Thursday, June 5, 2008

An Elder's Letter of Resignation To The Governing Body of Jehovah's Witnesses

Dear Sirs: After many years of service as an elder, and several decades of dedication I have decided to resign as an elder. My time as an elder was not troublesome. I was effective, well-respected, and used beyond the average uses that an elder can expect. I believe then that I have earned the right to speak my mind. Further providing some feedback should prove helpful. It may be that something that I say may help you to troubleshoot problems that I am certain you see in this organization. I would like to say first that this letter is directed primarily to the Teaching Committee of the Governing Body and secondly to the GB as a whole. I would really appreciate it if this letter is forwarded to them unedited. Anyone else reading this letter is, in my opinion, not primarily responsible for the problems that I describe here. I have served as an elder for nearly half of my adult life. I loved the job. It was a childhood goal, a dream come true. And I would have continued to serve till my dying day if certain circumstances had not caused my conscience to propel me in a different direction. My service was going well. But as time wore on it became increasingly difficult to balance congregation, religion and life demands. All of the activities in the organization (meetings, service, hospitality, meeting preparation, personal study, CO visits, circuit assemblies, district assemblies, Special Assembly Days, helping the weak...) plus the activities as an elder requires at least 20-30 hours a week. Add to that a forty hour per week job and it becomes apparent that the average Witness works a 60-70 hour week! No wonder we call ourselves "busy people."
After a time, when one works that much there are essential things that begin to suffer. Things like getting a good nights rest, taking good care of one's physical health, eating properly, and exercising, regular physical and dental checkups, helping our children with their homework, giving our children a well-rounded view of life, spending real quality time with our families; And doing things other than running between "theocratic" activities and work, paying our bills, staying out of debt and not living paycheck to paycheck. Particularly in a large city this way of living becomes unbearable. In our case our weight began to climb with no sign of coming down, and I was in danger of heart disease, diabetes and obesity. My wife developed numerous stress related illnesses. It became plain that the work would never end. The only way to deal with it was to "juggle." That meant practicing triage on everything, with never enough leftover time to go back and finish before some new "theocratic activity" was thrust upon us. This was becoming an untenable situation. Furthermore, articles that encourage "balance" and personal care only pour on more guilt, as Witnesses are encouraged to do this while conducting "theocratic" activities. Further these activities are said to MORE important than caring for one’s own family. (km 6/03 p. 1 par. 1 The Christian Ministry—Our Main Work) Never is there talk of shorter or fewer meetings, trading one activity for another, never allowance for people to "count time" caring for their family or the sick in the congregation. (w86 1/1 p. 19 par. 9 Building for an Eternal Future, w87 2/1 p. 15 par. 1 Doing Our Utmost to Declare the Good News) I knew that it would not be long before we would just "break down." So to prevent this I "stepped down." Now this in itself is not as bad as it sounds.
I could have slowed down, regrouped, streamlined my family's affairs and come back strong. In the publications there are many stories of Witnesses who "simplify" their lives for the "Kingdom." (w97 10/1 p. 26 Is the Spirit of the World Poisoning You?) Additionally many people run into similar situations at their jobs. But in the Witness case, unlike with a job, we feel trapped with nowhere to go and no one to turn to. Further there is little hope of change because these demands are made by men (women are probably out of that loop) who have little concept of day-to-day living. They go about their lives in an ideal environment. Their meals are cooked, clothes are cleaned, suits are pressed, laundry is done, rooms are cleaned, cars are fixed almost for free, sundry and miscellaneous items are available at cost from a commissary, they have no commuting time or expense, vacation travel is discounted. Further they have the respect, and at times honor bordering on worship from their congregations, and most of this is paid for by the very publishers who they then ask even more from. (How such men can ask so much from ordinary people who are actually paying their bills, in my opinion, is "biting the hand that feeds them.") But I could have stayed the course.
However I then realized how systemic the flaws are. There is so much more that is wrong. Here are a few of the more egregious problems: For one, all Witnesses and particularly elders are asked to serve, on their personal time with no compensation. This hurts us and our families. Yet you tout this as proof that we are the "true religion" because it sets us apart from Christendom. (w03 8/1 p. 20 “You Received Free, Give Free”, w01 6/1 p. 16 par. 15 “If God Is for Us, Who Will Be Against Us?”) Yet Jesus, Paul and others in the first century made it clear that workers working this hard evangelizing, devoting this much time, were deserving of wages. (Matthew 10:10; 20:8, (Luke 10:7) Another issue is that elders are asked to deal with extremely sensitive problems with little training beyond repetitious doctrinal training. I could no longer stomach a system where I was asked to deal with problems so massive that I saw no hope of really resolving anything using the resources provided. Reading cutting edge, sound information in the areas of psychology and self-help is forbidden as it is not "Bible-based." Elders are forced to "wing it" with peoples lives.
Further elders are entrusted with a lot of sensitive information yet many times are not even encouraged to pick up a pen and take meaningful notes as therapists and social workers are required to do. And the standard advice is pray more, attend meetings and go in "service." (w05 6/1 p. 29 Do Not Give Up in Doing What Is Fine; w05 7/15 p. 29 Are You Faithful in All Things?; w04 5/1 p. 14 Youths, Are You Building for the Future?; w04 8/15 p. 23 Tired but Not Tiring Out) Telling people with deep personal problems to take precious and scarcely available personal time, go out with literature and pretend that they can fix the problems of others made less sense the more I dealt with them. To insinuate that it is selfish for them to focus on themselves, but instead to focus on giving to others, solves nothing for them. In fact it just creates more problems. (g02 9/22 p. 22 Why Doesn’t My Parent Love Me?) And telling them that there are problems only God can fix deempowers them, making them even more vulnerable. Yet this is all that you effectively allow us to offer them. In some cases these individuals are known child molesters. Yet you reject known research in this area and insist that is God's Will for them to go to the doors of the public AND allow, even encourage them to talk to children! (km 11/88 p. 4 par. 4 Presenting the Good News—To Children) One day the lawsuits may very well banrupt you. And yet, for as bad as this sounds, it gets worse. As I mentioned I was willing to stay the course. I was content to try and either affect change from within, or at the very least continue to "walk the line" while helping those around me. If this had been the extent of the problem I was willing to continue to strive for "perfection," continue to hone my effectiveness. I was loyal. "This was God's organization run by imperfect men. They were going to make mistakes. My job is to work with them for they are "Christ's brothers." They have spent over 120 years perfecting this method of serving God. Their doctrine is sound. Did they not predict 1914?"
And it was that thought that prompted me to take a closer look at the doctrine. I was horrified. Even a cursory examination of WT doctrine shows it to be terribly flawed. It is a patchwork of illogical, conflicting statements all aimed at proving the world's end to be "at hand." Nothing holds, no statement can be taken at face value, for it soon changes. To give an example: Recently a James Rayford made the comment at an SAD that the prophecy of Matthew 24:14 has been fulfilled. But this claim had been made eleven years earlier in 1995! (w95 9/1 p. 18 Christian Witnesses for Divine Sovereignty) So what has changed? Were you wrong in '95? If so, how do you know that you are right now? Can you tell us? How do you really know that all other religions are about to be wiped out? By a liberal Congress and a Christian president beating the drums in the Security Council no less? You have been wrong so many times before, I think we are owed an explanation that makes sense beyond the usual "faithful slave" or "historical evidence proves" explanations? Present THE EVIDENCE. Another example: How do you explain this comment of Jesus? (Luke 21:7-8) "7 Then they questioned him, saying: “Teacher, when will these things actually be, and what will be the sign when these things are destined to occur?” 8 He said: “Look out that YOU are not misled; for many will come on the basis of my name, saying, ‘I am he,’ and, ‘The due time has approached.’ Do not go after them." Your currently available publications do not even address this Scripture. It would appear to be urging alert Christians not to follow men who proclaim the "end" being near. Or do you consider yourselves exempt because you are "God’s Channel?" Then where is the independent proof, where is THE EVIDENCE that you are above this Scriptural standard? Oh maybe you are now thinking that you as the Governing Body are supposed to know because the "faithful slave" knows. But herein lies another problem: Direction by the "faithful slave" is little more than a fantasy! Why do I make such a bold assertion? The “faithful slave is defined by you as the remnant of the 144,000 who are left on earth. (w95 8/1 p. 16 par. 10 Taught by Jehovah Down Till This Day) We recognize them as the Memorial emblem partakers. I served as a Presiding Overseer for a while. And I know that no effort is made to contact or even know who "the emblem partakers," "the anointed," the members of this "faithful slave" are. Every Memorial the elders send in a little card with a count of partakers for the congregation. If someone partakes for the first time, elders who are not anointed decide if this person should be counted! Further, no data is sent to HQ on these people, no address, and no phone number. Just a little card with a total on it. The card is a postcard. It doesn't even go in a sealed envelope before it gets mailed. It does even have to be signed by the elders. More attention is given to a notification of disfellowshipping than to this most important piece of correspondence. Further there is no two way communication (or even one way) attempted with "anointed ones" when the Circuit Overseer comes for his congregation visit. He will have meetings with the elders, the pioneers, but not with the "anointed." If anything, you say that he (the CO) is your "direct representative." Yours, the Governing Body’s. Yet the CO is usually not a "faithful slave" member. Yet he tells "anointed ones" what to think and do. So the message seems to be that you do what you want with impunity. And you get away with this because you have made this organization afraid to question you. Even the "faithful slave" is afraid to question you. Rather than being humble servants you appear to be more like the ancient Pharisees who Jesus said had "seated themselves in the seat of Moses." (Matthew 23:2) Which brings me to my final point: When you read this letter my resignation will have been processed. A timeline will be hard to establish. And this letter's point of origin will not be my true location. Why would someone who has worked for this organization for so many years, well respected in his congregation feel the need for this kind of anonymity?
You say that Jehovah has allowed evil so that Satan could have a voice. That in so doing Jehovah's sovereignty would be vindicated. (w91 2/15 p. 11 par. 5 A Corresponding Ransom for All) Are you acting the way that you say Jehovah does? You are to be kings in "Jehovah's Kingdom." But you do not seem to act like it. You apparently dissemble about where the organization gets its direction since you could not honestly be acting as spokespersons for an entity you do not speak with. You do not honestly just acknowledge that the organization's direction really comes from a few imperfect men with some experience as elders. You silence dissent. You discourage questioning. Furthermore you refuse to openly and honestly discuss these issues. Rather you attack those who raise these questions, calling them apostates, traitors and generally avoiding the issues and questions raised. After realizing all of these things it became clear to me that I could not continue to perpetuate a system such as this by being an elder. Nor will I ever do so again as long as these issues remain undealt with. In many ways your work has done much good. I urge, in fact I beg you to consider these points. I am open to further discussion and can be reached at .................


zepa said...

I certainly admire this ex-elder's honesty and frankness. I wonder how many other elders feel this way. Perhaps, for some of them, the position of elder satisfies their ego needs for elevation, power, status and recognition to the point that they are very content with giving the standard, cliché advice to pray more, attend meetings, go in "service" or accept that there are problems that only God can fix.
The WTS has managed to fool their followers into believing that Isaiah 32:2 is speaking about the elders based on its usual modus operandi of taking scriptures out of context and misapplying them. The WTS’ application of this scripture puts the elders on a pedestal, giving the impression that they can deal with just about any problem when in fact most, if not all, are not equipped or trained to do so. It is to be noted that, unlike the WTS, there are religions which have acknowledged the importance of the work done by psychologists, sociologists, behavioural therapists etc. and who have even gone to the extent of offering courses in counseling psychology etc. so that the church can successfully help persons to overcome their problems. I suppose that if Jehovah’s Witnesses were to successfully solve their problems now, then the present system of things would not appear to be so bad after all and they may even begin to enjoy it and never want it to end.

Irie said...

Refinements by the Watchtower of whom the Slave of Matthew 24:45-47 is, have resulted in the current understanding being convoluted, with this SINGLE Slave being described as a class of people that feed the same class of people! The current Watchtower understanding (Watchtower 1995 May 15 p.16) confusingly claims the slave and the domestics are both the same group of people. The 144,000 anointed ones are the slave as a whole, yet individually the same 144,000 are the domestics that as a group they rule over. The faithful and discreet slave is the 144,000 collectively. The domestics are the 144,000 individually. The 144,000 feed the 144,000. The rest of Jehovah's Witnesses and worldly people are not directly mentioned in this parable (it’s amazing that they could come up with such an explanation and yet vehemently oppose the possibility that God could in fact be a trinity !lol!).

Not only is this bizarre concept unnecessarily confusing, but as this ex-elder’s letter has clearly shown, in reality, the Watchtower Society does not operate this way. The majority of the 144,000 do not feed the sheep, in that they are not involved in establishing Watchtower doctrines, rules or procedures of the organization. The Governing Body alone (which is made up of approximately 12 anointed men) has the say in what is fed to the sheep. I doubt if any of the anointed apart from the Governing Body, has written any Watchtower articles or developed any doctrine or procedure. In recent times, most articles are written by members of the Other Sheep (who are not of the 144,000) and simply authorized by the Governing Body:-
"4. Those used as writers must be dedicated, baptized brothers or sisters in good standing with their local congregations and who have writing ability. They should be exemplary, modest, not inclined to talk loosely to others about their writing activity. ... 5. PREPARING MATERIAL: The subjects on which articles may be written are quite varied. Some articles will deal with spiritual matters, and these should be written by brothers." BRANCH ORGANIZATION MANUAL p.24-1 Paragraphs 4-5. So much for direction by the faithful slave.

The Watchtower came up with their interpretation of whom the Slave of Matthew 24:45-47 is, in order to justify the need for an Organization. They then go a step further by saying that being part of their particular Organization is an essential requirement for salvation (Watchtower 1983 Feb. 15 p.12) as their organization alone, in all the earth, is directed by God's Holy Spirit (Watchtower 1973 July 1 p.402). When a religion claims monopoly on salvation and God’s direction it is certainly a definite way for its leaders to secure power and control over people and wealth, as the leaders can now be sure of a significant number of convicted members and guaranteed contributions which in turn guarantee their viability and the perpetuation of their existence.

While I am on the subject of the 144,000, I note that the Watchtower’s statistics for 2007 have shown that there is an increase, once again, in the number of the anointed who remain on earth. These increases are now being explained away by the Watchtower’s admission (Watchtower 2007 May 1 p.31) that it appears that they cannot set a specific date for when the calling of Christians to the heavenly hope ends, despite Rutherford’s claim that the 144,000 stopped being chosen in 1935 (The Watchtower 1995 February 15 p.19). This increase in the number of the anointed and the attendant change in the 1935 date for their sealing is certainly convenient as it prevents any change to the teaching that only anointed ones can be a part of the Governing Body as now there can be members of the Governing Body who weren't even in the organization in 1935. So one can now be younger than other anointed ones and still be considered to be truly anointed.

A further point while I am on this subject - I recall that one of the signs which was used as an indication of the end’s closeness was the belief that the anointed were dying off. It seems to me that now that the ‘generation’ teaching has been changed to make the end indeterminate, then this sign of the end’s nearness would have to be modified as well – hence the increase in the number of memorial partakers. Of course, when the number of memorial partakers begins to decrease in the future it can once again be said that the end can’t be too far off as the anointed are dying off.

I can’t help but conclude that the Watchtower has managed to pull off what appears to me to be one of the greatest hoaxes in history.

Joseph said...

In all of the current convoluted, bizarre, absurd, unnecessarily confusing explanation given by the Watchtower as to the identity of the slave of Matthew 24:45-47, where is the scripture that explicitly states that the single slave of Matthew 24:45-47 is actually the 144,000 of Revelation 7:4? The Bible in no way makes any link between the two. There is no scripture that explicitly states that they are one and the same. The Watchtower is indeed to be applauded - through much mental gymnastics and leaps of the imagination, it has managed to captivate over 6 million persons into believing in a concept that doesn't even exist but that gives a group of men great power and control over people and wealth!!!

Indeed, I too am amazed that after such a convoluted explanation of how one slave becomes 144,000 persons that the watchtower sill vehemently opposes the possibility that God could be a Trinity – ONE HUNDRED AND FORTY-FOUR THOUSAND IN ONE!!!LOL!.