What would the Watchtower have to do to change into "just another religion"?
In my opinion, the only practice the Watchtower would have to change to almost overnight move into, "just another religion" category, is the practice of shunning. The rest of the teachings are no farther out than many other groups I have looked at. The test for a controlling group is this: Do they use forced compliance? Forced compliance can be identified by one of three conditions being met. Do they use (1) rewards, (2) punishments, or (3) rewards combined with punishments? If any one of these are present, I view the group as using forced compliance, i.e. enforced unity.
The Watchtower's recent history is one of radical use of forced compliance, extreme undue influence, and intimidation, combined with the paradoxical practice of separatism, coupled with expert manipulation of the system it condemns, to extract social benefits for their members, and legal corporate protection under religious freedoms for the leader's behaviors. The result being, in many cases, that the Watchtower teaches avoidance and practices embracement while leaving the members to justify their own behaviors to their innermost selves, as well as to critics, both within and without. A sort of physical enmeshment coupled with emotional isolation, a condition many of us found to cause extreme dissonance.
The Watchtower doctrines of belief are fluid and seem very dispensable. Just in the 20th century, the Watchtower has radically changed its views of the problem, the solution, and the means to solution. The only teachings that don't change are teachings that would be useless to them if they were on the earth all alone, teachings of "disbelief." Example, the Watchtower "disbelieves" in hellfire, the Watchtower "disbelieves" in the Trinity, the Watchtower "disbelieves" in immortality of the soul. These are doctrines that are teachings of opposition and will not stand without the leaning post of a counter-believing group. A good test to see if a group is a deity worshipping group or a separatist, isolationist movement is to examine their teachings and practices to see if they will stand alone without someone or something to "be against." A group united by an enemy is not a religion, it's an army. Hatred needs a focus. Love does not. A benevolent, deity worshipping, group is non-confrontational, non-judgmental, and non-inquisitional. A safe place to develop a relationship with yourself, your friends, family, and with a God of your own understanding.
By simply making the practice of shunning a matter of conscience the Watchtower would move overnight into mainstream dogmatism. The rest would be non-consequential. Sadly, the Watchtower leaders are aware of this.
back to The Way I See It by Gary Busselman