for answers about her healing. It is at that time she claimed to have come to a working understanding of pain, sickness and injury through reading the scriptures which lead to her speedy 3-day recovery. She wrote a book describing her experiences and revelations, started preaching and putting to practice her new-found healing methodologies and the church was built 4 years later.

The basic premise of Christian Science is that the immortal, material world is an illusion in which we fall victim to suffering and illness. Matter is not real; only the spiritual world is real and can be accessed through prayer. They believe that “sickness and death are illusions caused by mistaken beliefs, and that the sick should be treated by a special form of prayer intended to correct those beliefs, rather than by medicine.” (Source)

These beliefs, as you can imagine, are incredibly controversial and potentially very dangerous. In fact, “between the 1880s and 1990s the avoidance of medical care and vaccination led to the deaths of a number of adherents and their children; several parents and others were prosecuted for manslaughter or neglect, and in a few cases convicted.” (Source) The modern Christian Science church takes a different stance on healthcare today in which they do not advocate for the complete non-use of medical treatment, but instead advises its followers to pray about what option they should take and make a decision that best fits their family’s needs (which almost always leads to a decision not to utilize modern medicinal treatment).

The_First_Church_of_Christ,_Scientist,_BostonChristian Science churches do not have pastors or reverends as typical Christian churches do. Actually, Mary Baker Eddy ordained the Bible and her book, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, as the pastor of the church. There is one main church located in Boston (called the Mother Church since it was the first location) and many branches throughout the world. Each week, every church studies the exact same lesson from the Bible. They meet on Wednesdays to discuss with each other how the lesson has affected their lives and to share stories about how the lesson has healed them in some way. Then, they meet on Sundays for a church service in which that particular lesson is read aloud; there is no personal sermon given by any leader.

Ultimately, the followers of this religion believe that Jesus was able to heal people and even bring them back to life because of his closeness with and un-wavering trust in God. They believe that if they pray and develop a closeness with God as well, that they will then be able to heal themselves and others. While they know that they will never achieve the kind of closeness Jesus had to God, they believe that they can certainly approach it.

Why it’s harmful to society:

This religion requires complete trust in god to heal and prevent all illnesses which can and have lead to more than a few very avoidable deaths and/or complications. Many children suffer the consequences of not being vaccinated or actively treated for their illnesses in the appropriate ways causing their otherwise well-meaning parents to be accused of (and rightfully so) neglect.

This is one of those religions in which someone had an idea about the Bible and wrote their own supplementary text with the intention that they be read together. These authors, while most vehemently deny any parallels or comparisons between themselves and god, almost always believe that their writing is just as important as that of the Bible. I find it strange that someone with the capacity to believe the Bible to be a divine text with all of the answers one will ever need in it could also believe that some random person has the ability to write a guidebook or a partner book that describes the correct interpretation and how you should live your life accordingly.

A lot can be said for the healing powers of the mind. Many studies are being published about the affects one’s mindset can have on that person’s ability to heal and many cancer patients can attest to these seemingly miraculous cures. We already know that things like pain can be attributed almost entirely to that particular person’s idea of it which explains why some people enjoy hanging from the ceiling with hooks stuck through the skin on their backs and others can be completely crippled by a stubbed toe. However, to attribute these natural brain phenomenons to a divine deity is incredibly ignorant and dangerous. For minor illnesses and injuries I believe it is perfectly acceptable to resort to any type of treatment one feels is best for either themselves or their family, whether natural, homeopathic, divine, medicinal, etc. However, for life-threatening illnesses and injuries I believe, especially in the case of children who are unable to make medical decisions on their own, the power of healing through one’s mind (or prayer as the Christian Scientist will believe) should be used in conjunction with any and all modern remedies and solutions available; anything less is just plain irresponsible.

Sleepy Jesus

This Jesus character in the Bible was one hard-working dude. With non-stop miracle-making, parable telling (and explaining), interviews with the press and recruitment of new fans, Jesus worked day and night doing everything any celebrity would do short of opening a Twitter account. So, it’s no wonder that he was exhausted! I mean, Jesus had to sleep too and when he slept, he must have slept hard. Like, dead to the world hard. In this story, however, it is debatable whether Jesus was actually exhausted or if he was just stoned. Unfortunately, we’re unable to complete an autopsy and do a drug test due to the fact that there is no physical evidence of Jesus ever existing at all. But, these are minor details and I digress.
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(Moses thought god burned his weed when in reality god used fake flames (you know, like the ones used in The Hunger Games) to make Moses think it was unusable so he could save it for his son’s future consumption. I mean, it was some good stuff — the best. And who deserves the best more than the son of god? That’s right — no one.)

Here’s the story:
“On the same day, when evening had come, He said to them, ‘Let us cross over to the other side.’ Now when they had left the multitude, they took Him along in the boat as He was. And other little boats were also with Him. And a great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that it was already filling. But He was in the stern, asleep on a pillow. And they awoke Him and said to Him, ‘Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?’
 
Then He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, ‘Peace, be still!’ And the wind ceased and there was a great calm. But He said to them, ‘Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?’ And they feared exceedingly, and said to one another, ‘Who can this be, that even the wind and the sea obey Him!'” Mark 4:35-41
So, basically Jesus is asleep (or passed out) on a boat that is being whipped around so much by the wind and the waves that water is actually overflowing into the boat. It is overflowing into the boat so much so that the others that are on it are afraid for their lives and believed death to be an imminent threat. So what do they do? They wake Jesus up, of course! After all, how could he just let them all die? So, Jesus wakes up and tells the wind and the sea to cool it, and it does (as a side note, I wonder what the other fishermen in that sea must have been thinking when the storm instantly stopped like that…).
Either way, instead of Jesus turning around and saying, “Woah, sorry guys, that got way out of hand. You see, with all this life-saving I have been doing lately, I am just completely wiped. My bad.” he says, “Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?”. This obviously does nothing to calm their fears (they are still fearing “exceedingly” at this point) and instead puts them in awe of him.
And, I get it — they just watched a man completely and instantly stop a raging storm. That’s impressive. BUT, if they hadn’t awoken him, there is a very good chance that they would have all been dead at the bottom of the sea while Jesus simply stood up and walked his way back to shore.
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Is that what is happening these days? Is the “savior” so tired from all the stuff he did on Earth 2000 years ago that he is just passed out somewhere while all of these natural disasters kill people? And how do we wake him up so he can make it stop? What should Oklahoma have done? Or New Jersey and New York? What about New Orleans? Or Japan?
Jesus, if you exist, this had better be the best nap you have ever had.

Healthcare Heathens

I was on a website looking up some bible verses yesterday when I noticed this little ad on the top of the screen:

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With all the attention being paid to ObamaCare and its damn hippie, communist solution to a VERY big problem in the United States, I just had to click it (You can click the picture above to experience what I experienced, if you like).

What I came a cross was a poorly put together website about a health insurance option, called Medi-Share, for Christians. It doesn’t contain much info (they want you to sign up to receive more) other than a few things that really caught my attention.

What is Medi-Share?

 Medi-Share is a community of more than 50,000 Christians who follow the biblical model of sharing and paying each other’s medical bills much like the early church did 2,000 years ago. And as a not-for-profit ministry that promotes healthy biblical lifestyles, participation is affordable.
The “biblical model of sharing and paying for each other’s medical bills”. I was shocked. Do people really think this is better than the propositions in the oh-so-hated, communist, Canadian ObamaCare policy? This Medi-Share plan basically takes money from everyone that is signed up and redistributes it to those that need it, when they need it. Sound a little like Communism to you? It sure does to me! What is most disturbing is that they are actually getting people to buy into the notion that this is somehow a better option than the “real” Communist actions Affordable Care Act.

Worried about the new Health Care Bill?

Afraid you’ll be forced to buy health insurance you can’t afford? Our economy is bad enough and according to a recent study by Price Waterhouse Coopers, the new healthcare reform bill will make health insurance premiums rise by 40%.

Healthcare sharing ministries like Medi-Share are the only organizations to be exempt from the regulations and costs of the recently passed health care bill (Page 128, H.R. 3590 ).

This means that as a part of Medi-Share, you would be exempt, too. The requirements, the taxes, the penalties, and the high costs will simply pass you by.

(more…)

Blasphemy

“Assuredly, I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the sons of men, and whatever blasphemies they may utter; but he who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is subject to eternal condemnation”— because they said, “He has an unclean spirit.” Mark 3:28-30
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Knowing that this picture exists makes eternal condemnation all the more worth it.

And This Little Piggy Went “Wee, Wee, Wee,” All the Way Down the Cliff to its Imminent Death in the Sea

Here is another one of my most favorite Bible stories. It is called, “A Demon-Possessed Man Healed” and it is found in the fifth chapter of the book of Mark. Enjoy.

“Then they came to the other side of the sea, to the country of the Gadarenes. And when He had come out of the boat, immediately there met Him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit, who had his dwelling among the tombs; and no one could bind him, not even with chains, because he had often been bound with shackles and chains. And the chains had been pulled apart by him, and the shackles broken in pieces; neither could anyone tame him. And always, night and day, he was in the mountains and in the tombs, crying out and cutting himself with stones.”

It sounds to me like this poor guy needs some serious help but, instead of helping him, the people of this country have attempted to bind him with shackles and have condemned him to live with the dead instead. Remind me never to visit the country of Gadarenes.

“When he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and worshiped Him. And he cried out with a loud voice and said, ‘What have I to do with You, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I implore You by God that You do not torment me.'”

So, this man knows who Jesus is and is instantly able to recognize him, yet the first thing out of his mouth is a plea for Jesus not to hurt him? Now why would he think that Jesus would do a thing like that, I wonder? Could it be because demons were allowed to take refuge in his body?

“For He said to him, ‘Come out of the man, unclean spirit!’ Then He asked him, ‘What is your name?’

And he answered, saying, ‘My name is Legion; for we are many.’ Also he begged Him earnestly that He would not send them out of the country.

Now a large herd of swine was feeding there near the mountains. So all the demons begged Him, saying, ‘Send us to the swine, that we may enter them.’ And at once Jesusgave them permission. Then the unclean spirits went out and entered the swine (there were about two thousand); and the herd ran violently down the steep place into the sea, and drowned in the sea.”

Whoa, whoa, whoa… hold on a minute. Jesus grants permission to demons that beg? These demons don’t want to be deported so, instead, Jesus listens to their pleas to enter the pigs and then he proceeds to kill them all off? Why not just expel the demons and kill them there, in thin air? Why did the poor pigs have to die, too? Wouldn’t killing all the pigs be incredibly detrimental to the welfare of the community he was in? And, I know seas tend to be pretty big, but wouldn’t the water be dangerous to drink with all the thousands of pig corpses in it? Did Jesus really decide that potentially starving an entire population to save one man’s life and to appease the pleas of some demons was the best decision in that circumstance? Keep in mind, this is the same man who supposedly cured a leper, who brought a little girl back to life, who made a blind man see and a paralyzed man walk. This is the same guy that turned water into wine, fed thousands with only a few fish and a couple of loaves of bread.

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He walked on water and calmed the raging storms at sea and now he can’t even expel a bunch of demons without causing detrimental harm to others in the process? Really?! There was no other way?!

“So those who fed the swine fled, and they told it in the city and in the country. And they went out to see what it was that had happened. Then they came to Jesus, and saw the one who had been demon-possessed and had the legion, sitting and clothed and in his right mind. And they were afraid. And those who saw it told them how it happened to him who had been demon-possessed, and about the swine. Then they began to plead with Him to depart from their region.”

Yeah, if someone came in and completely annihilated my entire stock of food, I would want him to leave, too!

“And when He got into the boat, he who had been demon-possessed begged Him that he might be with Him. However, Jesus did not permit him, but said to him, ‘Go home to your friends, and tell them what great things the Lord has done for you, and how He has had compassion on you.’ And he departed and began to proclaim in Decapolis all that Jesus had done for him; and all marveled.” Mark 5:1-20

And in the end, what’s new? Jesus did something to help someone ONLY so that the person he helped could go and tell the story and persuade others to praise him. Jesus never does anything in private and he only ever seems to help those in need when he has a crowd he can show off to. He’s like the guy that won’t donate to the ASPCA unless he gets that “free” t-shirt so that everyone will know that he donated, even though that t-shirt cost the very organization he is trying to “help out” financially.  Jesus knows that the best marketing is by word-of-mouth and never wastes an opportunity to spread that word– even if it is at the expense of others (as it is in this case). So, poor, innocent pigs have to die, people have to starve, and livelihoods have to be started over from scratch so that the demons could get what they so desperately wanted. But, at least Jesus got what he wanted out of it too, right?

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