Defending and Legally Establishing the Truth

I spoke October 23, 2004 at Wenatchee WA at a Bible Conference, and this is the transcript.

I also wrote the article on p. 24 of the Dec. 8, 1991 Awake! article, "Students Participate in National History Day" which went along with the Bill of Rights article mentioned in my talk.
Our pictures are in the following magazines:
Awake! Oct. 8, 1986-Cover
Awake! July 22, 1992-Cover
Watchtower, May 15, 1989, p. 10 Smallest picture w/ blue frame.
I'm also 5 times in Jesus Life and Ministry book and once in the Revelation book. 

"Jehovah's Witnesses are known worldwide for their persistence in talking to people everywhere about Jehovah God and his Kingdom. They also have the reputation of being a people who hold to their beliefs despite all manner of opposition, even death." This quotation is taken from the book, Jehovah's Witnesses-Proclaimers of God's Kingdom. It is Jehovah's Witnesses' latest history book published in 1994.

To substantiate the last part of what I read about the opposition to Jehovah's Witnesses the next paragraph quotes Archibald Cox's book , The Court and the Constitution, (1987) where he states, "The principal victims of religious persecution in the United States in the twentieth century were Jehovah's Witnesses."

I'm very familiar with the contents of this book and especially with Mr. Cox's statement because I was the leading researcher for this publication from 1989-1991 and I located this quote and provided it and many other quotes and facts for the author of the book to use.

I was one of Jehovah's Witnesses from 1954 until 1998. My husband and I became very familiar with opposition to our religion because we were very persistent in making our beliefs known to people whether they wanted to hear us or not. Although we were disliked because of our religion by some, my husband and I helped convert about 80 people to our religion.

In 1982, during a time of expansion of Jehovah's Witnesses' world headquarters in Brooklyn, NY, as longtime faithful Jehovah's Witnesses, we were invited to become staff members at the world headquarters. I was assigned to work in the Shipping Dept. for a year and then transferred to the Engineering Dept. for six years. In 1989, I was assigned to work in the Writing Dept. where I did research for senior staff writers. My first research project was for the Proclaimer's book. One assignment was to research the exact number and details of all the petitions and appeals involving Jehovah's Witnesses that were made to the U. S. Supreme Court. The results of my research on this subject can be found in Proclaimer's, Chapter 30, entitled, "DEFENDING AND LEGALLY ESTABLISHING THE GOOD NEWS"

It took me three months, much of that time spent in the Legal Dept at Headquarters, to thoroughly research thousands of Jehovah's Witnesses appeals of adverse court decisions, hundreds of pages of documents, many books, and magazines written on the subject, which resulted in stacks of material that I didn't know what to do with after I finished that part of the project. I also ended up with a good understanding of the history of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

Coincidentally, 1991 was the 200th anniversary of the Bill of Rights and I decided to offer the accumulated material to the editor of Jehovah's Witnesses Awake! Magazine, Harry Peloyan, because I thought perhaps he might be interested in assigning a staff writer to prepare an article tying Jehovah's Witnesses and their struggle in the courts for freedom of religion as guaranteed by the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights.

However, I was told that all the writers were occupied and the suggestion was made that I write the article. But I wasn't a writer and told the editor so. However, he thought I had the ability to do the article as he had reviewed some of the memos I had written during my job with the Writing Dept. So on my own free time, after a long day doing other research, I prepared an article about the Bill of Rights. It appeared in the December 8, 1991 Awake! Magazine and tens of millions of copies were distributed by Jehovah's Witnesses. The article discussed what exactly the Bill of Rights was; why it was needed, and what liberties it helped to preserve in the United States. My efforts writing the article turned out to be a labor of love as I saw that Jehovah's Witnesses were definers of freedom by testing the principles of religious freedom in the Supreme Court.

I was proud of Jehovah's Witnesses struggle in the highest courts of the land for the freedom to exercise the courage of their conviction. The result was as Anson Phelps Stokes stated in 1950 about the results of their litigation in his book, Church and State in the United States. (Page 546): He said, "Federal courts have rendered a series of decisions which have secured and broadened the religious-freedom guarantees of American citizens, and have protected and extended their civil liberties." Jehovah's Witnesses, Proclaimers of God's Kingdom, Page 699.

And Jehovah's Witnesses agreed with Mr. Stokes for in that same year, 1950, listen to what they said about themselves in their booklet, Defending and Legally Establishing the Good News on page 5: "Court decisions in our cases have been piled high, as it were, stone upon stone, to establish a strong buttress against the rushing torrent of oppression by religious bigots and fanatics. In fact, our way of worship has, in America, been written into the law of the land by the Supreme Court and other courts. We have become proficient at using the treasures of liberty set in the fundamental law of the land of many nations."

One particular treasure of liberty Jehovah's Witnesses became proficient at using is mentioned in Proclaimers on page 683: It is by being persistent "…in appealing from adverse decisions." And how persistent were they? My research showed that "From 1919 through 1988, petitions and appeals in a total of 138 cases involving Jehovah's Witnesses were made to the U. S. Supreme Court. The decisions were favorable to Jehovah's Witnesses in 47 of the cases that the Court considered." This statement can be found in Jehovah's Witnesses-Proclaimers of God's Kingdom, p. 688, footnote. That's an extraordinary record in the history of the U.S. Supreme Court, unlike any other.

In their short history, Jehovah's Witnesses challenged any law or ordinance that interfered with their religious activities, and through their litigation, helped set in place insulation for religious organizations from lawsuits. They had the lawful right to preach in unorthodox places using unorthodox methods. They could call uninvited at the homes of people to discuss the Bible, to preach in the street, and to distribute religious literature, even ask for a contribution of money. They won for themselves and all other religious groups constitutional guarantees of freedom of speech and worship. This amounted to almost complete protection under the First Amendment of the United States Constitution free exercise clause.

Of course Jehovah's Witnesses are proud of this record of accomplishment for civil liberties and they should be. By steadfastly holding to the courage of their convictions, although sometimes terribly persecuted, out of oppression came freedom, not only for them, but for all who love liberty. And for that we all owe Jehovah's Witnesses a debt of gratitude. However having successfully defended and legally established their right to practice their religion however they see fit, Jehovah's Witnesses are still appearing in courts throughout the world, but for a different reason. This once oppressed group has gone from being the oppressed to being the oppressor.

They demanded and received religious tolerance; they demanded and were guaranteed freedom of speech; they demanded and won the right to practice their religion any way they saw fit; they demanded the recognition of freedom of conscience. Yet, they forbid their members to practice any of these civil and God-given rights. They silence freedom of speech. They silence dissent. How? By using fear as the weapon. The fear of excommunication or disfellowshipping with its severe life-altering sanction, that of shunning by the whole community of Jehovah's Witnesses including relatives such as parents and adult children.

Jehovah's Witnesses believe their organization is directed by God, so in effect it is a theocracy or God-ruled government. So it appears that in good conscience they believe that they have the right to govern themselves. This means that the congregations of Jehovah's Witnesses are mini-governments or theocracies existing within the boundaries of all governments throughout the world. Although Jehovah's Witnesses give lip service to Jesus' words recorded at Mark 12:17, "Pay back Caesar's things to Caesar, but God's things to God," and believe that they are obedient to Caesar's laws and statutes in all things that do not violate their religious beliefs, little do the majority of Jehovah's Witnesses know that their organization has been involved in violating one of Caesar's laws in a way that they could not imagine and has been doing so for many years.

While working in the Writing Dept., I learned in the early 1990s that there were members of Jehovah's Witnesses, including some of their elders, who had engaged in child sexual abuse; that Jehovah's Witnesses officials knew of many of these incidents of child sexual abuse but had instituted policies that effectively prevented the report of most of these incidents to appropriate authorities and to the congregation. These discoveries were directly contrary to the public position taken by Jehovah's Witnesses that child sexual abuse is neither tolerated nor concealed. In August of 2000, I began to quietly assist a Kentucky Jehovah's Witness elder in a joint effort to change the child abuse policies of the Watch Tower organization. After resigning his position, this elder went public in early 2001 with allegations of Jehovah's Witnesses' officials' improper conduct and policies.

In February of 2001, A Dateline producer learned of my effort's to change church policy and invited me and the Kentucky elder, Bill Bowen, to come to NBC in NYC for an interview. In April 2001, I learned the details of criminal child abuse when one of Jehovah's Witnesses had been convicted of molestation near where I live in Tennessee. I asked the mother of one of the victims to appear on the Dateline program explaining how and why her daughter's abuse had been covered up in the congregation for many years by the elders.

In May of 2001, Jehovah's Witnesses' officials in New York learned of this invitation and my involvement with the Dateline program. In July 2001, these same officials contacted my local congregation authorizing them to start an investigation to determine if I was proselytizing my views about child abuse within the organization. The elders came up with a negative response. In the meantime, the producers at Dateline were hoping to air their investigative program about the accusations of a cover-up of child abuse and protection of pedophiles within Jehovah's Witnesses organization sometime in November 2001, but due to the disastrous events in New York on 9/11 the program was put on hold.

In April 2002, the Dateline broadcast date was tentatively set for May 28th and Jehovah's Witnesses' officials in New York were informed by a Dateline producer of the date. When the May 28th date for broadcast was finalized, Jehovah's Witnesses' New York officials hastily instructed the local congregation to convene a judicial committee hearing. It appeared that the reason for the haste was to have me disfellowshipped prior to the broadcast on a charge of apostasy for causing divisions in the church. The treatment of three other Jehovah's Witnesses' participants or whistleblowers who appeared on the Dateline program was the same. Apparently, this was done to keep the Witnesses from believing any unfavorable statements we made on the program because disfellowshipped Jehovah's Witnesses are not to be believed.

Soon, a spokesman for Jehovah's Witnesses' officials spoke to the NY Post and Washington Post newspapers in answer to their reporter's query about the four of us being asked to attend judicial committee hearings because of our appearing on a soon-to-be aired Dateline program. That spokesman denied knowing who were participating in the Dateline program; denied his headquarters' involvement in ordering the judicial hearing. He said that the local elders in three congregations in three different states ordered the judicial hearing and summoned us on charges of having committed various spiritual violations and sins unrelated to any public comments made by us on Dateline concerning sexual abuse.

On May 19, 2002, I was disfellowshipped by my former elders in the Manchester, TN congregation. On May 20th, another national spokesman for Jehovah's Witnesses, when asked what scriptures are used as the basis for disfellowshipping, replied to a reporter that 1 Corinthians, Chapter 5 is the scriptural basis. Of interest is these scriptures are used for expulsion of members who commit and are unrepentant about such serious sins as fornication, extortion, and drunkardness.

On May 23, 2002, my husband resigned his position as elder in disgust and sent a letter to headquarters respectfully requesting answers to his questions and outlining his grievances. He was disfellowshipped for causing divisions in August of 2002.

On Nov. 7, 2002, I filed a lawsuit or Complaint against the leaders of Jehovah's Witnesses' organization in NY as represented by their five Watchtower corporations, their two national spokespersons, and local Tennessee elders. A few months later the complaint was amended when my husband joined the lawsuit.

Our Complaint contained eight counts: Count 1-Defamation through statements published to the media; Count 2-Defamation through statements published to the congregation; Count 3-Invasion of privacy by making defamatory representations and placed me before the public in a false light; Count 4-Interference with Prospective Business Relationships when we lost many business clients due to our disfellowshipping; Count 5-Breach of Fiduciary Duty by elders who should have provided me with spiritual guidance but instead acted intentionally, fraudulently and maliciously by disfellowshipping me as part of a conspiracy to prevent me from exposing their practice of concealing child sexual abuse by church members from the authorities and the congregation.; Count 6-Fraud. The defendants in New York acted fraudulently and misrepresented me to the local elders and the congregation. They knew I had not committed any spiritual violation that would justify disfellowshipping and misled the local members of the tribunals. Count 7-Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress; Count 8-Wrongful Disfellowshipping;

As to Count 8 -- I would like to talk a bit about Wrongful Disfellowshipping. As I have pointed out, Jehovah's Witnesses litigated and litigated to win their constitutional right to exercise freedom of speech without sanctions. One would think they of all groups would not sanction anybody's right to free speech. Especially not Jehovah's Witnesses, which is exactly what I was, although not an active member when I went on Dateline. In fact, my husband was a Jehovah's Witness elder at that time. However, when we exercised our constitutional right to freedom of speech by revealing their law-breaking policies publicly, we were undeservedly sanctioned by them when they used one of their religious tenets, disfellowshipping, to punish us. All Jehovah's Witnesses understand that the very act of disfellowshipping a member is the equivalent of stating that he or she is an unrepentant sinner and this defames us. Consequently, we are oppressed by Jehovah's Witnesses, who require we be shunned by the entire religious community which includes our son, daughter-in-law, and grandson, who we've not seen in over two years. We were not even permitted to attend the funeral of our daughter-in-law's mother, who was a close friend. I've been called a liar, a Judas, a thief who stole records from Jehovah's Witnesses, plus, ridiculous stories have been spread about our morals and integrity.

On August 8, 2003, the Defendants filed a Motion to Dismiss our Complaint. In this motion they contended that it should be dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction and failure to state a claim. And as expected, they asserted that the "constitutional doctrine of ecclesiastical abstention bars consideration of the Complaint because the Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction, and they assert that the First Amendment bars court review of the lawsuit.

By the way, it was through Jehovah's Witnesses' litigation that helped establish this doctrine of "ecclesiastical abstention," which means that civil courts are forbidden inquiry into church practice and religious law.

As well meaning as the courts were to protect religion from interference by government, the stage was set through the "ecclesiastical abstention" rule for some religious groups to break Caesar's general laws, and get away with it. However, federal and state courts have addressed this question and recognize that the church autonomy doctrine and the First Amendment do not bar court review of actions motivated by fraud, malice or collusion and purely secular goals. Notice what the court said in the Cantwell v. Connecticut (1940) case about what the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment guarantees. (By the way, Cantwell's were Jehovah's Witnesses) "The right to believe and profess whatever religious doctrine one desires." The Free Exercise Clause protects religious freedom by "embracing two concepts,-freedom to believe and freedom to act. The first is absolute but, in the nature of things, the second cannot be. Conduct remains subject to regulation for the protection of society." However, I might add that regulation must be justified by a compelling state interest such as in our case, to protect children from harm.

In line with this thought, notice an April 17, 1990 Supreme Court ruling as reported in the Los Angeles Times. The title of the article was, Won't Shield Religions From Law, Court Says. It stated in part: 'In contrast, the high court for most of this century has gone out of its way to shield minority religions-such as the Jehovah's Witnesses and the Amish-from laws that infringed on their religious beliefs. Those decisions were based on the First Amendment's protection of "the free exercise of religion."

In what was called a "radical departure" from previous rulings protecting religion, the Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that there is no constitutional right to take peyote as a religious sacrament and declared forcefully that it will no longer shield believers whose practices violate general laws.

In a sweeping opinion, Justice Scalia went far beyond the case at hand and declared that, when religious rights clash with the government's need for uniform rules, the court will side with government."

In our Complaint, we allege that the Defendants were motivated by purely secular reasons when they engaged in the actions complained of and that the actions were part of a fraudulent conspiracy to silence me when I tried to assist victims of child sexual abuse and as I tried to prevent the church from sheltering child abusers, which state law requires be reported. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that the church autonomy doctrine and the First Amendment do not bar court review of purely secular actions taken by church organizations or of actions motivated by fraud or collusion. But despite this, the Defendants have tried to mislead the court by willful mischaracterization of the case, that it will trespass on the First Amendment church autonomy doctrine and ecclesiastical abstention doctrine. This was and continues to be their major argument as they ignore almost every Count in our Complaint.

On October 6, 2003, Defendant's Motion to Dismiss the Amended Complaint was heard by the court. The court ruled to allow us, the Plaintiffs, to go forward on all eight counts and the Defendants' Motion to Dismiss was respectfully denied.

Then in December of 2003 Jehovah's Witnesses attorneys appealed, something that they are experts at. They filed a motion for Interlocutory Appeal asking the court to allow Defendants to take the judge's denial of dismissal of our Complaint to the Tennessee Court of Appeals in Nashville for review. Among other things, Defendants maintained [incorrectly] that every appellate court in the country have uniformly refused to recognize a fraud or collusion exception to the ecclesiastical abstention doctrine. They further contend that this court's subjecting an ecclesiastical tribunal's decision to excommunicate congregation members to secular court review conflicts with precedents of both the US Supreme Court and the TN Supreme Court.

Our attorneys responded by filing an Opposition to Motion for Interlocutory Appeal. The brief stated that Defendant's will not suffer any "irreparable injury" as they claim if the motion is denied; That discovery will not involve church doctrine and violate constitutional privileges; That there will not be needless, expensive and protracted litigation. Discovery will be short if the defendants will just show whether they did or did not fraudulently concoct the charges and did so hastily for purely secular reasons. If the defendants do not file frivolous objections to discovery requests, this discovery can be conducted promptly and inexpensively.

Further, our brief said that the Defendants have consistently and willfully mischaracterized the Plaintiffs allegations as a complaint about "internal church discipline." The Defendants have simply refused to acknowledge that the Plaintiffs contend that the Defendants fraudulently made up the allegations of spiritual misconduct which led to the disfellowshipping of the Plaintiffs. The brief ends with these words: "It can not be a policy of this state to permit the disfellowshipping of those who seek to protect the precious lives of young children. The Defendants can not hide behind purported constitutional privilege to continue their tortious conduct and maintain their conspiracy of silence to the detriment of young children of the church."

Finally, Defendants filed a Reply to Plaintiffs' Opposition to Motion for Interlocutory Appeal. Basically, again they claimed that inquiring into a religious membership decision is a constitutionally prohibited inquiry. Further, they stated, "as Anderson's well know, the outcome of this lawsuit will not affect their disfellowshipped status. That the legal process will not result in any secular mandate that the Plaintiffs be reinstated as Jehovah's Witnesses," although nowhere in the Complaint did we ask to be reinstated as Jehovah's Witnesses. Neither child abuse, nor any of the other paramount issues of importance in the Complaint are addressed by the Defendants in their brief.

During his opening remarks in the October 6, 2003 Defendant's Motion To Dismiss hearing, the kindly Tennessee judge, who was on the bench, stated that he didn't know anything about ecclesiastical law and never dealt with a case like ours before. He also discussed his very serious health problems making everyone aware that he was recovering from heart surgery and would probably need more hospitalization shortly. Yet, after considering closely both sides of the arguments presented, he saw good reason to allow our lawsuit to progress and overruled the Defendant's Motion to Dismiss.

However, when the Defendant's filed a motion for Interlocutory Appeal in December of 2003, this same judge succumbed to their wish after he held a very brief hearing on February 5, 2004, and allowed the case to go to the Tennessee Appellate Court in Nashville for review of his decision. Perhaps he thought this action prudent in light of Jehovah's Witnesses successful litigating record in the Supreme Court and subsequently in our case their constant use of the First Amendment church autonomy doctrine and ecclesiastical abstention doctrines as proof that he was treading on sacred ground and had made the wrong decision. Now we wait as our lawsuit's future rests in the hands of the Appellate Court to make a decision on whether the Defendant's Motion to Dismiss our lawsuit was correctly declined or not. It will take at least a year before briefs are filed and pleadings heard.

No matter what the future holds for our lawsuit, Jehovah's Witnesses who fought so valiantly to legally defend and establish their right to preach should be very concerned now about how they will be legally defending and establishing themselves in court by speaking the truth, inasmuch as whatever good they have done in the past will be tarnished and perhaps destroyed by government regulations if they lie about their involvement in harmful activities. If a religion has caused harm, they should not hide behind the First Amendment but be truthful or risk exposure and a loss of credibility.

And, speaking of exposure: Presently, the law firm of Love & Norris in Ft. Worth, TX has filed 15 sexual child abuse lawsuits in civil courts across the country against Jehovah's Witnesses' organization along with many of their elders. And more lawsuits are coming. Many of these lawsuits contain multiple victims of Jehovah's Witnesses molesters who molested Jehovah's Witnesses children, yet these perpetrators stayed safe and hidden because of the religion's inadequate sexual child abuse policies about which I blew the whistle on.
In conclusion, for now, it appears that Jehovah's Witnesses' leaders are not ready to admit to the truth that they have allowed harm to come to thousands of children from sexual predators. They do not believe that I or any member of the congregation has the right to publicly speak out about this issue. Nor do they believe that we have the legal right to take them to civil court over any harm that they have inflicted upon us.

Inasmuch as it was through the use of Caesar's civil authorities, primarily the courts that whistle blowing Catholic victims of pedophile priests made the Catholic Church own up to its failure to protect them as children, whistle blowing Jehovah's Witnesses like me are now doing the same thing. Although many Jehovah's Witnesses, who have used their freedom of speech to speak out about all kinds of abuse within their group have been sanctioned by their leaders through disfellowshipping and shunning, something the Catholic Church has not done to whistleblowers, these now punished members have taken up the battle cry the same way their once oppressed organization did for almost eighty years-To see justice done, they are using the courts. Now they are formidable adversaries by legally defending and establishing the truth in the civil courts across the land.

UPDATE  5/4/05

Greetings from Tennessee.

Thank you for your inquiries regarding the Barbara Anderson vs. Watchtower Tennessee Appellate Court hearing, which took place on Thursday, April 14, 2005. Accompanied by Steve and Joy Imhof, from Panama City Beach, Florida, and our attorney, Jerre Hood, from Winchester, Tennessee, we drove to Nashville to attend the 1:00 P.M. scheduled appellate hearing. This hearing was requested last year by Defendants in the case, and they are: the numerous corporations of Watchtower Bible and Tract Society; Watchtower spokespersons, J. R. Brown, and David Semonian, and certain elders of the Manchester, TN Congregation of JWs.

In Nashville, we met our lead attorney, J. Edward Bell III, from Georgetown, South Carolina, and went to lunch. Bill Bowen of drove in from Paducah, Kentucky to join us. This was the first time Bill met our extraordinary attorneys, who have long wanted to meet the man who has and still is sacrificing so much to help victims of sexual child abuse at the hands of Jehovah Witness molesters.

We were a happy group. And how could we not be since we knew that due to the efforts of our little luncheon group, along with the efforts of many others, the Watchtower organization is a much safer place for the children of Jehovah's Witnesses. Now Watchtower representatives (elders, circuit and district overseers, and men in authority located in Bethels throughout the world), treat the accusation of molestation made by one of JWs or their children as the crime it is, and are not permitted to dissuade anyone from reporting the accusation to the police. We are pleased that the Watchtower has made it a priority to look out for the welfare of its members children by immediately removing men from positions of authority when an accusation of molestation has been made.

For those who are not familiar with the events that led up to this appellate court hearing on April 14th, I filed a civil lawsuit against the above Defendants on November 7, 2002, and which my husband, Joe, joined June 2, 2003. On August 8, 2003, Defendants filed a Motion to Dismiss. On October 6, 2003, a hearing was held in Manchester, TN. To sum up the major argument of the Defendants: It is not permitted in this country for a court to inquire into church discipline for whatever reason.

On November 3, 2003, the judge ruled that the Plaintiffs could go forward with the lawsuit. This meant we could progress with discovery, depositions, etc. However, our attorneys were notified on November 26, 2003 that Watchtower attorneys filed a Motion for Interlocutory Appeal, which meant they were appealing the decision of the judge. The reason for appeal was on the grounds of lack of subject matter jurisdiction with regards to the 8th cause in our action -- Wrongful Disfellowshipping. The lawyers for both sides went back to the local court in Manchester, Tennessee on February 5, 2004 to argue for and against. On March 23, 2004, our lawyers were notified that the judge, who denied the Defendants Motion to Dismiss, stayed all proceedings pending the resolution of the appellate process, which finally was addressed April 14, 2005 in the Tennessee Appellate Court in Nashville.

When we first sat down inside the small courtroom, we saw about ten or more on the Defendants side, along with their attorneys. One of the attorneys was Paul Polidoro, the lead attorney of the Watchtower from headquarters in Patterson, NY, and the other attorney was Robert Harvey, who is their Nashville, Tennessee attorney, from the firm of WALLER LANSDEN DORTCH & DAVIS. From where we were sitting we did not recognize the third attorney. However, imagine our surprise when we heard the name of Phil Brumley, also from New York headquarters, being introduced to the three justices. We knew Phil when we were in Brooklyn Bethel, and because his appearance had changed so dramatically since 1993, we did not recognize him. He has lost most of his hair and gained considerable weight, plus, add to that the aging process, along with his facial features seemingly frozen into a mask of perpetual solemnity, to me he looked like a close relative of Ted Jaracz,. We were immediately flattered that Phil Brumley, the HEAD OF THE WATCHTOWER LEGAL DEPARTMENT, so honored us by coming to the hearing, but soon remembered someone telling us that Phil had relatives in the Nashville area.

Each lead attorney had fifteen minutes to argue in behalf of their clients, and Defendants attorney had an additional two minutes for rebuttal. Attorney for the Defendants, Paul Polidoro, went first because his side filed the motion. He appeared to be reading his entire argument from a manuscript, although he did well extemporaneously speaking when questioned by one of the justices. Paul is a polished and experienced speaker, and it is no wonder he was chosen in the past by Watchtower leaders to argue before the U. S. Supreme Court in behalf of JWs.

And what did Paul Polidoro say in appellate court that day? Much of the same argument he has been using in each court appearance since we filed our Complaint: Constitutional doctrine of Ecclesiastical Abstention prohibits a secular court from exercising jurisdiction into church decisions and requires dismissal of our lawsuit. If I remember correctly, he did not address any issues other than the complaint of slander that I charged Defendants with, which he said lacked merit. This was because my name was not mentioned in a particular newspaper, where Watchtower representative, J. R. Brown, said that the four of us, who were being summoned to judicial hearings and were being charged with SINS, did not mention any names.

Our lead attorney, Mr. Bell, emphasized, I might add, with some passion, that we were not asking the court to inquire into any church decision; that our complaint was in regard to secular issues. He reminded the justices that I was a whistleblower who appeared on Dateline to accuse the Defendants of covering up a large molestation problem and of protecting molesters within the church.

Mr. Bell called attention to the local media statements which had discussed the subject of JW disfellowshipping primarily due to my summons to a JW judicial committee hearing held before the Dateline program aired on May 28, 2002. He pointed out that Tennessee media directly quoted Watchtower representatives saying that the basis for disfellowshipping is found in 1 Corinthians 5:11-13 where it states that fornicators, drunkards, extortioners, etc., had to be put out of the church (disfellowshipped) and shunned. Mr. Bell said that when JWs disfellowshipped me and quoted publicly 1 Cor. 5:11-13 as the reason for disfellowshipping, they were, in effect, saying I was a WHORE or worse. He continued by arguing that the Defendants wanted me to be disfellowshipped and discredited by the time Dateline was shown so JWs would not believe my accusations about the church. He added that in JWs view, only unrepentant sinners are disfellowshipped and that would mean I was an unrepentant sinner, who should not be given credence.

Mr. Bell asked the justices to send this case back to the lower court where we can establish our claim (or establish a matter of record) through the discovery process, depositions, etc.; After that process, then it would be appropriate for the Defendants to file a motion for summary judgment where that court could consider the variety of issues presented, most of which could not be considered in a motion to dismiss.

The justices asked a few questions of both sides and it seemed to us that they did not completely understand the complex issues at stake. One justice asked Mr. Bell why did Plaintiffs list in their Complaint the 8th cause -- wrongful disfellowshipping -- if there is no Tennessee statute or jurisdiction to address this issue. Mr. Bell, in substance, said that if there does not exist a statute to address a wrong, than the court has to examine evidence to see if one is needed.

Immediately after the hearing was over, we filed out to the front lobby. However, Bill Bowen did not follow but went up to Phil Brumley, who was standing with the Watchtower Defendants, and offered him a little stuffed lamb. Phil refused the lamb and told Bill he would rather not talk to him. Bill then told Phil that the lamb represented all the people he hurt by what he did, and although he refused it, he will see a lot more lambs wherever he went. And to remember they represent the children he has hurt. Shame on you! Bill said. Quickly, Rob Harvey, the Defendants Nashville attorney came over to Bill and told him to step away from his client. Bill told Mr. Harvey that Phil was not his client, he was a lawyer! And just like Mr. Brumley, Mr. Harvey hurts children by what he does. And with that said, Bill turned and walked away.

Later, our attorneys advised us that it is very difficult to determine the way the justices will decide from what was said in court. So we are content not to speculate, but to patiently wait the four weeks to two years that it could take to receive a decision.

For your scrutiny, when the transcript of the hearing becomes available, I will make it available to Bill Bowen to post on

Barbara Anderson

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