The Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses is made up of seven members. An eighth, Guy Pierce, died in 2014 and has not been replaced as of March, 2015. One of the more prominent men of the current body is Stephen Lett, 65, a member since 1999.
Since 2009, the Watchtower has assigned all “spiritual responsibilities” and any clarification on doctrinal issues to the Governing Body. In 2012, the Governing Body was identified as the “faithful and discreet slave” that reports directly to Jehovah for spiritual matters. While this change offended many of the other members of the “anointed” class (then numbering around 10,000), the “new light” was soon accepted by a majority of Jehovah’s Witnesses and has become the current belief and policy that the dissemination of “new spiritual light” is the responsibility of only “a limited number” of the “slave class.” Some Jehovah’s Witnesses are wondering if these seven men are truly the only ones qualified to be responsible for deciding what “is right, versus “what is wrong.”
In the years after the formation of the Governing Body (mid-1960s), its members mostly stayed in the background and acted in advisory roles over department heads within Bethel. Much of the real power within the organization was held by non-“anointed” but longtime elders with special skills and responsibilities. Many Governing Body members rarely made public appearances and were relegated to attending short meetings to participate in required discussions and votes. The real power within the organization was often managed by non-anointed specialists in financial, legal, and printing operations.
Since the Watchtower’s rather quick transformation of identity from Watchtower Bible and Tract Society to JW.org, the Governing Body members have begun to recast themselves as media stars. Out of the seven current members, two of them seem to have enjoyed being on the center stage: Anthony Morris and Stephen Lett.
John Cedars, editor and primary writer for JWSurvey.org, has published many recent articles describing, defining, and ridiculing many members of the Governing Body. His editorial comments and factual replays of Governing Body gaffs and insanities have, for the most part, been right on target. As expected, Anthony Morris and Stephen Lett have been his primary targets. [Link] and [Link]
For some critics of the Watchtower (including myself on some occasions), Cedars’ editorial treatments seemed a bit “over the top” and maybe too harsh. But within the past few weeks, Stephen Lett seems to have become the true looney, the master clown, the odd man out of the current Governing Body. Quite frankly, for some serious publishers and sincere elders in the organization, Lett has become an embarrassment at a time when the Watchtower is under constant fire and ongoing scandals due to legal cases and media criticism.
After Lett’s most recent “foot in mouth” episode, rumors have begun circulating that he may be asked to step down after Jehovah’s spirit influences the other six members to fire his ass. When or how this would be accomplished is very much up for debate, but the noise is building that such a possibility exists. If he is not removed, then we can expect to see him kept in the background and effectively shut down.
Lett was an unlikely candidate as a choice to join the Governing Body in 1999. He was only 49 at the time, so was very young compared to the others on the Body at the time. Many of his critics felt that he was much too young to have become one of the “anointed.” Even in 1999, the general teaching of the Watchtower was that no one born after 1935 could qualify as “being anointed,” and yet here was this “kid” claiming to have “the heavenly hope.” His supporters pointed out that he had been in “full-time service since he was a young teenager” and that he had always accepted and fulfilled any assignment given to him. That still left many others wondering why so many faithful Witnesses, even those in very high positions within the Watchtower organization, did not consider themselves to be “anointed.” Yet, this fellow who for many of his contemporaries looked “like Howdy Doody on crack cocaine,” was chosen by Jehovah’s spirit for such high respect and responsibilities.
Will Lett be locked away and removed from public display by the other Governing Body members (being “guided by holy spirit,” of course)? Will his role on streaming video and major convention presentations be limited to scripts prepared by others? Will he be sent away to act as a special GB envoy to Malawi, Ukraine, Kashmir or the Aleutians for extended missionary training assignments?
Watch this space…