Dishonesty within JW.org Website
Watchtower is using jw.org to present a whitewashed image to the public, garnering trust through presentation of an attractive and professional looking layout, yet its feature articles are filled with dishonest and misleading information.
A number of prime examples follow.
At Frequently Asked Questions, the article Why Don’t Jehovah’s Witnesses Accept Blood Transfusions? makes the following comment:
"Myth: Many Witnesses, including children, die each year as a result of refusing blood transfusions.
Fact: This statement is totally unfounded."
This is dishonest, as can be seen when compared with prior Watchtower admissions.
"Jehovah's witnesses do not argue that blood transfusions have not kept alive patients who otherwise might have died." Blood, Medicine and The Law of God p.38
"In former times thousands of youths died for putting God first. They are still doing it, only today the drama is played out in hospitals and courtrooms, with blood transfusions the issue." Awake! 1994 May 22 p.2
At one point in time, Jehovah's Witnesses were proud to advertise that they would sacrifice their life for what they believed to be Bible principles. Now Watchtower is too concerned with public opinion and legal liability to make such an admission. The fact is that whilst many procedures can now be safely performed without blood, there still arise many cases where blood is the only option for survival. See Blood Transfusions.
In order to justify the strict stance on shunning and disfellowshipping, the article Why Some Are Disfellowshipped? states that witnesses are only disfellowshipped for engaging in "gross sin."
"Disfellowshipping takes place only if a member of the congregation unrepentantly engages in gross sin."
This is misleading and insulting, since there are numerous actions a Witness can be disfellowshipped for that are not "gross" sin. For example, speaking to a disfellowshipped person, smoking, or questioning Watchtower doctrine. For this reason, 1% of Jehovah's Witnesses are disfellowshipped every year, over 70,000.
In the article Do You Shun Former Members of Your Religion?, the initial comment that those no longer preaching are not shunned is a red herring, as it is referring to a person who is inactive, not a former member as the question clearly states.
"Those who were baptized as Jehovah’s Witnesses but no longer preach to others, perhaps even drifting away from association with fellow believers, are not shunned. In fact, we reach out to them and try to rekindle their spiritual interest.
We do not automatically disfellowship someone who commits a serious sin. If, however, a baptized Witness makes a practice of breaking the Bible’s moral code and does not repent, he or she will be shunned or disfellowshipped. The Bible clearly states: “Remove the wicked man from among yourselves.”"
The second paragraph is also deceptive, as a person does not just get disfellowshipped for breaking "the Bible's moral code", but also the many Watchtower rules that are not directly outlined in the Bible, and also for not agreeing with Watchtower interpretation of the Bible. Further, a person that stops their wrongdoing and repents will still be shunned for life, unless they return to the religion and are officially reinstated.
Break Up Families?
Under the heading "Do Jehovah’s Witnesses Break Up Families or Build Them Up?" (as of 19th June 2015) the article lays blame solely on the non-Witness member, commenting that "non-Witness family members often cause conflict ... [but] Jehovah’s Witnesses strive to follow the Bible’s counsel: “Return evil for evil to no one."
What the article fails to mention is the fact that the religion imposes upon its members strict shunning of disfellowshipped family members . When people level the claim that Jehovah's Witnesses break up families, this is commonly in reference to the disfellowshipping arrangement. Since this point is fundamental to the topic, failure to mention shunning is a serious case of "lying by omission."
Watchtower claims not to solicit, petition or beg for money.
We do not tithe, charge dues, or take up collections. Although the costs of supporting our evangelizing work are high, we do not solicit money. Over a century ago, the second issue of the Watchtower magazine stated that we believe we have Jehovah as our backer and that we “will never beg nor petition men for support”—and we never have! Jehovah's Will Lesson 24 How Is Our Worldwide Work Financed?
Whilst Watchtower does not tithe, it is entirely untrue that they do not solicit, beg or petition money, with Watchtower making constant requests for donations. To solicit is a verb meaning "to ask (a person or group) for money, help, etc." (Merriam-Webster), and petition refers to "an earnest request." There is an annual Watchtower article outlining ways to donate - traditionally in November each year, requests for money are made regularly at meetings and in Watchtower publications, websites such as jwgifts.org (as of December 2015) enable Jehovah's Witnesses to donate online, and contribution boxes prominently displayed at kingdom halls and assembly halls.
Detailed instructions explain how to will your assets to Watchtower on death.
Letters are regularly read out at meetings requesting money. For instance, a letter "To All Congregations in Britain and Northern Ireland" 17 December 2015 is passively manipulative in its request for money.
"Throughout the centuries faithful servants of Jehovah have shown a pattern of generosity by using their resources for true worship. ... Already, you dear brothers have done so well, sending gifts both large and small. For instance, two children, five and seven years old, sent their pocket money to help build our new Bethel instead of going to the circus, writing, "This is much better than that! ... Using the website jwgift.org you may make a donation using most credit and debit cards."
Elders letters to the congregations make petitions, even specifying how much it expects each congregation to make, some as perpetual monthly commitments.
"Looking ahead to the need to replace older vehicles in the coming year, we are again writing to invite you to contribute to this arrangement. We anticipate that the expenses can be covered if there is a contribution from each congregation in the amount of £3.00 (€3.75) per publisher. This does not mean that each publisher is expected to contribute this amount. Rather, the congregation as a whole can make the contribution, and all may help with the expense, as they are able. (Acts 11:29) We recommend that each congregation pass a resolution to contribute based upon the number of publishers." Elders Letter to all Congregations in Britain and Ireland, February 25, 2015,
"All congregations are asked to establish a monthly resolved donation to support Kingdom Hall and Assembly Hall construction worldwide by no later than May 31, 2014." Elders letter March 29, 2014
Even children are subject to comments designed to extract their money through guilt. The following images from the 2015 cartoon Be Generous encourages children to show generosity to Jehovah by donating pocket money at the kingdom hall, rather than spend it on ice-cream.
Tolerance to other Religions
Under the section Frequently asked Questions (FAQ) is the question, Are You Tolerant of Other Religions?, with the following answer: (20th Oct 2012)
We follow the Bible’s advice to “respect everyone”—regardless of their religious beliefs."
In reality, the Watchtower is consistently critical of all other religions, labelling them as represented by a "harlot", followers of Satan and displaying abhorrent works. This is hardly a sign of tolerance or respect.
"... the clergy of Christendom have been the most prominent members of Satan's seed." Revelation Its Grand Climax At Hand! p.30
"WE ABHOR the reproach that Babylon the Great, and Christendom in particular, has cast upon the name of the one true and living God, Jehovah." Watchtower 1989 Apr 15 p.18
The article Doomsday may not be what you think (Awake 2012 Sep) makes the following comment:
"Though the Scriptures give us but a glimpse of what lies ahead, they assure us that humanity is not doomed. The future will be glorious beyond our ability to comprehend."
This is deceptive, since the Watchtower teaching of Armageddon is certainly a doomsday, in which all humanity (the human race) alive at the time will be destroyed, save a few million Jehovah's Witnesses. 7 billion are about to die. Humanity will not die out completely, so the Watchtower can claim not to have lied, but the message is misleading. Further, the future will not be "glorious beyond our ability to comprehend" for the 7 billion that have no future in Watchtower theology, whom the Watchtower depicts as becoming feed for animals of prey.
"Come on, birds and beasts! Have your fill then from the human corpses…" You May Survive Armageddon Into God's New World (1955) p.342
Are Jehovah’s Witnesses a Cult?
Another FAQ is the topic Are Jehovah’s Witnesses a Cult? It states "No, Jehovah’s Witnesses are not a cult." Two points are used to describe what is meant by cult, which are followed by inaccurate statements to explain why Watchtower does not fit these points.
“Some think of a cult as being a new or unorthodox religion. Jehovah’s Witnesses have not invented a new religion. On the contrary, we pattern our worship after that of the first-century Christians, whose example and teachings were recorded in the Bible.”
All Christian religions claim to be a representation of true Christianity, so that comment is a moot and debatable point. The facts are that Watchtower is a relatively new religion, formed by Charles Taze Russell in the late 1800’s. Watchtower has no lineage back to Jesus. Russell pieced together teachings from various groups, inventing a new religion little over 100 years ago.
The next point regards the concept that a cult has a human leader.
“Some think of a cult as being a dangerous religious sect with a human leader. Jehovah’s Witnesses do not look to any human as their leader. Rather, we adhere to the standard that Jesus set for his followers when he stated: “Your Leader is one, the Christ.””
An important concept of a cult is not necessarily a single human leader, but rather having leadership that cannot be questioned. Watchtower started with a strong single human leader, Russell, followed by Rutherford. Now that the religion has grown in size it is overseen by a group of men, describing themselves as the Governing Body or Faithful and Discreet Slave, who wield incredible control. The following quotes show how extreme these Watchtower leaders demands for obedience are.
"However, we cannot hope to acquire a good relationship with Jehovah if we ignore those whom Jesus has appointed to care for his belongings." Examining the Scriptures Daily 2012 Mar 4
"At that time, the lifesaving direction that we receive from Jehovah’s organization may not appear practical from a human standpoint. All of us must be ready to obey any instructions we may receive, whether these appear sound from a strategic or human standpoint or not." Watchtower 2013 Nov 15 p.20
Jw.org claims Jesus is their leader, but this is irrelevant, as all Christian cults claim this. What is important, and why Watchtower is a common inclusion on cult lists, is that the leader's demands for obedience, peppered with threats of being disfellowshipped and shunned, is far more aggressive than almost any other Christian religion. In fact, the Governing body go even further than just presenting strict leadership, they claim to be mediators for Jesus.
Watchtower defines a cult as being new, and having a human leader. Whilst stating otherwise, it certain aligns perfectly with both of these points. For a far more in-depth understanding of what a cult is, see Fear and Cult Mind Control.
An American Sect?
The FAQ Are You an American Sect? arrogantly makes four points, mostly either irrelevant or incorrect, including the following.
- Some define a sect as a group that has broken away from an established religion. Jehovah’s Witnesses have not broken away from some other religious group. Instead, we feel that we have reestablished the form of Christianity that was practiced in the first century. …
- All of our teachings are based on the Bible, not on the writings of some religious leader in the United States.—1 Thessalonians 2:13.
- We follow Jesus Christ, not any human leader.—Matthew 23:8-10.
Anyone knowing the slightest history of Jehovah's Witnesses should be aware that the first leader was strongly influenced and associated with Second Adventists, before breaking away over a disagreement with Barbour. Hence, it can be considered a Second Adventist sect, which in turn was a Protestant sect.
The other two points in the article are meaningless comments. All Christian sects claim they base their teachings on the Bible. High control sects claim that the Bible cannot be understood without their leaders to interpret is, as do Watchtower leaders:
"We all need help to understand the Bible, and we cannot find the Scriptural guidance we need outside the "faithful and discreet slave" organization …" Watchtower 1981 Feb 15 p.19
Further, as shown throughout this site, many Watchtower teachings are not based on the Bible, or even contradict the Bible.
Regarding the final point, all Christian sects claim to follow Jesus.
The FAQ What Is the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses? (as of 28 Dec 2015), describes the body as "a small group of mature Christians who provide direction for Jehovah’s Witnesses worldwide." It then adds the ludicrous statement that:
"... the members of the Governing Body are not the leaders of our organization. They look to the Bible for guidance, acknowledging that Jehovah God has appointed Jesus Christ as the Head of the congregation."
By any definition they most certainly are the leaders, having ultimate say over all range of issues not mentioned in the Bible, such as collecting and spending money on maintaining their global publishing corporation. However the deceit in this statement goes much deeper, since they claim obedience to them is critical for God's approval, and hence following their leadership is critical to salvation.
“We need to obey the faithful and discreet slave to have Jehovah’s approval.” Watchtower 2011 Jul 15 p.24 Simplified English Edition
Whilst it is romantic to claim Jesus is the only leader, reality shows otherwise. The Governing Body do not have a direct line to Jesus, as shown by the constant changes in doctrine and policy, and so when they are demanding obedience, it is directly to themselves as the organisation's leaders.
In 2012 the Watchtower relaunched their official website, announcing it in the December 2012 Kingdom Ministry.
"In order to help us ‘fully accomplish our ministry,’ watchtower.org, jw-media.org, and jw.org have been combined into the redesigned jw.org Web site." p.3
Whilst being vocal about the dangers of the internet, Watchtower have fully embraced the internet for themselves, adopting the latest internet technology and standards. The reason for this is partly financial, with the 2013 public Watchtower and Awake being reduced to only 16 pages to cut printing costs, with additional information being contained on the website. Secondly, keeping relevant means going to digital delivery, as this is now the preferred method of accessing information for many people, an issue that faces all publishing companies.
The 2012 Kingdom Ministry makes the following comment.
"Direct People to the Web Site: Some who hesitate to converse with us or accept literature are willing to investigate Jehovah’s Witnesses by looking at jw.org in the privacy of their home. So publicize the Web site at every appropriate opportunity." p.5
This creates a double edged sword for the Watchtower. Jw.org is only a few keystrokes from jwfacts.org, and directing people to the internet will mean they are likely stumble across other websites from which they will receive a full education from multiple points of view. Since 1995, growth of Jehovah's Witnesses halved from what it was in the previous decade, with the internet largely responsible. Few fully informed people fall for the false Watchtower rhetoric that God is directing their organisation, and the internet makes becoming informed easier than ever.
It will be interesting to see the affect full utilisation of the internet will have on growth. Whilst it is a cheap way for the Watchtower to market itself, the internet opens way for followers, and more importantly Watchtower Bible studies, to become educated rather than indoctrinated, which can only be bad for the religion.
 "Normally, a close relative would not be disfellowshipped for associating with a disfellowshipped person unless there is spiritual association or an effort made to justify or excuse the wrongful course." Pay Attention to Yourselves and all the Flock p.103
For a far more comprehensive look at dishonesty within Watchtower publications see Misquotes, Deception and Lies.
Written Oct 2012, latest update Sep 2021.
Paul Grundy 2005 - 2022