A leaked Watchtower letter in Polish addressed to all elders in Poland has asked for details of Witnesses who have become inactive since September 2014.
The letter gives instructions for congregations to send in the “S-10” form – an annual document that asks elders for basic figures regarding the number of active/inactive/reactivated publishers, the amount of unworked territory, and the number of those who are deaf or blind.
But the leaked letter, dated September 1, 2015, makes an additional request for the particulars of anyone who has ceased to be an active publisher over the last 12 months. It is so far unclear as to whether the same letter has been sent out in other countries or languages.
A translation of the pertinent sentence in the letter reads: “Given the special care we are giving to our inactive ones, we ask your secretary to prepare an additional letter about witnesses who became inactive in the 2015 service year. Please specify their names, surnames, age and a short summary about what you think was the cause for their current situation.”
It goes on to say: “We are confident that the information they choose to divulge will assist you in better caring for the needs of our brothers and sisters throughout the territory. (1 Peter 5:2)”
Especially if similar instructions are issued throughout the world, the letter would seem to indicate that Watchtower is starting to bring inactive ones, and especially their motives, under closer scrutiny.
The “Return to Jehovah” brochure released at this year’s convention series (which the letter seems to allude to) indicates that there is a clear disparity between Watchtower’s notion of why people become inactive, and the reality of the situation.
The brochure suggests that Witnesses become inactive due to “anxiety,” “hurt feelings,” or “guilt.” But the most popular responses for 1,614 inactive/faders who took part in last year’s 2014 Global Survey of Jehovah’s Witnesses (the full results of which are soon to be published) indicated reasons involving intellectual honesty.
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Though there will always be a percentage of inactive ones who remain indoctrinated and blame themselves for being too “spiritually weak,” the reality is that often inactive ones simply grow tired of lending their support to a religion they no longer believe in.
Watchtower must understand this at some level, despite their fanciful treatment of the subject in the “Return to Jehovah” brochure. It is, after all, their shunning policy that makes Jehovah’s Witnesses a “captive organization” (to borrow the words of Angus Stewart at the Australian Royal Commission) from which it is impossible to leave gracefully.
If you are fortunate enough to wake up from your Witness indoctrination and seek to maintain contact with believing family members, turning inactive or “fading” on the understanding that you will not speak out against the organization is the only option available to you.
Perhaps Watchtower is already observing the signs of a mass exodus now that 100 years of “God’s Kingdom” have rolled by with no sign of Armageddon, thus rendering the cherished 1914 teaching increasingly obsolete. Or perhaps this new letter to elders in Poland is simply a genuine attempt at reaching out to “spiritually weak” ones in the wake of the new brochure.
Either way one thing is certain: if Watchtower wants to keep abusing its members through shunning, the mishandling of child abuse, the deadly prohibition on blood and the stigmatization of higher learning, they had better get used to Witnesses finding their way to the exit one way or the other.
*Thanks to WifiBandit and the exJW Reddit community for bringing my attention to this letter.