When, as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, we found householders unwilling to listen to us, we were at times frustrated. The comparison often made was to a burning house with people inside. We were trying our best to warn them of danger, but usually they would not listen, often scoffing at us. Oh well… We would continue to do the best we could, but could not be held responsible for those who would not listen.
The frustration was that, to us the facts seemed so simple. We had the truth of God’s Word. We were in association with the sole channel of communication from Him. A group of men in Brooklyn, New York were now taking the lead among Christ’s faithful and discreet slave class. We’d been so convinced that we were right in this, and it was difficult to imagine why—with everlasting life at stake—so few would listen to our warnings.
Now we find ourselves in a similar position. We now recognize that these men were not actually what we thought they were. And now we want to help our friends and family to see what we’ve found. But just as people at the door would usually not listen to us, so too most active Jehovah’s Witnesses will not listen to us when we try to explain this to them. But is there a difference? Yes.
The difference is that now our position is based on a willingness to consider all of the information. For many of us, doing this was so difficult because of the remarkably well executed system by which the Watchtower Society kept us from all of the information. Basically this involved constant warnings that such might subvert our faith. But the enormity of evidence that the Watchtower Society is not what it purports to be does not challenge a faith in God. So any subversion would be—not of our faith in God—but of our faith in the Watchtower Society as God’s special, human instrument.
This thought does in fact occur to many (if not most) active Witnesses. They wonder, “Why, if this truly is God’s sole organization, should we fear listening to the views of opposers?” What keeps them from asking this question too loudly? What stops them from considering the evidence that it might not be what they think it is? Doesn’t the profound importance of this subject demand that we consider all of the evidence? Shouldn’t any organization claiming to be something as important as “God’s channel” be willing to subject itself to an honest-hearted, rational examination?
One way that the Watchtower Society combats this thinking is by branding as “twisted, empty speech” anything that does not confess their leadership as being divinely appointed by God. Examples are provided of certain accusations made against them that might be frivolous and unfounded. Granted, some accusations may in fact be exercises in opportunistic faultfinding. But what should be the yardstick in determining what is and is not relevant information? Should we as adults, with the mind God gave us, not be in a position to judge for ourselves what is truth? Or should we hand this judgment over to the Watchtower Society—those themselves in question?
Active Witnesses entertaining the above logic are met with another barrier keeping them from considering information critical of their organization: the terrifying fear of being disfellowshipped and cut off from their family and friends if the result of any investigation leads to the conclusion that the Society isn’t what it says it is. What an effective device: fear of abandonment. Of course the Watchtower Society favors the spin that it is not they who are abandoning you, but you who are abandoning Jehovah. Never mind that there is nothing further from your mind. You see to them “faith in Jehovah” equals “faith in the Watchtower Society.” Even if you made the decision to be baptized when you were twelve years old, you are still held as a wicked apostate, as if any twelve year old can comprehend the facts sufficient to dedicate his or her life to the belief that a group can be “God’s true organization.”
And so it goes like this…
1) We are discouraged from looking at information critical of the Watchtower Society, being told that it is dangerous and can destroy our faith.
2) We are told that any such information is ridiculous and unfounded anyway, which persuades us not to waste our time with it.
3) We are in effect threatened that, if we were to become convinced that the Watchtower Society isn’t what it claims to be and admit as much, we would be branded as wicked enemies of God, and would be cut off from our families and our entire community of friends.
You have to make it through these three layers of propaganda and institutional manipulation in order to finally give yourself permission to conduct an objective investigation into this organization. It’s an awful lot to have to go through for the simple right to use your head.
This authority exercised over Jehovah’s Witnesses by representatives of the Watchtower Society is comparable to that of the religious leaders of Jesus’ day. It was this legalistic authoritarianism that he warned against perhaps more than all other things.
(Luke 12:1-3) . . .: “Watch out for the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. 2 But there is nothing carefully concealed that will not be revealed, and secret that will not become known. 3 Wherefore what things YOU say in the darkness will be heard in the light, and what YOU whisper in private rooms will be preached from the housetops.
No, the truth about the Watchtower Society not being what it claims to be cannot be concealed forever from those who desire truth. For some, their connection to the organization was not as strong as that of others. For those of us who were so fully committed to it—but who found the strength of will to face all the information, I say, “Congratulations.”