Who Thinks For You?

The leadership of Jehovah’s Witnesses (JWs) has been accused of exercising a type of monopoly over its members. This monopoly becomes more evident when individuals opt to differ from the official teachings of the Governing Body (GB),[1] a group of men, who view themselves as God’s sole channel of communication here on earth. Naturally, then, the question to as is: ‘Who thinks for you?’

Protesters insist that the Governing Body demonstrates a lack of tolerance for dissenting views, even derogatorily referring to protesters as ‘mentally diseased’ because they ostensibly ‘seek to infect others [active Jehovah’s Witnesses] with their disloyal teachings.’ [Italics mine][2] Individuals who persist in such private views are labelled as ‘apostates,’ a loaded term synonymous with spiritual repugnance. ‘Independent thinking’ is frowned upon and classed with the traits of the devil, who is said to have been the first to commit the ‘crime’ of independent thinking. As far as free-thinking is concerned, some are of the view that the Governing Body exercise a quasi-cartel influence in a religious vein. Active members are expected to unquestioningly submit to any and all direction that is communicated by this ‘Faithful and Discreet Slave’ (FDS) ultimately on pain of being disfellowshipped or labelled an apostate.

Once baptized, you’ve signed a lifetime contract and you’re effectively the property of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society (WBTS). Any attempt to depart at some future time, for any reason whatsoever – disagreement in scriptural views etc. – will be met with severe sanction. Effectively your options are reduced to actually believing or pretending to believe (the latter referring to a class of ‘conscious Witnesses’). Consequently, many echo the sentiments of Daniel Genser in feeling that ‘there exists no elegant way to leave the organization.’[3]

It is, therefore, interesting to take note of the January 22, 1947 Awake! article, page 9, under the heading ‘Who Thinks For You?’ (After thoroughly reading that article, it is highly recommended that you follow it up with the July 15, 2011 Watchtower study article, page 15, entitled ‘Will You Heed Jehovah’s Clear Warning?’ to draw parallels between the two articles). The article discusses propaganda tactics. In part it says:

‘The target of the propagandist is the mind […] the professional propagandist seeks to subjugate the minds of the people […] by direct frontal assaults or to victimize by subtle flank attacks or ambush […] from pulpits […]. Individuals, groups and nations practice propaganda in their endeavor to think for the people.’ [Italics mine]

Under the sub-heading ‘Defense Through Knowledge’ the following is said about the propagandist:

‘Their primary purpose is to rout reasoning and stimulate passion. Their play on emotions may lead you to their conclusions. Complacency and self-flattery let you call it thinking, but when you try to give reasons for your conclusions you are surprised and then embarrassed to discover you have none.’ [Italics mine]

On the insidious device of ‘name-calling’ it says:

‘An outstanding tactic in stirring emotions is name-calling. By it the propagandist gives a person or group or idea against which he propagandizes a bad label. The hateful name rouses anger and the one smeared by it is condemned without any evidence being examined. If one is called a Red, a heretic, a yellow traitor, of other name of odious import [such as, say, ‘apostate’], the wily propagandist knows that listening bystanders will hesitate to question or examine the charge for fear that they might be considered as sympathetic towards such classes.’

When such propaganda is repeated, it has the following effect:

‘[People] believe, and […] it is accepted as incontrovertible truth. […] Without ever giving ear to the victim, without ever asking for evidence in proof, the charge is accepted and believed and repeated.’


Governing Body member, David Splane, giving a Morning Worship program in Brooklyn, New York (2015).

Interestingly, in one Morning Worship program, Governing Body member, David Splane, 71, criticized some of the early Protestant Reformers for denigrating each other with name-callings to the effect of:  ‘…heathen, dog, pig[4] all for the purpose of discrediting each other’s competing scriptural views. And, yet, Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Roman Catholic Church (RCC) have scripturally – and otherwise – been ‘twerking’ at each other for years. The Jehovah’s Witnesses attribute the RCC as being the ‘harlot’ of the book of Revelation, while the RCC (and others) view Jehovah’s Witnesses as a ‘cult’ or a ‘sect’. If this doesn’t qualify as name-calling, tell me what does.

When a person is announced as ‘no longer one of Jehovah’s Witnesses,’ the congregation members have no access to the facts, but the general assumption is that the individual in question unmistakably committed some biblical faux pas. This seems readily accepted. It doesn’t occur to the members that the person may have simply disassociated themselves. Alternatively, it doesn’t occur to the members that the Elders may have botched the whole thing and might, essentially, be submitting an innocent man to ‘death row.’ The members will never know. Why? Because they’re not allowed to communicate with someone who has been – to borrow a Scientology term – ‘declared’ as no longer a Witness.

As far as supplying truthful unsanitised information is concerned, the article says:

‘A potent propaganda dodge is to tell only half-truths. The facts are carefully selected, those not advantageous eliminated, and lopsided, incomplete views [are] given.’

Consider the latest 240 page history book of Jehovah’s Witnesses, ‘Gods Kingdom Rules![5] It gives a very sanitized version of the organization’s history. It is a far cry from the ‘Proclaimers’[6] book, which itself, though more revealing than the former, is very selective of its historical disclosures (e.g. it doesn’t mentioned a single thing about the 1939 Olin Moyle debacle, where Moyle, who served as legal counsel for the WBTS, in an open letter of resignation, exquisitely rebuked the then president, Joseph Rutherford, for his megalomaniac behaviour).

The concluding paragraph had this to say:

The fact is too many people do their thinking by proxy. They allow […] politicians to do it, minsters and priests to do it, and people are content to buy this second hand thinking. Propaganda is a challenge to the individual to use his own mind if he has one, to scrutinize and analyze, to be impartial and unprejudiced, to be weary of words and ideas highly charged with emotion; in short know the propagandist’s tricks and defend yourself. Be prudent. “The simple believeth every word; but the prudent man looketh well to his going.” – Proverb 14:15 [Bold mine][7]

The Governing Body claims to speak for God, it claims to be appointed by Christ, it claims to teach the truth, it denigrates those who challenge it’s views, it castigates those members who dissent, it forbids its members from speaking with these so-called ‘apostates’ and, yet, the Governing Body reserves the right to correct the ‘truth’ that it, for all intents and purposes, force-feeds its members; it justifies such changes as ‘New Light’ when, in fact, those individuals that they previously lambasted as ‘apostates’ have often times proposed those very same ideas that they (the Governing Body) now jubilantly proclaim as revelation. It’s offensive! It’s embarrassing!

As far as the rich claims made by the Governing Body, they bring to mind the sage words of Carl Sagan, namely, ‘Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.’

Jehovah’s Witnesses are not allowed to think for themselves; the Governing Body does the thinking for them. Consider this, the Governing Body expects absolute commitment from its members; therefore, sincere humble Witnesses will gladly sacrifice their time, their energy, their resources, their freedom and sometimes even their lives because of some Watchtower directive. Now, if you’re an active Witness and you are prepared to offer this level of commitment, are you prepared still to allow the Governing Body to do your thinking by proxy; don’t you owe it to yourself to confirm the veracity of any Governing Body/Watchtower directive? They make such high claims of themselves – ‘anointed’, ‘God’s sole channel’ etc. – is it really wrong to hold them accountable? Is it really wrong to expect transparency? Does God forbid you from analyzing them? If this was anything but religion, would you still surrender your thinking to someone else?

What I’ve often discovered is that religion gives people permission to deceive themselves; doubt is viewed as a shortcoming – don’t doubt, believe, have faith. Granted, there is nothing wrong with believing or having faith in something per se, but if left unmonitored it can become an Achilles heel of sorts. What I’m proposing here is the actual applying of one’s mind, the sharpening of one’s critical (analytical) thinking skills –  and this outlook is not without scriptural precedence: Safeguard your thinking ability (Proverb 3:21), make sure of all things (1 Thessalonians 5:21), reason from the scriptures (Romans 17:2, 3), test the ‘inspired’ expressions (1 John 4:1). Verify, verify, verify.

Cure ignorance and read; do your due diligence; anyone who promotes ignorance (‘censorship‘) should be viewed with great suspicion. As the above-mentioned Awake! article admits, and as I concur, ‘it is high time to awake.’


[1] Since 2013 the term ‘Governing Body’ and ‘Faithful and Discreet Slave’ are interchangeable, referring both to one and the same group. See ‘Who Really is the Faithful and Discreet Slave’ Watchtower July 15, 2013 page 22 para 10: ‘Who, then, is the faithful and discreet slave? In keeping with Jesus’ pattern of feeding many through the hands of a few, that slave is made up of a small group of anointed brothers who are directly involved in preparing and dispensing spiritual food during Christ’s presence. Throughout the last days, the anointed brothers who make up the faithful slave have served together at headquarters. In recent decades, that slave has been closely identified with the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Note, however, that the word “slave” in Jesus’ illustration is singular, indicating that this is a composite slave. The decisions of the Governing Body are thus made collectively.’

[2] ‘Will You Heed Jehovah’s Clear Warnings’ Watchtower July 15, 2011 page 15 para 6.

[3] Daniel Genser ‘What I Believe to Be True – And How I Came to Believe It’, last accessed at https://medium.com/@danielgenser/what-i-believe-to-be-true-and-how-i-have-come-to-believe-it-13df821c3ed on July 11, 2015.

[4] David Splane ‘The “Slave” is not 1900 Years Old’ Morning Worship, last accessed at http://tv.jw.org/#video/VODProgramsEvents/pub-jwbmw_201506_1_VIDEO on July 11, 2015.

[5] God’s Kingdom Rules! (2014).

[6] Jehovah’s Witnesses – Proclaimers of God’s Kingdom (1993).

[7] ‘Who Thinks For You?’ Awake! January 22, 1947 page 10.