Saturday, July 4, 2009

Mob Violence in North America

(photo on pg 670 of the Kingdom Proclaimers book)

(photo on pg 669 of the Kingdom Proclaimers book)

(photo on pg 667 of the Kingdom Proclaimers book)

(story continued on pgs 670-672)
*Following a Supreme Court decision against the Witnesses in 1940 (in regards to compulsory flag-saluting in schools) mob violence swept through the United States.
"During the week of November 4, 1935, a number of schoolchildren in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania, were taken to the school boiler room and whipped for refusal to salute. Grace Estep, a teacher, was discharged from her position in that school for the same reason. On November 6, William and Lillian Gobitas refused to salute the flag and were expelled from school at Minersville, Pennsylvania. Their father sued to have his children readmitted. Both the federal district court and the circuit court of appeals decided the case in favor of Jehovah's Witnesses. However, in 1940, with the nation on the brink of war, the U.S. Supreme Court, in Minersville School District v. Gobitis, by an 8-to-1 decision, upheld compulsory flag saluting in public schools. This led to a nationwide outburst of violence against Jehovah's Witnesses.

There were so many violent attacks upon Jehovah's Witnesses that Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt pleaded with the public to desist. On June 16, 1940, the U.S. solicitor general, Francis Biddle, in a coast-to-coast radio broadcast, made specific reference to the atrocities committed against the Witnesses and said these would not be tolerated. But this did not stem the tide.
Under every conceivable circumstance - on the streets, at places of employment, when Witnesses called at homes in their ministry - flags were thrust in front of them, with the demand that they salute -or else! At the end of 1940, the Yearbook of Jehovah's Witnesses reported: "The Hierarchy and the American Legion, through such mobs that have taken the law into their own hands, violently worked havoc indescribable. Jehovah's witnesses have been assaulted, beaten, kidnapped, driven out of towns, counties and states, tarred and feathered, forced to drink castor oil, tied together and chased like dumb beasts through the streets, castrated and maimed, taunted and insulted by demonized crowds, jailed by the hundreds without charge and held incommunicado and denied the privilege of conferring with relatives, friends or lawyers. Many other hundreds have been jailed and held in so-called 'protective custody'; some have been shot in the nighttime; some threatened with hanging and beaten into unconsciousness. Numerous varieties of mob violence have occurred. Many have had their clothes torn from them, their Bibles and other literature seized and publicly burned; their automobiles, trailers, homes and assembly places wrecked and fired...In numerous instances where trials have been held in mob-ruled communities, lawyers as well as witnesses have been mobbed and beaten while attending court. In almost every case where there has been mob violence the public officials have stood idly by and refused to give protection, and in scores of instances the officers of the law have participated in the mobs and sometimes actually led the mobs." From 1940 to 1944, more than 2,500 violent mobs assaulted Jehovah's Witnesses in the United States.
Because of the wholesale expulsion of the children of Jehovah's Witnesses from school, for a time during the 1930's and early 1940's it was necessary for them to operate their own schools in the United States and Canada in order to provide education for their children. These were called Kingdom Schools.
Not everyone has agreed with such repressive measures against people who, for reasons of conscience, respectfully refrain from participating in patriotic ceremonies. The Open Forum, published by the Southern California Branch of the American Civil Liberties Union, stated in 1941: "It is high time that we came to our senses regarding this matter of flag-saluting. Jehovah's Witnesses are not disloyal Americans ... They are not given to law-breaking in general, but lead decent, orderly lives, contributing their share to the common good." No where on earth have Jehovah's Witnesses ever engaged in political subversion. It is not because of disloyalty-because of supporting some other human government-that they refuse to salute a national emblem. They take the same stand in every country where they are found. Their attitude is not one of disrespect. They do not whistle or shout to disrupt patriotic ceremonies; they do not spit on the flag, trample on it, or burn it. They are not anti-government. Their position is based on what Jesus Christ himself said, as recorded at Matthew 4:10: "It is Jehovah your God you must worship, and it is to him alone you must render sacred service."

Canada: "In the mid-1940's, Jehovah's Witnesses in Quebec, Canada, were also subjected to horrible abuse, at the hands of Catholic mobs and officials alike. Delegations from the bishop's palace called daily at the police department to demand that the police get rid of the Witnesses. Frequently, before an arrest was made, the police were seen emerging from the back door of the church. In 1949, missionaries of Jehovah's Witnesses were driven out of Joliette, Quebec, by Catholic mobsters. But not all the people in Quebec were in agreement with what was being done."

*FYI- I have friends and family who are Catholic, who I care about, so mentioning the involvement of the Catholic Church is not meant to be a personal attack on anyone's religion. I'm only recounting the facts of what happened, which I can't just brush over, because you can see how serious the persecution was. And like the old saying goes ... 'those who forget history are doomed to repeat it'...(or something to that effect)

*And since today is the 4th of July and patriotic feelings are running high, I just wanted to remind everyone not to forget how there can be a very dark side to Patriotism & Nationalism when they are accompanied by feelings of hostility and prejudice against other minority groups. Which is the exact opposite of what 'freedom' truly means. An individual who believes they have the right to take the law into their own hands in an effort to control another human being or brutalize and harrass them for having unconventional beliefs, is not only acting against the principles that America was founded on, but is acting in direct opposition to God's laws as well. (James 2:8-10; 4:11, 12)