Jehovah's Witnesses-David vs Goliath lowdown on the showdown
Added: (Tue Sep 20 2005)
Pressbox (Press Release) -
Case of a lawsuit instigated by Jehovah's Witnesses through its Canadian branch of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society the story is "Man bites dog!"
It is proverbial among journalism students that a story about "Dog bites Man" is not news. However, a story where "Man bites Dog" is the beginning of a scoop. Here is such a scoop.
In the world of religious belief the "Word" reigns supreme. Getting the word out is the be-all and end-all task of religion. After all, what is the Gospel if not the good story one has to tell?
In the case of Christianity it is the desire to represent the details of Jesus' life, teaching and kingdom in the most accurate manner possible that is at the core of evangelism. Historically this has been viewed by Christians as a life or death responsibility: a debt of willing servitude to be paid with one's own life if that be the cost of getting out the word.
But, astonishingly, in the case of a lawsuit instigated by Jehovah's Witnesses through its Canadian branch of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society the story is "Man bites dog!"
A suit totaling $100,000 has been filed for the purpose of stopping the words, the accurately quoted words, of Jehovah's message to mankind from being exposed on the Internet!
The words in question are the writings of the religious group begun in the mid- 1800s by a group of bible students convinced the Second Coming of Christ was to be revealed by their own particular bogus scholarship, which included the length of passages in the Great Pyramid of Egypt! Yes, I'm talking about the religion which was at first called the International Bible Students whose self-styled purpose was "Heralding Christ's Presence" and which changed under the second president of that society to Jehovah's Witnesses "Announcing Jehovah's Kingdom."
The founder, Charles Taze Russell, became a self-styled Pastor who churned out an endless stream of cut and paste schemes to "prove" the end was near. He died without seeing the fulfillment of any of his predictions and was replaced, against his will (literally) by Judge Rutherford. Rutherford converted many of the beliefs and practices into a firebrand of controversy as he targeted both religion and government in shrill screeds attacking everything held dear by mainstream America. The countless false predictions, crackpot beliefs (germs don't cause disease, aluminum cookware is poison, saluting the flag is idolatry) left a paper trail of starts and starts ending in a "back to the drawing board" revamping of doctrine and policy with never an apology to those injured along the way. After all, the intention of the Watchtower leaders was to convince their membership that they alone have the ability to interpret scriptures in matters of faith and morals and to micromanage the lives of its rank and file in a minutia of micromanagement. If any opposed this view they were disfellowshipped, marginalized and boycotted. Many legal cases were brought to the Supreme Court to enable this religious sect to proliferate its peculiar views unopposed by local ordinance or legal compulsion.
The latest target of their legal boycott is a website of QUOTES which enables research into the history and writings of Jehovah's Witnesses by providing fair use representations of the Watchtower's historical writings untainted by critical commentary or rebuttal. The stated injury of the Watchtower in seeking to suppress these accurate and uncolored quotations is the "embarrassment" resulting from being exposed to ridicule by their own words!
Reasonably, nobody can sue for embarrassment, thus, the Watchtower has framed their legal attack in the form of protection of their copyright on original material and artwork. Yet, of all the American religions of an evangelical bent in all of history, ironically the Jehovah's Witnesses are the best known for publicizing their "original" words by going into neighborhoods and knocking on doors to serve notice on householders that the only Truth is Watchtower opinion about Jesus' words and purpose for them.
According to Watchtower theology their religion is the only True religion and ALL other forms of Christianity as well as Judaism, Islam and any other belief is Satan-inspired lies fraudulently represented as divine. So convinced is the leadership of this religion that they alone are "anointed" and appointed as heavenly marriage mates of Jesus and judges of mankind. They have established no less than a publishing empire in Brooklyn, New York where their prolific books, magazines and pamphlets are mass manufactured day and night by volunteer labor.
The purpose of this printing avalanche of religious words is an end-time race against Armageddon, which the Watchtower has repeatedly pinpointed by setting actual dates for its occurrence over and over and over with zero success. Likely, this and other weird notions are among the reasons for wishing to conceal their failed boasting that the Watchtower predictions were "God's words and not ours."
The QUOTES website clearly states on the splash page that there is no misrepresentation of connection to the actual Watchtower Bible and Tract Society or branches and is for research purposes. Anyone who wishes to clear up a rumor or innuendo by friend or foe of the religion can seek out accurate quotes from specific literature spawned by official writers working anonymously for Jehovah's Witnesses over the decades. The correct and specific attributions of publication, dates and context are scrupulously provided by QUOTES.
Yet, the Watchtower is convinced that only embarrassment and loss of reputation can result from an objective exploration of uncensored revelations of the Society's words, policies and "foolproof" orthodoxy as it has evolved, changed and self-refuted.
This is a "Man bites dog" story because of the obvious implication of a religion wishing to stifle the free distribution of its very own message! Surely, the Watchtower organization is, as it has previously claimed in court, helmed by the editor "Jehovah" himself or it isn't. It is either directed by Jesus himself or it isn't. The message contained in its many publications distributed "free" of charge to householders is either the property of the mind that created it (God!) or, it is admittedly the mere opinion and artistic creation of a small group of megalomaniacs who wish to control the minds of cult members. Which will it prove to be?
The merits of this lawsuit may, for the first time in history, put to the test whether any petty larceny of misrepresentation can be hidden under the guise of Freedom of Religion and Copyright Protection.
How have the readers of the Watchtower been mind-controlled? Here is a short list of instances of the power over men's lives wielded by the Brooklyn "anointed" dispensing Truth.
1. Members cannot remain in good standing if they disagree with the Governing Body's opinions. Disagreement results in disfellowshipping and shunning. Friends, family and loved ones are isolated from the banished member and they are considered "dead" and marked for destruction at the imminent Armageddon.
2. Saving a child's life (or any Witness) by blood transfusion is prohibited. Children have been surreptitiously snatched from hospitals for this reason. Many have died.
3. Exercising one's citizenship rights is prohibited in any manner which includes voting, flag salute, free speech endorsing candidates, etc.
4. Charity is ignored and money solely channeled into the "worldwide" preaching work. No affiliations are allowed with even the smallest community effort to allay the suffering of the old, the hungry, the abused or the children of same.
5. Members are strongly discouraged from getting a higher education and only the door to door magazine peddling is viewed as worthwhile activity replacing even family outings and vacations as meaningful activity.
6. Military service and even alternate service are forbidden. Witnesses have historically been expected to go to prison rather than work in a hospital in lieu of military service.
7. Pedophilia has been treated as any other sin to the extent local elders at Kingdom Halls have told child molestation victims they will not believe them unless there have been two eyewitnesses of the molestations! Rampant pedophilia has been kept secret and members are forbidden to watch any news program or read any writing which purports to reveal this problem.
8. Wives who have been abused are required to stay in the marriage unless the husband can be witnessed committing an act of extra-marital fornication.
9. No community or social support systems are allowed for troubled Witnesses who suffer mental, psychological or financial problems. No psychologists, psychiatrists or other counselors are allowed to aid any suffering member with problems. Any such personal problem is labeled "spiritual weakness" and is to be addressed by increased activity going door to door peddling magazines!
10. When dates have been set (as recent as 1975) for the advent of Armageddon, the member who followed the Watchtower advice to devote all energy to preaching their erroneous warning have lost employment, homes, financial security and suffered the result. Often medical treatments have been ignored in the view that Armageddon would usher in a Paradise in which they would be healed to perfection.
I have ignored the seemingly petty insistence of Watchtower leadership to control the tiniest autonomy among members such as the forbidding of celebrating Thanksgiving,Christmas, Easter, birthdays, etc. As a result, the average member is hog-tied and fearful of offending the policy-makers on even the most modest level of day to day activity. After all, disfellowshipping is a loss of family and a death sentence any way you look at it.
In consideration of the above, the legal suit instituted against public revelation of the Watchtower's agenda is particularly significant. IF THE WATCHTOWER wins this suit against a site which merely quotes actual words of the evangelic message distributed free, can their critics (called "apostates") be far behind from legal harassment? Where does the slippery slope of silencing critics begin and end? Can the most unthinkable of all censorship actions be the end result? Could Freedom of Religion trump FREEDOM OF SPEECH?
That is why this quiet jack-booted legal action deserves public scrutiny and debate before it goes too far in allowing any rabid religious dog to bite whatever innocent bystander may stand in their way.
by Terry Walstrom
MOUSE OVER and CLICK ABOVE 'justice' banner for LINK to QUOTES.CA