Why are you against the Watchtower?
Do you believe Watchtower is a cult?
Are you a hate group?
Are you a religious organization?
Does your organization support the persecution of Jehovah’s Witnesses?
How can I help AAWA?
Do I need to reveal my identity in order to volunteer?
Is AAWA a “charity” or charitable organization? Are donations tax deductible?
Why can’t I register, login, or make comments on AAWA.co?
What ever happened to…?
What are AAWA’s guidelines for posting comments and responses to comments?
Our Answers and Responses
- We oppose a significant number of Watchtower teachings and practices because they pose a serious threat to the mental and physical health of Jehovah’s Witnesses and their family members. For example, Watchtower policies on child abuse make it possible for a child to be molested in the organization but for the incident to not be reported to the police – leaving the molester free to go on and abuse others. Watchtower policies on blood transfusions lead to the deaths of countless Witnesses who are mentally conditioned to refuse treatment based on flawed scriptural reasoning. Watchtower policies on shunning mean that if a member decides to leave the organization, his family members are instructed not to speak to him again, which can have a serious impact on his or her emotional well being.
- We believe that a cult is any organization, religious or otherwise, whose teachings and practices have a damaging influence on its members. In particular, a cult is an organization that makes it almost impossible to leave freely without facing repercussions of some kind. By this measure, the Watch Tower Society is unquestionably a cult, since it advocates and enforces damaging beliefs and policies, and punishes former members by depriving them of contact with their Witness family members.
- No. We detest religious hatred and bigotry of any kind. We believe that every individual should be free to follow his or her own beliefs, provided these do not bring harm to others. In particular, we care deeply about the welfare of Jehovah’s Witnesses and want them to lead happy and fulfilled lives. Our issue is not with individual JWs, but with the Watchtower organization itself, which mentally enslaves them. For example, Watchtower uses hate speech to stigmatize all those who disagree with the Governing Body, calling such ones “mentally diseased” apostates who speak “gangrenous” words. Such manipulative behavior identifies the Watchtower as a cult rather than religion, and this is just one of many reasons why we oppose it.
- No. Our organization is strictly religiously-neutral, meaning that it does not promote or endorse any religious, atheistic or philosophical creeds or influences. We are solely interested in raising wider public awareness of the Watchtower’s damaging teachings and practices, as well as assisting those who seek to extricate both themselves and their family members from its influence. However, just because we are religiously-neutral does not mean that we refuse to work with those who have strongly entrenched beliefs. We believe that a broad spectrum of both religious and atheist former JWs can set their differences aside to work together under a common cause. We simply will not allow any form of religious or atheistic approach to influence our activities, or the way we deal with Witnesses who wish to leave. In this way, we can never rightly be accused of trying to “draw off followers” after ourselves.
- AAWA absolutely condemns in the strongest possible terms the persecution of Jehovah’s Witnesses, regardless of whether such persecution is verbal or physical. AAWA especially loaths the mob violence against Jehovah’s Witnesses in countries like Bulgaria and Georgia. There is never any excuse for people to be abused verbally or physically because of their religious or non-religious beliefs. The work AAWA is engaged in differs substantially from anything that could be classed as persecution in that context. AAWA uses public education and media resources to raise awareness of the damaging aspects of the Watchtower organization. We use peaceful, respectful and well-informed activism, and wholly oppose those who use religion as an excuse for bullying, antagonism, and violence.
- You can help AAWA either by donating funds to our work or by volunteering your time and energies to assist us with our activities. We prefer taking on volunteers to receiving donations, but any support is always appreciated. Once you contact AAWA to volunteer, either by email or through the query form, someone will reply and ascertain your skills and background so that we can identify a field of activism that is best suited to your circumstances and capabilities. Even if you can only offer a few hours of your time a month, or to attend an occasional event, this is appreciated. A full list of the roles we are actively pursuing volunteers for can be found on the volunteer page.
- AAWA understands that there are compelling reasons why certain volunteers may wish to keep their identity confidential. In particular, Watchtower’s threat of shunning so-called “apostates” creates a climate of fear and intimidation for any who would consider opposing the organization. For this reason, AAWA welcomes those who wish to volunteer on a strictly confidential basis, and takes all appropriate measures to protect their anonymity and identity.
- AAWA is registered as a “non-profit corporation” in the State of Arizona, USA. On April 17, 2015, Advocates for Awareness of Watchtower Abuses (AAWA) was awarded 501 (c) (3) status from the US Internal Revenue Service, Department of the Treasury. So what does that mean? Per the letter from IRS, “We are pleased to inform AAWA that upon review of your application for tax exempt status we have determined that you are exempt from Federal income tax under section 501 (c) (3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Contributions to Advocates for Awareness of Watchtower Abuses – AAWA are deductible under section 170 of the Code. You are also qualified to receive tax-deductible bequests, devises, transfers or gifts under section 2055, 2106 or 2522 of the Code. Because this letter could help resolve any questions regarding your tax exempt status, you should keep it in your permanent records. Organizations exempt under section 501 (c) (3) of the Code are further classified as either public charities or private foundations. We determined that AAWA is a public charity under the Code section (s) listed in the heading of this letter. For important information about your responsibilities as a tax-exempt organization, go to www.irs.gov/charities. Enter “4221 – PC” in the search bar to view Publication 4221 – PC, Compliance Guide for 501 (c) (3) Public Charities, which describes your record keeping, reporting, and disclosure requirements.”
- If you are encountering these types of technical problems for the first time, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Be sure to include the username and email address you used to subscribe or comment. The problem will be investigated and usually corrected within hours. You will be notified by email when you can try again to access certain AAWA.co features. PLEASE NOTE THAT AAWA.co NO LONGER ALLOWS OPEN REGISTRATION (effective 6 August 2014).
- If you were registered or had been using the comment feature of many of our articles – but can no longer post your comments – you may have been “blocked.” Being blocked or “blacklisted” could be the result of either a temporary technical issue or being denied service by the Webmaster. Temporary technical issues will usually be resolved within 2-24 hours. Service denial by the Webmaster is most likely due to suspected abuse or violation of rules by you or someone using your email address. If you suspect that the Webmaster has blocked your access and you want to know the reason, send an email directly to email@example.com. You should get a reply within 24 hours. (Hint: Accusing the Webmaster or other board members of gross crimes and misdemeanors is unlikely to help you get your access restored.)
- Your user access to AAWA.co can be denied for several reasons. If our “spam-blocker” software recognizes your IP address as one already registered for sending spam, viruses, or attacks on other websites, your service will be denied. You will also be blocked if you violate generally accepted guidelines when using our Comments features (trolling, thread hijacking, excessive use of expletives or sexually descriptive words/phrases, or ad hominem personal attacks directed at other commenters or AAWA members). You can also be banned for registering multiple accounts and/or identities.PLEASE NOTE THAT AAWA.co NO LONGER ALLOWS OPEN REGISTRATION (effective 6 August 2014).
- Bottom line: Be respectful and reasonable when making critical statements or suggestions, don’t spam, and don’t use profanity except in rare and appropriate situations. Don’t pretend to be someone else or create multiple personalities. See our other guidelines below…
- We often get questions about personnel turnover within AAWA, especially among board members, coordinators and volunteer team leaders. Our consistent response will be that no announcement or comment will be made about any personnel change. That applies if the change is initiated by AAWA’s officers or board members, or if it is voluntary on the part of the individual. Like every business, large or small, for profit or non-profit, there is a constant movement of personnel. Within the first three months of its formal existence, AAWA had two of its corporate officers (Barbara Anderson and John Cedars) leave the organization. Both were also founding members of AAWA and made substantial contributions to our early successes. Both continue to support AAWA’s long-term objectives. Both continue to be friends with most of the board members and are coordinating with them on other projects. No one signs a contract with AAWA. No one at any level (and that includes the board) gets paid for their services. Circumstances change as time passes and many will leave for personal financial reasons, others because of strains on their personal relationships, and some because they have other priorities. We recognize that some of our volunteers may eventually leave because they feel AAWA is not progressing at an acceptable rate or due to disagreement with certain AAWA policies. That happens in all organizations no matter how lofty their goals might be. The board of advisors understand that our successes or failures will result from our policy decisions and financial resources, not because certain individuals choose to leave the organization. We accept that there will be differences. We want everyone to know that they can leave AAWA without fear that they will be “shunned” by its remaining associates or officers.