Book Review - Behind the Watchtower Curtain
This article is an electronic version of an article originally published in Cultic Studies Journal, 1991, Volume 8, Number 1, pages 80. Please keep in mind that the pagination of this electronic reprint differs from that of the bound volume. This fact could affect how you enter bibliographic information in papers that you may write.
Book Review - Behind the Watchtower Curtain: The Secret Society of Jehovah's Witnesses.
David A. Reed
Crowne Publications, Inc., 1989, 152 pages.
The unmistakable flavor of dearly-paid-for experience runs through the pages of Reed's book, Behind the Watchtower Curtain. According to the author the purpose of this work is to open the eyes of the potential convert and also of the general public as to what the Watchtower actually is. The book is the third volume in a series dealing with the same subject. This should be kept in mind, otherwise the reader might wonder why some aspects of the issue, for example, doctrines, are not discussed.
After apologizing for dealing with an unpleasant subject in a "negative" manner (a cardinal sin in our times), the author, a former Witness himself, proceeds to expose a number of facts. Not only does he explain the implications of the "theocratic" dictatorial form of government and the threat to democracy but he also describes the process of amassing an enormous fortune. He talks about the "pacifism," the "struggle for freedom," and the latent racism. He reveals how the Watchtower eschatology is employed as a power device and exposes the amazingly effective brainwashing process step by step. The grave consequences of membership are also listed -- mind control, restriction of freedom, danger of health and of death, unhappiness, broken family ties.
The book contains a glossary of the jargon used by Jehovah's Witnesses together with an explanation of its functions. There is a chapter devoted to the Watchtower "Underground" and the Postscript offers practical suggestions for action and the addresses of certain groups active in exposing the Witnesses.
Readability and conciseness of account combine with accuracy of facts, at least as corroborated by experience in this reviewer's country, where there is a difference in the voting practice that only serves to prove the author's point. In the last decade the Witnesses are known to have received instructions to participate in electoral voting; however, they are to vote only for a certain political party.
The real cause of most people's involvement with the Witnesses is explicitly although somewhat briefly mentioned, and sound preventive advice is offered.
The writer's fears about the prospect of new legislation, though not misplaced, seem rather exaggerated. When legislators made the laws protecting religious freedom they were unaware of the problem of destructive cults. Nevertheless, with today's experience, the necessary fine distinctions between freedom and various abuses can be made. The 1984 Resolution of the European Parliament can serve as a starting point.
Reading Behind the Watchtower Curtain is a positive experience for the general reader and may prove very valuable in the case of potential converts.
Mrs. Hero M. Lucas, B.A.
University of Athens, Greece
Cultic Studies Journal, Vol. 8, No. 1, 1991