INDOCTRINATION OF JWs

(Investigator 110, 2006 September)
 
 

INDOCTRINATION – WHY NEEDED?

The Jehovah's Witness (JW) leaders want JWs to stay convinced that they are the only "true" religion, the only religion in full agreement with the Bible:

…the religion that is approved by God must agree in all its details with the Bible. (The Truth that leads to Eternal Life 1968, p. 14)


The leaders have, however, changed thousands of their interpretations of Bible verses. A sampling procedure estimated that one book The Finished Mystery (1917) alone has 1,300 interpretations in conflict with later JW publications. (Investigator 85)

Investigator No. 56 listed 26 dates on which JW prophecies failed – and more have been found.

JW leaders therefore have a problem. Their problem is to convince millions of people that they are correct in all details, despite doctrinal errors numbering thousands.

How do they do it?


INFORMATION CONTROL

To keep JWs believing that they "agree in all details with the Bible" despite thousands of doctrinal revisions, the leaders stop them from seeing the errors. They regulate the information the followers are exposed to.

The leaders achieve information-control firstly by denying people access to older JW publications. In the late 1980s there was a drive to get JWs to donate their old publications to JW libraries, allegedly to share them. Access to the libraries was then restricted and excess copies of donated publications sometimes destroyed.

Information control is further achieved by requiring JWs to:

•    Excommunicate and/or shun "apostates";
•    Avoid informed persons and writings critical of JWs;
•    Avoid friendships and activities outside of JWs;
•    Stay busy, as if on a treadmill, by going door-to-door, reading recent JW publications, attending and preparing for meetings, constructing and maintaining meeting halls.


By these procedures converts "burn their bridges", get their beliefs constantly reinforced, and become blind and deaf to contrary information.

Besides the above methods, JWs are constantly exposed to:

•    Indoctrination by repetition.


INDOCTRINATION BY REPETITION

JWs have a large stock of words and phrases that imply JWs alone have the true religion. The phrases appear repetitiously in the publications and are used in daily conversation by "mature brothers and sisters".

A phrase invented in 1926 by Joseph F Rutherford, the then JW president, is "God's organization". Some JWs recalled decades later how "thrilled" they were at the idea of "God’s organization". Belonging to "God’s organization" and repeating the phrase helped them to survive doctrinal changes and failed prophecies so drastic that 80% of members left the cult in the 1920s.

Three lists of words and phrases, taken from a wide survey of JW publications, accompany the present article.

    1. Phrases and words JW leaders employ to imply only JWs are right, such as "true Christianity" are listed in Table I.
    2. Words used to smooth-talk the rank-and-file are in Table 2.
    3. Phrases criticising other religions are in Table 3.

Next I'll discuss a phrase popular in 1994 – "divine teaching". 

DIVINE TEACHING

The two main articles in The Watchtower of 1994, February 1, were Divine Teaching Triumphs and Enjoy the Benefits of Divine Teaching.

These were the "study articles" with questions to each paragraph at the bottom of the page. This means that JWs had to prepare the articles at home and underline all the answers.

At the Sunday "Watchtower study" the study conductor would have started with paragraph One and asked the audience the set question, which was, "Why can Jehovah's instruction rightly be called divine teaching?"

Audience members would have raised their hands. The conductor would have picked a few who would have said something like: "Jehovah God teaches us through his Word the Bible, which calls him 'the Divine One'. Therefore Jehovah's instruction from the Bible is divine teaching."

A person previously assigned would then have read the paragraph aloud. And so on for the 20 paragraphs of the first article.


DIVINE TEACHING STATISTICS

The two articles on "Divine Teaching" covered 41 paragraphs.

The phrase "Divine teaching" in both articles referred to the Bible and to JW teaching as if identical, without distinction. That is, the Bible and JW doctrines were throughout assumed to be true and in full agreement.

We see this assumption in statements like:

Here is a provisional count of how often certain words that JW readers associate with themselves appear in the two articles:
A host of other positive descriptions of JW doctrine also occur such as "Jehovah's instruction", "knowledge of God's word", "progressive instruction", "Global education", "teaching of Jehovah", "Divine instruction", "spiritual light", "God-given light", "God teaches his people", etc.

Similarly the Bible is called:  

The two articles also repeatedly flatter JW readers as "truth loving people", "God's people", "desirable ones", "lovers of Jehovah", "humble recipients", etc.
In addition the two articles have many statements of what God has done such as:
Since 1919 in particular, Jehovah has had his servants proclaim his judgments… (p18)

At the same time, God-fearing humans – "the desirable things" – have been drawn by God to separate themselves from the nations and share with anointed Christians in filling Jehovah's house of worship with glory. (p18)


Extensive repetition that JWs have "divine teaching" and are guided by God, combined with silence regarding their thousands of doctrinal flip-flops, is effective indoctrination.

It keeps millions of people convinced.

After the 1994 "Divine Teaching" articles, a number of major doctrines were again discarded, including:
 


 

MORE DIVINE TEACHING

Each year the JW Organization's new publications come to about 3,000 pages. This includes The Watchtower and Awake! magazines, books, booklets, brochures, tracts, and pamphlets.

Words and phrases that flatter (See Tables 1 & 2) the Organization or its followers in those 3,000 pages have been estimated at 2,000 per year. (Jehovah's Witnesses: A Statistical Survey 1992, pp 303-322) Considering we've found over 100 in part of only one Watchtower this estimate may be conservative.

Phrases criticising other religions are likewise numerous and have been estimated at about 1,000 per year. See Table 3.
 
 

CONCLUSION

An important method for keeping JWs loyal to the sect and thinking they're "correct in all details" despite thousands of doctrinal changes, is indoctrination by repetition.

Various words and phrases that imply JWs are the right religion are used at high frequency for short periods and then recycled at lower frequency indefinitely.



Table 1

Words Suggesting JW Doctrines Are Fully Correct

Accurate knowledge Feast Light of truth
Adequate Fixed in Scripture Marvelous provisions
Approved of by God Fulfilled prophecy Message of truth
Bible based Global education work Pattern of truth
Bible education Genuine Bible study Pure Christianity
Bible knowledge God-given Pure language
Bible teaching Godly Pure worship
Bible truth God's message Revealed truth
Bible's message God's truth Seeds of truth
Bright light Grand truth Shining light
Brilliant light God's organization Scriptural
Christian Healthful teaching Thrilling
Clear light Healthful words Spirit directed
Delightsome Illumination Spirit guided
Divine light Indisputable Spiritual feast
Divine teaching Jehovah's work True Christianity
Education Knowledge True education
Encouraging Knowledge of truth True to God’s word
Facts Liberating good news Undefiled
Faithful Light Unsectarian
 
 
Table 2

Words Used To Praise JWs

Anointed Harmonious Obedient
Appreciative Honest/Honest hearted Persons of good will
Approved of by God Honoring Jehovah Praisers of God
Bold Humble Precious ones
Christian Intelligent Reasonable
Courageous Jehovah’s people Richly fed
Dedicated Jesus' genuine followers Righteous
Diligent Joyful/Joyous Servants of God
Educated Kind Sincere
Faithful Liberated Speakers of truth
Faithful ones Light bearers Submissive to God
Faithful servants Loved of God Spirit directed
Faithfully enduring Lovers of freedom Tender
Faithfully serving Lovers of truth True Christians
Free/Free people Loyal True servants of God
Genuine Christians Loyal advocates Undefiled
Genuine ministers Loyal proclaimers Under angelic guidance
Glad Loyal to God's Word Understanding
God approved Loyal witnesses Vigorous
God’s people Meek Well fed
Godly Mature Wholly unselfish
Happy Ministers of God Zealous workers
Hard working Ministers of truth

 
 

Table 3

Words Used To Criticise Other Religions Or Their Ministers:

Abominable False Presumptuous
Aggressive False accusers Pretend to worship God
Ambitious False prophets Prideful
Anti Christ False teachers Proud
Anti God Fault finders Proud apostates
Apostate False Christians Puffed up
Arrogant Fiendish Racketeers
Asleep Fierce Rebellious
Austere Follow their own way Reckless
Babblers Frauds Religious hybrids
Babylonish Gangsters Religious hypocrites
Bigheaded Glory seeking Reprehensible
Blind Gnashing their teeth Scornful
Blaspheme God Godless Sanctimonious
Blind guides Good for nothing Satanic
Blood drenched God defaming Seek flattery
Blood stained Greedy Scoffers
Bloody Groping in darkness Selfish
Boasters Grumblers Self righteous
Bombastic Hard hearted Self seeking
Bragging Hateful Servants of Satan
Breakers of God's law Haters of God Slanderous
Broke their covenant Haters of good Slick and wily
Brutish Haters of truth Spiritually dead
Burdensome Haughty Spiritually sick
Cocksure Heartless Spiteful
Cocky High minded Stubborn
Conceited Horrible Strut about
Contemptible Howling Strutting
Cowardly Howling in their woe Swine class
Crazy Hurtful Tell of their own virtues
Critical Hypocrites Thieves
Crooked Hypocritical Tickle their own ears
Cruel Hysterical Tools of Satan
Curse God Idlers Tormented
Cursed Idolaters Trouble makers
Deadly Ignorant Turn their backs on God
Death dealing Immoral Tyrannical
Deceitful Impious Unbiblical
Deceivers In deep slumber Uncaring
Defamers Insincere Unfaithful
Deluded Insolent Ungodly
Demon worshippers Intoxicated Unprofitable
Demonic Lawless Unreasonable
Demonized Liars Unreliable
Desiring admiration Little men Unspiritual
Despicable Lording it over Untruthful
Devil worshippers Lovers of money Vain
Devil’s servants Lovers of pleasure Vainglorious
Devilish Lukewarm Very sick
Disgraceful Man of sin Vindictive
Dishonest to God Malicious Vicious
Dogs Mean Violent
Doing Satan's work Murderers Vipers
Doomed Non-sensical Viper-like
Dreamers Not spiritually minded Warmongers
Drunk Offended Weak
Drunkards Opponents of God Weed-like
Dumb Opposers of truth Weeping
Duped Peevish Wilful
Enemies of God Persecutors Willingly ignorant
Entirely blind Pharisees Wolves
Entirely ignorant Philistines Worn out
Evil Pious hypocrites Worthless
Evil slave class Polluted Worthless servant class
Failures Pompous Wrong
Fakes Praise seeking Wrongdoers
(BS)

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