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The dangers of climate change: Not a worry for end-of-the-world JW types?

Ah, it’s finally the last day of winter, and we’re really looking forward to things warming up. It also gave us a thought: We wondered about how global climate change and its potential for destruction fit into the Jehovah’s Witnesses obsession with an impending Apocalypse. So we decided it might be fun to ask Lloyd Evans about it!

The Bunker: Hey, Lloyd. Ever since Chuck Russell guessed wrong in 1878, the idea of predicting the end of the world has been a series of misfires for what became the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Today, Witnesses are convinced that we’re on the verge of a spectacular end of things brought about by Jehovah. But we wondered, what do Witnesses think about this actual global threat we’re facing with climate change? Clearly, it could have some devastating effects before too long, but if it’s man made, how does that count as God’s apocalypse? Do JWs tend to be for or against taking action to halt the problem of global warming?

Lloyd: It’s interesting you should ask. Jehovah’s Witnesses mostly have a very laid back approach to environmental concerns. They point to issues like global warming and damage to the environment as evidence that humans are incapable of ruling themselves, requiring God’s intervention through Armageddon. At the same time they point to verses from the Bible saying the earth will last forever, and they take that to mean that nothing mankind does to ruin the planet is irrevocable, or cannot be fixed by the incoming kingdom. They definitely wouldn’t interpret extreme weather events caused by global warming to be Armageddon by themselves, because they view Armageddon as the systematic slaughter of everyone who doesn’t agree with them (although they would never pitch it that way).

The Bunker: So the reason global warming-caused disasters aren’t a concern is that they aren’t killing enough people to be the sort of world-ending event they’re waiting for.


Lloyd: Specifically, they’re killing too indiscriminately. If they were killing only all non-JWs, then there would be reason to start getting excited. But we have examples in recent history of weather events killing JWs. Typhoon Haiyan, which struck the Philippines in 2013, claimed the lives of 43 Witnesses, 22 of whom died when their Kingdom Hall was swept away by a storm surge (why they were in that building to begin with when there was an order to evacuate is a whole other question). But at the same time there are examples of Watchtower claiming that Jehovah has manipulated the weather favorably so that the organization can print more Bibles or do building work. They seem a bit confused on that whole issue.

The Bunker: But it sounds like climate change is pretty irrelevant to them, and so we shouldn’t expect Witnesses to be very interested in it one way or the other?

Lloyd: You will find articles printed on the subject sporadically in the magazines feigning interest in the matter, but the gist of any such article will always be something like: “Environmental disasters are further evidence that mankind cannot rule himself. What we really need is God’s kingdom to be fully established so that the Earth can be restored to the Edenic paradise God originally envisioned.” Most Witnesses don’t give climate change a second thought. They are just waiting for the paradise to come and fix everything. I don’t know if it’s of any help, but I made a 7-minute video three years ago which touches on this subject.

The Bunker: Perfect! What a great way to welcome the equinox.



Posted by Tony Ortega on March 19, 2019 at 18:05

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Tony Ortega is a journalist who was formerly the editor of The Village Voice. He’s written about Scientology since 1995, and in May 2015 released a book about Scientology’s harassment of Paulette Cooper titled ‘The Unbreakable Miss Lovely,’ and more recently a compilation of his stories, ‘Battlefield Scientology.’ He continues to monitor breaking developments in the Scientology world, as well as other subjects such as Jehovah’s Witnesses. You can reach him by sending him a message at tonyo94 AT (Drop him a line if you’d like to get an e-mail whenever a new story is posted.)


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