Babies as “Enemies of God”
Some people may have been shocked to hear Governing Body member Stephen Lett declare at the 2022 JW “Pursue Peace” convention, that babies are “enemies of God”:
But I was not surprised. In addition to the pernicious doctrine of “original sin,” which they share with the majority of Christian sects, the Witnesses are burdened with an even more despicable doctrine relating to babies. Yes, behind the image of these smiling, clean-cut, innocuous spreaders of “the good news,” there is a dark side. In fact, a core doctrine of the religion is based on one man’s murderous intent towards all non-JWs, babies included.
Let me explain by a brief bit of the religion’s history.
The founder of the Watchtower, Charles Taze Russell, taught that everyone living would survive Armageddon into the “New Order,” and there be judged, during the Millennium, as to whether they deserved to live forever on a paradise earth. Everyone, that is, except the “elect” (which are now known as the “anointed”). The elect would go to heaven upon their death.
But there was a further class in the original Watchtower theology. The “elect” were subdivided into the “Little Flock” of 144,000, and the “Other Sheep.” They were all going to heaven, but the “Other Sheep” would hold a lesser station there.* (Jehovah’s Witnesses—Proclaimers of God’s Kingdom p. 161)
This was the belief when Rutherford took over. When he made his famous speech in 1920, “Millions Now Living Will Never Die,” he wasn’t talking about the Little Flock or the Other Sheep. He was referring to people outside of his organization who would survive Armageddon.
Then things took a turn for the worse. Rutherford, a notorious alcoholic, with a huge ego and a paranoid personality, began seething with hatred towards his supposed “enemies,” whom he thought were responsible for his imprisonment. He even wrote an entire book with the title “Enemies”: lumping together all governments and all other religions as God’s foes. It evidently galled him to think of these people surviving Armageddon and gaining everlasting life in paradise.
He hated them so much that he wanted to kill them.
Just as he had thrown out the Watchtower’s board of directors (set up in Russell’s will), and had thrown out elders who had been elected by their individual congregations, Rutherford’s new theology expelled everyone from paradise who were not in his organization. He decided that they would all be killed by Jesus and himself (along with his 143,999 cohorts) in the Battle of Armageddon!
But what to do about the “millions now living” who would never die? The speech was too well publicized for the past 15 years to backpedal now. So, he did what he did best: another purge. He threw the Other Sheep out of heaven! In May of 1935 he announced that all his followers who had hoped to go to heaven as the lesser “Other Sheep” class, would now live forever on the earth, whether they liked it or not.
In one bold stroke he had replaced all living humans as the “millions now living who would never die” with a sub-group of his own followers! They didn’t number in the millions, at that point, so he must’ve been optimistic about future growth [which he didn’t live to see: there were only about 115,000 Witnesses at the time of his death in 1942].
Many Witnesses today believe that the 1935 change of venue for the Other Sheep was due to a great influx of converts to the religion, totaling more than 144,000, and therefore requiring a rethinking of the Other Sheep’s everlasting home. But such was not the case. The Other Sheep were already viewed as a class separate from the 144,000, so their increasing numbers posed no problem; there was plenty of room for more of that class in heaven.
The Watchtower claims that Rutherford provided “conclusive evidence” in 1935 for the Great Crowd being earthly. We examine this “evidence” in full here. But, instead of using his arguments, the Watchtower of today provides the following explanation for the demotion of the Other Sheep (which Rutherford arbitrarily made synonymous with the “Great Crowd” of Revelation):
The key to the identification of the “great crowd” is found within the description of them in Revelation chapter 7 and in obviously parallel passages. Revelation 7:15-17 speaks of God as ‘spreading his tent over them,’ of their being guided to “fountains of waters of life,” and of God’s wiping “every tear from their eyes.” At Revelation 21:2-4 we find parallel expressions: ‘God’s tent being with mankind,’ his ‘wiping every tear from their eyes,’ and ‘death being no more.’ The vision there presented is concerning persons not in heaven, from where the ‘New Jerusalem comes down,’ but on earth, among mankind.
it-1 pp. 995-997
But Revelation 21 says nothing about the Great Crowd. It’s not talking about people on earth, because it says the earth had passed away by that point, and the “heavenly city of New Jerusalem” is where all these “parallels” seem to happen. So, this “argument from a lame analogy” can hardly be used as “scriptural proof” that the Great Crowd of Revelation 7 will live forever on earth.
When Revelation explicitly mentions the location of the Great Crowd, it is not on earth:
After this I heard what seemed to be a loud voice of a great crowd in heaven.Rev. 19:1 (NWT)
There are no scriptures in the Bible that hold out a hope for individuals to live forever on earth.
As for the meek “inheriting the earth,” the Watchtower says that this does not refer to the Other Sheep. Rather, it means that the anointed will own the earth when they are in heaven. (Insight on the Scriptures, Volume 1 p.1201 )
Psalm 37:29 does say: “The righteous will inherit the land [“earth” NWT] and dwell in it forever.” But that is from the lyrics of a song, upon whose poetic license no sensible Bible student would base a core doctrine. The Watchtower has even admitted that this lyric refers to the Israelites occupying Israel, as a people, forever (but then, of course, in their circular reasoning they state that it must also refer to individuals living forever on the earth, because that’s their doctrine.) (WT, Jan 1, 1986, p. 31) We could counter this with another song lyric: “the earth and the heavens… they shall perish,” — Psalm 102: 25-26. Jesus also stated that the earth would pass away (Mt. 24:35), making it very difficult for anyone to live on it forever.
The Real Reason: a Sad, Hateful Legacy
Rutherford had no scriptural reason to change what the Watchtower had taught for over half a century. The real reason that most Jehovah’s Witnesses now believe that they will live forever on earth, rather than in heaven, is all based on one man’s hatred and his desire to personally participate in killing his enemies, whom he conceived to be the whole world outside of his organization.
His attitude is perpetuated in the Governing Body today, who have expressed their eagerness to join in the fighting of the Battle of Armageddon — where all non-JWs will be killed — and witness first-hand their burning bodies, which they’ve likened to the horror of “human hot-dogs.” This, of course, includes the killing of babies (Reasoning From the Scriptures: “What will happen to young children at Armageddon?”, p. 48). No wonder they consider babies “enemies of God”; they think it will soon be their duty to dispatch them in his name.
But, for a change, we will let the Watchtower have the last word on this subject. The following quote concerns, not the babies of unbelievers, but the children of Jehovah’s Witnesses: ones who should be nearest and dearest to the Governing Body’s hearts. Listen carefully for the “unconditional love” they claim to have:
Should even youths consider baptism? Well, recall that Jehovah told the six armed men in the vision: “Old man, young man and virgin and little child and women you should kill off—to a ruination. But to any man upon whom there is the mark do not go near.” (Ezekiel 9:6) Of course, children too young to make a dedication would be protected by a parent’s “mark” if that parent is striving to bring the children up to love Jehovah and if they are obediently responding. (1 Corinthians 7:14) Yet, if a child is intelligent enough to make a personal decision and has reached the point where he “knows how to do what is right,” do not presume that he will continue indefinitely under the merit of his parent’s “mark.”—James 4:17.Watchtower, 1987, April 15, p. 12-13 emphasis added
- Conclusive Proof that the Great Crowd is an Earthly Class(?)
- You Can’t Live Forever in Paradise on Earth
- The 144,000 vs The Great Crowd
- Great Crowd of Other Sheep
- Paradise on Earth Forever
- Salvation Only for Jehovah’s Witnesses
* It’s beside the point, here, that this itself was an obvious misinterpretation of what Jesus meant: the “little flock” simply referred to the Jews, and the “other sheep” to the Gentiles.