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LEBANON: In Muslim Middle East, Jehovah's Witnesses congregate in secret


An elegantly dressed Lebanese woman in a black and white Chanel suit stood up and offered her seat to a Philippine domestic worker, "Please sit, I'll go look for more chairs."

The unusual scene in Lebanon, where wealthy locals more often than not abuse and exploit migrant workers from Asia, was at an undercover Jehovah's Witnesses congregation just outside of Beirut.

Recently, more than 200 Jehovah's Witnesses gathered in the basement of a posh building north of the capital. They divided up into two rooms, one for the English-speaking and one for the Sinhalese-translated session for Sri Lankans.

Unlike other parts of the Arab world, Lebanon is known for its tolerance of multiple religious confessions. But even that has a limit, especially for faiths like Jehovah's Witnesses that are not registered or officially recognized by the government.

It is estimated that there are over 15 "Kingdom Halls," or prayer gatherings, in Lebanon, which for now appear to be tolerated despite fears that participants could be harassed or deported. "My employer is Greek Orthodox, but she likes that I am a Witness," a young Philippine woman explained. "She knows that she can trust me. She lets me come to the meetings."

Unlike in the West, however, she does not go door-to-door preaching. Proselytizing to Muslims is a punishable offense in most Arab countries. Though the Lebanese constitution guarantees freedom of religion, the government relies on a confessional system in which each state-sanctioned religious community holds an independent civil court to adjudicate personal status matters, namely marriage, divorce and child custody. 

Jehovah's Witnesses say they feel like an oppressed and silenced minority. They say that the Maronite community in particular vilifies them. "They spread lies about us, claiming that we are Jews," said an Armenian convert.

Jehovah's Witnesses is a relatively young faith. In the late 19th century, an American named Charles Taze Russell led a Bible study group after the publication of his "Zion's Watch Tower Tract Society." The group dubbed itself Jehovah's Witnesses in 1931. 

Followers believe that the End of Days began in 1914 with Armageddon approaching. They observe only one holiday: The Last Supper of Jesus, or the Memorial Service as they call it. An estimated 18 million adherents regularly attend Kingdom Halls or proselytize worldwide, including in the Arab world. The Council of Elders, based in Brooklyn, oversees the activities of the group, publishes religious materials and disseminates doctrinal interpretations.

The Beirut service began with a warm welcome from one of the "brothers," who then summoned another member to deliver the sermon. He discussed their beliefs, reading from the New Testament and arguing that, after Armageddon, only 144,000 true believers will accompany Jesus as he rules from heaven. 

The witnesses listened solemnly, rising and praying when called to do so. Finally, the preacher concluded, offering to dispatch learned members to the homes of newcomers.

Two Lebanese and two African members walked to the front of the hall to collect a plate of unleavened bread and a glass of red wine. 

Once the memorial concluded, they rose from their seats and chatted quietly with one another. The Ghanaian and Philippine couple rushed their daughter home "to finish homework." A Lebanese man carried his young son on his shoulders; the Lebanese women giggled with their Philippine sisters and most of them gave a smile and a handshake to all new faces.

"I hope to see you Thursday so we can talk next time," a young Liberian man said kindly to an American newcomer. "You are always welcome here."

-- Becky Lee Katz in Beirut

Photo: The front cover of an Arabic-language Jehovah's Witnesses pamphlet. Credit: Los Angeles Times

Comments () | Archives (169)

Out on

Highlights from watchtower 1996 4/15 p. 13 Why Worldly Religion Will End

What is the situation today? The papacy is still involved in politics, both through its clergy and through its laity representatives. Recent popes have put their stamp of approval on the United Nations by addressing that man-made counterfeit for world peace. (...) Could we imagine Jesus and Peter being involved in such diplomatic exchanges? Jesus refused to be made king by the Jews and said that his Kingdom was not of this world
As Religion Reaps the Whirlwind asked in 1944, so do we now: “Can any organization that enters into treaties with worldly powers and actively wiggles itself into the political affairs of this world, seeking advantage in and protection from this world . . . be God’s church or represent Christ Jesus on earth? . . . Manifestly, all religionists who make common cause with the kingdoms of this world cannot represent the kingdom of God by Christ Jesus.”

Highlights from Awake 1987 4/22 Why Do the Clergy Mix in Politics?
Civil Rights, Social Justice
As mentioned earlier, however, some religious leaders are highly admired for their active role in politics for other reasons.
An example from the United States is the Baptist minister Martin Luther King, Jr., a civil-rights leader in a long crusade against racial discrimination.

WTS has condemned religion, and religious ministers, that become NGOs and the "treaties" they report to the "beast" "God's enemy" given authority by the Devil, i.e UN for the common cause of Human rights to "peacful" and "secure" conditions, and religious freedoms.


1 : a systematic exposition or argument in writing including a methodical discussion of the facts and principles involved and conclusions reached

This really seems to be a undeniable demonstration of reprehensible hypocrisy...sadly

When Jehovah's Witnesses are on my door step,I meet every statement and question they put to me with an alternative and opposed hypothesis until they became completely stymied and speechless. I just say, "Good bye." and shut the door.
My least favourite observation of this pious organised group is the way they drag children around with them as a kind of door opener.
Everything on these groups is available with a click of the mouse you don't need to tolerate home intrusions especially with the JW who will not take no for an answer

For 33 years as a 3rd generation born Jehovah's Witness I went door to door with a Bible in my hand and Watchtower society literature.On YOUR door step,convinced in my heart of hearts that unless I recruited you as a Jehovah's Witness that you and your family would all die a horrible ghastly death.

This is what the Watchtower sect programmed me to believe.

Moreover,this is what I spent all my time,money promoting and this is what all 3 generations of my Haszard clan promoted.

This is what the Watchtower sect indoctrinated us to believe.

At 5 meetings a week,weekend 'meetings for field service' pep rallies we would be reminded that we were the world's only hope.

This is what the Watchtower sect brainwashed us to believe.

Our message that we carried door to door that I had been drilled and knew by heart from hundreds of meetings:
God's Kingdom by Jesus Christ was established in the year 1914 and this generation (meant to convey the immediacy of the right now in my youthful lifetime) will get to see Armageddon and the paradise.

This is what the Watchtower sect trained me to believe.
It was all a LIE!

The Bible clearly warns to turn away from false prophets.

Staying Alive Until 1975 Danny Haszard story of growing up Jehovah's Witnesses with severe ulcerative colitis in the Watchtower cult

UN thing is not shocking to JWs who know the facts:

My dear fellow witnesses,

I really appreciate your fine efforts to speak up for the truth. However as you may have observed, this discussion is not going anywhere, despite their questions being completely answered. They will only continue to spam the boards (its amazing how many times they have spammed the exact same post over and over and over and over again!!!!!)

In my humble opinion, perhaps its best not to get into what these people want- a quarrel. Proverbs 26:20 and 17:14. Instead, let us continue considering the things that are peaceful and upbuilding to one another. Romans 14:19.

May our loving heavenly Father Jehovah God be with you always.

Your brother.

Actually if any group is spreading hate - it is the JWs. They complain about how bad the world is doing but do very little to nothing in charitable works. .They DO break up families they DO kill with their twisted compromised blood transfusion ban and everybody knows it.

Their dogmas are bogus they take and take and take....

The Watchtower has been a source of hate Literature for over 100 years.
Watchtower and other Jehovahs Witness publications have been full of slanderous, half-truth, deceiving, misleading hatefilled articles and lies.

The Jehovahs Witnesses on one hand fill their books and lectures with details about how evil and corrupt every other religion is, but then when theirs is exposed as corrupt they fall back on how it’s *voluntary* to be a member, and how its not nice to say nasty things about them, and how they are being *persecuted*. Excellent site on JW that is mild

UN thing is SHOCKING to devout Jehovah's Witnesses, it's like a devout Catholic finding out that their Pope secretly supports abortion! AMAZING admissions

My name is Anthony, and I am a Jehovah's Witness. I think it's pretty hurtful that someone always has ill-will against what WE chose to be our truth.

1) The "WTS" is not the source of our religous beliefs, rather it's a source publications that use scriptures from the bible to make friendly points on important matters. These articles aren't the direct feed for our religous stance, it's the bible, which we are encouraged to read daily.

2) We do not seperate families. What seperates new members from their families is a deep, blind hatred for us Witnesses. They know that remaing in contact with them will only cause problems for them spiritually and emotionally

It's really hard for most people these days to acknowledge the deeds of Witnesses and how we handle ourselves even when it seems like the whole world hates us. Someone posted , in regards to characteristics of a cult, that it demanded conformity to the beliefs of the group. As a united "Anti-Witnesses", have you ever stopped to think about the stuff you see on these hate sites, truly, and asked how this information is even relatively accurate? Witnesses accused of mind wash, seriously? I hold no anger towards any of you, but I ask only that you stop and form an opinion of your own regarding Witnesses, and NOT accepting sites that are vents of hatred toward us as cold hard fact.

Anthony, 17

WTS involvment with UN as recognized by the UN:

WTS proudly announces their involvment:

Whats all the discussion about? Fellowship, alliance, to form and promote both global interfaith, and goverment goals for "peace" and "security" ..'there deeds are know'

Is WTS's claim as God's organizaion and the only true religion legitimate if ever it was?

WTS literature refers to the UN in the watchtower 1982 11/15 As (...) the “disgusting thing,” the UN combine of nations, and... a threat to world religion itself.

Also the watchtower 1984 9/15
Predicts that the UN is (...)“the image of the wild beast,” the visible political, commercial organization of “the god of this system of things,” Satan the Devil. And, so the UN will soon be destroyed along with that beastly organization

Yet the WTS's NGO representatives make many appeals to the UNHRC for help to make governments gaurantee Jehovah's Witnesses can operate in "peace" and "security" .... interesting that! I wonder which relgion the "beast" will start with, before as WTS states it is "destroyed" ??

Beg to differ Muslims do NOT like Jehovah's Witnesses over the other Christian sects Please read this blog

8 Marks of a Cult
Milieu Control
"Milieu" is a French word meaning "surroundings; environment." Cults are able to control the environment around their recruits in a number of ways, but almost always using a form of isolation.

Mystical Manipulation
In religious cults, God is ever-present in the workings of the organization. If a person leaves for any reason, accidents or ill-will that may befall them are always attributed to God's punishment on them. For the faithful, the angels are always said to be working, and stories circulate about how God is truly doing marvelous things among them, because they are "the truth." The organization is therefore given a certain "mystique" that is quite alluring to the new recruit.

Demand for Purity
The world is depicted as black and white, with little room for making personal decisions based on a trained conscience. One's conduct is modeled after the ideology of the group, as taught in its literature.

The Cult of Confession (spilling your guts)
Serious sins (as defined by the organization) are to be confessed immediately. The members are to be reported if found walking contrary to the rules.
There is often a tendency to derive pleasure from self-degradation through confession. This occurs when all must confess their sins before each other regularly, creating an intense kind of "oneness" within the group. It also allows leaders from within to exercise authority over the weaker ones, using their "sins" as a whip to lead them on.

The "Sacred Science"
The cult's ideology becomes the ultimate moral vision for the ordering of human existence. The ideology is too "sacred" to call into question, and a reverence is demanded for the leadership. The cult's ideology makes an exaggerated claim for possessing airtight logic, making it appear as absolute truth with no contradictions. Such an attractive system offers security.

Loading the Language
Lifton explains the prolific use of "thought-terminating cliches," expressions or words that are designed to end the conversation or controversy. They are called the "language of non-thought," since the discussion is terminated, not allowing further consideration.

Doctrine Over Person
The person is only valuable insomuch as they conform to the role models of the cult.

Dispensing of Existence
The cult decides who has the "right" to exist and who does not. They decide who will perish in the final battle of good over evil.

As usual, any article about Jehovah's Witnesses guarantees to attract only two types of reactions: one of admiration and one of hatred. As one of Jehovah's Witnesses, I am saddened to see a plethora of baseless and emotionally driven views coming from people who appear to be Christian and, by extension, claim to view and accept the Bible as the final authority. The pure, senseless and hateful expressions I read here resemble those made by Muslim extremists.
As a Middle Easterner, I am pleasantly surprised to find that the indigenous Muslim people in the Middle East, as well as Muslim communities in the West, have treated Jehovah's Witnesses with a greater degree of respect and acceptance; with the exception of the 'Christian' minorities in Muslim countries and 'Christian' Middle Easterners in the West. There is no mistaking about it; there is much progress to be make on the legal battlefields of the Middle East to get groups such as Jehovah's Witnesses registered in the Middle Eastern countries. However, while that is an expected situation coming from the region, the nagging question that beckons an answer is, Was it not the 'Christian' nations that experienced "the Age of Enlightenment"? If we were to take the poisonous comments here as the measuring stick, you would think that we are experiencing a reversal trend.
In a region that is strife with conflict and social prejudices such as the Middle Eastern countries, I wonder what caused the Muslims in general to view the Witnesses as exemplary Christians?
Judge for yourselves. Who has been able to bring such harmony, genuine love and respect toward people of all races and nationalities, the Middle East? Let the evidence speak for itself.

The Orwellian World of Jehovah's Witnesses

"Public talks" where the public rarely attends.

"The Lord's Evening Meal" where virtually no one eats.

"The Theocratic Ministry School" that bears little relation to actual ministry.

"Bible Studies" where the Bible is rarely read and Jesus is barely mentioned.

An "Awake!" magazine that has no urgent message.

Jehovah Witnesses are wolf in sheeps clothing.

Why the outrage against Jehovah's Witnesses?

They are a family wrecking destructive ripoff cult.The Watchtower cult leaders are the 'ravenous wolves in sheep's clothing false prophets' that Jesus warned about .
The OUTRAGE against Jehovah's Witnesses is Justifiable Anger by victims who have family members still being held hostage in the cult.
Jehovah's Witnesses are a destructive cult!

If a Jehovah's Witness ever did meet God he'd probably try to teach him the "truth" and convert Him
If the Watchtower corporation is a Christian religion then so was Enron.

Yeah I agree, This is Los Angeles Times website. not for people to post a whole truckload of crap and verbal abuse against Jehova witness. Get a life man. If you really hate them so much this is not the place to empty it out man.

Shame on you. at least those jehova witness know when to stop when they see this discussion is going nowhere.

Wow thats a nice article.

Seems to me from reading the comments that there a a bunch of people who just want to vent out some anger and judge the Jwitnesses, which is totally unrelated to this article.
On the other hand i see some Jwitnesses doing their best to explain their beliefs from the bible.
two very different groups here. and seems to me that some people just who cannot refute the Jwitnesses just continue posting other sorts of hateful things.... I have greater respect for Jwitnesses from now on.
Keep up the good work JWS!!!



Jehovah's Witnesses may take certain components of blood, such as hemophiliac preparations (Factor VIII and Factor IX),and have for many years.
The greatest risk of AIDS infection comes from this procedure which is allowed by the Watchtower society,so this proves that this whole entire blood ban thing is totally made up and man made and NOT from the Bible.

[[ Remember the Jehovah's Witnesses use thousands and thousands of pints of blood donated by others for their blood "FRACTIONS". ]]

Factionation is done with a centrifuge, which splits the blood into components (plasma, leukocytes, and erythrocytes).
Supposedly, though, they can’t really even use any of the major fractions, just little bits and pieces like hemoglobin and interferons. Whole cells and plasma are off the menu.
It’s magic, you see. When you spin the blood in a centrifuge, it separates the good magic from the bad.

Jehovah Witness blood policy INFO

Bloodless surgery INFO

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