The Yearbook of Jehovah’s Witnesses is an annual publication prepared by their headquarters, and which contains figures regarding their organization from the previous year. These figures include how many hours of preaching work were reported by their members, how many of their publications were left with the general public, and so on. There are also experiences related by members from all over the world.
In the front of the Yearbook, there is always an introductory letter from the governing body, a group of (now) seven men who serve as their ultimate authority or leaders (similar to the Pope in the Catholic religion). In the 2015 yearbook, their letter starts off all well and good, the first paragraph expressing appreciation for the “good work” done by their members, the second paragraph mentioning all their preaching and attempts to step up their conversion efforts.
By the third paragraph, however, their message begins to dissolve. They mention the work of volunteers who build their branches worldwide, noting how their branches need “expansion or renovation.” This is a very dubious statement, as it’s been noted that branch offices have been closed in various countries recently, some just a few years after their construction. These branch offices were all built by volunteers who are never paid for their work, while the profits from selling these new buildings goes right back to the same men talking about how more work on such buildings needs to be done.
The fourth paragraph is where the message really falls off the rails:
A mere four paragraphs into their letter and the governing body already has their hand out, asking for money, even referring to the “valuable things” of their followers. They encourage you to give so much that they hope they’ll need to restrain you and turn you away from giving more, just like ancient Israel!
Where Does It All Go?
This obvious cash grab is made even worse when you consider how they are actually downsizing the number of buildings they use as branch offices, as mentioned above. They claim here that they need the money for more Kingdom Halls (their places of worship), but in reality they are now asking many congregations to share one Kingdom Hall. My brother’s Kingdom Hall (as of this writing) serves four congregations and my sister’s serves three, so this supposed need for new Halls is yet another smack of dishonesty on their part. (See this website for more information.)
Note, too, how they compare giving contributions today to building the “tabernacle” in the days of Israel. If you’re not familiar with ancient history, after Israel was rescued from Egypt by Moses parting the Red Sea and all that, they were wandering around the wilderness for a few decades. A tabernacle was built to serve as something of a temporary, portable temple at which they could worship. This tabernacle was a one-time project that was meant to stay with them for decades. Today, the governing body of Jehovah’s Witnesses is asking their followers to donate their “valuable things” for ongoing projects and buildings that are often sold within years of construction. They are also doing this despite the fact that they are earning hundreds of millions of dollars from the sale of buildings in New York alone, and despite the fact that they practice no charitable works with that money!
So if not for new buildings, why would the governing body be so quick to put their hands out and ask for money? You can do any online search and see that Jehovah’s Witnesses have been bleeding money due to lost lawsuits for claims of pedophilia within the organization, to the tune of tens of millions of dollars, if not even hundreds of millions.
The real reason for their cash request is one issue; their placement of this request and its wording is another. They’re asking for money right in the front of this yearbook; it’s not a footnote or afterthought, but is given a place of prominence.
Note, too, that this Yearbook is sent to all congregations and members of the religion worldwide. This includes poor areas of Africa and Asia, and to those struggling financially in undeveloped nations. So, while the governing body of Jehovah’s Witnesses is raking in hundreds of millions of dollars from real estate sales alone, they are asking poor farmers in Africa, factory workers in Asia, and underemployed blue collar workers in America to share their “valuable things” with them.
Before you argue that perhaps the governing body isn’t talking to these poor ones or doesn’t understand their difficult economic situation, note the December 15, 2013, Watchtower, which said,:
“In one very poor country in Africa, some brothers mark off a small section of their garden and use the funds from the sale of the produce from that section to support the Kingdom work. In that same country, a building project was scheduled for a much-needed Kingdom Hall. The local brothers and sisters wanted to assist. However, the project was to be undertaken in the middle of their planting season. Still determined to have a share, they worked on the Kingdom Hall project during the day and then planted their crops in the evening.”
The February, 2007, Awake magazine states about other religions, “Believers are told that they will be rich and healthy if they contribute generously to their church.” I can’t say that Jehovah’s Witnesses have come right out and said that their followers will also be rich and healthy, but condemning other churches who ask for generous contributions when they themselves request the “valuable things” of their own followers is hypocrisy at its finest. It’s also an obscenity when you think about how they ask this of even their poorest followers, rather than helping to support them in some way.
Jesus carried a money box for the poor, yet the governing body of Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t even set up food banks, homeless shelters, or soup kitchens. Instead, they expect the poor to put money in a box for them. Shameful and disgusting.
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