Are You There God? It's Me, Gidget, Congregation, Doctrines, Documentation, Religion, Scriptures, Truth

Jehovah’s Witnesses and Child Abuse—Is there a problem?

News reports claim that the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, the official name for the organization that governs the Jehovah’s Witnesses worldwide, has been engaged in covering up child abuse within the religion on a massive scale.

But are these reports justified? Is this a case of an innocent religion being unfairly maligned because of the actions of one or two bad apples in their ranks? How many victims are there? Do the Governing Body know about these issues? What’s really going in the multiple courtroom cases that Watchtower has been fighting across the world?

Jehovah’s Witnesses and Child Abuse—Is there a problem?  is a painstakingly researched documentary that draws together evidence from sources spanning the past twenty five years…

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Documentation, Religion

Child Checks Victoria on Children Check

A child in Victoria, Australia pooled his pocket money together with three other buddies in order to pay $69.70 to launch a private criminal prosecution against the Jehovah’s Witnesses of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society in February.

The Victorian and Civil Administrative Tribunal heard a religious vilification complaint against the Watchtower by Mr. Unthank in May, after the Watchtower said people who left the Watchtower, as he had, were ”mentally diseased”. Continue reading

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Ancestry, Are You There God? It's Me, Gidget, Religion

We fly away…

I am emotional. I feel betrayed. I was raised in faith that the Watchtower was God’s organization. I believed that my mom and dad knew the answers that one day I’d come to learn. I just felt slow and stupid and that eventually I’d get it. I trusted. I had faith. I believed. I knew my parents were smarter than me. I had read it in the poem that hang on his bedroom wall.

I now learn that while they can’t answer me from the scriptures when will my father live again they will deny the scriptures as they are written as truth.

“And the rest of the dead do not come to life until the end of the thousand years.” — Revelation 20:5

Despite that verse, and the one which precedes it which clearly defines who will partake in the first resurrection (which is immediately followed by this verse—”And the rest of the dead do not come to life until the end of the thousand years.”) she’d say that “apparently” my father, and all other loved ones, such as my uncles and my best friend, will come to life again during the thousand year reign.

“But who will they rule over?”, she asked. Continue reading

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Religion,

this block of wood

Life is infinitely stranger than anything the mind could invent.
— Sir Aurthur Conan Doyle

I couldn’t invent the story of my life if I tried, it’s hard enough figuring out how to write it. Life has been non-stop and I just can’t seem to figure out how I’d ever explain it all — I imagine with the tools now I can basically rig up a wedding photo montage with music introducing the couple style experience if I could just compile all the images (curate them) and add the details like the music, atmospheric settings, etc, and if technology could only get as good as the ideal—it being fully recorded for full sensorial experience upon playback, upon editing.

Unlikely adventures require unlikely tools.” — Mr. Magorium

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Culture

A California Teenager Goes Undercover to Investigate Life Among the Moonies

By 1977, with a fledgling community of committed and dedicated people, and with a sound teaching that inspired us to live our ideals, the Unification movement in California had grown rapidly. Our first challenge was to become ourselves a model of what we wanted the world to become. The love-ethic presented in the Divine Principle demanded a life of prayer, study, and service to others. We sought within our community to be caring, creative, and loving people, and upon this foundation to work actively for the sake of God and humanity.

We called ourselves “The Creative Community Project” and used a former fraternity house on Hearst Street as a place to teach the Divine Principle at luncheon and dinner programs. We were inspired by an ideal and wanted above all to communicate that ideal to those around us who, so it seemed, had very little commitment to anything other than self-interest.

Most people we encountered had only the foggiest sense of ethics, so we felt great meaning in sharing with them, through our dinner discussions and lectures, the significance of our own ethical ideals. Those who were serious and wanted to pursue those ideals further were invited to workshops at Boonville and, later, to other country retreats. — To Bigotry, No Sanction: Reverend Sun Myung Moon and the Unification Church by Dr. Mose Durst

Growing up in the San Francisco Bay area, Scott Keeler, 18, knew what every other teenager knew. As one of his classmates put it, “There’s this place you can go if you’re fighting with your parents. They’ll take care of you.”

But unlike most of the others, Keeler also knew that the “place,” Creative Community Project, was owned and run by the Rev. Sun Myung Moon‘s Unification Church. As student body president at Alameda, Calif. High School and reporter for his school paper, Oak Leaf, Keeler decided last spring to go underground and investigate the Moonies.

Using the alias Dirk Schwerte, he quickly discovered that Moonie recruiters were on the lookout for unattached teenagers.

“All anyone has to do,” he says, “is put on his backpack and walk down to Fisherman’s Wharf.” Though no mention was made of Reverend Moon or his church, Keeler was invited to the Moonies’ San Francisco headquarters. Here is his account of his bizarre experiences:

Creative Community Project is a large white Victorian house on Washington Street. I felt my stomach in my throat as I jabbed the doorbell. Before I could ring again, the door swung open. “Come on and join our circle,” said a young man with a fixed smile. He offered his hand. I cautiously took it and sat down. He squeezed my hand, smiling and staring at me.

Later a low-protein, vegetarian dinner of rice and broccoli was served. I noticed that all the first-time visitors had acquired a new Moonie friend hanging close by their side. “Come on, let’s go over and pull up some rug,” said a young man, putting his arm around me and beaming. His name was Bob. I noticed he didn’t have any food.

“Aren’t you eating?” I asked.

“No, I’m fasting this week. It’s spiritual fasting. Some of the people in our community do it.”

An hour and a half later Bob was still sitting beside me and holding my hand. We were being lectured by a Moonie leader named Sherri Sagar when there was a loud crash at the front door. A man was shouting “Jeannie!” and trying to force his way in. Suddenly at least 25 Moonie reinforcements flooded the entry, trying to push him back out. “Where is Jeannie?” he shouted. “Jeannie! Jeannie!”

“There’s no Jeannie here,” insisted one of the Moonies. “You’ll have to leave.”

“What do you mean?” shouted the man, clinging to the door molding. “She came here last week, you bastards! What have you done with her?”

The Moonies kept pushing, peeling his fingers from the door, and finally shoved him outside. We could hear him shouting after the door was closed and locked.

“What was that about?” I asked Bob.

“Just somebody being negative,” he said. “People attack us because they don’t understand what we’re doing.”

At the end of the evening everyone clasped hands and formed a circle. “Okay!” said Sherri Sagar. “I hope you all liked what you saw tonight and will come up to our farm. We have cars leaving tonight. But before everybody goes, we’re going to do a mass Choo-Choo!” The newcomers shrugged and exchanged glances. “Got it?” she shouted. “It’s easy! Just shake your partner’s hand until we’re through. Ready? One, two, three—Choo-choo-choo! Choo-choo-choo! Choo-choo-choo! Yea, yea, pow!” We newcomers began to laugh, but the Moonies just smiled. “What’s the matter?” they asked.

The Dodge van was packed with 15 people heading north to the Moonies’ farm at Boonville, Calif. The lecture about the farm had sounded appealing—being out in the country, by a cool creek, with people you liked. Sitting beside me was a Moonie named Joanna. She was 20, already married and divorced. “I’m so inspired now that I’m in the Family, I never want to leave,” she said. “There’s so much meaning here.”

No one had mentioned Moon or the Unification Church yet. I decided to take a chance. “How long have you been in the church?” I asked. Joanna’s eyes became distant. For a moment I thought she wasn’t going to answer. “How did you know about the church?” she asked finally. “Most people don’t know this early.”

I told her my cover story, and she seemed satisfied. “Well,” she said, smiling again in the darkness, “it’s good that you’re so open. Most people don’t understand and say bad things about us and the Principle.”

“What’s the Principle?” I asked.

“Well, it’s…” Then she stopped. A man on the other side of the van was looking at her with intense disapproval. “You’ll get that in the lectures,” she said finally. The stranger smiled and nodded. I nodded back.

“How are you feeling, Family?” shouted David, our leader, the next morning. “Great!” everyone yelled.

“Is everyone ready to have the best weekend of your life?”

“Yes!”

Dr. Jack was our exercise leader. “Now let’s do 25 regular jumping-jacks and 10 free-style.” We began bobbing up and down in count with Dr. Jack. I started wondering whether I was 8 or 18. After exercises we were separated into new groups, each recruit accompanied by a Moonie. Eight of us sat on the grass in a tight little circle with blankets and songbooks.

“Okay,” said Dr. John, our group leader, supposedly an M.D. from New Zealand. “Let’s start off this fantastic day by giving your name and sharing a little bit about you.”

When my turn came I talked about Dirk Schwerte, but emotionally I was telling about Scott Keeler (“My mom and dad are divorced. I keep mostly to myself. A lot of people call me a sissy because I don’t play sports…”). “That was really fantastic,” said Dr. John at the end of the sharing. “It shows how open you can be up here in the fresh air.” He laughed as we all clasped hands, and we laughed too. I was beginning to feel so warm and comfortable I wondered why I had ever suspected there was anything wrong with these people. I felt intensely guilty about deceiving them.

The first lecture was a 70-minute presentation of ambiguous references to God, cosmic principles and spirituality. Oriental symbols were put on a blackboard but never explained. After the lecture broke up, we went back to our groups. “Does anyone have any questions?” asked Dr. John. I raised my hand. The other recruits still did not know these people were connected with Reverend Moon and his church. I wondered what would happen if I mentioned it. “You know in the lecture when you talked about God being everywhere?” I began. “Well, is that what the church believes?”

Dr. John dropped his smile. The other Moonies stared at me. A fellow recruit named Paul looked bewildered. “What church?” he asked. No one answered. My eyes locked with Dr. John’s for what seemed a long, uneasy time. “That’s a good question, Dirk,” he said slowly. “Who can answer that?” His eyes never left mine.

“Ah, yeah,” Bob began uncertainly. He talked and talked and didn’t tell us anything.

It was time for volleyball. “Everybody hug in close,” commanded Dr. John. “We’ve got to be positive and chant so loud every second that we’ll love-bomb ’em right out of the game!”

“Yeah, yeah! Great! Yeah!” Every Moonie in our huddle was screaming. I forced a smile and chanted along with everyone else: “Win with love! Win with love!”

“Follow the game!” shouted Dr. John. “Keep your eyes on the ball!” It got easier and easier to chant as I followed the ball with my eyes. I began to lose track of the words I was repeating over and over. I felt I could do anything. A smile spread across my face as I heard our voices echoing off the surrounding hills. Suddenly I fell, and it took me several moments to realize I was on the ground. A Moonie was standing over me. My breath had been knocked out, but I went on chanting “Win with love” in a whisper. I couldn’t stop and it scared me. “Are you okay?” he asked. I picked myself up and checked my watch. We had been playing for more than an hour and had finished two games I couldn’t even remember.

The next evening I walked to the van to return to San Francisco. I said I was sorry I had to go, and I was. “Where am I ever going to get love like this on the outside?” I thought to myself. I was almost crying, and I went up and hugged Dr. John.

“Look, Dirk,” he began slowly, “can’t you just call your mom and tell her you’ll be home in a couple of days? You can call her right now.”

“Sure, just call her now,” said Bob. “You like it up here, don’t you?”

“Well, yes, but…”

“Good,” said Dr. John, “because you can go up to Camp K with us tonight. I’ll drive you myself. Why don’t you tell your mom now?” Stepping forward, they closed in on me in a way I didn’t like, and I took a step backward.

“Hey,” I said finally. “I told you, I have to go. I’ll be back when everything’s straightened out, okay?”

A few days later I did go to Camp K, a converted Girl Scout camp in the Napa Valley where the Moonies continue their indoctrination. Before I went there, I spoke with several authorities on the Unification Church. They warned me that the Moonies were trying to isolate me from the outside world and to keep me from critically examining what they were saying. “If you’re good,” one of them warned me, “they smile and love-bomb you. But if you argue, then they descend on you.” Later one of the Moonies told me the church teaches that you don’t have any responsibility to your friends or family; your only duty is to Moon.

Unification Church members are smiling all of the time, even at four in the morning. The man who is full of love must live that way. When you go out witnessing you can caress the wall and say that it can expect you to witness well and be smiling when you return. What face could better represent love than a smiling face? This is why we talk about love bomb; Moonies have that kind of happy problem.

By the time I got to Camp K, I was beginning to understand some of the things I guess I hadn’t wanted to see before. At Boonville I had become close with a girl named Maureen. At Camp K they deliberately split us up. That’s when I realized they were playing with people’s lives. Any one-to-one sexual activity is absolutely forbidden. Couples are selected for marriage by church officials, often before they get to know each other. After I left, I seriously thought about kidnapping Maureen and having her deprogrammed. It took me about two months to reach her. I told her who I really was, and she got very defensive. She said, “I’m not leaving here. I’m better off here than on the road.” I knew I had to let her go.

In all, I spent three days at Camp K. Then I went back to Ghirardelli Square in San Francisco to continue researching my article and to photograph Moonie recruiters. While I was there I ran into Dr. Jack and another recruiter who knew me. They demanded to know who I was and what I was doing. I told them.

“Give me your film,” Dr. Jack demanded quietly, moving close.

I told him I wouldn’t.

“Give me the film,” he insisted.

“No,” I said, trying to hold my ground.

“Give it to me,” he droned. “Give me the film.”

I grabbed my camera, wrapping the strap around my arm and gripping the lens barrel. I almost gave in from fear, but then I exploded.

“No!” I yelled. “Forget it! I’m not going to give you the film!” People in the park turned and looked at me.

“Scott Keeler?” asked Dr. Jack. “Alameda?”

“Yeah,” I said.

“We’ll be in touch.”

My Daddy escaped the Moonies camp with a new friend in tow. They met again at the NIblick’s Hessen Cassel.

Works Cited

A California Teenager Goes Undercover to Investigate Life Among the Moonies.” : People.com. N.p., 24 July 1978. Web. 04 Mar. 2013.

Heartbreak and Rage: Ten Years Under Sun Myung Moon: a Cult Survivor’s Memoir” Neufeld, K G. College Station, TX: Virtualbookworm.com, 2002. Print.

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Culture

The Bible as Literature: Paul, Dying as to Sin


“We know that our old self was crucified with him so that the sinful body might be destroyed, and we might no longer be enslaved to sin.”
– Romans 6:6

What was meant by Paul’s referring to ‘dying to sin’? I believe this was a transformation of self, of personality, and purpose. It is the putting away of your old personality when accepting Jesus Christ as the savior and becoming his disciple. It is taking on a new personality and trying to leave sin behind as you pursue a righteous course of life.

It is hard to be good. As Paul said, “For I delight in the law of God, in my inmost self, but I see in my [physical] members another law at war with the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin which dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” – Romans 7:22–24. As we can see Paul was very concerned with God’s law… but he mentions the law of the physical members, this referring to imperfect mans physical inclinations. Though he tried very hard, he was incapable of completely overcoming the sinful inclinations within his mind. Continue reading

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Culture

The Bible as Literature: Jesus’ Death—Two Perspectives

In comparing Matthew and John’s account of Jesus announcing his approaching death it is interesting to see the stark differences in their perspectives. John’s account is of a loving shepherd with his sheep easing them into the thought of what is to come and the reasoning for why these things must come to pass. He is painted as “Jesus the way, the truth and the light”. In contrast, the Jesus of Matthew’s account is much more a martyr. Let’s look a little closer at Matthew’s account so we can analyze the additional meaning written into John. Continue reading

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Culture

The Bible as Literature: Daniel—Stories and Visions

Chapters one through six of Daniel’s book are written about Daniel in the third person- Daniel did this, Daniel did that. Then we take an abrupt turn from chapters seven through twelve into the apocalyptic visions. Now Daniel is the speaker who refers to himself in the first person.

In the first six chapters the stories told are of Daniel and his friends and their experiences while in exile. They are prepared for State service and choose vegetables rather than the delicacy’s of the king tables. Nebuchadnezzar has a bad dream about an image of a beast. The boys are thrown into a fiery furnace, but survive by the hand of an angel. Nebuchadnezzar once again has a dream this time of ‘seven times’, a tree (his kingdom) and his going insane. Then there is Belshazzar’s feast, with the mysterious handwriting on the wall that appears. Finally there is infamous Daniel in the lion’s pit. Continue reading

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Culture

The Bible as Literature: Job—Afflicted and Relationship Challenged

Job was an upstanding man in his community, a good guy who didn’t seem to do wrong or harm anyone. “There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was blameless and upright, one who feared God, and turned away from evil.” (Job 1:1) People came to him for advice and he was well liked by all, from children to the leaders of the community. He had it all. “This man was the greatest of all the people of the east.” (Job 1:3) You might say he lived a charmed life, or at least this is what Satan thought as he gazed upon the earth. Like Greek gods sitting above the expanse of the earth playing chess with humans as pawns, Satan challenged Yahweh saying that if Job didn’t have it so good he wouldn’t continue to serve him loyally. In effect, that Job was only loyal because he had it easy and was spoiled by God. Yahweh agreed to remove his favor from his servant so his loyalty could be tested. Satan pulls out all the stops, taking away his riches, and even his sons and daughters in an effort to get him to curse God or turn away from him. Continue reading

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Culture

The Bible as Literature: The Prophets—the Great Day of Vindication and Restoration

First, I will review each of the prophet’s oracles and what they feature in their foretelling the great day of vindication and restoration. Next, I’ll compare the similarities and differences between the prophecies. Finally, as instructed, I’ll wind up by offering conclusion about what these prophetic traditions say about the envisioned time of God’s blessing on Israel. Continue reading

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Culture

The Bible as Literature: Joab to David—Was He Friend or Foe?

Joab was an able army general, a great army organizer who was resourceful and decisive. He was also ambitious, opportunistic, vengeful and cunningly unscrupulous at times. David was king of Israel and Joab was at the head of David’s army of men.

David trusted Joab as the leader of his army, and continued to entrust him even when his actions betrayed disloyalty to him and his direction as king. It seems through the writing of the author of 2 Samuel that Joab was loyal as long as it served his purposes and goals, and he was just after whichever man might give him greatest benefit as a leader based on their possible kingship of Israel. Continue reading

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Culture

The Bible as Literature: The Stiff Necked Israelites

The Lord set the Israelites out as his people apart as a people special and apart from the nations among which they lived. However the Israelites were not so easily convinced, and demonstrated again and again how they were indeed ‘a stiff necked people’. Their behavior reminds us of an indignant young toddler who just will not listen and believe when we say that something is bad for him. Just as you would punish a young toddler to keep him safe from harm, perhaps from burning his hand upon a hot stove, the Lord punished his people and tried to reason with them through signs, miracles and plague.

The Israelites drug their feet when it came to establishing faith in their God and proving righteous to him because they simply lacked faith in Him. The people were a shortsighted people concerned only with their immediate well being and what it was that they might see immediately before them. When in Egypt under slavery they were upset with their being enslaved, however when freed by the Lord through the hand of Moses they complain about being rescued just to die in the wilderness and they would have been better off left as slaves in Egypt. Continue reading

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Culture

The Bible as Literature: Joseph’s Deceptions

Joseph’s jealous brothers threw him into a pit after conspiring to kill him, considered selling him to the Ishmealites, instead leaving him in the pit to be kidnapped by the Midianite traders. As such it’s amazing to believe that Joseph would still hold love in his heart for his brothers. And maybe that’s the real basis for this story… Continue reading

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