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  1. If a JW votes in a national election ... will there be congregational sanctions against him? The last thing I heard was in 1999 in the Watchtower that it had changed that we were now allowed to follow our consciences, in voting quoted here: " Questions From Readers How do Jehovah’s Witnesses view voting? There are clear principles set out in the Bible that enable servants of God to take a proper view of this matter. However, there appears to be no principle against the practice of voting itself. For example, there is no reason why a board of directors should not take a vote in order to arrive at decisions affecting their corporation. Congregations of Jehovah’s Witnesses often make decisions about meeting times and the use of congregation funds by voting with a show of hands. What, though, of voting in political elections? Of course, in some democratic lands, as many as 50 percent of the population do not turn out to vote on election day. As for Jehovah’s Witnesses, they do not interfere with the right of others to vote; neither do they in any way campaign against political elections. They respect and cooperate with the authorities who are duly elected in such elections. (Romans 13:1-7) As to whether they will personally vote for someone running in an election, each one of Jehovah’s Witnesses makes a decision based on his Bible-trained conscience and an understanding of his responsibility to God and to the State. (Matthew 22:21; 1 Peter 3:16) In making this personal decision, the Witnesses consider a number of factors. First, Jesus Christ said of his followers: “They are no part of the world, just as I am no part of the world.” (John 17:14) Jehovah’s Witnesses take this principle seriously. Being “no part of the world,” they are neutral in the political affairs of the world.—John 18:36. Second, the apostle Paul referred to himself as an “ambassador” representing Christ to the people of his day. (Ephesians 6:20; 2 Corinthians 5:20) Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that Christ Jesus is now the enthroned King of God’s heavenly Kingdom, and they, like ambassadors, must announce this to the nations. (Matthew 24:14; Revelation 11:15) Ambassadors are expected to be neutral and not to interfere in the internal affairs of the countries to which they are sent. As representatives of God’s heavenly Kingdom, Jehovah’s Witnesses feel a similar obligation not to interfere in the politics of the countries where they reside. A third factor to consider is that those who have a part in voting a person into office may become responsible for what he does. (Compare 1 Timothy 5:22, The New English Bible.) Christians have to consider carefully whether they want to shoulder that responsibility. Fourth, Jehovah’s Witnesses greatly value their Christian unity. (Colossians 3:14) When religions get involved in politics, the result is often division among their members. In imitation of Jesus Christ, Jehovah’s Witnesses avoid becoming involved in politics and thus maintain their Christian unity.—Matthew 12:25; John 6:15; 18:36, 37. Fifth and finally, their keeping out of politics gives Jehovah’s Witnesses freeness of speech to approach people of all political persuasions with the important message of the Kingdom.—Hebrews 10:35. In view of the Scriptural principles outlined above, in many lands Jehovah’s Witnesses make a personal decision not to vote in political elections, and their freedom to make that decision is supported by the law of the land. What, though, if the law requires citizens to vote? In such a case, each Witness is responsible to make a conscientious, Bible-based decision about how to handle the situation. If someone decides to go to the polling booth, that is his decision. What he does in the polling booth is between him and his Creator. The November 15, 1950, issue of The Watchtower, on pages 445 and 446, said: “Where Caesar makes it compulsory for citizens to vote . . . [Witnesses] can go to the polls and enter the voting booths. It is here that they are called upon to mark the ballot or write in what they stand for. The voters do what they will with their ballots. So here in the presence of God is where his witnesses must act in harmony with his commandments and in accordance with their faith. It is not our responsibility to instruct them what to do with the ballot.” What if a Christian woman’s unbelieving husband insists that she present herself to vote? Well, she is subject to her husband, just as Christians are subject to the superior authorities. (Ephesians 5:22; 1 Peter 2:13-17) If she obeys her husband and goes to the polling booth, that is her personal decision. No one should criticize her.—Compare Romans 14:4. What of a country where voting is not mandated by law but feelings run high against those who do not go to the voting booth—perhaps they are exposed to physical danger? Or what if individuals, while not legally obliged to vote, are severely penalized in some way if they do not go to the polling booth? In these and similar situations, a Christian has to make his own decision. “Each one will carry his own load.”—Galatians 6:5. There may be people who are stumbled when they observe that during an election in their country, some Witnesses of Jehovah go to the polling booth and others do not. They may say, ‘Jehovah’s Witnesses are not consistent.’ People should recognize, though, that in matters of individual conscience such as this, each Christian has to make his own decision before Jehovah God.—Romans 14:12. Whatever personal decisions Jehovah’s Witnesses make in the face of different situations, they take care to preserve their Christian neutrality and freeness of speech. In all things, they rely on Jehovah God to strengthen them, give them wisdom, and help them avoid compromising their faith in any way. Thus they show confidence in the words of the psalmist: “You are my crag and my stronghold; and for the sake of your name you will lead me and conduct me.”—Psalm 31:3." Now, all this is well and good .... but if a Brother's conscience will allow him to vote in national elections ... will he be chastised, sanctioned, or punished for the free exercise OF his conscience, by the CCJW ?
  2. WASHINGTON — From the grave of a suffragist in upstate New York to the 16th Street Baptist Churchin Birmingham, Ala., and the Brandenburg Gate in Germany, President-elect Donald Trump has quite a welcome committee: An estimated 1 million people plan to demonstrate in all 50 states and 32 countries. In the U.S. capital alone, the National Park Servicehas issued permits for 25 separate events the weekend of his Jan. 20 swearing-in as the nation's 45th president. It’s a number that’s “pretty well unprecedented” relative to past inaugurations, said Mike Litterst, a park service spokesman. “The biggest issue is merely finding space for all of these groups that allows for a meaningful demonstration,” he said. The main event is the Women’s March on Washington, which will draw at least 200,000 individuals with concerns about threats to women's rights, including abortion, as well as affordable health care and equal pay. It has inspired about 300 others of varying sizes across the country and on every continent, according to Yordanos Eyoel, spokeswoman for the network of sister marches. While there are a few groups — like Bikers for Trump — coming to show their support, the vast majority are protesters, according to a Park Service spreadsheet of permit applications. What’s unique is that “people who have never been politically active before are now mobilizing,” said Eyoel, a Boston-based organizer from Ethiopia who became a U.S. citizen last fall. Cities with the largest number of registrants include Los Angeles, Chicago, Seattle, Portland, Boston, Denver, and Minneapolis. There are marches even in smaller and non-coastal cities including Topeka, Nashville, and Des Moines. “The message here is women’s rights are human rights, and we are not taking a single step back,” said Terry O’Neill, president of the National Organization for Women, among the partner groups. Others are more openly hostile to the incoming president. “We’re more than disappointed in Trump. We’re disgusted,” said Working Families Party senior advisor Valerie Ervin. “We learned about Donald Trump’s attitude toward women once and for all when he boasted about sexual assault,” she said. "Not just today but for years to come we will march and we will fight.” The hundreds of thousands of marchers descending on Washington belie their challenge in presenting a unified front: Trump was elected with plenty of support from women. “There are women who have always fought against and will continue to fight against systemic and patriarchal structures. This march, though, is taking place in a different context,” said Brandy Faulkner, a politics expert at Virginia Tech. “We have a president-elect who is on tape bragging about a sexual assault. Yet, roughly 54% of white women who voted supported him,” said Faulkner. Even so, O’Neill hopes Trump will take notice of their passion since “a lot more people may be coming to our march than are coming to his inauguration,” she said. According to the D.C. Department of Transportation, as of Friday there were 393 charter buses registered for parking on the day of Trump’s inauguration, compared to the 1,200 registered the day of the women’s march. Demonstrators carry signs during a "Love Rally" in New York on Nov. 11, 2016, to protest the election of U.S. President-elect Donald Trump. Bryan R. Smith, AFP/Getty Images The diverse groups participating — from Amnesty International to Planned Parenthood— see the marches as an orientation of sorts for a longer term resistance to the Trump agenda. Filmmaker and activist Michael Moore has called for “100 days of resistance” to Trump’s presidency that starts with the women’s march. The big test will be “whether the groups will pursue a collective policy agenda after the marching is done,” said Faulkner. Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said 99 protest groups are expected for the inauguration, including 63 that are expected to protest on Jan. 20. Forming alliances Organizers are hoping participants will form alliances and inspire women to get more involved in their local communities, and according to O'Neill, civil rights and women’s rights groups have already begun closer coordination in the wake of Trump’s Nov. 8 victory. A lot depends on people like Esther Lofgren, a 31-year-old Olympic gold medalist in rowing who hasn’t been an activist but now wants to advance women’s issues. “It seems like a very important time to speak up for human rights,” she said. “As an athlete, I know how important my body and what I choose to do with it is,” said Lofgren, who’ll march with her teammates as part of a group called Athlete Ally and who has just begun to consider which specific causes to adopt. Among the groups that have sprouted in the aftermath of the election is Lawyers for Good Government, a new national organization of more than 120,000 lawyers and activists offering pro-bono work to defend civil and human rights that says it wants “to harness, empower and coordinate the unprecedented political energy that has emerged” since Trump’s election. A day after the march, EMILY’s List will hold a candidate training for about 500 women interested in running for office. The group will "undertake a major effort to recruit, train, and elect more pro-choice Democratic women to office nationwide,” it said in a statement. Public Citizen and others will host a “teach-in” to inform new activists how to “plug into grassroots campaigns and acquire skills to take home to their communities.” Whenever there are large protests there’s potential for clashes. That's more likely to happen on inauguration day than it is during the women's march. "There’s a lot of baby strollers at women’s marches. It’s not a raucous march," said O'Neill. 'A wall of meat' During the inauguration, a group called #DisruptJ20 is vowing a “festival of resistance” to include a march and rallies at all 12 Secret Service security checkpoints and “colorful disruptions” along the inaugural parade route to protest “racial justice, immigrant rights, LGBTQ, antiwar, climate” and other concerns. The group spent the weekend of Jan. 14 in a series of trainings and workshops. It may also attempt to disrupt inaugural balls attended by Trump supporters, including the “Deploraball.” The main pro-Trump group organizing around the inauguration is Bikers for Trump, a motorcycle group led by a South Carolina chainsaw artist who mowed the lawn around the Lincoln Memorial during the 2013 government shutdown. On Thursday, the group posted on Twitter that Trump is “instructing his staff to give us the resources to put on the best rally possible.” Still, on Friday its founder, Chris Cox, told Fox Business Network “the bikers are certainly used to being outnumbered and we are prepared to form a wall of meat.” There are so many groups planning to storm the streets of Washington that Mic created a realtime map for protesters and watchers called “Storm the Swamp” to help keep track of the planned chaos. Others include an estimated 500 who will hold a peaceful candlelight vigil commemorating women who stood vigil in front of the White House from 1913 to 1917 to advocate for suffrage during which the Seneca Falls Declaration will be read. Finally, a pro-marijuana legalization group plans to hand out a few thousand free joints to raise awareness about the benefits of marijuana legalization. “At 4 minutes and 20 seconds into President Trump’s speech we’ll light up! (unless President Trump comes out now in support of full cannabis legalization in all 50 states and DC!)” DCMJ says on its homepage. http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2017/01/16/trumps-welcome-committee-gush-protesters/96574160/
  3. American voters' choice for their next leader is widely seen as a protest against the status quo. Predictions are now being made that Europe's establishment needs to watch its back. There are a few major elections on the way in the EU - with politicians once dismissed as 'fringe', now feeling emboldened by what's happened across the Atlantic.
  4. Donald Trump the Republican candidate to the Presidential Election creates an event today in Tampa, Florida with a cute baby. "Oh look, a future construction worker, a baby, so cute, give me that," Trump said, as he spotted a baby nearby. But behind the smiles and photo opportunities, Trump's path to election victory remains narrow - in spite of a close race in national polling.
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