A Benefit to the Community
BY AWAKE! WRITER IN SPAIN
FOR centuries Spanish cities have apportioned land for places of worship. City governments believed that religious faith would benefit their communities. Since Catholicism was the State religion, municipal property was traditionally donated almost exclusively to the Catholic Church. But times have changed.
In 1980 a Spanish law guaranteeing religious freedom stated that “no faith shall be the Official State religion.” This has moved some city officials publicly to recognize the work carried out by Jehovah’s Witnesses. As a mark of this recognition, they have donated land for the building of Kingdom Halls.
Various city administrations have expressed the opinion that such donations are well deserved because of “the educational nature of [the Witnesses’] work,” as well as the “public and social benefit of such.” Others have cited “the noteworthy presence of Jehovah’s Witnesses in the city” and “the nonlucrative nature of their work.”
Many of the Kingdom Halls have been built within 48 hours through use of a special construction method implemented by construction teams of Witness volunteers. The mayor of La Línea, in southwestern Spain, commented: “I am very impressed by the unselfishness of the volunteers, and I feel they deserve our support. We need more of this sort of spirit in today’s divided world.” He called the new Kingdom Hall “a monument to the spirit of cooperation.”
Neighbors have also observed this community spirit. During the construction of a double Kingdom Hall in Vitoria, in northern Spain, Marian, who lives nearby, said: “If everybody reflected this kind of love, we would not have the problems we are suffering today.” After watching the building go up, a local architect exclaimed: “I would like to be one of Jehovah’s Witnesses to be able to feel your joy!”
In the city of Zaragoza, in northeastern Spain, officials granted the Witnesses a 6,000-square-foot [600 sq m] site, free of charge. A local newspaper described the construction site as “an ant’s nest of Jehovah’s Witnesses, where hundreds of little ants work together.” Neighbors gave the workers a warm welcome. One of them said: “The priests make me lose my faith, but you have given it back to me.”
Witnesses are grateful for the assistance of both neighbors and local authorities in the construction of their places of worship. They are resolved to use their Kingdom Halls for the best educational work possible for the community—that of preaching and teaching the Word of God.
[Picture on page 31]
La Línea, Cádiz, Spain