The Watchtower deals with questioning within it's ranks
With the recent revelation in The Guardian Oct 8, 2001 a United Kingdom newspaper (story no longer on line? read text version here), that the Watchtower applied for association with the UN in 1991 and was accepted as a Non-Governmental Organization in 1992, many questions have surfaced from Jehovah's Witnesses and non-Jehovah's Witnesses alike. Many of the questions come as a result of the tough language that the Watchtower has used in condemning both the United Nations and those who have supported the UN.
The Watchtower Society, anxious to repress any information about their association with the UN, has taken swift action against those who have discussed the matter amongst themselves. On November 3, 2001 The Tablet, a United Kingdom magazine, (story no longer on line? read text version here) reports Stephen Bates, a correspondent for The Guardian as saying "The Witnesses talkboard was abuzz with hundreds of messages, virtually all of them outraged with the elders of the Watchtower. One said that when he had shown a friend the UN website, he was summoned to a two-hour judicial hearing with his local elders and he and his wife were subjected to a public reproof in front of the entire congregation at their next meeting. 'My wife's 16 years of faithful service are about to be null and void for merely having a private conversation with a friend about some factual and private information', he wrote. 'We heard the scripture applied to us about 'those that arise and speak twisted things'. The elder's decision was presented as good news. They said: 'We've decided to show mercy and not disfellowship you' - it was something that had to be cut out of the congregation like gangrene.'"
Jehovah's Witnesses who approached their elders armed with the information that was published on the UN website were told that the information was false and was the work of apostates who had infiltrated the UN website. Other Witnesses were told that the Watchtower was registered with the UN but that it was a 'mistake'. As a result many Witnesses contacted the Department of Public Information of the UN at 212-963-8070 and were told that the Watchtower had indeed been associated with them from 1992 until 2001. The Public information department has offered to fax a letter to anyone wanting a confirmation of the Watchtower's affiliation with them. Because of the undeniable evidence, the Watchtower was forced to acknowledge their involvement with the United Nations. An official response came from Paul Gillies a representative of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society London branch. The reason that the Watchtower became a Non-Governmental Organization in association with the UN, Mr. Gillies explains, was because they wanted to obtain a library card to access the UN's library. (To see a copy of the letter the Society sent to WT representatives go here)
(To see a copy of a letter sent to Stephen Bates at the Guardian from WT spokesman Paul Gillies go here)
(To see a copy of a followup letter sent to Paul Gillies, WT spokesman from Stephen Bates at the Guardian go here)
Questioning the Watchtower
Jehovah's Witnesses are asking:
1. What conditions did the Watchtower have to agree to, to become a NGO? The Watchtower agreed to support and respect the principles of the Charter of the United Nations. They also agreed that they would have the commitment and means to conduct effective information programmes with their followers and to a broader audience about UN activities.
2. Was it a only an underling who was responsible for obtaining NGO status with the UN without the knowledge of the Governing Body? Hardly! The UN lists W. L. (Lloyd) Barry (who was vice-president at the time of application) as well as Ciro Aulicino (a member of the Watchtower's writing department) as the contacts for the Watchtower. In 1994 an alternate representative was listed as Mr. Robert Johnson who was a member of the Watchtower's service department and was the Watchtower's official spokesman in 1994. Thus the Watchtower's service and writing department as well as their Governing Body were all thoroughly involved with the UN connection.
3. Did the Watchtower fulfill its commitment to the UN by publishing articles favorable to the UN? Apparently so. See the article on children in the Awake! Dec 8, 2000 which was favorable to the UN as well as an article on women in the April 8, 1998 Awake!
4. Would the Watchtower have lost its access to the UN library if they would have refused to become associated as a NGO in 1991? No. Access to the United Nations Bibliographic Information System (UNBIS) databases is freely available through UNBISnet to any Internet user. For further information, contact the Data Base Manager.