We will continue discussing Information control, as we consider newspapers. Actually, this is another case of one standard for Jane and one for “regular ” members. Jane would be very concerned as to the content of the local newspaper – especially when it had anything to do with her or WOFF members. She would either bring the evil newspaper in the church service or have someone else (usually one of her trusted leadership) bring one in to read parts of it to us — the “regular” folks. Of course, any news article that cast her in a favorable light or half-way told her story, made her happy and she would mention the reporter’s name. Depending on the “battle” at hand, we may even hear something out of the Charlotte Observer! How did she know every time when there was an article about her and/or the church?
Regular members were not allowed to read the newspaper. One fellow’s wife found his newspaper under the seat of his pick-up truck and told Jane. Jane was ready for that “devil”. He was “corrected” in front of the whole church and made an example of… He said he was “just reading the sports page”… Oh, don’t make an excuse when Jane is giving you a major beat-down in front of the whole church! She would end up in such a high pitch, it would hurt our ears! She did that many times. You would think that everyone would just check their excuses at the door and take their scaldings! — Sadly, many did just that but, some would need more “persuasion”. This fellow took his “correction” and it was obvious he was barely treading water.
What about the “free” copies that would be thrown at the end of your driveway from the local newspaper? Many times they would be run over when going in or out of the driveway or rot until it was evident that they were destroyed. Then someone could pick them up with no danger of being accused of reading them! Yes, this was life at WOFF.
During the last few months of my WOFF tenure, I had an encounter that revealed the “newspaper devil” in me. Here is my personal experience.
In the first part of 2008, Bill Clinton came to Marion, NC. He was campaigning for Hillary. I rented a box at the local post office in Marion and there by the front door were two newspaper boxes just waiting for schlub like me. So, I glanced at the headline “Chief Campaigner”. Now, political leanings aside, that was big news for the small mountain town. I “stored” the info and truly had no inclinations to attend the meeting. Later that evening or the next; I shared that info with the same high school student from the Holocaust class. Well, the next church service, I was confronted in the hallway by one of the high level leadership. “So and so mentioned to me you were reading headlines from the newspaper in Marion! Do you have any conviction of how wrong that was?” I said- “No”. Immediately this person launched into a high-pitched Jane-like tirade about how “wicked I was and not setting a good example for the young people and how I would lose my family if this continued…” I was immediately sent to the “discipleship room” with all the other people struggling to “get their heart right”. In that room, you watched the church service on a “monitor” and were expected to fully participate with your “happy face”. It was understood, you were not allowed in the “sanctuary” before, during or after service. Well, most times: occasionally Jane would lift the ban and allowed those in discipleship to enter the doors, more often to sing, sometimes not. It was all so vague. If you needed further “correction” or “help”, you would hear your name over the monitor and quickly run to the sanctuary for your “encouragement” from Jane. Could it be more clear?
My trip to the “discipleship room” could have been predicted, if I had just stopped to think about it. I had shown my penchant for a capacity for independent thought. It was obvious to others that there were some “restraints” that I did not agree with. Honestly, I had been reading the newspaper for a few years as part of my previous job as a property manager for a church member-owned company. I had to place adds in the newspaper! What a goofy set-up! You can’t, you shouldn’t but, you have to in order to perform your job? Wow, who can win when the rules are so convoluted and subject to change according to the situation you are in at the time? There is no doubt that you will be wrong when making your way through the ever changing situations. But, who said living in a religious cult had to make sense or be easy? 🙂
“Our liberty cannot be guarded but by the freedom of the press, nor that be limited without danger of losing it.” –Thomas Jefferson to John Jay, 1786.
Count me with President Jefferson.
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. There are some good readers inside of WOFF. I know for sure.. 🙂