Friday, November 21, 2008

Not Drinking the Kool-Aid

Of all the things I am grateful for, free-will is often the thing easiest taken for granted. Sadly, a great many people allow their will to be removed under the guise of religious doctrines. 30 years ago this week, the events of Jonestown grotesquely illustrated the potential results of such misplaced trust.

People my age did not see Jonestown coverage. We haphazardly use the phrase "drinking the Kool-Aid" to refer to partisan thinking. Frankly, I don't think most people in my generation could tell you where the whole Kool-Aid reference originated. Which, when you think about it, is fairly amazing considering:

In the United States, Jonestown resulted in the largest death-toll of a non-natural disaster since the events of September 11. Over 900 people dead, near 300 of them children, and many held against their will.

The activities of religion are often glazed over from criticism under the moniker of "religious freedom". The faithful are given a pass from public ridicule because they have a right to their faith.

I'm not here to say that people don't have a right to their faith. To forbid someone their personal beliefs is removing one of the most basic human rights. The thing is, freedom of speech is another basic human right. And it doesn't violate your freedom of religion for me to point to the picture above, and state - the blood of those children lies on the hands of your religion.

As a society, we can not afford to give religion a pass from criticism. We can not afford to outlaw people standing and telling the truth about damage caused by the radical religious elements in our society. Lately, Christian conservatives as well as liberal 'tolerance preachers' seem to be missing the point.

If I go home, light candles, pray to Quetzalcoatl, cast spells, and then kiss a cross - well, that's my business. I have the freedom to believe whatever I want to believe. Further, I have every right to sit at a park bench, read my bible, head to a church and pray, and lead a group of friends in prayer. The serious atheist groups might call these things stupid, but you still have a right to do them. Your rights, however, end the second you start attempting to force people to live by the precepts of your religion. And further, your rights don't include some sort of "hurt feelings" clause that negates freedom of speech.

I find it amazing to hear criticism leveled at faith groups as "persecution". To be clear, this

is persecution. Engaging in rational debate is not persecution. Gays making out in public or getting married is not persecution. Wearing a pentacle is not persecution. Burning someone alive because they believe differently is. Forcing a person out of town because they practice witch-craft is.

Cult-like groups are not always far-off crazies that commit mass suicide. Many Jehovah's Witnesses have died by refusing blood transfusions. Young girls in areas of the south are being forced into sexual slavery in their preteen and early teenage years. Honor killings, apostasy trials, and witch lynchings still happen in multiple portions of the world.

To refuse to address and challenge those that would support such things in our daily life, to refuse to educate the public around you as to the dangers radical groups create, or to refuse victims the right to speak out is to tacitly aid these groups in their wrong-doing.

So, before drinking the Kool-Aid and mocking groups like Anonymous for picketing and marching, or refusing to voice your opinion on Evangelical Christian legislation, I urge you to remember Jonestown, and think about the power of ideas.


Anne Principle said...

I am absolutely SHOCKED that anyone who claims to be responsible would post such absolutely libelous and slanderous commentary. Your hyperbolic claims defy belief. SHAME ON YOU for putting Jehovah's Witnesses in the same category as Jim Jones' People's temple! You could not be any further from the truth.

I suggest that YOU stop drinking the Kool-Aid.

Fate said...

True of False: the children pictured on that magazine cover died from refusing medical treatment involving blood transfusions?

There are hundreds of recorded incidents when Jehovah's Witnesses have died from medical issues resulting from refusing blood transfusions, or treatment which would require a blood transfusion.

Voice of Reason said...

False, they did not die from refusing medical treatment involving blood transfusions.

They died because the medical system failed them because they were unable to help them without blood. The medical system has become too reliant upon blood.

Janet said...

um, TRUE, they died because they refused blood transfusions! The medical system did not fail them, they did the best they could with what they had. Doctors use blood as a last resort, not just because they can.

I'm so sorry that the medical system hasn't come up with synthetic blood yet, why don't you work on that? Oh wait, most jw kids don't get to go to college, let alone become medical researchers.

Sometimes the best answer is the simplest.

It's not our fault your religion keeps changing its mind about what medical decisions you can and cannot make for yourself. At one time, the jw's were not allowed to have organ transplants, it was considered cannibalism. They've also changed their tune regarding vaccines.

And most of the components of blood are now allowed, as long as you do it in fractions.

And yes, the jw's are cult-like. Sorry, Anne. ANY religion that doesn't allow its followers to actually think for themselves qualifies. You're told what to think, HOW to think, what to wear, what you can't wear, how much facial hair a man can have, and who you can be friends with. How is that NOT controlling?

Oh, and if your son/daughter/mother/father/best friend decides that they don't like the religion anymore, you can't talk to them like you used to. Not because they're a bad person, they just don't believe that the jw's are the 'chosen ones' anymore.

Voice of Reason said...

No, Janet, the religion has not changed its mind.

"At one time, the jw's were not allowed to have organ transplants, it was considered cannibalism. They've also changed their tune regarding vaccines."

You are wrong on that. You are believing the propaganda that is out there. The only thing ever prohibited was blood transfusions.

Those kids were old enough to make their own decisions and they put God first, where as others like yourself do not.

jws do think for themselves.

you don't.

Fate said...

I feel no need to argue with you -

The people of Jonestown believed that the outside world made them drink the Kool-Aid, not their righteous leader. They believed they were thinking for themselves. They were old enough to make their own decisions (a lot older than the pictured children).

I'd like to thank you, Voice of Reason, for showing so much clearly than I ever could how otherwise reasonable people can commit suicide en masse.

I am glad that you clarified that these children were prohibited from taking blood transfusions, which resulted in their deaths.

The simple truth is, blood transfusions were told to these children to be forbidden by God, and that they would no longer have God's approval if they accepted a blood transfusion. If the interpretation of scriptures changed from the Jehovah's Witness leaders, these children might have reached a different conclusion and accepted treatment.

Yes, Jehovah's Witnesses do think for themselves, but their thoughts are merely to give control of their lives and decision making to their leading bodies. Exactly like Jonestown.

Janet said...

voice of reason, I am old enough to actually remember when they changed the organ transplant policy.

Are you?

I was there, I read it in YOUR watchtower magazine.

November 15, 1967, pp 702-4 Questions from Readers, and Awake, June 8, 1968, p 21. They changed their policy in 1980 (Watchtower March 15, p 31).

Go look it up if you dare.

Voice of Reason said...

"I am glad that you clarified that these children were prohibited from taking blood transfusions, which resulted in their deaths."

No child is prohibited from taking a blood transfusion, other than the fact that a child is not old enough to make medical decisions.

"blood transfusions were told to these children to be forbidden by God"

It is true, they are forbidden by God.

"that they would no longer have God's approval if they accepted a blood transfusion."

That does not apply to children, but to adults.

"hese children might have reached a different conclusion and accepted treatment."

Only the ones who accepted the Bible make the decision.

Voice of Reason said...


that blurb in the 1967 W was not a ban on organ transplants. Some off balance Witnesses and exjws think that it is. But the Watchtower does not have the authority to ban such things.

Fate said...

I'm really not interested in winning the special olympics here - the "Voice of Reason" has made his points,

I leave the decision as to whether the the deaths of these children where sacrificing their life for God, or part of mass manslaughter caused by the Jehovah's Witness ban on blood transfusions to whoever reads this.