The Internet is worse for the Watchtower than 1975 was: here's proof.
Yes and unfortunately the "evil slave"called the Watchtower will have their reward taken away. Hey Waton, don't you think.
The 1995 teaching doesn't seem to have had much of an impact, I'm not sure many people even realized it. They also promised the end would come before 2000, if those were a "thing" like 1975 was you would've seen a similar 'bump'. The decline really started around the year 2000 which is when the Internet became widely available to people and these statistics are much more amplified than other churches. Most churches simply stalled in the last decade.
The numbers have been consistently bad for 20 years... Right around the 1995 mark there WAS a big change. The generation change was a big one, but every single time after false predictions they've bounced back. They haven't after 1995... and my theory is the internet... and perhaps other factors, but the internet is probably the largest one.
I go with the internet exposing them.
But it has come a few years after the "generation change" which has dampened spirits, and easy access to smartphones has come along to accelerate that.
1995 was actually the end of the "two horned wild beast" aka 1975 and the generation that saw 1914. This was really one doctrine with 1975 being the first disappointment and 1995 being the writing on the wall that the whole thing was a crock of shit.
But keen dubs could still hold on to the generation doctrine in their heads. My old study conductor actually said to me in about 1996/7 - "the generation doesn't really pass away until 2000 or even 2014 - I'll wait and see." Sadly he died in 2012.
So the generation change started a twenty year gradual disappointment for some older born-ins. That hope pretty much died in 2014 with the big hoopla conventions.
After 1975, there was still the "old generation teaching" going strong for another fifteen to 20 years and so a bounce back occurred. After 1995 nothing of urgency (except "soon") replaced it.
The internet came into many homes on a PC in the early 2000's. Then laptops and then from the late 2000's handheld devices. (Remember the advice to have your PC in the family room so you couldn't privately access stuff?)
So I believe that in the west most folk got private use of the web from about 2005 and especially so since the late 2000's. This is increasing yearly even now and encompassing second and even third world countries.
Internet's effect on non-jw's who might have otherwise been interested.
All except the most emotionally damaged will quickly, after a visit from two nice ladies or an encounter at the trolley cart, check out JW's on line. When they do they will be met with jw.facts, child abuse headlines, shunning, blood and other negative stuff.
Only the slack-jawed wrecks will come in from the outside. This is why if you look round your KH you will see the dregs of society. The dubbies will say they are those sighing and crying. I say that they are the only ones left who cannot see this cult for what it truly is.
Born-ins - as evidenced by the newbies on this forum will also see the negatives and the poor kids will be stuck between losing their families and losing their sanity.
From personal experience, I don't think the internet causes the first domino to fall, but it is likely a factor in what follows. First, a JW needs a reason to doubt and start their "independent research™ ".
But, once they type in "Google", The End (of their belief) is near.
Simon - "The WTS isn't going to grow massively I don't think..."
Nor do they want to, I suspect.
jwfacts this is the Mormon study that claimed to show the impact of the Internet on growth is neutral. They don't really talk in terms of the church being undermined by online information (it's a pro-Mormon angle) but that's a major consideration, reading between the lines.
Here is the blog post on the topic from a very interesting blog on Mormon growth.
Paul I agree with the additional factors for JW decline you mention. In particular the increasing acceptance of homosexuality is a problem for JWs. I think in the past many gay people remained JWs because they wouldn't find acceptance outside the religion anyway. Nowadays the contrast between acceptance outside the religion and stigmatisation inside the religion is pretty stark, and probably pushes most young gay people to leave.
But I disagree when you say that "information" and science and so on are responsible for the decline of religion. I disagree for two reasons. Firstly I think it misunderstands how science and faith interact in a way that former JWs are particularly prone to misunderstand this issue. But more importantly the proponents of secularisation theory are particularly at pains to point out that the process of secularisation is not the result of science disproving religion, or information exposing religion or any such thing. The roots of secularisation are much deeper and social than that. In particular it results from individualisation, capitalism, egalitarianism, social differetiation, pluralism, relativism, technological consciousness, and compartmentalisation, among other social factors outlined by Steve Bruce and other social theorists.
It's getting a bit old now but I still think the best explanation of secularisation is this book.
On the other hand there is a brand new book by historian Callum Brown, who emphasises cultural and gender reasons for religious decline. In his latest book "Becomign Atheist" he draws on a number of JW examples. Which should not be surprising because JWs are particularly prone to becoming atheist.
''In particular it results from individualisation, capitalism, egalitarianism, social differetiation, pluralism, relativism, technological consciousness, and compartmentalisation,''
Yes my thoughts exactly.
Ha! Yes I was going to post the diagram but I don't know how to link images. Search for "Steve Bruce secularisation paradigm" and the diagram comes up.
It seems that People are doing their religiosities and spiritualities in online communities nowadays. I would argue that the Internet has brought about a mushrooming of religiosity rather than a decline.
looking at your graphs though it is interesting that there are definite blips at 2007 and 2010. These may coincide with economic instabilities during those two period. Another thing that needs to be considered is the drive to get more and more people into work at least here in the UK. I think this may even be true all over the developed world. With more people in work and doing longer work days people have less time to stand talking on the door or having bible studies.