Jehovah’s Witnesses in the News

Jehovah’s Witnesses in the News

Are JWs training more tennis players?

DUMBO’s only open-air tennis court will soon be open for business. The hard-surfaced court, which sits atop a five-story building at 69 Adams St., has been drooled over by the net set, which has long hoped the court would be returned to service. Excitement volleyed around the neighborhood after workmen were spotted refurbishing the rooftop court.

“We are resurfacing it and patching it up,” said Richard Devine, a spokesman for the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, which owns the building. But Devine cautioned locals to not start practicing their backhand: The court is only open to Jehovah’s Witnesses who live in other Watchtower buildings in DUMBO and Brooklyn Heights — not to the general public. Talk about a double fault!

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Melanie D. Popper, 29-year old attorney, has filed a lawsuit (pdf) alleging that her Jehovah’s Witness father sexually abused her for a decade, beginning at the age of 8. She also claims to have witnessed the rape of her twin sister. The Apple Valley Cheyenne Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses is also named in the suit.

In May 2004, Popper sent her letter of dissociation to the congregation. She said that she sent them a demand letter and that they have had two investigations but believe that they are not liable. “If it wasn’t for the very cult-like nature of the church,” Popper said, “I would have had somewhere to turn.”

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America’s Most Wanted featured Frederick “Rick” McLean, a JW “Ministerial Servant” who used his position to commit multiple sexual crimes against young girls. My previous post has more details on how he ended up on the U.S. Marshal’s Fifteen Most Wanted list.

As one victim’s parents told AMW, they had no clue that an alleged sexual predator was amongst them — even though church elders had prior knowledge of complaints against McLean from another congregation.

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As the Vancouver case (about whether blood transfusions should have been forced on any of the surviving premature sextuplets of Jehovah’s Witness parents) heats up, academics and ex-JWs are raising questions about why Jehovah’s Witnesses will refuse blood transfusions for themselves or their children – even unto death.

“We’ve all come together because of the number of people who are dying,” says Juliet Guichon, who teaches health law and medical ethics at the University of Calgary.

In a recent public statement, Guichon joined two religion scholars and two former Jehovah’s Witnesses with legal expertise in saying that the actions of the Watchtower Society “suggest that these leaders value doctrinal adherence more than they do the lives of their members.”

The statement says senior medical officials confronted by Jehovah’s Witnesses who refuse blood transfusions for themselves or dependents are often unable to make sound ethical decisions because they’re limited by their own “ignorance of the Watchtower’s authoritarian rule.” In other words, the statement claims, medical staff often don’t realize individual Witnesses in medical emergencies may be overwhelmed by their fear of the religious and social repercussions of accepting a transfusion.

Three of the babies are home with their parents, one remains in the hospital, and the other two (who did not receive blood transfusions) have died. The JW parents want a statement that their constitutional rights were breached in the case. I guess the survival of the children didn’t make much of an impact. The case has been postponed until at least July.


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