When Jehovah’s Witnesses gather this summer for their three-day 2017 Convention, one of the videos they’ll be shown is a 90-minute-long professionally made PSA of sorts called “Remember the Wife of Lot.” (In the Bible, Lot’s wife famously turned into a pillar of salt after disobeying the advice of angels and looking back on the sinful city of Sodom.)
The film shows an Asian-American family that has to choose between financial stability and trusting in Jehovah. (Take a wild guess which path the Witnesses want viewers to take.) That message by itself isn’t all that noteworthy… but the movie makes sure to inject a couple doses of homophobia in there, just to add to the biblical parallels and to remind Witnesses that the world may change, but believers should always stay grounded in the Bible.
That latter clip involves the main family moving into a larger apartment — because they’re finally making more money. The daughter invites some of her pharmacy internship co-workers over, and one of those colleagues, Tess, tells the religious family she has two mothers.
It doesn’t go over very well, as you can see from her reaction.
The exchange deteriorates into an awkward debate in which the Witness father steps in and asserts that ”God’s word says that sex is meant to be between a man and a woman who are married to each other” despite insisting that Witnesses “do not force [their] beliefs on other people” and “don’t judge anyone either.”
When the JW mother attempts to soften her husband’s impromptu sermon by suggesting that “some people just seem to be programmed that way,” he responds:
Look, I know not everyone agrees with us but we all have free will and God lets us choose to live by his standards or not. If we go against his standards, we end up hurting ourselves. He just wants what’s best for us.
The kitchen counter debate is swiftly ended when Tess and her friends decide to make an exit. The Witness audience is left with the distinct message that homosexuality is wrong and that it is therefore appropriate to confront gays and lesbians, or people from gay or lesbian families, if the opportunity presents itself.
And just in case the message isn’t clear, a couple of times in Part 3, the straying-from-Jehovah mother has flashes of herself literally turning into a pillar of salt.
The message is clear: If you try to better your life by working harder and making more money, you will be punished. If you give yourself to God, then things will always work out. (Anything less is just a sign that you weren’t devout enough.) And it’s not just about choosing between God and money. You better throw decent LGBT people under the bus, too. Just for good measure.
This is the message that millions of Witnesses — nearly 75% of whom make under $50,000 a year — will be getting this summer. Keep in mind that the Witnesses also disavow higher education; 63% of them have no more than a high school degree.
No wonder they need to hear a message about the importance of choosing God over education and money; it’s the only way to convince them they’re doing the right thing.
If you really want the full effect of the level of indoctrination taking place, watch those videos in their entirety. I did it over the weekend, and it’s incredible just how bad the Witnesses will make you feel for pursuing education, love, success, friendships with non-Witnesses, or anything else that might get in the way of giving God all the glory He deserves.