Separating Fact from Fiction: The Misinformation Minefield

“The point of modern propaganda isn’t only to misinform or push an agenda. It is to exhaust your critical thinking, to annihilate truth.”

– Garry Kasparov

What is Misinformation?

  • Misinformation refers to false or inaccurate information that is spread unintentionally or intentionally.
  • The misinformation effect refers to a type of memory impairment caused by the introduction of misleading information. It can blend and replace memories or beliefs.
  • While misinformation may not be deliberately deceptive, it can still lead to confusion, misunderstanding, and incorrect beliefs.

As current or former Jehovah’s Witnesses, we are already very skeptical beings. It’s been ingrained in our minds that our religion is/was the one true source of happiness filled with promises by god. We felt guided by true and holy scriptures in an exclusive and strict path, unknowingly as life and death were judged by eschatologically dominant minds. At one point, no one could have influenced us otherwise, and we fought tooth and nail to prove to the world that us saviors, God’s people, are correct and right in our beliefs.

So, undoubtedly now that we uncover the twists and lies, the aftermath of leaving the organization with the realistic answers we find can lead to hardened skepticism- more so than the typical person.  The irony of the Governing Body’s constant need to emphasize the dangers of misinformation as they do is like a high-pitched scream of warning- When in fact, this is the pot calling the kettle black.  

Though misinformation has always been a significant concern in the world, the real warning is not how the Governing Body portrays Misinformation to be. 

There is a difference between being Misguided and being unaware. 

There is a difference between showing distrust and being coerced into believing something is untrustworthy. 

There is a difference between Protecting yourself from Misinformation and veiling yourself from reality under the influence of a religious organization’s manipulation. 

In this article I go into Misinformation regarding The recent updates in the Caekaert Child Sexual abuse Case in Montana, the Organizations view of the Norway Trial, and the warnings with Activism.

In an October 2015 Awake!  “The naive person believes every word” states how we should be selective about what we should consider worthy of our attention.

 “If a news item seems unbelievable, it probably is. Furthermore, when the information discredits others, think about who would benefit from such news being spread and whether the source has ulterior motives in spreading it.”

Though the title of this Awake article is true, a common and heavy fallback the Organization uses is to hide and diminish news that portrays them in a bad light, no matter how many bulbs they change. The way the above-quoted is framed is manipulated skepticism of “unbelievable” news and consideration of motives as a way to dismiss any information that discredits Them. It’s also an example of selective hearing. Is the Organization discrediting people the same? Are they benefiting from discrediting news reports, apostates, or anything that challenges them?

Beware the Apostate or Apostle?

Apostates are treated and judged as deluded and contaminated influences. This is sadly the designed narrative for mainly former Jehovah’s Witnesses that the Governing Body has created. “Apostates” is an immediate trigger word for danger, lies, and negativity to Jehovah’s Witnesses. Many who are labeled as “Apostates” are former Jehovah’s Witnesses causing awareness, or simply people who want no part of the Organization, which is a decision any human being is allowed to make. More actively in the past 10 years Apostates-Advocates who know the ins and outs of the organization have caused awareness to Governments, Groups, divisions, and departments around the world concerning mainly the concerns with children, blood transfusions, abuse, and shunning. 

The OutcomeThis has led to numerous articles, books, movies, and news reports based on featuring true stories, court documents, and reports. This then leads to investigations, trials, arrests, lawsuits, and changes in the system. The cycle is repeated and will continue being repeated until more changes are made for the better good of the victims. Apostates would not wish to speak negatively about the Organization they knew so well, but it’s because of the information they know so well now that drives them to help others. That is how it works when you need to cause awareness, to help people see the truth. You can’t change something if you refuse to be aware of it. Despite the Organization’s clear distaste for worldly governments, Governments too, take crime and abuse in high regard and shine a light on the truth, and it shows they do this more than this “One True Religion” does. 

“What you don’t know wont kill you”

Gajus Glockentin: Protect Yourself From Lies- JW Broadcasting

The consequences of misinformation are far-reaching and can include erosion of trust, polarization of society, and even physical harm in certain cases. The problem with this Organization is its facade of Misinformation enforcing blissful ignorance. It’s similar to the phrase  “What you don’t know won’t kill you”  … but, it can.

Though the organization has said many times that checking facts is wise (Awake, 2016 ‘What do you know about Jehovah’s Witnesses?’ Watchtower August 2018 ‘Do you have the facts?’ Watchtower 2013 ‘Is religious faith an emotional crutch?’ Program 2021 David Splane ‘Put up a Hard fight for the faith!’ JW Broadcasting 2017 David Splane ‘Producing Accurate Publications’ Watchtower 1981 ‘Is it really contradictory?’ Featured Article JWorg ‘Protect yourself from Misinformation’ Watchtower 2020 ‘The search for Truth’ Watchtower December 2013 ‘Can you Trust the News Media?’Gajus Glockentin: ‘Protect Yourself From Lies’, Etc.)

They condemn listening to anything that would lead to skepticism. They also hardly ever bring up the questions that involve life-altering decisions, the things you need to know.

So as the Organization advises- If you are suspicious of information you receive from an “Apostate” regarding let’s say, Child Sex Abuse – A common issue brought up not in the Organization but known to the outside world, It is as easy as checking for yourself on sites that have legitimate court documents. These are the important facts you don’t typically hear on the organization’s sites or in weekly meetings. This site along with others has those documents if you do not know how to find them yourself.

A huge thanks to Advocate, Mark O’Donnell for first purchasing these recent documents released on April 3rd, 2024, and many more in the past so that anyone can download them for free on courtlistener.com. Mark’s site has court documents on the Jehovah’s Witness Organization regarding child abuse: jwchildabuse.org

To read the latest case regarding the Introduction, the supplemental privilege log, responses, and more: “Brief/Memorandum in Support MOTION for Sanctions FOR SPOLIATION OF EVIDENCE filed by: Tracy Caekaert, Camillia Mapley.”

Below is a summary of the 25-page introduction to this case.  Please know that this IS 100% accurate information filed by the courts, not misinformation. 

The Caekaert case in Montana

The Facts in these documents:

The case involves the Defendant, Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc. (WTNY), failing to provide important documents related to child sexual abuse.

These documents were used by their Service Department to create internal reports called ‘Memorandums of Record.’ Initially, WTNY said these documents were kept by their Legal Department, then later admitted that the Service Department also had copies. However, they can’t confirm if these documents still exist, leading to uncertainty about their whereabouts.

The Plaintiffs, who are seeking these documents, argue that they are crucial because they contain information about what WTNY knew regarding the abuse and when they knew it. Despite being asked to provide the documents, WTNY’s responses have been inconsistent and raised suspicions about whether the documents were destroyed. The Plaintiffs believe that WTNY should be compelled to produce the documents or face sanctions for potentially destroying them.

It’s then revealed that WTNY received warnings about potential legal actions related to the abuse years before the Memorandums were created. This adds to the suspicion that WTNY may have been aware of the seriousness of the situation but failed to adequately address it.

In legal terms, WTNY’s actions could be considered as “spoliation of evidence,” which refers to the intentional or negligent destruction or alteration of evidence relevant to a legal proceeding. This could lead to sanctions against WTNY, as per federal law, for failing to preserve crucial evidence.

Main points about WTNY:

  • WTNY’s Inconsistent Story: WTNY’s statements regarding the whereabouts of the documents used to create the Memorandums are contradictory and confusing. This makes it difficult to determine what actually happened to these critical documents. Despite acknowledging the importance of these documents, WTNY cannot provide a clear explanation of their status, raising doubts about their handling of the evidence.
  • WTNY’s Accountability: Obligation to Preserve Evidence: By 2013, WTNY was legally obligated to preserve all records related to child sexual abuse, including those from the Hardin congregation. Despite this duty, the documents used for the Memorandums were not preserved. 
  • Culpable State of Mind: WTNY’s actions indicate a willful disregard for the importance of these documents in ongoing and potential litigation. They knew the relevance of the documents yet failed to ensure their preservation. 
  • Relevance of Documents: The contents of the Memorandums suggest that the missing documents contained crucial evidence relevant to the case. The absence of these documents impairs the Plaintiffs’ ability to present their case effectively.
  • Sanctions: The severity of sanctions for spoliation depends on various factors, including the degree of fault, prejudice caused, and fairness to the opposing party. Considering WTNY’s sophistication in legal matters and its clear notice of the relevance of the documents, sanctions are warranted. The destruction of evidence has prejudiced the Plaintiffs’ case and interferes with the rightful decision of the court.

Conclusion:

WTNY’s inconsistent statements and failure to preserve crucial evidence have created a problematic situation. They must bear the consequences of their actions, including potential sanctions. The court should instruct the jury to consider WTNY’s failure to produce the documents and may infer that the destroyed documents would have been unfavorable to WTNY. 

Document 336 states that WTNY agrees to pay the amount of $52,976.19 in fines for not providing the documents asked for. Additionally- Another current situation involves the Watchtower’s Chief Counsel, Philip Brumley, who is currently appealing a $154,000 fine. This fine has already been paid by the organization. Brumley is being held responsible for making false and misleading statements to the court through his affidavit. 

So far there have been 4 fines in this Montana Federal Case, and it will be featured in an upcoming article.

The Norway Trial: What is said & What is not

Left: JW article from their site, Right: examples of Articles and Verdict summary about the Trial.

An example of Misinformation and being unaware is in a recent article on the organization’s site, on March 28th, 2024 “Jehovah’s Witnesses to Appeal Unconstitutional Ruling in Norway”

The article shown above on the left is misleading its members about Norway supposedly challenging their right to disfellowship baptized individuals. However, this claim is unfounded. The recent ruling by the District Court of Oslo on March 4th addressed concerns raised by Norway regarding Jehovah’s Witnesses’ practices, particularly their impact on freedom of expression and the psychological well-being of baptized children. Norway’s focus and reason for its verdict is on safeguarding children’s rights from practices leading to social control and isolation, not on prohibiting disfellowshipping itself. These laws reflect broader anti-bullying principles applicable to all organizations. Yet the way this article is written, it is a skewed presentation of the case to their members, omitting access to the Oslo court’s decision, and framing themselves as victims of an “unconstitutional ruling.

There is more information on this article’s misleading sway here: “Jehovah’s Witnesses to Appeal Unconstitutional Ruling in Norway”- By Lester Somrah

If you would like to read the  Verdict: The Verdict JW vs. Norway Trial 2024

News media links and the day by day Trial notes: Jan. 8th- 19th 2024 Trial in Norway vs. Jehovah’s Witnesses

Regarding the article “Jehovah’s Witnesses to Appeal Unconstitutional Ruling in Norway” though and being misinformed:

  • Did this article mention the Government’s concern for children, and the result that was not in their favor? 
  • Did this article mention the emotional testimonies from former Jehovah’s Witnesses that aided the State to confirm its stance on the harmful practice of the Organization?
  • Did this article mention the losses it has had since its last update in January of 2023? (3 losses)
  • Did this article mention how much money the Organization poured into this trial? (Roughly about 450,000.00)
  • Did this article give you misinformation?

Through the organization’s eyes- no. It IS manipulated though, causing you to be unaware of the facts. This trial listened to both parties, from Former and current Jehovah’s Witnesses. This was a fair trial. Would knowing the real facts change your thought process? Surely if the Governing body could release a video about cutting trees down for a new property they are investing in, they can take a few minutes to explain the truth about what’s been going on in Norway. Nobody likes looking bad though, right?

Digital Era Errors

Thankfully In today’s digital age, information is readily accessible at our fingertips, making it easier for one to wake up with simple clicks on an electronic device. Yet with the rise of social media and the ease of sharing information, it is also crucial to understand the impact of misinformation and the role we play in combating it: especially advocates, ones who are raising awareness of those misinformed. 

Various forms such as rumors, hoaxes, conspiracy theories, and manipulated images or videos can harm a person’s trust, and dignity, in themselves or others. Though the information you gain may be very exciting to share with others, not checking the facts if you have an ounce of unsureness can lead to toxic outcomes. What also happens often is these witnesses waking up will bring rapid or widespread information they find through social media platforms such as Reddit, Youtube, JwFacts, AvoidJW, and so forth to their family or friends still in the organization. If they are bringing information that has a false narrative, it can cause major trust issues in their relationships. This distrust stemmed from what the advocate released, whether It was a mistake or not.

The lack of media literacy and critical thinking skills can make individuals vulnerable to misinformation. In this case for Jehovah’s Witnesses, it is not the lack of media literacy but the lack of trust in media literacy and critical thinking for yourself. I’m not implying all media outlets are 100% accurate in their findings. This goes the same for the Organization, unapologetically confusing the meaning of scriptures that had backed up previous teachings and rules. 

Yet, even with critical thinking, It’s hard to do so when this organization also teaches you not to think for yourself, and to be critical of only the world’s standards or views. To ‘Put on the new personality.’ This organization has aligned itself to scratch out any conscious perceptions and deny any questioning of the black-and-white rules they adjust at their will. They cover these rules by addressing them as “new light”  “inspired by God” and “New meaning of the scriptures.”

 The best thing to do when we hear of Misinformation, especially by this organization is to question if it is misinformation, or if it is Disinformation (A purpose of misleading) and whether all of the needed facts make sense. 

When we hear of dubious assertions by someone in, out, or merely surviving in the organization, we want to be clear if this information is backed up by a credible source or a document you can confirm is legitimate. 

We all make mistakes. We try to have heightened awareness due to our deceptive past teachings, and we have been lied to by an entire Organization. We still need to be extra careful what we post, upload, and express in our beliefs. Kindness and skepticism go far, but misinformation and disinformation unfortunately go further.

For advocates:

Beware the PID Department, (I like to call the “Propaganda Intentional Disinformation Department”) but it is the Public Information Department set up in World Headquarters. 

Biased about this or not, there is the potential issue of members in the organization purposely misleading others so that false information spreads. The PID’s department’s role is to specifically orchestrate social media that involves the Organization.

Typically, spokespeople issue statements or release written communications once information surfaces that could jeopardize their constituents or global perceptions. We are aware that they look on former Jehovah’s Witnesses platforms, and check out known advocates’ posts. If there is any possibility of someone from PID purposely deceiving advocates to cause distrust and play the apostate misinformation role, we need to be even more cautious than ever.

In conclusion, it’s crucial to emphasize that our intentions are not to sow uncertainty among those in Bethel who are supporting our cause. We sincerely value the information provided, backed by evidence and updates from trusted sources who courageously risk their positions. However, amidst these current changes from the Governing Body Updates, it’s essential to discern between credible information and speculation. We do not want to send anyone down the rabbit hole or run with conspiracy theories and cause misinformation and confusion. Trusting your instincts is key, prioritizing caution over regret.

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Miss Usato

Aiding Transparency to Watchtowers teachings. If you have additional information about this topic or would like to reach the author- Please email [email protected]

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