The Watchtower organization has abandoned a secret link with the United Nations following an expose of their 10 year history with the UN. The Guardian, a British newspaper, printed a story by Stephen Bates on October 8, 2001 (story no longer on line? read text version here)questioning why the United Nations has granted associate status to the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society as a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) when the Watchtower regards the UN as the scarlet beast predicted in the book of Revelation. A follow up article published October 15, 2001 in The Guardian (story no longer on line? read text version here) quotes a flurry of interest in the revelation of the Watchtower's secret association with the UN. Bates writes "Within hours of the article's appearance on the Guardian website on Monday and its posting on a Jehovah's Witnesses bulletin board, more than 14,000 people across the world had read it. By yesterday there were 353 official posts and 325 message boards discussing the article and its revelations, with Witnesses in the US demanding to see copies of the paper."
Why has this revelation of a secret association with the UN hit Jehovah's Witnesses so hard? On page 269 of the Society's 1999 book Pay Attention to Daniel's Prophecy! the Watchtower discusses their 80 year-old view of the United Nations and its predecessor the League of Nations: "What 'disgusting thing' has been 'put in place' in modern times? Apparently, it is a "disgusting" counterfeit of God's Kingdom. This was the League of Nations, the scarlet-colored wild beast that went into the abyss, or ceased to exist as a world-peace organization, when World War II erupted. (Revelation 17:8) 'The wild beast', however, was 'to ascend out of the abyss.' This it did when the United Nations, with 50 member nations including the former Soviet Union, was established on October 24, 1945. Thus 'the disgusting thing' foretold by the angel - the United Nations - was put in place."
Bates writes, "Recognised organisations are supposed to demonstrate that they share the UN's objectives, but Witnesses are instead told by elders to regard it as 'a disgusting thing in the sight of God and his people' for allegedly aspiring to world domination like Babylon the Great, the beast in Revelation."
Former Witnesses have accused the Watchtower's governing body of hypocrisy by accepting ties with an organization that they denounce as belonging to Satan. Bates cites a former member as saying, "There is a glaring inconsistency which has emerged between the WTBTS's frequent portrayal of the UN as an evil organisation and its behind-the-scenes attempts to curry favour with that organisation. Were individual members to be aware of any formal link they would be devastated."
After the October 8th article was published, Bates says that the Watchtower "initially strove to play down or deny the evidence of the UN's website, which lists it as one of 1,500 affiliated NGOs." "A spokeswoman for the UN said: 'I think we may not be aware of their attitude, which seems to be really strange.'"
On October 11th, 2001 the United Nations faxed out a letter (pdf version here) confirming they had disassociated the Watchtower organization. The fax states "Recently the NGO Section had been receiving numerous inquiries regarding the association of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York with the Department of Public Information (DPI). This organization applied for association with DPI in 1991 and was granted association in 1992. By accepting association with DPI, the organization agreed to meet criteria for association, including support and respect of the principles of the Charter of the United Nations and commitment and means to conduct effective information programmes with its constituents and to a broader audience about UN activities. In October 2001, the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York requested termination of its association with DPI. Following this request, the DPI has made a decision to disassociate the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York as of 9 October 2001."