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Panorama Friday, 12 July, 2002, 18:20 GMT 19:20 UK
Who runs the Jehovah's Witnesses

The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society - the corporate entity that runs Jehovah's Witnesses - is controlled by a governing body which currently stands at around eleven men.

These men have all been Jehovah's Witnesses for many years and most are, in addition, "anointed" brothers.

Being anointed means they will be part of a special group of 144,000 who will join Jehovah and Jesus Christ in Heaven to rule the earth after Armageddon, in which all non-believers will be destroyed by God.

Becoming an anointed one is not something that is done by voting or selection. Rather the anointed one knows directly from God that he or she has been chosen.

Authority from God

The governing body is seen as the channel from God on earth, authorised to direct all activities of Jehovah's Witnesses.

They send directives to the ordinary "publishers", as members are often described, through letters to the elders, through their publications and through the conventions held every summer around the world.

The governing body has a chairman and this post rotates around the group on an annual basis.

Practical duties

There are also more practical matters involved in running the dozens of organisations around the world which make up the worldwide Watchtower Bible and Tract Society.

These involve controlling the publishing and printing of 700 million "Watchtower" and "Awake" magazines annually, organising the conventions, building new Kingdom Halls and starting new congregations around the world.

These are done by thousands of people around the world, many of whom take a vow of poverty, working on the miscellaneous tasks that are involved in running an organisation which has an annual income of around a billion dollars.

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