A New Watchtower Disfellowshipping Policy


by Bill Bowen


As a few may recall Watchtower Policy has changed when circumstances serves the interest of the Governing Body in getting rid of someone they want to railroad.  An example that has been offered involves Peter Gregerson.  Peter was a personal friend to Ray Franz, in 1980 Peter wrote a letter to the Society, saying he wanted no further association with the organization.  At that time a disassociation letter with no wrongdoing was handled with no shunning but simply as a person who walked away.  When Gregerson left, the Governing Body created a new policy that stated all persons who disassociated would now be treated the same as disfellowshipped in a 1981 Watchtower.  A few months later Ray Franz was found to be eating a meal with Gregerson along with their wives, once again there was no policy to cover this as a disfellowshipping offense.  Yet, in short order a new article was written regarding "new" policy by the Governing Body.  That is, anyone who eats with a disfellowshipped or disassociated individual would make themselves subject to disfellowshipment also.  Result? Ray Franz was disfellowhipped not for apostasy, but for the "new light" given by the Governing Body stating, eating was considered a crime against God if it involved disfellowhipped individuals.   Oddly enough neither of the two wives were disfellowshipped, perhaps at that time the policy only applied to men.


This policy was yet adjusted again when the new "Flock" book came out in 1991. In a side note on page 103 an adjustment was offered at a Circuit Assembly elders meeting on 4-15-97 . There we were asked to add that a mother or father could eat with a son or daughter if nothing spiritual was discussed.  If the mother or father wished to do this they would simply be viewed in the same context as a bad example and would not have exemplary privileges in the congregation such as elder, ms, or pioneering.  The specific instruction given in the "Flock" book by side note was, "Do not take judicial action against relatives unless the disfellowshipped one fellowships spiritually with the brother or sister.  If the brother or sister chooses to fellowship on spiritual matters with a disfellowshipped person, they become subject to judicial action."


I wonder how Dick Moreland the chairman of the judicial committee for Ray Franz was able to determine Franz and Gregerson were having spiritual fellowship, but their wives were not? Or if it was determined that at the time the decision was made there was no spiritual fellowship between them, with the new adjustment, would the decision to disfellowhip Franz now be rescinded?   Instead, could it have been a determination made by the Governing Body in a "disfellowship at all costs" maneuver? Did Brother Moreland act as a spiritual man and make a decision based on the information at hand or did he simply do as instructed with the spanking "new" policy of the Governing Body? It appears he did as told as he was shortly thereafter appointed as a District Overseer  and remains so to this day, at the time he was a simple buck private elder sent in as a trouble shooter for the Society.  It appears the Governing Body rewards well those who ignore honor and integrity to follow their bidding.


Now reel forward five years later, with the latest comments in the August  2002, Kingdom Ministry insert, the policy has been adjusted yet again, the "new" adjustment is that even if you say a greeting to your mother or father you could be disfellowshipped.  That new policy seems to be the harshest yet toward disfellowshipped ones and family members who wish to remain Jehovah's Witnesses.  Is the Governing Body making other adjustments when it comes to how judicial matters are cared for?  Do they have a high concern to take this step as only a last resort?  In the rash of recent judicial cases involving those who have spo ken out to protect children, this appears to not be the case, I offer a few examples.


In past protocol a judicial committee is required to inform either verbally or if circumstances dictate, in writing the time and place for the hearing.  If the accused refuses to meet, and if proper evidence is obtained, such as confession or two or three eye witnesses, they may proceed with the hearing without the accused.  If the accused is willing to meet, the committee will make every attempt for suitable arrangements that are kind to the accused so they may attend.  The purpose is to give the accused every opportunity to defend themselves if they are innocent so justice can prevail.


This was a foundation policy that has been in place for many years.  Yet a "new" policy has emerged, no doubt at the direction of the Governing Body.  It is as follows, the judicial committee demands a meeting time, if the committee chooses to not show up they are not required to inform the accused.  If the accused is willing to meet requests in writing a more suitable meeting time, the judicial committee ignores this request and has a secret judicial hearing to disfellowship without informing the accused of the meeting. Expect a Watchtower article shortly to verify this "new light" to accommodate the whims of the Governing Body.


The second policy relates to appeal committees.  In past protocol, the accused typically has to inform the chairman of the original committee in writing of thei r r easons for wanting the appeal. The chairman informs the CO who then sets up an appeal committee to inform the accused of the time and place for the appeal hearing.  Since the appeal of the accused is required to be in writing, the timetable for the appeal hearing has often been supplied in writing  to the accused if circumstances dictate, so their would be not doubt or miscommunication regarding the appeal hearing.  The purpose was to make the accused feel they were being given a careful review of the matter to determine if they had a fair hearing by the first committee.  Both committees meet with the accused to determine if an error in judgment has occurred and/or the original committee had a proper basis in establishing the charges.   


"New" policy dictates that an attempt is made to inform the accused verbally. If they do not get the message, the appeal committee quickly confirms the original decision and makes the announcement the soonest Thursday, without informing the accused of the final decision.  The accused is then left to wonder what happened until they are informed after the fact by a friend or relative who happens to find out.


With Barbra Anderson, she was informed of an appeal hearing on a Sunday with a "two day" notice, she requested to meet later, the following wee ken d, as she was going to out of town on the requested wee ken d.  The appeal committee went ahead with a secret meeting unknown to Barb at a local Motel, for less than an hour.  The Chairman of the appeal committee called Barbara's attorney the next day and informed him they up held the decision of the original committee.  The attorney immediately wrote a letter of appeal and protest of the decision. That Thursday without any notification to Barbara, the announcement was made that she had been disfellowshipped.  She got no answer, no appeal, and no suggestion of trying to arrive at a fair and impartial decision.


Fast forward to today.  This morning at I was contacted by Dan McMullen an elder in the Princeton Kentucky Congregation.  I was surprised to hear him over the telephone as once again I have specifically requested all communication go through my attorney in my appeal letter.  When he informed me he was chair of the appeal committee, I immediately requested for him to please follow the instructions in my lette r r egarding contacting my attorney as to timing of the hearing, at which I hung up.  I was not informed of any date or time for a hearing.  I called my attorney at the end of the day and he had received no communication regarding the appeal hearing.  So it would appear the appeal committee will follow a similar venue as with Barb Anderson, they will conduct another secret hearing, make a rubber stamp decision and make an announcement this Thursday of the outcome.  Does that sound like a fair and impartial process to you?


I plan to attend the meeting this Thursday, if any would like to attend with me I would welcome the support.  What is the purpose?  To let them know that the decision is a farce and they should be ashamed to treat those who support the protection of children in this manner.  I plan to sit on the front row and dare them to make the announcement.  The question is, will the fear of man that has prevented them from facing me to this point overcome them yet again?  Or will they be willing to make public the stance of the Governing Body who orchestrate the "beating" of any brother and sister by disfellowshipping those who speak out on abuse?




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