The fact of the matter is that all Jehovah's Witnesses, no matter what capacity they serve in, are taught and believe the same scriptural doctrines. (1 Corinthians 1:10) However, it is also a matter of fact that there are manuals, letters, and other documents that elders have access to that others do not. But does this satisfy what constitutes alleged sinister "secret" information? Let us briefly examine this below.
Discharging Various ResponsibilitiesIn your company, does the IT department receive emails addressed to the Accounting department? Is the Customer Service team given manuals written for the Software Engineering team? If you answered "no" to those questions, one could make the unfounded assumption that there are sinister secrets being kept at your company. But that would be ridiculous because you recognize that many emails and manuals are for those who have a specific job function, designed to help them do their respective jobs properly. This poses no problem for employees as whole.
Likewise, in our organization, there are members who also have various responsibilities and instruction designed to help them fulfill their responsibilities. For example, the most well-known are the aforementioned congregation elders who are scripturally responsible for giving the flock spiritual guidance, encouragement, protection, and discipline. (Acts 28:28; Jas 5:14,15; 1Cor 5:1-5) To assist them in carrying out their duties, each elder is given what's generally known as an Elder's Manual. This manual does not contain hidden doctrine or so-called "secrets", rather, it contains procedures and instruction on the best and proper ways to give guidance, encouragement, protection, and discipline, all based on the same Bible principles discussed at our meetings and in our publications, both which are publically accessible. But if there are no secrets, you might ask, then why are all members not given a copy of that manual?
"Decently and By Arrangement"The reason why non-elders do not receive a copy of the Elders Manual is the same reason why the Customer Service Team does not receive copies of the Software Engineering manual; they are not Software Engineers. Furthermore, 1 Corinthians 14:40 instructs us to let all things take place "decently and by arrangement". Can it be said that we are arranged if this instruction is shot out all over the place to any and every member no matter if they are an elder or not? Can it be said that we are a decent organization if this instruction is not tailored to the needs of members who serve as elders?
Indeed, there is no attempt to keep any secrets as there are no "secrets". What we see is an attempt to make sure elders are trained and prepared to discharge their duties properly and to lovingly "shepherd the flock of God" with care. (1 Peter 5:2)
But you may wonder: What if an elder is asked to step down, or he resigns his position? Does he keep his manual? No, because he no longer serves as an elder, and quite frankly, there is no need for people trying to tell elders how to perform their duties. Carrying the job analogy a little further, the Customer Service team would be stepping out of bounds if they were to read the Software Engineering Manual so to tell them how to do their jobs. If they have a complaint against the Software Engineers, they should address them through the proper channels.
You may also wonder why outdated letters, manuals, and other such correspondences are destroyed. Is this another attempt to keep secrets hidden? Well, could a company run smoothly if their Engineers relied on outdated schematics and manuals? By destroying outdated information, everyone is up-to-date without confusion. This ensures a smooth, orderly, and peaceful operation of the Christian Congregation because Jehovah "is a God not of disorder but of peace.". (1 Corinthians 14:33) All past correspondence is kept at the Bethel Branch office and world headquarters. There is no need to keep such a record in each and every congregation, making maintaining files cumbersome and expensive.
Organizational TransparencyWould it not benefit the organization more to hide mistakes in the history of our beliefs than hiding mere procedures for elders to follow? Think about this for a second. We have had mistaken conclusions about the timing of Armageddon, when Jesus began ruling in Heaven, and even when the Patriarchs would be resurrected, and we printed these conclusions with our adjusted viewpoints and gave them to all members. That would have a greater impact on the congregations and their perceptions of the organization.
In reality, there are no secrets among Jehovah's Witnesses. That is just a lie propagated by opposers to strike fear into people and elicit reactionary emotions. Jehovah's Witnesses openly and fearlessly make information about themselves available, free of charge, to any who sincerely desires it. Besides, this, a great many of our memos and several editions of the Elder's Manual have been put online by untrustworthy individuals, and nothing damning has ever been found in any of them.
Ask yourself: Is the organization keeping secrets from its members, or is this simply the natural result of organization and file-keeping?