Witnesses prohibited from doing 141 things
THE EDITOR, Sir:
The principal of St. Hilda's School is facing attacks from all directions because she reversed a decision to make a student identified on her application form, filled out by her mother, as a Jehovah's Witness (JW).
The student's mother has since accused the school of discrimination, claiming the child is not really a Witness. The faith is so different from all others one is forced to wonder why a parent would just pluck that denomination out of the air. I can empathize with the principal because of what I have observed first hand.
I was born and grew up in Brown's Town. My home was a stone's throw from St. Hilda's and my sisters attended that school. My brother's sons later attended a school in that town. They were bright, creative and disciplined. One day, in a phone call to my mother, the principal told her that my older nephew would be the next head boy. She was ecstatic.
This would be the third head boy in the family. So she decided to share the good news with his father - my brother - who worked in Kingston and was himself, a former head boy. There was just one problem. She did not know that he was recently converted to the Witness faith.
Resources prevented him from chartering a helicopter to get to Brown's Town. But he got there in about the same time. The principal for that school was made to understand that under no circumstances were his sons to be engaged in any extracurricular activities. They were to attend classes and return home. On another occasion, he and I were passing a school playing field in the Mona area where sports day was in progress. He winced at the sight of children participating in a race, claiming that it was competition and that is not a good thing.
I find Jehovah's Witnesses to be quiet, peaceful and pleasant. Beyond that I do have some concerns about their views on persons outside of their faith, their country and their role in society.
In fairness to its present leaders, there have been doctrinal changes. In fact, between 1917 and 1928, they changed their doctrines 148 times. I find that they are easily offended. So persons like myself - who do not take myself or the world too seriously, are frequently, unwittingly, offending them. Persons who associate with them have to be careful of humour of any kind.
My main concerns are they will not serve in the military or defend their country. The rest of us will have to do that. They can't salute the flag because they believe patriotic feelings towards their own country is wrong. They do not celebrate Christmas, birthdays or any other holidays. They will not vote. In fact, there are 141 things listed, officially, that Jehovah Witnesses can't do. And number 90 on that list reads, Take on leadership role in a school.