Jehovah’s Witnesses And Politics

I’ve posted a few blogs about Mormonism and politics, due to Mitt Romney’s influence, but I have yet to write about Jehovah’s Witnesses (JWs)and politics. The reason for that is pretty simple. The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society (WTB&TS) does not allow their members to vote or hold any political office.

The WTB&TS’s official web site states,

“In advocating God’s Kingdom, Jehovah’s Witnesses do not mix in politics or
foment rebellion against secular governments, even in lands where the Witnesses
are banned or persecuted. (
Titus 3:1) Instead, they try to make a positive, spiritual, nonpolitical contribution in the way that Jesus and his first-century disciples did. The Witnesses strive to help righteously disposed people in their various communities to adopt wholesome Biblical values, such as familial love, honesty, moral cleanness, and a good work ethic. Primarily, they endeavor to teach them how to follow Bible principles and to look to God’s Kingdom as mankind’s real hope.”

Notice the false dichotomy. JWs are faced with seemingly only two choices. You can either participate in politics or you can advocate God’s Kingdom by making a positive, spiritual, nonpolitical impact on the world. Obviously JWs want to promote God’s kingdom so refraining from political involvement is a no-brainer. The reason JWs never think to entertain a third possible option is because of their belief that all of the World’s governments are controlled by Satan, hence another false dichotomy; either stay out of politics or be controlled by Satan. To the JW, the choice is obvious.

In June of 2008, Tennis star Serena Williams told reporters at Wimbeldon that although she was excited about Barak Obama, she would not vote for him because she is a Jehovah’s Witness. She went on to explain that JWs “don’t get involved in politics.” Her sister, Venus, would not even make a comment on the issue. I find it interesting that Serena would make a comment about Obama at all. If he, as a politician, is controlled by Satan, why be excited about his chances of becoming the next President of the United States?

There is a question about this WTB&TS policy that I would love to have answered. As we get closer to the Presidential election in November, I will add this to my Youtube video collection of Quick Questions For Jehovah’s Witnesses. Why are JWs forbidden from participating in politics when we have Scriptural examples of faithful heroes of the faith who actually held public office in secular, pagan Nations? Joseph was second only to Pharaoh in Egypt, Daniel was an advisor to the Kings of Babylon and let’s not forget Ester who became the Queen of Persia!

With godly examples of Old Testament saints heavily involved in politics, why can’t Jehovah’s Witnesses escape the horns of the false dilemna? Isn’t it possible to be a faithful Christian, yet support your country with such a simple thing as a vote?

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  1. Or let’s rephrase that closing logic just a hair, Keith:With godly examples of Old and New Testament saints heavily involved in a single Ecclesiastic authority established by God directly, why can’t many Evangelical Protestants escape the horns of their dilemma (which is moot to also designate as “false”)? Isn’t it possible to be a faithful Christian, yet support your church’s leadership as the Lord’s solely designated authority on the face of the earth?Your brother,Sincere.

  2. I’m not following you at all. I will say this though. How about answering the question instead of asking another one of me?

  3. Dear Anonymous Brother Sincere,I’ll make you a deal. I’ll answer your question if you’ll answer Keith’s.Do we have a deal? :)Or just call me to discuss – (208) 899-3938.

  4. Interesting points Keith! This is just my personal opinion, but I feel that many JW’s don’t realize the ramifications and consequences of holding to a “neutral” political position (is that even possible?) when their freedom completely depends on it!

  5. Sorry to offend, Keith. Here’s your answer:Yes, I think there are plenty of good examples in the Old Testament (you list some good ones) of how “godly” saints participated in governments other than those established by the Lord himself (even Pagan governments). Definitely agree with your logic, which in essence asks: if it were done then, then why not now? (after all, justice and mercy can be accomplished even by Pagans and Liberals, agreed?).But back to my question: What about those good saints of the Old and New Testamentd who were heavily involved in a single Ecclesiastical government established directly by the Lord? Why do true “Christians” of Protestant persuasion follow no such government? Is this a situation that must continue to the Lord returns in glory? And all those claiming the Lord to have followed his biblical pattern and called Apostles again must invariably be compromising their Christianity because of why???I’m sorry, Keith, but a Protestant who condemns a JW on the grounds you have seems to me to have found himself in a logical pickle. But maybe you can explain why you’re not.Your brother,Sincere.

  6. Brother Sincere,I wasn’t offended, just wanting to stick to the issue. You agree in premise, but do you agree in practice? Will you support your country with a vote this November?Now to your question. You have made an assumption that I do not share. I do not believe that God has established a single Ecclesiastical government so I’m not in a pickle at all.

  7. Sorry, Keith, but I thought a major part of your “issue” was that JWs failed to honor their own claimed authority (the Bible) by choosing not to participate in civil government (specifically the U.S. government)? As your auctorial appeal is that of an Evangelical Protestant (and a specifically anti-JW, to boot), I thought it was within my right to respond in your “Comments” section not directly to the questions in your post, but to the ethnically biased premise of your post. As I am not a Protestant Christian, I am naturally less inclined to shake the pom-poms with some of your readership, but to question the ethnic motivation behind your arguments. After all, your argument wasn’t so much about devotion to the U.S. government (incidentally, I plan on following up my Primary vote with a vote in November), but about the “Christian,” “biblical” stance on devotion to civil government, generally. Clearly, your implication is that JWs are neither biblical nor Christian in their stance on devotion to civil government.So my (I think fair) counter-challenge: Why aren’t Protestants biblical in their devotion to Ecclesiastical government? The New Testament clearly establishes that Jesus Christ selected twelve apostles to lead his church, and that this established leadership was replenished by at least Matthius (following Judas’ betrayal) and Paul (in circumstances that the Bible doesn’t specify).For some bizarrre reason, Protestant scholarship (together with Christian scholarship, generally) uses the records of the early Church Fathers to help establish the antiquity of many of the New Testament books, but often they fail to draw attention to the fact that those same Patristic writings clearly establish that a strong ecclesiastical government led by a priestly authority–a head bishop (an authority title of the New Testament)–existed for “orthodox Christians” no later than the mid 2nd century. Which shouldn’t surprise us, as the Book of Acts is hardly the only NT book that clearly establishes that the apostles were more than mere preachers.Yet a Protestant like yourself has no problem claiming the Bible as your sole and essential Christian authority; and yet as a judge of other Christian peoples’ bible-soundness you can so confidently state: “I do not believe that God has established a single Ecclesiastical government??” I note, Keith, that you used the present perfect tense, “that God has established,” and I am therefore curious whether or not you believe that God’s lack of an ecclesiastical government applies just to the here and now, or whether you believe that God never established a single ecclesiastical government for Christians to follow (even the Christians of New Testament times)? Of course, you don’t have to respond, as this is off your original post, but I assure you that I’m enjoying your conversation, all the same. So humor me, if you will. I’m sure you’ve been so humored by your share of JWs and Mormons over the years. So feel free to share in the humor of it all; after all, the establishment of what is and isn’t biblical is such a convoluted science that always has so much room for humor, and consequently, friendship. Your brother,Sincere.

  8. Brother Sincere,You are going to have to dumb it down for me a bit. When you start talking about an ethnically biased premise, I don’t know what you are talking about.To answer your question, no. I do not believe God established a single ecclesiastical government for Christians to follow. There is no one organization or prophet for Christians to follow. There is no New Testament pattern for that at all. Hebrews 1:1 tells us that in times past, God spoke to the prophets. Now He speaks to us through His Son (verse two). The Son sent the Holy Spirit and the Spirit inspired the Scriptures. Every Christian has their own direct line of communication to God.

  9. Thankyou for your cordial response, Keith.I take from your response that you believe that the twelve Apostles did in fact serve as the fundamental authority to the Christians of New Testament times, but that their Spirit-inspired authority was to be recorded in scripture as the Son’s enduring authority for Christians ever after. Is that correct? The Son replaced the Old Testament prophets (as you interpret Heb 1:1-2), and the Holy Ghost (promised by Jesus to replace him in death) gave those early Christians the scriptures as Jesus’ enduring authority to humanity. This is an intriguing argument connecting a substitute of the Son’s authority clearly established by the Bible (the Holy Ghost that would follow him) with a substitute of authority that is NOT clearly established by the Bible (that is, the biblical scriptures themselves).I think you have to admit that Catholics and Mormons are actually standing on pretty solid ground if they choose to point out that Heb 1:1-2 is not intended to suggest that Christ forever replaced God’s pattern of revealing his will to humans through other humans (prophets), but to make the point that the Son of God himself had just come down from heaven in human form to speak God’s will to men in a manner like God’s prophets of old. A Catholic or Mormon might further argue that Peter’s dream in Acts 10 clearly shows that God’s will to his church was revealed as prophecy through the head Apostle, Peter. Of course, Protestants could counter that Peter’s prophetic counsel–like all of the authoritative counsels given elsewhere in the New Testament by the apostles–were intended to be written in scripture as the end counsel to Christians forever after.But again, this Protestant argument for sola biblia is entirely extra-biblical. But I find it most ironic that Protestants seem not in the least disturbed that their whole setting up of a prophetic book (the Bible) as ultimate, enduring Christian authority follows the same logic that caused the Jews to reject the new prophecy of Jesus (by presuming that God’s prophecy to Moses established the Torah as an ultimate authority).Of course, the Torah has several loop holes, such as all those other prophets who followed Moses but claimed to speak with God’s authority. And of course Moses himself also prophesied that one “like unto” him would eventually come to give the people new counsel they were to prefer over his. Protestants, Catholics, Mormons, and most other Christians I think are pretty much in agreement on this. So my parting question to you, Keith: How do you reconcile that John in the Book of Revelation (ch. 10 especially) clearly indicates that prophetic men will be called to declare God’s will before Christ’s second coming? Will this be simply an exception to God’s pattern of sola biblia?Your brother,Sincere.

  10. Also, Keith,I’m pretty sure I’m safe in saying that most informed Catholics and Mormons wholeheartedly agree with your last statement:”Every Christian has their own direct line of communication to God” (through the Holy Spirit). But it’s an entirely other issue to state that that same Spirit moved upon the apostles to give us the New Testament as a crowning piece to the Hebrew scriptures–to serve as a final, sealing authority to Christians thereafter. Yet this is a foundational, extra-biblical position of Evangelical Protestantism (and, incidentally, also a vehement position of the Jehovah Witnesses, who descend from Evangelical Adventism).Your brother,Sincere.

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