“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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Kingdom Halls – Who owns them?

Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t “go to church;” they attend meetings at a “Kingdom Hall.” Unlike most traditional churches, Kingdom Halls do not have altars or Christian crosses (even though the JWs are “Christian”). You won’t find religious icons, paintings, or statues of Jesus, Mary, or any saints. Nor will you won’t find an orchestra pit or an area for a choir to sit. In fact, most Kingdom Halls won’t have an organ or even a piano.

Who owns this Kingdom Hall?

Kingdom Halls are never named or memorialized after anyone – even if someone donated the land and building.

My very first visit to a Kingdom Hall was in the fall of 1951. My family lived in West Los Angeles in a small rented home on South Bundy Drive. We’d only been studying for about a month when my mother and I went to our first meeting at the Venice Kingdom Hall. At that time it was located in a rented store front just a couple of miles west of our home.

We’d only been there a couple of times before we had to transfer to the “Mar Vista Congregation,” also in a small rented store just a few miles south of our home. Even though the Venice Kingdom Hall was closer to our home, this change was forced upon us because we were told that we “lived on the wrong side of the street that was the dividing line.”

In early 1953, just before we left to go to the International Convention in New York City, we moved back to our family home in Riverside, California. Because we lived near downtown in the “University District,” we were assigned to the Riverside Central Kingdom Hall, then at the corner of 5th and Park Ave. It had been a Pentecostal church at one time and the local congregation purchased it from the owners with a loan from one of the wealthier brothers. They maintained the hall and made payments to the brother by using local donations from the members.

Who owns this Kingdom Hall in California?

Once a month, near the end of the Thursday night Service Meeting, the Congregation Servant would read the Kingdom Hall’s Financial Report. (This was typical for all congregations during that era.) The report would account for all money taken in for literature, from the donation boxes, from private contributions, and from interest earned on bank accounts. We then heard a complete listing of all expenses: utilities, cleaning supplies, fire insurance, literature purchased from the Watchtower Society, reimbursed expenses, and money set aside for reserves. One of the items reported was the payment on the remaining Note on the Kingdom Hall.

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