The Internet is worse for the Watchtower than 1975 was: here's proof.
I am translating jwfacts to Spanish. I am doing the "statistics" section.
Here are two graphs that show that the statistics have NEVER been worse for the Watchtower:
Quantity of hours required for 1 baptism: Note how low it went in 1974-1975, and note that 2016 is much higher than the slump of 1978... about double, to be exact. 2016 was a historical record in this statistic (higher is worse for Watchtower).
This stat is the baptisms as a percentage of the publisher average. Again, 2016 is worse than 1978... and it looks like the following years are going to be even worse!
(Of course, you may argue that this is just because it's harder to grow 8 million than 2 million, but still... the trend is pretty bad)...
So my conclusion is... the internet has been more devastating for Watchtower than what 1975 was.
What are your thoughts?
Why not attribute the decline to the 1995 generation change? (A big turning point for many)
Or the fact that people are becoming less religious and leaving churches in general? A huge trend in most developed countries from which JWs are not immune.
Or the organisational cutbacks that have discouraged many?
I don't think it's safe to attribute the decline primarily to the Internet.
For what it's worth, some Mormons did an analysis of their figures and concluded the Internet was not an important factor in growth or decline. Not sure how robust their methodology or how reliable their findings were, but I do share their scepticism about the commonplace assumption that the Internet is causing decline.
Notice how consistent the numbers are after the mid 90's. If it was because of a prophecy failure, I would have expected bounceback similar to the 1980's...
But since that bounceback has not come, I venture to say it's the internet that has KEPT them down. Especially the hours per baptism number, what else would so effectively prevent millions from coming in?
The downward trend starts too early for the Internet to be the main factor.
Plus the 1995 generation change was different from 1975 in important ways. In particular, when 1975 failed, JWs still had the "generation" teaching to ensure Armageddon was not far away. Now since 1995 they have nothing, at least nothing credible, to prove the end is near.
Look at the statistics of religious decline in general, in particular since the 1990s. JWs are not exception. Most churches are dealing, many much more significantly in decline than JWs.
... which kinda proves my point. The internet has proved to be deadly for all religions. The internet really took off around the mid 90's. The first internet related article on Watchtower publications was in 1995:
*** g95 11/8 p. 29 Watching the World ***
Computer Porn Available to Children
As Australian schools connect up to the Internet global information network, they are also linking up to what amounts to a moral minefield. According to The Sydney Morning Herald newspaper, they can access “X-rated photos of nude children, orgies, video clips from on-line brothels, a ‘bill of rights’ for people wishing to have sex with animals—and information on how to join a masturbation ‘chat-line.’” The article adds: “Passwords or proof of age were not required—just an ordinary dial-up connection.” Experts say it is impossible to censor the network “because its structure was designed . . . by the US Defence Department to survive a nuclear war.” The data is not tidily located in one spot but is mirrored on thousands of data bases around the world. Recently a Swedish researcher counted 5,651 messages or postings about child pornography in just four news groups in one week.Unsurprisingly, it was related to porn.
The truth is really hurting the WTS, the inter net is helping in exposing what is really a commercialized fraud perpetrated and created by a corrupt religious publishing house.
Do you think the generation change in 1995 had any impact?
Another difference between 1975 and the "generation" prediction is that they left lots of wriggle room in the event of disconfimatuon over 1975, whereas the "generation" teaching had been stated clearly and uncompromisingly for decades.
1975 was suggested as an"appropriate time" for God to act, whereas the "generation" teaching was described as the "creator's promise" in every issue of the Awake!
The early internet years and their attempts to demonize it may have stifled some of their growth but sadly, they still grew even if it was at a slower rate.
Now they are all-in on internet preaching and becoming a branded lifestyle religion and I wouldn't be surprised to see them have some success from it. If you have the funds to equip and run a studio to produce slick videos you'll attract people.
What I think limits them more is the customer base. There is a finite cap on the number of people who want to join an "alt-religion". Mormons have the same challenge - once you've grown to a certain point, you can sustain yourself mostly with born-ins but it takes hundreds of years and political involvement to join the billion-member-cult club.
The WTS isn't going to grow massively I don't think - they'll continue to have local bursts of success on some places and then populations will get bored and grow wise to it. They'll always have followers though because there will always be people who are looking to be led by a group like them.
Attributing an observed change to some identified factor (such as the internet) is a tempting game played by all sorts of people.
Why attribute this to the internet?
It implies JWs and pro-JWs (i.e., those favourably disposed towards JW organization) are interested enough in JW organization to research it via the internet. Really? To this day, the main factors leading to JWs leaving and/or getting disfellowshipped are "the sins of the flesh". Very, very few JWs got into trouble because of coming up with opposing views or questioning the organization.
There are several other more plausible factors such as the drop-off in urgency of the end-times warnings sounded by the organization, changes in teachings which suggest the end isn't as obviously near as it once was (the "overlapping generation" bought the organization more time and with that the rank and file re-adjust how they spend that time).
There was a drop-off in growth rates before the internet took hold.
They'll always have followers though because there will always be people who are looking to be led by a group like them.....Simon
"Why Would You Think For Yourself,
When This Rock Does It For You?!"