Ask a Former JW: Why no Windows?

Ask a Former JW: Why no Windows?

Why are there no windows in a jehovah witness temple?

First, you should know that they refer to each of their houses of worship as a “Kingdom Hall.”

There are a few reasons why there are usually (although there are exceptions) no windows in a Kingdom Hall .

1) The first and foremost reason is for security. Think of it as a bunker. Jehovah’s Witnesses are a pacifist but paranoid group. They believe that at any time, they will be vindicated by being violently persecuted. Rightly or wrongly – and there are many examples of each – they have indeed faced some opposition in communities around the world. So while one must note that such an apocalyptically-oriented belief is extremely self-justifying and community-cementing, a fear of the outside world does make some sense. Windows are an easy target for those who would persecute them with violence. They try to minimize that while emphasizing the potential for it.

There was a famous instance in 1940 of a mob of 2000 who attacked a Hall in Kennebunk Maine. A couple of Witnesses there actually had guns (unusual), fired into the crowd, and were arrested. Meanwhile, however, the crowd had broken the windows and even some of the walls.

2) They don’t want anyone to be distracted by pretty windows or outside views during their many meetings. I heard this reason given in a talk that was illustrating some of the differences between God’s People and Babylon the Great. It was full of statements beginning with “Only Jehovah’s Witnesses…”, a topic very typical of a Sunday talk script from New York. Witnesses think of their Kingdom Halls just as buildings of function, not as sacred spaces. Not unlike the early christians who used people’s houses for gatherings, they believe that the building itself is unimportant. All that matters is that they are gathered in his name. That name would be Jehovah. Jesus? Not so much. Their members are not allowed to set foot in other houses of worship, no matter how many people might be gathered there in the spirit of love.

3) The last reason is to save money. Actually, I think this is the first reason, but I’m putting the reasons I was given as an “insider” first. Windows are just more expensive than no windows. Real money stays in Brooklyn and other world headquarters. Local JWs pay for the property using the Watchtower loan system (with interest), but then the Watchtower Bible and Tract organization owns all the land. Pretty neat.

This Kingdom Hall is lovely, but only because they didn’t build it. Usually the Kingdom Hall is nothing much more than one large room with cheesy carpeting, a slightly raised stage, and a “bookstore” at the back. Restrooms are typically in the basement, along with a couple of other rooms that I remember being used primarily to discipline children but were meant for smaller group meetings.

It’s a little like an old-fashioned barnraising when a Kingdom Hall is built. Everyone is expected to help and it is fun, in a relative sort of way, to engage in some sort of real constructive effort as a group (one that doesn’t involve going door to door or listening to someone speak).

27 thoughts on “Ask a Former JW: Why no Windows?

  1. It depends on the country and tradition, I guess….in Denmark most (almost all) Kingdom Halls have a lot of windows

  2. Interesting. If the Halls are built by JWs and not just rented or taken over from previous buildings, I wonder why it would be different in Denmark, or perhaps in other places outside the U.S. Different building codes? Other reasons? Any ideas? Please comment if you know.

  3. Hmmmm….I really don´t know the reasons….I think traditions play a great part…perhaps some security reasons (fire security) are involved (but of course, cinemas house a lot of people and they have no windows!!!). When I still was a JW I went to Halls in France and Scotland and they had windows as well.

    And the money issue…the Americains (in most areas) should be just as rich as the Danes so the Society could not have used that as an excuse for building halls without windows…perhaps the Americains just always have been used to Halls without windows and the Society didn´t see any reason to introduce extra costs by suggesting Halls with windows.

    Really funny to hear how the lack of windows has been used as a metaphor for the separation of/between(?) God´s people and the ´World´. Love that part -the most naive Witnesses must feel like they are inside Noah´s ark and get saved when Harmageddon strikes 😉

    Cheers, Jess

  4. Okay, so we may not agree on the ACLU- but I thought that perhaps we could agree on something so I spy-ed you out over here.

    My family is JW’s. I no longer am. The Hall we attended was rather beautiful, and amazing even yours truly helped in building it. It had windows. And not just windows to the outside, but windows within the building to give view from a “overflow” room. The bathrooms where on the main floor- and very elegant. The construction of the entire building was funded by the local congregation. It even included a stunning courtyard. There was ceramic tiling through the hallways, bathroom and entrance. If you stood at the second stall in the womens bathroom- those where the tiiles I laid. The main area in the Hall was covered with a rich off-white berber carpet. The red spot half way up to the front of the room towards the left- was from my nail polish I spilled the night they “removed” me. I had been making faces at a friend and was caught off guard when they spoke my name.

    I lose no sleep over those that choose to remain in a cult like whatever you want to call it. My family still doesn’t talk with me. However, if arguments are to be made against them- isn’t it best to make ones that hold true no matter where they are? Windows are such a petty thing really- why not discuss something like their refusing blood for a dying child? Or the amount of children that grow up knowing only that the world is an evil place and then are trust into it due to a slight imperfection, losing connection to everything and normally everyone they have even know. Or even the fact that although they benefit from our government policies- they absolutely refuse to a] serve in the military to protect the rights they have b]pledge to the flag c]vote d]sing the national anthem e] well the list goes on and on and on.

  5. As far as I know, the reason they stopped putting windows in new Kingdom Halls is because they were regularly being vandalized, with people sometimes breaking into the interior of the hall and vandalizing it too. The cost of putting windows into a place is nothing compared to the cost of having to fix and/or replace them over and over again.

  6. NO WINDOWS? When you say that JW’s Kingdom Hall have no windows, you mean that they have less windows than the regular houses. Right? I mean, I have seen Catholic churches with no windows ( pardon me if you are Catholic ) but never a Kingdom hall with none. I agree with you, that they have less windows for safety reasons. Besides this way it helps as shelter. Also, as someone mentioned before, so people don’t get distracted. You will agree with me that in a meeting that helds around 120 people, in which some are children, or babies, it’s easily to get distracted. Now imagine a lot of windows, even more distraction. Just like in schools, parents and teachers wonder way don’t the students ever pay atention in class. You will agree with me that most class rooms have windows. In your third reason is in which I do not agree with. I don’t think that Jehovah’s Witnesses are trying to save money by not putting windows, i mean, if you own a house, it is cheaper to have windows, that to turn all your lights on. Right? At the beginning it may not be much of a difference, but with the years you would save money if you have windows. Who ever wrote this page, I would recomend you to go to Kingdom Hall to see what its like if you already went, go again. It is a very nice place, well illuminated, with friendly people, and with nothing to hide. Unlike Catholic churches, in which there is a poor illumination by candles, full of life less images that only give you nightmares instead of peace. And talking about images, doesn’t the bible said not to use any kind of images of anything in Exodus 20:4 : “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.” I mean, does the Pope reads the Bible, or what. You probably know that the word Pope means father, right? Well doens’t the Bible also says in Matthew 23:9 : “And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven.” Also, when God said you shall not kill. When the Pope blesses the guns, the bombs, and soldiers that are going to be used to kill people of another country. Does that mean that God is with them? Because there is another Pope, in the country that is going to be attacked, doing the exact same thing. Which side does God takes? The one with more faith? Or the one doing what the Bible says? If He is in favor of the one doing what the Bible says, then he is in neither side because, none of them is doing it. Do you really imagine Jesus holding a machine gun, shooting at somebody!. I don’t, but I think the Pope does. Sorry if I got out of subject but people need to open their eyes really wide this days.

    1. People have killed more in the name of religion than anything or anyone else. No matter which religion you stand behind the numbers are staggering. I believe people need to believe in something…that there is a reason for our existence that in our demise there is something. I believe its the human condition to try and explain this. This is how we stay human. We treat each other as human. Without the hope of something more our treatment of others would change our roles and rules would be non-exsistant. I cannot say that being of one religion over another is better or worse. I believe that how we treat each other on our own paths defines the person you are.

  7. They dont have windows because they dont want brothers and sisters looking outside while they are bored during the watchtower study

  8. While the previous poster’s comment about not looking outside is pretty funny, that’s not the reason LOL. It depends upon the neighborhood the Hall is in. The cong. I was raised in had a very old hall that had no windows. It was an old building that had been bought from another organization. Once they had the funds to build a new Hall they did so. Heck, I helped with it! One poster further up was talking about doing ceramic tile. I did the ceramic tile and the cealing tiles. I also helped with the siding. The new building had windows. When I moved to another state with my family the Hall we went to had windows, it was a newer one.

    The reason for the lack of windows or the size of them (most are about 5 feet in height, but no more than 6-8 inches in width so that a person can’t really squeeze in through it) has to do with security. There is a lot of expensive sound equipment and computer equipment in there. I mean, what church doesn’t have some sort of security system? And most churches I’ve seen either don’t have windows or they are very high up, near the roof.

    Like ‘L’ said in a post above, there are far more pressing issues to question in the organization than windows, although I could see how no windows could contribute to the thinking that JW’s are a cult (really, cult-like would be more appropriate).

    BTW, a side note to ‘L’: that is so funny about the red spot on the night you were df’d lol! Quite symbollic, huh? haha Most of my family are JW’s and also my ex-husband’s parents and brothers are. However, they still all talk to me. My mom calls at least once a day, my ex-mother-in-law and I have phone conversations that last at least an hour about once a week, heck, she’s like my best friend. My father and ex-father-in-law are both Elders, my ex-mother-in-law is a regular pioneer. My mom is very active. In fact, she called to say hello while she was out doing her ministry thing this morning lol. However, none of them speak to my ex-husband, but that’s b/c he was abusive and has pretty much abandoned our children for some girl. I’m so sorry that your family has cut you off like this, it is just ridiculous. Two of my cousins are also Df’d, but everyone still associates with one of them (the other is in prison for some pretty awful stuff). For the most part I really like JW’s. The majority are very loving, kind-hearted, well-intentioned people. However, there are exceptions to every rule and unfortunatly it sounds like you ended up related to some of them and that just sucks.

  9. Valuable sound equipment? Surely you jest. Let me return your attention to the case that may have affected the basic Kingdom Hall design. In any case, I remember well the talks that covered security to prepare for the upcoming persecution, and that gave permission to lie to “wordly authorities” because they were ruled by Satan, etc. etc. This windows question is really interesting and I think there is probably a lot of history to the answer – it’s too bad that the Watchtower Society keeps such a tight rein (and reign!) over their financial and other information. They are quite rich, you know. Side note – what insurance for injury was there for you and others while you were building the Halls? Would you have ever considered suing them if something happened? I wonder if anyone has ever gotten seriously hurt in construction – and what aid the Watchtower Society would have given them.

    Again, Samantha, I would have to argue that your case is really more the exception to the rule. The people you know and who love you are willing to disobey for your sake. I would say that probably you inspire that, so – you go, girl! I’m so proud that your being around brings out the best in others – love and caring and communication, and all of that.

    However, they are in fact breaking the rules, and could be “ratted out” and disciplined at some point. And if that happens, just remember how long they stayed by you despite what they were ordered – repeatedly – to do.

    That you have people who are JWs and love you enough to break these rules is amazing and wonderful. But I have to say that the people I talk to do not have this experience. Often they are seriously troubled, isolated, fearful of being attacked by demons – all kinds of stuff. In many cases their problems are so severe that I feel my place is only to reassure them that it is safe to seek help from “worldly authorities” (like psychologists, for example). In others, I can offer specific strategies to counteract the sheer cruelty that is taking place – often between parents and children or between relatives. Some of these share the same house and barely speak to one another because – like it or not – that is exactly what they have been ordered to do.

    And when the broken spirit “repents” and returns because it is the only choice they think they’ve got, they get no help then either. Shunning is a barbaric practice, but especially when it involves such a demonized vision of the world in combination with an insular community so convinced that they are superior to it and at the same time are fearful of really being a part of it.

    Sometimes I wonder whether the current administration had a JW advisor somewhere in there – they are great at isolation and the uses of fear to manipulate.

  10. Yes, I am very aware that if one of the psychos in my family’s congregation found out the extent to which they help me and associate with me that they would all be dealt with by the elders. This is so horribly unfortunate. Although they do associate with me they are very afraid of being seen with me. I still cannot go out to dinner with them or on vacation with them. Although they may allow this, I don’t want them to endure what I did in meeting with the ‘judicial committee’. I also agree with there not being any help for those wishing to return to the congregation. I myself was a victim to this. There were those elders that, when they saw me there, would smile or tell me they were very happy to see me there. Most probably wouldn’t do this. I ended up leaving my husband because he was abusive. So, in order for me to attend a meeting I have to take three small children by myself (ages 4, 2, and 5-months). No one there would ever help me with them. Again, there were a few that would, those that knew my oldest before would take him to sit with them so that I only had the other two to attend to. However, when I was pregnant with #2, the reason for my DF’ing, I went to EVERY meeting for six months. Come hell or high waterI was there and if I couldn’t be there I called an elder to tell them why. My ex-h was doing the same for quite sometime, but stopped. I put in a letter requesting reinstatement. I had worked so hard and wanted to be reinstated so that my familiy being there during my son’s birth would not be an issue. However, my request was denied. Why? Because my then husband was not attending meetings, as though I could control that.

    But, I digress. I have never heard of an instance where JW’s were encouraged to lie to the authorities. Their stand on ‘worldly authorities’ is that they are placed there to rule by ‘God’. The JW’s are supposed to be subject to the authorities unless it goes against god’s laws. In the case that they do violate a law in the name of their religion it’s not encouraged that they lie to them. However, I think that this is part of the whole persecution thing, if you are persecuted then you must be doing the right thing and the ‘world’ wants to keep you from doing so. The JW’s are not encouraged to hide their activites because they WANT to be persecuted. This way the society can say, “see, we told you the world is against us. All the prophecies are coming true.”

  11. I was raised in the JWs to believe that all worldly authorities were of Satan, not God. And lying to such authorities is seen as justified anytime the authority doesn’t deserve to know something – this is the infamous “theocratic war strategy”. There are tons of articles on this – google it. This is just a somewaht random, and small, sampling.

    The Watchtower, January 15, 1983, p. 22: “This fact cannot be overemphasized: We are in a war with superhuman foes, and we constantly need to be aware of this.”

    Quote from a Jehovah’s Witness Speaker preaching at a Jehovah’s Witness Convention, as was shown on the Australian ‘Sunday’ Television Program “Silent Witnesses” on September 22nd, 2002 : “The media out there, with all its power and its might, it presents human nature in three D’s, three D’s – debauchery of every kind, deception of every kind and demonism of every kind – and we need to be aware of that.”

    From the official PR site: “There is no need to guess at the matter, for the Bible clearly shows that an intelligent, unseen person has been controlling both men and nations. It says: “The whole world is lying in the power of the wicked one.” And the Bible identifies him, saying: “The one called Devil and Satan . . . is misleading the entire inhabited earth.”—1 John 5:19; Revelation 12:9. So, then, Satan the Devil really is the unseen ruler of the world! The Bible, in fact, calls him “the god of this system of things.” (2 Corinthians 4:4) True, many may scoff at the idea that this world is ruled by wicked spirits. But their disbelief is not surprising, since the Bible says: “Satan himself keeps transforming himself into an angel of light.” (2 Corinthians 11:14) His most clever deception has been in blinding many to the fact that he and his demons really exist. But do not be deceived! The Devil and his demons are real, and you need to resist them continually.—1 Peter 5:8, 9. Happily, the time is now near when Satan and his cohorts will be no more! “The world [including its demon rulers] is passing away,” the Bible assures, “but he that does the will of God remains forever.” (1 John 2:17) What a relief it will be to have that evil influence removed! May we, therefore, be among those who do God’s will and enjoy life forever in God’s righteous new world.—Psalm 37:9-11, 29; 2 Peter 3:13; Revelation 21:3, 4.”

    Feb. 8, 2000 Awake!, “Cautious as Serpents,” p.21: “Of course, being truthful does not mean that we are obligated to divulge all information to anyone who asks it of us. “Do not give what is holy to dogs, neither throw your pearls before swine, that they may never … turn around and rip you open,” warned Jesus, at Matthew 7:6. For example, individuals with wicked intent may have no right to know certain things. Christians understand that they are living in a hostile world. Thus, Jesus advised his disciples to be “cautious as serpents” while remaining “innocent as doves.” (Matthew 10:16; John 15:19) Jesus did not always disclose the full truth, especially when revealing all the facts could have brought unnecessary harm to himself or his disciples. Still, even at such times, he did not lie. Instead, he chose either to say nothing or to divert the conversation in another direction.–Matthew 15:1-6; 21:23 -27; John 7:3-10”

    See Jerry Bergman, Lying in Court and Religion: An Analysis of the Theocratic Warfare Doctrine of the Jehovah’s Witnesses

    The Watchtower Society teaches that all Jehovah’s Witnesses should use “Theocratic Warfare Strategy”

    Colleagues concealed sex abuse to protect ‘clean image’ of Witnesses: But fellow elders Steve Brown and Brian Cairns were more interested in protecting the accused, Gower Palmer, than they were the welfare of his young daughter, Momm testified.
    “They didn’t want to have anything to do with the law of the land …they wanted it kept quiet, and we didn’t agree with that,” he told lawyer Charles Mark.
    “This has been going on for 13 years and all I ever got out of it is: ‘It is important to keep a clean image. Never mind about the victims.'”

    Does the Watchtower Protect Pedophiles?
    Former Watchtower researcher, Barbara Anderson, who worked at Watchtower headquarters, was asked in the early 90’s, by the Society, to look into a case involving sexual abuse. What did she find? According to Dateline, “Hundreds of molestation cases on record, all kept secret in church files–secret not only from the outside world, but from the members themselves, the families, the mothers and fathers and children who trust the church is looking out for them.” Why? Again the Watchtower considers all worldly authorities to be part of Satan’s organization so they deal with the issues internally. And without the necessary 2 or 3 witnesses, the perpetrator is let off scott-free.

    Oh, I also ran across this little item:

    Watchtower, June 1, 1992, pp 18-19: “Sometimes, in order to keep the congregation clean, elders have to disfellowship an unrepentant wrongdoer. (1 Corinthians 5:1-5) This protects the congregation. It may also help the wrongdoer. Often, such discipline has helped to bring a sinner to his senses. What, though, if the one disfellowshipped is a close friend or a relative? Suppose the individual is our father or mother or our son or daughter. Do we nevertheless respect the action taken by the elders? True, it may be difficult. But what an abuse of our freedom it would be to question the decision of the elders and continue to associate spiritually with one who has proved to be a corrupting influence in the congregation! (2 John 10, 11)”

  12. I grew up in a JW family and all my mother’s side of the family are still strong followers. I fortunately did not get involved with the cult but will not explain the history. It is unfortunate that GRACE is not believed, even though the BIBLE talks about it and salvation very strongly. I got saved by the blood of Jesus and feel sorry for my mother and her side of the family because I have tried to talk with them to no avail to know that no matter how hard you work no guarantee exists.
    I have found that as a individual just to study things about the Watchtower Society alone would seem to make a JW doubt the whole system: like who wrote the “scriptures” for them and why, or why they bought large lots of land and mansions built for the end end times and even made several prophecies about the end only for it to never come (1914-1925) from the same person(s) that interpreted their scriptures. They don’t like to put things like this under scrutiny because it would undermine their purpose. But I guess the “blind leading the blind” seems appropriate. The BIBLE makes mention “to study as the Bareans”- meaning to search/study on your own and not simply take what someone is telling you to belief as “de facto”. Truly sad, just as sad as the Mormons with similar beginnings. I pray that people like some here realize that Jesus reveals himself to them to truly understand grace and salvation. Lastly, when I do get opportunites to talk with JWs about the history, etc. of the cult they deny it or deny me being able to know such things without being in their belief system but they fail to forget that if something was published or printed it can be found. Technology is wonderful. Thanks,

  13. Hi
    I was reading “Crisis of Conscience” by Raymond Franz. 4th edition. footnote page 56 speaks about the translators of the NWT, one person named is George Gangas. it goes on to say that only Fred Franz who has some knowledge of the Bible languages. thus implying that George Gangas knew no greek. however in page 88 the last paragraph the first line says that George Gangas is a “warm and effervescent Greek…”
    can some one help me to understand what R Franz mean. it seams controdectory for me. I just want to know how a Greek George Gangas knew no Greek.


  14. please i hate you americans because you are moody and fault finders dont be like that if you leave that church why are you defaming them they live their own faith thats not fare my dear live your true life

    1. I’m answering a question that was asked, Elias. There was a history there, and there were reasons in the States because of it. Not my fault if you’re not aware of them. There is no defamation in speaking truth. Hate is conduct unbecoming a christian. In trying to “spread the good news” JWs ask that people consider whether their religion shows the fruits of the spirit. It’s only fair that they be judged by the same standard. They’ve caused much suffering by their misinterpretations.

  15. Sam,
    Languages change over time. The Koine Greek in which the Bible was written is no longer a living language.


    I’ve been in many many Kingdom Halls in my time. Many in Ireland, a fair few in the UK, and some in France, one in Switzerland, one in Athens. Also a few in the USA, though I was 12 at the time and can’t recall that holiday clearly. To the best of my recollection, every single one of them had windows.


  16. Actually you are very wrong. You are describing our halls like dungeons when they are nothing of the sort. We have many windows and it’s very nice in our halls also. We have more than “cheesy carpeting” we have marble tiled floor. Lovely carpet in the main hall and our walls are painted also. This hall is in middlesex New Jersey and many others I’ve been to have windows, and we are far from paranoid look at our website and learn more. It’s the official Jehovah witness website. Be careful other websites are used to draw others away from the truth.

    1. Yes, it does seem that the policy about new Kingdom Halls has changed in the last couple of decades. The older ones are as described. Now, who provided the financing and on what terms? Who paid for it? Who built it? And most importantly, who OWNS it? Oh, I’ve seen the whitewashed PR site. Sorry – but I know the REAL doctrines. Nice try.

      1. There is some diversity now in the plans, partly because they aren’t all built by the congregation anymore. Many of the buildings had a previous existence for another purpose. Depending on how much defensive, fortification mentality is active, there many or many not be windows, covered or not. Generally, the bunker style is preferred over anything that could be mistaken for a church.

        1. the 2 halls i was intimate with (Attleboro, and Mansfield, MA) both had multiple break ins in the 80s and yes the sound systems were taken, as well as vandalism. i know that was discussed in detail when deciding how to proceed in the future, repairs, etc. most Halls today, are in fact built on a volunteer basis by the local congregations. as i recall, there was still plenty to be distracted with windows or no windows!

  17. Save on heat and save on window washing. Keep prying eyes out and do as they wish with children. Those are the real reasons for no windows. Theirs is the most twisted truth known to mankind. Suckers are born every day and hand everything over to the Watchtower including there souls. Their belief system has nothing to do with Jesus message of love. Absolutely nothing. There are recovering JW’s everywhere so look for them if you are trying to get out.

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