Part 3: Examining the Society's Literature

For if anyone is a hearer of the word, and not a doer, this one is like a man looking at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself, and off he goes and immediately forgets what sort of man he is. --James 1:23,24

Loyalty. It’s a word that strikes the innermost part of our soul. Governments have called upon the loyal to fight in their wars, while those that remained behind shunned and terrorized those who were deemed disloyal. In schools, classmates form into social circles with the same degree of emphasis placed on loyalty to one another within the circle. And within the organization known worldwide as Jehovah’s Witnesses, it is no different: loyalty to the organization is placed above the value of individual life. I know this because I am a Witness. But as I shall soon demonstrate, this is not just my perception of the issue of loyalty. Through the use of cited material, I shall provide a clearer understanding, in light of the third and final article in the June 22, 2000, Awake! discussing “propaganda,” that while others are admonished to “not be a victim of Propaganda,” Witnesses are expected and directed to do just that.

“Education shows you how to think. Propaganda tells you what to think.” [1]

It is here that we begin our journey. The article provides 5 basic things that we can do to protect ourselves from propaganda. The articles are primarily directed towards non-Witnesses, but the 5 rules should be just as applicable to Witnesses. The easiest way to do this is to take each suggestion made to non-Witnesses and then compare that to what Witnesses themselves are told by the Society.

#1: Be Selective

The article says the following:

A completely open mind could be likened to a pipe that lets just anything flow through it—even sewage. No one wants a mind contaminated with poison… We need to scrutinize whatever is presented to us, deciding what to accept and what to reject.” [2]

This would seem to be sound advice, until we reflect on what the same Society has told us as Witnesses:

Certainly, we owe loyalty to it (the organization), including “the faithful and discreet slave,” through which the Christian congregation is fed spiritually. [3]

But what if it is hard for us to accept or fully appreciate some Scriptural point presented by the faithful slave? Then let us humbly acknowledge where we learned the truth and pray for wisdom to deal with this trial until it comes to an end with some published clarification of matters. [4]

This would seem to contradict the advice given to non-Witnesses. As Witnesses, we do not decide what to accept or what to reject, but rather, we pray that we can be able to accept what has been said, even if we personally find it either offensive or incorrect. Remember, the Awake! article says: “Education shows you how to think. Propaganda tells you what to think.

Being able to scrutinize “whatever is presented to us,” is not something appropriate for Witnesses, although it is strongly encouraged for non-Witnesses within the article. Follows is a good quote from the Society to Witnesses:

How shall we view the spiritual food provided by this “faithful and discreet slave?” Should it be viewed critically--‘Oh, well, it might be true then again it might not be and so we have to scrutinize it very critically’? [5]

If we have once established what instrument God is using as his “slave” to dispense spiritual food to his people, surely Jehovah is not pleased if we receive that food as though it might contain something harmful. [6]

Here are some others:

At times we hear brothers talking complainingly about the Scriptural explanations and truths published in The Watchtower. Being unable to understand fully why a certain point is made… they begin expressing their doubts to others. This, of course, creates confusion among the brothers, especially among newer ones. He is showing a spirit of discontent [7]

The truths we are to publish are the ones provided through the discreet-slave organization, not some personal opinions contrary to what the slave has provided… rather than opposing and rejecting it and presumptuously taking the position that we are more likely right that the discreet slave… We should meekly go along… rather than balk at the first mention of a thought unpalatable to us and proceed to … mouth our criticisms and opinions as though they were worth more than the slave’s provision of spiritual food…
Now some may ask, Should we accept as from the Lord and true the food provided through the discreet slave, or should we withhold acceptance until we have proved it for ourselves?… Are we to be doubtful and suspicious about each new provision?… How much more readily we can receive the slave’s provisions with confidence… [8]

To properly study The Watchtower we must approach it with the right heart attitude… we have no grounds for approaching a study of it with suspicion [9]

We should eat and digest and assimilate what is set before us, without shying away from parts of the food because it may not suit the fancy of our mental taste. [10]

Yet there are some who point out that the organization has had to make adjustments before, and so they argue: “This shows that we have to make up our own mind on what to believe.” This is independent thinking. Why is it so dangerous?

Such thinking is evidence of pride. [11]

The above quotes surely echo of contrariness to the admonishments contained within the Awake! article where we read such things as “But it is far better for each individual personally to choose what he will feed his mind,” and “Do not just follow the crowd…While it may seem that all others think the same way, does it mean that you should? Popular opinion is not a reliable barometer of truth.”

Certainly the above quotes also make emotional appeals. After all, who wants to be considered as “smarter than” someone else? Or be perceived as “prideful?” Or a know-it-all? Or a trouble-maker? By playing on these emotions, Witnesses are made to feel insecure about their own conscience’s prodding, and replace it with the Society’s conscience in order to seek peace and solitude. Within the organization, there is the pseudo-reality of “strength in numbers,” by thinking the same as the rest of the crowd of Witnesses, even in the face of personal disagreement.

There are numerous other such statements contained within the literature which could be cited here, but the above should be enough to determine that propagandistic undertones do, in fact, have a place in the Society’s literature and its promotion thereof. They are geared to those within the organization while other statements are directed to those outside the organization (non-Witnesses). It would appear, unfortunately, that there are two standards to live by.

In the next part, which will conclude my personal reflection on the articles I’ve been discussing, I want to return to examining the Society’s use of “Making Generalizations” this time when it comes to those who no longer wish to “follow the crowd” of Witnesses because of the Society’s own advice about “testing” whatever they read…”

There, we shall examine the Society’s campaign against “apostasy.”

[1] Awake! June 22, 2000, page 9

[2] ibid.

[3] Watchtower, March 15, 1996, page 16

[4] Watchtower, November 15, 1992, page 19-20

[5] Watchtower, February 15, 1981, page 18

[6] ibid., page 19

[7] Watchtower, August 1, 1967, page 469

[8] Watchtower, February 1, 1952, pages 79, 80

[9] Watchtower, October 15, 1953, page 623

[10] Watchtower, February 1, 1952, page 79

[11] Watchtower, January 15, 1983, page 27

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