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FRIDAY FEBRUARY 22ND PODCAST , Jehovah’s Witnesses; A Non Prophet Organization
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This production exposes the false prophecies and deceitful lies that have colored the history of the Watch Tower Society (i.e., Jehovah’s Witnesses) since its inception. As the filmmakers use the Society’s own published works to reveal internal contradictions and a troubling history of revision in the Society’s own teachings, a number of ex-Jehovah’s Witnesses personalize the story by talking about the negative effects the Society had on their lives. If you’re looking for a critical examination of Jehovah’s Witnesses’ doctrine, though, you won’t find it in this particular documentary. Instead, Jehovah’s Witnesses: A Non-Prophet Organization focuses primarily on historical truths that the Watch Tower Society has attempted to sweep under the rug over the course of its existence.
Obviously, the Watch Tower Society leaders’ history of false apocalyptic prophecies serves as a predictably strong magnet for criticism. 1897, 1914, 1925, 1975 – these are just some of the years in which the apocalypse was to have taken place – according to a succession of Jehovah’s Witnesses leaders. The 1975 prophecy in particular led to disillusionment among a significant number of followers, particularly those who had given up all of their worldly possessions and, in some cases, even the joys of parenthood because they were assured that the end of the world was imminent. The controversial founding fathers of the movement, Charles Taze Russell and Joseph Franklin Rutherford, are revealed to have had significant ties to spiritualism in their personal lives, and charges of occult influences on the founding and development of the religion are further developed in relation to the movement’s New World Translation of the Bible. Ex-Jehovah’s Witnesses explain how they came to see the Watch Tower Society as a false prophet usurping the rightful place of Jesus Christ in their lives, recount the intolerant reactions of their religious leaders to any doubts or questions, and – in a couple of cases – relate how they were essentially thrown out of the order for choosing life, in the form of a blood transfusion, over Watch Tower Society dogma. Questions are then raised about the growing coffers of the Watch Tower Society – although suggestions of corruption are not pursued to such a degree as to be truly credible. The documentary concludes with a number of ex-Jehovah’s Witnesses discussing their conversion to Christianity.
Production-wise, Jehovah’s Witnesses: A Non-Prophet Organization isn’t all that impressive. A superfluous narrator sometimes appears to ask questions of people he obviously isn’t addressing in person (they routinely start their replies with the very words of the question being asked), and several of the experts being consulted aren’t completely comfortable in front of the camera. This can sometimes make for a rather banal presentation of the facts. In contrast, the personal testimonies of the former Watch Tower Society faithful is personable, sincere, and oftentimes poignant. Listening to these people lament their former beliefs and mourn family relationships that were sundered by their break from Watch Tower Society dogma for compelling viewing. In the end, this documentary makes for a very good introduction to the history and nature of the Jehovah’s Witnesses.