PROPAGANDA – Part 1
This Awake magazine of the Jehovah’s Witnesses from June 22, 2000 is of immense importance because it shows that they can hide their manipulative behavior in plain view of their mind controlled followers. This magazine published three main articles. They were entitled “The Manipulation of Information”, “Do Not Be A Victim of Propaganda”, and “Is the work of Jehovah’s Witnesses Propagandistic”. This will be a three part series, examining each article and then comparing the advice given to other publications written by the Jehovah’s Witnesses for the purpose of determining whether or not they use the very same propaganda techniques they warn their followers about. Part 1 is “The Manipulation of Information”.
I find it ironic that they begin the article with such a hard-hitting quote from none other than Adolf Hitler. It is ironic because life as a JW is exactly as he described. Leadership has convinced the rank and file that they need to divide families and shun those that leave the faith. They eschew college education, leaving most JWs below the standards of even lower-middle class living. There is a constant bang of the drum to “do more”. Are you preaching enough? Are you doing enough personal study of OUR material? They remind JWs that the world around them is dangerous and that any second now God is going to kill off billions of people at Armageddon. Yet they routinely tell the rank and file witnesses that they are or at least should be the happiest people on earth. They’ve convinced millions of individual JWs that the doldrums they reside in is actually a peaceful paradise. Just like Hitler said.
The 2nd and 3rd paragraphs dive right in by saying that “many accept messages without questioning or analyzing them” and that “the cunning propagandist loves shortcuts – especially those that short-circuit rational thought”…..and that “propaganda encourages this by agitating the emotions, by exploiting insecurities, by capitalizing on the ambiguity of language and by bending the rules of logic”.
Let’s see if we can find any examples of Jehovah’s Witness written material engaging in such behavior:
1 – JWs engaging in fear tactics (agitating emotions). Here are some pictures from their literature of what they teach will happen to those who are NOT Jehovah’s Witnesses. Do you think these pictures could possibly agitate emotions…..especially of young ones?
“If we stop actively supporting Jehovah’s work, then we start following Satan. There is no middle ground.” Watchtower 2011 Jul 15 p.18
What you read just above is a quote of theirs. Do you think it could agitate one’s emotions to be told that if they STOP being a Jehovah’s Witness (that is what “supporting Jehovah’s work” means) they will automatically START serving the devil?
“While some contact with worldly people is unavoidable-at work, at school, and otherwise-we must be vigilant so as to keep from being sucked back into the death-dealing atmosphere of this world. … Let the world go along in its way, reaping its bad fruitage in the form of broken homes, illegitimate births, sexually transmitted diseases, such as AIDS, and countless other emotional and physical woes.” Watchtower 1987 September 15 p12
Do you think that the above wording could possibly agitate emotions and skew how a Jehovah’s Witness views those outside of their faith? (that’s what “worldly people” means). Everything you see above is a fear tactic designed to agitate emotions and exploit insecurities. After all, what are they inferring? They are in essence saying “Don’t be one of those dead bodies in our artwork. Come to us to be saved. Don’t be caught serving the devil. Come to us to be saved.” Etc.
2 – JW Teachings Short Circuit Rational Thought
“All of us must be ready to obey any instructions we may receive, whether these appear sound from a strategic or human standpoint or not”. Watchtower 2013 Nov 15 p20
“”First, since “oneness” is to be observed, a mature Christian must be in unity and full harmony with fellow believers as far as faith and knowledge are concerned. He does not advocate or insist on personal opinions or harbor private ideas when it comes to Bible understanding.” Watchtower 2001 Aug 1 p.14
“Avoid questioning the counsel that is provided by God’s visible organization. some who point out that the organization has had to make some adjustments before, and so they argue: “This shows that we have to make up our own mind on what to believe.” This is independent thinking. Why is it so dangerous?” Watchtower 1983 Jan 15 p.22
Notice what is being taught above. Do not think rationally. Do not think for yourselves. Trust us. Obey us even if it seems like doing so would be irrational.
Under the subheading “Lies, Lies!” we see the following quote. “Certainly, the handiest trick of the propagandist is the use of outright lies.” Please see the following two links for examples of lies that I have uncovered. One is in regard to the Jehovah’s Witnesses claims that it is “totally unfounded” that JWs have died because of not receiving proper medical treatment. The other is in regard to whether or not they believe they are earning their own salvation by preaching their beliefs to others.
Under the subheading “Making Generalizations” we see the following: “Another very successful tactic of propaganda is generalization. Generalizations tend to obscure important facts about the real issues in question, and they are frequently used to demean entire groups of people.” Let’s see if we can find any examples of Jehovah’s Witnesses using generalizations:
“Who in our time demonstrate such obedience to God’s commandments on love? … only Jehovah’s Witnesses.” Watchtower 1989 May 1 p.28
“Some even leave negotiations to worldly relatives, who then demand an exorbitant price. While this bargaining goes on, the situation could push the young people into fornication. This is what takes place among worldly people.” Watchtower 1989 Jan 15 p.22
“The world is filled with unhappiness, and people generally have a gloomy outlook on the future. However, we have a bright outlook, knowing that one day all sadness will be a thing of the past.” Kingdom Ministry Feb 2002 p.1 The Happiest People on Earth
Do the above quotes come across as facts with research or scientific data to support them…..or do they seem like sweeping generalizations designed to prop themselves up while simultaneously demeaning “the world”?
Under the subheading of “Name-Calling” we can see the following quote. “Some people insult those who disagree with them by questioning character or motives instead of focusing on the facts. Name calling slaps a negative, easy to remember label onto a person, a group, or an idea. The name-caller hopes that the label will stick. If people reject the person or the idea on the basis of the negative label instead of weighing the evidence for themselves, the name-caller’s strategy has worked. Let’s now see if we can find examples of Jehovah’s Witnesses utilizing this propaganda technique.
What is often the motive of those who criticize the Society or those taking the lead? Is it not often that some application of Scripture affects them personally? Rather than conform to sound doctrine and direction, they want the organization to change. Let us illustrate this with a few examples: A brother insists on some extreme clothing or grooming style. The elders feel that he is not a good example and do not extend to him certain privileges, such as appearing on the platform to give instruction. He becomes resentful, claiming that others are trying to take away his Christian freedom. But what is behind such reasoning? Is it not usually pride, an independent attitude, or a rather childish desire to have one’s own way? Occasionally you may hear someone question whether the Scriptural prohibition against eating blood really applies to transfusions. But what is behind that reasoning? Is it fear-fear of possibly losing one’s present life or the life of a loved one? Is hope in the resurrection fading? … Finally, we might consider what the Society has published in the past on chronology. Some opposers claim that Jehovah’s Witnesses are false prophets. These opponents say that dates have been set, but nothing has happened. Again we ask, What is the motive of these critics? Are they encouraging wakefulness on the part of God’s people, or are they, rather, trying to justify themselves for falling back into sleepy inactivity?” Watchtower 1986 March 15 p18
Apostates “quietly” bring their ideas into the congregation, like criminals who secretly bring things into a country. Apostates use “counterfeit words.” This means that they say things that make their false ideas sound true, like criminals who make false documents look real. They try to get as many people as possible to believe their “deceptive teachings.” Peter also said that they like twisting the Scriptures. They explain Bible verses in the wrong way to make others believe their ideas. (2 Peter 2:1, 3, 13; 3:16) Apostates do not care about us. If we follow them, we will leave the road to everlasting life. … The Bible says that apostates are mentally diseased and that they use their teachings to make others think like them. Watchtower 2011 July 15 p11
As was the custom in ancient Rome, this prostitute is identified by the name on her forehead. It is a long name: “Babylon the Great, the mother of the harlots and of the disgusting things of the earth.” That name is “a mystery,” something with hidden meaning. But in God’s due time, the mystery is to be explained. In fact, the angel gives John enough information to allow Jehovah’s servants today to discern the full significance of this descriptive name. We recognize Babylon the Great as being all of false religion. She is “the mother of the harlots” because all the individual false religions in the world, including the many sects in Christendom, are like her daughters, imitating her in committing spiritual harlotry. She is also the mother of “disgusting things” in that she has given birth to such revolting offspring as idolatry, spiritism, fortune-telling, astrology, palmistry, human sacrifice, temple prostitution, drunkenness in honor of false gods, and other obscene practices. – Revelation – It’s Grand Climax at Hand p 244
In the above quotes you can see that the Jehovah’s Witnesses go on the attack instead of answering legitimate questions. In the first article (March 15, 1986 Watchtower), the person in question is told that he is too prideful and has a childish/selfish desire. Next, the accusation is made that the person in question must be “losing faith”. Finally, instead of addressing the claims of their detractors (namely that they have falsely prophesied) they instead insult the detractors…..questioning their motives and accusing them of being “spiritually sleepy”. The 2011 Watchtower quoted next calls former members of the religion “mentally diseased” and likens them to “criminals”. Finally, the “Revelation” book compares other religions to prostitutes and says they are “disgusting”.
I don’t know about you, but this sounds to me like “name-calling”.
The next subheading is “Playing on the Emotions”. The following quote is found under that subheading. “Emotional appeals are fabricated by practiced publicists, who play on feelings as skillfully as a virtuoso plays the piano.” The following quote can also be found a few paragraphs down, “Hatred is a strong emotion exploited by propagandists. Loaded language is particularly effective in triggering it. There seems to be a nearly endless supply of nasty words that promote and exploit hatred toward particular racial, ethnic, or religious groups. Some propagandists play on pride. Often we can spot appeals to pride by looking for such key phrases as: “Any intelligent person knows that . . .” or, “A person with your education can’t help but see that . . .” A reverse appeal to pride plays on our fear of seeming stupid. Professionals in persuasion are well aware of that.” Let’s see if we can find any examples of this:
1 – Emotional Appeals –
“To turn away from Jehovah and his organization is to become like a solitary tree in a parched land.” Watchtower 1985 Jun 1 p.20
“Either you are serving Jehovah God or Satan the Devil. Regardless of your answer, if you follow the unrighteous ways of the world you cannot be serving the true God, Jehovah.” You Can Live Forever in Paradise on Earth p.208
“God’s faithful modern-day Witnesses would never dare to question Jehovah” Watchtower 1995 Oct 1 p.27
2 – Hatred –
Then, too, as Jesus showed his hatred for lawlessness by exposing hypocritical religionists, so today Jehovah’s Witnesses are showing their hatred for all hypocritical religious lawlessness. How? By distributing Bible literature that lays bare Babylon the Great for what she really is, a religious harlot. If we truly hate lawless religious hypocrisy, we will be forthright in exposing Babylon the Great, the world empire of false religion – Watchtower July 15, 1992 p12
3 – Loaded Language –
Loaded language is defined as “wording that attempts to influence an audience by using appeal to emotion or stereotypes.” It is also designed to be cliché, thought terminating and understood by insiders as opposed to outsiders. Here are some examples of insider JW terms: The Truth, The New System, Worldly People, The World, Disfellowship, The Faithful and Discreet Slave, The Slave, Jehovah’s Organization, The Organization, Return Visit, Door to Door, Pioneer, Auxillary Pioneer, Theocratic, The Brotherhood, Quickbuilds, The Anointed, The Great Crowd, Serve Jehovah, Reach Out Etc. These words all trigger a predefined understanding in rank and file JW minds that those outside of the cult don’t understand. For instance, “The truth” is a synonym for “the current teachings of Jehovah’s Witnesses”…..since they believe they are the only one true religion and everyone else is living a lie.
4 – Playing on Pride –
“Mature Christians also realize that being at the Kingdom Hall for the Bible-based talk is more important and beneficial than being at a wedding feast or a gathering that might follow.” Watchtower 2006 Oct 15 p.30
Notice that just like the NEGATIVE example that I underlined above…….this quote also plays on pride…….hinting that if you don’t agree with the statement then you must be an IMMATURE Christian. They play on the pride of the rank and file JW. They use insider language (loaded). They have a hatred for anything or anyone that doesn’t agree with them. And they use emotional appeals to play on the feelings and emotions of their followers.
The final subheading in this article is “Slogans and Symbols”. The following quote can be seen. “Slogans are vague statements that are typically used to express positions or goals. Because of their vagueness, they are easy to agree with.”
Jehovah’s Witnesses really don’t have any slogans that they put in writing. Most slogans are merely word of mouth for the sake of later deniability. For those that are older, there was a slogan back in the 1960s and 1970s that went, “stay alive til 75.” I remember it and I wasn’t even around in 1975. This is because leadership of JWs hinted with great excitement that the world was going to end in 1975. How about PASS? (how to make it into their “new system”) Prayer. Attendance (meetings). Study (for meetings and personal). Service (field service – proselytizing).
And when slogans fail….they tend to be followed up with vague generalities. Pinpointing times for Armageddon has gotten a little old over the years. The JWs have, throughout history, tried to pinpoint 1914, 1925, 1975 and 1984-1994. These all failed. So what have they done? They have muddied the latest explanation with vagueness. They still teach that “the end” will come during the “generation” that saw the events of 1914 unfold. Only……those people are now almost all dead. So how did they fix that problem? They redefined what a generation is. They now insist that Armageddon will come within the lifetime of a person who was alive to see the events of 1914 unfold…….whose life overlapped with a person who will witness Armageddon. So….a person born in 1914 that lives until 2014 thus overlaps with a person who was born in 2014 and lives until 2114. This 200 year period constitutes a “generation” to them…..thus vaguely preserving their doctrine.
Part 2 is up next and will tackle the article “Do Not Be A Victim Of Propaganda”.