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Facts I Learned From "I'm Perfect, You're Doomed"
Jehovah's Witnesses are odd
“I’m Perfect, You’re Doomed” is a memoir about growing up a Jehovah’s Witness which came out in 2010. As such, some of the facts may be out of date.
Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t have churches. They have Kingdom Halls. Churches are where you learn false religions, “the Great Harlot.” They’re part of “This System Of Things Which Is Soon To Pass Away.”
“Stumbling” people is causing them to commit sins. You can stumble people weak in the faith by sinning near them, so they feel tempted to sin. You can stumble people who are very spiritual by being a known sinner near them, which harms them.
At the Theocratic Ministry School, a weekly class that prepares Jehovah’s Witnesses for missionary work, men give speeches. Women, however, have to do little two-person skits, because women aren’t permitted to instruct men. If it’s a skit, the men are simply observing while the women instruct each other.
The correct way to comment during Book Study, a meeting in private homes where people study the Bible or Watchtower literature, is to read an underlined passage directly from your book or Watchtower article, so you don't accidentally stumble others by saying something blasphemous.
Kingdom Melodies (hymns) are written so as not to arouse sexual feelings. Minor keys are considered particularly likely to turn people on.
144,000 Jehovah's Witnesses are "anointed", which means they will go to Heaven. The remaining Jehovah’s Witnesses will live forever in paradise on Earth. If you’re anointed, God will tell you. However, before it becomes public, you have to tell the elders so they can interrogate you and make sure it's true and you're not lying.
The Lord's Evening Meal, also known as the Memorial, is performed on Nisan 14 by the Jewish calendar, which is the date that Jehovah’s Witnesses assign to Easter. The bread is matzo and properly Kosher for Passover. The Lord's Evening Meal has a sermon which is mostly spent talking about how much Jews suck and calling the Catholics idiots for thinking the wine literally turned into blood. If your congregation has an anointed member, then they can eat the bread and drink the wine. If it doesn't, the bread and wine are disposed of. One of the worst sins is taking the bread and wine if you aren't actually anointed.
The Assemblies are Jehovah’s Witness conventions. There are two kinds: the Circuit Assembly, which occurs twice a year at the largest local Kingdom Hall, and the District Assembly, which is the same thing but bigger. The assemblies have sermons and book releases. Sound systems pump the sermons into the bathroom so you can still listen when you’re peeing. There are interviews with Jehovah's Witnesses who are especially virtuous: women who quit their jobs to proselytize full time, their husbands who supported them, teenagers who gave up college scholarships to proselytize, and the occasional four-year-old who adorably says that they love Jehovah.
Baptisms occur in the hotel pool. You wear a modest swimsuit. Before you get baptized, you go into the shower in your swimsuit to check that it’s still modest when wet. They fit in as many people as can reasonably stand in the pool, and then a man grabs you and pushes you underwater. It is underwhelming.
Particularly devout Jehovah’s Witnesses are cast in costume dramas, called “the drama.” They don’t actually get to act: they lip-sync to recorded dialogue like"But Moses, surely you still trust in the powerful name of Jehovah?" They do get to wear neat outfits though!
The news would run local color articles about the Assemblies, which would be read from the stage as proof of the prophecy in Ezekiel that says "and the nations will have to know that I am Jehovah."
Once you’re baptized, you have to go door-to-door regularly. Everyone on Earth has to hear about Jehovah for Armageddon to come. When going door-to-door, you're assigned a territory, and then you are given a partner to go door-to-door with. Once assigned a territory, you can’t have a new territory until everyone has been contacted.
Rich neighborhoods are the hardest territories because rich people almost never answer their own doors and are unlikely to want to become Jehovah's Witnesses when they do. Poor neighborhoods are easier because there are unemployed single moms who are desperate for someone to talk to, people who really need someone to watch their kids for a minute while they go get their paycheck cashed, and so on.
“Pioneers” are people (mostly women) who go door-to-door ninety hours a month. Most of them are housewives.
When you commit a serious sin you need to confess to the elders, who will ask you to divulge all the details of the sin so that they can decide whether you deserve to be forgiven. Simply apologizing is not enough because some people will try to sneak into Paradise. If you don’t seem repentant enough, the elders may disfellowship you (expel you from the church) even if you apologize.
Talking to an apostate (person who has been disfellowshipped) is a disfellowshipping offense, because it is like allowing a demon into your mind. You shouldn’t talk to people who might have counterarguments against the Jehovah’s Witnesses, unless you’re going door-to-door, in which case the Holy Spirit protects you.
It is believed that the rules protect Jehovah’s Witnesses. Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t get cervical cancer because they know not to have sex while menstruating. Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t get AIDS, because they don’t have gay sex or get blood transfusions. Jehovah’s Witnesses aren’t raped, because they call on the name of Jehovah and Jehovah will send angels to scare the rapists away.
In 1914, Satan the devil lost the Great War of Armageddon and was cast out of heaven. Satan now spends all of his time wandering around earth trying to tempt people to do bad things.
Demons turn your clocks back to make you miss meetings, hide your Watchtowers, give you laryngitis before Bible study, push you into walls, and paralyze you in bed and rape you. The list of things that summon demons includes:
Dungeons and Dragons
hex signs from Pennsylvania Dutch country
wishing people good luck
Smurfs (the Smurf knockoff Snorks are acceptable)
Demons like hanging out at yard sales. Every book and doll and old photo and tape of music has demons in it, probably. You never know which items at a yard sale were previously owned by a lesbian witch. Witches allegedly turned two young women into lesbians because they bought a used rocking-chair. When the rocking chair was burned, the demons screamed and then the women became heterosexual.
Smurfs are not allowed because one time a child brought a plush Smurf to Kingdom Hall and the doll shook and moaned and squirmed. When cast out in the name of Jehovah, the Smurf fled Kingdom Hall, ran down the sidewalk, and burst into flames. If you have Smurf bedsheets the characters will jump off the comforter and run around the bedroom. Smurf dolls also follow children around stores giggling demonically, or try to kill children. SIDS is often caused by murderous Smurf dolls.
Expressions of patriotism are not allowed. Jehovah's Witnesses are not allowed to love America because the only kingdom they're loyal to is the Kingdom of God.
Most Jehovah's Witnesses don't say "gosh", "golly", or "gee", because they're derivatives of God and therefore taking the Lord's name in vain. Cool Jehovah’s Witnesses might say “gosh.”
Donating to charity is hubristic and shows a lack of trust in Jehovah. Jehovah will take care of everything after Armageddon, so there’s no need to take action to improve it now. Just trust that Jehovah will take care of the poor and needy.
Jehovah’s Witnesses particularly disapprove of people the world admires, like Mother Teresa and the Dalai Lama and Elie Wiesel, because they are activists who try to make changes to improve the earth, which turns people away from Jehovah. The author’s father believed that Jehovah had arranged for John Lennon to be shot because He knew that he was too close to bringing peace to the world.
The Jehovah’s Witnesses are opposed to birthdays because the only birthday in the Bible is King Herod’s, at which John the Baptist was beheaded.
Jehovah’s Witness children are not allowed to do holiday-themed projects, because celebrating holidays is against the rules. The teachers have to give them different assignments, but the assignments don’t have to be good. There’s a lot of “read a book in a different classroom” and “draw a winter scene.”
The “posters” issue is surprisingly complex. Movie stars are considered false idols and hanging a poster of them is idol worship. Pictures of celebrities in teen girl magazines are sinful, pagan, and pornographic. Unicorns are disallowed because they might be magical demons. Some Jehovah's Witness children are not allowed to hang any posters because it might be idol worship.
Eating blood is sinful. The author’s family avoided ethnic food restaurants because they were worried that any dish might have blood in it.
Since a hospital feeds you via IV when you’re too weak to eat, the Jehovah’s Witnesses concluded that blood transfusions are basically a form of eating blood. Jehovah’s Witnesses carry a “No Blood Card” which refuses consent for blood transfusions.Aaccording to The Watchtower, if a child refuses a blood transfusion, Jehovah will save the child's life and the doctors will announce a newfound respect for the religion and/or renounce blood transfusions and/or become Jehovah's Witnesses.
The author wasn't allowed to trade stickers with other children because the stickers might have LSD.
The Jehovah’s Witnesses disapprove of college because it tends to lead to atheism and, anyway, why are you so invested in earning money? Armageddon will come soon.
Most Jehovah’s Witnesses make compromises about the rules. For example, many Jehovah’s Witnesses watch the Charlie Brown Christmas Special but change the channel when they sing "O Christmas Tree" at the end. They eat turkey on Thanksgiving but never said it was on Thanksgiving. Some Jehovah's Witness parents celebrate fake holidays around Christmas like Gift Giving Day.
The Watchtower claimed that Jehovah's Witness children sat quietly without causing problems, did all their homework, and converted their teachers by being so well-behaved in class that teachers wanted to know what made them special.
This was… not true.
The boiler room at the author’s Kingdom Hall was known as the “beatin’ room.” At least once a meeting, a child would be taken back there to be beaten. If your child tantrumed without you beating them, you would be gossipped about for your lax parenting.
There was even a Kingdom Melody about beating your children: “They are gifts from God. He says use the rod.”
Jehovah's Witnesses tend to marry young-- often at 18-- because you can't have sex until you get married. Jehovah's Witnesses teach that the only two qualifications you should look for in a husband are being a Jehovah's Witness and having a good job. Because you have to date another Jehovah's Witness, the average Jehovah's Witness's dating pool is extremely small. You just end up getting married to whomever at your congregation is the right age and not related to you. Since divorce is not allowed, the teen marriages last, but most of them wind up very very miserable.
If your spouse abuses you, you should stay married, because it will cause unbelievers to wonder what gave you such inner strength, discover it’s being a Jehovah’s Witness, and get baptized.
Jehovah's Witness children have children's books about how sinners scream and gnash their teeth at Armageddon and the wicked are going to be swallowed by pits of lava.
I’m Perfect, You’re Doomed: Tales from a Jehovah’s Witness Upbringing. By Kyria Abrahams. Published 2010. 352 pages. $22.