On August 14, 2015, Geoffrey Jackson, a member of the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses, gave riveting testimony under sworn oath before the Australian Royal Commission investigating child sexual abuse among Jehovah’s Witnesses. We were happy to see that Brother Jackson did not shrink back from the responsibility to testify on these matters even though it has brought Jehovah’s Witnesses under intense public scrutiny.
Many were surprised to hear some of Brother Jackson’s testimony on matters that were not directly related to the child abuse issue. He used some unique phrases in describing the role of the Governing Body that have never appeared in print and have never been heard from the platform. He clarified the Governing Body’s role as the Faithful & Discreet Slave (“FDS”). And in particular, it is quite revealing to hear Brother Jackson describe how the Governing Body is guided by Holy Spirit.
Brother Jackson’s testimony should be of special interest to those brothers and sisters among Jehovah’s Witnesses who have been fearful of making public declaration of their adoption as faith sons of God and partakers of the body of Christ Jesus. Any brother or sister who has not listened to Brother Jackson’s testimony under oath should make every effort to take the time to hear from one who is responsible for giving the “domestics their food at the proper time.”
Not Persecution of Jehovah’s Witnesses
At the outset, it is important for Jehovah’s Witnesses to realize that, according to Brother Jackson, the Royal Commission’s Inquiry is being conducted in good faith. Despite the fact that the Commission discovered glaring inadequacies in Jehovah’s Witnesses procedures and practices, when specifically questioned by Mr. Angus Stewart, the attorney assisting the Royal Commission, Mr. Jackson admitted:
- That child sexual abuse is a problem within the Jehovah’s Witness organization;
- That the manner in which Jehovah’s Witnesses have dealt with allegations of child sexual abuse has presented problems;
- That the Watchtower organization nor its elders are immune from problems of child sexual abuse;
- That the efforts made by different people and organizations to highlight the problem of child sexual abuse are genuine efforts to improve the situation;
- That the Royal Commission’s Inquiry is not an attack on the Jehovah’s Witnesses or their system of beliefs, and for that reason he is happy to testify before the Commission;
- That the work of the Royal Commission is beneficial and its efforts are genuine and well intentioned; and
- That he disagrees with anyone who would say that the efforts to highlight and deal with child sexual abuse among Jehovah’s Witnesses is apostate lies. (We believe Mr. Stewart is referring to a statement by Stephen Lett of the Governing Body where he refers to such claims as ‘apostate lies.’)
Therefore, based on Mr. Jackson’s own testimony, Jehovah’s Witnesses should not view the Royal Commission’s Inquiry or subsequent recommendations as a specific attack on Jehovah’s Witnesses or the Watchtower organization. Whatever effect the outcome of the Inquiry has on the Watchtower organization is a natural result of Jehovah’s Witnesses own policies, and a fulfillment of the Biblical precedent:
“Do not be misled: God is not one to be mocked. For whatever a person is sowing, this he will also reap; because the one sowing with a view to his flesh will reap corruption from his flesh, but the one sowing with a view to the spirit will reap everlasting life from the spirit.”
– Galatians 6:7-8
Riveting Testimony By Geoffrey Jackson
From the very beginning to the very end, Brother Jackson’s testimony was riveting. Here are a few things we found particularly interesting:
(NOTE: The transcript of Brother Jackson’s testimony contains the page number at the bottom of each page, and on the left side of the page, each line is numbered. For quick reference, we will cite to the page and line numbers for each excerpt mentioned below. For example, a citation taken from Page 15933, beginning with line 32 is referenced as15933:32.)
Issue: The Role of the Governing Body
The Royal Commission was interested in the role the Governing Body plays in relation to the procedures and practices of Jehovah’s Witnesses. This exchange occurred:
Question: You have said that the Governing Body presently has seven members. How is it determined how many members there will be from time to time?
Answer: ... It involves someone [who is] able to fulfill the role of the Governing Body, which is, may I state, a group, a spiritual group of men who are the guardians of the doctrine, and as guardians of the doctrine, look at things that need to be decided based on our doctrines, which are based on the constitution of the Bible. (15933:40)
Question: Do you, as members of the Governing Body, regard yourselves as being appointed by Jehovah God or under the capacity or authority of Jehovah God?
Answer: What we view ourselves, as fellow workers with our brothers and sisters - we have been given a responsibility to guard or to be guardians of doctrine. So just the same with elders, they are referred to as being appointed by holy spirit, as you probably are aware, we believe that means that when an elder is in harmony with what the Bible says is required of an elder, then he is appointed by the holy spirit. So the same is true with the Governing Body. (15936:45)
Commentary: On two separate occasions Brother Jackson made it a point to describe the Governing Body’s role as “guardians of the doctrine.” Strangely, this definition of the role of the Governing Body was absent in the pivotal study article on the role of the Governing Body, “Who Really Is the Faithful and Discreet Slave?” in the Watchtower July 15, 2013. Nowhere in the article does it describe the FDS/Governing Body as being “guardians of the doctrine.” In all my years associated with Jehovah’s Witnesses, I have never seen the phrase in any Watchtower publication, nor have I ever heard it stated from the platform. Perhaps this new description of their role will be printed in an upcoming study article or discussed further at the 2015 Annual Meeting.
While the term “Guardians of Doctrine” is a new term among Jehovah’s Witnesses, it is not a new term to Catholics. A quick internet search of the specific term “guardian of doctrine” will take you to several Catholic reference works. You will discover that for decades, the Catholic Pope has been revered as the “Guardian of Doctrine” for the Catholic Church, along with certain cardinals, and various other Catholic clerics. During the Inquisition, the “Guardian of Doctrine” was responsible for the death of thousands who disagreed with now defunct Catholic doctrine. Alas, another move by the Watchtower organization to imitate the Catholic Church whom Jehovah’s Witnesses view as the major part of false religion – Babylon the Great!
In early Watchtower publications, they chastised the Catholic Church for claiming to be the sole interpreters of the Bible, for claiming the Catholic Church is the ‘ark of salvation’, and for the unloving practice by the Catholic Church of excommunication. However, today, these are the claims and practices of the Watchtower organization. She has become the very thing she once despised! Sleeping Jehovah’s Witnesses need to awaken to what is happening to their organization. The Governing Body members are no longer ‘Seekers of Truth.’ They are guardians of failing doctrines that are ruining the lives and eternal destiny of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Issue: How the Spirit Leads the Governing Body
Since the Governing Body views itself as being directed by God or by Holy Spirit, the Royal Commission was interested in how the Governing Body receives that direction. This exchange occurred:
Question: By what mechanism would you understand God’s spirit to direct your decisions?
Answer: Well, what I mean by that is, by prayer and using our constitution, God’s word, we would go through the scriptures and see if there was any biblical principle at all that would influence our decision - and it could be that in our initial discussions there was something that maybe we were missing and then in another discussion that would come to light. So we would view that as God’s spirit motivating us because we believe the Bible is God’s word and came by means of holy spirit. (15935:10)
Now, the Governing Body realizes that if we were to give some direction that is not in harmony with God’s word, all of Jehovah’s Witnesses worldwide who have the Bible would notice that and would see that it was the wrong direction. (15939:33)
Commentary: Brother Jackson’s testimony gives evidence that there is nothing special or unusual about how God’s spirit directs them in contrast to how God’s spirit directs any other group of sincere believers. As he described, they simply pray, sit down to read certain passages from the Bible, and come to a conclusion. If they are unsure about a matter, they revisit it at a later time. So there is nothing unique in how God’s spirit directs the Governing Body than it would for “two or three” others who sat down to understand doctrine or any other scriptural matter as Jesus said:
“For where there are two or three gathered together in my name, there I am in their midst.”
– Matthew 18:20
Brother Jackson also acknowledges that if they give wrong direction, Jehovah’s Witnesses worldwide would notice. What he does not say is that even if Jehovah’s Witnesses notice that the direction or information given by their “Guardians of Doctrine” is wrong, they must keep quiet. If they were to speak about the error to another Jehovah’s Witness, they would likely be disfellowshipped for apostasy! Even if the Governing Body’s direction is wrong!
And let’s not forget what was written in the November 15, 2013 Watchtower, page 20, paragraph 17:
“At that time [when Jehovah’s Witnesses come under attack], the life saving direction that we receive from Jehovah’s organization may not appear practical from a human standpoint. All of us must be ready to obey any instructions we may receive, whether these appear sound from a strategic or human standpoint or not.”
It is sadly true that Jehovah’s Witnesses are required to obey unsound counsel, to follow erroneous direction, and to quietly accept false doctrines!
Issue: Whether the Governing Body/FDS is God’s Only Spokesman
All Jehovah’s Witnesses know that the Governing Body claims to be the “Faithful and Discreet Slave” appointed by Jesus to give the congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses their ‘food at the proper time.’ They are also taught that only the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses has been appointed to this position, and they alone are the ‘channel God is using today.’
Yet, when questioned about this matter, Brother Jackson denied this role to the shock of millions! Here is the exchange:
Question: And do you see yourselves as Jehovah God’s spokespeople on earth?
Answer: That I think would seem to be quite presumptuous to say that we are the only spokesperson that God is using. The scriptures clearly show that someone can act in harmony with God’s spirit in giving comfort and help in the congregations, but if I could just clarify a little, going back to Matthew 24, clearly Jesus said that in the last days - there would be a slave, a group of persons who would have responsibility to care for the spiritual food. So in that respect, we view ourselves as trying to fulfill that role. (15937:37)
Commentary: So according to Brother Jackson, the Governing Body is not the only spokesperson God is using today! He even said that the scriptures support this fact. This is a profound departure from the claim of exclusivity they have maintained for decades. Notice this reference:
“That faithful slave is the channel through which Jesus is feeding his true followers in this time of the end. It is vital that we recognize the faithful slave. Our spiritual health and our relationship with God depend on this channel.” [July 15, 2013 Watchtower magazine, page 20, paragraph 2.]
The July 15, 2013 Watchtower refers to the Governing Body as God’s channel 17 times!
It is also interesting that Brother Jackson retreated from their claim that the Governing Body was unequivocally appointed by Jesus as the Faithful and Discreet Slave as stated in the same Watchtower, at page 23, paragraph 12:
“In 1919, a time of spiritual revival, Jesus selected capable anointed brothers from among them [the churches of Christendom] to be the faithful and discreet slave and appointed them over his domestics.”
Instead, Brother Jackson said it is a role that they are “trying to fulfill.” So then, the Governing Body has not yet been appointed as the Faithful and Discreet Slave solely authorized to feed the domestics! (And for now, let’s set aside the fact that Matthew 24:45-47 is a parable and not an appointment.)
The question that each Jehovah’s Witness should consider is whether anyone other than the Governing Body can “try to fulfill” that role just as the Governing Body is “trying.” Aren’t there others among Jehovah’s Witnesses who are also trying to be Faithful and Discreet? Do other Jehovah’s Witnesses have to obey all who are merely “trying?”
If many groups or even individuals are “trying,” then it is certainly as Brother Jackson stated, “quite presumptuous” for someone to say at this time, “I have a direct appointment to the role,” when they are merely trying to fulfill it? And even more important, if the Governing Body is still “trying,” why should anyone be labeled an apostate for disagreeing with a ‘wannabe?’
Issue: The Governing Body’s Direction on How to Respond to Child Sexual Abuse
Question: ....do you accept that the Jehovah’s Witness organization has a problem with child abuse among its members?
Answer: I accept that child abuse is a problem right throughout the community and it’s something that we’ve had to deal with as well. (15984:12)
Question: Do you accept that the manner in which your organization has dealt with allegations of child sexual abuse has also presented problems?
Answer: There have been changes in policies over the last 20 or 30 years, where we’ve tried to address some of those problem areas, and by the fact that they have changed the policy would indicate that the original policies weren’t perfect. (15984:19)
Commentary: Yes, it is a problem that Jehovah’s Witnesses have had to deal with. In Australia alone, the Watchtower organization was aware of 1,006 sexual predators in their congregations. That does not take into account the sexual predators in other countries. This is a huge problem for Jehovah’s Witnesses which Brother Jackson could not deny. And contrary to the facade presented to the public by Watchtower publications and from District, Regional and Circuit Assembly platforms, the problem of child sexual abuse is not only rampant among the rank and file of Jehovah’s Witnesses, but also among so-called spiritually appointed elders and ministerial servants.
Brother Jackson acknowledges that the Watchtower organization has been making changes in policies on dealing with child sexual predators over a 20-30 year period, yet the problem persists. A reasonable conclusion is that either they have not listened to direction of the holy spirit, or they have not received any direction. Odd, since the Royal Commission and many other secular authorities have come up with many helpful and healthful policies. Could it be that the holy spirit is being grieved by the Governing Body who is “guarding” their harmful doctrines?
Issue: Jehovah’s Witnesses as a Captive Organization
Another point that stood out was the challenge that the Watchtower organization is a “captive organization,” meaning that once you are in, it is not easy to get out. A “captive organization” in a religious context is another way of saying it’s a cult. Notice this exchange:
Question: So is it the case, then, that someone who no longer wants to be recognized as or known as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses must then disassociate?
Answer: No, it doesn’t say they must do anything. If you read on, [Organized To Accomplish Jehovah’s Will] you will see there is a process. This gives the person the right to officially have an announcement made that they are no longer one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. But, as I already said, if they decide they don’t want to exercise that right, they don’t automatically come under this provision. (15976:15)
Question: But then people who don’t exercise that right are then - in other words, they are, as you described, inactive - still subject to the rules and discipline of the organisation, aren’t they?
Answer: I would have to check on that, because personally that’s not my field. But my understanding is, if a person has made it known by their actions in the community over a period of years that they are not witnesses, we would only hold any reports in abeyance until they decided they wanted to return. (15976:27)
Question: Mr. Jackson, you say it’s not your field, but you are a member of the Governing Body which is responsible, as you have said, for the whole field, and you have been a member for 10 years, and all the committees are responsible to and accountable to the Governing Body.
Answer: That is correct. (15977:11)
Question:Well, the result, then, is that they are faced with the choice between freedom from the organization on the one hand and having to lose their family and friends and social network on the other?
Answer: That’s how you would like to put it, Mr. Stewart, but I thought I’m trying to say that there are those, some of whom I have heard of, that just fade away and they are not actively Jehovah’s Witnesses. (15981:33)
Question: And, Mr. Jackson, you have put it that they have a choice to leave or not to leave. For someone who wants to leave, perhaps because they have suffered abuse by someone in the organization and don’t feel that it has been treated properly or adequately, it’s a very difficult choice, isn’t it, because they must choose --
Answer: I agree, yes. (15981:44)
Question: And, it can be a very cruel choice for them - not so?
Answer: I agree, it’s a difficult choice. (15981:47)
Question: Do you accept that putting people to that choice makes your organization in many respects a captive organization?
Answer: I do not accept that at all. (15983:33)
Commentary: Although Brother Jackson ‘does not accept’ that the Watchtower organization is a “captive organization,” by his own explanation of what one must do in order to leave and be left alone by the organization, he shows that it is indeed a cruel and “captive organization.” Of course, it’s no mystery why Brother Jackson would continue to reject and deny the obvious. He is far more concerned about the “outside of the cup” than with the filth inside. The organization is a whitewashed grave full of dead men’s bones. (Matthew 23:25-28)
Issue: Making Amends
Finally, the Royal Commission wanted to know what steps the Watchtower organization was willing to take to make amends for their harmful policies. When asked if they would join with other organization to provide a pool of resources to victims, it was clear that they would not. When asked if the Governing Body would make it mandatory for Elders to report all allegations of child sexual abuse to the authorities, Brother Jackson said they could not and would not unless there was a law requiring them to do so. But what about a mere apology?
Question: ....has the Governing Body considered apologizing to survivors of child sexual abuse at the hands of elders within the organization?
Answer: I haven’t been in any discussions with regard to that. (15985:25)
Commentary: The Governing Body was aware of the Australian Royal Commission’s Inquiry into the way Jehovah’s Witnesses handle allegations of child sexual abuse since February 2015. Each of the Elders and Overseers who testified at the Inquiry, including Brother Jackson, acknowledged that there is a long-standing problem with child sexual abuse among Jehovah’s Witnesses, that many children were subjected to horrific abuse by Jehovah’s Witnesses, and that the policies of the Watchtower organization still are not sufficient to fairly and appropriately protect children from sexual abuse in the organization. Yet there were no discussion at all about even apologizing to survivors of child sexual abuse!!!
Many in the Jehovah’s Witness community, including active, inactive, former, ex-JWs, are not in the least surprised. Humility is not a quality possessed or manifested by the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses aka the “Guardians of the Doctrines.”
If someone were to relate by word of mouth the matters testified to by Brother Jackson, many Jehovah’s Witnesses would find it hard to believe. Fortunately, the testimony given under oath was recorded on video, a written transcript was prepared by a certified reporter, and both are available on the internet and on the Royal Commission’s website for anyone to see and read for themselves.
This article has barely scratched the surface of the strange sayings by Brother Jackson as to the true character of the Governing Body, how they are purportedly guided by Jehovah’s holy spirit, what their role is, and many other matters. Therefore, we encourage everyone to investigate it for themselves.
We know that even with this undeniable evidence, there will be a core number of Jehovah’s Witnesses who will create stories to justify their decision to follow men. So far, some have said that the video of Brother Jackson was tampered with by apostates that manipulated his words, others have said the whole testimony was fabricated, others have amazingly denied Brother Jackson is a member of the Governing Body! To those, we must simply shake the dust off our feet.
But to the many who have thinking ability, who love truth more than an organization, who love their families more than a remote exclusive body of men, we encourage you to examine your faith and test to see if you are really in the truth as the scriptures encourage and commend. (2 Corinthians 13:5; Acts 17:11)
You have been given a rare glimpse into the mind of the Governing Body and the directors of the Watchtower organization. You owe it to yourselves to open your eyes and get the information straight from the mouth of your Governing Body. As has been said, it is one thing for the blind to follow the blind, but a wholly different matter for the seeing to follow the blind. We hope you have seen and heard enough to allow these words of our Lord to bear witness with your spirit;
“Then Jesus went on to say to the Jews who had believed him: “If you remain in my word, you are really my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
- John 8:31,32
Let the one with ears hear. (Matthew 11:15; Matthew 13:9; Mark 4:9)
Associate Writers of www.AnointedJW.org