The Jehovah's Witness religion has long professed to worship Jehovah, the God of Truth, and that it is the one and only religion of truth. Until the 21st century, the religious organization was virtually indistinguishable from its most prominent corporation, the Watchtower Society.* Critics have long pointed out that the Witnesses are far from "the religion of truth" and that both its leaders and members are among the most ignorant of history, science, and all the disciplines they claim back up their teachings. As author Alan Rogerson put it in his 1969 book Millions Now Living Will Never Die: A Study of Jehovah's Witnesses:
A long acquaintance with the literature of the Witnesses leads one to the conclusion that they live in the intellectual 'twilight zone.' That is, most of their members, even their leaders, are not well educated and not very intelligent. Whenever their literature strays onto the fields of philosophy, academic theology, science or any severe mental discipline their ideas at best mirror popular misconceptions, at worst they are completely nonsensical.—p. 116.
This website contains articles critiquing various teachings and claims made by the Watchtower Society in various media. The upshot of these critiques is that the religion of Jehovah's Witnesses, led by its Governing Body, is not only quite ignorant of reality, but deliberately so. That deliberate ignorance means that the leaders are often dishonest, spurred on by their desire that certain things be so even when ugly reality says different.
The very Bible that the Witnesses claim to revere condemns such dishonesty:
Will you bring unfair arguments for God? Will you tell lies on his behalf? Will you be sycophants of the Almighty? Will you be special pleaders for God? Will it be well when he probes you? Can you deceive him like a man? No, he will punish you, if you are sycophants of his in secret. Should not his majesty cause you to shudder? Should not the dread of him seize you? Your maxims crumble like mere ashes, your arguments collapse like mounds of clay.—Job 13:7-12; James Moffat Translation.
Many Witnesses object to any criticism of their religious organization, having been taught by it that its pronouncements are really from Jehovah God and that its leaders, the Governing Body, literally speak for God in their self-proclaimed role of the "faithful and discreet" slave. They literally teach that the Jehovah's Witness organization is the unique "channel of communication" between God and mankind. So such JWs will naturally object to a critical website, or to any criticism from any source, saying that criticism amounts to religious intolerance or even persecution. Yet the Watchtower Society has sometimes stated that people should be certain that their religious beliefs are true by being based on facts. For example, a Watchtower article said:
Why should anyone practice a religion unless he is convinced that it is true and right? It is not egotistical for a worshiper to say and believe that his is the only true religion. However, he ought to be able to prove that his is the only one that is correct and that results in eternal blessings. Otherwise, his faith in his religion is foundationless and is mere credulity.—The Watchtower, November 15, 1963, p. 689.
Similarly, the book that JWs once called "the blue bombshell" (The Truth That Leads to Eternal Life, 1968) stated:
We need to examine, not only what we personally believe, but also what is taught by any religious organization with which we may be associated. Are its teachings in full harmony with Gods Word, or are they based on the traditions of men? If we are lovers of the truth, there is nothing to fear from such an examination. It should be the sincere desire of every one of us to learn what Gods will is for us, and then to do it.—p. 13.
In line with these reasonable ideas, the Society agrees that valid criticism of religious organizations and teachings is appropriate:
It is not a form of religious persecution for anyone to say and to show that another religion is false. It is not religious persecution for an informed person to expose publicly a certain religion as being false, thus allowing persons to see the difference between false religion and true religion. But in order to make the exposure and show the wrong religions to be false, the true worshiper will have to use an authoritative means of judgment, a rule of measurement that cannot be proved faulty. To make a public exposure of false religion is certainly of more value than exposing a news report as being untrue; it is a public service instead of a religious persecution and it has to do with the eternal life and happiness of the public. Still it leaves the public free to choose.—p. 688.
The JW Governing Body teaches that the JW organization alone has "the Truth" and that only Jehovah's Witnesses in good standing with that organization have any hope of salvation in the soon-to-come battle of Armageddon. Indeed, only Jehovah's Witnesses are true Christians; all other claimed Christians are members of "Christendom", part of Satan the Devil's world organization of false religion. Thus Watchtower writers feel free to point out faults in other religions:
The Catholic Church occupies a very significant position in the world and claims to be the way of salvation for hundreds of millions of people. Any organization that assumes that position should be willing to submit to scrutiny and criticism. All who criticize have the obligation to be truthful in presenting the facts and fair and objective in assessing such. In both respects we try to live up to that obligation.—Awake!, August 22, 1984, p. 28.
This website was written in the spirit of the above quotations—to examine the facts about various matters and to get at the truth of various Watchtower claims and teachings. Despite the fine sentiments quoted above, JW leaders—the Governing Body—are very afraid of what JWs will find when they carefully examine Watchtower teachings. Thus, in practice these leaders strongly discourage JWs from examining critical material. Nevertheless, the Watchtower Society's 1974 book Is This Life All There Is? gave good advice:
Knowing these things, what will you do? It is obvious that the true God, who is himself "the God of truth" and who hates lies, will not look with favor on persons who cling to organizations that teach falsehood. (Psalm 31:5; Proverbs 6:16-19; Revelation 21:8) And, really, would you want to be even associated with a religion that had not been honest with you?—p. 46.
* On this website I use terms like "the Watchtower Society" somewhat loosely, in accord with the Society's traditional usage and that of Jehovah's Witnesses individually. The religious organization that today calls itself "Jehovah's Witnesses" controls the various Watchtower corporations, which in turn issue marching orders to the worldwide community of Jehovah's Witnesses. The top-level corporation is called Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania. This owns and controls various other corporations such as the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc., International Bible Students Association, Christian Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses, etc. For most of the 20th century, Jehovah's Witnesses usually lumped all of these terms into "the Society" or "the Watchtower Society". These terms meant "the group of JWs who are the leaders of the JW religion". Until the early 1970s these leaders were practically identical to the board of directors of the Watch Tower and Watchtower corporations, although in practice just one or two men were the actual leaders, such as Joseph F. Rutherford, Nathan H. Knorr, and Frederick W. Franz. In 1971 the "Governing Body" was formed, most of whose members were also Watch Tower directors. In 2000 the corporations were reorganized and new ones were formed, and the Governing Body members were no longer directors of any of the legal corporations. Of course, through unspecified, extra-legal means this Governing Body completely controls all of the Watch Tower corporations. Given these terminologies, JWs often would say, "the Society directs that we should should do thus and so." Beginning in 1998 these terms were gradually used less often as the JW Governing Body made itself more prominent in the ken of individual Jehovah's Witnesses. Older JWs today often use "the Society" to mean "the Governing Body". The term "faithful and discreet slave" was long used as a synonym for the worldwide group of JWs who professed to be "of the anointed". In 2013 the Society changed its doctrine such that "the Governing Body" is identical with "the faithful and discreet slave".