The latest Watchtower launches yet another scathing attack on ‘apostates’, namely any current or former Witnesses who disagree with the organization’s teachings.
The July 15, 2014 issue brands any who deviate from official dogma as “devious,” “hypocritical” and “divisive,” not to mention “foolish and ignorant.”
Witnesses are thus urged to “completely avoid, yes reject, apostasy” by avoiding debating with apostates “whether in person, by responding to their blogs, or by any other form of communication.”
A PDF version of this latest magazine can be found on this link.
No proof necessary
Two study articles are almost exclusively set aside by Watchtower for stirring fear and suspicion regarding any Witness who would dare to question the organization or its teachings. Bible verses are invoked that, on closer inspection, have little or no bearing on the issue of dissent against Watchtower itself.
Page 7, for example, draws parallels with the sons of Korah, who were consumed by fire from heaven for questioning the authority of Moses and Aaron.
In a clear nod towards Watchtower’s view of its own critics, the opponents of Moses’ authority are described as “arrogant renegades attempting to usurp the priesthood,” who had “deluded themselves into thinking that God would accept their worship.”
But the writers overlook the fact that the divine execution of Korah and his sons by fire from heaven and by the ground swallowing them up would have itself proven that Moses and Aaron enjoyed God’s favor and backing.
The Governing Body, by comparison, offers no tangible evidence whatsoever that they occupy roles comparable with Moses and Aaron. No proof is deemed necessary that they have been specially chosen by God to “take the lead” among his people. Witnesses must simply take their word for it that Christ chose the organization in 1919 without question.
But if evidence is not required for Witnesses to believe this crucial teaching, then how does the Witness faith differ from any other religion?
Devious for a reason
The same article, on page 10, warns that Jehovah “does not tolerate hypocritical worship.” In particular, it points the finger at apostates as being “devious person[s]” who are hated by Jehovah for “deliberately [putting] up a front, feigning obedience while practicing sin in secret.”
Presumably this “practicing sin in secret” is a reference to the fact that many apostates within the organization practice the “sin” of disagreeing with the organization without doing so publicly for fear of reprisals. But by attempting to stigmatize them in this way, Watchtower overlooks the reasons why apostates behave in this manner.
For example, Watchtower literature is replete with experiences of Witnesses in oppressive political regimes of the 20th Century who continued to publish and circulate literature under threat of punishment and despite bans on their work.
Such ones would courageously find ingenious ways to conceal publications and continue their worship by whatever means.
The fact that some Witnesses were underhanded in evading the authorities for the pursuit of their convictions is rightly applauded by Watchtower, who hails them as heroes rather than denouncing them as “devious.”
If Watchtower were to allow Witnesses who no longer believe their teachings to leave freely, they would be perfectly entitled to bemoan those who feign loyalty to the organization while being secretly opposed to it. But when you punish people for leaving your religion, in direct violation of Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, by coercing family members to shun and loath such ones, you cannot have it both ways.
“Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.” – Universal Declaration of Human Rights, article 18.
Stigmatizing those who are blackmailed into remaining within a religion against their will as “devious,” “hypocritical” and “putting up a front,” using the pages of the same magazine that urges reprisals against such ones through shunning, is small-minded, sadistic and cowardly.
It is also itself hypocritical when you consider Watchtower’s history of lauding those brave Witnesses who pursued their faith and convictions, to the death if necessary, while also under oppressive and ruthless regimes.
A little too convenient
The next article, entitled “Jehovah’s People ‘Renounce Unrighteousness,'” does not shy away from telling Witnesses exactly how they should respond to former believers who offer a differing opinion.
Conveniently, therefore, Jehovah’s Witnesses are denied the opportunity to judge for themselves whether so-called apostates really do spread “unscriptural teachings.” Watchtower has graciously already made that decision for them.
Rather, Witnesses are barred from even communicating with apostates or “responding to their blogs,” since this is deemed contrary to “Scriptural direction.”
To drive home this point, the following image on page 15 portrays apostates as being angry and intimidating…
If by any chance you are a concerned Witness reading this article, please ask yourself the following questions: “Isn’t this a little too convenient on Watchtower’s part? Isn’t it rather obvious that they would want me to ignore the other side of the argument if they don’t have the truth? If this really is ‘the Truth’, what does the organization have to hide? What is so terrible about honest and open debate?”
The “mentally diseased” scandal
This new material is arguably the strongest anti-apostate rhetoric to come out of Watchtower’s writing department since the notorious July 15, 2011 issue. It was this magazine that sparked global controversy when apostates were smeared as “mentally diseased,” to the astonishment of some outsiders.
The “mentally diseased” slur was actually based on the previous New World Translation edition’s mistranslation of 1 Timothy 6:4. Instead of apostates being “obsessed with arguments and debates about words” (as they are described in the latest ‘silver sword’ version), back then the same verse described apostates as being “mentally diseased over questionings and debates about words.”
But rather than apologize for allowing such an obvious mistranslation to flavor their offensive name-calling assault against former believers, the Governing Body’s teaching committee made sure the “mentally diseased” slur was included in talks given during last year’s district convention series – only months before the new bible with its amended translation was released.
As the above video points out, Watchtower’s approach to dealing with so-called apostates is characterized by the well-known propaganda tactic of name-calling, and this latest magazine article is no exception.
Rather than refute their opponents through open debate, dialogue, and the application of logic and reason, Watchtower’s strategy is to bully, smear and stigmatize dissidents with derogatory expressions and mischaracterizations, urging Witnesses to avoid them entirely rather than judge for themselves.
On the one hand it is depressing to consider that such a juvenile and cowardly approach will work only too well with the majority of Witnesses who WANT to believe they have the true religion. On the other hand, this aggressive approach will not fool everyone.
There will always be those whose critical thinking faculties have not been completely compromised, and who will thus be able to see through the negative spin and ad hominem vitriol.
For such ones, it is painfully obvious that the efforts of activists are taking their toll on this floundering organization for it to be behaving in such an ungainly manner. Those of us who aren’t afraid to think for ourselves must take courage in realizing that the more we witness Watchtower lashing out with such anger and desperation, the clearer it is that we have them on the back foot.