Jehovah’s Witnesses link to UN queried
Sect accused of hypocrisy over association with organisation it has demonised.
The United Nations is being asked to investigate why it has granted associate status to the Jehovah’s Witnesses, the fundamentalist US-based Christian sect, which regards it as the scarlet beast predicted in the Book of Revelation. Disaffected members of the 6m-strong group, which has 130,000 followers in the UK, have accused the Witnesses’ elderly governing body of hypocrisy in secretly accepting links with an organisation that they continue to denounce in apocalyptic terms. The UN itself admitted yesterday that it was surprised that the sect, whose formal name is the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, had been accepted on its list of non-governmental organisations for the last 10 years.
Stephen Bates, religious affairs correspondent Monday October 8, 2001 The Guardian
In 1992, the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York applied to be a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) Associate Member of the United Nations Department of Public Information (UN DPI) and remained so until 2001. This is the closest relationship an NGO can form with the UN. The application was renewed annually and is a matter of public record.
This involvement has stumbled many brothers due to:
- The double standard the Watchtower holds for itself when compared to its members
- Such membership being hypocritical considering the Watchtower history of condemning Christendom for doing so
- The dishonest information the Watchtower has released in attempting to explain the situation to its members
As of January 27th 2007, an official UN letter describing this status appeared on the United Nations website at http://www.un.org/dpi/ngosection/pdfs/watchtower.pdf
The letter outlines that the Watchtower was an associated NGO and to become associated required the Watchtower to accept the following:
- that the NGO share the ideals of the UN Charter;
- have a demonstrated interest in United Nations issues and a proven ability to reach target or specialized audiences, such as educators, media representatives, policy makers and the business community;
- have the commitment and means to conduct effective information programs about UN activities by publishing newsletters, bulletins and pamphlets, organizing conferences, seminars and round tables; and enlisting cooperation of the media.
Since the United Nations 1945 formation, associated NGO’s have been required to “support the work of the United Nations”. This was reiterated at the 1968 Economic and Social Council.
“In 1968, the Economic and Social Council, by Resolution 1297 (XLIV) of 27 May, called on DPI to associate NGOs, bearing in mind the letter and spirit of its Resolution 1296 (XLIV) of 23 May 1968, which stated that an NGO “…shall undertake to support the work of the United Nations and to promote knowledge of its principles and activities, in accordance with its own aims and purposes and the nature and scope of its competence and activities”.” un.org (1 Jun 2010)
A copy of the 1991 application form that the Watchtower filled in shows that there was a yearly requirement to provide information to the United Nations. It states;
“provide us with proof of your organizations non-profit status and with an annual report on its activities related to United Nations.”
Shown later are several Watchtower articles from the 1990s that praise the efforts of the United Nations, an apparent attempt to comply with the above requirements.
Application to the United Nations is a double standard when compared with the Watchtower principles enforced upon the members. The Watchtower has made very clear that any role of employment or simple membership with a disapproved organisation is considered apostasy, and results in judicial action.
The Bible condemns things such as stealing, idolatry and the misuse of blood, so a Christian could hardly engage in work where he directly promoted such things. Would doing the work so closely link a person with a condemned practice that he would be a clear accomplice? Even a janitor or a receptionist at a blood bank or a plant making only weapons of war is directly linked with work contrary to Gods Word. Watchtower 1982 July 15 Box on p.26 Employment Factors to Consider
Is it true that for religious reasons Jehovahs Witnesses may not become members of the YMCA (Young Mens Christian Association)?
Yes, that is so. We have long recognized that the YMCA, though not being a church as such, is definitely aligned with the religious organizations of Christendom in efforts to promote interfaith. In joining the YMCA as a member a person accepts or endorses the general objectives and principles of the organization. Membership means that one has become an integral part of this organization founded with definite religious objectives, including the promotion of interfaith. Hence, for one of Jehovahs Witnesses to become a member of such a so-called Christian association would amount to apostasy. Watchtower 1979 Jan 1 pp.30,31 Questions from Readers
Involvement in political affairs is considered being non-neutral and listed in the elders manual as a course of action by which a Witness indicates they have disassociated themselves from the congregation.
“Jehovah’s Witnesses maintain neutrality with regard to the political and military affairs of the nations. (John 17:16; rs pp. 269-76) … Since true dedicated Christians are “no part of the world,” if a member of the congregation unrepentantly pursues a course in violation of his Christian neutrality, he thereby disassociates himself from the neutral Christian congregation. (John 15:19; 17:14-16; w82 1/15 p. 31)” “Pay Attention to Yourselves and to All the Flock” p.140
With these statements in mind there can be no question that the Watchtower Society violated its own rules when applying for affiliation with the United Nations.
Condemnation of Christendom
Christendom has regularly been condemned for its involvement with the United Nations, being pictured as the Harlot that rides on the back of this prophetic scarlet beast.
“Such dwellers on earth wondered admiringly at the revived scarlet wild beast. Much reliance was placed in its ability to be a power for world peace and security. Great expectations were held out for it, and it was given designations that were really blasphemous from the standpoint of the Holy Bible. How so? In that to this wild beast powers were ascribed and tasks were assigned that really belong to Gods kingdom and its Messiah or its Christ. Back in 1919 the scarlet League of Nations had been seriously called the political expression of the Kingdom of God on earth. And now the United Nations, the successor of that League, has been called the best means for peace, yes, even more than that, the last hope for peace. So today we can see in actuality what the apostle John saw in symbol, that that scarlet-colored wild beast is full of blasphemous names. Those expressions of admiration for it turn false religionists, not to the worship of Jehovah God the Creator, but to idolatry of a man-made creation, the worship of a political image, the worship of an international organization for world peace and security.Rev. 17:3.” Watchtower 1963 Nov 15 p.697
Babylon The Great Has Fallen! Gods Kingdom Rules (1963) p.577
“The United Nations is actually a worldly confederacy against Jehovah God and his dedicated Witnesses on earth.” Watchtower 1987 Sep 1 p.20
As late as the 1991 June 1 p.17 issue of the Watchtower, Christendom was condemned for its involvement with the United Nations
If Christendom had sought peace with Jehovahs King, Jesus Christ, then she would have avoided the coming flash flood.Compare Luke 19:42-44. 10 However, she has not done so. Instead, in her quest for peace and security, she insinuates herself into the favor of the political leaders of the nations this despite the Bibles warning that friendship with the world is enmity with God. (James 4:4) Moreover, in 1919 she strongly advocated the League of Nations as mans best hope for peace. Since 1945 she has put her hope in the United Nations. (Compare Revelation 17:3, 11.) How extensive is her involvement with this organization? 11 A recent book gives an idea when it states: No less than twenty-four Catholic organizations are represented at the UN. Several of the worlds religious leaders have visited the international organization. Most memorable were the visits of His Holiness Pope Paul VI during the General Assembly in 1965 and of Pope John Paul II in 1979. Many religions have special invocations, prayers, hymns and services for the United Nations. The most important examples are those of the Catholic, the Unitarian-Universalist, the Baptist and the Bahai faiths.
The partial quote above is from a New Genesis Shaping a Global Spirituality by Robert Muller (1982) chapter 6. The preceding sentence stated
All major world religions are accredited to the United Nations as non-governmental organizations. For example, no less than twenty-four Catholic organizations are represented at the UN.
This shows the Watchtower condemning Churches for NGO accreditation less than 12 months before lodging their application to the UN and starting weekly visits to its library and public meetings.
When the League of Nations was initially established the Watch Tower praised and espoused its virtues.
We cannot but admire the high principles embodied in the League of Nations… Truly this is idealistic, and approximates in a small way that which God has foretold that he will bring about after this great time of trouble. Watch Tower 1919 Feb 15 p.51
Later, the Watchtower became vocal in regular condemnation of the League of Nations and United Nations, referring to it as a blasphemous and idolatrous organization and labelling them the scarlet wild beast of Revelation.
True, the 138 members of the United Nations organization know that Jehovahs Christian witnesses are no part of Christendom, no, no part of harlotrous Babylon the Great as a whole. They know that Jehovahs witnesses have not messed themselves up with the dirty politics of this world and have not tried to ride the symbolic scarlet-colored wild beast having seven heads and ten horns. Mans Salvation out of World Distress at Hand! (1975) pp.339-340
Human governments have schemed to form the most brazen and defiant conspiracy against divine rule that has ever existed. (Compare Isaiah 8:11-13.) They have done so, not once, but twice, creating first the League of Nations and then the United Nations. Awake! 1990 Dec 8 p.24
It was somewhat surprising when in the 1990s a number of complimentary articles were written praising the work of the United Nations.
THE preamble to the United Nations Charter expresses these noble aims: …
Did the UN accomplish these aims? Did it get the nations to unite their strength and maintain peace and security? No, not so far, although the UN has sincerely tried to be a significantly better way than the League of Nations.
Jehovahs Witnesses firmly believe that the United Nations is going to play a major role in world events in the very near future. No doubt these developments will be very exciting. And the results will have a far-reaching impact on your life. We urge you to ask Jehovahs Witnesses in your neighborhood for more details on this matter. The Bible clearly paints a picture showing that the United Nations will very shortly be given power and authority. The UN will then do some very astonishing things that may well amaze you. And you will be thrilled to learn that there is yet a better way near at hand that will surely bring eternal peace and security! Awake! 1991 Sep 8 p.10
The Watchtower 1995 Oct 1, Awake! 1998 Nov 22, and Awake! 2000 Dec 8 devoted numerous pages to discussing the fine efforts of the United Nations.
The turnaround in Watchtower discussion on the United Nations during the 1990s conveniently coincides with the UN application requirement for affiliated NGOs to publicly support their Charter.
In 2001, the UK Guardian ran the introductory article that brought to light the Watchtower involvement with the United Nations, resulting in shock amongst many Jehovah’s Witness. Two days later, the Watchtower Society indicated its guilt by withdrawing its UN membership. The Watchtower went on to release information justifying its actions with reasoning ranging between irrelevant to out right dishonesty.
In a letter to the Branches, membership was explained away as the Watchtower’s research department requiring access to United Nations library, claiming that in 1991 it became necessary to register as an NGO to have continued access. It also claimed it left on learning the “criteria for association as an NGO’s” had changed. A similar letter was sent to the Guardian.
The letter to the Guardian and to the Branches is quite untruthful. There was no change requiring NGO’s to become associated in order to gain a library card. There are over 400 UN libraries worldwide that can be accessed by anyone. Since 1946, these libraries have had the same access rules, with no change in access requirements in 1991.
“Since 1946, the Dag Hammarskjold Library of the United Nations Secretariat in New York has arranged for the distribution of United Nations documents and publications to users around the world through its depository library system. At present, there are more than 400 depository libraries in over 140 countries maintaining United Nations material from the date of designation as depository to the present. The general public can consult the material free of charge at any depository library.” www.un.org
Witnesses writing to the United Nations for clarification regarding library access have received replies such as the following letter. This letter explains that NGO status is not required in order to access the library.
More importantly, there have been no changes to the requirement for NGO’s being required to agree to “support” the ideals of the United Nations. This is stated in the following letter to an enquirer in 2002 and also a press release from 1992.
Even if it were true that access to the UN library required becoming an affiliated NGO, the Society has made quite clear to its followers that membership with a political organization is never justifiable and certainly access to a library is the poorest of excuses.
The Watchtower justification fails at many levels.
- Library access is not an acceptable reason for breaking its own rules
- There was no requirement to join the UN in order to access the library
- There was no change to the application process specifically in 1991
- The Watchtower was required to lodge annual applications between 1992 and 2001
- The UN affiliation was only revoked due to media publicity. If a Witness confesses only after their sin is public knowledge there is high probability elders will not see their confession as a sign of repentance
- If a Witness can be disassociated for membership with political organizations, the same standard should apply to the Watchtower Society
What was the real reason that the Watchtower Society affiliated itself with the United Nations? Without an honest statement from the Watchtower this can only be speculated, though most likely it was in order to gain political favour to enhance Watchtower rights in countries under ban. This was explained in an interview immediately following the Guardian article. The Watchtower spokesman in Portugal stated that United Nations registration was to assist gaining recognition in developing countries. In a newspaper interview on Saturday 20th October 2001, the Watchtower’s Portuguese representative stated:
“Registration as a Non Governmental Organisation was only done because you can give humanitarian aid and protect human rights in various countries around the world,” says the PUBLIC Pedro Candeias, spokesman for the Association of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Portugal. In Portugal, however, a relaxation of registration is not yet known officially by the AJW, which represents nearly 50,000 believers.
The official says the religious group to which he belongs has had an “important role” in helping the populations of countries like Angola, Bosnia, Georgia, Rwanda and other African or Latin American. “Reaching out to these countries was complicated and therefore it was necessary to register” the WTBTS in the United Nations. But this registry, he says, did not compromise the Jehovah’s Witnesses to “any political involvement” with the UN.” (web.archive.org as on June 24 2010 – translated with the assistance of Google Translate)
It was 2 days after this interview that the Watchtower changed its official position by releasing the October 22nd letter, contradicting the above statements and claiming it only applied for library access.
Barbara Anderson explains that when she was part of the writing department in 1992, Ciro Aulicino told her he would go to the United Nations on Wednesday afternoon to pick up material for the Writing Department and attend meetings that required a special pass (see Ciro Courts the United Nations). It was also Ciro that wrote the Awake! 1991 Sep 8 magazine cover series. Members of the Governing Body were aware of the association because the Writing Committee members at the time – Barry, Barr and Klein – authorised the United Nations articles. Jaracz would also have been aware as Robert Johnson, whose signature appears on the accreditation forms, reported to Jaracz in the Service Department. Page 244 of the 1993 NGO directory listed Barry as the Watchtower representative, Ciro as the Main Representative and Johnson as the Alternative Representative.
In the 1960s, the Governing Body decreed that Malawian Witnesses were not to hold a political card in a one party state. This resulted in many thousands of deaths, rapes and displacements of innocent Witnesses between 1963 and 1992. (Yearbook 1999 pp.149-223) Whilst these atrocities were occurring to followers of Watchtower regulation, their headquarters were ignoring the same regulation by being politically affiliated with the United Nations. Watchtower leaders freely wield their power to disfellowship constituents for associating with or working for organisations that are acting contrary to Watchtower principles, and praise followers who die upholding Organization regulation. Yet they violated their own principles; for library access. Never has there been an apology or admission of wrongdoing, rather there has been no more than a brief and dishonest attempt to make this indiscretion appear justifiable. Is it any wonder that Witnesses have left the Organization in disgust at such hypocrisy?