FLDS vs WOFF Similarites – Holidays – part 7

     Celebrating holidays evolved over time in both groups. More accurately, the prohibition of celebrating holidays evolved over time. As far as is known, WOFF at this time does not celebrate any holidays, officially. Recently, I am told that more freedom has been allowed for family time on Thanksgiving. But, I feel sure the prohibition on eating turkey on that day is still in place. (that made for some creative meals on Thanksgiving, spaghetti anyone?)

     Elissa Wall in “Stolen Innocence” (copyright 2008) explains that FLDS did not celebrate traditional Christian holidays like Christmas and Easter. (page 64-65) FLDS did celebrate birthdays, even of deceased church leaders. (page 65)  From Ms. Wall’s account of celebrating Halloween for the first time, it was clear FLDS did not celebrate that holiday either. (page 261-262)

     My memories of Jane and Sam Whaley coming to the house we shared with another family in the Greenville church in 1994, are clear. Jane was given a tour of the house and commented on the Christmas tree we had displayed. She liked it and pointed it out to Sam. She even asked where it had been purchased? However, back then word was getting around the church that certain traditional things should be left out of the celebration. Santa Claus, over decorating with elves and reindeer were to be avoided. Wreaths were fine as long as they were not gaudy. Little did we know that in years to come Christmas would not be celebrated at all for WOFF members.

     Years ago, the first holiday to be jettisoned at WOFF was Halloween. Well, that would be obvious. Celebrating demonic things did not fit with the direction God had for WOFF or any other churches who were following the lead of Jane Whaley. “It is not wise to make light of demons.”

     Next, Valentine’s Day got the axe. “Why if you knew the roots of the tradition, you would not allow it in your home.” (Greek mythology) So, the pattern was set. Research soon was done on other holidays. ” By her death, the founder of Mother’s Day regretted even starting it.” Father’s Day could not be done if mother’s were left out. Soon the roots of other days like Fourth of July- “Firecrackers were invented by the Chinese to scare off devils.” Every holiday came under scrutiny. Easter? Well, “that date is tied to the phases of the moon, how can God be in that?” Easter bunnies and Easter eggs? “Signs of early druid worship.”

     In years past, WOFF had held special “Christmas Music Services” that later transitioned into just “Special Music” services. Relatives and friends in the community were invited. The crowds were large on some nights and the singing services were scheduled for two nights to accommodate the crowds. However, it became harder and harder to find Christmas songs that could stand the many tests. After all, Jane’s brother said “No where in the Bible does it say angels sing.” That bit of information took out several songs. Since the service was “an outreach”, Jane began to write songs that told the story of Jesus’ life from the gospels. Some were quite lengthy. All of this came to a head as Jane was “realizing” how demonic birthdays were. She then proclaimed Christmas as a birthday celebration for Jesus and therefore, it must be stopped. She said she had come to this “revelation a long time ago and was just now able to share it with the people. God had dealt with her.” That was a year full of relatives, co-workers and people in the community calling into question the happenings at WOFF.

     WOFF members were coached to write our relatives letters explaining our new understanding and why they would not celebrate Christmas as in years past. This was a very tense time as some relatives became hostile and felt personally rejected from the stopping of family get-togethers with all the traditional doings. Many “walk out strategies” were formed. First, no presents; then presents received way before the season or after December 25th may be kept. Office parties for those still working for companies not owned by church members were a special deal. Even companies owned by church members with employees other than WOFF church members, had a sticky path to walk. What about Christmas bonuses or turkeys given out at Thanksgiving? Do you accept those gifts? If not, how do you refuse a bonus? It was such a confusing time. If you accepted the gift and were not supposed to, then you were “partaking of the table of demons!”

     As a church, we were shown the “Origins of Christmas” video from the History Channel. Some children were encouraged to cover their eyes and ears. As well as certain parts were fast-forwarded even for the adults! From this video, the groundwork to reject Christmas AND birthdays was laid.

     After all, WOFF had so many other special meetings and seminars that focused on “the things of God”, why would they need holidays? WOFF had week long seminars in the month of May which was set around the week of Memorial Day. Then in July there was a youth seminar for everyone. This was usually the week of or weekend of the Fourth of July. Next, there was November seminar which was the week of Thanksgiving. The last Friday of these week long meetings evolved into a “Fellowship Night”.  Usually, children in 6th grade and under would stay at the church for dinner and games. Seventh grade and up would go to Jane and Sam’s for dinner and fellowship. For parents, you were expected to be with your children to “help take hold of their play time.” Then afterwards, most everyone was expected to help with clean-up. This meant yet another long evening as groups were assigned certain tasks to keep things moving.

    As in WOFF, FLDS did not celebrate major holidays, they had there own celebrations. Elissa Wall further explains, “… We had our own events to celebrate during the year, three of which took place in the summer months.” (page 65)

     The “B” in the “B.I.T.E model” stands for “Behavoir Control”. Steven Hassan explains an aspect of this in “Releasing the Bonds”(copyright 2000). He writes, “In the case of Jehovah Witnesses, members are told not to celebrate birthdays or holidays, like Easter or Christmas, because if they do, they will be in sin.”(page 47)  That is one of the first questions a WOFFer gets when they tell someone that they do not celebrate Christmas or birthdays; are you a Jehovah Witness?

     The Apostle Paul writes about certain convictions that need to be kept personal and not neccesarily taught as doctrine in the church.  

Romans 14:22
Your personal convictions [on such matters]–exercise [them] as in God’s presence, keeping them to yourself[striving only to know the truth and obey His will]. Blessed (happy, to be envied) is he who has no reason to judge himself for what he approves [who does not convict himself by what he chooses to do]. (Amplified version- Jane Whaley approved version, emphasis added)

     So many of Jane Whaley’s personal convictions are taught as valid doctrine. These “revelations” just end up being another tool of control. Sadly, this control process has been going on for years and has harmed many folks.

     Again in “Stolen Innocence”, Ms. Wall writes, “Our religion left no room for logical reasoning and honest questioning. Warren made no attempt to understand or tolerate any of this, deeming it as absolute rebellion”.  (page 44) Again, as with FLDS so it is with WOFF. Logical reasoning and honest questions about anything was not tolerated.  If you did not agree with Jane Whaley as she “heard God”, it was hard to stay at WOFF. That was especially true in the area of celebrating holidays and birthdays.

     Please, consume the information on this site responsibly. Be sure to tell every member that you know at WOFF about this blog. It could very well save their life.

      (Please, take time to read the Terms of Use for this personal blog. As mentioned, the information about WOFF is from my memories and recollections as perfect as that may be or not be. )

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