Thinking about the end of the Watchtower
Unless aliens come down and say Jehovah is dead. Or there really is a Armageddon were they die off just like everyone else, I afraid they are not going away. Why? Because of sex.
There is one thing that puts more people in religions than anything else on the planet and that is sex! As long as Catholics are having sex with Catholics, Muslims with Muslims and Jehovah’s Witnesses are having sex with other Jehovah’s Witnesses their numbers will continue to grow. Yes, good old sex has created more religious people on this planet than anything else.
I can see people like my siblings thinking the US and UK child abuse court cases, Russian ban, ARC publicity and UK Charity Comission enquiry as persecution and the end is imminent. They might go into a sort of limbo when nothing happens similar to after 1975, but then what.
More depression and health problems I suspect, bodies and minds suffering as the cognitive dissonance becomes more entrenched. I don't expect a lot of suicides but just more illness and ruined lives.
Indeed, it would be very traumatic for many JWs.
I kind of hope that a better religion might emerge. One that still opposes war, uses God's name, and preaches a paradise earth, but one that doesn't shun people or discourage education, free discussion, and trying to make the world a better place where possible.
Maybe if they closed the religion down as gradually as possible that would be the kindest way to do it. Like continue the steps they've been taking:
1. Stop the book study
2. Reduce the literature near to zero
3. Cancel the midweek meeting
4. Reduce the WT to a series of questions for open discssiom
5. Stop recording ministry time or having organised ministry meetings
6. Say any person who gives wise advice is a "faithful slave"
7. Consign 1914 to history
8. Be kind to former JWs instead of shunning them
After implementing those changes it would hardly matter if they closed their doors in the end or whether they continue as a positive community. Either way it would be less traumatic for all involved if they did it gradually.
True, there are some people who need other people making decision for them, but there's plenty that are held hostage and are perfectly capable of finding purpose and joy without a cult leader.
Get rid of the cult for the benefit of those members who can live without the cult and at the expense of those who need the cult to be happy. You have gains and losses either way, but I side with "the hell with the cult" and let the chips fall where they may. I think there will be a net gain.
The collapse of the WTS would be, IMO, the most elegant proof that it's not "God's Earthly Organization". After all, if it were, that collapse would be impossible.
And what's more, the leadership knows this.
Why else do you think they fight so hard to preserve it?
Lee Elder - "There is always a market for desperate, gullible sheep."
Personally, I could give an at's rass where WT loyalists would "go" if/when the Org collapsed.
Just as long as the Org collapsed.
Jeff T - "I think that should something major happen to the Society we will see a wave of depression, anxiety and suicide the likes of which we’ve never seen."
Members committed suicide over the failure of 1914.
Members committed suicide over the failure of 1975.
Count on it.
The collapse of WT would be rationalized and read into prophecy somehow, after all much of religion is just bending reality to fit a preexisting narrative. I think most JWs would just dive deeper. Cults gonna cult. I don't personally see the Borg collapsing anyway, but even if they did their members would just press on. Without the unified message they might splinter a bit, but they'd continue on.
We ought not assume that logic and reason lie behind the need for religion. Emotional need drives religion far more than reason and logic.
Religious groups, in one form or another, are impervious to failures of logic and reason. You could say for every individual shattered by loss of faith, another grows and is inclined to latch on to some other faith. From organization-minded to "I have my own private beliefs".
People can be incredibly amnestic when it comes to what they have said and/or done even in more recent months. I knew JWs who acted as if 1975 would bring the end, who later acted as if they had not done so. And I do not think they were knowingly lying about their earlier actions. The term, "Group delusion" often crosses my mind when I think of JWs who - come hell or high water - continue to spout nonsense about 1914.
Who'd have thought the abject failure of Miller's 1844 prophecy about the world's end would have led to thriving religious groups in the 21st Century? And before him, generations claimed the world was near its end.
Steve2: "Who'd have thought the abject failure of Miller's 1844" prophecy about the world's end would have led to thriving religious groups in the 21st Century?
Yeah, that's a complete validation of the conclusions of the book by Leon Festinger, When Prophecy Fails:
Festinger stated that five conditions must be present if someone is to become a more fervent believer after a failure or disconfirmation:
- A belief must be held with deep conviction and it must have some relevance to action, that is, to what the believer does or how he or she behaves.
- The person holding the belief must have committed himself to it; that is, for the sake of his belief, he must have taken some important action that is difficult to undo. In general, the more important such actions are, and the more difficult they are to undo, the greater is the individual's commitment to the belief.
- The belief must be sufficiently specific and sufficiently concerned with the real world so that events may unequivocally refute the belief.
- Such undeniable disconfirmatory evidence must occur and must be recognized by the individual holding the belief.
- The individual believer must have social support. It is unlikely that one isolated believer could withstand the kind of disconfirming evidence that has been specified. If, however, the believer is a member of a group of convinced persons who can support one another, the belief may be maintained and the believers may attempt to proselytize or persuade nonmembers that the belief is correct.