While Jehovah’s Witnesses continue to represent themselves as a charitable religion, their latest Watchtower magazine strongly reminds its followers that any assistance given to refugees be limited to Witnesses only, and that non-Jehovah’s Witnesses be given no material support.
As stated by the May 2017 Watchtower, page 7:
“The best way to [help suffering people] is by sharing the good news with them. “It is important to make clear right away that we are Jehovah’s Witnesses and that our primary mission is to help them spiritually, not materially,” notes an elder who has helped many refugees. “Otherwise, some may associate with us only for personal advantage.” [bold ours]
Meanwhile, faith-based groups from around the world, together with numerous governments, have facilitated meaningful assistance for victims of civil war and other conflicts, providing such persons with food, clothing and shelter, and doing so without expectations of religious conversion or reimbursement. These very organizations are the ones which Jehovah’s Witnesses declare are doomed for complete destruction during the impending apocalypse of Armageddon.
It is of interest that the Watchtower article cited above follows the story of a refugee from Burundi named Lije, who fled civil war in his country and found himself in a Malawian refugee camp. The article stated:
“Most of Lije’s family eventually spent years in United Nations refugee camps.”
According to Jehovah’s Witnesses, the United Nations is a Satanic organization that is depicted in the book of Revelation as the scarlet-colored wild beast with seven heads and ten horns, which dishonors God and will very soon be completely destroyed. Clearly this is bad news for those refugees like Lije, whose family was cared for by this evil organization. The Watchtower described this UN refugee sanctuary by saying:
Yet, they were not safe there. Lije, now a circuit overseer, comments: “Most people had no work. They gossiped, drank, gambled, stole, and were immoral.”
While refugee camps can hardly be expected to be luxurious Club-Med style resorts, the portrayal of such places as an immoral den of alcohol and gambling seems disrespectfully dismissive of such humanitarian missions.
Witnesses [only] Helping Witnesses
Given the insular nature of Jehovah’s Witnesses, it is no surprise that their expectation of lending a meaningful helping hand to refugees is strictly limited to those who are baptized Witnesses in “good standing” within the Witness organization. Good standing means that the person is not breaking any doctrinal rules, obeys the elders, and remits a monthly count of hours spent in the public preaching activity, including knocking on doors and tending to public literature display carts. If such conditions are met, a Witness may be permitted to give or receive assistance to a JW refugee. These instructions are laid out rather clearly in the latest Watchtower.
Strict procedures put in place by Watchtower’s Governing Body guarantee that aid will only be extended to a Jehovah’s Witness who is approved, and not attempting to impersonate or misrepresent his “standing” in the organization. As mentioned in the Watchtower article, the term “basic needs” is immediately followed by a footnote (see above) which reminds congregation elders that their internal branch-to-branch communications protocol must be followed to decide if the refugee is in fact an approved baptized Witness. Once contacted, the branch from which the refugee is fleeing attempts to reach the person’s original congregation elders, where they maintain his “publisher record card” – a private document kept by every congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses in the world. This document contains extensive personal information, including the person’s date of baptism and recent records of public ministry activity.
If the jw.org elder-to-branch communication system breaks down, elders are instructed to ask “discreet questions” about the refugee in a covert manner, to establish the refugee’s “spiritual condition.” The net result of this entire procedure is to guarantee that assistance is provided ONLY to those who are genuine, door-knocking, watchtower-studying, rule-obeying Jehovah’s Witnesses. If you are not, no charity for you.
Editors Note: In referring to refugee “aid” or “assistance” I would like to clarify that this help comes from individual Jehovah’s Witnesses and NOT the organization itself or any of its congregations.
Watchtower Imposes Harsh Limits on JW Refugees
As if it were not difficult enough for Jehovah’s Witness refugees to assimilate into another culture, they are warned against accepting jobs which might interfere with Witness meetings. The same July Watchtower says:
“Further, authorities have at times made it difficult for our brothers who are refugees to contact the congregation. Some agencies have threatened to cut off assistance or deny our brothers asylum if they refuse to accept employment that requires them to miss meetings. Frightened and vulnerable, a few brothers have given in to such pressures. Therefore, it is urgent to meet our refugee brothers as soon as possible after their arrival. [Bold ours] – Watchtower May 2017, study edition, page 5
Loyalty to Watchtower’s indoctrination meetings is paramount. Yet the JW organization takes matters one step further by reminding their followers that they should not associate with their own blood relatives, or other non-Witness refugees who would normally lend support and aid. Watchtower continues:
“Many refugees have been torn away from their tight-knit extended families, communities, and congregations. They need to sense Jehovah’s love and compassion among their fellow Christians. Otherwise, they may be drawn to unbelieving relatives or compatriots who can relate to their culture and experiences.” [Bold ours] – Watchtower May 2017, study edition, page 6
Job restrictions, isolation from family, isolation from fellow compatriots; Is this organization running a charity, or a cult?
Jehovah’s Witnesses: Not a Charity
This same self-serving policy of Jehovah’s Witnesses applies to every aspect of any work which they consider humanitarian. For example, Jehovah’s Witnesses claim to engage in disaster relief work for the benefit of victims of hurricanes and other tragedies. Having been a JW who was intimately involved with this work for decades, I can assure you that none of this work is directed to anyone outside of the Jehovah’s Witness organization. The only exceptions to this are when rendering assistance or building and repairing are done with the intent of receiving something in trade.
As an example, when hurricane Luis struck the Leeward Islands in 1995, Jehovah’s Witnesses organized efforts to help fellow Witnesses in several islands, including Antigua. I remember discussing our project plans with the construction overseer. He said “We will be repairing the home of an official here in Antigua.” [the official was not a Witness] – He then explained that this official was responsible for the freight coming into and out of the primary port of Antigua, and if one of our crews repaired his home, he would release the shipment of supplies we needed, which were being detained by customs. In other words, we made a shady deal to repair this man’s home in exchange for his power to release our containers. Our construction overseer declared that this was God’s direction, proving that Jehovah was backing our work, while apparently overlooking the relief work of all non-Witness humanitarian agencies.
There is simply nothing Watchtower will do for charity on behalf of mankind without strings attached. While individual Jehovah’s Witnesses have personally engaged in charitable giving, the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses gives nothing back to society. Even their latest efforts in Warwick, New York to repair a dam, improve a greenway and construct a little league press box were all the result of satisfying an agreement made with a town which otherwise has lost all tax revenue from the new World Headquarters of Jehovah’s Witnesses. In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, Watchtower coordinated the repairs to hundreds of homes using free Witness labor, but demanded that Jehovah’s Witness victims turn over their insurance checks, netting the JW organization a tidy profit from the sweat of their own volunteers.
Witnesses as an organization operate no refugee camps, no homeless shelters, give nothing to charity, yet have amassed billions of dollars in real estate, much of which they have flipped for profit at the expense of taxpaying citizens in the United States and around the world. They have exploited every possible means to acquire money, including multiple pleas for funds on their JW Broadcasting televangelist studios, as well as an extensive list of ways to collect dollars as documented on their jw.org website – yet are unable to write even the smallest of checks to charity.
One can’t help but think of the seven obese Jehovah’s Witness Governing Body members in Warwick New York, perched atop billion dollar bank accounts, flying across the globe in business class seats, while poverty-stricken Jehovah’s Witnesses in third world countries are stripped of their ability to obtain higher education, yet are still expected to donate money generously.
In times of crisis we should reflect on the generosity of the countries who have opened their borders to immigrants, regardless of race or religion. Many are welcomed by charitable organizations staffed by volunteers with no ulterior motives, but whose sole desire is to lend a helping hand, expecting nothing in return. Charities are usually granted tax-exempt status by governments to help them fulfill their honorable work. As a religion, Jehovah’s Witnesses are granted this exemption in numerous lands.
If you believe in miracles, perhaps the greatest miracle of all is the fact that Jehovah’s Witnesses have redefined what it means to be a charity.