Last year I did a review of 2011 for the forum. This was more of a review that focussed on some of the awful stuff that was printed in the literature that year - the first year of my awakening.
2012 has been more interesting from the point of view of things actually happening outside the literature. I thought it might be nice to take a look back and put some of these events in chronological order...
29th April 2012 - Selma and Steve
On April 29th, thousands of congregations around the world studied a Watchtower article containing an experience in which a man (Steve) hits his wife (Selma), but it is implied that this violence is the fault of the wife for not showing him enough love. The material is so inappropriate that some translations of the article into other languages attempt to "soften" the account, neglecting to mention that there is any actual violence in the experience.
15th May 2012 - Headquarters plans unveiled
The August 15th Study Edition of the Watchtower, released in mid May, mentioned the Governing Body's plans for a new lakeside World Headquarters complex in upstate New York. The news was announced at the 2011 Annual Meeting in which Guy Pierce, in a surprising moment of candour, admitted that the Governing Body was "not yet certain of Jehovah's will regarding Warwick" but that they were forging ahead with the multi-million dollar project anyway.
27th May 2012 - Sparlockmania
On 27th May this forum was amazed and horrified to watch previews of the Become Jehovah's Friend DVD. The awful film, which quickly spread all over YouTube, was a blatant example of child indoctrination and the Society's attempts to sculpt the minds of young Witness children into those of compliant cult followers. The young protagonist Caleb was forced to consign his new toy wizard Sparlock to the dumpster for no other reason than because it "made Jehovah sad". Even though the video was supposed to be distributed free of charge for educational purposes, the Society wasted no time in dishing out DMCA takedown notices and getting the unauthorized mirrors of the Sparlock video removed from YouTube. They wanted control, not just over the minds of young children, but also over who watched the video and under what circumstances. Regardless of their attempts to silence the community, Sparlock has become firmly established as a symbol of the apostate struggle against a twisted and damaging cult. The film also received some critical media attention in Norway and Denmark.
14th June 2012 - News breaks of the Conti verdict
This was the real biggie of the year. On 14th June the forum first learned that a momentous verdict had been reached, granting Candace Conti victory over the Watch Tower Society - who were held legally responsible for the abuse she suffered at the hands of a congregation member as a nine-year-old. News quickly spread around the world, featuring on many news websites. The Society was slow to issue a response to the crushing verdict, but when it finally did - it said it would appeal. Before the appeal could get underway, a JNOV motion was successful in getting the awarded damages down from over $20 million to just over $11 million. The appeal has yet to get fully underway, but Conti's supporters have reasons for optimism after seeing the Society's lawyers make an embarrassing blunder in their motion to use Patterson as security. The motion was summarily dismissed after it was decided that there was no legal basis for property to be used as payment of a bond. It will be interesting to see what 2013 brings as the appeal continues, and one can't help but wonder whether we haven't seen the last of this story in the media as sensitivity towards child abuse heightens in countries like Norway and the UK.
14th July 2012 - Anonymous threatens the Watchtower
On 14th July the organization Anonymous began posting videos on YouTube declaring their intentions to extract the rumoured secret pedophile database from Watchtower HQ. Many on the forum are understandably reluctant or even opposed to any involvement from the vigilante group. What is noteworthy, whether you welcome their involvement or not, is the fact that outside organizations are finally starting to sit up and take notice of what goes on in the Watchtower organization with a view to wanting to do something about it.
1st September 2012 - The viral deaf masturbation video
September 2012 was the month when one poster's observation (rebel8) turned into a viral YouTube sensation! rebel8 noticed that there was an ASL version of some of the Society's anti-masturbation material in a video that they had uploaded to their new website. Once this news spread, it prompted one YouTuber to upload a copy of the video which ended up receiving over 860,000 views before being pulled off YouTube by another Watchtower DMCA takedown notice. However, this belated action by the Society arrived too late to prevent multiple mirror videos from being produced, many of which were edited to music. The video even featured on the Comedy Central show The Burn with Jeff Ross. The whole episode showed thousands of people how ludicrous and outlandish Witness beliefs really are.
1st September 2012 - The new look JW.org is launched
The Society's new attempt at taming the internet, the new-look JW.org, was launched on September 1st. It boasts a number of highly produced promotional videos, intended to portray the organization in a positive light to the outside world. A close inspection of the FAQs section reveals that the Society is more than comfortable with twisting the truth if it means bringing in interested ones via their web pages.
5th September 2012 - A new Governing Body member
At New York bethel's morning worship on September 5th, 47-year-old Mark Sanderson was unveiled to the bethel family as the latest addition to the Governing Body. News of the announcement quickly spread online, even though it took over two months for the news to be officially confirmed via a passing mention in a JW.org promotional video. Mark has enjoyed a meteoric rise from 1 of nearly 12,000 faithful slave members, to 1 of only 8 - thanks to another development that I will mention later.
1st October 2012 - New policies on child abuse
Following the Candace Conti verdict, many in our community hoped the Society might finally see sense and take this opportunity to introduce urgent reforms to their woefully inadequate child abuse policy. Instead, a letter dated October 1st was leaked where the Society effectively assumed MORE responsibility for handling accusations of child abuse, rather than letting the authorities handle these matters from the outset and decide how and when families should be warned. The letter, which claimed that being a pedophile doesn't necessarily preclude one from ever serving as an elder, served to demonstrate how out-of-touch the Society has become in stubbornly clinging to their misapplication of the two witness rule, even if it means putting Witness children in potential harm.
5th October 2012 - New light on the Faithful Slave
Shortly after the Society's annual meeting on October 5th, the ex-Witness community was stunned to learn that the Governing Body had effectively declared itself to be the sole manifestation of the Faithful Slave. The shift in doctrine stripped nearly 12,000 anointed partakers (who previously considered themselves to be part of that class) of having any role in feeding Christ's domestics. Even though the news of the announcement was online within 24 hours of the announcement, it took more than a month for the Society's official website, JW.org, to carry an article on the subject. It took a further month for the JW.org article to be available in a language other than English. This caused many to ask: if this "new light" is truly spiritual food at the "proper time", why do I need an internet connection AND knowledge of the English language in order to receive it in a timely manner?
Probably there were more developments I may have missed, but those were the things that stood out for me. I would be interested on your take on the year overall.
It will also be fascinating to see what 2013 has in store for us. 2012 will certainly take some beating, but nothing much would surprise me anymore.