There isn’t a single person or large organization that can say they don’t have any secrets. Everyone has hidden something about themselves at one point in time or another. But no matter what those things are, our Creator knows about them. And in his great love he has appointed a righteous judge, our Lord Jesus. (Acts 10:42; John 5:22-23) We also know that sins and secrets often have a way of coming to light, whether by accident or divine direction. Jesus himself famously said:
“What I tell YOU in the darkness, say in the light; and what YOU hear whispered, preach from the housetops. And do not become fearful of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. “ (Matthew 10:27, 28, NWT)
And so it is with the Watchtower Society and their many secrets and closeted skeletons. Over the 130+ years of their history, an immense storehouse of these has been amassed. (Revelation 18:5, HCSB) Literally thousands of webpages have covered them and inclusion of these bullet points below is tangential to the purpose behind this article. Briefly, a few of the more prominent hidden errors and sins are:
- Russell teaching pyramidology to establish the date 1914, and never teaching that 1914 was the beginning of the end,. But as the END of the “times of trouble”.
- Armageddon and other dates being changed from 1799, 1874, 1914, 1915, 1925, 1975, etc., etc.
- Rutherford’s alcoholism and womanizing.
- Rutherford’s letter to the Nazis, condemning America and the Jews in an effort to curry favor and be a “friend of Germany”.
- Homosexual lifestyle of two former Governing Body members, one of which was accused at least twice of pedophilia. These men were not reproved nor disfellowshipped but given full pensions and special pioneer status for the rest of their lives.
- Thousands of cases of covered up child abuse by publishers, ministerial servants, and elders. Large payouts have been made.
- The Watchtower Society was a member of the United Nations Organization as an NGO for ten years.
And the list could go on and on. Another side of this topic about “Well Kept Secrets” is how many religions use special books, procedures, and rituals to obscure and disguise what they really believe or do behind closed doors. The ordinary public is unaware of many of the hidden agendas and actual beliefs of the group. Even group members of many of these have overlapping layers of special knowledge that the more casual members are unaware of, at least until they rise through the ranks to the inner circle of the membership. Then they discover more and more confidential, i.e., “secret” agendas and beliefs. The Scientologists and the LDS or Mormon Church are famous for this kind of structure and layers of initiation. The clergy laity distinctions are one way that these secrets are maintained.
Jehovah’s Witnesses also happen to be among these groups. The average publisher knows very little of the goings on in his or her congregation. Most do not know that the official policy of their religion states that Jesus is not their mediator and that large sections of the Bible is not written to them. They also are unaware that voting is a conscience matter, (Watchtower 1999 11/1 pp. 28-29 Questions From Readers) or that a Witness can no longer be disfellowshipped for taking a blood transfusion.
They study their magazine and attend meetings, go out in field service, and a prepare a talk once in awhile. And that’s it. They are unaware of most if not all of the bulleted points mentioned at the beginning of this article. They are also almost uniformly unaware of the secret list of accused or convicted pedophiles that is kept in each Kingdom Hall. It is called the “Child Protection List”, and each congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses is required by the governing body to maintain such a list in the congregation’s file cabinet. (See January 1, 2001 letter to bodies of elders for more information)
If a rank and file member of the congregation such as a single sister with small children asks to see this list they will be looked at strangely and perhaps even questioned as to how they knew about its existence. The sister would of course like to know if there are any accused or convicted child abusers in her congregation. Yet the elders will not divulge this information as per the society’s instructions.
Another secret thing involves the elder handbook, called “Shepherding the flock of God” and published by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society. This publication is for elder’s eyes only, and in fact they are told not to even let others glimpse the cover, or speak openly of its existence. There is a lot of disinformation that floats around the rumor mill among Jehovah’s Witnesses, since most of them are quite ignorant of its contents. Those that do research online may have already found it as it is freely available in a number of places in PDF format.
The following thread speaking about this secret elder book has been linked to below, and is from an internet forum that is open only to active Witnesses:
There are several things that may strike you while reading that forum thread. One that immediately hits me is the disinformation floating around as to whether the book really is private and confidential, i.e., how “secret” is it? Then one of the moderators, who is an active elder in his congregation, says this:
Yes, everything in there can be found in our other publications – just like the pioneer book. It is just organized in a way to help the elders handle their assignments – just like the other publication mentioned already in this thread. note: there are additional notes on handling certain things, but nothing that a person couldn’t get from one of our other publications. (Emphasis added)
Really? Brother I don’t think you could put your hand on the Bible and swear an oath without feeling a twinge of guilt. As those of you that are/were elders we can tell you that there is A LOT in the elder’s guidebook that is unique and cannot be found in any other publication of Jehovah’s Witnesses. In the Shepherding book there are details such as:
- A policy allowing elders to commit a serious sin, conceal it for a couple years and then never be removed or even reproved for it, as rank and file publishers would be.
- If an accusation of child abuse is brought to the attention of the elders, they are instructed to FIRST call the legal department, and NOT call the police unless it is mandated by law.
- Filing bankruptcy calls an elder’s qualifications into question.
- Explicit and detailed direction on the handling of child molestation issues.
- Graphic directives on the many different kinds of sexual misconduct a person might be capable of committing, including child sexual abuse, heavy petting, various kinds of intercourse, pornography, online sexual activities, etc.
- Marital separation now requires an exhaustive review by the elders. Detailed steps are provided.
- The term “loose conduct” has been expanded to include s0-called “brazen conduct” which can include conduct beyond that which is sexual. It can also include a wide range of other things to be determined by the judicial committee, and labeled “brazen conduct” as they see fit.
- Unrepentantly taking a blood transfusion is now automatic disassociation. No judicial committee is required, and the accused would have no option to appeal.
Have you ever read any of these specific things in a publication? It is because these things would never be put in a Watchtower magazine for obvious reasons. Comparing it to the Pioneer Book is disingenuous to a high degree. The only thing comparable is that one specific group is allowed to have a copy. That is all. Another quote on the thread has to do with “cheating”. The quote is:
I think the reason the book is confidential is because it details the process for things like judicial committees…It tells the elders what to look for, such as how to tell if someone is repentant, among other things. If these things were common knowledge, unscrupulous ones without real repentance seeking to not get disfellowshipped, for example, would know what the elders were looking for and thus know how to ‘cheat the system’. The congregation is safeguarded from this by not making this ‘cheat sheet’ common knowledge. (Emphasis added)
This is a theory that initially sounds plausible. But upon consideration, questions arise, such as:
- Men can’t read the heart, only God and Christ can- so how could anyone really know if another is repentant and forgiven by our judge Christ Jesus? This really lays open the flaw of setting up a Clergy class of men (the elders) to be self appointed judges over their brothers.
- Isn’t Holy Spirit involved in these decisions? If so, then the H.S. would see to it that these abuses didn’t happen in the first place. It is circular reasoning to say that “Holy Spirit will work it out” and then just go by your own instincts and opinions.
So how well kept are the Watchtower Societies secrets? How many more will come to light this year? By next year? Or what about the year after that- 2014, when we will be 100 years from the time that Jesus supposedly took Kingdom power?
Our prayer is that many more will have awakened to these secretive ways and used their Christian consciences to take a firm stand for true worship by then. Our Heavenly Father is aware of these secrets, and we know what the scriptures say will happen someday to these kinds of hidden things. (Daniel 2:22, HCSB; Luke 8:17, HCSB; 1 Corinthians 4:5, HCSB)