Exposing the Watchtower
Persecution or A Public Service?

(Investigator 16, 1991 January)



In recent years a cry has gone out from the Watchtower Society that Jehovah's Witnesses are being "persecuted" for their faith. It is a matter of record that at different times and in different places their religion has truly been severely harassed and individual members have been physically and psychologically mistreated, even murdered. In this they are not alone; one need only ask any Bible-believer in the Soviet Union or a Jew who survived the holocaust. Religious people have been persecuted for their beliefs throughout time.

 

ATTACKING JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES?

These days there is another kind of persecution that the Watchtower Society is very concerned about. They warn Jehovah's Witnesses:

"Nevertheless, as with early Christians, Jehovah's Witnesses have opposers today. Some spring out from among their own ranks, just as it was with early Christianity. (Acts 20:30) But what is the objective of such men? It is to tear down. What they publish is almost wholly in the form of an attack upon Jehovah's Witnesses." (Watchtower 1976 5/15 297)

Today there is a growing concern among truthlovers to share the life-giving message of God's Word with Jehovah's Witnesses. In bringing this message, there is certainly no excuse for an "attack" on Jehovah's Witnesses as people. But is it a sin to oppose the teachings of the Watchtower Society if one sincerely believes they are leading Jehovah's Witnesses astray away from the truth?
 

LET THE PUBLIC CHOOSE THE TRUTH

Anyone who knows the history of Jehovah's Witnesses would certainly say that they have been most vigorous in delivering their brand of truth to the public. As the Watchtower propagates its teachings to outsiders, it demonstrates the very view of those it labels "opposers":

"It is not religious persecution for an informed person to expose publicly a certain religion as being false, thus allowing persons to see the difference between false religion and true religion. But in order to make the exposure and show the wrong religions to be false, the true worshipper will have to use an authoritative means of judgement, a rule of measurement that cannot be proved faulty. To make a public exposure of false religion is certainly of more value than exposing a news report as being untrue; it is a public service instead of a religious persecution and it has to do with the eternal life and happiness of the public. Still it leaves the public free to choose." (Watchtower 1963 11/15 688)

Fairness requires the Watchtower to let Jehovah's Witnesses have the freedom to choose too!
 

CRITICISM WITH A RIGHT MOTIVE

Criticism of false teaching can certainly be done with a most loving attitude. The perfect example of love is Jesus Christ. We quote at length an Awake! comment about Jesus and his disciples:

But ask yourself: Why did Jesus publicly criticize religious men who claimed to serve the same God he preached? Was his motive bad? Not at all. Though he was mild-tempered and kind, his love for righteousness and his desire to aid honest hearted persons moved him to criticize those who were teaching or acting contrary to God's revealed will.  Matt. 11:28-30; Heb. 1:9.

Also, Jesus' frank comments could help persons. For example, what if, in learning to use a dangerous machine, you kept making a serious error. Would you not be benefited if someone corrected you before you hurt yourself or others? Accordingly, Jews hearing Jesus' truthful criticism could be helped on the way to God's approval and salvation.

Was it only Christ who could properly make such comments? No, for the Bible shows clearly that Jesus' disciples also called attention to religious error. For example, read Stephen's bold denunciation of the Jewish leaders. (Acts 7:51-54) And note that the Apostle Paul branded the Athenian worship of idols as "ignorance." (Acts 17:29, 30) Further, out of love for truth these first-century Christians exposed deviations from true Christianity by ones professing to be Christians. 1 Tim. 1:19, 20; 2 Tim. 2:16-19.

What, though, if you had lived then and Jesus' followers criticized the religion of your friends and relatives? As now, it would have been easy to take offense. Still, we cannot deny that the disciples' comments – critical though they were – were right, and they are included in God's Word. As with Jesus, the motive behind the criticism was good. So the disciples were being Christian – not unchristian – in pointing out religious error.

Consequently, is it unchristian today to offer Bible based comments about another's religion? The Scriptural answer must be No. True, criticism that reveals faults in the teachings or practices of someone's religion might at first seem severe. Yet, how should one react? Not like those who became violently enraged over Stephen's criticism. Rather, note the fine reaction of some Athenians who heard Paul's comments. They accepted Bible truth and became believers, to their eternal benefit. – Compare Acts 17:11,12.

Far from being rejected as unchristian, then, criticism based on God's Word should be carefully considered, for it can bring real benefits.  (Awake! November 22, 1974 pp. 28-29)


One can be loving and fair with Jehovah's Witnesses and still employ "frank comments" and "truthful criticism" and even the "denunciation" of Watchtower "leaders".
 

ARGUING WITH OPPOSERS

For one to apply criticism properly, it is beneficial to understand the principles of argumentation. The Watchtower Society counsels Jehovah's Witnesses:

"Throughout the Bible are found the finest examples of argumentation, voiced by the servants of Almighty God. They were God's mouthpieces, moved to speak by the spirit of Jehovah. Hence it may be said that Jehovah God was the Author of such flawless argument ... sometimes one opposed to the Kingdom message is on hand to prevent goodwill persons from hearing. In either case we want to apply the principles of good argumentation to enable the honest hearer to see the truth." (Qualified to be Ministers 1967 p.197)

Jehovah's Witnesses expect to argue with opposers. Let us look to the Bible for our examples of those who made a stand for the truth and a defense of the faith (1 Peter 3:15).
 

I HAVE MY OWN RELIGION

Jehovah's Witnesses often refuse to discuss information that outsiders claim proves that the Watchtower has lied to them. Many sincere Witnesses are not familiar with much of the history of their religion or the way that the Watchtower Society operates to "control" their thinking. Therefore, when confronted by an informed person with potentially damaging information the Witness may see no necessity to defend his Organization or "the truth". In effect, the Witness is saying, "Don't bother me with your information, I have my own religion." Of course, some Witnesses do not have this attitude and are willing to investigate their Organization with an open mind. However, it is indeed distressing to see how many simply follow the Watchtower blindly no matter what it teaches them.

Jehovah's Witnesses have been criticised for trying to convert those who already have their "own religion". In their booklet, JEHOVAH'S WJTNESSES IN THE TWENTIETH CENTURY (1978), the Society answers questions commonly asked about Jehovah's Witnesses. On page 28 they ask:

"Why do Jehovah's Witnesses call on persons who already have a religion of their own? Why don't they go to those without religion?"

The answer:

"All nations have religions of one kind or another, whether so-called "Christian" or "non-Christian". Churches that send out missionaries do so to convert the people from one religion to another. It is a matter of vital importance for persons to have beliefs that conform with the Bible's teachings, and to assist them in doing this is one way of showing neighbor love."

Jehovah's Witnesses who "have their own religion" should certainly be willing to allow Christians to "assist them" to "conform with the Bible's teachings".
 

WHY PICK ON ME?

Sometimes Witnesses will ask an "opposer" why he has singled them out to talk to. They wonder why he has bothered to gather all this information to "witness" to Witnesses–why not pick on other people? Certainly the Christian is duty-bound to share the Gospel with everyone. Jesus said, "And you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth." (Acts 1:8)

Therefore is it ever appropriate to single out certain religious groups for a special witness? This seems a good question to ask the Watchtower Society which has had an active campaign for decades to undermine the Catholic religion. While it is not our purpose here to either defend or criticize, we want to draw attention to Roman Catholicism as one good example of a religion specifically "exposed" by the Watchtower Society as false religion. A few statements from the Watchtower publications will suffice to prove a concentrated anti-Catholic effort on the part of the Society:

The Society's second president, Joseph F. Rutherford affectionately called the "Judge", certainly judged the Catholic faith to be false religion!:

CATHOLIC RELIGION DEMONISM
The Catholic system of religion is one that designates itself and its practices as "the Christian religion". Doubtless there were many sincere men among those who made up that organization at the beginning, and who later fell away to demonism, themselves being deceived, and who as leaders deceived many others. What is here published is not for the purpose of ridicule, but that the sincere peop1e in the Catholic organization may see and appreciate the perilous position in which they have been put by their clergymen or leaders in the Catholic organization. God specifically commands that those who serve him acceptably must serve him in truth and that such must avoid all manner of demon-worship.
(Religion 1940 p. 55)

In a personal letter to the Society's head legal counsel, Olin Moyle, Rutherford said:

On Board
March 3lst. 1938.

My dear brother Moyle;

Your report or the case in which the Catholic priest repeatedly declined to testify until he could first consult with his bishop, will be of interest to the people of good will, as well as to the remnant. Please write that up in the proper form and furnish it to Consolation for publication at an early issue. This may help to encourage some other priests to consult the bishop before he is put on the witness stand. You want to take occasion to rub it into these roosters as much as possible and wherever you have any intimation that a Catholic priest is back of the persecution of our people summons that priest as a witness and put him on the stand and bore into him properly.

Furthermore concerning the Griffin case: The more I think about it the more I am inclined to think we should move against that city. While I cannot form a definite opinion until I see the opinion riled in the case in the Supreme Court, I leave it to you and if you conclude that our people that were arrested have a cause of action, file a suit in each and every one of the cases, against the city, against the city manager, the chief of police, against the city attorney, the commissioner, the mayor, and particularly the Catholic priest, and every other SOB, that incited the mob, and see if we can't excite those roosters somewhat.

With much love and best wishes, I remain Your brother & servant by his grace,

J F Rutherford
 

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During Rutherford's presidency, Jehovah's Witnesses utilized his recorded lectures in their door-to-door activity. Many of the records were extremely critical of Catholicism and many Witnesses found themselves in court. Hayden C. Covington, former General Counsel for Jehovah's Witnesses stated:

"…the Supreme Court of the United States held that one of Jehovah's witnesses could not be convicted for playing a phonograph record which "embodies a general attack upon all organized religious systems as instruments of Satan and injurious to man" and "singles out the Roman Catholic Church for structures couched in terms which naturally would offend not only persons of that persuasion, but all others who respect the honestly held religious faith of their fellows.." (Defending and Legally Establishing the Good News 1950 p. 60)

These days Rutherford's records are not used to proselytize the public. The Organization employs more tactful measures to win Catholics out of their faith.

But articles on the "evils" of Catholicism are still published. Awake! magazine 1960 October 8 was devoted wholly to exposing Catholicism as being anti-Bible, anti-freedom of expression, collaborators with communism, immoral, etc. The Society's true feelings can be summed up by a quote in their 1938 CONVENTION REPORT:

"A Catholic, disgusted with the yellowness of the Catholic Hierarchy's jackass department, said, The Catholic organization is the rottenest organization that anyone could imagine, and I hope your organization will tear it all to hell."  (The Messenger 1938 Nov. p. 33)  

DON'T FORGET THE PROTESTANTS!

Of course Catholics are not the only target of the Watchtower Society.

Protestant churches have seen Watchtower campaigns specifically designed to get their membership to resign. In their history book, JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES IN THE DIVINE PURPOSE (1959), the Society mentions a number of these campaigns. (See for example pp. 39 - 40)
 

LEAVING A FALSE ORGANIZATION

All Jehovah's Witnesses claim to be associated with God's true organization. What is the Watchtower's counsel for outsiders in other religious organzations? Their book RICHES (1936) pp 178-179 states:

If you find that doctrines, when measured by the Word of God, are contrary to the Word of God, then it is certain that such teachings are lies and that they proceed from the Devil, the originator or father of lies. If you find that a doctrine or teaching is a lie, you should quickly forsake it, regardless of who teaches it or how long you have believed that teaching to be true. Your own welfare and your duty to God demand that you abandon lies, no matter who teaches them, for the reason that the end of the maker and supporter of lies is eternal death. –Revelation 21:8, 27.

God hates a speaker of lies. (Proverbs 6:1-l9) "A false witness shall not be unpunished, and he that speaketh lies shall perish." (Proverbs 19:9) The Devil lied to and deceived the perfect woman Eve. It is certain, then, that the Devil by and through his agents lies to and deceives many imperfect creatures. There is only one possible way to find safety, and that is to learn the truth of God's Word and follow that and keep away from the teachings of men which are contrary to the Word of God. If you find that you have been for some time in an organization called "the church", and that such organization teaches that which is contrary to God's Word of truth, then you will have to choose whether you will remain in accord with that so-called "church" organisation and its teachings or will forsake the same and rely upon the Word of God.
 


 

A WARM INVITATION

Fair is fair! If the Watchtower expects others to investigate their own religious organizations, would we not expect for them to allow us the opportunity to check them out also? We have an invitation to do just that!

"Since God assures us that practicing true religion brings great contentment now and opens up the way for eternal life in his new system of things, it surely will be worth your while to make such an investigation. (Deuteronomy 30:19, 20) You have our warm invitation to do so. Why not investigate now?" (The Truth That Leads to Eternal Life 1968 p.130)
Condensed from a report by:
Witness Inc.
Clayton CA 94517
USA

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