JWs Here, There, Everywhere?

By Charles Alexander

Parting Glances

The Great Jehovah, having nothing better to do than his eternal fuss-budging and macro-managing this beleaguered world, curiously has been getting on my case.

It's not the Big Guy, who in a divine snit once wiped out the world because of Sodom & Gomorrah - or was it Lot sleeping with his daughters? - it's his Watch Tower door-bell-ringing minions I've been encountering.

Case in point, #1. I'm shopping at Holiday Market when I'm stopped by a friendly middle-age black woman who starts speaking in French. Does she know me? I wonder. Is she one of the French-speaking Africans I chat with over breakfast coffee at my neighborhood deli?

My French is limited ('tho I've been told my accent is tres belle), required for my Wayne University B.A., and I answer, "D'ou venez-vous, madam?" "Arkansas," she says. Oddly it seems to me.

We Fr. 101 speak a bit, and just as I turn to go shop, she gives me a tract. It's in French, and carries the Watch Tower logo. "You've got to be kidding!" I mumble, looking heavenward. "Zoot alors!"

Case #2. I'm at the October Damned Show, where I have two art entries. A beautiful woman who might easily pass for a model smiles, "It seems we see you everywhere." I haven't a clue who she is, but we chat, and she introduces me to her artist husband, older and equally friendly.

Her husband's painting is of a near-naked black man hanging on a cross. A nail's driven into his penis. "Ouch!" I succinctly critique. They explain to me that they had been JWs for decades, but left three years ago because their faith was destroying them mentally, spiritually, physically.

Case #3. I'm at the Scarab Club's third-Thursday-of-the month "Emerging Artist" series event. Who should show up but the same ex-JW couple. "Were you both disfellowshiped?" I ask as a follow-up question I didn't ask at the Damned Show.

"You've done your homework!" says the artist. "Yes, we were both 'erased' from our membership standing. I had been a privileged, males-only elder. So, for me it was a grueling interrogation and banishment. Might we sit and talk?"

He admires my gay openess, and tells me about two JW women who were very attracted to each other but were told to abandon their sinful lifestyle 'abhorrent to Jehovah'. He speaks movingly of a young gay JW who when congregationally denounced commits suicide. "I'm doing a series of paintings to expose the harm this religion inflicts."

Case #4: I receive in the mail an advance copy for BTL reviewing of Scott Terry's "Cowboys, Armageddon, and The Truth: How A Gay Child Was saved from Religion." (Lethe Press 2012).

"A brave account of Terry's successful escape from a troubled past," reads the intro. "He overcame the hurdles of parental abuse, Jehovah Witness religious extremism, and homophobia, and learned that Truth is living openly as a gay man."

OK! Say something nice about JWs. Well, they don't celebrate Christmas, don't salute the flag, don't stand for the National Anthem, don't vote; but, thank God, they also don't get involved in Rebiblican politics! (And they don't believe in Hell.)

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