Dear Watchtower: Why the insults and name-calling?

February 14th, 2012

I THOUGHT I KNEW YOU

An open letter from Barbara Anderson to the
Watch Tower’s Writing Department

In 1517, Martin Luther wrote in a letter to Archbishop Albert of Mainz: “You must graciously forgive that I, that scum of the earth, am so bold as to dare to address a letter to you.”

Yes, I know, you think of me as scum, just like Mainz believed of Luther, wondering how I dare write you a letter, someone Jehovah’s Witnesses disfellowshipped back in 2002. I was accused of being an unrepentant sinner and condemned for “causing divisions,” then labeled “apostate” because I spoke out publicly on NBC’s Dateline TV program about the child sexual abuse policies that protected pedophiles— policies that you helped formulate.  Now do you remember me? I bet you do!

For acting out of conscience, it’s certainly uncalled for to be shunned as an apostate and viewed as dead by family and friends. But according to the July 15, 2011 Watchtower, I’m also “mentally diseased” because it states that all apostates are mentally diseased.

Injuries from a physical attack can heal but experts say insults and name-calling can cause emotional pain that last a lifetime. That’s why there is a saying: “The pen is mightier than the sword.” You know that words can cut like knives, and it appears that’s why you use words in Watch Tower literature that can damage those who differ with the religion of Jehovah’s Witnesses.

It’s been nearly twenty years since I walked your hallowed carpets. I loved every minute of it except for the two times I crossed swords with two of your staff members at different occasions over their unethical and dishonest practices. (One of those staff members is still in your midst.)

Back then I believed in the integrity of your staff writers. I thought they were loyal to God and never underhanded with respect to religious truth. But much investigation proved to me that some Writing Department writers are incompetent and some are just plain dishonest.

If I said the religion of Jehovah’s Witnesses is as bona fide as snake oil, that it is poppycock and bunkum, many in our politically correct society would consider my words offensive and hurtful. Yet Watch Tower staff writers believe they can get away with twisting the scriptures, using them against those who question doctrines and policy, and do it with impunity, such as recently claiming, “Well, apostates are ‘mentally diseased,’ and they seek to infect others with their disloyal teachings (1 Tim. 6:3, 4).”

First of all, that’s ridiculous. Paul didn’t say anything about “apostates”—the Watchtower did. And he didn’t say in verse 4, “he” [any man that teaches other doctrines] is mentally diseased! The words “mental disease” describes a bodily condition. Paul said “he” … “but being mentally diseased over questionings and debates about words.” These men literally “doted,” “craved” questioning and disputes “over” Jesus words to such an extent that the craving for controversy was like a sickness. Since there was no reasoning with such “corrupt” men, Paul urged that Timothy not waste his time with them.

I don’t have an argument with you about your translation of the Greek word noseō as “mentally diseased” or any comparable words used in other translations. My argument is not with the Apostle Paul’s negative description of the mind-set of his primary opposers who were pseudo, or “false brothers,” or “false teachers” questioning and debating a particular matter. However, I do take issue with your interpretive application of his words.

The first followers of the Jew, Jesus Christ, were Jewish and they continued to follow the Law of Moses. (Romans 15:7). Early Hellenized Jewish Christian believers referred to as “Judaizers” obsessively argued over the words of Christ, insisting that Gentile Christians get circumcised and observe the Mosaic Law. Acts 15:5 said some former believers were Pharisees. Paul mentions his struggles with this group in at least five of his letters. Clarke’s Commentary rightly said these Judaizers “… were not apostles, nor apostolic men; but they were undoubtedly members of the Church at Ephesus.”

The issue was between Jewish Christians and Gentile Christians and Paul’s advice was well-timed and specific, certainly not suitable more than 2000 years later. Yes, I know about Romans 15:4 where Paul said that “… all the things that were written aforetime were written for our instruction—.” Contextually, he was pointing to his time, not ours. For Watch Tower writers to take an actual historical event when Jewish Christians taught Gentile Christians a completely “different doctrine” (1 Tim. 1:3)—the observance of the Mosaic Law—and then dedicate a phrase found in 1 Tim. 6:4, one that referred to these men who did not consent to Christ’s words, to former Jehovah’s Witnesses is ludicrous and wrong.

In the July 15, 2011 Simplified Version of the Watchtower, published for children and others who have only very basic reading skills, the author placed a box on page 11, where mentally diseased “apostates” and “false teachers” are defined as “people who rebel against true worship and abandon it.” In this way, you harmfully labeled those who left the religion. Thus, you planted fear in the minds of the readers, most of whom are naïve and innocent and easy prey for charlatans to influence.

Our twelve-year old grandson, Luke, aware that his grandparents left the Witness religion in 2002 and are now shunned, has in his mind the frightening thought that we are mentally diseased. And imagine, if you will, how a child will react to a former Jehovah’s Witness parent after reading that those who leave the religion are mentally diseased. You should be ashamed of saying “apostates are ‘mentally diseased,’ ” hateful words that vilify and denigrate people whom you perceive as sinners because they can’t accept some of the Watch Tower’s teachings and policies that they view as harmful.

May I remind you of what you wrote in the February 15, 2000 Watchtower:

“The ruling ecclesiastical class … violently silenced a voice [Cyril Lucaris – in 1638] that pointed to some of the errors of their non-Biblical beliefs. They proved to be among the worst enemies of religious freedom and truth. Sadly, this is a stance that in various ways survives even to our day. It is a sobering reminder of what happens when clergy-instigated intrigues stand in the way of freedom of thought and expression.”

For over forty years I thought you were different than those in the clergy who sought to suppress God-given “freedom of thought and expression.” But by your words I have come to know that I was wrong!

Yours truly,

Barbara J. Anderson


Editor’s Note: On February 6, 2012, the Watchtower’s writing department received the above letter from Barbara Anderson, a former Jehovah’s Witness who once served in that very department. Every day many letters and documents are sent to Watchtower headquarters in New York. Most are never answered. It’s likely that some are never read. Mrs. Anderson knew that when she wrote the above letter, but she sent it anyway. She wanted make her point that the Watchtower can not hypocritically accuse other religions of stifling dissent – and then willfully do the very same thing to their own faithful followers. I want to thank Barbara for allowing us to publish her letter here on Ex-JW.com. I urge everyone to download the PDF version of her original letter and her proof of delivery receipt and share them with other active and former Jehovah’s Witnesses. In fact, I urge you to write your own letters to the Watchtower Society’s headquarters and demand clear answers to your questions.

Click here to view and download the original letter.

Click here to view and download the actual delivery receipt.


Categories: JW Teachings, Opinion

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  1. Mark Palo

    Barbara hits the nail squarely. One thing of note is that my PTSD, Anxiety, and Depression are all mental health issues brought on by my having been a JW. More than one mental/medical health professional has after hearing my story directly attributes my issues to the molestation and childhood I endured at a JW brat. Recently , after many years, I am opening up about certain things from my childhood. Things I have never told any form of professional. My counselor is shocked and has stated that now whenever I see, or hear JW related subject matter related to my history I suffer a never ending string of anxiety attacks. I was told that I exhibit these attacks in the form of raw anger while discussing my past. Believe it or not, I have almost a zero recollection of my life from 11 years old back. The clown princes among men deign to call me mentally ill since I am a proud infidel. Yet, it is their own twisted and perverse mental illness that affected me and turned me into a complete rebel, iconoclast, anarchist, and apostate. The infamous Dr. Mengle could have taken lessons from the Watchtower.

  2. Heather

    Hi Mark, I feel your pain. Me, too. Raised a JW and serious mental illness past. Funny, I have little recollection of my childhood as well. I started drinking at age 12, smoking, too. They dissassocated me, but my elder step dad still dragged me to their windowless hell 3 times a week where no one would look at me, or talk to me. Including my own grandmother. All I can say is “they suck”! Take good care my friend. I don’t know you, but I love you :),
    heather@Mark Palo

  3. mark palo

    Hey Heather, much thanks for the supporting words. We could probably swap some pretty good war stories. You beat me on the drinking. Even though I stole sips from my dad I didn’t start drinking for fun and sport until I was 15. Later on it became a full time obsession. Peace, Marco

  4. arimatthewdavies

    my name is ari matthew davies I was born and beaten into the so called truth. I wont bother saying negative things about the w.b.t.s. or the kingdom hall because enough people that were or are members have already done do…it is true if you are a jehovahs wittnesses that you must shut your mouth and do as you are told or you will be disfellowshiped.. I simply quit going because I just feel that jehovah wants me to stay away from the people that did me bodiley and mental harm while I was younger, I can attest to child abuse both violent and of sexual nature and how the elders tell you to keep silent lest you reproch the name of jehovah…now If a person is unrepentant and sinfull they should be excumunicated from the hall. the bible says let him be as a man of the world publican, tax man, pagan, are also used.
    now I point out some truth you better not shun the tax man(you will do time) and you must treat the public with curtosy and respect, you must show to the pagan a brotherly love that would make him want to be a christian ! treating your fellow man as if he was an odious blob of feceses is not the way to win a person back to christ. in fact I will go so far as to warn those that do this shuning crap that they may end up blood guilty before jehovah..and again I remind the faithfull and discreet slave… that you are a slave apointed by the master to give food at apointed times,,,
    you have in no way been told to punish your fellow slaves by withholding food.. I dont need to go on and on because the bible say specificly that if a person confronts you with brother you have sined against me then you who stand confronted have a biblecal obligation to do your best to make restitution ! not whip out you bible and brandish scriptures of why you dont have to! or how you were apointed by jehovah and can get away with it… Im closeing with a prayor jehovah god I can not do anything other than pray for these who have suffered harm lord please set all matters right and cause us to forgive and be forgiven pleasd cause us to honor you in all we do. I pray in jesus name amen..

  5. mike

    Dear Barbara today i read your letter to the W.T leaders but I think your words have through in to new York river. Have you read the first article of the watchtower study Jul./15/2013.Reade this article and then you will see who is the apostates. I think world wide brotherhood I think they will declare them apostates. I just wand to commended for your courage to step forward and univalve this crimes. thank you for all this information you posted on the internet to help people to see where they stand. I am not desfellowshippe but I am drifted away. I believe this article in this watch tower I mentioned they have destroy millions of life’s. no more 1914′ no more faithful decree slave all of these have go down the drain. no more hope’ millions of humans who have spend their life’s have faith in this organization all these have go up on the air. I spend 42 years in this organization serve these people knowing we serve God but unfortunately yesterday the earth have fail under our feet. I am righting these words just to sheared with some one the Paine we when through from the first day we join this organization most of the brother have go through similar situation many have spend their life’s serving those dreamers false prophets, people who are responsible for thousand of life who gave their life’s to death for lies. I don’t understand how those who are still alive how can sleep or continue to speak to the brotherhood. I believe the justness is coming not from God but from people
    take care mike

  6. Denise

    Iam not a Jehovah witness I believe in the teachings but have always had a problem with the repentance!! Jehovah is the hearer of prayers!! Are u angry over the cover up? Do u still believe Jehovah is the creator? May faith is in Jehovah and Jesus!!!!! Not in the elders for they r imperfect just like me!!! Nothing man can do that Jehovah can’t undo!! At Jehovah appointed time!!!! Please keep ur faith in Jehovah and his son Jesus! Saul was anoint by Jehovah and u know what happened to him FIGHT THE FINE FIGHT LOVERS OF THE TRUE GOD JEHOVAH

  7. Mark H. Palo

    Has none heard about the new repentance ? One is to kneel
    in front of the clown princes among men. Thou shalt be clutching a dog eared Babylon book in one hand and a rosary made of folded old handbills in the other. Thou shalt repeatedly proclaim the glory and wisdom of the elderly old farts on the gov bod and seek their guidance as to where one can get a great deal on depends. Then one should bare thy back and beat it with your field service bag until the outlines of territory maps appear. This is all done in contrite humility with a few moans and Oh Jehovahs thrown in. You can find this new light within the reams of watchtower publications, somewhere. May you have Moe, Larry, and Curlys blessing. nyuck nyuck. wise guy, huh?

  8. maria

    I was invited by a younger JW girl to stay the weekend at her family’s farm. Even though I had a very bad feeling as I had been previously molested by non-JW cousins, and I told my Mom I did not want to go to the girls farm, because as she said “they are good girls and go to the Hall” I went to their farm. The next afternoon the younger girl and the older girl lured me on top of a shedroof. The older girl told me “If you dont let me do this we wont like you n neither will Jehovah.” The younger girl repeated her older sisters words. At the mention of “Jehovah” I froze n the elder girl shoved a stick breaking my virginity. After she eas done she told me if I told anyone, no one would believe me because they were good girls and I was a bad girl. She lastly said, “Jehovah loves us, but hates you.”
    I cannot tell you how suicidal my Ptsd of this event makes me feel. Because my parents did nothing about my non-JW cousins molesting me when I told them about it, I did not tell them what that girl did. I was almost 8 years old. Furthermore, I have a hard time with my relationship with God, and flashbacks, also fear God is going to destroy me, because I left the Organization and because He hates me.
    I am so tired of it. Neither of my brothers have this problem. I have been in professional therapy for over 20 years. I cant cry to my Mom about it as she is a dedicated JW and if I get suicidal over the flashbacks she wants me to go to a mental hospital.
    signed,
    might as well be dead

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