I'm a reporter working
on a series about Michael Jackson. Part of this series will look at his life as
a Jehovah's Witness and his relationship to the faith. I've already spoken to a
few ex-witnesses and one elder who have explained JW 101 beliefs and teachings.
I've read stories about Michael going door to door even around the height of
Thriller, and also that he received so much pressure from his elders about the
Thriller video that he almost destroyed it. And a year later, he apologized in
the May 1984 edition of Awake.
I hope that you have spoken to his family about this. That is the only way
you would know what his relationship to the faith was. I do believe that Michael
Jackson (MJ) might have had pressure from his family about his Thriller video but
not from the elders. They wouldn’t have known about the video until after it
came out and at that point it would be useless to try to destroy it. Michael Jackson
had a contract and legalities he had to deal with and I doubt very seriously
that the elders would have wanted to get into that mess.
But you also seem to have a serious misunderstanding about what the general
Jehovah'sWitnesses (JWs) population understands about celebrity JWs. They aren’t held to the same
standards as regular JWs. They can fulfill their requirements to ‘witness’ by
saying ‘Jehovah’ or giving Jehovah credit on their platform, whatever that may
be. If they say it in an interview, on TV, to a reporter, or at one of their
events they are reaching thousands if not millions of people in one go. Why would
they need to go door-to-door. It seems much more likely that they would only go
door-to-door as a publicity stunt of some sort and the doors they would be
going to wouldn’t be the typical doors everyone else knocks on.
Do you have a copy of that Awake! magazine? I would very much like to see
it. I don’t remember that and I would have paid attention because my sister was
a huge MJ fan at the time and I was reading the Awake! magazines at that time.
This is a hail mary long
shot request, but is there anyone here with first-hand experience meeting or
working with Michael as a JW? I've heard that Michael would have been called
before a discipline committee for the Thriller video, where he would have made
a case not to be disfellowshipped. Even a longer shot, does anyone know or can
connect me with an elder who might have dealt with Michael?
Yes, that is a Hail Mary. I don’t personally believe that Michael Jackson
ever had the typical JW experience. It is possible… except that video really
shot him into the status of a rock star. I doubt the Watchtower society (WTS) would
want to get rid of someone who was so popular. I mean, his ability to ‘witness’
to billions of people would have made him a person they would want to keep. The rest of the world loved that album. The video was clearly a theatrical
musical piece. Also, the WTS has always been very inconsistent about what
things are allowed, what is not allowed, and what is ‘up to the person’s conscience’.
The fact that we were never told to avoid the Thriller video/song actually
speaks volumes to make me believe that there was never any to-do about it at all.
no, I personally, find that very unlikely that this ever happened. It just doesn’t
make much sense. Most JWs I know of never really thought of Michael Jackson (nor
the Williams sisters, nor Prince) as being real JWs and we don’t expect them to
behave like regular JWs and we don’t expect them to be held to the same
standard as the rest of us. The WTS has different standards for people in
different countries, and different standards for people of different status in
the US. Celebrities and ultra-rich people get a far different treatment. So
far, I don’t see you mentioning any credible sources for your information.
In 1987, it was reported that Michael disassociated himself from the JWs. The
LA Times cited a letter from the then Brooklyn headquarters dated May 18th 1987
that the organization "no longer considers Michael Jackson to be one of
Jehovah's Witnesses." Does anyone remember this being said in Kingdom
Hall? Any MJ fans out there who would have kept the letter? The reporter from
the Times has unfortunately passed away.
The LA Times cited a letter. They didn’t publish it as an
open letter. That tells me that the letter being mentioned wasn’t a letter that
was put out by the Watchtower society as an official statement. That tells me
that the only congregation that might have had that information announced from
the stage would have been the congregation that Michael Jackson was actually a
member of. That is the way the Watchtower society works. And if you have people
telling you about the beliefs then you should have people telling you about the
procedures as well.
To the best of my knowledge the Watchtower society never
officially and publicly acknowledged Michael Jackson, nor the Williams sisters,
nor Prince in any way whatsoever. And it makes sense that they wouldn’t. They
wouldn’t want to highlight the deferential treatment. They also wouldn’t want
to be put into the position of having to publicly censure or to be held
responsible for a celebrity who behaved in a way that contradicted the JW
beliefs. The very fact that celebrities have activities that are more important
than the JWs is a disfellowshipping offense. The fact that celebrities do drugs
and hang out with amoral people is a disfellowshipping offense, and one that is also
common public knowledge. The very things that make a person a celebrity are all
things that would keep them from being a regular JW. They wouldn’t be acknowledged
to be Jehovah’s Witnesses publicly nor officially, and they wouldn’t be
publicly and officially excommunicated from the cult. It would be up to the celebrity
to decide if they wanted to make that information public. So my guess would be that
the ‘letter’ that is referenced is a letter that Michael Jackson (or possibly
his lawyer) obtained and gave to the journalist, not something that would have
been made available to anyone else.
Quite frankly, your assumptions about Michael Jackson’s
experience and your serious lack of evidentiary proof and looking to anecdotal
proof instead doesn’t make you look like a credible journalist. It also is curious
to me that you have not in any way mentioned all the rampant and heinous child
abusers that the Watchtower society has been found to be protecting (according
to court documents and Australian Royal Commission) and yet have not questioned if there
is any correlation between that and Michael Jackson’s own accusers. I would
think, that at this point, that would be a subject for any article talking
about MJ and the JWs. Leaving that out makes me think you are doing a fluff
piece instead of something with more journalistic integrity. But… that is just
my opinion and has nothing to do with anything. Good luck in your endeavor.
Edited to remove typos.