The average everyday person may not be super interested in the beliefs and teachings of the Jehovah's Witness religion. If someone did want to know more about the Witnesses, it is pretty much assumed the person could visit their official website, or simply wait for Witnesses to knock on their door.
For those who do begin to show an interest in the religion, however, there are quite a few significant things that the Witnesses will usually never be upfront about. They won't discuss the child sexual abuse scandal and the damaging policies that have led to it. They won't talk about the members who have died, including children, due to the prohibition on blood transfusions. And they won't discuss the families who have been broken up after members were kicked out and shunned.
It is often the case that the more serious issues are not brought up until the person has been sufficiently indoctrinated. Sometimes not even then, unless the person learns it for themselves by doing research online.
But there are other policies put in place by the Watchtower organization that are kept even more confidential. These are directions given to local congregation elders, traveling overseers, and branch office elders. But over the past year or so a number of these documents have been leaked by whistle-blowers inside the organization.
Four of those documents are: 1) Shepherd the Flock of God, a 143-page book given to all elders discussing specific Watchtower policies that elders are instructed to carry out. 2) Circuit Overseer Guidelines, a 130-page manual giving extra instructions for traveling elders. 3) Correspondence Guidelines, a 118-page manual given to certain branch office members whose job is to respond to letters and inquiries from the average Witness or others. 4) A November 6, 2014 9-page letter to all bodies of elders (from the branch office) regarding "procedures when legal issues are involved."
There are many issues I could have brought out, but I decided to focus on statements that show how the religion views women. To sum it up, women are to be in subjection to men, their husbands and church "elders" in particular. But that's obviously not enough, so the religion's leaders have come up with a number of rules and statements to ensure that women remember their place.
Keep in mind that no female Witnesses are privy to any of these documents, though they are generally aware of the "female submission" teachings. Some statements/policies are more damning that others, but pretty much all of them reflect the archaic, patriarchal system that Watchtower still holds to. (All bold type originates from the documents.)
If a person wanted to read the documents for themselves, I suppose it may be possible to find them by typing in www.sendspace.com/file/ along with one of four file codes that may conveniently show up on some random picture. If, for some reason, that doesn't work, I guess it might be possible to obtain those documents via an email request, though I'm not quite sure where one would find such an email address.
Shepherd the Flock of God: "A wife's conduct often reflects favorably or unfavorably upon her husband. (1 Tim. 3:11) If the wife is spiritually weak, he should be doing all that he can to assist her." (Page 31)
"Sometimes a sister who suffered abuse as a child may approach a capable older sister for help. It is understood that a sister would not get involved in matters that need the attention of the elders. She can, however, give such a sister emotional support and encouragement as her circumstances and time allow. (w90 3/15 p. 28) If the elders are aware that a sister is offering such help, they should check with her from time to time as to the progress being made." (Pages 54-55)
"It is important never to meet alone with a sister who is a victim of abuse, suffers from depression, or for any other reason is in a delicate emotional state. A woman in such an emotional state may be more vulnerable and may be prone to develop improper feelings toward an elder meeting with her." (Page 56)
"If the accused is a married sister, it is best to have her believing husband present for the hearing. He is her head, and his efforts to restore her and direct her can be very helpful.... If the accused is a married brother, his wife would normally not attend the hearing." (Page 84)
Circuit Overseer Guidelines: "If the wife of a circuit overseer becomes ill, so that she is not able to share in the field ministry or be at the meetings for several days, the Service Department should be informed." (Page 39)
"If Internet or mobile telephone service is necessary to communicate with congregations and with the branch office, the expense incurred may be covered either by dividing the cost among the congregations or submitting them at the circuit assembly.... Additional expenses related to Internet or mobile telephone service for the wife of a circuit overseer would also be a personal expense not submitted to congregations or circuits." (Page 42)
"To form a congregation, the group should have, if possible, at least one elder or ministerial servant who can provide the necessary spiritual oversight and take the lead in the preaching work. Where pioneer sisters or other mature sisters help in forming a congregation, they may handle some responsibilities until a qualified brother becomes available." (Page 53)
"While a sister may be a good interpreter, it is not appropriate to use a sister as an interpreter for judicial cases." (Page 55)
"Since the instructors of a language class must care for certain administrative duties that would be better handled by brothers, sisters may not serve as instructors. However, qualified sisters may serve as assistants to brothers who have attended the language-teaching seminar." (Page 64)
"The branch office will provide the outline for the meeting with the pioneers... The circuit overseer may decide whether his wife should attend this meeting." (Pages 65-66)
"A married brother’s wife should also be a pioneer. She should be exemplary in her conduct and in her dealings with others. She should be an effective preacher. She should understand her role, not speaking for her husband or dominating conversations." (Page 92)
"When wives of circuit overseers display a quiet and mild spirit, show warmth and love, exhibit a happy countenance, and have an uncomplaining spirit, they win the support and confidence of others. They should set a fine example for others to follow. Each circuit overseer should help his wife to be zealous in field service, to give meaningful comments at congregation meetings, and to display respect for headship by working cooperatively under his direction." (Page 103)
"There are times when a sister might seek out a circuit overseer’s wife to discuss a personal problem. In such cases, the circuit overseer’s wife needs to be careful not to become involved in matters that should be handled by her husband or the local elders." (Page 103)
"A circuit overseer should be very careful not to divulge confidential matters to his wife. This can happen inadvertently if he discusses confidential matters—either in person or on the telephone within earshot of his wife. A circuit overseer’s wife should not be used to type reports or letters dealing with confidential information or other congregational matters. If she learns something confidential, this puts her under pressure to maintain that confidence. It is not good to subject her to such burdens." (Page 103)
"When the branch office directs that a video be shown to the congregation, the circuit overseer is responsible for the presentation. If he needs someone to assist him in setting up or running the equipment, he should select an alert, dependable brother." (Page 103, part of chapter 23: "Wives of Circuit Overseers", which wives of circuit overseers are not allowed to read. The clear implication here is that the circuit overseer's wife should not be used to assist even in something as menial as presenting a video.)
"A circuit overseer’s wife should not be away from the assignment unless her husband has first communicated with the Service Department and obtained permission." (Page 104)
Correspondence Guidelines: "In many cases the question raised is one that should be taken up with someone else. For example, a minor should consult his parents, particularly his father. (Eph. 6:4; Col. 3:20) A wife ought to consult her husband. (Eph. 5:22; Col. 3:18)" (Page 6)
"Scriptural principles about appropriate dress and grooming...Married women wisely consider the wishes of their husbands." (Page 20)
"A brother’s qualifications might be questioned if he arranged for (or condoned) his wife’s being away from home for an extended period to earn money." (Page 40)
"In handling correspondence, keep in mind that wives are to be in subjection to their husbands.... the head of the woman is the man." (Page 51)
"If a husband arranges for or approves of his wife’s doing secular work away from home for an extended period, this can affect his qualifications to care for special privileges." (Page 52)
"Care for aged parents: This is a Scriptural responsibility, and dedicated Christians must personally decide how care can best be provided. As for care provided by a married daughter, final decisions rest with her husband." (Page 53)
"Child that results either from adultery or from rape of a married woman: The husband of the married woman bears the responsibility to decide whether the infant will be raised in their home or elsewhere. It shows consideration on his part if he takes into account the wishes of his wife as the mother of the child. Child that results either from fornication or from rape of a minor girl: The father of the single, minor girl (or the mother in a single parent home where there is no father) bears the responsibility to decide whether the infant will be raised in the home or elsewhere. It shows consideration on his part to consider the minor’s valid wishes. He must also decide whether to permit the girl to marry the male who caused the pregnancy.... Abortion is wrong in cases involving adultery, fornication, or even rape." (Pages 53-54)
"Generally speaking, a sister should wear a head covering (1) when she is praying or teaching in the presence of her husband, even if he is unbaptized or if baptized is unable to speak or is handicapped physically or otherwise rendered mute, (2) when she is praying or teaching in the presence of her minor baptized son, and (3) when she is substituting for a brother in directing a meeting arranged by the congregation." (Page 62)
"If a sister is unsure whether certain circumstances require that she wear a head covering, her conscience may move her to put on a head covering.—1 Tim. 1:5, 19. There is no need for others to judge whether a head covering worn by a sister is sufficiently substantial as long as it is appropriate and is recognized as a head covering. Respect for the principle of headship is the important thing. Let the wearer bear the responsibility for deciding what kind of head covering to use. A married woman should seek and accept guidance on this from her baptized husband." (Page 62)
"While a doctor may believe that allowing a pregnancy to continue will pose a potential threat (even a serious one) to the mother, that "potential" does not justify taking the life of a child.... If at the time of delivery a choice must be made between the life of the mother and the life of the unborn child, it is up to the individuals concerned to make that choice, although there are considerations that favor the mother’s life." (Page 77)
A message to Watchtower: Stay out of things that aren't any of your business. Then maybe I'll stay out of your business.
More can be read on this issue at www.jwfacts.com/watchtower/quotes/women-submission.php, where you'll see an incredible anti-woman statement made in a 1930 edition of Golden Age, incredible even for the 1930s. Also completely sexist comments by Governing Body member Samuel Herd (before he was on the Governing Body).
To see more documents/articles regarding this group/organization/subject click here.