Is Watchtower imploding? 10 reasons why the end could be nigh
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Are we witnessing the beginning of the end for Watchtower?

Are we witnessing the beginning of the end for Watchtower?

For many current and former Jehovah’s Witnesses who find themselves victimized by Watchtower’s cruel cult-like practices, the prospect of witnessing the end of the organization seems too good to be true.

Especially when you have spent many years being sold false promises of extraordinary future events, it’s understandable that you would be wary of getting your hopes up over something as significant as the downfall of the organization that misled you.

I obviously won’t make you any promises, because I have learned to be extremely cautious of wishful thinking in all its forms. But when I look at what is going on with Watchtower, I see an organization falling from grace at a rate faster than I could have ever reasonably envisaged.

The latest evidence of the organization’s free-fall comes in the shape of a letter to all elders in the United States branch territory, dated July 8, 2015. You can read about Watchtower’s new “master plan” yourself, but essentially it adds a further caveat to their smash-and-grab, stealth-tithing maneuvers from last year. (Thanks go to JWleaks.org for first making this letter available.)*

The new letter essentially says to publishers (or doesn’t say to publishers, because it’s an elders-only letter): “Not only are we going to make you promise to send us money every month for maintaining a kingdom hall that isn’t owned by you in any meaningful sense, we are also warning you that we might sell your kingdom hall, pocket the proceeds, and send you to go share someone else’s kingdom hall while STILL taking your money for the kingdom hall we’ve just sold.”

Rather than write an exhaustive summary of the letter, and re-hash points I have already made on this matter from previous articles, I thought I would take a different approach by adding this latest development to my list of 10 reasons why I believe Watchtower COULD be about to implode. Here goes…

1. Jehovah’s Witnesses are becoming a toxic brand

toxic-brand

The internet is more hostile than ever regarding Jehovah’s Witnesses. As the world becomes more aware of the cult phenomenon (thanks in part to the success of documentaries like HBO’s “Going Clear” film about Scientology) journalists are becoming less squeamish when it comes to highlighting the cult-attributes of the organization in newspaper articles and news broadcasts.

Ex-Witnesses have already turned YouTube into a no-go zone for believing Witnesses, and continue to explore ingenious strategies for reaching out to those under Watchtower’s spell. Even non-Witness blogs like Hemant Mehta’s Friendly Atheist are now rallying to the ex-JW cause and becoming increasingly vocal about the organization’s harmful practices. All this means it is harder than ever for Witnesses to find new converts, and easier than ever for Witnesses to wake up.

2. Less “spiritual food” is being printed

spiritual-food

The wafer-thin magazines on the literature carts testify to a huge drop in printed output of 39% for monthly magazine printing since 2005. If God’s one true organization is flourishing, why has it so drastically scaled down on its “spiritual food?” The simple truth is, printing is expensive. VERY expensive. A good gauge of prosperity for any printing organization is its printed output. If a printing company has a problem, it will print less stuff. That is exactly what we have already been seeing for some time with Watchtower.

3. Globally, the organization is in retreat

retreat

Watchtower has been shutting down branches at a rate never before seen, with branch numbers plummeting from 118 in 2009 to just 90 as of last year. The organization used to pride itself on its global footprint, and would herald the dedication of new branches as evidence of God’s backing for the global preaching work. Now Watchtower is in open retreat, using single branches to run the affairs of multiple countries. RTOs, or “Remote Translation Offices” (think of an RTO as a Bethel-lite), are seen as a way of keeping some kind of presence in far-flung territories, but the glory days of Watchtower’s relentless global expansion are fast disappearing in the rear view mirror.

4. The begging has started

begging

For the first time in the organization’s history, the Governing Body openly admitted to a shortfall in needed funds in the May 2015 JW Broadcasting episode. This unprecedented move was made despite Watchtower making 1 Billion from selling off its Brooklyn portfolio ($375 million in one transaction alone), which could indicate the Brooklyn proceeds have already been spent. After all, when there is zero accounting transparency, we have no way of knowing how indebted the organization is. No amount of revenue from property sales will be much use to Watchtower if it is all getting sucked into a bottomless pit of accumulated debt.

5. The stealth tithing has started

tithing

Expect an organization in financial peril to desperately claw around for ways of bringing in more cash from available assets. In Watchtower’s case, they are prevented from demanding money from individual members, because this would be classed as “tithing” – a practice associated with false religion that the organization has condemned since its inception. What Watchtower CAN do is tithe, not individuals, but congregations. This is precisely what the new “Local Design/Construction” arrangement has achieved.

Last year elders were forced to promise a fixed amount to be donated to Watchtower every month from their congregation account, based on (1) what the congregation was already sending for paying off a building/renovation loan, or (2) anonymous slips of paper passed around so that publishers could indicate what they could afford to pledge. Congregations were even told to send any surplus funds squirreled away for a rainy day to Watchtower, leaving just $5,000 plus three months’ worth of regular operating expenses.

Amazingly, the majority of Witnesses continue to be oblivious to what amounts to a smash-and-grab, and are instead under the assumption that Watchtower has mercifully forgiven all kingdom hall building loans.

6. Kingdom hall ‘mergers’ are in store

fuel-in-car

As already mentioned, Watchtower has instructed all United States elders as of July 8, 2015 to be ready for their congregation to be re-assigned to a different kingdom hall if the organization’s new “master plan” deems this necessary. The letter marks the green light for the downsizing we are already seeing at branch level to be soon rolled out at congregation level, and is again clear evidence that Watchtower is desperate to claw in money wherever it can and become a smaller, more financially nimble organization.

The end game would be kingdom hall multiplexes in city-center locations shared by five or more congregations – a far cry from the parochial feel older Witnesses will be accustomed to.

As delightful as it is to think of such a huge regression in the local presence of the organization, you can’t help but feel bad for all those long-standing Witnesses who have donated thousands over the years under the false assumption that they were responsible for their local kingdom hall’s upkeep. Soon, for all their kindness and generosity, such ones may face lengthy and costly car journeys to intimidating, soulless, inconvenient city-center locations allocated to them by Watchtower.

7. Personnel are being jettisoned

kicked-out

Last year district overseers received the unwelcome news that their positions no longer existed, and they were surplus to requirements. Though some will have been demoted down to circuit overseer rank, the majority will have been jettisoned by the organization to fend for themselves – an entire strata of the organization’s hierarchy dissolved, and deemed no longer serviceable or cost-effective.

In a similarly unceremonious manner, workers at branch offices subject to closure by Watchtower have been cast adrift, with years or even decades of loyal service apparently counting for very little in the organization’s quest to make ends meet. The recently-emerged story of a Wallkill bethelite who was virtually thrown out on the street due to “cutbacks” suggests that the organization’s top brass have no qualms when it comes to wielding the axe. Bethelites in Watchtower’s heartland would do well to watch their backs and plan for the worst as the organization looks to slash spending wherever it can.

8. The secret weapons have failed

secret-weapon

Despite all the fanfare and hype, JW.org has been unable to attract internet-savvy non-Witnesses – its main target audience. It is, quite literally, preaching to the converted. The 2015 Yearbook boasted that JW.org received 850,000,000+ total visits in the first two years from Aug 27, 2012 to Aug 31, 2014. This figure sounds impressive until you factor in the number of Jehovah’s Witnesses – 8 million. Assuming every active Witness visits their own website at least once per week, you arrive at only a slightly lower figure of 832,000,000 visits over the two years (8,000,000 x 52 x 2).

And despite succeeding in making the organization more visible, there has been no notable increase in baptisms in the two years since the literature carts (or “metropolitan witnessing”) program was launched. After all, getting literature into someone’s hands won’t stop them going on the internet and fact-checking when they get home. And that’s assuming anyone is interested in approaching the carts to begin with. In this Guardian article, the reporter watched some carts in a busy part of London for an hour, and the only person who approached the Witnesses did so because they needed directions.

9. The child abuse floodgates have opened

flood

As was predicted at the time, there has been a relentless stream of child abuse lawsuits filed against Watchtower since the 2012 Candace Conti verdict. In 2013, a year on from the Conti judgment, lawyer Irwin Zalkin told me he had no less than 11 lawsuits on his books. Though many such lawsuits end up being settled, the success of the Jose Lopez case and the recent victory in London’s High Court have shown that if child abuse victims are willing to dig their heels in and stay the course they can have, not only compensation, but justice served.

All of this doesn’t bode well for an organization already under fire for its cult-like shunning practices and death-dealing prohibitions on blood transfusions. And apart from the atrocious reputation, with well-informed journalists like Trey Bundy spelling out the problems of organizational mishandling in the media, the money for paying off multi-million judgments and out-of-court settlements has to come from somewhere.

Even if the Governing Body sent a long-overdue letter out tomorrow FINALLY telling elders to report all child abuse accusations straight to the police, Watchtower would still have to answer to the backlog of lawsuits from victims who suffered while the two-witness rule was (is) still in place. Such victims may well have only a finite window of opportunity to get ANY money out of Watchtower at all.

10. Watchtower doesn’t have a PR strategy

head-in-sand

You’re an international, faith-based non-profit organization with a toxic brand both on the internet and in the media. Fewer people from wealthy, developed countries with internet are joining you, and thus donations are dwindling. For all the evangelizing and promotional work of your members, a few clicks on Google can completely dismantle your organization’s message. To make matters worse, you have mounting legal costs and settlements to pay for out of an ever-diminishing revenue stream. What you urgently need is a good PR strategy to make it easier to bring in fresh converts (and their donations) – but even here Watchtower is almost comically inept.

The organization’s PR strategy is essentially two-fold: (1) bury your head in the sand and hope your opposers eventually get bored and go away, or (2) refute the claims made by your opposers using outright lies (*cough* Rick Fenton). Both of these methods may help the likes of Tony Morris get to sleep at night in the short-term, but ultimately they are self-defeating. To neutral observers, silence is incriminating when damning allegations are on the table – especially related to harming children. And when you flat out lie about your damaging policies and teachings, you only give critics like me more rope to hang you with.

The only workable strategy Watchtower can pursue at this stage is one of reform, but past experience shows that any form of “compromise” is seen by the Governing Body as capitulation to Satan’s hordes. In short, Watchtower is sinking because its deluded leaders are their own worst enemies.

What does the future hold?

I do not for one moment suggest that we will see an end to Jehovah’s Witnesses as a religion in our lifetimes. The fact that there continues to be such a thing as the bible students, who still cling to Charles Taze Russell and his discredited, outlandish teachings, tells us that religions have amazing survival abilities even when members are deprived of their leadership. Faith, after all, is a product of people’s minds. When enough people believe the same unsubstantiated thing you have a religion, regardless of whether there is a person or organization to lead it.

But while religions are virtually indestructible, corporations are not. Non-profit organizations like Watchtower are just as capable of getting into debt as any other business. And when your bank manager starts bankruptcy proceedings against you because you can no longer service your debts, it’s game over.

The organization's glory days are already behind it

The organization’s glory days are already behind it

Those who suggest Watchtower is too big and successful to go down need only look at the fact that it has already been shrinking since it reached its zenith (in terms of branches and printing operations) some time between 2005 and 2010. Add to that the desperate clawing for cash over the five years since then, and you have the omens of an organizational collapse.

The winds of change have completely overtaken Watchtower in the internet age, and the Governing Body find themselves in a whole different ball game to their predecessors. If things are really as bad as I suspect, Watchtower needs to drastically downscale its operations to, say, a handful of branches and zero printing. In other words, it needs to become like its noisy neighbor Scientology, which despite having only 50,000-or-so members (and an even worse reputation) still has an impressive portfolio of valuable property scattered across the globe and minimal overheads compared to Watchtower.

But any downsizing of that magnitude would send Watchtower into an even more vicious spiral, in which it would start hemorrhaging even the most diehard members. After all, when you have spent decades pointing to your success as evidence of divine backing, how do you explain any sudden, sharp decline?

If Watchtower were to go bankrupt, it could always try claiming that the Great Tribulation has begun and Satan’s minions (their creditors) have started overtly attacking God’s people, but this simply will not wash with more intelligent Witnesses. Whatever is left of the organization (perhaps re-branded to ditch the Watchtower name entirely while retaining the Governing Body at the helm) would have a huge exodus on its hands.

It is precisely because of all the pride at stake that, in my mind, a sudden implosion seems increasingly plausible. Unlike ordinary commercial organizations who have the flexibility to change their size and scope according to the prevailing conditions, “God’s organization” can only be seen by its members to be going in an upwards trajectory for its grandiose claims of divine direction to have any credence. Any noticeable regression would rightly be interpreted as evidence of God’s favor being absent. Thus any problems would be allowed to accumulate behind closed doors until they reach a critical mass.

Of course I could be wrong, but if that is so then Watchtower is doing an awful lot of begging and downsizing for no particular reason, and with far too much to lose by doing so. It could well be that some incredible developments are ahead as Watchtower’s predicament further deteriorates, and the Governing Body slowly discovers that Jehovah isn’t coming to the rescue after all. I had better get on with writing my book while there is still an organization to write about.

 

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Translations: Spanish | French | Hungarian

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165 Responses to Is Watchtower imploding? 10 reasons why the end could be nigh

  1. nevermind says:

    I am a former, born into, X JW.
    The organization is a joke, as a whole and has such power over members. There are many good, sincere people that are JW’s but, are so brainwashed they will never change.
    I love my parents very much and I know they believed the right thing was raising me as a witness.
    Since I left, BEST CHOICE EVER MADE, they still hope I’ll
    come back before the END.

    Here is a list for those not sure if the WBTC is true, or false.

    Why have their own Bible translation?????????
    Why no transfusions, abstain from animal blood, eating it, not saving a life.
    Why are some bible verses translated to English and not others, example sheole, or however its spelled is in English, HELL!!!!!!!!
    Why are some scriptures figurative and others decided not.
    Example, Gnashing of teeth, not quench of thurst tormented day and night. ya its sleeping in the grave for wicked people, really?????????
    And the Cross, it’s states you will see the marks of nails in his hands. sounds like more then one nail for both hands.
    It’s historically documented people were crucified by romans using crosses. Other people besides Romans did this.
    and finally this good news of the kingdom preached in all the earth.
    There are virtually Bibles available in most of the world.
    And other religious groups are helping its distribution.
    Where in the Bible did it say that JW articles will reach all the earth and then the end will come.

    Pray is the only advice to give. I thanks our Lord Jesus opening my eyes

  2. alex says:

    I have now read several of your articles and must say they are well thought out and articulate. I am a Geologist and therefore a scientist. Therefore I have been trained to test out any argument set forth as fact. I agree with you and your arguments. I don’t find them to be filled with emotional tirades but actual fact. So thanks. By the way I am a JW and your are expressing arguments that I have had for a long time. I am a six generation JW so I’m sure you can appreciate my quandary. THANKS again.

    • FactsNotFiction says:

      Hi Alex

      Its great to here from someone like yourself. I am not a scientist myself but I am an electronics engineer working in particle physics (Linear Accelerator Engineer) I work with physicists and have worked with geneticists from a computer networking standpoint. My son is currently taking a Physics Degree at University. My guess is like me you have wrestled with the scientific contradictions all your life. I can not count the number of years I spent trying to find evidence of the flood only to finally come to the conclusion, and accept that it just didn’t happen!!! It’s a MYTH!!. The interesting thing from your comment is that you say you are a geologist. Whilst visiting Las Vages on a business trip a few years ago, I went to the grand canyon (Absolutly staggereing!!!) That got me looking into geology and in fact only a couple of days ago I was reading about the formation of the canyon again and the timescales involved. There are many reasons why I stopped being a JW after nearly 50 years but science played a big part in it. I wonder as a geologist how do you fit what you have learned accademically with what JW’s and in fact other creationist religions teach. You must be wrestling with similar issues as myself, and I know it is still not easy to walk away after years of indoctrination from childhood despite all the evidence screaming at you. I would love to here more from you. I have spent a lot of time studying all aspects of science starting with DNA from about 25 years ago but strangely it was actually the Historical evidence about the 607bc date and the deliberate lies that the organisation put out about it that finally did it for me. That was mainly due to my son who also studied History at School and was very strict about thorough research. Anyway it would be great to here any comments you have on such things, as it is difficult to find anyone in JW land who will discuss things at this level. They dont tend to go deep into anything which was always very frustrating for me.

    • Winston Smith says:

      @alex and FactsNotFiction,
      I am likewise employed in the applied sciences field and I am currently pursuing graduate studies in my field. So much of what you both said resonated with me. For years I tried to find scientific evidence for the Watchtower’s claims about history, archeology, geology, etc., and simply came up dry. The 607 debacle played a part in my awakening as well as the JW attempts to rewrite their own history.

      Similar to Alex, I was fifth generation with family members (now deceased) who were acquainted with Russell and Rutherford. As such, most of my family are still in and shun me (even though I merely faded, not DF’d or DA’d). I have a handful of relatives who have woken up and we try to support one another as we may, although it’s not easy to do because of the other family members who are still in.

      WS

      • factsnotfiction says:

        Hi Winston

        I too am neither DF’d or DA’d just faded. Although Elders are aware of my views there has been no attempt to shun me as far as I am aware. My own ‘in’ family is small and my parents are not the type to take shunning that seriously despite my father being an elder. It was never that kind of congregation.  

        My parents joined in the late sixties when I was about 5. Cold war was at its peak and they were expecting to be nuked at any minute. My Mum, with a young family was desperately looking for answers… There was a knock at the door…! Of course you know how that went!

        I wasted a lot of my childhood and school time waiting for Armageddon to come any day soon. By age 14 I realized that maybe I should put some effort in towards an education. Fortunately my parents had no problems with me going to college, but I had lost a lot of time up to then.

        My wife is still in and so we don’t talk about it. Her family is bigger and all born in, but have largely all left except her mother and one sister. This religion pretty much broke up her entire family. Her mother had a bad marriage and they all suffered as a consequence, no education etc. Despite there not being any shunning it has still wrecked everything as no one has anything in common. There is very little contact anymore.

        I gave the religion too much latitude I think as far as the science is concerned. Brushing my doubts under the carpet because I accepted that they were not scientists so I allowed for their mistakes and misunderstandings. But as I said in my previous comment it was when I turned to their history, and starting with the 607 issue and then  went on through 100 years of lies and deceit. For that I could not forgive them! They have no excuse for that! It was partly triggered by that history DVD that they released. That was a mistake for them. It stirred my interest to look into their history a lot deeper than I had ever done before.  The stuff I learned after only a little research, all deliberately hidden from us. arrrg!! The house of cards fell quickly after that.

        Interestingly I have just finished reading ‘1984’. Wow! did they base the whole organization on that book. It’s like they used it as a template. I new a lot of similarities had been drawn from it but did not realize how the organization resembled it so closely, right up to the end when Winston and Julia start shunning each other. Unbelievable.

  3. Donald Brown says:

    What amazes me about all of this is that the organization that has bosted for so many years of being Gods sole channel of communication on Earth is having to deal with truly human issues that actually help to prove that this organization isn’t God’s organization on Earth.

    When you consider all the lies, deceptions, and odd practices of this organization, I do beleive that we all knew that this was coming. Just the mere fact that the truth about the Jehovah’s Witnesses is all over sites like YouTube and even on many blogs shows the dramatic decline in overall membership and conversions into the religion.

    Even if the organization were to disolve there would still be splinter groups that will still meet, not in kingdom halls, but in individual homes in the form of so-called Bible studies, and who knows, maybe another ratical movement will start up sponning the development of yet another cult-like religion fassioned out of the odd and strange beliefs of either a single individual, or group of individuals who hope to get the movement off the ground and running.

    I do believe that since the dawn of the Internet, the Jehovah’s Witnesses as a whole saw this coming down the pipe, but were unable to really do anything about it. However, in the early days, it was possible to keep things at a so-called hush, but as more and more people defected from the religion, the truth slowly came out until we have what we have right now, overwhelming evidence of much wrong doing by this terrible organization.

    Even their very history was pretty much hidden from most of the witnesses because at one time, the organization could just change their doctrins, and say that they had received new light. However, once the Internet became more prevalant in people’s lives both at home, and via mobile, it was inevitable that the full truth of their history would eventually come out.

    Even many of the older Watchtower magazines which aren’t in print any more have surfaced online for people to read and compare with the more current information found in the current watchtower magazines.

    It is at that point that Jehovah’s witnesses started to see the truth and the blinders finally started coming off of their eyes all because they could go online and see it for themselves.

    Then you have those defectors who had left the organization to tell the truth about the organization to current witnesses and to possible future converts to the religion online through countless videos on YouTube concerning their experiences in the organization.

    Obviously this is not God’s sole channel of communication because that so-called sole channel of communication can’t even keep its own head above water due to all the accusations against them, and the fact that so many x-witnesses are telling the real truth about the organization, and that even includes x-Bethalites who were involved with the inner workings of the organization that saw things for what they really are, and are now coming forward online to talk about it.

    Once stuff like that has been exposed, it is hard for any business, let alone any religious organization to truly stay afloat in light of all the lies, deceptions, and illegal activities that have been brought to light concerning the organization. Just the crule punishment of disfellowshipping is just the tip of the iceberg when matched up with all the other terrible things that this organization has done to people over the years.

    It has ruined lives, it has caused people to commit suicide, it has ruined families by tarring them apart over crazy rules and policies, and so much more. It is no wonder that people have come forward to warn others of this terrible organization and its practices. So in light of that, is it no wonder that this organization is going through what it is going through right now?

    It is a sinking religious titanic that has hit the iceberg of truth, and it is going down quickly. So people are jumping ship while they still can and while they still have dignity left before it gets ruined by this terrible organization who professes to be God’s sole channel of communication on Earth.

    Just with the child melestation cases in the organization, the mere fact that elders are told to contact the legal department of the Watchtower organization instead of the authorities is criminally insane and definitely not a Godly practice by any religious group. This goes to show the terrible nature of a cult religion who keeps tight grips on its members to keep them in line while posing to be a clean organization under the guidance of Jehovah.

    So, will this organization survive? Well time will tell.

  4. Linda Yeager says:

    Been in 60 yrs started studying in 1958 , baptized in 1960 I was 16 and to young, but everything the reply before me said is true! Woke up 3 yrs ago , because of a serious situation with my grandson also raised in it but not baptized, that had me research , because I told the elders, Jesus would never throw him on the street! With there extreme shunning b. S. That woke me up also I hate to be lied to and was furious to know I was taken advantage​ of for 60yrs !! Really? 60yrs of my life ! Well I could write a book about all the hiprocity. Glad I m out, takes time, to get over the depression and then anger, but a good Dr. Can help! Just tell him your insides have been ripped out and they can help! Talking and meds for a while ! But glad the Father woke me up ! Everyone who has been hurt or kicked around, we need to stick together and support utube! Faith and love! L.m.y.

    • Ricardo says:

      @Linda,
      I have the depression and the anger. Not yet got the doctor and the meds, but I know I definitely need these to deal with the mental and emotional abuse I continue to receive from this organization.

      I want to see it all just collapse. I think it will. In the next 5 – 10 years. I will be cheering when it sinks.

  5. I am one of the biggest opponents of what the WTS teaches that likely exists. I even published a book.
    In it is a chapter titled “The Bible, JWs, and Me”.
    I have always said that a person is entitled to believe anything he wants. But no one is entitled to change the
    Bible to support their chosen beliefs, as they have done.
    Rev. 22: 18 & 19.

  6. Brian Hind says:

    Interesting series of comments. All my adult life I have wondered how seemingly intelligent people can be taken in my cult religions. Those who were born to a family who were members of a cult & were subjected to the inculcation of family & church I can understand. Any organization that proscribes formal education, & research of the religion itself, is suspect. Outright prohibition of association with non-members, interpretation of scripture, or mandatory reporting of church attendance, proselytising, etc. should alert ANYONE, that something is wrong. If we postulate that there is a Hell as described in the Bible, then it is my firm belief that any person, group, or organization that preys upon the gullibility of the faithful has a special reservation in Hell. The scriptures state that the test of a true prophet is that ALL his prophecies must be correct. A single prophecy that is incorrect means he is not a prophet of God. Considering the track record of the JW’s, nothing more need be said!

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