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Criticism of Jehovah's Witnesses

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Title: Criticism of Jehovah's Witnesses  
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Language: English
Subject: Criticism of religion, Criticism of monotheism, Criticism of Sikhism, Criticism of the Catholic Church, Islam and violence
Collection: Criticism of Jehovah's Witnesses, Criticism of Religion
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Criticism of Jehovah's Witnesses

Jehovah's Witnesses have attracted criticism from mainstream Christianity, some members of the medical community, some former members and some commentators over their beliefs and practices. The religion has been accused of doctrinal inconsistency and reversals, failed predictions, mistranslation of the Bible, harsh treatment of former members and autocratic and coercive leadership. Criticism has also focused on their rejection of blood transfusions, particularly in life-threatening medical situations, and claims that they have failed to report cases of sexual abuse to the authorities. Many of the claims are denied by Jehovah's Witnesses and some have also been disputed by courts and religious scholars.


  • Doctrinal criticisms 1
    • Failed predictions 1.1
    • Changes of doctrine 1.2
    • United Nations association 1.3
    • Fall of Jerusalem 1.4
    • Evolution 1.5
  • Social criticisms 2
    • Authoritarianism and denial of free speech 2.1
    • Description as a "cult" 2.2
    • Coercion 2.3
    • Shunning 2.4
    • Blood 2.5
      • Fractions and components 2.5.1
      • Storing and donation 2.5.2
      • Legal considerations 2.5.3
      • Animal blood 2.5.4
    • Reporting of sexual abuse 2.6
  • Biblical criticisms 3
  • See also 4
  • References 5
  • Further reading 6
  • External links 7

Doctrinal criticisms

Failed predictions

The beliefs unique to Jehovah's Witnesses involve their interpretations of the [4][5][6] If a member advocates views different to what appears in print, they face expulsion.[7][8][9]

Failed predictions that were either explicitly stated or strongly implied, particularly linked to dates in 1914, 1918, 1925 and 1975, have led to the alteration or abandonment of some teachings. The Society's publications have at times suggested that members had previously "read into the Watch Tower statements that were never intended"[10] or that the beliefs of members were "based on wrong premises."[11] Critic Edmond Gruss claims that other failed predictions were ignored, and replaced with new predictions; for example, in the book, The Finished Mystery (1917), events were applied to the years 1918 to 1925 that earlier had been held to occur prior to 1914. When the new interpretations also did not transpire, the 1926 edition of the book changed the statements and removed the dates.[12]

Raymond Franz, a critic and former member of the Governing Body of Jehovah's Witnesses, has cited publications that claimed God has used Jehovah's Witnesses as a collective prophet.[13] Critics including James A. Beverley have accused the religion of false prophecy for making those predictions, particularly because of assertions in some cases that the predictions were beyond doubt or had been approved by God, but describes its record of telling the future as "pathetic".[14][15][16][17] Beverley says the Watch Tower Society has passed judgment on others who have falsely predicted the end of the world (he cites a 1968 Awake! that says other groups were "guilty of false prophesying" after having "predicted an 'end to the world', even announcing a specific date").[18][19]

The Watch Tower Society rejects accusations that it is a false prophet.[20][21] It says its explanations of Bible prophecy are not infallible[22][23][24] and that its predictions are not claimed explicitly as "the words of Jehovah."[20] It states that some of its expectations have needed adjustment because of eagerness for God's kingdom, but that those adjustments are no reason to "call into question the whole body of truth."[25] Raymond Franz claims that the Watch Tower Society tries to evade its responsibility when citing human fallibility as a defense, adding that the Society represents itself as God's appointed spokesman, and that throughout its history has made many emphatic predictions. Franz adds that the organization's eagerness for the Millennium does not give it license to impugn the motives of those who fail to accept its predictions.[6]

[26] In 1904 Zion's Watch Tower stated: "We have in the Scriptures what we think is clear testimony respecting that date [1914], but no particulars or dates for the intervening time. It is not our intention to enter upon the role of prophet to any degree, but merely to give below what seems to us rather likely to be the trend of events."[27]

Predictions (by date of publication) include:

  • 1877: Christ's kingdom would hold full sway over the earth in 1914; the Jews, as a people, would be restored to God's favor; the "saints" would be carried to heaven.[28]
  • 1891: 1914 would be "the farthest limit of the rule of imperfect men."[29]
  • 1904: "World-wide anarchy" would follow the end of the Gentile Times in 1914.[30]
  • 1916: World War I would terminate in Armageddon and the rapture of the "saints".[31]
  • 1917: In 1918, Christendom would go down as a system to oblivion and be succeeded by revolutionary governments. God would "destroy the churches wholesale and the church members by the millions." Church members would "perish by the sword of war, revolution and anarchy." The dead would lie unburied. In 1920 all earthly governments would disappear, with worldwide anarchy prevailing.[32]
  • 1920: Messiah's kingdom would be established in 1925 and bring worldwide peace. God would begin restoring the earth. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and other faithful patriarchs would be resurrected to perfect human life and be made princes and rulers, the visible representatives of the New Order on earth. Those who showed themselves obedient to God would never die.[33]
  • 1922: The anti-typical "jubilee" that would mark God's intervention in earthly affairs would take place "probably the fall" of 1925.[34]
  • 1924: God's restoration of Earth would begin "shortly after" October 1, 1925. Jerusalem would be made the world's capital. Resurrected "princes" such as Abel, Noah, Moses and John the Baptist would give instructions to their subjects around the world by radio, and airplanes would transport people to and from Jerusalem from all parts of the globe in just "a few hours".[35]
  • 1938: Armageddon was too close for marriage or child bearing.[36]
  • 1941: There were only "months" remaining until Armageddon.[37]
  • 1942: Armageddon was "immediately before us."[38]
  • 1961: Awake! magazine stated that the heavenly kingdom "will, within the twentieth century, cleanse the entire earth of wickedness."[39]
  • 1966: It would be 6000 years since man's creation in the fall of 1975 and it would be "appropriate" for Christ's thousand-year reign to begin at that time.[40] Time was "running out, no question about that."[41] The "immediate future" was "certain to be filled with climactic events ... within a few years at most", the final parts of Bible prophecy relating to the "last days" would undergo fulfillment as Christ's reign began.
  • 1967: The end-time period (beginning in 1914) was claimed to be so far advanced that the time remaining could "be compared, not just to the last day of a week, but rather, to the last part of that day".[42]
  • 1968: No one could say "with certainty" that the battle of Armageddon would begin in 1975, but time was "running out rapidly" with "earthshaking events" soon to take place.[43] In March 1968 there was a "short period of time left", with "only about ninety months left before 6000 years of man's existence on earth is completed".[44]
  • 1969: The existing world order would not last long enough for young people to grow old; the world system would end "in a few years." Young Witnesses were told not to bother pursuing tertiary education for this reason.[45]
  • 1971: The "battle in the day of Jehovah" was described as beginning "[s]hortly, within our twentieth century".[46]
  • 1974: There was just a "short time remaining before the wicked world's end" and Witnesses were commended for selling their homes and property to "finish out the rest of their days in this old system in the pioneer service."[47]
  • 1984: There were "many indications" that "the end" was closer than the end of the 20th century.[48]
  • 1989: The Watchtower asserted that Christian missionary work begun in the first century would "be completed in our 20th century".[49] When republished in bound volumes, the phrase "in our 20th century" was replaced with the less specific "in our day".

Changes of doctrine

History of Eschatological Doctrine
Last Days begin Start of Christ's Presence Christ made King Resurrection of 144,000 Judgment of Religion Separating Sheep & Goats Great Tribulation
1879–1920 1799 1874 1878 during Millenium 1914, 1915, 1918, 1920
1920–1923 1925
1923–1925 during Christ's presence
1925–1927 1914 1878 1878 within generation of 1914
1927–1930 1918
1930–1933 1919
1933–1966 1914
1966–1975 1975?
1975–1995 within generation of 1914
1995–present during Great Tribulation imminent

Although Watch Tower Society literature claims the Society's founder, Charles Taze Russell, was directed by God's Holy Spirit, through which he received "flashes of light",[50] it has substantially altered doctrines since its inception and abandoned many of Russell's teachings.[51] Many of the changes have involved biblical chronology that had earlier been claimed as beyond question.[52][53][54][55][56] Watch Tower Society publications state that doctrinal changes result from a process of "progressive revelation", in which God gradually reveals his will.[57][58]

  • Date of beginning of Christ's kingdom rule. Russell taught that Jesus had become king in April 1878.[59][60] In 1922, Joseph Rutherford altered the date to 1914.[51]
  • Date of resurrection of anointed Christians. After the failure of predictions that Christ's chosen "saints" would be carried away to heaven in 1878,[61] Russell developed the teaching that those "dying in the Lord" from 1878 forward would have an immediate heavenly resurrection.[62] The Watch Tower confirmed the doctrine in 1925,[63] but two years later asserted this date was wrong[64] and that the beginning of the instant resurrection to heaven for faithful Christians was from 1918.[65]
  • Great Pyramid as a "stone witness" of God. Russell wrote in 1910 that God had the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt built as a testimony to the truth of the Bible and proof of its chronology identifying the "last days".[66][67] In 1928 Rutherford rejected the doctrine and claimed the Pyramid had been built under the direction of Satan.[68]
  • Identity of "faithful and wise servant". Russell initially believed the "faithful and wise servant" of Matthew 24:45 was "every member of this body of Christ ... the whole body individually and collectively."[69] By 1886 he had altered his view and began explaining it was a person, not the Christian church.[70] Russell accepted claims by Bible Students that he was that "servant"[71][72][73] and in 1909 described as his "opponents" those who would apply the term "faithful and wise servant" to "all the members of the church of Christ" rather than to an individual.[74] By 1927 the Watch Tower Society was teaching that it was "a collective servant."[75]
  • Beginning of the "last days". From the earliest issues of the Watch Tower, Russell promoted the belief that the "last days" had begun in 1799 and would end in 1914.[76] As late as 1921 Watch Tower publications were still claiming the last days had begun in 1799.[77] In 1930 that date was abandoned and 1914 was fixed as the beginning of the last days.
  • Jews' role in God's Kingdom. Russell followed the view of Nelson H. Barbour, who believed that in 1914 Christ's kingdom would take power over all the earth and the Jews, as a people, would be restored to God's favor.[78] In 1889 Russell wrote that with the completion of the "Gentile Times" in 1914, Israel's "blindness" would subside and they would convert to Christianity.[79] The book Life (1929) noted that the return of Jews to Palestine signaled that the end was very close, because Jews would "have the favors first and thereafter all others who obey the Lord" under God's restoration of his kingdom.[80] In 1932 that belief was abandoned and from that date the Watch Tower Society taught that Witnesses alone were the Israel of God.[81]
  • Date of Christ's invisible presence. The Watch Tower Society taught for more than 60 years that this began in 1874, insisting in 1922 that the date was "indisputable".[82][83] In 1943 the society moved the event to 1914.[51][84][85]
  • Identity of the "superior authorities". Russell taught that the "superior authorities" of Romans 13:1, to whom Christians had to show subjection and obedience, were governmental authorities. In 1929 The Watchtower discarded this view, stating that the term referred only to God and Christ, and saying the change of doctrine was evidence of "advancing light" of truth shining forth to God's chosen people.[86] In 1952, The Watchtower stated that the words of Romans 13 "could never have applied to the political powers of Caesar’s world as wrongly claimed by the clergy of Christendom,"[87] and in 1960 The Watchtower described the earlier view as a factor that had caused the Bible Student movement to be "unclean" in God's eyes during the 1914–1918 period. Two years later, in 1962, The Watchtower reverted to Russell's initial doctrine.[86]
  • Identity and function of the Governing Body. Frequent mentions of the term "Governing Body" began in Watch Tower Society literature in the 1970s.[88] The Governing Body was initially identified as the Watch Tower Society's seven-member board of directors.[89] However, at the time, the board played no role in establishing Watchtower doctrines, and all such decisions since the Society's origins had been made by the Society's president.[90][91] A 1923 Watch Tower noted that Russell alone directed the policy and course of the Society "without regard to any other person on earth"[92] and both his successors, Rutherford and Knorr, also acted alone in establishing Watch Tower doctrines. An organizational change on January 1, 1976, for the first time gave the Governing Body the power to rule on doctrines[93] and become the ruling council of Jehovah's Witnesses.[94] Despite this, The Watchtower in 1971 claimed that a Governing Body of anointed Christians had existed since the 19th century to govern the affairs of God's anointed people.[95]
  • Treatment of disfellowshipped persons. In the 1950s when disfellowshipping became common, Witnesses were to have nothing to do with expelled members, not conversing with or acknowledging them.[96] Family members of expelled individuals were permitted occasional "contacts absolutely necessary in matters pertaining to family interests," but could not discuss spiritual matters with them.[97] In 1974 The Watchtower, acknowledging some unbalanced Witnesses had displayed unkind, inhumane and possibly cruel attitudes to those expelled,[98] relaxed restrictions on family contact, allowing families to choose for themselves the extent of association,[99] including whether or not to discuss some spiritual matters.[100] In 1981, a reversal of policy occurred, with Witnesses instructed to avoid all spiritual interaction with disfellowshipped ones, including with close relatives.[101] Witnesses were instructed not to greet disfellowshipped persons.[101][102][103] Parents were permitted to care for the physical needs of a disfellowshipped minor child; ill parents or physically or emotionally ill child could be accepted back into the home "for a time". Witnesses were instructed not to eat with disfellowshipped relatives and were warned that emotional influence could soften their resolve.[104] In 1980 the Witnesses' Brooklyn headquarters advised traveling overseers that a person need not be promoting "apostate views" to warrant disfellowshipping; it advised that "appropriate judicial action" be taken against a person who "continues to believe the apostate ideas and rejects what he has been provided" through The Watchtower.[105] The rules on shunning were extended in 1981 to include those who had resigned from the religion voluntarily.[106][107]
  • Fall of "Babylon the Great". Russell taught that the fall of the "world empire of false religion" had taken place in 1878 and predicted "Babylon's" complete destruction in 1914.[108] Rutherford claimed in 1917 that religion's final destruction would take place in 1918, explaining that God would destroy churches "wholesale" and that "Christendom shall go down as a system to oblivion."[109] In 1988 the Watch Tower Society claimed that release from prison in 1919 of senior Watchtower figures marked the fall of Babylon "as far as having any captive hold on God's people was concerned",[110] with her "final destruction" "into oblivion, never to recover", expected "in the near future."[111]

United Nations association

Jehovah's Witnesses believe that the United Nations is one of the 'superior authorities' that exist by God's permission, and that it serves a purpose in maintaining order, but do not support it politically and do not consider it to be the means to achieve peace and security. Jehovah's Witnesses also believe that the United Nations is the "image of the wild beast" of

  • Apologetics index - Criticisms of Jehovah's Witnesses from a mainstream Christian viewpoint.
  • Associated Jehovah's Witnesses for Reform on Blood - A site that promotes reform of the Watch Tower Society's blood doctrine.
  • Exposé on the Jehovah's Witnesses - From Blue Letter Bible. An examination of the Watch Tower Society. Contains relatively brief explanations of each point.
  • Free Minds, Inc - the largest Watchtower dissident site
  • Historical Idealism and Jehovah's Witnesses - Documents the historical development of Jehovah's Witness chronology and the claimed "idealized" history of it by the Watch Tower Society
  • JW Files--Research on Jehovah's Witnesses - A site "dedicated to research on Jehovah Witnesses".
  • - Information about Jehovah's Witnesses
  • JWRecovery Magazine - An ex-JW community contributed magazine / journal which provides information and support assistance to former Jehovah's Witnesses.
  • Religious Jehovah's Witnesses Policies & examples of child sexual abuse.
  • Silentlamb's official web site.
  • Official Jehovah's Witnesses website
  • Jehovah's Witnesses response to child abuse allegations (video)
  • Jehovah's Witnesses Official Policy on Child Protection
  • United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

External links

  • Botting, Gary and Heather. The Orwellian World of Jehovah`s Witnesses (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1984). ISBN 0-8020-6545-7. The Bottings compare the social, cultural and political paradigms of Jehovah's Witnesses to those set out in George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four. Both authors were raised Jehovah's Witnesses and are trained scholars (Heather Botting is a professor of anthropology and Gary Botting is a lawyer and legal scholar). The book is based in part on a doctoral dissertation by Heather Botting. Read selections from: The Orwellian World of Jehovah's Witnesses (Google book search) University of Toronto Press, ISBN 978-0-8020-6545-2
  • Botting, Gary. Fundamental Freedoms and Jehovah's Witnesses (Calgary: University of Calgary Press, 1993). ISBN 1-895176-06-9. Botting considers the irony of Jehovah's Witness insisting on a closely regulated society while at the same time fighting for freedom of association, freedom of conscience, freedom of speech, freedom of religion and freedom of the press. It is available on-line at
  • Castro, Joy. The Truth Book: Escaping a Childhood of Abuse Among Jehovah's Witnesses, adopted as a baby and raised by a devout Jehovah's Witness family. Read selections from: The Truth Book: Escaping a Childhood of Abuse Among Jehovah's Witnesses (Google book search) Published 2005 Arcade Publishing, ISBN 1-55970-787-9
  • Franz, Raymond. Crisis of Conscience Franz, a former Jehovah's Witness and Governing Body member, and nephew of the fourth president of the Watch Tower Society. This book gives a detailed account of the authority structure, practices, doctrines and decision-making practices Franz experienced while serving on the Governing Body. Sample chapters online: 1, 9, 10, 11, 12. Publisher: Commentary Press. 420 pages. Hardback ISBN 0-914675-24-9. Paperback ISBN 0-914675-23-0. 4th edition (June 2002)
  • Franz, Raymond. In Search of Christian Freedom. 2nd ed., 2007. ISBN 0-914675-17-6 (Further critique and analysis by this author)
  • Gruss, Edmond C. Apostles of Denial ISBN 0-87552-305-6 / ISBN 978-0-87552-305-7.
  • Harrison, Barbara Grizzuti. Visions of Glory: A History and a Memory of Jehovah's Witnesses. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1978. ISBN 0-7091-8013-6 (An account by an American journalist and essayist of growing up in the JW religion, which she left at age 22)
  • Hewitt, Joe. I Was Raised a Jehovah's Witness Hewitt gives a frank and compelling account of his life as a Jehovah's Witness and his subsequent persecution and excommunication after he decided to leave the Jehovah's Witness movement. Read selections from: I Was Raised a Jehovah's Witness (Google book search) Published 1997, Kregel Publications, ISBN 0-8254-2876-9
  • Jonsson, Carl O. The Gentile Times Reconsidered: Chronology & Christ's Return Jonsson considers the origin of the belief that the Gentile Times began in 607 B.C. and examines several lines of evidence and the methodology for deriving it. ISBN 0-914675-06-0 Publisher: Commentary Press (July, 1998, Fourth edition 2004)
  • King, Robert. Jehovah Himself Has Become King The author considers himself one of Jehovah's Witnesses but was disfellowshipped after publishing his review and criticisms of current Watchtower interpretations related to Bible prophecy, and documentation regarding the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society's involvement with the United Nations. He is preparing an updated, second edition. ISBN 1-4208-5498-4 / ISBN 978-1-4208-5498-5 / Publisher: AuthorHouse (September 14, 2005, First Edition) (Available from
  • Kostelniuk, James. Wolves Among Sheep. Harpercollins Trade Sales Dept, ISBN 978-0-00-639107-4
  • Penton, M. James. Apocalypse Delayed: The Story of Jehovah's Witnesses. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2nd ed., 1997. ISBN 0-8020-7973-3 (Scholarly examination of JW history and doctrines)
  • Apocalypse Delayed: The Story of Jehovah's Witnesses by M. James Penton. Penton, who is a former Jehovah's Witness and a professor emeritus of history at University of Lethbridge, examines the history of Jehovah's Witnesses, and their doctrines. Read selections from: Apocalypse Delayed: the Story of Jehovah's Witnesses University of Toronto Press. ISBN 0-8020-7973-3 (Canada, 1998) (Google book search)
  • Schnell, William J. 30 Years a Watchtower Slave Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books, 1956, 1971, reprinted 2001. ISBN 0-8010-6384-1 (One of the first book-length critiques of the organization to be written by a disaffected former Witness)
  • Stafford, Greg. Jehovah's Witnesses Defended and Three Dissertations. The author considers himself one of Jehovah's Witnesses but has renounced affiliation with the Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society. He now considers himself a Christian Witness of Jah, or one of Jehovah's Witnesses who rejects beliefs specific to Jehovah's Witnesses. These books review and thoroughly explore some of the most common, and/or prevalent, criticisms made about Jehovah's Witnesses and the Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society.

Further reading

  1. ^
  2. ^ The Time is at Hand, Watch Tower Society, 1889, pages 99 "In view of this strong Bible evidence concerning the Times of the Gentiles, we consider it an established truth, that the final end of the kingdoms of this world, and the full establishment of the kingdom of God will be accomplished by A.D. 1914."; cited by Raymond Franz, Crisis of Conscience, page 193.
  3. ^ In 1892 Zion's Watch Tower stated that God's battle, Armageddon, which was believed to be already under way, would end in October 1914, a date "definitely marked in Scripture," (15 January 1892, page 1355 reprint) and Watch Tower editor Charles Taze Russell declared: "We see no reason for changing the figures—nor could we change them if we would. They are, we believe, God's dates, not ours." (The Watchtower, 15 July 1894, page 1677). After comparing "unreliable secular chronology" to reliable "Bible chronology" The Watchtower stated, “It was on this line of reckoning [using the chronology of the Bible as an established fact] that the dates 1874, 1914, and 1918 were located; and the Lord has placed the stamp of his seal upon 1914 and 1918 beyond any possibility of erasure....Using this same measuring line, beginning with the entry...of Israel into Canaan, and counting the full 70 cycles...,as clearly indicated by Jehovah's sending of the Jews into Babylon for the full 70 years, it is an easy matter to locate 1925, probably the fall, for the beginning of the antitypical jubilee. There can be no more question about 1925 than there was about 1914.... Looking back we can now easily see that those dates were clearly indicated in Scripture and doubtless intended by the Lord to encourage his people....That all that some expect to see in 1925 may not transpire that year will not alter the date one whit more than in the other cases.”(The Watch Tower, May 15, 1922, p. 150; Raymond Franz, Crisis of Conscience, page 224).
  4. ^ "Following Faithful Shepherds with Life in View", The Watchtower, October 1, 1967, page 591, "Make haste to identify the visible theocratic organization of God that represents his king, Jesus Christ. It is essential for life. Doing so, be complete in accepting its every aspect. We cannot claim to love God, yet deny his Word and channel of communication....Jehovah's visible organization is based firmly on the twelvefold foundation of the apostles of the Lamb with Jesus Christ himself being the foundation cornerstone.(Rev. 21:14,19;Eph 2:20-22) Therefore, in submitting to Jehovah's visible theocratic organization, we must be in full and complete agreement with every feature of its apostolic procedure and requirements."
  5. ^
  6. ^ a b Raymond Franz, Crisis of Conscience, 2007, page 174, "No less serious is it when a group of men have divided views on predictions related to a certain date and yet present their adherents an outward appearance of united confidence, encouraging those adherents to place unwavering trust in those predictions."
  7. ^ "people certainly ha[ve] the freedom to believe what they chose. But anyone who publicly or privately advocates views that are divergent from what appears in the publications of an organization, and who does so while claiming to represent that organization, causes division."
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^ Jehovah's Witnesses in the Divine Purpose, Watch Tower Society, 1959, page 52.
  11. ^ "A Solid Basis for Confidence", The Watchtower, July 15, 1976, page 440.
  12. ^
  13. ^ In Crisis of Conscience, 2002, pg. 173, Franz quotes from "They Shall Know That a Prophet Was Among Them", (The Watchtower, April 1, 1972,) which states that God had raised Jehovah's Witnesses as "a prophet to help [people], to warn them of dangers and declare things to come". He also cites "Identifying the Right Kind of Messenger" (The Watchtower, May 1, 1997, page 8) which identifies the Witnesses as his "true messengers ... by making the messages he delivers through them come true", in contrast to "false messengers", whose predictions fail. In In Search of Christian Freedom, 2007, he quotes The Nations Shall Know That I Am Jehovah - How? (1971, pg 70, 292) which describes Witnesses as the modern Ezekiel class, "a genuine prophet within our generation". The Watch Tower book noted: "Concerning the message faithfully delivered by the Ezekiel class, Jehovah positively states that it 'must come true' ... those who wait undecided until it does 'come true' will also have to know that a prophet himself had proved to be in the midst of them." He also cites "Execution of the Great Harlot Nears", (The Watchtower, October 15, 1980, pg 17) which claims God gives the Witnesses "special knowledge that others do not have ... advance knowledge about this system's end".
  14. ^ James A. Beverley, Crisis of Allegiance, Welch Publishing Company, Burlington, Ontario, 1986, ISBN 0-920413-37-4, pages 86-91.
  15. ^ Criticisms of statements, such as those found below, are found in a number of books including Penton, M. James (1997) Apocalypse Delayed, University of Toronto Press; Franz, Raymond, In Search of Christian Freedom (2007) Commentary Press; Watters, Randall (2004) Thus Saith Jehovah's Witnesses, Common Sense Publications; Reed, David A. (1990) Index of Watchtower Errors, 1879 to 1989, Baker Books and at websites including Watchtower Information Service;; Reexamine.Quotes.
  16. ^ Waldeck, Val Jehovah's Witnesses: What do they believe?. Pilgrim Publications SA. ISBN 1-920092-08-0.
  17. ^ Buttrey, John M (2004). Let No One Mislead You. iUniverse. ISBN 0-595-30710-8.
  18. ^ , October 8, 1968, p. 23.Awake!
  19. ^ James A. Beverley, Crisis of Allegiance, Welch Publishing Company, Burlington, Ontario, 1986, ISBN 0-920413-37-4, page 87.
  20. ^ a b "Why So Many False Alarms?", Awake!, March 22, 1993, pages 3-4, footnote.
  21. ^ Reasoning From the Scriptures, Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society, 1989, pg 137.
  22. ^ Revelation - Its Grand Climax, Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society, 1988, page 9.
  23. ^ "Views From the Watchtower", Zion's Watch Tower and Herald of Christ's Presence, January 1908, "We are not prophesying; we are merely giving our surmises ... We do not even [assert] that there is no mistake in our interpretation of prophesy and our calculations of chronology. We have merely laid these before you, leaving it for each to exercise his own faith or doubt in respect to them."
  24. ^ "Preaching Christ—Through Envy or Goodwill?", The Watchtower, May 15, 1976, p. 297, "Jehovah’s Witnesses as modern-day Christians are working hard to get this good news preached to every individual. They do not claim infallibility or perfection. Neither are they inspired prophets."
  25. ^ "Allow No Place for the Devil!", The Watchtower, March 15, 1986, page 19, "Some opposers claim that Jehovah’s Witnesses are false prophets. These opponents say that dates have been set, but nothing has happened. ... Yes, Jehovah’s people have had to revise expectations from time to time. Because of our eagerness, we have hoped for the new system earlier than Jehovah’s timetable has called for it. But we display our faith in God’s Word and its sure promises by declaring its message to others. Moreover, the need to revise our understanding somewhat does not make us false prophets or change the fact that we are living in 'the last days,' ... How foolish to take the view that expectations needing some adjustment should call into question the whole body of truth! The evidence is clear that Jehovah has used and is continuing to use his one organization."
  26. ^ , A paper presented at the CESNUR 2010 conference in Torino.They Keep Changing the DatesGeorge Chryssides, How Prophecy Succeeds:The Jehovah's Witnesses and Prophetic Expectations
  27. ^ March 1, 1904 Zion's Watch Tower p. 67
  28. ^ Charles Taze Russell and Nelson H. Barbour, The Three Worlds (1907) as cited by James Penton, Apocalypse Delayed, pages 21-22.
  29. ^ Charles Taze Russell, The Time Is At Hand (1891) as cited by James Penton, Apocalypse Delayed, page 44.
  30. ^ Melvin D. Curry, Jehovah's Witnesses: The Millenarian World of the Watch Tower, Garland, 1992, as cited by James Penton, Apocalypse Delayed, page 45.
  31. ^
  32. ^ The Finished Mystery, 1917, p. 485, 258, as cited by Raymond Franz, Crisis of Conscience, pages 206-211.
  33. ^ J. F. Rutherford, Millions Now Living Will Never Die, 1920, as cited by Raymond Franz, Crisis of Conscience, pages 212-214.
  34. ^ Watch Tower, May 15, 1922, as cited by Raymond Franz, Crisis of Conscience, page 224.
  35. ^ The Way to Paradise booklet, Watch Tower Society, 1924, as cited by Raymond Franz, Crisis of Conscience, pages 230-232.
  36. ^ Face the Facts, 1938, pp. 46-50
  37. ^ The Watchtower, September 15, 1941, p. 288
  38. ^ The Watchtower, May 1, 1942, p. 139
  39. ^ Awake!, February 22, 1961, p. 7
  40. ^ , as cited by Raymond Franz, Crisis of Conscience, pages 238-239.
  41. ^ Talk by F. W. Franz, Baltimore, Maryland 1966, cited by Jehovah's Witnesses – Proclaimers of God's Kingdom, Watch Tower Society, and by Raymond Franz, Crisis of Conscience, pages 238-239.
  42. ^ Did Man Get Here By Evolution Or By Creation?, Watchtower Bible & Tract Society, 1967, pg 161.
  43. ^ The Watchtower, May 1, 1968, page 273
  44. ^ Kingdom Ministry, Watch Tower Society, March 1968, as cited by Raymond Franz, Crisis of Conscience, pages 246.
  45. ^ Awake!, May 22, 1969, p. 15
  46. ^ The Nations Shall Know That I Am Jehovah – How?, Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society, 1971, pg 216.
  47. ^ Kingdom Ministry, Watch Tower Society, May 1974, page 3.
  48. ^ The Watchtower, March 1, 1984, pp. 18-19
  49. ^ The Watchtower, January 1, 1989, pg. 12.
  50. ^ "Flashes of Light - Great and Small", The Watchtower, May 15, 1995, page 17.
  51. ^ a b c Raymond Franz, Crisis of Conscience, page 184.
  52. ^
  53. ^
  54. ^
  55. ^
  56. ^
  57. ^ Jehovah's Witnesses - Proclaimers of God's Kingdom, Watch Tower Society, 1993, page 708.
  58. ^ "Impart God’s Progressive Revelation to Mankind", The Watchtower, March 1, 1965, p. 158-159
  59. ^ Studies in the Scriptures Vol. II 1889 p. 239, Studies in the Scriptures Volume III 1891 p. 234, Studies in Scriptures Vol. IV 1897 p. 621.
  60. ^ Jehovah's Witnesses - Proclaimers of God's Kingdom, Watch Tower Society, 1993, page 632.
  61. ^ M. James Penton, Apocalypse Delayed, University of Toronto Press, pages 20, 23.
  62. ^ M. James Penton, Apocalypse Delayed, University of Toronto Press, page 23.
  63. ^ Watchtower, February 1, 1925, page 371.
  64. ^ Watchtower, May 15, 1927, page 151.
  65. ^ Watchtower, June 1, 1927.
  66. ^ , third volume of Studies in the Scriptures, 1910Thy Kingdom Come"The Corroborative Testimony of God's Stone Witness and Prophet, The Great Pyramid in Egypt", Chapter 10, .
  67. ^ Watchtower, June 15, 1922, page 187, as reproduced by Raymond Franz, Crisis of Conscience, page 225, 226.
  68. ^ Watchtower, 1928, pages 339-45, 355-62, as cited by M. James Penton, Apocalypse Delayed, University of Toronto Press, page 170.
  69. ^ Watch Tower, October–November 1881, as cited by Jehovah's Witnesses - Proclaimers of God's Kingdom, Watch Tower Society, 1993, page 142.
  70. ^ The Battle of Armageddon by C. T. Russell, 1886, page 613, as cited by M. James Penton, Apocalypse Delayed, footnote, page 345.
  71. ^ Watch Tower, December 1, 1916, as cited by M. James Penton, Apocalypse Delayed, page 34.
  72. ^ Watch Tower, March 1, 1923, pages 68 and 71, as cited by Raymond Franz, Crisis of Conscience, page 63.
  73. ^ Jehovah's Witnesses - Proclaimers of God's Kingdom, Watch Tower Society, 1993, page 626, as cited by Raymond Franz, Crisis of Conscience, page 67.
  74. ^ Watch Tower, October 1, 1909, as cited by Raymond Franz, Crisis of Conscience, page 67.
  75. ^ Jehovah's Witnesses - Proclaimers of God's Kingdom, Watch Tower Society, 1993, page 626.
  76. ^ Thy Kingdom Come, 1891, page 23.
  77. ^ The Harp of God, (1921), 1924 ed., p. 231.
  78. ^ M. James Penton, Apocalypse Delayed, pages 21, 46.
  79. ^ C.T. Russell, The Time Is At Hand (Watch Tower Society, 1889, as cited by Raymond Franz, Crisis of Conscience, page 190, 204.
  80. ^ Life, Watch Tower Society, 1929, page 170, as cited by Edmond C. Gruss, The Jehovah's Witnesses and Prophetic Speculation, Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co, 1972, page 87.
  81. ^ J.F. Rutherford, Vindication - Book II, pages 257-258, as cited by M. James Penton, Apocalypse Delayed, page 65.
  82. ^ Watch Tower, November 1, 1922, page 333, as cited by Raymond Franz, Crisis of Conscience, page 228.
  83. ^ The Watchtower, March 1, 1922, "The indisputable facts, therefore, show that the time of the end began in 1799; that the Lord's second presence began in 1874".
  84. ^ M. James Penton, Apocalypse Delayed, University of Toronto Press, pages 18-22.
  85. ^ "No Spiritual Energy Crisis for Discreet Ones", The Watchtower, August 15, 1974, page 507, footnote.
  86. ^ a b Raymond Franz, In Search of Christian Freedom, 2007, page 484.
  87. ^ The Watchtower, June 15, 1952, page 376.
  88. ^
  89. ^ Qualified To Be Ministers, Watch Tower Society, 1955, page 381, as cited by Raymond Franz, Crisis of Conscience, 2007, page 74.
  90. ^ Marley Cole, Jehovah's Witnesses - The New World Society, Vantage Press, New York, 1955, pages 86-89, as cited by Raymond Franz, Crisis of Conscience, 2007, page 74.
  91. ^ Testimony by Fred Franz, Lord Strachan vs. Douglas Walsh Transcript, Lord Strachan vs. Douglas Walsh, 1954, as cited by Raymond Franz, Crisis of Conscience, 2007, page 75-76.
  92. ^ Watch Tower, March 1, 1923, page 68, as cited by Raymond Franz, Crisis of Conscience, 2007, page 59.
  93. ^ Raymond Franz, Crisis of Conscience, 2007, pages 58-79.
  94. ^ M. James Penton, Apocalypse Delayed, 1997, page 216.
  95. ^ The Watchtower, December 15, 1971, as cited by Raymond Franz, Crisis of Conscience, 2007, page 78.
  96. ^ The Watchtower, July 1, 1963, page 412.
  97. ^ The Watchtower, July 15, 1963, page 443.
  98. ^ "Maintaining a Balanced Viewpoint Toward Disfellowshiped Ones", The Watchtower, August 1, 1974, pages 467, "It is right to hate the wrong committed by the disfellowshiped one, but it is not right to hate the person nor is it right to treat such ones in an inhumane way."
  99. ^ "Maintaining a Balanced Viewpoint Toward Disfellowshiped Ones", The Watchtower, August 1, 1974, pages 471-472.
  100. ^ "Maintaining a Balanced Viewpoint Toward Disfellowshiped Ones", The Watchtower, August 1, 1974, page 471, par 19.
  101. ^ a b "If a Relative Is Disfellowshiped", The Watchtower, September 15, 1981, page 28.
  102. ^ "Disfellowshiping—How to View It", The Watchtower, September 15, 1981, pages 24-25.
  103. ^ "If a Relative Is Disfellowshiped", The Watchtower, September 15, 1981, page 30.
  104. ^ The Watchtower, September 15, 1981, pages 20-31, as cited by M. James Penton, Apocalypse Delayed, University of Toronto Press, page 299-300.
  105. ^ Letter to all circuit and district overseers from Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of New York, September 1, 1980, as reproduced by Raymond Franz, Crisis of Conscience, page 341.
  106. ^ "Disfellowshiping—How to View It", The Watchtower, September 15, 1981, pages 23, as cited by M. James Penton, Apocalypse Delayed, University of Toronto Press, page 299-300.
  107. ^ Raymond Franz, Crisis of Conscience, page 357-359.
  108. ^ Watch Tower, June 15, 1911, as cited by Raymond Franz, Crisis of Conscience, page 188.
  109. ^ The Finished Mystery, 1917, p. 485, 258, 513 as cited by Raymond Franz, Crisis of Conscience, pages 206-211.
  110. ^ Revelation - It's Grand Climax at Hand!, Watch Tower Society, 1988, page 209.
  111. ^ Revelation - It's Grand Climax at Hand!, Watch Tower Society, 1988, pages 266, 269.
  112. ^ "No Calamity Will Befall Us" (Subheading). (Nov. 15, 2001). The Watchtower, p.19
  113. ^ "Let the Reader Use Discernment", (Subheading "A Modern-Day 'Disgusting Thing'"). (May 1, 1999). The Watchtower, p 14
  114. ^ "A World Without War-When?" Oct.1, 1991, pp.5 The Watchtower
  115. ^ The Watchtower, 1 June 1997, p. 17 par. 15: "In the first place, what lies ahead for the world's false religions that have so often been extremely friendly with the UN? They are the offspring of one idolatrous fountainhead, ancient Babylon. Appropriately, they are described at Revelation 17:5 as "Babylon the Great, the mother of the harlots and of the disgusting things of the earth". Jeremiah described the doom of this hypocritical conglomerate. Harlotlike, they have seduced earth's politicians, flattering the UN and forming illicit relations with its member political powers."
  116. ^ Bates, Stephen (Oct. 8, 2001) "Jehovah's Witnesses link to UN queried", The Guardian
  117. ^ Bates, Stephen (Oct. 15, 2001) "'Hypocrite' Jehovah's Witnesses abandon secret link with UN", The Guardian
  118. ^ Letter to Editor - The Guardian" (Oct. 22, 2001) Office of Public Information
  119. ^ Letter from United Nations DPI/NGO Resource Centre
  120. ^ UN DPI/NGO
  121. ^ Pay Attention to Daniel's Prophecy! chap. 6 par. 25-29
  122. ^ a b Edmond C. Gruss, Jehovah's Witnesses and Prophetic Speculation, Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co, 1972, ISBN 0-87552-306-4 Page 42.
  123. ^ a b "When Was Ancient Jerusalem Destroyed?—Part One" The Watchtower, October 1, 2011, page 26
  124. ^
  125. ^ [1] "Babylonian Exile." Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Encyclopædia Britannica, 2010.
  126. ^
  127. ^
  128. ^ Dictionary of the Bible: Biographical, Geographical, Historical and Doctrinal by Charles Randall Barnes, Page 247.
  129. ^
  130. ^ The Gentile Times Reconsidered: Chronology & Christ's Return by Carl O. Jonsson. ISBN 0-914675-06-0 Publisher: Commentary Press (July, 1998, Fourth edition 2004)
  131. ^ "When Was Ancient Jerusalem Destroyed?—Part Two" The Watchtower, November 1, 2011, page 22
  132. ^ Insight from scriptures. Vol.2 page 458, "secular chronologers calculate the 16th day of Tashritu (Tishri) as falling on October 11, Julian calendar, and October 5, Gregorian calendar, in the year 539 B.C.E. Since this date is an accepted one, there being no evidence to the contrary, it is usable as a pivotal date in coordinating secular history with Bible history."
  133. ^ Assyrian, Babylonian, Egyptian, and Persian Chronology Compared with the Chronology of the Bible, Volume 1: Persian Chronology and the Length of the Babylonian Exile of the Jews (2003) ISBN 82-994633-3-5
  134. ^ Journal for the Study of the Old Testament 28:5 [2004], p. 42-43
  135. ^ Under One Sky: Astronomy and Mathematics in the Ancient Near East, Münster 2002, pp. 423-428, F. R. Stephenson and D. M. Willis.
  136. ^ a b "When Was Ancient Jerusalem Destroyed?—Part Two" The Watchtower, November 1, 2011, page 25, 28, footnote 18
  137. ^ Mesopotamian Planetary Astronomy–Astrology, David Brown, pages 53–56; 2000
  138. ^ When Was Ancient Jerusalem Destroyed, page 21, Carl O. Jonsson.
  139. ^ Insight from scriptures, Vol. I, Astronomical Calculations, page 454
  140. ^ Life — How Did It Get Here? By Evolution Or By Creation?, Watchtower Bible & Tract Society, 1985
  141. ^ Was Life Created?, Watchtower Bible & Tract Society, 2010
  142. ^ Gary Botting, "Preface" to The Orwellian World of Jehovah's Witnesses, pp. xiv-xvi
  143. ^ Hitching is first introduced as an "evolutionist" (p. 15). A Hitching quote on page 71 is repeated on page 73, in the latter case presented as the statement of "a scientist". The 1986 Watchtower book The Bible — God's Word or Man's? likewise refers to Hitching as a scientist (p. 106).
  144. ^ Richard Dawkins: The God Delusion, p. 145. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. 2006. ISBN 0-618-68000-4.
  145. ^
  146. ^ The Watchtower, April 1, 1986, pp. 12-13
  147. ^ Awake!, May 8, 1997, p. 12
  148. ^ The Watchtower, September 1, 1986, p. 30
  149. ^ "Following Faithful Shepherds with Life in View", The Watchtower, October 1, 1967, page 591, "Make haste to identify the visible theocratic organization of God that represents his king, Jesus Christ. It is essential for life. Doing so, be complete in accepting its every aspect ... in submitting to Jehovah's visible theocratic organization, we must be in full and complete agreement with every feature of its apostolic procedure and requirements."
  150. ^ "Loyal to Christ and His Faithful Slave", The Watchtower, April 1, 2007, page 24, "When we loyally submit to the direction of the faithful slave and its Governing Body, we are submitting to Christ, the slave's Master."
  151. ^
  152. ^
  153. ^ Alan Rogerson, Millions Now Living Will Never Die, Constable, 1969, page 50.
  154. ^ a b , August 1998, Vol 24, Issue 4, page 223-230.Journal of Medical EthicsOsamu Muramoto, "Bioethics of the refusal of blood by Jehovah's Witnesses, part 1",
  155. ^
  156. ^ a b c d R. Franz, In Search of Christian Freedom, chapter 6.
  157. ^ Court transcript as cited by Heather & Gary Botting, The Orwellian World of Jehovah's Witnesses, 1984, page 67-68, also at Pursuer's Proof: Lord Strachan vs. Douglas Walsh Transcript, Lord Strachan vs. Douglas Walsh, 1954.
  158. ^
  159. ^ Minority Religions, Social Change, and Freedom of Conscience
  160. ^
  161. ^
  162. ^
  163. ^ a b c
  164. ^ a b R. Franz, In Search of Christian Freedom, chapter 16.
  165. ^ "Exposing the Devil’s Subtle Designs" and "Armed for the Fight Against Wicked Spirits", Watchtower, January 15, 1983, as cited by Heather and Gary Botting, The Orwellian World of Jehovah's Witnesses, 1984, page 92.
  166. ^ "Serving Jehovah Shoulder to Shoulder", The Watchtower, August 15, 1981, page 28, "Jehovah's Theocratic Organization Today", The Watchtower, February 1, 1952, pages 79–81.
  167. ^ James A. Beverley, Crisis of Allegiance, Welch Publishing Company, Burlington, Ontario, 1986, ISBN 0-920413-37-4, pages 25-26, 101, "For every passage in Society literature that urges members to be bold and courageous in critical pursuits, there are many others that warn about independent thinking and the peril of questioning the organization ... Fear of disobedience to the Governing Body keeps Jehovah's Witnesses from carefully checking into biblical doctrine or allegations concerning false prophecy, faulty scholarship, and injustice. Witnesses are told not to read books like this one."
  168. ^ According to Randall Watters, who in 1981 published a pamphlet, "What happened at the world headquarters of Jehovah's Witnesses in the spring of 1980?", cited by Heather and Gary Botting, a former Governing Body member is said to have referred Brooklyn headquarters staff to an organizational handbook containing 1,177 policies and regulations, telling them: "If there are some who feel that they cannot subject themselves to the rules and regulations now in operation, such ones ought to be leaving and not be involved here."
  169. ^
  170. ^ "Walk With Confidence in Jehovah’s Leadership", The Watchtower, June 1, 1985, page 20, "To turn away from Jehovah and his organization, to spurn the direction of “the faithful and discreet slave,” and to rely simply on personal Bible reading and interpretation is to become like a solitary tree in a parched land."
  171. ^ Question box, Our Kingdom Ministry, September 2007.
  172. ^ "Do not be quickly shaken from your reason", Watchtower, March 15, 1986
  173. ^ "At which table are you feeding?" Watchtower, July 1, 1994
  174. ^ Watchtower, May 1, 1984, page 31, as cited by R. Franz, "In Search of Christian Freedom", chapter 12
  175. ^ "Firmly uphold godly teaching," Watchtower, May 1, 2000, page 9.
  176. ^ Heather & Gary Botting, The Orwellian World of Jehovah's Witnesses, University of Toronto Press, 1984, page 143, 153.
  177. ^
  178. ^
  179. ^ R. Franz, In Search of Christian Freedom, chapter 11.
  180. ^
  181. ^ , "Loyalty to the organization becomes the touchstone, the criterion, the "bottom line", when it comes to determining whether one is a faithful Christian or not ... to make any organizational loyalty the criterion for judging anyone's Christianity is, then, clearly a perversion of Scripture ... Read the whole of those Scriptures ... nowhere are we taught to put faith in men or in an earthly organization, unquestioningly following its lead ... the entire Bible record is a continual reminder of the danger inherent in that kind of trust."
  182. ^
  183. ^ "You Must Be Holy Because Jehovah Is Holy", The Watchtower, February 15, 1976, page 124, "Would not a failure to respond to direction from God through his organization really indicate a rejection of divine rulership?"
  184. ^ James A. Beverley, Crisis of Allegiance, Welch Publishing Company, Burlington, Ontario, 1986, ISBN 0-920413-37-4, pages 25-26, 101.
  185. ^ Holden 2002, p. 121.
  186. ^
  187. ^ "Questions from readers", Watchtower, April 1, 1986.
  188. ^
  189. ^ ECHR Point 130, 118
  190. ^ Gary Botting, Fundamental Freedoms and Jehovah's Witnesses, (Calgary: University of Calgary Press, 1993.
  191. ^
  192. ^
  193. ^
  194. ^ "Are Jehovah’s Witnesses a Cult?", The Watchtower, February 15, 1994, pages 5-7
  195. ^ "Do Others Do Your Thinking?", Awake!, August 22, 1978, page 4.
  196. ^ "Who Molds Your Thinking?", The Watchtower, April 1, 1999, page 22, "You have free will. Exercising it, you can choose to respond to Jehovah’s molding influence or deliberately reject it. How much better to listen to Jehovah’s voice instead of arrogantly asserting, 'No one tells me what to do'!"
  197. ^
  198. ^
  199. ^
  200. ^
  201. ^
  202. ^
  203. ^ Jehovah's Witnesses in the Divine Purpose, page 96, as cited by R. Franz, In Search of Christian Freedom, chapter 4.
  204. ^ Question Box, Our Kingdom Ministry, September 1979, page 4.
  205. ^ "Do You Contribute to an Accurate Report?", Our Kingdom Ministry, December 2002, page 8.
  206. ^ "Righteous requirements", Watchtower, July 1, 1943, pages 204-206, "Jehovah ... has appointed his 'faithful and wise servant, who is his visible mouthpiece ... These expressions of God's will by his King and through his established agency constitute his law or rule of action ... The Lord breaks down our organization instructions further ... He says the requirements for special pioneers shall be 175 hours and 50 back-calls per month ... and for regular pioneers 150 hours ... And for company publishers he says, 'Let us make a quota of 60 hours and 12 back-calls and at least one study a week for each publisher'. These directions come to us from the Lord through his established agency directing what is required of us ... This expression of the Lord's will should be the end of all controversy ... The Lord through his 'faithful and wise servant' now states to us, Let us cover our territory four times in six months. That becomes our organization instructions and has the same binding force on us that his statement to the Logos had when he said, 'Let us make man in our image'. It is our duty to accept this additional instruction and obey it."
  207. ^ "Saved, Not by Works Alone, But by Undeserved Kindness", The Watchtower, June 1, 2005, pages 17-18.
  208. ^ Expert Opinion by S. I. Ivanenko, p. 10, Golovinsky Intermunicipal Court, in the application of the Moscow Northern Administrative District prosecutor to liquidate the Religious Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses in Moscow
  209. ^ The Trumpet of Prophecy: A Sociological Study of Jehovah's Witnesses, John Wiley and Sons, 1975, as cited by M. James Penton, Apocalypse Delayed, University of Toronto Press, 1997. Penton describes Beckford's book as "uneven" and marred by errors and a misunderstanding of certain basic Witness doctrines.
  210. ^ Sworn Expert Opinion, prepared by Professor James Beckford, University of Warwick, Coventry, England, November 1998, Golovinsky Intermunicipal Court, in the application of the Moscow Northern Administrative District prosecutor to liquidate the Religious Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses in Moscow
  211. ^ ECHR Point number 111
  212. ^ “Jehovah's Witnesses case heads to B.C. court”, Vancouver Sun, April 1, 2007
  213. ^ Medical emergencies in children of orthodox Jehovah's Witness families: Three recent legal cases, ethical issues and proposals for management”, by J Guicho and, I Mitchell, Paediatrics & Child Health, Canadian Pediatric Society, December 2006.
  214. ^ , October 1998, pages 295-301.Journal of Medical Ethics"Bioethics of the refusal of blood by Jehovah's Witnesses, part 2."
  215. ^ ECHR Point number 136, 139
  216. ^ a b "Always Accept Jehovah’s Discipline", The Watchtower, November 15, 2006, page 26.
  217. ^ "Cultivate Obedience as the End Draws Near", The Watchtower, October 1, 2002, page 21
  218. ^
  219. ^ "Elders, Judge With Righteousness", The Watchtower, July 1, 1992, page 19.
  220. ^
  221. ^ a b
  222. ^ a b c
  223. ^ Osamu Muramoto, "Recent developments in medical care of Jehovah's Witnesses", Western Journal of Medicine, May 1999, page 298.
  224. ^
  225. ^ , page 39, October 2, 2011.Sunday Herald Sun"Jehovah's Witnesses church likens defectors to 'contagious, deadly disease'",
  226. ^
  227. ^
  228. ^
  229. ^
  230. ^
  231. ^ a b c
  232. ^ Ronald Lawson, "Sect-State Relations: Accounting for the Differing Trajectories of Seventh-day Adventists and Jehovah's Witnesses," Sociology of Religion, 1995, 56:4, pg 371.
  233. ^ "Maintain Your Faith and Spiritual Health", The Watchtower, October 1, 1989.
  234. ^ "Questions From Readers", The Watchtower, October 15, 1986, page 31.
  235. ^ Osamu Muramoto, "Bioethical aspects of the recent changes in the policy of refusal of blood by Jehovah's Witnesses", British Medical Journal, January 6, 2001, page 37.
  236. ^ Donald T. Ridley, "Jehovah's Witnesses' refusal of blood: Obedience to scripture and religious conscience", Journal of Medical Ethics, 1999:25, page 470.
  237. ^ a b
  238. ^ a b
  239. ^
  240. ^
  241. ^ Raymond Franz, In Search of Christian Freedom, Commentary Press, pages 365-385, citing "A Time to Speak – When?", The Watchtower, September 1, 1987.
  242. ^ Osamu Muramoto, "Bioethics of the refusal of blood by Jehovah’s Witnesses, Part 1", Journal of Medical Ethics, August 1998.
  243. ^ "Disfellowshiping—How to View It", The Watchtower, September 15, 1981, page 23.
  244. ^
  245. ^
  246. ^ a b
  247. ^ "Be guided by the Living God" (Jun. 15, 2004). The Watchtower
  248. ^ "Questions from readers: Do Jehovah's Witnesses accept any minor fractions of blood?" (Jun. 15, 2000). The Watchtower
  249. ^ Awake! August 2006 box on P. 11
  250. ^ Associated Jehovah's Witnesses for Reform on Blood
  251. ^ The Watchtower November 1, 1961, p. 669 Questions From Readers
  252. ^ What Does The Bible Really Teach? 2005 P.128
  253. ^
  254. ^
  255. ^ , January 6, 2006New York Times"Religion Today",
  256. ^ Jehovah's Witnesses, Blood Transfusions and the Tort of Misrepresentation, Journal of Church and State Vol 47, Autumn 2005 p. 815
  257. ^ Franz, Raymond. "In Search of Christian Freedom" - Chapter Nine. Atlanta: Commentary Press, 1991. ISBN 0-914675-16-8. p.732.
  258. ^ "Questions From Readers", The Watchtower, October 15, 2000, page 31, "Jehovah’s not donate blood [without preconditions on its use], nor do we store for transfusion our blood that should be ‘poured out.’ That practice conflicts with God’s law. Other procedures or tests involving an individual’s own blood are not so clearly in conflict with God’s stated principles. ...the goal may be to isolate some of a blood component and apply that elsewhere... A Christian must decide for himself how his own blood will be handled... Ahead of time, he should obtain from the doctor or technician the facts about what might be done with his blood during the procedure. Then he must decide according to what his conscience permits."
  259. ^ "How Do I View Blood Fractions and Medical Procedures Involving My Own Blood?", Our Kingdom Ministry, November 2006, page 4.
  260. ^ Franz, Raymond. "In Search of Christian Freedom" - Chapter Nine. Atlanta: Commentary Press, 1991. Pbk. ISBN 0-914675-16-8. pp.732.
  261. ^ Ivanhoe's Medical Breakthroughs - When Religion and Medicine Collide
  262. ^ Jehovah's Witnesses, Blood Transfusions and the Tort of Misrepresentation, Journal of Church and State Vol 47, Autumn 2005
  263. ^ The Watchtower (Feb. 1, 1997) p30
  264. ^ "Jehovah's Witnesses (WTS) Handling of Child Sexual Abuse Cases", Religious Retrieved Mar 3, 2006.
  265. ^ Tubbs, Sharon (Aug. 22, 2002), "Spiritual shunning", St. Petersburg Times.
  266. ^ "Another Church Sex Scandal" (Apr. 29, 2003). CBS News.
  267. ^ Cutrer, Corrie (Mar. 5, 2001). "Witness Leaders Accused of Shielding Molesters", Christianity Today.
  268. ^ , November 2005.SundayChannel 9
  269. ^ , 2003.Panorama"Secret database protects paedophiles", BBC
  270. ^ "Jehovah's Witnesses and Child Protection" (2003). Jehovah's Witnesses Office of Public Information.
  271. ^ “Let All Things Take Place for Upbuilding”, Our Kingdom Ministry, July 2000, page 1
  272. ^ "Comfort for Those With a “Stricken Spirit”", The Watchtower, November 1, 1995, page 28, "If the [lone] accusation is denied [by the accused], the elders should explain to the accuser that nothing more can be done in a judicial way. ...The Bible says that there must be two or three witnesses before judicial action can be taken. (2 Corinthians 13:1; 1 Timothy 5:19)"
  273. ^ Jehovah's Witnesses Office of Public Information, Press Release "Jehovah's Witnesses and Child Protection," 2003.
  274. ^ a b c d e f
  275. ^ "New World Translation of the Christian Greek Scriptures", The Watchtower, September 15, 1950, page 320.
  276. ^ Questions from readers, The Watchtower, December 15, 1974, page 767.
  277. ^ In a 1954 court case, Franz was invited to translate a passage of Genesis from English to Hebrew. (Translator's proof, page 102-103). He declined, saying he would not attempt it. Heather and Gary Botting wrongly claim (page 98) he could make no sense of "an elementary passage of Hebrew from Genesis".
  278. ^
  279. ^ Robert M. Bowman Jr, Understanding Jehovah's Witnesses, (Grand Rapids MI: Baker Book House, 1992); Ankerberg, John and John Weldon, 2003, The New World Translation of the Jehovah's Witnesses, accessible from this site, which quotes a number of scholars regarding theological bias of the New World Translation.
  280. ^ Samuel Haas,Journal of Biblical Literature, Vol. 74, No. 4, (Dec. 1955), p. 283, "This work indicates a great deal of effort and thought as well as considerable scholarship, it is to be regretted that religious bias was allowed to colour many passages."
  281. ^ See Ankerberg, John and John Weldon, 2003, The New World Translation of the Jehovah's Witnesses, accessible online
  282. ^ Rhodes R, The Challenge of the Cults and New Religions, The Essential Guide to Their History, Their Doctrine, and Our Response, Zondervan, 2001, p. 94
  283. ^ Bruce M Metzger, "Jehovah's Witnesses and Jesus Christ," Theology Today, (April 1953 p. 74); see also Metzger, "The New World Translation of the Christian Greek Scriptures," The Bible Translator (July 1964)
  284. ^ C.H. Dodd: "The reason why [the Word was a god] is unacceptable is that it runs counter to the current of Johannine thought, and indeed of Christian thought as a whole." Technical Papers for The Bible Translator, Vol 28, No. 1, January 1977
  285. ^
  286. ^
  287. ^ G. HÉBERT/EDS, "Jehovah's Witnesses", The New Catholic Encyclopedia, Gale, 20052, Vol. 7, p. 751.
  288. ^ Metzger, Bruce M., The New World Translation of the Christian Greek Scriptures, The Bible Translator 15/3 (July 1964), pp. 150-153.
  289. ^ "God’s Name and the New Testament", The Divine Name That Will Endure Forever, Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society, 1984, pages 23-27
  290. ^ "Appendix 1D The Divine Name in the Christian Greek Scriptures", New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures - With References, page 1565
  291. ^ "Your Bible—How It Was Produced", The Watchtower, December 15, 1981, page 15
  292. ^ Jason D. BeDuhn, Truth in Translation: Accuracy and Bias in English Translations of the New Testament, 2004, pages 165, 169, 175, 176. BeDuhn compared the King James, the (New) Revised Standard, the New International, the New American Bible, the New American Standard Bible, the Amplified Bible, the Living Bible, Today's English and the NWT versions in Matthew 28:9, Philippians 2:6, Colossians 1:15-20, Titus 2:13, Hebrews 1:8, John 8:58, John 1:1.
  293. ^ Truth in Translation: Accuracy and Bias in English Translations of the New Testament by Jason BeDuhn, 2004, pages 165, University Press of America, ISBN 0-7618-2556-8, ISBN 978-0-7618-2556-2


See also

The Society has claimed its translation "courageously restores God’s name, Jehovah, to its proper place in the Biblical text, is free from the bias of religious traditionalism, and ... gives the literal meaning of God’s Word as accurately as possible."[291] Jason BeDuhn, associate professor of religious studies at Northern Arizona University, in Flagstaff, Arizona, compared major translations for accuracy. He wrote that the NWT's introduction of the name "Jehovah" into the New Testament 237 times was "not accurate translation by the most basic principle of accuracy".[292] BeDuhn also stated that whilst there are "a handful of examples of bias in the [New World Translation (NW)]", that "most of the differences are due to the greater accuracy of the NW as a literal, conservative translation of the original expressions of the New Testament writers." He concluded that "the NW and [another translation] are not bias free, and they are not perfect translations. But they are remarkably good translations ... often better than [the other six translations analyzed]."[293]

Also criticized is the NWT's insertion of the name Jehovah 237 times in the New Testament without extant New Testament Greek manuscript evidence that the name existed there.[286][287][288] Watch Tower publications have claimed that the name was "restored" on a sound basis, stating that when New Testament writers quote earlier Old Testament scriptures containing the Tetragrammaton (יהוה), "the translator has the right to render Kyrios ("LORD") as Jehovah."[289] The NWT mentions twenty-seven other translations which have similarly rendered Kyrios as a form of the name Jehovah, stating that there is only one verse where the NWT does so without agreement from other translations.[290]

Much criticism of the NWT involves the rendering of certain texts considered to be biased towards specific Witness practices and doctrines.[274][279][280][281][282][283] These include the use of "torture stake" instead of "cross" throughout the New Testament;[274] the rendering of John 1:1, with the insertion of the indefinite article ("a") in its rendering to give "the Word was a god";[274][284] Romans 10:10, which uses the term "public declaration", which may reinforce the imperative to engage in public preaching;[274] John 17:3, which used the term "taking in knowledge" rather than "know" to suggest that salvation is dependent on ongoing study,[274] and the placement of the comma in Luke 23:43, which affects the timing of the fulfillment of Jesus' promise to the thief at Calvary.[285]

The Watch Tower Society has been criticized for its refusal to reveal the names and academic credentials of the translators of its New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures (NWT).[274] The Society has claimed members of the NWT's translation committee wished to remain anonymous in order to exalt only the name of God,[275] The Watchtower stating that the educational qualifications of the translators were unimportant and that "the translation itself testifies to their qualifications".[276] Raymond Franz, a former member of the Governing Body, has claimed that of the four men he says constituted the committee, only one—its principal translator, his uncle Frederick Franz—had sufficient knowledge of biblical languages to have attempted the project.[277] Frederick Franz had studied Greek for two years and was self-taught in Hebrew.[278]

Biblical criticisms

While a Witness may lose congregation privileges following a single credible accusation of abuse,[271] Jehovah's Witnesses claim to be scripturally obliged to require corroboration ("two witnesses") before applying their severest forms of congregational discipline.[272] If there is not an actual second witness to an incident of abuse, a congregation judicial committee will accept medical or police reports, or a witness to a separate but similar incident as such a second witness against a member accused of sexual abuse.[273]

The religion's official policy on child protection, which discusses the procedures for reporting child sexual abuse, states that elders obey all legal requirements for reporting sex offenders, including reporting uncorroborated or unsubstantiated allegations where required by law. Elders are to discipline pedophiles in the congregation. Victims are permitted to notify the authorities if they wish to do so.[270]

[269][268][267][266] Critics such as

Reporting of sexual abuse

The Watchtower has stated that "Various medical products have been obtained from biological sources, either animal or human ... Such commercialization of ... blood is hardly tempting for true Christians, who guide their thinking by God's perfect law. Our Creator views blood as sacred, representing God-given life ... blood removed from a creature was to be poured out on the ground, disposed of."[263]

Animal blood

Kerry Louderback-Wood has claimed that Jehovah's Witnesses' legal corporations are potentially liable to significant claims for compensation if the religion misrepresents the medical risks of blood transfusions. Wood claims that constitutional guarantees of freedom of religion do not remove the legal responsibility that every person or organization has regarding misrepresenting secular fact.[262]

The situation has been controversial, particularly in the case of children. In the United States, many physicians will agree to explore and exhaust all non-blood alternatives in the treatment of children at the request of their legal guardians. Some state laws require physicians to administer blood-based treatment to minors if it is their professional opinion that it is necessary to prevent immediate death or severe permanent damage.

Regardless of the medical considerations, Jehovah Witnesses advocate that physicians should uphold the right of a patient to choose what treatments they do or do not accept (though a Witness is subject to religious sanctions if they exercise their right to choose a blood transfusion).[261] Accordingly, US courts tend not to hold physicians responsible for adverse health effects that a patient incurred out of his or her own requests.[246] However, the point of view that physicians must, in all circumstances, abide by the religious wishes of the patients is not acknowledged by all jurisdictions, such as was determined in a case involving Jehovah's Witnesses in France.

Legal considerations

Jehovah's Witnesses believe that storing blood violates direction from the Bible to 'pour blood out onto the ground'. They do not donate blood except for uses they have individually pre-approved.[258] However, they are told that acceptance of blood fractions from donated blood is a matter of conscience. A 2006 issue of Jehovah's Witnesses' newsletter Our Kingdom Ministry stated, "Although [Jehovah's Witnesses] do not donate or store their own blood for transfusion purposes, some procedures or tests involving an individual’s blood are not so clearly in conflict with Bible principles. Therefore, each individual should make a conscientious decision" [emphasis added].[259] Critics have challenged these policies because acceptable blood fractions can only be derived from stored blood provided by donors.[260]

Storing and donation

According to lawyer Kerry Louderback-Wood, a former Jehovah's Witness,[255] the Watch Tower Society misrepresents the scope of allowed fractions. If taken together, they "total the entire volume of blood they came from".[256] An example of this can be seen in blood plasma, which consists of 90-96% water. The remaining amount consists mainly of albumin, globulins, fibrinogen and coagulation factors. These four fractions are allowable for use, but only if taken separately. Critics have likened this to banning the eating of a ham and cheese sandwich but allowing the eating of bread, ham and cheese separately.[257]

Such a stance of dividing blood into major components and minor fractions rather than either accepting all blood or requiring all blood components to be poured out onto the ground has led to criticism from organizations such as the Associated Jehovah's Witnesses for Reform on Blood.[250] Witnesses respond that blood as the fluid per se is not the real issue. They say the real issue is respect and obedience regarding blood, which they perceive as being God's personal property.[251][252] Members are allowed to eat meat that still contains small traces of blood remaining. Once blood is drained from an animal, the respect has been shown to God and then a person can eat the meat. Jehovah's Witnesses view of meat and blood is therefore different from the Jewish view that goes to great lengths to remove even minor traces of blood.[253][254]

In the case of minor fractions derived from blood, each individual is directed to follow their own conscience on whether these are acceptable.[247][248] Consequently, some Jehovah's Witnesses accept the use of blood fractions and others do not. However, fractions that carry out "the key function of a primary component" or make up "a significant portion of that component" are not permitted.[249]

Fractions and components

Jehovah's Witnesses reject transfusions of whole allogenic blood and its primary components (red blood cells, white blood cells, platelets and plasma), and transfusions of stored autologous blood or its primary components. As a doctrine, Jehovah's Witnesses do not reject transfusion of whole autologous blood so long as it is not stored prior to surgery (e.g. peri-operative extraction and transfusion of autologous blood). This religious position is due to their belief that blood is sacred and represents life in God's eyes. Jehovah's Witnesses understand scriptures such as Leviticus 17:10-14 (which speaks of not eating blood) and Acts 15:29 ("abstain from blood") to include taking blood into the body via a transfusion.[246] Controversy has stemmed, however, from what critics state are inconsistencies in Witness policies on blood, claims that Witness patients are coerced into refusing blood and that Watch Tower literature distorts facts about transfusions and fails to provide information that would allow Witnesses to make an informed decision on the issue.[154]


Criticism has also been directed at the 1981 change of policy[243] that directed that persons who disassociate from (formally leave) the religion were to be treated as though they were disfellowshipped.[244][245] Holden says that as a result, those who do leave the religion are seldom allowed a dignified exit.[222] Heather and Gary Botting claim inactive Witnesses are often pressured to either become active or to disassociate themselves by declaring they no longer accept key Watch Tower Society doctrines.[238]

When a decision is made regarding disfellowshipping or disassociation, an announcement is made that the person is "no longer one of Jehovah's Witnesses," at which point shunning is immediate. Members are not told whether the person has disassociated or has been disfellowshipped. Neither testimony nor evidence in support of the judicial decision are provided. Congregation members are told to accept the rulings without question and Witnesses who refuse to abide by a judicial committee decision will themselves suffer expulsion.[231] Members are forbidden to talk with the expelled member, removing any opportunity for the person to discuss or explain their actions.[237][239] Penton claims judicial committee members and the Watch Tower Society frequently ignore established procedures when dealing with troublesome individuals, conspiring to have them expelled in violation of Society rules.[240] Critics claim that Witness policies encourage an informer system to report to elders Witnesses suspected of having committed an act that could warrant expulsion, including deviating from organizational policies and teachings.[241][242]

The Witnesses' judicial process has also been criticized. Hearings take place in secret,[231] with judicial committees filling the roles of judge, jury and prosecutor.[221] According to Franz, witnesses may present evidence but are not permitted to remain for the discussion[237] Critics Heather and Gary Botting have claimed that Witnesses accused of an offence warranting expulsion are presumed guilty until found innocent. They say the onus is on the accused to prove their innocence and if they make no attempt to do so—by failing to appear at a hearing set by the judicial committee—they are assumed to be guilty and unrepentant.[238]

Watch Tower Society publications defend the practice of expelling and shunning those who "promote false teaching", claiming such individuals must be quarantined to prevent the spread of their "spiritual infection".[233] They have cited a dictionary definition of apostasy ("renunciation of a religious faith, abandonment of a previous loyalty") to rule that an individual who begins affiliating with another religion has disassociated from the Witnesses, warranting their shunning to protect the spiritual cleanness of the Witness congregation on the basis of the reference in 1 John 2:19 that those who leave Christianity are "not of our sort".[234] An individual's acceptance of a blood transfusion is similarly deemed as evidence of disassociation.[235] They say Witnesses also obey the "strong counsel" at 1 Corinthians 5:11 that Christians should "quit mixing in company" with people who unrepentantly reject certain scriptural standards.[236]

Franz argues that the threat of expulsion for expressing disagreement with the Watch Tower Society's teachings is designed to create a sterile atmosphere in which the organization's teachings and policies can circulate without the risk of confronting serious questioning or adverse evidence.[229] The result, according to Holden, is that individuals may spend most of their lives suppressing doubts for fear of losing their relationships with friends and relatives.[230] Penton describes the system of judicial committees and the threat of expulsion as the ultimate control mechanism among the Witnesses;[231] Holden claims that shunning not only rids the community of defilement, but deters others from dissident behavior.[222] Sociologist Ronald Lawson has also noted that the religion allows little room for independence of thought, and no toleration of doctrinal diversity; he says those who deviate from official teachings are readily expelled and shunned.[232]

The Watch Tower Society has attracted criticism for disfellowshipping members who decide they cannot conscientiously agree with all the religion's teachings and practices. Sociologist Andrew Holden says that because the religion provides no valid reason for leaving, those who do choose to leave are regarded as traitors.[226] According to Raymond Franz, those who decide they cannot accept Watch Tower teachings and practices often live in a climate of fear, feeling they must constantly be on guard about what they say, do and read. He says those who do express any disagreement, even in a private conversation with friends, risk investigation and trial by a judicial committee as apostates or heretics[227] and classed as "wicked".[228]

Witnesses practice disfellowshipping of members who unrepentantly engage in "gross sin",[216] (most commonly for breaches of the Witnesses' code of personal morality),[217][218] and "remorseless apostasy".[219] The process of disfellowshipping is said to be carried to uphold God’s standards, preserve the congregation’s spiritual cleanness, and possibly prompt a change of attitude in the wrongdoer.[216] The practice requires that the expelled person be shunned by all members of the religion, including family members who do not live in the same home, unless they qualify for re-admission. A person who dies while disfellowshipped cannot be given a funeral at a Kingdom Hall.[220][221] Members often face difficulties and trauma once expelled because of their previously limited contact with the outside world.[222][223] The Watchtower‍ '​s description of those who leave as being "mentally diseased" has drawn criticism from some current and former members; in Britain some have argued that the description may constitute a breach of laws regarding religious hatred.[224][225]


Medical and legal commentators have also noted cases claiming that Witness medical patients were coerced to obey the religion's ban on blood transfusions.[212][213][214] In a case involving a review of a Russian district court decision, however, the ECHR found nothing in the judgments to suggest that any form of improper pressure or undue influence was applied. It noted: "On the contrary, it appears that many Jehovah’s Witnesses have made a deliberate choice to refuse blood transfusions in advance, free from time constraints of an emergency situation." The court said: "The freedom to accept or refuse specific medical treatment, or to select an alternative form of treatment, is vital to the principles of self-determination and personal autonomy. A competent adult patient is free to decide ... not to have a blood transfusion. However, for this freedom to be meaningful, patients must have the right to make choices that accord with their own views and values, regardless of how irrational, unwise or imprudent such choices may appear to others."[215]

Russian religious scholar Sergei Ivanenko, in a dissenting opinion to a report by a panel of experts to Moscow's Golovinsky Intermunicipal Court in 1999, stated, "It would be a serious mistake to represent the Religious Organization of Jehovah's Witnesses as a religion whose leadership forces its rank and file believers to engage in one form of activity or another, or place upon them strict restrictions or directives." Ivanenko, who based his view on a study of Watch Tower Society literature, concluded: "Jehovah's Witnesses strive to live in accord with Bible principles on the basis of an individual, voluntary choice ... This also applies in full measure to preaching." [208] James A. Beckford, a professor at the University of Warwick, England, who published a study of English Jehovah's Witnesses in 1975,[209] also told the court: "It is important for each of them to exercise free moral agency in choosing to study the Bible and to live in accordance with their interpretation of its message."[210] On June 10, 2010, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) stated in regards to a charge of coercion of family members, that "Quite often, the opposite is true: it is the resistance and unwillingness of non-religious family members to accept and to respect the [Jehovah's Witnesses] religious relative's freedom to manifest and practise his or her religion that is the source of conflict."[211]

The Watchtower, however, noted that although public preaching is necessary, such works do not "save" a Christian and it urged Witnesses to examine their motive for engaging in preaching activity.[207]

Former Witnesses Heather and Gary Botting, claiming an emphasis on a personal track record would mean that salvation is effectively being "bought" with "good works", observed: "No matter how long a Witness remains an active distributor of literature, the moment he ceases to be active he is regarded by his peers as good as dead in terms of achieving the ultimate goal of life everlasting in an earthly paradise ... Few realize upon entering the movement that the purchase price is open-ended and that the bill can never be paid in full until death or the advent of Armageddon."[163]

Since 1920 the Watch Tower Society has required all congregation members participating in the preaching work to turn in written reports of the amount of their activity,[203] explaining that the reports help the Society to plan its activities and identify areas of greater need[204] and help congregation elders to identify those who may need assistance.[205] In 1943 the Society imposed personal quotas, requiring all active Witnesses to spend at least 60 hours of door-to-door preaching per month, claiming these were "directions from the Lord".[206] Although these quotas were subsequently removed, Raymond Franz claims "invisible" quotas remained, obliging Witnesses to meet certain levels of preaching work to remain in good standing in the congregation[164] or to qualify for eldership.[156] Franz describes repeated urging for adherents to "put kingdom interests first" and devote increasing amounts of time to door-to-door preaching efforts as coercive pressure. He says many Witnesses constantly feel guilty that they are not doing more in "field activity".[156]


Jehovah's Witnesses state that they are not a cult[194] and say that although individuals need proper guidance from God, they should do their own thinking.[195][196] Witnesses state that they are saved by the ransom sacrifice of God's Son and undeserved kindness, that there is no one that can earn salvation.[197] American religious scholar J. Gordon Melton,[198] cult deprogrammer John Bowen Brown II,[199] and Knocking producer Joel P. Engardio also reject the claims that Witnesses are a cult.[200][201] The two volume encyclopedia Contemporary American Religion stated: "Various critics and ex-members in recent years have wrongly labeled Jehovah’s Witnesses a 'cult.'"[202]

Authors Anthony A. Hoekema, Ron Rhodes[191] and Alan W. Gomes,[192] claim Jehovah's Witnesses is a religious cult. Hoekema bases his judgment on a range of what he describes as general characteristics of a cult, including the tendency to elevate peripheral teachings (such as door-to-door witnessing) to great prominence, extra-scriptural source of authority (Hoekema highlights Watch Tower teachings that the Bible may be understood only as it is interpreted by the Governing Body), a view of the group as the exclusive community of the saved (Watch Tower publications teach that Witnesses alone are God's people and only they will survive Armageddon) and the group's central role in eschatology (Hoekema says Witness publications claim the group was called into existence by God to fill in a gap in the truth neglected by existing churches, marking the climax of sacred history).[193]

Description as a "cult"

[190] The Society has described its intolerance of dissident and divergent doctrinal views within its ranks as "strict", but claims its stance is based on the scriptural precedent of 2 Timothy 2:17,18 in which the Apostle Paul condemns

Heather and Gary Botting argue that the power of the Watch Tower Society to control members is gained through the acceptance of the Society "quite literally as the voice of Jehovah – God's 'mouthpiece'."[163] Franz claims the concept of loyalty to God's organization has no scriptural support and serves only to reinforce the religion's authority structure, with its strong emphasis on human authority.[181] He has claimed The Watchtower has repeatedly blurred discussions of both Jesus Christ's loyalty to God and the apostles' loyalty to Christ to promote the view that Witnesses should be loyal to the Watch Tower organization.[182] Religion professor James A. Beverley describes the belief that organizational loyalty is equal to divine loyalty[183] as the "central myth" of Jehovah's Witnesses employed to ensure complete obedience.[184] Sociologist Andrew Holden has observed that Witnesses see no distinction between loyalty to Jehovah and to the movement itself;[185] Heather and Gary Botting have claimed that challenging the views of those higher in the hierarchy is regarded as tantamount to challenging God himself.[186]

Sociologist Andrew Holden said that Witnesses are taught their theology in a highly mechanistic fashion, learning almost by rote.[160] Raymond Franz and others have described Jehovah's Witnesses' religious meetings as "catechistical" question-and-answer sessions in which questions and answers are both provided by the organization, placing pressure on members to reiterate its opinions.[161][162] Former Witnesses Heather and Gary Botting claimed Witnesses "are told what they should feel and think"[163] and members who do voice viewpoints different from those expressed in publications and at meetings are said to be viewed with suspicion.[164] Raymond Franz has claimed most Witnesses would be fearful to voice criticism of the organization for fear of being accused of disloyalty.[156] Authors have drawn attention to frequent Watch Tower warnings against the "dangers" and "infection" of "independent thinking", including questioning any of its published statements or teachings,[165][166][167][168] and instructions that members refrain from engaging in independent Bible research.[169][170][171] The Watch Tower Society also directs that members must not read criticism of the organization by "apostates"[172][173] or material published by other religions.[174][175] Heather and Gary Botting declared: "Jehovah's Witnesses will brook no criticism from within, as many concerned members who have attempted to voice alternative opinions regarding the basic doctrine or application of social pressure have discovered to their chagrin."[176] Beckford observed that the Society denies the legitimacy of all criticisms of itself and that the habit of questioning official doctrine is "strenuously combated at all organizational levels".[177] Witnesses are said to be under constant surveillance within the congregation[178] and are subject to a disciplinary system that encourages informers.[179][180]

[159] Sociologist [157] He claimed the Watch Tower Society confirmed its position when, in a 1954 court case in Scotland, Watch Tower Society legal counsel Hayden C. Covington said of Jehovah's Witnesses: "We must have unity ... unity at all costs".[156] and demanding organizational conformity that overrides personal conscience.[155] Raymond Franz has accused the religion's Governing Body of resenting, deprecating and seeking to silence differences of viewpoint within the organization

The religion's leadership has been described as autocratic and totalitarian, with criticism focusing on the Watch Tower Society's demands for the obedience and loyalty of Witnesses,[149][150] its intolerance of dissent or open discussion of doctrines and practices[151] and the practice of expelling and shunning members who cannot conscientiously agree with all the religion's teachings.[152][153][154]

Authoritarianism and denial of free speech

Social criticisms

The Watch Tower Society teaches a form of day-age creationism.[145] It dismisses Young Earth creationism as "unscriptural and unbelievable",[146] and states that Jehovah's Witnesses "are not creationists", based on the more specific definition of believers in a 'young' earth created in six literal days.[147] According to a 1986 article in The Watchtower, "Jehovah's Witnesses reject the unreasonable theories of 'creationism' in favor of what the Bible really teaches about 'creation'."[148]

The Society's 1985 publication, Life—How Did it Get Here? By Evolution or by Creation? is criticized for its dependency on Francis Hitching, who is cited thirteen times. The book presents Hitching—a TV writer and paranormalist with no scientific credentials—as an evolutionary scientist.[143] Richard Dawkins also criticizes the book for implying that "chance" is the only alternative to deliberate design, stating, "[T]he candidate solutions to the riddle of improbability are not, as falsely implied, design and chance. They are design and natural selection."[144]

Watch Tower Society publications attempt to refute the theory of evolution, in favor of divine creation.[140][141] The Watch Tower Society's views of evolution have met with criticism typical of objections to evolution. Gary Botting described his own difficulty as a Jehovah's Witness to reconcile creation with simple observations of species diversification, especially after discussions with J.B.S. Haldane in India.[142]


The relative positions of the moon, stars and planets indicated in the Babylonian astronomical diary VAT 4956 are used by secular historians to establish 568 BC as the thirty-seventh year of Nebuchadnezzar's reign.[135] The Watch Tower Society claims that unnamed researchers have confirmed that the positions of the moon and stars on the tablet are instead consistent with astronomical calculations for 588 BC; the Society claims that the planets mentioned in the tablet cannot be clearly identified.[136] The Watch Tower Society's article cites David Brown as stating, "some of the signs for the names of the planets and their positions are unclear,"[136] however Brown indicates that the Babylonians also had unique names for the known planets;[137] Jonsson confirms that the unique names are those used in VAT 4956.[138] According to the Watch Tower Society, astronomical calculations based on ancient writings are unreliable and prone to error.[139]

Rolf Furuli, a Jehovah's Witness and a lecturer in Semitic languages, presents a study of 607 BC in support of the Witnesses' conclusions in Assyrian, Babylonian, Egyptian, and Persian Chronology Compared with the Chronology of the Bible, Volume 1: Persian Chronology and the Length of the Babylonian Exile of the Jews.[133] Lester L. Grabbe, professor of theology at the University of Hull, said of Furuli's study: "Once again we have an amateur who wants to rewrite scholarship. ... F. shows little evidence of having put his theories to the test with specialists in Mesopotamian astronomy and Persian history."[134]

In The Gentile Times Reconsidered: Chronology & Christ's Return, Carl O. Jonsson, a former Witness, presents eighteen lines of evidence to support the traditional view of neo-Babylonian chronology. He accuses the Watch Tower Society of deliberately misquoting sources in an effort to bolster their position.[130] The Watch Tower Society claims that biblical chronology is not always compatible with secular sources, and that the Bible is superior. It claims that secular historians make conclusions about 587 BC based on incorrect or inconsistent historical records, but accepts those sources that identify Cyrus' capture of Babylon in 539 BC, claiming it has no evidence of being inconsistent and hence can be used as a pivotal date.[123][131][132]

Jehovah's Witnesses assert that Jerusalem was destroyed by the Babylonians in 607 BC and completely uninhabited for exactly seventy years. This date is critical to their selection of October 1914 for the arrival of Christ in kingly power—2520 years after October 607 BC.[121][122] Non-Witness scholars do not support 607 BC for the event; most scholars date the destruction of Jerusalem to within a year of 587 BC, twenty years later.[122] Jehovah's Witnesses believe that periods of seventy years mentioned in the books of Jeremiah and Daniel refer to the Babylonian exile of Jews. They also believe that the gathering of Jews in Jerusalem, shortly after their return from Babylon, officially ended the exile in Jewish month of Tishrei (Ezra 3:1). According to the Watch Tower Society, October 607 BC is derived by counting back seventy years from Tishrei of 537 BC, based on their belief that Cyrus' decree to release the Jews during his first regnal year "may have been made in late 538 B.C. or before March 4–5, 537 B.C."[123][124] Non-Witness sources assign the return to either 538 BC or 537 BC.[125][126][127][128][129]

Fall of Jerusalem

On October 8, 2001, an article was published in the British Guardian newspaper questioning the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society's registration as a non-governmental organization ([119] The official UN/DPI website states that "association of NGOs with DPI does not constitute their incorporation into the United Nations system."[120]


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