Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Williams Sisters Can't Vote Because of Religion

Serena Williams would vote for Barack Obama if she could. Don't even ask Venus Williams what her political leanings are.

The Williams sisters, vocal on so many issues from fashion to gender equality and equal pay for women, say they're not allowed to vote because of their religion. The sisters, who have 14 Grand Slam singles titles between them and are among the most recognizable athletes in sports, are Jehovah's Witnesses.

After their first-round wins at Wimbledon, both were asked about the Nov. 4 presidential election.

"I feel that what I do in tennis isn't really political," Venus said after her 7-6 (5), 6-1 win over British wild card entry Naomi Cavaday on Tuesday. The work she does for UNESCO and other agencies was about helping people, she said, "I don't see it as political. I don't vote."

Younger sister Serena said she was "excited to see Obama out there doing his thing."

"I'm a Jehovah's Witness, so I don't get involved in politics. We stay neutral. We don't vote," she said. "So I'm not going to necessarily go out and vote for him. I would if it wasn't for my religion." (International Herald Tribune Article)

I had never heard of this before reading the article. I think it is incredibly stupid for a religion to forbid their followers from voting. But maybe if less religious people voted, we wouldn't be having all these problems allowing gay people equal rights, giving women the right to choose, letting evolution be taught in schools, and giving scientists the freedom and funding to find cures for diseases. And we probably wouldn't be in the middle of a war.

In all seriousness though, I find it incredible that a religious group would encourage their followers not to have a voice or opinion about important matters. I guess they really are just waiting for the afterlife.

I did not mean to imply that because they do not vote, that they have no voice or opinion. I meant that obviously if this religion discourages voting, then they discourage this form of voice and opinion.

I made the assumption that since they are discouraged from voting and encouraged to stay neutral ("I don't get involved in politics. We stay neutral."), that they are also discouraged from other forms of voicing their political opinions as well.

Based on the article I read, I would say this is a good assumption. If it is not true, then the sisters' commments are very misleading.

But I have very little knowledge about this faith, so if anyone knows more, please fill me in.

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Danny Haszard said...

The big difference between Jehovah's Witnesses and Christians is that the Watchtower Society's central core creed proclaims Jesus second coming in October 1914.

They sometimes try to obscure this failed prophecy,and say that he came 'invisibly'.Yes,all other Christains are awaiting Jesus return,the JW say he ALREADY came back in 1914 and is only working through their Watchtower society.

Jehovah's Witnesses have lost membership in all countries with major internet access because their false doctrines and harmful practices are exposed on the modern information superhighway.

The Watchtower is a truly Orwellian world.
Danny Haszard born 1957 as a 3rd generation Jehovah's Witness-'I was in the cult & now I'm out'

tina FCD said...

Whoa! I never knew that.

JJones said...

Either Serena Williams was disingenuous with her "politics" answer, or she doesn't understand why Jehovah's Witnesses supposedly don't get involved in politics.

The following webpage which discusses President Dwight Eisenshower's upbringing as a Jehovah's Witness also explains to readers the real reason that JWs supposedly do not get involved in politics -- reasons that American newspapers do not have the guts to publish, that is, that the Jehovah's Witnesses believe that the United States Government is governing ILLEGITIMATELY, and that the JWs' WatchTower Society is the rightful Ruler of the United States:

Brian said...

JJones, I want to correct your statement. Keep in mind I used to be a Jehovah's Witness, but no longer believe it's the truth because I'm an atheist. There are plenty of things to not like them for, but claiming that they believe they should be ruling the UNITED STATES and that the government is illegitimate is twisting their words.

They believe that the governments are put in their place by God, yet they are not to get involved with them. JW's believe that the purpose of government is to provide enough of a societal structure in order to be able to do their preaching work.

However, they do believe that ALL governments (not just that of the US) do not have the right to rule, they are just tolerated by God temporarily until he sees fit to remove them.

As far as the society itself ruling the earth, they've never been clear on that. Usually on details of what life will be like "after armageddon," the society has adopted a "we won't know until we're there" approach.

I wouldn't describe JWs as believing the Watchtower Society as the rightful ruler of the US as it is today. That would be getting involved in politics. Instead, I would say they expect direct rule by Jesus Christ after Armageddon, instead of Jesus using the Governing Body as his mouthpiece.

Sean said...

As a former Witness, I can say the pressure is immense from the inside not to vote. If you do, and are public about it, a whisper campaign often starts in the congregation, and other devoted Witnesses will often pull away from you as "bad association."

Thereafter, the congregation elders almost always would pull you into the "back room" (an annex/small meeting room that is located off the main meeting hall in most American J-Dub churches, called Kingdom Halls) and "counsel" you about "being worldly."

When a Witness says someone is "being worldly," they mean the baptized Witness referenced is turning toward Satan and his world. Witnesses view the entire world and all its governments as being in the hands of the Devil himself. (And believe therefore that voting is an act of collaboration with the Devil)

Such a mark, being called "worldly," is the first step in socially isolating a Witness and pushing him back into behavioral coherence to Witness ideology. The next step is being officially marked in front of a meeting of the entire congregation as a "bad association," and if no repentance is shown, officially "disfellowshipped" (better known to outsiders as shunned). All contact with such a Witness is thereafter officially forbidden under the pain of being shunned oneself.

Hope that helps.