Elders and Governing Body

Did the 2016 Yearbook of Jehovah’s Witnesses Lie In Their Very First Experience?

Jehovah’s Witnesses have a yearbook that includes a rundown of numbers and statistics from each previous “service year,” which I believe begins in September for them, as well as experiences as shared by Witnesses from various countries. The 2016 yearbook was just recently released, and the facts and figures are being dissected as we speak.

While the math homework is being done, I wanted to comment on an experience that was related in the yearbook, right at the beginning, on page 4:

A married couple became disillusioned with religion because of the hypocrisy they had observed. In their search for spiritual guidance, they discovered our website. They began regularly visiting the site to read articles from our publications and to watch videos. They even downloaded the booklet Examining the Scriptures Daily and began to read the daily text along with their two teenage children. In fact, that is what they were doing the morning that Jehovah’s Witnesses knocked on their door. The Witnesses learned that as a result of visiting the website, the family had made many changes. They had removed their tattoos and body piercings, discarded their religious images, discontinued celebrating worldly holidays, and stopped viewing inappropriate movies—all of this before the couple’s initial personal contact with the Witnesses! As of this writing, both parents and one of the children are publishers and the parents plan to be baptized soon.

Note what they said about the extent of the changes this couple had made, just from viewing a website. They “removed their tattoos.”

A tattoo can be removed, yes, but not very easily. It’s not like something you draw onto your body with ink and then just scrub off with some baby oil and a stiff shower brush. There are also tattoo removal creams you can buy, but these are often ineffective.

Tattoos are permanent stains on the skin that go several layers deep, and which are meant to stand up to harsh scrubbing, sunlight, body lotions, and the like. Note what is said about tattoo removal by ASDS (American Society for Dermatological Surgery):

  • Professionally applied tattoos tend to penetrate the deeper layers of the skin at uniform levels. This uniformity allows dermatologic surgeons to use techniques that remove broader areas of inked skin at the same depth.
  • Professional tattoos made with some of the newer inks and pastel colors may be difficult to remove entirely.
  • Removal of homemade tattoos – often applied with an uneven hand – may be more difficult to remove.
  • Deeper blue and black ink colors are particularly challenging.
  • Newer tattoos often tend to be more difficult to remove than older ones.
  • Complete tattoo removal is not always possible.

From the experts, you see that tattoo removal is obviously not a minor issue, and obviously isn’t done as quickly and easily as removing a piercing.

Yet, the 2016 yearbook doesn’t say that they “went through the pain and expense” of derm-abrasion or laser tattoo removal, or any other such process. It notes in a very casual, offhand, flippant manner that they just “removed their tattoos,” as if they were taking out a pair of earrings.

Not only is this mentioned in a very casual way, but I would wonder why they may have felt a need to do it in the first place. If you visit jw.org, there are articles listed about carefully making the decision to get a tattoo, but the April 8, 2001, Awake magazine, noted this supposed question from a reader and the response:

I am writing in response to your article “The Bible’s Viewpoint: Body Decoration—The Need for Reasonableness.” (August 8, 2000) Tasteful body decoration is beautiful—a true work of art. Society may judge me and classify me by my looks, but I know that in God’s eyes I am loved. I hope and pray that others will not dwell on my tattoos but look at what I am inside.

K. M., United States

The article acknowledged that whether a person decides to indulge in body decoration or not is a personal decision. Nevertheless, one way a person gives evidence of being beautiful inside is by ‘adorning himself with modesty and soundness of mind.’ (1 Timothy 2:9) The Bible also makes it clear that a Christian is under obligation to take into account not only his own conscience but “that of the other person.” (1 Corinthians 10:29)—ED.

It doesn’t seem from this exchange that tattoos in of themselves are a horrific, blasphemous outrage that should make someone feel horrendously guilty or somehow “dirty.” When I was one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, there were a few people who had become Witnesses after having gotten tattoos and they still had them, without any thought of getting them removed.

It’s also good to consider that not all tattoos are so visible that they would all need to be removed; I can understand someone removing a questionable tattoo that’s on their neck, but what about something on their shoulder, or their back or hip, or another place you don’t readily see in everyday life? Why go to the expense and through the pain of getting these removed if no one is likely to ever see them? The experience doesn’t say they removed some tattoos or only the most visible, but just “their tattoos.”

I will openly admit that there may be other factors that were simply not noted in the article; maybe the tattoos in question were especially vulgar or offensive. The experience said that they “discarded their religious images,” so maybe they had tattoos of crosses or other symbols that Jehovah’s Witnesses deem inappropriate.

lie5However, this casual mention of tattoos, without any inclusion as to the difficulty of having them removed, or why this couple felt they should be removed in the first place, along with the story of how this couple flipped their entire life upside down based on a website alone, just seems a bit far-fetched.

It also seems a bit much to think that a couple who left one religion because of its hypocrisy would then so easily turn to another religion, without researching any of its own hypocrisy. You can easily go through this website and see the many failed predictions and prophecies made by Jehovah’s Witnesses, the control they have over their congregants that is not backed up by any scripture, and their problems with pedophilia, domestic violence, and shunning.

Jehovah’s Witnesses proved their own gross hypocrisies during the Australian Royal Commission Inquiry in 2015, and about something as horrific as child rape and abuse; I can’t imagine some random couple just tossing away their tattoos and ignoring these horrific facts based on a website alone.

I could be wrong, but the level of their life changes, told in such a casual way, just doesn’t ring true to me.

*** ***

Do you think this story was true, an outright lie, or at least exaggerated a bit? Please share your comments and this post via social media below.


16 replies »

  1. I don’t understand the purpose of this blog. Perhaps they covered the tattoos with makeup? I know a lot of people who do that. Witnesses and non witnesses. You don’t necessarily have to have it removed. That’s a personal decision. No one is going to force you to do anything. You can’t live your life based on wheather someone is living up to the standards. It’s a personal struggle everyone deals with. Concentrate on your own struggle and you doing what you have to be doing. Successful people in life concentrate on what they have to do to be successful. Not on who isn’t doing everything they should. That’s the difference. That rule applies in life as well. You can’t live your life looking at your neighbor to see if they are doing right. Well so and so is a hypocrite so everyone else is and I’m just going to do my own thing. Everyone struggles and everyone is making an effort to live their life up to God’s standards. Some people just have a harder struggle. Just like some people lose weight easy and others struggle harder. Also why dedicate time and effort to be negative about a religion. Perhaps the time is better spend being positive and bettering oneself.

    • The statement doesn’t say they “covered” their tattoos, but “removed” them. That’s their word, not mine. If it’s a lie, and it certainly sounds like, they should be called out on it.

      As for spending my time, Jehovah’s Witnesses themselves justify the hours they spend in preaching by saying that they are warning their neighbors of what they see as impending danger (Armageddon). I feel the same way about their religion that routinely hides pedophiles, shuns nonbelievers, allows children to die rather than get a simple blood transfusion, encourages women to stay with abusive husbands, and the list could go on.

  2. Ha ha. Tryin way to hard dude. If want to know the truth, stick to your bible. But oh you probably never picked one up! Oh you probably aren’t even intrrested in that!

  3. Great article Ms. James! It’s certainly become apparent that the experiences related by the Watchtower at their meetings, assemblies or in their publications are either gross exaggerations or outright fabrications, all designed as a marketing ploy to keep JWs focused on promoting their organization. By the way, thank you for created such a wonderful website that deals primarily on the “victims” of the Watchtower. Those who have suffered from Watchtower abuses should never be forgotten or ignored, but provided with all of the support and assistance we can give them. Thanks! John

    • Thank you for the kind words John, I appreciate it. I think many people are waking up to their outright fabrications, but of course that won’t stop them from lying. Makes me sick and sad at the same time.

  4. Good catch, very unbelievable! I do have a comment though, I noticed your blog titles are a little long. I think mentioning Jehovah’s Witnesses every time is kind of redundant? You can put that in the url perhaps for ‘googlability’. Also using questions to make a statement feels like you’re trying to make statements without having to back them up. (Lazy! :-P) My suggestion for this article would be “First Yearbook’s Experience Highly Unlikely”. Short and to the point. In my opinion this would improve the look of your main page, shorter titles makes it seem more “accessible”. With long titles it looks like it’s going to be long-winded articles which is not the case. Many thanks!

    • I understand your point, but my website is meant for the non-JW crowd as well as for JWs waking up from indoctrination. Not using the term “Jehovah’s Witnesses” in each title can cause internet searchers to overlook the posts, not realizing the subject. Using “Jehovah’s Witnesses” and “Watchtower” in each title increases their SEO and site rankings; getting them found so people can read the material is more important to me than the cumbersome length, which I understand. Thanks for pointing it out though.

  5. Propaganda tool! Theocratic rhetoric at it’s finest! Exaggerated at it’s fines! If this is the start of the yearbook, just what can you imagine is in the rest of the publication!

  6. If jw.org is so effective, maybe in the future they can forego door-knocking and just recruit through the website. Praise Jehovah!

  7. Considering that many who gave assembly parts were asked to relate ‘fake’ experiences or exaggerate a real experience to the point that it was unrecognizable from the original tells me that most or all of their written ‘experiences’ are just as fabricated. Who in their right mind would change their entire lifestyle, beliefs and traditions based on a website without even contacting the owners of the site to ask questions? Unheard of and completely unbelievable.

  8. “….They even downloaded the booklet Examining the Scriptures Daily and began to read the daily text along with their two teenage children. In fact, that is what they were doing the morning that Jehovah’s Witnesses knocked on their door. The Witnesses learned that as a result of visiting the website, the family had made many changes…”

    As someone who was within the organisation over 16 years,its very very difficult to find an non-JW person reading a daily text let alone the whole family including that ‘teenager’. There is no truth at all in that booklet. Its hard to be understand by an average non JW person since the majority of its contents are from the prior watchtower publications..

  9. I agree wholeheartedly with you. My exact thought as I read the “experience ” was, How could someone just remove their tattoos so easily? The whole story sounds fabricated!

    • And you know rank-and-file JWs will sit there, stunned and amazed, thinking of how special their religion is and “oh only Jehovah could create a website” and their very computer keyboards are now filled with holy spirit and etc.

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