This week, David Badash posted an article in which he highlighted National Organization For Marriage (NOM) Chairman Maggie Gallagher’s above mentioned proclamation at a NOM rally fighting for marriage, or specifically heterosexual marriage defined by appropriate Christian faith. It is interesting that the same woman who refused (forgot perhaps) to testify before a Senate hearing addressing DOMA and most importantly in front of and to the American people, would include the word truth in her speech.
The goal of the National Organization for Marriage is “to develop political messaging, build its national grassroots…. and provide political intelligence…. with a focus on developing new strategies for increasing influence in the Northeast and West Coast, where marriage is most under threat.” A Senate hearing that is broadcast nationally and will affect the minds of U.S. Senators, who help to mold the laws within this country, would seem to be an ideal arena for the most recognizable and adamant advocate from their organization would testify. However, that didn’t happen which begs the questions what exactly is the goal of NOM and why are they shying away from proper avenues and platforms to effect change?
Late last month, Freedom to Marry, an organization whose steadfast purpose is to effectively bring about national marriage equality, held a press conference here in Washington, D.C., alongside Joel Benenson, President of Benenson Strategy and a leading Democratic pollster, and Dr. Jan van Lohuizen, President of Voter Consumer Research and a leading Republican pollster. They released a joint report commissioned by Freedom to Marry on the views of Americans surrounding same-sex marriage. (The full report is here.)
Findings showed a rise of 1% per year from 1996 to 2009. Remarkably in 2010 and 2011, support jumped 5% per year. Support from Americans is at 53%, with those under 40 (and in particular the Millennial generation) at an astounding 70%. With 15% support among seniors, 13% among independents, and 8% among Republicans there is a true trend emerging.
“The remarkable surge over the last two years can’t be explained by generational change alone,” says Republican pollster Dr. Jan van Lohuizen. “It suggests that people across the political spectrum are rethinking their positions—and deciding in favor of the freedom to marry.”
These findings, something that many believed was already the truth, show that we are not dealing with simply a small majority (53% is hardly a majority I would count on in politics) we are dealing with a new voting bloc emerging that overwhelmingly supports progressive ideals. Ideas that are progressive and inclusive are tantamount to a death threat for most religious leaders and groups. We simply need to look at Prop 8 which is the most obvious case of religious interference to avoid any shift that would bring about something they feel would threaten their coffers.
Millennials are realizing their voting power and their true ability to create change for a positive future. Smart politicians and in particular heads of religious groups know that they are fighting a changing tide and they are not necessarily strong enough to win. This has caused a change in the tactics from these organizations who are attempting to create a stop-loss. If you can’t change the current product you go to the next on the assembly line. None are more effective at this than Jehovah’s Witnesses. While many people do not know much about this religion or perhaps have partial understanding, they are an organization that has truly used to the full psychological warfare to its benefit and protection.
From a very young age, children growing up in “the truth” of Jehovah’s Witnesses are taught methods to speak, argue and target those of the “world” that need to turn to God’s way. As you develop and are appointed to varying positions you are taught greater and deeper tactics to use in your ministry to both the congregation and to those on the outside as you go door-to-door preaching. There are ongoing and specific education programs that you are able to attend. Each one comes with special appointments that elevate you in the eyes of the congregation and of course of Jehovah God.
Elders are a special class of men who are there to minister to the congregation and ultimately have responsibility within local congregations. They are taught to supposedly care for the “flock of god” and take care of the spiritual health of everyone. Responsibilities bestowed upon them include ensuring you are prepared for baptism, marriage and greater responsibility among the organization. Disciplining and removing errant members (termed “disfellowshipping,” see below,) also falls to them, with strict processes in place that are believed and expected to safeguard against the abuse of authority.
These men become experts in manipulation of reasoning, thought and ultimately behaviors. Congregants that leave or are dis-fellowshipped are spoken of as hard-headed and have turned their heart away from God. Prayers are given requesting that God soften their hearts and bring them back to the fold – essentially asking them to ignore the truths about life that they have learned and return to a state of ignorance that requires little independent thought or action.
Questions Young People Ask, Answers That Work is a book that has been used around the world primarily by Jehovah’s Witnesses in the instruction of their children and other families that are receptive. Due to its simplicity, easy to read nature and the fact that it has dealt with difficult issues and subjects it has been referenced and utilized by non-Jehovah’s Witness educators, religious and political groups and therapists. It answers many of the questions that we in fact do ask as teenagers. As of late they have continued to address the changing views in the world around them by fortifying, unsettling and keeping emotionally driven teenagers in a mental place that does not allow acceptance.
A recent article entitled, “Homosexuality – How Can I Avoid It?” is conversion/aversion therapy at its best (or worst). It asks, “With same-sex relationships being flaunted so openly, you may wonder: ‘Is homosexuality really bad? What if I’m attracted to someone of my sex? Does that mean I’m gay?’” These are questions that all LGBTQ persons ask of themselves. Imagine being raised in an atmosphere where you are taught that the only people you can trust, love, depend upon and will support you are those of the same faith and view homosexuality as a sin leading to death. Seeing in print propaganda that disguises itself as a lifeline, discussing the very questions you are being plagued by internally, but are too frightened and worried to ask out loud for fear of losing the only home and love you know, how would this affect you? Fortunately we don’t have to think because the article tells us:
“The world’s warped thinking affected my mind and added to my sexual confusion,” says Anna. “Now I steer clear of anything or anyone that promotes homosexuality.”
“Seek out a confidant, and talk to him or her about your thoughts. Olef, who sought the help of a Christian elder, recalls: “His counsel was very effective. I wished I had spoken to him a lot earlier.”
This method has worked in creating an environment among Jehovah’s Witnesses that not only works to keep homosexuality and the organizations death grip on their followers exactly where they want it. Lately, we have had the misfortune of seeing these same tactics being utilized by many differing groups. It is absolutely shocking, no matter how expected, that this is allowed to continue and that the battle for our rights has now been turned into a battle over shaping children’s thoughts by those with little care for the collateral damage.
This organization does not stop there. “The Bible’s Viewpoint – Does God Approve of Same Sex Marriage?” is a public article on their website that condenses many of the Watchtower articles over the years that discuss same-sex marriage. It utilizes subtle and mentally subversive messaging to create doubt about what God and the Bible truly says about marriage as well as creating a disbelief in your own religion.
DURING the church ceremony, the two men stand hand in hand before a renowned Episcopal bishop. They make a “covenant . . . before God and the church.” Clothed in ornate gold-and-white vestments, the bishop publicly blesses their union. Afterward the couple hug and kiss and are given a standing ovation. According to this bishop, such homosexual relationships “are holy and deserve to be blessed, . . . deserve to be called what they are: sacred.”
However, other religious leaders voice strong opposition to same-sex unions. “We are so disturbed by this [bishop’s] decision,” stated Cynthia Brust, spokesperson for the American Anglican Council, a group of conservative Episcopalians. “Same-sex blessings contradict the clear teaching on marriage and sexuality from the Bible,” she said, adding that “sexuality . . . is to be confined to a man and woman in holy matrimony.”
All of this truly would fall within the scope of the practices of many religions around the world. Instruct your members, preach and teach perspective followers and continually educate and maintain your congregation. I could accept this had they not broken their own rules and began to create politically charged narratives and discussions. Attacking not only political leaders and movements there is mention of civil rights movements.
The fire storm of controversy over this issue is not restricted to religion. Internationally, heated political debates are raging, since the social, political, and economic implications involving pensions, joint health care, and taxes are great.
Issues involving civil rights and legal recognition are often very complicated and divide public opinion. True Christians are careful to maintain neutrality by avoiding political debates. (John 17:16)* Still, some who respect the Bible find themselves confused regarding the subject of same-sex marriage and homosexuality.
Mentioning civil rights and legal recognition and the division of public opinion, they further polarize this debate. Maintaining neutrality and avoiding political debate is something that Jehovah’s Witnesses have clung to since their founding in the late 1800’s. By removing themselves on the surface from political debates, they get their followers to form a strong grass roots force that will never be shaken by properly defended ideas. Without debate and discussion how can anyone open their minds?
The pattern and tactics are becoming clear. Maggie Gallagher, along with many of the religious right are seeing the truth in the fact that political debate and lobbying isn’t necessarily the way to maintain and protect their “values.” NOM’s very purpose is to create grass root forces, pushing in smaller communities where influence has a greater effect and result. The Tea Party is a prime example of the indoctrination that is happening across this country.
Maybe they picked up something from GetEQUAL and ACT UP. Direct motivation of communities creates a larger dialogue that requires little potential of loss within your base. In fact, the actions around the country that GetEQUAL has supported have garnered news coverage that is astonishing. Playing off the lessons taught by the heroes of ACT UP and Stonewall, we have been able to change the minds of millions of people around the country. As a community we have inspired people to create organizations like AFER, It Gets Better and so many more to take up the fight and effectively continuing to change minds, views, perceptions and stereotypes – all the while winning victories big and small.
We are now at a precipice. Those who oppose progress and LGBT rights and equality are the same people who have been watching us carefully, seeing what works and what doesn’t. They know that going up and lobbying Barney Frank doesn’t necessarily move a bill forward and they have seen the same on Representatives and Senators on their side. What has worked is motivating and polarizing the American people. The Church of Latter Day Saints and the Catholic Church were caught manipulating the public during Prop 8. Jehovah’s Witnesses were not tainted at all during the Prop 8 debacle, yet they maintained and stepped up efforts to preach to all they could in California about what God truly wants.
Our enemies and the enemies of all open, thinking individuals have learned and are working off a religiously built base that is generations in the making. We cannot slip one step because they are watching like a hawk. Two of the persons who attended the press conference mentioned earlier were from the Family Research Council and took extensive notes. They could not argue with the amazing men and women from Freedom to Marry who stood there showing that we are equal and deserve to be in the minds of Americans. Taking our words back to their psychological war rooms and creating messaging that will twist and bend those results will create the effect they desire, a base of people scared of change because they don’t know where that fits in their lives.
We stand on the precipice where only one camp can leap and fly. The other will go the way of the proverbial Lemming, along with all who will follow.
“The difficulty of tactical maneuvering consists in turning the devious into the direct, and misfortune into gain.” – Sun Tzu, The Art of War
Definitions and Explanations:
Jehovah’s Witnesses: The group emerged from the Bible Student movement—founded in the late 1870s by Charles Taze Russell with the formation of Zion’s Watch Tower Tract Society—with significant organizational and doctrinal changes under the leadership of Joseph Franklin Rutherford. The name Jehovah’s witnesses, based on Isaiah 43:10–12, was adopted in 1931 to clearly distinguish themselves from other Bible Student groups. The Watchtower, Bible and Tract Society is the official name for the worldwide organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Disfellowshipping – A person accused of a serious sin is informed of the allegations and invited to attend a judicial committee meeting. The individual is permitted to bring witnesses who can speak in their defense; observers are not allowed, and the hearing is held privately even if the accused individual requests that it be heard openly so all may witness the evidence. Recording devices are not permitted at the hearing. If the accused repeatedly fails to attend an arranged hearing, the committee will proceed but will not make a decision until evidence and testimony by witnesses are considered.
The committee takes the role of prosecutor, judge and jury when handling its cases. After the hearing is opened with a prayer, the accused is invited to make a personal statement. If there is no admission of guilt, the individual is informed of the source of the charges and witnesses are presented one at a time to give evidence. Witnesses do not remain present for the entire hearing. Once all the evidence is presented, the accused and all witnesses are dismissed and the committee reviews the evidence and the attitude of the accused.
The committee may determine that there was no “serious sin”, or that mitigating circumstances absolve the accused individual. The committee may then proceed with discipline such as is described for ‘non-judicial’ situations. Alternatively, the committee may decide that a serious sin was committed, in which case, the committee gives verbal admonitions and gauges the individual’s attitude and repentance. The committee then decides whether discipline will involve formal reproof or disfellowshipping.
The Truth: A term used to designate the teachings and general congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Since they believe that they are the true religion and are the one bearers of the truth about Jesus Christ and the way to salvation the term has become common place among the congregation and is rarely used outside of Kingdom Halls, Assemblies and annual Conventions.
The World: Used to describe everyone who is under the influence of Satan. From the scripture that details Satan being removed from the heavens and thrown to the “vicinity of the earth” they have extrapolated the use of the terms truth and world to set them apart.
Jehovah or Jehovah God: The name given to God by translating the original Aramaic Yah’weh.
Growing up in Northern Ontario as a Jehovah’s Witness, Michael Talon experienced firsthand the struggle for equality. Now living in the U.S. with his partner, they work with advocates for federal equality, including immigration. Working side by side, Michael and his partner Brad, head of Luna Media Group, help to deliver messages for equality to the nation.
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