Apr 14, 2016

Are Jehovah's Witness A Religious Ponzi Scheme?(Or is it more like real estate fraud?)

April 11, 2016

It probably sounds like an absurd accusation to most people, and if you asked that question to a Jehovah's Witness, they would probably have no clue what you're talking about. So let me jump straight into the facts to present my case.

First, let me get into the ponzi scheme concept. Most people know what a ponzi scheme is, but here are the basics of it: You need a scheme, you need investors who will fund this scheme, you need more investors to repay the initial investors plus interest, and then you need even more investors to repay those ones (and on and on), you need to not get caught or have suspicious investors call you out on it. But even if you do all this, unless you have some sort of legitimate business on the side, the interest will gradually pile up, you will be unable to repay investors, and then you will end up in jail.

Wait. How can Jehovah's Witness leaders be running a ponzi scheme? Are they not a bonafide religion that has been around for over 130 years? And even if you get down to the basics, are they not supported by freedom of religion laws? Yes I do concede that laws currently in place would likely give JW leaders the protection they desire, but that doesn't make them any less reprehensible. I am going to present my argument, not from a strict by-the-book legal point of view, but from a common sense point of view. That way I can hopefully help both JWs and non-JWs from falling for their con.

First, here is the scheme: The Jehovah's Witness leaders make many promises to their followers. They do this by taking Bible verses way out of context and applying it to themselves. Any real Bible scholar would be hard-pressed to find any connection whatsoever between the writings of the Old Testament and the modern day Jehovah's Witnesses, but that hasn't stopped JW leaders (a.k.a. the Governing Body) one bit.

"God’s Kingdom, or government, will guarantee health, safety, and self-respect for everyone making up the new earthly human society. ...these changes are near at hand. ... God specifically offers to provide a permanent home for everyone at that time. ... Imagine finally having a proper roof over your head and living in clean surroundings and safe conditions in a wonderful paradise!" (September 22, 2005 Awake! pages 11-12)

If you think "God's Kingdom" is just a vague term Witnesses use, think again. It specifically includes those who profess to be God's "anointed" among JW members. This includes the Governing Body (the ones who make these claims and who define "God's Kingdom" in this way). In other words, the JW leaders are promising that they personally will provide this "wonderful paradise" for their followers. (Organized To Do Jehovah's Will, 2015 printing, chapter 3, paragraphs 5-8)

In my article Why Christians No Longer Need Christ, I pointed out how Jesus falsely predicted that a grand resurrection from the dead was imminent (2,000 years ago) and that he promised his listeners living at that time that he would help them live forever. Today Jehovah's Witnesses make the same fake promises, and have been doing so for decades. Especially since Joseph Rutherford's discourse Millions Now Living Will Never Die given from 1918 to 1925, has the promise of everlasting life been used as a hook by JW leaders to bring in more members. Incredibly enough, that discourse was mentioned in the August 15, 2009 Watchtower, page 16, under the heading "The True Knowledge Will Become Abundant", even though all who heard Millions are probably now dead (so much for "true knowledge").

To people not familiar with Witness teachings, the teaching of a resurrection, even if it's not true, may sound like a nice religious doctrine meant to give encouragement to those who have lost loved ones, and help them with the grieving process. But for Jehovah's Witnesses the reality is much different, for 2 important reasons.

1) For Witnesses who have lost a friend or family member in death, the hope of seeing them again is ingrained in their beliefs. And more to the point, they are taught that if they are not part of the Witness religion, they will not survive "Armageddon" and thus by extension will not see their loved ones again. It is a doctrine that keeps people sucked in to the religion. Read this passage from the July 15, 2008 Watchtower, page 21:

"Literally millions of symbolic fish from the sea of humanity have been attracted to Jehovah’s congregation in modern times. Some attend the Memorial, others come to our meetings, and still others are happy to study the Bible. But do all of these prove to be genuine Christians? They may be 'hauled up onto the beach,' but Jesus tells us that only 'the fine ones' are gathered into vessels, which represent Christian congregations. The unsuitable are thrown away, eventually to be cast into a symbolic fiery furnace, denoting future destruction." (Just to be clear, the term "Christian congregations" is in reference to Witness congregations, as Witnesses believe they alone are 'true Christians' and the rest are "imitation Christians". July 15, 2013 Watchtower, page 12) So the resurrection teaching is a sly means of holding members captive.

2) But the resurrection doctrine involves something even more sinister, in fact downright evil. That is the issue of blood transfusions. Most people familiar with Witnesses know they do not accept blood transfusions. But the extent to which this doctrine is enforced is shocking. Even a child's life is not sacred enough to make an exception.

If a Witness life is at stake, and a blood transfusion is the only viable option, Witnesses will refuse, both for themselves and their children. How could they possibly do such a thing, you may ask? Because they are taught that they will come back in the resurrection. The same resurrection Jesus predicted 2,000 years ago and that never came.

The May 22, 1994 Awake! featured Witness children who died due to the Governing Body's prohibition on blood transfusions for their members.

"Wait, can't Witnesses just accept the blood transfusion and tell people they didn't?" Perhaps, and some of the more sensible Witnesses have done just that. But it is not always easy. Elders regularly check up on members who have been hospitalized. According to the October 2015 Circuit Overseer Guidelines (a 130-page confidential instruction manual for traveling overseers, recently leaked online): "When a child is hospitalized, elders should meet with the child’s parents to review the document How Parents Can Protect Their Children From Misuse of Blood (S-55)." (Chapter 11) So it may be hard for a Witness to accept a blood transfusion without getting caught by elders or someone else in the congregation.

Further, those who accept blood transfusions risk being shunned, or disfellowshipped, which will ban them from having contact with other Witnesses, including close friends and family members. So, no, the resurrection doctrine of the Jehovah's Witnesses is not just some innocent religious belief. How tragic that a doctrine about life has caused so many innocent deaths.

So now you know the scheme: Push the "future Paradise" belief at all costs, thereby enticing new members and ensuring lifelong membership for many current members. Along with the fake promises already mentioned are "physical healing" (November 15, 2008 Watchtower, page 27) "no more weather disasters" (August 8, 2003, page 8) and the like. They also discuss things about Paradise that Witnesses could do right now: "You could learn more about science. Or you could learn how to play musical instruments or how to design your own home." But this is closely followed by: "In this world, Satan wants people to think that they can do whatever they like." The strong implications is: 'Don't do what you want now. Focus on the religion, and you will get to do those other things in the new world.' (August 15, 2015 Watchtower, pages 15-16, Simplified edition)

Of course none of what Jehovah's Witnesses believe about Paradise is based on any sort of reality. But the leaders need to keep pushing these ideas to keep current members and to gain more. As more and more Witnesses start to see the truth about the religion and show themselves the door, new Witnesses are needed to keep up with the losses. But like any ponzi scheme, eventually the debt starts to catch up.

Over the past several years, the Governing Body has had to make drastic cuts throughout the organization. No longer having the deep pockets they once did, the leaders are starting to sound more and more desperate for cash.

In 2008, Awake! magazine was cut from 2 issues a month down to 1. Then in 2013, both Awake! and the public edition of Watchtower were cut in half, from 32 pages each to 16 pages each. This year (2016) cuts were made yet again, with Watchtower (public edition) and Awake! going from 12 issues a year each to 6 issues a year each.

Magazines were not the only part of the religion to take a hit. "Special pioneers", or full-time preachers who would receive a monthly check from headquarters to preach in various parts of the world, were cut recently, as were "district overseers" and many workers at various branch offices worldwide, including headquarters. And speaking of HQ, the Witnesses' beloved buildings in Brooklyn have been sold or are in the process of being sold, and being replaced by a more modest HQ in Warwick, NY. Many other building projects were reportedly put on hold or canceled.

Stephen Lett, a member of the Governing Body, has twice discussed the religion's finances on JW Broadcasting and clearly indicated there is a problem.

The JW leaders are even trying to get what money they can from children. In Lesson 19 of the online series "Become Jehovah's Friend", directed at children, the animated video depicts a girl giving her (apparently only) coin to Watchtower instead of buying the ice cream cone she wants. (https://www.jw.org/en/bible-teachings/family/children/become-jehovahs-friend/videos/be-generous/) Along with this is a maze for children showing them what they should do with whatever little money they have. (As you see there is only one option available.)


All of this is part of the whole ponzi scheme concept. The Governing Body needs to continually bring in more "investors" to support their empire, and children of parents who are already Witnesses are an easy target.

But why did I bring up the idea of real estate fraud (in the subtitle)? I earlier I quoted the September 22, 2005 Awake: "God specifically offers to provide a permanent home for everyone at that time. ...Imagine finally having a proper roof over your head." This is one of the fake promises Watchtower uses, based on a Scripture in Isaiah that was clearly referring ancient Israel. They talk about everyone in Paradise building and owning their own home.

And, although this following point may not be endorsed by Watchtower, I know for a fact that there are many Witnesses who, while preaching from door-to-door, will say something like "I want that house in the new world." The house that someone else built, that someone else paid for, they believe they are entitled to because the Governing Body told them God would give them a house in Paradise.

At the same time, Watchtower annually publishes an article about making contributions to the organization, and specifically mentions "residential property". In other words, 'God will give you a house in the new world, but if you want to give us the house you already have now, that's ok too.'

The articles also mention donations of "cash, jewelry, or other valuable personal property", "specifying an entity used by Jehovah’s Witnesses as the beneficiary of a life insurance policy or a retirement/pension plan", "bank accounts, certificates of deposit, or individual retirement accounts set up as a trust or made payable on death", "stocks and bonds", "salable real estate", "securities", "a legally executed will", "donations via electronic bank transfer, debit card, or credit card". (From Watchtower articles: December 15 issue for year 2014; November 15 issue for years 2015, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008; November 1 issue for years 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999, 1998, 1997, 1996; December 1 issue for years 1995, 1994, 1993, 1992, 1991, 1990, 1989, 1988, 1987, 1986. *This list is based on the Publications Index on wol.jw.org under "Contributions", which only goes back as far as 1986 for The Watchtower magazine.)

However you want to refer to this, real estate fraud, ponzi scheme, or whatever, ultimately it boils down to this: The Governing Body of Jehovah's Witnesses making false promises in exchange for real money, real time spent, real energy spent, real donations of property, real lives lost, real family members being shunned, and little to no accountability from the authorities or anyone else.

But people are starting to wake up. Whistleblowers are speaking out, despite being in danger of getting shunned by friends or family; high-ranking elders, including branch office Bethel workers and a traveling overseer, are leaking confidential documents online; the Australian government since 2015 and likely soon the British authorities are investigating Jehovah's Witnesses regarding their failure to report or poor handling of cases of child abuse among their members.

Whether the New York City authorities, or the Warwick authorities, or the U.S. government will intervene is hard to say. More likely the religion will just keep on making more and more cuts, until it is reduced to the bare minimum. Another possibility (though also unlikely) is that Watchtower's board of directors will say "enough is enough" and take control. (As odd as it may seem, the Governing Body members actually have no legal authority over or connection to the corporation, and haven't for a number of years now. Apparently they didn't want to be bothered with the legal details, so they turned that over to other men. Which in theory means they could be shown the door at any moment.)

Well, what else is there to say? This has been going on for decades now, and no one has put stop to it. The tide is starting to turn, but not fast enough. Where it will end up, no one knows. If you are a Witness, think seriously about the claims that the Governing Body is making regarding the future. Do research outside of the publications and see if it adds up. And if you are not a Witness, be aware the next time a Witness shows up at your door, trying to convert you. Don't be the next victim of Watchtower's worldwide ponzi scheme.


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