Lac du Bonnet, Manitoba
Canada – ROE 1AO
New York City Board of Estimate
New York; New York
10017 - U.S.A.
Mr. Ed Koch - Mayor
Mr. Andrew Stein - Council President
Mr. Harrison J. Goldin - Comptroller
Mr. David Dinkins - Manhattan Borough President
Ms. Claire Shulman - Queens Borough President
Mr. Ralph Lamberti - Staten Island Borough President
Mr. Fernando Ferrar - Bronx Borough President
Mr. Howard Golden - Brooklyn Borough President
Dear Board Members:
This is to notify you of my intention to attend the September
29/88 meeting re: the Watchtower building application. I have been informed
by the Board of Estimate Bureau of the Secretary’s office that I would be
welcome to make a presentation on this matter. I would very much like to add
my voice to that of the local Brooklyn Heights residents who are opposed to
My reasons for protest are much more serious in nature than
those put forward by the local residents. There is a great deal of
documented evidence which clearly proves that the Watchtower Society is
deliberately abusing Jehovah’s Witnesses. Civil rights violations are
standard policy. The basic freedoms of conscience, thought and speech are
being systematically denied, on pain of expulsion from the church with its
attendant shunning. The internal disciplinary system employed by the
Watchtower flagrantly ignores the principles of natural justice.
While some legal minds believe that religious organizations
are free, as voluntary associations, to conduct themselves this way, it must
be understood that prospective converts to the Watchtower movement are never
told that these conditions would apply to them as members. Individuals are
invariably deceived into joining this religion.
At the very least, the Watchtower is guilty of "false
advertising". However, I will demonstrate that these practices stem
from an unmitigated desire to deceive and defraud unsuspecting people,
making Jehovah’s Witnesses abject slaves to further propagate their system
of mind control over yet others.
My expertise in this area comes from the fact that I am one
of Jehovah’s Witnesses, having served in various organizational
capacities, including membership on a judicial committee which handled
matters of internal church discipline. I was unjustly expelled from the
organization in 1972 because I would not remain silent concerning the
injustices I was becoming aware of. Since that time I have conducted a
campaign of publicity within and without the church, writing circulars to
thousands of, Jehovah’s Witnesses worldwide, and pursuing litigation
against the Governing Body. (My case was the first one attempted against
that ruling council, unsuccessfully, in 1977 in the Court of Queen’s
Bench, here in Manitoba.)
Directly and indirectly I have been responsible for many
Jehovah’s Witnesses coming to the realization that the Watchtower is an
enslaver. Many others have begun to share in this work of exposing the
injustices of the Watchtower through publishing activities and legal action
but this loose-knit network of dissent is finding a serious impediment
prevents a truly effective exposure of the Watchtower’s system of
That impediment is secular authority. More specifically,
ignorance of the Watchtower prevents governments from understanding the
scope of the problem. For one thing, the reputation gained by the Watchtower
in its legal fight on behalf of civil liberties, particularly during the
1940s and 1950s is excellent. Why would governments consider the Watchtower
today to be violating the very principles they fought so hard for? In view
of the fact that the Watchtower is quite insular, secretive and cynical of
secular powers, it is not surprising that governments are unaware of the
problems I cite.
However, there is another factor to this problem that must be
addressed. Evidently there are certain legal misconceptions about religious
organizations that have developed over the years that tend to cause judges
and legislators to adopt a hands off approach in connection with religious
organizations and their internal disciplinary matters. As a result, even
when courts are made aware of the serious violations of civil rights and the
disregard for the principles of natural justice that characterize cases of
injustice being experienced by Jehovah’s Witnesses at the hand of the
Watchtower, the courts rule in favour of the Watchtower. It seems that
freedom of religion is organizational and not individual within the context
of United States’ law.
Perhaps it is due to the passage of time with its consequent
dimming of the lessons of history that the American Constitution’s First
Amendment is being interpreted today to mean the exact opposite of what it
In any event, no matter how one interprets the First
Amendment, it cannot be denied that the fundamental freedoms of conscience,
thought and speech are generally accepted to be inalienable to the
individual. Neither government (free and democratic) nor business or other
organization has the right to alienate such freedoms from their
members/citizens. How ironic that religion, which, more than any other human
influence extols these God given rights, should be the very means to deny
them, and that with impunity.
With respect to the Watchtower there is another aspect that
must be pointed out in this connection. Were you aware that Jehovah’s
Witnesses are an unincorporated body of believers but that the Watchtower
Society is only comprised of a few hundred Jehovah’s Witnesses? Since
Jehovah’s Witnesses are not, for the most part, members of this legally
registered society, how is it that it can dictate its beliefs and practices
to those who are not members?
These and other issues need to be discussed in detail so that
the civil authorities can know how they ought to deal with the Watchtower
organization. It is my belief that the Watchtower should pay taxes on its
real estate holdings, in view of the fact that it violates civil rights. The
American Government should not be giving the Watchtower a tax free
endorsement. I further believe that the Watchtower should be forced to
respect the civil rights of its members. If it refuses to do what is right,
the American Government should revoke its charter.
I look forward to the Board of Estimate’s meeting. Although
I may only be allowed a few minutes to make a presentation, I hope to have a
more detailed written presentation to submit for your perusal, at that time.
Perhaps there will be necessity to lay the board’s decision over until its
next regular meeting on October 13/88, in order to discuss these and other
issues in more detail. If so, I would be more than happy to make another
trip to New York.
Chris Christensen [signature]
[City of NY Seal]
CITY OF NEW YORK
OFFICE OF THE
PRESIDENT OF THE BOROUGH OF QUEENS
12O-55 QUEENS BOULEVARD
KEW GARDENS, NEW YORK 11424
September 22, 1988
Mr. Chris Christensen
Lac Du Bonnet Man, Manitoba
Canada, ROE 1AO,
Dear Mr. Christensen:
I am in receipt of your letter regarding the request for a
rezone by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York for the
construction of a 20-story community facility in CB #2 in Brooklyn
I understand your concerns.
The Board of Estimate (BOE) has scheduled the public hearing
on this issue for September 29, 1988 at 10:30 a.m. in City Hall. I urge you
to attend and express your opinion about the rezoning request.
Please be assured that when this issue comes before the Board
of Estimate for a vote your views will be given careful consideration.
Thank you for writing.
Borough of Queens
Submission to New York City
Board of Estimate. re:
Watchtower Bible and Tract
Society of New York, Inc.
The Watchtower Society teaches that God’s kingdom under
Christ was set up invisibly in the heavens in 1914 C.E., thereby ending the
lease of authority to all secular kings and governments which began 2,520
years earlier when God’s earthly kingdom, Jerusalem, was
overthrown by Babylon in 607 B.C.E. When this era, known as the times of the
nations or gentile times, ended, secular authority was to be relinquished to
God’s kingdom, according to the Watchtower Society.
The Watchtower Society now proclaims that, due to the refusal
of the secular powers to turn over the reins of government to God, those
governments will be destroyed at the time of Armageddon. God will evict all
man-made governments and usher in the thousand year reign of Christ at that
unknown time, expected in the very near future, thus bringing to completion
that period of time called the "last days" which commenced in
It is also taught by the Watchtower that in 1914 Christ, came
to inspect his earthly "temple class", that group of people led by
Charles Taze Russell, founder and first president of the Watchtower Society,
that are today known as Jehovah’s Witnesses. Christ allegedly discovered a
group of faithful Christians who, because of their work in declaring the
1914 kingdom, were deemed fit to be appointed as Christ’s collective
"faithful and discreet slave".
This group, considering itself to be anointed by holy spirit
to be part of the body of Christ (144,000 members) which is destined to
share the administration of millenial rule with Christ as his joint kings,
priests and judges, believes itself to be the group that is rightfully
appointed over all Christ’s belongings (here on earth). Matthew 24:42-47
is the basis of this claim.
One can now appreciate the context of the dealings between
illegally constituted secular governments and the only properly authorized
faithful and discreet slave rulership of spirit anointed Jehovah’s
Witnesses through the corporate entity of the Watchtower Bible and Tract
Society. The New York City Board of Estimate, along with all other types and
levels of secular administration, are not seen to be operating with divine
sanction so they must be operating with Satan’s support.
The Watchtower Society cannot conduct business with the Board
of Estimate with the sincerity and good faith normally expected in such
dealings. Guile and deception are standard elements in their style of
dealing with civil authorities. It is considered "theocratic war
strategy" as referred to by Linda Yglesias in her article in the New
York Daily News magazine, July 31/88.
Whereas the official published policy of the Watchtower
repudiates deliberate lying, especially under oath, and advocates not
telling civil authorities any more than necessary, in actual practice,
lying, even under oath, is encouraged. As a Jehovah’s Witness for most of
my 44 years and as a disfellowshipped dissident for the past 16 I have
observed the employment of this strategy.
This information is submitted to alert the Board of Estimate
to the fact that it is dealing with an insincere and deceitful applicant in
the legal person of the Watchtower Society. When appropriate time is taken
to understand the Watchtower perspective, it becomes evident that the
so-called "faithful and discreet slave" has misled, not only civil
governments, but their own followers as well. It is time for a full review
of the legally chartered Watchtower corporation which is being used
illegally to deceive and defraud the unincorporated religious body of people
known as Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Watchtower Evolution - from Servant to Master
Despite the fact that Jehovah’s Witnesses are not members
of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc., nor of the
parent corporation, Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania, nor
any of its associated corporations in other countries, they do mistakenly
consider themselves to be. Even though the Watchtower magazine has published
the fact that the parent organization’s charter limits membership to a
maximum of 500 individuals, yet Jehovah’s Witnesses, who number in the
millions, when asked if they belong to the Watchtower Society, invariably
answer affirmatively. W’tower Dec. 15/71, p.758.
It is understandable when non-members conclude that
Jehovah’s Witnesses and their corporate organization are synonymous but
what explains the general ignorance of Jehovah’s Witnesses? Are they
simply naive or uneducated people or does the Watchtower deliberately create
Actually, all these factors play a part in this widespread
misconception among those who look to the Watchtower for spiritual guidance.
The majority of Jehovah’s Witnesses are ordinary working-class people with
high school education. Consequently they are not very knowledgeable in
matters of corporate law. As for the Watchtower; the constant emphasis it
places on organization (used as a noun to denote God’s arrangement of
things pertaining to the congregation) as it relates to all of the
church’s functions, makes it very easy to see the corporate entity as
including all Jehovah’s Witnesses because the corporation does all of the
organizing. Added to this is the fact that any discussion of the structure
and workings of the corporate entities is almost totally avoided. The
Watchtower Society is so distant from the general church membership, most
people not even being familiar with the names of the directors, that there
is no opportunity to understand it.
Evidently there is deliberate ambiguity being utilized by the
Watchtower corporation in order to create this illusion. Therefore there
must be some ulterior motivation behind this ambiguity. Jehovah’s
Witnesses’ misconception has allowed the Watchtower Society,
over a period of many years, to evolve from a publishing agency serving the
interests of Jehovah’s Witnesses (called International Bible students
prior to 1931) into the absolute and authoritarian governing body and
spiritual arbiter of Jehovah’s Witnesses today.
Actually the evolution has proceeded even further. Now,
supposedly since 1972 but truthfully since 1976, another governing body has
superseded the corporate one and is not even legally registered. In effect
there are really two governing bodies operating in tandem. The corporate
governing body has become redundant but still exists because the Watch Tower
charter has not been amended to accommodate the change. The gross ignorance
of Jehovah’s Witnesses respecting corporate law is abundantly manifest by
the fact that none of them perceived this anomaly.
A review of the doctrinal history of Jehovah’s Witnesses
will clearly reveal that the changed perception of the Watch Tower
corporation was made possible through a process of change respecting Bible
interpretation of certain key points.
Whereas the Bible Students were strong advocates of
democratic church government and were extremely wary of denominational
sectarianism with its centralized control, referring to religious
organizations as false and dictatorial, like ancient Babylon; Jehovah’s
Witnesses today repudiate democracy, have become a distinct denomination
with the most organized form of worship under a centralized authority that
can be found on earth.
Perhaps the most significant change in scriptural
interpretation relative to these radical changes was of Romans, chapter 13,
which outlines the apostle Paul’s inspired explanation of the role of
secular government, the superior authorities or higher powers. C.T. Russell
taught that the higher powers were allowed a relative position of authority
over God’s people. That is, governments had the right, in the interests of
the peoples’ welfare, to make laws, collect taxes, etc., but only to the
point where there was conflict with God’s law. This view is generally held
today by most religions and is believed by Jehovah’s Witnesses also.
However, during the term of Joseph F. Rutherford as second
president of the Watch Tower, a serious deviation occurred. Rutherford
taught that Romans 13 referred to total or supreme authority (despite the
obvious comparative language, i.e. superior or higher, not supreme or
highest which denotes the superlative degree) and that Paul must have
written about Jehovah God, Christ and their congregational agents, the
overseers, ministers and corporate board of directors in particular.
It was Rutherford that introduced the extreme view that all
governments of men were opposed to God and demonized. Having previously
written in favour of democratic forms of government, he later denounced
democracy, saying that such was opposed to theocracy. As a result of these
changes the Witnesses were manipulated to accept a program of change from
complete congregational control with local, democratic elections of elders
to centralized control emanating from the Watch Tower Society. Pennsylvania
and later Brooklyn would make all appointments of overseers and ministerial
Romans 13 was used to elevate those taking the lead within
the religious body from a relative position of authority (the sheep of
Christ’s flock are understood to be cared for by the elders as
subordinates of Christ; they do not own the sheep) to an authoritarian one.
This was theocracy. God’s way of dealing with his people from the top, the
opposite of democracy which governed from the bottom.
This doctrinal aberration was corrected by the third
president of the Watch Tower, Nathan H. Knorr, in the early 1960s. However,
while Jehovah’s Witnesses again learned the proper scriptural reasons for
showing respectful, relative subjection to secular rulers the authoritarian
tradition of the Society was not relinquished. Ecclesiastical democracy was
Along with the strange situation respecting the existence of
two governing bodies, these two inconsistencies remain as clear evidence of
the strategy of the Watchtower to control Jehovah’s Witnesses by
An examination of the Watch Tower charter plainly discloses
that the Watch Tower is legally, to this day, a democratic corporation. As
amended in 1944 it continues until now and it states that; "The
purposes of this Society are: To act as the servant of and the legal
world-wide agency for that body of Christian persons known as
Jehovah’s Witnesses;.." ( Italics mine ) W’tower Dec. 15/71,
footnote p. 759.
Anyone with a fair understanding of the English language can
understand the meanings of the words servant and agency or agent. This is
language which describes representative democracy as understood by all but
the most simple-minded. It will come as no surprise to learn that each
Jehovah’s Witness does not have a copy of this charter nor does each
Kingdom Hall have a framed copy hanging from a wall or placed in some other
conspicuous place for Jehovah’s Witnesses to be able to read and reflect
The assertion by the Watch Tower Society, that full
theocratic control was initiated in 1938 when the congregations of
Jehovah’s Witnesses voted to have the corporation make all appointments of
church officers, is totally absurd. Obviously, that which is set up
democratically can be done away with likewise. Therefore, the
theocracy that supposedly prevails among Jehovah’s Witnesses only does so
by voluntary democratic will. In other words, Jehovah’s Witnesses have a
democratic form of theocracy, as does Canada which, in preamble to its 1981
Charter of Rights and Freedoms, recognizes the supremacy of God.
The Bible gives unmistakable details to establish that
theocracy operates at all times no matter what the style or form of
government is. God’s chosen people of ancient times had patriarchal,
judicial, hierarchical and royal forms of government, alone or combined.
Theocracy even existed when foreign rulers controlled Israel. The king and
emperor of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar, was graphically made aware of this fact.
Regardless of style, all civil administrations are subject
and accountable to God, even those that do not believe God exists. As long
as God’s people adhere to God’s truth and justice, it does not matter
what kind of government is employed by them.
Russell and his associate Bible Students understood that
personal self-government, in accord with one’s own conscience, meant that
each- individual was accountable to the leader of the Christian
congregation, Christ Jesus. Only when each individual’s conscientious
beliefs are respected can there be personal religious freedom. This same
understanding was held by the founders of the United. States of America over
200 years ago, causing them to-declare, in the first amendment to the
Constitution; "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment
of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;..."
It is because of the fact that this concept has been
forgotten that Jehovah’s Witnesses have been led astray into acceptance of
centralized and excessively organized control by a corporate religious
entity. Thus did the servant, which was called a mere business association
by its founder, C.T. Russell, become the master over those it formerly
Without the necessary vigilance, all human organizations, be
they religious or any other kind, tend to gravitate toward eventual control
by the sort of people who care more for authority than for caring for
For the most part, Jehovah’s Witnesses are idealistic,
moral and law-abiding citizens of their respective countries. They are the
nice, easygoing kind of people that can be taken advantage of. Their zeal
and determination are remarkable. It is directly due to their generosity and
hard work that the Watchtower organization is so materially wealthy.
Despite these facts the Watchtower corporate leadership
mistreats them. Hundreds of thousands of Jehovah’s Witnesses have become
disillusioned with the organization and have left it behind. Many thousands
of others have been falsely accused and wrongfully put out of the
organization that is said to be the haven of safety for anyone wishing to
Many thousands more continue to be drawn into association
with the Watchtower every year. They will bring their contributions into the
organization, adding to its material prosperity. Like a revolving door they
will come and go and the corporation will simply keep on growing.
It is a perfect formula to amass fortune and increase the
control and influence over people. Even though the membership increases,
none of those remaining have any share in the holdings of the corporation,
with the exception of the few hundred members who happen to be part of the
corporation’s membership as well.
It is too bad that the deception of the Watchtower leadership
could not be perceived by individuals before joining this religion.
Unfortunately, the method of conversion and indoctrination is so subtle and
refined that Jehovah’s Witnesses do not realize how it works even though
they may have been using the Society’s technique for many years. Even
those Witnesses that have seen the error and injustice of the Watchtower do
not fully understand it.
Watchtower Indoctrination Program Explained
There are several factors that work together to effectively
cause individuals to want to accept the message brought to them by
Jehovah’s Witnesses. Most of them could be characterized as packaging, the
kind of details that appeal to our senses, that attract
"consumers". The other factor could be called the
"product", that which we want to buy.
To simplify the explanation as much as possible, I will
identify the "faithful and discreet slave", Christ’s appointed
representative on earth, as the item being sold. As with any product, it is
important to the producer to sell the thing produced and to have the product
used as directed so that profits will come to the producer as more and more
people learn of his product and buy it as well.
In this case, the product and the producer are one and the
same. The Watchtower corporation’s board of directors and/or the alleged
unincorporated governing body that is supposedly associated with that
directorate, claims to be the true faithful and discreet slave, the one that
has direct connection to Christ whom, it is claimed, they directly
represent. They are selling themselves.
It is extremely important to know this slave’s identity for
it is only by association with that slave that anyone can know for certain
what the truth of the Bible is. In turn, knowing what the truth is will
assure one salvation from destruction at Armageddon and will guarantee
everlasting life in a paradise new earth.
It is a simple enough proposition to explain that the unique
system of interpretation employed by the Watchtower is very convincing when
demonstrating to others the seeming parallels between the Witness religion
and that of the first century Christian congregation. Likewise it is easily
understood that a good case can be made that Christ’s anointed disciples
oversee that religious body very much like the apostles did the early
However, how do we explain the process which takes people
from a questioning, doubtful perspective and converts them to a gullible,
unquestioning one? This is particularly puzzling in view of the emphasis
placed by the Witnesses on the necessity and obligation to make sure of all
things, safeguard thinking ability, use discernment and keep testing every
teaching by comparing it to the Bible’s teachings.
For example; in a book designed specifically for effective
conversion of interested persons within six months, the Watch Tower wrote:
"We need to examine, not only what we personally believe, but also what
is taught by any religious organization with which we may be associated. Are
its teachings in full harmony with God’s Word, or are they based on the
traditions of men? If we are lovers of the truth, there is nothing to fear
from such an examination. It should be the sincere desire of every one of us
to learn what God’s will is for us, and then do it.- John 8:32. The mere
fact that church members may have the Bible or that it is occasionally read
to them from the pulpit does not of itself prove that all the things they
are taught are in the Bible. It is good to have the Bible; each and every
person should. But we must also know what it says and believe it. If a
religion really accepts the Bible as God’s Word, it is not going to use
certain parts of it and reject other parts. "All Scripture is inspired
of God and beneficial for teaching, for reproving, for setting things
straight." (2 Timothy 3:16) Since this is so, the religion that is
approved by God must agree in all its details with the Bible." The
Truth that Leads to Eternal Life (1968) p. 13.
That book, believed to have been the most effective teaching
aid ever produced by the Watch Tower, makes plain that the true religion
must agree in all details with the Bible. Obviously there is a lot of
questioning to be done by Witness converts, even after their membership is
formalized by baptism, for they have only learned the basics by that time.
Whenever an interested person hesitates to get baptized
because of feeling he does not yet know the complete theology of Jehovah’s
Witnesses, that one is told that it is a mistake to put off baptism. After
all, once one comes to know Jehovah God and accepts his son as our saviour,
what else is necessary for salvation? The rest will be learned later.
From this it can be appreciated that the indoctrination
program is designed to give a person sufficient knowledge of the Bible to
make a commitment to join the Witness religion, with the understanding that
the learning process will continue after baptism. Never is there any
suggestion that questioning of doctrine will be disallowed.
The Bible study program begins with the explanations of
doctrinal matters. The truth is taught and that which is not true is
presented superficially ma manner that seems to be true. However, as the
weeks go by, the Witness conducting the study begins to bring up the subject
of the organization, explaining all the fine and commendable points about
the preaching work it does, the high moral standard it follows, etc.
Naturally, this leads to discussions about that group of men who are
responsible for directing this fine religious organization. Over a period of
time the prospective convert is encouraged to consider the Society’s
leaders as possibly being the faithful and discreet slave appointed by
Having been allowed and encouraged to check Watchtower
teachings with the Bible until the time he comes to believe that he is being
taught the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, the prospective
convert logically accepts the Witness leaders as being the faithful and
Now we are coming to the crucial period of transition from
outspoken questioner to submissive follower. Having seemed to be proven
truthful, the governing body is now seen to be trustworthy. Consequently
there does not need to be the same degree of scrutiny and testing as there
was in the beginning, does there? Now the convert believes he is safe from
deception. Surely the faithful and discreet slave would adhere unerringly to
the Word of God, just as Christ himself did.
The new convert is now vulnerable to being deceived. He is
not making his membership decision on the basis that he fully knows the
truth of the Bible. His commitment is based on his belief that he does not
have to know the truth fully because he knows who the slave class is and
they know the truth. Whereas it was previously the position that one must
and can identify the real faithful and discreet slave on the basis that his
teachings concur with the Bible truth, now the position is changed so that
one can identify what is really the truth of God’s Word the Bible because
it comes from the faithful and discreet slave.
Here we discern the ambiguity and duplicity of the Watch
Tower organization. They correctly teach that every inspired expression is
to be tested, even if it comes from an angel, as the apostle Paul said. That
is because each one is directly accountable to God for what he believes.
Each one must have his own faith. Even if they were part of the faithful and
discreet slave, there must be a testing of their teachings by every
Jehovah’s Witness. Furthermore, any deviation from Scripture is properly
subject to criticism by any Jehovah’s Witness member. Galatians 1:8.
No prospective convert is forewarned about this change in the
rules. It is abundantly clear that had each new member been told of this
change, no one would become a Jehovah’s Witness. Especially would this be
the case if they were also told that disagreement with the so-called
faithful and discreet slave would result in disfellowshipping from the
church on the charge of apostasy. Therefore, the inducement to
"buy" the faithful and discreet slave and become a member of the
Watchtower movement and contribute to its growth is fraud.
Used as directed, the faithful and discreet slave makes faith
so much easier. It is designed to simplify the task of thinking, similar to
our household appliances making our domestic tasks less demanding in terms
of time and effort. Bluntly put, use of the faithful and discreet slave
allows Jehovah’s Witnesses to check their brains in at the door of
entrance to the Watchtower movement.
Part of the reason for the success of this strategy rests
with the inherent need for security that humans have. It is reassuring to
have someone take charge and look after our needs. People who are totally
dependent on others to do their thinking and decision-making are like
children and those they depend upon are like parents.
Interestingly, the Watch Tower Society portrays itself as
mother to the religious association thereby setting the context of the
church in a parent/child relationship with the general membership.
In his book, I’m OK - You’re OK, Thomas A. Harris, M.D.,
observed: "The Parent-Child nature of most Western religions is
remarkable when one considers that the revolutionary impact of the most
revered religious leaders was directly the result of their courage to
examine Parent institutions and proceed, with the Adult, in search of truth.
It takes only one generation for a good thing to become a bad thing, for an
inference about experience to become dogma. Dogma is the enemy of truth and
the enemy of persons. Dogma says, "Do not think! Be less than a
person." The ideas enshrined in dogma may include good and wise ideas,
but dogma is bad in itself because it is accepted as good without
How accurately this observation fits the situation of
Jehovah’s Witnesses! From a position of challenging the doctrines of the
major religions to the suppression of thought, speech and conscience of its
own members today.
The Watch Tower has not applied the counsel of Jesus Christ
concerning the acceptance of parental authority within the church. He said;
"Moreover, do not call anyone your father on earth, for one is your
Father, the heavenly one." Matthew 23:9.
The apostle Paul exhorted Christians to become adults in a
spiritual sense. "Brothers, do not become young children in powers of
understanding, but be babes as to badness; yet become full-grown in powers
of understanding." 1 Corinthians 14:20.
In the days of C.T. Russell there was allowance for differing
opinions. Today there is no tolerance for sincere conscientious
disagreement. Until several years ago, one was not accused of sectarianism
if privately held differences of opinion were expressed on, another’s
enquiry. It was held that only if a person persisted in propagating
different views with the obvious motive of splitting the congregation was he
to be considered as an apostate or sectarian. Today, if it is suspected that
someone may have a serious doubt concerning Watch Tower doctrine, the elders
will interrogate that one in their attempt to ferret it out. If successful
in discovering there is a difference of opinion with the Society that one
will be expelled from the church, even though he has never spoken to any
other members of the church concerning the issue.
It has even become the policy of the Watch Tower to ostracize
by disfellowship and its related shunning, those who quietly leave the
organization without so much as one word of dissent.
Personal conscience was given more respect in earlier times
because of the meaning of baptism. For many decades, in harmony with
Jesus’ instructions in Matthew 28:19, baptism was understood to involve a
direct relationship of the one baptized to God, Christ and the holy spirit
which teaches Christians the truth. Christians did God’s will as revealed
by the enlightening power of holy spirit. Since June of 1985 the spirit
comes indirectly through the organization. Consequently, new Witnesses
cannot learn truth on their own.
Civil Liberties Suppressed and Natural Justice Denied
The previous section explains some of the contributing
factors of the extremely effective indoctrination technique which, in turn,
lays the basis for the suppression of the freedoms of religion, conscience,
thought and speech.
One of the most controversial issues affecting Jehovah’s
Witnesses is that of blood transfusion. Especially does it become
controversial when minor children are involved. The manner in which this
issue is handled by the Watch Tower serves to demonstrate quite clearly how
civil liberties are suppressed.
The Watch Tower Society used to view the decision of a
Witness to have a blood transfusion as a matter of personal conscience. That
was due to the opinion that since there is no specific prohibition of blood
transfusions mentioned anywhere in the Bible, it would be wrong to say
someone was breaking God’s law.
God’s principles are not always stated as clearly as is His
law. The Bible texts which touch on the subject of animal blood could be
interpreted to imply that blood transfusions are wrong. This would allow for
an individual the right to exercise his own judgment in making a decision in
At present, despite there being no explicit law of God
respecting blood transfusions, the Watch Tower Society prohibits, on pain
and penalty of disfellowship, the acceptance of this form of medical
treatment for adult Witnesses and their children.
Furthermore, there has been no little confusion as a result
of changes to the Society’s line of argumentation and policies in this
matter of blood. They used to say transfusion of human blood was the same as
human organ transplants; cannibalism. In the last few years they have
dropped the view that organ transplants are cannibalism. Blood fractions
such as white cells were not to be accepted by injection but the Society has
made an exception for hemophiliacs who require a particular blood factor for
In this context, imagine the quandary Witness parents are
likely to find themselves in in the event a child requires emergency
surgery. Usually, child welfare agencies will try to obtain custody of such
children against the wishes of the parents. While the Watch Tower vehemently
protests what it considers to be a violation of civil liberties on the part
of the government, they themselves will not allow the Witness parents the
right to choose a blood transfusion, even though the parents sincerely feel,
in their own minds, that such is not wrong. The Watch Tower displays gross
hypocrisy in such a case.
Witness parents do not want their children to die but neither
do they wish to suffer disfellowshipping and risk what they believe will be
eternal destruction at God’s hand, with no hope of a resurrection.
The Bible instructs Christians to make allowance for those
with weak consciences. God does not consider a mistake based upon sincere
conscience to be unforgivable. The Watch Tower teaches these principles yet
they refuse to make allowance for individual conscience in such a case as
that involving blood transfusion.
In view of the foregoing, it is not strange to observe that
the principles of natural justice are also being denied. Although the
Society teaches that it adheres to the very highest level of justice, that
of Jehovah God, it has been documented time and time again that it does not.
However, because internal disciplinary hearings are conducted
privately, away from the general membership of the congregation, Jehovah’s
Witnesses are not in a position to know the facts of any particular case.
This, in itself, is a violation of natural justice. A common expression
among judges and lawyers is; "Justice must be seen to be done." It
is very important that justice be administered publicly as noted by the
Watch Tower Society on page 384 of its reference book entitled, Aid to Bible
Understanding, under the heading, Court, Judicial.
Other principles of natural justice that most people readily
understand are: the right to an impartial hearing, the right to make a
defense, the right to face one’s accusers in cross-examination. An accused
should be told what the specific charge against him is and the details of
the incident(s) allegedly involved as well as the names and testimony of the
witnesses accusing him. Other points could be added but these should suffice
to show what is meant by natural justice.
Here again we are confronted with hypocrisy by the Society.
I, personally, am familiar with many cases of injustice committed by church
tribunals against Jehovah’s Witnesses. My own case is among the many.
Although the rules of the Society allowed me to have trial de novo appeal (a
complete trial, a rehearing of the original case), I never received such.
That is documented in the transcript of my hearing before the secular Court
of Queen’s Bench of Manitoba, Canada - 1977.
Many have been summarily expelled from the congregations
without even having a hearing. Many persons have been expelled ex post facto
(retroactive from enactment of law). Many have been subjected to hearings at
which members of the judicial committee also served as witnesses and
accusers against them.
Concerning ex post facto law: the Constitution of the United
States, Section 9 (3) states that; "No Bill of Attainder or ex post
facto Law shall be passed." The French Declaration of the Rights of Man
and of the Citizen (1789 - reaffirmed by the constitution of, 1958) says, in
Article 8; "The Law must prescribe only the punishments that are
strictly and evidently necessary; and no one may be punished except by
virtue of a Law drawn up and promulgated before the offence is committed,
and legally applied." The United Nations’ Universal Declaration of
Human Rights (1948) states, in Article 11 (2); "No one shall be held
guilty of any penal offence on account of any act or omission which did not
constitute a penal offence, under national or international law, at the time
when it was committed."
Obviously the idea of retroactive punishment is repugnant to
peoples’ sense of justice. Furthermore, the Watch Tower Society has,
itself, acknowledged that it is not proper to retroactively judge cases.
Kingdom Service Questions booklet, (1961) p. 60.
Nevertheless, Raymond Franz, former member of the governing
body and nephew of Fred Franz, president of the Watch Tower, was
disfellowshipped retroactively. He was convicted of sharing a meal with
another Witness, someone who had resigned from the organization. However,
this incident occurred before the Watch Tower made it a policy to
disfellowship such resigners. (Jehovah’s Witnesses are forbidden to
socialize with disfellowshipped persons, but the individual in question was
not yet disfellowshipped when Ray Franz was seen with him.) This is detailed
in Ray Franz’ book, Crisis of Conscience (1983) pp. 384-5.
Others similarly expelled have taken their cases to the civil
courts in the United States and have had their petitions denied. There seems
to be some strange rationale on the part of the judiciary, that civil
liberties violations and disregard for the principles of natural justice by
a church should not be actionable in a court of law because of the first
amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Apparently churches can act with
impunity except in extreme cases of wrongdoing. Religious liberty is
interpreted to mean organizational rather than individual liberty, and that
interpretation creates a, number of legal anomalies that have to be examined
so there can be some satisfactory resolution to this growing problem of
First Amendment Misinterpreted
It has become necessary to review the historical background
of the United States’ Constitution in order to correctly understand the
proper meaning of the first amendment re: religious freedom because the
passage of time has contributed to the loss of its original meaning and
When the thirteen colonies revolted against England it was
due to the fact that the colonists were not being treated as free men.
Whereas most people today are aware of the economic and military oppression
of the American colonists, many, it seems, have forgotten the element of
religious oppression that was also experienced by Americans.
Patrick Henry once saw a man whipped so mercilessly that he
later died. That man was a preacher who refused to buy a licence to preach.
William Penn was once on trial for his life because of disagreeing with the
doctrine of the Church of England.
Religious freedom for individuals was what was on the minds
of the early Americans as they drafted the Constitution and its first
Amendment, not organizational religious freedom. A few simple questions
about the wording of the first amendment will make this clear.
When it says that; "Congress shall make no law
respecting an establishment of religion" is the first amendment using
the word ‘establishment’ as a noun or a verb? Although the word
establishment comes from establish, which is a verb, it is predominantly
used as a noun but is sometimes used as a verb when referring to the act of
Evidently, the ability to interpret establishment either way
creates ambiguity. To determine which is correct, we need to ask what the
term establishment of religion meant back then. Actually, it still carries
the same basic meaning today. The religious establishment back then was the
Church of England, as it continues to be today. There are established
religions in many countries today and the term established church means the
identical thing now as it did 200 years ago. A particular church is
sanctioned by the government of the land to be the official state church.
There is one very significant difference between then and
now. Most countries enjoy a condition of relative religious tolerance. Where
there are established churches there is usually freedom of religion for
other beliefs as well. Two hundred years ago established churches were not
at all tolerant of those who differed. The pages of history are filled to
overflowing with the details of religious tyranny and persecution. The
doctrine of the established church was part of the law of the land.
Disagreement with that doctrine was a crime and was punishable even to
While the Anglican Church continues as the established church
in England, what religion became established in the United States? None, of
course. Why? Because the first amendment prohibited Congress from making any
law respecting an establishment of religion.
To interpret ‘an establishment of religion’ to mean any
church organization is to ignore and downplay the special significance
attached to it by hundreds of years of common tradition. Our modern usage of
the word establishment allows us to call any kind of business or
organization an establishment.
When it is realized that only a state-sanctioned church can
be properly called an establishment, and when it is noted that the United
States has no religious establishment according to the proper meaning of the
term, then it becomes clear that the first amendment would have to be
totally unnecessary. How could Congress make any law respecting religious
establishment (to regulate or interfere) when there is no religious
establishment anywhere in the United States to be interfered with?
When secular courts treat all religious organizations as
establishments of religion, free from governmental regulation, they create
serious inconsistencies in law. As already mentioned, they allow inalienable
rights to be alienated from American citizens. They allow the outrageous ex
post facto injustices to stand. That is not all.
In effect, whereas Congress has not made, nor can it make any
law which establishes a religious organization to be the official state
church, the courts have made law which makes all religions official. All the
various religions have state sanction to mistreat their own members much
like the medieval churches did to their members except they are not allowed
to burn them at the stake or otherwise execute them for exercising their
According to legal doctrine, organizations are considered to
be the equals of humans and are accorded status as legal persons. What
happens to the principle of equal justice before the law? One individual
cannot impose his personal beliefs on another, nor restrict another from the
exercise of free speech. However, if an individual registers a corporate
agency, he can vicariously, through that corporation, suppress other
persons’ civil rights.
When courts allow religious organizations, such as the Watch
Tower, to violate what is normally the law of the land, by violating civil
liberties and denying natural justice to others, they are parties to these
illegal activities. They aid and abet.
It must be remembered that when courts place their seals on
corporation charters, they do so after inspecting them to see whether or not
they comply with the law. If someone wanted to register a charter with
purposes similar to those of the Watch Tower, to preach and teach the Bible,
etc., etc., but included the notice that he would endeavour to fulfill these
goals by fraud, deception and the suppression of civil liberties and natural
justice, what court of law anywhere on this earth, let alone the United
States, would authorize such a charter? None, of course.
Finally, it must be noted that the purposes and goals of the
Watch Tower Society are stated to be accomplished lawfully. The Society was
not coerced into lawful pursuit of these objectives. They willingly accepted
the limitations of the law. How can the courts be reluctant, in this
context; to hold the Watch Tower accountable for its actions? W’tower Dec.
15/88, footnote p. 760.
Much more information could be presented, if time were
available, to prove beyond the shadow of doubt that the Watch Tower Society
is unjust, hypocritical, deceptive and harmful to the spiritual and
emotional well-being of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Hopefully the New York City Board of Estimate will see fit to
initiate some sort of review of the operations of the Watch Tower. Please,
bear in mind that it is not the body of believers in general that are the
problem. They are dupes of the Watch Tower, and its victims. I believe that
the Witnesses’ are being defrauded by the Watch Tower and that they should
be reimbursed. If the Watch Tower will not correct its injustices then it
should have its charter revoked.