Jehovah's Witnesses vandalise ancient Mexican heritage site

Jehovah's Witnesses vandalise ancient Mexican heritage site June 29, 2016

An indigenous archaeological heritage site in central eastern Mexico has reportedly been vandalised by Jehovah’s Witnesses.
According to this report, cult members targeted the site in an act of apparent religious intolerance, claiming the traditional rituals practiced at the ancient ceremonial place were “not Christian”.

The attack on the more than 7,000 year-old Makonikha sanctuary in the central Mexican state of Hidalgo destroyed at least a dozen stone structures used as altars by the Otomi indigenous people.
Jehovah’s Witnesses have confessed to the destruction of the stone altars, but have not taken responsibility for a hole that was drilled in the base of a pyramid at the San Bartolo Tutotepec archeological site.
Cult members say the destruction was motivated by a belief that the ancient indigenous religion involved devil worship. The perpetrators claim that they were following the word of God by destroying the temple site.
The ancient religion of the Otomi people traditionally holds sacred various deities including earth, water, and fire, and reveres their gods with offerings.
According to anthropologists cited by the Mexican daily La Jornada, Mayonikha for the Otomi — whose territory spreads across central Mexico in at least eight modern-day states — is comparable in significance to Mecca for Muslims or the Vatican for Catholics.
It remains unclear when the Jehovah’s Witnesses carried out the vandalism or how they gained access to the sacred site, protected by local indigenous people with access only granted to worshippers.
Although this story has been widely reported, no mention has been made of any arrests of the crazy culprits.

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  • Broga

    Jehovah’s Witnesses: sick bastards who destroy the ancient and irreplaceable. They must be caught and prosecuted.

  • pinecone

    It is only religions that convinces and empowers those ensnared by them to commit atrocities.
    Religious person … a stupefied, halfwit fools led by a non existent entity.

  • Stephen Mynett

    What sort of morals or respect for others can you expect from people who would sit back and do nothing, prayer is the same as doing nothing, while their child bleeds to death.
    Perhaps the JWs might like to do a deal with ISIS or the Taliban, they like destroying ancient cultural monuments as well.
    As Barriejohn pointed out on another thread, all religions are as bad, just some more violent than others at present.

  • Paul

    So do They have a tape recording or written message from gawd instructing them to destroy the site, and proof that gawd deemed the structures evil and that they ought to be destroyed ?
    And if he/she/it’s so powerful how did he/she/it allow the sites to be erected in the first place and remains erected for so long.

  • L.Long

    And I’m told that I must respect religion. Exactly WHY!!!!
    This is the same as ISIS destroying their local monuments and stuff just cuz, as evil aholes they can!!! I have NO respect for any brainless delusional bigoted hate filled religion!!!

  • AgentCormac

    ‘…cult members targeted the site in an act of apparent religious intolerance, claiming the traditional rituals practiced at the ancient ceremonial place were “not Christian”.’
    Trying to understand the logic of these people is enough to make your head spin. How on earth were the rituals that took place at the site ever going to be christian if they happened around 5,000 years before the supposed birth of JC? The JWs are dangerous fanatics and these actions are as deplorable as those carried out by IS. What next – the vandalism of Stonehenge and the great pyramids of Giza?

  • H3r3tic

    A bit OT, but I’ve only recently discovered that JWs do not vote for “religious” reasons. When I questioned a JW as to what they would do if a referendum were called on compulsory blood transfusions I was told that they would still refuse to vote as he (finger pointed skywards) would ensure that they would be OK. When I mentioned that he (finger pointed skywards) hadn’t been so hot on intervening in the numerous cases of child abuse carried out, and subsequently covered up, by JW members, they became strangely reticent on the subject of divine intervention. Can’t imagine why….

  • barriejohn

    Disgraceful behaviour and disregard for our human heritage, but what do you expect from the religiously afflicted? Anyway, Jehovah’s Witnesses are not Christians either:

  • barriejohn

    H3r3tic: The Plymouth Brethren don’t vote either, as they are not citizens of Earth, which is the domain of Satan, and “God” is in control of everything and “appoints whom he will”. However, we were absolutely shocked to learn that members in Northern Ireland, who constitute the most extreme and legalistic members of the sect, never failing to point out to others their abject failure in strictly following “New Testament Teaching”, were voting to keep Catholics from attaining power. When quizzed about this, the answer was: “This is different”!

  • CoastalMaineBird

    they are not citizens of Earth
    Can we deport them?

  • The article says the site is to the Otomi what the Vatican is to Christians and Mecca is to Muslims. To me, none of them are sacred. Nor is the Otomi site sacred for being ancient, nor for being in Mexico.
    The article is light on details. The actions and motives of the vandals are known but they have not been caught? I will wait and see. You know, that evidence-based sort of thinking.
    But should it be the case that JWs have been iconoclasts to another superstition’s magic building, may they pay a very secular and materialistic price in the forms of money and jail time.

  • Smokey

    Let’s wait until we get the real story a couple of days from now before we break out the pitchforks. Breaking stories are rarely complete or even correct.
    As much as I detest the JW’s, there’s nothing in their rabid superstition that condones this kind of shit. This is not about JW’s, this is about human assholes who may or may not be JW’s.
    Also, the “telesur” site seems to lean towards the slightly sensational.

  • barriejohn

    A Jehovah’s Witness spokesman is denying that they were responsible:
    It seems clear, though, that people with objections to Indian religious practices are targeting the sites.

  • remigius

    Barry, the word ‘vandalise’ is derived from the utterly discredited notion that a distinct Eastern European culture had a predilection for wanton destruction. This is particularly relevant given that the culture in question emerged from the region now known as Poland, and Polish people in the UK are currently being subjected all kinds of vile abuse.
    It was John Dryden (1631-1700) who first suggested that the Vandals were such a destructive force, though the term ‘vandalism’ wasn’t used until the French Revolution.
    However the Vandals were no more destructive than any other Late Iron Age – Early Medieval culture. And they were certainly less destructive than many Germanic tribes – yet we seldom hear of longobards smashing up a bus-stop, or a shop-front being visigothed.
    I believe your headline is yet another example of the media promoting a very obvious racist pro-Visigoth agenda.
    In future could you try not to traduce a people with a proud and noble history, and instead use words such as ‘Damager’ ‘Breakist’ – or my preferred term ‘Structural Impairment Facilitator’. Thank you.

  • remigius

    Would the Jehovah’s Witnesses like it if the Aztecs structurally impaired one of their Kingdom Halls?
    Probably not.

  • H3r3tic

    barriejohn: “this is different” – the explanation provided whenever those of a religious bent have to explain how they have deviated from their own repulsive teachings.

  • Vanity Unfair

    This seems to originate with an Associated Press report (unless you know better) at:
    There is no mention of the “7,000 year old” age of the site. Indeed, such an age is very suspicious, anyway. That would presume an unbroken tradition from 5000 BC surviving the Toltec, Aztec and Spanish invasions as well as any others of which I am ignorant. It is not really my subject. Pyramid building in Central America seems to date from c. 1200 BC at the earliest so your heading photo is most probably not relevant.
    AP describes the site as, “The site itself, deep in the forest near a river, is not particularly elaborate. There a (sic) few ancient stone walls, some with bas-relief carvings.” Even so, it is clearly an important archaeological and cultural site and the depredations of the criminals must be deplored especially as so few such sites escaped destruction by the Conquistadors. It is akin to the actions of our own iconoclasts of the Commonwealth period.
    But, to return to the purpose, whatever ceremonies are conducted there are probably not authentic historical tribal ritual but some evolved performance to fit more modern purposes, in the same way that latter-day Druids do not, necessarily, have anything to do with Stonehenge: wrong religion, wrong period. In fact, if you want the original religion these aren’t the Druids you’re looking for.

  • John the Drunkard

    It sounds like an ‘adventure’ got up by local converts to JW-dom. They would tend to be alert to the existence of the temples, AND have a sense of grievance toward them. Do JW’s vandalize rival religious edifices anywhere else?
    ISIS, and the Wahhabis in Saudi Arabia, destroy the past because their particular notion of Islam denies the existence of history or even time. EVERYTHING is Quran, all Quran, and ONLY Quran.

  • remigius

    Vanity Unfair, the site is probably 700 years old rather than 7,000. And Aztec.
    The Aztecs used to practice ritual cannabalism – eating the flesh and drinking the blood of victims who were sacrificed to appease their gods.
    How the Jehovah’s Witnesses think this is ‘not Christian’ is beyond me. It is virtually identical to the Eucharist.

  • barriejohn

    There is some information about the Otomi people here (of course!):

  • barriejohn

    Known more for their fabric embroidery than monumental remains, evidently:

  • sailor1031

    Ah yes – ISIS, the Taliban, Jehovah Witnesses…..reminds me of the time the green religiots of GreenPeace vandalised the Nazca Plain site.

  • RussellW

    Vanity Unfair,
    The site is reported as 7000 years old, not necessarily the structures on it. There are Churches in Europe built on Neolithic sacred sites, so a 7000 year old tradition is not implausible.
    Whatever ceremonies that are conducted on the site are as legitimate as any other religious ritual. The Catholic Church forced many indigenous people into adopting syncretic religious practices, ie beneath the Christian camouflage the Old Religion survives.
    That said, I’d agree that there are quite a few inconsistencies in the report that need to be explained.

  • Graham Martin-Royle

    As Remigius asked, how would they feel if someone did something similar to one of their “kingdom halls”?

  • remigius

    RussellW, it is unlikely the site is 7,000 years old.
    The transition of the indigenous paleo-indian population from hunter gatherers to a simple agrarian society is believed to have started around 5,000 BCE – although there is no evidence of any structural/built environment from this period.
    The first civilisation that had what we would recognise as religious/cultural sites – the Olmecs – didn’t begin until around 1,500 BCE.
    Graham, I agree.

  • RussellW

    The site of Gobekli Tepe in Turkey contains a complex of monumental structures that archeologists are convinced were erected by hunter gatherers. It’s about 10,000 years old. The former consensus that these structures first appeared in the Neolithic has been overturned.
    All my info on the site is from the article, however it can’t be argued that hunter gathers didn’t build sacred sites. Unless of course there are some cultural differences in Mesoamerica that would preclude such developments.

  • remigius

    RussellW, I don’t believe I implied that hunter-gatherers didn’t build sacred sites – just that there is no evidence of such a site from that region in that time period.
    Just because they may have done so is no reason to assume the site is of that age.
    Stonehenge in Southern England is situated on a site dated to 8,000 BCE. It is also known that proto-humans (h.heidelbergensis) – a hunter-gatherer – lived in Southern England about half a million years ago. It’s possible h. heidelbergensis built ritual structures, but we don’t know.
    Are you suggesting that just because a hunter-gatherer population, who may have built sacred structures, lived in the area at the time that we should date the Stonehenge site to 500,000 BCE?

  • RussellW

    “Are you suggesting that just because a hunter-gatherer population, who may have built sacred structures, lived in the area at the time that we should date the Stonehenge site to 500,000 BCE?”
    Of course not, you’re using a straw man argument.

  • remigius

    RussellW, far from it. I was using your argument.

  • William

    I find it interesting that Jehovah’s witnesses say that the temple and practices are non Christian….. news flash…. neither are Jehovah’s witnesses Christian…. you need to believe in the diety of Christ’s nature as stated in holy scripture. You are not Christian. Go home. Do your homework

  • Broga

    “Stonehenge in Southern England is situated on a site dated to 8,000 BCE.”
    That surprises me as I thought the Stonehenge stones came from the Preseli Hills in Wales. The most famous Burial Chamber in Wales is the Pentre Ifan Cromlech in Pembrokeshire. I thought that was dated at 2.500 BCE and that the stones from that era were transported to Stonehenge.
    There is controversy, if that happened, about how they got there. Some years ago they tried experimentally to get a massive stone there by Neolithic means. The boat sank with the stone.
    I met an archaeologist at the Pentre Ifan site. He said the current, and controversial, theory, is that the stones were carried there by glacier as it now seems that glaciers reached Stonehenge.
    He said Pentre Ifan was thought to be a sacred site and people travelled long distances to reach it. It was also thought that the skulls of ancestors buried at the site were dug up and worshipped.
    Interesting subject and I have enjoyed reading the informative posts.

  • remigius

    Broga, the extant structure was, as you say, built circa 3000-2000 BCE. However the site itself is much earlier.
    The henge, which is an earthen bank/ditch feature rather than the stones themselves, predates any stone structure.
    The earliest feature found on the site are a set of wooden post holes – dated to 8000 BCE – discovered in the car-park. Though it should be noted that a car-park is a modern feature and has no ritual/votive significance.

  • Broga

    @remigius: Understood. Thanks. I have not been to Stonehenge. The Pentre Ifan site seemed to me an extraordinary achievement as it was built with only muscle power. One theory is that they got the massive top stone by building a long ramp and hauling it up over greased logs.
    Stonehenge seems to be far more amazing. I suppose what we forget is that these structures were often built after decades and the intense motivation came from religious conviction and, I expect, expectations of divine reward.
    I watched a programme on the pyramids which said one pyramid was built in the remarkable time of 15 years. The same programme was identifying vast numbers of Egyptian ancient towns, under the desert sands, by infra red (hope that’s right) photography from drones.
    I love these ideas. With cosmology, and atheism it cuts us down to size.

  • remigius

    Broga, yep. Infrared is the correct term. I have my own infrared photography equipment – several camera, and filters ranging from 550nm (nanometres) to 1000nm wavelength. They are really useful.
    Just as useful is the more recent LiDAR technology. It allows you to survey archaeological sites covered by dense vegetation – jungle etc.
    We live in interesting times.

  • jay

    Story sounds a bit shaky. Some jws in my family and it’s more likely they would be afraid to go there (irrationally) because of fear of demons. My guess is they pissed off some locals with their preaching, and are getting blamed.
    Meanwhile in the US, some nutjobs have decided to attempt to block construction of a pipeline by planting “sacred seeds” along its route so they could try to sue.

  • M Weiss

    No one killed horribly, but this was done in the name of religious intolerance, the same as ISIS and the Taliban. Disgusting.

  • This is not the usual behaviour of JWs. I was born and brought up as one (I’m now an atheist and a secular humanist) and i must say that as a religion, although they believe that it is “false religion” and “idolatry”, they usually respect the right of such ancient monuments to exist and don’t take things into their own hands to destroy them.
    This may be some over-zealous “newbies”acting alone.
    That said, I have been out for almost 10 years and the JWs seem to be getting more and more extreme these days and they are very much going back to their “end times” biker mentality.

  • “This is not the usual behaviour of JWs – although they believe that it is “false religion” and “idolatry”, they usually respect the right of such ancient monuments to exist and don’t take things into their own hands to destroy them.”
    We have to remember that no religion, especially one which honours violent texts as the word of God, can be seen for what it is until it gets the opportunity. When a religion gets enough blind support it shows its true colours. Violent scriptures show that a religion is violent in its heart if not its actions and show the religion should be considered a trojan horse. An atheist will never say that a babys death is a good thing and part of a plan while a believer will say it is bad one way but a good thing for it is part of God’s plan for the greater good. Who is the better person?
    And we must remember that Jehovah’s Witnesses will hold that it is better to be a JW and please God and erroneously think that violent zeal is necessary than not to be a JW at all. In other words, it is better to be a misguided JW than a pagan or a Catholic.