In what decade was it clearly apparent that Watchtower was a high control religion?
I think it became a high control religion the first time they changed their interpretation of a so called prophetic scripture without any explanation and then gave it another interpretation without any apology for misleading people in the first place.
In more recent times I would say the 1980's.
I grew up and was baptised in the 70's and looking back on how things changed "no-zombie" has hit the nail on the head.
Had things gone Ray Franz's way I believe that the jw's would have morphed into a bit more of a mainstream religion with whacky beliefs.
Sadly it went his uncle's (and Jaracz's) way so we got rigid DF'ing (even non baptised "approved associates" were treated as DF'd in the 80's).
Now we have the mess we are seeing today.
It's going to be a different answer for each person. I felt a paradigm shift in the early 80's myself.
The first evidence of this was...
I was very disturbed but clung to the WBT$ because it was my family and social hub. Plus there were some darned hot females too.
One could correctly say the JWS religion gradually evolved into a highly controlling cult/religion.
As each new doctrine was created .... ie no blood, no saluting country flags, no Christmas, no birthdays.
no involvement with secular governments, restrict association with non members.
Each new doctrine added contributed toward the overall controlling mechanism for the entire organization which now exists today..
Probably when Rutherford successfully launched his takeover coup after Russell died. He seems to have been something of a control freak , whereas Russell , to an extent , just built up something of a personality cult around himself and allowed a degree of leeway without being too dogmatic.
But in reality - the leadership try to control the rank & file but we all know JWs who constantly flout the rules.In most countries the membership is mainly 2nd/ 3rd / 4th gen JWs who have grown up in the religion and know exactly how to play the "double life". That's why every meeting there are "reminders". It's a controlling religion without much control. It reminds me of those angry schoolteachers who constantly keep shouting at the kids and think they have a measure of control but in reality the kids just messed them around while being just cute enough to avoid getting on their wrong side.
I tend to agree with Dozy if you look at the total history of the WT Society since it's beginning in 1879. The use of control towards JW's. Rutherford's takeover was a pretty hostile act with it severing the organization most definitely . In our modern times- ( seeing how I was born in the late 1950's ) I definitely noticed a tightening of the control from WT leaders in the early 1980's after the big blowup at Bethel and Ray Franz's exit. It was around that time that GB member Ted Jaracz issued his infamous comment that, " the needs of the organization are more important than the individual needs of the brothers and sisters. " At that point in the early 1980's we knew that the jig was up- from that time forward the power and control would each year tighten down heavier and heavier on JW members controlled from top level WT leaders. And now with the new GB 2.0 - the control has just gotten ridiculous. Peace out, Mr. Flipper
IMHO, the cult mentality became most prominent around the time of the Ray Franz saga. Definite moves were put into place to limit the time that witnesses spent together unsupervised. This was the time that any new ideas or thoughts could be exchanged between brothers and sisters. The DC's, at one time quite social affairs, were limited timewise as was the inbetween session periods, normally a time for meeting up with old friends. The meal queues were eliminated completely, always a favourite time to get together. Even the 15 minute break between the public talk and the Watchtower study was done away with. Inter-congregation organised socialising was frowned on too. In later years we saw the abolition of the group book study, ostensibly a caring consideration to reduce travelling, it did in effect put an end to any expression of individual thoughts and ideas being expressed among a small unsupervised group.
1952 was when disfellowshipping (with shunning) was introduced.
It was then that the final piece was moved into place.
When one reflects back to how the JWS religion evolved from C T Russell's literature reading club to today's JWS who are highly controlled and oppressed, its an interesting study of human sociological behavior.
Once its accepted that the organizational leaders took on the overall role playing as been chosen by god through his holy spirit, specific doctrines were created which further defined the JWS faith to a greater detail extent.
Eventually the JWS took on an internal moniker as being " The Truth "
The usage of " Are they in the Truth ? " could be heard quite often by practicing JWS.
In reality though those specific doctrines were weakly devised with little Scripture support, but nevertheless they created an overall accepting delusion that keeps the religion held together.
1952 was when disfellowshipping (with shunning) was introduced. It was then that the final piece was moved into place. ~ Londo
Many things mentioned here that are about "control" in the personal choices and an individual's (conscientious) decision making, BUT-- disfellowshipping serves them best as a way to control dissenters and to control information.
They wield the threat of DFing like a weapon to keep the flock in submission. Anyone who does not yield is DFd to silence them.
Let's review: It's a Cult!