There is a question regarding the longevity of JW.org given the events of the past few years. The following is just my opinion and observations based on events from the past year.
Two years ago, JW.org implemented a 5-year cost reduction program in which they asked all branches to cut costs by a minimum of 10%, up to 25% as a preferred number.
In the spring of 2015, Stephen Lett asked for donations after stating that JW.org had more money going out than coming in. 6 months later in a private seminar, branch officials announced that Lett’s plea resulted in 30 million extra dollars in donations, but this would not stem their financial issues and would continue with layoffs and cutbacks.
As many of you know, the cutbacks were significant. Aside from the Bethel layoffs, all non-essential branch projects were either cancelled or put on hold. Watch Tower Headquarters asked branches to sell as much equipment as they could liquidate – including heavy equipment, printers, etc. All monies were directed at finishing Warwick, then selling off their cranes and millions of dollars worth of vehicles and other high prices tools, right down to a 5 dollar screwdriver.
Meanwhile, Watch Tower purchased four $8,000.00 scanners. The purpose? To scan all documents located in Brooklyn, retaining only the hard copies they were required to keep by law.
Watch Tower was spending tens of thousands per year to New York City just to maintain their tunnel and air-bridge spaces between buildings. This was not a tax, it was a fee paid because New York owns the underground and the airspace. Moving to Warwick eliminated these costly payments.
Branches around the world are struggling to keep up with their own accounting procedures. In South Africa, over 1400 congregations struggle to file their government mandated tax returns required of each congregation. Most congregations have not filed returns for 2 to 4 years, primarily because local elders do not understand how to file returns, and are quite frankly not interested in the business aspect of this religion. These elders are being retrained, and have been called disobedient by the branch.
JW.org has been spinning the cutbacks as simplification, and have coerced dozens of those who lost their full-time jobs to give testimonials about how happy they were to accept their new assignment in the field. (Translation – they are on their own: no health care, no jobs, no training. They are told to just go and pioneer.)
In Namibia, the government has denied Watch Tower’s plea to remove itself from employer status, since this forces Watch Tower to pay social security benefits to all full-time workers – such as Bethelites. This has happened in other countries as well. Watch Tower must pay these benefits. This raises the issue of whether any benefits will ever be paid to other full-time JWs across the globe, who deserve them equally.
Watch Tower is watching its assets in Russia vanish while paying settlements in the US and elsewhere for child abuse mishandling and other legal cases. Watch Tower has taken over responsibility of all kingdom halls worldwide, but many sit in disrepair awaiting renovations in excess of what congregations can afford.
There is dissent in South Africa right now because of the fixed per capita amount assigned to each publisher who attends a circuit assembly. Many elders have questioned this vocally, and have described the amount of money charged to each circuit as an invoice. This does not sit well with many elders, particularly those is less than affluent areas. Watch Tower has dispatched a team of elders to correct their thinking and their accounting procedures.
Watch Tower is in the process of implementing a new records management program along with a destruction of documents procedure which is designed to ensure that no documents exist which would tie Watch Tower to any legal responsibility or repercussions. The records management overseer related an experience where one hand-written note cost watchtower over $200,000 – simply because a JW elder at headquarters was honest and produced a written document which tied Watch Tower to a major litigation case with a prior vendor. Watch Tower has made it clear these records are to be destroyed according to their new records management and destruction procedures.
Beginning in 2018, JW.org will implement a program in which every single JW will be assigned a database number and their information will be in JW.org’s global database. Currently, in the US, JW.org has just 40% of their publishers registered in the JW.org database system. All Jehovah’s Witnesses will be given a number and tracked unless we can stop this invasion of privacy here in the US and around the world.
Watch Tower is very upset and concerned about all the leaks coming from their headquarters. They use Office 365 now and embed data into PDF files in an attempt to track where the leaks are coming from. They have been issuing subpoenas from the Southern District of New York to various internet providers in the US, along with Google, Inc., in an attempt to track down the source of the leaks and identify the individuals involved in leaking their literature and videos. Watch Tower demands their freedom of speech but attempts to deny it to those sharing their publicly available materials which, by the way, are not being distributed for monetary gain.
Watch Tower continues to try to plug these leaks like the proverbial dam in Holland, but they are running out of fingers – and attorneys – to plug these leaks. We have far more than they realize we have, and there is nothing they can do to stop the flow of information outside of headquarters. It’s not what we post on AvoidJW.org that should worry Watch Tower. It’s what we don’t post.
The cart-witnessing program is finally beginning to backfire. Witnesses are being approached and asked hard-hitting questions about child abuse, shunning, and other matters. When you stand in the public square and represent a religion, it’s just a matter of time before the public connects the dots, and the carts are sent to the junkyard, one at a time.
In Canada, United States, Ireland, Australia, the Netherlands and multiple other countries, the government and media are taking notice of the public outcry for justice – justice for abuse victims to victims of imposed and mandated shunning. The Supreme Court of Canada will rule this year in a case involving shunning and discrimination, and if Watch Tower loses this case, the repercussions will be felt worldwide.
Yes, money is a problem for Watch Tower. Yet Governing Body members like Samuel Herd have publicly stated how beautiful their new surroundings are at Bethel – how they hear the birds chirping as they observe the serene landscape of upstate New York.
Meanwhile, Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia have been imprisoned for following Governing Body directives. Young Korean Witnesses languish in prison for no reason. JWs in Eritrea have been rotting away in prison cells – some for decades – while the coalition of overweight, business-class-flying governing body members feign tears for the men and women who are effectively their slaves.
Like Stockholm Syndrome victims, Jehovah’s Witnesses continue to support the only organization they think has the answers, identifying with and revering their captors – men who have little sympathy for the victims of child abuse, shunning, or death by blood policy.
Governing Body member Geoffrey Jackson callously stated in 2015 before the Royal Commission in Australia that he had not even read the details of the victims who had testified before the Commission. He focused on his defense, like a narcissist who believes they are the center of the universe, unable to empathize with real people with real problems.
Tony Morris declared on multiple occasions that he was incensed with European trousers for men, designed by the homosexuals he hates so passionately – and followed this tirade by producing a side by side photo of what proper trousers look like versus “tight pants”. In a recent private video for Bethel members only, this war against questionable pants, socks, and tights was restated, with Watch Tower doubling down on matters which would baffle Jesus himself were he to walk the earth today.
The lawsuits are piling up, the fines are compounding, the public awareness of Watch Tower’s dangerous and controlling cult influence on followers will become a spectacle in 2018. With multiple documentaries being filmed, protests being organized, news reports being written and lawsuits being filed, Jehovah’s Witnesses can choose to buckle up and attempt to survive the crash – or they can release that belt and get the hell out of the vehicle which is about to catch fire.
How long will all of this take? It’s hard to say. But I will say this – each one of us can play a part in sharing what we know with the public. Find some websites which you believe are honest and accurate – and share them. Find some books which are truthful and sincere – and share them. Tell your story. Show your compassion for those still trapped.
There are millions trapped inside a mental prison, but we can help them. Let’s make it happen.