In 2004 variations of this letter were sent to 101 branch offices of the Watchtower and to over 6,000 congregations in the United States, Canada, New Zealand, Australia and the United Kingdom. I also handed a copy to my local elders, informing them I was publicly accusing the Watchtower Society of apostasy.
Dear Reader: Due to the passage of time since this article was first published many of the hyperlinks are no longer active and removed.
As Jehovah’s Witnesses and ministers of Christ, our foremost concern is honoring God’s name; as well as keeping ourselves unspotted from the world. To that end, the Watchtower has always exhorted us to boldly expose Christendom’s error and hypocrisy and stand up for the truth. But, what are we to do if the Watchtower itself becomes guilty of gross hypocrisy? What if some of our own leading brothers are the ones who faithlessly dishonor the name of God? Then what are Jehovah’s Witnesses supposed to do? Do we still expose religious hypocrisy wherever it exists, or do we remain silent? These are not hypothetical questions, my brothers. It is a situation with which we are now squarely confronted. As one of Jehovah’s anointed witnesses, I have chosen to speak out at this particular time, regardless of the consequences for doing so.
Briefly, here are the facts: The Watchtower originally submitted an application in 1991 and was accepted by the United Nations as an NGO in 1992. But exactly what is an NGO anyway? An NGO is an officially-recognized non-governmental organization that uses its influence to promote the United Nations and its goals. For nearly ten years the Watchtower secretly served as an international NGO.
But, when the London Guardian newspaper published the story in October of 2001, (Enclosed) the Watchtower quickly withdrew its membership. After a flood of inquiries from the field, the Watchtower issued a statement to the Guardian and the branch offices around the world; stating that the only reason for becoming an NGO was to gain access to the UN’s library resources.
However, it is simply not true that the Watchtower had to become an NGO to gain access to the UN’s library facilities. According to the head librarian’s office at the Dag Hammarskjöld Library, prior to 9-11 any qualified researcher or scholar could acquire a temporary ground’s pass to the UN facility. Only after the terror attack of September 11th, 2001, was security restricted to UN personnel and pre-approved NGO representatives. Moreover, the UN maintains approximately 400 off-site depository libraries around the world, where information about the UN’s many agencies and programs is available to the public. The Watchtower’s claim simply does not stand up to investigation.
The Watchtower’s letter to the branches also states: “Registration papers filed with the UN that we have on file contain no statements that conflict with our Christian beliefs.”
That also appears to be deceptive. According to the UN’s DPI (Department of Public Information), NGO candidates are carefully screened and must meet the established criteria in order to be approved. According to the DPI response to inquiries by Jehovah’s Witnesses, the Watchtower was accepted as an NGO because they willingly agreed to support the United Nations. Here is what they said in part: “By accepting association with DPI, the organization agreed to meet criteria for association, including support and respect of the principles of the Charter of the United Nations and commitment and means to conduct effective information programmes with its constituents and to a broader audience about UN activities.”
Also, NGOs are required to annually send the DPI proof that they are actually informing the public about the UN’s many programs. Did the Watchtower do that? Yes, they did. In fact, the Society specifically wrote articles for that very purpose.
For example, the November 22, 1998, Awake! Magazine was devoted to praising the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights on the 50th anniversary of its signing. The UN even lists that particular magazine on its website.
Another example is the October 1st, 1995, Watchtower, which ran an article praising the UN on the 50th anniversary of its establishment in 1945. One more example for your reference is the December 8th 2000, Awake!, which flatters the UN agency called UNICEF. Checking the Watchtower CD-ROM reveals that during the NGO period from 1992-2001, there are more references in the Awake! Magazine to the United Nations then there are to God’s kingdom. Granted, many references are innocuous, but the Watchtower’s primary obligation as an official NGO merely required it to disseminate information—no matter how bland.
So, it is evident that the Watchtower made a subtle, but deliberate effort to “conduct an effective information program… to a broader audience about UN activities,” as is required of all recognized NGOs. Had they not done so, no doubt the Society would have been disqualified from retaining its NGO status.
What is more, the Watchtower knew full well that other institutions recognized it as a functioning NGO. How do we know? In October 2000, the Watchtower participated in what is called the Vilnius International Forum on the Holocaust. The Watchtower is listed on the program along with numerous other international NGOs. Brother James Pellechia represented the Watchtower before the forum.
Also, it appears that in October, 1999, the Australian government held an inquiry for the purpose of fostering better cooperation between the government and NGOs. Two officials from the Watchtower were present before the Joint Standing Committee of Foreign Affairs, along with NGO representatives of Jewish, Muslim, and Orthodox faiths.
However, the Watchtower’s letter to the branches says: “Still, the Criteria for Association of NGOs – at least in their latest version-contain some language that we cannot subscribe to. When we realized this, we immediately withdrew our registration. We are grateful that this matter was brought to our attention.”
But, since the Watchtower attended both the Vilnius Holocaust forum and the Australian inquiry as an International NGO, and the brothers also annually re-registered and submitted samples of their work to the UN’S DPI long before this “matter was brought to their attention,” there is no other conclusion to draw but that Bethel’s statement to the branches is an outright lie.
Responsible brothers had to have known all along what was required of NGOs and they were diligent to comply with the UN. Obviously, they only withdrew their registration and made up these lies when exposed by the Guardian article; and even though the NGO relationship was dissolved—the lies remain.
Some brothers might be inclined to lightly dismiss the Watchtower’s NGO affair as of little consequence. However, we do well to reflect upon the course of integrity that Jehovah’s Witnesses in Malawi took back in the 1970’s. As you may recall, the Malawian government required all of its citizens to purchase a 25-cent political card. However, Jehovah’s Witnesses steadfastly refused because they saw it as a compromise of their political neutrality. As a result President Banda basically suspended their civil rights and the brothers and sisters were subjected to vicious attacks and many lost their lives. Brothers lost their jobs, businesses and homes. Our sisters were raped by gangs. Most of the friends were forced to flee the country and live in refugee camps. Yet, their uncompromising stand for Jehovah’s kingdom is an inspiration to all of Jehovah’s Witnesses to this day.
The Watchtower, on the other hand, has betrayed Jehovah and all of Jehovah’s Witnesses. They were not even threatened, as were our Malawian brothers, yet they went out of their way to sign an agreement with the United Nations; pledging their support and cooperation to an agency that we ought to recognize as a mere counterfeit of God’s kingdom. Not only that, but Bethel has deceived millions of unsuspecting publishers and pioneers into disseminating pro-UN propaganda to the public. As a result the entire organization has been compromised in God’s eyes. This is no mere frivolous accusation by opposers as the Watchtower claims.
The question is, since Jehovah considered it an act of apostasy when ancient Israel and Judah made compromising alliances with the surrounding nations, what must God think of the present situation? Does not the Watchtower even teach us that Jehovah disciplined the organization back in 1918-19 for a few indiscretions and compromises? Yet, the Watchtower’s NGO affair and their lying cover-up of it is much more grievous than the relatively trivial compromises of the past. Why should we suppose that Jehovah will simply overlook our unfaithfulness now? We know that Jehovah is merciful and gracious but the rule of law is that “but by no means will he give exemption from punishment.”
Perhaps Jehovah’s words through Jeremiah accurately depict our present spiritual state: “Even the stork in the heavens—it well knows its appointed times; and the turtledove and the swift and the bulbul—they observe well the time of each one’s coming in. But as for my people, they have not come to know the judgment of Jehovah.”
The real problem is that we wrongly suppose that Christ initiated judgment upon the house of God way back in 1918. As a consequence of that error, we have no valid scriptural basis for anticipating any future temple inspection. However, look at our year text for 2004. Christ told his anointed slaves to “keep on the watch” for the Master’s sudden thief-like arrival; obviously, that is when the judgment takes place upon God’s household of anointed slaves. Reasonably, too, that is when “he will appoint him over all his belongings.”
That being the case, it means that an evil slave still has authority alongside the faithful slave inside the anointed household of God. Surely, the influence of an unfaithful slave within the Bethel establishment is the only sensible explanation for the Watchtower’s abject unfaithfulness in the NGO affair. In view of the above, we ought to consider the application of Jeremiah 5:26 to our present situation. It reads: “For among my people there have been found wicked men. They keep peering, as when birdcatchers crouch down. They have set a ruinous trap. It is men that they catch.”
We have been blind. No wonder Jehovah poses the somewhat discomforting question in the 42nd chapter of Isaiah, saying to his witnesses: “Who is blind, if not my servant, and who is deaf as my messenger whom I send? Who is blind as the one rewarded, or blind as the servant of Jehovah? It was a case of seeing many things, but you did not keep watching. It was a case of opening the ears, but you did not keep listening.”
Jehovah commands his watchman: “Call out full-throated; do not hold back. Raise your voice just like a horn, and tell my people their revolt, and the house of Jacob their sins.” (Isaiah 58:1)
Ironically, the WT’s Isaiah commentary on that verse says: “What a fine example of endurance Isaiah is to the modern-day Witnesses of Jehovah, who also are commissioned to preach God’s Word and expose religious hypocrisy!” But, when Jehovah commissioned Isaiah to expose the sins of those whom God called “my people,” why do we suppose that that applies to Christendom and not to our own house?
If we zealously point the finger at Christendom’s hypocrisy, should we not be even more zealous to expose religious hypocrisy among Jehovah’s Witnesses; seeing that we represent Jehovah God? To do anything less is sheer hypocrisy on our part.
Many of Jehovah’s Witnesses have already been stumbled by the Watchtower’s hypocrisy in this matter. Some elders who became aware of the NGO situation have already stepped down in disgust. Publishers who are disturbed over the matter and who happen to speak about the scandal to other brothers and sisters in the congregation are finding themselves accused of apostasy by incredulous elders. The Watchtower has put the elders in the unenviable position of possibly wrongly disfellowshipping Jehovah’s Witnesses from the congregation for merely speaking the truth about the Watchtower’s hypocrisy. How tragic!
In view of this disturbing situation and the reproach it has undoubtedly already brought upon the name of Jehovah, I urge you to give this matter your immediate consideration. Be assured that the truth will come out eventually anyway; one way or the other. (Eccl. 12:14) Therefore, I urge you as overseers and fellow witnesses to individually stand up for truth and righteousness. I trust you will do the right thing and discuss this issue with your local body of elders, circuit and district overseers.
Sincerely, one of Jehovah’s Witnesses
Signed: Robert King
This is part of a global campaign. For more information go to www.e-watchman.com
Addendum not part of the hard copy letter:
The persecutions of Jehovah’s Witnesses in the former Soviet nation of Georgia are well known. In an effort to alleviate the situation and gain legal recognition; in 1998 the Watchtower registered two associations in Georgia. One was called the Union of Jehovah’s Witnesses and the other the representation of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania (USA). Apparently, however, the Georgian government does not register any religious organizations. So, as an end-around, the Watchtower registered both associations as NGOs.
Then, in February, 2001, the Georgian Supreme Court revoked the NGO registration of the Union of Jehovah’s Witnesses and the representation of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania. The following is a quote taken from the ecoi.net website.
“Recently, tension in the religious sphere has been mounting mainly because part of the Christian Orthodox believers is set against the Jehovah’s Witnesses. On 22 February, 2001, after long examination in district and regional courts, the Supreme Court of Georgia finally satisfied the claim of deputy of the Georgian parliament Guram Sharadze by annulling registration of two NGOs set up by the Jehovah’s Witnesses (the Union of the Jeh
ovah’s Witnesses and a representation of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society in Pennsylvania. They were registered in 1998 by the Isan district court of Tbilisi. It should be said that they were registered as NGOs because in the absence of a law on religious organizations this was the only possibility left for them to become a legal person. Deputy Sharadze is convinced that the religious communities should not be registered as NGOs.
Here’s where it gets a little murky: In appealing the court’s decision, the Watchtower is also on record as not registering as an NGO on principle. Here is a quote taken from the OSCE website reporting on the situation in Georgia: “The restriction to religious freedom is underlying the decision of the Georgian Supreme Court on 22 February 2001 to revoke the registration of the Union of Jehovah’s Witnesses as well as of the Representation of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania, USA. In the absence of a law on registration of religious groups, JW could not be officially registered. As a matter of principle, the JW have then refused to be registered as an NGO.”
Apparently, the Watchtower originally registered as an NGO and then later during the appeal process declined to re-register—”as a matter of principle.”
Interestingly, in the Watchtower’s legal appeal; in the third paragraph under the 2nd point, the Watchtower states: “Further, the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania, besides being officially recognized by the Coordination Department for International Humanitarian Aid…”
Let it be noted that the Coordination Department for International Humanitarian Aid is one of many United Nations agencies. No doubt the Watchtower’s being “officially recognized” by the OCHA was due in large measure to their being registered as a human rights NGO.
One thing ought to be clear though: The Watchtower was much more involved as an NGO than merely using the UN’s library facilities.
Updated Information: March 28, 2004
Ongoing research in the United Nations document archives has uncovered other Watchtower NGOs, which were apparently established under the umbrella of the main Watchtower Society NGO. In May, 1999, the United Nations Commission on Human Rights held their annual conference in Geneva. Among the many governmental and non-governmental organizations present are three NGOs representing Jehovah’s Witnesses. One NGO was called Association of Jehovah’s Witnesses; the other was called European Association of Jehovah’s Witnesses for the Protection of Religious Freedom; and a third NGO was called simply: Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia. Below is the context in which the Watchtower’s NGOs are listed. This information may be verified by clicking on this link. (Scroll down to the 10th article that lists the non-governmental organizations represented by observers)
10. The following other non-governmental organizations were represented by observers: Adalah-Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, African Americans in the United States of America, African Bureau of Educational Sciences, African Indigenous and Minority Peoples Organization, Ahmadiyya Muslim Association, American Friends Service Committee, Arab Association for Human Rights, Association culturelle berbere, Association of Jehovah’s Witnesses, Association of Western Thrace Minority Graduates, Assyrian Universal Alliance, Bahrain Human Rights Organization, Black Reparations Commission, Canadian-Egyptian Organization for Human Rights, Centre for the Advancement of Women, Centre for the Coordination of Non-Governmental Tribal Development Organizations, Centre for Documentation and Information in Europe, Centre for Human, Civil and Autonomous Rights, Centre for International and Comparative Law, Centre for the Protection of Minorities and Against Racism and Discrimination in Bhutan, Centro de Derechos Humanos, Ciudadanos y Autonómicos, Christian Solidarity Worldwide, Delhi Forum-Banjara People, Democratic Alliance of Hungarians in Romania, Droit des minorités indigènes au Cameroon, Espacio Afroamericano, European Association of Jehovah’s Witnesses for the Protection of Religious Freedom, European Centre for Minority Issues, Fafan Development Organization, Ford Foundation, High Commissioner Consultant for Minority Groups in San Andreas, Human Rights Alliance, Human Rights Commission of Northern Ireland, Human Rights Committee-World Wide Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, Human Rights Defence Group, Indo–American Kashmir Forum, Indo-Canadian Kashmir Forum, Indo-European Kashmir Forum, Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia, Kurdish Human Rights Project, Kurdish Reconstruction Organization, Legal Centre for Arab Minority in Israel, Legal Information Centre for Human Rights, Ligua Pro Europa, Macedonian Human Rights Movement in Greece, Macedonian Human Rights Movement of Canada, Mécs Laszlo Association, Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People, Million Youth March Organisation, Minelres, Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People, National Commission for Minorities, National Commission for Reparations, N’COBRA-The National Coalition of Blacks for Reparations in America, National Movement for the Human Rights of the Afro-Colombian Communities-Cimarron, National Society for Human Rights of Namibia, Pan African International Nationalist Movement, Proceso de Comunidades Negras de Colombia, Rescue Ethiopian Pastoralists, Research and Support of the Indigenous Peoples of the Crimea Foundation, Romani Centre for Social Intervention and Study, Romanian Institute for Human Rights, Sikh Human Rights Group, Solai Program, Southern Cameroon Peoples’ Conference, Summer Institute of Linguistics, Swiss Federal Commission against Racism, Uganda Land Alliance, Universal Defender of Democracy, Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organisation, Vedika-National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights, Western Thrace Turkish Muslim Minority in Greece, World Federation of Hungarians and Zentralrat Deutscher Roma und Sinti.
To indicate the degree of the Watchtower’s blindness and rank hypocrisy, below is an excerpt taken from a Watchtower article written back in 1991 entitled: “Their refuge a Lie.” Sadly, in roundly condemning Christendom of the very thing Jehovah’s Witnesses are now guilty of, the Watchtower has inadvertently pronounced Jehovah’s condemnatory judgment upon the entire organization. We are, in fact, even more liable before God, because as the article points out, Christendom does not use God’s name. However, we do! And because we are associated with the sacred Name of Jehovah, the Watchtower has brought tremendous reproach upon Jehovah. We may therefore expect Jehovah’s onrushing flood of indignation to wash away the self-righteous delusions of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
8 Is there a parallel situation today? Yes, there is. The clergy of Christendom also feel that no calamity will overtake them. In effect, they say as Isaiah foretold: “We have concluded a covenant with Death; and with Sheol we have effected a vision; the overflowing flash flood, in case it should pass through, will not come to us, for we have made a lie our refuge and in falsehood we have concealed ourselves.” (Isaiah 28:15) Like ancient Jerusalem, Christendom looks to worldly alliances for security,
and her clergy refuse to take refuge in Jehovah. Why, they do not even use his name, and they mock and persecute those who do honor that name. Christendom’s clergy have done just what the Jewish chief priests in the first century did when they rejected Christ. They have said, in effect, “We have no king but Caesar.”—John 19:15.
9 Today, Jehovah’s Witnesses warn that a flood of executional armies will soon sweep over Christendom. Moreover, they point to the true place of refuge from that flood. They quote Isaiah 28:16, which says: “This is what the Sovereign Lord Jehovah has said: ‘Here I am laying as a foundation in Zion a stone, a tried stone, the precious corner of a sure foundation. No one exercising faith will get panicky.’” Who is this ‘precious cornerstone’? The apostle Peter quoted these words and applied them to Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 2:6) If Christendom had sought peace with Jehovah’s King, Jesus Christ, then she would have avoided the coming flash flood.—Compare Luke 19:42-44.
10 However, she has not done so. Instead, in her quest for peace and security, she insinuates herself into the favor of the political leaders of the nations—this despite the Bible’s warning that friendship with the world is enmity with God. (James 4:4) Moreover, in 1919 she strongly advocated the League of Nations as man’s best hope for peace. Since 1945 she has put her hope in the United Nations. (Compare Revelation 17:3, 11.) How extensive is her involvement with this organization?
11 A recent book gives an idea when it states: “No less than twenty-four Catholic organizations are represented at the UN. Several of the world’s religious leaders have visited the international organization. Most memorable were the visits of His Holiness Pope Paul VI during the General Assembly in 1965 and of Pope John Paul II in 1979. Many religions have special invocations, prayers, hymns and services for the United Nations. The most important examples are those of the Catholic, the Unitarian-Universalist, the Baptist and the Bahai faiths.”
In the 11th paragraph the Watchtower condemns the Catholic Church for having “no less than twenty-four Catholic organizations represented at the UN.” (No doubt registered as NGOs) However, less than 10 years after that article was written the Watchtower had at least six organizations registered with the UN as NGOs! Who knows how many others are yet to come to light?