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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The Watchtower redefines a “generation”

Before getting too far into this subject, I’d like to make a prediction:

Ten years from now, when you ask Jehovah’s Witnesses why the Watchtower changed its teachings about “this generation will not pass away” in April 2010, they will have no memory of the release of this “new light” – and many will simply deny that it ever happened.Generation Truth Book

Or, it is more than likely that there will be NEW “new light” released between now and then that will change the Watchtower’s teaching on this subject once again.

Back to the new “generation” teaching in just a moment, but first I want to remind my readers about a similar situation involving the Watchtower’s promotion of “1975” as the year that Armageddon would begin.

From late 1967 until the end of the year 1975, that’s all you heard from the Watchtower and Awake! It was the only thing that every Jehovah’s Witness you knew or met on the street wanted to talk about. “Stay alive till ’75!” was a common greeting among the Witnesses at meetings and conventions. Everyone – from Circuit Overseers to the late Fred Franz, (then the Vice-President of the Society) – urged rank and file Jehovah’s Witnesses to set aside their plans and reschedule their lives for events that they were assured would come in 1975.

Witness families and individuals moved from their homes to “go where the need is greater.” Young people completely gave up their plans to go to college or to prepare for a career. Some canceled marriage plans, or put off having children, because they were so sure that Armageddon was coming by 1975. They heard comments like, “we’re not talking years, we’re talking months…” from high-ranking Watchtower leaders.  Comments and speculation about “1975” was a part of almost every Witness conversation.

When 1975 came and went and life went on pretty much as before, the Watchtower first denied that it had ever promoted that particular year as anything special. In fact, it actually accused the rank and file in local congregations of spreading that rumor and only imagining that the leadership in Bethel had promoted the idea – because it was they who wanted to believe that 1975 would see the start of Armageddon. The Governing Body claimed that the suggestion that 1975 was anything special never received any direct encouragement from the Watchtower Society.

Of course, everyone knew that was a lie, but like sheep, the rank and file simply accepted the responsibility for the failure of 1975 and then refused to challenge the Watchtower’s accusation that they had “run ahead of Jehovah.”

It took a few years, but the Watchtower eventually accepted some (but not all) of the responsibility for that false prophecy it had so eagerly promoted. The leadership still refused to make amends to all those faithful followers and their families who suffered by quitting good jobs or selling their homes at a discount. Nothing could be done for those who put off their personal plans for going to college, getting married, or having kids. I guess that as far as the Watchtower Society was concerned, that was just bad luck for them…

All along the Watchtower has continued to remind Jehovah’s Witnesses that “this generation (those that lived during 1914) would not pass” until all of their “end-of-this-system-of-things” prophecies were fulfilled.

In April (2010) that will all officially change – along with the Watchtower’s definition of the word “generation.”

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Religion Makes Me Sad

By Moxie [reprinted with author’s permission – link to original article]

FrustrationI clearly remember my days as a bible-thumping Jehovah’s Witness, looking forward to the End of the World with ill-concealed glee. Of course there was always underlying trepidation which came from hoping that I’d done enough to be found worthy of God’s salvation.

But in spite of that, the end of the world was something that was vividly imaginable. Illustrations in the Watchtower literature depicted violent scenes of God’s wrath dealt upon on wicked mankind, usually with a small group of happy, smiling people (Jehovah’s Witnesses) simply walking away from it all.

As a young, impressionable woman I could picture myself as one of those people. Someone who had been delivered from all of the world’s suffering and pain, and about to embark on an historic journey to a paradise earth, just like God originally intended.

I have come across many others of different faiths who similarly look forward to God’s “day of divine vengeance.” Instead of believing that they will continue to reside on the Earth, these people more commonly look forward to deliverance into heaven after God literally destroys the planet. Regardless of the religion, images of the destruction at Armageddon are common and grotesque.

But what about all those poor souls who are destined to meet an untimely end? Did I really think about them? Was I joyful at the prospect of their horrific destruction as the Watchtower told me I should be? It was hard not to notice the artist’s depiction, which was often so detailed that it revealed tears streaming down the faces of the condemned, or bleeding gashes and cuts, people holding and weeping over the lifeless bodies of their loved ones.

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