Each year, thousands of Jehovah’s Witnesses flood into football and soccer stadiums across the globe to prepare for enlightenment and direction from their global leaders, the Governing Body. The Governing Body is comprised of eight men, all living and working in upstate New York in a compound affectionately referred to as “Bethel”. These eight men, according to Jehovah’s Witness doctrine, are God’s chosen.
These conventions are held on an annual basis as the men of the Governing Body tour the world to give the same addresses to the institution’s 8 million members. The instruction happens through both speech and video. The general public is welcome to these meetings, the content is not distributed beyond the event itself.
“Congregations are provided thousands of invitation to each convention which are intended for distribution to the public,” he stated. “If the organization is so interested in sharing these videos with the public, making them freely available seems to only further the organization's goals.”
But, Watch Tower, the institution’s governing organization, does not agree. Or if they do, their actions suggest otherwise.
Each convention’s content is leaked online every year, almost always before the tour is finished. Each time, Watch Tower swiftly files for its removal. In January 2019, Truth & Transparency refused to comply with four such requests asking to remove content from the 2016 and 2017 conventions published to the FaithLeaks. Truth & Transparency also released the 2018 convention’s content.
In early May, this year’s videos were leaked via a TransferXL link. The videos were promptly uploaded to Rutube, a Russian competitor to YouTube. The videos have since been removed from both TransferXL and Rutube. Rutube states that the content was removed by request of the copyright holder.
Today, Truth & Transparency has made these videos available for public viewing once again.
Before their removal, the videos received much analysis from ex-Witnesses on various forums across the Internet. Redditing_again, who published their own lengthy analysis of one video, argues that the videos simply deserve to be made public for the sake of criticism.
“Jehovah’s Witnesses have thrived on controlling their own narrative for many years, discouraging outside research and discussion, said redditing_again.” He further stated that, “while a speaker’s ideas could be dismissed as personal thoughts, the videos are known by attendees to be directly form the organization.”. Further, “by making these videos publicly available, opportunity is given for open and unbiased discussion and criticism.”
The Watchtower did not respond to request for comment before the publication of this piece.