Anthony Morris (left) and Stephen Lett (right) feature in videos that have been leaked online
Anthony Morris (left) and Stephen Lett (right) feature in videos that have been leaked online

In late 2012 the Governing Body implemented a special “Kingdom Ministry School” – an instructional event to be attended by elders internationally.

As with almost anything elder-related, these schools are top-secret. Only elders who attend are privy to what is discussed. Normal publishers are not allowed to know how their elders were instructed, just as they are not allowed to read organizational correspondence, or look at copies of the “Shepherd the Flock Of God” elder manual.

But now, thanks to some bold spanish-speaking Ex-Jehovah’s Witnesses, several videos that were used during the school have been uploaded to YouTube so that the whole world can get a fascinating glimpse at the instructions issued during the course.

One video, which I assume was intended to be shown at the beginning of the school, shows a typically animated and melodramatic Stephen Lett welcoming elders and reminding them of their responsibilities.

A noteworthy feature of Lett’s pantomime-like performance is his insistence that elders show obedience in carrying out their “very demanding” duties. After reading 1 Kings 3:9, Lett uses the word “obedient” three times, urging elders to return to their assigned congregations “with an obedient heart.”

Lett’s video was essentially a “Listen, Obey and Be Blessed” for elders. Watchtower is demanding total loyalty from its line managers, no matter what grizzly tasks they are asked to perform.

Also leaked was a video featuring Tony Morris, who I have discussed at some length in a recent article.

In this video, Tony laments that “to participate in judging a wrongdoer to determine genuine repentance produces anxiety for the elders involved.” Little regard is shown in the brief video for the stress and anxiety caused to the one being judged, with potential shunning and family estrangement the ultimate penalty.

Tony then rises from his spacious Brooklyn desk to pluck a bible from his sparsely populated bookshelf before reading 2 Chronicles 19:6. He uses this scripture to promise elders that Jehovah will be with them “in the matter of judgment.” In other words, God will influence and/or endorse any decision they make, provided they’ve prayed and consulted the bible first.

2 Chronicles 19:7 is then invoked to remind elders to be “decisive” in their decision-making. As an example, Tony alludes to a 42-minute demonstration video portraying a young publisher who commits fornication and tearfully confesses his sins to his elders.

During the course of his confessions, it becomes clear the young man has been withholding information regarding the extent of his actions. He is thus disfellowshipped as being unrepentant. Tony praises the committee, saying that they came to the “right decision.”

The video, embedded below, is entirely dubbed into Spanish so I am unable to provide any subtitles (not to mention the amount of time this task would involve). However, a summary of the video in English can be found by clicking here.

UPDATE:- As you can see, the above video has since been removed following a copyright claim from the Watch Tower Society, who evidently don’t want ALL Witnesses to have access to this particular “spiritual food.”

The Kingdom Ministry School in question was conducted over a year ago, so congregations around the world will have already felt the fallout from this hardline approach the Governing Body seems intent on enforcing.

Elders are to be obedient and fearless in acting “decisively,” confident that whatever decision they reach has the backing of both God and the organization (if the Governing Body would permit me to make a distinction between the two).

If the Governing Body fears some elders are perhaps half-hearted or reticent over the far-reaching judicial verdicts they are delivering, those fears are well-founded. Out of 16 serving elders who have so far taken part in our 2014 Global Survey, 1 in 4 confess to regretting a decision they have reached as part of a judicial committee.

Chart_Q30_140206Though some may find the levels of “decisiveness” in the above figures reassuring, only those who have themselves been disfellowshipped and severed from their loved ones can truly appreciate just how devastating a lack of mercy by a judicial committee can prove to be. And as I highlighted in a recent video, disfellowshipping as prescribed by Watchtower is not even mentioned in the Bible.

The practice of excommunication was even denounced as a “weapon” and instrument of “ecclesiastical power and secular tyranny” that is “altogether foreign to Bible teachings” in a 1947 Awake! article, which can be downloaded on these links: Page 1 | Page 2

Aside from the unsettling shift towards a stricter and more draconian approach presented in these videos, unquestionably the most intriguing thing about them is the fact that they have been leaked. For all their pomp and strutting around, the Governing Body cannot claim to have 100% control over their army of line managers while some conscientious elders continue to break ranks and leak out sensitive material for the world to see.

And those who insist this information should be kept confidential regardless of whether it is leaked or not will find no sympathy with me. The bible gives absolutely no precedent for secret information to only be circulated among a privileged few. The myriad judicial decrees and pronouncements in the bible, no matter how petty or pedantic some of them happened to be, were published for the benefit of every worshipper – be they priest or infant, apostle or newly baptized one.

The now rampant culture of secrecy and concealment that has been allowed to flourish in Watchtower’s murky gentlemen-only club over many decades is neither helpful nor laudable. It only serves to represent yet more evidence that Watchtower does not enjoy divine direction, nor can it ever hope to.

 

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Special thanks to Hildebrando y Otras Hierbas for releasing the information reviewed in this article. Thanks also to Nate Bennecoff for assisting with transcription.

100 thoughts on ““Be obedient and decisive!” – Governing Body instructions to elders leaked on YouTube

  • February 7, 2014 at 1:40 am
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    Hakizimana Jean de Dieu,

    It’s well spotted ! I was quite surprized about your comment regarding John 8:4-11. I checked through several Bible versions, several different NWT versions in different languages … It’s amazing.

    Amongs a few English translations NWT is the only one that identifies this section as “out of scriptures”. Until the sister proof Bible, that section was still retained as a footnote, and it was said that “some” copies omitted these verses (without further documenting which references it was about). Then in the Sister Proof Bible, there is no footnote, only a short comment, and the chapter starts at the verse 12 …

    No other translation seems to make any specific comment or omission to that section.

  • February 7, 2014 at 2:19 am
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    Great stuff Cedars. For a comical [mis]translation of the judicial committee video click ‘Captions’; turn them ‘ON’; then click ‘Translate’ to your chosen language, and enjoy the fun.:)

  • February 7, 2014 at 5:10 am
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    I was looking for such material 9 months ago when my committee was up… recordings and that kind of stuff. I didn’t know the GB was so kind to create such material for those who go to a committee. The almost blew my fade. Fortunately I got a private reproof and some backtalk… but I don’t care, I moved to another place and I’m completely and happily inactive now. Although I expect another committee for “brazen conduct” when I return, I’ll simply ignore them, that’s the best policy. Maybe I should ask for baptism invalidation as I never withdrew from the National Church… so I was baptized as a JW when I was still part of another religion.

  • February 7, 2014 at 6:08 am
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    JB,
    John 8:4-11 is against them, they want it to disappear! Imagine what would happen if the GB/Elders (judicial committee) were told “Let the one of YOU that is sinless be the first to throw a stone at her[/him].” They would recall this Watchtower magazine (w86 1/1 p. 13 par. 12):
    “Shocking as it is, even some who have been prominent in Jehovah’s organization have succumbed to immoral practices, including homosexuality, wife swapping, and child molesting. It is to be noted, also, that during the past year, 36,638 individuals had to be disfellowshipped from the Christian congregation, the greater number of them for practicing immorality.”

  • February 7, 2014 at 7:56 am
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    If any one can please save this video as Im sure the WT will be in OT to have it taken off of youtube.
    Great Job again cedars!!!!!!!!!!

  • February 7, 2014 at 8:09 am
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    Having been raised as a witness and taught to believe in everything I read in the WT publications, I closely adhered to the “Your youth getting the best out of it” book. I followed it strictly including the no masturbating rule (along with many other rules that were there to protect us from homosexuality) and I still ended up being Gay. I find it funny yet tragic at the same time. Although I waited until I was 30 years old to finally get the courage to leave, I am thankful everyday that I escaped the clutches of the organization.

  • February 7, 2014 at 1:35 pm
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    Can anyone tell me why the Elders in the video (Judicial committee) are hiding the Shepherding textbook from that stupid “sheep”!! Sad to see a young man crying over having sex a wordly girl…

    He should rejoice Jehovah is not ruling now, otherwise, this crime would happen once again:
    (Numbers 25:7, 8) . . .When Phin′e·has the son of El·e·a′zar the son of Aaron the priest caught sight of it, he at once got up from the midst of the assembly and took a lance in his hand. 8 Then he went after the man of Israel into the vaulted tent and pierced both of them through, the man of Israel and the woman through her genital parts. . .

  • February 7, 2014 at 1:45 pm
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    At my judicial committee all three had the rule book with them and almost read from it in front of me.

  • February 7, 2014 at 5:02 pm
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    The JWs make a big thing out of a husband must have only one wife its as though its not really a bad thing at all? Why is it in the muslim faith a man can have more then one wife? Well I have to say a lot of women are being deprived of security and love cos she cant go with a man if he already has one wife this is what courses strife and jealousy say no more this religion makes me vomit!

  • February 7, 2014 at 7:48 pm
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    A little off topic but pertinent. My brother-in-law who is a great man and I consider one of my best friends, is a JW. I am not and my wife, his sister is not, although she was raised as one. I have no issues with his beliefs. I am however the first person he asks for money when in need. Not a problem I say. I am WORLDLY however and would be considered as unrepentant. I am not wealthy but I would give the shirt off my back to someone in need. Why am I considered an unworthy person in the eyes of Jehovah???

  • February 7, 2014 at 9:27 pm
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    What hypocrisy! The elders made a big deal because the young brother didn’t confess the sin committed two months ago, yet according to the secret elder’s book which they had in the video, an elder could remain an elder and not even be subject to a judicial committee if his sin occurred more than three years before. It could even be something as gross as pedophilia! Unbelievable!

  • February 8, 2014 at 11:26 am
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    My two witnesses came by my shop today, one is an elder, I was quite surpised. He said he was by a few times but I wasn’t there (wonder where I was? I open the shop every Saturday).
    I got the usual preach, but thanks to this website, I have a LOT of ammunition to throw back at them. They used the old “preached in all the inhabited earth” speech and I told them that the JW’s were banned in North Korea. How can it be preached in all the inhabited earth? So he told me to go on JW.org and there was an article that said North Korea is now open. Ok, I did so, right in front of him….we didn’t find that article. Hmmmmmmmmmmm…..

    • February 8, 2014 at 3:48 pm
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      I got the same response from a JW who visited my door. “Go to jw.org! You can get ANY Bible question answered!”

      Good luck in your efforts. I threw my visitor for a loop, when we talked about why they report their time (to be judged by men). When I told her Jesus said to practice your mercies in secret, she said, “He did NOT say that!!” I asked her to read Matthew 6:1-6 to me, and explain it to me. She was stumped and changed the subject.

      She offered me a bible study, but never came back. Hmmmm… I don’t know why… ?? :)

  • February 8, 2014 at 10:29 pm
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    Pills swallowed.

    Kool-Aid/Flavor-Aid [this stuff still stinks of pheremones!] drank.

    “The Perils of Obedience”.

    Death.

  • February 8, 2014 at 10:36 pm
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    evie– did you ever see the videos of Marshall Applewhite? humor me, go here, please–don’t watch all, as I don’t want to evangelize, but the similarities will probably have someone typing out a d/a letter so fast…

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AqSZhwu1Rwo

    Death.

  • February 8, 2014 at 11:33 pm
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    ” Be obedient and decisive.”

    Was the Governing Body obedient and decisive when they allowed blood fractions. Their Bible states blood must be poured out on the ground.

    Have they showed any repentance?

  • February 10, 2014 at 1:21 pm
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    Have the coupe do a true-life re-enactment in front of the onlooking committee, based on which they can then go ahead and render their verdict.

  • February 10, 2014 at 2:06 pm
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    I meant “couple”.

  • February 10, 2014 at 7:23 pm
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    Unfortunately, I can’t watch the videos on my Xperia :-( The video format won’t work for many on mobile devices.

  • February 10, 2014 at 10:40 pm
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    tunnistaja.ee,

    The preview is wonderful!! Did you finish the work? How can we have access to full video with subtitles?

  • February 10, 2014 at 11:06 pm
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    Watching this video, I can’t help but ask myself “THIS is the wisdom from above that they PROFESS to demonstrate?!?” To the contrary….this video is BAD comedy. In light of accounts recorded in the Bible, preserved for our benefit today (Rom 15:4) this young man should NOT have been disfellowshipped! To just cite A FEW of the examples I’m talking about(way to many to mention here)This young one had the courage to confess, yes he erred 3 times(Peter denied knowing Jesus 3 times) but he confessed to the first one initially and then the other 2 times–he was a little reluctant to confess all 3 times due to fear but this is normal and is to be expected. This brother here on video is young, inexperienced, traumatized, spiritually weak and made a big mistake and he went to the Elders FOR HELP!!! King David DID NOT confess his adultery with Bathsheeba, and then tried to cover it up once he learned she was pregnant by having her husband killed in battle. It was ONLY when Nathan reproved him did he confess. Jesus said the “those in good health have no need for a physician, but the ailing do.” Can’t imagine a doctor killing a patient upon learning he became infected with a disease! The Elders here made a decision WAY TO QUICKLY. Even Jesus said in Revelation 2:21 of his congregation “And I gave her time to repent….” Paul said in 1 CO chapter 5, regarding expulsion, to remove the WICKED man from among you….this young one IS NOT wicked. It’s also amazing for me to see the Elder’s (while using their “Shepard the Flock” manual as a guide) inability to look at God’s word and perceive the help this young man needed. UNBELIEVABLE.

  • February 10, 2014 at 11:15 pm
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    Incredible, how everything this guy says resonates with the message of the WT. Again, incredible that kids are fed this trash, as I was as part of a JW family for 20 years. So happy to be out, but still worried about my brother……..

  • February 10, 2014 at 11:19 pm
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    I meant that as a response to JBob and his Heaven’s Gate video!

  • February 11, 2014 at 7:53 pm
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    This development has proven to me that the GB is NOT inspired by holy spirit and is a force for evil. Just read John 3: 18-21. “This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. 20″For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. 21″But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God.” If the GB has any shred of “truth” and “no fear of the world”, then their deeds should be in the light for all to see. They should make their so called “Sheparding The Flock” book public based on this scripture!!! Anyone could see and make up their own minds in a transparent view of the elder’s JC rules. This proves that the GB is not inspired by GOD, but by evil. They hate the light (the transparency) that would expose them for what they are; a deluded bunch of modern day Pharisees (i.e. “Brood of Vipers”), that bind their ‘flock’ with the law.

  • February 11, 2014 at 9:52 pm
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    Looks like the Watchtower had the video removed from youtube, can you repost it on Vimeo? They don’t want people seeing “the truth” of how ones who come to them for help are REALLY treated. The elders CAN NOT provide the help that ones like this young man TRUELY need; they don’t have A CLUE of what to do/how to help them. That was obvious to see in that video.

  • February 12, 2014 at 1:21 am
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  • February 12, 2014 at 1:27 am
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    PS. I’m working on a front-end video distribution wrapper that lets you push a video simultaneously to number of video sites (youtube.com, vimeo.com, rutube.ru, video.mail.ru and so on); every site has different API and it will take time to complete. Also, any subtitles will need to be burned-in, as opposed to using site-specific captioning systems.

    When this is complete, we will also need an automatic PHP wrapper for embeding videos on websites, so that it detects if a video has been removed from one source and generated embedding code for another one.

  • February 13, 2014 at 6:17 am
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    So they’ve used the copyright excuse, have they?

    Surely they should be glad that more folks can benefit from their wisdom and spirituality?

    What a bunch of ratbags!

    Peace be with you

    Excelsior!

  • February 13, 2014 at 5:20 pm
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    As someone that was a chairman and participant on countless judicial committees, I can assure you that decisions are not reached with the help of ‘holy spirit’

    The vast majority of elders on judicial committees don’t even prepare for what amounts to a ‘life or death’ matter with other people’s lives.

    There is no question for anyone that has been on a judicial committee that the entire process is in conflict with Jesus words at Matthew 7.

    Great work Cedars!

  • February 14, 2014 at 4:37 am
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    What a horrible story!
    My brother and sister went through very similar situations.
    I have promised myself that I would never let my children go through this and I have left the WT.
    The ‘silver lining’ is that you are “out” and these idiots cannot get you ever again.

  • February 16, 2014 at 9:46 pm
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    When i was an Elder we had this CO who was & still is a single brother, i’d love to name him but won’t, he gave a talk one night that basically said that if a married couple practised oral sex then they are guilty of Pornea, another elder & myself asked hime later if that was an outline from the GB, he said yes, we asked to see it, he coulnt find it, we then challenged him on the info & showed him from the Bible/Publications that he was incorrect, he agreed with us, we then asked him if he was going to correct himself from the platform, he said no, what a dickhead, he even said that Animal doco’s which show animals having sex are the work of the devil, we used to call hime the Sex CO, because he couldnt help himeself, i bet he wanks himself to.

  • February 18, 2014 at 3:20 am
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    I always wonder why they believe they are the channel through which Jehovah will “speak”. The so-called slave prophesy says that Jesus will appoint, not Jehovah. Jesus is the Word, and head of congegrations. Jesus judges the congregations as in Rev.2. It took me 17 years to realy realize that there doctrines are based on sand. I am still a member but struggling.

  • February 18, 2014 at 4:47 pm
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    I here you, its realy hard, the elders in my congo are just like Pharrasee’s, a lot of us are realy hoping they get removed, problem is we have had young co, & stand ins for several years, we finally have got a permenent one now,this time last year i stood done as an MS, i had had enough of them, costantly tearing my family down, i then decided to grow a beard, its taken 12 months to finally get direction from the CO, i have it in writting, i can givetalks on the school, i can answer up, & i can go wittnessing, the local body said no platform & that this is theocratic direction, they even had a local needs about facial hair, & basicly said thet if you can;t follow direction then you are not a sheep, so in other words you are going to die.
    I have recieved an apolagy from almost all of the body,

    • February 19, 2014 at 12:14 pm
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      Warren: Thanks for sharing your experiences with us. Having never been a JW, I find this particular rule puzzling and ridiculous. What is the rationale behind their outlawing a beard? Didn’t Jesus have a beard?

      I guess he would not be worthy to speak at the podium.

      Can you tell us more about how they worded the talk regarding facial hair? I don’t know what a “local needs” talk is… Was this talk presented, because of your beard? Or are there others in your congregation who are brave enough to stand up to these ridiculous, power-hungry wolves?

      Thanks for any insight. It is so hard to get any JW to actually answer a question. I do appreciate your participation in discussions here on JWSurvey. :)

  • February 19, 2014 at 2:25 am
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    Warren, I have been out 30 years. I cannot imagine, still having to jump through these hoops. I can assure you its better out than in. JW’s are told there is nothing out there for them. I can tell you there are more genuine people and there is much more kindness and happiness to be found outside the congregations. Now, also, there is all kinds of support. Just knowing you never have to go to another meeting is energising in itself.

    • February 19, 2014 at 12:19 pm
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      So glad: I could not agree more with this comment. JW friendship is conditional.

  • February 20, 2014 at 5:57 pm
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    Thanks for that, i was the only guy with a beard, some of the younger guys would sometimes show up un shaven, such is fashion, they can not give any reason on not having facial hair, but they make the rules, the old story of, if you want to play ball, then we make the rules, i did read somewhere on this site that they want us all to look the same, clean cut and all, but if you look araound society a lot of people have neat beards, i am a professional & none of my clients have raised an eyebrow at it, its the same rule with suites & ties, you must wear them. they used to say that we base our standards on politicians, the way they dress & groom, well we now see beards, & if they get interviewed on sunday, no ties, just smart casual, i raised the point with them that we need to change, one of the elders who stopped me going on the platform to give a talk, that they assigned me while i had the beard used a 1968 watchtower to counsel me, i laughed when he told me how old it was. pharasee’s

  • February 22, 2014 at 4:55 pm
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    William you took the words right out of my mouth. Yes to think ANY judicial committee today would have Dis-fellowshipped King David and said this is the will of God, it was probably months before David confessed and then only when confronted he confessed. Peter would have e been considered an apostate because he denied Jesus 3 times and he was WARNED and still did it. The only person who can really determine repentance is God.

  • February 22, 2014 at 5:06 pm
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    If you think the facial hair is puzzling. I know sometimes brothers have been counseled to only wear pastel colored shirts on the platform.

  • February 23, 2014 at 9:03 am
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    Cedars do you know what Tony Morris meant by the comment about the video having: “subtle discrepancies that were highlighted in class”. (2:30) That would be really interesting to know!

    • February 23, 2014 at 9:45 am
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      I guess he meant the non-expemplary elements which were there on purpose, in order to have a discussion about what could be done better. Like the old guy arguing that the accused should be excused and so on, which required them to “adjust his thinking”.

  • February 23, 2014 at 10:22 am
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    Yes but which parts? That’s really important to know. Maybe we are criticising parts they themselves criticized during the elders school, like telling the young man to abandon the girl along with his potential offspring. Can anyone who was at the elders school tell us which parts were criticized?

    • February 23, 2014 at 10:34 am
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      Yeah, this is a valid concern of course. You can guess a little if you look at the pauses in the video, these are apparently points of discussion.

      Another thing, we generally know from other experiences (both former elders serving on JCs and people who have went through it as defendants) what their attitude towards these issues is.
      From what I gather, they ignore the Mosaic law of marrying the violated virgin (and of course, she could not have been a virgin, so there’s a convenient excuse for that) but rather follow the Watchtower stance on not marrying a non-beliver. This is also the only option that does make sense for the Watchtower from their corporate business interests point of view (not to expose members to outside association).

      But yeah, the final answer to this would come if some smartphone recordings of the actual sessions leaked (which is pretty likely to happen sooner or later).

      The Watchtower could also make a press announcement and release the course transcripts, if they thought they are being beaten unfairly on the internet, but as they seem to give up this opportunity, it’s unlikely they have any solid material to make them look better than this.

    • February 23, 2014 at 12:56 pm
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      That’s a great point slimboyevenfatter. Bear in mind that, whatever they might be, these have been described by Tony as “subtle” discrepancies, which implies that there was nothing earth-shatteringly bad in the way the model judicial committee was conducted. And his “bottom line” comment suggests that it wouldn’t be a disaster if a judicial committee were conducted exactly as portrayed despite the “discrepancies.”

      As regards telling the young man to abandon the girl, this would be in line with the advice on marrying “only in the Lord.” Page 125 of the Shepherd Book makes it an offense worthy of marking for someone to be “dating with a view to marrying someone who is unbaptized.”

      As to the child, don’t forget that “absolute endangerment of spirituality” is considered grounds for separation whether a child is involved or not, (w88 11/1 p.22 par.12) so I doubt elders would be too reticent to split parents apart in this situation.

      Though I’ve never personally witnessed an elder giving this sort of shockingly bad advice, I have had similar stories related to me since these videos were leaked.

      Thanks for your comment though. Food for thought.

  • February 23, 2014 at 2:40 pm
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    There is another possibility too…

    “Discrepancy” is an odd choice of word if he was talking about deliberate mistakes that were intended to be used as talking points. Another possibility is that Morris was saying the elders’ programme included verbal “corrections” to the video, along the lines of: “although the elders did THIS in the video, the new direction from the faithful slave is that elders should do THAT instead”. It wouldn’t be the first time they’ve had to issue “corrections” before the ink even dried on the original instruction.

    Surely some elder who was present took notes and could enlighten us what the “subtle discrepancies” were.

    • February 24, 2014 at 12:28 am
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      Yes, I agree that “discrepancy” is a strange choice of word, not that Tony is the “thinkingest” of men when it comes to his word usage.

      I’ll put some feelers out with my elder contacts and see what comes up.

      FYI – For the avoidance of confusion, Slimboyevenfatter is referring to the judicial committee video and NOT the shepherding video. Not only do Tony’s comments seemingly pertain directly to the judicial committee video, but also the shepherding video differs because it features a direct right/wrong comparison (or wrong/wrong comparison)!

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