Jehovah’s Witnesses Adapt to the Pandemic

July 6, 2020

You have to admit, one good thing about the pandemic is that Jehovah’s Witnesses aren’t going door to door these days. At least we have that.

JM – West Palm Beach, FL

Not so fast. Apparently, the Jehovah’s Witnesses are writing random (snail mail) letters to people in lieu of knocking on their doors at ungodly hours. I know this because my mother, a lapsed Catholic, received the following note at her home:

Dear Neighbor,

Amid the COVID 19 Pandemic, most of us need comfort and hope. I am writing to you today to share a positive message from the Bible.

Many wonder if God is causing our problems and if suffering will ever end.

Not only does the bible assure us that God does not cause our suffering (James 1:13) but it also offers hope with a promise from God at Revelation 21:3, 4. There we learn that he will do away withal pain and suffering.

For more information and to find more encouraging thoughts, please feel free to visit www.jw.org.

Thanks for your time.

Your neighbor.

Now, I’m not so cold-hearted that I can’t see that this is a well-meaning, pretty well-written missive from one (anonymous) person to my mother. There’s nothing wrong or cruel about it at all, but there are a few problems.

First, my mother was already dead by the time the letter arrived – not necessarily from COVID 19 – but she did suffer somewhat from other maladies in her last months.

Second, deriving comfort from the Bible is purely based on one’s perspective, and a rather narrow reading of the book to boot. Even if you ignore God’s storied (Old Testament) history of casual slaughter, the New Testament (cited above) ain’t much better. For those of us who are unconvinced of God’s existence and a bit skeptical of Jesus’s divinity, we are promised condemnation (John 3:18) — which I assume is hell — and the “wrath of God” on all unbelievers (John 3:36.) An eternity of fire and teeth-gnashing just for doubting is harsh goods.

Third, God invented suffering. He created not just the natural means by which he causes us to suffer – earthquakes, typhoons, floods, tornados, PANDEMICS – but also the ability to suffer, the very concept of suffering. Why introduce the capacity to experience pain and torment to beings you created? If I were designing a universe from scratch, giving my special beloved children the capability to suffer would not be on my To Do list. Nor would making sure nature was fraught with danger, pain, and disease.

My mother was a good person and lived a good life. She was generous and loving to her family, friends, and neighbors and cared about people in general. She didn’t call herself an atheist, but she didn’t call herself a Christian either. She didn’t pray, and never went to church.  She would’ve told me about this letter had she lived to see it. We would have laughed about it, and the fact that there are plenty of people out there who would find anything but comfort in a letter from a Jehovah’s Witness.