DOUBLE STANDARDS?
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The Watchtower Society has often been accused of practicing double standards. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, “double standards” is defined as "a set of principles that applies differently and usually more rigorously to one group of people or circumstances than to another." Are such accusations against the Jehovah's Witnesses valid, or are they without merit? This article will let you judge the matter for yourself:

MATTERS OF RELIGIOUS BELIEF

The Watchtower Society's publications speak disapprovingly against those who harass, persecute, or shun others who choose to accept a particular set of beliefs: No one should be forced to worship in a way that he finds unacceptable or be made to choose between his beliefs and his family” (Awake! July 2009, p.29). They've also published an article that describes the harsh treatment endured by a group of Mennonite families who were studying to become Jehovah's Witnesses, describing the situation as cruel (underline ours):

...a Mennonite farmer named Johann saw a copy of the Watchtower magazine in his neighbor’s home. Johann’s family had emigrated from Canada to Mexico and later to Bolivia. But Johann had always desired help in his search for Bible truth. He asked to borrow the magazine. Later, while in the city to sell his farm products, Johann approached a Witness who was offering The Watchtower in the market. She directed him to a German-speaking missionary, and soon Johann was receiving The Watchtower by mail in German... Before he died, Johann told his wife and children: “You must always read The Watchtower. It will help you to understand the Bible.”... Some of Johann’s family began talking to their neighbors about the things they were learning from the Bible... Word of these conversations soon reached the church preachers, who threatened Johann’s family with expulsion if they did not stop... The next day, the missionaries went to visit their new friends in the colony. The missionaries’ motor vehicle was the only one on the road. As they slowly drove past horse-drawn buggies, they exchanged glances with the equally intrigued local residents. Soon they sat at a table with ten Mennonites, representing two families... A few days later, the church elders came to the home of Johann’s family with an ultimatum for the interested ones: “We heard that Jehovah’s Witnesses visited you. You must forbid them to return, and unless you hand over their literature to be burned, you face expulsion.” They had had just one Bible study with the Witnesses, so this presented a formidable test. “We cannot do as you ask,” replied one of the family heads. “Those people came to teach us the Bible.” How did the elders react? They expelled them for studying the Bible! This was a cruel blow indeed. The cart belonging to the colony cheese factory passed by the home of one family without collecting their milk, denying them their only source of income. One family head was dismissed from his job. Another was turned away from buying supplies at the colony store, and his ten-year-old daughter was expelled from school. Neighbors surrounded one home to take away the wife of one of the young men, asserting that she could not live with her expelled husband... (The Watchtower, September 1, 2005, pp.25-26)

On another occasion, the Watchtower Society taught that there is no basis for hating a person just because he or she holds a different viewpoint. (Mankind's Search For God, 1990, p.10 para.16). The Watchtower Society encourages people of other faiths to test the doctrines of their individual faiths, encouraging them to change religions if they find their religion to be false (Awake! July 2009, pp.28-29), teaching that it is a sin to refuse to change your religion when you discover your religion is wrong (The Watchtower, October 1, 1970, p.581 third paragraph).

BUT....the Watchtower Society does not express that same tolerance towards those of their own faith who later choose to accept a different set of beliefs; instead they resort to the disfellowshipping (shunning!) of such members. A Jehovah's Witnesses who accepts beliefs outside of the Watchtower Society's teaching is labeled as an “apostate” – a religious defector – and is considered to be an enemy of God. And, according to the Watchtower Society, an “apostate” is to be hated (The Watchtower, October 1, 1993, p.19 para.15). What does it take to become an apostate, according to the Watchtower Society's criteria? According to their elders' manual apostasy includes: Celebrating religious holidays (including Christmas and Easter), participating in interfaith activities such as praying or hymn singing, deliberately spreading teachings contrary to what is taught by Jehovah's Witnesses, causing divisions, and promoting sects. (Shepherd the Flock of God, 2010, pp.65-66 para.16). Since the Watchtower Society teaches that only the Jehovah's Witness denomination is in the truth (The Watchtower, Nov. 15, 2008, p.14 para.10), they believe that all other denominations outside of the Jehovah's Witnesses are considered to be false religion (The Watchtower, Mar. 15, 2006, p.31 para.20), as they arepartaking of the table of demons (The Watchtower, Nov. 15, 2006, p.24 para.17). If you are already a member of the Jehovah's Witnesses, leaving them in order to join with another denomination is seen as leaving God and joining Satan's system. A member who leaves is deemed to be an apostate and is ousted by the congregation is shunned until he or she decides to accept the Watchtower Society's teachings again. Since shunning includes the cutting off of association with family members who are still Jehovah's Witnesses, this goes completely against their own written words as mentioned above:

No one should be forced to worship in a way that he finds unacceptable or be made to choose between his beliefs and his family."(Awake! July 2009, p.29)

there is no basis for hating a person just because he or she holds a different viewpoint.”
(Mankind's Search For God, 1990, p.10 para.16)

FALSE PROPHETS AND TRUE PROPHETS

According to the Bible, a true prophet's words always come true, whereas a false prophet's words will contain errors. This is a concept that the Watchtower Society agrees with (Insight On the Scriptures, 1988, Vol.1 p.621). The Watchtower Society has given a list of three credentials necessary for identifying a true prophet:

  • The true prophet would speak in the name of Jehovah and the things foretold would come to pass.
  • The prophesying must promote true worship in harmony with God's word and commandments.
  • The prophet would be an advocate of righteousness and his message would promote moral standards, and express God's mind on matter.
    (Insight On the Scriptures (1988), Vol. 2 p.696 "Distinguishing the True From the False")

According to the Watchtower Society, the definition of a true prophet is as follows:

  • One through whom divine will and purpose are made known.
  • True prophets are spokesmen for God with inspired messages, revealing God's "confidential matters".
  • One who reveals messages authorized from a divine source.
    (Insight On the Scriptures, 1988, Vol.2 p.694)

Going with their very own definition, the Watchtower Society says that Jehovah's Witnesses are:

[1] The ones through whom divine will and purpose are made known (The Watchtower, November 1, 2006, pp.25-26 para.15)
[2] God's spokesmen conveying the inspired message of the Bible (The Watchtower, October 1, 1994, p.8 box), and God's authorized representative revealing His “confidential matters” (The Watchtower, October 1, 1999, p.5, para.4)
[3] And that they are who make known messages attributed to a divine source (The Watchtower, June 1, 2003, p.7)

Clearly, they have laid claim to the attributes of a true prophet according to their own definition as shown. Therefore, it is not surprising that, in the past, they have made definite claims to being Jehovah's Prophet by making declarations such as: This prophet was not one man, but a body of men and women...today they are known as Jehovah's Christian Witnesses... (The Watchtower, April 1, 1972 p.197). “God has on earth a people, all of whom are prophets, or witnesses for God. In fact, they are known throughout the world as Jehovah's Witnesses” (Awake! June 8, 1986, p.9).

Interestingly, even though they claimed to be Jehovah's Prophet, they deny being inspired prophets (underline ours):

Jehovah's Witnesses, in their eagerness for Jesus' second coming, have suggested dates that turned out to be incorrect... Never in these instances, however, did they presume to originate predictions 'in the name of Jehovah'...The Watchtower, the official journal of Jehovah's Witnesses has said 'We have not the gift of prophecy (January 1883, p. 425) 'Nor would we have our writings reverenced or regarded as infallible' (December 15, 1896, p. 306).. the fact that some have Jehovah's Spirit 'does not mean those now serving as Jehovah's Witnesses are inspired. It does not meant that the writings in this magazine The Watchtower are inspired and infallible and without mistakes (May 15, 1947, p. 157) The Watchtower does not claim to be inspired in its utterances, nor is it dogmatic (August 15, 1950, p. 263) 'The brothers preparing these publications are not infallible. Their writings are not inspired as are those of Paul and the other Bible writers. And so at times, it has been necessary, as understanding became clearer, to correct views (February 15, 1981 p. 19) (Awake! March 22, 1993, p.4).

Of course, these claims should raise a few red flags, because nobody has ever heard of an uninspired true prophet; no such thing is found in the Bible.

And...did they say that they never presumed "to originate predictions in the name of Jehovah" or that their utterances are not "dogmatic?" Let the facts speak for themselves:

1. At one time, the Watchtower Society taught that 1914 would be the end of the world and the beginning of God's kingdom rulership, dogmatically stating that this was God's date clearly marked in the Scriptures (underline ours):

Zion's Watch Tower, July 15 1894, p.1677
We see no reason for changing the figures — nor could we change them if we would. They are, we believe, God’s dates, not ours. But bear in mind that the end of 1914 is not the date for the beginning, but for the end of the time of trouble.

Zion's Watch Tower, September 15 1901, p.2876
The culmination of the trouble in October, 1914, is clearly marked in the Scriptures; and we are bound therefore to expect a beginning of that severe trouble not later than 1910; — with severe spasms between now and then.

And then they turned around and denied that they set an actual fixed year once the prophecy failed (underline ours):

The Watch Tower, November 1 1914, p.5565
Studying God’s Word, we have measured the 2520 years, the seven symbolic times, from that year 606 B.C.E. and have found that it reached down to October, 1914, as nearly as we were able to reckon. We did not say positively that this would be the year.

Since that prophecy failed, they had to re-tool the teaching. As a result, the Watchtower Society began teaching that the coming of God's Kingdom would occur before the worldwide population who lived in 1914 died out. This was published as being the actual promise of the Creator, Jehovah (underline ours):

Awake! November 8 1994, p.10
As indicated on page 4, “this magazine builds confidence in the Creator's promise of a peaceful and secure new world before the generation that saw the events of 1914 passes away."

However....this very doctrine has been changed twice since then, the most recent being in April 2010, when they published that the "generation" was actually a much longer period of time (The Watchtower, April 15, 2010, "Holy Spirit's Role in the Outworking of Jehovah's Purpose," para.13-14)

So, in spite of their denials, the Watchtower Society has claimed to speak words in the name of Jehovah and have been dogmatic. Does this mean that the Watchtower Society is actually a false prophet? The only way to answer this is to go by the Bible's own definition of a false prophet:

Deuteronomy 18:20-22
However, the prophet that 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 of Jehovah did not speak. With presumptuousness the prophet spoke it. You must not get frightened at him.

Just look in the Bible: Every single one of God's true prophets always spoke prophecy in complete accuracy, there were no mistakes, failures, or “adjustments”. And, apparently, the Watchtower Society agrees with this, for they themselves have written:

True, there have been those in times past who predicted an 'end to the world', even announcing a specific date. Yet nothing happened. The 'end' did not come. They were guilty of false prophesying. Why? What was missing?... Missing from such people were God's truths and evidence that he was using and guiding them,” (Awake! October 8, 1968)

Amusingly, they don't see that their own words condemn themselves, as the Watchtower Society itself was apparently also missingGod's truthswhen printing their own failed predictions.

 

DONATIONS AND COLLECTIONS

The Watchtower Society always speaks critically of the church collection plate system. They have accused churches of “fleecing their flocks” with the collection plate system by guilting parishioners into giving more money than they can afford (The Watchtower, December 1, 2002, p.3 subheading "Giving Until it Hurts"). They accuse the churches of making themselves rich with the money from these collection plates (The Watchtower, September 1, 1987, p.24 para.5). They have also claimed that the solicitation of money at churches reveals their lack of proper spiritual feeding (The Watchtower, December 1, 1990 p.22).

As a contrast, the Watchtower Society claims that, at Jehovah's Witness meetings, no solicitation of money is ever made” and that “A contribution box is placed in the hall, and anyone desiring to help in defraying expenses may contribute as he sees fit”(The Watchtower, October 1, 1977, p.603).

HOWEVER.... the truth is the Watchtower Society admits that financial matters are mentioned about once each month within the congregations (Our Kingdom Ministry, June 1998, p.6 para.20). AND...the Watchtower Society DOES appeal for funds, albeit indirectly, through their publication Our Kingdom Ministry. Note the dates of the following references and you can see that they do this multiple times per year:

Our Kingdom Ministry, Apr. 2009, p.6 “Donations”
We can show our appreciation for the convention arrangements by making voluntary contributions to the worldwide work at our Kingdom Hall or at the convention. Any checks contributed at the convention should be made payable to “Christian Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses.”

This same appeal has been repeated on multiple occasions throughout the years in the following references:

Our Kingdom Ministry November (2009) p.8
Our Kingdom Ministry May (2008) p.3
Our Kingdom Ministry November (2008) p.3
Our Kingdom Ministry April (2007) p.5
Our Kingdom Ministry May (2007) p.3
Our Kingdom Ministry November (2007) p.3
Our Kingdom Ministry April (2006) p.5
Our Kingdom Ministry May (2006) p.3
Our Kingdom Ministry April (2005) p.5
Our Kingdom Ministry May (2005) p.7
Our Kingdom Ministry November (2005) p.3
Our Kingdom Ministry May (2004) p.3
Our Kingdom Ministry November (2004) p.3

AND... there is an annual appeal each year through their The Watchtower magazine, when the following information is printed:

The Watchtower, Nov. 1, 2009, pp.18-19
...set aside, or budget an amount [to] place in the contribution boxes... Voluntary donations of money may also be sent directly... Jewelry or other valuables may be donated... Money may be placed in trust with Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania... named as the beneficiary of a life insurance police or a retirement/pension plan.... Bank accounts, certificates of deposit, or individual retirement accounts may be placed in trust for or made payable on death... Stocks and bonds may be donated... may be named as a Transfer on Death beneficiary... real estate may be donated... A gift annuity ... Property or money may be bequeathed... may be named as beneficiary of a trust agreement...

In previous years, this very same article appeared under the following titles :

The Watchtower, November 15, 2008, pp.6-7 "Serving God With One Heart and Soul"
The Watchtower, November 1, 2007, pp.20-21 "The Silver is Mine, and the Gold is Mine"
The Watchtower, November 1, 2006, pp.20-21 "Ways in Which Some Choose to Give Contributions to the Worldwide Work"
The Watchtower, November 1, 2005, pp.28-30 "Contributions That Warm God's Heart"
The Watchtower, November 1, 2004, pp.22-23 "Do You Know the Happiness That Comes From Giving?"
The Watchtower, November 1, 2003, pp.28-29 "Cultivating a Giving Spirit"
The Watchtower, November 1, 2002, pp.28-29 "Supporter of True Worship -- Then and Now"
The Watchtower, November 1, 2001, pp.28-29 "The Blessing of Jehovah -- That is What Makes Rich"
The Watchtower, November 1, 2000, pp.31 "Riches of Generosity Bring Joy"

Clearly, the Watchtower Society asks for funds through this method of “suggestion,” showing that the membership is, indeed, reminded of financial matters, not only on a monthly basis in their worship meetings, but also throughout the year in their reading materials. And this still isn't the end of it. In between direct solicitations in print, the Watchtower Society reminds the membership to continue giving financially (Our Kingdom Ministry, March 2008, p.1, para.4; Aug. 15, 2000, p.28-29 subheading “Using Our Assets to Promote Pure Worship”; The Watchtower, January 15, 1992, pp.14-19; Awake! January 22, 1989, p. 15 subheading “The Blessings of Generosity”; The Watchtower, July 1, 1988, pp.11-12, para.18; just to name a few ).

In other words, the Watchtower Society continually puts the need for donations in front of their membership on a regular basis – this is no different than asking for such funds directly from a church pulpit. The Watchtower Society, however, tries to make the Jehovah's Witness solicitation seem different from church contributions by stating that all donations in the contribution box can be handled privately and without pressure, and that there should be no pleading for money, only a statement of the financial facts (Jehovah's Witnesses -- Proclaimers of God's Kingdom, 1993, p.343, subheading "Financing Local Places of Meeting).

Therefore, the question is: Is a regularly presented statement of the facts any different from a church's direct request for money? Either way, the congregations are made aware of a need for more financial support and the end result is the exact same – members giving their money in support of the denomination.

Does the existence of a contribution box in lieu of a collection plate make a difference? Although the Watchtower Society focuses on the point that a contribution box gives privacy to one's donation, they totally ignore the fact that the same privacy can be had with collection plates because church members can place their money in envelopes so that no one knows how much each is giving. Of course, a devout Jehovah's Witness will continue to debate the point. Here are a few arguments they may make:

A Jehovah's Witness may argue:

Collection plate envelopes are known to have a blank space in which the donor can put his or her name, or a person can donate by check, thereby ensuring that the money counters know how much was given, and by whom.

The Rebuttal:

In some countries a person can claim a tax deduction for their church donations. In order for the person to receive the tax deduction the church must give the person a statement of how much he or she donated. This can only be done if the church knows who donated which amounts. Notably, in the Jehovah's Witness denomination, since all donors remain anonymous nobody in that denomination can claim such tax deductions. Some non-members have expressed surprise that the Watchtower Society doesn't actually encourage a process allowing tax deductions in order for the members to have more money to donate. Aside from all of this, many church donors don't even bother with putting their names on the envelopes anyway. Therefore, in many cases the donations continue to remain private.

A Jehovah's Witness may argue:

Most churches constantly barrage the membership with requests for money, even resorting to shaming members into giving whether they can afford it or not.

The Rebuttal:

MOST churches are not like that. Yes, unfortunately, there are some who do these things, but they are in the minority. It isn't fair to tag the entirety of Christendom for something that only a few have done; to do so would be no different than tagging the entire membership of Jehovah's Witnesses over something that only some of their congregations have done (such as covering up child molestation).

A Jehovah's Witness may argue:

But our contributions don't go to the financial support of our denominational leaders.

The Rebuttal:

Oh yes they do. According to The Watchtower, August 1, 2009, p.30, sixth paragraph, it is clearly stated that thousands of the members who are devoted to the full-time disciple-making work receive financial assistance to defray the costs of travel and personal expenses. Also, The Watchtower, November 1, 2005, p.30 states that over 28,000 full-time Jehovah's Witness volunteers world wide are supported by these contributions. As of 2010, the Watchtower Society counts membership in 236 “lands” (though there are only about 195 countries) This would average out to roughly 143 workers per “land” who are supported by the contributions of the membership.

 

Clearly, the Watchtower Society's system of donations isn't all that different from the Churches' system of collections. Neither can they claim that they do not appeal for funds on a regular basis, as their own publications show otherwise.