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 JW.org 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.

philippines-typhoon

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 JW.org 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.

 

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Further reading…

Related video…

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

  • March 15, 2014 at 2:02 pm
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    Ment to say un well mentally

  • March 15, 2014 at 3:00 pm
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    John, I didn’t mentioned in my comment that Kingdom Hall in Tacloban and others were allocated as local government shelters.

    In the link I posted earlier, Washington Post said: “Hours before Typhoon Haiyan hit, Philippine authorities moved 800,000 people to sturdy evacuation centers — churches, schools and public buildings. But the brick-and-mortar structures were simply no match for the jet-force winds and massive walls of waves that swept ashore Friday, devastating cities, towns and villages and killing thousands, including many of those who had huddled in government shelters.”

    In the video in jw.org, the branch office in Philippines (not the GB) began coordinating the evacuation and relief efforts before the storm hit. So the Witnesses also prepared to evacuate to safer place, in response to the advised of local authorities. Some witnesses took shelter not only in Kingdom Halls but also in evacuation centers near in their area.

    There was no compulsory advise or arrangements from the local branch that all Witnesses in affected areas should evacuate in Kingdom Halls. Most of the houses of Witnesses in that area are made of light materials and they think that Kingdom Halls would be the safer place so they took shelter there.

    Same as what happened to thousands of people that was evacuated by local government to what they think safe place but also damaged by typhoon. Philippine officials had not anticipated the 6-meter (20-feet) storm surges that swept through Tacloban.

    • March 16, 2014 at 12:49 am
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      “There was no compulsory advise or arrangements from the local branch that all Witnesses in affected areas should evacuate in Kingdom Halls.”

      Thrilled – You’ve just made a strong assertion, please can you back it up with some evidence? Otherwise it just sounds like nothing more than supposition, or dare I say, wish thinking.

      I’m not sure I understand the compulsion being shown by some posters to offer definitive answers on behalf of the governing body. Why not let them answer for themselves? Why the compulsion to try to shield them from serious inquiry?

      You seem to have a willfull disconnect from two salient points: (1) that the philippines branch office, which is under the control of the Governing Body, began organizing an evacuation effort BEFORE the storm hit, and (2) that 60 Witnesses huddled in Tacloban kingdom hall, 22 of whom died as a result, and in the congregation where the typhoon made landfall they were even holding a meeting on the same night.

      Either the branch office was in control of evacuation arrangements, or it wasn’t. If Tacloban WASN’T an allocated storm shelter, then why weren’t Tacloban elders given instructions via their circuit overseer to at least head towards the nearest government-approved shelter? And why weren’t Guiuan elders instructed to cancel their meeting and evacuate the area?

      This and other questions you CANNOT answer but try to answer anyway. The Governing Body has ultimate oversight of everything that goes on at branch level, especially during disasters, and thus owes an explanation as to what happened.

      Why are you and others so averse to finding out the real truth about why these brothers and sisters died, and what could have been done to prevent their deaths? Are their lives so meaningless to you? Is this your idea of agape?

      • March 16, 2014 at 9:15 am
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        John – before I will answer your questions, you wrote in the article above referring to what Rodnie Barcenas says :

        “ “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.”

        I’m thinking where did you get the word “separate”? I played the video many times and I haven’t heard the word “separate” from Rodnie. Maybe because of his “broken English” you didn’t understand what he really meant. I played the video to my English speaking colleagues (American) and they recognized it as “safer place” not “separate place”. May you please listen to what he said again and correct us if we are wrong?

        • March 16, 2014 at 9:54 am
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          No, I heard seperate.

          But I’m not sure what point you’re getting at. Whether he said “seperate” or “safer” it was still a vague answer that didn’t give any clue as to precisely where people were supposed to be evacuated.

          At the risk of sounding like a broken record, why are you against me asking such simple questions of the governing body, and why would you prefer the details of what happened in this disaster, which killed up to 43 of your spiritual brothers, to remain cloaked in mystery?

          • March 16, 2014 at 11:06 am
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            Hi, the email on the “contact us” page will be fine. Thanks!

  • March 15, 2014 at 4:24 pm
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    Let’s just get to the point on the whole concept of the Governing body and that is its Criminal what they do and profess to teach in areas, if it was in Court they would be guilty as charged on many things and they no that but through mind control manipilation by useing or should I say hideng behind scriptures and useing tactics no diffrent than draconian propaganda leaders of old people will still quither with fear……like I said its criminal actions they have indoctrinate not loving or caring, criminal ,until people see that it will allways be based on false faith and mystical happenings to keep the sheeple happy……

  • March 15, 2014 at 6:59 pm
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    Thank you for the forum and the voice. ( I was going to put a kiss after that comment but I think thanks is enough:-) I enjoy the objectivity & it’s so nice to be free:-)
    Cheers lad:-)

  • March 16, 2014 at 1:41 am
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    Just off to have a look at the jw.org forum

  • March 16, 2014 at 9:32 am
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    Just listened and I heard separate – not safer

    • March 16, 2014 at 10:54 am
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      Hi Fading Brother – yes, if you could pass on my email address to your friend so I can get in contact, that would be great.

  • March 16, 2014 at 11:46 am
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    Thank you for your answer John and with that I have nothing more to say. But allow me please to post my last words here.

    As we all know, typhoon Haiyan was considered by some to be among the strongest such storms to make landfall — struck the Philippines on November 8. Its powerful winds and enormous storm surge smashed buildings, destroyed roads and caused the death of more than 6,000 people including 43 of our beloved fellow-Witnesses.

    If the GB owes an explanation to what happened to 43 Witnesses in PH, who will owe an explanation to 6,000 more people who also lost their lives in that typhoon? The government? The Catholic Church? In same case, who owes an explanation to the death of 42 Mormons who also killed by that typhoon? ( http://www.ldschurchnews.com/articles/64457/Response-to-Typhoon-Haiyan-by-the-numbers.html ) The leadership of their church?

    Brothers and sisters took shelter in KH in Guiuan felt that they are more safer in that place so they decided not to leave after the meeting. It was there deccision to stay there while others went to houses of other sisters. Same with the brothers in Tanauan Cong. that took shelter in their KH felt that they are more safer there. All of them who took shelter in both KH survived.

    But unlike in Tacloban cong. where we saw in the video that the KH was badly damaged, 22 JW’s died. Why? As we saw in the news, Tacloban was the most hard-hit area. That’s why even international news agency focusing only in Tacloban. Local authorities admitted that even in there designated shelters, evacuees are not safe anymore. They didn’t anticipated the storm surge that wiped the whole city despite of their preparedness.

    Thank you John for allowing me here. Keep safe. . .

    • March 16, 2014 at 12:13 pm
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      Thrilled – I will continue to allow you to post here so long as you refrain from posting misleading statements based on pure supposition, such as this…

      “Brothers and sisters took shelter in KH in Guiuan felt that they are more safer in that place so they decided not to leave after the meeting. It was there deccision to stay there while others went to houses of other sisters. Same with the brothers in Tanauan Cong. that took shelter in their KH felt that they are more safer there. All of them who took shelter in both KH survived.”

      And how do you know this? Have you interviewed the brothers and sisters in Guiuan to find out why they were at the kingdom hall that day? Have you personally spoken to the survivors in the Tanauan congregation who are lucky to be alive despite their kingdom hall being physically relocated by the typhoon? I suspect you haven’t. Therefore your above statement is pure supposition and guesswork and gets us precisely nowhere.

      Though the mortality percentages in my article are by no means watertight, they at least suggest that JW Filipinos were FOUR TIMES more likely to perish when Haiyan hit than their non-JW compatriots. All I want to know is – why is that? But you are seemingly completely disinterested in finding meaningful answers as to why your spiritual brothers and sisters perished. Protecting Watchtower and the Governing Body from questioning or free inquiry is more important to you than learning lessons from this disaster and making sure any mistakes aren’t repeated.

      You may be indifferent to the lives lost, but I am not. And I will not stop asking what happened even if my questions are met with stony silence from your spiritual overlords.

      • March 18, 2015 at 1:17 pm
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        Isn’t that what you (Ceder) are doing? Instead of sitting behind your computer trying to discourage other why don’t you do something that can really help people, instead of tearing down other. It is easy to point out what you think other have done wrong when you do nothing! I hope you take this in the right way.

        • January 6, 2016 at 1:16 pm
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          wow I can see how the truth hurts. Mr cedar is right….if god allowed rights season to print the bible as told by gb ……..why he didn’t let the brothers leave to safe grounds..isn’t the organization spirit directed?

  • March 16, 2014 at 1:55 pm
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    This is because the rank and file are now so intimidated they are afraid to protest for fear of being shunned and/or disfellowed.

    It’s a totally unacceptable situation crying out for change!

    • March 17, 2014 at 1:42 am
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      Absolutely, taking away the free will that God gave to mankind……..and that’s evil!

  • March 17, 2014 at 3:22 am
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    Why can people not see the GB for what they really are,and yet the Watchtower (GB)have the cheek to call others about false teachings and corruption in other religiouns,on JW.ORG the study artical for yesterdays meeting was going on about “100 years of kingdom rule how does it effect you”I feel big tie its took away from how its effected many world wide as in situations like this one,but paragraph 11 of this artical asked the question how have kingdom proclaimers been able to endure in spirit opposition? Thing is there was a foot note part of this question to check a 1998 wachtower on legal victories in various countrys for the organizatio,I feel there putting the real legal issues and malice cases aside as such as the abuse ones and,the corruption in the congregations on selling kingdom halls and many more which the org have been charged for,also this artical totaly twists doctrines again in paragraph 6,but the whole concept of the total of the study artical and i repeat this is “100 YEARS OF KINGDOM RULE HOW DOES IT EFFECT YOU”my personal reply is lies,emotional control,lack of compassion for others,blood guilty,aiding and a betting family break ups with shunning,indoctrinateing false teachings,and many more which I feel most on hear can add,but through all this surley the GB need to give a straight forward explanation as put by @fading brother who challenges them on there wrong doing!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • March 17, 2014 at 3:58 am
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    The weakness of belief or system of beliefs is intolerance and rigidity. Education, tolerance, love and respect is the goal.

  • March 17, 2014 at 4:06 am
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    Cedars, another fine article, my friend.

    Your humanity and compassion are evident in this and in all your articles.

    I, too, grieve for the potentially unnecessary deaths in this case. I hope that the facts will be revealed.

    This is where the “go bag” could have actually been of benefit! Did the witness folks in the Philippines have these?

    Can we contact the Philippine government to find out exactly what the people were advised to do?

    I can see that this terrible event has really affected you. Time and again you demonstrate that you are a decent human being. I cannot think of a higher compliment than that.

    Peace be with you

    Excelsior!

  • March 17, 2014 at 4:09 am
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    :-) repetition for emphasis. Regarding the GB. ‘The lunatics have taken over the asylum’.

  • March 17, 2014 at 4:11 am
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    Apologies. It’s a song.

  • March 17, 2014 at 4:34 am
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    Just running up a hill with Kate Bush.

  • March 17, 2014 at 5:48 am
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    Being authoritarian never solved anything.

  • March 18, 2014 at 12:40 am
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    Thanks for making this video Cedars. It was truly a very tragic event for the families involved. There will definitely be no further explanation or comments from the GB in any way. As far as they are concerned this matter is closed. They answer basically to no one. I find it interesting as a side note that a member of the GB (Sanderson) was available to be showcased and offer some needed encouragement. On the other hand when the Candace Conti trial was before a jury, for several weeks it was noted by her attorney none of the GB bothered to attend. Here were her three elders being interrogated and even made to look foolish, while they were just following WTS orders. Nevertheless none of the ones who gave those orders could find the time to attend and offer these brothers a warm smile and some moral support. I’m not surprised.
    You have a very informative website. Thanks for all your hard work.

    • March 18, 2014 at 2:16 am
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      Bald eagle the GB have puffed themselves up with their own importance, despite The biblical warnings of such follies.

      Do not let anyone who delights in false humility and the worship of angels disqualify you. Such a person also goes into great detail about what they have seen; they are puffed up with idle notions by their unspiritual mind.
      Colossians 2:18

      • March 18, 2014 at 2:33 am
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        Carol, I am sure bald eagle agrees with you. Most ex JWs know the gov body are puffed up with pride and love the power they have over the sheep. But it is a fact that they do not get involved in every day matters. They never ever provide answers to anyone who questions them.
        They know if they keep quiet the problem will soon go away. Our job is to make sure witnesses and potential witnesses are aware of the way they work, and Cedars blogs I am sure are helping many people see the light.

  • March 21, 2014 at 12:28 pm
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    The true reason why the WT.org is against education is they are part of the proven New World Order! Their freemasonry connections can be seen in C T Russells speeches in masons halls, early magazine symbolisms and overall “Do as we say, not as we do” approach. They want ‘dumbed down’ obedient slaves to be masters over. Hence, their translation title,’New World’; Rather than the more appropiate biblical term, ‘New Earth’ translation! Jesus warned that False prophets would be the first of his ‘signs’ of his coming! These modern cults, like so, all have roots starting with William Miller, an active freemason (from the jesuit order)! Do your own research. Known better as the “God Delusion” – 2nd Thesselonians 2:11

  • March 22, 2014 at 1:41 pm
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    If only the GB visitor had come aboard a chartered 747 filled with food, clothes, temporary housing. I counted 153 appeals to give alms to the poor in the Bible, we are, our brothers keeper. We do have the responsibility to care for the temporal needs of others in peril. Some do and some don’t.
    Aid to Victims of the Philippine Typhoon

    The mGive Foundation

    UNICEF is supporting relief efforts by helping displaced families find access to shelter, clean water, food and vaccines and airlifting $1.3 million of additional supplies from its Copenhagen warehouse. 

    The Philippine Red Cross 

    The American Red Cross 

    The World Food Programme is mobilizing 40 metric tons of high-energy biscuits and additional relief 

    CARE 

    Oxfam has emergency responders on the ground to assist with relief support. 
    International Medical Corps is also on the ground to help assess damage 

    ChildFund International is distributing clean water, food, blankets and other emergency aid items. 

    Doctors Without Borders has had 15 members of an emergency team in Cebu since Saturday. The organization is sending more staff to assist with medical and psychological treatment as well as items such as medical kits, vaccines and hygiene kits over the next few days. 

    The International Rescue Committee has also dispatched a team of aid workers to assist in assessing the damage and providing access to clean water and hygiene and sanitation needs. 

    Other Religious Organizations making major contributions-$89 million total
    Mennonite Central Committee
    LDS Humanitarian Services
    Catholic Charities
    Many other congregations and individuals donating

    US Govt
    Initial $100,000 for water and sanitation; Troops, emergency respondents, transportation and equipment + $20 million , Aircraft carrier and ships for rescue operations. $20 million 
     

  • March 24, 2014 at 9:20 am
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    jw.org posted a young people ask article on March 24, 2104, “How Can I Deal With My Mistakes?”
    Three reasons for owning up to your mistakes are given:
    1. Because it’s the right thing to do.
    2. Because people are more likely to forgive those who admit their mistakes.
    and
    3. More important, because it pleases Jehovah God.

    Oh, if only the Governing Body followed their own advice!!

  • March 26, 2014 at 2:27 pm
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    Only in Jehovah’s Organization…. well not really, the propaganda is in other organizations too(LDS).

    I remember as a kid, come snow storm, black ice, or what have you , we would go to the Kingdom Hall. Later on they started getting some common sense and recommending people stay home and then started canceling meetings. My ‘guess’ would be it was a mixture of superstitious protection and it was one of the only buildings consider strong enough in their area. It seems common sense that they should have been told and gone to higher ground and strong buildings. They probably had been through a few typhoons in the past, I’d guess they monumentally misjudged, didn’t take it seriously enough, and/or ignored how strong it was. If they were indeed told to go to a building that was not structurally sound enough and not in a considered safe/zone area while other alternatives were available they should indeed get an official apology.

  • April 10, 2014 at 4:32 pm
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    GEE a whole handshake! I guess his understanding of 1st Cor 13 is a little different than those of all the other “charities” that just added their food, temporary housing, clothes, medicine, to the warehouses where the supplies were then distributed by the army, Red Cross, and government to those in need with little thought to sharing the same faith or no faith with those who gave. You care for the temporal needs of your fellow man, THEN preach.

  • April 10, 2014 at 4:35 pm
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    Great comment! Christianity using the Kim (North Korea) family methods.

  • October 14, 2014 at 10:06 am
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    I think this is a good opportunity to realize why the organization has become increasingly more focused on so called “disaster preparedness” in recent years.
    It my opinion it serves a double purpose, first by having some type of legitimate focus on disasters rather than just a sign of the last days, they have a forum for propaganda without having to make it a “bible lesson” in this way it keeps people focused on the negative things in the world, making them believe this old system must come to an end through Armageddon.
    Second they already know they are dealing with a liability here.
    Basically if you are hosting events you have a responsibility to keep your guests safe. Or at least make reasonable attempts to do so. While I do not know exactly what went on in this case I am well aware of the fact that many witnesses have been seriously injured or even killed trying to attend meetings or during meetings that were scheduled despite severe weather or other events. Under normal circumstances most people would undoubtedly cancel the event or make the reasonable decision to not go, but since the regularity with which you attend meetings has a direct bearing on how faithful you are viewed in the congregation by the leaders many will force themselves to go even if its not “easy” to do so.
    Also there is a subculture of thought within the JWs that the Kingdom Hall does have at least a measure of Gods divine protection. There is no absolute way to know if the kingdom hall will be destroyed or not until after the event has happened most JWs would prefer to be in a meeting or in the kingdom hall during these events thinking that it might improve their odds of survival. And if they still die at least they died in a “holy place.” How many yearbook examples have you read of brother and sisters in Africa crossing Crocodile infested rivers or sacrificing a whole years work or other risks such as riots or outright persecution just to make it to a meeting. They want you to risk something to go to their meetings, if your willing to risk it there you will risk more, maybe your life savings, education, friends, family, job – on and on….. Many I heard say when a severe storms hit that was our Crocodile river we had to cross or 2 day walk with no food or water to get a meeting, different challenges for different cultures and circumstances.
    Still though the truth is despite the efforts the Org has made to try and focus on the disaster preparedness it doesn’t change the fact that in many cases they fail to follow Caesars law when such severe storm warnings are given, they choose their own evacuation route or to simply leave it in “Jehovah’s hands.”
    Many people in the Org just don’t realize how poorly equipped the Org is to deal with emergencies, and rather then equipping themselves and making their own decisions about how best to protect themselves they give over that freedom and responsibility to the “brothers.”

  • November 6, 2014 at 5:15 am
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    What I don’t understand is if you people do not believe the GB is the ‘slave’ class mentioned in the scriptures, or that even JW is the wrong religion totally: – Why not move on & get on with your life & either seek the correct religion (if there is one) or live your life to the full – If you don’t like golfing you don’t keep hanging around gold courses for example? Do you? The amount of sites filled with bitter people (who frankly ought to get a life) if anything would point me to the fact that JW is probably the correct ‘religion’, based on how people treated Jesus & the apostles etc. If you really feel JW’s are wrong go elsewhere, but people don’t they hang around the edges – One thing is for certain in the 55 years I have lived in the UK the only people ever to talk to me about God’s kingdom mentioned in the Lords Prayer (& Jesus command in Matt 24:14) are JW’s, no other religion & or person has ever done that ever! No one has tried to help me (a lost sheep), not even the Mormons, but JW’s call regularly – Think about it? :-)

    • November 6, 2014 at 5:39 am
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      The reason ex JWs still are interested in the religion is very simple. Many of us have family that are trapped in it, and many of them are ruining their life because of it. Do you think we should just stand by and lust let them get on with it. If we did not care for them that would be our attitude. But we do care for them, and also do not want others to make the same mistakes as we did. JWs call on people to grow their organisation. Once baptised you agree to obey all that you are told, and if you later change your mind and leave, you may well never have your family and friends speak to you again. That is the sort of religion you are defending.

    • November 6, 2014 at 5:44 am
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      Nazism was wrong, Will T. Does tha mean that those who know the horrors of Nazism should have ignored its horrors?

      Nazis believed that a perfect society needed purging of its vermin, like Jews, gypsies, cripples, the mentally ill and homosexuals. A massive war and extermination machine was devised to further those aims.

      JWs, like Nazis, believe society needs a purge of its vermin. For JWs, all non JWs are vermin deserving an imminent Armageddon death penalty. Granted they do not need a war machine or gas chambers. Their fantasy Jehovah monster is their hitman.

      At heart the JW theology is as foul and obscene as Nazism. Sure their holocaust is but a perverse fantasy, but in the 135 year wait for this mega slaughter, what have the JWs ‘achieved’? Unnecessary nightmares about Armageddon. Paedophile protection through the 2 witness rule. Split families through shunning. Stunted lives through the frowning on education once the ability to read WT lit. and parrot its contents has been achieved. Deaths through the blood transfusion ban. Social isolation through the ban on festivals like Christmas and birthdays.

      Like Nazism, JWdom is a blight on a civilised society. Its evils need to be exposed and the Jehovah’s Witness organisation needs to be transformed or eliminated.

      I trust this answers your question, Will T

      • January 6, 2016 at 3:41 am
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        Excellent response!

    • November 6, 2014 at 6:59 am
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      I trust, Will T., that now you have read the reasons why ex JWs continue to campaign to expose the organisation and, hopefully to rescue those trapped within, you understand why we do not simply ‘move on’.

      As your understanding grows of what lies behind those neatly dressed, polite door knockers with their Biblical quotes, you may feel motivated to join us and warn others not to get involved.

      The JW PR machine, in the internet age, is steadily breaking down. I hope you will join us in speeding its destruction. Best wishes.

  • November 6, 2014 at 6:13 am
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    Will T,

    Hello and welcome to JW Survey.

    I was one of those who got out and lived my life to the full. I was disfellowshipped 20 years ago.

    Why have I returned? It’s very simple. The Jehovah’s Witness religion is a cult, and it has damaged people that I love.

    Do you know the facts about the child abuse cover ups in this religion? Do your research, sir.

    Do you know the facts about the shunning policy in this religion? Do your research, sir.

    Do you know about the blood issue? Etc etc etc.

    This is not a case of bitterness. I love JWs. I want little children and young people to be as safe as possible, don’t you?

    I want women to be treated with dignity and power over their lives, don’t you?

    Please, this “you are bitter people, why don’t you move on” trope is getting very old. It is not bitterness that motivates me. I came back to the ex JW community because I found out about the child abuse cover ups. The domestic abuse cover ups, and the cruel shunning that I have experienced personally.

    Tell me, is it really so surprising that good hearted people would want to help the rank and file to understand that their children are in danger?

    Do you really see this concern as persecution? Do you really believe that an organisation that is “persecuted” for child abuse cover ups is proven to be the true religion BECAUSE of the fury these cover ups cause?

    Please, do your research and come and help us to improve the lives of the JWs you admire.

    Peace be with you,

    Excelsior!

  • November 6, 2014 at 6:24 am
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    Will, all you are to those people (I know because I believed for 50 years) is hours on their time sheet. You have no idea what their real agenda is. They don’t even know what they are involved in. It’s a horrific cult that once you are baptized, you can’t escape it. They are brainwashed.

  • November 6, 2014 at 9:17 am
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    @ Will T.

    I thought about your question and I wanted to give you a more in depth answer than my first comment as to why I wanted to come on to this web site and expose the Watchtower.

    I started studying in 1964 and was baptized in 1966 at the age of 19. At that time there were no opposing views as to whether or not the Watchtower was telling the “truth” or not and so since I didn’t know much about the Bible and these people were the only ones who bothered to teach me about the Bible, just as you said they do with you, I took their word for it that they were really the only real “truth” since it seemed that they were the only ones preaching the Bible as Mathew 24:14 says. When I would see scriptures that clearly the Watchtower was doing that the Bible says plainly that it was wrong to do, like setting dates for the “end”, I kept pushing that to the back of my mind and kept slogging on, thinking that Armageddon was coming any minute and I must preach the word to warn the “wicked” so that they didn’t die and I wouldn’t die at Armageddon, unless I got out there and preached. I believed that the God of the Bible was talking through the Watchtower Organization, just as the 8 million active Jehovah’s Witnesses believe right now.

    The only book that talked against the Watchtower that I can remember hearing about was called “Thirty Years a Watchtower Slave” and it was talked about like it was Satan himself that wrote that book, so I didn’t even question it, whether this guy by the name of Snell was telling the truth about the “truth” or not. I just took everybody’s word for it that he was a liar and I kept slogging on.

    Now, I am 68 years old and my life is in my old age now and I can’t go back and live it over again. I wished more than anything that I had had even 1/4th the information back then that is out today, BEFORE I got involved with the Witnesses, because there is no way I would have wasted my one and only life supporting it, had I known then what I know now. Now there are dozens of books exposing the Watchtower lies and that is a good thing.

    People should be able to see the “other” side of the Watchtower before getting involved in it. Once you are baptized into it, you are barred from looking at the other side. They are forbidden to even examine their own history and test whether “apostates” are lying or not. They just have to take the Watchtower’s word for it that “apostates” are lying to them.

    Since you are not one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, you are free to examine those books for yourself to see whether these people are telling the truth about the Watchtower or not before becoming deeply involved with them. Once you let them in and begin a Bible study with them, it’s like a spider web that you can’t get out of.

    The Witnesses that come to your door are deceived deceivers. They are not allowed to take any other literature that might question the validity of the Watchtower so they don’t know that they are being deceived.

  • November 16, 2014 at 9:08 pm
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    Come on, John…
    a quick scan of your link to Wiki on the typhoon leads me to believe that you are using a tragedy involving widespread loss of life to further advance your proposition regarding the WTB&TS and to prod your cattle
    to where you want them to go…
    For example, from your comments, ” 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.” the obvious implication is incompetence, if not outright disregard for the lives of fellow witnesses by their shepherds. I know this is the agenda you are promoting, fair enough, but let’s look a little closer at your figures, ok?
    the Eastern Visayas – facing the Pacific Ocean and the typhoon sustained the bulk of the damage and deaths. the same peninsula (surrounded by water – where were they supposed to go, especially since the reports said that up to 90% of every structure was damaged if not completely flattened by the storm surge? ) where the 3 Kingdom Halls were located and 43 witnesses lost their lives ( as “thrilled points out – 42 Mormons lost their lives as well, but another Crusade awaits you).
    Eastern Visayas (VIII) 5,877 26,186 1,005
    the vast majority of the 6200 estimated dead were from the eastern Visayas ( if you include the 295 from the Western Visayas, it makes up the bulk of those who perished), so to use the entire population of the Phillipines as your starting point is…hmmm…misleading.
    the 2010 census of Eastern Visayas (from your link – Wikipedia ) is ( 2010 – 4,101,322 ), so the mortality rate ( per 1,000 population) for this typhoon in the Eastern Visayas is 4.101 %, not 0.0063%. I was not able to find a corresponding figure for the number of Witnesses in the Eastern Visayas, but if we extrapolate your numbers of “97,701,745 for overall population and “185,000 for witnesses we get 1 witness to 528 filipinos…Thus this ratio would approximate 7,767 witnesses in the Eastern Visayas. If we take 43 witnesses dead to the 5877 dead in the Eastern Visayas, we get 1 witness to 136 filipinos. The ratio of witnesses 7,767 in the Eastern Visayas to the dead, 5877 is 1.32…hmmm
    As excelsior would say, “peace be with you”

  • November 17, 2014 at 2:01 am
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    @Richard, thank you for drawing my attention to John’s video. I watched it again and I have even more disgust for the Society than I did an hour ago.

  • November 17, 2014 at 5:28 am
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    Richard,

    The simple fact remains that many JWs were attending a meeting on the night of the landfall! Tell me, is that something to be proud of? Why didn’t the WTBTS tell them to get to safer ground?

    The WTBTS issued a sickening PR video about this tragedy. Have you seen it, Richard? Tell me, do you think that throwing food away and keeping bible lit. in the fridge instead is a good witness? Why did they feel they had to do this? It is madness!

    Facts and figures can be bandied around ad nauseum, Richard. The fact remains that the WTBTS let down the JWs in the area.

    Peace be with you,

    Excelsior!

  • March 18, 2015 at 3:09 pm
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    The fact is that some witnesses are so dedicated that they will not miss a meeting come hail or shine or even swine flu. They will go even when they’re sick with a deadly virus. I know of a couple of people that went to the meetings & conventions knowing that they had swine flu!!! I got upset with a friend who did & she tried to tell me that she was past the contagious stage while coughing & spluttering on everyone around her. They seem to believe that it is a true test of loyalty. After the convention, hundreds where sick with the flu after each convention when swine flu was going around. My husband & I both fell ill & he said he had never been so sick in his life. We both had to go on 2 courses of antibiotics to recover from it. My friend was so ill from it, she ended up with serious pneumonia that nearly killed her. Her doctor had to put her on steroids to bring the inflammation down in her lungs. It took her 12 months to recover from it. The Authorities were so concerned about it they were considering banning large gatherings incase it caused an epidemic. It made everyone who fell ill quite angry at those that went spreading their germs.

    Although, we haven’t had an extreme weather event like that yet in our area, we had storm cells that would hit with 150km plus winds in my area on a meeting night & guess what the die-hards would still be there, running into the kh with there umbrellas turning inside out etc. So I’m not surprised that they still held a meeting in the Philippines knowing that this severe storm was coming.

    • March 18, 2015 at 8:33 pm
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      “The fact is that some witnesses are so dedicated that they will not miss a meeting come hail or shine or even swine flu.”

      You’re being kind when you use the word “dedicated”, Grace. I’m not so charitable and would have used “fanatical” instead (ha ha). It’s all about ‘show’; they need to be seen doing the stalwart thing. I wonder how many extra brownie points they thought they were going to accumulate?

    • March 19, 2015 at 5:43 am
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      Ehm, the flu is a virus, so taking antibiotics is useless and may even be counterproductive? Your general point is well taken though. Importance of the meetings is stressed so much that missing one might be missing “directions from Jehovah about Armageddon”. Nobody would even dare be so disrespectful to consider “minor” inflammations or public health to be more important?

  • April 22, 2015 at 1:03 pm
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    I went to a hall when a hurricane was coming my way once. It was my decision cause I’d rather be with others than be alone and they had some preparations (i.e. water, radio) and perhaps could give us some directions in case we couldn’t be reached by phone. Spending so much time picking the apart

  • April 22, 2015 at 2:07 pm
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    Wow I did not mean to post the 1:03 one – don’t know how that happened because I had not hit POST. I don’t wish to be critical to anyone. Please strike it and use my latest 5:05 p.m. one. Thank you.

  • April 22, 2015 at 2:26 pm
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    I AM TRYING TO POST THIS AS I DID NOT MEAN TO POST THE EARLIER ONE. I wished to share my perspective as a JW for 50 years (on and off). I once lived near the ocean and there was a severe hurricane warning. The last one had shattered my windows and knocked out the glass into my house onto my relative’s back. So when I received the call that we could come to the Hall if we wanted, I was glad. I didn’t think I would receive any special protection there, but knew it was safer than my home and they were more equipped (i.e., water supplies, flashlights, radio, cars, the company of others and strength in numbers). I was still afraid, but not nearly as I had been at home. There was someone not a JW who came and I saw them welcomed. I appreciate the efforts of the brother who do organizing for us which is often. They have to contact others to get all needed information and map out a plan of agreement and start the process of contacting us. They do this without any financial gain and special recognition or praise (although I have seen that as they are imperfect humans like the rest of us, but a rarity). I was moved by Sheryl’s story and felt it was to show how although losing her house and most of her family, she still received help and had a strong hope for the future – most people of all religions I meet have a hope to see their relatives again (although theirs is a heavenly hope). Although devastating to Sheryl, she does not have to feel she has no reason to live and she can get encouragement when she does feel down. Her assistance is much more than financial and she does not have be depressed at all times because God is the hearer of prayer. Thank you for including her full name as I found this searching for her because I wished to send her gifts as I am sure others have and many who are not JWs have sent contributions and gifts to the people of the Philippines affected by this devastating occurence.

    • April 22, 2015 at 5:04 pm
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      @Karen, I would like to share my perspective with you as also another 50 year baptized Witness. For all those years, I also felt a close part of the congregation and felt close to all the brothers and sisters at the Kingdom Hall and in other halls where I have lots of Witness friends and family and then about a year ago I had something happen to me where I had a real crisis of faith.

      In order to find some comfort which I would never get from anybody at the Hall because of confidentiality, I went on line and found JW facts and JW Struggle and jw Survey etc. and that began some really serious doubts for me as far as whether the JW faith was the “truth” or not.

      I read Ray Franz’s books and I missed of lot of meetings for a couple of months to regroup and to think, for once in my life about my religion. In the meantime, even though I had missed meetings for about 2 months, I was still calling in to the meetings and being counted as attending.

      Then two of the elders met with me and I brought up a lot of my doubts and than the next week, the password had changed for calling in to the meetings. When I emailed the brother in charge of that for the new password, he told me that I wasn’t sick and he wasn’t going to give me the password.

      It’s when something like that happens to you, is when you realize that all the “love” that you thought that you were getting at the Kingdom hall, dissolves into nothingness.

      There is no real love in any Kingdom Hall, once you start to question.

  • May 11, 2015 at 1:04 am
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    I know that this is pretty late. Since this is my third day browsing exjw sites.

    One of the elders in my congregation is a member of the Philippine Branch Committee. My father was Ministerial Servant at the time, and he was just “promoted” as an elder last February. Since our congregation is “privileged to be so close to the f***king Bethel family”, delivered relief efforts. Rations, clothing, medicine, etc.

    So, my father goes, plus another elder, to deliver. They didn’t go to Tacloban, rather to the neighbouring province, Samar.

    What the video didn’t say: everything was far from organised. People were eating instant noodles, but there was no rationing system to feed everyone. Clothes hung in makeshift lines, where the people slept wasn’t clean, and the people responsible for managing the donations were incompetent.

    Thousands of JWs were removed from homes. Worse was that they insulted the other organisations that volunteered to rescue and assist the other victims.

    http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/525565/mob-rule-in-tacloban-city.

  • August 15, 2015 at 4:29 am
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    I was there, and most of you who whine about Jehovah’s People know nothing about them. They are the fruit of the earth. My family was protected by them. I lived with them and they accepted me with love, food, clothing, and trust. I seen how the governments put together things…just dont tell me what happened in Tanauan and Tac…I was there.

    • August 15, 2015 at 4:42 am
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      Hi Fred, we do not ‘whine’ about them, we tell you our experiences as ex JWs. I am glad you were helped. But try and remember that any help that is given is given with the hope that you will become one of them. They write that in their publications. They do not generally do charity work with the idea of just helping the community in a material way. Any help they give non witnesses is with the idea that you will be so impressed with them that you will become a witness.

    • August 15, 2015 at 7:49 am
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      To add to Alanv’s comment. If you read the comments here, you will see that nobody whines about JW’s. We were all JW’s and some who comment here, still are JW’s. Either we were JW’s or have family and friends who are still JW’s. We know that most JW’s are the salt of the earth and are doing the best that they can with what they have to help bring people into the “truth” because they fear that Armageddon is coming any minute and they don’t want to be killed at Armageddon for doing all they can to save the world. We all know that and are sympathetic with them. They don’t get paid a penny for what they do and they sacrifice their lives for the Organization. We were all there and did that.

      The pity is that they working for an organization (religion) that is based on lies. We sacrificed our lives for lies. That is what we are here for. We want to help expose the lies so that nobody else has to sacrifice their one and only precious life for an organization that is out to promote itself and build up it’s real estate empire on the backs of innocent victims.

  • September 15, 2015 at 9:12 pm
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    Hi there,

    I am Filipino. I experienced the wrath of super typhoon Haiyan or super typhoon Yolanda as we call here in Philippines.

    I played many times the video and Bro. Barcenas said “safer place” and not “separate place”. His text was concurrent to local government advice to evacuate to safer places like school and church. The storm surge was not really expected to be that so strong.

    The writer heard “separate place” because, I assume, he is not used to Filipino English accent.

    I believe the GB has no liability on what happened in Tacloban. To my opinion, the writer appears to have negative motive against the GB or the organization. It seems thathe overanalyzed the video to come up with negative article against the GB.

    Goo day.

  • October 15, 2015 at 9:29 am
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    Premeditated mass murder

  • October 15, 2015 at 5:41 pm
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    What else can we say? Not one of us was there, But as we know the gb will do anything to protect that image. he cares nothing about the publishers. And for those jerks to call me mentally diseased I resent that. Who the heck do they think they are?Just because they are bent over and old and childish. Every body else is dirt under their feet. I am mad that those clowns call me mental diseased. I have got to hate them like they hate me.

  • December 30, 2015 at 4:45 pm
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    You made some decent points there. I checked on the web for additional
    information about the issue and found most people will go
    along with your views on this site.

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