Are Jehovah's Witnesses a Cult?

Why the “Doomsday Underground Bunker” Videos of Jehovah’s Witnesses May Be More Prophetic Than You Think

In this post, it’s discussed how Jehovah’s Witnesses are showing a series of “underground doomsday bunker” videos at their 2016 summer conventions. They depict a scenario they feel will happen any day now, when governments turn on religions and then on Jehovah’s Witnesses in particular. A small group of JWs huddle in a basement bunker, praying, reading scripture, confessing their past sins, and waiting for the SWAT team to eventually show up. You can see the videos again here:

There is, of course, some question about whether or not Jehovah’s Witnesses would ever tell their own followers to grab their things and get in the bunker; many ex-JWs find it very implausible. Some have even criticized the comparison to other cults.

I can respect that; I personally cannot imagine the leaders of Jehovah’s Witnesses telling their members to start stockpiling weapons or to drink some poison. However, is a “doomsday underground bunker” scenario really so far-fetched?

Take the Money and Run

Some weeks back, an ex-JW expressed an opinion that the Watchtower organization simply needs to change a few policies and be allowed to continue as a “quaint” religion. I respect their opinion, although I disagreed with it (see this post for more). That same writer noted people’s disagreements and, commendably, asked how we would imagine the Watchtower actually “going away.” While no one can predict the future, my personal opinion is that the leaders of the Watchtower organization may very well “take the money and run.” They know that they are facing dozens of multi-million dollar lawsuits due to their child molestation policies, and now that they’ve gone through the Australian Royal Commission Inquiry and are facing a similar Inquiry from the UK Charity Commission, they may be facing dozens if not hundreds more.


Armageddon, or trying to arrest elders hiding information about child abuse cases?

I have also heard scattered stories of law enforcement getting involved in such cases, as there are areas where it’s legally required to report any instances of child abuse to the police, but some elders have failed to do this. Of course, other elders, ministerial servants (like elders in training), and rank-and-file members are the child molesters themselves, so they too face charges.

Trying to simply close up this religious corporation’s bank accounts and then fly quietly to the Cayman Islands could be very difficult for its leaders, given how many men at various branch offices and local congregations have access to those accounts, deeds to property, and the like. Like a run on business stocks, trying to run on these accounts and property might set off too many alarm bells, and some elders, especially those already having their own doubts, might shut down those accounts, drain them themselves, or even alert authorities.

What better way to avoid this than by telling congregants that Armageddon has started and it’s time to hit the bunkers? The leaders of the religion could tell the elders that they need to transfer all funds and property deeds to a certain location in order to avoid detection and to keep them from being seized by the governments, and with the elders and congregation members in full panic mode, the governing body and their minions could disappear that much more easily.

This scenario could also work to protect them from law enforcement detection; they could tell the elders and others that the police are coming to detain them because it’s Armageddon, not because they need to answer legitimate charges of endangering children. An elder could then sit in jail indefinitely, thinking that Jehovah is going to step in any second now and bring that new system, while not saying a word to police. For those that do wise up and realize they’ve been duped, once they emerge from the bunkers or cooperate with the police or whatever else, they see that the world is still continuing to turn while their old Kingdom Hall is now a credit union and their leaders are gone.

The Religion Itself

As for the religion itself, would it be so improbable that offshoots and factions spring up everywhere? There are actually some offshoots of Jehovah’s Witnesses already. With the leadership in New York gone, how easily could certain elders, overseers, or just rank-and-file member claim to now be the “faithful and discreet slave” (a term used by the governing body for themselves)? This would be quite simple for someone if they had already shown themselves to be very knowledgeable about the bible, if they had previously made critical comments about the current governing body, if they used certain scriptures in a convincing way, and so on. After all, some 8 million Jehovah’s Witnesses today hang onto every word said by the current governing body, without ever questioning them.

Do I honestly think that this scenario would ever occur? My first reaction is no, but keep in mind that Jehovah’s Witnesses have only been around for just over 100 years and they have only 8 million members worldwide; we’re not talking about the Catholic religion, which has been around for centuries and which has permeated the very culture of many different countries. The religion of Jehovah’ Witnesses may be very significant to us as ex-JWs, but to the outside world, they’re just another little religion that could easily go away and few people would notice.

What is also worth noting is that these “bunker videos” are not the religion’s first step at indoctrinating people to be ready to do something questionable, thinking it’s the end of the world:

“At that time, the life-saving direction that we receive from Jehovah’s organization may not appear practical from a human standpoint. All of us must be ready to obey any instructions we may receive, whether these appear sound from a strategic or human standpoint or not.”
~ November 15, 2013, Watchtower

Not even three years ago, the Watchtower was preparing its congregants to “obey any instructions” they’re given, even if those instruction don’t appear “sound” or very “strategic.” In 2014, the congregations were told that they could keep $5000 in their savings accounts for expenses, but all additional funds after this go to the religion’s headquarters (see this post for more info on their financial schemes):

KH build letter pg 1

Can we see the picture developing here? Jehovah’s Witnesses are taught to obey anything and everything they’re told, even if it should seem dangerous, unsound, highly suspect, or dare I say,  hysterical and outright ridiculous. They’ve already gladly obeyed these instructions on every occasion in the past, and have already willingly began turning over their local finances.

You Trust These Leaders? Really?

Some might continue to argue that the leaders of Jehovah’s Witnesses would never abandon their congregants, but I would counter-argue that these men are not exactly compassionate, even to their own rank-and-file. During the Australian Royal Commission, governing body member Geoffrey Jackson outright lied about the religion’s allowance of corporal punishment (see this post), rather than admitting that children are routinely beaten in the religion because of their strong endorsement of “discipline.” As I bring out in this post, governing body member Tony Morris discussed child molestation during a broadcast of their TV channel, but rather than accepting responsibility for how it happens in their religion, he blamed homosexuals for the problem. Morris also gave a public discourse some time back where he talked about an Armageddon scenario, discussing how human bodies split open like hot dogs on the battlefield. He did this with no feeling, no sympathy for those victims of war, including children, the elderly, and other innocents, and discussed it in terms of what they (Jehovah’s Witnesses) can look forward to when the world ends. No, these men are not overly concerned for anyone’s feelings, not even those of their own congregants.

While these “bunker videos” may be nothing more than a fear tactic to keep people from even thinking of leaving the religion lest they wind up like poor Kevin, outside and in the path of Armageddon, they could also very well be yet another part of the evacuation plan meant for the leaders of the religion alone. After all, what better way to freely take the money and run than to send all your potential detractors to an underground bunker, telling them to sit there and pray and drink bottled water, letting them take the fall for all your legal entanglements, while you’re safely in the Cayman Islands, sipping margaritas and laughing hysterically at them?

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12 replies »

  1. Could this possibly be why my 77 year old grandmother whom is a witness has been packing and hoarding items? She lives with my mother, her daughter, and while recently cleaning her room, my mom found that she had all kinds of household and food items nearly stacked and “packed”, clothes as well. She has some dementia and some things don’t make sense when she says them. She said something about being ready for the call to go to the end of the world. Said that there is someone in New York who is going to call some man at her hall, and let them know when it is time. Really worried about all this as she keeps things a secret from the family.

    • Oh wow … I hope someone in your family mentioned this to her doctor because it could be her dementia, but the JW mindset doesn’t work very well with those who already have mental and emotional issues. I feel bad that your grandmother must be so terrified and on edge. Hopefully a medical doctor can help somehow.

  2. Great article Alexandra! Instead of feeling foolish for ever allowing them in my house, I guess I should be feeling blessed that I got out when I did! I guess people calling them a cult isn’t too far off. Sadly, they do try to have too much control over people.

    • iI’s funny, my JW grandmother passed away and before told us she saw her dead parents, husband, my father, and her nephew. Completely out of her JW character, makes you wonder if there is something else out there. P. S. I am in no way associated with J.W.

  3. Thank you Alexandra. This is what I’ve been thinking too. There was a recent study watchtower (can’t remember the particular one in question) that mentioned the “faithful and discreet slave” suddenly being whipped up to heaven at the beginning of the great tribulation. My firsts thoughts on this remark was, could this be the watchtower preparing the rank and file for the ultimate snatch and grab, whilst the 7 run out the back door?

    • I’m at the point where I will accept anything, as long as this religion just disappears! I’m going to see if I can find that article, that would be an interesting point to add.

    • Okay I see it … I didn’t think all of the governing body today had the “heavenly hope” though. I’m gonna ask a few sources and see if they can find a reference for that. This article is just dizzying, they’re pulling interpretations out of the air. I might put it on my list of things to dissect. That list is getting longer every day!

      • Haha yeah. When watched the bunker videos, for some reason, this watchtower article sprung to mind. Even back then, my thought was, this is a preparation for maybe the watchtowers downfall. I have this ability to read between the lines, however, sometimes my imagination can run riot haha.

  4. I don’t think that the “leaders” are looking for a way out of bankrupt, after all, there are no constant leadership: the Governing Body changes its members, and the system almost feeds itself; new witnesses will come after this “generation”, maybe less restrictive, or more fanatic, but from which I know, its impossible to a dozen of leaders to go away, although the big decisions for now lies only in their hands. Something that I see coming soon with this reinforcement of the long-time known “persecution and doomsday” douctrine, is that in a short time we maybe watch the JW’s organization went full cult: banning every independent thought and criticize most that they already do by now. In some sense, the “really strong and loyal” JW’s ALREADY ARE in a bunker, the bunker created by ideas that can’t be even questioned. I don’t think that the organization will fall apart, but die slowly, as less and less people enter the religion, juridical problems dry their paradises of printing industries, and some of the faithful witness start to think for themselves and fade, or just leave. Meanwhile, the “message will pass from good news to judgement”: the despair of the organization, that already began, will threaten, accuse and blackmail its members, until it comes to end someday.

  5. Interesting scenario, using fear to keep the JWs in while stealing the rug right out from under them. I’m beginning to think that JWs are learning much from mob tactics. Great article as usual, Alex!

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