It’s been a rollercoaster ride since we launched this website twelve months ago. So much has happened in the organization, from the controversial Sparlock video to the Candace Conti verdict, together with the launch of the new JW.org website and the first real evidence that the organization is downsizing. Sometimes it’s easy to lose track of why we started this website in the first place – to give ordinary Jehovah’s Witnesses an opportunity to voice their opinion in unison.
We are now seeing a steady stream of new visitors to jwsurvey.org, from an average of around 1000 visitors per month when we began in October 2011 to around 7000 visitors per month at present. Considering we are still a relatively new website, this is a remarkable increase! I am very grateful to each and every one of those who take the time to visit and read our pages. It is hoped that the information found here will be of use to people, and help many to awaken to the real truth about the organization.
However, perhaps it is possible that amidst all the excitement and thirst for information the real purpose of the website has been neglected somewhat. We have an exciting opportunity to make our voices heard and let the Governing Body know what we really think of the various teachings and practices to which we are irrevocably bound from our baptism onwards.
Perhaps you visit the website regularly and, for whatever reason, you would prefer not to vote. On the other hand, it may have simply slipped your mind, or you may not have been aware that we are even running a survey!
I may even be that you do not agree with much of what is written in our articles – particularly those that openly criticize the Watch Tower Society. Even so, we still value your opinion and encourage you to take part. There is no discrimination shown on our surveys against those who feel strict loyalty to the organization.
If you would still rather not take part in our survey for any reason, then of course I wouldn’t want to force you. You are more than welcome to visit this website whether you wish to vote or not. However, if you have no objections to voting, then I would warmly urge you to do so (by clicking here). You can be assured that no personal information is held by us regarding anyone who votes, and there most certainly won’t be any ramifications for any who choose to take part. Votes are cast in total privacy, and you can disclose as much or as little personal information as you wish.
The results so far…
Whether you choose to vote or not, you might be interested to know how the 2012 survey is progressing so far. Well, the truth is, as of this moment the survey has not proved as popular as the 2011 survey. It’s not understood precisely why this is, but we are trying to find out the reasons so that hopefully the 2013 survey will be more successful, and more people will feel encouraged to take part.
To illustrate, the 2011 survey finished on 1,118 votes, whereas 4 days ago the 2012 survey had accumulated a mere 936 votes. Bear in mind that the 2011 survey ran for only 3 full months, whereas the 2012 survey has run for nearly 8 full months (at the time of writing) – so we should be expecting a significant improvement on the 2011 figure by this stage.
With this in mind, four days ago I was feeling despondent about the survey – but I decided to do something about it. I produced a brief YouTube video to try to attract more votes. Here it is…
The response so far has been excellent! In just four days since the video was uploaded to YouTube we have received 76 new votes, taking us from 936 votes to 1,012. If we continue to receive votes at this rate (approx. 19 per day), we would end the year with over 2,700 votes! There is therefore good reason for optimism, despite the slow start. Even so, I felt I should write an article urging all of our regular visitors to vote (if you haven’t already done so), and also let you know where the survey currently stands.
I will now relate some of the more interesting statistics for each group of voters. Please bear in mind that all this information is up to date as of 29th September 2012. If you are reading this article later than that, then the numbers will obviously have changed, although the percentages may well be similar!
So far a peak of 201 voters taking part in the survey are active publishers, which is 20% of all voters. Of this number, 22 (11%) are active elders, and 11 (5%) profess to be memorial partakers, or members of the anointed “Slave Class”. It’s interesting to note that, despite the modest number of anointed taking part, this website is already making more of an effort to canvas the opinions of the “anointed remnant” than the Governing Body, who claim to serve as representatives of such ones.
Of the active publishers (not elders or anointed) so far taking part…
- 81% classify themselves as “normal publishers”
- 22% claim to be Ministerial Servants
- 11% claim to be Regular Pioneers
- 2% (3 voters) claim to work at Bethel
- 1% (1 voter) claims to be an MTS graduate
- 42% consider themselves “secret apostates”
- 66% believe some apostates may have legitimate concerns
- 58% object to all forms of shunning
- 9% would be prepared to shun a friend or relative who is disfellowshipped, and 2% (or 3 voters) even said they would shun a friend or relative who is inactive or not strong in the “truth”
- 63% do not believe that Jehovah’s Witnesses represent God’s spirit-directed organization
- 80% do not believe that elders are appointed by Holy Spirit
- 85% do not believe that you are free to express a difference of opinion within the Witness faith
- 57% have been the subject of a judicial committee hearing
- 37% would secretly accept treatment with blood if life was at stake, and 11% (18 voters) would openly accept treatment with all forms of blood
- 80% say they know or have heard of one of Jehovah’s Witnesses committing or attempting suicide
- 93% say they have researched Jehovah’s Witnesses on the internet
- 74% say the Society should undergo reform, but they cannot see it happening
- 91% disagree with the Society’s teachings and practices related to higher education
- 5% (8 voters) agree with all of the Society’s teachings and practices
Of the serving elders so far taking part…
- 55% claim to be serving on the congregation service committee (6 Congregation Secretaries, 2 Service Overseers, and 4 Coordinators)
- 1 claims to be the member of a branch or country committee
- 2 claim to serve on a Hospital Liaison Committee
- 95% claim to have served on judicial committees, but 50% of these ones say they regret a decision arrived at on these committees
- 32% consider themselves “secret apostates”, and 45% say some so-called “apostates” may have legitimate concerns
- 45% object to all forms of shunning
- 59% said a “desire for prominence” as well as “a desire to help and shepherd the flock” were motivating factors for elders to serve.
- 41% said “an ambition to succeed” was also a motivating factor.
- 64% do not believe that Jehovah’s Witnesses represent God’s spirit-directed organization
- 68% do not believe that elders are appointed by Holy Spirit
- 73% do not believe that you are free to express a difference of opinion within the Witness faith
- 73% have themselves been the subject of a judicial committee hearing
- 36% would secretly accept treatment with blood if life was at stake, and one voter even said he would openly accept treatment with all forms of blood
- 68% say they know or have heard of one of Jehovah’s Witnesses committing or attempting suicide
- 82% say they have researched Jehovah’s Witnesses on the internet
- 68% say the Society should undergo reform, but they cannot see it happening
- 68% disagree with the Society’s teachings and practices related to higher education and the wearing of beards
- 5% (1 elder) agrees with all of the Society’s teachings and practices
Of the 11 anointed remnant so far taking part…
- 7 claim to currently serve as elders
- 3 “just know” that they are going to heaven
- 2 claim to have had a dream or vision revealing their heavenly calling
- 1 believes there is nothing special about him/her, and that all true Christians go to heaven
- 8 believe the 144,000 mentioned in Revelation to be a literal number (3 do not)
- 5 would appreciate being given the opportunity to participate in feeding the domestics
- 7 say they do NOT give the Governing Body permission to act as their representatives
- 7 say they do not consider themselves mentally or emotionally imbalanced
- 4 object to the suggestion that some memorial partakers may be imbalanced, and say it is an attempt by the Governing Body to diminish the role of the anointed
- 4 disagree that there is no need for the Governing Body to contact the anointed or find out who they are
- 3 consider themselves “secret apostates”
- 9 believe so-called “apostates” may have legitimate concerns
- 4 object to all forms of shunning
- 4 believe that shunning is to keep the congregation clean, and should have no bearing on family ties
- 3 do not believe that Jehovah’s Witnesses represent God’s spirit-directed organization
- 4 do not believe that elders are appointed by holy spirit
- 6 do not feel free to express a difference of opinion within the Witness faith
- 2 have once been the subject of a judicial committee hearing
- 1 openly accepts all forms of treatment with blood
- 7 know or have heard of one of Jehovah’s Witnesses committing or attempting suicide
- 7 have researched Jehovah’s Witnesses on the internet
- 7 believe the Society should undergo reform, but cannot see it happening
- 7 disagree with the depiction of disfellowshipped teenagers as being comparable with Nadab and Abihu, and also disagree with the Society’s policy that pedophiles are not automatically prohibited from serving as elders or ministerial servants in the future
- None feel they can agree with ALL of the Society’s teachings and practices
Inactive ones (sometimes called “faders”) make up the largest number of voters with a peak of 369 votes so far. This means they account for 36% of all voters on the 2012 survey. This is significant because, combined with those 201 voters who are still active publishers, it can be said that 56% of those who have taken part in the survey so far are technically still Jehovah’s Witnesses, meaning that the survey is representative of a good cross-section of those whose lives are affected by this religion.
Of the 369 inactive ones so far taking part…
- 33% formerly served as regular auxiliary pioneers
- 32% are former ministerial servants
- 30% are former regular pioneers
- 14% are former RBC volunteers
- 12% are former elders (1 is a former Circuit Overseer)
- 6% are former Bethel volunteers
- 2% are former MTS graduates
- 5% claim to be of the anointed (heavenly hope)
- 64% say they have no hope in particular, earthly or heavenly
- 20% still consider themselves to be of the Great Crowd (earthly hope)
- 73% said that discovering the real “truth” about Jehovah’s Witnesses prompted them to become inactive
- 31% claim to be inactive because they were shocked or stumbled by someone
- 4% blame their inactivity on being “spiritually weak”
- 61% said they are remaining inactive through fear of being shunned by friends or relatives if they disassociate themselves
- 84% would leave the organization if shunning were abolished
- 64% no longer attend the memorial
- 73% experience “pre-emptive shunning” from active Witnesses who view them as “bad association”
- 59% have experienced family/marital problems through their decision to become inactive
- 92% do not believe that Jehovah’s Witnesses represent God’s spirit-directed organization
- 94% do not believe that elders are appointed by Holy Spirit
- 90% do not believe that you are free to express a difference of opinion within the Witness faith
- 41% have been the subject of a judicial committee hearing
- 50% would openly accept treatment with all forms of blood
- 80% say they know or have heard of one of Jehovah’s Witnesses committing or attempting suicide
- 93% say they have researched Jehovah’s Witnesses on the internet
- 84% say the Society should undergo reform, but they cannot see it happening
- 93% disagree with the Society’s teachings and practices related to higher education
- 2% (8 voters) agree with all of the Society’s teachings and practices
Disfellowshipped / Disassociated
The 303 disfellowshipped or disassociated persons who have taken part in the survey so far account for 30% of voters. I personally regard the views of such ones as being of equal significance to any other group of voters, because these are the ones who normally suffer the most from shunning and therefore have a unique perspective on this damaging and unscriptural practice. They are usually also more likely to have their eyes opened to the reality of their former beliefs once they are cast out from the confines of the organization.
Of these 303 disfellowshipped/disassociated ones so far taking part…
- 33% claim to be former regular pioneers
- 30% claim to be former regular auxiliary pioneers
- 22% claim to be former Ministerial Servants
- 11% claim to be former Elders (1 claims to be a former District Overseer)
- 5% claim to be former Bethel volunteers
- 4% claim to be former RBC volunteers
- 2% claim to be former Special Pioneers (2 individuals claim to be former missionaries)
- 1% (2 individuals) claim to be former MTS graduates
- 28% claim they were disfellowshipped for immorality
- 60% claim they were disfellowshipped for disagreeing with the teachings of Jehovah’s Witnesses
- 4% claim to have been unfairly disfellowshipped for something they didn’t do
- 93% say they are happier since leaving Jehovah’s Witnesses
- 92% said they would not seek reinstatement
- 74% say they are shunned by family members who are Jehovah’s Witnesses
- 94% said they would not recommend anyone else to become a Jehovah’s Witness
- 26% now claim to be agnostic
- 26% now claim to be born-again Christian
- 18% now claim to be atheist
- 7% now claim to be of a non-Christian faith
- 4% still hold the beliefs of Jehovah’s Witnesses
- 62% believe the Governing Body know what they are doing and should be held to account for their actions
- 58% have nothing against Jehovah’s Witnesses but would like to see the Watch Tower Society dissolved
- 43% said they love Jehovah’s Witnesses, but are concerned they are being misled
- 23% said that if someone wants to stay a Jehovah’s Witness despite knowing the truth they are fine with this
- 3% (10 individuals) said they would like to draw Jehovah’s Witnesses off as followers after themselves
- 2% (6 individuals) said they hate all Jehovah’s Witnesses
- 95% do not believe that Jehovah’s Witnesses represent God’s spirit-directed organization
- 94% do not believe that elders are appointed by Holy Spirit
- 88% do not believe that you are free to express a difference of opinion within the Witness faith
- 62% have attended a judicial committee hearing
- 73% would openly accept treatment with all forms of blood
- 83% say they know or have heard of one of Jehovah’s Witnesses committing or attempting suicide
- 91% say they have researched Jehovah’s Witnesses on the internet
- 83% say the Society should undergo reform, but they cannot see it happening
- 93% disagree with the Society’s teachings and practices related to higher education, shunning by family members, the Governing Body being God’s sole channel of communication, and pedophilia (treated as a judicial matter rather than a crime)
- 4% (11 voters) agree with all of the Society’s teachings and practices
A surprising 14% of voters, or 139 persons taking part in the survey, are unbaptized. This category includes both interested ones and those who have been born into the religion but who have not yet dedicated themselves as Jehovah’s Witnesses. This category of voters is also very significant, because it shows us the “outside” perception of Jehovah’s Witnesses from those who have yet to commit themselves to the religion.
While it is recognised that some who take part in this category have little or nothing to do with Jehovah’s Witnesses, there is another reason why this category is valuable. It is hoped that, by taking part in the survey, those who are not yet baptized as Jehovah’s Witnesses and aren’t particularly connected with the faith will be educated about Witness beliefs merely through taking part in the survey and learning of some of the issues involved. This will help them to make an informed decision if they ever find themselves being urged to join the religion in the future.
Of these unbaptized ones that have so far taken part…
- 64% have family who are Jehovah’s Witnesses
- 27% have little or nothing to do with Jehovah’s Witnesses
- 22% have close friends who are Jehovah’s Witnesses
- 8% are regularly visited by Jehovah’s Witnesses
- 8% (11 voters) are romantically involved with one of Jehovah’s Witnesses
- 7% are studying with Jehovah’s Witnesses
- 65% believe that Jehovah’s Witnesses are in a cult
- 63% believe that the beliefs of Jehovah’s Witnesses are deeply flawed
- 29% believe that Jehovah’s Witnesses are good people
- 13% view Jehovah’s Witnesses as just another Christian denomination
- 4% believe Jehovah’s Witnesses go by what the bible teaches
- 2% (3 voters) would like to become a Jehovah’s Witness
- 91% do not believe that Jehovah’s Witnesses represent God’s spirit-directed organization
- 95% do not believe that elders are appointed by Holy Spirit
- 94% do not believe that you are free to express a difference of opinion within the Witness faith
- 64% say they know or have heard of one of Jehovah’s Witnesses committing or attempting suicide
- 96% say they have researched Jehovah’s Witnesses on the internet
- 86% say the Society should undergo reform, but they cannot see it happening
- 94% disagree with the Society’s teachings and practices related to higher education
- 3% (4 voters) agree with all of the Society’s teachings and practices
Beliefs and Practices
Every category of voter was asked the same question related to the Society’s beliefs and practices. This question lists some of the more contentious teachings of Jehovah’s Witnesses, and asks the voter to tick which teachings they disagree with. The question is intended as an indicator of precisely which teachings of the Governing Body are the least popular.
Once all six categories are combined, the results (with the most unpopular teaching first) are as follows…
- 91.4% Young people are not to pursue higher education
- 89.2% Witnesses who leave are to be shunned by family members if they are old enough to leave home
- 88.4% Paedophilia: treated as a judicial matter rather than a crime
- 88% Apostates are “mentally diseased” (w11 7/15 p16)
- 87.4% Outside literature or any other form of information is NOT to be consulted when researching bible teachings, ONLY Watchtower publications are to be recommended.
- 87.1% Young people should not be involved in extra curricular sports (w11 12/15 pp. 8-9)
- 86.8% Paedophiles: two witnesses required to convince elders of molestation
- 86.6% The Governing Body is God’s sole channel of communication
- 85.8% Sisters who are beaten by their husbands are not entitled to a divorce. They must remain married, or they will not be able to marry anyone else if they wish to remain in the faith.
- 85.1% Past mistakes and future refinements are due to “increasing light” from God’s holy spirit
- 85% Beards are frowned upon, brothers with beards not used to give convention items
- 84.8% Paedophiles: not automatically prohibited from becoming an elder or ministerial servant in the future
- 84.4% Disfellowshipped teenagers are comparable to Nadab and Abihu, the Israelite priests who were struck dead by Jehovah for offering illegitimate fire on behalf of the entire congregation (w11 7/15 p31).
- 83% Paedophiles: names kept confidential from the congregation
- 82.5% Bible prophecy: Christ chose the Bible Students as his “Faithful and Discreet Slave” in 1919
- 81% Bible prophecy: the anointed “generation” of Matthew 24:32-34 “overlaps” with those anointed ones who witness the Great Tribulation
- 80.9% Giving no minimum age for baptism, which leads to many in their early teens (or even younger) getting baptized oblivious to the full ramifications of this decision.
- 79.7% Blood transfusions are to be refused, even if life is at stake
- 79.4% Celebrating birthdays is wrong
- 79% The insistence on 607 BCE for the fall of Jerusalem, contrary to commonly accepted historical evidence
- 78.5% Bible prophecy: Christ began ruling as king in heaven in 1914
- 78.2% Jesus Christ is only a mediator for the 144,000, and not for any members of the Great Crowd
- 77% Masturbation is wrong
- 76.1% The treatment of women in the organization
- 74.1% Bible prophecy: most prophecies in Revelation and Daniel for the ‘last days’ fulfilled in early 20th Century
- 73.5% The Governing Body does not need to have any contact with the anointed remnant
- 61.1% Only those who are spirit-anointed should partake of the memorial emblems
- 57.6% Refusal to accept aspects of evolutionary theory
- 21.6% Others that are not mentioned above (please specify in the comments box below)
- 3.2% None. I agree with all teachings and practices contained in Watchtower publications
It’s interesting to note that the top three issues of contention in this list (i.e. higher education, shunning, and the treatment of pedophilia as a judicial matter rather than a crime) mirror exactly the final results of the 2011 survey. However, the matter of apostates being branded “mentally diseased” in the July 15th 2011 Watchtower article has risen from fifth place in the 2011 survey to fourth place this year, and the teaching of the Governing Body as God’s sole channel has slipped from fourth to eighth place behind other issues such as the virtual ban on outside literature to research bible teachings, young people being dissuaded from extra curricular sports, and the use of the “two witness rule” in judging cases of pedophilia. Curiously, the latter issue (the “two witness rule”) still occupies seventh position in the list in yet another uncanny echo of the 2011 survey.
Obviously there are still three months remaining (at the time of writing) for votes to be gathered, so there is little point in my publishing a more detailed analysis at this stage. However, the results are already proving intriguing, and giving much food for thought.
A Survey With a Purpose
It’s understandable that some might question the value of the survey given the fact that the Governing Body stubbornly refuses to listen to any calls for change within the organization. However, just because these men have closed their ears to the heartfelt pleas of their flock, this does not mean we should no longer make our voices heard.
I consider the survey to be of great importance for these three main reasons…
- It allows us to make a stand – The survey’s very existence is an act of defiance against the Governing Body, who have demonstrated a troubling lack of interest in the needs and concerns of their flock – even of the anointed Slave Class who they claim to represent.
- It could make a difference – It is hoped that, as the survey gains momentum and popularity, enough Witnesses will participate to bring the survey’s existence to the attention of the media, who in turn (through external pressure) will make the survey results more difficult for the Governing Body to ignore.
- It proves that we are not alone – Those taking part in the survey can be reassured that they are not alone in voicing doubts. As they click on questions and see the results for themselves, they may be relieved to find that many of their concerns and issues are shared by hundreds of other Witnesses around the world.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank all those who have voted so far, and all those (in advance) who will yet do so. As I mentioned before, I wouldn’t wish to force this survey on anyone, and I am delighted for people to visit this site regardless of whether they feel personally able to take the survey or not. However, if at all possible, I would warmly encourage you to let your voice be heard (by clicking here). If you have already taken the survey but know someone else who should, why not email them a link? Perhaps you could make your own YouTube video promoting the survey? Anything you can do to get the word out about this survey would be hugely appreciated. The more votes we get, the more the final results will tell us.
I want to conclude by reminding you of this: just because the Governing Body is not interested in your opinions, doesn’t mean that nobody else is. The tide is now turning as we see the organization begin to downsize. We don’t know what the future has in store, but the signs are promising for all those who want to see an end to the lies, emotional turmoil and broken families that have arisen through some of the organization’s more damaging teachings. In the meantime, we may be ignored and derided as “mentally diseased”, but we know we have the truth on our side and everything to fight for. We don’t know yet whether we can make a difference, but we will achieve nothing if we don’t try.