People with Jehovah’s Witnesses past have been socialized towards disaster, towards Armageddon. When a real crisis occurs, most of these people experience even greater fears than others. Here you will find facts against fears! And a few thoughts on how the current situation can affect (former) Jehovah’s Witnesses.
The corona crisis poses an enormous challenge: for the older ones among us and those with health problems, an illness can be very dangerous, we all have to reorganize ourselves and many of us fear for their economic existence – we are experiencing an absolute exceptional situation. However, many (former) Jehovah’s Witnesses are likely to experience it as even more critical.
Are you scared?
- … that the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus and the associated plague, the COVID-19-pandemic, is confirmation that we are living in the last few days (Luke 21:11; 2 Timothy 3: 1-5)?
- … that food shortages are a sign of the last few days (Matthew 24: 7; Luke 21:11; Revelation 6: 5, 6)?
- … that COVID-19 is confirmation that the apocalyptic horseman of the pale horse is on the way (Revelation 6: 8)
Here, some facts!
Four things that make clear that we have neither lived in the past few days nor in a deteriorating world:
3. Natural disaster
4. General (deterioration of) living conditions
There is neither increasing food shortages nor increasing famines over the years.
Famine victims worldwide since the 1860s
- Famines come and go. There has been no evidence of an increase since the 1860s – and certainly not since 1914. On the contrary, especially in relation to the development of the world population, there is a clear decrease in famines.
Annual rate of people dying due to a famine globally, per decade
- Famines come and go. There has been no evidence of an increase in annual mortality since the 1860s, and certainly not since 1914. On the contrary, there is a clear decrease in the death rate!
Instead, what do Jehovah’s Witnesses say?
… THE RIDER OF THE BLACK HORSE
[…] This horserider stands for hunger. […]
Since 1914, have we seen evidence that this rider of the black horse has been on the move? Yes! About 70 million people died in famines during the 20th century. One authority estimated that “805 million people—about one in nine of the world’s population—were chronically undernourished in 2012-14.” Another report states: “Hunger kills more people every year than AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined.” In spite of many earnest efforts to feed the hungry, the rider of the black horse continues to ride.
The Four Horsemen: Who Are They? (JW.ORG)
- Wrong: It seems that the rider of the black horse got on the wrong track. 😊
Public perception of the change in global extreme poverty
- According to people’s perception (especially in “rich”, “western” countries), the proportion of people in extreme poverty has increased in the past 20 years. However: this is FALSE.
- The opposite reality to the majority perception is shown in the next figure.
The number of people in extreme poverty – including projections to 2030
- Global poverty has not only decreased significantly in absolute numbers, but also especially in relation to the world population.
3. Natural disasters and epidemics
Contrary to various statements that earthquakes & Co. are increasing: This is clearly wrong!
History of pandemics (epidemics)
Diseases / pandemics have been coming and going for hundreds of years. We have to take them seriously. Science helps to research them and protect us.
Global annual deaths from natural disasters, by decade
- Mortality rate has clearly decreased since the beginning of the last century.
Number of deaths from Earthquake, World
- Earthquakes are unique events. There is no trend showing increase or decrease.
What Do Jehovah’s Witnesses Say?
The Bible’s answer
The Bible describes events and conditions that would mark “the conclusion of the [current] system of things,” or “the end of the world.” (Matthew 24:3; King James Version) The Bible calls this time period “the last days” and the “time of the end,” or “end times.” (2 Timothy 3:1; Daniel 8:19) The following are some outstanding features of last-days, or end-times, prophecies:
- Great earthquakes.—Luke 21:11.
- Pestilences, or epidemics of “terrible diseases.”—Luke 21:11, Contemporary English Version.
What Is the Sign of “the Last Days,” or “End Times”? (JW.ORG)
Nothing points to the above assumptions!
Global deaths from natural disasters
- Natural disasters record many deaths. There has been no trend towards deterioration in recent decades. On the contrary! Improvements in living conditions (see 4. General living conditions), hygiene, more stable houses and, and, and … contribute to this.
Deaths from natural disasters as a share of total deaths
- As bad as deaths from natural disasters are. The number compared to general mortality fluctuates just between 0 and 0.4%!
4. General deterioration in living conditions
Nothing indicates that the world is deteriorating, but EVERYTHING indicates towards an improvement (statistical fluctuations and individual fates do not mean the opposite)
Global inequality in living conditions (with simultaneous development over time; 1800 – until today)
- There are still strong global differences in living conditions, BUT: in all areas, conditions have continuously improved significantly since 1800.
Number of deaths by cause, World, 2017
- Does the number of deaths due to natural disasters really need to be emphasized? Natural disasters are at last position in the graphic above!
Share of population with access to basic resources, World
- Living conditions of people are continuously improving. Globally, we live in a constantly better world.
- Isn’t the global increase in general life expectancy quite positive?
People with Jehovah’s Witnesses-past are more vulnerable
Jehovah’s Witnesses are socialized towards the end of the world. Their purpose in life is to survive Armageddon, the great final battle in which Jehovah annihilates the unbelievers but also the insufficient believers.
Socialization goal: world end
According to the doctrine, Armageddon is imminent, it is so close that higher education is no longer worthwhile for young people and that believers should instead “save” as many people as possible. Jehovah’s Witnesses spend 17.5 hours a week on religious practice – alongside work and family. In other words: Jehovah’s Witnesses live in a permanent state of emergency, the crisis situation is their default mode, so to speak. That is not by accident.
Even very young children are frightened with pictures of doom, death and destruction.
The main message from Watchtower media is: Be obedient so you can survive. In other words, if you don’t obey, you die terribly. Or you lose all the people you love. And that’s not an empty threat. Every Jehovah’s Witness experienced people disappear: a sibling, an uncle, or even a parent with whom all contact was cut off. Jehovah’s Witnesses are literally conditioned to fear. Fear is the basis of belief in annihilation and the consequence of it.
In the congregation, studying the Bible at home or at summer congresses – it has always been about the coming end of the world, for more than 140 years. Every real crisis is used to make it clear that we have been living in the past few days, even in the last of the last few days, Lett said in the latest broadcast. Real crises seem to legitimize decades of intellectual curfew. And there were many crises and terrible wars – but no end of the world. Neither in 1914, nor in 1925, nor in 1975, nor by the millennium, nor after the death of those born in 1914.
Since Corona crisis, the organization’s website has had a frightening picture of the four apocalyptic riders, and it is said that the prophecy about the rider of the pale horse, who “represents epidemics and causes of death”, has been fulfilled. This is wrong, as stated above.
Images of illness and contagion in everyday use
However, it seems correct that the Corona crisis is a particularly “good” crisis for the Watchtower organization. Not only because of the many scandals surrounding child abuse and the current investigations into them step into the background. But also, because extreme cults often have two sect characteristics:
1. The extreme limitation of time to the end of the world. This is a particularly good way to put pressure on and frighten people.
2. Images of illness and contagion. The Watchtower organization cannot just use the current pandemic as a “sign” for the last few days. Rather, it personifies the contaminated sin or contagious evil that Jehovah’s Witnesses are warned about every day.
The image of a large-scale contagious disease activates incomparably more negative images, ideas, associations and feelings in (former) Jehovah’s Witnesses than in other people. There are dozens of language images used by the Watchtower organization around contagion and illness.
Even the very word “world”, as is said about it, has something toxic.
It is difficult to think about “worldly people” without shivering slightly, while the term “apostates” gives you cold shivers.
Extreme sectarian groups work with (language) images that people find difficult to escape from and use these to exploit the original emotional experiences: All people are afraid of illness, nobody likes rotten food. So there are innumerable images in the Watchtower literature like that of the rotten apple that infects the other apples and of course stands for sinful behavior that is said to be contagious. Apostasy is talked about as being a highly contagious disease that leads to death. Apostates are not only treated with contempt, but are often described as terminally ill who will die.
Bad Associations Spoil Useful Habits
You cannot voluntarily associate with bad persons without being influenced to your harm. You cannot prove Bible principles untrue. Just as a rotten apple in a barrel in time causes the good apples close to it also to become rotten, so bad people influence for evil those who choose to associate with them. You cannot prove God a liar; his Word is truth.—John 17:17.
Apostates / Disfellowshipped ones, being mentally ill
Suppose that a doctor told you to avoid contact with someone who is infected with a contagious, deadly disease. You would know what the doctor means, and you would strictly heed his warning. Well, apostates are “mentally diseased,” and they seek to infect others with their disloyal teachings. (1 Tim. 6:3,4) Jehovah, the Great Physician, tells us to avoid contact with them. We know what he means, but are we determined to heed his warning in all respects?
Based on these images, one has to conclude that Jehovah’s Witnesses have a permanent plague alarm: Sin is contagious and can infect many. Total isolation is required for those being infected with sin, which even includes a ban on greeting. There is no help or compassion for those who are separated in this way, in any case: strict avoidance. There is no solidarity with these infected or even terminally ill, because they deserve to die.
These pictures and these experiences do not make it easier during a real crisis to have confidence that everything will go well, that solidarity will support those who need it. Rather, it is perfectly understandable that many (former) Jehovah’s Witnesses experience great stress and anxiety in the current situation. Even if you cannot simply delete your own neural network, you can still change it if you think about it or talk about it. You do that in psychotherapy, a self-help group or in an exchange with other people affected. And, of course, facts are also helpful.
In a nutshell (Video in German)
Finally, an excerpt from the famous speech by Konrad Franke, in which he predicts the end of the world in 1975, followed by a sequence on the subject of lies from one of the notorious WT children’s films. Then an episode from a speech by Thomas Fiala and finally, as a conclusion, an episode by the cabaret artist Volker Pispers