Racism in the Jehovah Witness Watchtower

By Christian Peper 

 

The civil rights struggles of the 50’s and 60’s have done much to heal the old wounds of racism that have plagued
America since slavery.  Few today would argue that racism serves any benefit to
America.  Overt racism and cultural bias has largely given way to a different type of prejudice.  Organizations that once overtly denigrated minorities have refined both language and actions to more subtly discriminate.    Watchtower society members claim to be different and better than the worldly people that they refer to as “bird food”.  Society members refer to non-Witnesses as bird food because they look forward to the time when the birds will feast on the flesh of dead non-Witnesses after Armageddon.  Is the Watchtower Society really morally superior and separate from the rest of American society?  

The Jehovah Witness Watchtower organization has a long history of denigrating the ethnicities of its members. The very foundations of the society were built on racism.  Just as the slave master kept slaves in enforced ignorance, the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society keeps members in ignorance by not allowing them to investigate the many inconsistencies in the organizations teaching. The following quotes from the societies own literature prove the racist nature of the organization.  It would be difficult indeed to include all the racist quotes the society has made over the years without filling up a book.   

“The negro race is supposed to be descended from Ham, whose special degradation is mentioned in Gen. 9:22, 25. (From: Zion’s Watch Tower, August 1, 1898, p. 230) 

“Noah declared, prophetically, that Ham’s characteristics which had led him to unseemly conduct disrespectful to his father, would be found cropping out later, inherited by his son, and prophetically he foretold that this degeneracy would mark the posterity of Canaan, degrading him, making him servile. We are not able to determine to a certainty that the sons of Ham and
Canaan are the negroes; but we consider that general view as probable as any other.” (From: Zion’s Watch Tower, July 15, 1902, p. 216) “There is no servant in the world as good as a good Colored servant, and the joy that he gets from rendering faithful service is one of the purest joys there is in the world.” (From: The Golden Age, July 24, 1929, p. 702) For those who think that these quotes represent old history consider this quote from 1952:  “Really, our colored brothers have a great cause for rejoicing. Their race is meek and teachable, and from it comes a high percentage of the theocratic increase.” (From: The Watchtower, Feb. 1, 1952, p. 95)  

How the organization handled the “Jim Crow” laws is truly shameful.
Texas congregations continued to be segregated well into the 1970’s.  Black circuit and district overseers were not allowed to serve white members.  This was years after the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The changes the Watchtower Society has made today are largely superficial.  Ultimately, the society has not changed its racist ways.   

Members of this religion must abandon their rich and vibrant community to become part of the Watchtower community.  Cultural fellowship and unity is sacrificed for Watchtower slavery.  Jehovah Witness members must adopt a rigid, almost colonial dress or risk disfellowship.  Songs must not be sung.  Birthdays must not be celebrated.  Involvement in the larger community is not allowed unless it serves the purpose of cult recruitment or publication distribution.   

Minority communities that in the past have been unjustly placed under surveillance by law enforcemernt in the 1960’s must now spy on each other to remain in good standing with the organization.  Speech must be regulated to avoid a hidden tape recorder or microphone planted by an “elder”.  The collection of blackmail material is an affront to African Americans whose ancestors were forced to regulate speech in fear of the slave master.  The new slave master that masquerades as religion must be served by the constant distribution of books and magazines.  This slave master demands even more complete obedience and control. While the plantation master demanded only labor from his slaves, the Watchtower demands far more.  The Watchtower holds entire families hostage to the organization.  If a member dares to exhibit independent thinking, he risks expulsion and being cut off from both his family and his surrogate community.  Blackmail material is used in place of the whip to ensure complete domination of the slave.  

The sheer number of blacks and Latinos hurt by the Jehovah Witness Watchtower organization is shocking.  A simple internet Google search will reveal the destruction associated with this religion.  Members of minority communities often feel that they have nowhere to turn after being destroyed by this organization.   

Cathy* and Anthony* were once dedicated members of what they thought was “God’s organization”.  When Anthony began to have doubts about the organization, he told Cathy.  Cathy panicked.  As a loyal member of the organization, she was obliged to turn in her husband or risk disfellowship herself.  After much thought she finally convinced Anthony to talk to an “elder”.  Discussions took place about the validly of the Watchtower and its teaching over a period of six months.  Anthony was finally disfellowshiped when he refused to stop questioning the organization.  Anthony is now involved in court proceedings over visitation of his two children.  Cut off from the African American community for most of his life, he describes feeling like a man without roots. The Watchtower gives a prepackaged version of reality. Cathy now misses far more meetings than she ever did when she was married.  Perhaps with time she will see through the Watchtower and its many failed prophecies and leave herself.  Membership in the organization has fallen significantly in the past seven years due to former members speaking out against the kind of control that only cults can hope to weald.  The internet, modern technology, and internal conflicts related to the aging of the (mostly white) Governing Body will continue to reduce membership numbers.   

While the organization itself is shrinking, some segments of the organization are experiencing growth.  Latinos are now the fastest growing segment in the Jehovah Witness organization.  Latinos as a minority are more apt to attend a religions service than the population as whole concern among community leaders that polls show high growth in the number of Latinos in the Jehovah’s Witnesses organization.  Because Latinos traditionally have large, tightly knit families, recruitment frequently occurs within an entire family.  Child molestation is a serious problem within the organization.  Studies have shown that the organization has proportionally four times more sexual assaults on children than the Catholic Church.  While it is unfair to attribute sexual assault and rape of children to any particular faith, organization rules allow child sexual assault to flourish.  Some have gone so far as to call the Watchtower a “pedophiles paradise”.   Many are concerned for the welfare of the children within this organization.  Will the large number of children within Latino families lead to an even higher number of child sexual assaults?  Only time will tell.  We must be careful to avoid value judgments regarding religion and culture but we must also protect the children.  

There is a Jehovah’s Witnesses Kingdom Hall close to my home here in
Saint Louis that is in poor repair only because it is primarily an African American congregation.  I will not forgive the organization for waging a war of cultural assimilation and denigration.   Should you?  

*Names have been changed due to the totalitarian nature of the organization.

 

 

 

 

 

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