The new JW.org – Watchtower’s attempt to tame the internet
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The new-look JW.org signals the start of a new effort by the Watch Tower Society to embrace the potential of the Internet – but will it succeed?

On September 1st 2012 the official website of Jehovah’s Witnesses took on a distinctive new look, and a bold new role for the Watch Tower Society. Rather than continuing to maintain its three previous websites (jwmedia.org, watchtower.org and jw.org), Watchtower has now effectively put “all of its eggs in one basket” by revamping JW.org to serve as the single point of contact for people seeking to access Jehovah’s Witnesses online.

To Jehovah’s Witnesses themselves, this change isn’t unexpected, even if the timing is a little slack. The decision to amalgamate the three websites was announced at meetings worldwide five months in advance, at the beginning of April 2012. A letter was read out at these meetings, dated April 2nd 2012, which said (in part):

“To enhance the effectiveness of our use of the Internet, the Governing Body has decided to consolidate the three sites into one site called jw.org. The Web site will be completely redesigned. It will be appealing and easy to navigate using either a computer or a mobile device.

The redesigned jw.org Web site is planned for release around the beginning of June 2012. It will paint an appealing picture of our preaching work, branch offices, Kingdom Halls, and conventions.

A newsroom section will provide up-to-date reporting on events affecting God’s people worldwide. Selected features from our magazines that can be presented more effectively on the Web site will now be published only on jw.org. These include the following: ‘For Young People,’ ‘My Bible Lessons,’ and the Gilead graduation report from the public edition of The Watchtower and ‘For Family Review’ and ‘Young People Ask’ from Awake! In addition, a series of online articles available only on the Web site will provide concise, clear answers to questions about the Bible and about Jehovah’s Witnesses.”

According to the above, the redesigned website was scheduled for launch at the beginning of June 2012. However, for some unknown reason, the launch was postponed by three months to the beginning of September.

Appealing, but how factual?

Visually and functionally, the new website is a clear improvement on its predecessor. The images are sharp and striking, and the color scheme is well-chosen. The menus are clear and not overly complicated. In that sense, the Society has achieved its objective of producing a website that is “appealing and easy to navigate using either a computer or a mobile device.” However, as with any material produced by the Society with a view to providing religious instruction, the actual content rather than the appearance should be of utmost interest to discerning readers.

In its April 2nd letter, the Society declared that a primary focus of the new website would be to “paint an appealing picture of our preaching work, branch offices, Kingdom Halls, and conventions”. No doubt any religious organization would understandably be concerned about portraying its beliefs and practices in a favorable light. However, should not such a website also present information in a way that is honest, and not misleading – especially since its purpose is to direct outsiders to worship the “God of truth”? (Psalm 31:5)

Visitors to the Society’s new website will find it visually appealing, but is the information accurate?

True, certain more complex doctrinal views may be hard to grasp for the uninitiated. However, in such instances, nothing is stopping the Society from presenting a brief but candid explanation of these more controversial beliefs; simply stating that more information is available in the publications that are available for download (or by clicking on a link to a digital version of a relevant Watchtower article).

You would certainly not expect an organization that prides itself on spreading “the Truth” to provide information on their official website that is misleading, or only partially true. However, a closer inspection of the new JW.org website reveals that this is precisely what the Watch Tower Society has done. Take for example the “Frequently Asked Questions” section. One question asks “Do You Feel That You Are The Only People Who Will Be Saved?” Here is the stated answer:

“No. Many millions who lived in centuries past and who weren’t Jehovah’s Witnesses will have an opportunity for salvation. The Bible explains that in God’s promised new world, there is going to be a resurrection of both the righteous and the unrighteous. (Acts 24:15) Additionally, many now living may yet begin to serve God, and they too will gain salvation. In any case, it’s not our job to judge who will or won’t be saved. That assignment rests squarely in Jesus’ hands.—John 5:22, 27.”

Despite initially answering “no”, the above statement goes on to contradict itself by implying that only three groups of people have a chance to be saved by God. These are…

  • Those who were alive before Jehovah’s Witnesses existed
  • Jehovah’s Witnesses
  • Those who aren’t yet Jehovah’s Witnesses, but who will become Jehovah’s Witnesses before Armageddon

The website cunningly sidesteps the question of whether only Jehovah’s Witnesses will survive Armageddon

As far as the original question is concerned, the answer should be a straightforward “yes”! When Armageddon strikes, Jehovah’s Witnesses DO feel that they are the only ones who will be saved. The answer is therefore both self-contradictory and misleading – and frankly, the significance and ramifications of the question warrants greater honesty and transparency.

As I have discussed in a previous article, vast swathes of the Earth’s populace (approximately one-third, in fact) either live in lands where there are no Jehovah’s Witnesses, or extremely low publisher-to-population ratios (1 in a million in Bangladesh). What will happen to these billions of people in Arab or communist lands who have never heard of Jehovah’s Witnesses when Armageddon comes? Will Jehovah kill them all? According to the new JW.org website, the answer is ambiguous, but actually “yes”.

Sadly, this is not the only example of dishonesty and evasiveness on the new website. Consider, for example, the question related to disfellowshipping – which asks “Do You Shun Former Members of Your Religion?” The answer given reads as follows…

“Those who were baptized as Jehovah’s Witnesses but no longer preach to others, perhaps even drifting away from association with fellow believers, are not shunned. In fact, we reach out to them and try to rekindle their spiritual interest.

We do not automatically disfellowship someone who commits a serious sin. If, however, a baptized Witness makes a practice of breaking the Bible’s moral code and does not repent, he or she will be shunned or disfellowshipped. The Bible clearly states: Remove the wicked man from among yourselves.1 Corinthians 5:13.

What of a man who is disfellowshipped but whose wife and children are still Jehovah’s Witnesses? The religious ties he had with his family change, but blood ties remain. The marriage relationship and normal family affections and dealings continue.

Disfellowshipped individuals may attend our religious services. If they wish, they may also receive spiritual counsel from congregation elders. The goal is to help each individual once more to qualify to be one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Disfellowshipped people who reject improper conduct and demonstrate a sincere desire to live by the Bible’s standards are always welcome to become members of the congregation again.’

The above statement completely overlooks two key scenarios, namely…

  1. What happens to those who are disfellowshipped despite not having broken the Bible’s moral code? (e.g. those who decide that they no longer agree with the organization and feel compelled to speak out and warn others about perceived doctrinal flaws or damaging practices)
  2. What about teenagers or young people who are disfellowshipped and shunned by their parents because they are viewed as being old enough to leave the family home?

Of this latter group of individuals, a recent Watchtower article said…

“Consider just one example of the good that can come when a family loyally upholds Jehovah’s decree not to associate with disfellowshipped relatives. A young man had been disfellowshipped for over ten years, during which time his father, mother, and four brothers “quit mixing in company” with him. At times, he tried to involve himself in their activities, but to their credit, each member of the family was steadfast in not having any contact with him. After he was reinstated, he said that he always missed the association with his family, especially at night when he was alone. But, he admitted, had the family associated with him even a little, that small dose would have satisfied him. However, because he did not receive even the slightest communication from any of his family, the burning desire to be with them became one motivating factor in his restoring his relationship with Jehovah. Think of that if you are ever tempted to violate God’s command not to associate with your disfellowshipped relatives.” (The Watchtower, April 15th 2012, page 12, paragraph 17)

So, not only do Jehovah’s Witnesses shun family members who are disfellowshipped (apart from the extremely narrow exception to this rule that is provided in the FAQ), but the Watch Tower Society actively coerces parents to consider the shunning of their own children as being “God’s command” – even though the bible counsel at 1 Corinthians 5:11-13 says nothing about shunning being applicable within the family circle.

The FAQ answer mentioned above gives evidence that family members CAN be exempted from shunning, albeit only if the disfellowshipped one is the head of the household. Yet, Paul’s words in 1 Cor 5:11-13 simply prescribe shunning for “anyone called a brother” (meaning, according to the context, “anyone called a brother” in the congregation who unrepentantly sins). Paul does not say anything in this scripture about the family circle, and he certainly doesn’t say anything about family heads in particular.

Therefore, we might well ask, why should deviant teenage sons and daughters be any less deserving of meaningful loving contact with their parents (especially at such a vulnerable stage in their lives), given that the bible states nowhere explicitly that family members are to shun one another? Why show mercy in one application of scripture in this important area, but not in another – especially when crucial family ties are involved, and mental and emotional wellbeing is at stake? (1 Tim 5:8; Matt 9:13)

The website conveniently neglects to mention the Witness practice of shunning teenagers

For whatever reason, the Society doesn’t want visitors to its website to know that shunning IS cruelly and unmercifully enforced against disfellowshipped family members who are old enough to leave the family home, even though this is clearly spelled out in a members-only Watchtower Study Edition as being “God’s command”. If this is truly “God’s command”, then why does the Society fail to mention (or admit to) this aspect of shunning on its website when answering a direct question on the matter?

Furthermore, the FAQ answer regarding shunning only cites “breaking the Bible’s moral code” as being grounds for disfellowshipping. Nothing is mentioned about the many who are disfellowshipped and shunned despite not having contravened the Bible’s moral code – i.e. those who have merely had a change of heart about whether Jehovah’s Witnesses have the true religion, and wish to express themselves on the matter. Such ones are routinely disfellowshipped and shunned, both by former friends and family members alike, under the trumped-up charge of “apostasy” (a word applied in scripture to those who deviate from Christianity, not the Watch Tower Society).

This brings us to another interesting FAQ on the new website, which poses the question “Are You Tolerant of Other Religions?” Here is the Watchtower’s answer…

“We follow the Bible’s advice to “respect everyone”—regardless of their religious beliefs. (1 Peter 2:17, Today’s English Version) For example, in some countries there are hundreds of thousands of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Even so, we don’t try to pressure politicians or lawmakers into restricting or banning the work of other religious groups. Nor do we campaign to have laws passed that would impose our moral and religious convictions on the general community. Instead, we extend to others the same tolerance that we appreciate receiving from them.—Matthew 7:12.”

Jehovah’s Witnesses seemingly have a very narrow understanding of what “tolerance” means. They feel that tolerance, in a religious context, merely means not trying to manipulate governmental authorities to bend to their whims when legislating or dealing with other religious groups. The Society surely realises that being religiously tolerant actually means far more than just this narrow and rather curious application, which is an apparent dig at other religious organizations that have caused problems for Jehovah’s Witnesses in the past. However, rather than looking at other religions when it comes to exercising tolerance, perhaps the Watch Tower Society ought to look at its own record more closely. (Matthew 7:3)

Put simply, if Jehovah’s Witnesses do indeed “respect everyone regardless of their religious beliefs”, then they have a very peculiar way of showing it. As just one example, consider how the Watch Tower Society reacts to those mentioned above in this article who leave Jehovah’s Witnesses on religious grounds and are thus labelled as “apostates”. Notice how they are described in the following quote from a recent Watchtower article…

“Suppose that a doctor told you to avoid contact with someone who is infected with a contagious, deadly disease. You would know what the doctor means, and you would strictly heed his warning. Well, apostates are ‘mentally diseased,’ and they seek to infect others with their disloyal teachings. (1 Tim. 6:3, 4) Jehovah, the Great Physician, tells us to avoid contact with them. We know what he means, but are we determined to heed his warning in all respects?” (The Watchtower 2011, July 15th, page 16, paragraph 6).

Paul Grundy, founder of JWfacts.com – one of the many labelled “mentally diseased” by the Watch Tower Society simply for leaving on religious grounds

Yes, not content to shun those who leave the organization for religious reasons, Jehovah’s Witnesses aggravate such ones still further by branding them as “mentally diseased” – a deeply insulting slur, both for apostates and those who genuinely suffer from mental illness. Using such vindictive and hateful language hardly befits a group of people claiming to “extend to others the same tolerance that we appreciate receiving from them”.

As many of you will be aware, former believers are not the only ones who are on the receiving end of the Watch Tower Society’s unique brand of “tolerance”. Consider just a few quotes about the Catholic Church as taken from the book Revelation – It’s Grand Climax At Hand!

“For thousands of years, Babylon the Great has been bloodguilty, and she is a gross fornicatrix. For example, the policy of the Roman Catholic Church of forbidding her priests to marry has resulted in gross immorality on the part of many of them, not a few of these today contracting AIDS.” – page 272, par. 3.

“The Catholic Church thus shares responsibility for consigning thousands of Witnesses to concentration camps; its hands are stained by the lifeblood of hundreds of Witnesses who were executed.” – page 270, par. 15.

“Why must the great harlot symbolize more than the Roman Catholic Church or even all of Christendom?” – Study question on page 235, par. 3.

Despite branding other faiths as being part of the harlot of Babylon The Great, Jehovah’s Witnesses view themselves as religiously tolerant

So, to summarize, according to a still widely circulated publication of the Watch Tower Society, the Catholic Church is (1) part of the great harlot of Babylon the Great, which is, in turn, a “gross fornicatrix”, (2) responsible for its own priests contracting the AIDS virus, and (3) responsible for the executions of “hundreds” of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Nazi concentration camps. If you were a Roman Catholic, do you think you would consider Jehovah’s Witnesses to be tolerant or respectful of your beliefs after reading the above passages?

I have highlighted just three of the 12 FAQs on JW.org, but I could provide more examples of ambiguity or deception on this website if pressed to do so. My question is, why is it all necessary? If Jehovah’s Witnesses have “the Truth”, then why misrepresent these beliefs or try to hide them from outsiders? Why can’t the Watch Tower Society be proud of its beliefs and present these without any spin or trickery? Only they will know the answers to such questions.

To me, it appears that the Society knows full well that many core beliefs of Jehovah’s Witnesses are almost impossible for any reasonable outsiders to accept. The beliefs surrounding shunning and the lack of tolerance of other faiths would indeed repel most thinking people from examining Witness beliefs in any great detail whatsoever. The Society would therefore rather conceal any doctrinal embarrassments in an attempt to lure people into requesting a bible study. After all, strange doctrines are always much easier to accept once people have already grown accustomed to less controversial teachings such as those presented in the first few chapters of the Bible Teach book.

An unexpected side effect

But there is another aspect to the launch of JW.org that has caught my attention, and this relates to the use of videos on certain pages of the new website. These videos, which are intended to promote various aspects of Witness work and teachings, are for the most part highly polished productions that portray Witness beliefs in an appealing light. However, it seems the Society has seriously misjudged the tendency for any videos that are launched on the internet to eventually find their way onto YouTube, and this alone opens up a Pandora’s box of problems.

A section on masturbation from the book “Keep Yourselves In Gods Love” is causing a stir on YouTube

For example, the Society has a number of sign language videos that are clearly designed to help deaf people study their publications. One such publication that has been “translated” into Sign Language is the book Keep Yourselves In God’s Love, which has an entire section on pages 218 to 219 entitled “Gain the Victory Over Masturbation“. As you can imagine, the sign language version of this section of the book contains some quite graphic gestures denoting the act of self-stimulation. Some YouTubers wasted very little time in taking the videos off JW.org and putting them onto YouTube – in some cases even putting the films to music.

Once on YouTube, the sign language video dealing with masturbation went viral, and reached as many as 870,000 views before being pulled off YouTube by the Watch Tower Society, who claimed copyright infringement. By this time, the video had changed the perception of Jehovah’s Witnesses for hundreds of thousands of onlookers – most of whom will have been perplexed as to why our religion goes to such extreme and graphic measures to stop its adherents from masturbating.

This somewhat drastic intervention from the Society also came too late to stop the deaf masturbation video from being lampooned on the television show The Burn with Jeff Ross on Comedy Central…

Obviously, many of you who haven’t yet researched Witness teachings from an objective viewpoint will have many reservations about your cherished beliefs being openly mocked in such a way. This is wholly understandable. However, regardless of your personal views about the practice of masturbation, nobody can deny that not one single scripture in the Bible either speaks about masturbation or condemns it directly – even though God’s word never normally shies away from condemning practices, however intimate, if it deems it necessary. Many like myself feel that it is wrong to add laws to the Bible where none exist.

The Society’s unbiblical, invasive and outdated rules about masturbation give it a bad reputation when the teaching is scrutinized online

Indeed, the section in the “God’s Love” book cites no less than 10 scriptures in support of the Society’s anti-masturbation stance, even though none of these scriptures discuss masturbation. Is this not a clear example of introducing a law based on nothing other than opinion and “private interpretation”? (2 Peter 1:20) Does it glorify God to create invasive and unbiblical laws that expose Jehovah’s name to public ridicule on the internet and television? If you dwell on such questions, you might hopefully begin to understand why some might feel compelled to highlight this and other similarly unfounded teachings to the wider world.

However, even videos that put a positive spin on JW beliefs can wreak untold havoc once posted on YouTube – even if they are posted by well-meaning publishers with any comments or negative feedback “disabled”. Why is this? Firstly, videos on YouTube can easily be “mirrored” (or copied by others) and then commented on freely. Some comments left underneath such mirrored videos will inevitably be left by those who have had a negative experience within the Witness faith, and feel motivated to express why not everything is as it seems.

Secondly, once you watch a video on YouTube, YouTube will automatically suggest videos of a similar topic for you to watch. Inevitably, the majority of videos on YouTube regarding Jehovah’s Witnesses are less than flattering about the organization and its teachings. This is also a nightmare scenario for the Society, because they want to be able to control what kind of material people watch about them, rather than leave a “worldly” website such as YouTube free rein to indiscriminately promote undesirable JW-related material.

For the above two reasons, having professionally produced videos in circulation on the Internet in any form is a bad idea for the Society, and yet a number have been produced already. So far, the Society has uploaded the following videos to its website…

Already a number of the above videos have found their way onto YouTube, prompting much discussion among those viewing them who have been impacted by the beliefs of Jehovah’s Witnesses on a day-to-day basis. You might think this would be a welcome development for the Society – however, as I’ve explained, the very existence of YouTube and similar websites poses serious problems for the organization, and we are already starting to see the Watch Tower Society take matters into its own hands.

A Copyright Clampdown

The Society has recently started going to extraordinary lengths to curtail the influx of videos on YouTube that feature even the slightest portion of their material. For example, I recently posted a song on YouTube called “Sparlock We Love You”. The song was intended as a humorous parody of the Become Jehovah’s Friend DVD and it’s ill-fated villain – Sparlock the Warrior Wizard. The song I wrote and recorded was original, but the Society had the video removed after it had received over 10,000 views on the basis of a claim of copyright infringement (some of the pictures I used on the video were taken from the Society’s DVD).

In actual fact, under “fair use” laws, there is legally nothing wrong with using copyrighted material if it is intended as a parody for non-profit making purposes. However, I am unable to contest the decision to remove the video without potentially opening up a lawsuit and revealing my identity and contact details. Instead, I have re-uploaded the song minus any copyrighted material, which is viewable below…

To read my article on the “Become Jehovah’s Friend” DVD, please click here.

I mention the above video purely by way of illustrating the lengths that the Society will go to in pulling material off YouTube that presents its beliefs in a less than flattering light. Even the unedited version of the “Become Jehovah’s Friend” DVD was pulled from YouTube soon after being leaked, despite being described by the Society as “part of a worldwide Bible educational work supported by voluntary donations”. If you produce something that is free, educational, and intended for viewing by as many people as possible – then why have it withdrawn from YouTube? The answer: because you want to control who watches it, and under what circumstances it is watched.

The Internet – An Underestimated Foe

Considering the above, it seems the Society has seriously underestimated the internet (and YouTube in particular) by making so many of its videos available on its new version of JW.org. I firmly believe the Society will continue to publish videos on the website, the most interesting of which will soon after be pulled across onto YouTube – perhaps even by enthusiastic publishers, only to be later mirrored and dissected by those whose feelings towards the Society are less than cordial. That is certainly what appears to be happening now. The only way it could stop would be if the Society relented and stopped putting videos on its website. However, it seems committed to pressing ahead with this bold and rather naive strategy.

By enabling the free exchange of information, the internet is making it increasingly difficult for the Society to hide its more controversial teachings

As already discussed, another tactic the Society seems to have embraced is that of being extremely selective in how it disseminates the teachings of Jehovah’s Witnesses to the broader public. As I have already demonstrated, the Society will think nothing of posing questions of itself, only to respond to these questions in an extremely misleading way, either by concealing the true answers or failing to address the question altogether.

It’s regrettable that the Society feels inclined to promote its beliefs in such a shady and underhanded manner. However, the more I learn of the Society and its methods, the less these things come as a surprise to me. The only thing that does surprise me is the naivety with which the organization has seemingly embraced the challenge of trying to charm its most threatening foe, the internet, simply by offering up this sparkling new website with its highly-produced videos.

One of the marvellous things about the internet is that, by enabling communication and the free exchange of information, it becomes extremely difficult for people to hide the truth. In such a punishing environment of debate and free speech, the Society has struggled to enjoy the success and impressive growth of previous decades. I don’t see the launch of this website changing things. In fact, by launching these recent videos, the Society seems to have made their situation a whole lot more precarious.

* To read my response to the April 2nd letter in which I explain why the Society’s internet strategy will ultimately fail, please click here.

For more information on the Watch Tower Society’s view of masturbation, click here.

To read the above article in Hungarian, please click here.

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109 Responses to The new JW.org – Watchtower’s attempt to tame the internet

  1. because witnesses can’t masturbate they seek relief by marrying at a very young age with all the accompany problems that brings, I speak with experience and authority on this subject

  2. Edward Shaw says:

    Greg
    I also think that you lose some of your edge when you get to your masterbation topic. I would remove it, if you are really trying to show the faults of the Watchtower to genuine searchers of God.

    I also agree. I read on and found that the richness of your earlier discussion and the points you had effectively made, were being weakened and “scattered” by this relatively trivial and single issue. You had the jugular….and then you slowly started to let go. Why not end the article with the bang? The MB issue helps us forgrt the real issues you discussed!!!

    • Cedars says:

      Thanks Edward. When the article was written, a masturbation video taken from JW.org was going viral on YouTube, perfectly illustrating why the JW.org-experiment was already backfiring.

      To explain the relevance of the video, I needed to break the news to some with a sensitive disposition that masturbation is mentioned nowhere in the bible and can therefore not be labeled unscriptural, or a sin of any kind. I make no apologies for doing that, even if I recognise that perhaps it would have been better handled in a separate article.

      The video has since been pulled from YouTube to spare the Society’s blushes, but one or two similar videos have since been uploaded. It seems they have a whack-a-mole job on their hands.

  3. ck says:

    I have never seen such a distorted view of what witnesses really teach from the Bible. they build up not tear down as you have done.

  4. Greg says:

    I was just reviewing my response to you Cedars since you claim that I am a JW defender in my responses. Sadly it appears you were wrong again, I was actually trying to help you have a stronger point in your main article by removing the silly subject of masturbation that for some reason you and your friends can easily prove that God is perfectly fine with. I think your responses to me is what has molded my feelings toward you, and why I don’t like your attitude. If you are really interested in helping JW’s to convert, which you’re not, because you have nothing for them to convert to, you should discuss more serious matters, such as their beliefs that go against scripture like that Abraham, Issac, and Jacob will not be in the Kingdom of God, but CT Russell will be. Why they take out Jesus in 1 Peter 1 in the NWT (in the footnote in the big Bible) when talking about Jesus’ spirit being in the old testament prophets. Why They change the account in Acts where Stephen prays to Jesus. Why they ignore Thomas’ response to Jesus as “my lord and my God.” Why it is acceptable to add Jehovah into the New Testament, but not acceptable to use the greek septuagint (which is older than all surviving hebrew transcripts) for translating the old testament which uses LORD in place of YHWH. Why Jesus would lie when saying that he would be with his Church until the end of time, but really mean he would stop being with them right after the apostles died and wouldn’t fully be with them again until 1870 something, or is it 1919 now? It is a joke.

  5. Matt says:

    In response to your view on disfellowshipping family members and ‘shunning’, I point you to Matthew 10:34-37 “Do not think I came to put peace upon the earth; I came to put, not peace, but a sword. For I came to cause division, with a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a young wife against her mother-in-law. Indeed, a man’s enemies will be persons of his own household. He that has greater affection for father or mother than for me is not worthy of me; and he that has greater affection for son or daughter than for me is not worthy of me.”

    In Jesus’ own words we see how we should view family members who are unrepentant in their sins against Jehovah. We see examples such as when Adam chose Eve over God, and when Korah’s sons stood apart from him in the wilderness.

    • Cedars says:

      Matt – you’re probably uncomfortable with reading Christ’s words in context, but given the fact that his overall message was one of love, the quoted scripture clearly refers to opposition toward Christians by their relatives rather than the other way round, i.e. the shunning of family members. How else would you explain the parable of the prodigal son, where no clear repentance was shown (only “worldly sadness”) but the son was welcomed back anyway with open arms? In any case, even if you think shunning of relatives is acceptible over moral issues (which I don’t), you cannot possibly excuse the shunning of relatives who disagree with an organization that itself admits to being wrong in the past.

      • Cedars says:

        By the way (regarding context), the fact that Christ was here discussing ostracism by non-believers is clearly evident by verses 32 and 33 where it says: “Everyone, then, that confesses union with me before men, I will also confess union with him before my Father who is in the heavens; but whoever disowns me before men, I will also disown him before my Father who is in the heavens.”

        Of course, if you really want to believe in cruel un-Christian teachings you can more-or-less bend any scripture to suit your viewpoint.

        Cedars

    • Anonymous says:

      Matt
      In response to your view on disfellowshipping family members and ‘shunning’, I point you to Matthew 10:34-37 “Do not think I came to put peace upon the earth; I came to put, not peace, but a sword. For I came to cause division, with a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a young wife against her mother-in-law. Indeed, a man’s enemies will be persons of his own household. He that has greater affection for father or mother than for me is not worthy of me; and he that has greater affection for son or daughter than for me is not worthy of me.”
      In Jesus’ own words we see how we should view family members who are unrepentant in their sins against Jehovah. We see examples such as when Adam chose Eve over God, and when Korah’s sons stood apart from him in the wilderness.

      Hello Matt. We know Jesus’ sword which will pit family members against each other is the way each individual will view Him, not the way individuals view the WatchTower Society’s policies. Read WatchTower publications very carefully. Most writings are mere suggestions. Elders take these suggestions and run with them, teaching these suggestions as “The Truth”.

      An individual’s relationship is with Jesus and Jehovah. Since these Two read hearts even after a person is disfellowshipped, the individual’s repentence may be acknowledged by Jesus and Jehovah, our Saviours, not the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania, Inc., a publishing business.

      • Frank says:

        Anonymous, thank you, good comment.

        Regarding the “suggestions” made by the Soceity, it goes deeper than that. This case study will illustrate what is happening behind the scenes:

        A young teenager got baptised to please her mother. She left home as soon as she finishes school, and was inactive for some 30 years. She then decides she should start associating again. She makes good progress, and tells the elders that she has a smoking problem, and is doing everything she can to overcome it. They meet as a body, review all the circumstances, and decide that her decision to get baptised was made under coercion, and that she is, as far as the congregation is concerned, a non-witness.
        All goes well, until a letter arrives from the Society. A relative of this woman, living far away, has heard of developments, and has written the Society. Why has this person not been disfellowshipped? The elders investigate further, and discover that the whistle-blowing relative has a personal bias ( maybe even malice) towards the returning “prodigal daughter”.

        So the elders write back to the Society, and confirm that they have investigated, and believe that their decision is the correct one.

        In response the Society despatches two senior representatives, who proceed to threaten the elders that if they do not “fall in line” with the Society’s “suggestions” – they will find themselves removed. And perhaps subjects of further action. Which is what happened. Some of the people moved, to escape, and some got “hunted down” and are now ex-witnesses. Unhappiness all round.

        The Organization, we are told, is always right.

  6. Alden says:

    This does not justify the use of torture upon non-believing relatives – and shunning is torture!

  7. Matt says:

    Your own context quote just further proves my point. If a person does something wrong in the eyes of Jehovah and Jesus and is unrepentant about it, then they are in effect disowning them, to which Jesus stated that he would disown them in turn. If we accept someone that Jehovah has disowned to be a part of our life then we are choosing to side with them instead of Jehovah.

    As for 1 Corinthians 5:9-13 you state that it does not say it applies to the ‘family circle’ to which you are correct, but it also doesn’t say that the ‘family circle’ is exempt either. It says to anyone called a ‘brother’ which as you pointed out would be anyone in the congregation who unrepentantly sins. The key word there isn’t ‘brother’ but rather ‘anyone’. Certain family connections can’t be put off as easy, and the scriptures allow for necessary family matters to be handled with such ones. It is up to the individual and their relationship with Jehovah to decide exactly what constitutes necessary family matters.

    Essentially that’s what everything comes down to, our own personal relationship with Jehovah, not with the organization. Yes the organization isn’t perfect, it’s made up of imperfect people, but even the first century Christians had issues that Paul had to keep reminding them about. That didn’t mean that they weren’t his chosen people.

  8. ty
    You permissive people are crazy. Those that lived in Noah’s time also thought they could do as they please, without consequence. They were all destroyed in the flood! Guess what? God only approved of Noah at that time. There weren’t a whole variety of acceptable religions on the earth. Why was Noah saved – He was doing Gods will. He was a preacher of righteousness and he followed Gods instructions and built the arc. Shew! that was hard work – It must have been restrictive. But the bible says – “Noah did just so”. Obedience is key to survival.
    When Moses and Joshua let the Israelite’s into the promised land and conquered many kingdoms, it was clear that only they had Gods approval. They were Gods approved congregation on the earth.
    When Jesus and his apostles were on the earth (Mathew to Revelation) only they were approved by God. No other religion was acceptable. Why were they approved by God? They were obedient and were doing Gods will.
    Ummm? notice a trend here?
    So how can we identify the truth in our time?
    OPEN YOUR EYES! – Who are doing Gods will today? (Certainly not the Author of this blog). Who are obedient to the bibles teachings, who are teaching others about gods kingdom? And very importantly – who are called by God’s name – Jehovah. The bible says he would take a people for his name. – Only Jehovah’s witnesses.
    The watchtower prints more literature than any other organization on earth. Not good enough for you? Well all this literature is offered with out cost and supported purely by voluntary contributions. It is an amazing organization and clearly has the backing of the True God, Jehovah. In fact it is his organization.
    How foolish it was for those during Noah’s time to ignore his warning about the flood. They must have laughed, ridiculed and jeered at him….Until the floodgates of the heavens opened.
    To those who ridicule Jehovah’s organization, think carefully. You might actually find yourself fighting against God.

    Hello Ty. We know the Bible characters you mention were saved or chosen to do great things because of their works or doing God’s will prior to their calling. By God’s Grace He chose them for His Glory. Moses was simply minding his own business as was Noah and the fishermen, tax collector, ect. apostles. It was after God’s Grace chose them to do His Will that they did His Will and earned the Bible’s description of their character.

    Likewise, it isn’t by us being good, obedient, saying Lord Lord or producing 45 million Watchtower magazines per month as a publishing giant or doing something we think is great in the natural world. It is only by Grace in the spiritual world.

    Before you assume certain ones are ridiculing Jehovah’s organization, please understand there is a difference between ridicule and sharing true and necessary information. Are you aware much of WatchTower policy is based upon Pharasaic-style rules which the Bible is silent on. Many of us understand ridicule has no solution. Information sets the atmosphere for solution. When is the last time you researched the legal enity called Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania, Inc.? When is the last time you read the Bible without the conjecture of the Governing Body? The spirit of the scriptures is love and Grace not sacrifice, or imposing of any unscriptual rules.

    By the way, the “works” which Apostle James spoke of is not preaching work. Read the contex.

  9. Alden says:

    Jesus uses the reference to a sword but who carries this sword by its handle, the unbelieving relatives or the believer? It’s possible that unbelieving relatives shun the believer because he or she is “odd”, but the believer only tries to win over his contemporaries with love. The believer resorts to love as his or her “weapon”.

  10. Alden says:

    Are my comments not worthy of any note?

  11. Frank says:

    Masturbation is evidently of serious concern to the WT Society – evidently more so in the Bethel homes, where dozens, maybe hundreds of young people are housed together, and in daily contact with each other – but marriage is controlled.

    Readers might like to remember that before 1972, Bethelites were NOT allowed to marry – if they wished to remain in Bethel. That was WT Society Law. Just like the Catholics – forbidding to marry. (1 Tim 4:) Led to some very tragic situations – Bethelites who married secretly, others who got involved in immorality. Very simply, Bethel is a very unhealthy environment – in many ways – but that is another (very long) story. As the saying going, it looks “nice from far, but is far from nice”

    There is of course the infamous account of the Bethelite who was cruelly victimised for pointing out to NH Knorr that as Knorr had just “given himself permission” to get married, he (Knorr) should leave Bethel.

    To read more, Google “Charles De Wilda”.
    A truly fine example of WT Society love in action.

    [Best account seems to be in the chapter: Memoirs of Bill Cetnar, in The Four Presidents Of The Watch Tower Society by Edmund C. Gruss]

  12. Alden says:

    Hey forum members, I just saw a recording of a Billy Graham show from 1982. I was surprized to see how much the old guy had learned in the meantime!

  13. Frank says:

    ty,
    please read the other pages of this blog before you comment. You would find that the points you raise have already been refuted. However, for the record, something for you to think about:

    Called by the Name of Jehovah
    You first of all quote Acts 15: 15 – 17. However – is there any evidence that that 1st century Christians were “called by the name Jehovah”?

    If so – please supply, with references from reliable secular sources.

    In the meantime, readers might like to remember that Acts 11: 16 clearly states that BY DIVINE PROVIDENCE the believers, first known as ‘The Way’, became known as CHRISTIANS.
    In Acts 26: 28 Agrippa says to Paul – you would persuade me to become me to become a CHRISTIAN.
    1 Peter 4:16 says – those that suffer as a CHRISTIAN need feel no shame.

    And, consider the book of Acts. Most of the people the Apostles and other Christians preached to were Gentiles – with little or zero knowledge of Judaism. Where is any record that the disciples preached anything except the Good News about the Christ? If it had been so vital to preach about Jehovah, surely it would be mentioned? And given equal importance?

    Under the tutelage of the Watchtower, you completely lose the message of Christianity – to be WITNESSES OF JESUS CHRIST. What you have is a curious type of Judaism with Christian overtones, with most of the emphasis on the Hebrew Scriptures. Entire pulications dedicated to the books of Kings, Isaiah, Ezekiel, Daniel (twice) and the ‘minor’ prophets.

    Secondly, Russell started publishing in 1879 – yet it was only in the time of Rutherford, 1931, that the decision was made to take on the name “Jehovah’s Witnesses.”

    Why the 52 year gap? Or was it the case that Rutherford, hugely concerned that masses had left the Organization after the failures of the “firm predictions” about 1925, decided that a name change was urgently needed, to make a fresh start?

    About the supply of literature “without cost”.
    Please – be honest. The letter from the Society was very explicit – that publishers were NOT to suggest or imply that there was no cost involved. Hence the little contribution bags marked WWW. I was there – I have clear records of the event.

    And, as you must agree – the publishers now carry the cost. And if a congregation does no submit sufficinet money to the Society, it receives a letter, reminding the congregation of it’s obligation to support the World Wide Work. And – if the congregation still fails to respond, and investigation by the Circuit Overseer determines that they are in a financial position to contribute – then the Society suspends literature shipments, except for essential study articles.

    Prior to this, all literature was bought and sold at the Kingdom hall, at prices determined by the Society. Literature servants had to maintain inventory, and make reconciliations. Which were carefully checked by the Circuit Overseer. Not surprisingly, people outside the Organization concluded that it was running a commercial business – and therefore taxable. Hence the hurried change-over to a “new arrangement” in the mid 1990s.

    Are Jehovah’s Witnesses the only ones preaching the Kingdom? Only people living in their own little world could suggest that. The Plain Truth at one time surpassed the Watchtower in circulation. There are any number of journals, web-pages, and other Bible-based publication in circulation. Many Christians simply use the Bible. Just the like early disciples did. My suggestion to you is, you need to get out more. Talk openly with people from other “denominations”. If you refrain from arguing with them, you may just learn that they are not as ignorant as they are presented to be – and in some instances have a more accurate grasp of Bible truth than the Witnesses do.

    Final thought from Peter – Acts 10: 34, 35 – “For a certainty God is not partial, but in every nation the man that fears Him and works righteousness is acceptable to Him.”

    Interesting words – considering that Cornelius was neither a Jew, nor a proselyte, (and not yet a Christian) – at that point he was simply a God-fearing Roman Army Officer.

  14. D. M. George says:

    I was df for many years. I’m now back. The ONLY REASON I came back is so that my brainwashed (my own doing) kids would talk to me. I made a mistake. Yes! But did that one mistake erase all the good I had done as a hard working father, providing materially and spiritually for them? In the eyes of the effed up minds of the “elders” it did. So I came back. I’m a jw now to them so I can visit with my own children again. But know this: JW’s and the society are corrupt from the top down. (I know, i was an elder from when they first made elders in 1972) If the only incentive for remaining a JW is to be able to talk to your own flesh and blood then I must conclude that Jesus has failed miserably in his mission. Take away the sting of leaving the JW religion and watch the mass exodus. Indeed their enforcement of disfellowshipped laws is the only thing holding this religion together right now. So I go to meetings and sit and ride around in a car a couple of hours a month and mow some grass for free and swab out a John on occasion, because if I don’t I will loose my family that I raised without the help of one effen elder!!!!!!

  15. D. M. George says:

    JW’s Claim to preach the kingdom message. They say they have covered the earth spreading the good news of the Kingdom. That because of their work Matt 24:14 is fulfilled and the great tribulation is upon us. Strange that when you ask some if they have ever heard of JW’s they will most likely say yes. But if you ask what is the main teaching of JW’s you will get a blank stare! Then perhaps a list of things JW’s don’t believe like holidays, voting,blood transfusions etc. but you will never hear someone reply that JW’s believe in Gods Kingdom. Why not? Because they don’t ever talk about it. Not at their meetings or from door to door. Not even in their publications. Only brief token mention of it can be found in all the above mentioned places. Take the challenge you JW’s ask anyone you meet if they know JW’s then ask what they believe. If you are truly teaching and preaching the Kingdom message as you claim then that is the answer you will get…..but you won’t because you don’t .

  16. Frank says:

    Alden, please read the comment carefully. There is no mention of hatred toward JWs as individuals. Most folk feel sorry for them, especially for the young ones – all deceived into following a man-made Organization.

    Scripturally, as you know, it is quite correct to hate what is bad. The Watchtower Society is merely reaping what it has sown.

    To conclude, would you mind if I ask you a question: based on your present understanding, is it necessary to be a member the JW Organization to qualify as a real Christian?

  17. Frank says:

    For those interested in developments in other languages here’s a link to a Serbo-Croatian site:

    http://www.svjedoci.net/

    [Google translate tries its best, and most of it is readable.]

    Topics Discussed: 1914, 1975, Did Jesus appoint an Organization to act as his ‘faithful and discrete slave’? False Prophecy, This Generation . . . and Should Christian Have A Cat (more below)

    Sample:
    Topic: God’s “organization”
    “The attempt to compel all men to think alike on all subjects, culminated in the great apostasy and the development of the great Papal system” – Watchtower Reprints, September 1, 1893, p1572

    “Beware ‘Organization’. it is completely unnecessary” Watchtower Reprints, September 15, 1895, p1866 (CT Russell)

    Followed by a pretty thorough discussion of the issues

    Whatever you do – read the article:

    SHOULD CHRISTIANS HAVE A CAT?

    A delicious piece of irony that perfectly illustrates how the WT develops its ‘official’ doctrines

  18. Alden says:

    Very nice to meet you, Frank! I just don’t like putting all JWs into one basket. I know some very devoted and sincere witnesses. You pose a very good question, however, that deserves a good answer; no, I no longer believe that membership to the Watchtower Society is necessary to please God. It is only a reference. True salvation only comes from our relationship to our Saviors Jesus, the Son of God, and to his Father Jehovah (or Jahve if you will). Organizations may be of help, but not always. The institutions have a bad track record in general and the WTS is not exempt from this. I am a very religious person by nature but I abhor religious fanaticism in all its forms. I even recognize that I have fallen prey on occasions, which I regret deeply. The WTS has some very good doctrinal points: to this day I remain a “Unitarian” in my beliefs; I do not believe in a hellfire of torment, and to take up arms and participate in human wars is abhorrent to me. So the Witnesses do not have everything going against them. It’s their allegiance to the WTS that is disturbing because many have made a “golden calf” about it. The word “faithful and discreet slave” departs from their lips more often than the name of our Lord Jesus. The danger is that it has induced many to acts normally contrary to their Christian demeanor; especially the shunning and blood policies. To convince a mother to never even write an email to one of their children, for example, reminds one of fascist or communist dictatorships – horrifying! Unfortunately, as far as organizations go, we’re still in a grocery store where we have to pick the good fruits from the bad. My Christian love to all in the forum!

  19. Frank says:

    Thanks, Alden,
    likewise, good to meet you. (Pity we can’t get together for coffee and a really long chat.) Your comment is a good summary of feelings and viewpoints I also share, look forward to reading more from you.

    Read something interesting about the role of Organizations – they can be like a tutor, leading us to Christ – Galations 3:24, 25.

    All the best, Frank (the one from sunny Southern Africa)

    • Alden says:

      Sure Frank, we’ll have that cup of coffee some day!
      Yes, organizations can tutor us when they take their grave responsibility seriously. They can never substitute the Christ who is the Head of every man. They must be like John the Baptist who never dreamed of rivalry with the Christ. Cheers mate!

  20. Mandaley says:

    This is very interesting. I certainly will check out that source you referenced in your comment. If what you wrote is true, how selfish of N.H. Knorr to decide he alone should get married. I have also witnessed a few of these very sad moments in Bethel history. WT policy is not unlike the demands Catholicism makes on its priests and nuns and one of the clearest signs of apostasy!

    An example of the tough rhetoric on marriage JWs are subjected to week after week appears in the May 15, 2012 WT. After referencing the mixed marriages of repatriated Israelites in Ezra’s day, it states: “A Christian who marries an unbeliever is not exemplary and lacks real appreciation for God’s gift of marriage. Entering such a union after baptism can cost one some privileges among God’s people. And it would be illogical to expect blessings while admitting in prayer, ‘Jehovah, I deliberately disobeyed you, but please bless me anyway.’”

    How arrogant to presume what prayers God hears. What an abysmal misapplication of Ezra. Christians today are not natural Israelites responsible for the survival of temple worship and the Holy Seed. Even the admonition in 1 Corinthians 7 can be understood in the context of “community of goods,” where Christians had to be wary that non-believers were joining their ranks solely for the charity involved. There are just too many examples and principles in the Bible that condemn the control of marriage.

    • Alden says:

      Hi Mandaley, nice to meet you. Marriage is a risky adventure wherever you go. While being a JW myself I wouldn’t wish my worst enemy to marry one, unless the other person is of the same frame of mind. The Society uses the wrong approach here. They are adding insult to injury when they make such a judgement. The person may or may not regret marrying a “non-believer”, but it doesn’t help to give them another kick when they are down or to rob them of a good conscience because they have found their mate of a lifetime. You can’t put all “non-believers” in one basket either. One sister who had married a non-JW said that, if given the opportunity again, she would marry him all over! That doesn’t get published in the magazines. Marriage is a matter of heart and we don’t dare trespass on people’s hearts.

      • Mandelay says:

        Hi Frank, I haven’t been here in a while due to computer problems, but I appreciated your response to my comments. Interestingly, the five pre-baptism questions on marriage do not delve any further than the basics…I will post more shortly.

  21. Mandaley says:

    Oops! I apologize. My comment was in reply to Frank’s comment Jan 19 at 9:37 am. I am not sure how to or if I can link my reply to that particular comment.

  22. Peter says:

    D. M. George

    The bible says that only a small amount of people would hear the good news of the Kingdom, Satan blinds people to the truth about Jah’s kingdom.

    The bad is always easier to remember, the Good takes work and repetition because it is easily
    forgotten.

    ☺Tell the same person a dirty Joke and he’ll recipe it by heart

  23. Alden says:

    Dear Peter, nice to meet you. No doubt Jesus said that the road to life is narrow and few are those finding it. Besides hoping that we are on the right road, what we are worried about is if not the Society is making things more narrow than necessary. Jesus also said that we should have life in abundance. Does that not also apply to our present lives? How can anyone presume to tell a mother to never speak or write to her child ever again before certain conditions are met, or to tell a mother that it is “better” that a child die rather than it accept a blood transfusion? Hasn’t the Society overstepped its jurisdiction? These are among the most prominent transgressions that are continually being admonished on the part of “Caesar”, but being turned a deaf ear. There are many smaller issues, too, that could be ignored when only involving theological issues. But when lives are affected drastically by the decisions of an institution of imperfect men, don’t we have the right and obligation to make our own decisions withought duress? The head of every man is the Christ, not any human committee, and He will be the judge. May you have peace.

  24. Frank says:

    Thanks for your comment, Mandaley.
    Would this be a good place to mention the cases of the sisters who married elders, and then had to seek divorce because their “god-fearing” husbands abused them? Among those who have grown up in “the Truth” the rate of divorce appears to be about the same as the general population. Not to mention the couples that stay together because divorce would not leave them free to remarry at some future time.

    Or what happens when the WT Society invites itself into people’s bedrooms, and private lives, and suddenly there is a weird “menage a trois” situation.

    Or the way the WT Society likes to get control of the womenfolk
    (2 Tim 3: 6 ) One well-trodden path is to persuade the wives of men regarded as “free-thinkers” (i.e. independent) to inform on their husbands. Reminds me how Saul used his daughter to try destroy David.

  25. matt says:

    its funny when you look at numbers and statistics. “Are you saying you are more clever than the over 7,3 million people who view the WT as the God’s organization??? ..”

    Ceders is 1 in 7 billion or so people who don’t view the WT as the God’s organization. Are 7 billion more clever than 7.3 million? If it was only one person, Mandla, who believed in the WTBTS you would still say Ceders was thick! lol

  26. KtotheRAD "Konrad" says:

    Matt,
    By your “bandwagon” logic, your own charges as a JW against Christendom and especially the Catholic Church which once was and apparently still is guilty of the very things that the Watchtower Society hypocritically pointed a finger at while squashing it’s own skeletons….would prove invalid. Simply put? Your logic based on numbers is childishly inane. It’s reality of who and what the “Faithful and Discrete Slave” is or will prove to be or was it merely a question and what Jehovah is doing right now that you have the issue to cope with and not Cedars or anyone here! “Worship that is pure and undefiled” as well as “as befits holy people” and “stop touching the unclean thing…and I will take you in” are all to be considered. It doesn’t say where the unclean thing is. Unclean is unclean!

  27. Ann a.k.a Gypsy Sam says:

    Cedars,
    I’m curioius to know if you receive higher web traffic today and for the next few days. The chairman closed the Memorial talk last night with a plug for the jworg site. He said it just that way, without jw-dot-org, so I wonder if you’ll get any curious misdirects. Hopefully, if they come here, their brain will be in the on position and ready to learn the truth about the truth. Thanks for all your hard work.

  28. George says:

    This comment is not evangelical.

    What is happening right now is just like what happened in Paul and Jesus’ times.

    I know perfectly well that this will happen. I’m not supprised because even Jesus was considered as a mad man by other. Infact if you were alive when Jesus was on earth, you all would have spoken against him. That’s what apostates do.

    You be careful, the most important work on earth right now is to preach about “The good news of God’s Kingdom”. Why will you speak against those who are doing it, meanwhile you are not doing it too.

    Are you all to assigned to judge?

    Do you all remember what Gamaliel told the other Sanhedrin members at Acts 5:34-39? “……………Do not meddle with these men, but let them alone; because, if this scheme or this work is from men, it will be overthrown; but if it is from God, you will not be able to overthrow them; otherwise, you may perhaps be found fighters actually against GOD”

    Do you also remember what Jesus said at Mateo 13:24-30 about the wheat and the weeds?

    THIS IS NOT YOUR WORK. STOP IT, OR “YOU MAY PERHAPS BE FOUND FIGHTERS ACTUALLY AGAINST GOD”

  29. So glad to be out says:

    George
    Your comment, with the attempt to scare, is meaningless. I left over 30 years ago. JW scare tactics are for those who live in fear. Why did you come onto this site? With an open heart to learn or with a closed mind to hurl abuse? Perhaps with some reflection, you may want to apologise? I will not hold my breath, as I know most JW’s do not known about humility or freedom of thought. I hope one day when you find out that you have been duped by a multi-million marketing machine, that you will go into recovery and will have some good years with out guilt or fear. You will realise that all your fearful threats were what you had been taught by a very powerful, crafty multi level marketing effort. Thats all – You will no doubt be sad about the deceit, but you will be free to think, breath and express yourself. I hope your wake call is sooner rather than later.

  30. Bastion says:

    @Greg “you have nothing for them to convert to”. I don’t think Cedars wants to convert JWs to anything. He just wants to expose the GB’s shortcommings. I really wouldn’t like this site to discuss the theological nitty-gritty that you think is soo important.

  31. JOHN ROSS says:

    SWEET! :)

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