Rear cover of: “Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Secular World: from the 1870s to the Present”

by Doug Mason 16 Replies latest watchtower beliefs

  • scholar

    Hi Doug

    I met Zoe Know in person at her recent seminar presentation at the University of Queensland which was on the subject of the imprisonment of senior WT officials during the First World War. There were only a few attendees and I made some extra points about the history of that event in connection with the Court proceedings that she did not include in her presentation. In her recent book, the Introduction describes her experience with the Witnesses during her visit to a friend living in the outer rural areas north of Brisbane which I thought was an excellent Epilogue.

    Apparently, she is currently researching the history of Russell and associated influences and background and his trips to Russia so this will be a new study complementing current recent published studies on Russell and the early Bible Student movement.

    Your dear friend

    scholar JW emeritus

  • Doug Mason
    Doug Mason

    To be fair to Zoe Knox, the following shows the scope of her book.


    This book examines how Jehovah’s Witnesses have challenged the jurisdictions of modern states and influenced understandings of religious tolerance and freedom of worship worldwide. Their influence is all the more remarkable given that they aim to remain aloof from the world. This detachment differs markedly from many other religious organisations. … The Watch Tower Society is remarkably insular. Whilst it engages with the secular state through courts of law, this is to a narrow end, namely opposing attempts to inhibit the public ministry of Witnesses. They have unintentionally championed the rights of a wide range of other religious minorities around the world. The Society has long acknowledged the broader impact of its legal advocacy but has never presented this as a motivation for legal challenges.

    In addition to how and why Jehovah’s Witnesses have come into conflict with governmental authorities, this book also explores the ways in which the secular world has shaped the organisation. Like other religious groups, the Society has had to respond to new technologies, secular ideologies, and geopolitical configurations to avoid obsolescence. Its interpretation of scripture has altered along with worldly developments, which has in turn led to new policies, some of which have posed novel challenges to governments. Since 1971, the Society’s doctrines have emanated from the Governing Body, a group of men based at the world headquarters. Between seven and eighteen men have served on the Governing Body at any one time. The Body has determined policies and procedures that shape the behaviour of Witnesses worldwide. This includes public conduct, such as deportment when manning information stalls, and intimate acts, such as the sexual positions permitted between husband and wife. These behavioural guidelines sometimes shift: sexual relations within marriage are now regarded as a matter of individual conscience, for example.

    More generally, the rapid pace of the modern world has challenged it to adapt to ever-changing conditions, just as it has the leadership of other Christian churches. The theological foundations of even the best known of the Society’s doctrines have not been investigated by historians, nor has the evolving position of the Governing Body on these issues. (Knox, 5-6)

  • Doug Mason
    Doug Mason

    Hi Scholar,

    I am most interested to know that Zoe Knox might be working on Russell and his cohorts. I hope she will be more accurate than some of the details she presents in this book.

    She presents her specialist expertise at:

    It is interesting to think how the totalitarian Watchtower operates with totalitarian states such as Russia. It creates fascinating situations as they rub up against one another.

    All the best,


  • Corney


    1. Yes:

    "The organisation was slow to adopt digital technology for ministry. Its attitude towards the Internet was initially cautious, with the need for vigilance apparently confirmed by the creation of unofficial sites ‘sponsored by indiscreet brothers’ and of ex-Witness sites, which were ‘vehicles for apostate propaganda’.56 It warned against the temptations of online communities, such as chat rooms: ‘Sadly, some who were once our brothers and sisters have had to be disfellowshipped because of association that started by meeting worldly individuals in chat rooms on the Internet and eventually led to immorality’.57 In 1997, comparatively late, the organisation launched its own web sites ( and, which were promoted in its literature as the only ones Witnesses would need to access. In 2013, these were consolidated into" (p. 121).

    2. Apparently yes. She repeatedly cites this article which states, among other things:

    "The quite visible Legal Department of previous years is claimed by the Society to have disbanded by 1963 (Yearbook 1964, 85-86),24 which is quite extraordinary, given its earlier prominence. What is certain is that disciplined litigation as a strategy was not vigorously pursued until it became obvious to the leadership that religious regulation was compromised by external factors [in late 1970s] [Note 24: We are not inclined to fully accept such an interpretation. Lawyers were still at work in the Society's branches even if it is the case that "disciplined litigation" as a strategy of the central JW authorities was not practiced]".

    "According to internal sources, the Legal Department was formally reopened in December 1981 by Covington's secretary. In 1984, it numbered ten people in all, of which a few were attorneys. In 1999, the Brooklyn office is said to operate with seventy-two persons, including eleven attorneys".

  • careful

    Thanks, Corney, for the detailed response. You must have the book! Knox looks quite diligent, and polite/diplomatic. The latter is clear from her "initially cautious" instead "fearful and condemnatory," which would have been more bluntly accurate. I like her "comparatively late."

    That Côté article looks worthwhile. I'll read it. I smell Jaracz at work in the Legal Department's (LD) reopening and large growth. It was put out at Patterson, Jaracz's creation and fiefdom The time frame sure fits as does his belligerent personality. Was it him who chose loyal Bethelite Brumley to send to law school and head up the revived LD instead of using one or some of the far more experienced and competent Witness attorneys from outside Bethel?

  • Vidiot
    Zoe Knox - "...These behavioural guidelines sometimes shift: sexual relations within marriage are now regarded as a matter of individual conscience, for example..."

    Bitch, please.

    As far as I'm concerned, this one's just another tug on the leash.

    The moment there's enough supermajority votes amongst GB members with hang-ups about kinky stuff, they'll waffle back...

    ...and frustrated sexual dissatisfaction amongst the rank-and-file will go back to normal.

  • Doug Mason
    Doug Mason

    In her book, Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Secular World, Zoe Knox incorrectly writes that Russell and Rutherford believed the Coming of Christ took place in 1914. They actually placed the Coming (Parousia) in 1874.

    This is my Critique of that passage in Knox’s book.

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