The Jehovah's Witnesses have hurriedly disaffiliated from the United
Nations within days of a Guardian story in which members accused the
sect of hypocrisy for supporting an organisation it has repeatedly
After the article last Monday, the organisation's New York based
hierarchy pre-empted a UN inquiry by agreeing to dissociate the
Witnesses from an organisation which it holds to be the scarlet beast
named in the Book of Revelation.
The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, as the sect is
formally known, has 6m members worldwide and 130,000 in Britain. It
had been secretly affiliated to the UN as a non-governmental
organisation for 10 years.
Recognised organisations are supposed to demonstrate that they
share the UN's objectives, but Witnesses are instead told by elders to
regard it as "a disgusting thing in the sight of God and his people"
for allegedly aspiring to world domination like Babylon the Great, the
beast in Revelation.
The sect does not believe in participating in government and
initially strove to play down or deny the evidence of the UN's
website, which lists it as one of 1,500 affiliated NGOs.
Those bringing the evidence to light were accused of apostacy.
Disaffiliated members become known informally, like the rest of
humanity, as "bird seed" in line with biblical prophesy of the fate of
non-believers, whose corpses will be pecked bare by crows.
Within hours of the article's appearance on the Guardian website on
Monday and its posting on a Jehovah's Witnesses bulletin board, more
than 14,000 people across the world had read it.
By yesterday there were 353 official posts and 325 message boards
discussing the article and its revelations, with Witnesses in the US
demanding to see copies of the paper.