Jehovah’s Witnesses often like to brag that they don’t pass collection plates during their meetings; however, as I bring out in the post, “Conventions, Kingdom Halls, Relief Funds, and Other Financial Scams and Schemes of Jehovah’s Witnesses,” they don’t need to use collection plates, as the religion has lots of other ways of raking in the cash. Most prominently, this includes property flipping and real estate sales; as part of a recent civil case brought against the Witnesses, the court noted that Watchtower has some $1.3 billion in real property (see D070723 marked up, footnote on page 18).
Jehovah’s Witnesses also have others ways of collecting money from their congregants; they have “contribution boxes” set up at meetings, assemblies and conventions, and a way to donate through their website. The religion’s leaders don’t keep track of who donates what monies through these means; while this may sound commendable, the religion does pressure their members to donate as much as they can, as often as they can, through constant reminders in their literature.
When I was in the religion, these reminders were small text boxes, or one or two sentences in an occasional article of a magazine. A few times throughout the year, there would be a short article in the Watchtower that discussed all the ways people could donate, including naming the Watchtower in their will, creating a trust for them, donating jewelry, and so on.
These shorter articles were typically separate from the study articles, meaning the ones that were discussed on Sundays at the Kingdom Hall, publicly, by all in attendance. Soon, however, a few paragraphs, not just a sentence or two, about the need to donate started to show up in those study articles. At the same time, those other, separate articles about donating got longer, and were placed in a more prominent position in the magazines.
The Watchtower is making yet another very unabashed and embarrassing plea for money; in the January 2018 study version of the Watchtower, the third study article of the magazine is completely dedicated to the need to donate funds to the religion.
Giving After Having Been Fleeced
The article starts with a long list of examples from the bible of how humans contributed to god’s work. It then switches gears to talk about giving today, and the article noted that donations are sometimes requested to support a specific purpose, such as building a new Kingdom Hall.
I found this part very disturbing; as I bring out in the linked article above, the Watchtower Society wrote a letter in 2014 stating the the local congregations could keep $5000 in a reserve account, separate from the monthly funds they would keep for the cost of everyday operations and maintenance of their Kingdom Halls. Any funds that a congregation has in excess of that $5000 are to be sent to the religion’s headquarters.
That same letter notes, as does this January 2018 Watchtower, that each congregation also contributes a monthly pledge, in order to support “Kingdom Hall and assembly hall construction worldwide.”
Put all these pieces together; in 2014, the congregations were drained of any monies they had in excess of $5000, even if that money was meant to pay for repairs to their existing Kingdom Hall, or for a new Kingdom Hall altogether. In addition to that money grab, the congregations also send in a monthly donation that is supposedly earmarked for Kingdom Hall construction worldwide. Yet, despite that collection of funds, the magazine admits that they may be asked to donate even more for this construction work!
This is despite the fact that many Kingdom Halls are half-empty these days, and that the buildings are owned by the Watchtower Society, not by those who contribute money and who actually work to see them constructed. When these buildings are sold, the profits go back to Watchtower; again, not to the local congregations who paid for their construction.
Even after all those earnings, and all that donating from their congregants, even after all that fleecing of the flock, this magazine shows their absolute sheer greed with a blatant plea for even more donations.
(Get it? Sheer? Shear? As in fleecing the flock? You use shears to fleece sheep…never mind.)
The magazine then makes the bold, brazen statement that the governing body of the religion “strives to be faithful and discreet” when it comes to how the funds are used, and even includes bible examples of how donated funds were used only for their “intended purposes” and for “relief ministration.” The paragraph says that such funds were cared for “honestly … in the sight of men.”
This is especially disturbing when you realize how much of those donated funds are going toward protecting child abusers in their religion; as I reported at this page, Watchtower is currently paying a $4000 per day sanction from one court in California for failure to turn over documents related to child molesters in their religion. According to Reveal News, as of November 2017, the amount they’ve paid because of those sanctions alone is some $2 million (see this news story).
As many former Jehovah’s Witnesses know, the religion is also facing a $66 million CAD class action lawsuit in Canada, filed on behalf of child sex abuse victims in that country (see this post). Watchtower will also be seeing more lawsuits filed in Australia, based on the findings of the Australian Royal Commission Inquiry, and is having to answer for many other lawsuits around the world. There are also the legal costs in having to answer to the Australian Royal Commission Inquiry and the UK Charity Commission Inquiry.
Yet, the article in this magazine doesn’t mention any of those costs; instead, it talks about their website, their online TV channel, and their conventions. That all sounds impressive, except when you consider how much printed literature they’re scaling back on (see this post), including their own Yearbook (this post), keeping the majority of their literature on their website, which is cheaper than actually printing physical copies. As for their conventions, I bring out in that post above that these actually make money for the organization; they’re not supported by the donations sent in throughout the year.
All of this betrays any claim of caring for donations “honestly.” The Watchtower is not honest about the value of their real estate and the obscene wealth they make from their property flipping schemes and other financial interests, and are not honest about how donated funds are actually used. This is just more disgusting victimization of their congregants, coercing them into giving more money to an organization that is already rich beyond belief, and especially when those funds are going to protect a pedophile who could be sitting right next to their own child.
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