Are Jehovah's Witnesses a Cult?

When the Governing Body and Obvious Cash Grabs Come Before the Bible’s Message

Recently I came across the December 15, 2014, study edition of the Watchtower magazine of Jehovah’s Witnesses. In this magazine, after the cover page and the table of contents, there is an obituary for Guy Pierce, a member of their governing body, who passed away this last March. Next, there is a two-page article about how to contribute funds to the Watchtower Corporation, with a set of instructions on various ways to do this. These instructions include information on how to donate personal items and how to name the organization in your will, even leaving it your entire estate if you so desire. On page 6 is the first bible study lesson of the magazine.

Let me repeat that so you don’t miss what I’m saying. After the technical info, there is a page dedicated to a governing body member, then two full pages telling you how to give them money, then your bible study lesson.

As the kids would say, priorities much?

The Governing Body Before the Bible?

Guy Pierce, the governing body member mentioned above, got an entire full-page obituary in the pages of the Watchtower magazine. Can someone point out to me what bible character, other than Jesus himself, received that much attention after his death? John the Baptist was beheaded at a birthday party, but is there a full-page or chapter in the bible singing his praises? Remember, he was the one to preach before Jesus and the man who actually baptized Jesus himself, yet his death receives hardly a mention.

Can someone show me the obituary in the bible of any of the apostles, including Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Peter, or Paul? Stephen was stoned to death and he receives nothing more than a few sentences. What about other major bible characters including Jude, Timothy or Barnabas?

Yes, some bible characters had their lives spelled out for us, but these ones had extraordinary stories that were somehow significant. Abraham nearly sacrificed his own son and is the father of the nation of Israel, Noah gathered all the animals together on an ark and lived through a worldwide flood, Job’s life is an example of the argument going on in heaven about integrity, Moses parted the Red Sea and led Israel out of Egypt. Guy Pierce, on the other hand, apparently lived his whole life in the relative peace and comfort of the United States, and his greatest accomplishments seem to be pioneering (full-time preaching) and the circuit work (traveling from one congregation to another).

By 1982 he and Penny were busy in the pioneer work, and in 1986 he began 11 years of service as a circuit overseer in the United States. In 1997, Guy and Penny Pierce began to serve as members of the United States Bethel family. Brother Pierce worked in the Service Department, and in 1998 he was appointed as a helper to the Personnel Committee of the Governing Body. Brother Pierce’s appointment as a member of the Governing Body was announced on October 2, 1999, at the annual meeting of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania. In recent years, he served with the Personnel, Writing, Publishing, and Coordinators’ committees. 

I would say that pales in comparison to the man who stood up to Pharaoh and received the ten commandments from god himself.

The arrogance of the governing body to assume that one man needs so much attention on his life, and to put that attention before a lesson on the bible, is overwhelming. What really is the purpose of the Watchtower magazine, to teach god’s word or to serve as a personal advertisement for the CEOs of a corporation? Since when is any one man to be put ahead of a bible lesson and to be so glorified?

A Money Grab Before the Bible?

2005412-LJehovah’s Witnesses often brag that they’re different from other religions because they don’t pass a collection plate or ask for tithes. In all fairness, this is true, but that doesn’t mean they don’t pressure their members to contribute financially.

On the page dedicated to donating to the Watchtower Society, the organization leaves nothing left to chance. They note outright how you can give them donations of cash, jewelry, and personal property, along with conditional donations or loans, naming the Watchtower Society on insurance policies, setting up bank accounts as trusts for the benefit of the Watchtower Society, gifting real estate to the organization, or including them in a will. They even mention a brochure you can request with instructions on how to handle the legalities of these arrangements.

While some might argue that this page is meant for practical information, I would argue that it’s more suggestive than anything else. It lists everything you can give to them in every way possible, including things you probably wouldn’t think about on your own such as jewelry and real estate. Imagine if this thinking was applied when someone was actually passing the collection plate; you toss in a few dollars and the church usher looks at that nice necklace or fancy watch you’re wearing and says, “You know, we accept those too.”

JWs may brag that they don’t have collection plates or pass out envelopes to congregants expecting them to send back donations, but how is this any different? They are not shy about giving you a full list of ways that you can contribute, and don’t worry, they’ll help you with the legalities of this as well.

Priorities

The amount of space given to someone who should be considered an insignificant man and to suggestions for how you can turn over your hard-earned cash to the Watchtower Society are bad enough, however, it’s where that space is located that also raises eyebrows. Why would a governing body member and suggestions for donations take precedence over the weekly bible study? The priorities of this Watchtower are obvious; they glorify a mere man and give a slick, glossy presentation of what was apparently a humdrum life, and then suggest the many ways you can line their pockets and fill their coffers. Once you’ve gotten through those important things, then you might look at an article about the bible, that is, if you have any time or attention left over.

Unfortunately I’ve seen the religion of Jehovah’s Witnesses become more businesslike and more cult-like every day, and this magazine is a perfect example of that. It seems apparent that they are no longer even being subtle about the type of organization they are; one that elevates men over the bible itself and that exists to turn a profit from its members any way it can.

It’s important to note that Jesus carried a money box for the poor, yet Jehovah’s Witnesses practice no charitable works despite their sizable donations and profits. They expect people to support them, not the other way around. The apostles were chastised for fighting over who was the greatest, and didn’t get a full-page obituary after their deaths. This Watchtower magazine couldn’t be any more removed from bible teaching and examples if it had set out to do so on purpose.

This thinking of theirs is one of the prime reasons they create victims out of their congregant; people including elderly ones are pressured to donate what little money they have and property may be left to the religion rather than family. I’m hearing more and more stories of elderly ones and wealthy ones being personally pressured to leave estates to the Watchtower Society rather than their own families, which could be considered elder abuse in some cases and absolutely unscriptural in all cases.

The governing body’s every word is considered virtually divine, so that rank-and-file members are forced to accept that word without question, and are also continuously removed from having a direct relationship with god. Instead, they have a relationship with a religion and must go through mere humans to receive direction and guidance, rather than going to the bible itself.

What reason is there then to believe that this religion is one based on bible teaching and that it has anything to do with the bible’s message, and is not yet another moneymaking cult or business disguised as a religion? How far will this victimization go before people realize they are not even a religion at all, and at what point will those rank-and-file members stand up and refuse to continue to support this victimization, of themselves and of others?

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