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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)

Jehovah's Witnesses are WORSE than Scientology because they are older established 'Bible based' pseudo Christian cult which makes them more seductively appealing.Moreover,they outreach by making one on one home visitation which makes them intrusive like telemarketers.

Although not as up-front brash about taking your money that still is what they end up trying to do in the end.[I.E. If the end of the world is coming any minute....what do you need your assets for,why not give it to Jehovah?]

Watchtower Money page

You know, many people don't know that our blood is 50% water, so the greatest needis to restore fluid volume. If their is a lot of blood loss then our bodies pur large reserves of blood cells into the system and then speeds up production of new ones. One alternative is plasma volume expanders that contain no blood and can be used to fill that need, Jehovah's Witnesses except these.

Again, however what's more important to Jehovah's Witnesses is what the bible says, Acts 15:28,29. So many men, (and women)risk their lives for their country and they are viewed as heroes, aren't they? But the greatest hero is God. Would you risk your life because of love for him and loyalty to him as God, because that is the real issue. I can understand any opposers point on the matter of blood. No normal person wants to die, we were created with the desire to want to continue living. So their must be some compelling reason why Jehovah's Witnesses would refuse this particular type of medical treatment, such as blood transfusions. However, Jehovah's Witnesses truly have faith in what God says on the issue. And they stand firm on it. Jehovah's Witnesses believe in the bible and its promises of a resurrection for those who put faith in his Son.(John 11:25)

Jeepers Boris!
You say "Nobody here 'hates' JW's please do not hurl the "H" (hate) bomb" THEN you say "Jehovah Witnesses instill a separatist mentality against society" "Just like in American death cults Waco and Jonestown….." "a systematized culture of insularity, sexual discrimination, legal manipulation, child abuse and isolation, and brainwashing tends to bring that up in people." "fanatically intrude door to door to recruit new converts. "many false teachings and have hurt people." and THEN you conclude by saying "Will you die for a lie?"
You're right, of course, why would ANYBODY think you hate JW's? That's just crazy talk! Man! If that's how you regard people you DON'T hate I'd hate to be someone you did!!It is funny that virtually every JW reading this knows what an misrepresentative, exaggerated pile of stuff that is. But don't get me wrong Boris, I don't hate you for it!

Actually at least 200,000 JW men women and children have been sacrificed (died) to the Watchtower deity over the blood transfusion ban.
Thousands and thousands more have died 'premature' death for neglecting their long term health care believing in the Watchtower apocalyptic promise of an imminent 'new system' paradise gonna fix it all up.

This is a Cult of death

Wow many of these "ex-JWs" are posting so many lies about JWs as though their facts and then elaborating on them to make things as nasty sounding as possible. If you want to know the facts, talk to a JW yourself, because much of these information by "exJWs" are all lies- and all they want to do is to distract JWs from the more important work that Jesus commanded all- to preach, and to heap lies and lies upon one of the most examplary religions you'll ever find today.

Approximately 500 years before Jesus came to the earth as a human, Zechariah who was prophet, a prophesied Jesus was "comes to you.....humble and riding on a she-ass." (Zechariah 9:9) Now, in Matthew 21:4,and 5 what does that really say. That it "actually took place." Why? "that there might be fulfilled what was spoken through the prophet (Zechariah) saying:...."Your King is coming to you, mild-tempered, and mounted upon an ass, yes, upon a colt,...
this was a self-fulfilled phophesy. Jesus, summoned two of his apostles to go and retrieve this particular kind of animal. What would we accused Jesus of? I believe that most would think or believe that their religion is the "true" religion, wouldn't they? I mean you wouldn't be affiliated with a religion if you didn't believe that yours was the right or true religion would you? Also one could take note of what is said by Jesus in John 17:15,16, which is the reason why Jehohah's Witnesses are separate, also notice what is says further down in that very same chapter, in 18 and 19. So, it is because Jesus said his people were "no part of the world." What did he mean by that? The attitude, spirit, and thinking contrary, to what the bible teaches. Because Jehovah's Witnesses believe this based on what Jesus said in the bible, that this is the case 1John 5:19. Based on that, doesn't it kinda seem that way, if you have a look around?

KC.....I'm a female mother with children.

Steve Klemetti is the most prolific JW poster TROLL with about 20 sock-puppet user names
Steve Klemetti is a Jehovah's Witnesses troll who is APOSTATE to the Watchtower Say's JW don't need the Watchtower society just everyone do their own thing.
Steve Klemetti doesn't go out in service he counts time trolling!

Members Enter Here.

This post below by "William" say's it all!

[ JW compromise the *abstain from blood* dogma and use 80% of the unit bag of donated blood to utilize for blood *fractions* for conditions like hemophilia.
They do not back donate themselves.]
fascinating page

Jehovah Witnesses instill a separatist mentality against society while promoting an ‘end time’ visionary prophecy.

Just like in American death cults Waco and Jonestown…..

There is clearly a lot of vitriol spinning around the Witnesses, which is of course exactly what they expect--it's been prophesied.
Convenient that a systematized culture of insularity, sexual discrimination, legal manipulation, child abuse and isolation, and brainwashing tends to bring that up in people.
Presto!--self-fulfilling prophecy, made to order.
Nobody here 'hates' JW's please do not hurl the "H" (hate) bomb.
Jehovah's Witnesses think that they are the one true religion and fanatically intrude door to door to recruit new converts.
You are not the true religion like you claim you have many false teachings and have hurt people.

Will you die for a lie?

This article seems like an advertisement from a Jehovah's Witness publication. Mostly to denigrate yet another Arab country, I would suspect.

"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."

Right. The whole country is teeming with visceral hatred. Kind of like the movie Crash.

Lebanon is NOT, I repeat, NOT a Muslim country.

The author Becky Lee Katz, who says she is in Beirut, should know better. The Editor of LA Time is not being truthful, and is accused of gross misrepresentation, and not being truthful in its reports.

I am a Maronite Catholic Lebanese, born and raised in Lebanon. While there are Muslims in Lebanon, the country is not and should NOT be referred to as a muslim country. Muslim countries are defined by having the Koran and Sharia law as they rule of law and constitution. That is not the case in Lebanon!
The Lebanese Constitution is the only democratic of all the Middle East, and is not based on the Muslim religion.

So I hope you clarify this very important point.


Jehovah's Witnesses has concern for peoples lives. As the bible says they should be. This is the reason why Jehovah's Witnesses come to your doors. It was done in the past by Jesus as well as his diciples the bible really does say this in Matthew 28:19,20, 10:5,6, Acts 20:20,. But why are they trying to be so diligent and urgent about it? Worldwide and preaching in more than 236 lands 400 languages, their even in the Amazon's. Why so thorough, even more so now? Matthew 24:14, Mark 13:10.

Jehovah's Witnesses are taught to have love for their fellowman and neighbor. James 5:20, Leviticus 18:19, another reason for Jehovah's Witnesses in this Acts 10:27. Jehovah's Witnesses are taught to overcome not objections, but to reason from the scriptures, not debate or be argumentative. The bible has the power to do this 2Corinthians 10:4,5 this being in regards to what the bible really teaches. The weapons of choice for Jehovah's Witnesses has always been the bible.

To William:

It would be very interesting to know in what "medicine field" your in.
As a nurse, I know that I wouldnt want any blood in case of emergency, its all up to something called a free choice.

Several are complaining that JW dont accept blood treatment.... but you know what, they have a free choice as well.
If you choose to use blood as a part of your treatment you are using your free choice when you accept blood treatment.
In the same way they do, if they choose a non-blood alternative, isn't that their choice?

And some who works in medicine should also be open for modern treatment, respecting their patients, and respecting a free choice.

And William, saying that there is NO blood free alternative, isn't that a bit daring to say?
There are several surgeons and other experts in the area who actually say that blood-free alternative is better than blood alternatives.

Sure... some of the treatments is all about sugar and salt, but there is also several drugs to use, methods to apply and preparations to take to minimize blood loss, sure the best way you can apply no-blood alternatives is preparation. But you can also use no-blood alternatives in trauma cases.

In my work I have seen patients that have been even more sick after a transfusion becuse of several reasons.
William, if we work in the "medicine field", I think we need to be a bit more open-minded to more modern treatments....

And even if you dont want to exclude blood in your treatment, I wont protest... you see... thats your free choice.
And mine might be a non-blood alternative. :)


Jay... Im actually a male nurse :)

Jehovah's Witnesses have a child abuse pedophile cover up problem as bad if not worse than the RCC.
Please protect your children.

Sexual Abuse/Child abuse issues among Jehovah's Witnesses

Every post here, that say's they are "not a JW" but then go to bat and advocate for the JW IS a SHILL.

Know this.... Jehovah's Witnesses are sock-puppet shill spam.
The thing is if you are a Jehovah's Witness member and you see the fraud then you know it..... and if you are the general population you probably know enough about JW from experience/exposure to detect the shill lies too.
Once a person has discovered the truth about this cult, I cannot fathom how *anyone* could defend it.
The best source of info on JW is EX-members who are no longer under the spell of the Watchtower corporation.

An outsider cannot honestly nor accurately speak on behalf of JW's or the WT Society.

Jehovah's Witnesses come to our homes with a pretense that is fraudulent from the get-go.

You pitch that you are doing Jesus work (lie) you use all sorts of conversation starters to try to put us at ease,con and scam us into joining your sect,that is no better than any other.
Jehovah's Witnesses will tell you their Kingdom Halls are for "worship", but their "worship" consists of being taught how to overcome objections to the sales pitches they give at your doors and how to try and get their extremely deceptive literature into your hands.

Their Kingdom Hall meetings are to bolster their elitist teachings that they have the only religion on earth that pleases God,only they are being blessed by God and that all other people on the planet but them will be destroyed soon by their God.

Jehovah's Witnesses promotion of their Watchtower sect has the net effect of stumbling and turning people off to the real Gospel. (Matt 23:15)

Have you ever considered what a cult really is? A cult is giving homage to a person(human) or thing. Jehovah's Witnesses do considered themselves to be "in" anything as if joining a club. However, they do considered themselves a faith of loyal servants of God and what the bible really teaches. Jehovah's Witnesses do not just snatch people off the streets, or out of their homes, and forced them to become Jehovah's Witness. They come to your home to talk and teach about the bible. They do not force you to study, get baptized, attend meetings or any of the such. However, they will not, and I mean will not teach you what you want to hear. They will teach you the truth. Of course most "can't handle the truth." Again they teach straight from the bible. Most do not, and I mean do not want that. The bible really does say their is a narrow and broad path. Who does it say that the most would be on In Matthew 7:14? So what does that mean? Walk into a Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses, no one looks miserable, but happy. It's a getaway resort from what happening to this world to them. Anyone walking through those doors and I mean anyone they are happy to see. Whether is someone new, inactive, or disfellowshipped. (prodigal son Luke 15:11-32)

Actually the modern history of Jehovah's Witnesses began more than a hundred years ago. In the early 1870's by a Bible study group that began in Allegheny, Pennsylvania, U.S.A., which is now a part of Pittsburgh. Charles Taze Russell was the prime mover of the group. In July 1879, the first issue of the magazine Zion's Watch Tower and Herald of Christ's Presence appeared. In 1881 Zion's Watch Tower Tract Society was formed, and in 1884 it was incorporated, with Russell as president. The Society's name was later changed to Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society. Now, for bible students back then was coming, a crucial time, 1914. In 1876 Charles Taze Russell contributed the article "Gentile Times: When Do They End?" published in Brooklyn, New York, which said on page 27 of its October issue, "The seven times will end in A.D. 1914." The Gentile Times is translation as "the appointed times of the nations." (Luke 21:24)

It is how the the date 1914 comes into play. This date when calculating the seven times from bible translations is how you get the date 1914. It is true that not all that was expected to happen happened, nonetheless, it did mark the end of the Gentile times. Many since that time do agree that it seemed to be a turning point worldwide. Many considering 1913 as the last normal year. Think about it do a little research on it. In regards to the Seventh Day Adventist they came about when they broke off the the original bible students, because, as the light continued to get brighter, as the bible said would happen during these times on up until now, and adjustments had to be made on some of the thinking on the scriptures, some did not want to make those adjustments, therefore broke off and formed their own group.

To distinguish themselves from the denominations of Christendom, in 1931 the name Jehovah's Witnesses came about. This name is based on Isaiah 43:10-12.

I am not a former JW and never was but my family is in it.
Jehovah's Witnesses deny their members the Constitutional Right to Free Speech. If a member speaks out against the local elders or the Watchtower Corporation they are disfellowshipped. That means the are dead to all JWs even their own family.

First you start out with a Bible study that turns out to be only a book study.
They gloss over the part about disfellowshiping.
Down the road when you realize that you can't disagree with even the smallest teachings of this high control group...your freedom of choice (they same they used to encourage you to join) and your relationships including family, friends and associates are leveraged against you.
If it looks like a cult, and sounds like a cult, then it is a cult.
The JW operate, look, sound, act and treat members who disagree just like Scientology

I am not going to read all these comments here, but it seems to me as a non-Jehovah's Witness, one would recognize a wolf or a lamb because it looks and acts like one or the other. Most religions I know engage in violence, such as war (wolf). JWs go for peace (lamb) and do not fight. They also espouse high morals and actually stick to these high standards. They actually do it and set an example. The bible says one would see the difference between the sheep and the goats and that goatlike ones would talk abusively of the lambs because they wouldn't continue walking with them in the same low sink of debauchery. Keep up the fine work Jehovah's Witnesses. Hopefully I can overcome my carnal nature to be one of you someday. I'm working on it.

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