Jehovah’s Witnesses and Beards

The Governing Body never apologizes
for their theological dissatisfaction
and religious disillusionment.

Written by Lester Somrah - December 16, 2023

Dec 15, 2023: Stephen Lett, Governing Body member of Jehovah’s Witnesses, announces the lifting of the religious group’s ban on beards.

2023 Governing Body Update #8

As a former male Jehovah's Witness and a former ministerial servant, diligently adhering to the religious practice of shaving three to four times per week for two decades, I am deeply outraged by the "new adjusted view" adopted by the Governing Body of Jehovah's Witnesses, regarding beards. Their “new” perspective is not only intolerable but also offensive, disrespectful, dismissive, insulting, and devaluing. It is particularly demeaning to men who faithfully followed their misguided religious advice for decades.

What compounds the offensiveness, dismissiveness, insult, and devaluation is the Governing Body's audacious demand for Jehovah's Witnesses to actively promote unity in the religion. Those who fail to comply are labeled as lacking in “loyalty, humility, and a willingness to be obedient and submissive”. This coercive expectation not only underscores their insensitivity but also reveals a disconcerting disregard for individual autonomy within their religious community.

The audacity of the Governing Body becomes even more egregious when considering their blatant lack of remorse, as they have yet to issue any apology for the past inconveniences caused by adhering to their imprudent and outdated religious counsel. This not only amplifies the offensiveness but also highlights their dismissive and insulting stance towards those who may have suffered as a result.

The Governing Body essentially instructed everyone to move on, embrace the new light, and discard any opinions or feelings that diverge from theirs. In essence, they displayed a complete disregard for the opinions and emotions of congregation publishers, essentially conveying, "We don't care, and your feelings are inconsequential to us." Not only does the Governing Body avoid accountability and responsibility for past inconveniences caused, but they also refrain from extending any apology for the repercussions of their actions.

The Governing Body persistently relies on the "new light," "loyalty, humility, and a willingness to be obedient and submissive" narrative every time they alter their religious belief to demand full compliance, showing little regard for those adversely impacted by their now outdated beliefs.

They have consistently excused themselves from accepting accountability and responsibility by blaming Jehovah for their theological dissatisfaction and religious disillusionment.

In the Governing Body Update #8 and their subsequent Announcement to congregations, the Governing Body make no apologies for past inconveniences caused, to individual Jehovah's Witnesses for adhering to their now outdated misguided doctrine on beards. In fact there is no evidence that the Governing Body ever apologized in the past to individual Jehovah's Witnesses for faithfully adhering to their now outdated misguided doctrines. A few of these outdated religious beliefs of Jehovah's Witnesses are listed below:

  • The end of the world – 1975. A lot of Jehovah's Witnesses sold their homes, gave up careers and educational opportunities - see Chapter 9, 1975: ‘The Appropriate Time for God to Act’, Crisis of Conscience by Raymond Franz
  • “Disapproved sexual practices” of married Jehovah's Witnesses - see Chapter 3, Governing Body, Crisis of Conscience by Raymond Franz
  • Reporting of Field Service Hours – See The Decline of Jehovah’s Witnesses – No More Hours

It’s like a donkey chasing a carrot on a stick they will never get!!.

For the above reasons and many others not mentioned here, I will never support Jehovah's Witnesses and their misguided, delusional religion.

Testimonials

The second time I was disfellowshipped I "wore a beard." I shaved it when I sent my letter requesting to be reinstated and the elders told me my having a beard was indicative of my lack of "contrition." To be clear I got disfellowshipped for having premarital sex.

Author & Former Jehovah's Witness

I remember a conversation between an local congregation elder and a male publisher at my Kingdom Hall here in Trinidad:

Stephon Bascombe (male publisher) - "Ah growing it out for the drama" (refering to his unshaved facial hair)

Francis Chimming (elder) - "Boy, if you don't clean that out, you ain't gonna be in no drama" (refering to the upcoming live full costume convention drama on the Sunday of the annual district convention).

Former Jehovah's Witness

I literally suffered from razor rash, bleeding and ingrown facial hair for decades due to the religion’s requirements to always shave! Now they gaslight us by saying they have new divine direction?

Former Jehovah's Witness

During the 2020/2021 pandemic, I grew a beard, causing concerns from congregation elders who believed it led to stumbling among members. I countered, asserting that wearing a beard isn't a sin.

Despite my defense, elders informed the circuit overseer and sought clarification from the branch office. Capitalizing on the situation, I formally disassociated myself from the organization on May 16, 2021.

Read response from Branch Office.

Sillhouette of a man

Former Jehovah's Witness

Losing Male Members

No scriptural reason for the change was given in Update #8, because Governing Body could have never provided scriptural reasons for no beards in the first place! 

So the real question is why the change in 2023 and not in 2000, or 1975? Is it really because “more and more, beards are worn by men in responsible positions who project a respectable appearance?” 

Is there something that the Governing Body does not want individual Jehovah’s Witnesses to know for fear this would “panic the flock of God”? Unfortunately, most times there is some hidden agenda – as we say here in Trinidad, “there is more in the mortar than just the pestle”.

Is it that Jehovah’s Witnesses are losing a lot of male members (‘publishers’) than is being recruited in the religion?

Is it that a lot of male publishers are becoming inactive (for a number of reasons) and therefore no longer qualify for positions of responsibility and to assist their religion to recruit and retain members? 

Is it that a lot of male publishers are giving up their positions of responsibility in the Jehovah's Witness religious community, and subsequently become inactive?

Is it that a lot of male publishers are exiting their religion, either by disassociation or by disfellowshipping?

I personally do not buy into the reason for the all-about-turn provided in Update #8. I have published two articles on this website that clearly demonstrates the increasing inability of Jehovah’s Witnesses to attract and recruit new publishers which includes new male publishers, since September 2010:

BITE Model of Authoritarian Control and Beards

Dr. Steven Hassan developed the BITE Model to describe cults’ specific methods to recruit and maintain control over people. “BITE” stands for Behavior, Information, Thought, and Emotional control. For further reading on the BITE Model, please visit the Freedom of Mind Resource Center.

The Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses added more compelling evidence that their religion can be classified as a “destructive, harmful cult and sect”.

Characteristics of Behavior Control in Governing Body Update #8

Control types of clothing and hairstyles – Prior to December 15th 2023, no beards were allowed.

Impose rigid rules and regulations – No beards, no tight-fitting clothes, no high heels, no fishnets, etc.

Characteristics of Information Control in Governing Body Update #8

Deception: a. Deliberately withhold information – The real reason for the change remains unknown. 

Characteristics of Thought Control in Governing Body Update #8

Characteristics of Thought Control

Examples - Governing Body Update #8

Use of loaded language and clichés which constrict knowledge, stop critical thoughts and reduce complexities into platitudinous buzz words

“beards are worn by men in responsible positions who project a respectable appearance.”

 

“Any who seek to run ahead of that chariot, trying to force change prematurely, or who lag behind, hesitating to support changes that have come from the faithful slave, are not keeping pace with Jehovah’s organization.”

 

“Well, if we’ve been promoting our own opinion on this subject, contradicting the guidance from the organization, have we been promoting unity? Have we helped the brotherhood to be “completely united . . . in the same line of thought”? Clearly not. Any who’ve done so need to adjust their thinking and attitude.”

 

 

Forbid critical questions about leader, doctrine, or policy allowed

“Well, if we’ve been promoting our own opinion on this subject, contradicting the guidance from the organization, have we been promoting unity? Have we helped the brotherhood to be “completely united . . . in the same line of thought”? Clearly not. Any who’ve done so need to adjust their thinking and attitude.”

 

“Any who seek to run ahead of that chariot, trying to force change prematurely, or who lag behind, hesitating to support changes that have come from the faithful slave, are not keeping pace with Jehovah’s organization.”

 

Characteristics of Emotional Control in Governing Body Update #8

Characteristics of Emotional Control

Examples - Governing Body Update #8

Manipulate and narrow the range of feelings – some emotions and/or needs are deemed as evil, wrong or selfish.

 

Teach emotion-stopping techniques to block feelings of homesickness, anger, doubt.

 

Make the person feel that problems are always their own fault, never the leader’s or the group’s fault.

 

 

“Well, if we’ve been promoting our own opinion on this subject, contradicting the guidance from the organization, have we been promoting unity? Have we helped the brotherhood to be “completely united . . . in the same line of thought”? Clearly not. Any who’ve done so need to adjust their thinking and attitude.”

 

“Any who seek to run ahead of that chariot, trying to force change prematurely, or who lag behind, hesitating to support changes that have come from the faithful slave, are not keeping pace with Jehovah’s organization.”

 

“Jehovah has dignified us. He allows each brother the freedom to choose whether or not he will wear a beard. We’re confident that all of you are determined to keep pace, adjust your views as needed, and continue to serve Jehovah loyally, promoting love and unity among your brothers and sisters.”

You are free to become a victim of their theological dissatisfaction and religious disillusionment for decades on end. But know this, the Governing Body and Jehovah's Witnesses would readily abandon you without hesitation at the slightest provocation.

Picture of Lester Somrah
Lester Somrah

Lester Somrah writes about the beliefs and practices of Jehovah’s Witnesses on his social media platforms and was baptized as a member in 1998.

Read more from Lester