There is a trope that is often put out there by believers directed to atheists- if you don’t believe in god, you think you are just a brain in a vat, when you die there is nothing else, why not just, live your life and not do this? I get tired of this shit.
Why do I want to be an activist? I will tell you but first I am going to preface this by saying I am offended why have to have an atheist movement. I am offended for the same reason we have to have a feminist movement. I am offended we have to have the Black Lives Matter movement. I am offended we have to have a movement FOR vaccines and immunizations. I am offended we have to have the LGTBQ movement. I am offended that we have to have a Deaf rights movement. I am offended that we live in a society where these people do not have equal rights as those of us like me who are white, straight, cis-gender, hearing, and male. We should not need to fight for these basic rights because they SHOULD be granted without question. But they aren’t. I am not a direct member of any of the above groups. I am, though, a staunch ally. The one group that I belong to directly where I don’t have privilege is the atheist movement in America. This is the group where I can make a difference fighting. So, to those who ask why I bother fighting against a god I don’t believe in my answer is this- I am not fighting against a god I don’t believe in. I am fighting against the privilege that you have. I am fighting to help the JWs kids that are trapped in homes and can’t leave without the punishment of ostracism for disagreeing on one tiny issue that their parents and other friends believe.
JWs ask this question amongst themselves about the evil apostates. I remember asking that when I was a believer. Now I understand. While I am not fighting in the ex-JW world we have a similar goal. I have a broader goal of the relegation of religion to the realm of the insignificance.
Back to JWs. I have an interesting PEW research polling survey with data that shows that it can be extrapolated there are about 10% of JWs who attend but don’t believe.
50% of JWs believe in heaven. This is probably due to the semantics of the question and how the reader interpreted it. JWs teach that heaven is real but only 144,00 go so those who replied no they don’t probably thought of the traditional view of heaven. JWs reject the traditional Christian view of heaven.
7% say they believe that hell is real. JWs teach emphatically that hell is not real in the Christian sense of a fiery torment. While a few of these people may have misread the question and answered they believe it is real, with such a small result I feel that most of the 7% view hell as real in the traditional Christian sense.
83% of JWs say their faith is the one true faith. This is telling. While the above two questions could be a matter of interpretation or semantics, this is not. JWs theology teaches that they, and ONLY they, are True Christians. NO ONE ELSE will survive Armageddon. That means that 17% aren’t convinced but still adhere to the religion. I think is within my rights to extrapolate that they stay while not fully believing due to the shunning policy and not due to the fear of death at Armageddon.
85% of JWs attend meetings regularly. That doesn’t surprise me. I have seen many believers who don’t attend but JWs continue to count those who don’t attend. For those who don’t attend it is fair to assume that a descent proportion of that 15% DON’T believe but don’t care enough or are afraid to disassociate themselves from WT.
90% pray daily. JWs are told to pray constantly. They believe in intercessory prayer. They don’t believe that JH will help them with their car keys but the doctrine is that if you pray enough times and it is God’s will, he will give you want you ask for. This is a strong tenant. To see that 10% of people who claim to be JWs but don’t pray daily tells me that a large portion don’t really believe. To be fair, JWs teach that if you have done something wrong your prayers won’t be heard and you aren’t worthy to pray so a portion of that 10% probably are plagued with guilt of sinning. Sins like having a sex drive, being gay or transgendered, looking at porn, et cetera.
76% share their faith once a week. This is HUGE! JWs are supposed to put in about 2.5 hours of field service, or preaching, a week. They are told to preach EVERYWHERE. Door-to-door, at the store, in parking lots, at work, at school (see my blog My Two Mommies), on a plane, on a train, in a box, with a fox, in a house and with a mouse. Shit, I went into Dr. Seuss. I know that most JWs hate going in service. They hate it because on Saturday morning they show up for the meeting for service at 8:59 am and the meeting starts at 9am. The conductor starts 10 minutes late. It is supposed to be a 10 minute meeting. It will go for 15-20 if possible. The final prayer is around 9:25-9:30am. They are supposed to go potty, get in their cars, and leave to save souls. They stand around talking for another 10-15 minutes. They finally pile into their cars around 9:45am. They drive 15-30 minutes to the territory and go door-to-door for 30-50 minutes. Around 11am, they decide to talk a break. Well, it has been an exhausting 40 minutes of slaving for the Lord waking people up on Saturday mornings. Breaks are supposed to be 10 minutes but typically go for 30. Back to the territory around 11:30 for one or two return visits and back to the Kingdom Hall or preaching group home by 12. So in a 3 hour time frame they did MAYBE 45 minutes of actual preaching. OF COURSE the publishers don’t like doing it. No one does. If someone says they like preaching they are fucking lying to themselves and to you. Notice the previous statistics of meetings attendance and now this 85/100 attend meeting and 76/100 preach. There are avenues to allow for those who can’t go door-to-door to proselytize, e.g., letter writing, nursing homes, telephones, handing a tract to a person in line at the fucking grocery store, ANYTHING they can do to show Jehovah that they tried to help those whom Jehovah will kill and then not kill THEM. So to tell me that there is a 9% difference between those who go to meetings regularly and those who preach regularly tells me that in that 9% there are those who attend but but really believe.
I show these statistics to make a point and the point is that I feel it is safe to assume that 5-10% of JWs state publicly that they believe but internally they don’t. To place this data against the data known among generations and the millennials today, that number can be safely assumed to rise to 20% with it continuing to grow. WT is doubling down on its abhorrence of higher education, independent thinking, and how close the end is which implies that it is hoping fear tactics will keep most of these new generation in line. This has always been their tactic but with the rise of the information age they, as with most religions, are losing.
SOOOOO, back to my point. Why do I want to be an atheist activist? Because of these people, these 5-10% who don’t believe or at least are questioning. I am not trying to deconvert them, though I would like them to become atheists. I DO want them out of WT and I DO want them to humanists, and I DO want them to be educated voting members of our society. Those are acts the WT tells them not to do on pain of death from their god. I don’t want anymore kids to grow up hoping that their “worldly” family members die so they will be resurrected into the New World. I don’t want any more kids killed because their parents refused a simple medical procedure like a blood transfusion. I don’t want any else shunned or ostracized from friends and family because of a difference of opinion. I WANT that wall of separation of church and state built and reinforced. I WANT the end of religious dogma influencing our laws ended. I WANT there to be no need for a civil rights movement because it will be collectively assumed that all people DO matter. I WANT there to be no need for the LGTBQ movement because it will be assumed that same sex marriage is equal to heterosexual marriage and that trans rights are normal and that the rights of anyone who does not fall into the category of straight and cis-gender is deserving of our respect. I want there to be no need for a feminist movement and that there is no pay gap and no one legislating what happens in a woman’s uterus. I want there to be no need for the atheist movement because there will be no infringement of religion into law and there will be no more families split apart simply because a member does not believe the same as their parents or other family members. I WANT there to be no need for the Deaf movements because the Deaf have equal access to language and communication and education. At the current state of affairs that is not happening.
When YOU on the religious right, both individually and collectively, end what I have listed as grievances, I will end my activism. That is my answer to the question.
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