Last year I had a fun conversation with a couple of Jehovah's Witnesses that approached me while out on a nature walk. They proceeded to hand me Watch Tower literature and try to "convert me". Since I just drank an espresso, as well as being a student of comparative religion and having many hours of in-depth conversations with the master of theology himself, Jordan Maxwell, under my belt, I thought sure, why not, this ought to be fun!
The end result is that they probably wished they had never approached me in the first place. I was very polite the entire time and told them I'm a spiritual person that respects people's freedom of religion. Since then I’ve had many similar conversations with Jehovah’s witnesses. In fact, it seems like no matter where we travel in the world, we always encounter them lurking about somewhere handing out Watchtower literature. This is even true of American Jehovah’s witnesses who are vacationing in the Caribbean, as they can’t enjoy the beach like everyone else until they have handed out a stack of religious literature. They are all very polite to me, but I know what they really think of non-Jehovah's Witnesses because friends of mine whom are ex-JW's have told me as much.
It's fairly easy to stump Jehovah's Witnesses with some real zingers if you're a theology geek like me. However, my goal for having these interactions is not to look down on anyone for their beliefs, but I do so that we might both grow and evolve together. You might think the best route to excusing yourself from the conversation is by dismissing their organization right off the bat and bringing up recent and past sexual scandals, but that's boring if you ask me. Those allegations are easily dismissed with the old line used by defenders of crimes committed by the Catholic Church, "predators become Priests, but Priests don't become predators".
Instead, you have to understand the strange and occult history of the Jehovah's Witness organization. Much like the bizzare connection between NASA and Jack Parsons, you can't make this stuff up. First of all, the founder was a wealthy man named Charles T. Russell, which later inspired the "Russellites". He had a fascination with ancient Egypt, which is very evident if we examine the Jehovah’s Witnesses earlier literature, which had the Egyptian sun disc and wings on it. He is buried at a cemetery in Pittsburgh that has a tombstone in the shape of the Great Pyramid with his name next to a Masonic Templar cross and crown. Other connections to Templar Masonry include the JW's famous "Watcher Tower" magazine, which gets its name from the Rennes-le-Château in Southern France. This was the official hideout for the Templar Knights. After visiting the great pyramid twice, Russell believed there was an encoded message in it. He thought the pyramid came from the Hyksos period and was built by slaves.
He taught his followers that the pyramid was like a great sermon in the stone and that the subterranean chambers showed man’s descent into sin. By his calculations using the pyramid and the book of Daniel in the Bible he would make many failed predictions when the world was going to end and Jesus would become King. He was also involved with the IBSA (International Bible Students Association). Here is where it gets interesting and we start to see connections to other religious start-ups during that time. Russell was following around in the footsteps of William L. Miller (a fire and brimstone preacher), who was a Baptist minister whose teachings later went onto form the Adventists. That group later became the 7th Day Adventists, a bunch of vegetarian Sabbath keepers who believe in the "Trinity" after they got involved with Ellen G. White. Her story is highly bizarre and filled with controversial affairs, automatic writing and a tale about her possessing superhuman strength to lift an enormous rock up over her head. She also believed in human-animal hybrids during the days of Noah (chimeras), which she claimed would become normal during end times.
Russell found a lot of "Truth" in Miller's teachings posthumously, but after a while, he dismissed most of it because he figured that Miller no longer had the truth. Russell went on to form his own group with The Zion Watchtower society in 1881. Not only was Miller preaching that everyone was going to hell, but he also failed to see the encoded message in the pyramid.
Another organization influencing these groups back then was the British Israel World Federation. Their teachings would not only go on to shape the doctrines of the Jehovah's Witnesses, but also the Adventists, the World Wide Church of God, Christadelphians, and the Mormons. The teachings of British Israel are that Jesus is King, Europeans are the lost tribes and that Jacob's two descendants, Manasseh and Ephraim (Britain and America), are the true rulers of the world. It's also very interesting that these groups received contributions from the world’s wealthiest banking families and generous trust funds were set up for churches that adopted their doctrines.
They later moved their church from Philadelphia (the city of “Brotherly Love”) to New York (York was the place that Rome used to rule England from). New York is the New international power of the world and home of the UN, so this was a very symbolic move for their organization.
According to the International Watch Tower Association and JW.ORG, Jesus never became crowned or king until 1914. That's right folks, for the past 2000 or so years, people have been worshiping an unelected official. Jehovah was the boss up until that point. According to the Jehovah's Witnesses, who were established in 1914, Jesus had looked at all the churches in the world and decided they were the only ones with the "Truth". Also very convenient if you ask me!
Here's another hilarious twist of fate that the Jehovah’s Witnesses are hoping you don’t know about, in 1916 when Judge Joseph Franklin Rutherford became President of the Jehovah's Witnesses (chosen by Jehovah, of course!) he said everything Russell taught was nonsense, the pyramid was from the devil, and he threw it all out. He was also known to be a drunk that enjoyed his whiskey and made the FBI’s most wanted list. Not only was he accused of sedition but was thrown in jail. In his own words, he made an ass out of himself.
One of the Jehovah's Witnesses most controversial doctrines that act as a “self-preservation mechanism” is that only 144,000 people can be saved and go to heaven. This is misinterpreted from the book of Revelation (7 and 14) or book of the Apocalypse. According to Manly P. Hall and the Mysteries, the real meaning behind 144,000 is hidden in the numerology (1+4+4=9), as 9 is the collective number of man because we spend 9 months in the womb before going through three months of spiritual initiation (12 in total). So the esoteric joke here is that everyone will be saved and ascend to “heaven” together.
So the next time Jehovah's Witnesses knock at your door, try asking them why according to the International Watchtower Association did Jesus only become King in 1914? Who made him king? Ask them if JW's are the ultimate truth, and Russell was really chosen by Jesus, why then did "Judge" Joseph F. Rutherford (also chosen by Jehovah to be president after his appointment as king) claim everything Russell said was wrong? Also, if only 144,000 can be saved, do they know what that number actually means? There's a lot more fun you can have, but those are just a few pointers to get you started!