Sunday, 22 May 2011

What holds a Jehovah's Witness in the religion?

During the process of leaving the Witnesses I read quite a few books by former members. Some of these books set a very aggressive tone which can serve to fuel the anger, even hatred of the Watchtower organisation.Some may find these latter books pander to the Watchtower's portrayal of rabid "apostates" ( a pejorative term used by JWs in reference to ex-members) . And thus if glanced through could be counter-productive.

However some of the books I read were of a more enlightening nature. Books such as "Crisis of conscience" by Raymond Franz, a former member of their elite Governing Body.  This book helped me to see "behind the curtain" as it were. It helped me to dispel the idea that this entity (the GB) was being directed in some mystical, spirit guided fashion by God's hand as they claim.

Another book I read, put together in a very simple format was "Captives of a Concept" by Don Cameron. This book was written with the sole purpose of exploding the concept that God has "chosen" the Witnesses, more specifically the Governing Body as his "channel of communication" on earth today.

However most books of this kind provide information and facts about JWs or take the form of an expose. The Watchtower organisation is very well aware of not only the existence of these titles ,but the material therein. Which is why they vociferously warn against the reading of them to their rank and file members.

Why is the subject matter never disclosed  in their journal "The Watchtower" (monthly circular for all  members)  when warning Witnesses against "apostate" material ?
It is because to inform the Witness in detail presents  a threat and undermines the Governing Body's overall strategy. And that is to prescribe a feeling  of danger that the "apostates" and their "books" represent. This same rhetoric has been applied to the Internet and "apostate" websites.

Imagine a warning sign on the road which was blank. Would you be able to asses the relevant danger ahead better or worse if you knew exactly what was around the bend?

And the reason why the Governing Body  do not wish to even hint at what the "danger" is because quite simply they would be taking a risk that the "spell" the individual is under will be broken.
Granted this is not always the case since many Witnesses have read so-called "apostate" material and remain within the confines of the Organisation.

For every individual Witness the "tipping point" which could trigger a paradigm shift in their thoughts varies hugely.
For some it could be the way the Book study( a weekly bible meeting in private homes) was unceremoniously dropped.
Others were troubled by the huge error in judgement by the Watchtower Society having anything to do with the United Nations, an entity which has been condemned in the strongest possible terms within their publications for many years.
Many people have voiced their objections about the child protection and medical policies of the organisation.
Some have serious doubts about the  doctrines and beliefs of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society.

There are of course many reasons why a person may choose to remain a Jehovah's Witness whether they've been exposed to ex-members or not. Some of these include a wish to maintain their "normal" life. Others don't want to lose friends and family. Many want to believe with all their heart that it's true and pride prevents them from facing the possibility of being wrong, perhaps believing that there's nowhere else to go.

Could there be a mechanism at work whereby the mind of a Witness will accept almost anything and still be an "active" Witness?

Stockholm Syndrome is a term in psychology used to describe a paradoxical psychological phenomenon where hostages  have positive feelings towards their captors. These feelings are generally considered irrational in light of the danger or risk endured by the victims, who essentially mistake lack of abuse from their captors as an act of kindness.
It's estimated that approximately 27% of victims will have this response. To cite the seminal case;
"The syndrome is named after the Norrmalmstorg robbery of Kreditbanken at Norrmalmstorg in Stockholm, in which the bank robbers held bank employees hostage from August 23 to August 28, 1973. In this case, the victims became emotionally attached to their captors, and even defended them after they were freed from their six-day ordeal".

It's my contention that there could be a common thought pattern  similar in nature to Stockholm Syndrome which could cause some people  to stay or become attached emotionally to something which they may otherwise rationally have left.

I don't think it was a mistake that Don Cameron had the word "captive" in his book title.There are no literal bars and no physical location in which a Witness is held. So the prison is therefore a mental one constructed and maintained by the person , but the architect is of course the Governing Body  via literature published by the Watchtower Society.

I will cite some examples of things that under normal circumstances no rational person would ever subscribe to. I recognise that the Witnesses use the Bible to substantiate their ideas and probably believe it has God's approval, but putting the Bible aside are these things morally and ethically right?
Here are some things that routinely occur within the organisation:

  • Allowing a child to die for ANY reason.

  • Shunning former friends and FAMILY MEMBERS on the sole grounds they're no longer part of your group.

  • If an allegation of child sex abuse is denied by the accused then unless there are TWO OR MORE witnesses to the event it will be dropped.

There are of course many ways in which it could be argued the members of this religion are harmed psychologically or otherwise. Some feel that the methods employed by the Watchtower have all the hallmarks of a mind-control cult.

The following are viewed as the conditions necessary for Stockholm syndrome to occur.

  • Hostages who develop Stockholm syndrome often view the perpetrator as giving life by simply not taking it. In this sense, the captor becomes the person in control of the captive’s basic needs for survival and the victim’s life itself.
  • The hostage endures isolation from other people and has only the captor’s perspective available. Perpetrators routinely keep information about the outside world’s response to their actions from captives to keep them totally dependent.
  • The hostage taker threatens to kill the victim and gives the perception of having the capability to do so. The captive judges it safer to align with the perpetrator, endure the hardship of captivity, and comply with the captor than to resist and face death.
  • The captive sees the perpetrator as showing some degree of kindness. Kindness serves as the cornerstone of Stockholm syndrome; the condition will not develop unless the captor exhibits it in some form toward the hostage. However, captives often misinterpret a lack of abuse as kindness and may develop feelings of appreciation for this perceived benevolence. If the captor is purely evil and abusive, the hostage will respond with hatred. But, if perpetrators show some kindness, victims will submerge the anger they feel in response to the terror and concentrate on the captors’ “good side” to protect themselves.
In cases where Stockholm syndrome has occurred, the captive is in a situation where the captor has stripped nearly all forms of independence and gained control of the victim’s life, as well as basic needs for survival. Some experts say that the hostage regresses to, perhaps, a state of infancy; the captive must cry for food, remain silent, and exist in an extreme state of dependence. In contrast, the perpetrator serves as a 'mother' figure protecting the 'child' from a threatening outside world
This mirrors the way a person who is a Jehovah's Witness is controlled without them realising it.
Below is by no means an exhaustive list of concepts familiar to all Witnesses.
And the "captor"  in this case the Watchtower Society, controlling the person via it's publications.

  • Remain within Jehovah's (God's)  organisation for survival.

  • Spiritual "food" delivered exclusively via meetings and publications of Jehovah's Witnesses.

  • Told to "cut off" association with those who are not Witnesses.

  • Lack of perspective and objectivity , almost hostile to the "outside world" and free thought.

  • Restrict or retard information flow from outside sources to maintain dependence.

  • Captor threatens to "kill" the captive via Disfellowshipping (expulsion from the ranks) and subsequent literal death at Armageddon(end of the world) unless they comply by remaining within or obeying the "mother" organisation.

  • Acts such as allowing a child to die or shunning are viewed as  acts of obedience , loyalty and love,when in actual fact both are morally and ethically repugnant to any rational person on any grounds. And thus the captor has convinced the person that these  are actually modes of kindness and goodness.

  • In some cases those who have left either by "drifting" away or by disfellowshipping will still defend the Watchtower Society, even claiming they believe the Witnesses have the "truth".(not usually the case with well informed ex-members).

The effect is that a Witness  may believe they have control of their life when in fact they do not. All of the above mental shackles have been placed on at some point. They are told what to believe and it is of course subject to change. This creates a disorienting effect and keeps the person in a state of dependant mental flux. Perhaps even anticipating some "new truths" at their next Assembly or book release.

The statistics show that in the case of Stockholm Syndrome roughly 1/3rd of people develop this mental state.
I wonder if it is co-incidental that 2/3rds of  the young people leave the Watchtower Society as they grow up? I do not have hard stats but that's what anecdotal evidence I've heard.
Could it be this group who have had less exposure to the organisations methods and crucially more exposure to the "outside world"  via education, the Internet, "worldly friends" etc are not falling prey to the subtle mental prison their parents live in?

It is far more difficult the longer  one has been a Witness to break free, but not impossible.
I hope that whatever a person's age or standing within the Watchtower Organisation they manage to break the mental bonds and start to think  outside "the box".

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Did Jehovah's Witnesses become the true religion in 1919?

Jehovah's Witnesses have the "truth" right?

Now any witness will tell you they believe they are the true religion on earth right now....

But is that based upon the organisation's current beliefs and standing with God?

Or have they perhaps always been God's chosen ones since C . T. Russell founded them?

Or as former Watchtower society president Fred Franz believed, attained such a lofty title at a specific time?

One of the above must be what they believe.

In my opinion the answer to these questions lies in a long term strategy by Governing Body 2.0 to re-shape or abandon doctrines and overhaul the public/religious image of Jehovah’s Witnesses.

In the days of men like Fred Franz and his ilk they totally believed in their own press and thus felt they were in a position of having “special insight”. Fred Franz was merely following in the footsteps of "judge" Rutherford and his predecessor Charles Russell, the religion's founder, in his mind-set.

Franz believed the Witnesses, although known as the Bible students at the time were "chosen" by Jesus himself during an "invisible" visit to earth to inspect the world's religions around the year 1919 a.d.

Now how does that above statement sound ? Would a "householder" of the  21st century be likely to buy into that during a visit from a Jehovah's Witness at their door?
Remember ultimately they are a publishing corporation with a product to "sell" whether that be books, donations to the cause or joining the religion. Products have to be saleable and attractive to prospective buyers.

So the previous "product" sold. The end is coming! The people flooded in and so did the money......1975 and all that......
Unfortunately  the product eventually passed it's sell-by date in the shape of the combined "insights" of Russell, Rutherford and Franz  when they turned out to be poorly judged guesswork and idle speculation at best.

The newest members of the GB couldn’t fail to notice these events whether they were in power at the time or not. Hence when those older men finally died off I believe that GB 2.0 would be acutely aware of their own lack of “special insight”.
Perhaps an awareness of the impact these failed doctrines had on the rank and file witnesses and in the case of the 1975 “prochecy” , the general public  they decided to scale back on the doctrinal side.

As evidence for my line of reasoning I will cite some examples.

1.The abandonment of doctrines with an associated date i.e. 1935 and the “final sealing” of the “annointed” (may 2007 wt.)

2. Dates such as 1914 slowly being degraded in the jw mindset facilitated by being mentioned less and less in their literature over a 10-15 year period to the present day. One recent 2010 Watchtower’s cover asked “what is the kingdom?” This magazine when read cover to cover did not mention 1914 once.
Surely the date  1914 on  which the entire authority and doctrinal foundations of the the Jehovah's Witnesses rests deserves to be at the forefront of their message? My objective assessment of the 1914 doctrine can be found here.

3.The “appointment” of the “slave class” in 1919 dogma slowly being replaced by already existing concepts that JW’s are the “closest thing to 1st century Christianity” and have the “mark of love” and are the only ones doing the “preaching work”. Ideas which are much easier to defend and substantiate and thoughts which are already in the minds of many Witnesses.    This  is discussed in more detail in this blog I wrote two years ago.

4. A concerted effort to APPEAR more mainstream and like other “Christian” groups. Dumbing down in doctrines and literature, legal department softening medical policies, less meetings, lower pioneer hours etc, etc.

Of course the problem every member of the current Governing Body has is what to do with all the dated , failed old doctrines which many built their whole lives on?
It seems that 1914, 1919, 1975, and the "generation" teaching are somewhat of an embarrassment to the Governing Body today.
There is unfortunately no panacea as I’m sure they realise.

An example is the recent overhaul of an old doctrine in the shape of the paradoxical two-part overlapping generation. A  hybrid doctrine of the "creators promise" that those alive in 1914 would see the end, with the new generation of “anointed” alive today   overlapping them as the ones who ultimately see the end of this system. Co-incidentally these "new members" in the generation dogma just happen to include the majority of the Governing Body who are much too young too fit in with the old teaching......

This teaching epitomises the dilemma the GB find themselves in:-

The generation of 1914 clearly almost all dead, so therefore the old doctrine or "prophecy" is demonstrably false.

No new “light” to completely replace it.

Can’t completely bin old doctrines, as older ones would react adversely.

A need to give the rank and file something to bite on, a little hope, so therefore modify the doctrine to give the impression the "end" could still be quite close.

So the only option is to fire fight with face-saving nonsense.

So just to get this straight. Jesus was asked a question in Matt 24:34. He  answered that question  with the words "this generation will by no means pass away".
 What he actually meant was a group of people would see the year 1914 and the "signs" of his "invisible presence" and their generation would overlap a SECOND group  of people who would then in turn see the end of the world? 

Really? Does it seem reasonable that's what Jesus Christ 2000 years ago was referring to?

The leaders have probably come to the conclusion that most Jehovah’s Witnesses will believe whatever they are told and will follow this organisation till they die.
So the Organisation's remit is to make it easier to believe, easier to defend to their “opposers” and easier on the eye to governments and the public.

Jehovah's Witnesses have taught for almost 100 years that they were chosen by Jesus in the year 1919 as the one true religion.

If this is correct what should you do?

If this is proved to be false what should you do?

Saturday, 30 April 2011

1914 an honest evaluation.

If there is one single year that is pivotal to the teachings of a religious group then it surely has to be the year 1914 A.D. and the group now known as Jehovah's Witnesses.

The modern young Jehovah's Witnesses that I knew did not really pay much attention to the year 1914. Even some of the older ones have recently stated "that it's just a date when the Gentile times ended" It has no real meaning to them although without them realising it, it is the sole reason they are in fact Jehovah's Witnesses and not say ,the religion of their grandparents.

To the uninitiated the basic import of the doctrine of 1914 is that Jesus began ruling in his invisible heavenly kingdom in October 4th or 5th of that year. This is worked out by using what the Watchtower Society calls "Bible Chronology".

Here is a link to the
Watchtower explanation on their official website.

If you have read the article you will notice that the Bible students apparently "decades in advance" said that there would be "significant developments" in 1914.

The only problem is that of all the things C.T. Russell said about the year 1914 not one of them came to pass. Here is a link to the
failed predictions. The one thing that DID happen of course was the great war which seemed to validate the idea (at least among the Bible students) , as JW's were called then, that they were on to something.

The next port of call in the doctrine is to link the "Appointed times of the nations"( Luke21)
With the "Gentile times" of Daniel 4. However there is no Biblical Imperative to link these two accounts as it's clear Jesus was referring to a FUTURE event , not looking back almost 600 years to the previous destruction of Jerusalem. Jesus was giving a prophecy remember. Prophecies are not retroactive in this sense.

This brings us to the next part of this "chronology" ; the year 607 B.C.E. , the year which The Watchtower Society (WTS) say Jerusalem was destroyed by the Babylonians. All modern experts in all related fields say that it was in fact the year 587 B.C.E. that this event took place.

The Watchtower Society claim is that if it is the Bible versus "secular" sources then they will choose the Bible. There is a problem however as the Bible contains no fixed B.C.E. dates with which one could determine the exact timing of events. Only the events themselves and people's births, deaths, ages and in the case of kings how long they ruled for etc is described.

The problem the watchtower Society have with this idea of the Bible "fixing" the event of Jerusalem's destruction to the year 607 B.C.E. is that people such as
Carl O. Jonsson have spent decades proving beyond any reasonable doubt that the Bible actually testifies that the date of 587 B.C.E. is the most likely date, rather than the "Watchtower date" of 607 B.C.E.

This period of history known as the "Neo Babylonian" era is probably one of the best attested to times from an historical ,archaeological and astronomical perspective which gives the Watchtower Society a massive headache. All of these fields combine to point towards the most likely date of 587 B.C.E. ( Incidentally these same experts are who the Society rely on to produce the "pivotal Date " of 539 B.C.E.)
I have challenged several JW's to give me just one quote from a modern scholar who is not connected to the Watchtower who will testify that the above event took place in 607 B.C.E.

I'm still waiting.

However how do they calculate back to the date 607 B.C.E. from the date of 1914 C.E.?

The explanation is as follows:-

"Revelation 12:6, 14 indicates that three and a half times equal “a thousand two hundred and sixty days.” “Seven times” would therefore last twice as long, or 2,520 days. But the Gentile nations did not stop ‘trampling’ on God’s ruler-ship a mere 2,520 days after Jerusalem’s fall. Evidently, then, this prophecy covers a much longer period of time. On the basis of Numbers 14:34 and Ezekiel 4:6, which speak of “a day for a year,” the “seven times” would cover 2,520 years.
The 2,520 years began in October 607 B.C.E., when Jerusalem fell to the Babylonians and the Davidic king was taken off his throne. The period ended in October 1914. At that time, “the appointed times of the nations” ended, and Jesus Christ was installed as God’s heavenly King."

Did you notice the way that various disparate parts of the Bible are used in connection with this "teaching"?
First Rev. 12:6 is used to establish "3 and a half times" = 1260 DAYS.

Then this is doubled to represent the 7 times in the book of Daniel.

Then the supposed "Bible rule" of a day for a year is taken from the book of Numbers and Ezekiel.
These scriptures are used arbitrarily and without instruction from the Bible itself to construct a very shaky "mathematically" based doctrine which is built upon a event which did not take place in the year 607 B.C.E. but rather twenty years later in the year 587 B.C.E.

But there is more. What does the Governing Body say about the verse in Rev. 12:6 in their most recent explanation of the book of Revelation?

" How long did this respite for the seed of God’s woman last? Revelation 12:6 says 1,260 days. Revelation 12:14 calls the period a time, times, and half a time; in other words, three and a half times. In fact, both expressions stand for three and a half years, extending in the Northern Hemisphere from the spring of 1919 to the autumn of 1922. This was a period of refreshing recuperation and reorganization for the restored John class."

Do you notice how the Current teaching from the book Jehovah's Witnesses have just studied recently, applies it?

This book says it applies to a literal period of time during the early part of the last century. Without this one scripture there is no 2520 days, no 7 times and no 1914. So why have the Governing Body said that this was fulfilled in the above quote?

Moreover does it seem reasonable to apply this VERY SAME scripture to a period supposedly beginning some 2500 years in the past (607 B.C.E.) and then give another completely unrelated application of it in a modern day setting (1919-1922) in LITERAL DAYS?

Where is the scriptural imperative that allows for anyone to do this?

Also worth noting is that the years that they are talking about are special "Watchtower prophetic years" They abandon the normal use of lunar years in Bible prophecy ( i.e. 360 days in each year) in favour of solar years (i.e. 365 days) again in a completely arbitrary fashion.
Since these numbers are from the Bible it would be only fair to count years the way the Bible does , in increments of 360 days each.
So with 607 b.c.e. as a starting date and counting 2520 years (Bible lunar) it only brings you to 1878 a.d. , a date of no significance today in JW doctrine. So they have "stretched out" the prophecy to suit their 1914 date by using years of 365 days each.
Whatever way you choose to examine the date 1914 in witness doctrine it is seriously flawed and remember it's not just a date in a so-called "prophecy", the JW's whole belief system and authority rests upon it. A very shaky foundation indeed. A house built upon the sand?
Of course the import of all of this is huge in terms of the very foundation on which Jehovah's Witnesses base their faith. A faith which turns out to be based not on the Bible , but on the organisation itself and it's dogmatic, enforced teachings.

Without 1914 and it's associated doctrines they have no special meaning as an organisation and no special message to deliver that is distinct from any other "Christian " group.
The way that 1914 is arrived at is completely arbitrary from a Biblical perspective, but this is overlooked by all who profess to believe, as the "appointment" of the WTBTS and it's leaders is solely contingent on them being correct about this belief.

As I stated before in my experience many of the younger generation and perhaps some older ones, do not really place too much emphasis on the doctrines or the year 1914. The how or the why they believe what they do is not a chief concern, rather maintaining their status quo is mostly what it's all about as a Jehovah's Witness.

How many times are they going to be challenged about the accuracy and truth of their doctrines in their door-knocking work these days? Not  very much is the  likelihood.

Suppose you did care though and you wanted to question what you were actually being asked to believe both from a scriptural or an historical , not to mention logical perspective?

You would be met with a gasp of disbelief and a very troubled looking face looking back at you asking if you are questioning the "slave class" on this issue?

Think about it logically, if the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society Inc. and it's Governing Body accepted that they were completely wrong about the 1914 doctrine then where would that leave them?
Remember they are a Corporation, a business. Their whole ethos is built upon the assumption that Jesus , shortly after establishing his kingdom in 1914 appointed their leaders as his sole representatives on earth.
So it follows that if they are wrong about their 1914 doctrine then they most certainly are not his representatives on earth and never will be as this quote from the Watchtower demonstrates:-

*** w91 12/1 p. 7 Is Any Religion Good Enough? ***

How to Choose the Right Religion

What will guide us in choosing the right religion? The Encyclopædia Universalis is correct when it highlights the importance of truth.
"A religion that teaches lies cannot be true."

So where does this leave a faithful Witness then? They can choose to serve the organisation knowing that it teaches falsehood and demands that it's followers obey or they can take a stand refusing to give any more of their life to a lost cause. It may be difficult as many, like my self have former friends and family in the group, but it can be done with some strength of character , a bit of investigation coupled with a determination to find the truth about what Jehovah's Witnesses teach.

Ask yourself ; is finding out the truth about the teachings you have perhaps spent many years believing  hard to take? Yes of course!
But wanting or needing something to be true when it plainly isn't does not make it any less of a lie.

Monday, 31 January 2011

The Watchtower and the United Nations

One of the visually better-put-together websites supporting the WTS’s stand on its 10-year relationship with the United Nations is The Watchtower Society as a United Nations NGO – A Look at the Conspiracy Theory (
Once you’re past the visuals, however, and you begin to read it, the site’s agenda becomes clear. Apart from the unnamed author’(s’) predilection towards finger-pointing pejorative words and phrases, such as ‘apostate,’ there seems to be some quite dodgy reasoning. Rather than read through predictable spin on the subject, I fast-forwarded to the “Miscellaneous Questions” page and to one particularly interesting point.
The author asks: Doesn’t the Watchtower teach that the UN is the unclean thing and should not be touched?
No, he answers.
Technically this is true if you factor in that 2 Corinthians 6:16-18 refers to religious things. However, despite the author’s apparent attempt to demonstrate that the WTS has, albeit a tenuous respect, for the existence and the work of the UN, he appears to be oblivious quotes such as this:
‘What “disgusting thing” has been “put in place” in modern times? Apparently, it is a “disgusting” counterfeit of God’s Kingdom. This was the League of Nations, the scarlet-colored wild beast that went into the abyss, or ceased to exist as a world-peace organization when World War 11 erupted. (Revelation 17:8) The “wild beast,” however, was to “ascend out of the abyss.” This it did when the United Nations, the 50 member nations including the former Soviet Union, was established on October 24, 1945. Thus “the disgusting thing” foretold by an angel – the United Nations – was put in place.’ – Page 269, paragraph 24, Pay Attention to Daniel’s Prophecy!, published by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, 1999.
Most Witnesses will know that the Scriptural reference referring to not ‘touching the unclean thing’ applies to Babylon the Great which they are taught to view as the ‘World Empire of False Religion.’
Is the author then suggesting that ‘infiltrating’ by use of the UN’s libraries was ethically acceptable?
Notice, too, that its publication date is 7 years before the saga began and only 3 years before it ended.
Related to this is a further question on the site: Although there was nothing technically wrong with being an NGO with the DPI in 1992, should the Watchtower have not avoided anything to do with the United Nations to avoid stumbling the brothers?
To this question the author likewise answers No.
The fact is the action did cause a major stumbling when the news was exposed (within 24 hours of the newspaper article is bound to raise eyebrows!) While most Witnesses would have to meet their end with a millstone around their necks for ‘stumbling their brothers,’ it seems that others are exempt.
Ethically, what happened would be like us asking Adolf Hitler if you could use the Reichstag library during World War Two to write anti-Nazi propaganda leaflets.