Lloyd Evans: The Magical Monetisation Tour
Charitable endeavours are by no means products of contemporary times. They’ve been around for many centuries. The ancient Hebrews instituted taxes meant to help the poor. The great Roman Emperor Caesar Augustus gave land to his soldiers and gold coins to over 200,000 needy subjects. However, in more modern times charities have become more widespread and the causes quite diverse in scope. Charities which benefit children, animals and political causes are among the few that are more prominent.
And then there’s James Lloyd Evans.
The warning signs were there from the very beginning. Critics were advised to think of the great things he was doing in order to bring awareness to abuses within the Jehovah’s Witnesses religion. To invite attention to his financial activities within the exJW community was tantamount to having it redirected towards the accuser, not the accused. Common refrains borrowed from time spent inside the organisation were that people were only causing division within the ranks when their real target should have been Watchtower. Such people were also labeled as having a “JW mindset”, and only sought to gossip and try to play Kingdom Hall style politics in order to bring a perceived enemy down. The scrutiny rarely stayed on the initial source - that of a self-styled activist who was crowdfunding several thousands of dollars from vulnerable former cult members who had been conditioned since childhood to trust the organization they belonged to and be generous with contributions. For a JW to question where the money was going to and how it was spent was tantamount to apostasy and “murmuring” against the organisation.
As a former elder, ministerial servant. MTS graduate, and special assistant at conventions of Jehovah’s Witnesses in the UK, Lloyd Evans was well aware of these tactics. As an integral part of his activism, he had taken the organisation to task several times in videos, social media posts and even songs to shine a light on the business side of a supposedly non-profit entity. In 2015, Governing Body member Stephen Lett appeared on JW Broadcasting to inform viewers that Watchtower had more money going out than coming in. Though he stopped short of asking for donations directly, it was highly implied that one should do so. According to Lett, “There are some facts we want to make you aware of”, before listing off the costly initiatives the WT was embarking upon.
Lloyd Evans was the primary voice among JW activists in rebutting this video. In addition to several YT videos, he wrote this comprehensive blog on his website:
He made several poignant points in this blog entry, which adeptly indicated everything that was wrong with Lett’s JW Broadcast. Under the subheading “From lack of transparency to blatant desception”, Evans writes:
"If you are going to divulge a shortfall in funds, particularly with the aim of leveraging more donations (or “valuable things”) from a pool of supporters who are already lagging in this regard, the least you can do is treat them like adults and give some hard numbers. Nowhere in Lett’s rather patronizing, condescending comments is a single figure cited regarding the projected amounts of income and expenditure, and the shortfall between the two. Everything is left to the imagination (or, more accurately, gullibility) of the viewer."
Here Lloyd makes a valid point. Though Lett was clear about the shortfall of money, he cites no single figure explaining how and why it happened. Indeed, Lett is criticized for not treating his viewers as adults and giving them actual figures to contemplate, but rather leaves it all to the “imagination” of the viewer, or rather the “gullibility” in Lloyd’s parlance.
This was in 2015, and Lloyd was relatively new on the scene, having his “John Cedars” YouTube account open for only three years. This is something to remember as Lloyd’s own finances began skyrocketing in the latter years of the 2010s and into 2022. As related in another blog article, Lloyd’s business had taken a huge dive in 2022 due to a sex worker and misuse of donations scandal in 2022.
By January 2023, Lloyd’s primary source of income through Patreon had dipped below 400 patrons from a high of 889 patrons exactly one year ago. This represented at least a 54% drop in income. Like Watchtower in 2015, he had come to a day of reckoning. By his own account, his channel was “struggling”. Here is his tweet thread posted on 24 January 2023:
Like Stephen Lett in 2015, Lloyd fails to treat his viewers as adults and does not give them hard figures. In fact, this statement goes even beyond Watchtower’s pathetic performance that year. His viewers and supporters are actually given a specific threat – that being of Lloyd having to give up activism altogether if donations were not to reverse their downward trend and start increasing. Through what could only be described as sheer powers of manipulation, Lloyd actually repeats ad nauseam that he is not appealing for money and that this purely an FYI so viewers would know why he either had to leave or “dractically scale back” his operations. Despite the lack of transparency he bitterly complained about when Stephen Lett did the same thing in 2015, Lloyd here is equally guilty if not worse. Notice the emotional roller coaster he places his viewers on. Phrases like “I won’t turn the lights out on Ramacro just yet” and “nothing last forever”. This is classic emotional manipulation that Lloyd Evans should be utterly embarrassed he had even written.
On the last tweet, Lloyd places the words “Most Urgent” next to PayPal. Out of all three methods of donations, PayPal is by far the quickest he can get the money and it is not taxed at all like YT and Patreon are. Lloyd was clearly low on funds due to his own actions, his behaviour after the scandal, his mismanaged and ill-advised lawsuit he filed in May 2022, and his continued attacks towards exJWs who disagreed with him. The PayPal method was essentially funds which had no strings attached and he could do with as he wished. The Patreon payday was more than a week away and evidently, he could not wait any longer to be personally compensated.
What were the results of this non-plea for money? As it turned out, by insisting he was not asking for money, Evans ended up getting exactly what he wanted. Several viewers were inclined to give generous PayPal cash infusions based on his tweet replies and his Patreon donors spiked to 423 (as of 31 January 2023) from a low of 386. Some current Patreon donors even increased their monthly pledges as a result of this tweet. There is also a new feature he instituted on 7 December 2022 with YouTube memberships. These work the same way Patreon does and has tiers of support, specifically $4.99, $9.99, $24.99 and $49.99 per month. In addition to his already existing methods of support, the YouTube memberships are a Watchtower style tactic which opens up several different funds to support him financially. They all have the same purpose - to funnel money directly to Lloyd Evans to use as he sees fit. As he so defiantly related on his livestream, he can spend his "wages" on whatever he wants to, including going to Thailand and paying for sex.
Despite all these warning signs, there still are people willing to financially support Lloyd Evans. One might ask why. There are several explanations, but the primary one is that former Jehovah's Witnesses have been conditioned whilst inside the religion to donate money to a higher cause and to people who knew better than them to further the purpose. Lloyd has essentially taken up the mantle the Governing Body and their agents once yielded upon exJWs. In their desire to somehow bring the JW religion down, they revert to their old habits of throwing money at a cause unconditionally. Also, Lloyd instills the feeling of belonging to a new group led by him that is more loving and welcoming. It is critical for exiting cult members to find new social networks and friends outside since most if not all have been stripped away. Pleas for support motivate people to have a sort of "groupthink" mentality, and with Lloyd as the spearhead, it is essential to keep him working. Finally, he equates himself and his channel as the primary opposition to the Watchtower. Thus, giving to him is bringing the organisation down a notch and further eroding it. By emotionally manipulating vulnerable ex-cult members into supporting him, he has created for himself a comfortable living in a country where the minimum annual wage is €16,000. Lloyd is earning a salary which would be average outside of Croatia and is benefitting immensely as a result. This is in no way a philanthropic endeavour, but rather a for-profit business entity.
To get the true sense of how long this pattern of behaviour has been established, one must return to Lloyd’s days posting as “cedars” on www.jehovahs-witness.com. In setting up what eventually became his survey website, Lloyd had taken it upon himself to pay for a subscription survey service which had cost him $400. He started three threads whose primary function was to reiterate the price he had to pay and to give out his PayPal information in order for people to donate to him. He had all three locked and removed in order due to a violation of JWN rules barring people from fundraising on the forum. He then had a supporter of his survey idea to post another thread asking for money in order for him to not appear to be pushing the matter. As soon as he got on this new thread, he immediately began pushing it and started making complaints about the site management not getting back to him as soon as he would have liked.
It is notable how Lloyd thinks that should the forum not allow him to crowdfund money for the survey idea, the forum should not benefit from its results. This is a form of emotional blackmail as forum posters are being conditioned to become threatened that such a wonderful idea for the cause could be terminated due to lack of cooperation and funding. Indeed, Lloyd threatens that he would take his efforts elsewhere if he were not adequately paid. This is unfortunately his Modus Operandi. It's this "pay for play" philosophy that was coloured his work ever since the beginning. His "activism" is motivated more so by a desire to get paid and make a career out of it rather than truly helping people get out of the JW religion. This "feeling deflated" comment is but one example of a long list of loaded words or phrases designed to victimise himself in the face of named villains, in this case JWN site owner Simon Green, the moderators and any other voice who might disagree.