The Tobacco Bombshell SEQUEL
In my first story written in 2005, “The Tobacco Bombshell," I related the details of the WTS’ sudden decision in the early 1970s, to no longer be passive about tobacco-use by JWs. WTS’ sudden announcement indeed was dropped on us “like a bombshell” and had an immediate drastic effect on our lives, right up to this day.
My goal in writing about this event is to help all those reading this, to see that by loyally, blindly and unquestioningly submitting to WT directives regarding the production or use of tobacco, we lost out on a lifetime investment and our retirement nest egg. I write this to inform all who have never heard of this event in the WTS’ history, and all who were JWs at that time, but really never knew to what extent that sudden decision affected the lives of the JWs who had previously worked in the tobacco industry for several decades. The WTS had prior to this event, allowed JWs to work in all aspects of the tobacco industry. This included a number of farmers, like our family, who had spent their entire lives earning a living from the production of tobacco as well as many pioneers who worked on tobacco farms for the harvesting season to help support themselves in their ministry.
This event happened in the early 1970s, when the WTS gave all JWs, who were in any way involved with tobacco as laborers, farmers, sales personnel, producers of tobacco machinery, …an ultimatum, a 6-12 month time limit to get out of the tobacco business or face being disfellowshipped.
With the passage of time to the present, the extent of the consequences that have personally befallen my family, has become all the more clear as the figures below became known to us. This knowledge has prompted the writing of this sequel.
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Our property was sold under duress, as the problem for us was that our farm debt had to be met with income from tobacco production, which other crops could not generate. With no saleable assets at our disposal, [such as the tobacco quota which only became saleable two years after we sold our property], the time frame imposed by WT left no choice but liquidation. If we had any involvement with tobacco beyond the set limits by WT, we would indeed suffer the consequences. In spite of a depressed real estate market in 1973, we felt forced to accept a below-market value to enable us to sell within that time frame and only received:
· for the farm, which included land of a unique-type tobacco soil, buildings, and 56,200 pounds of tobacco-growing quota (under Government license) ……………………………………………………. $ 72,000.00
· for the equipment that originally did not sell with the farm, an approximate value of …………... 12,000.00
Total $ 84,000.00
As a condition of this sole purchase offer, we were also required to remove my parents house off the property, at our expense, as the purchaser did not want to invest money in this second house. We were left with no other option but to do so to successfully finalize this sale within the WT’s time-frame, as our attempt to sever the property was denied by the Municipality at that time, due to Municipal bylaws.
The first man who bought our farm in 1973, shortly thereafter became ill with a severe heart condition and in less than 5 years was compelled to dispose of the farm property. The free trading of quota now resulted in premium prices:
· First, he sold off the freed-up growing quota alone, realizing a larger return of approximately….. $ 138,000.00
· After renting out the land for several years, the farm land and buildings were sold for………….. 95,000.00
· Additionally, original chattels were sold for approximately ……………………………………… 7,000.00
· This end total represents the growth value in just five years after our liquidation ………. Total $ 240,000.00
The next owner succeeded in securing a property severance from the farm for the old farm-house and lot as by then, the Municipality had changed its rules on property severances.
· The later sale of this severed lot and house alone yielded him almost his original investment…..… $ 82,000.00
Therefore, the Grand Total that was generated by this property over time………………………………… $ 322,000.00
The Total we had received from being forced into selling within WTS time limit………………………… 84,000.00
The resulting Total Loss to us due to WTS Policy, necessitating liquidation……………………………… $ 238,000.00
Granted, these figures represent a growth factor for a period of years when inflation rose steeply due to a world crisis in oil. Had we not been made to feel the urgency of selling within WT’s time-frame, we could have remained living there, taking advantage of waiting for the right time to sell off our producer quota and leasing out the use of the land. This would have given us time to salvage a lifetime investment, and we could have avoided the hassle and expense my parents went through having to move the retirement bungalow they had built on our farm property, for which no severance could be obtained. This denial of severance necessitated resettlement of both our families at considerable expense. If we had not felt the WT’s pressure to comply with their time limit, we could have sold the balance of property later, at a more opportune time.
Can we say WT is to blame for our loss, in view of the fact that we acted of our own volition in response to WT’s directives? How would you answer that question?
Personally, we would fault WT with the major, if not total blame for these developments…For what reasons?
Once you become dedicated and baptized, you are to be completely submissive to the organization representing God’s interests on earth. There is no allowance for independence or questioning doctrine or WT policy. To do so would demonstrate rebellion against God, deserving of loss of everlasting life…according to WT teaching.
Some JWs may not feel this same burden of complete submission to the WT. They may feel that they have independence, the freedom of choice, and that we too could have chosen not to feel forced to take such a loss by selling our farm so quickly. However, I and many, many JWs know from experience, that when the WT gives a directive with a time limit, JWs do not really have a choice. JWs have been taught time and time again that disobeying the WT is in effect disobeying God. Even if you question a teaching or policy and disagree with it, you will be asked that loaded question: “Do you believe the WTS is God’s representative organization on earth?” To answer “No” results in an automatic disfellowshipping.
1986 April, 1 pg 31: Questions From Readers
Approved association with Jehovah’s Witnesses requires accepting the entire range of the true teachings of the Bible, including those Scriptural beliefs that are unique to Jehovah’s Witnesses
WT. June 15, 1957 pg. 370:
Respond to the directions of the organization as you would the voice of God.
WT. Oct. 1, 2002 pg.16:
Strong faith, in turn, fortifies us to obey Jehovah, even when his requirements seem to go contrary to human reasoning.
WT. Jan. 1, 1942 pg..5:
God uses The Watchtower to communicate to his people: it does not consist of men’s opinions.
WT. Oct. 1, 1967 pg. 590:
….[ Jehovah’s Witnesses ] must recognize and accept this appointment of the “faithful and discreet slave” and be submissive to it.
Since all JWs are indoctrinated with such dogmatic teachings and WT’s claims of being the only true and chosen representatives of God on earth, a sensitive conscience motivated by fear and moral suasion may find it next to impossible to overstep and violate these boundaries. JWs are continually reminded in WT literature that if one is a loyal worshipper of God, they will willingly and without question follow all directives from the WT. There is no life outside of WT…only death….so teaches the WT. The rank and file are left no alternative but to submit or be cast out.
Therefore, the WT Society must bear the total responsibility for the effect and outcome of the policy rules they impose on their congregants. They thereby become and assume full responsibility before God for their actions…right or wrong. The use of coercion, indoctrination of guilt, threat, intimidation and manipulation to control, cannot be of any Christian origin. Christianity allows for God’s spirit to motivate the conscience, not threaten it. Love is a standard central theme the Bible teaches, not the behavior practiced by WTS.
We personally are left with an overwhelming feeling of having been subjected to needless abuse by an organization we sincerely and whole-heartedly believed and trusted, and feel robbed of our just and deserving reward for years of hard work. Looking back on all of it now is painful, with dwindling financial reserves in our old age. After living through the 1930’s and onward, as JWs, when marriage and having children, getting a better education, saving for your old age were all frowned on, and avoid materialism, pioneer full-time as Armageddon may break anytime, preach… preach… preach… how gullible we were: do we ever learn? [To get the setting, you can read the original story]
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The original story “Tobacco Bombshell” can be found on http://www.exjws.net/pioneers/pioneers.htm and scroll down to “Members over 60 Years” and click onto “The Tobacco Bombshell”.
(The author wishes to remain anonymous)
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