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