Scam Alert

Scam Alert

This post has been amended – please read through. This press release was highly misleading and appears to have been submitted fraudulently.

ClickPress | SilentLambs Scam Alert for Jehovah’s Witnesses

[ClickPress, Mon Sep 05 2005] Hurricane Katrina Scam Warning:

There are already “news releases” directing Jehovah’s Witnesses to donate to a “worldwide work” general fund that has nothing to do with hurricane relief efforts.

This way the organization gets to make money while members think they are donating to help those in actual need. Instead surplus monies are kept to fund ‘other projects’ unrelated to the reason donations are being sent to begin with.

HOW TO HELP THOSE IN IMMEDIATE NEED:

Please remember to make sure your donation is being used to directly benefit victims of Katrina unless you wish to make an additional donation unrelated to the disaster.

SilentLamb.org has some resources, and you can eaily check out any charity on the web. It’s best to donate directly and to specify hurricane funds.

****Amendment Sept. 7th**** I wrote to Silent Lambs, and it appears that someone else distributed their words to ClickPress | SilentLambs Scam Alert for Jehovah’s Witnesses. Bill was not aware of the posting for distribution.

I did not distribute this. You can look on the website and see what we wrote at this link,

http://www.silentlambs.org/katrinaupdate.htm

There are those that add to what we say. I simply wrote to be careful funds you send for relief effort do exactly that and provided links to do so. I identified no “watchtower” scam.

So – the Silent Lambs scam warning was a general warning to be careful about donations. It somehow got picked up as a Watchtower-specific warning by this news site (maybe because SilentLambs is critical of the JWs policies on abuse) who also cited Bill as the contact.

Superficially, the item looked the same at both sites – the only things changed were the headline, which became Watchtower-specific, and the word “people” was replaced by “Jehovah’s Witnesses.” I didn’t catch it myself – I apologize for my carelessness, and have changed the title of this post to Scam Alert.

On the other hand, I stand by my response to one of the commenters. There was an official press release from the JW Office of Public Information dated Sept 1 that suggests to me that the emphasis of their own aid is for the benefit of fellow JWs. The Society is not a group that believes in worldly action to care for the needy.

For Immediate Release
September 1, 2005

Local Witnesses Organize to Help Victims of Hurricane Katrina

UNITED STATES—Representatives of Jehovah’s Witnesses were cooperating with local authorities yesterday afternoon to assess the needs of their fellow worshippers and others victimized by the devastating effects of Hurricane Katrina.

Initial reports indicate that Witnesses who sought refuge in the Superdome in New Orleans are now being evacuated to the Astrodome in Houston, Texas, some 350 miles away. Some Witnesses who are residents of New Orleans and surrounding areas were not in the city because they were attending a Witness convention in Beaumont, Texas, when the hurricane made landfall. By that Sunday afternoon, arrangements were made for all of them to be accommodated in the homes of their fellow worshippers in the Beaumont and Houston areas until they can return home.

Witnesses across the United States were moved to offer their services, donations, and/or materials to those needing assistance. A relief committee is being set up to coordinate these matters once a clearer picture of the extent of the damage is available.

Again, I am sorry for my misunderstanding – and I hope this is illuminating. Now – I’m off to notify the news site.

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11 thoughts on “Scam Alert

  1. Silent Lambs

    You forgot to say that 1,200 Jehovah’s Witnesses homes has opened up to help others. Also, how do you know where the donations goes to? Are you the Secretary of Treasurer for the Watctower Society? NOT!!!!

  2. I assume that, as usual, the help is only (or perhaps, perhaps “mostly”) for other JWs? Do _you_ have the courage to ask where your donation would go? Think about it. Take a look at the financial statement that is sent to your congregation once a year (do you get to see it? have you ever looked at it?) and see what kind of detail it offers you. Do you know what the assets of the “Bible and Tract” wing are? Have you ever thought about it? As I recall such questions are very strongly discouraged.

    I’ll be doing some research, though, because you are correct that this release is too vague. I have written to Silent Lambs for more specific information to answer your question. Meanwhile, here is one official press release from the JW Office of Public Information that suggests that the emphasis is on fellow JWs – as of course it would be. The Society is not a group that believes in action to care for the needy – they only minister to “spiritual needs.”

    For Immediate Release
    September 1, 2005

    Local Witnesses Organize to Help Victims of Hurricane Katrina

    UNITED STATES—Representatives of Jehovah’s Witnesses were cooperating with local authorities yesterday afternoon to assess the needs of their fellow worshippers and others victimized by the devastating effects of Hurricane Katrina.

    Initial reports indicate that Witnesses who sought refuge in the Superdome in New Orleans are now being evacuated to the Astrodome in Houston, Texas, some 350 miles away. Some Witnesses who are residents of New Orleans and surrounding areas were not in the city because they were attending a Witness convention in Beaumont, Texas, when the hurricane made landfall. By that Sunday afternoon, arrangements were made for all of them to be accommodated in the homes of their fellow worshippers in the Beaumont and Houston areas until they can return home.

    Witnesses across the United States were moved to offer their services, donations, and/or materials to those needing assistance. A relief committee is being set up to coordinate these matters once a clearer picture of the extent of the damage is available.

    Media Contact: J. R. Brown, telephone: (718) 560-5600

  3. Heidi;

    Persoanlly I don’t need to ask where my money goes. Why? Because it is on the contribution boxes. Also, every three months the money have been audited in order to make sure that the money is being handle right. And every month the WTS sent us a letter to thank us for the donations for the money.

    A matter of fact, if you want to sent money to WTS for the disater, then you can specify it when you donate it.

    Respectfully Yours

    Fred Hall


    Response: Fred – I thank you for your initial comment, which made me research this. Please see the updated post. I am aware that the money coming in through the congregations is audited, but I’m not sure that the average JW has any idea of the extent of the Society’s financial holdings.

    I have always admired that JWs have an anonymous donation box at the back of each Kingdom Hall. At the same time it’s odd to me that JWs have to buy the materials – books, magazines – they place. I remember it was kind of expensive to have to fill in the gap between donations and what the materials cost. In retrospect it’s like an MLM gone wild – but that’s just an opinion.

    When I was a JW, you couldn’t specify what donated money could be used for. It is possible that in the intervening years that has changed. I’m willing to grant you the benefit of the doubt.

    My question wasn’t so much whether you needed to ask questions, but whether you felt that you could ask questions. The only time one could ask such questions was during the initial studies, when so much more was tolerated. After that, you were likely to be labelled “worldly” (or even disfellowshipped) for asking simple questions that anyone – outside of a slave-based theocracy – would assume were within your rights to ask.

    I honor your faith – and I once shared it – but as you will see from browsing this category, I just can’t in all good conscience agree with what the men in Brooklyn direct. I don’t believe that the Watchtower Bible and Tract related corporations could possibly be the expression of God’s Kingdom, but again, I’m sure I could be wrong. God’s ways are mysterious.

    What I do know, however, is that they hurt a lot of good people with what they do, and often unfairly and in seriously damaging ways. For a Christian group, they put very low emphasis on grace, forgiveness or compassion – and they actively discourage people from the pursuit of truth, which amounts to taking control of their relationship with God. When I was young, they criticized the Catholics all the time for putting other men between them and God – what, then, is the “governing body” except the same thing? They are practically asking to be worshipped now. They are only a group of guys in Brooklyn – but people all over the world submit and obey.

  4. Mr. Hall,
    Your level of awareness is reflected in the quality and content of your post. Wake up! I find it interesting that your last name is Hall as in Kingdom Hall. I hope (for your sake) that it really is a pseudonym, otherwise others may correctly identify you as ignorant. I do not think your fellow JWs would appreciate being defended in this manner; it does more harm than good.
    As a former JW, I am very familiar with contribution boxes. Supposedly, they are there to encourage voluntary giving for those who can afford it. It is the instruction from the governing body(as passed on to members of the congregation through elders and ministerial servants), however, that causes people like my mother (an eighty-year-old woman taking care of a mentally challenged adult child) to give more than they can afford. I cannot help her because I was disfellowshipped. The elders, who are supposed to serve, do not help her because many of them are cold, calculating, dispassionate people who only concern themselves with outward appearances. Yes, I am qualified to make this statement; my grandfather was an elder.

    Respectfully,
    R. Challman

  5. Complaining Worked

    I just got a response back from the American Red Cross*
    from when i complained to them that the donation
    instructions were not specfic to hurricane katrina but
    to: American Red Cross
    (americanredcrosshurricanerelief)

    Anyway, if You go to their link You should notice that
    their are now provisions for specfic donations including
    hurricane katrina.

    https://give.redcross.org/donation-form.asp?hurricanemasthead

    And as of yesterday, i am complaining directly to IRS
    as to the watchtowers methodes of using hurricane
    katrina to stimulate, ask or direct donations to their
    general fund.

    * Case ID=508-197 ‘Red Cross Inquiry’
    .

  6. .
    Anyway, I finally got to a IRS agent regarding, a religious business using hurricane katrina to get donations for a general fund. The agent addressed the question from when the donations could be disbursed would requirer the approval of the IRS which could take 120 days*. But, if i remember correctly, before this the agent gave me a US postal mailing address and said i could be an informant that i didn’t have to give my name.

    * Publication 557
    .

  7. I was at the meeting the day the letter from the Watchtower was read. If I remember correctly they never even really asked for money. They said ther was plenty of money coming in from other organizations. What they needed was food, water, clothing, first aid supplies etc. Also if there wasanybody that could volunteer their own time and effort and go over there and help in clean-up or

  8. .
    Hey Rafael:

    Good to hear from you. Sometimes, Elders may choose not to read all information and post the letter at the back of the Kingdom Hall for anyone to read. Is this done at your Kingdom Hall.

    It probably would be surprising to discover that the watchtower was engaging in such conduct. Why, even the sources below are JW’s or are feed information from JW’s.

    http://www.jehovahs-witness.com/11/97708/1.ashx

    I have just talked with the WTBTS Service Department at 718-560-5000.

    You can contribute for Hurricane Katrina relief efforts through your local Kingdom Hall and put your donation in the contribution box marked for the World Wide Work. You may also send donations directly to the Branch Office… to the Brooklyn address. Donations should be marked for the World Wide Work and not specificically reserved for relief efforts. This allows the brothers to use the money in the best way they see fit. Again, mark donations for the World Wide Work and not specific to the relief efforts.

    http://www.freeminds.org/wtrelieffund.htm

    The Watchtower disaster relief is filled with information you do not know. At a recent announcement that was given to all congregations it was directed that donations to assist victims of the Katrina Hurricane was to be placed in the general contribution called the “Worldwide Work” of Jehovah’s Witnesses. The WWW is a general donation fund that is distributed at the sole discretion of leadership of Jehovah’s Witnesses. The WWW is used to buy paper to make literature, build new branch offices as well as fund the defense of child molesters within the organization. A portion of this money is also used for disaster relief for members that are affected by natural disasters

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