The devastated kingdom hall in Tacloban: did 22 Witnesses die needlessly?
The devastated kingdom hall in Tacloban: did 22 Witnesses die needlessly?

I should have known better than to click on the latest video, entitled “Philippines Typhoon—Faith Conquers Adversity.”

My intuition told me it would be a shameless piece of propaganda – an attempt at taking a deadly natural disaster and turning it into a tool for recruitment and self-praise. But click I did, and I am still struggling to find the words for what I have just seen.

The film starts with footage of a reported 41 Filipino Witnesses getting baptized a month after Typhoon Haiyan savaged their country. Straight away you suspect that the onus of the film will be less on the personal tragedies, and more about how God’s organization has triumphed despite calamity.

Smiling convention attendees wave at the camera brandishing their newly released publications, as though these have somehow made them forget all their woes.

The narrator then explains that “more than 185,000 Jehovah’s Witnesses live in the Philippines” before revealing that many of these were in the direct path of Typhoon Haiyan when it struck on November 8, 2013.

Advance warning

A phone rings, and is answered by Hubertus Hoefnagels of the Philippines Branch. We are reassured that “before the storm hit, the Philippines Branch Office began coordinating the evacuation and relief effort.”

Witnesses are assured that the Philippines Branch had advance knowledge of the typhoon, and had put evacuation measures in place
Witnesses are assured that the Philippines Branch had advance knowledge of the typhoon, and were evacuating brothers

Hubertus is shown with a Filippino brother staring attentively at a map of the islands, plotting the storm’s trajectory. The words “Fri 4:40am Nov 8” are scribbled on the map in red marker ink to denote the moment the super-typhoon made landfall.

“They are preparing for the typhoon because the news say that we need to prepare,” says Rodnie Barcenas, a Circuit Overseer, in his broken English. “So I text everybody every elder in congregation, I text that they need to evacuate to a separate place.”

Just what “separate place” Rodnie is referring to is left a mystery, but one assumes it is somewhere as far as possible from the path of destruction.

“We knew it was going to do tremendous damage,” adds Hubertus.

Hence, the reassuing impression is very deliberately given at the outset of this film that the Philippines Branch Office (1) had prior warning of the typhoon and (2) were in control of matters before it hit. It is even suggested that evacuation plans were put into operation at circuit overseer-level.

When you consider these claims carefully, it makes the information conveyed in the remainder of the film simply astounding.

Below is a map showing the locations of the three congregations that are featured in the video, all of which are in or near the path of Haiyan.


As the map indicates, if the story were to be presented chronologically the events befalling the congregation in Guiuan would be shown first. However, the filmmakers have a clear agenda, and they need to get some extremely bad news out of the way early on in the film in order to achieve a sufficiently cheery end. And so they first must tell us the story of what happened in Tacloban.

Or at least some of the story.

Killed at the kingdom hall

We are taken into the home of a family living in Tacloban City. The father tells of his struggle in trying to hold the roof down before finally surrendering it to the typhoon.

A refrigerator crammed with literature is proudly shown
A refrigerator crammed with literature is proudly shown

An excited young girl shows viewers the family’s refrigerator, in which various publications are crammed – including the dreadful Become Jehovah’s Friend DVD. Pride is taken in the fact that mass-produced books were deemed more important than provisions in a time of crisis.

Then we behold the Tacloban kingdom hall – or what is left of it. Walls are non-existent, as though an unstoppable force has bulldozed through. Only the tattered roof remains, held aloft by battered columns.

The narrator tells us that 22 Witnesses perished in this kingdom hall alone – swept away by a 5-meter-high tidal surge.

Driving home the human cost of this tragedy is the story of 13-year-old Sheryl Gariando – one of only 38 survivors of the devastated kingdom hall. Her entire family, apart from her little brother, succumbed to the raging waters. The fact that her little brother was reunited with her one day before the district convention is somehow deemed to be of significance.

At this point you think back to Hubertus and his map, and wonder – “what were these people doing in a kingdom hall during a typhoon?”

If the Branch Office had advance warning that Haiyan was approaching, was it really wise for a congregation to be cowering in a coastal kingdom hall in the path of a typhoon rather than scrambling for safer ground?

Two congregations that survived

But we are not given much time to dwell on such questions. Instead, we are whisked 9 miles down the coast to Tanauan, where 44 Witnesses survived despite being in a kingdom hall that was uprooted by the wind and high waters before being dumped 15 meters from its foundations.

One of the extremely fortunate survivors tells us that he gained strength from looking up at the yeartext above the platform, with its words “Jehovah your God is with you.”

Little thought is given to the fact that the exact same words looked down on the man’s ill-fated brothers in Tacloban. It seems the filmmakers would rather we focus on the thought that the “solid structures” of kingdom halls saved lives in at least some places.

Conducting a meeting in the face of a typhoon

And so we are finally taken to Guiuan, where the typhoon first made landfall. Similar to the congregation in Tanauan, the congregation sought shelter in their kingdom hall and somehow survived despite their lives being endangered – in this case by a collapsed ceiling.

This man reveals that his congregation was holding a meeting the same night the typhoon made landfall
This man reveals that his congregation was holding a meeting the same night the typhoon made landfall

But as the story of Guiuan is being related, an intriguing detail slips from the mouth of a local brother as he is interviewed (bold is mine).

“When the typhoon struck we are inside the kingdom hall. After the meeting, some of the brothers stayed in the Kingdom Hall and other half of the group went to the sister’s house, especially the children.”

There is no sign here of a carefully coordinated and diligently executed evacuation effort. Instead, at least in Guiuan there seems to have been a free-for-all as to whether local brothers sheltered in the kingdom hall or in nearby homes.

But more disturbing is this brother’s revelation that a meeting had been in progress on the same night the storm hit.

At the risk of boring you, I will remind you once again of Hubertus and his map back at the branch office in Manilla, and his all-too understated words, “we knew it was going to do tremendous damage.”

How did the authorities respond?

It was at this point that I felt more information was required. Precisely what would Hubertus and his colleagues have known before the typhoon struck? What warnings were issued by the authorities?

A quick search on Wikipedia yielded the answers.

Under the heading “Preparations” in the article for Typhoon Haiyan, we are told: “By the evening of November 7, PSWS No. 4, the highest level of warning which indicates winds in excess of 185 km/h (115 mph) are expected, was raised for… Eastern Samar, [and] Leyte” (Samar being the island where Guiuan is located, while Tacloban and Tanauan are both on the island of Leyte).

And so we have the highest possible state of alert issued on the evening of Thursday, November 7th for all three congregations featured in the video. But what measures were taken by local authorities?

“In the provinces of Samar and Leyte, classes were canceled, and residents in flood- and landslide-prone areas were required to evacuate.”

When I read the above words, my heart sank.

Guiuan is precariously situated on a narrow peninsula surrounded by ocean, and both the Tanauan and Tacloban kingdom halls had been clearly inundated by floodwaters. These were unquestionably flood-prone areas. It seems inconceivable that the three kingdom halls in question were not in the area that was earmarked for evacuation by the authorities.

Could it be that the 22 who perished in the Tacloban congregation, and possibly others, were as much victims of Watchtower’s incompetence as the typhoon itself?

Mark Sanderson is shown flying in to give encouragement on behalf of the Governing Body
Mark Sanderson is shown flying in to give encouragement on behalf of the Governing Body

If this turns out to be true, the concluding minutes of the video are especially hard to watch. Mark Sanderson is seen flying to the rescue to impart words of encouragement to the typhoon survivors and oversee rebuilding efforts – or at least that is the impression the filmmakers aim to give us.

Especially disquieting is the footage showing Sanderson consoling young Sheryl and her brother. Sheryl is seen smiling, at one point even being hugged by Sanderson as she is shamelessly exploited for PR purposes.

There is every chance Sheryl will never know for sure whether she was embraced by a representative of the very organization that might be at least partly responsible for her being orphaned.

An apology long overdue

At this point you might be thinking that I am jumping the gun with my implications as to Watchtower’s liability. These are, after all, serious matters and details are scarce. But I would welcome the opportunity to set the record straight following a full explanation from the Governing Body as to why they are blameless in this apparent scandal.

If such an explanation were to be offered, I would happily recant – and do so publicly. But the required evidence would need to come in the form of (1) some kind of proof that the brothers in the featured congregations (especially Tacloban) were advised to evacuate the area but ignored this advice, or (2) that the claims made by Watchtower in its own video about the state of preparedness of the Philippines branch office were false or misleading.

Until such information surfaces, the evidence against Watchtower is very damning indeed. We have a situation where three congregations were cowering in their kingdom halls despite these being in the direct path of a typhoon, of which the local branch had advance knowledge, and on account of which local evacuation had been ordered by the authorities.

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that kingdom halls, despite being “solid structures,” are not built with typhoons in mind – unless of course you are under the delusion that Jehovah’s hand is involved in manipulating the weather.

Which brings us to another small matter.

Irrespective of their liability (or lack thereof) in this disaster, the Governing Body owes an apology to the brothers and sisters of the Philippines, especially those who lost loved ones. Only a month before Haiyan hit, Geoffrey Jackson had the astonishing stupidity to stand on the platform at the 129th Annual Meeting and utter down his microphone the following words (bold is mine)…

“It’s interesting when we think about the production of this [Bible] we truly have seen Jehovah’s hand in helping the project. Just one example. The brothers in the Wallkill printery mentioned to us that normally the worst time of the year to print Bibles is summertime, because of the humidity, the heat. Oftentimes they have to stop the presses. But they told us this year when they had to do a lot of extra overtime to get these Bibles ready for us, and as you can see there’s one for each person here attending our program, this year there was no stoppage of Bible production! We had the mildest summer for many many years and we thank Jehovah for that.

Geoffrey Jackson owes an apology for thoughtless comments he made during the Annual Meeting
Geoffrey Jackson owes an apology for thoughtless comments he made during the Annual Meeting

It shouldn’t take a typhoon sweeping through a kingdom hall and killing 22 Witnesses one month later for Geoffrey Jackson to realize that the above words were incredibly ill-judged and insensitive. Jehovah clearly does NOT manipulate the weather, either for the saving of human lives or for the printing of bibles.

An unequivocal apology by Geoffrey to the victims of Typhoon Haiyan, not to mention the victims of all natural disasters regardless of denomination, is thus urgently called for.

Of course, the saddest part of all of this is that the very ones who most deserve an explanation and apology are those who will likely never ask for it.

Witnesses like Sheryl will likely continue to serve the Watchtower in a mistaken belief that doing so will make them worthy to greet their loved ones in the resurrection. The grieving process is thus commandeered as a tool for indoctrination in the most appalling and opportunistic way.

An explanation to be demanded

For all Watchtower’s slick PR and heart-tugging propaganda, let the records show that a religion that proudly boasts of its preparedness for Typhoon Haiyan suffered losses of 33 confirmed dead in that disaster, with 10 more missing presumed dead.

According to the 2014 Yearbook, the population of the Philippines is 97,701,745. And according to this new video (and official figures), Typhoon Haiyan claimed the lives of 6,200. That is a mortality rate of 0.0063% for the country.

By comparison, Watchtower claims to have 185,000 Witnesses in the Philippines. When we include all those presumed dead with the confirmed figures, this gives us a mortality rate of 0.024% among Witnesses for Typhoon Haiyan – nearly four times the previously stated figure.

I understand that these figures are wide open to dispute, not least because the exact concentration of Witnesses in the typhoon-hit region is unknown compared to the local non-Witness population. Even so, serious questions must be asked and answered as to precisely why so many Witnesses died, with 22 in one congregation alone.

If the Governing Body stays silent on the question of whether Watchtower’s incompetence cost lives, as they no doubt will, their silence will speak volumes. But the question must still be asked, if only to honor the memory of those whose mistaken belief that a kingdom hall might withstand a typhoon cost them their lives.








Further reading…

Related video…

172 thoughts on “Why the Governing Body owes an explanation for what happened in the Philippines

  • March 13, 2014 at 7:33 am

    The way WT spin a story is expertly done. They are in the business of misleading and are very apt at doing so. Many JWs seeing this video will be more indoctrinated and feel more inclined to follow the GB.

    It is such a shame they will just feel closer to Jehovah and likely have renewed zeal to do more preaching. This is so frustrating how good WT are at spin.

    Kate xx

  • March 13, 2014 at 7:48 am

    Sent your comments to the press Kate. I have sent mine to the press and to Sky News as well. Maybe if we all did that it may help bring much needed attention to what these people are really all about!

    Already many of the rank and file in my area are praising the GB, indoctrinated as they are into believing that they are the faithful slave!

  • March 13, 2014 at 7:52 am

    Is I’t me or does Sanderson act like a politician, shaking hands taking pictures giving hugs. Sanderson was sent couse he use to be part of the philipins Branch comitee.
    The people that die at the KH need to get some kind of money from the branch specially those two kids that lost there family. Cedars great job on breaking it Down

  • March 13, 2014 at 8:40 am

    ooops sorry about the song thing it was ment for @fadeing brother I should of sad so lol…xxx and ment to mean about the GB……

  • March 13, 2014 at 9:44 am

    You made such good points. I especially like the one about the contrast with the overfed American. You gave me quite a laugh while I checked in during my lunch. :-)
    Sympathy to all those who are suffering due to this tragedy.

  • March 13, 2014 at 9:45 am

    As you know JW’s and their defenders, take the view that everyone other than themselves, are going to die soon, so the only important job is preaching. The lack of kindness comes from who they worship – a god that gives them a biblical licence to judge, condemn and obey without question. Critical thinking is taken away, by such belief systems. Week after week, they are told what to think and how to act. It is not a surprise then that this has happened. The GB should be shamefaced, and should not be using this as propaganda for their god. It is so sad to see this – not only have people died, but their children are now being used to support a set of doctrines that perpetuate abuse.

    • March 13, 2014 at 9:57 am

      And this must and will stop.

      I am already subject of Elders’ chitchat as I have dare to write to the GB question their authority to falsely ram Armageddon down people’s throats and scare them witless.

      I only use the Bible as my authority and the Bible is clear when quoting Jesus who said no body knows the hour only the father. Matthew 24:26.

      This means to put it as cruelly as I to the GB……they are talking pure bo&&ox with no scriptural basis.

  • March 13, 2014 at 10:14 am

    I like that you covered this story. Just a couple of years ago, before I learned about cognitive dissonance and the logical fallacies the WT relies on, this video probably would have seemed heartfelt to me.
    I’m so glad you raised the points and questions that you did.
    Excellent work.

  • March 13, 2014 at 10:30 am

    Thanks for making this video Cedars.
    The GB has no intention of changing or giving an explanation for its propaganda. They did not apologise after Malawi, the UN scandal, the complicity with the Nazi’s, the child abuse cover ups, the doctrinal changes and there will be no apology about this. Why should they when so many want to believe that they can live forever – that they are right and everyone that challenges these views is to be held in disdain. The loyal followers are constantly told they do not need to take responsibility for their own lives and choices as an entity will look after them, as long as they obey. As people wake up and learn that they have been duped, the organisation will become (as Cedars said in a video recently) “irrelevant”. I like that word irrelevant. It does not mean different, it means that an education not least from the internet, will provide an opportunity for critical thinking, so that people no longer have to slavishly follow a book and its interpreters. It may also may mean that information will not be filtered through the elders, the branch offices and their views on safety.

    • March 14, 2014 at 2:10 pm

      Exactly and this is why we must force change… most here are out of the Organisation few here have any idea of the growing opposition the the evil actions go the GB.

      Just keep the pressure up from all quarters! It’s growing from within!

      • March 14, 2014 at 4:37 pm

        It’s going to prove to be the only way forward, inside you can very subtly spread the seeds of doubt, but alway ask scripturally based questions and queries, none can doubt you for doing that, but you will that you will embarrass a number of elders as I have one, as they really know very little and usually have to go for references and come back days later with manufactured answers…….but we need more.

  • March 13, 2014 at 11:40 am

    If a Bible-based religion pushes more on human rules than upon a better understanding of the Bible, after reading the Genesis, people start taking the Kingdom Hall for Noah’s Ark … Then they do their meeting (as a proof of their COMPLETE trust for Jehovah) and huddle together.

    Although even Jesus didn’t jump, not to test Jehovah …

    I wouldn’t be surprized if there was a few elders saying, “remember the Flood ? Did Noah hesitate putting his confidence in Jehovah ?” …

    Then after the fact “oh, don’t worry there is resurrection anyway” …

  • March 13, 2014 at 1:52 pm


    “Why does the portion that talks about the relief work only mention Witnesses helping other Witnesses? I’m not a religious person, but I can’t imagine a Catholic organization only helping Catholics.”

    Years ago when I was a child growing up in a JW family there was a plane crash (sorry, I can’t remember where). Everyone died, but there was talk that there were two JWs on the plane. The brother who gave the prayer at the end of a very long Thursday night meeting asked Jehovah to be with the families of the two JWs on that plane. I immediately thought how uncaring and “unchristian” that was – not to even consider the families of the other victims worthy of a mention. It was as though those two JWs were the only ones of any importance out of all the other people who had unfortunately lost their lives on that plane.
    This realisation was probably one of the first of many things that made me impervious to the brainwashing and to convince me that I did not want to be a part of this unloving Organisation (Cult).

    • March 13, 2014 at 2:05 pm

      I’ve heard this plenty of times with disasters and things related,I to use to question this and feel at the time when I was a JW that how bad it must of been for the brothers to go through hard times,not thinkng about other how narrow minded I was back then,now I see the whole picture as it is now and how the GB just isolate those around to feel they are elite and only witnesess are the ones who suffer in these circumstances ,please believe me though my heart goes out to any who have lost there lives and family that’s called empathy in this circumstances not like the GB who feel the watch tower is invincible ………..what next X MEN……..

  • March 13, 2014 at 4:00 pm

    Hi Carol, do not for one minute think that Jehovah’s witnesses are a democracy. You will get the tap on the shoulder any day now (as I know!)

    They will ask you one simple question. “Do you believe that the Faithful and discreet slave are Gods channel, providing food at the right time?”

    You respond: “No. I think they are a group of old blokes in Brooklyn who talk out of their cheeks and this is why…..”

    Next meeting: “Carol is no longer one of Jehovahs Witnesses”

    Please be careful how you handle yourself and what you say =)

  • March 13, 2014 at 4:08 pm

    This video made me angry because I’m so sick of JW’s like my parents saying that Jehovah obviously saves those he feels are, in their words, useful or zealous in the organization like everyone else does not matter I suppose. There was a brother here in North Carolina that was dying of cancer they said he had like a week left to live then miraculously in a few days he got much better they said he now has most likely more years to live. My mom said that all their prayers were answered and he lived because he loved going out in service all the time! It really blew my mind that someone could think God only cares about the ones that are “useful ” so according to them the ones that died obviously didn’t do enough to deserve to live it’s F’D up!

  • March 13, 2014 at 4:55 pm

    carol I started to wrote to London branch office and then to the states addressed to the governing body I got no reply from the sttes but did from London, I was told to speak to tthe elders in my hall or the C/O but when the visit came round I was told yes we have heard you have been in touch with the brothers at the branch,but lke your self I stuck to bible principles and belives but yet was called a trouble caused and now I,ve heard I,am an apostate which was mentioned to my wife as she still goes to meetings, but even she knows I still love the bible principles but not mans,but if you knock the GB which many of us no now,you can get dissfellowshiped like I did but not once did I knock god or bible principles only mans interpretation as in the GB and now iam DF…work that out ….this makes me believe from videos like this tht people are grateful to men like wolfs in sheep clotheing…..

    • March 13, 2014 at 8:07 pm

      When the GB or anyone else sets themselves up as being greater that the word of God it’s time to sound the Satan alarm!

      Get rid of them before they do more harm!

  • March 13, 2014 at 5:04 pm

    @mike,Exactly the same questions as near as you can get I was asked,and the decision was to DF me,but my last reply was how sad I had to accept the imperfect governing body(who are no diffrent than any other human) before I did the supream being of the universe ,I said thats going over the top a bit,hence who is being insulted there or do I need to appeal to get that point over……..

  • March 14, 2014 at 1:47 am

    All the more reason and proof for much need change and a complete removal of the Governing Body!

    Well posted!

  • March 14, 2014 at 2:25 am


    I like your turn of phrase, “fish and health care”!

    It always saddens me that many Christians fail to follow Jesus at all! They resemble the Pharasees and are more concerned with their own righteousness than helping people.

    Yes, a lovely phrase, fish and healthcare! But don’t forget that he diversified into bread as well!!

    Peace be with you


    • March 14, 2014 at 9:37 am

      You are correct sir. Jesus did give bread too. Sometimes, there was even wine.

  • March 14, 2014 at 2:59 am

    Where do you start with a Jehovah Witness?
    I think my first question would be, are you objective? That can be a frightening question for a Witness. I understand that. Imagine being so controlled that you are frightened to ask a question ( sounds like abuse to me). That can & is the reality they face. So yes I would like an answer too to your post or will it be the same old boring crap of obey or else? Apologies if that seems offensive was musing. Chow x

  • March 14, 2014 at 3:09 am

    It all seems to go tits up when you ask a question.

  • March 14, 2014 at 3:12 am

    :-) of course that’s always followed up with a why:-)

  • March 14, 2014 at 3:15 am

    @carol, there is a lady called Kate who now posts regularly on here. Watch her judicial committee meeting. You will see the frustrating nonsense you will have to deal with for yourself. My jc was exactly the same. The problem I had was my 83 year old parents who are worried sick and suffer terribly over having to shun me. As my mother is in bad health, I can use the “necessary family business” get out clause, but things will never be the same. Every time Cedars posts a new video, notice how worn out he looks. It really bites. It’s frustrating, does your head in and saps the energy from you. If you have any family in the organisation, please be “as cautious as a serpent, but innocent as a dove”.

    • March 14, 2014 at 5:11 am

      I am indeed very much that Mile and with a sting in my tail!

      God be with you!

  • March 14, 2014 at 3:24 am

    We are not controlled.

  • March 14, 2014 at 4:37 am

    Cedars, I have just finished watching your video and I can confirm that you are not alone in your conclusions.

    That was very harrowing. Those poor souls could have had a chance if they had evacuated.

    Truly Awful.

    Peace be with you


  • March 14, 2014 at 5:14 am

    I have just watched this whole video in one sitting. Has the WTBTS sent any money, clothes, food or aid to any of these survivors? What exactly are they thanking their god for? Is it that Mark Sanderson turned up, like some leader of the free world? What came over for me, (other than the sadness for the loss of life and sadness for people who are being duped) is the inadequacy and ignorance of the pot bellied Mark Sanderson. (apologies to other pot bellied people). Dear Mark, People died! They need not have died. They just needed to get proper shelter. What will you say to the next group of people who are faced with a natural disaster? Just take your ready bag to the KH and read the WT?

    This is beyond insane.

    • March 14, 2014 at 6:17 am

      Your not being quite fair there are you? Although they sent Mark Sanderson they did also provide relief help and money like the other organisations. What they should do however, is let their members know exactly what help is being provided, particularly the amount of money that is being given to disaster fund for the local witnesses.

  • March 14, 2014 at 6:52 am

    What would have been better is if they Witnesses had not been in the KH but had heeded the advice of agencies and had taken shelter.
    JW’s only give to JW’s. Agencies give to human beings of all faiths – so yes, I think pointing out that Mark Sanderson just turned up to make a propaganda video is fair – its also obscene.

    • March 14, 2014 at 9:30 am

      Totally agree with you about Mark Sanderson going for a propaganda exercise, it was indeed disgusting. My only point is that the Watchtower should be transparent like the other relief organisations that you gave us a link to. The witnesses should know exactly what help and money is being given. Especially as they are told only to send money through the organisation.

  • March 14, 2014 at 7:42 am

    Could someone post a link to Kate’s jc commitee meeting? I looked on YouTube but couldn’t find it. Thanks!

  • March 14, 2014 at 8:33 am

    Cedars, thank you very much for your research and your very interesting comments. It took me more than fourty years to understand how we can blindly act under religious manipulation. Before fading, having been confronted to two cyclones while I was living in Southern Asia, I would not have hesitated while I was still under the influence of the “eight popes, seven princes and eight dukes” of the Watch Tower Organization to seek refuge in a Kingdom Hall to find there a divine protection in stormy and difficult time, and not to miss a meeting. And when we know that whatever conduct the seven princes and the eight dukes may ask their sheep to follow in future time, according to the new instructions dictated by the eight Watchtower popes, without any possibility of contesting their authority, we can only rejoice no longer to be under their influence. Thank you again Cedars.

  • March 14, 2014 at 8:40 am

    If you are not controlled, you are “other sheep” and helders are your shepherds.
    Will you expect “sheep” or “other sheep” to be aware they are controlled?

    THE WATCHTOWER (STUDY EDITION) MAY 2014 reveals who most JWs are really. It refers to over 60 experiences published in the Watchtower series “The Bible Changes Lives.”
    The Watchtower says “Some of the people featured in these articles were formerly thieves, drunkards, gang members, or drug addicts” (!!
    Trying to reason with such people is a loss of time. The only remaining hope for them is the Kingdom of god. Believe me, Watchtower is a refugee camp of JWs.

  • March 14, 2014 at 9:50 am

    Yes, transparency – but with transparency comes accountability and responsibility and the WT does not have a strong record in that area when money is involved. It was ever thus. Have you read 30 years a WT slave? I think he sites a few examples about how they planned the marketing and cover-ups.

    They probably get tax relief from such a donation. But still no transparency – If they opened the books, there may be a queue of people around Brooklyn wanting to see exactly how much comes in, what it is spent on and which off shore island or swiss bank account holds most of the millions. As it collapses maybe one of the lawyers or accountants will turn states evidence to gain immunity? Or they lose their charitable status or a FOI request uncovers the deals? So much to look forward to….

  • March 14, 2014 at 10:09 am

    Apologies for not understanding your initial comment and for getting my reply out of sync.
    Do you think they will ever open the books in an attempt at transparency?

    • March 14, 2014 at 11:35 am

      That’s fine, no probs. I think they have no intention of telling the sheep what money is spent on tragedies such as these. It would be realized how mean they are to their members. They want their money used to grow the organisation, not to help their members get their lives back together again. What is worse they tell the witnesses not to send money direct to those concerned in the troubled area, but to send all money to them.
      Totally disgusting.

  • March 14, 2014 at 2:13 pm

    They are far from democratic. They are evil!

    I remain on the inside…..I can do more from there than being on the outside!

  • March 14, 2014 at 3:29 pm

    In regards to control. I am of the opinion that God does not require a Governing body to speak for him. His word ( I’am asured ) is sufficient.

    • March 15, 2014 at 12:50 am

      “What gives” is that your comment was 3,242 words long, whereas my article was 2,364 words long.

      I call that excessive.

      If you need your research, I have it in my email inbox. Email me if you need it.

      • March 15, 2014 at 1:13 am

        Apology accepted. I thought about adding something to the posting guidelines, but frankly I think yours is the first and only comment that has exceeded the number of words in the article. I think in matters of common sense where everyone else is posting comments of a reasonable length we can leave this sort of thing to the discretion of the admins. Thanks anyway for the suggestion.

    • March 15, 2014 at 1:42 am

      Right on Gary, right on!

  • March 15, 2014 at 3:34 am

    Carol, you will realize too late that you are wrong! Do you really think you can do more from there than being on the outside! You need to read history of religions and count the number of people who were killed trying to change things inside!!

  • March 15, 2014 at 3:39 am

    The lunatics have taken over the asylum is quite an appt song and phrase.

  • March 15, 2014 at 10:47 am

    If you saw the news in the Philippines, local authorities adviced people to take shelters in schools and churches . But in the midst of the typhoon, one local tv station reported that evacuees in s schools are not safe and few days after the typhoon they reported that bodies of children and adults were found in one of the schools in Tacloban. The goVernmeny try to evacuate residents but In some cases they were not safe even in shelters. What are the JW’s doing in Kingdom Halls? They followed government’s adviced to take shelters in churches. I found no issue against the ‘organization’. They even don’t need to apologize. Same as the government of the philippines don’t need to apoligize to their people because This is a
    natural disaster. My families and relatives in PH are also victims of this super typhoon and now see the help of the ‘organization’ to them. They build houses for them and ensure that there is enough supplies of foods for brothers and sisters.

    • March 15, 2014 at 11:06 am

      Thrilled – thank you for the link, even if it contradicts the information on Wikipedia that people were to be evacuated from Leyte. I suppose the key question is – who ordered the Witnesses to shelter in the Tacloban kingdom hall, the government or the branch office? At least in the video the Society attempts to give the impression they were on top of everything.

      It’s not as simple as saying “this is a natural disaster, nobody needs to apologize.” Kingdom Halls are quite clearly not built to withstand typhoons, and either the local government OR Watchtower must recognize that. You only need to see the footage from various similar disasters to see how little protection buildings can offer under sufficient force.

      As for your claims about the organization building homes for displaced brothers and sisters, this is the least they can do with all the money they have recently made from Brooklyn sales (1 billion in total). And there is nothing extraordinary to be proud of if a religion looks after its own people and doesn’t offer assistance to non-believers (apart from “spiritual” assistance, of course). – Matt 5:46-48

      I repeat my claims that Watchtower owes an explanation for what happened. Who ordered those witnesses into the Tacloban kingdom hall, was it Watchtower or was it the government? Or were they allowed in of their own accord without being redirected to higher ground? And why were Witnesses in Guiuan having a meeting the same night as the typhoon, as revealed in the video?

      Lives were lost in this tragedy – a significantly higher percentage of JWs than ordinary Filipinos. Lessons must be learned so that what happened in Tacloban never happens again – especially when sufficient warning has been given.

      • March 15, 2014 at 11:49 am

        John, the simple people in the Philippines believe totally I am sure that Jehovah will protect them. In their minds the best place for that is the Kingdom Hall. We know that is stupid but in their minds they may have really believed that. It may be it was their decision to go there and not the societies.

        • March 15, 2014 at 11:53 am

          I’m afraid “it may be…” won’t cut it, at least not for me Alan. Watchtower has confessed in their own video that the congregation where Typhoon Haiyan made landfall was having a meeting the night of the storm. All I have asked for in this article is an explanation as to what happened, and what instructions were given to congregations by the disaster committee, so that there is transparency and any mistakes will not be repeated. When lives are at stake, I don’t see why that’s too much to ask for.

    • March 15, 2014 at 1:50 pm

      Thrilled, just to give you an update, I am working at the moment at getting more information through contacts that are opening up in the Philippines. We are exploring your theory that the Tacloban kingdom hall and others were allocated as local government shelters.

      One obvious question that arises, assuming you are correct, is why were there no local non-JWs reported as sheltering in the kingdom halls alongside the brothers and sisters in the video? It would have been a great PR coup for the organization to brag that their kingdom halls were used by the authorities for their safety specifications. So either Watchtower was being uncharacteristically modest in ommitting this information, or the kingdom halls weren’t allocated as government shelters after all.

      If evidence emerges that the kingdom halls WERE definitely allocated by the local government as shelters I will not hesitate to update my article accordingly. For the time being though, I’m skeptical.

  • March 15, 2014 at 12:28 pm

    There is no way the governing body would issue a directive for witnesses in danger of their lives to go meetings as usual or to huddle together in a flimsy Kingdom Hall. They have some very wacky ideas all the time but they are not so stupid as to tell witnesses around the world to just ignore any warnings they may get from the authorities, and just carry on as normal. When I get time I will research that point, but really don’t think I will find any evidence that they are to blame for the witnesses deaths.

    • March 15, 2014 at 12:51 pm

      “There is no way the governing body would issue a directive for witnesses in danger of their lives to go meetings as usual or to huddle together in a flimsy Kingdom Hall.”

      1) I’m not saying the Governing Body issued a directive. I’m asking whether the disaster committee at the philippines branch office did so, and I’m asking the Governing Body to clarify the matter in the wake of some of the information they presented in their video.

      2) Do I need to remind you that the Governing Body was once happy for Witnesses in Malawi to be beaten, raped and killed rather than risk compromising their political neutrality, while at the same time allowing brothers in Mexico to freely do so for the sake of a passport? You seem to give the organization more credit than it historically deserves.

      All I am asking is that the Governing Body explains what happened. Why are you so averse to that?

      And I didn’t mention it earlier, but your comment about “the simple people in the Philippines” was pretty racist, don’t you think?

      • March 15, 2014 at 2:14 pm

        I did not mean to imply the people were simple minded in any way. I have known many people from the Philippines during my life and they are a very humble and trusting people. They would never question what the gov body told them I’m sure.

        • March 15, 2014 at 2:23 pm

          In the west there are many witnesses who will at least to themselves disagree with what the society say. Knowing some of the people as I do, I don’t think they would ever consider that the gov body could say or do something that was not right. It is a different culture. In many ways we can learn from their humble and trusting attitude.

          • March 15, 2014 at 2:27 pm

            “I don’t think they would ever consider that the gov body could say or do something that was not right. It is a different culture. In many ways we can learn from their humble and trusting attitude.”

            AlanV – I know you mean well, but if you could refrain from making patronizing generalizations about the filipino people I would appreciate it.

    • March 15, 2014 at 2:17 pm

      I totally agree with you about the wicked things the gov body have done. I am not defending them in any way. I am just saying they may not have been aware of what happened locally at that time.

      • March 15, 2014 at 2:23 pm

        Alan, we’ve chatted about this and what we’ve discussed stays between you and me.

        All I can say is that I am not blaming the Governing Body for what happened, I am only asking for an honest and full explanation while expressing my concern at some of the details brought to light in the video. There is absolutely nothing unreasonable about that.

        Whether or not the Governing Body were involved directly with the decisions taken by the Philippines disaster committee does not negate the fact that they are ultimately responsible for overseeing all branches around the world, and hence should be able to come up with answers to my not-unreasonable questions. Whether they will or not is of course another matter entirely, but just because a question is not answered does not mean it shouldn’t be asked.

  • March 15, 2014 at 1:33 pm

    @Thrilled You have a right to an opinoun which i respect like many on hear,but I feel there is a major sore subject with the GB and feel the pst which cedars has put up is a valid one and needs addressing,but the GB are accountable forvmany things including peoples lives and also malice decisions which they seem to over rule Gods soverignty which to me is a big step to do,may be they would explain the sex abuse I went through as a young brother in stock port central congregation which was covered up for many years till I took a stand and the guy was df but not with out a battle as I was told not yo take my brother to court. Crap this was pointed out to me from an elder which the GB policy were thrown down my throut,may be they can explain the blood issues more which many have lost there lives but changed policys a few years back not incudeing the mexican and malawie issues and also the blood issues in bulgaria,I,am very an grey at present why many just bow to them no different than the gods of years gone past Malock comes to mind,(ok yes over the top there),false doctrines and many more issues which keep changeing and most of all shunning,yes iam Df but i still love bible principles and god,but I do not bow to men who are blood guilty many times over,I,am not apologiesing for my out burst hear just stating facts,before I went into lectureing n trauma and psycosies I had a break down hence why I wanted to work n this feild while going through my illness i was told by elders demons were attacking me and I have not progrssed welll in the truth because at the time I had PTSD,I now no it was because of trauma which I experianced while. Living in north of Ireland when the troubles were on and also because of the abuse I went through as a young brother used for some new sexual entertainment, I,am now a stronger person thn ever before in mmy lfe because I stood up for what I see was in justice,so i see now the governing body guilty of peoples death and also covering sex abusers,which is no different than the abusets them self,please believe me this makes me angrey but also makes me stronger to carry on fighting for peoples rights so please think twice about the so called loving GB………yes this is a rant but an honest one…

  • March 15, 2014 at 1:36 pm

    In Philippines Witnesses are known as “simple people” because they live simply, contented on what they have. (Mat. 6:22, 23; 1 Tim. 6:8) For me, it is not offensive or racist because that is what really they are – “simple people”.

    • March 15, 2014 at 1:41 pm

      Thrilled, you say…

      “In Philippines Witnesses are known as “simple people” because they live simply, contented on what they have.”

      But AlanV said in his post…

      “John, the simple people in the Philippines believe totally I am sure that Jehovah will protect them.”

      This portrayed filipinos as naive and gullible rather than simply “contented on what they have.”

  • March 15, 2014 at 2:00 pm

    Higher education also help me but my own research in mental health is that I came across many and i mean many Bro@Sis who have suffered mental illness even sadly taking there own lives,I no elders are not Dr,s ect and GB to but it scares the s**t out of me knowing that people in congregstions suffer because of added pressure and fear,and the latter is aa big one,before i go DF I spoke to a bro who was so upset of letting Jehovah down due to a talk which was given,first I said we build our own fear on outside influence,then also there is nothing to fear but fear it self,when we sit back and see how many are manipulated with loaded language and social engeerneering its no wonder the org,GB have such control on jw,s……and why many become -n well mentally …

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