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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)

The Watchtower first published in 1879 had the slogan: advertise,advertise,advertise the King and his (1914) Kingdom.

JW are a spin-off of the second Adventist which all came from the Millerite movement.
American war of 1812 army captain William Miller is ground zero for Jehovah's Witnesses.

Yes,the "great disappointment" of Oct 22 1844 has never died out... it lives on in the Seventh day Adventist (who admit it) and the Jehovah's Witnesses who deny it. The central CORE doctrine of the Watchtower,yes the reason the Watchtower came into existence was to declare Jesus second coming in 1914.When the prophecy (derived from William Miller of 1842) failed they said that he came "invisibly".

Ergo,no 1914 then there can be no 1918 inspection and sealing of the 'anointed' so the entire Watchtower Bible and Tract Society doctrinal superstructure comes crashing down like a house of cards.
Danny Haszard

Help today is only a mouse click away

Controlled studies are better. Google bloodless hospitals. In existence for decades, these report no such grim statistics.

However, one blood transfusion wiped out Paul Michael Glaziers family. Just the tip of the iceburg of what's in the denial file.

Fractions are easily obtainable from animal blood. In fact, HBOC is bovine.

Examine a trees 'own' leaves to find out its integrity. Please read our blood brochure.

This is all too funny!
First of all, Never listen to an "ex" anything! If you want to find out about my "ex" wife you probably shouldn't ask me!
Secondly: Didn't any of you guys ever read the Bible? Christians back in the first century were sure that THEY were going to see the end times! They were wrong but nobody's gonna tell you that we should stop reading Paul's or Peter's letters.
Thirdly: Not one person writing has identified what THEIR religious belief is, know why? Cause they know they could never stand the same scrutiny of THEIR faith that they so scrupulously use on JW's!
In my country (USA) most of the religions that claimed they were "Christian" endorsed the slavery of black people in the south, they blessed the tens of thousands of troops going off into battle to die to preserve that institution. JW's guilty of thousands dying for blood transfusions? How about "Christian" ministers in Germany blessing the troops going off to kill hundreds of thousands of the allies who were being blessed by THEIR "Christian" ministers... of the same faith!!! (Maybe, using YOUR "Jim Jones" type reasoning, you should leave YOUR faith because of that! Nah, that's only good for us "brainwashed types!)Should we go on about "christians" and the Cathars, the persecution and murder of thousands of Jews and Muslims, the Inqusition or the Crusades?
C'mon guys! Please, just one of ya fess up to what YOUR religion is so I can google it and leave all YOUR "ex"members websites!!!

The firmness of the Witnesses was clear to me when I heard this illustration: No one goes to fight for their country hoping to die. They prepare for battle well. However, if they do die while defending the country or cause they are fighting they have no regret because of their strong conviction. Fortunately most come home. It is the same for the Witnesses. They do not turn down blood hoping to die. They want the best medical care possible and have led the way in helping to develop many bloodless strategies that benefit not just Jehovah's Witnesses, but others too. They accept bloodless alternatives and partner with doctors who respect their beliefs. However, if they do die while adhering to the sincerely held belief that the Bible prohibits the taking of blood, they - like the soldier - have no regret because of their strong conviction. Their loyalty is to God in the matter. Since it is a personal decision, why would anyone else thing they know better? How many people have lost their lives in countless wars over the centuries (which by the way...Jehovah's Witnesses don't participate in because not only do they value their life, but the lives of the people on the other side of the battle field, too).

The Watchtower society Jehovah's Witnesses organization actually employs three psychological tools to maintain control and subjugation to their policies and rules.

1. Fear
2. Humiliation
3. Exaltation

Fear of being lost or destroyed in the upcoming, pending great battle of Armageddon where the possibility of suffering a horrendous death according to them, is a very real fear. Such a fate awaits anyone who is not counted among JW's!
Those who are considered spiritually strong are exalted to an elevated status within their respective congregation. Brothers can advance to the lofty position of ministerial servant, elder or overseer at which time they command the respect of all in the congregation. Sisters can achieve a highly respectable status as well, though they are not appointed to a position. Those who spend considerable time in the field ministry, pioneering for example(spending a predetermined amount of time door knocking)are considered very strong spiritually.

Those who are deemed unfit or unrepentant non conformist can suffer the punitive measure of disfellowshippment. For most JW's, this is a fate worst than death, to be avoided at all cost. The psychological impact this can have on an individual is immeasurable. Most JW's will do anything in their power to avoid this type of humiliation.
So it is very easy to become psychologically locked into a specific action(work) with the expectation of a specific reward.

What a special article about the struggles of these devout people making a stand for their faith in the face of potentially horrific consequences! It remindes me of something I was also recently reading about the history of Jehovah's Witnesses in the formerly Communistic regime of Albania. In spite of all odds against them, their faith in the truth of what the Bible really teaches and their desire to imitate their Lord Jesus and his command to share this truth with others, could not be extinguished. Bravo for writing this facinating article about this often overlooked powerful example of the power of true faith!

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.
If everyone on the planet converted to the Watchtower religion tomorrow and became baptised Jehovah's Witnesses.....
Would there be any blood donated to break down into parts?
Simple question.....yes or no?

There are NO "blood alternatives' yet,all that is out there is salt and sugar solutions.Synthetic hemoglobin is still being developed.

None of the arguments about tainted blood supply can apply to banking saving your own blood for elective surgery.
If you take 'whole-blood' or autologous (use your own stored blood) you will be shunned by your family and friends.The Watchtower organization is in control of your life.
I work in the medical field and have witnessed this situation a few times. It’s easy for people to say they understand they might die as a consequence of not accepting blood but I’m not sure they understand what it entails if they lose a lot of blood but don’t die. Thousands of dollars and manpower are spent running Code Blues and providing ICU support for them. All for a few units of blood. I find that quite selfish. ICU beds and staff are in such short supply! And these people end up bumping themselves into the ICU ahead of many trauma victims and transplant patients.
An estimated 200,000 JW scattered worldwide have perished for refusing blood since 1945 , far worse than the Jonestown and Waco massacres put together!

I think that's great that KC put that in. And she is right, many hospitals are finally starting to come around to bloodless surgery. Doctors are having remarkable findings in regards to surgery without blood, and are now seeing the infectious dangers of blood transfusions. A well known newspaper article even reported on more than 30 blood alternatives in 2006. It even quoted Acts 15:28,29, which, could perhaps persuade some into believing that someone of long ago must have known of the health risk. Not only that being the reason, but also, because of Leviticus 17:14. Whose eating? You may ask. How does a person in a coma receive food or nutrients? These are the bible based reasons why Jehovah's witnesses do not accept blood. Ones may ask and believe, "You mean, you'd rather die or allow your children to die"? No, Jehovah's Witnesses would rather not die. But, receive the best of care and still not break any bible laws or principles? Yes. That is the compelling reason to not accept blood. I could go on and on about the health benefits of bloodless surgery, however, I believe KC did a great job.

Blood transfusion ban is just man-made dogma.

At its core, the Jehovah's Witnesses refusal of blood transfusions is based entirely on faith, not on science (as their own "Blood Brochure" is very specific about). Bloodless surgery as a *preference* may be more popular than it once was, but that is not the issue at hand.

The *doctrine* and practice of letting someone die rather than allow the use of blood in life-threatening situations is the real issue. And at its core is the blind adherence to the dictates of an organization of men.
The "blood issue" is the JW's Jonestown Kool-Aid. It is their baseless test of loyalty to their Society. Despite the fact that it makes little sense to a silent majority of them anymore, they think it proves their faithfulness to "God's organization" People who die refusing blood, or who let their children die,are considered heroes.
The Watchtower has teams of lawyers to protect itself from wrongful death lawsuits.

The thousands of deaths caused by the JW misinterpretation of the Bible does not go away nor is it justified because of emerging technology of *bloodless* treatments.

The Jehovah's Witnesses cite four biblical texts (Genesis 9:4, Leviticus 17:12-14, Acts 15:29 and Acts 21:25). They say these mean that blood, the life-force, belongs to God and is not there for human use. They believe it a sin to eat not just black pudding but also to eat the flesh of animals that have not been properly bled.

And they extend the ban to transfusions. They won't even allow someone's blood to be stored before an operation and then used after it to replace their own blood loss. Blood is not to be stored; it is to be poured out and returned to God. Some JWs even reject dialysis or cell salvage on these grounds. Some will not accept red cells, white cells, platelets or plasma, but accept "fractions" made from these components.

There is a philosophical problem here. When a substance is broken down into components does the original remain? Some 90-96 per cent of blood plasma consists of water. The remainder is albumin, globulins, fibrinogen and coagulation factors. JWs say these may be used, according to conscience, but only if taken separately. Opponents say is like outlawing a ham and cheese sandwich but allowing the eating of bread, ham and cheese separately.

They are criticised for other inconsistencies. Blood fraction products are only available because of blood donation – a practice JWs condemn as unethical. Watchtower memorial

How many deaths?

LOOK! Their very own Awake magazine cover
Dead kids just like in Jones town

Small reply to Danny Haszard:

I work as a nurse, and saying that blood as the best solution in a trauma case isn't very well based.
The problem isn't that people dont get blood, the problem is that the total volume of fluid is to low, this you can fix by giving several fluids/medicine/treatments.
The problem with blood is that its very hard to find all possible contaminents in it, new contaminents form all the time and we can't scan for all of them.

The positive side with bloodlees surgery is that people usually is much healthier after a non-blood surgery that with blood surgery.
(Please forgive my poor english, its not my native lang)

Actually we have a whole lot of research on no-blood surgery to be able to stand up and say that we actually dont need blood transfusions, that is actually better without it.

Please see this links:

There are several more articles about the subject.

Sure, you do mention trauma situations, but there is no difference to a trauma situation, you can still use alternative to blood and do it with success.

So saying that people is dying becuse they dont accept blood transfusions isn't very balanced.

About the part about the JW.
I know quite alot of them... I think you need to update your info a bit.. ;)
Maybe someone who is a JW want to explain their view on blood?

Jehovah's Witnesses blood transfusion confusion

Simple fact-The Bible does not prohibit Blood transfusions.If you are bleeding to death it is more dangerous to refuse a blood transfusions than to take one.
Bloodless surgeries are great if they can be elective.1/3rd of all trauma deaths are from blood loss.

Jehovah's Witnesses elders will investigate and disfellowship any Jehovah Witness who takes a blood transfusion,to say the issue is a 'personal conscience matter' is subterfuge to keep the Watchtower out of lawsuits..
Jehovah's Witnesses children die every year worldwide due to blood transfusion ban.Rank & file Jehovah's Witness are indoctrinated to be scared to death of blood
1) JW's DO USE many parts aka 'fractions' aka components of blood,so if it's 'sacred' to God why the hypocritical contradiction flip-flop?

2) They USE blood collections that are donated by Red Cross and others but don't donate back,more hypocrisy.

3) The Watchtower promotes and praises bloodless elective surgeries,this is a great advancement indeed.BUT it's no good to me if I am bleeding to death from a car crash and lose much of my blood volume and need EMERGENCY blood transfusion.

Remember the Jehovah's Witnesses use thousands and thousands of pints of blood donated by others.They use 60% of the blood volume as broken down "fractions" then go on Bible thumping rants about how dangerous and sinful blood transfusions are.

( JW do allow organ transplants which has more risk than whole blood transfusions so their arguments of disease transmission is bogus)
Know this,the reason that JW refuse blood is because of their spin on the 3000 year old Biblical old testament,modern medicine will eventually make blood donations and transfusions a thing of the past.When this technology happens it won't vindicate the Jehovah's Witnesses and all the deaths that have occurred so far.
The Watchtower's rules against blood transfusions will eventually be abolished (very gradually to reduce wrongful death lawsuit liability) even now most of the blood 'components' are allowed.

Jehovah Witness blood policy reform site

Watchtower bloodless surgery propaganda

Danny Haszard

Jehovah's Witnesses are schooled in 'finding common ground',if you like pink elephants they will become experts on pink elephants. That's the beauty of religion and superstition, it has no limits.

Religion is the most profitable legal business because religions can misquote, misrepresent, and use unethical practices without fear of punishment. It's the absolute best way to scam people I have yet seen

UHHHH ... just another religion. A stupid belief in the paranormal, supernatural. This ... in the year 2010, mind you. With the Large Hadron Collider, space exploration, remakable scientific genetic discoveries. I guess Darwin will prevail with those who adapt, those who don't.

Any religion that forbids a little kid to have a birthday party with cake and ice cream is evil! My wife was a teacher for many years and got reprimanded once because a 1st grader drew a picture of a pumpkin before halloween and his parents complained to the principal. This religion is absolute Evil beyond any doubt. If you are a JW, I should be knocking at your door, not the other way around!

Why play "church"?

Much prefer being a member in particular of The Body of The Messiah, a son of The ONE and Only True Living G-D, Father(Creator) of ALL.......

Thankfully "poor and needy" am i.

Father Help! and HE does.......

Peace, in spite of the dis-ease(no-peace) that is of this wicked world and it's systems of theo'ry'locial religion....... francis

Hebrews 12:15,16. Why? Hebrews 12:7-11,1Timothy 5:20. That way this will be the outcome. 2Corinthians 2:6,7. Yes, you will always have some of these 2Peter 2:20-22 or Hebrews 6:4-6. Besides Jesus really says this Matthew 10:34-36. That's why disfellowshipping is only beneficial for the repentant not the unrepentant.Because this is what the real point is Luke 15:7. Now for this is only for true bible readers. It is really only for ones who respect what the bible says, not for 2Peter 3:3. Who really has the time to get the real answers?

We know that one Jehovah's Witnesses man was recently arrested an beaten unconscious in Saudi Arabia, he was given asylum in New Zealand.

It would be interesting to learn about Jehovah's Witnesses or other secret Christian communities in places like Saudi Arabia and so on.

For example in more liberal Dubai or Qatar ~ where they are allowing churches to be built ~ it would be illegal for Muslims to take part.

We know there are secret communities in Iran. And every once an a while a convert to Christianity pops up in Saudi Arabia ~ it feels like the tip of a much larger iceberg.

Jehovah's Witnesses disfellowshiped person (DF) is exactly the same as Scientology suppressed person (SP)

Scientologists declare their outcasts "suppressive persons."
Another Scientology policy - called "disconnection" - forbids Scientologists from interacting with a suppressive person. No calls, no letters, no contact.
An SP is a pariah. Anyone who communicates with an SP risks being branded an SP himself.
Jehovah's Witnesses are EXACTLY the same.


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