This letter is the most difficult I have ever had to write. It will no doubt disappoint you. Some will prefer to be hurt rather than benefited by what I am about to tell you. Please sit down before you read on.
As I leave Bethel, I am also leaving Jehovah's Witnesses. I did not want to make this decision public. I wanted to leave quietly -- simply fade from view. But there is no honorable way to leave the organization. In a day or two I will turn in a letter of disassociation. If I don't I will most certainly be disfellowshipped sooner or later. I've never tried to convert others, but some men will feel they have to warn you. An effort will be made to convince you that I am a bad and bitter person. Though I spent nearly half a century going house to house, you will hear that I left the Jehovah's Witnesses because I didn't like that work. I will be accused of independent thinking and, worse yet, of associating with apostates. I know this from observing what has happened to others. Despite a lifetime of trying my best to live like a Christian should, my reputation will be blackened by those who make a show of being loyal to the Society. All this because I can no longer conscientiously support the organization, and there is no hope of changing my mind. The organization in effect will be disfellowshipping you and not me because you will not be allowed to speak to me though I have the freedom to talk to anybody. The following is my side of the story.
I have not been influenced by apostates or any other religious group. My decision is based on prayerful study of the Bible and the Watchtower Society's publications. I am convinced that certain beliefs of the Society are contrary to the teachings of the Bible.
Matthew 28:19 says baptism is to be in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, but the Watchtower June 1, 1985 substitutes "spirit directed organization" for "holy spirit".
Luke 21:34-36 and other scriptures show that we each must be faithful and discreet in caring for what the Master has entrusted to us, but the Society says only "the remnant" as a group are the "slave" of Matthew 24:45-51. -- See Matthew 25:13-30; Luke 12:48; 16:10-13; 1 Corinthians 4:2; Hebrews 3:12, 1 Peter 4:10, 11; Revelation 16:15
Acts 3:20-23 shows that Jesus alone is the Greater Moses and God's prophet, but the Watchtower June 1, 1982 and the Watchtower September 1, 1982 urge an attitude that views the organization as such. This, even though the organization has rarely, if ever, guessed right about a future event!
Acts 10:38 makes it noteworthy that Jesus "went through all the land doing good and healing" the oppressed people, and other religions build hospitals, clinics, old-age homes, etc., for their own if not for others as well. But the Watchtower chooses to use its millions of dollars to build more and more comfortable Bethel homes instead of helping even its own sick, handicapped, and elderly.
Acts 15:20, 29 tells Gentile Christians to "abstain" from blood, and the Watch Tower Society applies this to blood transfusions. But the context clearly shows that the purpose of the recommendation was to avoid creating great offense for Jews. C. T. Russell understood this, saying in the Watchtower April 15, 1909, on page 117: "The things here recommended were necessary to a preservation of the fellowship of the "body" composed of Jews and Gentiles with their different education and sentiments." Think of the blood guilt resting on the Governing Body if Russell was correct!
Romans 8:15 and Galatians 4:6 show that those closest to God call him "Father" -- even "Daddy" -- not "Jehovah". Would a loving child call his father by his personal name?
Romans 12:3 warns against thinking too highly of oneself, but with no credentials at all, the Watch Tower Society assigns itself the role of God's spokesman and the administrator of all Christ's interests on earth. 2 Corinthians 1:21, 24 shows that we belong to Christ and not even the apostles were "masters over our faith", but the Watch Tower Society constantly attempts to impose on our minds what it describes as the "great body of truths" that it has produced. Thus the Society has it's own organizational creed, something it condemns in other churches.
Galatians 1:8 states: "Even if we or an angel out of heaven were to declare to you as good news something beyond what we declared to you as good news, let him be accursed." Not one scripture that speaks of "the good news" has anything to do with an establishment of the Kingdom in 1914 or a new world on this planet. Rather they have to do with the coming of Jesus to the earth, his life, his death as a ransom sacrifice, his resurrection -- his victory over kings, sin and death on behalf of all mankind and the authority his Father has given him to free believing humans from the wages of sin. That good news, not 1914, is "the glorious good news about the Christ who is the image of God" that the Watch Tower Society is blind to. -- 2 Corinthians 4:4.
1 Timothy 2:5 says there is "one mediator between God and men, a man, Christ Jesus", but the Society says Jesus is not the mediator for those with an earthly hope. Hebrews 4:16 says we can "approach with freeness of speech to the throne of undeserved kindness", not because the Watch Tower Society died for us, but because Jesus did.
Hebrews 10:19-22 shows Jesus eliminated the division between a priestly class and a non-priestly class, but the Watch Tower describes the "anointed remnant" as "the priestly class" and "the great crowd" as "spiritual Gentiles". -- Paradise Restored To Mankind -- By Theocracy, p. 80, §15.
In the New World Translation, the Christian Scriptures use the name of Jesus at least 8 times as often as they do Jehovah, but the average Watch Tower publication uses Jehovah at least 30 times as often as Jesus. Other churches are more balanced in this matter, but the Society accuses them of never using Jehovah's name.
The greatest testimony against the Watch Tower Society is it's own literature. The above instances simply skim the surface. The society seems incapable of letting the Scriptures speak for themselves. It must nearly always give a symbolic or "spiritual" meaning to a text.
The Proclaimers book released in 1993 often hides what is related in Jehovah's Witnesses and the Divine Purpose and other publications. Whenever there is something good to report about the organization, the book is quick to tell us. But what about all the bad things that have gone on?
The older book makes a reference to C. T. Russell's account of his troubles with his wife, Maria. I read in the 1906 account in the Watchtower and could not help but feel that Russell was an arrogant and overbearing male who showed no consideration for his wife even when she was very ill and even though he acknowledged that no woman on earth was as devoted to and supportive of her husband as Maria. His defense in his own words of his relationship with other women is weak and suspicious. No wonder the judge and jury wasted no time in granting Sister Russell the divorce she was seeking and that he opposed.
On page 201, the Proclaimers book acknowledges that "For some 35 years, Pastor Russell thought that the Great Pyramid of Gizeh was God's stone witness, corroborating Biblical time periods". What is not stated is that Russell was one of the world's greatest advocates of pyramidology, a spiritistic religion. His writings, diagrams and charts about pyramids are virtually the same as those that appear in any book on pyramidology. These books are usually located in the "Occult" section of any library or bookstore. Even J. F. Rutherford acknowledged that it was Satan who put it into Russell's mind to figure out God's purposes by studying the Pyramid of Gizeh, that the pyramid is "Satan's Bible, and not God's stone witness." (Watchtower, November 15, 1928, page 344) Russell was under this influence of the Devil from 1881 (2 years after the birth of the Watchtower) until he died in 1916. He was buried in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. But first he was embalmed, and then he was placed in a grave that is now marked with a huge tombstone in the form of a pyramid which, curiously, has emblems of the Masonic Lodge engraved upon it. Russell also believed in astrology and the horoscope. And for nearly half of his presidency, Rutherford believed the same. Pyramid worship led Rutherford to believe that millions living in 1920 would never die and that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob would return in 1925 and live at Beth-Sarim in San Diego, California.
Not the Bible, but Russell's belief in pyramidology are the basis for his date setting. He said that the last days began in 1799, Christ's presence began in 1874, the heavenly resurrection began in 1878, the heavenly calling ended in 1881, and the end of the world and the resurrection of "the anointed on earth" would take place in 1914. All his prophecies failed, yet the Society still holds to the 1914 date, but with a different application. The Society claims this date is established by Bible chronology that starts with the destruction of Jerusalem in 607 BCE. However, not even one scholar agrees with the Society that Jerusalem was destroyed that year. So, in the face of all this scholarly opposition, the Society unashamedly claims its own scholarship is superior. Due to Russell's and Rutherford's practices of spiritism, millions of Jehovah's Witnesses are banking on Armageddon to come with in the next few years. Just as the International Bible Students were deceived by Russell and Rutherford, Jehovah's Witnesses today are being deceived by the Governing Body.
N. H. Knorr was also addicted to spiritualism. As shown in the Awake!, May 27, 1942, Knorr and the Society went to court over a silly matter having to do with their fanciful belief in "the King of the East, and the Chief King of the Sunrising" calling for Rutherford to be buried at Beth-Sarim at sunrise! Knorr lost the case, but his action postponed Rutherford's burial for three and a half months after he died! And since Fred Franz was a prominent member of the Society during the presidencies of Rutherford and Knorr, I have to conclude that he too was a spiritualist. No wonder his prophecies on the world's end for the mid-1940's and for 1975 did not come true. Nor will his prediction regarding the "generation" of Matthew 24:34. Incidentally, though we have often thought of Fred Franz as some sort of amazing Bible and language scholar, in the door to door work I have met rural church pastors and Sunday School teachers who know far more Bible Hebrew and Greek than he did. -- Matthew 24:23-26, 44.
The Society claims to be a progressive organization, but over the decades it has bounced back and forth on doctrine. The Almighty Ruler of Nations speaks and teaches eternal truths. With Him there is never a variation or a shadow of a turning such as there always is with the Watch Tower Society. -- James 1:17.
I personally resent the Society's campaign of whitewashing the record of it's presidents. Those who know the true story are being treated as fools. The Proclaimers book on page 693 says Rutherford wrote a letter to Hitler. This is in the context of "facing Nazi oppression". But Rutherford's letter, published in the Watchtower (Yearbook) in 1934, praises Hitler for his anti-Anglo-American campaign and his plan to exterminate the Jews! As another example, in the Watchtower August 1, 1994, page 23, Robert Hatzfeld is quoted as saying regarding Rutherford, "Many of the younger brothers at Bethel were somewhat intimidated by him until they got to know him." Yet, when I was at Brooklyn Bethel, and even before, I saw old timers wince as they spoke of Rutherford's bad language, drinking, and tyrannical ways. He was even sued by ex-Bethelite Olin Moyle on these matters, and Moyle won the case! I was also told that thousands of Jehovah's Witnesses in Germany died before Hitler's firing squads because Rutherford told them Jehovah would not allow them to die since they were among the "millions now living" who would never die.
Knorr was not much better. All the days at Bethel that I knew him, he was like an aloof businessman who had little regard for others. He ruled Bethel like a stern boss, and almost everybody feared the man. I remember days when he ridiculed and ranted for as much as an hour against those who displeased him and whom he had lined against the dining room wall before the entire Bethel family.
At Bethel in Brooklyn and Canada there is little regard for other people's spiritual and emotional problems. Rarely if ever is Mathew 18 applied. If you approach someone with authority, he does little if anything to assist you. Rather, you can expect to be patronized and told simply to "wait on Jehovah". If you return with your problem days or weeks later, you stand a likely chance of being accused of having an obsession of some sort. At Brooklyn headquarters we were advised from the table head to exercise care due to theft going on within the Bethel family. Not just a few cases of marital infidelity, drunkenness and alcoholism, wild parties, and even homosexual practices are among the reasons some are dismissed at Bethel. We smile at the failure of the Catholic Church when we hear about a priest molesting little children. We certainly would not smile if we were told truthfully about the cases of child abuse, wife abuse, divorce, and youth delinquency that can be found in many of our congregations. And we all claim that we are ministers!
The Society has stated that about one percent are disfellowshipped each year and that the majority of cases have to do with immorality. One gets disfellowshipped for not showing repentance, and lack of repentance is indicated by not taking the initiative to come forth and confess. What this means is that one percent of Jehovah's Witnesses get caught as fornicators, adulterers and homosexuals. How many others are secretly doing these things who do not get caught? It often takes a lot of effort and investigation to discover that someone is engaging in such secret practices. Still, about 40,000 are found out and thrown out each year! How many other tens of thousands or more have not yet been exposed as the immoral persons that they are? Many other religions place strong emphasis on conduct, including the Adventists, Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians, and the Covenanting Congregations within the United Church of Canada. Of all of them, I think we have the worst record when it comes to blatant dishonesty and immorality.
You don't have to be an elder involved for some time with judicial matters to understand what I'm saying. Still, we boast about what a "clean organization" we are because we disfellowship wrongdoers. But those wrongdoers did their wrong while they were in the organization. To brag that we are a clean organization is like the Pharisee in Jesus' parable who felt very assured of his righteousness by his regularity in the service of fasting and tithing and by his abstaining from certain condemned acts. Though he appeared exemplary on the surface, in reality he was outstanding only by his self praise. -- Luke 18:9-14.
I believe these problems exist because the Watch Tower Society tries to take the place of Jesus as Head of the congregation. It stands in the way of our having a personal relationship with Him because it wants to be the only "channel", "spokesman", and "watchman" for Jehovah's Witnesses. No human authority can motivate our minds and hearts as well as He who is King of Kings and Lord of Lords, no matter how much that human governing authority tries to get its people to acknowledge and adore it rather than Him. In its efforts to hold high the name of Jehovah, the Society has overlooked the scripture that says, "He that does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him." -- John 5:23.
We hear over and over again that we have "the Truth", that we are God's only organization, and that we are the only people practicing true love. Our experience is so limited because all we know is Jehovah's Witnesses. We are urged to read only the publications of the Society and to use only its Bible. If one keeps hearing something often enough, he will believe it. Because the Society says the good news is being preached "in all the inhabited earth", we believe it, even though the Society's message is reaching only a very small fraction of the earth's population and very few of them actually know what we stand for. Because the Society says we should preach from house to house, we do it, even though such activity is a nuisance to most householders and turns many against God and the Bible as well as against Jehovah's Witnesses. Our children are told not to go to college because it will corrupt them, but those who have done the most good for mankind have generally been those who have not been content with a mere surface education. God bestowed beautiful talents within each of us to be developed and used to his glory and praise. But we stay under-educated because the Society keeps us so busy with its constant activities and demands upon our limited time. As individuals and as congregations we should be administered according to the rule of the Word of God, not according to man-made rules in an "Organization" book.
The society has over the years liberally plagiarized from Christendom's commentaries. Still, it would like us to think there is nowhere else to go. Peter said, not to the Watch Tower Society, but to Jesus, "You have the sayings of everlasting life!" While preaching and in other ways, I have met members of churches and groups that are teaching "the glorious good news about the Christ." And they won't disfellowship you if your Bible trained conscience can't accept everything they say! They are learning and growing too. Let me know if you want to know who they are. It is my hope and my prayer that this letter will do something to unlock for you the wealth of what is one of the greatest and most dramatic movements the world have ever seen, the triumphant Christian congregation that has Jesus Christ as its Head and not any human governor or governing body of men.
I love you very much, and I will miss associating with you, for I am sure an announcement will be made against me. I am not promoting a sect when I say you should read and study the Bible and let it speak to you for itself. It is God's love letter to you personally, and its message is not intended to be slanted for you by an organization that thinks it loves you more that He does.