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Jehovah's Witnesses: Balanced And Informed Opinion... - Religion - Nairaland

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Jehovah's Witnesses: Balanced And Informed Opinion... by Janosky: 1:08pm On Feb 05

The Guardian Nigeria News - Nigeria and Wo...
Jehovah’s Witnesses: Balanced and informed By Chijioke Nelson 04 February 2020 | 3:52 am I read with great amazement, the article titled “Fanatical witnesses”, published in The Guardian of January 28, 2020, written by Mr. Ray Ekpu. Of course, I read his articles, especially for his knowledge of subject matters. But more so, I believe I can learn more from his experience, despite putting 15 years already in the field of journalism myself. But this time, I beg to differ from your understanding and approach of the matter in question, particularly your use of words like fanatics, outlaws, extremists, sect, idiocy and stupidity. Granted that you were expressing your concerns, but it was on a matter of personal belief (faith), which you do not wholly understand or at best, agree with. You ended up veering off course. It is a hasty generalisation and profiling, to describe Jehovah’s Witnesses the way you did. You also chose to use derogatory descriptions for their dress and grooming and at another point, you associated witnesses with illiteracy. It appears to me, Sir, that indeed, you know little about Jehovah’s Witnesses. Around the world, there are over eight million Jehovah’s Witnesses, who are active in 240 lands. These are organised into almost 120,000 local congregations. Over 90% of these congregations hold their weekend Bible Studies on Sundays, not Saturdays, as you wrongly claimed. Why not visit a Kingdom Hall near you this Sunday to verify? In your article, you claimed, without any evidence, that Jehovah’s Witnesses do not respect national symbols and live as outlaws. This is simply, false.

The Nova Svoboda Newspaper in the Czech Republic said this of Witnesses:“[Jehovah’s Witnesses] have tremendous moral strength. We could use such unselfish people even in the highest political functions. . . . They recognize governmental authorities, but believe that only God’s Kingdom is capable of solving all human problems.”Closer home, Dr. Luke Onyekankeya of The Guardian Newspaper had written of his encounter with Jehovah’s Witnesses, although he is not one them. In any case, I see it that you are entitled to your opinion, but it is more of expression of personal hatred and misgivings for Jehovah’s Witnesses than the subject matter and that is below the part of your estimated self. These personal fangs are also not necessary as a discourse in the national newspapers, except the prompt of harboured animosity. Your narration of the story of the Onokpise family’s rejection of blood transfusion for their baby could have been more accurate had you taken the time to research the facts. This has already been reported by the Punch Newspaper the Nation and others. Given your experience and reputation, a simple interview with a Jehovah’s Witness, or even online research on their website from your desk, would have provided ample ink for your pen to be more accurate. I also know that expressions like these against Jehovah’s Witnesses are more of personal perceptions and hearsay, than knowledge and detailed findings about them. Regarding your views on blood transfusion, I wish to bring to your notice, Sir, that Medicine has gone beyond blood transfusion as a first option, to effective alternatives. This is a global trend and riding on the back of the witnesses’ informed refusal to accept blood transfusion. The successes are on the increase and on record.
Do you know that many who are not Jehovah’s Witnesses are no longer accepting transfusion? Are you aware that the medical world now advocates bloodless medicine, even for children? For example, check out the following websites, which do not belong to Jehovah’s Witnesses, among many others: John Hopkins’ Center for Bloodless Medicine and Surgery: and Stanford Children’s Health and The Punch Newspaper, January 15 2017 You may also want to log on to the Witnesses’ multilingual website www.jw.org for success stories, documentary on successful complicated medical issues (videos), as well as trends in international medicine, not religious ideas, to see what renowned surgeons and accomplished international medical experts have to say on the topic of transfusion alternatives/bloodless medicine. After a review of the contents, judge for you if these are mere cooked up stories or realities. While you have the right to hold your opinion and interpretation of Biblical injunctions regarding blood do you not also agree that others, Jehovah’s Witnesses inclusive, have the right to an alternative opinion? Would it not be hypocritical to opine that you disagree with their views, but insist that they accept yours? Does the fact that progressive medical science has since come to agree, according to Dr. Charles Huggins, the director of blood transfusion service at a Massachusetts Hospital, that blood has become “the most dangerous substance we use in medicine”, not lend any credence to the Witnesses acceptance of the Bible’s injunction to “abstain from blood”? You were, therefore, expressing a very narrow view in your article that it is unreasonable to deprive a patient of the life- saving option of blood transfusion. As any reasonable doctor will attest, when it comes to treatment, no physician can realistically guarantee that a certain approach would definitely save life. We have seen medical news reports of patients who died after blood transfusion and ones who survived without it in treating similar conditions, witnesses and non-witnesses alike. It will interest you to know that many have died out of complications of transfusion, while others have also died despite being transfused. What is more, majority of Jehovah’s Witnesses have also recuperated with the alternatives, all to God’s glory. Sir, while the health issue in question is rare among Jehovah’s Witnesses, compared with non-witnesses, decisions are neither mere ritual nor goaded, but by personal conviction of the Bible words and its principles, which is an aspect of faith that is not a possession of all men.
It was a surprise to read your article deriding the style of dress of Jehovah’s Witnesses, real or imaginary, that sought to discuss the Bible’s message with you. On their website, Jehovah’s Witnesses have provided a Newsroom for journalists like you’re very self to easily find secularly available information on their Bible Educational Work. Officials in many countries have commended the volunteer work of witnesses, which is carried out in 240 lands. This link, https://www.jw.org/en/search/? q=Jehovah%27s+Witnesses+and+the +community contains commendation of witnesses from public functionaries in Thailand, Sweden, Canada, Russia, United States and Ukraine. Of course, you are also entitled to disagree with this consensus. If you are a Christian, would you call God’s insistence that Jesus would die painfully for our sins rigidity, even though he can decide to forgive everyone? Wouldn’t Jesus have begged off, perhaps suggesting alternative action, rather than dying? Please, know that upholding godly principles involves submission to Him, not when you are comfortable. Jesus Christ admitted so. (Read Mark 8:35) Christianity is not by human dictate, but the way God wants it. There are several examples in the Holy Scriptures of men and women of faith who adopted positions that would not only have been labeled strange during their time, but would definitely have been described as lunatic in the year 2020, if your article is adopted as a standard of thought. But major religions of the world have come to accept these individuals as exemplary. Would you call Abraham’s obedience idiotic or irrational for readiness to sacrifice Isaac on a mere directive of someone he does not see physically, especially knowing the circumstances around Isaac’s birth? Would you say Daniel’s steadfastness and his loyalty was stupidity by continuing to pray, even visibly, when Nebuchadnezzar had decreed that such was forbidden? What of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego.
Would you describe these as extremists, outlaws, mad, fanatics, unreasonable and stupid for refusing to bow before national images, when they were looking at the blazing fire that was their next destination? Would you call Stephen an idiot for confessing his faith in the midst of men with grinding stones pounding him? Would you call Paul and other apostle’s outlaws for telling off the authorities that they will obey God as ruler rather than them, knowing fully well the consequences? Jehovah’s Witnesses are not outlaws, but conscientious objectors. This is a global norm, except in states where individual rights are grossly violated. They seek peace and pay their taxes, which is the meaning of Jesus words to pay back Caesar’s things. I would have expected a father and respected senior colleague of your honour to dig deep into the matter beyond face-reading and personal grievances before being frivolous with words, name calling, baring of fangs and possible display of hatred for a people, their faith and belief. It is judgmental, an overkill and defamation of character, to slam unprintable words on a peaceful people who love their family and provide for them; a people who can go to any length to have the best available medical care for their families and themselves, within the limits of God’s law; and a people who labour to help others adopt positive attitude and become reconciled to God." Nelson wrote from Lagos. *(Copied)
Re: Jehovah's Witnesses: Balanced And Informed Opinion... by Janosky: 1:21pm On Feb 05
EDITORIAL Why Ray Ekpu goofed, disgraced journalism in his Fanatical Witnesses By starconnect Posted on February 1, 2020       COMMENTS Allegations and conclusions reached by Ray Ekpu in his article are misleading, others are at best half truth while the rest are insults and outright falsehood. One of the main tenets of journalism is that while opinions are free, facts are scared Emmanuel Thomas l Saturday, February 01, 2020 L AGOS, Nigeria – Among the legendary statements ever uttered by man which I cherish so much is that by Othman Danfodio, he said that “Conscience is an open wound, only truth can heal it” that is why I have a tremendous respect for men like Ray Ekpu, a man who has spent nearly 50 years in a relentless and vigorous pursuit of such truth. As a veteran journalist, prolific writer, administrator and a renowned columnist, Ray’s analysis and opinion on diverse issues can be authoritative. Mr. Ray Ekpu, a former editor of the now defunct, News Watch Magazine For those of us who have followed his writings over the years, it is no exaggeration to conclude that he is a master of the prose genre as he practically takes one on a journey of free flowing prose so captivating that you do not want to stop until you have finished reading his article. Ray is also a courageous writer, not afraid to bare his mind on diverse issues. Perhaps, it was with such zeal and zest that he took me on a journey in his weekly column of Daily Sun Tuesday, 28 January 2020. In an article entitled ” Fanatical Witnesses” the columnist of repute made series of allegations against Jehovah’s Witnesses starting with this statement. ´The religious group that calls itself Jehovah’s Witnesses is a very unique group in Christendom. They hold their Church services on Saturday not Sundays. They do not sing the national anthems of the countries in which they live. They do not respect the national flag. They hold themselves as outlaws and do not give to Caesar what is Caesar’s they think that their duty is only to give God what is God’s” One of the few things I still remember about my philosophy class, an elective course I chose as a student in the University over 20 years ago is that there are two ways of finding out truth. The first is “Logical coherence” while the second is empirical investigation. Today, I believe there are more ways of finding out truth but I will stick to the two ways I know which are timeless in appeal and efficacy. Like other mortals, Ray is not infallible, he never claimed he is hence my first reaction would have been to write a personal letter to him, refuting some of the assertions he made in the article which are not correct. But on a second thought, I reckoned that it would benefit him and the reading public more if I send this rejoinder to the editor to publish because some of the allegations and conclusions in his article are misleading, others are at best half truth while the rest are insults and outright falsehood. One of the main tenets of journalism is that while opinions are free, facts are scared. So a little empirical investigation on the website of Jehovah’s Witnesses, JW.ORG (the world’s most translated website) would have shown him that Jehovah’s Witnesses hold 2 meetings in a week. The first is a mid-week meeting while the second is a weekend meeting; he would also have found out that 90% of the over 8.6 million witnesses in 240 lands, islands and territories worldwide hold their meetings on Sundays. On the issue of national anthem and pledge, Jehovah’s Witnesses, having made an unreservedly and whole hearted pledge to Jehovah, the sovereign of the universe, believe that it amounts to hypocrisy to make another pledge to a country or state, interestingly, the pledge we made to Jehovah includes living by bible standards, which includes respect and obedience to constituted authorities as part of reverence to God. So it is not correct to say that we do not respect the national flags of countries where we live. That is why in obedience to the scriptural injunction at Romans 13:1, we subject ourselves to superior authorities by obeying laws of the land, conscientiously paying our taxes, tributes and honor to such governmental authorities. However, in rare instances where the authorities make demands that are contrary to God’s laws like in some countries where certain laws unduly restricts or ban our worship, we follow the footsteps of the apostles as recorded in Acts 5: 29, to …”obey God as ruler rather than men”. The Witnesses’ respect and view of governmental authorities transcends perfunctory obedience like singing the national anthem and pledge, swearing oat to serve with honesty, heart and might, only for many to get involved in anti-governmental activities like civil disobedience, official malfeasance like fraud or outright theft. As an experienced administrator and believer in good governance, I know that Ray will prefer a heartfelt obedience to constituted authorities to a mere ritual of flag salute or mockery oat of loyalty and allegiance. I also find as complimentary, Ray’s attempt to describe the dress of the Witnesses who came calling at his door in derogatory terms. While like he said, they may not have worn finely cut suit and red-carpet gowns, he noted that they were modestly dressed, and the gown “covered everywhere from head to toe”, it will interest Ray to know that such was the description of the garment made for Adam and Eve, the first human pair by the greatest designer in the universe, Jehovah after they sinned, were sentenced and driven out of the garden of Eden. In a world that is alienated from God. Long garments that cover the body properly are not popular, instead men glorify immodest dressing and grooming. That is why I found his description complimentary rather than derogatory. I also found it surprising and a bit disappointing that a writer of Ray’s repute will describe as “stupidity and insanity” a loving effort by the Witnesses who have volunteered and sacrificed their comfort to share a message of God’s kingdom with him just because he was leaving for work. His right to personal perception and opinion does not authorize him to insult people for practicing their religion, holding different opinion or for having an unpopular conviction just like Christ and the first century Christians had. People have different routine and circumstances hence the Witnesses call at homes, markets, streets and even work places in search of humble ones who are favorably disposed for everlasting life. While many may not be disposed to listen, the Witnesses have had fine experiences with others with whom they share the good news of God’s kingdom with interesting outcome. As a result of such efforts, last year, a total of 12,232,924 friends and neighbors joined the 8,686,117 Witnesses worldwide to observe the Lords evening meal in obedience to Jesus’ command at Luke 22:19. Ray also quoted Genesis 9:4 which sates: “You shall not eat flesh with its life, that its blood” and Acts 15:29 which states:”That you abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols and from blood and from what is strangled” it may be necessary to add scriptures like Leviticus 17: 12 & 14 which states in part: “None of you should eat blood, and no foreigner who is residing in your midst should eat blood… For the life of every sort of flesh is its blood, because life is in it. Consequently, I said to the Israelites: You must not eat the blood of every sort of flesh because the life of every sort of flesh is its blood. Anyone eating it will be cut off. Jehovah’s Witnesses understand and appreciate God’s loving command to mean not taking in blood, through any means whatsoever. If Ray feels that a sacred substance like blood which God, the grand creator in his infinite wisdom has commanded that we should eat can be transfused without contravening God’s clear and unambiguous law, he certainly has the right to his opinion but that does change God’s law. I will liken this to a child whose father has prohibited from taking oral pills but he instead dissolves it in water and injects it intravenously. It is important to state that the baby of Mr & Mrs Emmanuel Onokpise in question had jaundice induced anemia, and as at the time of the forceful transfusion, the baby no longer has jaundice and was recuperating well. Beyond the religious convictions of Witnesses, more and more doctors and patients within and outside Nigeria opts for non-blood medical management because it is safer. Blood transfusion is especially unsafe in a country like Nigeria where we do not have proper screening facilities for blood. My research shows that most blood banks in Nigeria are filled with blood from commercial donors resulting in volume and less dead cells. It may interest you to know that modern medicine have gone beyond a hasty transfusion therapy to a robust and effective alternatives to blood transfusion. Witnesses in their quest to obey Jehovah’s clear directive not to eat blood have pushed the boundaries of research in non blood medical management. There are numerous experiences about successful bloodless surgeries and complex medical procedures within and outside Nigeria but let me share my personal experience here. In November 2018, I was diagnosed of high grade non hodgskin lymphoma (a very serious type of blood cancer) but I thank Jehovah, it was at stage one and confined to the spleen. A team of Hematologists at London Hematology who carried out the diagnoses recommended that I should have an open splenectomy, a surgery that will excise the diseased organ. They also said that although they do not usually use blood in procedures, but because spleen is a bloody organ as such transfusion is a must. The transfusion practitioner, clinical nurse specialists and Drs’ all said that being anemic as I was ( hemoglobin 10+) I stand no chance without a transfusion. After some research, the consultant hematologist Mr Karcsmarski was able to get the node a surgeon who agreed to carry out the surgery without blood transfusion, his name is Mr Satvinda Mudan. On the 10 December 2018, the surgery was successful carried out at London Clinic, Davonshere place, London, United Kingdom and I gradually recuperated to the amazement of the medical team and to the glory of Jehovah, the true source of life. At the anniversary of the surgery, I wrote to thank both the medical team at the London clinic and in response he said he wrote: Dear Uche, Thank you for your most kind email. I am so pleased to learn that you are doing so well. While I might have shown some dexterity as you say however, the real display of courage was surely from you. I can only say that you showed great fortitude and strength of character in the face of a difficult and threatening situation, not or your own making. Moreover, you impressed us all with your resolve and strength with which you hold your belief. May you continue to thrive and I look forward to hearing from the doctors about your progress. NB: Other aspects of Ray’s mis- representation of facts will be addressed in the coming days.

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