Dear Watchtower: Why the insults and name-calling?

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


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JWSurvey.org announces 2012 Global Survey

There is a new online survey about Jehovah’s Witnesses available for participation by all current and former members at JWSurvey.org.

“Cedars,” the founder and main contributor to the website, announced during a podcast on Saturday, January 28th that the new 2012 Global Survey of Jehovah’s Witnesses is now open for business. The new survey is designed as a more specific and definitive follow-up to the successful 2011 Global Survey that began in September 2011.

Using suggestions from many of the website’s readers and previous survey participants, Cedars decided to expand the 2012 version to include more specific questions directed to subgroups within the Witness culture. There are questions for elders, those claiming membership in the “anointed” class, average active publishers, and even disfellowshipped or disassociated members. Groups also include those who have not been baptized yet and Witnesses who have simply faded away from active membership.

Like the 2011 Survey and the site’s “Mini-Surveys,” participation is free, easy and secure. It also has the added benefit of immediate feedback. After a participant answers each question, the system updates the current totals and shows the results instantly.

The 2011 Global Survey was only online for a little over three months – but had nearly 1200 respondents. “Cedars” and webmaster John Hoyle are hoping that with eleven months left in 2012 they will eventually see hundreds of participants in every one of the six subcategories. “We’re not expecting a lot of ‘anointed’ members or anyone from the Governing Body to take the survey, but we feel that all other categories should be well represented given the amount of time the survey will be online.”

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Happy Holidays

By the Editor

Within the next few days, millions of people in the western world will celebrate Christmas, followed a week later by the New Year. In most countries, Christmas comes on December 25, but in a few (mostly those located in Eastern Europe and Asia Minor) Christmas comes on January 7. This difference is due to the fact that most branches of the Eastern and Russian Orthodox churches still use the Julian calendar for setting their religious feast days.

But not Jehovah’s Witnesses. They don’t celebrate Christmas in December or January. Nor do they celebrate in October, the month they claim was actually the time of Jesus’ birth.

Jehovah’s Witnesses do not celebrate Christmas or the New Year. Witnesses don’t put up and decorate trees, do not exchange gifts, they sing no carols, send no seasonal cards, and have no parties. They will not wish anyone “A Merry Christmas” or “A Happy New Year!” While Jehovah’s Witnesses may believe in Jesus Christ, they do not believe in Christmas.

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Global Survey of Jehovah’s Witnesses – 2011

"I'm taking the survey. How about you?" - Pastor Russell

We’re pleased to announce that a new tool for communicating with both Jehovah’s Witnesses, former Witnesses, and non-JWs is now available – an online, world-wide, opinion survey website:

JWsurvey.org

The original survey was conceived and initially executed by a gentleman from the UK known as “Cedars.” He suggested setting up a survey in late September as his reaction to some of the discussions taking place on the Jehovahs-Witness.net forum. [Link to original thread.]

Cedars tried to design the survey in a way that anyone connected to Jehovah’s Witnesses in any category (current JWs, former JWs, elders, Bethel members, etc.) could feel they have a voice and be able to freely express their opinions. Cedars worded the questions to be neutral, neither pro or con as they relate to the Watchtower Society or its teachings. Cedars admits that he hopes to hear from more active Jehovah’s Witnesses than some of the other groups. That way he can get a better feel for what current rank and file JWs are really thinking.

One poster on that first thread suggested that Cedars try using the online polling services provided by Survey Monkey. Cedars took that suggestion, came up with a list of questions, and installed the poll on Survey Monkey. The first version of the Global Survey of Jehovah’s Witnesses 2011 was online and ready for business on September 21, 2011.

Initial Feedback

From the very beginning, reaction and support for the Global Survey was amazing. Within just three days over 400 visitors had logged in and answered the survey. Although the first responses to his survey tended to be very positive, there were a few who followed his forum thread with suspicions about his intentions. A few posters made serious accusations about both Cedars and his motives.

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Watchtower forgets that “Content is King”

Adapted from a post by “LostGeneration”

“Content is King” is a popular guideline to follow for those who run websites and mass communication outlets. It makes perfect sense, as demonstrated by sites like Jehovahs-Witness.net (and this one) that provide entertaining content for their targeted audiences. Even better, when content is added daily, users return repeatedly. Popular TV shows and movies are loved because they entertain customers with new content provided free or at low cost.

On the other hand, you have the content provided by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, delivered though the pages of the Watchtower and Awake! magazines and during their weekly meetings. Several recent threads on Jehovahs-Witness.net have discussed meetings and what value (or lack thereof) they offer to their audience. A recent thread by forum member “Flipper” discussed how the Watchtower Society constantly hammers meeting attendance on their “sheep.” It’s obvious that the leadership feels that too many Witnesses are skipping out on their spiritual food by missing meetings. However, there is a good reason for a lack of enthusiasm on the part of Jehovah’s Witnesses to show up for meetings at their local Kingdom Halls.

It’s the content of those meetings.

For years it’s been getting progressively worse. Those who actually attend are not learning anything new – only a constant rehash of everything they’ve already heard before. This is further complicated by the fact that Jehovah’s Witnesses are specifically told not to research the Bible without using Watchtower Society publications – meaning they only absorb the material they read through the rose-colored glasses of the Governing Body.

When they comment during the Watchtower or book study meetings, they are told that they should stick to the paragraph being read, not to add anything to the material, and not take up too much time. Even the Watchtower Study conductor (who used to have a little leeway in adding his own thoughts) has been reined in lately. They are told to “walk the line and keep your own input to a minimum.”

Sitting through a typical Watchtower Study…
httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KeidZmxHLiY

Adding to the problem is the business-like nature of the meetings. People going to church are looking for a “spiritual” experience, a connection with their God. During the 30-something years I went to meetings, I never once felt anything approaching a “spiritual connection” to a higher power. I felt like I was attending an annual corporate shareholders meeting, just with different people getting up on stage trying to explain God and His message – with very little passion in their minds or hearts.

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Are changes coming to the Watchtower?

Editor’s Note: Be sure to check out our new permanent page:
Changes and Challenges Facing the Watchtower.


I’ve been looking at the Watchtower from the outside the organization since the mid-1960s. As many former Jehovah’s Witnesses will attest, you can be away from the religion for many years, but somehow the effects of the cult continue to affect your life forever.

Now that I’ve been out for so many years, certain facts and truths about the Watchtower are clear as a bell to me. I don’t even think twice about them now. And yet I often wonder if I can see these things so clearly, why can’t those who are closer to the organization – those who live within its grasp every day of their lives – why can’t they see it even clearer than I?

Why can’t they find the facts about the Watchtower’s unsavory past? Facts are everywhere, including right in their own publications, CD libraries, and outside resources.

Why don’t they admit that they are bored and unsatisfied with the quality of their meetings, the writing style and depth of research found in their magazines and publications, and the actual amount of love and understanding they get from their local leaders?  Want an example of “boring”? Try listening (and singing) to the songs from their latest Kingdom Songbook.

Why do they allow themselves and their friends and family to be treated like the “sheep” they claim to be? They are often prodded, abused, and sheared by their shepherds – and then thrown to the wolves when they want to leave the flock.

Why do JWs continue to silently ignore the errors of the Watchtower’s teachings? Don’t they ever wonder why a college student can challenge and question a professor – someone obviously more educated than he – and yet not be afraid of being ejected from school? So why can’t Jehovah’s Witnesses question and challenge their leaders whenever something is confusing and just doesn’t ring true? Don’t they rate honest, quality answers to their questions from their “teachers”?

Why don’t JWs stop and consider why it is that the writers of the Watchtower publications, supposedly working under the inspiration of Jehovah’s holy spirit, always use terms like “apparently,” “perhaps,” and (their favorite at the moment) “evidently”? If the writers aren’t sure, perhaps they should save that article for a later date and publish it after they have gathered more specific information or received more “inspiration”?

The fact is that thousands of Jehovah’s Witnesses are leaving the religion every year, just as I did over 40 years ago. Many more want to leave, but are locked in because of the Watchtower’s cruel shunning rules.

It is also a fact that many finally get to a breaking point and leave anyway – if not physically – in mind and spirit. They just go through the motions, but they are not Jehovah’s Witnesses at heart. They are no longer afraid of “being destroyed at Armageddon” – because they know that Armageddon is just a myth. They will die, as we all must, but due to old age, natural causes or disease, or from an accident.  They realize that Jehovah will never drop an asteroid on their house or pick them out of a crowd and zap them with lightning.

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