In the 1990’s, I lived in a suburban neighborhood with lots of houses all around. It was a great area for solicitors and door-knockers to hit up. We had our fair share of it all, which included Jehovah’s Witnesses who would hand out their Watch Tower magazines and/or Awake publications.
The funny thing was that my second oldest son had gotten it stuck in his head that they were called the Jehosaphats, and so anytime he saw them walking in the neighborhood or actually knocking on our door, he’d yell out “The Jehosaphats are here! The Jehosaphats are here!”.
It was pretty damn funny. I still get a chuckle when I think about it.
Of course, Jehosaphat was not a character in any way related to the “JW” organization. If you’re curious, he was the fourth king of the Kingdom of Judah, and successor of his father Asa (at least, according to the Bible). But the Jehovah’s Witnesses were a very odd group and I did talk to them on a few occasions, mostly out of curiosity. Over time, I also studied a little about their origins and beliefs. Given the tactics that they employ within their group including how tightly they control the live’s of their members, they can be considered a cult. The Wikipedia article about the group is actually pretty good. I am sad for those trapped in that group.
But I am actually somewhat grateful for the Jehovah’s Witnesses I encountered in my earlier life, because it planted the seeds of curiosity in me to explore the varied human religions that we have, like Mormons and JW’s. When I saw how devote and passionate people in the Mormon and JW faith could be, it caused me to question the effectiveness of Christianity. And when I realized how strong a grip that their cult-like beliefs had on their followers, it caused me to ask myself about my own beliefs. As Mark Twain rightly said, “The easy confidence with which I know another man’s religion is folly teaches me to suspect that my own is also.”
We need to teach our children critical thinking so that they can be prepared for the Jehospats knocking on the door! Sadly, there are children who become sexual abuse victims within the JW church such as Candace Conti (links here and here).
I recently came across the following insert that apparently a member of the Jehovah’s Witnesses will secretly insert with the usual JW tracts to warn others, while he himself remains stuck in the group.