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Is the UN preparing to attack Religion?

The Librarian

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Our Brother Bill Underwood wrote an interesting article in the newspaper:

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If you had to choose between Freedom of Religion and Freedom of Speech, which would you choose?Now, you’re thinking, ‘I don’t have to choose, I already have both.’ Are you sure?Last August, the central district court of Tver – the oblast or ‘state’ in which Moscow resides, banned a religious website, jw.org. They did this secretly, not notifying the owners of the website until the day before the ban was to go into effect – January 22, 2014. Had they prevailed, their rationale would have been to claim, as they have in the past, that the ‘free speech’ on jw.org defames other religions. Jw.org won that battle in the court of appeals, but the foundation on which the attack was based still exists.In 1999, Pakistan brought a resolution to the UN calling for a ban on “Defamation of Islam.” Cooler heads prevailed and, after much discussion, the Commission on Human Rights passed instead a resolution banning “Defamation of Religion.”Over the years from 2000 to 2009 the resolution was added to, revised, strengthened, and re-worded, but it was consistently approved. Aside from the lack of elections, U.N. politicians are no different from any other type. It would have been politically incorrect to be seen as anti-Muslim, especially after 9/11, so passing a bill to protect them from defamation seemed like a good idea. Typical was the vote of the UN General Assembly in December, 2007: 108 for, 51 against, and 25 abstaining.In 2009, however, Pakistan pushed again. Their resolution that year stated that they were concerned that defamation of religion led to “the creation of a kind of Islamophobia in which Muslims were typecast as terrorists." They weren't opposed to freedom of expression, oh no. They merely wanted to ban "expression that led to incitement.”They said the hatred of Muslims was just like the hatred of Jews that Hitler had whipped up in pre-WWII Germany, and look what that led to. Has there been a Muslim “krystallnacht” that I didn’t hear about...the night of August 9, 1938 when Germans destroyed over 7,000 Jewish businesses and over 1,000 synagogues? Even in the days after 9/11 when there was enormous outrage against Muslims, the level of hatred never approached that.Pakistan’s proposed resolution said basically that freedom of speech sometimes has to yield in order to maintain peace. Governments such as Russia, Pakistan, and most of the middle east are quick to use this argument: some opinion or expression of yours is causing distress to others; therefore, instead of telling the ‘others’ to grow up and get over it, they tell you to stop expressing your opinion.In any case, this was a step too far, and the pendulum began to swing back. Pakistan’s argument was recognized for what it was, and over 200 civic groups, some Muslim, some Christian, some atheist, demanded that the UN push back.Over the preceding 10 years, the UN had assigned a “special rapporteur” to analyze the subject of defamation of religion and report back. The rapporteur’s report in 2009 included this telling statement:

  • “[We] encourage a shift away from the sociological concept of the defamation of religions towards the legal norm of non-incitement to national, racial or religious hatred."

Three months later when the United States and Egypt introduced a resolution which condemned "racial and religious stereotyping," EU representative Jean-Baptiste Mattei said the European Union "rejected and would continue to reject the concept of defamation of religions." Significantly, he said:

  • "Human rights laws did not and should not protect belief systems."

And the representative from Chile pointed out that,

  • "The concept of the defamation of religion took them in an area that could lead to the actual prohibition of opinions."

A month later, at a human rights meeting in Geneva, the United States representative admitted that defamation of religion is “a fundamentally flawed concept.” The rep from Sweden repeated what the Frenchman had said earlier: international human rights law protects individuals, not institutions or religions.By 2011 the backlash was complete. The UNHRC declared that "Prohibitions of displays of lack of respect for a religion or other belief system, including blasphemy laws, are incompatible with” the charter of the Human Rights Committee.In the years since then, any proposal in the UN attempting to ban ‘defamation of religion’ has been shot down. Freedom of speech has trumped freedom of religion.Last week, far from worrying about ‘defamation,’ the UN came out loudly and publicly chastising the Vatican.

  • This has never happened before.

Their purported justification for doing so went like this: The Vatican is a signatory of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, article 34 of which reads in part:

  • “Parties undertake to protect the child from all forms of sexual exploitation and sexual abuse.”

The UN accused the Vatican not merely of failing to protect children, but of actively endangering children by their policy of moving pederasts to new parishes where they could continue their predations, and of obfuscating all attempts by law enforcement agencies to find and prosecute the offenders.Now, here’s where it gets really interesting: The UN went further. They also condemned the Church’s doctrines regarding homosexuality, abortion, and ‘reproductive rights.’Chastising a signatory of a contract for failing to abide by the contract is one thing; Attempting to dictate to a church what their doctrines should be is something else. Where is the UN’s authority to do that? Yet they did it anyway.If, as the UN says, religions and belief systems are not protected by human rights - and I agree, they clearly are not – what prevents them from taking the next step: deciding that religions and belief systems are nothing more than ancient superstitions that are doing more harm than good, and that it’s time to ban them?It’s too bad the UN doesn’t have any teeth. Do they? We'll Investigate that next.



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The United Nations and Religion

Who better to discuss religious freedom than the man tasked with promoting and defending it for the United Nations?

Dr. Heiner Bielefeldt, U.N. special rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief.

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Dr. Heiner Bielefeldt, U.N. special rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief.Photo courtesy United Nations - Geneva via Flickr

This image available for Web publication. For questions, contact Sally Morrow.I caught up with Dr. Heiner Bielefeldt, U.N. special rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, on the eve of his first official visit to Jordan last week. Speaking from the University of Erlangen-Nürnberg in Germany where he’s also a human rights professor, Bielefeldt discussed the fundamentals of religious freedom, how it fits together with other rights, some of the worst offenders around the world and the state of religious liberty in the Middle East.The conversation started with a simple but loaded question: What is religious freedom? Bielefeldt acknowledged that defining it can be a tricky and often political endeavor — governments, scholars, people of faith and those of none sometimes tailor its definitions to suit their own interests.He sees religious freedom first and foremost as a human right that protects human beings rather than one that protects particular belief systems:

  • “Religious freedom is as universal as any other human right and as liberal as freedom of expression. It protects a broad range of human freedoms like the search for meaning, the freedom to leave or change communities, to adopt a new faith, to spread one’s beliefs and to establish educational institutions. Like every other right to freedom, it’s about the right to equality.”

But religious liberty often comes into conflict with other rights, like when it’s summoned up to suppress free speech or to oppress women and sexual minorities. Bielefeldt said these examples are “problematic invocations” rather than legitimate uses of religious freedom.Beyond such “subversion”, Bielefeldt identified three major obstacles to religious freedom around the world today:

  • “One of the biggest obstacles is hatred, collective manifestations of hatred caused by aggravating societal circumstances. Another big problem is that, increasingly, people think freedom of religion or belief might be superfluous or not a human right at all. Another big issue is the situation of religious minorities worldwide. Some minorities are harassed, stigmatized and treated as though they do not belong to the nation.”

In determining the worst state offenders of religious freedom, Bielefeldt thinks it wise to distinguish systematic state discrimination from society-based hostilities, citing China as an example of the former and Nigeria the latter:

  • “In China, it seems the general population doesn’t care so much [about religion]. It’s really restrictive government policies that threaten religious freedom. We see that with the Falun Gong in Tibet, Protestants and Catholics, the non-recognition of churches. Freedom of belief is facilitated by state administration. Unless the state registers a group, it is illegal. That goes against the spirit of human rights. Here it’s not the society really, but rather the state apparatus exercising oppression.
  • “In Nigeria, it’s totally different. There, Boko Haram, an Islamist terrorist group, is terrorizing Christians, but also many Muslims. State institutions can’t provide protection. It’s a totally different pattern.”

Bielefeldt said the Middle East, and Egypt specifically, are home to both systems of oppression and a host of other complicating factors:

  • “What we’re seeing now throughout the region is an enormous politicization of religion, especially of Islam. It’s a huge and complicated conflict that cannot simply be spelled out as Muslims vs. Christians. That would be too easy. In Egypt, there are Muslims and Christians on both sides of the political debate.
  • “Christians are now an easy target group for people to vent their frustrations. It’s about the identity of the country, about creating a new Egypt. Religion is a big part of that, but it’s not the only thing. One shouldn’t leave out unemployment, the desperate situation of youth, and disenchantment with the West and Western development strategies that have failed. It’s a complicated picture. Religion is a big part of it, but it’s not the key to understanding absolutely everything.”

On the international scale and particularly at the United Nations, Bielefeldt said the state and reputation of religious freedom have changed significantly in the past decade or so, notably around the discussion of religious defamation. Starting in the late 1990s, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, a group of 57 states that bills itself as the “collective voice of the Muslim world,” pushed for U.N. resolutions to prohibit such defamation.Bielefeldt said these resolutions “cast a shadow” on religious freedom:

  • “The defamation of religions issue was articulated as a dichotomy of freedom of expression and freedom of religion, which is totally wrong in my opinion. Freedom of expression is often seen as totally liberal, you can be provocative with it. But the perception of freedom of religion is that there is a stop sign. You can only go so far. That has contributed to the dubious reputation of freedom of religion as being somewhat less liberal, which is unfair and unjust. It is as liberal a right as any but has this perception that it somehow doesn’t fit.”

Red lines between religious liberty and freedom of expression surfaced amid these defamation debates when illustrations of the Prophet Muhammad, published in Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten, resulted in violent protests around the world. These demonstrations in 2005 and 2006 were led by some Muslims who deemed the depictions blasphemous and offensive. Bielefeldt said the fact that global media organizations reprinted the cartoons amid threats of violence “made it clear that there is no such right as the right to be free from criticism.”A U.N. Human Rights Council resolution in 2011 “put aside the discussion on religious defamation,” according to Bielefeldt, by considering and protecting both free speech and religious freedom.Bielefeldt is currently finishing a report on gender relations and religious freedom, in part to further emphasize his assertion that religious freedom should not be viewed as a right in isolation:

  • “In this report, I’m speaking out against fragmentation, the idea that human rights should focus on gender or religion. Some people think it’s an alternative, an either/or of anti-discrimination. I don’t share this view. I believe all human rights are interrelated in a positive sense.”

Bielefeldt is scheduled to issue preliminary findings from his current mission to Jordan on Sept. 10, with a full report slated for 2014.


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On 6/17/2017 at 04:40, The Librarian said:

The UN accused the Vatican not merely of failing to protect children, but of actively endangering children by their policy of moving pederasts to new parishes where they could continue their predations, and of obfuscating all attempts by law enforcement agencies to find and prosecute the offenders.

why this sound so familiar to me, looks as the same problem as in some other religions

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NOTE: This is not a religious section of the forum, but I will respond based on the link between JW beliefs and certain expectations concerning the UN that are fairly unique to JW teachings.]

The protection of the civil rights of various religious groups for some will look exactly like the suppression of religion to others. If someone has a religious investment in defaming other religions, then telling them that they can no longer defame others is considered to be an encroachment on their own religious rights. There is no perfect solution to this problem. We know that Jesus and the apostles, too, set an example of pointing out the hypocrisy and wickedness found in the leaders of other religions. The attitude of the world itself and its non-religious philosophies are also defamed in the Bible. So there is nothing unchristian about defaming religion and empty worldly philosophy.

So what happens if there is a demand supported by international law to protect the civil rights of individuals by outlawing the defamation of their religion by another religion? This supposedly makes it impossible for religions which require the conversion of persons of other religions and ideologies. It is a necessary tenet of our religion that we promote it publicly just as 'Acts of Apostles' shows the earliest Christians spreading religion through conversion of others.

There have been several interesting tests of how Jehovah's Witnesses have reacted to political or legal pressure by the rules and laws of various nations. When I first visited Jehovah's Witnesses in Mexico, Mexico had rules that supported the Witnesses. We could preach and convert people exactly as we do in the United States and elsewhere. But due to past problems with the political power of the Catholic Church, they also had rules that restricted religious organizations from owning property. The Watchtower Society didn't like this restriction even though other religions had no problem with it. So it was decided that it would be OK for Witnesses in Mexico to act like a non-religious, civic organization that basically taught people how to read (using WT publications), but without prayer and singing and use of the Bible in door-to-door work. The talks at the Hall were considered to be "educational" and the TMS was about speech training. There could be no purely religious talk, especially of the kind that spoke out against other religions. Of course, as soon as the rule changed so that the Watchtower would now be allowed to own property, then the Watchtower allowed singing of kingdom songs, prayer and use of the Bible in service. The Watchtower had suppressed these proper forms of worship among Witnesses for decades, until the property rule changed.

In other places, most recently in Russia, Jehovah's Witnesses are being suppressed from Russia's own legal system, their national courts. (The undue influence from the Russian Orthodox Church also seems obvious.) In Mexico the suppression came from the rules of the Watchtower Society, but now the rules (in Russia) are part of the law of the land. Apparently, the initial design of the rules was not to stop Jehovah's Witnesses from worshiping, praying, using the Bible or singing kingdom songs. Any religion, including JWs, could still exist and Witnesses could do what they wanted, as long they wouldn't denigrate other religions through their publications and preaching activity. In Russia, we would have to become a religion that could not convert others using the current version of our message.

But, in Russia, we would not have to act like a civic organization. The goal was to "blunt" the sharper edges of the religion in terms of its control over membership through its own sets of laws and punishments. Russia would allow the religion to go on, but to be independent of literature produced or translated from the United States (that demeaned other religions) and independent of the control from the United States. Of course, this is not how the hierarchy of Jehovah's Witnesses works. The new interpretation of the "faithful and discreet slave" requires a close observation of the latest changes made by a specific group of 8 men in the United States. The brothers tried to convince the Russian court that they were not directly dependent on rules emanating from the United States, but this was actually seen to be a false claim and the court didn't accept it.

But this makes me think of a few questions. Is it possibly true already that enough influence has already emanated from the Governing Body so that Jehovah's Witnesses can now continue to follow the practices and doctrines already defined from prior publications and educational direction given in the past? This could be an important question because our publications have already promoted a view that, at any time, nations of the world could turn on Jehovah's Witnesses, and individuals might be "on their own" and will need to follow the direction of their local congregation elders. In some countries, the suppression could be so harsh that it may be difficult to find fellow members of a dissolved congregation. And this is also considered to be an indication that it may no longer be time for continued preaching work for the purpose of converting others, but time to remain faithful even if we seem to be on our own. 

Another question is a more basic one. Could our preaching work go on if we were not able to demean and diminish other religious choices publicly? Is this really the primary goal of the public preaching? What would happen if, in such countries, under such legal restrictions, our ministry transformed to one of good works for others of all religions, but especially toward those related to us in the faith. In the earliest public ministry mentioned in Acts, it is the sharing of food and possessions with those related in this faith in Jesus. That appears to be the big attraction of "the Way" -- those who would be Witnesses of Jesus to the most distant part of the earth. With a reputation of showing love and caring for their own, people were interested in what motivated them to such acts of goodwill and kindness toward each other. It was likely that the majority of those who were converted learned more about Christians from this reputation. Would such a new style of ministry work with JWs in Russia? What if JWs were the most well-known for how they took care of each other? What if they had the best practices for taking care of orphans and widows and honoring their elderly parents and other elderly members? If people came to them over their loving reputation and only THEN did the JWs happily explain why they do such things, might this actually result in an increase in those who want to follow them? There would be less need for JWs to formally go out to others. (There is some evidence that the actual growth of JWs in most places has been primarily through informal contacts, not formal door-to-door contacts.) I wonder if it's possible to transform a ministry to work just as well by having people come to us. Wouldn't Jehovah bless the work that is motivated correctly? Wouldn't Jehovah make sure that media was attentive to such stories of charity and goodwill?  

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On 19/05/2018 at 21:11, JW Insider said:

Jesus and the apostles, too, set an example of pointing out the hypocrisy and wickedness found in the leaders of other religions.

How to tell to some Catholic priest or GB leader or to some secular politician or city major that he/she is wrong in something or that he/she made bad deed, or pointing on their hypocrisy and similar?? ..... and in the same time not to be, not to sound offensive or rude and in the same time expressing own feeling and thoughts? 

Does it "pointing out" or "criticism" on something and someone, only privilege of "higher class" of people aka that same leaders or is that same "privilege" actual  "human rights" of all people, not just few chosen?   

On 19/05/2018 at 21:11, JW Insider said:

So it was decided that it would be OK for Witnesses in Mexico to act like a non-religious


On 19/05/2018 at 21:11, JW Insider said:

In other places, most recently in Russia, Jehovah's Witnesses are being suppressed from Russia's own legal system,......The Watchtower had suppressed these proper forms of worship among Witnesses for decades, until the property rule changed.

In first example "suppression" came from WT leaders, own Church and   such GB decision was "justified, righteous, wisdom from Above" :)))) ..... but in Russia case it is "devil attack, suppression caused of enemy worldly people". :))))))  Past and present events in different perception (differences in perception) on, about good and bad, about "proper or less proper or worldly forms of sacred service to god and all other forms.  Interesting!  


On 19/05/2018 at 21:11, JW Insider said:

The brothers tried to convince the Russian court that they were not directly dependent on rules emanating from the United States, but this was actually seen to be a false claim and the court didn't accept it.

Of course, it is WT lawyers false claim :)))))

On 19/05/2018 at 21:11, JW Insider said:

Of course, this is not how the hierarchy of Jehovah's Witnesses works.

WT is Corporation. From that, this point, post, standpoint, view, every JW member must start processing all what came from Main Church Body aka GB. 


On 19/05/2018 at 21:11, JW Insider said:

if we were not able to demean and diminish other religious choices publicly?

.... or whatever else. Does some group or individual can express disagreement on all and every issue??  Not only to different, other groups, but to his own group too?  Or  to be "politically correct", whatever such frase means? :)


On 19/05/2018 at 21:11, JW Insider said:

I wonder if it's possible to transform a ministry

 "Transformers" :) 


On 19/05/2018 at 21:11, JW Insider said:

work that is motivated correctly

please , this is grey field ... motivations, humans hearts, minds :))) interpretations are many. They will judge you and praise you for the same thing :) I have enjoy in reading your posts. Have a good and peaceful day, greetings!

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3 hours ago, AllenSmith said:

It’s interesting you cite Jesus Work, and yet have a heretical view of the GB influence that extends from scripture, to begin with. 1 Corinthians 12:27.

I Corinthians 12:27 is a perfect example of what I believe. It says:

  • 27 Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. (NIV)

Anyone who believes that says there is currently another body to look to, such as a Governing Body, should be the ones defending against a potentially heretical view. I believe that there is a way to view the Governing Body concept in a way that is is not heretical, and not at odds with the Bible, and I have explained it before. Holding a specific, proper view about a group of 8 specific men in New York who make up this "Governing Body" is NOT, in my view heretical. For the sake of efficiency, an organization will find it useful, helpful, and proper to look to groups of older men for guidance. We have the example of Moses taking the advice of Jethro. We have the Sanhedrin. Jesus, in fact, wanted the combined experience and advice of the apostles to help guide the first-century congregations as they emanated forth from Jerusalem in the days following his death, ascension, and the pouring out of the holy spirit at Pentecost.

So there is nothing necessarily wrong or heretical about a group of men selected for the purpose of efficiently running an organization. 1 Corinthians 12:28 mentions teaching and helping and guiding as proper ministries for some of the body of Christ to be involved in. It would therefore be proper for the body of Christ to select specific persons or even committees of persons to serve in various capacities as that body of Christ might choose using Scriptural guidance and advice.

The potentially heretical view is the claim that these men and only these men currently make up the fulfillment of the parable Jesus gave about the unfaithful slave. (Yes, it is also a parable about a faithful slave, but the primary focus and majority of content in the parable is about the unfaithful slave.)  Because then we would have a body of men who are not the apostles, wishing to be thought of as if they were apostles. It would require us to view a specific body of specific men as a Body within the Body of Christ. Looking to a body of men as a committee who are our specific leaders to follow is precisely what Paul spoke against when he spoke of those who would look to various "superfine" apostles. It is precisely what Jesus was referring to when when he said that we should [NOT]** look to specific persons as our leaders or teachers. The Bible often mentions the dangers of such arrangements. It even mentions the potential danger of looking to the body of apostles themselves as our leaders. This is what Paul emphasizes when he tells the Galatians that he did not look to the body of elders in Jerusalem for leadership, not even the apostles, those who "seemed to be" pillars in the Jerusalem congregation.

[Edited to add the "NOT" in the above paragraph where Melinda pointed out the error.]

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3 hours ago, AllenSmith said:

It’s interesting you cite Jesus Work, and yet have a heretical view of the GB influence that extends from scripture, to begin with. 1 Corinthians 12:27.

I attempted above to only address the actual point of difference, as I see it, between your view and my view of the GB.  To be fair, I should probably acknowledge that you appear to be trying to make some additional specific points in your post, but there was nothing there that seemed very appropriate to comment on, because most of what you said just simply doesn't apply or I have always been in full agreement with it. The intent of some of your post wasn't clear to me. So perhaps if I try to respond to what I think you meant, you will be able to clarify further if you can see I'm not understanding you correctly.

From what I can tell, your instant reaction to call me and my views heretical and your other attempts at defamation have become a kind of reflex for you. You apparently don't read what I am saying before quickly misunderstanding words that you don't like.

In this case, I think the primary word you didn't like was "influence." You didn't like that I had said used the term "influence . . . emanated from the Governing Body" in the following question that I had asked:

On 5/19/2018 at 3:11 PM, JW Insider said:

Is it possibly true already that enough influence has already emanated from the Governing Body so that Jehovah's Witnesses can now continue to follow the practices and doctrines already defined from prior publications and educational direction given in the past?

You might not have understood that I meant this in a very positive way. I mean that the Governing Body has positively influenced Jehovah's Witnesses worldwide with proper guidance and teachings. Yes, I know I have not held back from discussing non-Biblical influences in the past, too, but the question above focused only on the positive influences. It could be restated as follows:

Is it possible that (through all the various publications, practices, encouragement of good habits, assigned Bible reading/discussion, reviewing of important Bible topics, etc.) that the Governing Body has already produced enough good influence on congregations of Jehovah's Witnesses so that they are readily capable of standing on their own in the event of severe persecution that would cut us off from communication with the Governing Body? I hoped the question was rhetorical, because it seems obvious that congregational elders and servants should already be trusted to help guide and teach a congregation in such circumstances. We already know there have been exceptional cases and extreme circumstances in the recent modern history of Jehovah's Witnesses where communication has been cut off and the Witness work and congregational matters went on without any major problems. And as I already stated in the post, we are reminded that we should be ready for such extreme circumstances.

I also note that you might have misunderstood my use of the word "past." It didn't refer to Russell, Rutherford, and past GB "influences." It refers to the pattern of instruction already received, with good habits learned over the years. Many elders and servants had no ability to manage even a small project, yet past assignments over the years have taught many brothers and sisters to rise to the occasion to manage complex tasks. (Assembly organization, budgets, donations, paperwork, building halls, scheduling assignments.)

I think you took some offense to the fact that I mentioned influence of the GB as if it superseded the influence of Jehovah, Jesus, the Bible, and the holy spirit. That wasn't the intent. For some individuals, unfortunately, I think it does supersede all these entities. But that wasn't the topic here. I meant it only as a guide for understanding proper spiritual influence.

3 hours ago, AllenSmith said:

So, when you STATE, GB influence? Rather than a GUIDE to the teachings of Christ? It is NOT representative of SCRIPTURE!

This is where I figured you must have misunderstood GB influence. I meant it, just as you said: "a GUIDE to the teachings of Christ" not a replacement for Scripture. I know where you are coming from, so I don't blame you for thinking I was here referring to areas where I believe the Bible gives us a clear reason to disagree. But in this context I was referring to the many areas where we can positively agree.

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      My father always said " know all, blow all" when people think they know it all.  And I have seen some pretty opinionated people on here. Mostly people who have had very little suffering and had authority in congregations.   
      I encourage you to stay strong dear sister and please devote more time to worship Jehovah in love. I also want to cut my time on internet ........ I spend time trying to find hidden  news about new developments in UN etc.  Soon all news about what is really  going on will not be available..... just mandates from governments and propaganda from the governments. People will be liquidated and we will not be able to get news about it. 
      Just stay strong. I am glad you spoke out about Australia.... I have a friend there who is too afraid to talk on internet.  They have already built  Covid "camps" in USA and Australia.... the  ĺorcing all "faith in god" out of everyone..  only worship of the state will be allowed. .... to compromise as many as he can.
      Strengthen yourself. No one can do it for you. 
      · 0 replies
    • Toni  »  T.B. (Twyla)

      Thank you so much for the spiritual food!!!
      · 0 replies
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