The New York Review of Magazines

The Most Widely Read Magazine in the World

By Joel Meares

It’s the first Saturday of March and a perfect day for Jehovah’s Witnessing. The sky is clear, the air is crisp and a fresh copy of The Watchtower, stamped March 1, 2010, is ready to be distributed.

At least, I assume it’s a good day for Witnessing; this is my first time. Frank and Lydia Tavolacci — from a Jehovah’s Witness congregation in Glendale, Queens — have invited me along for a morning of door-knocking in their mostly residential neighborhood. A longtime recipient of the Witnesses’ famous “good news” wakeup calls, I jumped at the chance to see what it’s like on the other side of the door.

The day begins at the small, red-brick Kingdom Hall on Glendale’s Myrtle Avenue, where about 40 Witnesses gather in couples and families. Some thank Jehovah for the blessed day, others thank him for the coffee that got them here by 9 a.m. A few quick hellos in the Hall — a trapezoidal room with churchlike rows of chairs, a churchlike stage but no churchlike iconography — and the Witnesses head downstairs to arm themselves.

Their ammunition is The Watchtower and its companion magazine Awake!, each sitting in piles on a bench in the beige basement-level hallway. At first glance there’s not much difference between the two — both are flimsy, pamphlet-like 31-page monthlies, each colorfully adorned with photos of smiling faces and illustrations of Biblical happenings. But while Awake! is an attempt at a general interest magazine — travel and science stories, with a Witness twist — The Watchtower is strictly Biblical, its contents a doctrinal guide to Witness beliefs. March’s cover boy — a bearded scribe writing at a desk awash with golden light — sits over the cover line: “The Bible, Is It Really God’s Inspired Word?” Inside, a table of contents provides the answer. Page 4: “The Bible Really Is God’s Inspired Word.” Page 8: “Why You Can Trust the Biblical Gospels.”

Frank takes six copies of the English-language Watchtower, while others select from of piles of Romanian, Italian and Polish editions. Every month, nearly 40 million copies of The Watchtower are printed in more than 180 languages and sent to 236 countries. There are no subscriptions and you won’t find it on newsstands, but it’s still hard to miss. Thanks to the efforts of Witnesses like the Tavolaccis, The Watchtower is the most widely distributed magazine in the world, with a circulation of more than 25 million. Last year, the world’s 7.3 million-strong Jehovah’s Witnesses spent 1.5 billion hours knocking on doors and “street Witnessing” — stopping folks in parks and on streets — to preach the “good news” with a copy of The Watchtower. Its closest competitors are AARP The Magazine (circulation 24.3 million) and Better Homes and Gardens (7.6 million). It doesn’t hurt that The Watchtower has been free since 1990, with the option of a small donation.

Armed with their copies, Frank and the other Witnesses at the Glendale Kingdom Hall head back upstairs for a pep talk. “Elder” John Juels leads the 10-minute session from the stage, offering tips on how the congregation might keep doors open this morning. Frank Tavolacci calls it “a little bit of rah rah rah.”

“Raise a topic of interest,” suggests Juels, a short, bespectacled man in a bright orange tie. He invites a young blonde, “Sister Rachel,” up from the crowd to the stage for a role play. After a quick knock-knock and some polite doorfront introductions, Juels says the government is a hot topic right now, so Witnesses might raise the spectre of Governor Paterson to keep their bleary-eyed targets listening. “The government of Jesus Christ is coming,” he tells his mock door-opener. “Certainly God would do a better job than some of the people we have today.”

After a prayer, the group divides into pairs to tackle a block of Queens for the morning. I join the Tavolaccis to cover the block directly next to the Kingdom Hall. The two Glendale locals have dressed for what they call “the best volunteer work there is.” Frank’s wearing a checkered beret, gray suit and orange tie, and Lydia has wrapped herself in a chic, ankle-length black coat, her long blond hair tucked under a black woolen cap. Both are 40, gregarious and equally endowed with the kind of thick “Noo Yawk” accents you might expect to hear heckling the umpire at a Yankees game.

Their first door belongs to a large, two-story brick home on the wide and leafy Union Turnpike. Stepping up to the door, Lydia switches off her BlackBerry and tells Frank to get Psalm 104 ready in his black leatherbound Bible. Hers is a little tatty from use. Passages are highlighted, verse numbers circled and dozens of bright orange and pink sticky notes peek out from pages. Lydia is out on “field service” for at least two hours every Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. Ringing the bell, she asks Frank to hold The Watchtower so it is visible to whomever should open the door. Nobody does.

After three minutes, she rings again. She always rings twice. Again, nobody answers. On a piece of yellow paper called a “House Call Card,” a Witness couple working in tandem with the Tavolaccis notes the address and writes “NH” next to it, for “not home.” Other codes include “CA” for people who ask Witnesses to call again, “B” for busy and “C” for when a child answers the door.

And so it goes. NH, NH, NH. “It’s not a chore,” Lydia insists, as they move on to a woman who dismisses them with a curt “I’m Catholic.” “I mean, it’s not something you want to do, but it’s an important thing to do and it’s something you can do for God. You’re saving people’s lives.”

Frank and Lydia get their chance at the second-to-last house on the block. Amanda, a teenager with pulled-back frizzy brown hair opens the door wearing pajama pants decorated with pictures of milkshakes and the words “Shake it baby!” She is in the mood to talk. “Do you believe the Bible is inspired by God or just written by man?” asks Lydia in a sweet, slow elementary school teacher’s voice. “Inspired,” answers Amanda, after taking a moment to think.

They talk for five minutes before Lydia returns to the sidewalk and takes a purple-covered diary from her bag. On the top leaf of a pad of heart-shaped sticky notes inside, she writes down the scripture they discussed and which Watchtower edition she left behind. She promises to return next Saturday.

“I want to come back with a good question,” she says, clearly excited by Amanda. “Like, ‘Do you think we’re living in the last days?’”

While some magazines have religious followings, few have actually started religions. The Watchtower did just that. Back then, it was Zion’s Watch Tower and Herald of Christ’s Presence, so named by its founder, the writer and preacher Charles T. Russell. A former assistant editor of the Second Adventist magazine The Herald of the Morning, Russell released the first edition of Zion’s Watch Tower on July 1, 1879. It looked much like a newspaper of the time, with two columns, simple headlines and no images. Inside, readers learned that “we are living in ‘the last days,’ ‘the days of the Lord.’”

Russell, a charismatic Pennsylvania preacher with a big graying beard and an even bigger bank account, amassed followers in the years leading up to 1879 through public speaking tours and writings in newspaper columns and the Adventist magazine. He began questioning Adventist doctrine when the world failed to end, as it had predicted, in 1878. Russell used the monthly Zion’s Watch Tower to expound a new brand of Christianity to small congregations of Bible Students, as Witnesses were then known, mostly in the Northeast.

The new brand, familiar to many today from television exposés and house calls, taught that Christ would return to Earth in 1914 to govern the world, destroy nonbelievers and leave Witnesses to transform the planet into Paradise. It was revised in the 1930s, when the religion adopted the name Jehovah’s Witnesses, to teach that Christ did return in 1914 — he was just invisible — and that within a generation Armageddon would finally arrive. Witnesses now take a less specific approach to the end of the world.

Today, The Watchtower is the flagship publication produced by Jehovah’s Witnesses. The magazine and other literature is published by their not-for-profit corporation, the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania; Witnesses also use another not-for-profit corporation in the United States, named the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc., which is responsible for printing and distributing the magazine. The Tract Society’s catalogue includes the two magazines, a ballooning collection of books and brochures and The New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures, the religion’s official Bible. As of this year, 165 million New World Translations have been printed since it was first published in 1961.

The mammoth operation is funded by donations, mainly from Witnesses leaving anonymous contributions in boxes titled “Worldwide Work” at the back of Kingdom Halls. The money is funneled to the U.S. world headquarters to fund the publishing empire, as well as disaster relief. Just how much moolah makes that journey is unknown — as a religious organization, the Tract Society does not have to file an annual return with the IRS — but in 2001, Newsday listed the Tract Society as one of New York City’s 40 richest corporations, with revenues of $951 million. Last year, a report stated that the Society had pulled in $125 million for the fiscal year ending in August.

Manhattanites might recognize the Tract Society’s headquarters from the skyline to their east — a pair of stout beige towers nudging the base of the Brooklyn Bridge and the shore of the East River in Brooklyn Heights; squint and you can see the word “Watchtower” stamped across their peaks. The Brooklyn Bethel, as the faithful call it, also functions as the religion’s world headquarters. Here, the nine-member governing body of Jehovah’s Witnesses pulls the sect’s doctrinal strings and steers its publishing enterprise. All members of the governing body claim to come from the “little flock,” an anointed class of 144,000 Witnesses who will ascend to heaven upon Armageddon; other Witnesses will have to be satisfied with paradise on Earth.

Few non-Witnesses are allowed inside the Bethel headquarters and you’d be forgiven for conjuring fantastical reasons as to why — the anti-Witness publishing industry rivals The Tract Society’s in size and includes among its titles The Orwellian World of the Jehovah’s Witnesses and 30 Years a Watchtower Slave. But the day I visit, Brooklyn Bethel is less Airstrip One than Pan Am corporate headquarters circa 1965. In the lobby, a dull-painted plaster globe — the size of a boulder Indiana Jones might have to outrun — spins forlornly. Along maroon-carpeted corridors, cheery men in snug dark suits apologize for being too rushed to stop and chat. Everywhere, everyone asks you to stay for lunch.

Despite the absence of a masthead and bylines, The Watchtower is no immaculate conception. Each edition’s journey to your door begins a year ahead of publication at a meeting of the nine-member Writing Committee in the Writing Committee Conference Room, a boardroom dominated by a long polished wooden desk and two mammoth Sony flat screens on the wall; more Vogue Living than Mother Jones.

James Pellechia is one of the magazine’s writers and a member of the Writing Committee. Dapper in a dark gray suit, dark gray vest and even darker gray tie — all under wispy gray hair — 66-year-old Pellechia is a third-generation Witness. His grandparents converted in 1908 after migrating from Italy to Roseto, Pa., and he came to Bethel in 1982 to join the Writing Department. He and his fellow committee members choose the theme of each Watchtower issue and the articles it will feature. “It’s for Witnesses but also for the public,” Pellechia says of The Watchtower. “For people who would be interested in what the Bible would say about subjects like child-rearing and how to keep marriages united.” The magazine might focus on infidelity in May, homosexuality in June and earthquakes in July. Articles might answer questions like “Should you be honest at all times?” and “Has God left us?” (Yes, and no, in case you were wondering.) Each article is littered with scriptural references, which function like hyperlinks, directing readers to Bible pages for further reading. The committee also decides questions and answers for the special “study” editions of The Watchtower produced specifically for Witnesses already in the flock to study at Kingdom Halls every week. The number of study editions printed is undisclosed.

The Watchtower then comes together like most magazines, Pellechia explains. A writer is chosen as a “Compiler,” functioning like a magazine editor, and an assignment editor distributes briefs to writers — there are about 20 on staff. Copy is fact-checked, copy-edited and rewritten as it moves through the 70-person Writing Department. Illustrators and photographers, at a Witness training campus in Patterson, N.Y., provide the images.

Writers live with about 1500 other Bethel workers, including cooks, secretaries, cleaners and committee members, in five buildings throughout Brooklyn Heights. Meals, accommodation and an allowance are provided to keep the focus on God’s work. One Witness-occupied residential tower on Wilson Street might be the best deal in New York, housing 500 Witnesses, a library, a medical center and a dining room. Witnesses call it the “Towers Hotel.”

Despite rumors to the contrary, women can write for The Watchtower, but not on scriptural matters. “That’s what the Bible indicates according to our concept of it,” says assignment editor John Wischuck. “If they wanted to write something about dressmaking, a sister could do that. It might be in another case that she interviews another woman and writes up her life story. That would go through an editor or a rewrite.”

Before the magazine is sent to a facility known as Watchtower Farms, in Wallkill, N.Y., and to 16 other production centers across to the world — to be printed, bound and packaged for distribution — the Writing Committee takes a final look. “All nine of us read it,” says Pellechia. “Each one sees the previous writing committee member’s marks and either adds to it, reinforces it, or, once in a while, may change it. We need to ensure it is in agreement with our doctrine, scripturally.”

Of course, the magazine does not always agree with itself — or past versions of itself — on these matters. Early in its history, for example, The Watchtower told followers that the mischievous men of Sodom and Gomorrah would be resurrected. In 1988, an article in The Watchtower reversed this position. “Our publications are not infallible,” Pellechia says. “Certain Bible texts, certain doctrine, may need adjustment as more information is researched and understanding grows.”

David A. Reed, a critic and former high-ranking Witness, wrote in his book, Jehovah’s Witness Literature, that “much like a collection of White House news releases written during successive Democratic and Republican administrations, the Watchtower Society’s books and magazines reflect the sect’s changing leadership over the years.”

In an e-mail to me, Reed wrote that he stopped reading the magazine in 1999, a year before Don Alden Adams became the religion’s leader. In general, Reed says, today’s Watchtower and the religion behind it are far different from their earliest incarnations. “In terms of internal organizational politics, or religious positions, they are more conservative now than in the days of founder C.T. Russell. The Witnesses are now a tightly controlled, disciplined group, which they were not under Russell.”

The most tightly controlled aspect of the Witnesses’ publishing arm may be the names of Watchtower authors. No Tract Society publication has carried bylines since the early 1940s, because, according to assignment editor Wischuck, the “glory should go to God.” Pellechia expands on that: “There were about 40 writers of the Bible and for the most part, people who read the sacred texts may or may not have known who wrote that information. The material should stand on its own merits and attention should be focused back on the word of God rather than the individual.”

This sort of fifth-person approach to writing means The Watchtower can read like a textbook rendering of the Bible; big on plague and pestilance but short on the simple, beatific prose that marks its source. Former Witness Kyria Abrahams describes the magazine she read growing up in a Kingdom Hall in Pawtucket, R.I., as “extremely boring.” “They were pretty much all on the same theme,” she says today. “‘Why does God allow blah blah blah?’ ‘Is blank okay?’ And you know that it isn’t. For the most part, it was written at a fifth grade level.”

Abrahams, now 36 and living as a writer in New York City, parted with the Witnesses 11 years ago. She courted her own “disfellowshipping” by cheating on the husband she had married at 18. “I wanted out of the marriage so bad that I ended up just having an affair,” she says. “I was so entrenched in the idea of the religion that it was like I was somehow playing by their rules in order to leave.”

Abrahams has not spoken to her father since she left the religion, and has not heard from her mother in three years. She probably won’t hear from either ever again after the release of her acerbically funny account of her life as a Witness, I’m Perfect, You’re Doomed, last year. In the first chapter of the book, she reveals that her Jewish grandmother became a Witness after discovering a copy of The Watchtower on top of a trash can. In the third chapter, she describes her own experience with the books and magazines produced at Bethel. “My children’s books alternated between Dr. Seuss rhymes and tales of how sinners would scream and gnash their teeth at Armageddon,” she writes.

Like the Tavolaccis, Abrahams did her duty, door-knocking three times a week in her teens with a close friend named Kathy. She would do anything to get out of it — only pretending to ring the bell, encouraging Kathy to take long coffee breaks — and remembers many slamming doors. But it was a man who played along that stings her memory most sorely. After Abrahams told him she’d be happy to accept a small donation, he looked at her disdainfully and said, “I bet you would,” before handing her some change. “He saw right through me,” says Abrahams, who was 14 at the time. “I was totally aware that I was just this really annoying, weird person at the door, and I didn’t even know what I was talking about.”

Today, she sometimes sees The Watchtower in the back of a cab or in a doctor’s office. “I will pick it up and look at it for nostalgia,” she says. “It’s still the same as it was when I was a kid — nothing shocking, nothing weird. I would think that I’m going to get a big laugh out of it, but I just end up being sad and put it away.” No Witnesses have knocked on her door since she left her religion, husband and family behind.

But there are those who look forward to the familiar ring of the doorbell on a weekend. I joined Frank and Lydia Tavolacci on their fifth return call to 81-year-old Dominic Bonura’s small one-bedroom walkup in Glendale. The couple makes several of these return visits to people they’ve met while door-knocking every week. “What took you so long?” Bonura asks cheerily, opening the door.

Bonura’s wife died 12 years ago. “She was the most gorgeous thing you ever saw,” he says as we take our seats in a small living room cluttered with portraits of grinning grandchildren. A former butcher and sometime boxer, Bonura’s thin-skinned hands have been knotted by carpal tunnel syndrome. Resting on his knees, they look like large, crushed spiders.

He is dressed as if he were expecting us — polished shoes, pressed pants, a navy button-down all buttoned up — and he has a lot to say. He cuts Frank short before he can discuss the last readings he left. “This carpal tunnel is killing me, Franky,” he says huskily, stretching his arms and fingers out in angry defiance. “I tried to lift a two-pound weight the other day and it hurt so bad I wanted to go somewhere and croak. I’ve been disgusted with people in the world and with myself. I’m not going to lie to you Franky, I didn’t read a scripture, a Watchtower or an Awake!.”

Frank moves over to Bonura, crouches beside him and asks him to read from a Bible page stamped with extra-large print. Bonura pulls a pair of glasses from his pocket and loudly and clearly reads from the book of Isaiah. “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” He lowers the Bible.

“When a father is holding a little boy’s hand, how does that little boy feel?” asks Frank.

“He feels safe and protected,” answers Bonura, his face softening. Reflecting on his recent tough times, he says, “Satan might have grabbed me by the shirt, but he doesn’t have me by the heart.”

From here, Frank talks with Bonura about his wife, his daughter and the stresses of staying cooped up in his apartment. Frank explains that “All scripture is inspired, not half, and not a quarter. God’s word can help us with any principle of life.” This is the message of the month’s Watchtower cover story.

Before we leave, Bonura stops Frank. “I was just thinking about that little guy in the street, Franky, holding his father’s hand. If he let go, it wouldn’t take a second for a car to sweep him away.” He pauses. “He can’t let go.”

“And he hasn’t let you go,” says Lydia from the couch. “Dom, we’re here.”

Bonura then turns to me and tells me to write this down, word perfect, with an exclamation mark. “There’s nothing like the truth, nothing!” he says. “These people, this organization, are beautiful. You can trust these people with your life.” He looks at Lydia. “You keep coming back like a song.”

“You know who encourages us to come back,” asks Lydia. “Jehovah.”

The Tavolaccis make tentative plans to return next Saturday before heading downstairs, leaving Bonura alone with his thoughts and a copy of The Watchtower.

202 Responses to “The Most Widely Read Magazine in the World”

  1. Stuart says:

    KNOCKING (PBS documentary) opens the door on Jehovah’s Witnesses. They are moral conservatives who stay out of politics and the Culture War, but they won a record number of court cases expanding freedom for everyone. They refuse blood transfusions on religious grounds, but they embrace the science behind bloodless surgery. In Nazi Germany, they could fight for Hitler or go to the concentration camps. They chose the camps. Following two families who stand firm for their controversial and misunderstood Christian faith, KNOCKING reveals how one unlikely religion helped to shape history beyond the doorstep.

    Anderson Cooper, CNN –
    “Riveting and illuminating. KNOCKING takes us inside the world of Jehovah’s Witnesses in a way that is utterly surprising and moving.

    Anthony D. Romero, Executive Director, American Civil Liberties Union –
    “A compelling documentary. KNOCKING affirms the principle that in a free society, the protection of religious liberty and the advancement of personal freedoms need not be competing values.”

    Jon Meacham, Editor, Newsweek –
    “A thoughtful telling of an important, often-overlooked story about essential American issues.”

    Arthur Caplan, Chair, Department of Medical Ethics, University of Pennsylvania –
    “KNOCKING contains a wonderful surprise: It shows how science and religion, with worldviews that rarely overlap, can reach a common goal – the use of less blood in medicine – even if for very different reasons.”

    Stewart M. Hoover, Director, Center for Media, Religion and Culture, University of Colorado –
    “An absorbing account of a misunderstood religious movement and its relationship to contemporary culture. KNOCKING raises important questions about how we know and how we consider the religious ‘other,’ and through its own presentation, causes us to re-think the way media represent them.”

    Rabbi Michael Berenbaum, former director, United States Holocaust Research Institute –
    “KNOCKING masterfully portrays the principled, non-violent dissent of Jehovah’s Witnesses and the contribution that they have made — directly and indirectly — to the character of American national life. It is a study in religious integrity. Moving, powerful, poignant.”

    Stephen Dunning, Chair, Dept. of Religious Studies, University of Pennsylvania –
    “Very moving. Not at all a lecture packaged in celluloid. KNOICKING is deep human drama about a faith that remains unknown to most Americans. Gives students a feel for what it is like to live as a Jehovah’s Witness.”

    Eileen Barker, Professor Emeritus, Sociology and Religion, London School of Economics –
    “KNOCKING is a poignant portrayal of Jehovah’s Witnesses who are prepared to die for a faith that forbids them to kill others. It provides a powerful corrective to our image of fundamentalists as dangerous fanatics and/or terrorists.”

    Christine King, Vice-Chancellor, Staffordshire University, UK –
    “KNOCKING is a fascinating documentary which takes us to the heart of a group of believers – Jehovah’s Witnesses. It challenges us to consider issues of conscience and of religious liberty.”

    Linda Seger, script consultant/author, Making a Good Script Great and Jesus Rode a Donkey –
    “A very focused and revelatory film about the consequences of religious positions of the Jehovah’s Witnesses. The filmmakers got to the heart of the matter, with compassion and insight and clarity. A fascinating look at a somewhat unknown Christian group.”

    Lynn Schofield Clark, Director, Estlow International Center for Journalism and New Media, University of Denver –
    “Throughout the film, viewers are challenged to think about the relationship of religion, government, discrimination, family life, and civil liberties in unconventional and surprisingly human ways. This film will be useful for classes on freedom of expression, civic engagement and religion. Students will be surprised that Jehovah’s Witnesses have played such a key role in establishing and guarding many of the civil liberties we enjoy in the U.S. today.”

  2. Stuart says:

    Favorable Comments on the NWT by Scholars

    J.D. PHILLIPS: (J.D. Phillips was a Church of Christ Minister, schooled in the
    original tongues). “Last week I purchased a copy of your New World
    Translation of the Christian Greek Scriptures of which I take pride in being an
    owner. You have done a marvelous work…I was happy, indeed, to see the name
    Jehovah in it. But you have made a marvelous step in the right direction, and I
    pray God that your Version will be used to His glory. What you have done for
    the Name alone is worth all the effort and cost!”

    ALLEN WIKGREN: (Allen Wikgren was on the New Revised Standard Version
    committee, as well as on the committee which produced the UBS Greek text).
    “Independent readings of merit often occur in other modern speech versions, such
    as…the Jehovah’s Witnesses edition of the New Testament(1950).” (The
    Interpreter’s Bible, 1952 Vol. 1 page 99)

    BENJAMIN KEDAR: (Benjamin Kedar is a
    professor at Hebrew University in Israel). “In my linguistic research in connection with
    the Hebrew Bible and translations, I often refer to the English edition of what
    is known as the New World Translation. In so doing, I find my feeling
    repeatedly confirmed that this work reflects an honest endeavor to achieve an
    understanding of the text that is as accurate as possible. Giving evidence of a
    broad command of the original language, it renders the original words into a
    second language understandably without deviating unnecessarily from the specific
    structure of the Hebrew…Every statement of language allows for a certain
    latitude in interpreting or translation. So the linguistic solution in any given
    case may be open to debate. But I have never discovered in the New World
    Translation any biased intent to read something into the text that it does not

    S. MACLEAN GILMORE: “In 1950 the Jehovah’s Witnesses published their New World
    Translation of the New Testament, and the preparation of the New World Old
    Testament is now far advanced. The New Testament edition was made by a
    committee…that possessed an unusual competence in Greek.” (The Andover Newton
    Quarterly, September 1966, Vol 7, #1 page 25, 26) C. HOUTMAN: Mr. Houtman
    notes that on the point of translator bias “the New World Translation of the
    Jehovah’s Witnesses can survive the scrutiny of criticism.” (Nederlands
    Theologisch Tijdschrift, [Dutch Theological Magazines] 38 1984, page 279-280)

    WILLIAM CAREY TAYLOR: (William C. Taylor was a Southern Baptist Minister
    schooled in the original tongues). “Just when the infidel universities of this
    land thought they had laughed out of court the very name Jehovah, up…surges..
    “Jehovah’s Witnesses”. …And with considerable scholarship they get out their
    own New Testament and lo and behold, they put Jehovah into the New Testament two
    or three hundred times…It ought to be there [in the entire Bible] many times”
    (The New Bible Pro and Con, 1955 Page 75)

    C. HOUTMAN: Mr. Houtman notes that on the point of translator bias “the New World Translation of the Jehovah’s Witnesses can survive the scrutiny of criticism.” Nederlands Theologisch Tijdschrift, [Dutch Theological Magazines] 38 1984, page 279-280

    CHARLES FRANCIS POTTER: “the New World Translation of the Christian Greek
    Scriptures…the anonymous translators have certainly rendered the best
    manuscript texts…with scholarly ability and acumen.” (The Faith Men Live By,
    1954, Page 239)

    EDGAR J. GOODSPEED: (Edgar J. Goodspeed was a Professor of Greek at the
    University of Chicago, and also translated the New Testament portion of “The
    Bible an American Translation”). “I am…much pleased with the free, frank and
    vigorous translation. It exhibits a vast array of sound serious learning, as I
    can testify.” (Personal Letter to Arthur Goux of Brooklyn Bethel, December 8,
    1950; See also Watchtower September 1, 1952 page 541, where Goodspeed is quoted
    as stating that the New World Translation of the Christian Greek Scriptures was
    “an interesting and scholarly work” )

    ROBERT M. MCCOY: “The translation of the New Testament is evidence of the
    presence in the movement of scholars qualified to deal intelligently with the
    many problems of Biblical translation.” (The Andover Newton Quarterly, January
    1963, Vol. 3, #3, Page 31)

    STEVEN T. BYINGTON: (Steven T. Byington translated the version known as “The
    Bible in Living English”). “If you are digging for excellent or suggestive
    renderings this is among the richer mines.” (Christian Century, “Review of the
    New World Translation of the Christian Greek Scriptures, November 1, 1950 page

    JASON BEDUHN: (Jason Beduhn teaches at the University of Indiana). “I have just
    recently completed teaching a course for the Religious Studies Department of
    Indiana University, Bloomington, …This is primarily a course in the Gospels.
    Your help came in the form of copies of the Kingdom Interlinear Translation of
    the Greek Scriptures which my students used as one of the textbooks for the
    class. These small volumes were invaluable to the course and very popular with
    my students…Simply put, it is the best interlinear New Testament available. I
    am a trained scholar of the Bible, familiar with the texts and tools in
    use in modern biblical studies, and by the way, not a member of the Jehovah’s
    Witnesses. But I know a quality publication when I see one, and your ‘New World
    Bible Translation Committee’ has done its job well. Your interlinear English
    rendering is accurate and consistent to an extreme that forces the reader to
    come to terms with the linguistic, cultural, and conceptual gaps between the
    Greek-speaking world and our own. Your ‘New World Translation’ is a high
    quality, literal translation that avoids traditional glosses in its faithfulness
    to the Greek. It is, in many ways, superior to the most successful translations
    in use today.”

    The Harper Collins Bible Dictionary calls it one of the “major translations of the Bible into English,” along with the Knox translation, the Jerusalem Bible, New American Bible and the New English Bible. p. 292

    ALEXANDER THOMPSON: “The translation is evidently the work of skilled and
    clever scholars, who have sought to bring out as much of the true sense of the
    Greek text as the English language is capable of expressing.” (The
    Differentiator, April 1952, Page 52)

    EDGAR FOSTER: (Classics Major, Lenoir-Rhyne College)
    “Before I formally began to study Greek, I simply compared the NWT with lexicons,
    commentaries, and other translations to try and determine it’s
    accuracy. It passed the litmus test then and it also passes the test
    now for me…The NWT is a fine translation. In my mind, it is the translation
    _par excellence_. But I feel just as confortable with an RSV or an
    NASB. Mostly I prefer my UBS Greek text.”

    THOMAS N. WINTER: (Thomas N. Winter taught Greek at the University of
    Nebraska). “I think it is a legitimate and highly useful aid toward the mastery
    of koine (and classical) Greek. After examining a copy, I equipped several
    interested second-year Greek students with it as an auxiliary test. After
    learning the proper pronunciations, a motivated student could probably learn
    koine from this source alone. …the translation by the anonymous committee is
    thoroughly up to date and consistently accurate. …In sum, when a witness comes
    to the door, the classicist, Greek student, or Bible student alike would do well
    to place an order.” (The Classical Journal, “The Kingdom Interlinear”,
    April-May 1974, pages 375, 376) See Also: “Bible Translation how to choose
    between them” by Alan S. Duthie,(Alan S. Dunthie is a professor at the
    University of Legon), Page103. Comments by Dr. Rijkel ten Kate

    F.F. BRUCE: “The New World Translation of the Christian Greek Scriptures (1950),
    followed by the New World Translation of the Hebrew Scriptures (1953 and following years), is a publication of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, Inc., and some of its distinctive renderings reflect the biblical interpretations which we have come to associate with Jehovah’s
    Witnesses (e.g., “the Word was a god” in John 1:1). Sometimes it renders the text with an un-English literalness (e.g., “Let continue yours what is yours” in Gen. 33:9); at other times we find such colloquial phraseology as “Excuse me, Jehovah” (Ex. 4:10) and “the Nile
    river will fairly stink” (Ex. 7:18). Some of the renderings which are free from a theological tendency strike one as quite good; thus “a jealous God” is “a God exacting exclusive devotion”, and the Hebrew phrase which the AV variously renders as “on this side Jordan”
    according to the context appears as “in the region of Jordan” (The English Bible 184).
    Edgar’s Reply: Bruce’s review is not a diatribe against the NWT and his remarks seem
    to center mostly around the renditions of the NWT as opposed to criticisms of the theological positions of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Conversely, it is evident from some of his remarks that Bruce has a problem with certain renderings of the NWT for theological reasons (e.g., John 1:1. But see Greg Stafford “Jehovah’s Witnesses Defended”). That being said, Bruce calls attention to the literalness of the NWT, which has been effectively treated by Rolf Furuli in his book “The Role
    of Theology and Bias in Bible Translation.” Furuli shows the appropriateness of literalness in some contexts and translations. Nevertheless, Bruce also recognizes the skillful work expressed in the NWT. Overall, I think Bruce is as neutral as he can be in his comments on the NWT. Overall they present a somewhat favorable view of this influential work published by the WTBTS.
    Edgar Foster
    Classics Major
    Lenoir-Rhyne College

  3. Stuart says:

    USA Today
    “The Jehovah’s Witnesses ought to have an endowment in view of the aid which they give in solving the legal problems of civil liberties,” ..

  4. Richard says:

    Zombies that can not think for themselves.

  5. Victor Benitez says:

    My reason for getting dissfellowship or excommunicated from the Watchtower Corporation: I discovered through objective research that the history of the Watchtower as told by the Watchtower writers is a lie. Is that simple.

    You no longer want to believe what they had convinced you to believe at one time. The Watchtower writers DO NOT HAVE THE FACTS RIGHT! Why? They don’t tell you ALL THE FACTS. To be reinstated to the Watchtower Corporation you must feel remorse or sorry for being “wrong,” for discovering that they are lying! Why would anyone who is reasonable, who searches for the facts and rejects lies want to recant and return to the Watchtower? It is completely unthinkable to want to that.

    But you know what? The Watchtower leaders do not care about that. All they care, is do you believe what they believe or not.

    They are not ASHAMED if men or women discover that they are not being truthful. They simply don’t care!

    Why become reinstated? Why support them? In their work or financially?!

    Exposing their lies is apostasy.

    I will never be sorry for exposing these leaders for being liers.

    NEVER! I am proud to be an apostate of their religious deceit!

  6. Marcus says:

    Unfortunately for those that were born into this religion, there is no graceful way to exit.

    If you become baptized in this religion, and later in life choose an alternate spiritual path, you will either need to resign (disassociate) or you will be removed forcibly (disfellowshipped). Whether you willingly resign, or are removed forcibly you will be shunned.

    That means family and friends will hear an announcement at the Kingdom Hall that says, “______your name is no longer one of Jehovah’s Witnesses.” After that, your friends and family will not speak to you for fear of being forcibly removed themselves.

    The next time the Jehovah’s Witnesses come to your door, ask them about their shunning policy!

  7. Stuart says:

    Watchtower on MP3
    Download for free
    Worldwide Association of Jehovah’s Witnesses

  8. Stuart says:

    1 Cor 5:9 In my letter I wrote YOU to quit mixing in company with fornicators, 10 not [meaning] entirely with the fornicators of this world or the greedy persons and extortioners or idolaters. Otherwise, YOU would actually have to get out of the world. 11 But now I am writing YOU to quit mixing in company with anyone called a brother that is a fornicator or a greedy person or an idolater or a reviler or a drunkard or an extortioner, not even eating with such a man. 12 For what do I have to do with judging those outside? Do YOU not judge those inside, 13 while God judges those outside? “Remove the wicked [man] from among yourselves.

    Tit 3:10 As for a man that promotes a sect, reject him after a first and a second admonition; 11 knowing that such a man has been turned out of the way and is sinning, he being self-condemned

    1Tim 5:20 Reprove before all onlookers persons who practice sin, that the rest also may have fear.

    2Thes 3:6 Now we are giving YOU orders, brothers, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, to withdraw from every brother walking disorderly and not according to the tradition YOU received from us.

    2 Thes 3:13 For YOUR part, brothers, do not give up in doing right. 14 But if anyone is not obedient to our word through this letter, keep this one marked, stop associating with him, that he may become ashamed. 15 And yet do not be considering him as an enemy, but continue admonishing him as a brother.

    I guess Jehovah’s Witnesses did not make up disfellowshiping after all!

  9. Jody says:

    The Watchtower press corp likes to advertise that they have ‘no passing of the collection plate’ at their Kingdom Hall services BUT they do have *contribution boxes* prominently displayed at all entrances exit egresses and attendees are ‘encouraged to donate,donate,donate….
    You will be very warmly welcomed and this has been described as ‘love bombing’. They also do a lot of condemnation of other belief systems but tolerate no critical debate of their own doctrines

  10. great article ; keep them coming

  11. Thomas Murphy says:

    People who are not Jehovah’s Witnesses, or who are not privy to the inner workings of the witnesses believe KNOCKING to be a documentary that tells the whole, complete inner workings of the witnesses. This is not true. KNOCKING merely shows a one sided insight into the witness experience. The documentary was written by a homosexual former witness who wanted to do something to please his witness mother. It is certainly not the last word on who or what witnesses are. In additioned the documentary was sactioned by the organization who opened their doors to the film maker when they were assured that the film would be a positive one for them. So what if people liked it and gave it favorable reviews? It does not begin to tell the whole story of Jehovah’s Witnesses.

    Someone earlier said that witnesses who were expelled from the organization for acts of corruption or immorality are now apostates who speak ill of the organization. That we are mad and spiteful. Nothing could be further from the truth. Some of us “apostates” have simply come to realize that the witnesses religion is not want it appears to be. It is not the truth.

    Witnesses are repeatedly told that to disobey the Governing Body (a group of men who run the oprganization) is the same as disobeying God. What blasphemy. They have set themselves up in the place of Jesus and though they are just men all witnesses are to follow what they say without question. This is the same spiel that Jim Jones used to get his followers to drink poison and the tactic that Hitler used to get his followers to murder other human beings. They all claim that God is on their side.

  12. Thomas Murphy says:

    Dear Stuart:

    It is not just the witnesses who championed civil liberties in the court. So did Larry Flynn, the pornographer and so did Hugh Hefner and so have thousands of other groups, organizations and churches.

    So while the witnesses have gone to court and won cases pertaining to civil rights, they are absolutely not the only ones.

  13. Patterson Elder says:

    Stuart is Steve Klemetti who spams the same Jehovah’s Witnesses post at dozens of forums.

    Steve Klemetti is a *hybrid* APOSTATE he attacks the Watchtower society Governing Body but also slanders and harasses EXJW’s too.

    Steve Klemetti has his own apostate web pages: JWProclaimers

    Did you know he actually counts field service time in his apostasy?

  14. Thomas Murphy says:

    Sruart wrote:
    The Problem with “False Prophecy” Polemics

    Dear Stuart. We are not talking about man made prophesies, are we? These prophesies are supposed to come directly from Jehovah. Did Jehovah get it wrong? Isn’t it blasphemous to even suggest that he got it wrong? The same is true with the dates that the organization gives its followers. Dates that we learn and teach to others because we can sure about them. After all, these dates and prophesies come from Jehovah whom the Governing Body channels. Then when the date changes or passes without the expected result, well, we just have to shrug it off.
    Maybe, just maybe, the Governing Body is not who they say they are and that they are just guessing. Just guessing, and that is why they get it wrong so much of the time.

  15. Barnabas says:

    Jehovah’s Witnesses are a religious group that separates families – in Scientology it’s called disconnection, in JW it’s disfellowshipping and shunning.

    Family is the most sacred nucleus of society, not religion, and belief in doctrine should not come before a family’s love.

  16. Barnabas says:

    55 reasons Jehovah’s Witnesses will never be reformed
    by Frank J. Toth

    1. Teaching that true Christianity is an organization instead of a way of life
    2. Claiming salvation is dependent upon belonging to the JW denomination
    3. Claiming that the organization speaks for and is controlled by Jehovah, thereby equating the organization with God himself

    4. Centralizing authority in an organization instead of letting Christ be the head of each Christian
    5. Claiming that the “faithful and discreet slave” is the “anointed class” rather than each individual Christian who shows himself or herself to be responsible and obedient to Christ
    6. Teaching that the early Christians were led by a governing body

    7. Teaching that Jesus appointed the “anointed remnant” as his true church in 1919
    8. Viewing the so-called “anointed” class (actually, the governing body) as God’s channel and prophet
    9. Placing WT literature above the Bible

    10. Frequently taking Bible texts out of context in order to build support for the organization’s man-made teachings and procedures

    11. Teaching that Jesus returned in 1914 and is “invisibly present” since then
    12. Teaching that Jerusalem was destroyed in 607 BCE when no historical records confirm this and the actual date is believed by nearly all historians to be 587 BCE

    13. Falsifying the fact that Charles Russell predicted for 1914 the end of the world, not Christ’s return
    14. Lying about a so-called “increase” in earthquakes, warfare, famines, persecution, etc., since 1914
    15. Contradictorily condemning military organizations and frowning upon JWs who choose alternative service in lieu of military service while the headquarters organization at the same time owns stock in a military product organization (REGI)

    16. Taking a conflicting stand with regard to the United Nations, claiming that it is the “wild beast” of Revelation that leads all nations in a fight against God and Christ at Armageddon, but signing on as an NGO member and publishing articles that present the UN in a favorable light
    17. Teaching that it’s wrong to celebrate birthdays and all holidays
    18. Teaching that Abraham and the faithful men and women of old are not among the holy ones who will rule with Christ in his Kingdom
    19. Interpreting Jewish restoration prophecies as fulfilled in “the anointed remnant”

    20. Teaching that the Scriptures are directly addressed only to “the remnant of anointed ones”
    21. Teaching that only the “anointed” must be born again
    22. Teaching that the “great crowd” are not begotten or anointed by the Holy Spirit

    23. Teaching that the “great crowd” are God’s grandchildren and not his sons and daughters
    24. Teaching that the “great crowd” are not members of the bride of Christ
    25. Teaching that Jesus is not the mediator between God and the “great crowd” of Revelation chapter 7

    26. Teaching that the resurrection of the “anointed” precedes the resurrection of the “other sheep” and that it has already begun
    27. Teaching that only “anointed” JWs will receive immortality in the resurrection
    28. Inviting only the “anointed” to partake at the memorial

    29. Claiming that spiritual food comes from the “anointed” class whereas nearly all the writers of WT publications are members of the “other sheep” class

    30. Creating a climate of fear by authoritarianism
    31. Controlling what individual JWs may read of Bible-related publications that are not produced by the WT Society
    32. Arrogantly pretending that the JW organization maintains higher standards than any other religion and proclaiming publicly that all other churches are members of Babylon the Great

    33. Forbidding attendance and participation at other churches
    34. Class distinctions such as “governing body,” “anointed remnant” and “great crowd of other sheep”
    35. Class distinctions such as publishers, auxiliary pioneers, regular pioneers, special pioneers, circuit overseers, district overseers, Bethelites, Governing Body, etc.

    36. Prohibiting women from serving in any meaningful role in the congregation while expecting them to do the bulk of the work in “field service”
    37. Constantly prodding the membership by means of literature, meetings and conventions to do ever more and more in the service of the organization, promoting an atmosphere where many feel their best is never good enough

    38. Setting dates for Armageddon and thereby urging the membership to abandon normal living, this often resulting in the ruination of health and family life, as well as creating employment and financial hardships

    39. Teachings that lead the members to believe righteousness and salvation can be earned by devoted and loyal support of the organization’s slavish programs
    40. Keeping meeting attendance and field service records as a gauge of an individual’s spirituality
    41. Organizationally requiring no blood transfusions instead of letting it be a matter of conscience, thereby cruelly informing all members that they will be shunned by the organization if they accept a transfusion that might restore health following a life-threatening accident or illness

    42. Allowing their own infants and children to die instead of allowing doctors to give them necessary blood transfusions
    43. Teaching that the “congregation” of Matthew 18:17 is the body of elders
    44. Holding heresy trials and disciplinary hearings in secrecy from the rest of the congregation
    45. Withholding information that would be helpful to persons who have been accused of wrongdoing

    46. Conducting heresy trials of members who have doubts or who think differently upon the Scriptures
    47. Defining apostasy as against the organization instead of against God
    48. Being quick to disfellowship instead of making efforts to restore persons who have done something wrong

    49. Unnecessarily and abusively shunning members even for minor infractions such as smoking or not complying with the whimsical directives of elders, thereby causing personal and family turmoil that often results in immense guilt, shame, fear, depression, bitterness, hatred, murder and suicide
    50. Prohibiting fellowship with disassociated persons who show no inclination toward causing dissension

    51. Showing favoritism by advising innocent victims to “leave it to Jehovah” instead of the elders taking decisive action to deal with some members who have been accused of harmful wrongdoing.
    52. Ignoring or minimizing clear evidence of child molestation and other abuses simply because only one witness is available to testify against the member accused of such serious wrongdoing
    53. Covering over and hiding damaging facts about the JW organization

    54. In many cases, neglecting the care of their own sick and elderly members who no longer have the strength and energy to attend all the meetings and to be regular in “field service” as they did for most of their lives
    55. Blatantly lying to the public by declaring to news media that members may leave the organization at any time, of their own free will and without any repercussions from the organization

  17. judge rutherFRAUD says:

    let me start by saying I never fell for the watchtower lies and was never a baptised member AFTER LISTENING TO WTS PROPAGANDA FOR 40 YEARS. WHY? MY STANDARD FOR TRUTH AND GOD ARE HIGHER THAN ANY JW I EVER MET. from the late 1960’s i went to the hall and book study and was told as a 4th grader the world would end before i finished grade school, then it was before 1975 the world was to end, before the people that were old enough to serve in world war ! died the world would end. they would have to born at 1898 the latest. the world was to end in 1975 wt book 1968″ truth that leads to eternal life” they were counting down the months till oct 1975 at my hall see may 1968 or 69 kingdom ministery only 88 months till 1975. wts book “nations will know i’m jehovah” 1971 pg 213 or 216 the preaching work will be finished before the end of the 20th century pointing to 1975. the WT MAY 15 1984 this generation will not pass away before armageddom. 1966 WT BOOK “EVERLASTING SONS IN THE FREEDOM OF CHRIST” stating the world to end in 1975. every awake mag till 1994 on page 4 stating “it’s the creators promise that the persons that saw the events of 1914 will see the new system” to bad all those WW1 VET’S ARE DEAD NOW. NO WONDER IN MAY 1995 WT THEY CHANGED THE GENERATION. BUT JW’S FORGET IN 1951 THE WT WAS ADDING 37 YEARS TO 1914 WITH THE DESTRUCTION OF THE TEMPLE TO SAY A GENERATION WAS ONLY 37 YEARS. IT’S TIME YOUR YOU JW’S HERE TO DO YOUR RESEARCH ON FALSE PROPHECIES OF THE WT SO YOU CAN BURN YOUR BOOK BAGS LYING THAT JESUS CHOOSE THE WTS AS THE TRUE RELIGION IN 1919. THAT’S MY NEXT TOPIC WHAT WAS YEAR WAS THE WTS TEACHING THE WORLD WAS TO END AT THE 1919 AND 1922 CONVENTIONS AT CEDAR POINT OHIO. research your ” revelations grand climax book” and your proclaimers book and I’ll bow down to any JW HERE that read the wt book” MILLIONS NOW LIVING WILL NEVER DIE” 1920 SINCE I HAVE IN 40 YEARS NEVER MET ONE JW’S THAT EVER READ THAT BOOK. THAT THE WATCHTOER TODAY CALLS FOREFULLMENT OF THE 7 TRUMPETS OF REVELATIONS ETC. NEXT ANY JW THAT WILL POST A PICTURE OF CHARLES TAZE RUSSELL’S GRAVE WITH THE 8 FOOT TALL PYRAMID AND CAN TELL ME WHY JEHOVAH’S CHOOSEN MOUTHPIECE ON EARTH TAUGHT FOR OVER 50 YEARS THAT JEHOVAH BUILT THE PYRAMIDS IN EGYPT TO PROVE THE TIME OF THE END STARTED IN 1799 JESUS RETURNED TO KINGDOM POWER IN HEAVEN IN 1974, JESUS WAS GOING TO TAKE OVER THE EARTH IN 1914 AND RULE FROM THE MOUNT OF OLIVES THEN WHY NO ONE SHOULD HAVE CHILDREN FROM 1925 TILL 1953 WHY JUDGE RUTHERFRAUD TOLD FARMERS NOT TO PLANT THERE CROPS IN 1924? JW’S ARE EASY TO EXPOSE BECAUSE THEY NEVER LOOK UP THE LASTEST WT MAG THAT QUOTES FROM 1933 1908 1897 ETC TO PROVE WHAT THE WT WAS TEACHING WAS REALLY TRUTH… IT’S A SHAME

  18. judge rutherFRAUD says:


  19. The Watchtower CLAIMS to have 7 million members these are all self-reporting statistics there is no independent verification of this *exaggerated* increase.Scientology also claims millions and is suspected of about 100,000 worldwide. Islam claims 1 BILLION and the Catholic church nearly same.

    Remember the Watchtower society (you seen them with the magazines) is a foremost publishing company and propaganda is their game

    If a Jehovah’s Witness ever did meet God he’d properly try to teach him the *truth* and convert him.
    I was raised a JW. It was a horrendous experience. Our family remains fractured and divided because of this insidious cult. I remain in contact with a few active members and it is quite telling how unhappy and judgemental they are as a group. Certainly nothing of Christ’s love in that Kingdoom Hell…
    I feel so sad for children that are oppressed within this group. No matter what you are made to feel like you are never good enough. The kids either adapt and get exceptionally skilled at lying or they get depressed (and sadly many kill themselves) as they can see no real way out.
    This is a deceptive, high-control cult. Stay away.

  20. Nick says:

    Judas could of wrote negative things about the Apostles.

    The truth is, Jehovah’s Witnesses have God’s spirit. Where there is spirit there is activity. They are truly involved in the greatest preaching and teaching work that will be fulfilled just as Jesus said. (Matthew 24:14)

    While some oppose and make excuses, like first-century Christians, Jehovah’s Witnesses will continue to “GO OUT” and make disciples. (Matthew 28:19, 20)

  21. J. Morales says:

    Have you noticed that if someone posts something against the JW they are automatically classified as apostates?
    Is there any chance that people who love the truth and facts decide not to be part of a Religion that do not let its members study any other publication that is not printed by their publishing company?

    I would say that most JW are sincere in their love for God, but are they able to challenge any teaching from their Governing Body? Even if they are wrong? (and they have been wrong many many times)

    Is that really light from God?

    How many JWs are really aware of the Origins of their Religion? Any JW who would read their own publications printed 100 years ago and would follow their teaching would be expelled from their own religion. That is a FACT not a bitter attack.

    I love my JW family. But they think that God doesnt love me because I am not ok with the human teachings of men who claimed to be inspired by God.

    They put all their time preaching because they are sincere and believe they are pleasing God. But very few of them have really researched the documents that command them to go preach every week. They accept them as Inspired by God. They only read their publications. They spent more time reading their publications than the bible itself because they think that it their publications come from God too (by means of their Governing Body) but few know that their Governing Body doesnt even write their publications.

    Few know that even the bible has no original documents to back up its authenticity, but they are sincere and good people.

    They have a great brotherhood all over the world yes, but you have to agree with everything they believe otherwise they shun you. So is that a real brotherhood? or is it more like membership?

    They dont even really know what a cult is.

    Are you allowed to do independent research?

    Is the way you dress, cut your hair, lenght of your skirts or even length of your hair controlled?

    Can you talk to someone who doesnt agree with your religion?

    Can you have independent thinking?

    When you study your own literature… who asks the questions and who provides the answers? have you thought of that? can you even ponder on that?

    do you think that anything that goes against your religion comes from SATAN himself?

    how about some questioning of your own beliefs..

    To each its own. But I would never become a JW nor would I allow my children to become one. I respect their opinions but can they respect mine?

  22. Aussie Oz says:

    Perhaps the most widely PRINTED. Not read, as most copies end up piling up in Jehovah’s Witnesses own closets.

    Indeed, the Watchtower society knows this as they have recently change magazine collection from each JW having a set order for ‘placing’ to only take what you actually CAN place.

  23. Lifelong Jehovah’s Witnesses dissident speaks out on JW belief system .

    A) They are at your door to recruit you for their watchtower society corporation,they will say that “we are just here to share a message from the Bible” this is deception right off.

    B) Their ‘message’ creed is a false Gospel that Jesus had his second coming in 1914.The problem with this is it’s not just a cute fairy tale,Jesus warned of the false prophets who would claim “..look he is here in the wilderness,or see here he is at the temple.”

    C) Their anti-blood transfusion ban against *whole blood* has killed thousands.

    D) once they recruit you they will “love bomb” you in cult fashion to also recruit your family & friends or cut them off.
    Danny Haszard Jehovah’s Witness X 33 years

  24. DaCheech says:

    I am currently a Jehovahs Witness only in appearence (for I go to all meetings, house to house and etc).

    If I try to leave my wife will divorce me and take my childrenm away.

    All who take their side, have to hear about the families they break apart.

    them, and I will come with a salvation message, but after our facade is exposed you will see our message is one of destruction for the infidels and unbelievers

  25. REBEKAH says:

    The “Watchtower” and the “Awake!” magazines in English saved my life, especially when I was living in a foreign country and learning the common language. They also saved my life because I grew up in an oppressive household that did not educate me in anything, beat me verbally and physically, and the siblings were horrible examples. I am able to overcome all these things because of these magazines and recognizing that I was not responsible for the way they talked and acted. They were ignorant despite having this information available to them. Yet, those still living believe they are righteous. They are … SELF-righteous. These magazines helped me to see through people’s behaviors and put responsibility on them. I am responsible for my behavior and I know that I did not create the environment that I grew up in. Yet, in spite of my many efforts to promote peace among them, they have reacted by making “war.” Because these magazines truly go into the scriptures in depth, I am aware of these scriptures. When David wanted to make peace, this is what he discovered. “I stand for peace; but when I speak, They are for war.” (Psalm 120:7) In addition, the wise counsel from the beloved Apostle Paul: “Return evil for evil to no one. Provide fine things in the sight of all men. IF POSSIBLE, AS FAR AS IT DEPENDS UPON YOU (caps mine), be peaceable with all men. 19 Do not avenge yourselves, beloved, but yield place to the wrath; for it is written: “Vengeance is mine; I will repay, says Jehovah.” These magazines keep a person spiritually satisfied and save lives. The Bible is one big psychology book. It tells about the people, their personalities, the way they handled matters from their insides to the way they talked and acted. That’s important because it shows how the situations they were involved in turned out … for good or bad. It’s important to the God of the Bible, Jehovah, that we change our personalities to not be like those who made situations turn out in devastating ways. “Strip off the old personality with its practices, and clothe yourselves with the new [personality], which through accurate knowledge is being made new according to the image of the One who created it, …” (Colossians 3:9-10) It’s clear that THIS GOD wants those who represent HIM to mold their personalities from the inside out to be peaceful and respectful to all people regardless of how one or others choose to be and behave!

  26. REBEKAH says:

    I want to add my observation to Colossians 3:9-10 when it talks about the “new” personality. It seems that, throughout mankind’s written history, many people forgot … either by not being educated or by environment … God’s loving personality and demonstrated destructive attitudes and actions within families and among nations. “All this I have seen, and there was an applying of my heart to every work that has been done under the sun, [during] the time that man has dominated man to his injury.” (Ecclesiastes 8:9) The dictionary says that the word “new” can represent something that existed before; however, it has been so much time since people knew about it or saw it in action that it’s again NEW in the sense that people discover it as though it new. People created the “dog eat dog” and “it’s a rat race” mentality … causing nurturing and civility among many to become a foreign and even unknown quality. A person imitating Christ’s loving personality and conduct is something “new” … even among Christians because people know the concept; however, to survive, they submit to and contribute to the “the nice guys win last.” WE, the people, are the only ones that can change that philosophy; however, it’s only Jehovah’s Witnesses and the magazines that CONTINUOUSLY tell us how to make those changes.

  27. Jean-Sebastien says:

    “Read”? Read by who? The most published or distributed magazine is more accurate, it is NOT read.

  28. Sean says:

    Thank you so much for such an informative and well-written article. I had never seen all the quotations at the end commenting on the NWT. It was a pleasure to “tag along” with you and share your observations.

  29. Trebor says:

    Does “new light” excuse false prophecy?

    “From a purely human viewpoint, it could appear that these developments could hardly take place before the generation of 1914 disappears from the scene. But fulfillment of all the foretold events affecting the generation of 1914 does not depend on comparatively slow human action. Jehovah’s prophetic word through Jesus Christ is: ‘This generation [of 1914] will by no means pass away until all things occur.’ (Luke 21:32) And Jehovah, who is the source of inspired and unfailing prophecy, will bring about the fulfillment of his Son’s words in a relatively short time.–Isaiah 46:9,10; 55:10,11.”
    –The Watchtower, May 15, 1984, pages 6-7

    Note: The expression “[of 1914]” is in the original Watchtower text.

    “‘However, the prophet who presumes to speak in my name a word that I have not commanded him to speak or who speaks in the name of other gods, that prophet must die. And in case you should say in your heart: “How shall we know the word that Jehovah has not spoken?” when the prophet speaks in the name of Jehovah and the word does not occur or come true, that is the word that Jehovah did not speak. With presumptuousness the prophet spoke it. You must not get frightened at him.’”
    –New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures – Deuteronomy 18:20-22.

  30. Frank says:

    Similar to Janet Kennedy (above), my JW upbringing was a living nightmare that fractured our family, the scars of which my siblings are still working through today.

    As JMorales stated, the JW door knocking introduction might sound innocuous, but their beliefs and dogma are anything but. This is a pernicious sect that has caused massive rates of broken homes, child abuse, depression, and mental illness.

    7.3M adherents is a figment, including the one-time curious who may attend the JW memorial service at Easter and never come back. 3M-4M worldwide is more accurate assessment, and many of those (like DaCheech), just attend to placate a spouse and keep their family from being torn apart.

    Just as their founder had done a century earlier, The Watchtower Society condoned the widespread expectation of the world ending in 1975, and then backpedaled and denied ever having made this prediction. Many in that JW generation gave up higher education, starting a family, or any sort of meaningful life. The new generation are justifiably skeptical, hedging their supposed faith with college, careers and children.

    That cynicism might just be their salvation.

  31. REBEKAH says:

    Newspapers have circulation counts. Magazines, too. Every publication that is written and circulated have their counts. Many people subscribe to these newspapers and publications, including people commenting herein. How many can honestly say that you read the entire publications? How many can honestly say that you read some of the publications? How many never get to the publications even though you subscribe to them? There are not anymore subscriptions to the “Watchtower” and “Awake!” magazines. Yet, the number of magazines distributed continues to grow. It never ceases to amaze me to see the deep-seated hatred that is expressed about Jehovah’s Witnesses. In particular, because they have adjusted their views on matters as they have understood them better. Yet, no one criticizes the customs and traditions held strongly without change in many of the religions of the world and, especially, the predominant ones. We start as babies and we grow. As we grow we develop knowledge and skills. Many seek more education and acquire even greater learning and abilities. In putting this into practice, experience teaches us better ways of thinking about matters and doing things. Hardly anyone wants to be the way we were, where ignorance due to immaturity caused us to think and behave in ways that, with growth, we realize wasn’t appropriate. We may even be embarrassed by our past actions and decisions. The same is true about learning about the God of the Bible. A religion that doesn’t change its views to be more and more in harmony with Bible teachings, especially if they claim that the basis for their religion is the Bible, is stagnant. It’s misleading it’s adherents. Such venom doesn’t improve anything. Even technological developments would not have happened if people didn’t think, act and do things differently. Do you have a cell phone? It most likely wouldn’t exist if everyone involved in its development had such a narrow, prejudiced and fatal viewpoint as is expressed whenever something good is said about Jehovah’s Witnesses. With the destructive views that are expressed herein, I would have to conclude that you hate anyone or group that makes changes. You’re complaining about the growth and greater developments and discoveries as a result of change. Under those conditions, you need to surrender your cell phone, MP3 player, computer, automobile, etc., too, because they came about as a result of change. This is an illustration. If you don’t understand it, then maybe these words apply to you: “to those outside all things occur in illustrations, 12 in order that, though looking, they may look and yet not see, and, though hearing, they may hear and yet not get the sense of it, nor ever turn back and forgiveness be given them.” 13 Further, he said to them: “YOU do not know this illustration, and so how will YOU understand all the other illustrations?” (Mark 4:11-13) Change is good. We don’t grow if we don’t change. Better doesn’t happen without change.

  32. REBEKAH says:

    Since jet planes came into use, no one has developed a solution to the problem of birds being sucked into the jet engines. This doesn’t happen often; however, it does happen. When it happens, crew and passengers die devastating deaths. Reasoning that making such a change to the jet engines is not necessary because there are an extremely great number of flights that go without incident.

    Do you want to be on that airplane that goes down because the poor birds were sucked into the jet engine? Not likely; however, you’re reasoning in a similar manner when you’re making disparaging remarks about Jehovah’s Witnesses seemingly because they make changes. They make changes because they don’t want to “play the numbers” with the lives of people … they want everyone to live … the same as is expressed at 2 Peter 3:9 … “Jehovah is not slow respecting his promise, as some people consider slowness, but he is patient with YOU because he does not desire any to be destroyed but desires all to attain to repentance.”

    Since some writers are determined to be hateful, I am aware that what I or anyone else that says good things about Jehovah’s Witnesses and their worldwide organization will fall on deaf ears … everything turns into “busy signal” in your brains and you don’t hear what is actually being said. I’m sorry for you.

  33. REBEKAH says:

    Danny Haszard, if not taking blood TRULY has killed “thousands,” then why has the US Defense Department awarded nearly $4.7 BILLION to Englewood Hospital in New Jersey to develop a BLOODLESS SURGERY PROGRAM for its military personnel in the field and trauma centers?

    This is only ONE thing that shows you’re not accurate in your comments.

  34. Victor Benitez says:

    To Stuart,

    You quote a bible passage, “…quit mixing in company with anyone called a brother that is a fornicator or a greedy person or an idolater…”

    Since the founding of the Watchtower organization, millions, and counting, have renounced never to return to the Watchtower Corporation. Since the earliest conception of a governing body, that body of oligarchs, have misrepresented bible history and secular history. As of today, the present body of oligarchs of the Watchtower continue to practice those same old habits of lying. We, the heretics, refuse to bow down to these men, and obey them, and promote their so call truth, because in the light of the facts, the test of transparent evidence proves over and over that THEY are lying and feel NO SHAME, in doing so. To recant what you have researched, objectively, and return to THEIR teachings is idolatry.

    I ask you, Stuart, why would you want to be mixing with them?

    Isn’t idolatry a very, very, serious sin, Stuart?

    Then, why do you support them?

    Why do you practice, habits of idolatry, Stuart?

  35. REBEKAH says:

    DaCheech, I’ve never heard of anyone divorcing a marriage mate because they do not want to be a Jehovah’s Witness anymore. I’m not saying this has never happened; however, I’ve been around a long time and this is the first I’ve ever heard of this. Whoever thinks they can divorce for such a reason is not very well scripturally versed because the Apostle Paul clearly stated that one should not leave a husband or wife because they’re not sharing the same beliefs about God.

    “But to the others I say, yes, I, not the Lord: If any brother has an unbelieving wife, and yet she is agreeable to dwelling with him, let him not leave her; 13 and a woman who has an UNBELIEVING HUSBAND (caps mine), and yet he is agreeable to dwelling with her, LET HER NOT LEAVE HER HUSBAND (caps mine). 14 For the unbelieving husband is sanctified in relation to [his] wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified in relation to the brother; otherwise, YOUR children would really be unclean, but now they are holy. 15 But if the unbelieving one proceeds to depart, let him depart; a brother or a sister is not in servitude under such circumstances, but God has called YOU to peace. 16 For, wife, how do you know but that you will save [your] husband? Or, husband, how do you know but that you will save [your] wife?” (1 Corinthians 7:12-16)

    I am assuming that you are NOT an abusive husband, that you have skills and work, support your wife and children (mentally, emotionally and physically) and are, generally, a good man. Your wife, whether you choose to stay or leave the Witnesses, has an obligation to have deep respect for you.

    “In this way husbands ought to be loving their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself, 29 for no man ever hated his own flesh; but he feeds and cherishes it, as the Christ also does the congregation, 30 because we are members of his body. 31 “For this reason a man will leave [his] father and [his] mother and he will stick to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” 32 This sacred secret is great. Now I am speaking with respect to Christ and the congregation. 33 Nevertheless, also, let each one of YOU individually so love his wife as he does himself; on the other hand, THE WIFE SHOULD HAVE DEEP RESPECT FOR HER HUSBAND. (caps mine)” (Ephesians 5:28-33)

    So many difficulties arise because of not doing personal study and, in particular, knowing for oneself what the scriptures say. The “Watchtower Society” does not encourage divorce. Individuals, though, who do not make sure of what the scriptures say and mean can create difficulties even if it’s not on purpose. We all get the same information. Our ability to apply it successfully depends on a lot of factors, including each one’s ability to understand and exercise it. That is a sad truth among all peoples and groups.

    Concerning your marriage, I suggest that you talk to her on a scriptural basis … let Jehovah God “talk” to her. He doesn’t demand … he educates and let’s us make up our own minds as it’s our heart condition that is important to him. He wants our heart to motivate our decisions. In other words, we shouldn’t just do our “duty” without heartfelt desires … we should accept our responsibilities because we have love from the heart to take care of them.

  36. Stuart says:

    Dan12:And he went on to say: “Go, Daniel, because the words are made secret and sealed up until the time of [the] end. 10 Many will cleanse themselves and whiten themselves and will be refined. And the wicked ones will certainly act wickedly, and no wicked ones at all will understand; but the ones having insight will understand.

  37. REBEKAH says:

    Victor Benitez, the Apostle Paul had similar experiences among the Early Christians.

    “… For I consider that I have not in a single thing proved inferior to YOUR superfine apostles. But even if I am unskilled in speech, I certainly am not in knowledge; … Since many are boasting according to the flesh, I too will boast. … I say this to [our] dishonor, as though our position had been weak.
    But if anyone else acts bold in something—I am talking unreasonably—I too am acting bold in it. Are they Hebrews? I am one also. Are they Israelites? I am one also. Are they Abraham’s seed? I am also.  Are they ministers of Christ? I reply like a madman, I am more outstandingly one: in labors more plentifully, in prisons more plentifully, in blows to an excess, in near-deaths often.  By Jews I five times received forty strokes less one, three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I experienced shipwreck, a night and a day I have spent in the deep;  in journeys often, in dangers from rivers, in dangers from highwaymen, in dangers from [my own] race, in dangers from the nations, in dangers in the city, in dangers in the wilderness, in dangers at sea, in dangers among false brothers, in labor and toil, in sleepless nights often, in hunger and thirst, in abstinence from food many times, in cold and nakedness. … I have become unreasonable. YOU compelled me to, for I ought to have been recommended by YOU. For I did not prove to be inferior to [YOUR] superfine apostles in a single thing, even if I am nothing. For my part I will most gladly spend and be completely spent for YOUR souls. If I love YOU the more abundantly, am I to be loved the less? Finally, brothers, continue to rejoice, to be readjusted, to be comforted, to think in agreement, to live peaceably; and the God of love and of peace will be with YOU.” (2 Corinthians 11:5-6, 18; 12:15, 20-27; 13:11)

    People can be frustrating; however, that does not mean that Jehovah’s Witnesses, as a whole, do not have and make great efforts to have Bible truth.

  38. Stuart says:

    This is Danny Haszard. GIVE ME A BREAK!

  39. matt says:

    living your life while worrying about and planing for what will happen after your life is idiotic. living in the now is much more fun. because when we die, we die, there’s no AFTERLIFE. how ridiculous humans can be when they are brainwashed

  40. matt says:

    this is a good article on the movie KNOCKING and some other first hand accounts of how disruptive this religion can be to many people and their families. its SO sad that a religion like this does not teach forgiveness, but rather never ending shunning and horrible family practices

  41. Francois says:

    At 2 Peter 2:22….who is the dog that returns to his own vomit?…..Yuck!

  42. Stuart says:

    There is a major demonic agenda against this target group. Which makes perfect sense since the world is lying in the power of the wicked one. Jehovah’s witnesses are the only group preaching and teaching this Good News about Gods Kingdom in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations (whether they like it or not.) Matt 24:14

  43. isaiah 61:1,2 says:

    the watchtower and awake are the greatest things ever precious pearls
    hope that all will read and benefit and do their best to become a part of a loving brotherhood.

  44. Victor Benitez says:

    To Stuart,

    Stuart, you say, “This is Danny Haszard. Give me a break!”

    I’m interested in your response. IF, it’s Danny Haszard…that is HIS response. Everyone is entitle to their position. Right?

    What is YOUR position?

  45. REBEKAH says:

    Frank, Jehovah’s Witnesses make it no secret that they are following Christ’s command, “And Jesus approached and spoke to them, saying: “All authority has been given me in heaven and on the earth. Go therefore and make disciples of people of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the holy spirit, teaching them to observe all the things I have commanded YOU. And, look! I am with YOU all the days until the conclusion of the system of things.” (Matthew 28:18-20)

    Believe it or not, whether through gossip or actual discussions with Jehovah’s Witnesses, most people know that’s why we come to their door. They also know that we don’t force them to talk to us or study with us.

    As I was driving to work in Los Angeles, I remember hearing on the radio, many years ago in the early 1980’s, that Michael Jackson lost a case wherein he sued the Watchtower society regarding disfellowshipping. The judge stated that ALL ORGANIZATIONS, RELIGIOUS OR OTHERWISE (caps mine), have the right to stipulate requirements for membersip and enforce them.

    No one is duped into becoming one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. In fact, Jehovah’s Witnesses have been recognized as having a much longer period of time than any other religion to study about Witnesses, what they believe and be in association with them before making a decision to become baptized.

  46. REBEKAH says:

    In September 2009, in an article that appeared at that time at, for comparison purposes of other religions with their own, a Mormon study concluded that Jehovah’s Witnesses have the “Best Missionary Literature Printing and Distribution Program,” “Best Member-Missionary Program” and “Best Proselyting Magazine” (the “Watchtower” and “Awake!”).

    Additionally, this article states Jehovah’s Witnesses have the “Best Convert Retention.” They quote from “The Hartsem study” which states “The Hartsem study nots that strictness of member expectations, rather than dissuading individuals from baptism, actually contributes to high growth. 64% of U.S. congregations with highly strict member expectations are growing, compared to only 37% with a low strictness of member expectations.”

  47. REBEKAH says:

    Not any of my comments are meant to minimize the pain one or others feel that they experienced among Jehovah’s Witnesses. Each one has to work through his or her pain, though, in a manner that helps them to give up their desire for justice, extracting vengeance and all the other wants and desires to get even that one may have when hurt. That only hurts the person that is bearing all that hatred and anger.

    In spite of all that hatred and anger, Jehovah’s Witnesses continue to grow.

  48. REBEKAH says:

    You may be successful in getting some people to believe you; however, the reality is that harboring such intensely negative thoughts and feelings are not harming anyone else except for you … the person who cannot let go and move on with his or her life.

    It’s not that I don’t know the kind of pain you’re talking about. It’s that I also know it’s not worth losing my life because of a person or persons who are ignorant and hurtful. Each one stands before Jehovah God and his son Jesus Christ … no matter what religion they profess or don’t profess … and they are ultimately accountable to them. Not one person, people or group of any kind will escape their judgment. Life is too short to squander it on hatred and it’s not a good idea to hang around people like that, either.

    I’m also aware that, in secular work, people like you may have been the reason for one or more Jehovah’s Witnesses losing their jobs. You make up such terrible accusations and make it appear that EVERYONE that is a Jehovah’s Witness hurt you.

    I know that because a telephone repairman admitted that to me when he tried to tell me negative things about Jehovah’s Witnesses (once he learned that I am one). I told him that he knows people lie about them and he said that he did. He then told me how fellow workers lied and persecuted an employee that is one where he worked.

    You take advantage of people’s ignorance about Jehovah’s Witnesses or their prejudices about inaccurate stories about them. Some of the negative things people believe actually come from what they hear in their churches.

    You hurt innocent people and you think that is okay?

    I feel so sorry for you and everyone that thinks, feels and behaves that way. In my insight to life … because of living it many years … it’s my view that you and those like you have chosen a very pathetic way of life.

    I choose to forgive … not because anyone has actually done anything that deserves forgiveness (there’s never been any demonstrated actions or talk to indicate remorse and attempts to make up for the badness) … because I will not allow evil people run my mind, heart and mind. The peace one knows from letting go is amazing and lasting. The love for life that comes from that is also amazing and lasting.

    I can talk about my experiences without any desire to “get even.” There is a God who cares and he WILL with true justice take care of these matters. We just need to remember that Jesus Christ is the righteous judge … not us.

  49. justice says:

    Surely the words from the Douglas Walsh trial of 1954
    can shed some light on this discussion group?
    (Answers given by Frederick Franz, eventual president of the society, under oath)

    Q. And unity based upon an enforced acceptance of false prophecy?

    A. That is conceded to be true.

    Q. And the person who expressed his view, as you say, that it was wrong, and was disfellowshipped, would be in breach of the Covenant, if he was baptized?

    A. That is correct.

    Q. And as you said yesterday expressly, would be worthy of death?

    A. I think – – -

    Q. Would you say yes or no?

    A. I will answer yes, unhesitatingly.

    Dear readers, observe as the next response from a JW will
    somehow spindoctor this into a justification for Franz’s actions,
    or a mistrust of the court proceedings.

  50. Kostya says:

    Of course, the Watchtower publications are presenting all the materials from a certain angle — that is, according to the BELIEFS of Jehavah’s Witnesses and the understanding of the Bible, that has been revealed to them.

    And that understanding is being constantly refined — which is a normal thing, when one is really trying to UNDERSTAND things yet deeper.

    How about the real life? In our life in general we have to purify our understanding of certain points, but have to let go of still some other ones. We have at times to admit our serious mistakes and yet understand the main course to be still right.
    Then, when we show ourselves courageous enough to follow our chosen course, it all brings us on to maturity and helps in forging of the excellent qualities of heart and mind in us — such as patience, endurance, wisdom, shrewdness, also we can show more understanding for the downfalls of others.
    We do it all, as we draw out the “deep waters” of our own hearts and apply our knowledge to the challenges of the real life.

    So what?? Jehovah’s Witnesses keep changing and adjusting their understanding of the Bible?? Good! That makes them even much wiser in my eyes. It takes courage and real dedication to be able to keep going after so many changes and minor disappointments JW have faced. So the more the respect they win in my opinion, you know.

    Curious fact: whatever be the “changes and shifts” JW have made, they have been CONTINUOUSLY SUCCESSFUL in their job and purposes ever since the beginning.
    Now is it BECAUSE of the changes they made, or NOTWITHSTANDING the changes?
    VERY interesting question, isn’t it:)))).

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