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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.

JWs in the News

JWs in the News

Antonie Dixon’s sister gives evidence in court

When Antonie Dixon told the jury an astonishing tale of sexual abuse by his mother and beatings at the hands of Jehovah’s Witnesses, they must have wondered whether any of it was believable. Today they heard from someone else who was there at the time and she confirmed much of what he said. According to Dixon’s sister Carla, he was dubbed “devil spawn” by their mother. (more…)


Murrieta Man Convicted Of Molesting Sisters Ages 9, 10

A 49-year-old man was found guilty Thursday of molesting two young sisters at his home in Murrieta, City News Service reported. Gilbert Simental was accused of molesting a then-9-year-old girl in 2005 and her 10-year-old sister in 2006. It took less than a day for the eight-woman, seven-man jury to find him guilty of three counts of lewd acts upon a child under 14. (more…)

See also the involvement of local elders at the Silent Lambs link:
http://www.silentlambs.org/ElderprotectPedophile.htm



Jehovah’s Witness Elder Accused of Raping Daughters in El Salvador

In the original Spanish at http://www.laprensagrafica.com/nacion/1095874.asp

Being discussed at http://jehovahs-witness.com/8/161809/1.ashx

Agentes de la delegación de la Policía en Mejicanos arrestaron a Carlos Martínez Castillo, de 40 años de edad, acusado de abusar sexualmente —desde hace seis meses— de sus dos hijas de ocho y 10 años respectivamente.

Partial translation:

PASTOR ACCUSED OF RAPING HIS TWO DAUGHTERS:

Going by the National Police Commission, the accused took advantage of visits by the minors to his house located in Soyapango. “The kids lived with their mom in Mejicanos but used to visit the guy who’s under investigation. There he’d get one of the girls to play while he raped the other and vice versa,” an official of the PNC explained. The capture of Martinez, who according to the authorities is a pastor of the church of Jehovah’s Witnesses, was effected yesterday morning at a framing and painting workshop, where he works. According to the police, the arrest was realized after representatives of an NGO whose name they did not want to reveal, they interposed the denunciation in which they showed that the little girls had said that their father had abused them.

The authorities have given assurance going by the crime of violating an innocent minor and, the organs of justice will be ordering a penalty of seven to 14 years of jail time, but in this case, due to relationship with the person being charged, it could be decreed at more than 15 years. Martinez denied the charges against him and claimed everything was a set-up by his daughters’ mother, because he does not want to be with her at their home. The office of the public prosecutor says that it has for proof the children’s testimony and the results of exams from Legal Medicine.


And… a very touching video about what has happened to those dedicated (and exploited) workers in Watchtower Corporation Service as they have aged:

Serve Jehovah in Your Youth!

No Cover-up! Hold Contactors Responsible

No Cover-up! Hold Contactors Responsible

So what’s been happening with Halliburton? Ugly, ugly stuff, even against their own…

Gang Rape Cover-Up by US, Halliburton/KBR

A Houston, Texas woman says she was gang-raped by Halliburton/KBR coworkers in Baghdad, and the company and the U.S. government are covering up the incident. Jamie Leigh Jones, now 22, says that after she was raped by multiple men at a KBR camp in the Green Zone, the company put her under guard in a shipping container with a bed and warned her that if she left Iraq for medical treatment, she’d be out of a job. “Don’t plan on working back in Iraq. There won’t be a position here, and there won’t be a position in Houston,” Jones says she was told.

In a lawsuit filed in federal court against Halliburton and its then-subsidiary KBR, Jones says she was held in the shipping container for at least 24 hours without food or water by KBR, which posted armed security guards outside her door, who would not let her leave.

Justice department accused of delaying Iraq rape inquiry, U.K. Guardian, December 13, 2007.

A US senator came forward today on behalf of the second woman in a week to allege rape by private contractors in Iraq, worsening a controversy that has already sparked a congressional hearing.

Democratic senator Bill Nelson questioned whether the justice department had dragged its feet in the cases of an anonymous woman from Tampa, Florida, and Jamie Lynn Jones, a Texas woman who disclosed her rape charge to ABC news this week.

Both women say they were sexually assaulted by employees of KBR, a former Halliburton subsidiary, in Iraq in 2005.

Nelson wrote to attorney general Michael Mukasey to confirm reports that the US navy criminal investigative service (NCIS) had investigated the rape charge and told the justice department of its findings.

He asked Mukasey whether more women have raised rape charges against private contractors and whether the government has responded.

“Both of these incidents occurred approximately two years ago, yet no one has been charged in either case,” Nelson wrote.

From Moveon.org:

Jamie Leigh Jones was working in Iraq for a subsidiary of Halliburton when she was drugged and brutally gang-raped by several coworkers. For the last two years, she’s been asking the US government to hold the perpetrators accountable, but the men who raped her may never be brought to justice because Halliburton and other contractors in Iraq aren’t subject to US or Iraqi laws.

I just signed MoveOne’s petition urging Congress to investigate the rape of Jamie Leigh Jones, hold those involved accountable, and bring US contractors under the jurisdiction of US law.

Will you join me?

Related:

Halliburton hit in rape lawsuit,” New York Daily News, December 11, 2007

Victim: Gang-Rape Cover-Up by U.S., Halliburton/KBR,” ABC News, December 10, 2007
http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/Story?id=3977702


Jamie’s Journal, The Jamie Leigh Foundation

Female ex-employees sue KBR, Halliburton—report,” Reuters, June 29, 2007

Blackwater Probe Narrows Focus to Guards,” Associated Press, December 8, 2007

Halliburton and KBR in the News

Halliburton and KBR in the News

Halliburton and KBR have broken up – and breaking up is hard to do. But no sad faces, y’hear? Everything’s A-OK for the billionaire war and oil profit set.

They are diggin’ the new headquarters in Dubai – way better than Houston. Texas is so over. Everything’s bigger in the United Arab Emirates.

Halliburton’s second quarter profits more than doubled.

Halliburton Co.’s profit more than doubled in the second quarter, getting a $933-million lift from the separation of former subsidiary KBR Inc. But even without that gain, the results still beat the consensus Wall Street forecasts for the oilfield services contractor. Its shares rose 4 percent. Earnings were $1.5 billion for the April-to-June period, which amounted to $1.62 per share, compared with income of $591 million, or 55 cents a share, in the year-ago period, Halliburton said yesterday. Revenue in the quarter rose 20 percent, to $3.7 billion from $3.1 billion a year ago.

Despite various scandals, the war profiteering and corruption continue. It’s such a great feeling to know that we support such great causes with our tax dollars – we are so lucky that they get all those no-bid contracts…

And what a relief! A federal judge has decided that whistleblowers may not sue U.S. companies for fraud if payment for services was made in Iraqi (not U.S.) money. That’s going to save a LOT of aggravation.

Oh, yeah, and good ole’ Dick Cheney is still drawing one and a half million dollars a year from Halliburton for his excellent work – no conflict of interest there, nope. Nope.

Must-Reads

Previous Posts

Update on JWs in the News

Update on JWs in the News

Watchtower Cashing In on Real Estate

Nonprofits Not Shy About Cashing In on Real Estate Gems

In Brooklyn, the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ Watchtower Bible & Tract Co. of New York sold a building at 89 Hicks St. to Brooklyn Law School. A few months ago it sold a 48-unit elevator apartment building for $14 million.

(Non-JW!) College Students Ban the Pledge

I still don’t salute the flag or do the pledge of loyalty to the piece of cloth. I stand in solidarity with the small group of undergraduate politicians at Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa that voted to ban the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance at their student government meetings.

There was a predictable reaction to this rather insignificant decision: hysteria. One fellow student “became so distraught by the announcement of the ban that she immediately began reciting the pledge” – like starting in with “Hail Mary” or crossing yourself? Has the pledge started to function as a protective talisman? A ward against evil? Oh, dear.

Another accused the student leaders of ‘anti-Americanism’ – yeah, right, uh-huh. The story was posted on the Christian Broadcasting Network website within the week.

Kudos to Andrew Cohen, CBS News’ chief legal analyst. Although he pokes fun at the students, he also points out a few little things that rarely appear in mainstream media:

Because these students obviously have a little extra time on their hands, and with their holiday break coming up, I recommend that they all read Richard J. Ellis’ book, “To the Flag,” an excellent and little-known work that also ought to be required reading for every grown-up politician who might be tempted to finger-point in the debate over the pledge. “The words of the pledge,” Ellis writes, “have inspired millions, but they have also been used to coerce and intimidate; to compel conformity and to silence dissent.” …

It is a mistake for anyone to place the pledge on a par with the Declaration of Independence, the preamble to the Constitution or even the national anthem when it comes to hymns that bring us together in voice and spirit. But people have long misunderstood and misapplied the pledge.

The dispute at Orange Coast College is mainly about loyalty to government and not the controversial words “under God” in the pledge — the dispute that most recently has drawn our legal and political attention. But it doesn’t matter. Even before those words were added in the 1950s as a bulwark against communism, Americans were hurting each other — literally — in the name of the pledge.

In Pennsylvania in the 1930s, Ellis notes in his book, officials didn’t just expel students from school for not reciting the pledge, they whipped and choked and beat them too. School officials would report these students to government authorities, who then got court orders to separate the parents from their children, sometimes for years. Mobs of citizens persecuted Jehovah’s Witnesses and others who refused to recite the pledge. It took a 1943 U.S. Supreme Court decision, which declared that people had a 1st Amendment right not to be forced by the government into reciting the pledge, to stop the physical violence. But divisions over the pledge clearly remain.

So the rabble-rousing students at Orange Coast College are merely doing what their predecessor protesters have done for more than a century. And the folks who are criticizing them have a long history as well.

Never mind Ellis’ must-read book. Listen to what then-Minnesota Gov. Jesse “The Body” Ventura had to say when he vetoed a measure requiring public school students to recite the pledge at least once a week: “There is much more to being a patriot and a citizen than reciting a pledge or raising a flag.”

Kicked out for Boxing

20-year-old boxer Mary McGee was raised by her grandma, who took her from her mother when she was just two weeks old. Her mother wasn’t there for her — or her brothers. Both brothers have served jail time. One is out, while the other is serving out his sentence on a robbery charge in Colorado (where he has lived since grandma shipped him off to boys’ camp).

Turns out, those nights Mary and her grandfather watched boxing on television were illicit under the strict doctrines of Witnesses. So too was training at the P.A.L. gym, and shadow boxing, for hours at a time, in the back yard.

Mary had just won the Chicago Golden Gloves, one of the premier amateur boxing contests in the country, and members of the congregation read about it in the local papers.

Participating in boxing or another martial art is grounds for the Witnesses’ version of excommunication, called disfellowship. Mary had to quit boxing or move out. She cried and she yelled. She agreed to quit.

But she was 17, and she did what teenagers do when they want to do what they want to do.

She trained in secret, and told her grandmother she was staying late at school. In secret she went with the P.A.L. team to a fight in Indianapolis.

“My auntie lived down there and she saw me on TV and called my grandma. She didn’t know I wasn’t supposed to be fighting,” Mary said. “When I got home, I was out.”

Condemning Religions that… What? Ok, is it Hypocrisy or Irony?

You get kicked out for boxing, but.. sexual predators can be JW elders for years.

The End of False Religion is Near” – the recently distributed tract known as KN37 (Kingdom News 37) – focused on several “traits” manifested by “false” religion. The end of false religion is near… because just about everyone is about to be destroyed at Armageddon? Because JWs are suddenly going to be wildly successful as the “true religion”? Already it’s a weird message. Clearly the reader is not expected to put together exactly how “false religion” will end, but only to go through some fearful checkmarks to make sure that they align themselves with the “true religion.”

kingdomnews

We’ll focus on just one aspect of the tract today, because it’s the part that is most astounding – requiring a gargantuan amount of self-righteousness, hypocrisy, blindness, and sheer nerve. Next to a photo of a man wearing a priest’s collar, it says:

In Western lands church groups ordain gay and lesbian members of the clergy and urge governments to recognize same-sex marriages. Even churches that condemn immorality have tolerated religious leaders who have sexually abused children.

… Do you know of religions that condone immoral sex?

Yes. Yes I do. Silent Lambs is even more stunned and appalled than I am:

Jehovah’s Witnesses are internationally known to be second only to the Catholic Church with regard to the publicity of their child abuse scandal. The expose dates back to the NBC Dateline program that aired in May of 2002. Since that program aired over twenty different programs in eight different countries have offered the testimony of countless children victimized by the policies of Jehovah’s Witnesses on the sexual abuse of children. Key areas were highlighted that were unlike any religion in dealing with these issues. To name a few;

  1. Two-eye witnesses required before a child’s accusation would be accepted as valid in the face of the molesters’ denial.
  2. Molesters required participation in the door to door canvassing work of Jehovah’s Witnesses to study with prospective members.
  3. Re-appointing pedophiles to positions of authority after twenty years of no further two eye- witness accusations.
  4. Disfellowshipping victims and advocates when they attempted to go public with the child abuse problem in the religion.
  5. Encouraging members to testify as character witnesses on behalf of convicted pedophiles at sentencing hearings.
  6. Advocating the violation of federal laws in reporting child abuse by stating to church leadership that if parents chose to not report abuse it was a personal decision.
  7. Spending hundreds of thousands of dollars using donated Worldwide Work monies to defend the “religious right” of pedophiles to prevent arrest and convictions for child rape.
  8. Maintaining a database of over 23,000 sex offenders within the church most of which have not been revealed to members or law enforcement.

While members were actively denouncing “false” religion for allowing the sexual abuse of children during October and November, here’s what’s been going on…

Jesus Cano a member of the elite Bethel family and served as an elder there was convicted of distributing nude pictures of him self trying to solicit anal sex from little boys.

Rick Mclean a former pioneer and Ministerial Servant is currently listed on the U.S. Marshalls’ most wanted list for assaulting numerous JW children in California. A civil lawsuit was filed on behalf of his victims for elders’ negligence in covering up the abuse.

Rex Peterson a long serving elder in Australia was arrested for molesting two little boys. Peterson was well known for providing herbal treatments for cancer in the JW’s.

Claude Martin an elder in Canada was arrested for molesting a ten year old girl while attending the door to door canvassing work of JW’s. He inserted his finger in her vagina while standing at the door of a home they were visiting.

Nestor Jesus Cabada at the threat of local elders in Utah, USA turned himself in for rape of a child, sodomy on a child and aggravated sex abuse of a child with regard to two little Jehovah’s Witness girls.

Enrique Bahena Robles an elder located in Cancun Mexico was charged with aggravated rape of a minor for his assault on a ten year old girl while participating in door to door canvassing work with her.

Most of these multiple offenders were serving in appointed capacity within their congregations in the USA, Australia, Canada and Mexico.

How many current Catholic reports of sexual abuse have been reported in the last thirty days? There are close to one billion Catholics worldwide but just under seven million Jehovah’s Witnesses. Based on those numbers does this appear to be a high amount of bizarre pedophile stories being reported to media from such a small religious group? …

Jehovah’s Witnesses should have a moment of silence for the children their religion has hurt by policies they openly support. They should hang their collective heads in shame for their self-righteous denunciation of other religions on the epidemic problem areas they ignore within their own faith.

How ironic that the Watchtower Society’s protection of sexual predators, child abusers, and pedophiles is condemned in their own tract.

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