Is The Watchtower Society Just Copying The Mormon's Model?

by pale.emperor 22 Replies latest jw experiences

  • pale.emperor

    When I was a faithful JW I was pretty much obsessed with the Mormon religion. To me it was like Lord Of The Rings. I knew the characters, the history, the events, the Joseph Smith stories, the religion's history etc etc etc and I long suspected even then that the Watchtower society has been copying certain things from the LDS church.

    For example, the first thing I noticed was when the book study was dropped and family worship was started. The Mormons have been doing Home Family Evening for decades before the JWs.

    And of course, the door knocking. Mormons have been doing this since the 1830s.

    When I was in, I used to openly say that the website (remember the old one) was rubbish and the Mormons had a slick, brilliant one with all their books and resources on there. Next thing you know JW. org comes along and their setup is almost identical.

    Then there's the silver edition of the NWT. The Book of Mormon starts each book with a quick rundown of what the book is about.

    The new silver edition of the NWT now does this too:

    Even the book cover has an identical style, different only in colour.

    It makes one wonder, if Jehovah really is leading the org why is he getting his ideas from the Mormons?

  • slimboyfat

    Another thing: Mormons have general conference twice a year where the prophet, apostles and quorum of the seventy give televised addresses to the worldwide membership. And in recent years the annual meeting of the Watchtower, including talks by Governing Body members, has been televised for JWs worldwide.

    On the other hand, JWs don’t copy Mormons in supporting education, and they could learn a great deal about raising money.

  • pale.emperor

    ...and they could learn a great deal about raising money.

    Watch this space, Slim. It's long been my suspicion that they'll introduce tithing eventually. They'll need to in order to survive. Although they'll maybe call it by another name. They're already doing something similar by forcing the congregation to pay a lump sum each month after "lovingly cancelling their loans".

  • waton

    Both LDS and Wt violate Gal. 1:8, and preach a new gospel. Have tours of their headquarters, S.L. city and Warwick. Men dress with ties. wear lapel cards. rarely have beards, don't smoke. Ladies dress modestly. Have budding, vs accomplished choirs ( give wt dave S. more time), Salt Lake City has a head start. Both rely heavily on a steady money flow.

    both emphasize the latter, last days.

  • steve2

    When the slick JW website, first "arrived" I was absolutely stunned because it looked exactly like the LDS (Mormon) website. As others on this forum said at the time, it looks like the website developers for had either had a hand in the development of the LDS website or copied it very closely.

  • millie210

    A few years back we had a discussion about the JW website as compared to the LDS website.

    There were many similarities noted and someone even presented some pretty compelling evidence that both religions used the same marketing research company to help with branding.

    Even down to the two little created characters, what are their names, Caleb and Sophia? Sorry, cant remember but the point was that the similarities were too great to fall into the realm of coincidence and the funny thing was the LDS ideas hit the internet first making the JWs the followers!

    You make some great points pale E and thanks for reminding me about it!

  • cofty

    I think you are right PE. I wonder how they will package the compulsory personal donations when it happens.

    Perhaps it will begin with a pro-rata obligation from each congregation — unconnected to building loans — so that the congregation is obliged to make up any shortfall.

  • RubaDub

    I did hear from an inside source at Bethel that the GB is considering that everyone wear magic underwear like the Mormons. But ours will be distinguished by a jw dot org logo on the crotch.

    Rub a Dub

  • sir82

    I wonder how they will package the compulsory personal donations when it happens.

    "Honor Jehovah with your valuable things" - a 3-part series of WT study articles.

    -- Look at how Israel contributed gold & stuff for the tabernacle

    -- Here's all the cool stuff you have now - TV channel, videos, assembly halls, etc.

    -- Here's how you can show how much you love Jehovah - give us a bunch of money - remember how we told you to obey us even if it doesn't seem to make sense? That time is now.

    Followed by a Very Special JW Broadcast - give us your money. Here are the "suggested" (wink wink) donations for each family.

    Followed by secret instructions sent to bodies of elders to ensure compliance, including loss of privileges for those who do not comply. Revisions to elders manual follow.

    Followed by talks & interviews at every assembly & convention for at least 5 years on the "blessings" showered on those who give, give, give

    Followed by more and more reminders on JW Broadcast - at least every other month. Songs & videos on the topic "The joy of giving" produced. 2 or 3 new songs in the songbook on the same topic.

  • slimboyfat

    pale emperor, I am not as interested in the Book of Mormon and the doctrines as you are. I am more interested in the sociology, history and culture Mormonism. I have attended a number of their services and events including general conference. Overall I can’t say I enjoyed it. It is a pretty controlled atmosphere, with a very American vibe. They are clearly in decline in the UK, because the congregations I visited are supposed to be large congregations, yet there were few local people in attendance. Plus some congregations have closed because of lack of local support. It was mostly missionaries and Chinese students, for some reason, at the services.

    Some advantages Mormons have over JWs:

    1. They have a much more extensive programme for young people, including early Mormon Bible groups, so I gather. So the hours of contact, among devout young Mormons, is much greater for Mormons than JWs. This is important because it fosters a connection with the church and the culture that the ever-changing world of Watchtower, with its disorienting adjustments, and lack of programme catering for youth and other groups, lacks.

    2. Having a large strong family is part of Mormon culture and theology. It gives a sense of mission even in the family and provides a larger number of potential recruits from within. JWs on the other hand have at various times discouraged having children or even getting married. Large JW families tend to be by accident rather than design, and many born in leave the religion anyway.

    3. Mormons are much better are providing a sense of purpose and goals for young people. Often they go on mission for two years and return to study, get a career and start a family. This is a very stable and reliable route for young Mormon people into adulthood. JWs on the other hand may have haphazard notions about pioneering or going to bethel, without much emphasis on career. Then as far as bethel, the rug may be pulled from under them, and if a good job doesn’t materialise they have problems starting a family.

    4. Mormons have been much better at raising money and investing it for a return. On the other hand Watchtower had a property windfall in Brooklyn, but this was a one off and probably only provided a temporary boost. (Or stay of execution, as the case may be, depending how their financial crisis turns out) Mormons have a wealthier membership, more concentrated in the US, and with a greater tendency to contribute to the church.

    5. Mormons have academics and research groups that attempt to defend Mormon beliefs. JWs have nothing comparable to this, and the rare efforts of JW apologists are frowned upon and denigrated by Watchtower. So Mormons with doubts at least have somewhere to turn that will support their view of pre-Columbian history for example. Whereas a JW having doubts about 607/1914 doesn’t have much to fall back on to give it credibility. (I think if JWs dropped 1914, and fostered independent defences of their Bible teachings, they would be in a far stronger position as a result)

    Some disadvantages:

    1. Mormons make a partcicularly ludicrous set of historical claims that are pretty difficult to defend. Online they are probably taking a greater hammering for their beliefs than JWs. Although former JWs may view JW beliefs as peculiar or falsifiable, they are more like a variation of historical Christianity, based on the Bible, than Mormonism which includes a whole new set of unlikely propositions. Plus they have an embarrassing history of racism, polygamy, dubious characters, and even a massacre, to defend.

    2. The Mormon church makes greater efforts to appear mainstream and part of society than JWs, even having a Mormon run for president. But they simultaneously oppose gay marriage which leaves then in a awkward postion. JWs are just as opposed to homosexual activity as Mormons, but they make no attempt to appear mainstream, so their stance doesn’t impact them as badly. The Mormon church may soon face a clear choice between being a mainstream church or continuing to stigmatise homosexuality.

    Judging by their declining baptismal figures and stagnating congregation numbers, Mormons appear to have entered decline worldwide. In Europe and the UK they have already been declining for some time. In many ways JWs have outperformed them because JWs have far more congregations, spread far more widely across the globe than Mormons. Plus the higher baptism figures for Mormons are not really comparable to JW baptisms, because Mormons have a much lower threshold for baptism, and many Mormon converts have little or no engagement with the church following baptism. Only around 40% of Mormons are active or turn up for important gatherings like general conference. (49% is a generously high estimate) That means up to 8 million (but probably fewer) Mormons tuning in to hear the prophet twice a year. Compared with around 20 million who turn up for the Memorial, JWs appear to have a larger engaged worldwide membership than Mormons.

    So overall JWs have done better than Mormons to date in attracting converts and spreading globally. But Mormons have stronger finances, better connections with society at large, and a stronger culture of retaining large families in the church. This is probably more the case inside the US than overseas, where the culture in the church may be weaker. So overall the Mormon church has had slower growth than JWs, but they have a more solid financial and organisational basis for retaining members in the future. The JW organisation is currently in crisis and struggling to survive.

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