Fouling the Well

I had an encounter today that reminded me why I never subscribed to the ideas of “live and let live” and “what’s the harm?” that more ecumenical atheists like to levy at their “militant” counterparts.

I was walking back to the lab after picking up some groceries when a smiling old man handed me a pamphlet and muttered something I couldn’t make out. The pamphlet’s cover made it look like something spreading awareness about prejudice and discrimination, so I accepted the pamphlet with a smile and kept walking.

As I examined the literature I had just received, the back cover gave away its agenda. Some of you might already be familiar with Awake! Magazine, the less overtly religious counterpart to the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ well-known propaganda outlet, the Watchtower. As I kept walking, I scarcely noticed the five or six other men standing in a group further up the street, handing out other pamphlets, including issues of the Watchtower and a charming little tract explaining that the evil demigod Satan is in control of the entire world other than the Jehovah’s Witnesses, so naturally the JWs are the only path to salvation.

This issue of Awake! (available here as soon as I find a link) devoted its first few pages to listing and offering Biblical injunctions against a variety of types of bigotry that people experience (naturally leaving out anti-LGBT sentiments), and the rest to encouraging the victims thereof to turn to the Jehovah’s Witnesses for succor.

I was barely halfway through my day, and my irony meter had already explodedThe Jehovah’s Witnesses, an organization that is elite among its fellows for tormenting its favorite minorities to the point that they commit suicide, and using that fact to torment them some more; that encourages the oppression of women and children so vociferously that entire organizations are devoted specifically to RESCUING THE WOMEN AND CHILDREN OF ABUSIVE JW FAMILIES; that, effectively, practices ritual child sacrifice via denying sick kids needed medical care and telling them they’re going to Hell if they complain about it; is trying to tell other people that they’re the answer to discrimination!? And they’re doing it on a street corner DIRECTLY ACROSS FROM A COMMUNITY HEALTH CENTER THAT SPECIALIZES IN TREATING DRUG ADDICTION? AND THAT I HAVE ONLY SEEN HOMELESS PEOPLE ENTER?

The KKK may as well advertise themselves as the solution to racism.

I did not make a scene this time—I who make a game out of talking circles around Mormon missionaries until they can do nothing but stammer out how the horror stories I experienced firsthand by dating one and having 50 more as tenants in my parent’s rental property aren’t what the Latter-Day Saints are really like. I was too shocked by the scene I had just witnessed. Even ambulance-chasing lawyers draw the line somewhere before standing outside a drug-addiction treatment facility looking for people to con.

I was long gone, and not about to walk back seven blocks to shout at these predators, but I wanted to. I wanted to stomp back to the corner where the pizza parlor looked at the community health center and berate them. “Where do you get the GALL required to sell yourself as the solution to a problem you go out of your way to create? How do you sleep at night, knowing that you’re selling to the abused women and children and minorities of the world the very same poison that they get everywhere else, and calling it the antidote? How can you stand to gather here outside a place where some of the most downtrodden and desperate people in Ottawa come for aid, stomp on them even harder, and demand they thank you for it? Have you no shame!? “

I wanted to tear their rhetorical throats out. I normally face missionaries with a mix of amusement, pity, and irritated contempt, but this time they brought out rage. These people far exceeded any missionaries I had ever encountered for sheer, brazen opportunism. Every religion’s stock in trade is selling tainted water, but this group was camped out in the driest desert it could find, manning a tainted lemonade stand. I knew that this kind of shamelessness wasn’t even especially unusual among the more evangelical cults, but seeing it in action…made my blood boil. It reminded me why I feel bad every time I DON’T give one of these monsters hell.

The fact that an organization like this is not criminally prosecuted the moment it sets foot anywhere in the civilized world is a black mark on every nation. All of them.

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