Jehovah's Witnesses will not involve themselves in politics at any level. They will not salute the flag, stand for the National Anthem or run for office. Even voting at local elections is forbidden.
These actions are seen as idolatry. They say they have given their vote to Jehovah’s kingdom. To support any man-made government is seen as a conflict of interest. They quote the words of Jesus, “My kingdom is no part of this world.” Despite this, they do support government by paying their taxes.
The Watchtower Society and its followers are awaiting the return of Jesus, and look forward to his government ruling the earth under the supervision of Jehovah God.
Meanwhile we have to have some sort of administration in each country. Some countries are fortunate enough to be democratically run and choose who will represent them.
When we vote for a party we are not voting for them to rule the world, we are merely choosing them to decide on local matters for a while. If they fail to spend our taxes wisely, then we have the opportunity of voting differently next time. Any power these officials have is given to them by the taxes we pay, whether or not we vote. Do we not have a responsibility to exercise some control over how that power is used, by voting?
Witnesses will respond to this by explaining that to vote for a government, is to support any involvement they have in war. What of the government they look forward to ruling the earth? According to their literature it will seize power by force, killing most of the human race and then be overseen by “Jehovah of Armies.” From then on, the penalty for any resistance from civilians is to be instant death. What they have voted for is a military dictatorship under which all human rights will be abolished.
The reality is that whichever government is in power, it will use force in the defence of its nation. The Witnesses have already registered their stand on the issue of warfare and avoid any participation. Some of their taxes will be spent on defence whether they vote or not but there are many other social responsibilities that government carries out.
It is only due to the efforts of millions of non-Witnesses, who do involve themselves, that the Witnesses are able to enjoy the benefits of living in a well-ordered society. They are only able to stand back and enjoy the illusion of being no part of the world because others assume the responsibility for them. The reality of running a country has to be dealt with in the present.
Whenever an issue arises that involves only the Witnesses and there is no one else to lobby for change on their behalf, they will immediately involve themselves, breaking the law if necessary.
Often Witnesses will cite the example of the three Hebrews who refused to bow down to Nebuchadnezzar. They cite this as a Biblical example of how to view rulers. The circumstances of this account are quite different. The King brought the Hebrews to the inauguration of a gold image. They were commanded to fall down and worship the pagan image on pain of death. (Daniel 3:5) This historic account really has nothing to do with the selection of a civil government, which allows freedom of worship.
Jehovah's Witnesses have no interest in present governments because they already have a government of their own. The Watchtower Society issues laws, makes judgements, appoints leaders and controls every aspect of their lives, even over-ruling the law of the land if they see fit. They have voted for the Watchtower Society, which does not welcome the efforts of politicians to influence their members.
The Society seeks total control, and looks forward to the day when all governments are destroyed, leaving them to assist with the world’s administration. The masthead of the Watchtower magazine states that it is non-political. This statement has to be examined closely in view of the fact that members of the Governing Body, along with many thousands of other members, expect to rule from heaven as kings. Some of the elders expect to be princes on earth. This means that they consider themselves to be part of a Royal Family. If, say, the British Royal Family started to publish statements saying that all governments were evil and due to be destroyed by God, to make way for rule by them, would the present British political parties consider their statements to be non-political?
Their claim to political neutrality is based on the idea that they are against all governments except their own. This idea is not new. Throughout history world leaders have desired to be part of an all-conquering world Empire, Dynasty or Reich but they never claimed to be non-political.
For a Witness to support any political party, other than the Watchtower Society, would be considered an act of treason. The Witnesses’ stance on this, and many other anti-establishment issues, is only feasible for a small group. Their opting out of the system would not be possible were it not for the order that is afforded by the organized efforts of society as a whole.
Stop press – The following change of policy has now been introduced. Under the heading “Questions from Readers” in a recent Watchtower, the Society stated:
“As to whether they will personally vote for someone running in an election, each one of Jehovah’s Witnesses makes a decision based on his Bible-trained conscience and an understanding of his responsibility to God and the state…There may be people who are stumbled when they observe that during an election in their country, some Witnesses of Jehovah go to the polling booth and others do not. They may say that ‘Jehovah Witnesses are not consistent.’ People should recognize, though, that in matters of individual conscience such as this, each Christian has to make his own decision before Jehovah God” (Watchtower – 1st November 1999— Pages 27,28)
This sudden change of policy came as a surprise to the membership. Over the years the Society have quoted scripture to support their ban on voting. Does this mean that Jehovah’s Witnesses will now as a group vote at elections? How can they now disregard the “scriptural proof” that was used for many decades to support their ruling? If this issue is a matter of conscience, why was it made into law and enforced for so long? Could this be another attempt by the Society to conform to The Human Rights Act, as it is fundamentally against the law to deny people the right to vote in a democracy?
What of the many who left or refused to become Witnesses because of the original ruling? By saying that voting is now a matter of conscience there is no conflict with the law of the land. In some countries it is against the law to abstain from voting and this has caused many difficulties for members. In some countries, such as Malawi members lost their lives at the hands of the authorities because they refused to vote.
Is this really a genuine change of direction or will it continue to be made clear that a properly trained Christian conscience will stop one from voting? The Watchtower article, just quoted from, made it clear that members should stay separate from the world and listed five “factors” to be considered when making what is now a personal decision. The above article made it clear that members should stay separate from the world and listed five “factors” to be considered when making what is now a personal decision.
It appears that although voting is now officially allowed, the practice of voting will continue to be frowned upon, and Jehovah’s Witnesses as a group will continue to avoid voting, as a matter of conscience. There are a lot of question marks above, which sums up the present position that Witnesses find themselves in. The Society claim that truth is a bright light that is getting brighter and brighter but as in this case, and the position with regard to the use of blood fractions,the light or guidance seems to be getting dimmer.