Finland and the Watchtower’s Manual for Elders

eldersmanual

On our Facebook and Twitter feeds we recently linked to a news article about Finland’s demand that the Watchtower Society turn over its manual for elders to the Minister of Justice and the Minister of the Interior. The reason for this demand, according to the news story, is to ensure that the rules for Jehovah’s Witnesses are in accordance with Finnish law.

Why would this situation concern Jehovah’s Witnesses? In 1999, Jason Barker reviewed an earlier edition of Pay Attention to Yourselves and to All the Flock, the Watchtower Society’s secret manual for elders, and concluded:

The reason for the Society’s intense secrecy regarding the manual can be explained in one word: power. The majority of Pay Attention… is devoted to the exercise of power within a congregation, instructing elders in the proper procedure for handling a wide array of punishable offenses. Power is also at issue because the Society has deliberately kept these regulations from becoming common knowledge amongst the organization, thus leaving Witnesses unprepared and without recourse should their elders accuse them of wrongdoing. The organization has deliberately kept its followers in the dark despite its professed dedication to publishing “new light.”

In his review Barker outlines the many types of offenses for which Jehovah’s Witnesses can be punished, the ways in which they can be disciplined, and the ways in which judicial committees are formed and function within local congregations. You can learn more about the elder’s manual, as well as what you can do to help Jehovah’s Witnesses, by reading this essential article.

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