Astonishing footage has recently emerged showing a Dutch reporter being thrown out of a convention of Jehovah’s Witnesses simply for asking basic questions about the Witnesses stance on homosexuality.
You can view the video below, with English subtitles and an introduction from JW Survey founder and Senior Editor Lloyd Evans
The reporter, who works for Pow News News approaches a number of Jehovah’s Witnesses at the District Convention, and asks them a number of simple questions about how their faith views members of the LBGTQ community.
The Witnesses respond pretty much as you would expect, and give fairly honest, straightforward answers to this question: They don’t approve of homosexuality, they believe the bible condemns it, they believe that homosexuals can change or, at the very least, deny their sexual nature and still be happy. They also show that at least some of them are aware of the controversy generated by the latest Caleb and Sofia video.
It’s actually pretty tame stuff. The reporter is pretty direct and a little cheeky, but certainly not hostile or aggressive. One older brother gives a somewhat awkward description of sexual penetration, but it’s clear that none of the Witnesses feel harassed, and they are simply giving straightforward responses to straightforward questions. They are giving a defence of their faith, just as they have been taught to do, and as they might do every day on the door to door work, with co-workers or their classmates.
Indeed, these are exactly the kind of answers they would give to an “interested one” who attended the convention and asked about the very same issue.
No harm, no foul, right?
What happens next is extremely bizarre. Two men, clearly senior Watchtower officials, approach the journalist and simply demand that he leave, telling him that his “implied invitation has been revoked.” They are clearly not interested in discussing the matter any further.
As requested, the reporter leaves, admittedly playing up his despondent walk through the exit a little to drive home the point of what has just happened.
I find this surprising on a number of levels.
Firstly, the sheer incompetence in handling the media on display here is worth noting.
The smart thing to do in this situation would be to invite the journalist for a full interview with a senior JW and try to give the full media friendly PR spin on what is clearly a controversial issue in the Netherlands right now. Throwing him out simply for asking basic questions seems like a total PR disaster. It sends the message that reporters are only welcome if they promise to the kind of mindless promotional puff piece that recently disgraced Gazettes.com.
If any members of the public, media, or Government were already worried that the Witnesses were a high control cult pretending to be a loving religion (as increasingly seems to be the case given the reaction to Caleb and Sofia), this hostility toward the media will not have done anything to change that opinion
It also shows that the Organisation is actually incredibly confused about which face to show to the public. On the one hand it makes publicly available videos like the recent Caleb and Sofia episode, which showcase a pretty blatant message about how homosexuality is a choice, and how practicing gay people will be killed by God at Armageddon, but then gets upset when a journalist asks regular JW’s for those very same opinions on camera.
It’s clear that the Caleb and Sofia video was in large part the driving factor for this journalist to visit. Did Watchtower not expect the kind of reaction, and if not, why not? If it did expect it, why does it appear to be so woefully unprepared to deal with it? The organisation might claim not to care what Satan’s world thinks about it, but then why does it panic and go into full shutdown mode to try and stop a news report that they feel might show them in a bad light?
It seems right now that Watchtower throws its options out to the world, loud and proud, but then scurries away and hides when people actually take notice.
As Hermant Mehta of The Friendly Atheist commented on his site.
Asking JW’s about being gay is apparently worse than being gay.
This will be a controversial Convention season, with a talk dedicated to shunning on the program and an overall feel of Orwellian control to the material.
This might not be the last time Jehovah’s Witnesses get asked awkward questions on camera. Perhaps next time they might handle it a little better?