The Jehovah’s Witnesses are currently having their 2021 Regional Convention. It is all online with videos broadcast directly from jw.org. The title of this year’s convention is Powerful by Faith!
Each day of the three-day event is divided into 4 parts. In the final part of the Saturday sessions, governing body member, David Splane gives a talk entitled, “Put Up a Hard Fight for the Faith”! In it, he discusses critics of the religious group, describing them as “poisonous apostates”. The full talk, streamed online from Jehovah’s Witnesses’ Amazon CDN account, is available to watch below:
The introduction to the talk is provided by governing body helper, and service committee member, Gary Breaux.
Points of interest from Splane’s poisonous speech are as follows:
There are false brothers who are presenting a real danger to the congregations, a greater danger than even outright persecution.
He points out that Christianity was not brought down by persecution but by false brothers and apostate teachings, evidently referring to himself and his henchmen. After all, they are the only ones who are writing and making videos designed to teach Jehovah’s Witnesses.
The whole discussion is about apostasy (said in a high-pitch) and negative reports about Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Apostasy (Spiritual Poison)
He claims that apostasy is “spiritual poison”. Then using poison as an analogy for apostasy, he says it needs to be identified so that it can be avoided. There is a problem with his analogy that will become clear later on.
He claims that apostates are behind all accusations and rumors against the society and the organization. He provides no evidence to support such claim. And more importantly, he is insidiously claiming that the organization is perfect and that accusations and rumors against the society and organization would never be made by believers.
He is concerned about websites such as a-jw.org that provide news articles from around the globe about Jehovah’s Witnesses. We do not consider ourselves apostates, so we wouldn’t say, “This is an apostate website” because first of all, it wouldn’t be truthful, and secondly, what we present are factual reports from around the world. We would gain nothing from presenting false and misleading stories about Jehovah’s Witnesses. It is important that what we write and report on is the truth. And if it is not, we welcome any correction from Splane and any of his colleagues. He can use the contact page on this website to correct misleading information.
He says that these websites “pose as sincere Witnesses who just have questions or concerns”. Again, he provides absolutely no proof that such persons are impostors. The listener is to take his word for it. But that begs the question – how does he know this?
He says that this situation is serious. He mentions that Jehovah’s Witnesses get into conversations with individuals who claim to be Jehovah’s Witnesses but then he says, “Maybe they are, maybe they aren’t”. That raises yet another question: If they are Jehovah’s Witnesses, isn’t this simply a conversation between Jehovah’s Witnesses and nothing to do with apostasy?
He presents questioning of the organization as “negative comments” and suggests that questioning them incites negative emotions. If he is claiming that questioning the organization is a negative action with negative consequences, isn’t it true that his speech isn’t so much about apostasy as it is to prevent Jehovah’s Witnesses from saying how they really feel? Does this not verify the claim from critics that they are a high control group?
He continues with the poison analogy by saying that for a Jehovah’s Witness to help another Jehovah’s Witness in a discussion forum discussing Jehovah’s Witnesses, it is like holding the other’s hand while he drinks the poison and then having some himself so that the other isn’t drinking it alone. Are you beginning to see the problem with the analogy?
He claims that negative talk is constantly flying around in “this forum”. He asks the listener to “think about that forum” and then he asks if it causes division, if it is a cause for stumbling, or if it is contrary to what Jehovah’s Witnesses have learned. What forum is he talking about? What listener can answer those questions without knowing the forum first of all, and visiting it to find out? They can’t. It makes answering his questions impossible. He doesn’t answer the questions either. Instead, he asks another question, “Do we even have to answer that question?” He is being deceitful.
After his deceitful approach to discussion forums, he claims he wants to say a kind word to those who visit such forums. He mentions “little things in the congregation”, “decisions elders have made”. He doesn’t mention what these “little things” are or what these “decisions” the elders have made. Contradicting his earlier claim that people feel negative emotions from questioning the organization, he says ones who let off steam feel good about themselves. So which is it, Splane? They feel good or they don’t?
He claims that a spiritually strong person who engages in an unknown discussion forum is like a weight-lifter who thinks he can drink a vial of poison and it won’t hurt him. Now the analogy has just got to the point of being ridiculous. No one would willingly drink a vial of poison unless one was either very stupid, or was committing suicide. An apostate is only one who has abandoned her/his belief. To engage with an apostate cannot be likened to drinking poison. If spirituality is the weights a weight-lifter lifts, then apostasy must also be a set of weights, but of a different brand. If one is spiritually weak, then they can’t lift their own weights, let alone the weights of an apostate. Poison has nothing to do with it. But if someone is spiritually strong, then a counter-weight from an apostate should only work if it is stronger than the weight the spiritually strong person can lift. Splane’s analogy is purposefully weak so that it can be easily argued against. It is clearly a straw-man fallacy. The “poison of apostate ideas” is just silly because an idea, no matter where it originates from, is only as strong as its supporting data. So far, Splane has provided no supporting data for his claims. Watch out for any further use of his poison analogy and be wary of its fallacious logic.
He creates a convoluted scenario: “The unbelieving husband of your bible student sends his wife a link to an apostate web page and says, [in a mocking tone], ‘Here you gotta look at this and see what you are getting in to.’ Well, your student is concerned. She wants you to take a look and tell her what you think”. This is probably the most worrying thing for David Splane: that Jehovah’s Witnesses would visit a website that has truthful and honest material that contradicts what he and his colleagues claim. Therefore, he directs his believers never to visit such a site if their bible student asks them, by stating, “Well, that’s not an option”. He doesn’t want them to search social media or the internet to find out what people are saying about Jehovah’s Witnesses and their governing body.
In typical Jehovah’s Witnesses approach to every dilemma, he suggests the words they should say to their bible student, “‘I can imagine this is very upsetting for you. And you certainly do need to know what you are getting in to. I have a suggestion. We have nothing to hide. When you are at the meeting, listen carefully to what the brothers are saying. Watch how we interact with one another. Take note of how the organization is financed. Get to know the elders, their wives. Introduce yourself to the circuit overseer and his wife when they come. Visit the world headquarters or the branch. I-I-I’ll come with you and I want you to get really acquainted with the organization. Do. And I’m sure you’ll soon realize that what the people are saying about us isn’t true’. Maybe you can think of a better answer, but you get the idea.” This is an example of deflection. Instead of addressing the claims made on undisclosed web pages, Splane has the Jehovah’s Witnesses use the magical power of misdirection. The victim is not provided with answers to their questions. Instead, they are to look away from all of that and base their opinion of Jehovah’s Witnesses on little more than friendships and acquaintances they may form with others. It’s quite a clever trick and it’s no wonder magicians use it all the time in their magic shows.
Splane blurs the lines between apostates and those who question Jehovah’s Witnesses. He tells Jehovah’s Witnesses not to argue with apostates when they meet someone in their ministry who has received information from critics. If Jehovah’s Witnesses are directed not to answer questions that are critical of the group, then they are to be viewed as apostate. While it may be easier to use the magical trick of misdirection on an unwary bible student, it’s clearly not going to work on one who has not received any form of indoctrination. So, it’s no wonder Splane is telling them to back off when the questions they receive are stronger than the answers they can provide.
In the short dramatization contained in Splane’s talk, even investigating other religious beliefs is frowned upon. The irony here is that many Jehovah’s Witnesses will claim in their ministry that they have studied many religions and found that their religion is the only one that gave them the answers they were looking for. If they are not permitted to research other religions independent of Watchtower publications, then such a claim is a lie.
Another person in the dramatization said she felt terrible in herself while those in the kingdom hall waiting for Armageddon felt good about themselves. While she may feel terrible about herself, for whatever reason she may have such feelings, that doesn’t mean everyone who isn’t a Jehovah’s Witness, or everyone who may have left Jehovah’s Witnesses, feels terrible. It would be wrong to think so. And conversely, it would be wrong to assume that all Jehovah’s Witnesses are happy. They are not. So, while they are all waiting for Armageddon, there are many people who are not waiting for Armageddon that are very happy and content, not having to deal with the anxiety of an ever-imminent doom.
Splane claims that some people believe everything they read in the newspapers and what they see on TV. He then proceeds to create a situation in the ministry that he can easily refute. He says, “You’re working from door-to-door. You meet a householder who says, ‘You Jehovah’s Witnesses are terrible people. You let your children die. You don’t accept medical treatment.’ Well, you ask the householder if they know Jehovah’s Witnesses personally. ‘No’. So then where do you get the idea that we let our children die and don’t accept medical treatment? The householder says, ‘I have it on good authority. I read it in the newspaper’ Well, if its in the newspaper, it must be true.”
Notice that he didn’t say, “You Jehovah’s Witnesses are terrible people. You let your children die rather than have a blood transfusion”? Why didn’t he phrase it this way? Because this statement is irrefutable. It is true that Jehovah’s Witnesses would let their children die rather than have a blood transfusion. But it is also true that they do not want to let their children die. And it is true that they do accept medical treatment. So it’s no wonder he phrased the situation the way he did so that he could easily knock it. It’s dishonest and another strawman fallacy.
In his dishonesty, he is trying to make it seem that any report about Jehovah’s Witnesses that is not a glowing report, should be viewed as false. He tells them not to be naive, that they should consider things carefully. How ironic.
He continues that some TV programs about Jehovah’s Witnesses are “balanced”. However, he goes on to claim that most are not. He asserts that they are not when the producer starts out with a negative view of Jehovah’s Witnesses. What he is implying is that, if it’s a program that portrays the group in a positive light, it’s balanced; but if it portrays the group in a negative light, it’s not balanced. If this were true, then Jehovah’s Witnesses as a religious group are perfect, they make no mistakes and could never be portrayed in a negative light.
He alleges that when the media portray them in a negative light, then they try to support this view by getting information from the apostates and the clergy. What he fails to mention regarding these reports is that the media invariably look to get information from the Branch or the World Headquarters of Jehovah’s Witnesses. It is in the interests of the media to provide a balanced report. Why would they want to just present one side? What does the media gain from presenting a purposefully unbalanced report? When referring to apostates here, Splane fails to clarify that an apostate is any person who criticizes the organization. This includes Jehovah’s Witnesses who may have a genuine gripe against the religious group. Remember what he said at the beginning of his talk about “causing divisions”. Anyone who criticizes Jehovah’s Witnesses, or puts them in a negative light, is causing divisions. The elder manual of Jehovah’s Witnesses clearly explains that such ones have committed apostasy. So, be wary of what Splane is claiming here. Not only is it logically fallacious, it is downright deceitful.
It is clear that Splane wants his listeners to think that all criticism of Jehovah’s Witnesses in the media is apostate-driven lies. However, he provides no supporting data for his claim. It is a weak argument that only those who view him with a positive bias would believe. Anyone else would see right through the devilish speech.
He contends that other churches complain when newspapers write favorable things about Jehovah’s Witnesses. This is quite confusing as there are hundreds of positive articles about Jehovah’s Witnesses in the media. In fact, their Public Relations representative, Robert J. Hendricks III, has been spending many hours sending out PR pieces to many media outlets across the United States. He has also appeared on TV and news reports discussing Jehovah’s Witnesses’ beliefs and their online meetings and conventions. If the churches have been criticizing these reports in the media, they are very few. In fact, if any readers are aware of any, I’d welcome some links to them in the comments section of this article.
Splane claims that Government officials are taken in and believe the slanderous accusations of apostates. There has been many reports in the Norwegian newspapers about Jehovah’s Witnesses, particularly around their shunning. The so-called apostates said that they no longer have relationships with their family members that are not Jehovah’s Witnesses. Isn’t it true that Jehovah’s Witnesses cut off family who have disassociated or have been disfellowshipped from the group? Is there a lie in that? Well, the Danish Branch, which oversees activities in Norway claimed that normal family relationships continue. Who is lying? Also, the claim has been made that Jehovah’s Witnesses do not permit their members from voting. Again, it was so-called apostates that said this. The Jehovah’s Witnesses in Denmark tried to claim that Jehovah’s Witnesses make it a conscience matter not to vote. But that is disingenuous. It’s not a conscience matter if you can be disfellowshipped for it. Jehovah’s Witnesses in Norway attempted to deflect from the truth, and when they failed, Splane gets in front of the camera at the 2021 Regional Convention, and without naming the country, he puts forth the idea that it is all apostate lies. No, it is not. Rather, what he is doing is lying.
He rationalizes that governments do not check the facts and that if they did they would know they are being lied to. This is a blatant lie. He knows it’s a lie. I know it’s a lie. Why I know it is a lie is because I personally have given a lot of facts to government agencies around the world. All the facts come from the publications of Jehovah’s Witnesses, from secret policy letters from the Governing Body and their committees, from secret elder manuals produced by Jehovah’s Witnesses, and from secret branch manuals produced by Jehovah’s Witnesses. It’s not that the government agencies or the media do not check the facts. It’s the fact that the Governing Body have not successfully hidden the true facts from them that is at issue here.
What should be very worrying for any Jehovah’s Witness is this: If he is willing to deceive you at your own regional convention, why would he think twice about deceiving any government, court, or secular authority?
He asks his listeners, “If they are the words of apostates, why would we believe them?” The question that his listeners should be asking is this, “Who exactly are defined as apostates?” The answer to that question may change Jehovah’s Witnesses’ view of apostates, or at least change the view of some.
- Child abuse victims who speak out about their abuse are apostates. Should we not believe them? Are all child abuse survivors liars?
- Those who have supported child abuse victims are apostates. Should we not believe them? Are all defenders of child abuse victims and survivors liars?
- Those who experienced the perverted nature of the secretive judicial committee meetings and spoke out about them are apostates. Should we not believe them? Are we to assume that they are all liars?
- Those who only speak out about the psychological impact of shunning are apostates. Should we not believe them? While the organization may claim it is a loving provision, is it really so? Have you personally been shunned for a number of years? How did it affect your mental health? Why is shunning only considered manipulation when a spouse uses it, but is considered loving when Jehovah’s Witnesses do it?
When you frame apostates as humans, as ordinary people, David Splane’s question takes on a new meaning. Why would we believe so-called apostates? We would believe them because they have genuine concerns. If the religious group would rather call such ones liars and require us to view them as liars, well the question should be redirected to Splane, “If you have been lying up until now, why would we believe you”?
He argues that media reports are carefully worded to avoid a lawsuit. Now, think about that. If the reports are carefully worded to avoid a lawsuit, that would indicate that the Jehovah’s Witnesses would sue if a report is factually incorrect and defamatory. I personally have worked with plenty of news outlets to know how litigiously threatening the Jehovah’s Witnesses organization is. And yet, despite the threats, the newspapers have published their articles. If they were factually incorrect, the organization would have a case. But they are not. They are factually truthful and we have provided the media plenty of evidence for them to write factual stories that prevents the organization from taking a case against them.
In a pathetic attempt of a comparison, he uses the Korean brothers imprisoned for conscientious objection with brothers imprisoned for crimes such as child abuse and murder. While we may believe that the courts are wrong to convict a Jehovah’s Witness for conscientious objection, that does not mean that a court is wrong for convicting a Jehovah’s Witness for child abuse. David Splane attempts to insinuate that Jehovah’s Witnesses could never be convicted of a crime such as child abuse by saying courts and juries make mistakes. Assuming that courts have convicted Jehovah’s Witnesses wrongly for child abuse, it would be fair to say that it’s not happened very often. Or does Splane have evidence to suggest otherwise? If so, I’d love to see it.
He talks about how organizations have been sued and he puts the term “sued” in inverted commas, and settled out of court. Jehovah’s Witnesses have often times settled out of court in cases of child abuse. Stephanie Fessler is one example. Is he trying to say that the Jehovah’s Witness perpetrator in her case did not abuse his victim? Or what about Candace Conti? Was her case another situation where she wasn’t abused? While he doesn’t name any cases, but makes blanket statements, it is clear that the leader of Jehovah’s Witnesses is insinuating that his followers should not believe any of the victims. If this man has no compassion for the countless victims of abuse, why would you think he has any compassion for you? Remember, it’s your donations that keep this heartless man where he is.
He avers that when juries are on cases, they do not always have access to all the facts. The way he presents juries, one would think that the whole judicial process is a complete utter farce. He knows perfectly well that the court systems, although not perfect, have been instrumental in solidifying Jehovah’s Witnesses’ rights in the United States, Europe and elsewhere around the world. And yet, here he is criticizing the system because it has discovered abusers in the Jehovah’s Witnesses and he doesn’t want to admit to congregations around the world that they have a real and present problem. Maybe he can’t even admit it to himself.
In a revealing statement, he contends that “sometimes neither side want the whole truth to come out in court”. How bizarre. Is he admitting that Jehovah’s Witnesses do not want the whole truth to come out in court? And why would this be? He relates a story where an unnamed lawyer told him about a case where a doctor was sued for malpractice but the complainant wasn’t awarded a penny. He said that the lawyer asked some on the jury what part of the testimony they didn’t believe. Apparently the jury based their judgment on the fact that the doctor was cute and they didn’t want him to have to pay anything. Can you believe that story? Is he saying that the jury was made up only of persons who fancied the doctor? Sounds implausible and going by the lies and deceptions of Splane already, I’d take this story with a pinch of salt.
“Is it wrong to settle a matter before it goes to trial?” asks Splane. He has Jesus answer the question. It’s interesting that Jesus has told Splane how to settle child abuse cases out of court. There are problems with the verses used, most notably that he is talking about criminal cases, not civil cases. There is no chance that the Jehovah’s Witnesses are going to go to prison for a civil case taken against them. They pay the money and they go home. Why Jehovah’s Witnesses usually settle out of court is because 1) they can settle without revealing the amount of money they paid, 2) they can apply a non-disclosure agreement thus preventing the victim from talking about her case and how much money she may have got, and 3) they can save quite a sum of money by doing so.
It’s apparent that Splane does not want Jehovah’s Witnesses discovering the truth about their organization and how they operate. They want to ensure that the believers will always keep their blinkers on. He is projecting. He says that Satan is behind the twisted teachings of apostates. While it may be true about Satan being behind twisted teachings, apostates do not have teachings. The governing body of Jehovah’s Witnesses and their helpers do. Splane is clearly twisted. He has twisted the truth, created fallacious statements simply so he can easily refute them. Yet, he provided no shred of evidence for any of the many claims he made.
So-called apostates, otherwise known as child abuse survivors, activists against harmful practices, ones who speak out against wrongs, or those who reveal lies being told, always endeavor to provide proof and supporting data for the claims they make. Shouldn’t Splane be answerable for his claims? Yes. Are we to keep our mouths shut and blindly follow what he says? No. Are we to trust his utterances despite what the scriptures warn? No.
It’s evident that Splane is projecting his lies on to those he despises. He hates all of us who are not going to just sit down, stay quiet and accept his word without question. The ad hominem attacks throughout his vitriolic speech make this self-evident.