In 1987 I thought the following regarding the organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses:

  • We had no clergy class
  • The governing body members were humble and discreet men
  • We did not seek money from the public
  • We were selling nothing
  • All organizational activities were transparent and open to the public
  • We would never televise our faith as the evangelists were doing
  • A governing body member would never think to appear on a million dollar set bearing a gaudy pinky ring

I was wrong

In 1987 Ray Stevens released the song “Would Jesus Wear a Rolex”. It used humor and music in a powerful way to expose the hypocrisy that was manifesting itself via the well-dressed men wearing expensive clothes and pinky rings who preyed on the financial resources of millions of television viewers and mega-church attendees. Never in my lifetime would I have ever thought that what I called “Truth” would nearly 30 years later resemble the tithe-hungry teleprompting ministries of what we referred to as “Christendom”.

The song begins with the simple lyric “Woke up this morning, turned on the TV set”. I could not help but see the immediate parallel in that as of 7.30 AM EST October 6th 2014 the governing body has chosen to lay down a path that I am very certain Jesus of Nazareth would never approve of. Jehovah’s Witnesses used to pride themselves on being different from Christendom and its various self-benefiting ministries. No longer is this the case. In fact the ministries of most mainstream churches can boast philanthropic works such as soup kitchens and homeless shelters. Jehovah’s Witnesses perform none of these charitable works, claiming that their ministry of good news is enough charity for the world.

The recent financial gains from the sale of Brooklyn properties as well as the new “fixed donations” arrangement required of all congregations and its members is a wake-up call to those of us who thought there was no connection between money and everlasting life. Rather than downsize the organization and its buildings, investments and now a TV studio, Witnesses are taught to “gear up” for further expansion, fooling its members into thinking that all of the flash and the property are signs of “Jehovah’s blessing” rather than what they really are: material toys in the hands of men who still teach Armageddon is just around the corner.  The sheer momentum of all of this spending and so-called theocratic expansion ties these volunteer workers down for decades, with little time to think for themselves about what they are really supporting.  Most are too busy patting each other on the back to look around and see how closely their organization now mimics so many fundamentalist religions.

Most of us who lived through the 1980s rode the wave of JW expansion as we were told that the generation riding this wave would absolutely not pass away before the onset of Armageddon and the end of this system of things. A few years ago this wave crashed on shore leaving thousands wondering what happened. Most in the organization were pulled back out to sea only to ride the next wave. If you have perspective you will know that going back out to sea will only leave you tossed back on shore, dazed and confused and wishing you had never baptized yourself into this turbulent water. You might also be left asking- Would Jesus Wear a Pinky Ring on his internet show?


Performance by Ray Stevens

Lyrics by Chet Adkins and Margaret Archer

Woke up this mornin’, turned on the T.V. set
There in livin’ color, was somethin’ I can’t forget
This man was preachin’ at me, yeah, layin’ on the charm
Askin’ me for twenty with ten-thousand on his arm

He wore designer clothes and a big smile on his face
Sellin’ me salvation while they sang amazin’ grace
Askin’ me for money when he had all the signs of wealth
I almost wrote a check out, yeah, then I asked myself

Would He wear a Pinky ring?
Would He drive a fancy car?
Would His wife wear furs and diamonds?
Would His dressin’ room have a star?

If He come back tomorrow
Well there’s somethin’ I’d like to know
(Can you tell me?)
Would Jesus wear a Rolex
On His television show?

Would Jesus be political
If He come back to earth?
Have His second home in Palm Springs?
Yeah, try to hide His worth?

Take money, from those poor folks
When He comes back again
And admit He’s talked to all them preachers
Who say they’ve been talkin’ to Him?

Just ask ya’ self, would He wear a Pinky ring?
Would He drive a fancy car?
Would His wife wear furs and diamonds?
Would His dressing room have a star?

If He come back tomorrow
Well there’s somethin’ I’d like to know
Could ya tell me?
Would Jesus wear a Rolex?
Would Jesus wear a Rolex?
Would Jesus wear a Rolex
On His television show? Oh oh
(Would Jesus wear a Rolex)
(On His television show?)