"Theocratic Warfare" and the Annual Report


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    M Billy the Ex-Bethelite posted Thu, 27 Oct 2011 18:46:00 GMT(10/27/2011)

    Post 3819 of 7312
    Joined 11/29/2007

    One of the things I certainly noticed as a JW, and even during the time I was in Bethel, was the complexities of reporting "truth."

    Beginning with an observation on a personal level, I consider myself an honest person. But something happened along the way, beginning when I pioneered. Looking back, I started out keeping my time accurate. But with the pressure to get my time, I increasingly rounded my hours up... by a little at first... then a little more. At first I was afraid I'd get killed like Ananias and Sapphira, but when that didn't happen, faking time became a relief. Keeping my hours at 10 per month to qualify for appointment was easy when you showed up enough for service and nobody asked any questions. I still felt bad about not being "fully truthful", but it seemed that most of the pioneers were doing the same thing. Phantom pioneers and phantom publishers became obvious once I became an elder and saw the cards. Some of these with the great hours and placements were clearly being dishonest. The ones that tried to be honest were the ones that would be the most stressed out and often burnt out. I didn't completely fake it, and plenty of door-knocking still got done. But a lot of time was faked or wasted on social calls and just driving around. Even the COs and their wives would often give just a spurt of excitement before it was time to do somebody else's calls and take lengthy "encouraging" breaks.

    Now I'll get a little more honest. When I was the congregation secretary, it was a hassle to chase down everybody who forgot to turn in their reports. After trying that for the first several months, by the time the second CO visit came around, I played fill in the blanks. Instead of the hassle, I filled out missing months for many. Keeping the numbers around their average, or a bit higher. I still didn't get struck down like Ananias and Sapphira, which made it all the easier to continue. The CO comes and says how nice the cards look and my habit became set in stone. Only if someone clearly had issues or became inactive did I stop reporting for them. It wasn't enough that we were the best congregation in the circuit or anything, but it just made life for everyone a lot easier and fewer hassles for everyone involved.

    I don't think I was the only person that felt this way. When they eliminated the home "Bible" study report slips, it made it easier to fake a study because you didn't even have to come up with a name and address for the householder. Sure, I don't doubt that many publishers and secretaries are being honest on what they report, but it's just so easy and rewarding to be dishonest. It's not like you have to turn in money, you just scratch numbers on a stupid slip of paper. And some numbers look better than others. As you multiply the little bits of dishonesty, the numbers grow.

    Something I noticed at bethel, was a cultural element of "truth." Dealing with dubs from other countries and other cultures, even those in branches, they would tend to tell you what they thought you wanted to hear, rather than what the facts were. If the facts were indisputable, such as how much money is in the bank, or how much rice is in the kitchen, they would have to be honest. But if it came to things like experiences reported, you couldn't count on honesty. And if the report is only scratching a number on paper, it's easy to write a bigger number that will make everybody happy, rather than an honest number, that will make people unhappy. Not everyone, and not every culture is like that, but I'm wondering about a trend. Watchtower bosses like to see those increasing numbers, who is making sure those numbers coming from the branches are legit?

    In the past several years, some countries are reporting stagnation or decrease, while others report increase. We've discussed before how it's the poor and uneducated countries that have the growth. Well, I also think the reports of increase are coming from countries that are more likely to use "theocratic warfare strategy" and fatten up their reports to satisfy Brooklyn and keep their branches open. Who's going to check their figures? Most of the countries that report growth don't have government statistics on JW activity to compare against. However, the countries that report stagnation or decrease are more likely to be honest or have government reports that might conflict with WT numbers. The US branch reported growth last year, and would they lie? Of course! They're publishing only their own collected figures. It's like asking the students to submit their own grades for the year. Of course they'll give themselves the best grade! It's not like PriceWaterhouseCooper is coming behind to do a publisher audit to make sure the figures are right.

    Granted, there has been growth in some areas of the US, but not all. And a curious reshuffling of circuits has taken place around here for no clear reason, other than to make one of the shrinking circuits look less pathetic.

    Anyway, just wanted to throw this out there for consideration. A new Annual Report will be coming out that I suspect will still report growing numbers in whatever different countries. But I think it's all a sham. The Watchtower ship is sinking. The reports of their increases are numbers of their own fabrication.

    M james_woods posted Thu, 27 Oct 2011 18:53:00 GMT(10/27/2011)

    Post 6034 of 12264
    Joined 10/26/2005

    Billy, we have a saying in computer science -

    No matter how carefully the program is written, the output will be total garbage if you feed it total garbage as input.

    Hell, I have known assembly attendants who fudged the seat counts, let alone the time slips from ordinary JWs...

    LostGeneration posted Thu, 27 Oct 2011 18:58:00 GMT(10/27/2011)

    Post 923 of 3458
    Joined 11/24/2009

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts there BTX, especially on the foreign branches. They have to be worried watching Jehovahs chariot advance, all of the other branch closures in the last few years.

    I too stopped with the incessant starting and stopping of my FS time and just started rounding it. Go out 3 times in a month, just multiply by three hours each time. Voila! 9 hours of FS. Dump a bunch of old mags at not at homes and suddenly I placed 20 for the month. Its the attitude of 75% of the flock these days, slip a pretty report in the box so you don't get harassed by the elders. All of their numbers are just a big, fat rotten apple. Shiny on the outside but brown and disgusting inside.

    I think the most interesting part of the upcoming report will be whether they finally stop reporting the partakers. They already have claimed ignorance as to "we don't know how many there are, and we dont really need to know" when they really mean "we can't stop all of those mentally imbalanced fools from nibbling and sipping, so we just aren't going to tell you any more."

    M wha happened? posted Thu, 27 Oct 2011 19:01:00 GMT(10/27/2011)

    Post 4614 of 10423
    Joined 10/2/2004

    With very few exceptions, people fudge the numbers. Everyone did. Elders making frantic calls before the CO arrived.

    I remember after I hadn't turned in time for 6 months, I got the frantic call for my time. I said Zero. Then the negotiation starts. Well did u talk to anyone with the word bible in the sentance? 15 minutes? It used to gag me. I kept saying no, no time in service. Turns out they would throw in 15 minutes here and there. That's why everytime the CO came out, he bragged about all the inactive publishers becoming active again.

    It's a terrible system. It's inaccurate and serves no purpose. Nothing in scripture commands keeping track of time and using that as a basis for sprituality. It's just another big fake number

    Franklin Massey posted Thu, 27 Oct 2011 19:05:00 GMT(10/27/2011)

    Post 345 of 373
    Joined 1/5/2011

    I was one of those attendants. I did it at conventions, assemblies and meetings. I wanted so badly for the numbers to be "encouraging" so I would always round up at big events. At meetings I would count a couple of extra people on the phone tie-in. My friends did the same.

    M james_woods posted Thu, 27 Oct 2011 19:09:00 GMT(10/27/2011)

    Post 6038 of 12264
    Joined 10/26/2005
    I was one of those attendants. I did it at conventions, assemblies and meetings. I wanted so badly for the numbers to be "encouraging" so I would always round up at big events. At meetings I would count a couple of extra people on the phone tie-in. My friends did the same.

    I once made the mistake of suggesting that maybe we shouldn't count infants under 1 year of age (as they couldn't understand anything at all) - and asked what would be an appropriate age to start counting them. Got a slap-down over that: WE COUNT ANYBODY AND EVERYBODY, even a pile of blankets that could have a baby underneath. That brings more praise to Jehovah through BIG NUMBERS. Seriously.

    straightshooter posted Thu, 27 Oct 2011 19:26:00 GMT(10/27/2011)

    Post 1309 of 1902
    Joined 6/30/2009

    Billy, that was enlightening. I once was faithful in reporting my time accurately, until an elder told the group to make calls on witnesses who were sick. He stated that you can't count time unless you make a return visit before and after the call on the sick witness. He also stated that you can count time for the meeting for field service if you were in the witness work before the meeting. Hence I started to fudge in the reporting of my time after that.

    compound complex posted Thu, 27 Oct 2011 20:31:00 GMT(10/27/2011)

    Post 9057 of 10580
    Joined 8/4/2006

    Hi Billy,

    When pioneering in the Midwest, USA, some 40 years ago, I worried about accuracy in reporting my time. We had an entire county to cover and spent entire days in service, working country roads and small towns. Our CO, Harold Lackey, was easy-going and reasonable. He said if we worked in service from nine to five, just deduct an hour for lunch and count the rest. He also reassured me that we could not know to what extent Jehovah would show mercy at Armageddon.

    Had to love the guy ...

    CoCo Zealous Pioneer

    Quarterback posted Thu, 27 Oct 2011 20:53:00 GMT(10/27/2011)

    Post 500 of 2089
    Joined 10/24/2010

    Hi Billy, I could relate to that secretary trick. You know the time when the publishers are away at vacation., You know that they published, but they were away, and you had to literally guess. If nothng was reported they were counted as irregular, and your cong stats were out of whack. Then the CO would yell at you during the Elders meeting. It really was a guessing game.

    I told those that came back from vacation what I had done and if they were under, they just had to deduct it the next month.

    MrMonroe posted Thu, 27 Oct 2011 21:09:00 GMT(10/27/2011)

    Post 502 of 606
    Joined 1/2/2010

    Sigh. And they say their organisation is modelled on the first century Christians. Any current JWs visiting this forum will know the truth of the comments here and can only admit that so much of their religion is all about appearances.

    xelder posted Thu, 27 Oct 2011 21:12:00 GMT(10/27/2011)

    Post 97 of 161
    Joined 9/6/2009

    Some secretaries are dumb at math. I knew one who would take 15 minutes and punch .15 into the calculator (instead of .25).

    This reminds me of another point. Totals of all the slips makes a congregation report that is sent in to WBTS. No need to post to the individual pub cards. Most Secretaries post cards later. The individual cards are for monitoring and control purposes only. No need to track individuals....just send in a congregation summary.

    outsmartthesystem posted Thu, 27 Oct 2011 21:17:00 GMT(10/27/2011)

    Post 171 of 1178
    Joined 5/19/2011

    "I too stopped with the incessant starting and stopping of my FS time and just started rounding it. Go out 3 times in a month, just multiply by three hours each time. Voila! 9 hours of FS. Dump a bunch of old mags at not at homes and suddenly I placed 20 for the month. Its the attitude of 75% of the flock these days"

    And somehow I was convinced that God was directing and blessing such efforts.

    M besty posted Thu, 27 Oct 2011 21:23:00 GMT(10/27/2011)

    Post 3763 of 5436
    Joined 3/3/2005

    ditto - my numbers were fudged for as long as could be bothered reporting

    note - maybe the number fudgers are more likely to end up apostates on JWD....

    stillstuckcruz posted Thu, 27 Oct 2011 21:38:00 GMT(10/27/2011)

    Post 181 of 323
    Joined 1/27/2011

    I might have faked on the hours, but I would NEVER choose to fake on Bible studies. There's no way I would ever allow the "higher-ups" to begin thinking that field service might ACTUALLY accomplish something. Sure it does for a few people, but i certainly wouldnt add to it. :)

    metatron posted Thu, 27 Oct 2011 22:40:00 GMT(10/27/2011)

    Post 5850 of 7476
    Joined 4/7/2001

    Thank You, Billy!

    For the longest time I have been exasperated by these contrary trends: publishers go up and everything gets cut. It makes no sense.

    So, what do we have? Self-reported stats from Witnesses eager to please elders and their peers versus a deepening trend of cutbacks all over the place suggesting that Witnesses aren't donating $$$$. The self reported stuff is impossible to confirm but the lack of cash flow is hard core.

    Who to believe? I believe the cash flow over the other claims. Witnesses will act zealously and obey Watchtower rules as long as someone is looking. This facade is supported by observations about blood transfusion cases. Get somebody there to monitor the sick and dying and discreetly get them to die for the blood issue. Also, notice how Circuit Overseers will upbraid and "encourage" meeting attendance and get abundant crowds during their visits, only to have attendance fall off immediately afterward.


    Sapphy posted Thu, 27 Oct 2011 23:03:00 GMT(10/27/2011)

    Post 382 of 932
    Joined 4/17/2009
    note - maybe the number fudgers are more likely to end up apostates on JWD....

    I resemble that remark.

    M slimboyfat posted Thu, 27 Oct 2011 23:20:00 GMT(10/27/2011)

    Post 4810 of 8411
    Joined 11/24/2004

    It's surely possible that the numbers are fudged at the top to make them look better because as you point out, they are certainly fudged by ordinary Witnesses on the ground.

    Wasn't there a well known case where Fiji (or some other Pacific island) reported fantastically good figures for a number of years. So much so that the governing body arranged a zone visit to see for themselves what was going on, only to discover the reports have been grossly inflated. I am sure it was mentioned in a yearbook somewhere, and the numbers in the annual report also show a big drop one year when the governing body told the local branch to stop lying about their figures.

    bnybyt posted Thu, 27 Oct 2011 23:30:00 GMT(10/27/2011)

    Post 60 of 116
    Joined 3/7/2010

    I have known assembly attendants who fudged the seat counts, let alone the time slips from ordinary JWs...

    Hah, that is sooo true! I remember the time a DO by the name of Bartell insisted on the attendance figures being too low. He called for another count. The section captains went to their assigned attendants and told them to meet, they were told to count any one and every one in sight, especially babies because sometimes they're on their parents' laps or they're in a carrying seat in the isle and hard to see, and he winked for a lonnnnggg time.

    Sure enough the numbers from just about all attendants reflected higher numbers... unfortunately the new count was now way up high, by several hundred.

    M under_believer posted Thu, 27 Oct 2011 23:51:00 GMT(10/27/2011)

    Post 1869 of 1767
    Joined 4/27/2006

    As a pioneer, I was always 100% honest on my numbers. But I was counting time for stuff that, while it could technically be counted, had almost zero chance of bringing anyone into the "truth." Driving around to every convenience store in the county for hours starting at 4AM and dropping off tracts and back issues is pretty much a lost cause.

    I made my time the first year, went to Pioneer school, and then was removed a couple months later when I messed around with a "sister." I can't remember ever being more relieved than when I realized I wouldn't have to make 1000 hours that year. Yep, that dates me a bit. :)

    sabastious posted Thu, 27 Oct 2011 23:55:00 GMT(10/27/2011)

    Post 5722 of 9399
    Joined 2/3/2010
    The reports of their increases are numbers of their own fabrication.

    Facinating post, Billy. Your argument makes a whole lot of sense from a psychological perspective.



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