Here's an email we received about whether the 141 Rules are correct or not.
Question: 'I've been taken to task by 3 JWs for writing that these rules exist in the JW faith. Can you offer any help for my response; such as where they are found, how severely they are enforced, etc.'
Answer: This is a very good question and one we've been asked many times.
You can be sure that the 141 rules are correct. The list has been online since 2009 and so far not one single person has showed us factual proof that the rules are not true.
Please understand that the 141 rules were compiled by former Jehovah's Witnesses based on decades of experience. It's not an organizational document. We have more rules we could be add to the list and of course we could condense some rules to make the list shorter.
A problem can arise when people quickly read the 141 rules without considering the rest of the article.
If only it was that easy to say, 'here are 141 rules'. Everyone who breaks these rules will receive exactly the same punishment. The real world of Jehovah's Witnesses is much more complex. It takes time to understand their beliefs.
Most Jehovah's Witness who are happy with their religion don't feel they're being forced to follow any rules whatsoever. From their perspective, because they don't feel 'forced' to follow any rules, they can say that the 141 'rules' are not correct, or there are no 'rules', even though they know this isn't the whole truth and nothing but the truth. . ... read more
Jehovah's Witnesses prefer to be honest, but according to their 'Bible based' doctrine of 'theocratic warfare' it's ok and in fact commendable to deceive people in order to put their religion in the best possible light.
Notice what their literature says. 'So in time of spiritual warfare it is proper to misdirect the enemy by hiding the truth. ... God’s servants are sent forth as sheep among wolves and therefore need to exercise the extreme caution of serpents so as to protect properly the interests of God’s kingdom committed to them. At all times they must be very careful not to divulge any information to the enemy that he could use to hamper the preaching work.' Watchtower May 1, 1957 Page 285 - 286.'
So when they tell you the 141 rules are not correct, you need to take it with a grain of salt. They are likely trying to protect their organization. Dig deeper and find out exactly what they really mean when they say the 141 rules are not correct.
A common tactic with the Witnesses to throw outsiders off track is to make a statement that is deliberately misleading but not a lie. They will try this first in hopes that you'll believe them. If you begin asking more questions, and they're boxed into a corner, then they have to make a split second decision. Panic mode sets in because even though they know deep down that lying is wrong, sometimes they see no other alternative.
e.g. they might say ' the 141 rules are not correct, ... absolute rubbish, ... don't believe a word of it,' etc. You would then assume that ALL 141 rules are not correct. That's what they're hoping you'll believe. However it might be that they noticed one word was spelled wrong on the list or perhaps there was a grammatical error, or perhaps one rule is worded in such a way that it's correct but not 100% correct according to their understanding of the rules. Technically then, they could say that 'the 141 rules are not correct', in hopes that you'll accept this as the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
Some Witnesses have tried to tell us that '141' rules is not correct because some rules could be combined into one rule to make the list shorter. While this is true, we could have added more rules and made the list longer. We could have titled the page 101 rules, 149 rules, or 299 rules. The fact of the matter is that the rules accurately reflect what's expected within their organization.
Without any disrespect, JW's don't have access to how the organization operates unless they've been appointed to the position of Elder or higher. The real rules and what can happen is secret information
If you want proof of this, there are several online forums/websites where people are discussing the 141 rules. You will notice that Jehovah's Witnesses are disagreeing amongst themselves about which rules are correct and which ones are not. That's because they don't really know! Only Elders have access to the rules and how they are enforced.
The most important rule in the JW faith is loyalty to the organization and those 'taking the lead'. The 141 Rules says that, 'The rules are not quite as important as loyalty to the organization.'
That being said, some of the 141 rules must not be broken. Some rules must be kept. Other rules are not as serious. Elders may decide to look the other way and say nothing at all, as long as a Witness has a healthy attitude about the organization.
On the other hand if a Witness is rebellious and refuses to obey, they could be excommunicated for virtually any reason, regardless of how trivial the matter is.
So from the perspective of a Witness who doesn't have access to organizational rules, they might notice that some people in their congregation break some of the rules and the Elders don't do anything about it. Does that mean that some of the 141 rules are 'incorrect', or there are no rules, or the rules are a matter of conscience? No it does not. What it means is that minor violations are ignored in some situations when people are 100% loyal to the organization in important matters, such as going door to door, participating at meetings, and swearing that they are God's organization. On the other hand someone who follows the rules perfectly, could get disfellowshipped for any little trivial matter, if they were to challenge the authority of congregation Elders or the Governing Body of Jehovah's Witnesses.
Take a look at the 2010 Elder's Manual, Shepherd the Flock of God and you will notice that what we say is correct. As you do that, compare the organization's reasons for disfellowshipping with what Paul says in 1 Cor 5 about expelling 'the wicked man'. Their reasons for disfellowshipping are not same as the reasons Paul gave! They have added to God's Word and distorted it's meaning.
1 Cor 5 is a perfect example of how they use the Bible. What they say the Bible says, is not 'the whole truth and nothing but the truth'. They use the Bible as a tool to support what they say but they don't use the organization as a tool to support what the Bible says. As you read all the articles on this site, you'll find this to be true.