(to Questions to ask if you're thinking of joining the Jehovah's Witnesses)
Please note that I encourage you to obtain the answers to these questions directly from practicing Jehovah's Witnesses (preferably elders) or by writing to the Watchtower Society. I do not want anyone to think I'm making up the answers! Also, since this religion is in a constant state of change, answers that I give may be out of date. But some people's situations don't allow for the above, others want to be prepared with facts before asking the questions, and still others are just curious. Several people have written to me requesting the answers. So, keeping the above caveats in mind, here are some answers to the questions, based on the writings of the Watchtower.

1. What was the fulfillment of the pouring out of the seven great plagues in Revelation?

Christians have speculated on the meaning of the seven great plagues in Revelation for nearly 2 millennia. Whatever their interpretation, the vast majority felt sure that these plagues prophesied earth-shattering events. The Watchtower teaches that these plagues found their fulfillment in conventions held by Jehovah's Witnesses in the early part of the 20th century. These conventions (held in Cedar Point, Ohio and other such centers of world importance) were basically "book drives" in which Rutherford (then president of the Society) gave his followers pep-talks to encourage them to sell his books. These books of Rutherford's are no longer believed to be the truth by anyone. The most Witnesses of today will grant them is that they were "truth for their time"! In fact today, Witnesses are strongly discouraged from reading them! Yet the Witnesses continue to maintain that these conventions (together with the publications of these long-out-of-print books) were such a blow to false religions (i.e. any religion other than Jehovah's Witnesses) and the governments of the world, that those institutions symbolically suffered the 7 plagues of Revelation. If these conventions and books were so earth-shattering, it's odd that they passed by virtually unnoticed by everyone other than those attending the conventions. When I was a Witness, I never could quite swallow this belief, but I kept quiet about it, hoping no one would ask me about it.

2. Was it ever true that a woman could be disfellowshipped for being raped?

As incredible as it sounds, the answer to this question is: Yes!

The "faithful and discreet slave" (the self-imposed name of the leaders of the Watchtower Society, AKA the "Governing Body"), who represent "God's Organization on earth", determined that a woman should be punished for having been raped if she failed to scream during the attack! This is a good indication of how these dozen or so old men in Brooklyn have lost touch with reality. To claim to speak for God on earth, and then recommend further victimizing victims of violent crime is simply beyond all belief. But the Society has waffled back and forth on this issue. They have alternated between a "Yes" and "No" answer to this question many times, as the following references reveal:

YES - Watchtower, 1/15/64, p. 63.
NO - Aid to Bible Understanding, 1969, p. 601; 1371.
YES - Awake!, 3/8/74, p. 14.
NO - Awake!, 7/8/80, p. 5, 6.
YES - Watchtower, 10/15/80, p. 7. (new light in just three months!)
NO - Watchtower, 3/15/83, p. 30.
YES - Awake!, 2/22/84, p. 24. (new light again in less than one year!)
NO - Awake!, 6/8/84, p. 28. (new light again 4 months later!)
YES - Awake!, 5/22/86, p. 23. (new light again 2 years later!)
NO - Awake!, 9/22/86, p. 28. (new light again 4 months later!)

3. What two questions are asked of baptismal candidates just prior to baptism?

"On the basis of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, have you repented of your sins and dedicated yourself to Jehovah to do his will?" "Do you understand that your dedication and baptism identify you as one of Jehovah's Witnesses in association with God's spirit-directed organization?" While most Christians would not have a problem with the first question, the second question's mention of an "organization" is certainly an eyebrow raiser! In other words, the baptismal candidate is not only pledging his life to God, but also to an organization. Here it is euphemistically referred to as "God's spirit-directed organization," but prior to the baptism each candidate will have undergone many hours of training in order to make no mistake about exactly what organization is being referred to here: the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York! To put it plain and simple: they have perverted the rite of baptism by adding this second question.

4. Which verse in the Bible shows that we are required to become members of an organization in order to be "saved"?

There is no such verse in the Bible.

The Watchtower has repeatedly emphasized the "need" for people to join their organization in order to escape Jehovah's wrath: "It is solely in brotherly association with the New World Society that we can possibly survive when this old world passes away." (New Heavens and a New Earth, p. 363) They liken the organization to Noah's ark, and claim that the only way to survive God's coming judgment is to "climb aboard the ark" (i.e. become a Witness and join the organization). All such claims are totally unfounded and have no basis in the Bible whatsoever.

5. If blood transfusion is the same as eating blood, how can blood transfusion be a sin in light of Mark 7:18 and 1 Corinthians 8:8?

Jehovah's Witnesses claim that it is a deadly sin to take a blood transfusion because the Bible states that one should "abstain from blood". They contend that blood transfusions are the same as "eating blood."

However, blood transfusion cannot be a sin in light of these Scriptures:
Mk:7:18: And he saith unto them, Are ye so without understanding also? Do ye not perceive, that whatsoever thing from without entereth into the man, it cannot defile him;
1Cor:8:8: But meat commendeth us not to God: for neither, if we eat, are we the better; neither, if we eat not, are we the worse.
The New World Translation (published by the Watchtower) renders Jesus' words: "Nothing that enters into a man can defile him." If nothing which enters into a person can spiritually defile him, then blood entering into a person cannot defile him.

6. Is the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses infallible? If not, can I openly critique their publications with impunity?

Jehovah's Witnesses do not claim infallibility for their Governing Body. However, for all practical purposes, whatever the Governing Body currently proclaims is deemed to be "The Truth", and Witnesses cannot critique their pronouncements or writings without serious consequences. When Witnesses doubt a current "truth" they hold their tongues and wait for "new light". Otherwise they would find themselves in danger of being labeled "apostates" and being disfellowshipped.

After I am baptized as a Jehovah’s Witness:

7. Can I keep associating with all my friends who are not Jehovah’s Witnesses?

No, not unless you want to be "marked" as "weak in the faith", and be told several times a week that "bad associations spoil useful habits". Jehovah's Witnesses are strongly encouraged not to associate with anyone outside of their faith. You will be expected to drop your non-Witness friends unless they start studying the Bible with the Witnesses and make a real effort to join.

8. Can I read anything I want?

No! Witnesses are strongly discouraged from reading anything not published by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society!

9. Can I attend the wedding or funeral of a friend who is not a Jehovah’s Witness at their church?

You can, but it is discouraged. You would probably want to keep quiet about it.

10. What happens if I decide I don't like going out in service? Do I have to? What happens if I don’t?

Witnesses believe that it is a Biblical command to engage in preaching, and so are expected to put in a minimum of 10 hours a month in "field service" (going door-to-door, or passing out Watchtower and Awake magazines to passers-by, talking to acquaintances and strangers about their beliefs, etc.) Failure to do so will mark you as a "weak" brother or sister. You will be nagged about this no end, and will be made to feel guilty.

11. If at any time I come to disagree with something the Watchtower may publish in the future, would I be free to make up my own mind on the issue? Would there be any repercussions?

Witnesses are not free to make up their own minds on issues that the Watchtower has pronounced upon. Should you try, you could be labeled an "apostate" and disfellowshipped.

12. What does "being marked" mean? How does a person get "marked"? How is a "marked" person treated by the congregation?

Being "marked" basically means that the elders suspect you of either apostasy or "conduct unbecoming a Christian", or simply being "weak in the faith". It means that the elders are keeping a close eye on you, ready to pounce should they see any infractions which could lead to admonishing, public reproof, or disfellowshipping. A person gets marked by asking questions, thinking for themselves, being unconventional, putting in too little time in service, etc. Marked people are generally avoided by other Witnesses except for the elders (who will use the marked person as target practice for their "shepherding techniques").

13. What if I make a friend who is a Jehovah’s Witness and they get disfellowshipped or decide to leave? Do I have to shun my friend?

Yes, Witnesses are required to shun anyone who has been disfellowshipped. They are not allowed to even speak to such a person. Continuing to associate with a friend who has been disfellowshipped could lead to your own disfellowshipping.

14. What if I have a child who becomes disfellowshipped, do I have to shun my child once they leave home?

Yes, Witnesses are required to shun anyone who has been disfellowshipped, including family members. While living at home, exceptions are made for necessary day-to-day communication. But once a child has left home, the Witnesses are taught to break off virtually all contact.

What were the things Jesus disliked about the Pharisees? Are there any similarities between these things Jesus disliked about the Pharisees and the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses?

Both groups took it upon themselves to interpret and enforce a holy book.

Both groups made rules around the rules to protect the real rules (in this case many Christians believe that the real rules are simply: love God, love your neighbor as yourself, and believe that God raised Jesus from the dead).

Both groups created consequences for breaking their own "rules upon rules".

Both groups made themselves a special ruling class.

The Pharisees said you had to wash your arms to your elbows before eating on the principle of cleanliness. The Bible relates that Jesus called them hypocrites. Why? Because, they washed their hands to their elbows, but they did not honor the spirit of love. They concentrated on punishing wrongdoers and making sure all others were in line. They ignored the widows and orphans.

The Jehovah’s Witnesses are the same today. They even mock the churches that do engage in charitable work! Jesus asked the Jew who his neighbor was. Was it even a Samaritan? Oh, no, please not them! Do Jehovah’s Witnesses love their Catholic neighbors?

When a hurricane hits, while the Jehovah’s Witnesses are huddled in shelters made by the Red Cross or are wearing clothes from the Salvation Army after a house fire, who is it that is loving his neighbor as himself?

All of the rules that the Pharisees adhered to out of a sense of correctness were shown to be wrong and misguided. They thought that following rules to the letter and making sure never to break laws would make them righteous. In their rule-following frenzy, however, they missed the spirit of things.

The Watchtower's stand on blood transfusions, and their former stand on rape victims shows the same literal-minded adherence to what they believe is God's law, while missing the spirit of love.

Is it loving to withhold blood from your children and watch them die?

Is it loving to make a woman feel guilty for being the victim of rape?

Is it loving to shun people who think for themselves or who behave a little differently than you?

No, but such things follow from a literal interpretation of the Bible's laws.
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