Governing Body Admits Doubts Over New Headquarters Plans

By Cedars

The latest August 15th Study Edition of the Watchtower includes a 4-page review from the annual meeting of the Watch Tower, Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania.

Despite admitting uncertainty over God's backing, the Governing Body are forging ahead with a costly building project

An interesting insight was given into the Governing Body’s plans to build a new world headquarters complex in Warwick, upstate New York. It was particularly interesting to note the uncertainty shrouding these plans, and the Governing Body’s eagerness to proceed regardless – despite the supposed urgency of the times in which we are living.

After showing delegates a video of various Society-owned sites at Wallkill, Patterson, Warwick and Tuxedo, Governing Body member Guy Pierce spoke of plans to build a 248-acre property at Warwick, saying: “Although we are not yet certain of Jehovah’s will regarding Warwick, we are proceeding to develop the site with the intention of relocating the world headquarters of Jehovah’s Witnesses there.”

Guy Pierce confessed "we are not yet certain of Jehovah's will regarding Warwick"

Many Jehovah’s Witnesses who are familiar with the role and function of the Governing Body will doubtless be bewildered at the above comments. Though candid, their statements reveal a Governing Body that is willing to forge ahead with lengthy, elaborate and costly construction projects at a time of supposed urgency, despite admitting uncertainty over Jehovah’s will in this regard.

After outlining further plans to develop a 50-acre site for the “staging of machinery and building material,” Pierce revealed: “Once construction is permitted, we hope to complete the entire project within four years. Then our property in Brooklyn can be sold.” Ironically, a construction project is already underway for a new 300-room residence building at Walkill – scheduled for completion in 2014 – a year that will mark 100 years of the “short period of time” mentioned at Revelation 12:12.

And so, a four-year building project to build a new multi-million dollar world headquarters is also about to get underway, despite professed doubts over Jehovah’s backing, and the immense time and costs involved in the undertaking. Pierce acknowledged the irony of such a lengthy project being launched when the world is supposedly on the verge of Armageddon, saying: “Has the Governing Body changed its mind about the closeness of the great tribulation? Not at all. If the great tribulation interrupts our plans, that will be wonderful, absolutely wonderful!”

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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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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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“Seeds of dissent” against the Governing Body?


Editor’s Note: I just received the following news release announcing an attempt to organize an underground movement of Jehovah’s Witnesses who want a voice in how they are treated by their own religion. Ever since “Brother Siam” wrote and submitted his “Open Letter to the Governing Body” back in January, the level of dissent has grown, led by a small group of Witnesses who are hoping to find a way to get the leaders of the Watchtower Society to take note of their honest concerns and act on them in a positive way. Although it is clear that many ex-Jehovah’s Witnesses and non Witness critics will back this new movement, what has surprised observers is the amount of support apparently coming from many who identify themselves as “active” rank and file JWs. It’s clear from the recent chatter on message boards and forums frequented by both active and former JWs that there is a growing level of honest and intelligent concern about the direction the Governing Body is taking. This applies not only to the Governing Body’s questionable religious teachings, but also a growing rebellion against the way local elders and publishers are being affected by the hard-line policies recently laid down by Watchtower headquarters. Follow the links listed in the news release and you will soon find dozens of threads and comments on this new movement.


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 27, 2011

Seeds of Dissent Appear
Within the Jehovah’s Witness Religion

Jehovah’s Witnesses are widely known as Bible carrying door-to-door evangelists with an unusual religious doctrine. They are the kids in your class who refuse to salute the flag or the co-worker who refuses to sing “Happy Birthday” at an office birthday party. This group is also known for their frequently shifting doctrinal stances on a number of important issues, including blood transfusions and Armageddon.

This religious group of over 7 million followers is led by a self-appointed committee of seven older men headquartered in Brooklyn, NY (USA). It is from there that the committee, known simply as the “Governing Body,” issues organizational and doctrinal direction for the entire Watchtower organization. Jehovah’s Witnesses are expected to follow direction coming from Brooklyn without question. Recently though, there has been increasing concern within the rank and file of the organization about the tone and content of the directives and teachings coming from this group of seven men.

Jehovah’s Witnesses are expected to have unity and harmony of thought and understanding of their unique teachings. To accomplish this, a strict regimen of education is used worldwide with 100,000 plus congregations studying the same catechistic material every week.  Individuals who no longer hold fast to every unique doctrine are quickly expelled from the congregations and shunned by their family and friends.  Some Witnesses are expelled because they speak out against practices and policies of the Governing Body.

This practice of enforcing unity through ad hominem attacks and threats of expulsion has resulted in a subculture of dissenters within the ranks. These individuals generally remain anonymous out of fear of excommunication, but include former and active Elders of the Congregation, as well as Circuit and District representatives.  They’ve resorted to making their concerns known though surreptitious methods on Internet message boards, through email, and in conversations with trusted friends.

Recently an Elder resigned as an Overseer and then wrote an “Open Letter to the Governing Body” of Jehovah’s Witnesses. In his letter he lays out the reasons he resigned as an Elder. They include “promotion of false prophecy,” and policies of hiding child molesters within the organization.  This letter was posted online at Ex-JW.com and Jehovahs-Witness.net. The response to his letter has been overwhelming from active Witnesses who agree with the sentiments expressed by this ex-Elder.

Several individuals have taken this letter of dissent and used it to start a campaign to reach as many active Witnesses as possible.  This caught the attention of the Governing Body who, instead of trying to respond publicly to the very real issues posed in the elder’s letter, have instead sent “cease and desist” letters to the email host of the campaigners.  The letter has also struck a chord with some Witnesses who also feel that the Governing Body is acting in an hypocritical and corrupt manner, promoting the interpretations and policies of men as “the sayings of God.”

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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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Watchtower’s Pecking Order

Adapted from a post by “Mad Sweeney”

Let’s face it: The Watchtower Society is really just a big publishing corporation that happens to print and distribute religious literature. Like any corporation, it has an “organization chart” that outlines its structure, showing the various levels and what they are supposed to do. Each level supervises the level below and reports to the level above. By looking at the organization chart, you can tell “who does what to whom.” The Watchtower Society calls each of its organizational levels “classes.”

Over the history of the Watchtower, the leaders have defined so many levels and rankings that now they’ve given up trying to use the word “classes” to describe them anymore. Let me help you understand how the organization is supposed to work.

Heavenly Headquarters

At the very top you have, of course, JEHOVAH. Being “Almighty God,” He is nominally in charge of everything but doesn’t actually do anything.

Reporting only to Jehovah and in second position, you have “The Now Reigning King,” JESUS CHRIST – who, like Jehovah, is supposedly in charge of everything – but also doesn’t actually do anything.

Next in line are those of the 144,000 ANOINTED who have already died and been resurrected to heaven. They are in place and waiting to rule as “kings and priests” for a thousand years. Like their brother Jesus, and Father Jehovah, these ANOINTED also have nothing to do at present.

Earthly Headquarters

Down here on Earth, the leaders of the organization are the legal CORPORATE OFFICERS and ATTORNEYS for the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society. Besides being visible, this group is the first that actually does anything as you head down the Kingdom’s corporate ladder. These are the guys who decide what the “Governing Body” can and will tell the all other Jehovah’s Witnesses what they are supposed to do. Although these guys are human and therefore “visible,” for the most part they try to hide in the background and remain “invisible” as much as possible.

Supposedly “in charge” is the GOVERNING BODY. These seven men sort of do some things. For example, every Wednesday morning they meet for a couple of hours. They talk about the work their committees are doing and then decide to agree that the status quo is treating them all pretty well. If they’re feeling saucy (or mischievous), they may discuss some “new light” to spring on rank and file Jehovah’s Witnesses later in the year. They will then commission someone in the “Service Department” to put this “new light” into a talk outline – or have the “Writing Department” include it in a Watchtower or Awake! magazine article. Otherwise, the members of the Governing Body spend their time rubber-stamping orders from the corporate types above them or suggestions from the Department Heads below.

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