Jehovah’s Witness Convention 2016—A Weekend of Robbery and Manipulation
Having viewed a few of the videos from the convention for this year, there is one in particular that disappoints me the most. Please watch:
Robbing Children of Their Potential
This video portrays a young man with musical talent being discouraged from pursuing his dreams. When I first saw this video, I nearly began to cry. There is nothing else to call this other than a horrendous crime. Beyond that however, it is also a grossly hypocritical display.
A famous Canadian supermodel, she has appeared on television several times. She has been a Jehovah’s Witness since she was a child, and still goes door-to-door.
She has had quite a few accomplishments according to her wikipedia page:
- In October 2010, Coco Rocha was given Marie Claire’s Prix d’Excellence as their model of the year at a ceremony in Paris.
- In November 2010, Rocha was awarded the Seventeen Body Peace award by Seventeen magazine. Rocha had contributed a number of articles to Seventeen on the topic of girls’ body image and self-esteem. On February 14, 2011 Coco was awarded the Elle Style award for ‘Model of the Year’ by Boy George in London.
- On June 16, 2011, Coco Rocha and husband James Conran both received awards for their philanthropic work at the Pay It Fashion Forward event in Manahattan, NY. In 2012, Vogue Paris declared her one of the top 30 models of the 2000s.
- On February 1, 2014, Rocha was awarded the “Model of the Year Award” at the Canadian Arts and Fashion Awards in Toronto, Canada. On April 24, 2014 she received the prestigious Vienna Fashion Award as Style Icon at a lavish ceremony at Vienna’s Museumsquartier.
Indeed, she’s enjoyed a life of great sucess and affluence. What if the video above had been of a young person who wanted to persue acting or modeling? On what grounds could Watchtower portray this being discouraged? We have an example in Coco Rocha of a Witness who is successful and famous. Apparently the pressures of the world aren’t a concern for Coco, and how would she react if she were at a convention where a child was directly discouraged from pursuing a career as a model?
A famous athlete and a name you are likely to know. Serena Williams is a very talented tennis player who has either been a runner up or won many tournaments for the sport. She is actually ranked number one in womens tennis according to Wikipedia.
Do you know who she attributes this success in her sport to? Notice what this website has to say about her:
If Serena Williams wins Wimbledon Saturday (July 11), she will likely say — as she usually does after a big win — “I want to thank Jehovah God.”
If you are a Jehovah’s Witness, what are your thoughts on her beliefs that Jehovah helps her win at tennis? Again, it appears she is not discouraged from these expressions or from being famous. Why is that, do you think?
I pose a similar question to the one from above: say that it was a young peron who wanted to be a tennis player, or some other athlete? On what grounds could Watchtower discourage that young one the way they discouraged the young person in the video above? How can they discourage this but not discourage Serena Williams? It is an incredible hypocrisy. But let’s get specific, what about music?
Sadly, Prince recently passed away. Jehovah’s Witnesses wasted no time publicizing their memorial service for the star, which featured several celebrities in attendence. Prince was a very talented musician, and he had fans all over the world. How would he have reacted to a video of a young man being discouraged from pursuing his dreams as a musician?
I cannot imagine that Prince would have reacted well to this video. He clearly loved music, and continued to pursue his career well after becoming a Jehovah’s Witness. The elders in the Kingdom Hall which he attended remarked on it, saying that he was often out of town. It is an unbelievable hypocrisy for Watchtower to discourage this young boy from his dreams when they clearly had nothing to say to Prince on the same.
There is more to this convention than this high level of hypocrisy, there is also a veiled dishonesty.
As a Jehovah’s Witness, it is highly unlikely that you get to see the outlines for the convention parts. I would like to show you a snippet from the final parts outline.
This direction given to the speaker is a deliberate misrepresentation to the audience. Allow me to expliain.
To begin, notice that the direction is specifically to relate a verified positive local experience. This is a dishonesty, because it does not ask the question of how many prayers went unanswered. Imagine if they took a poll of all the congregants in the district and then reported how many feel their prayers were answered and how many feel they were not, do you think this would be a more accurate representation of truth? I certainly do. This is even worse though, because if no positive experience exists they just pick one of their own published examples! This is such a deliberate dishonesty it boggles my mind. It is also the manufacture of confirmation bias.
There is more though, because even if they find a “verified” local experience there is no way to show that it was Jehovah that answered this prayer. How could it be shown that it was not merely chance? Or perhaps some person looking out for them? It could not possibly be proven that Jehovah answered the prayer, it must be assumed.
Let me ask another question though: if you must believe that Jehovah answered this prayer, how could it be shown that it was Jehovah and not some other God? Now you may be thinking, “I know because it was to Jehovah that the prayer was directed.” But this does not actually prove it was Jehovah. Perhaps it was Allah; maybe answering this prayer played some small role in his grand plan for the universe. Or maybe it was some Hindu god for similar reasons – how could we show that it was Jehovah and not one of these? Could we?
Taking a lot on Assumption
Much is being assumed by the speaker. First, they are assuming that you will not see this outline, which directs them to deliberately look for only a positive experience without any consideration to the negative. Second, they are assuming God answered this prayer. Third, they are assuming that the God that answered this prayer was Jehovah. However, none of these things can be proven. So now, it’s likely you are thinking, “this is where faith comes in.”
I would like to have a candid discussion on this subject of faith. As a Jehovah’s Witness, you do not believe in faith-healing. Yet, it is a reality in many groups. Say you went to the doctor feeling something wasn’t quite right, and after listening to your discription of the symptoms you were experiencing the doctor said, “You have such-and-such.” The doctor ran no tests and did no examination, so you ask the doctor, “but how do you know that’s what it is?” He says, “Faith.” Would this be an adaquate doctors visit? How would you feel? Would you just accept their conclusion based on faith? Or what if the doctor did do an examination and determined that you have a dangerous strain of the flu which is easily cured with a prescription; but, instead of proscribing the medicine they proscribed prayer. Would this be acceptable to you?
There is no doubt in my mind that you are thinking both of these examples are absurd and that you would be changing doctors. Some of you may even be looking for a way to explain this away, saying, “This isn’t at all the same thing as what is happening in the convention talk.” But it is exactly the same thing, because it is a question of the reliability of faith in determining what is true. It is tantamount to just assuming you know something without really knowing it. What the speaker is being directed to do is to give you a biased example that ignores any checks and balances against it, and take for granted that you will assume to know something you don’t know about that example (that the answer must be God, and not just any God – but Jehovah God).
Worst Convention Ever
In reviewing the talk outlines and the videos that the convention is going to present, I must agree with my fellow activists that this is the worst convention I have ever known. This deliberately manipulative and epistemologically flawed part that closes the convention isn’t even the worst of it. If you read this website, I implore you to keep your eye on jwsurvey.org. In the near future there will be articles and videos posted there elaborating on the convention in ways I cannot. I hope very much you will keep checking for these videos and articles, because this convention truly is an abomination.