Question for SBF

by Fisherman 192 Replies latest watchtower beliefs

  • truth_b_known

    I once heard a phrase that I think is applicable to this case -

    "It's an exercise in keeping the zombie walking."

    Growing up in the 80's, Bethel was this magical, Disney-esque place that JW parents encouraged their children to go to. It is the world-wide headquarters of their organization. The space mountain of Bethel was their printing operations. As Bethel service was the JW equivalent of military service, working on the printing presses was like being Marine Corps Infantry (no offense, Marines. It was just that way).

    In the 90's I entered into adulthood. I had an elder who is a former Bethelite. Every sentence that came out of his mouth started with "Back when I was in Bethel..." Bethel was the Vatican for JWs.

    Then things started to change. No more hardbound publications. Only paperback. Only one issue of Awake! released per month. Then only one issue of the Watchtower was released per month (THE Zion's Watchtower reduced by 50% per year). Then there was the public and congregation versions of the Watchtower with only the latter having the Watchtower Study articles.

    Jump forward about 20 years. Nearly all printing has ceased and JWs are required to download their own personal copies. With that being the case, why have a Bethel? Why continue referring to your followers as "Kingdom PUBLISHERS of the Good News" when you are no longer pushing your printing materials?

    I see Bethel service ending all together in a few years. The headquarters in Warwick will only be the Governing Body and their personal staff. The only activity going on will be writing, filming talks, and administration. For a generous donation you and your family can visit the JW Vatican and kiss the 7 Popes' rings.

    I really think a clock has started and when it hits 0:00 this whole house of cards will cease to exist.

  • mann377

    I think that later on you may see a subscription service to the for all the literature. Some free for the public. Most magazines do this already. So if you want the truth as revealed by Jehovah's appointed faithful and discrete slave you must pay to subscribe.

    Also as mentioned in many post in the past is the fact that the org is getting older. At the last RC in USA, my location, I could not help but notice that in 10 years maybe 30% won't be there and in 20 years 70% gone. I'm sure the WTBTS knows this and has a plan to address the issue. I would just like to know how. It should be simple marketing but the geniuses on the GB with all their marketing knowledge and education just don't get it.

    Not talked about much is the fact that there are organizations within the organization. Minority groups, cultural groups that are currently (that appear to be) assimilated in the org, would easily leave if things changed from a doctrinal stand point or better yet someone with charisma who is high up and from the same cultural. Take away the kingdom halls and this would happen fast.

    I don't see the government going after them (WBTS) but rather a crumbling from within.

  • slimboyfat

    Yes, I agree.

    And it's pretty weird that WT publications still push "bethel service" for young people when there seems to be little prospect of a "bethel career" at this point. They've toned it down a bit, but not enough to meet the new reality.

    The term "publisher" does seem anachronistic now, as does "tract society" as another poster pointed out.

    They may have enough money to keep them going for a while. But on the other hand they may find that expenses are not as easy to cut as they hoped for a few reasons:

    1. The move to Warwick may have proved more expensive than they budgeted. (On the assumption that most big projects overspend and Watchtower is not immune.) So while they made lots of money from the sale of Brooklyn property, the move might not be the stupendous financial boost they hoped for, or others imagined.

    2. Beyond regular costs of moving to Warwick, there were stories about unexpected problems with waste and cleanup. How much might that cost?

    3. The same can be said about the expense of moving from Mill Hill in London out to Chelmsford. In principle these downsizing moves should bring in a lot of money. But JWs don't have a great track record in managing such projects efficiently and they may not realise the kinds of windfalls they may have expected.

    4. If I understand the Circuit Overseer guidebook correctly, they promise to retire COs at a certain age and provide an allowance for them as special pioneers for the rest of their lives. With increasing lifespans and probably thousands of former Circuit Overseers to support, that's got to be a tremendous financial burden. At some point they may need to choose been going bust from making such payments, or cutting the allowances and thereby alienating and infuriating a huge group of key supporters.

    5. Plus the mounting costs from meeting abuse claims. I don't think they were budgeting for this ten years ago or more. It's a cost that could easily escalate and which had not figured in whatever their long term plans have been for the organisation.

    6. The new arrangement of removing financial autonomy from the congregations may backfire spectacularly on the organisation. It's quite easy to see a scenario in which contributions fall because JWs don't see them being spent locally and see no point in contributing when the funds are never allowed to accumulate. Resentment is also bound to build up just as soon as local KHs request funds for repairs and Watchtower refuses.

    7. Disaffection among ordinary JWs seems to be at its highest ever. And people who are doubtful about the GB and all the scandals in the news and not going to contribute much money, if at all.

    8. Numbers of JWs are falling in rich countries and still growing in the poorest countries. This presents a huge financial burden and dilemma for Watchtower. They claim that theirs is the most important message in the world and they spread the message without regard for financial gain. But at the same time they don't want to go bust. So what do they do? The closure of Gilead was an indication of where they are going.

    9. They just produced a new Bible and songbook which must have cost a fortune to produce for the worldwide membership. There are rumours that the new edition was due to be released in German this summer, but was delayed. Was it delayed because the work isn't finished, or are they having difficulty financing the publication? You're probably talking about producing something like half a million new Bibles to start with, expensive quality items, which may cost millions of dollars. Then there's Spanish and all the rest to follow. Maybe they've bitten off more than they can chew with the revised NWT. It's a huge expense that has arrived when they can apparently least afford it.

    10. They are furiously cutting bethel staff at the moment, down from 26,000 to 19,000 in just one year. But any downsizing of personnel is fraught with difficulty. On top of alienating thousands of people, they may make mistakes in choosing which people to let go. They may lose key skills and efficiencies they had not appreciated. In reality the cutbacks may not result in the kinds of savings that they look like producing on paper.

  • no-zombie

    Its clear to everyone here, that money (or more exactly the lack of it) will force the hand of the Organization to make decisions that even they don't like. The Governing Body might not be that bright but even they would know that the gig will be up, if cash flow dies. So i'm guessing that at some time, they MUST put the financial squeeze on the rank and file somehow ... and I can't see any other way, other than some form of a tithe that western countries will have to pay. Whether at a congregational or at the publisher level, who knows. But I reckon it will be linked digital downloads because they have nothing else to sell.

  • LongHairGal


    That was a great analysis of the JW religion's situation and its probable future. Whether some or all of those things happen, it signals their end.

    Since there will always be members who tenaciously hang on, I can definitely see splinter groups at the very end and people joining.

    This is all conjecture of course but I would not be surprised if it happens pretty much the way you figured out.


    The religion may try to pull the "tithing" thing. However, some of the people sitting there who were called "unspiritual" for even having a full-time job, might just get up and finally walk out. Just like I did.

  • Incognito

    Although cost overruns are common in any large construction project, those over runs even if multiple million $, would be relatively minor in comparison to the Brooklyn property selloff. One Billion is one thousand million. Recent estimations I've seen are well in excess of $1B from the Brooklyn selloff alone, some estimating closer to $2B.

    Perhaps those funds are considered as investment or capital and will not be used for day-to-day operating expenses.

    I suspect the contamination was identified before the Warwick and UK properties were even considered and therefore, WT was able to purchase at a highly reduced prices, with the expectation that 'slave' labor would be mainly used for cleanup. Consider how many JWs would take a leave from work to travel across the country at their own expense for the 'priveledge' of helping at Bethel.

    Although most of us think it dumb to purchase contaminated property or they didn't realize the contamination until too late, I think they knew full well and took advantage of any government assistance they could obtain or action against the prior owners, to offset the expense of restoring the properties.

    It seems when you say the new Bible costs a fortune to produce, I expect you are thinking in terms of normal costs for a For Profit company which must pay salaries, vacation, benefits, insurance, income tax, property tax, paper, ink, and other overhead costs, in addition to making a profit.

    Although there would be time required for translation, again, slave labor. Since there would be a limited number of word changes from the previous NWT, a computer could quickly identify those changes, likely from a digital English master document, so that the translation 'staff' for each language, are only required to concentrate on the changed text so that syntax is appropriate.

    Regardless of WT's current financial situation, perhaps those at the top have realized the decline in first world JW membership and are using this opportunity to accumulate as much money as possible before the current money pot dries-up.

  • Fisherman

    WTS does not have the major expense in producing paper literature anymore. Payperless digital literature is very cheap to produce. WT will continue to consolidate and cut products and services until monthly contributions cover all wt operating expenses.

    Warwick is not an investment property or is a poor investment property in terms of the property value increasing and resale value. So, wt plans to stay there long term, Armageddon or bust.

  • Incognito
    WTS does not have the major expense in producing paper literature anymore

    Who is printing Bible's and the literature displayed on the carts and D2D? While I understand many JWs now use electronic tablets at the door, is there nothing that is given to a householder as there is available on a cart? Cart literature which is distributed will need to be replaced.

    I recall previously reading, WT had printed other Bible translations for other organizations. Does that still take place?

  • joe134cd

    In 50 years time;

    2-3 million members around the world.

    All physical buildings sold and money moved off shore. There may be assembly halls in main centers dotted around the world that the faithful can attend if and when they can.

    Totally an E-based religion. Everything streamed out of Warwick that the faithful can watch at home on their computers. I don't quite know how they are going to explain the not forsaking the gathering of ourselves together scripture. Printing of literature has completely stopped - well at least in western lands.

  • Fisherman
    Who is printing Bible's, and the literature displayed on the carts and D2D?

    Obviously, WT. - But how many tons of literature does the wt need to produce now to feed the carts and for dtd compared to before ? Not much paper literature besides the tracts and the mags seem to be produced. My point is that wt is not going to dig into their pockets to produce literature because if they do they will run out of assets.

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