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. (Branch letter enclosed)
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." (Enclosed is the UN's response; available on the Internet.)
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 50thanniversary of its signing. The UN even lists that particular Awake! on its website. (See also enclosed comments from Global Policy Forum)
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 todisseminate 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. (Link to the Vilnius forum: scroll down, WT listed at bottom.)
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 formy 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: Real name provided on letter copy
This is part of a global campaign. For more information go to http://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. (Scroll down to 3rdsubheading)
"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 Jehovah'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.