What’s Wrong with the Witnesses

Every once in awhile I get an email from readers questioning why I write about Jehovah’s Witnesses. For example, one correspondent wrote:

Stop beating on the JW’s so much! Why the anti-JW propaganda?

Of course, part of why I write on themes relating to the Witnesses deals with my own spiritual journey. Additionally, as an Orthodox Christian, I have disagreements with the Jehovah’s Witnesses on several doctrinal issues which I feel are important and directly relate to the meaning of Christianity.

However, often when I’m asked what’s wrong with the Witnesses I focus on some rather significant problems that membership in the religion poses for their members. These issues are not so much theological but demonstrate how being a Jehovah’s Witness can negatively impact one’s life in three areas. This criticism of the Witnesses, I believe, is not just comparing one religion to another or the result of an embittered experience. In this piece, I am trying to move beyond theological controversy and show how the Witness movement fails its members on a human level. The three areas I have chosen to critique are:

1) Youths being discouraged from seeking a university education or making career plans

2) The ban on blood transfusions

3) Shunning of ex-member family and friends

Discouraging a college education

For many years young members of Jehovah’s Witnesses were discouraged from seeking higher education. I remember reading this advice given in the May 22, 1969 Awake! magazine while in my first year of high school:

“If you are a young person, you also need to face the fact that you will never grow old in this present system of things. Why not? Because all the evidence in fulfillment of Bible prophecy indicates that this corrupt system is due to end in a few years. Of the generation that observed the beginning of the ‘last days’ in 1914, Jesus foretold: ‘This generation will by no means pass away until all these things occur.’ Therefore, as a young person, you will never fulfill any career that this system offers. If you are in high school and thinking about a college education, it means at least four, perhaps even six or eight more years to graduate into a specialized career. But where will this system of things be by that time? It will be well on the way towards its finish, if not actually gone! This is why parents who base their lives on God’s prophetic Word find it much more practical to direct their young ones into trades that do not require such long periods of additional schooling… True, those who do not understand where we are in the stream of time from God’s viewpoint will call this impractical. But which is really practical: preparing yourself for a position in this world that soon will pass away? or working toward surviving this system’s end and enjoying eternal life in God’s righteous new order?” (page 15)

At the time this was written, the Watchtower Society was in the midst of emphasizing the date 1975 as the probable time for the Battle of Armageddon. It was also held that there would only be one generation of people from the year 1914 to the End. All this, of course, has been re-interpreted.

Of all the Witness youths I knew from that era, none went to college or university. Two of my best friends were valedictorians of their high school classes and both turned down offers of scholarships for higher education. Both became full-time “pioneers” (door-to-door evangelists) as this was held out as the most desirable course for young Witnesses to pursue. Both later went on to work at Watchtower headquarters in New York though they have now returned home to the area where they grew up and are now raising families. (What I know about them I have gleaned from others as they faithfully obey the shunning policies of the religion to ex-members like me.)

Jehovah's Witness youths are discouraged from seeking higher education. Instead of making normal career plans, Witness youths are encouraged to devote the majority of their time to door-to-door preaching.

Time has proven false what the Watchtower Society told my friends and I back in 1969:

Therefore, as a young person, you will never fulfill any career that this system [world] offers.

Nearly forty years later, many of our classmates are making retirement plans. Some of us who left the religion without any college later tried to do “catch up” by becoming non-traditional college students. In my own case, I started college classes for the first time back in the summer of 2007 at just over fifty years of age.

From 1992 until 2005 there was a liberalization of sorts on this issue of higher education for Jehovah’s Witness youths. A 1992 Watchtower article indicated it was up to the parents to decide what was best for their children in this regard. Full-time pioneering (volunteer door-to-door evangelism) was still suggested as a goal but higher education was viewed as a possible means for Witness youths to obtain employment that would permit them to do that:

If Christian parents responsibly decide to provide their children with further education after high school, that is their prerogative.  The period of these studies would vary according to the type of trade or occupation selected.  For financial reasons and in order to enable their children to get into the full time service as quickly as possible, many Christian parents have chosen for them short term study programs in vocational or technical schools.  In some cases youths have needed to be apprenticed to some trade but always with a full life of service to Jehovah as the goal.

… This magazine has placed emphasis on the dangers of higher learning, and justifiably so, for much higher education opposes the “healthful teaching” of the Bible.  Further, since the 1960’s, many schools of advanced learning have become hotbeds of lawlessness and immorality.  “The faithful and discreet slave” [Witness leaders at headquarters] has  strongly discouraged entering that kind of environment.  It must be admitted, however, that nowadays youngsters meet up with these same dangers in high schools and technical colleges and even in the workplace. (November 1, 1992 Watchtower, pp. 16, 20)

One Witness emailed me back in 2005 regarding this temporary liberalization in attitude towards higher education.

On the subject of higher education: the [Watchtower] Society has “loosened up” somewhat. A few years back there were some articles on taking a few years of college to enable one to spend less time working and more time in the ministry.

He continues to explain why Witness leaders returned to the anti-higher education stance in 2005:

Well, you know what happens when you crack a door open? The kids were signing up for four years or more. Many were forsaking the Truth for lucrative careers. Or staying “witnesses” only to be doing the bare minimum. Not alot of Pioneering [full time door-to-door evangelism] going on by our college bound brothers and sisters. Our Tower two weeks ago  [October 1, 2005 Watchtower] more or less reversed that thinking.

He further commented on the problems this sudden reversal in policy posed for some Witnesses and his own reflection on not having pursued higher education himself:

What’s ironic is my Presiding Overseer [now known as "Coordinator of the Body of Elders"] is halfway through an engineering course at XXX. He was not a happy camper with that study article. He and I are real close so he vents with me rather than someone that can do something about it.

Here’s a hard fact about this system [world]: you can pay now or you can pay later. Later costs more. A business course at XXX in XXXX would have cost me probably $10,000 back then. Learning to run a business the hard way probably cost me 10 times that. Not to mention the stress and pain along the way.

Basically, the pre-1992 discouragement of higher education for Jehovah’s Witness youths was re-instituted with that October 1, 2005 Watchtower. There are continual warnings against going to college or university given at Witness assemblies, such as this one by Governing Body member Gerrit Lösch at an assembly in Milan, Italy:

Being encouraged to seek higher education is viewed as a temptation like drugs or pornography.

The result is college education is regularly demonized in Watchtower publications. Instead of setting up a support system for Witness youths who might be attending a college or university, Witness youths hear testimonies from other members who have forsaken college so that they could devote their lives to preaching door-to-door. Audio lectures have been archived online from Witness conventions where higher education is portrayed as a “crafty act” of the Devil and Witness youths are encouraged not to pursue a university education but to devote themselves to the door-to-door preaching work.

This anti-higher education stance still continues. A 2008 Watchtower classified as a serious temptation to youth when:

A well-intentioned teacher urges you to pursue higher education at a university.

The May 2010 Our Kingdom Ministry (an internal newsletter issued from headquarters for members) asked this question of youths in high school:

4. What should youths nearing graduation consider?

The answer:

4 Youths: While you are finishing your basic education, have you given careful thought to your future? Until now, your schoolwork largely determined your schedule. How will you fill that vacuum after graduation? Instead of pursuing a secular career, why not prayerfully consider the goal of regular pioneering? The skills you will learn-witnessing to people of different backgrounds, overcoming personal obstacles, cultivating self-discipline, and developing teaching ability-will benefit you throughout life.

Normal life goals (education & career) are discouraged for Witness youths as well as many hobbies (sports, music, etc.)

Sadly, Witness youths today face the same sort of pressure against higher education and making career plans as did W.C. Stevenson, a Witness from the United Kingdom over fifty years ago. He initially went against the advice of both his father and the Watchtower Society and had enrolled at Cambridge. He tells how he conformed to the pressure:

Many young people in the movement with promising careers in front of them have in the past had such abruptly terminated by this insistent demand that they must pioneer [become a full-time evangelist]. The writer is a case in point. Despite the [Watchtower] Society’s insistence on withdrawing from the pursuit of further education, which was repeated with great emphasis by my father, I gained a place at Trinity Hall, Cambridge, where for a year I read English literature. However the pressure of ‘theocratic conscience’, the feeling that I was misusing dedicated time, enforced by a continuous flow of counsel from the publications of the Society and from the talks given at the Witnesses’ meetings, resulted in my leaving Trinity Hall after only a year of study. I could have had no peace of mind until the decision was made. I reasoned according to my theocratic training, that I was either for God or against Him. If I was lukewarm, God would spew me out of His mouth. I was a dedicated servant of God, and I felt that this could only be fulfilled by full-time preaching for the Society. And so, to ensure a complete severance of myself from Cambridge, when the examinations came round, I just sat through the several three-hourly sessions, writing nothing on the papers but simply passing them in blank. The last words of my tutor to me as I left Trinity Hall were, ‘Well, Stevenson, I hope you never regret what you have done’. I am quite sure now that this was the worst mistake of my life. But an even bigger mistake, of course, would be to allow myself to become embittered by the experience. However, I must say that I cannot deprecate too strongly the Society’s attitude towards further education. (The Inside Story of Jehovah’s Witnesses by W.C. Stevenson, pp. 102-103)

The Blood ban

Blood card carried by Jehovah's Witnesses (from the 1960s)

It is well known that Jehovah’s Witnesses refuse blood transfusions and that some have died in obedience to this belief. It is not as well known that Witness members have contributed to the growth of bloodless medicine. Many new procedures and treatments have arisen in the past couple of decades that do not use blood. In this regard, Witnesses have rendered a valuable service to others.

Still, there seems to be what could almost be termed a Witness “urban legend” that all medical procedures requiring blood can adequately be covered by these bloodless techniques, even in emergency situations. This has even been expressed in Witness publications. For example, the February 22, 1976 Awake! told of one Witness spokesman who responded to a student questioning the ban on blood transfusions during a question and answer period at a presentation made at a Canadian university:

People often question the refusal of Jehovah’s witnesses to accept blood transfusions. During the questioning, a student raised hypothetical emergency situations in an effort to bypass the Scriptural prohibition mentioned in Acts 15:20, 29.

Student: “Well, suppose somebody was just coming to the hospital. They’ve got a few seconds to live. The only possible way out is a blood transfusion. Well, what’s your answer to that? I mean, that’s murder if you don’t let them accept that.”

Witness: “That situation doesn’t exist. Wherever there are cases where a person . . . let’s say comes in off the highway here . . . and there is extreme loss of blood. Every emergency room, in every hospital, has a plasma volume expander which can . . . “

Student: “Plasma doesn’t replace blood, though.”

Witness: “The need there is to keep the volume up in the system. It’s not the blood so much that’s needed then, but the volume that must be replaced. These expanders will do it. They are used in emergency situations; they are recommended by Civil Defense organizations when blood is not available. Obviously it works—it has worked on thousands of Jehovah’s witnesses.” (page 15)

[An audio of this exchange can be heard here at 30:14 minutes. The speaker is identified as Eugene Rosam, who at the time was a Circuit Overseer (a traveling representative of the Watchtower Society) and is now a director of one of the Watchtower Society legal corporations.]

This overconfidence in alternative treatments is also mentioned in an article by Kerry Louderback-Wood in the Journal of Church and State. She notes that the emphasis given on these new alternative treatments by Watchtower leaders give the wrong impression. Referring to a Watchtower publication on blood, she says:

It builds a case that other doctors wish all surgeons would become bloodless surgeons, when in fact those doctors recognize the benefits of blood transfusions for those who are in desperate need.

2006 worksheet to determine acceptable blood fractions

The situation where blood might be the only thing that will save a life certainly does exist. Despite the heightened concerns for safety with regards to blood management, there is no movement in the medical community to close blood banks. Sadly, however, many Witnesses who face critical care situations in hospital emergency rooms have a false confidence that their refusal to accept blood can be overcome with some form of alternative non-blood treatment. Sometimes it can; sometimes it can’t. While contemporary society recognizes the right of adults to make the choice to refuse potentially life-saving treatment and risk death, most countries take a different view when young children are involved.

An excellent refutation of the Witnesses’ biblical interpretation on blood by the late Raymond Franz also points out some of the contradictions in the Witness blood policy. Nowadays, Witnesses are permitted to use fractions made from blood but still are not permitted to use “red blood cells, white blood cells, platelets or plasma.” (November 2006 Our Kingdom Ministry) The amount of blood (as long as it has been fractioned from blood) allowed to the conscience of Jehovah’s Witnesses these days by their leaders is a major change from years ago. Witnesses now face a worksheet to note their choices regarding what blood fractions they will accept and what they will not. (One surprising allowance are products made from Hemoglobin such as Hemopure, made from blood from cattle. Additional “blood substitutes” are being prepared, all of which are permissible by the newly adopted “fractions” policy by Witness leaders, and all of them start by using blood–either from cattle or humans–as their base.) This is in stark contrast to the earlier identification cards that Witnesses carried (pictured above) which objected to “blood in any way, shape or form.” However, Witnesses who take the forbidden major components of blood are viewed as having voluntarily resigned from the religion and are shunned.

Despite the bloodless medicine advances and allowed fractions from blood, there are still times when Witnesses fly foul of doctors and courts. No doubt alternative treatments can be successful in many situations but it’s undeniable that sometimes blood is the only real treatment — especially in cases of extreme hemorrhaging as in this recent case in Britain.  In these cases, Witnesses are expected to still refuse blood and risk death.

Witness leaders make no exception for underage children and lead members to believe that the eternal destiny of their children requires the continued rejection of blood, even if it would be the only thing to prevent death. Witness youths are encouraged by their leaders to resist a court-ordered blood transfusion as if it were rape. Witness youths as young as 10 years old (as in this recent case in Australia) repeat objections to blood that they’ve been taught. A 1994 Awake! article quoted favorably a 12 year old Witness girl with leukemia as testifying that if a court ordered a blood transfusion she:

would fight and kick the IV pole down and rip out the IV no matter how much it would hurt, and poke holes in the blood. (May 22, 1994 Awake!, p. 13)

This type of attitude has led to cases where at times Witness children who receive a court-ordered blood transfusion have been whisked away into hiding to evade the order.

Former Witnesses Paul and Pat Blizard faced pressure from elders in his congregation to remove his daughter from a hospital after he and his wife were served with a court-ordered blood transfusion:

Then a group of elders arrived, took Paul off to one side, and asked, “Has your daughter gotten the blood yet?” When Paul replied that the hospital staff were still matching the blood, an elder said, “Great, we still have time to get her out of the hospital. We can sneak her out in the middle of the night. We can hire a helicopter. Just unhook the tubes and we’re gone.” Paul answered, “Wait a minute — you can’t do that. It’s against the law. I’m under court order. I would be charged with murder.” The elder said, “That’s a chance you’re going to have to take. You must obey God rather than men.” “Look, I just can’t let my child die in that way, ” Paul appealed. “We have made the decision that we would not give our permission for her to receive a transfusion. We are willing to let her die. But you can’t force me to take her out. That would kill her for sure. I just can’t do it.” (Witnesses of Jehovah by Leonard & Marjorie Chretien, pp. 196-197)

The Witnesses in the Blizards’ congregation viewed them as having compromised the faith because they had not resisted the court-ordered blood transfusion more than they had. Once they refused to sneak their daughter out of the hospital to evade the court-ordered blood transfusion they were left all alone by Witness friends and relatives.

As I said earlier, there are many situations (perhaps the greater majority these days) where alternative non-blood treatments work successfully even in some emergency situations. But, in those situations where only blood will save a life many Witnesses (both young and old) make the ultimate sacrifice in obedience to the current interpretation of their leaders as to what blood is permissible for medical science to use and what is not.

Shunning

Witness leaders proudly quote court cases which have confirmed the right of their members to shun ex-member friends and family. For example, a Federal Court of Appeals ruled:

Shunning is a practice engaged in by Jehovah’s Witnesses pursuant to their interpretation of canonical text, and we are not free to reinterpret that text . . . The defendants are entitled to the free exercise of their religious beliefs.

Even though legal, such shunning can be traumatic for both the ones being shunned and the ones doing the shunning.

Wikipedia gives a succinct explanation of shunning among Jehovah’s Witnesses:

Jehovah’s Witnesses practice a form of shunning which they refer to as “disfellowshipping.”  A disfellowshipped person is not to be greeted either socially or at their meetings. Disfellowshipping follows a decision of a judicial committee established by a local congregation that a member is guilty of a “serious sin”, including “fornication, adultery, homosexuality, greed, extortion, thievery, lying, drunkenness, reviling, spiritism, murder, idolatry, apostasy, and the causing of divisions in the congregation.” Watch Tower publications cite sexual immorality as the most common reason.

The Watch Tower Society directs that those who voluntarily renounce membership of the religion are also to be shunned. The organization cites their interpretation of various passages in the Bible, such as 1 Corinthians 5:11-13, and 2 John 10-11 to support their practice of shunning. Total shunning is not enforced in the case of disfellowshipped members living in the same household, although in this case the remaining members will not usually discuss spiritual matters with the disfellowshipped person. Parents are still expected to give Bible instruction to a disfellowshipped minor. Contact with family members not living in the family home is to be kept to a minimum. Sociologist Andrew Holden claims his research indicated many Witnesses who would otherwise defect because of disillusionment with the organization and its teachings retain affiliation out of fear of being shunned and losing contact with friends and family members.

The list of offenses that can result in shunning further includes celebrating Christmas, accepting blood (but not blood fractions), smoking, worshipping with a non-Witness religious group, gambling, military service or saluting the flag. (A full list of “disfellowshipping offenses” can be read here, taken from an elders’ manual produced by headquarters. This list may be updated soon as a new manual entitled Shepherd the Flock of God — 1 Peter 5:2 is now being produced.)

But the clincher of “disfellowshipping offenses” is that if a Witness associates with an ex-member who has violated one of these rules or even has voluntarily left the religion then they themselves face congregational disciplinary action which would result in their own shunning. This helps to ensure individual compliance with the shunning policy.

The official Watchtower website explains how thoroughness of this “cutting off” in shunning.

…if the disfellowshipped or disassociated one is a relative living outside the immediate family circle and home. It might be possible to have almost no contact at all with the relative. Even if there were some family matters requiring contact, this certainly would be kept to a minimum, in line with the divine principle: “Quit mixing in company with anyone called a brother that is a fornicator or a greedy person [or guilty of another gross sin], . . . not even eating with such a man.”—1 Corinthians 5:11. Understandably, this may be difficult because of emotions and family ties, such as grandparents’ love for their grandchildren. Yet, this is a test of loyalty to God…

Understandably, the fear of such shunning among the Witnesses is great. Witnesses are encouraged not to build friendships outside the religion so the loss of the friendship of the Witness community would be devastating.

The shunning cuts across family ties. Watchtower leaders juxtapose “loyalty to God” against the natural loyalty and love to one’s family.  However, outsiders would say that the Watchtower Society’s strict policy of shunning tears families apart. No doubt some Witnesses remain in the movement because they do not want to lose contact with their friends and family.

One active Witness posted this criticism of the shunning policy, albeit anonymously so as not to be disfellowshipped himself:

There is great social pressure to conform to the shunning policy by active Witnesses (especially because failure to shun results in one’s own shunning), but this is often accompanied by emotional turmoil. Shunning takes its toil on both Witnesses who obey the policy and on those who experience the silence and rejection. It is particularly traumatic in family situations: where children are forced to shun parents or parents their own children; brothers and sisters being separated; grandchildren not seeing grandparents because of the shunning rules. In the “further reading” section of this article are links to stories that show the poignancy of the Watchtower Society’s shunning policies.

Conclusion

These three areas (discouragement of higher education and seeking careers for their youth, forbidding blood transfusions in life-or-death situations, and shunning of ex-member friends and family) illustrate that Jehovah’s Witnesses are not just another religious group.

It needs to be emphasized that these policies are dictated by the Witness leadership–the Governing Body–currently a group of eight men in New York. Theoretically, a future Watchtower magazine could come out reversing some or all of these policies and Witnesses would dutifully comply. Such is not out of the question as the Watchtower Society has had a softer approach on disfellowshipping and shunning–from 1974 to 1981; a more open policy on higher education–from 1992 to 2005; and has already made many exceptions on their objections to blood used in medicine since the year 2000.

But, as it stands, Witnesses today live with these strict interpretations. These are what I would term distinguishing marks of a religion oppressive to its members.

For further reading:

Reading Recommendations re: Jehovah’s Witnesses

Jehovah’s Witnesses, Higher Education and Misrepresentation

Jehovah’s Witnesses and Blood Transfusions

Essay on Blood by Ray Franz (former member of the Governing Body)

Jehovah’s Witnesses and Disfellowshipping

Why Jehovah’s Witnesses Practice Religious Shunning

A House Divided

Open Letter to Jehovah’s Witnesses Regarding Shunning

Articles on Shunning at an ex-JW website

What is wrong with being a Jehovah’s Witness?

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20 Responses to What’s Wrong with the Witnesses

  1. Ric Ballard says:

    When JW’s get converted to the historical faith they often make great evangelists for our Church.

  2. I applaud your blog well done!

    The A,B,C 1 2 3 of JW Issues

    Jehovah’s Witnesses would be obscure and no one would say anything negative about them except they cause these problems:

    1) break up families under the guise of Jesus said so.

    2) let kids die from no blood transfusion then say it’s from God and then have all kinds of you can use blood parts loopholes.

    3) go door to door and lie about why they are really there say it’s to encourage Bible reading when they want to get literature in your hands ask for donation and then come back bothersome because you took literature just to be nice to them.

    Get rid of these 3 things and they will do fine.

  3. Vinny says:

    The WT Society and Jehovah’s Witnesses are a MAN-originating, men-run, high controlling religious cult-like institution, rather than what they tell people they are (God’s appointed Channel/Organization/People nonsense).

    The facts prove without a doubt that God was never behind any of this:

    http://home.tiscali.nl/t661020/wtcitaten/part2.htm

    [Edited due to length.]

    This is why I suggest to anybody thinking of becoming a JW … to READ READ AND READ UP ON THIS RELIGION FIRST!

    The proof will clearly stand out that the JW faith is not what they try to tell people they are!

    The facts are Irrefutable.

    Vinny

  4. Brenda says:

    Well done!!!

  5. Gayle says:

    Actually you say nothing more than what they say themselves. You quote them from their own literature. Their own literature condemns them!

  6. On the other hand…..

    Another way to view it would be: is one serious about the Bible or not? If one accepts the Bible’s premise that inadequate human rule is to be soon replaced by God’s rule, and that Christians ought to represent and proclaim that rule, then all sorts of conclusions logically follow. Jehovah’s Witnesses are unafraid to go there,although such conclusions are immensely unpopular with those who think the present world is as it always has been and always will be. The JW organization deserves the greatest respect for having that courage.

    Everyone else assumes that Christianity ought to be a bullet-point asset on one’s career resume. But JWs endeavor to view today’s education as God views it, and as the Bible describes it (verses such as 1 Jn 2:15-17 come to mind). JWs pursue secular education as a tool to acquire job skills, but they avoid looking to it as their source of wisdom. After all, leaders, prominent ones, statesmen, and so forth, are, almost to the person, highly educated. If their brand of education is so invaluable, then why is the world they’ve constructed such a mess?

    It’s a tricky balance….picking what is good from education, while avoiding what simply reflects the “spirit of this world.” Families will apply counsel as they see fit. It is counsel, after all, and not command. Maybe I’m not crazy about all of it even myself. But I respect them enormously for having the courage to give it.

    As to blood, the same understanding that prohibits transfusions also prohibits smoking, overdrinking, and recreational drug use. The numbers impacted by the first are tiny; the number impacted by the last three are huge. Not to mention that the neutral stand of JWs means they neither inflict nor receive battle injuries. Surely if all were to become Jehovah’s Witnesses, the world’s overall death rate would plummet. Moreover, bloodless medicine, primarily developed to meet the needs JWs, is now available to everyone. Where applicable, it is generally acknowledged to be safer than transfusion therapy. Might the day already be here when the number of lives saved through bloodless medicine more than offsets the relatively few lost by members of a small religious group that stuck to its principles against much opposition?

    As to “shunning,” the Bible says what it says. Variations of shunning have been practiced by a great many religions down through history, though, to be sure, JWs are one of the few that haven’t knuckled under to the spirit of the times that holds such discipline is “mean.” Nonetheless, Orthocath will recall statements to the effect that “60 years ago, the difference between JWs and the general population was primarily one of doctrine, not morality. Now it is seen that Jehovah’s Witnesses, virtually alone, have maintained the Bible’s morality, while most everyone else has adapted to a new, contemporary morality. Surely shunning has played it’s part in this.

    If one believes that following the Bible is impractical in modern life, then say it. That’s an intellectually honest response. The problems JWs have with today’s world all stem from their taking the Bible seriously as a guide by which to live.

    • orthocath says:

      Tom,

      Thanks for stopping by and for your thoughts. I won’t respond to every point you bring up, or else the combox would get unmanageable.

      What do you mean that Jehovah’s Witnesses have “virtually alone” maintained the Bible’s morality? There are plenty of Christian groups that hold to traditional morality. That is a patently false statement.

      As to shunning. Do you really believe Jesus had in mind that a grown son or daughter is duty bound to shun one’s own parent because the parent no longer believes that Jesus returned invisibly in 1914? Another example: I know one woman who could not accept the Watchtower Society’s teaching that Jesus was not her mediator and ended up being disfellowshipped over this. Her grown daughter was married to the Presiding Overseer’s son and never spoke to her mother again. Thirty years later her mother is now near death and the daughter still will not see her. Do you believe the Bible endorses this? Where?

      As to blood. I commended the JWs for helping spear the development of bloodless medicine. There’s no denying that bloodless medicine is safer. Unless, it’s a situation where bloodless medicine is not enough. That’s why there is no movement to shut down blood banks. You refer to “relatively few lost.” Is not all life precious? Does God really demand that a JW mother who has massive hemorrahging during childbirth refuse blood? JW hemophiliacs are free to use recombinant Factor VIII so that they don’t bleed to death. Recombinant Factor VIII was first developed using 25,000 liters of blood:

      http://www.biological.com/recombinant/recf8/recdna10.html

      Does it make sense that God leaves one up to conscience and the poor JW mother is left to bleed to death? Is her life one of the “few”?

      You referred to the “Bible’s premise that inadequate human rule is to be soon replaced by God’s rule.” Do you have a timetable on this? All the predictions made by Witness leaders since the days of Nelson Barbour and C.T. Russell have proved false. Witness publications have, at times, tried to make their history look like the 1914 prediction by Barbour and Russell was vindicated. This is not supported by the actual documents. I suggest reading this study:

      http://www.archive.org/details/HistoricalIdealismAndJehovahsWitnesses

      This is not God’s fault or the Bible’s fault. Witness leaders have spoken on these issues and God never told them to say these things.

      But, how does this relate to education? Why would it be wrong for some JW youths to study to become doctors? Some of them might even help further develop bloodless medicine. Why shouldn’t some JW youths consider becoming school teachers? Or some lawyers? Doesn’t the Bible say that God gives many different gifts? Not everyone is called to be a full-time evangelist (Eph. 4:11).

      Is the only way to serve God by going door-to-door? I work with a school teacher who is a devout Christian who considers it her calling to nurture young children and be the best teacher she can be. She considers this part of her ministry to God. There’s a Christian doctor in this area who regularly goes overseas to operate on children with birth defects (at no charge!) in third world countries. He considers this a part of his ministry to God. Wouldn’t the Jehovah’s Witness movement be improved if it adopted a similar approach to ministry?

      Why couldn’t JWs provide a support system for their youth (as do some other religions) who are in college? Instead, higher education is demonized by Witness leaders. I’ve been in college classes the past three years and I’ve met some incredible people there. Yes, there are people who reject traditional morality. But, you have that situation everywhere. There are people of faith there too. And, there are people who have no faith but are good people as well.

      As to the Bible supporting the JW positions on blood, education and shunning. I’ve given links in the further reading section that go to articles which show, I believe, the JW interpretation to be in error. Those interested can check these out for themselves.

      So, Tom, I disagree with you that JWs should be congratulated on these issues. These are real problems that demonstrate major shortcomings in the JW movement.

  7. You referred to the “Bible’s premise that inadequate human rule is to be soon replaced by God’s rule.” Do you have a timetable on this?

    No. I don’t. Isn’t that really what’s at the crux of our disagreement?

    We don’t get a timetable. Jesus said “keep on the watch” and “at an hour that you do not think to be it the Son of Man is coming.” Each time we’ve tried to force specificity on a prophesy we’ve been burned. And, no, it isn’t frequent. It’s happened just once in anyone’s lifetime (unless you are really really old). Instead, we have a mix of prophesy confirmed by ever-deteriorating world conditions that points to a certain time period. That’s all we get.

    It’s enough for JWs. We’re convinced this system is a failure and destined for replacement by God’s Kingdom. Our hearts are in that new system. We proclaim it. We even refer to it as the “real life,” applying the words of Timothy.

    But if your heart is with this system, all the work and practices and beliefs of those whose heart is with the one to come seem extreme, unnecessary, in some case deleterious. It all depends upon where one’s focus is. Live a good life now, even try to reform this world, or adhere to what JWs believe is the Bible’s hope…a coming new system.

  8. orthocath says:

    Yes, Jesus referred to people who tried to force prophesy:

    “And he said, “Take heed that you are not led astray; for many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am he!’ and, ‘The time is at hand!’ Do not go after them.” (Luke 21:8)

    Jehovah’s Witnesses have been led astray by men who claim they know times and seasons that belong to God. From the last words spoken by Jesus before he ascended into heaven:

    “It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority.” (Acts 1:7)

    Christians hope for the new heavens and new earth. 2 Peter 3:10-14 says:

    “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a loud noise, and the elements will be dissolved with fire, and the earth and everything that is done on it will be disclosed.

    Since all these things are to be dissolved in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in leading lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set ablaze and dissolved, and the elements will melt with fire? But, in accordance with his promise, we wait for new heavens and a new earth, where righteousness is at home.

    Therefore, beloved, while you are waiting for these things, strive to be found by him at peace, without spot or blemish.”

    Notice what Peter said our response should be with regard to this hope. He said: “Strive to be found by him at peace, without spot or blemish.”

    The essence of Christianity is living the Christian life in communion with Christ. What does Peter say we should strive to be? “To be found by him at peace, without spot or blemish.” That’s what living with the reality of the new heavens and earth should lead us towards. “To be found by him at peace, without spot or blemish.”

    Peter says nothing about everyone becoming full-time evangelists. Some are called to become formal evangelists (Eph. 4:11), but not all. In the early Church, some were called to missionary work but the vast majority were not. There is nothing in Scripture or the history of the Church that says that all Christians were encouraged to abandon careers and that all youths were to focus on becoming full-time preachers.

    What did Jesus say our response should be to those who would claim: “The time is at hand!”?

    “Do not go after them.”

  9. bereket says:

    i’ve on the verge of becoming a JW . everything of what they say almost makes sense . any one out there save me if i’m lost plz.

    • orthocath says:

      I’d start with this subject from this thread:

      http://orthocath.wordpress.com/2010/10/06/seeds-of-doubt-for-jehovahs-witnesses-the-name-jehovah-1/

      One of the main doctrines of the Witnesses is that one must use the name Jehovah to be saved. But, as the above thread shows, Jesus didn’t utter the name Jehovah in his prayers. Is it really as important as the Witnesses say it is?

      • Connor says:

        Why would Jesus call his own Father by his name, I never called my parents by their own name….it shows disrespect. For the rest of us why would you not use the personal name of your good friend?

        • orthocath says:

          Well, the Witnesses insist that Jesus left us a model of using the name Jehovah — not only in our prayers but in his everyday speech. Problem is, there is not *one* Greek manuscript of the New Testament that has the name “Jehovah” or “Yahweh” in it. Not *one*. So, it’s clear the early Christians did not emphasize using the name “Jehovah” or “Yahweh.”

    • Connor says:

      Your not lost, You just have to make sure that you research the bible yourself and don’t just take someone’s word for it. Really search out for Jehovah. Every time I’ve asked a question, they’ve answered it using the bible. They really know the bible well.

      • orthocath says:

        The JWs train to answer people’s questions and know many Scriptures. Do they really know the Bible itself? Or, are they memorizing many passages instead? For example, I commented to you earlier about their insistence on Christians using the name “Jehovah.” Where is the New Testament manuscript evidence that the early Christians used the name “Jehovah” or “Yahweh”? There are over 5,000 Greek manuscripts of the New Testament and not *one* of them has the name “Jehovah” or “Yahweh” in it. That pretty well contradicts one of their main tenets. The early Christians were not known for emphasizing the name “Jehovah.”

  10. shawn says:

    excellent points. the quote” do not go after them” pretty much eliminates anyone gathering people based upon the threat of armageddon, and eliminates the gospel message being about WARNING anyone about that. The JWs are sincere, and absolutely wrong.

  11. Debi Duchesne says:

    Well, i’ve been a born again christian for some time, and one day the JW’s came to my door. it so happened one of them was a friend from work; so not wanting to be rude; i allowed them in. at first, the main book we used for bible study was the basic manual on JW beliefs. They offered me one of their bibles, but since i already had one of my own(diffrent translation from theirs); i told them that i was fine and did not need their bible. For some reason, they did not take to kindly to that and basically insisted i use their translation during our bible studies ok; i can go with the flow. but as we continued to have bible studies, everytime i brought upa question related to their doctrine, specifically that Jesus Christ was really Adam and andarchangel, which completely blows the concept of eternal life and forgiveness of sins by the blood of Jesus, for they had made Jesus a created being, not the Son of God. This is outright heresy; and people who don’t know the bible or aren’t even Christians are swayed by this. The end result was since they could not convince me(and they really tried) and as a nurse i completely disagreed with the whole blood transfusion deal; suddenly all my “friends” from JW were not speaking to me anymore; i had become shunned. ok, it did’nt hurt me any. but, i feel sorry for the children; as they r taught to not associate with anyone other than JW kids. this is a form of mind control and brainwashing. so,although they still come by once in a while to give me their watchtowers, i see the mind control in the mags; there are very nice people, sincere people, good people, who truly bought into the benevolence of the society. i hope one day they will see that not everything which glitters is gold.

  12. David Meeks says:

    My JW childhood included frequent severe beatings, bullying by my family, lack of empathy, no care about education, no happiness, no fun, no holidays, no birthdays and lots of sadness, fear, confusion that much of it is now burning anger and hatred.

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