While looking at the article “One Thousand Kingdom Halls and Counting” on JW.org, it immediately made me think: “Ahhh, this is where a large portion of the funds for the construction projects must go. Clearly, the Philippinos are all poor and they need the financial support of richer countries. After all, when I think of them, I envision a man (or a woman), collecting rice out there in a field; you know, poor, dirt poor; extreme poverty.”
Alright, let’s stop the stereotypes and let’s see some facts: The Philippines is considered a middle power with 10 percent of its population living in poverty. (*1)
Wait, what?? In the USA, it is 15 percent of the population that is poor! What else?
The Philippines’s average salary is the third worst of the 72 richest countries (*2). Ok… so, they are not poor, but most of them barely make the ends meet.
This raises the question: Is the required contribution for a Kingdom hall so high that most of them cannot afford it? Let’s run some numbers here:
450 brand new Kingdom Halls, not 1000!
The publishers count grew from about a 135 thousand around 2001 to a 189 thousand in 2013. Keeping in mind the present average of 60 publishers per congregations (3,156 congregations in 2013). This represents an increase of 900 congregations. Yet, many Kingdom Halls serve two, three, or even more congregations. Let’s average it out at 2 per KH and we get 450 new kingdom halls.
What about the 550 KH reported by the article?
They seem to fit the description of the last paragraph: Previous building was sold or rebuilt to make way to bigger, better suited KH. Thus, these particular projects were cheaper for they either did not have to purchase the land (if the KH was completely rebuilt) or the entire project was funded by the profits obtained from the sale of the previous KH!
In addition to the above, one most also remember that the KHs are not as expensive as they are in richer countries. Most of these halls are very modest. To illustrate this, one assembly hall has no walls surrounding its auditorium! (*3)
Considering the above, it is my opinion that the JW in the Philippines have the ability to contribute enough for their own buildings.
Yet, the society uses the following sentence to make us believe that it was donations from rich countries that made it all possible:
“in 1999 the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses set up a program for building Kingdom Halls in lands with limited resources. Under this arrangement, local Witnesses contribute what they can, and funds donated in other countries are added to that amount.”
In regards to the Philippines, this article conviniently does not state the actual percentage of funds contributed by the other countries.