February 22, 2023. In a brief announcement on JW News (jw.org), Jehovah’s Witnesses announced that Anthony Morris III is no longer serving as a member of the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses. No such announcement has been made about a governing member since 1980¹. In August of that year it was announced in Our Kingdom Service, page 2, that Raymond Franz was no longer a member of the Governing Body and of the Brooklyn Bethel family.
At this time, it is not known why Anthony Morris III has been deleted² from the Governing Body. There is a lot of speculation as to the reasons for his removal. These include allegations of alcohol abuse, especially as he had been video-taped ordering a trolley load of alcohol one Sunday morning when congregation meetings would have been in progress. Some believe that he may be implicated in the Pennsylvania Grand Jury investigation into child sexual abuse within Jehovah’s Witnesses. It’s possible that the Jehovah’s Witnesses organization deleted Morris in an attempt to distance themselves from any implication in this investigation. Another claim is that he publicly disagreed with another member of the Governing Body in ecclesiastical matters relating to prophecy. Whether any of these allegations are true remain to be seen.
There is no doubt that Anthony Morris III has been a colourful member of the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses. We look back on his career and consider the impact his leadership has had on a religious group that is characterized as a high-control group or cult.
Morris was born in or around 1950. He was a 19 year old when he served in the Vietnam War and his stint lasted less than a year when he found himself back in a Pennsylvania hospital suffering from a serious infectious illness. Despite his short assignment in Vietnam, it hadn’t stopped Morris regaling stories of his time in the war, even after he got baptized, despite the fact that Jehovah’s Witnesses are required to be conscientious objectors.
He got in touch with Jehovah’s Witnesses in February 1971 and was baptized into the cult some 5 months later. He then married his wife, Susan, in December 1971. They had two boys together, Jesse and Paul. He and his wife serviced for 16 years in Rhode Island and another 15 years in North Carolina. Then in 2002, he and Susan were invited to serve at the World Headquarters in Patterson, New York. Morris worked in the Service Department and Susan in laundry.
Three years later, Anthony Morris III was asked to serve as a member of the Governing Body. He has held that role for just over 17 years, until he was deleted on February 22, 2023.
There is clear indication that Morris’ deletion on February 22, 2023, was the result of a judicial action. This is borne out by how quickly the page, What is the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses? was updated. On the very day the announcement was made, the page was updated to change the feature image that included Anthony Morris III with a more generic image. His name was also deleted from the list of Governing Body members. Within one day the audio clip was revised to match the textual changes.
In comparison, when Gage Fleegle and Jeffrey Winder were named as members of the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses on January 18, 2023, it took 9 days before the page was revised to add their names to the list of Governing Body members. And it took a further 24 days to update the audio clip to match that text change.
If Morris’ removal was because of some personal or health reasons, the organization would not have been so swift to remove all trace of him from the Governing Body page. Therefore, this is evidence that Anthony Morris III’s removal from the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses was as a result of a judicial action.
The feature image on jw.org for the Frequently Asked Question, What is the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses? was changed on February 20, 2023 from one showing Anthony Morris III welcoming Geoffrey Jackson into the Governing Body, with a more generic image showing what looks like the members of a corporate Board Committee having a discussion while holding open Bibles.
Since JW Broadcasting went live in October 2014, Morris has fronted EIGHT episodes. February 2021 JW Broadcast was the last one he appeared in. He has given a total of SIX talks. The last talk he gave was entitled, “Let Each One Keep Watching How He Is Building”, released in December 2020. He has given FOUR Governing Body Updates and THREE other news reports. The last Governing Body Update he gave was 2022 Governing Body Update #8, released in December 2022 where the Norway decision to remove Jehovah’s Witnesses’ funding and de-registration was discussed.
Morris has also featured in TWELVE Morning Worship features, TWO videos geared towards children, THREE Gilead Graduations, and FIVE Annual Meetings. When Conventions of Jehovah’s Witnesses were held online, he gave TWO talks at the 2022 Pursue Peace Convention, ONE at the 2021 Powerful by Faith! Convention, and TWO at the 2020 Always Rejoice! Convention.
In his official capacity as a member of the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses, Anthony Morris III has said some things that some people found quite offensive. For example, in recorded talks he went on rants about a “metro-sexual look … that is becoming very popular. What is wrong is this extremely tight pants that is not appropriate for a Christian”. And, referring to homosexuals, he said, “they like you in tight pants”. And to an Italian audience, he explained, “What is wrong is this extremely tight pants. It’s not appropriate for a Christian… Do you remember that many, many, many homosexuals are in the clothing industry and doing the designing? Don’t you know they love it when you are wearing tight pants?”
With regards to higher education, in a talk entitled, What is the Best Education? he states, “All too often, our young people have met with spiritual disaster especially after leaving home and living on a university campus … Young people ask yourself, ‘Why am I considering additional education? Is it because I’m pursuing a specific skill or trade to support my service to Jehovah? Or have I been pressured by the system into believing that higher education will somehow make me a more respected person or lead me to a better life?’ In a blatant show of hypocrisy, Morris presents an interview with Philip Brumley, senior counsel for Watch Tower, where Brumley reveals that his higher level education to study law was paid for and supported by donations to the organization. Donors in most cases are individuals who have been discouraged from getting the same level of education.
Further evidence that the announcement of Anthony Morris III’s removal from the Governing Body was a rushed affair (indicating that his removal was likely a swift one): an update was made to the original announcement to insert a comma (,) in the location indicated in the screenshots above.
The Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses have never been individuals to hide their contempt for critics of their religious group. Anthony Morris III is no different. On one occasion, after reading Psalm 37:20, he lit a match, blew it out and as the smoke dissipated he said, “that’s Jehovah’s enemies; they are going to vanish like smoke”.
When a man reveals his true nature, and that nature is not an endearing one, there is a certain sense of irony that his own public appearance as a leader of his beloved organization has vanished like smoke in just one brief announcement.
On Thursday, March 30, 2023, all Morning Worship videos featuring Anthony Morris were removed from JW.org. By Thursday, April 6, 2023, the links to the videos were removed from Amazon Web Services. The removal of these videos indicates that Anthony Morris III was removed from the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses as part of a judicial committee meeting.
Incidentally, and ironically, some of those videos from the Morning Worship included two sermons entitled, “A Proper View of Discipline Keeps Us Close to Jehovah” and “Jehovah Blesses Obedience”. Anthony Morris can eat his words. The very fact that he has been removed from the Governing Body for judicial reasons is testament to the fact that even members of Jehovah’s Witnesses at the highest level succumb to serious sin. This should be a lesson to us all not to trust the Governing Body because “it does not belong to man who is walking even to direct his step.” – Jeremiah 10:23 (see also Psalms 146:3).
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