Talk:Organizational structure of Jehovah's Witnesses

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Traveling overseers[edit]

The article Organizational structure of Jehovah's Witnesses should probably have two new subheadings under Governing Body, for:

That would make the place of those persons (role descriptions) more clear in the organizational flowchart. As is described elsewhere regarding JWs...

  • Whereas a branch office may be under a corporation, branch committees answer directly to the GBJW.
  • Whereas districts and circuits are under branches, district and circuit (and zone) overseers in significant respects are answerable primarily to the GBJW (the various branch office staff handles secondary workaday matters).

I'll try to get around to it, but am pretty busy IRL. --AuthorityTam (talk) 22:11, 2 August 2010 (UTC)

I'm not sure it is necessary to have branch committees in a separate section to branch offices. It should be adequate to indicate the line of authority in the relevant sections while maintaining separate sections. Having them as subsections of 'Governing Body' could imply they are part of the GB, unless the entire structure (including 'Congregations' etc) were adapted to a hierarchical heading structure, but that may result in an ungainly number of heading levels. On a related issue, I think that the Corporations section shouldn't be between Governing Body and other divisions subsidiary to the GB.--Jeffro77 (talk) 09:21, 3 August 2010 (UTC)

Next step in the hierarchy[edit]

Let's see, Unbaptized publishers, Minors, Students, Associates ... I think we should be seeing a new section soon on "Unborn children of baptized Witnesses". From there it will be "Householders", followed by "Not at homes" "Do not calls", "Passers-by" and "Billions not yet contacted and who will die at Armageddon as a result". Where will this tedious and absurd detail end? BlackCab (talk) 23:00, 12 August 2010 (UTC)

The Congregation subsections aren't really hierarchical, although each is listed in descending order of "privilege" and "responsibility".
The idea behind the new sections didn't originate with me.
See Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Jehovah's Witnesses#Jehovah's Witnesses and Family Members.
Editors may recall that a difference between an A and a B quality article is that the latter "may not be complete enough to satisfy a serious student or researcher." See Wikipedia:WikiProject Christianity/Assessment#Quality scale.
--AuthorityTam (talk) 05:19, 13 August 2010 (UTC)
There's detail and there's detail. I think it's getting a bit too damned detailed. The proposal for Jehovah's Witnesses and Family Members seemed to be aimed at creating an article critical of the disfellowshipping policy, so I'm not sure how the two ideas are connected. BlackCab (talk) 06:54, 13 August 2010 (UTC)
The purpose of the article is not to provide all the jargon terms that JWs use for various levels of people, especially if those people are not even members. Nor is it necessary to elaborate on every context in which a particular JW term is used. It is also unnecessary to provide bleedingly obvious detail, such as the fact that 'violent people may be told they're not welcome'. I have trimmed and arranged the new sections accordingly.--Jeffro77 (talk) 09:01, 13 August 2010 (UTC)
Regarding "associates" some extent, that's the issue: most denominations calculate "membership" from simple attendance rather than participation. It seems likely that JWs publish certain attendance statistics specifically so that academics and others can make more meaningful comparisons. What may be obvious to those familiar with the religion may be a point of confusion for a person beginning to study it. Regarding "children", I'm unconvinced that term is preferable to "minors"... The matter of children was just intended to be thorough, as is an explicit distinction between lower- and higher-graded articles.--AuthorityTam (talk) 21:48, 10 January 2011 (UTC)
I agree with your assessment of 'associates' for the same reason.
I don't have a strong preference for using either the word 'minors' or 'children'. But not, 'minor children' as it would be redundant.--Jeffro77 (talk) 08:44, 12 January 2011 (UTC)
In the United States, it is common for a parent and others to refer to her offspring as "my/her children" during their entire lives (that is, through the offsprings' adulthoods). The term "minor children" is not redundant in the context of this article section; aside from "publishers", participants in JWs' formal ministry must be BOTH 1) minor (younger than an accepted age of majority) AND 2) children/dependents of a "publisher". Because a "publisher" may have "adult children" or "minor children", the latter term is not redundant, and so I have reinstated the term "minor children" (rather than merely "children") in its initial instance in the relevant section. --AuthorityTamtalk…contrib 17:56, 6 September 2012 (UTC)
The context and general understanding of the term children is readily apparent, irrespective of broader colloquial use of the term.--Jeffro77 (talk) 07:02, 7 September 2012 (UTC)

City overseer[edit]

An editor alleged that Jehovah's Witnesses have discontinued the position and term "city overseer", but no source was cited to contradict the 2005 reference. Please do not remove the article's discussion of "city overseer" without sourcing the supposed change or building consensus here for that removal. --AuthorityTamtalk…contrib 17:56, 6 September 2012 (UTC)


I have removed the theological claim that the JW organisational structure is a 'theocracy', as it is a theological belief out of this article's scope. Analogous articles such as hierarchy of the Catholic Church do not make similar claims, even in the context of belief. The belief is suitably mentioned at beliefs of Jehovah's Witnesses and in the main article, Jehovah's Witnesses.--Jeffro77 (talk) 15:38, 21 December 2014 (UTC)

You have explained the reason why you did this, but I think it is important to retain mention of the JW view that it is a theocratic organisation.
James Beckford devotes several pages of "The Trumpet of Prophecy" to a discussion of the significance of Rutherford's creation of the "Theocracy" in the overall function of the organisational hierarchy. He notes that in two 1938 Watchtower articles Rutherford declared "that Jehovah had assumed direct control of the Watch Tower Society ... the detailed reorganization of the Theocracy provided for unmitigated central control over all Watch Tower activity, for the appointment of personnel to all posts of responsibility to be the prerogative of the Society's top leaders and for the requirement that all company members (including Jonadabs) should submit to headquarters regular accounts of their evangelical work ... The ideological justification for theocratic reorganization was constructed on the major premise that since Jesus Christ was actually working at the head of the Society through the medium of its earthly leaders, it would henceforth be blasphemous to disagree with their directives."
The concept of the theocracy is very much alive today and continues to underpin the system of hierarchical control the WTS imposes on members. While in no way suggesting this could or should be cited at the Wikipedia article, I refer you to a post at the JWNet forum in which a former JW elder related his experience at a school for congregational elders. On a white board, the speaker listed the JW hierarchy thus: JEHOVAH > JESUS > F & DS > LEGAL ENTITIES > BRANCH > DISTRICT > CIRCUIT > ELDERS > PUBLISHERS. He says the instructor in one session told his audience: "Brothers , if the slave asks you to do something that seems wrong in Jehovah's eyes, and you obey, how does that leave you with Jehovah? That’s right, your good with Jehovah. The slave will account to Jehovah for their decisions. You see, Jehovah can bless any decision made by the slave, even if it is a bad one, but he will never bless your disobedience to his organization.”[1]
It also informs the statement in the 15 November 2013 Watchtower that told JWs: "The life-saving direction that we receive from Jehovah's organization may not appear practical from a human standpoint. All of us must be ready to obey any instructions we receive, whether these appear sound from a strategic or human standpoint or not."
Jehovah's Witnesses believe their organisation to be unique in that it is directly controlled by God and Jesus. Those two quotes clearly demonstrate how that belief, in turn, strengthens the religion's control over members. Possibly more than any other JW belief, it could well bind millions of members to the religion, serving as a very powerful deterrent and obstacle to anyone contemplating leaving. (It was the chief reason I remained so long in it). Removing mention of the theocracy concept robs the article of that critical fact. BlackCab (TALK) 23:04, 22 December 2014 (UTC)
Beckford's analysis of Rutherford's quest to control the organisation belongs in relevant articles about the historical development of the group, and the theological view of their organisational structure belongs in relevant sections about their beliefs. This article is about the actual structure of the organisation. The removed statement that 'they call it a theocracy' says nothing about why they call it that, and nor should it. It is not the purpose of this article to explain why individuals might be compelled to remain members.--Jeffro77 (talk) 01:14, 23 December 2014 (UTC)
Given that Beckford, Whalen, Rogerson, Hoekema and Penton all focus heavily on the concept of the "theocracy" when outlining the religion's hierarchical system, it is a notable part of the organisational structure. The central idea within the "theocracy" is that the religion is ruled from the top down (appointments made from above), rather than democratically (appointments chosen from below by voting). The previous wording did not introduce that phrase "to explain why individuals might be compelled to remain members" and you seem to have misinterpreted my comments to suggest that was my intention. Your original comment about the distinction between organizational structure and theological belief is hair-splitting. In this case the organizational structure is dictated by the theological belief and therefore deserves a brief mention. BlackCab (TALK) 05:34, 23 December 2014 (UTC)
The article can (and I think, does) adequately state that appointments are made from the top down without referring to a 'theocracy'. It's not my position that it 'absolutely must not be included', but it doesn't seem necessary in the context of secular article about the practical aspects of their organisational structure. But how about mentioning it in the section about the Governing Body rather than in the lead?
My statement about 'compelling members' was in relation to the last paragraph of your previous response, which sounded a bit soapy. My statement wasn't intended as an overarching reason for leaving out 'theocracy'.--Jeffro77 (talk) 05:54, 23 December 2014 (UTC)

IP editor[edit]

An IP editor is insisting on inaccurate text rather than accurate descriptions of the Watch Tower Society's headquarters and its status as the copyright owner and publisher of its publications. The IP editor is also adding odd phrasing in place of the sourced statement that Governing Body members don't consider themselves "leaders".

The IP editor should discuss here why they imagine their edits to be an improvement. Otherwise, the less accurate wording should be removed.--Jeffro77 (talk) 07:11, 7 February 2015 (UTC)

Saying that Salt Lake is the headquarters of the "Corporation of the President" rather than of the LDS Church would be silly. Jehovah's Witnesses is the group, it is their headquarters, rather than that of one of many legal instruments they use. Both are technically accurate, but one is more reflective of common usage and is more clearly comprehensible. From JW literature: "...the new world headquarters of Jehovah’s Witnesses..." Using "WT society" as a stand in for JW or GB is outdated and no longer encyclopedic. 2601:7:1980:5B5:A043:438A:8C83:9FB0 (talk) 07:19, 7 February 2015 (UTC)
Incorrect. Jehovah's Witnesses is the name of the religious denomination, but the entity headquartered in Brooklyn is the Watch Tower Society of New York. Your claim that "WT Society" is "no longer encyclopedic" is quite false, and the publisher page of JW publications, including the latest ones, says the publisher is the "Watch Tower Society", not 'JWs'. Your wordiness replacing the simple statements about leaders is bizarre, and not an accurate description of what is stated in the cited source.--Jeffro77 (talk) 07:24, 7 February 2015 (UTC)
I am using clear sources to explain that saying in an article about the United Methodist Church: "The presiding pastor governs from the Methodist Property Holding Corporation headquarters" would be inferior to saying "The presiding pastor governs from the Methodist Church headquarters." The more recent sources call it the "world headquarters of Jehovah's Witnesses", not the "world headquarters of Watch Tower". 2601:7:1980:5B5:A043:438A:8C83:9FB0 (talk) 07:29, 7 February 2015 (UTC)
You haven't actually cited any sources. But aside from that, this article is about Jehovah's Witnesses' organisational structure which is inextricably linked to the Watch Tower Society.--Jeffro77 (talk) 07:38, 7 February 2015 (UTC)
I have cited sources for every edit I've made, unlike you. You will need to start citing sources for your preferred position if you want to move forward. With regard to other changes, as I've said, no recent publications of Jehovah's Witnesses use the term "Watchtower Publications", they use the term "Jehovah's Witness publications". No sources contradict on this point. Like I wrote earlier, Wikipedia doesn't need to say "Publications of the Corporation of the President", in most cases it is preferable to say "Publications of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints" for clarity and accuracy. 2601:7:1980:5B5:A043:438A:8C83:9FB0 (talk) 07:44, 7 February 2015 (UTC)
You haven't cited any sources. And I've only restored existing text to the previous stable version where sources are already present, except in a few cases where I tried to meet you halfway with your changes by retaining parts of your added text.--Jeffro77 (talk) 07:47, 7 February 2015 (UTC)
Other changes you've introduced are rampantly biased, such as the non-neutral claim about breaching 'scriptural laws'.--Jeffro77 (talk) 07:41, 7 February 2015 (UTC)
Would you prefer "Bible laws" or "laws of their holy text"? What sources do you have to support any change? (talk) 07:47, 7 February 2015 (UTC)
No. Because they are only the interpretations of a particular denomination. I haven't asserted any change to the stable version of the article.--Jeffro77 (talk) 07:48, 7 February 2015 (UTC)
Obviously you can see that many here do not agree with your interpretation of "stable version". Given that, it would be best for you to show from the sources why you believe any particular option is better than the present text. The fact that they conduct disciplinary proceedings for what they believe to be violations of Bible laws is an important sourced fact, one that is central to understanding the framework of their organization. (talk) 07:54, 7 February 2015 (UTC)
No one suggested removing the idea of disciplinary action. The stable version of the article already made the point without asserting a biased point of view. I don't see "many here do not agree". All I see is two IP editors who have been working in collusion with each other for the last few days, who may or may not be the same person.--Jeffro77 (talk) 07:58, 7 February 2015 (UTC)
I have shown you the sources that support the text as written. If you support a different version, you should show what sources support it. Can you show why your preferred version is more accurate than what is written? That is the only question that should matter, not the personality disagreements you keep trying to introduce to the discussion. (talk) 08:03, 7 February 2015 (UTC)
Also, I just looked again at the details of the reversion you have been trying to put into place, and it does not change the text of the section involving scriptural laws. 2601:7:1980:5B5:A043:438A:8C83:9FB0 (talk) 08:08, 7 February 2015 (UTC)

Where are these "sources" that you keep mentioning? I have yet to see them. Also, two (one most likely) is not "many" nor a consensus. Vyselink (talk) 15:40, 7 February 2015 (UTC)

This article is about the organisational structure of Jehovah's Witnesses. The Watch Tower Society is an inextricable part of that structure, and it is highly misleading to remove it from the lead. The fact that the Watch Tower Society is the publisher of their literature is clearly stated on all JW publications. For example, the 2015 Yearbook of Jehovah's Witnesses states on page 3, "Publishers WATCHTOWER BIBLE AND TRACT SOCIETY OF NEW YORK, INC."--Jeffro77 (talk) 02:10, 8 February 2015 (UTC)