In a recent discussion with a couple of District Overseers and other “heavies” , the topic of the internet and “apostate” sites came up. I asked what impact these were making , numerically , among Jws. The prevailing view was that , numerically , there was negligible impact. There aren’t any more being disfellowshipped for apostasy , percentage wise ,than there were in the 70’s and 80’s , although it is possible that more are inclined to fade , or that bible studies were “googling” JWs and stopping their study. Comments such as “If these sites were having an effect , we would be seeing an increase - it just isn’t happening on the ground” “The brothers are just not inclined to look up apostate sites - they just aren‘t interested.” “ Its still 70 25 5 (70% porneia , 25% smoking , fraud etc 5% apostasy) and its been that ratio for decades.“ So what impact (if any) has there been? Where there has been a real effect , they all admitted, was on WT policy - the WT was much more careful in checking what was printed in the magazines because any minor error & the apostates were all over it and Bethel were deluged with letters and phone calls. One DO admitted “They have shifted the agenda on occasions.”
My views now - the real value of the ex-witness / apostate movement is in “moderating” the JW hierarchy. The changes in child abuse policy and the cancelling of the UN registration , for example , have come almost wholly from apostate pressure. Likewise the moderation in the blood policy - I suspect many HLC members inevitably log on to AJWRB (in fact , I know of one who has it in his IE favourites , along with no blood.com etc.) Some of the alterations in the Revelation book (the number of witnesses who died in Nazi Germany and the change in terminology of the Watchtower Eight , for example) have the fingerprints of apostate influence all over them.
Will this process continue? I think that it will accelerate , as a younger , more internet savvy leadership emerges. The WTS has tied its reputation to the insistence that Armageddon is near and has never wavered on 1914 - the longer this process continues without a “result” , the more pressure they will be under to reform. My best guess - a “splinter” between a more mainstream Org and a fundamental hard core , not unlike what happened in the early 20’s (and what could have developed in the late seventies). And in that respect , the internet has had a genuine , tangible effect.