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Watchtower Society/Jehovah’s Witnesses GUILTY – Must Pay Millions in Punitive Damages in Child Sex Abuse Case

Watchtower Society/Jehovah’s Witnesses GUILTY – Must Pay Millions in Punitive Damages in Child Sex Abuse Case

I am overjoyed to see some traction on this issue at last.

The jury found that the elders who managed the Fremont congregation in the 1990s and who were under the supervision of Watchtower knew that Kendrick, a member, had recently been convicted of the sexual abuse of another child, but they kept his past record secret from the congregation, said Simons. Kendrick went on to molest the plaintiff, who was a Jehovah’s Witness member in Fremont, over a two-year period beginning when she was 9 years old, the lawsuit contended. Kendrick was eventually convicted in 2004 of the sexual abuse of another girl, and is now a registered sex offender in California, Simons said. He has not been criminally charged with abusing the plaintiff, but Simons said the case is under investigation by law enforcement.

The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ legal entity, is responsible for the entire punitive damages amount and 40 percent of the compensatory damages, said Rick Simons, attorney for the plaintiff. Sixty percent of the compensatory damages was assessed against Jonathan Kendrick, the man accused of abusing her.

Yes, the Watchtower Society (along with their other “arms,” aka the “Jehovah’s Witnesses,”) have a policy of secrecy, as has been proven through the elder’s manual, “judicial” correspondence, the database of abusers that a Bethelite discovered, and numerous court cases that show that they neither notify the congregation nor even attempt to protect children when they are aware of sexual predators and violent abusers in their midst.

The key issue in the case, according to the victim’s attorney Rick Simons of Hayward, was the written policy of Watchtower New York, Inc., which instructed all Elders in Jehovah’s Witnesses Congregations in the United States to keep reports of child sex abusers within Jehovah’s Witnesses secret to avoid lawsuits. The case is believed to be the first in the nation to directly address the policy of secrecy, adopted in 1989, and still in force today.

Yes, they have a policy of requiring two witnesses to any act of abuse (any attempt by a victim of any kind of abuse to get help from the elders, even with support from someone else, is considered “slanderous.”) They have to twist a rather obscure bible verse out of context to support this doctrine. And – of course – they encourage spying and reporting for all kinds of other things, some of them rather trivial.

Yes, they have a history of discouraging members from seeking help from any “worldly authorities” such as police or therapists. Such “worldly authorities” are believed to be ruled by Satan and therefore cannot be trusted. This effectively cuts off all possibility of help for those who wish to remain “in good standing.”

Yes, they have a policy of lying in court, which they call “theocratic strategy.” They comply with the law only just as far as they have to, but prefer to be the only authority in their member’s lives. They hide their totalitarianism with “servant” language, but some people might have a better historical idea of what a “circuit overseer” or “district overseer” might really be.

They need to change these policies, and others (such as the demonizing and shunning – even by their families – of those who eventually choose a different path in the freedom of conscience that they freely claim when trying to convert others).

In 2007, 17 victims shared a $13 million dollar settlement from church officials. It involved victims in three states California , Texas and Oregon and six Jehovah Witnesses perpetrators.

To those who have been making unfounded accusations about Candace Conti’s motives, please note that she requested 144,000 cents in punitive damages, and the jury instead granted 21 million (plus one!) dollars. I hope that his case – and the financial costs to Watchtower Society, including those of the many others who were silenced with settlements including gag orders – will force whatever section of the legal organization currently responsible for “new light” (changes in doctrine) to be less paranoid, misogynistic, and uncaring when they exercise their “guidance” as “God’s only channel.”


144000 cents requested, 21 million +1 awarded in punitive damages
Punitive Damages: 144,000 (!) cents Requested – 21 million plus 1 (!) dollars Awarded. Thanks to Steven Unthank at JWNews.net for the graphic.

“Until now, a jury has virtually never held the JW national headquarters responsible for repeated heinous child sex crimes and cover ups by church members or officials,” said William H. Bowen of Nashville, TN, who founded and heads a support group for those molested by Jehovah’s Witnesses. “This is a ground-breaking case and a watershed award against an especially callous group of church bureaucrats.”

The Watchtower legal troops haven’t given up yet:

“We’ve got a long ways to go yet before this one is resolved,” he said of the planned appeal. Simons said Jehovah’s Witnesses has sufficient resources, including valuable real estate, to cover the judgment but an appeal could drag out for years.

Whether Jehovah’s Witnesses are correct in their humble claim that they alone possess “the TRUTH” or not (and personally speaking, I don’t believe theirs is a very spiritually mature view of the divinity), they have a responsibility under the law to be less destructive.

“Nothing can bring back my childhood,” Conti told the Oakland Tribune. “But through this (verdict) and through, hopefully, a change in their policy, we can make something good come out of it.”

More! Added 6/17/2012:

Roundup of JWs in the News

Roundup of JWs in the News

Recent conversations in the comments have reminded me that I haven’t done my posting of recent news related to Jehovah’s Witnesses. The purpose in doing this is simply to highlight, over time, the kinds of issues that the JW mindset and set of demands can create or intensify in some. It is meant to encourage more compassionate and ethical policies and behaviors within the Watchtower organization and to help former JWs understand some of the clusters of danger that may be worthwhile to (even further) transcend.

Ex-JWs: Use What You’ve Got

First off, there is a very humorous treatment of growing up as a JW in a new book by Kyria Abrahams called I’m Perfect, You’re Doomed: Tales from a Jehovah’s Witness Upbringing. It’s on my wishlist, and I’ll let you know what I think of it once I’ve had the chance to read it. It looks promising as a bit of comic relief.

Given that Abrahams is now a stand-up comic and spoken-word poet, it makes perfect sense to begin her very funny memoir with her performance debut at the Pawtucket, Rhode Island, Kingdom Hall, at age 8 (her presentation was about freedom from demon possession). She describes the children’s books she read as a child as a cross between “Dr. Seuss rhymes and tales of how sinners would scream and gnash their teeth at Armageddon.” In her world, Smurfs were “little blue demons” and yard sales were enticements from Satan. As a bored teenager with OCD, she didn’t know what to do with herself or how to make sense of the world. On the verge of 18, she married a 24-year-old part-time college math teacher because, even if his interest in her was, at best, halfhearted, she wanted a boyfriend and didn’t know any other Jehovah’s Witnesses who liked her. Anyway, she reasons, “this is what adults did, and I was an adult.” It wasn’t long before she longed to be out of the marriage.

Author Lisa Foad writes in a fractured, variable, and somewhat surreal style – trying to say the unsayable takes you on some funky roads sometimes. She thinks her approach to writing might be a side effect of her Jehovah’s Witness upbringing.

“After an assembly where they were talking about the folly of music,” Foad recalls from her early childhood, “I went home and broke records with my dad. We broke Led Zeppelin, Cream. But I had this Wham! record I really liked. I didn’t want to break my Wham! record but then he reminded me that in the paradise I would have a pet tiger, a pet lion. What are you going to do? It was a trade I was willing to make. There’s so much fodder in that.”

Check out her book: The Night Is a Mouth

In other, depressing but illuminating JW book news, get a child’s eye perspective on Jehovah’s Witnesses by reading William Coburn’s The Spanking Room: A Child’s Eye View of the Jehovah Witnesses.

I had stopped vomiting, but still shook and sobbed. Mom returned to the room to sit on the edge of my bed. Again she asked, “Billy what’s wrong?” “That was my bus route,” I whispered when I could get words out. “What if someone I knew came to the door?” “So?” “They’d find out I was a Jehovah’s Witness.” Mom’s hand met the side of my head in a flash of brilliant white light and an explosion of pain. I collapsed onto the mattress while she flailed at me, her rage-clenched fists thudding into my eight-year-old body. “How dare you?” she shrieked. “You awful, rotten child! How dare you be ashamed of Jehovah? I hate you! I hate you!”

The Spanking Room is the true story of a young boy’s upbringing, and how the unorthodox doctrines of the Watchtower Society encourage violence against its most helpless members–the children.

Artist Lindsay O’Leary’s piece “Pedaling Backwards, Moving Forward: How to Lose 100 pounds in 365 days” is part of an exhibit in the opening of “Gestures 13” at the Mattress Factory. She has created a scaled model of her childhood home that is controlled by a stationary bicycle to represent her “old self and old habits.”

“Inside my childhood home, there’s a silhouette of me praying,” O’Leary says. “All of the silhouettes of me (except the biking one in the garage) are of me when I was obese. I was a Jehovah’s Witness from birth to (age) 21. We had to pray every day and attended five ‘meetings’ at the Kingdom Hall each week.

“It’s a really strict religion, so, to say that it has had a huge impact on who I am today would be an understatement,” she says. “From not being able to recite the Pledge of Allegiance throughout elementary school to not celebrating birthdays to being forbidden from participating in any competitive sport, again, the imprint it has had on my life was/is massive.”

O’Leary says the real irony is in where she has found her new home. The Mexican War Streets is where Charles Taze Russell, the founder of the precursor to the Jehovah’s Witnesses, lived and preached.

Media Talk

Katherine Jackson has been taking Michael Jackson’s three children to the meetings at the Kingdom Hall (of Jehovah’s Witnesses) to “help them deal with the death of their famous father.”

Michael stopped being a Jehovah’s Witness 1985 but reportedly resumed attending the Church’s meetings throughout his child molestation trial. Katherine and the eldest child Rebbie are the only two remaining Jehovah’s Witnesses in the family.

I would prefer to remember Michael for his music and performances, and his work to help fight AIDS. I wish I’d gone to talk with him as I felt called to do.

Oh, and this season of Big Brother features a former JW, Kevin.

He is a 30 year old graphic designer who was excommunicated at 21 from his Jehovah’s Witness raising. Therefore has lost contact with his family and friends. However, he has chosen to work through it instead of letting it tear him down. He is of Japanese/ African-American heritage. Adversity is something he is used to overcoming so the prediction is he will do well in the house.

Murder

The most horrific story in the news right now has to be about the Texan JW Otty Sanchez, 33, who decapitated, dismembered, and partially cannibalized her 3-1/2-week-old baby, Scott Wesley Buchholtz-Sanchez. She claims the devil told her to do it. She told him Scott W. Buchholz, the infant’s father, that she was schizophrenic a week before the slaying. She was diagnosed, however, with depression. Buchholz, who said he is schizophrenic, has announced that she said that she was going to leave him, and he wants her to receive the death penalty.

McManus, who appeared uncomfortable as he addressed reporters, said Sanchez apparently ate the child’s brain and some other body parts. She also decapitated the infant, tore off his face and chewed off three of his toes before stabbing herself.

In Bielefeld, Germany, an 82-year-old man who blames the Jehovah’s Witnesses for making him lose contact with his daughter, stormed a gathering of some 80 Jehovah’s Witnesses. He was wearing a mask and was armed with a machine gun. No-one was injured; the gun didn’t fire. He was seized by two congregation members as he headed back to the car. Officers also found a samurai sword, three clips of bullets and a knife in the man’s car, parked nearby.

In the tiny hamlet of Porth Kea, near Truro in England, Jonathan Cock – a 24-year-old RAF veteran from Moor Vue Fram, Penzanze – murdered his girlfriend’s Jehovah’s Witness father (41-year-old Adam Hustler) and shot her mother (Amanda Hustler) in the back in revenge for ending the couple’s “forbidden” love affair. Ex-girlfriend Danielle Hustler, 20, (are they for real with these names?) had a minor injury in the arm from a bullet graze. Mr. Cock was sentenced to 25 years in prison.

Jonathan Cock blamed Jehovah’s Witnesses Adam and Amanda Hustler for thwarting his romance with their daughter Danielle because the religion bars relationships with outsiders…. The court heard Cock and Danielle fell in love while working for her dad’s drain clearing firm. He converted to her religion, but she later split with “controlling” Cock. He carried out the killing three weeks later.

Estranged JW husband Michael Smith, 37, is on trial for first-degree murder of Eugena Smith. Eugena had written a letter of disassociation from the Jehovah’s Witnesses, saying that her decision was final. The letter, which was read aloud to a trial jury, was found by investigators “lying among a pile of clothing on the floor of Eugena Smith’s bedroom, shortly after the 33-year-old St. Thomas woman was found murdered.”

The Crown argued in an opening statement Tuesday that Eugena Smith was trying to leave both her husband, and her church, just days before she died on June 7, 2007. Michael Smith, the Crown says, thought she was having an affair.

After JW William Redman murdered his 12-year-old daughter, he told a 911 operator that she was dead because that was “…the way Jehovah does things.” Evidently he “fell on her” with a knife.

Police arrived at the Roadrunner RV park to find the father covered in blood in front of the home, the mother, Rosemary Redman, screaming, “What did you do to my baby?” Inside, their daughter was lying in a pool of blood, a knife lying under her chest and her neck deeply gashed.

Sexual Violence / Pedophilia

New Hampshire resident JW, Robert Matheson, pleaded guilty repin Salem Superior Court to four counts of indecent assault and battery on a child under the age of 14. He had been planning to run away to Plum Island with a girl he had been molesting at his beach house for the last three years. The JWs alerted authorities (this must be a state where it’s required to do so).

Matheson told police that he began molesting the girl during a time when he was struggling with unemployment and disconnected from his faith, and said he was “persuaded” by Internet pornography. The sentencing was pushed to Friday in order for Matheson to face sexual assault charges on a “compatible case” in New Hampshire.

Wigan Today reports that Daniel Simonetti, a 31-year-old Jehovah’s Witness, let himself into the home of an 89-year-old woman and brutally assaulted her. He denied rape, which was dropped, but admitted assault by penetration. Jailing Simonetti indefinitely, Judge John Roberts branded him “dangerous to vulnerable females.” Simonetti had previously assaulted a 4-year-old girl, for which he was never prosecuted.

Francis Gandhi a Jehovah’s Witness elder/ministerial servant (the article says “pastor”) was detained at the Kailahun Police Station for the alleged rape of an 11-year old student of the SLMB Mission in Kailahun.

On 4th of April 2009, she said that they came home from work and discovered that the girl has not returned home and immediately they contacted her grandmother who told them that the young girl had left for her home around 5pm. “We went in search of her moving from one place to place, relatives to relatives we could not find her and we returned home as it was getting close to 10pm” she said while in bed somebody knocked on her window and when asked she heard the voice of her daughter. “I jumped out of my bed and enquired from her where she was coming from only to tell me that she was in the room with a man of God.”

Robert Edward Bill, 54, a former teacher, businessman and “senior Jehovah’s Witness” attempted to abduct a five-year-old and was sentenced to six years in prison.

He has been found guilty at separate trials of the attempted abduction of the girl in Holywell two years ago, of indecently assaulting a seven-year-old 10 years ago, and of possessing 730 pornographic images of children. … Mr Medland said Bill of The Roe, St Asaph, Denbighshire, had been driving slowly around areas where he was likely to come into contact with children that same day. He’d claimed that he was trying to fix a mechanical problem with his car.

His wife and son were also sentenced:

Jacqueline Bill, his 51-year-old wife, received a suspended six-month jail sentence after pleading guilty to trying to pervert the course of justice by destroying a laptop hard drive, and must do 250 hours unpaid work. Bill’s son David, 24, of Mount Road, St Asaph, must do 150 hours unpaid work after also admitting that he tried to pervert the course of justice.

Thirty-five-year-old JW Shane Thomas Thorne had a child pornography collection of more than a thousand images, many of which involved children as young as five years old. He was sentenced to two years, but is due to be released on November 16, 2010.

Evidence was heard that Thorne grew up in a violent family environment and was sexually abused as a teenager. …”There is nothing to indicate that he has acknowledged the injury caused by his actions,” Mr Johnson said. “There is no realisation expressed or reported of any acknowledgement of the harm done to children in child pornography.” He told Thorne that a sentence must be imposed that would reflect the community horror and the disgust for the use of children for sexual gratification.

Selective Clampdown on Freedom of Religion, or “The Persecution Justification for Claims of JW Righteousness”

Novoshakhtinsk prosecutors from the Rostov region in Russian have sent case files to an investigative body to consider a criminal prosecution local members of the Jehovah’s Witnesses organization for preaching in public places, propagating the exclusivity and supremacy of the Jehovah’s religious doctrine above all others and promoting refusal from civil duty, voting at elections and serving in the army. The regional prosecutor also asked the Rostov regional court to order the closure of the organization in Taganrog for extremist activities, including the incitement of religious hatred and human rights violations. This situation is heating up…

The deportations of four lawyers since March strike at the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ already pressed defence against attempts to ban their literature as extremist, one of those deported, Mario Moreno, has told Forum 18 News Service. The lawyers – two Americans and two Canadians – were defending in four out of seven simultaneous local extremism cases against Jehovah’s Witnesses. A recent police detention allegedly involving torture and a raid on a Sunday service – after which one worshipper had a miscarriage and another was sent to a children’s shelter – suggest the law enforcement agencies continue to view Jehovah’s Witnesses as religious extremists even without a ban.

In Israel, the Human Rights Report for 2008 shows that police needed to be reminded (again) that it is their duty to fully investigate crimes against minority religious communities:

Members of Jehovah’s Witnesses reported an increase in assaults and other crimes against their membership in 2007 and during the year and noted the difficulties their members faced convincing the police to investigate or apprehend the perpetrators. Between September 2007 and September, members of Jehovah’s Witnesses filed 46 criminal complaints against antimissionary activists, most of whom belong to the Haredi antimissionary organization Yad L’Achim. The crimes ranged from harassment to assault. Police responded to 15 of 35 calls for assistance during the same time period, according to the Jehovah’s Witnesses legal department. The JIJ noted a similar increase in crimes and violent assaults against members of the congregations it represents.

JW Disappearance

Eridania Rodriguez, a 46-year-old married mother of three, disappeared from her night job as a cleaning woman in Manhatten. Police found her cleaning cart on the eighth floor and her street clothes and purse in her locker.

“I think she was kidnapped,” said Figueroa. She said she was suspicious of a DOT worker who her mother often saw on the eighth floor. “She was really terrified of him,” she said.

Rodriguez’s brother, Cesar, 28, ruled out the possibility of a jealous lover. “My sister is not like that,” he said. “She does not have a boyfriend. She is a Jehovah’s Witness.”

Money, Money, Money

Securities industry regulators report that say Kenneth George Neely, a Jehovah’s Witness stockbroker from St. Peters, MO ran an eight-year ponzi scheme in which he swindled brokerage customers, fellow church members and a cousin. It seems that Neely ran up some bills buying dinners and drinks for clients and friends at his country club just at a time when his personal income had declined.

“It was during this period of personal financial stress that (Neely) conceived and effected his ponzi scheme,” FINRA said in its order. He invented the “St. Louis Investment Club” and the equally phony “St. Charles REIT,” promising 20 percent returns. He made up investment “certificates” for the club and REIT to give to clients. His first investor was a cousin who invested $30,000, expecting returns of up to 10 percent.

Neely portrayed membership in the investment club as exclusive. He told a retiree, a longtime friend and fellow church member (Neely is a Jehovah’s Witness) that he would tell her when “openings” occurred in the club. “Seven or eight” other church members invested in the scam, said James Shorris, executive vice president at FINRA.

Maxine Kennedy, the JW school secretary for Scotlandville High School in Lousiana, ran amok with the school’s credit card. For some 28 months, she bought groceries and furniture, paid bills, and got cash advances. She also allegedly allowed her daughter, Toni, to use the card, including for large cash advances, and a Jehovah’s Witnesses convention.

Legal News

Lawrence Hughes abandoned his Jehovah’s Witness faith to fight for a blood transfusion for his daughter, Bethany, who had acute myeloid leukemia. He has since lost his daughter and been disfellowshipped. But he’s still fighting, even after divorce and bankruptcy.

What it most clearly does not say is that Mr. Hughes is necessarily wrong in claiming that his daughter received problematic advice from lawyers working not just for her, but also for a religious body intent on seeing her denied the blood she needed. “If I was advising [the Watchtower Society and its lawyers] I would now say, ‘At some point, this is no longer going to work out for you,’ ” Ms. Woolley says.

When Bethany Hughes died in the summer of 2002, her story was national news; the girl, just turned 17, had been diagnosed earlier that year with acute myeloid leukemia, but had fought, legally and physically, blood transfusions prescribed by doctors on religious grounds, her resistance abetted by lawyers from a firm that, by all available evidence, is a branch of the Watchtower Society itself, retaining the church as its primary client – a “captive law firm” as one judge described Glen How and Associates, employer of Bethany’s lawyers David Gnam and Shane Brady. The firm is even located within the Watchtower Society’s Georgetown, Ont. compound.

Armageddon’s Gonna Git-choo

A sweet blog post on the moon landing reminds us that on the day in 1969 in Chicago, 38,000 Jehovah’s Witnesses, who had crammed into Comiskey Park, saw the landing as “a sign that our universe is in its last days.”

I get the sense that there has been a serious effort towards positive PR. To a current JW, this must be a little bit humorous, in a macabre sort of way. Here’s the new approach:

JWs “don’t mean to scare people,” they say, but just to “provide believers with a revelations roadmap. A spiritual survival guide to emerge from Armageddon intact.” The May assemblies offered guidance on how to “avoid Satan’s snares. Because we know that the goal of Satan is to hamper people from surviving.”

The summer assemblies deny that JW’s approach Armaggeddon in a “fanatical way” but only to use “careful judgment in everyday life.”

Along with spiritual gains, he added that avoiding negative behaviors has very real benefits: money can be spent in better ways and a greater focus can be on family, for instance.

“People are being barraged all the time by different viewpoints of morality, different concerns for the economy,” West said. “We know by trusting God that we can cope with the most difficult situations in life and it gives us a positive hope in him.”

By lunchtime on Friday, the thousands of Witnesses and others who packed the Convocation Center, Northern Illinois University’s sports arena, had just finished listening to the keynote speaker. Darien Hanson called on the group to be “watchdogs” and to be alert to the signs of Jesus’ presence. A slackening of Christian expectations, he said, is detrimental to this.

Hanson also announced a very exciting offer: A DVD on creationism was being released that weekend, and each family in the audience could take home a copy. This is what Jean West was most excited about, as it would help illustrate God as a creator, she said.

“It tells us we have a maker who’s intelligent,” her husband added.

Though the Bible teaches that God both created the world and will someday end the world, neither the 24th chapter of Matthew nor Jehovah’s Witnesses know when that will be.

“We feel that there is going to be this change,” West said.

As written in Matthew, Jesus tells his disciples that preceding this time will be wars, famine, false prophets and the like. This makes the 2009 district convention theme very “timely,” West said, noting how much has changed since the onset of World War I.

Research

The Pew Forum comparative study on religious beliefs and practices is very interesting and worth a read.

Ex-JW – Expressing the Pain

Ex-JW – Expressing the Pain

I received another of these heartbreaking letters from a former Jehovah’s Witness today. This one has a couple of themes that appear in so many of the letters that I get that I thought it was worth posting once again. A few of the details have been altered to protect the privacy of the writer.

Hi. I left the “truth” in 19xx. I was baptized, but eventually got out of an abusive relationship and a religion that told me that I needed to stay with my husband because “by my good example his soul might be saved”. Anyway, I left and was disfellowshipped. The problem was my sister stayed in the religion. She wrote to me and told me she could not be my sister any more because I was now of the evil slave class. This went on for years, finally ending in some interaction when our mother died, grew and greatly improved when our father passed also. That went on and we were actually pretty close again. In the meantime I explored many different faiths, especially Eastern, and then I discovered Wicca. I felt at home there, and in the late 19xx’s I dedicated myself to the Goddess. My sister was aware of this and it had not been a problem. Our other sister passed away recently after a period of illness where my sister and I comforted each other, but I did notice a difference in her and so did our brother (who does not practice any religion). Well, today before I left to drive back home my JW sister tells me we cannot have a relationship anymore because having a relationship with me may imperil her soul and relationship with Jehovah. I could not believe she was doing this to me again. I am in shock. I guess we were getting too close and the elders had to step in. I feel so wounded and hurt. My brother is stunned. I feel like my heart is broken again. What religion would have her hit me with this right after the funeral? I don’t understand, how she can do this? I remember times when we were both JW’s and she was going through a really bad time. I kept the details to myself. I would not have dreamed of telling the elders. I know there is nothing anyone can do about this I just needed to talk about it. Thanks for listening.

Dear X –

My heart flies out to you, and I am so very sorry. Try to forgive your sister (to the limit of your ability) – you know why she believes as she does. It’s anti-agapic and false to the spirit of love, but as you know the governing body of the Watchtower Society keeps a tight leash. All you can really do is to follow your own path, grieve her choice and try to let it go. I know, it seems pretty impossible.

Don’t close the door entirely unless you feel you have to for your own sanity. You could, if you are strong enough in yourself, send some sort of message of love: “You are my sister and I will always love you, no matter what your religious decisions might be. I am always here for you if you need me.” You never know what may happen in the future, and for her to know that you are there for her (even when she has been very foolish) may make a difference in ways that may help you both over the years.

For now, though, it’s very hard. What is especially hard – and I’ve experienced this too – is when you’ve been a true friend to someone you love and it’s feels like everything you did means nothing, doesn’t count at all. But it does. Love is ever wasted!

It does help a little, I think, to write about it – and to know that there are others who “get it.”

Since you are dedicated to the Goddess, you have that imagery of the divine to access. You can draw on your connection to the energies of the Goddess to help you. Let Her enfold you with the comfort and love that is being withheld by your sister. Get concrete – find words and images that ease your heart. Add an item or two to your alter for your sister’s healing. You know she must be hurting, too. Intend healing and strength for both of you, and She will help you. Gather with your sisters and tell them your story – you can tap a deep reservoir of insight and support from them.

I’m reading a book that I like a lot. Maybe it would be good for you, too? It’s called The Red Book, by Sera Beak – a trained comparative religionist with a wonderful sense of humor. It is intended for young women, but I’m now (ahem) a slightly older woman and I’m finding that the intended audience is not limiting at all – I think that even a lot of men would find it valuable. It’s not so much that there’s anything “new” in it for me, but it’s functioning as a way to connect the dots in a slightly more solid – and fun – way. I wouldn’t normally recommend a book, but I have to say that if I were to write a book for others on spirituality, it would look an awfully lot like this one, and I’m happy to have discovered it.

I know you said there isn’t anything anyone can do, and that’s true. I wish I could change this reality for you and for everyone that suffers because of this kind of cruelty, but of course I can’t and neither can anyone else.

All you can change about this, ultimately, is how you view it, how you frame it, how you navigate through that experience, and how you integrate that experience into yourself. Sometimes spiritual truths are a real kick in the teeth.

That’s all I can offer to you. I wish there were more – maybe some readers of the blog will have other suggestions.

JW Video

JW Video

I just have to mention Spiritual Brother’s Bible Research blog for its stunning collection of Jehovah’s Witness videos and documents.

I had never seen Pastor Russell preach before, and now I can understand how liberating and authentic it must have seemed at the time.

Today’s post really got to me, so I’m posting the video from YouTube. Historical photographs are set to a group of people singing the Kingdom Song “Take Sides with Jehovah!” (Exodus 32:26). It almost brought me to tears. It must have been so different back then. The song never sounded like that at my Kingdom Hall. For one thing, no-one was trained to sing the harmonies anymore. Music with spirit was almost entirely gone. It’s still a very basic song, but it would have made those long meetings a lot more bearable if we could have created a beautiful sound of praise – with feeling and beauty – rather than a cold dirge. I remember people almost glaring sometimes at the few people who really sang. So sad.



And Now… Jehovah’s Witnesses in the News

And Now… Jehovah’s Witnesses in the News

The ongoing saga of Jehovah’s Witnesses in the News continues…

Watchtower Image Trumps Ethics, Again; or, What Part of “Women and Children are Less Important than Men” Don’t You Understand?

Sask. church failed to report sexual abuse: Victims

After telling each other about the abuse, the two sisters informed their parents. Their father confronted the man, who did not confirm or deny what had happened, and the matter was subsequently reported to church elders, Zerr said. “There was no report to the police at that time.”

Instead, the man received a lecture from the elders, and many in the community rallied around him because he regularly attended church meetings – while the girls were “treated like troublemakers” and encouraged to let the whole thing go, one of the victims wrote. Their father and their abuser later became “dear friends, and would go for coffee daily,” a situation which continues to this day, she added. “We were trash-talked and slandered throughout the community . . . the religion abandoned us.”

ColdHeart: More Than a Little Ethically-Challenged

Friend of man accused in San Ramon real estate financier’s killing testifies

Two days before real estate financier Kashmir Billon was found shot to death in a San Ramon business park, the business associate charged with his murder allegedly offered a lifelong friend $50,000 to kill an unnamed man. Police found Billon, 42, of San Ramon, dead in the street next to his smoldering BMW late Sunday, April 27 after a hotel employee found him slumped over and pulled him from the vehicle. Robinson, a 31-year-old El Sobrante resident, is charged with murder, solicitation of murder and three felonies related to a real estate scheme prosecutors said was a motive for the killing.

Rogers, a contract home inspector with past felony convictions on drug and gun charges, said he has known Robinson his whole life because their parents were members of the same church for Jehovah’s Witnesses. Rogers said that in 2006, he offered for $20,000 to kill a man suspected of committing a home invasion robbery at Robinson’s house, but that Robinson declined the offer. Robinson asked Rogers in person on Friday, April 25 to kill a business associate on a Richmond property. Rogers claimed Robinson told him he had previously asked someone else to do the killing, but that person did not want to do it in Richmond. Rogers said Robinson wanted it done in Richmond because the target could be lured to the property under the pretense of tree work that needed to be done.

No Part of Satan’s World

Total Service Objectors Doubled During A Decade

In Finland, in theory all men between the ages of 18 and 60 are subject to military service. Approximately 82% of all young men do military service and around 7% do alternative non-military service. Members of the Jehovah Witnesses were exempted from both forms of service under legislation that came into force in 1987. According to the newspaper Keskisuomalainen, the Human Rights Committee of the United Nations and the Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe have called Finnish legislation discriminatory in this respect and said that the preferential treatment accorded to Jehovah’s Witnesses should be extended to other groups of conscientious objectors.

Jehovah’s Witnesses canvass for God instead of votes

Since his religious conversion at age 30, Brooks holds the Witness viewpoint – that not voting emulates Jesus Christ’s example of avoiding political involvement. … Housner, like many Witnesses, thinks the only perfect government is God’s kingdom, which ultimately will reign over humanity, he said. That kingdom’s approach will be augured by signs that the world is in its last days, said Derrick McCraw, a property manager and Witness in Norfolk.

“Items that are on the front page of the newspaper parallel what the Bible says about our time: food shortages, war, disease,” he said. In addressing the current global financial crisis, McCraw said, “Being in the last days, people will be lovers of money.”

Nonetheless, “God allows governments to function in the meanwhile, before his kingdom comes,” Housner said. “We need to have some form of government – otherwise, it would be anarchy.” By avoiding politics, Witnesses avoid a source of internal division and escape being beholden to any politician, he said. The global, 7-million-member Witness community also avoids friction caused by nationalism.

Jehovah’s Witnesses transform West Palm Beach’s ‘leaky teepee’ auditorium

It has been 10 years since the city transferred its auditorium to the Jehovah’s Witnesses in a controversial $12.5 million sale. Although most of the public hasn’t set foot this decade in the building that once housed the county’s major concerts and events, the crumbling structure known derisively as the “leaky tepee” has been transformed into a state-of-the-art beacon for a religion that is 1 million strong in the United States. … It was a great deal for the Witnesses, who have converted the auditorium on Palm Beach Lakes Boulevard into the Christian Convention Center. The Witnesses bought the land for $12.5 million, then sold much of the property, including the baseball field, recouping a good portion of the initial cost. Since then, the building has been completely remodeled at a cost of about $13 million. ….In 1998, the Jehovah’s Witnesses were looking to buy a building that would become their largest enclosed gathering place in the world. West Palm Beach was a logical location because Florida has a sizable Jehovah’s Witnesses community, and the group was already the auditorium’s top tenant.

Dragging to the Kingdom Hall: No, not Children! Cars!

Pro Tow, which has a contract to enforce parking at Shady Glen Mobile Home Park, began towing and booting vehicles parked along the street or in the grass near homes Tuesday night. On Wednesday, at least four tow trucks patrolled the neighborhood, pulling roughly 15 vehicles to the nearby Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses, where owners had the option of paying $300 or losing their vehicles temporarily. … The towing also angered elders of the church, who filed a trespassing warning against Pro Tow for using the hall’s parking lot. The elders said they had granted permission for the lot to be used to temporarily store a broken down vehicle and, the next thing they knew, 15 towed vehicles showed up.

Experience Bringeth Wisdom

Time Magazine: America’s Unfaithful Faithful (a Report on the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life)

An even more extreme example of what might be called “masked churn” is the relatively tiny Jehovah’s Witnesses, with a turnover rate of about two-thirds. That means that two-thirds of the people who told Pew they were raised Jehovah’s Witnesses no longer are — yet the group attracts roughly the same number of converts. Notes Lugo, “No wonder they have to keep on knocking on doors.”

Theocratic War Strategies (Sanctioned Deceptions)

Is God Really Going To Destroy Everyone But Jehovah’s Witnesses?

There are almost 7 billion people on Earth and of that number there are about 7 Million Jehovah’s Witnesses. So, if Armageddon came today, approximately 1/1000th of the population would survive according to what the Jehovah’s Witnesses teach. … Do you think God would really butcher nearly 7 billion people and save only the Jehovah’s Witnesses? I don’t. So once again I am led to question the validity of anything the governing body of Jehovah’s Witnesses says.

Watchtower 9/1/1989, p. 19:
“Only Jehovah’s Witnesses, those of the anointed remnant and the ‘great crowd,’ as a united organization under the protection of the Supreme Organizer, have any Scriptural hope of surviving the impending end of this doomed system dominated by Satan the Devil.”

JW Blogger Discovers He Was Directed by the Governing Body to Lie about Watchtower Affiliation; or, Did you know that all those service reports to the Watchtower Society don’t count after all?

… publishers do well to avoid representing themselves as agents or representatives of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc., or any other corporation used by “the faithful and discreet slave” to advance Kingdom interests (February 1989 Our Kingdom Ministry, page 3)

Not Affiliated with “Any” of the Bible Societies; or, JWs, Step Right Up! Buy Your Not-Affiliated Watchtower Supplies Right Here!

This one just cracks me up (Thanks M). We didn’t have all this fancy stuff when I was out in service – you kids! get off the lawn!

Do you sell return visit books?
We don’t sell anything for “just” return visits. However, we do have some ideas for these:
1. Our theocratic monthly planner has several pages at the back to record your return visits, as well as a handy chart to keep track of magazine routes
2. We also have several service organizers, such as the all-in-one service organizer, magazine and tract tote, and pioneer portfolio which have specially-designed slots to hold the house-to-house slips where you can also note return visits and other activity.

How are you affiliated with the Watchtower?
There is a vast distinction between our faith and our business, which is a commercial enterprise and is not affiliated with the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society in any way. Therefore, we do not sell Bibles or Bible literature. We make custom leather products, specializing in protective covers for Bibles and Bible literature, including the New World Translation, among many other versions and translations. Ministry Ideaz is a commercial enterprise and is not affiliated with any of the Bible societies that distribute the Bibles mentioned on our site. These societies are not-for-profit organizations.

How many “Bible societies” was that again? Can we get a business card to hand out when they come to the door?


Service supplies for Jehovah’s Witnesses
New World Translation Bible Covers
Watchtower and Kingdom Ministry Foldersand more!

Thinking Still Forbidden? Absolutely

The Watchtower says you MUST Obey them in ALL Areas
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5AtgySRsGos[/youtube]

A Selection from the “Ask a Former JW” Mailbag

These writers prefer our conversations to remain anonymous. This is just a sampling for illustrative purposes, edited to ensure privacy. If you have a question, you can contact me here. If you approve, I will post our entire exchange (with or without names) – or I may use non-identifying bits like these to show some of the recurring issues that I see.

I disassociated myself and cut all of my immediate family and friends that I had. This is all I have ever known. I have a spiritual void but can’t seem to find a church. I search but they all have crosses and the pit of my stomach aches and my mind tells me Babylon the Great. How do I get past this and how do I find a church. Please help.

She is a JW and I am not. … She eventually moved … and became distant with myself and many of her other good friends. While I’ve tried to keep in touch with her, she never returns my phone calls or emails me. I just found out last night that she got married this spring and I am utterly shocked. … I am still going to call her and let her know that I love her and will always be there for her. I am the most upset because we had always talked of how our wedding days would be and they were always inclusive of each other no matter what. I really just needed to get that out, as it has been a very emotional day for me. I pray that one day she will be strong enough to think for herself.

Did this little girl CAUSE herself to be abducted from her home and raped because she went “Trick or Treating” ie: “Celebrated the Devil” (Her words in quotes)? When she told me this I freaked out a bit and said “NO” but….she looked square at me and said “Well, that’s what (her parents) said” and when I said “Uh..no…that couldn’t be what they said” she interrupted me with a VERY indignant “Well, read your Bible.” So how did her “un-holy” behavior CAUSE the Devil to do that to her? I guess that I can agree that if I am a bank robber-or I beat people up and mug them, well, if my life always feels full of fear-and on the run-and i have bad relationships with people, and problems and strife, well-I guess I can see how my “un-righteous” behavior CAUSES “bad” things to happen to me, but; What in “Jehovah’s Witness” religion says that “celebrating the Devil” causes you to be raped?

His biggest concerns revolve around the ideas (facts according to him) that the bible according the JW has prophecized a lot of what is happening now – fall of capitalism, global warming, etc. I am not well versed in the bible and no little about JW. Is any of this true? It is very hard for him to even consider other reasoning because he has been taught that the things happening now have supposedly so clearly been already prophecized. Can you please point me towards more information or a person for him or I to speak to that can help him get past this fear of the end of the world?

Okay, this might sound like a really stupid question and I know you’re not here to play agony aunt, but I’m somewhat desperate. My ex-boyfriend is a Jehova’s Witness and that’s the reason I broke up with him – I just couldn’t take it any more .. no meeting his family, no sex, total secrecy etc. I’ve tried talking to him, he just won’t listen. Is there ANYTHING I can do? I miss him and I just wish he’d give up his freaky religion. What made you change your mind? Do you think I can do anything at all?

I was told that he had been reported by one person as a pedophile, and that there were others who were abused as children that were not coming forward about it. I was also told that the act of disfellowshipping was done not necessarily because of the act committed, but “because the person is unrepentant”. … in many ways I see no difference between sexual abuse of a child and murder, as it was the murder of a child’s spirit. I guess I’m asking your help to help ME to focus on what needs to be done next. I cannot let this man just be out there in the community.

I was a jw for more than 20 years. I’d like to know what your opinion is regarding dating (?) . I mean, as a jw it’s more serious, you have marriage in mind – but, I’ve noticed that that’s not the case in the real world… do you have any suggestions as to how to view dating or go about it??? just feel a tad lost, to say the least.

Hello, i am a former JW, left about 12 years ago. My mother, father (an elder), and sister all completely shun me. Even after all this time, i still feel like an orphaned child, with much anger inside for how i’ve been treated by them and all my childhood friends. I need advice on how to cope with such stupidity.

We live in an area with a large concentration of JW’s. They’re on our street every weekend but have never knocked (in 5 years) until last Saturday. I’ve decided that if they come knocking on my door, maybe the Holy Spirit is knocking on their hearts. I want to witness to these people effectively but I want to better know where they’re coming from. I am a champion of debating and can argue with a hole in the wall (and win), BUT I realize that “winning” isn’t the goal if it leaves the JW confused, intimidated, angry, hurt, etc. I want to share the gospel WITHOUT arguing, if possible. I’ve looked at your recommended reading page and I was already considering purchasing a couple of those books, but I want to know what would be most useful, from your perspective, to know. I already have a fair grasp on the fundamental doctrinal differences, but that’s not enough – I need to reach these people where they are: in the prison of a cultic way of thinking. What specific books would you recommend as the most effective?

Jehovah’s Witnesses: Ritual Murder of Grandson, “Good Man” Rapist

Jehovah’s Witnesses: Ritual Murder of Grandson, “Good Man” Rapist

So sad…

Kiev, August 7, Interfax – 66-year old resident of Kiev conducted a ritual murder of her 9-year-old grandson. She hit the boy with an iron and completed the crime with a rope, Ukrainian issue of Komsomolskaya Pravda daily writes on Thursday.

Then a woman carried a boy to the sitting room where she had everything prepared beforehand including candles and a brochure with “a prayer to enter paradise” given to her by Jehovah’s Witnesses.

Neighbors told that on the eve of murdering her grandson she spoke about religion and soon apocalypses. Jehovah’s witnesses convinced the woman the Lord would come on 2014 and raise the dead, then all the righteous will go to paradise and take their children with them.

The Kiev Prosecutor’s office initiated a criminal case on the incident. Forensic psychiatric expert examination acknowledged the woman was criminally insane.

more…

And in other news, JW rapist called “good man“:

A Williamstown man was sentenced in Vermont District Court in Chelsea to three to 20 years in prison Wednesday for molesting and raping a female relative but not before friends and family members – who acknowledged his crime – also told the court that he was a “good man.”


She said the Jehovah’s Witnesses “all love him, and they still love him,” though Jolene said Leonard has lost his fellowship with the Jehovah’s Witnesses because of the conviction.

Jolene said Leonard “got involved in looking at pornography on the Internet, and that’s why he let his mind dwell on something he shouldn’t have.”

She said she thinks the family could have sat down with counselors and worked things out instead of this “vendetta” that was taking place.

Roya pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting his victim, at times using a gun or knife, over two years starting in 2004 when the victim was a minor.

more…

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