On Thursday, September 24, JWsurvey reproduced a Watchtower letter that had been leaked by a bethel insider. Dated October 4, 2015, the letter advised (or WILL advise) congregations of the announcements that are to be made at Saturday’s annual meeting.
The most dramatic announcement was arguably the scrapping of the much-loved Theocratic Ministry School in favor of a session of preaching presentations.
Another eyebrow-raiser was the news that magazine printing is being further reduced, with public editions of the Watchtower and Awake! to be printed once every two months from January onward.
Within 48 hours of the letter being leaked, this website received nearly 23,000 visits. Interest in the letter was substantial, and the contents were mulled over by the ex-Jehovah’s Witness community in various corners of social media.
Unsurprisingly, given the sensitive nature of the letter, some suggested it might be a hoax. I even briefly pondered myself whether I might be on the receiving end of an extremely elaborate prank designed to undermine this website’s credibility.
But any doubts as to the letter’s authenticity were put to bed today when JWsurvey’s webmaster, John Hoyle, received an email from our hosting company notifying us of an email from Watchtower’s legal department. Apparently, as was the case with the notorious October 1st 2012 child abuse letter, Watchtower’s lawyers consider the leaked letter copyrighted material, and have demanded it be taken down from our pages.
Our web hosting company, seeking to have the matter resolved quickly, advised us of two options: (1) to take the disputed material down, or (2) to issue a counter notification. Since the letter is now freely available elsewhere online, and our work in disseminating it is now effectively done, we have no interest in becoming embroiled in a legal scrap with Watchtower over whether the letter should be on our pages or not.
If anything I am grateful to Watchtower, and specifically its legal department, for once more shooting themselves in the foot so spectacularly. We had a similar situation only 9 months ago regarding Tony Morris and his tight pants fixation, and it seems lessons have not been learned.
By issuing a DMCA complaint, Watchtower has decisively claimed authorship of the letter. And by forcing us to take it down they have demonstrated that (1) they are embarrassed, and (2) they are completely clueless as to how the internet works. Once information is distributed on such a scale it cannot be undistributed.
The whole debacle is yet further proof that Watchtower, like any cult, is struggling to come to terms with the information age. The Governing Body and their men in suits assume the internet can be brought to heel, and that everyone who runs a JW-related website will play by their rules.
But even workers within bethel walls are starting to wake up and find their voice. With each fresh leak the Governing Body’s grip on power is slipping, and with each attempted cover-up there is further proof that this hapless organization is far from the worthy adversary many would assume.
For obvious reasons the letter in question is no longer available on these pages, but I am confident a copy can easily be traced with some persistent searching on Google. The Reddit Ex-JW community would also be a useful place to look.
- Watchtower in crisis: Frustration grows at bethel as Governing Body focuses everything on Warwick
- Theocratic Ministry School GONE as 2015 Annual Meeting announcements leaked in advance
- More downsizing on the way? Multiple sources report bethel letter warning of further cuts
- Is Watchtower imploding? 10 reasons why the end could be nigh
- JWsurvey articles on Warwick
- JWsurvey articles on downsizing