Religious Freedom and Awake! Magazine

Norman Hovland

The January 8, 1999, issue of the Awake! magazine discuss this theme. Looking through it (the Norwegian issue) it really amazes me that the average Jehovah's Witness can actually read this and not notice the glaring inconsistency. On page 3 there is a big quote of article 18 in the Declaration of Human Rights:

"Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance."

Already by reading this, their alarm clocks should go off. I mean, what happens if a Jehovah's Witness tries to exercise his/hers alleged "freedom" to join some other church? Of course we all know the answer to that question.

The article makes some remarks about Israel, where someone has suggested a law that ban writings that encourage people to change their religion. The magazine, very correctly state that such a law would be extremely easy to misuse. Very true, but again, what's the Watchtower Society's own attitude towards Jehovah's Witnesses who change religion? Why is it that the Watchtower Society wants exclusive rights in this matter? Everyone should be granted the "right" to convert to be a Jehovah's Witness, but from that day, the right to convert again is gone forever? What kind of reasoning is that?

The rest of the articles are a long lamentation about "intolerance" scattered with snide remarks about France. The article does of course not bother to mention that France has not lifted a finger to interfere with their religious activities. It is also quite amusing to notice how heavily the Awake! rely on "The Beast". The article is simply festered with quotes from various United Nation's publications. Brooklyn is forever appealing to various nations and groups to respect the rules of "The Beast". The Watchtower Society is really relying on the protection provided by "The Beast".

On page 11 there is a very interesting subsection, under the heading: "The best way to fight intolerance". Among other things it says that tolerance includes disagreement, and that people can of course be convinced that another persons' religious beliefs are totally wrong, but as long as such viewpoints are presented correctly, they can't be said to be intolerant.

It is only when people spread lies about other religions that it can be called intolerance. The article also very correctly point out that the ultimate expression of intolerance is when people get killed because of their faith.

Again it is amazing that people who belong to an organization who in no uncertain terms declare all religions false except their own, and preach violent slaughter of 6 billion non Witnesses "any day now", apparently do not consider themselves intolerant! Killing 99,9% of mankind only because they don't "accept" Brooklyn's insane calculations about 1914, seem to be a fully legitimate reason for wiping them out. What an illuminating example of the ultimate intolerance!

But on page 13, it really takes off, as the Awake! starts to talk about "Rights without obligations". Wow, if that isn't interesting, then I don't know what is. Does it really mean that Brooklyn might one day understand that human rights isn't just something they demand for their two bit Watchtower organization, but that they should also actually grant these rights to the average Jehovah's Witness as well? Naah, of course not, that would be too much.