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Having doubts about his faith, the oldest son stayed home.It's a blow to the parents but the enthusiasm of their younger children compensates for the one son's lack of faith. family has traveled to Germany's Ruhr region for what many Jehovah's Witnesses consider the high point of the year.
They sit close together, still and pious in the seats usually occupied by cheering, swearing fans of the Borussia Dortmund football club.
Dortmund is home to the largest district convention of Jehovah's Witnesses in the country.
The majority of those following the faith in Germany hail from the Ruhr region, which is densely populated and has relatively high unemployment. The girls' skirts might be a little longer and the children might look a bit more nicely coiffed, but it would be difficult to assign this group of people to any particular faith community.
Markus, a student who left the Jehovah's Witnesses, says: "You try finding someone willing to put up with all of this crap!
" Since his birth, he had been dragged to meetings. And when he brought his first girlfriend home, his father promptly sent her packing.
They hold their Bible in front of them like a silver tray: the word of Jehovah. There are passages explaining why nicotine is forbidden but a glass of wine at the end of the day permitted, why blood transfusions are to be avoided and why non-believers must be converted. They don't mention that the Protestant church has described the translation of the Bible used by Jehovah's Witnesses as inaccurate and uncritical.
Throughout the meeting, Bible passages are discussed at length and hymns are sung.Why are 17-year-olds spending their time in Bible Study, instead of meeting with their friends?What impact does it have on young people, when they are not allowed to try anything, are never permitted to be unreasonable, and when they see homosexuality as an aberration that needs to be treated with therapy?They arrive in caravans, bringing Tupperware, coolers, blankets and, most importantly, their Bibles.Here they can pray among peers, feeling a sense of community instead of isolation.Every so often, there is an interview with a Jehovah's Witness.