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Ten Things You Didn’t Know about Jehovah’s Witnesses.

In the aftermath of several recent stories about Jehovah’s Witnesses, including the Candace Conti pedophilia court case and the DVD that launched the Sparlock Meme, I have been invited to do a series of articles about Jehovah’s Witnesses. I was a Witness myself for about six years and have been married to one for more than sixteen years. I am now a skeptical atheist with Witness in-laws (Everybody say it with me in their best Everybody Loves Raymond voice, “Thaaaat’s right!”) and very active in the ex-Jehovah’s Witness community.What is the good news of God’s Kingdom Magazine cover?

Isaac J. Harris is an atheist and skeptic blogger. He is an ex Jehovah’s Witness and has graciously agreed to write us a series guest posts about them. You can read more of Issac’s work at  his site, The Atheist Geek News. If you would like to become a guest blogger, let us what you would like to say at our Contact Us page.


10 Things You Don’t Know About Jehovah’s Witnesses

by Isaac J. Harris, The Atheist Geek

In the aftermath of several recent stories about Jehovah’s Witnesses, including the Candace Conti pedophilia court case and the DVD that launched the Sparlock Meme, I have been invited to do a series of articles about Jehovah’s Witnesses. I was a Witness myself for about six years and have been married to one for more than sixteen years. I am now a skeptical atheist with Witness in-laws (Everybody say it with me in their best Everybody Loves Raymond voice, “Thaaaat’s right!”) and very active in the ex-Jehovah’s Witness community.What is the good news of God's Kingdom Magazine cover?

Fair warning: so long as the Michigan Skeptics Association has articles about Jehovah’s Witnesses on its website, it’s very likely that Witnesses will come here and try to debunk any unflattering claims I make. It happens on ex-Witness sites across the web, and I doubt this site will escape their notice forever. Which brings me to the reason there are so many links on the page. By posting links to their own web site (and a few others) to support my claims, you will be able to see for yourselves that everything you read here is true.

And now, here are ten things you don’t know about Jehovah’s Witnesses.

10: Jehovah’s Witnesses Don’t Believe In The Trinity.

Jehovah’s Witnesses can be described as Arian, or at least Semi-Arian, in their view of God, Jesus, and holy spirit. But don’t panic: being Arian or Semi-Arian doesn’t have anything to do with the Nazis. That’s an entirely different sort of Arian.

Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that the holy spirit is actually God’s “active force,” or energy, not a person as Trinitarians might see it. It’s also something that doesn’t get capitalized in their literature, which is why I’m not capitalizing it here.

Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that Jesus is also a separate person from God, though he could be called a god in his own right. According to Jehovah’s Witnesses, God only made one thing on his own: Michael the Archangel! You thought I was going to say Jesus, didn’t you? Note that there is only one archangel in their pantheon of angels and his name is Mike. Michael the Archangel made everything else in creation, from heaven to Earth, in accordance with God’s plan. Even the angels were made by Michael. Later, Michael was sent to Earth and became Jesus. (Tada!) So while Jesus is awesome and everything (duh) his father is even more awesome in the eyes of Jehovah’s Witnesses.

Jehovah God, as you may have guessed, is still the same big man he is to all other denominations of Christianity.

9: Jehovah’s Witnesses Don’t Believe In A Literal Hell

This may surprise some of you. I mean, how do they whip everybody into compliance with their rules if they don’t believe in a literal Hell? I’ll answer that one later. (Hint: it rhymes with Armageddon.) For now, just understand that whenever your Bible talks about Hell, Jehovah’s Witnesses say it’s really talking about something else, like the grave. Note that their Bible, the New World Translation, doesn’t use the word hell. It simply uses the original words in the biblical manuscripts, like Sheol or Gehenna, without bothering to translate them into English. So, to Jehovah’s Witnesses, when most of us die, we simply…well…die. At least until we’re resurrected. That means that red heads aren’t so different from the rest of us in the world of Jehovah’s Witnesses. To them, none of us has a soul. Not even blonds, so stop asking me.

8: Only 144,000 Jehovah’s Witnesses Go To Heaven

In case you’re wondering, there are actually about seven million baptized Jehovah’s Witnesses worldwide right now. You may have noticed that this is a lot more than a 144,000 people. This may sound like a problem, but they’re not sweating it. Most Witnesses aren’t looking forward to any sort of heavenly afterlife at all.

Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that only the anointed Witnesses (who are also called the “Hundred-and-Forty-Four Thousand,” or “the Faithful and Discrete Slave class”) will go to Heaven to rule at Jesus’ side. They will become “spirit creatures” in heaven, similar to the angels. In theory, it’s the still-living anointed “slave class” that has been delegated authority to run God’s earthly organization, The Watchtower Society. By the way, whenever you hear Witnesses or ex-Witnesses talking about “the Society,” they’re really talking about the Watchtower Society I just mentioned.

So how do you know if you’re one of the anointed? Well, you just know is all! There is no litmus test per se. Note that there have been way more than a 144,000 Witnesses claiming to be anointed already and Armageddon isn’t even here yet! Apparently more than a few anointed were mistaken about being part of the Faithful and Discrete Slave. Of course, faking it could get you kicked out of any sort of paradise, so it’s not a smart move.

7: For Most Witnesses, Paradise Means An Eternity Spent On Earth

Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that the Earth will be restored to a paradise after Armageddon and that the human race will be “perfected.” All of this will take place over a thousand year period because we, as human beings, are just plain awful. The task of perfecting us will be overseen by Jesus and the anointed. Once that’s complete, Jesus will hand the Earth and its inhabitants back over to Jehovah God’s ruler-ship.

So what does it mean to be perfect? They say we’ll be made young and healthy forever. But what happens if you slip on a banana and get sucked into a wood chipper? No one really knows. I always assumed that perfect human beings would have regenerative powers like Wolverine from the X-Men. Honestly, your guess is as good as anybody’s.

6: Armageddon’s Coming, Mister! Or Maam

As stated earlier, Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t believe that bad people go to Hell when they die. Witnesses believe that the dead are unconscious, so threatening one of them with eternal hellfire isn’t really going to motivate him much. But many Witnesses will cringe at the mention of Armageddon.

Witnesses believe that Armageddon could strike at any second. Maybe now. Or even now!!! Oh, so close. When it does, only good Jehovah’s Witnesses will survive. Unless you’re one of them, it doesn’t matter if you’ve been a good person or not. Jesus will smite ye! Yet being a Witness doesn’t guarantee that you’ll survive Armageddon either. You have to be an upstanding member of the religion. Remember, Jesus sees all and knows all. Even what’s in your mind. That’s why I try to keep my thoughts as dirty as possible; he can only take so much depravity. That keeps my thoughts nice and private.

If you are killed during Armageddon, that’s it for you. You’re dead and gone for good. Like the people of Noah’s day, it’s assumed that the world will be a raving cesspool of wickedness by that point and that every non-Witness alive will be deserving of death. If you died before Armageddon, however, then you will probably be resurrected and reeducated by Armageddon survivors during Christ’s Millennial Reign (the thousand year period I mentioned earlier). In other words, Witnesses who survive into the Millennial Reign will teach the truth (their religion) to those who are resurrected. If resurrected ones reject these teachings, then they die all over again and that will be it for them too. Hey, that’s how free will works people! Take it or else.

5: Jehovah’s Witnesses Believe That Other Religions Are Demonically Inspired

Jehovah’s Witnesses generally see other religions as an affront to God. Many (or all) other religions are thought to have demonic origins. Some Witnesses even believe that pagan deities, like Thor and Zeus, were actually invented by fallen angels. The point is that other religions are generally out there to mislead people and to draw them away from God’s one, true religion. Note that the word “Christendom” is often defined as “the Christian world,” but Witness literature uses it to refer to “false Christianity” instead. Any religion other than their own which calls itself Christian is a part of Christedom.

As you might have guessed by now, Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t do interfaith very well. Or at all, really. In fact, even stepping inside a religious building like a church or a Mosque can get you in trouble if you’re a Witness. So can a lot of other things, but we’ll talk about that another time.

4: World Governments Are Under Demonic Control

Satan is the ruler of the world and it’s governments, so Jehovah’s Witnesses are not allowed to directly participate in politics or to serve in the military. Doing so would be like joining Satan himself. That means Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t vote, will always find you innocent if they’re forced to serve in a jury (good to know), and view world governments as nothing more than a necessary evil until the beginning of Christ’s Millennial Reign. All armies and human governments will be destroyed during Armageddon, so you don’t want to be a part of them when the big A hits…unless you’re a worldly person. In which case, you’re toast anyway.

3: All Non-Witnesses Are Part Of Satan’s World

I suppose I could have narrowed these last three into a single heading called, “Trust No One!” But these points each deserve their own explanation.

Jehovah’s Witnesses are strongly discouraged from forming strong ties to non-Witnesses, who are also referred to as nonbelievers or as “worldly people.” This is because we worldly types are all part of Satan’s world, or “This System of Things.” That’s right my friends. Whether you know it or not, you are Satan’s unwitting pawn. To Jehovah’s Witnesses, letting a worldly person into their lives represents a threat to their spirituality. Satan could use us to corrupt them, so all worldly people (or all non-Witnesses) are generally assumed to be “bad associates.”

Don’t get me wrong. Witnesses are more than happy to convert us. But if a Witness invites you over to his house, it probably isn’t for the company. Expect to leave with a few magazines or at least a tract before you go.

3: Jehovah’s Witnesses Practice Disfellowshipping (Shunning)

You can think of disfellowshipping as a severe dose of excommunication with a dose of the cold shoulder treatment thrown on top. If a Witness is disfellowshipped, he not only sacrifices any hope of living forever in a paradise Earth, he is also cut off from any form of communication with anyone who is still one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Even if they are members of his own family. Any Witness who violates this rule by talking or eating with a disfellowshipped person runs the risk of being disfellowshipped himself.

Of course, some families do break this rule from time to time. But it’s rarely a good thing for an ex-Witness when they do. Many Witnesses only do it so they can tell their disfellowshipped relatives how disappointed they are in them. When a Witness breaks protocol to communicate with a loved one who has been disfellowshipped, it usually happens in the form of a letter or an email. Note that some congregations are more liberal than others and will allow some face time if the Witness gets permission from his elders. But make no mistake, disfellowshipping is a very powerful way of keeping Witnesses who lose faith in the Society’s teachings in check.

I want to stress that disfellowshipping is a huge issue, one that people sometimes underestimate. Many ex-Witnesses have been emotionally devastated by it. In fact, many ex-Witnesses pretend that they still believe in “the truth” (what Jehovah’s Witnesses call their religion and their community) just to avoid being disfellowshipped. That alone should tell you something about the power it holds over them.

2: Women Who Are Jehovah’s Witnesses Are Always In Subjugation To Men

Like everyone else at your closest Kingdom Hall, women are in subjugation to congregation elders (who are always male) and to their own fathers until the day they move our or get married. (I mean when the women get married, not the fathers.) Even then, they are forever in subjugation to their husbands and are to obey him out of respect for Jehovah’s arrangements and their husband’s “headship” over the family. If a woman is required to take on a responsibility that only a male is normally allowed to carry out, she must wear a head covering. Any head covering, even a book held on top of her head, will do.

Women are not allowed to directly teach, or instruct, from the podium at any Kingdom Hall unless no suitable males can be found. They are allowed to instruct by example, however. Congregation sisters will perform a hypothetical scenario in front of the congregation, sort of like a play. For instance, one sister might pretend to be a householder while another pretends to be a Witness trying to place a magazine with the householder; this serves as an example so others can see how it’s done. It reminds me of my days as a salesman, where management would force us to act out different scenarios at sales meetings. We hated it, but it’s generally regarded as a privilege to perform in front of an audience at a Kingdom Hall if you’re one of Jehovah’s Witnesses.

1: The Light Gets Brighter As The End Draws Near

In theory, Jehovah’s Witnesses are led by Jesus Christ, who has been delegated authority to lead them by Jehovah God. In practice, they’re really led by a bunch of old guys from a place called Bethel, which is currently in New York. These old guys are called the governing body, and their authority was delegated to them by Jesus. Well, allegedly delegated. Your mileage may vary.

Jesus, it is believed, is guiding the leaders toward the absolute truth in a very subtle, vague sort of way. So subtle that the leaders make mistakes just like everybody else, including people who are not divinely inspired by Jesus. This might lead you to assume that it’s hard to tell someone who’s divinely inspired from someone who merely claims to be. But that you would be a very wrong and obvious thing to say.

The point is that “the truth,” as they understand it, is ever-changing, even though Jehovah and Jesus are not forever changing their minds. These changes are often described as “new light” by the Society’s leaders and are not to be taken as a sign that their leaders are misguided. Instead, it just means they get stuff wrong and Jehovah’s Witnesses shouldn’t let it bug them. The light (or the truth) gets brighter as Armageddon draws near, my friends. So stop relying on your own understanding and trust Jehovah to make it clear in his own good time. (These are things that real Jehovah’s Witnesses say, by the way. No, I’m not kidding.)

Openly flaunting any difference of opinion with the Society’s governing body can get you disfellowshipped for apostasy, especially if you try to convince others that your opinions are right and the leader’s teachings are not. That’s a major no-no in the world of Jehovah’s Witnesses. It’ll get your bus pass into paradise revoked in a heartbeat, buddy. So don’t even go there.


That’s it for today class. Stay tuned for more articles about Jehovah’s Witnesses in the near future. In the meantime, feel free to check out my website at Atheist Geek News

25 thoughts on “Ten Things You Didn’t Know about Jehovah’s Witnesses.

  1. Danny Haszard says:

    Well done!
    More on blood transfusions.
    Jehovah’s Witnesses blood transfusion confusion

    Jehovahs Witnesses take blood products now in 2012.
    They take all fractions of blood.This includes hemoglobin, albumin, clotting factors, cryosupernatant and cryo-poor too, and many, many, others.
    If one adds up all the blood fractions the JWs takes, it equals a whole unit of blood. Any, many of these fractions are made from thousands upon thousands of units of donated blood.
    Jehovah’s Witnesses can take Bovine *cows blood* as long as it is euphemistically called synthetic Hemopure.
    Jehovah’s Witnesses now accept every fraction of blood except the membrane of the red blood cell. JWs now accept blood transfusions.
    The fact that the JW blood issue is so unclear is downright dangerous in the emergency room.

    More than 50,000 Jehovah’s Witnesses dead from Watchtowers deadly arbitrary blood ban. That is 50 times more than died at Jonestown massacre,some estimates run as high as 100,000 dead

    Danny Haszard ajwrb(dot)org
    JW blood reform site

  2. Ashley says:

    A little story, in my 10th year of highschool, one of my best friends decided that she wanted to follow her father and become a jehovie. Ultimately, she vanished. I haven’t seen nor heard from her since we were fifteen. One of the last conversations I recall having with her was about he potentially moving into a ‘convent’ or a ‘group jehovie home’. This twisted cult is deplorable, it’s almost as bad as christianity or scientology.

    • eric says:

      Probably the “Watchtower Farms” – a largely self-sufficient compound where they print the magazine.

      I toured it once when I got forced into that BS cult for a while.

  3. Isaac J. Harris says:

    Ashley, any chance your friend was going to Bethel or someplace like that to work on the publications?

    Bear in mind that JWs, like SDAs and other small religious groups, have many break-offs that are even more extreme. Some actually use the Society’s literature, but swear loyalty to another group.

  4. Pingback: Diez cosas que no sabías de los Testigos de Jehová (ENG) | Desde.CO

  5. Reubarbarian says:

    Great article Isaac!

    It does tend to be difficult to get solid info that isn’t accompanied by proselytizing. Having read your article and taking it at face value, it really helps me to put some questions concerning an old coworker in perspective. It still boggles me that any woman would ever want to be a part of any group that is so bent on the subjugation of women. That’s what I get for trying to use uncommon sense!

    Thanks and keep up the great work!

    • Isaac J. Harris says:

      Thanks a lot for the kind words. I should probably mention that I’ve never heard of a Sister being disfellowshipped for disobeying her husband, though an elder could try to “set her straight” if she disobeyed him publicly. Many things can affect a Witness’ standing within the congregation. It’s all a matter of degree.

      I like to think of it this way. All society’s and cultures have certain expectations and consequences for meeting or failing to meet those expectations. In the U.S., people often frown on those with disabilities that aren’t readily noticeable. I once suffered from migraines so severe that they interfered with my ability to work. The consequence was that many people, including family and in-laws, did not approve of me in general. I was not arrested or whatever for it. But some thought I wasn’t a very good person and just assumed I didn’t want to work. (Fortunately, I have pretty much overcome these issues.)

      Likewise, if a Sister is disobedient, she is likely to be seen as “worldly” and having a “spirit of rebelliousness.” Or even–dare I say it?–guilty of “relying on her own understanding!” That’s how Satan gets you, you know. She may not be DFed, but she will not be treated very well, either. Others may not speak to her unless forced to do so. She will already be one-strike down in the public eye.

  6. Amelia says:

    Isaac – thanks for the information! I have to ask – you say you are married to a Witness and have Witness in-laws. Does that mean your wife is still a Witness? And were you disfellowshipped? Thanks!

    • Isaac J. Harris says:

      My wife is still one of JWs, though she is probably considered inactive and in danger of becoming “worldly” by their standards. Bear in mind that JWs have high standards in terms of what allows you to call yourself a JW. You have to be baptized as one first, or raised by JWs, to be counted as one. There are as many as 18 or 19 million people who believe that JWs have “the truth” based on Memorial attendance, yet they only count about 7 million each year. Many celebrities and historical figures who are cited as JWs by various websites are not, in fact, considered full fledged JWs by the Watchtower Society. Many do not believe the Jackson family to be “real” JWs, for instance.

      I was never DFed, though I have been shunned by several of them. Note that DFing is not a requirement for shunning; you merely have to be seen as a bad associate. I was never shunned (though I sure wanted to be at times) until after I admitted to being an atheist to an in-law who didn’t know when to leave me alone about my life-choices. It was actually one of the many weird experiences I’ve had since leaving the WTS with JWs who are determined to confront me about my leaving. I would love to write these experiences down, but I fear there’s no way to tell them with much justice to all involved.

  7. Eric says:

    Witnesses in Norway refute mandatory military service. Consciencious (that’s a hard word) objectors like them and myself get sent social service “camps”. During my “imprisonment” in this camp I met several of these witnesses. All of them were of semi- or lower education. Higher education is not encouraged, don’t give them any ideas, I guess. In Norway there is a clear anti-sentiment towards religious people, and perhaps, especially JW. But I was appalled by these people. I’ve never met so brazenly racist, narrow-minded, sheeple in my life. But alcohol? One of them crashed the camp minivan in a garbage-container DUI. Another guy got caught surfing kiddie-porn at the public computer. Really?? Wtf? I’m embarrassed of these people, but they don’t care. They “have seen the light”, fucking brain-washed is what they are…..

    • Isaac J. Harris says:

      As an atheist, I am intrigued by countries that are deemed to be highly secular. I think Norway is one. Am I right, Eric?

      The WTS has traditionally frowned upon higher education in most countries. There is an old saying among ex-Witnesses like myself: JWs are a religion of window washers. Not because they’re dumb or because window washers are dumb, but because they’re expected to dedicate themselves to the WTS and its cause from an early age. Hence, many end up in low paying jobs or doing grunt work all their lives. I am nearly 40, and I’m only now starting my first year of college (though there are many reasons for that which have little to do with JWs). The fact that many JWs disapprove of higher education is enough to keep most of them as far from it as possible in order to gain the approval of their families and potential spouses.

      Your experiences with their behavior are not terribly uncommon, but not all JWs are alike. I can attest to that much, at least. I would like to suggest that you not judge them all too harshly. There is at least one study suggesting that JWs are more likely to be emotionally unstable, though I’m not sure it’s fair to give too much credit to a single study. Note that while I am a critic of the WTS and, to some extent, JWs, I do not hate them and try not to turn them into stereotypes. (Not that you were, either, Eric.) Mostly, I am a critic of the corporation behind their religion (the Watchtower Society) and their culture, which I believe has many problems.

  8. Carla says:

    I grew up in a witness family, my parents are still practicing members. I was never baptised, nor was I disfellowshipped. But I am still ostracized and ignored by the congregation members in my city. I believe that the JW faith is a cult, and yes I do agree that goals to obtain higher education are quashed by the religion. The only members I have met that have a formal qualification of any type are the members that joined the religion after attending university… I would have thought that higher education would have won over, but brainwashing works in mysterious ways…
    Thank you for this article. Now I can give it to my friends and explain what my parents believe in. It’s easier than trying to find ways to explain it!

    • Isaac J. Harris says:

      I did not grow up with a family of JWs. I went to my first meeting on my 18th birthday. The fact that my parents were not “in the truth” made this more difficult than it needed to be. As a kid, all the elders and some other adults felt entitled to treat me as if I was one of their kids. Not all, but many of them, seemed to have what I would call “control issues.” Several elders kept henpecking me for things that seemed petty, even trivial, and far from worth the effort. Being a teenager, I kept doing them for the first year or so just because I could. 🙂

      Darn my spirit of rebelliousness!

      As a side note, I should mention that some on my father’s side of the family were Mormon-wannabes. They couldn’t really join the Mormons. Too many rules about smoking and drinking. 🙂 But when you think about how close I could have come to being a Mormon instead of a JW…oh boy.

  9. Brendan says:

    Very interesting. I’ve been raised around more liberal religious types, so I never really experienced these pressures. My mother certainly rode me hard about going to church once I stopped, but it was more like she thought it would do me good than she thought I would burn in Hell. She eventually became an Anglican priest, and married another Anglican priest, so I’ve had a lot of Jesus in the house (and sermons in the car). Moralistic stuff, some judgmental treatment. I’m just glad my father is an atheistic cynical recidivist so I had another path to tread.

    My life has lead me to atheism, but I harbour a deep fascination with religion and myth. I’ve studied a lot of different religions from different periods. It sounds like the WTS has an operation much like that of orthodox Jewish societies, with the shunnings and the elder councils.

    ***btw I know that in many places the Anglican Church is very conservative, but I’m from Canada, where it is pretty liberal (no gay marriages yet, but same-sex blessings skirt that issue closely, and certainly homosexual priests and parishioners).

    • Isaac J. Harris says:

      Brendan, I am a skeptical atheist these days, but I’m also fascinated by religion and myth. I used to read books about mythology when I was waiting for the bus back when I was in elementary school. As always, the best parts of mythology are the parts you don’t learn about in school. I see it as an extension of the human psyche.

      BTW, JWs don’t approve of homosexuality either. Moderate, or maybe even liberal, JW congregations do exist. But they are usually looked down on by the rest. When a JW is about to be baptized, they have to go before 2 elders who will ask questions and offer advise before approving the baptism. At my meeting, the elders warned me not to go to 2 specific congregations, calling them “Sodom and Gomorrah.”

      To give you a perspective on the congregation I was from–which I think was pretty typical of a Kingdom Hall–one of the reasons they cited was that, “Brothers are allowed to give talks without a suit jacket from the podium.”

      No running through the halls, kids!

  10. Michael says:

    I used to be an elementary school teacher and one year I had about 5 or 6 JW in my fourth grade class. After about six weeks or so they were all taken out of my class. One boy in particular, was very smart and we had amazing conversations about science, history, politics, and even mathematics. When he became rebellious at home is when all of the JW were placed in different classes because I was not a good fit. I stayed in some contact with that one student because I live near where I taught, and one day he told me that everyone was taken out of my class because the parents complained about me because, in his words, “I was teaching them to think too much outside of the approved curriculum.” Now my house sit up above the Kingdom Hall and I sometimes look for him, but hopefully he made it to college and left that stuff behind.

    • Isaac J. Harris says:

      I don’t suppose the subject of evolution came up, did it? Or blood transfusions? Or any history that might cross into “Bible times?”

      JWs often have a mistrust of science, especially older JWs. I don’t know how long ago this was, but if their parents smelled the possibility that you might “mislead” their kids with…you know…facts as the rest of us know them, they might have gone into “save our kids from worldly influences” mode. You know…get thee behind me, Satan!

      Bear in mind that the Watchtower Society wrote “Life–How did it get here? By evolution or by creation?” This is an infamous creationist book that is…well…disturbingly inaccurate. And so popular among even non-Witnesses that Richard Dawkins addressed it in “The God Delusion” despite the fact that the book was just going out of print after a run of more than 25 years. A paper exists online that debunks its many inaccuracies (note that it was written soon after the “Life…” book and that the situation is even worse now) and that paper is actually several times bigger than the book it debunks!

      JWs also believe certain odd things about history and medicine. If you crossed any of those lines in your conversations, that might explain why you got such a unanimous reaction from all the JW parents.

  11. Robert King says:

    I don’t know why the 1914 doctrine didn’t make your top ten list. Seems to me to be the most important teaching of the Watchtower

    • Isaac J. Harris says:

      Robert, I have been to your website on occasion. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I’ve always had the impression that your approach in dealing with JWs and their beliefs is a religious one. That is to say, you appear to be a Christian or even a fundamentalist Christian who feels some outrage over what you believe to be false teachings.

      To you, as is the case with many other critics of the WTS who are still Christians, the 1914 issue is probably a big deal. I respect that, and mean no disrespect when I tell you that to me–as an atheist–it is not a big deal at all. It doesn’t even really affect the day-to-day lives of most JWs. Or at least it had little impact on mine when I was a Witness back in the 90s, and now that the generation teachings has changed, it probably matters even less. If a Witness came to a skeptic’s door, it is unlikely that the issue would come up directly in a conversation.

      Try to understand that you and I are coming at this from very different points of view. To me, as an atheist, the basic teachings of JWs are no more true or false than anyone else’s. That isn’t what my approach is about, nor is it a focus of contention for me. I will point out the irrationality of their beliefs in a heartbeat. But I don’t have another “truth” to steer people toward the way many Christian critics do.

      Also, please remember that this is a skeptic website, not a Christian website. There could be readers here who are Christian, but they are likely to be Christian moderates instead of fundamentalists. So, to go into 1914 and the whole generation issue, I would have to explain why any of the readers here should care about it before I even addressed the actual issue of 1914.

      Robert, with all respect, that does not suggest that it warrants an entry here, especially since the article is already quite long.

      To me, as an atheist, 1914 only has one interesting feature: it is based on an incorrect understanding of history. A small article could cover that. But it doesn’t interest me in the way that it clearly interests you. I’m sorry Robert, but I would probably be nearly out of ideas before I wrote much about 1914.

      I happen to notice that you have an article up right now that talks about 1914. Perhaps people who are interested can go there. If you can write an article about 1914 that is geared toward skeptics/atheists instead of Christians, you could also try submitting it as a guest writer here. There is a message at the top of my article from the webmaster inviting others to do just that.

      Best of luck to you and the eWatchman, Robert. 🙂

  12. Paul Murray says:

    JW is a very straightforward moneymaking scam.

    You get to heaven by “witnessing” for Jehovah.
    “Witnessing” means “handing out literature produced by the Watchtower bible and tract society”.
    Which you pay for.
    At what they claim is “cost price” (LOL!!!)

    The Watchtower ferociously guard their copyright. Any JW that suggests that it could be produced more cheaply down at the local print shop instantly gets in a whole mess of trouble. To help enforce this, everyone in the hierarchy down to the local bishops gets a cut of the action – just like Amway and their inspirational tape selling racket. Really, it’s hard to tell the two apart.

    The pressure to “witness” is so great that JWs will buy literature and throw it in the bin, just to pretend that they are “witnessing”. It isn’t God they are trying to impress – it’s their brothers and sisters in church, who will ostracise them if they don’t (again – Amway people will buy stuff they don’t use, just to keep the numbers up).

    And that’s pretty much all there is to it.

    • Isaac J. Harris says:

      Paul, how do you know that everyone in the hierarchy gets a cut of the action? I think you mean elders, not bishops, BTW. But I would be interested in hearing more about that. Even former elders who are now XJWs have never said anything to me about that. Same for former Witnesses who used to work at Bethel headquarters.

      Thanks in advance for filling in the blanks.

      • Isaac B. says:

        There are no blanks to fill in. I don’t know where Paul is getting his info but his use of the word bishops tells me he doesn’t know much about witnesses.

        The society stopped charging for their literature about 20 years ago. You can’t claim to be a non-profit org if you are selling something. It was just easier to stop charging and start asking for a donation to cover the printing costs.

        All of the witness leaders at the local level are unpaid volunteers. Circuit overseers and various other missionaries as well as those who work at their headquarters receive small monthly stipends. If anyone thinks these people do it for the money, they are misinformed. Anyone at that level is a true believer and not in it for the money. I don’t say that to defend them, it’s just the way it is.

  13. Gabriel says:

    I had a ex girlfriend who is a JW and I witnessed some of the stuff they do. Believe this is not a religion for everyone they are soooo sharp in their rules. I recall she wasn’t allowed to deliver those pamphlets at the street because she was been considered “rebelious” cause she hang out a lot with non JW friends. Her ex hit her a few times and her family told her to not expose him because he was probably right in doing it. She had to hide our relationship from her dad because she didn’t wanted her dad to suffer from the shame. After the service on sundays the elders make a lottery to select people to stay and clean the whole place. Everything related to literature has to be made and approved by the big church in Bethel so all of them are reading the same. If there is a dispute between members it is usually solved by a counsel of elders who solve stuff, most of the child molesting cases and adultery wich both are punishable by law are being solved “closed doors” so that’s why no one knows what happens in there. I left her because she was too afraid of what her family and JWs would do to her if they knew about that.

  14. Harold Gerber says:

    Well written accurate posts. I remember dropping out of high school and moving out of my parents home to pursue a different happier life. My parents who were full fledged strict Jehovies did’nt try to talk me out of it; but rather emphazied a higher education was not necessary because the ‘new world was just stound the corner.
    They simply said Jesus Christ was’nt a university scholar but a ‘humble’ lowly carpenter. I should be emulating him.
    But to my loss, that was back in 1966 and the new world is’nt here yet.
    That cult had profound negative impact and basically ruined my life!

  15. Jane Thompson says:

    I didn’t get past the point where he misspelled “Aryan.” I don’t care, I stay away from Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses and pretty much all
    Christians. The kindest thing I can say about them is that they are hypocrites.

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