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Michael Jackson & the "Ace of Race"

Issues with Watchtower issues?

(Part 1 of 2)

The Firpo Files

May 19, 2011

As one of Jehovah's Witnesses, Michael Joseph Jackson was disappointed when he saw the occasional, oftentimes subconscious racist attitudes displayed by certain White Witnesses. But it particularly bothered him when he detected occasional bias in the Watchtower and Awake! magazines, both published by the Witnesses.

The Watchtower candidly admits: "If we are honest with ourselves, we may realize that we are inclined to feel at least a little superior, or perhaps inferior, to people of another race. Since neither viewpoint is compatible with God's thinking, we should work hard to remove any such feelings from our heart.--Psalm139:23, 24." (July 1, 2011) Michael felt that either the superiority of White brothers or the inferiority of Black brothers bleeds through the page from time to time.

"Many people believe that one race (usually their own) is superior to others," says The Watchtower. "Such bias reflects the thinking of Charles Darwin, who wrote: ‘At some future period,...the civilised races of man will almost certainly exterminate, and replace, the savage races.' Sadly, many have indeed been victimized by those of other races who saw themselves as superior."

Though omitted here, it has been members of the White race "who saw themselves as superior" and have decimated the cultures of "savage races," some of which they have indeed 'exterminated' during the period of European expansionism, especially in Africa.

Though these facts are mentioned elsewhere in Watchtower publications, when the White race (the "Ace of Race" as White supremacists see it) is presented piecemeal in the context of slavery, the wrong impression can be created. Or, the omission of pertinent facts can change the whole complexion of an event. Take the case of Biblical slavery. Awake! (July 2011) states:

"In the days of Jesus and his apostles, slavery was an entrenched practice in the Roman Empire. As Christianity spread, it was inevitable that individuals who were slaves and others who were slave owners would come in contact with the good news and become Christians. Neither Jesus Christ himself nor his apostles preached a gospel of social liberation, as if trying to reform the existing system. Rather, both slaves and slave owners were admonished to love one another as spiritual brothers.--Colossians 4:1; 1 Timothy 6:2."

One could easily get the impression that slaves and slave owners were simply resigned to accept the status quo. So, if you were a Christian slave in Bible times, you were to love your Christian slave master, and he was to reciprocate.

However, this reasoning doesn't take into account what the apostle Paul said elsewhere. "In whatever state each one was called, let him remain in it. Were you called when a slave? Do not let it worry you; but if you can also become free, rather seize the opportunity." (1 Co 7:20, 21, New World Translation) While he didn't teach "social liberation" per se, Paul did commanded Christian slaves to break free where possible.

Neither have many religious denominations--Jehovah's Witnesses included--commented in detail (or at all) on "kidnappers" (or, "manstealers") mentioned at 1 Timothy 1:10. These were not your everyday garden variety "kidnappers." They were slave makers.

Bible scholar Albert Barnes says "kidnappers" here "occurs nowhere else in the New Testament." He further explains: "It properly means one who steals another for the purpose of making him a slave--a kidnapper. This is the common way in which men are made slaves," writes Barnes.

"Children are stolen from their parents, or wives from their husbands, or husbands from their wives, or parents from their children, or whole families are stolen together. None become slaves voluntarily, and consequently the whole process of making slaves partakes of the nature of theft of the worst kind."

No wonder the inspired apostle Paul encouraged Christian slaves to "seize the opportunity" to liberate themselves!

"The guilt of manstealing," continues Barnes, "is incurred essentially by those who purchase those who are thus stolen--as the purchaser of a stolen horse, knowing it to be so, participates in the crime. A measure of that criminality also adheres to all who own slaves, and who thus maintain the system--for it is a system known to have been originated by theft."

Whether you sold a 'stolen man' or purchased one with the knowledge of his illegal acquisition, you were a criminal in God's sight!

Stay tuned for Part 2, "MJ & Shades of Gray." Peace and blessings to all. Amen.