Jehovah's Witnesses - A Study in Hypocrisy
"hy·poc·ri·sy; hiˈpäkrisē/ - the practice of claiming to have moral standards or beliefs to which one's own behavior does not conform; pretense.
I was raised a Jehovah's Witness. After forty years in the organization, over eleven of them as a congregation elder, I'm often asked what it was that finally 'woke me up' and caused me to make a quick exit from the only religion and social circle I'd ever known.
I've pondered that question many times. It wasn't as simple as one thing that tipped me into a new state of mind; it wasn't one event or revelation that pushed me toward the door. No, it was actually a combination of two things that had gnawed at me for most of my life....including thoughts that troubled me all the way back to childhood.
Those two things? Hypocrisy and an obvious lack of love.
That may sound too simple...and while I mentioned a lack of love as one key reason for my departure, I will focus on that particular issue at a later time. For now, I want to share with readers the level of hypocrisy that not only lives among Jehovah's Witnesses, but is actually encouraged by the Governing Body.
Even as a young man I found my mind drifting to 'why?' more often than having a solid faith in the direction of the 'faithful & discreet slave' (recently changed from thousands of anointed ones, to only eight older men in Brooklyn; the Governing Body). Current Jehovah's Witnesses would point to that and say 'see, he doesn't have the right heart condition'....however, their claim isn't in accord with the very Bible the claim to hold as the 'breath of God'.
"Beloved ones, do not believe every inspired statement, but test the inspired statements* to see whether they originate with God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world." - 1 John 4:1, NWT
At an early age, I was shaped by the Scriptures. I held them as the ultimate authority on shaping my life, personality, etc. Despite many sins and growth, I continued to hold that objective throughout my entire adult life. I took it especially as important when I was appointed as a congregation elder at the young age of 27.
I took my appointment very seriously. It was trumped only by my type A personality...and my strongest goal: to be a man just like Jesus Christ...kind, compassionate, emotional, caring, simple and empathetic. In hindsight, I believe it made me a good elder; sought after by many in the congregation and beyond. However, it also is likely where the 'rub' began.
As a young man and then a mature 'servant' of the Watchtower Bible & Tract Society, there was never a time I could wrap my mind around several things that made no sense or weren't rooted in scripture. An example:
As you browse Watchtower literature and look at photographs, you will quickly notice that anyone that is a sinner, non-believer or evil is often times identified with facial hair
If your first reaction is "WHAT?".... you're not alone. While the world is fighting off demonic hordes, led by Satan himself in these 'last days'....while the world is dealing with disease, depression, famine and poverty.... Jehovah's Witnesses were worrying about..... facial hair.
Facial hair and specifically beards, were my first introduction to "Christianity ala carte". As a boy, I questioned why God's chosen nation of Israel had beards, why the Son of God had a beard, why great men of faith had beards, why Charles Taze Russell, founder of the Watchtower, had a beard..... and Jehovah's Witness men aren't allowed to even think about it!
The example of beards was a beginning point for me. None of the elders or adults in the congregation could explain to me why we weren't allowed to have them. They would waffle and say 'that isn't an important matter' or 'will that matter in paradise?' ... but I wasn't satisfied with such elusive reasoning. So I took to research and the Bible.... imagine my surprise.
The Bible makes no command for absence of facial hair. In fact, it makes just the opposite! The hypocrisy of the following was not lost on me...and it was this issue that made me coin the phrase "Christianity ala Carte" ....in other words, picking and choosing what you will apply or ignore, as if parts of the Bible had value, others didn't.
In an effort to make sure no one got a tattoo (yep, another crazy example), the Watchtower Bible & Tract Society reverts....yes, I said reverts....to the Mosaic Law to support God's view against tattoos:
"Significantly, the Mosaic Law forbade God’s people to tattoo themselves. Said Leviticus 19:28: “You must not make cuts in your flesh for a deceased soul, and you must not put tattoo marking upon yourselves. I am Jehovah.” Awake! 2003 Sep 22 p.26
However, notice the verse just before at Leviticus 19:27:
“You must not cut your sidelocks short around, and you must not destroy the extremity of your beard.”
Oops! Never mind that the entire Mosaic Law was considered imperfect and a tutor leading to Christ. Never mind that God himself ABOLISHED the Mosaic Law at His Son's death, including supernatural events in the temple... never mind that history shows those tattoos in ancient times were for pagan religious purposes........throw all of that out and consider the obvious:
One verse applies when it's convenient..... the verse right before it does not. Huh? How could anyone justify this stance?
And so...."Christianity ala Carte" was born.... and it was a phrase that would live with me until my exit as a grown man and elder.
A Long History of Hypocrisy, Lies and Double Standards
"He does not believe who does not live according to his belief." ~Thomas Fuller
I could fill this page with an endless array of examples of doctrinal hypocrisy from the Watchtower Bible & Tract Society. There are literally thousands of contradictory statements, 'guarantees', insinuations, outright lies that anyone can consider with very little effort.
Outsiders wonder 'how can they not see how bad this is?' The reason? The vast majority of Jehovah's Witnesses don't study. They don't read the Bible and very few read their own literature. For most, they adopt whatever they hear from the stage at a Kingdom Hall, Circuit Assembly, District Convention.... or from other Witnesses. Just being associated with 'the organization' frees their conscience to do very little in the way of study or research. They will simply keep the meeting and field service schedule and press on.
While some may easily dismiss this dynamic as 'no big deal', I can assure you that much of the Watchtower's hypocrisy has led to everything from poor self image to death.
Please note: The Watchtower Bible & Tract Society openly claims to be God's only representative on earth. They alone are in full understanding of the Bible and God's wishes. For those that question that authority, they are banished from the organization, including family and friends. Forever. Or until they beg for forgiveness and state they once again believe this claim.
Consider a few of MY favorite examples of Watchtower hypocrisy; ranging from the dumb and comical.....all the way to life altering:
I was and still am, a fitness freak. I love the gym and I loved playing school sports as a high school kid in the United States. Aside from the fact that playing school sports meant you were a bad Jehovah's Witness youth, or, in the least 'bad association'.... imagine how confusing and bizarre it was to learn that going to the YMCA was tantamount to worshiping Satan himself!
Watchtower Magazine,January 1st, 1979, page 31
"In joining the YMCA as a member a person accepts or endorses the general objectives and principles of the organization. He is not simply paying for something he receives, such as when buying things being sold to the public at a store. (Compare 1 Corinthians 8:10; 10:25). Nor is his membership merely an entry pass, as when a person buys a theater ticket. Membership means that one has become an integral part of this organization founded with definite religious objectives, including the promotion of interfaith. Hence, for one of Jehovah's Witnesses to become a member of such a so-called "Christian" association would amount to apostasy."
So any exercise near a YMCA constitutes 'apostasy' or makes you an enemy of God. Because I work my biceps there, I endorse anything the organization says or does. The problem with this hard and fast, man made rule? How do we justify going to a hospital? Nearly every hospital in my hometown has been built and supported by churches, including, Good Samaritan, Emmanuel, St. Vincent's, etc. Does this mean I can't go to the hospital if I need medical care because I'll be an enemy of God?
Prepare yourself for some bizarre hemming and hawing ... as well as a cliché "oh that doesn't matter.' But keep in mind, people were exiled from the organization and refused love from family for going to the YMCA. Yes, it's true.
THE UNITED NATIONS
When you consider the staunch stance regarding a workout at the local YMCA, you drown in the gross hypocrisy surrounding the Watchtower Society and the United Nations.
For several decades, the Watchtower Bible & Tract Society taught millions of people that the United Nations is the "image of the wild beast" referred to in Revelation 13:1-18 and the fulfillment of the "disgusting thing that causes desolation" from Matthew 24;15. Millions and millions of pages, books, magazines, brochures and talk outlines highlighted how evil the UN is and the belief that that Jehovah will use the United Nations to destroy all "false religion" leaving only Jehovah's Witnesses on earth. "The Society" goes on to teach that the United Nations will then turn against Jehovah's Witnesses to destroy them, but Jehovah will intervene and destroy all political elements at Armageddon.
The evil of the UN was pounded into the minds of Jehovah's Witnesses meeting after meeting after meeting; as the very tool of Satan the Devil...a promoted stance reaching back to 1919. In the November 15, 1963 Watchtower, a resolution was written stating, in part "...To date 111 nations have given worship to this political image by becoming members of it. However, we, as witnesses of the Sovereign God Jehovah, will continue refusing to engage in such idolatrous worship..."
Imagine the shock when it was discovered the Watchtower Bible & Tract Society was an associate member of the United Nations Public Information Department starting in 1992. One look at the organization's charter reveals the shocking hypocrisy of "the Society." Remember, you're not allowed to workout at the YMCA or be a junior high school class president, but the very representatives of God, Christ's brothers, were associate members of the United Nations??
For those of us that conducted hundreds of Watchtower Studies on the subject, the hypocrisy was devastating.
The issue of Jehovah's Witnesses and their refusal of blood is well documented. I grew up with a "NO Blood" card in my wallet since as long as I can remember. I'm going to confess, I was very lazy in researching the Bible's view on blood; accepting the direction of the 'faithful and discreet slave" as it being a big 'no-no' in any circumstance.
I could fill an entire blog commenting on the lack of scriptural proofs, as well as the long history of doctrinal inventions, changes and medical studies.... but I'm going to skip that for now.
I can say that there have been many senseless deaths since the Watchtower stated it was a sin against God and disallowed in 1945. Many of those deaths were children. God was apparently very confusing in his message and wasn't concerned with the countless deaths, because the Watchtower's view on blood has changed at a dizzying pace. I encourage you to research the subject in depth.
However, for me it came down to one question that drew nothing but blank stares:
"If Jehovah's Witnesses can accept blood fractions from other people's blood....why can't we donate our blood for the same purpose?" In other words, Jehovah's Witnesses can take other peoples blood, but we can't share our's with them.
As you can see, the absurdity is monumental.
WAR, SMOKING and MONEY
Jehovah's Witnesses have long held to being politically neutral. They have always been vehemently against war or violence. The Watchtower and it's millions of pages of publications have long preached about a future paradise where war and political upheaval won't exist.
If one were to look through the past 100 years of history of the Watchtower Magazine, you would almost think that 'war' was a pet subject of the organization. Campaign after campaign, filled with illustrations, showed a future earth void of war. Millions of pages devoted to God's hate for all things violent.
The organization has gone as far as condemning R rated movies featuring war and shunning those that have military ties, including jobs.
It was shocking to find out that the Watchtower Bible & Tract Society owns shares of military stocks, including major weapon manufacturers. With a careful look into SEC documentation, a person will find that the Watchtower Society owned over five million shares Rand Cam Engine Corp; known for manufacturing military weapons.
As if that wasn't enough, their strong campaign against smoking as a 'sin against God' resulted in many leaving the organization, hiding the habit or being 'disfellowshipped'... essentially shunned without any contact with family allowed.
.....only to discover that the Watchtower Society itself owns stock in Philip Morris Company, one of the world's largest cigarette manufacturers. The list goes on and on to include video game companies, as well as one of the world's largest oil companies.
Aside from demands that Witnesses not be involved in such things, the Watchtower openly rails against the "commercial system of this world", condemning big business. The irony? As of 2010, The Watchtower Bible & Tract Society had real estate holdings worth well over a billion dollars! Even more damning was the revelation that the Watchtower sent delegates to an international hedge funding conference at the British Museum in 2010! What is "God's organization" doing getting involved in hedge funds.....and isn't all monies donated from members, some of which are very poor?
Of course, donating got much easier when they began installing ATM machines in places of worship....something they condemned other religions for doing just a few years earlier!
COLLEGE & HIGHER EDUCATION
The Watchtower Bible & Tract Society has long discouraged higher education. College is looked at in such a negative light, that many Witnesses will literally consider you a sinner for even considering it. The entire attitude and thinking is driven by leaders (Governing Body) of the organization and has been going on for decades.
"Many schools now have student counselors who encourage one to pursue higher education after high school, to pursue a career with a future in this system of things. Do not be influenced by them. Do not let them "brainwash" you with the Devil's propaganda to get ahead, to make something of yourself in this world. The world has very little time left! Any "future" this world offers is no future! ... Make pioneer service, the fulltime ministry, with the possibility of Bethel or missionary service your goal. This is a life that offers an everlasting future!"
The result of endless propaganda against an education?
In 1993, researchers published the result of a massive survey of trends within major religious groups. Barry A. Kosmin and Seymour P. Lachman conducted a National Survey of Religious Identification. The survey had a sample size of 113,000 people. Of the thirty religious groups included in the survey, Jehovah's Witnesses had the lowest percentage of their members graduate from college. (Kosmin BA, Lachman SP. "One Nation Under God," p. 258)
While some may see this as nitpicking, this one 'teaching' has led to entire generations of poorly employed Witnesses. It has left many without retirement money. Many are single parent families, holding true to moral laws, but with no education, they have no job.
Why is this one of my personal favorite "hypocrisy's?"
The world headquarters of Jehovah's Witnesses in Brooklyn, New York is filled with doctors, dentists, lawyers, engineers, technology and software leaders. How did they get there?
For those that are obedient and don't go to college, you're encouraged to go 'door to door' for the rest of you lives on meager income. Those that do, get invited to serve the Watchtower Bible & Tract Society..... without pay.
Diverting Attention from Practiced Hypocrisy
"One should examine oneself for a very long time before thinking of condemning others." ~Moliere
As an elder, I was always contemplating why we spent so much time bashing other religions. It reeked of insecurity to me. I would obtain new public talk outlines (given Sunday's in Kingdom Halls, formerly 45 minutes long) and just marvel at the material. Several outlines would begin with a mandated 20 minute introduction that consisted of heavy bashing of Christendom, as well as several other religions. Twenty solid minutes of why everyone else is wrong and how Jehovah is going to destroy them and let animals eat their guts. This was especially true of "Special Talk" outlines, designed to be given the Sunday following the memorial of Christ's death.
However, I couldn't find a single instance in the Bible where Jesus Christ based an entire talk or sermon on ripping other religions.
The Service Meeting and Watchtower Study were formatted in much the same way. It amounted to hours and hours of us saying "we are right, you're wrong and Jehovah is going to rip your guts out for it while we live in paradise."
This was hardly encouraging to most, however, it provided a mind numbing distraction from the realities of the organization. With so much time spent showing the 'warts' on other organizations or religions, the crowd of Jehovah's Witnesses miss so many wrongs. The common Witness spends zero time examining the religions history of error or ever changing doctrines. If they do happen to stumble on something, they give the organization a 'pass' as being imperfect...while judging other organizations as evil.
With the proliferation of the Internet and easily accessible information, the Watchtower has gone into overdrive to bury it's past...often times a past that is only a couple years old! They heavily pushing their website, something that was unheard of just ten years ago, when the Internet was considered dangerous for a Christian.
You're Evil...We Are Just Mistaken
"Many of us believe that wrongs aren't wrong if it's done by nice people like ourselves." ~Author Unknown
Much of what I have shared is known by many that have left the organization. Very little is new information. However, it may be new to you as a reader.
The leadership of Jehovah's Witnesses has gone out of their way for over a century, to separate themselves from all other institutions of this world. They've used the Bible, along with all of it's prophecies to try proving they alone have God's blessing. Aside from a great deal of supposition, fabrication and fantasy, they have failed miserably to uphold some of the basic tenets of Christianity.
In fact, as one delves deeper into the history of the organization, they find that the Watchtower Bible & Tract Society doesn't differ from any other multi-million dollar business. They have corporate takeovers, law suits, scandal, sexual impropriety... you name it...it's all there for someone that is willing to read a newspaper, official documents or visit a landmark.
But most simply won't put out the effort. They stick to the Society's mantra "You're all evil...we've just made a few mistakes....but we are God's chosen one."
Whether one wants to chalk it up to laziness....being too meek....or not caring... the facts show the Watchtower Bible & Tract Society to be nose deep in hypocrisy. Some will ignore the damage it has done to countless lives, psyches and families.....some even choose to ignore the resulting deaths. However, some will not.
For the truly thinking person, a quote comes to mind:
“Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.”
― Aldous Huxley, Complete Essays 2, 1926-29
About the Author
Darrin Hart was a Jehovah's Witness for over 40 years, 16 of them as an appointed elder and ministerial servant. He is the author of Leaving Jehovah's Witnesses - Practical Thoughts To Help You Survive and Thrive. For more information, visit: