Effective August 1, 2011 this new non-profit and non-sectarian website is online and freely available to anyone who has an interest in or cares about Jehovah’s Witnesses:
The Watchtower Society traces its roots back to the mid-19th and early-20th century International Bible Students, led by the charismatic prophet and founder, Charles Taze Russell. Between 1916 and 1942, the Watchtower was redefined, reorganized, its followers renamed, and its teachings revised by Russell’s successor, “Judge” Joseph F. Rutherford. There are dozens of websites dedicated to discussions and debates about the Watchtower’s history, its peculiar religious teachings, and its unique brand of “theocracy.” On the other hand, this site intends to take a different approach to the subject by looking at Jehovah’s Witnesses from the “inside,” rather than criticizing them from the point of view of outsiders.
Some websites are very supportive and lavish in their praise of the Witnesses, while others are severe in their criticism of the group. Some call them a “cult of the worst kind” and nothing more than “a huge publishing corporation using religion to get access to free labor and as a legal means to avoid paying taxes.”
The reality is that Jehovah’s Witnesses are in many ways just like their non-Witness neighbors. Most obey the laws of their communities, tend to their homes and families, pay their taxes, and earn their living in productive ways. By far the majority will be described as “trustworthy” and “well-respected” by those who know them personally.
Unlike their non-Witness neighbors, however, they refuse to vote, run for political office, or serve on juries. They won’t join the military even during times of war, and don’t celebrate national and cultural holidays. Most will work at non-management government jobs, but will refuse to serve in police, deputy sheriff, or any other law enforcement jobs.
While a few JW parents choose to home-school their children, most will send their kids to public schools for a basic education. The Watchtower Society strongly discourages any type of higher education in colleges or universities – making only a few exceptions for occupational training or remedial learning.
As a group, they stand by themselves when compared to other religions. They don’t call their houses of worship “churches” or “temples,” but “Kingdom Halls.” They do not wear crosses or other religious jewelry, and don’t have pictures or statues of saints or prophets in their Kingdom Halls. Their multiple weekly “meetings” are designed to be more educational like middle school classes, and are even called “studies. Witnesses call their Sunday sermons “public talks,” even though the “public” rarely attends and would be looked upon suspiciously if they did.
Jehovah’s Witnesses refer to their religion and its organization as “The Truth.” They often use that term in polite conversation with each other, not only wrapping it around themselves, but also to include the leaders and officers of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society and its multitudes of corporations.
This website is primarily dedicated to revealing what it is like being a Jehovah’s Witness – or a member of a Witness family. Why do we care? Why bother? Why don’t we just go on about our lives and leave the Witnesses and their Watchtower Society alone?
We feel that revealing the real truth about “The Truth” will open the eyes and hearts of many Jehovah’s Witnesses, forcing them to actually examine the facts about their religion. We want to help them to decide if they are part of a cult, or are actually legitimate followers of Jesus Christ. We are not going to criticize individual rank and file Jehovah’s Witnesses – but intend to very carefully scrutinize the teachings and actions of the leadership of the Watchtower organization.
InsidetheWatchtower.com is also designed to help another group of people: non-Witnesses who might be studying to become converts or those who have family members urging them to join the religion. We will let them know how their lives, and those of their close family members, could change forever – and not necessarily for the better.
We’ve invited several former and current Jehovah’s Witnesses to share their own stories, experiences, and research with our readers. We’ll also provide book reviews, links to other helpful websites, and actual quotes from the Watchtower’s own publications. Our readers will be able to draw upon a large amount of educational material to determine the facts for themselves.
We urge you to comment, ask questions, and to send us your personal stories to help us offer a clear, accurate, and educational overview of the realities of life for Jehovah’s Witnesses.