A week ago this website covered the leaking of several videos that were used during a recent “Kingdom Ministry School” – a special training event to which only elders are invited. The videos were apparently leaked by Spanish-speaking elders.
Two of the videos showed Governing Body members Anthony Morris and Stephen Lett reminding elders to be “obedient” and “decisive” in carrying out their duties.
The other 42-minute video was a dramatization showing a young man coming forward and confessing fornication to his elders before finally being disfellowshipped.
The trouble was, the disfellowshipping video had been completely dubbed over in Spanish, making it difficult for non-Spanish speakers to get a proper grasp of what was happening. As a result, a few days ago two friends of mine set to work on creating an English transcript with a view to releasing a subtitled version of the video on JWsurvey.
As much as their efforts were appreciated, you can imagine my surprise and delight when, completely out of the blue, I received an email from a Watchtower insider offering to send me the English version of the film. This person didn’t like the thought of us exerting efforts making subtitles when we could have the original.
An interesting email dialogue ensued resulting in my contact sending not just the English disfellowshipping video but also a previously unknown video instructing elders on how to go about “shepherding” a suicidal widow.
To view an ASL version of the above video, click here.
Spurred on by hypocrisy
The main reason given by my source for sending the judicial committee video was his indignation at the hypocrisy shown by the Governing Body through its judicial policies.
As my source pointed out, the Governing Body has been allowed to repeatedly make all manner of mistakes over the decades, many of which have far-reaching consequences. But they always shield themselves from the fall-out from their own errors, or from taking responsibility for their actions.
Meanwhile, if a Witness comes forward honestly confessing some indiscretion he is leapt upon and potentially given the worst possible punishment – estrangement from his family.
In the case of the disfellowshipping video, a young man named Robbie confesses to fornication in a one-night stand, blaming a “worldly” girl for having “seduced” him using, erm… her aquarium (don’t ask!).
Robbie initially covers up the fact that he has been having sex on numerous occasions with the same girl over the past two months, but this detail is later revealed following persistent questioning from the elders. It becomes obvious that the main motivation for Robbie in his concealment of the full extent of his actions is his intense fear of Watchtower’s shunning policy and its consequences on his family and friends.
The video also goes to great lengths to remind elders that any elders who can be identified as being friends with the wrongdoer are not to be considered suitable for serving on the judicial committee. The reason? Elders need to be “objective.” The idea is that if an elder is good friends with the accused he could be biased, and would likely not reach the correct decision EVEN if he is not a relative.
Watchtower doesn’t want too much mercy being shown in these situations.
It is also painfully obvious when watching the video that Watchtower values its elitist “eyes only” approach to disseminating information. Elders are shown consulting their Shepherd books while Robbie is not in the room in order to decide on his fate. Moments before Robbie is due to walk in the room they put their books away – books containing rules that he is not privy to, but which affect him profoundly.
As I pointed out in my previous article – how can secret information affecting all but available to only a privileged elite be biblically justified?
Disfellowshipping video – Part 1
Disfellowshipping video – Part 2
Dangerously negligent instructions
But perhaps more disturbing was another video sent to me, also utilized during the Kingdom Ministry School and replete with similarly horrendous acting. This second video depicts the ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ way of shepherding a woman in the congregation who has been recently widowed.
Unfortunately, though the latter depiction is supposed to be the correct approach, thinking viewers will be horrified at the negligent way the woman is handled by her elders using the “Watchtower-approved” technique.
Two elders arrange to visit the woman named Mary after she tearfully approaches one of them at the end of the meeting. Before the visit, the elders meet together to strategize over what they will say.
The older of the two decides that the visit will be all about convincing Mary to be an “integrity keeper” (a loyal Witness), and this is exactly how the resulting discussion pans out.
At the start of the visit Mary reveals that she is so desperate following the loss of her husband, Don, that she has been contemplating suicide. She even has a plan involving asphyxiating herself in her garage using exhaust fumes.
This should set off major alarm bells for most thinking persons with one iota of common sense. If a person has sunk to such desperation that they have planned the manner of their death, surely they are urgently in need of help that only professionals can provide?
So, what advice do the elders offer?
First, the older elder lectures Mary about Job and how this bible figure set the example as an integrity keeper. The elder insists that Job had just as many reasons to be “messed up” as Mary, and gives a perplexing illustration involving a needle going “into the red” to show the difficulty of Job’s situation.
Mary is then told to repeatedly chant “I am an integrity keeper, I am an integrity keeper” next time her suicidal thoughts surface. She is also advised to “read a little from the Psalms,” and equate suicidal ideas with immoral thoughts.
Finally the other elder bizarrely gives Mary a homework assignment, as though she is some kind of errant school child. She is told to memorize a certain verse in Jeremiah as yet another form of incantation for the next time she is feeling suicidal.
Armed with this outrageous pseudo-psychiatry, Mary excuses herself from the conversation to get some cookies for the elders. The older elder seemingly takes this as a sign that they have done their jobs well and mouths “thank you Jehovah” heavenward as the other elder looks on.
I realise the above sounds too ludicrous to be true, but this is really how the video plays out. The Governing Body seriously expects its elders to handle such delicate life-or-death matters in this way.
Elders are not to give out numbers for suicide hotlines or encourage a suicidal person to seek professional help. Instead they are to give bible-based lectures, urge the uttering of incantations, and hand out homework assignments.
These videos show only too clearly why Watchtower, so hopelessly out of touch, is having an increasing problem maintaining its organizational solidarity. As mentioned in my previous article on this matter, the Governing Body cannot claim the total loyalty and respect of elders and bethelites while a small number continue to defy them by leaking their nonsense for the world to see.
I sincerely thank my contact within the organization for following his instincts and realizing that this material needs a wider audience. Hopefully, as more damaging material seeps out of Watchtower’s porous walls, more thinking Witnesses will realize just how unworthy the Governing Body are of their blind loyalty and obedience.
Special thanks to my contact, as well as to Daniel Ward and Adriana Wolmers-Petty even though their hard work eventually wasn’t needed.
UPDATE:- As expected, on Feb 21 2014 Watchtower had its leaked instructional videos removed from this page through a complaint to Vimeo. The videos have since been re-embedded from a different third-party host. Below is a screenshot of the email received by JWsurvey for one of the videos to prove that Watchtower does NOT want the above “spiritual food” to be viewed by all Witnesses.