(Dear Mr. Supercomputer would like to apologize for the original content of this post. I always thought that "Mormons" and "Jehovah's Witnesses" were interchangable terms. I was way off. They both go around in ties and knock on your door, but apparently that's where the similarities stop. I have done a 'seek and find' to replace the word "Mormon" with "JW." No, the documentary did not ever use the word "Mormons." I'm just an idiot. Mistakes were made.)
They didn't vote, but they did litigate. They've done more for their country than many people have done with their votes.
I watched PBS tonight. So I'm an expert on the subject.
The subject tonight? Jehovah's Witnesses. Independent Lens showed a documentary entitled Knocking, a brief, but informative look at Jehovah's Witnesses.
As is always the case with this blog, Dear Mr. Supercomputer was most interested in the intermingling of religion and politics. What makes the Jehovah's Witnesses an interesting case is that they profess to not submit or pledge allegiance to any government. Yet, to implement their beliefs, they have had to go to the U.S. Supreme Court something like 45 times.
While I'm not at all versed on all the intricacies of the Jehovah's Witness religion, I found three things particularly fascinating.
1) Refusal to salute the flag. In a time (WWII) when nationalism was sweeping the nation, Jehovah's Witnesses refused to salute the flag as it is against their religion to pledge allegiance to any nation. What's strange though, is that they had an ACLU person speaking about the Jehovah's Witnesses. Basically the most lefty organization in America praising the most righty religious group there is. I have to say, I respect the position highly and don't say the pledge of allegiance at my school for that very reason.
2) Refusal to vote. I need some help with this one. The documentary made a flippant remark about how they don't vote. Is that true? Herd Cattleford, can you help me out on this one? (note: the only person I can talk to about Jehovah's Witnessism are a couple of recent seminary grads. They're Episcopalian or something, but they lived in Utah, so there you have it.)
If this is true, what of Republican 2008 presidential candidate Mitt Romney?
(note: I was watching one of those awesome Sunday morning talk shows and one of the panelists correctly pointed out that how ironic it was that of all the front running Republican nominees for president, the Mormon is the only one without a history of marital problems.)
(**Update: I realize this paragraph now makes no sense at all. Kill me now, I beg of you.**)
3) Refusal of blood transfusion. Are you kidding me? This is just nuts. Snap out of it people!
Anyway, again, I have to respect their faith that they are willing to put their lives at risk for their faith. The documentary promo'ed a guy who needed a liver transplant but their faith restricts them from transfusing blood, even their own. While it would be easy to question why an f---ing liver transfusion is okay, this guy was willing to put his life on the line for what was called a "bloodless surgery." Wow. This is possible? And, wouldn't it be a huge step forward in medical science if they pull this off?
So, we learned a lot about Jehovah's Witnesses tonight. Sure it's annoying when they attack you in a parking lot. But if nothing else, give them props for being so faithful to something. According to the documentary, they aren't trying to convert you to get a better place in heaven (or whatever they call it), they're doing it because they truly truly truly believe their message. I wish I had that kind of faith sometimes...
The above items require some clarification and some investigation. Maybe I'll ask one next time they knock on my door.