Saturday, January 7, 2012

Jehovah's Witness News, January 2012

With the New Year, I have decided to start a trial posting of a monthly "Jehovah's Witness News". I thought of the title, before I checked and found there were several sites with that same name. My aim is to post an extract of newsworthy articles about Jehovah's Witnesses and the Watchtower Bible & Tract Society, with my comments in bold under each article.

My target is not individual Jehovah's Witnesses but the Watchtower Bible & Tract Society and the Jehovah's Witness system. I will progressively add news items (newest uppermost) to my Jehovah's Witness News post for that month. Comments are welcome but as per my stated policies, sub-standard or off-topic comments won't appear.

"Arbitration Court confirms the ban on spreading Jehovah's Witnesses magazines in Russia," Interfax, 26 January 2012. The 9th Arbitration Appeal Court confirmed the

[Left: Watchtower and Awake! magazines: Digital Journal]

Russian Supervisory Agency for Communications ban on spreading in Russia magazines of Jehovah's Witnesses ... According to estimations ... at the Justice Ministry, several thousands sects work in Russia, about 600-800 thousand people are involved in them. However ... the number of sectarian has reduced several times in Russia if compared to 1990s. ... This is the latest round in an ongoing battle between the Russian government and the Watchtower Bible & Tract Society, over the "extremist" content of the Society's The Watchtower and Awake! magazines. See "Appeal in Jehovah's Witnesses case to be heard Jan. 25,"RAPSI, December 30, 2011; "Russian court revokes ban on Awake! and The Watchtower magazines," Digital Journal, JohnThomas Didymus, Nov 18, 2011 & "Watchdog presses for ban on Jehovah's Witnesses magazines," RAPSI, November 17, 2011. That the Society's publications are extremist is evident in a recent Watchtower which claimed that former Witnesses who have left the sect are "mentally diseased" ("Jehovah's Witness mag investigated under religious hatred laws," Katerina Nikolas, Digital Journal, September 27, 2011). The Society's problem is that its magazines have the same content everywhere, so it cannot start having a special Russian edition. That would set a precedent for the Society having to produce special editions for other countries, which would greatly increase its costs and place the Society under even greater financial pressure (see below). It is significant that according to the latest statistics, the number of sectarians (which includes JWs) in Russia has declined by several times compared to the 1990s.

"False prophecy causes $13 million loss in Thailand," Alessio Fratticcioli, Digital Journal, Jan 8, 2012. Bangkok - Thongbai Khamsa, 73, is under investigation by Thai police for allegedly circulating a prophecy over the Internet that one of the largest dams in Thailand would have collapsed on New Year's Eve. Last month Thongbai had informed the media of a prophecy made by his long-deceased son, according to which the Bhumibol Dam would have collapsed in December 31, 2011. The huge dam ... is located in Tak

[Right: Bhumibol Dam, Thailand: "Tak Province," Wikipedia, 28 December 2011]

province, about 470 kilometers (290 miles) north-west of Bangkok. The Bhumibol Dam is 154 m (505 ft) tall, 486 m (1,594 ft) long and 8 m (26 ft) wide at its crest. It withholds a reservoir of 13,462,000,000 m3 (10,913,821 acre ft). According to Mr Thongbai, his son made the prophecy 37 years ago. ... As is clear now, the dam is still standing, so the prophecy proved wrong. Moreover, provincial officials says the false alarm has caused a 90% decline in the number of tourist arrivals during the holiday season, leading to a public loss estimated at 400 million baht, equivalent to about $13,3 million. Now Thongbai risks jail, but what are exactly the charges against him? Spreading a prophecy ... which fortunately did not turn out correct? ... The Jehovah's Witnesses have made a number of predictions about the end of the world. The first was 1914, even though after the end did not come they changed the meaning of the prediction and stated that it was the date that Jesus would begin to "rule invisibly." Some other years that the group have predicted the end of the world to come are 1915, 1918, 1920, 1925, 1941, 1975, 1994, etc. .. It will be interesting to see if the court rules that those who lose financially from a false prophecy can recover damages from the false prophet. But apart from that courts elsewhere would probably not be bound by a precedent from a Thai court, the Statute of Limitations would presumably apply to Watchtower false prophesies that the world would end in 1914, 1925, 1975 and 1994, etc. For example, the JWs who sold their homes and property in the years leading up to the Autumn of 1975, so they could devote themselves to full-time preaching that there was only a "short time remaining before the wicked world's end":

"Reports are heard of brothers selling their homes and property and planning to finish out the rest of their days in this old system in the pioneer service. Certainly this is a fine way to spend the short time remaining before the wicked world's end." ("How Are You Using Your Life?," Our Kingdom Ministry, May 1974, p.3).

should be entitled to recover their loss from the Watchtower. Especially as Jesus stated that no one would know the date of His return (Mt 24:36; 24:50; 25:13; Mk 13:32; Lk 12:46, Acts 1:7) and it would only be false prophets who claimed that they did (Lk 21:8). But even if it cannot be held accountable to a human court, the Watchtower Society (and JWs who support it - 2Jn 10-11) will still be held accountable to God's court for every one of the evils that they have done (Mt 16:27; Rev 20:12), including false prophecy (Dt 18:20-22).

"Jones first American to undergo bloodless heart surgery," The Times of India, Jan 15, 2012. BANGALORE: Jack Jones, 74, of the US went through a beating heart surgery at Narayana Hrudayalaya on December 29, perhaps the first US citizen to undergo such a surgery in India. As a Jehovah's Witness, his faith bars him from have a blood transfusion ... While it's a religious matter for the Jehovah's Witness community, bloodless surgery has its own advantages, points out Dr Praveen Kumar of Narayana Hrudayalaya. "Firstly, there's a

[Left: Dr Praveen Kumar: Guardian Medical Services]

cost advantage given that there's significant expenditure involved in testing blood of donors. Secondly, it diminishes the possibility of infection that occur during transfusion," said Dr Praveen. But the challenges are immense. "While operating ... we have to be immensely watchful of the patient losing blood," explained Dr Praveen. Dr Sharad Damodar ... said they sometimes collect the patients blood, which can be reused. "But Jehovah's Witnesses believe their own blood can't be transfused back into their bodies. As per their law, if the patient suffers due to lack of blood, doctors will simply have to let the patient go," explained Dr Damodar. ... So while bloodless surgery has its advantages, the Watchtower's refusal to allow a patient's own blood to be reused still causes unnecessary deaths on the operating table. These would be added to the thousands (if not millions) of needless deaths, due to this Watchtower "tradition of men" (Mk 7:8 NWT), which converted a specific ruling that, so as not to offend Jews, Gentile Christians should avoid eating blood (Acts 15:19-21 NWT), into a general prohibition on JWs receiving blood transfusions. But since Jews today not only are not offended by blood transfusions, but regard them as "obligatory" when medically necessary:

Is blood transfusion permissible in Jewish belief? By Rochel Chein. There is nothing in Jewish law that would preclude a person from benefiting from a blood transfusion (or donating blood, for that matter). Furthermore, according to Jewish belief, saving a life is one of the most important mitzvot (commandments), overriding nearly all of the others. (The exceptions are murder, certain sexual offenses, and idol-worship-we cannot transgress these even to save a life.) Therefore, if a blood transfusion is deemed medically necessary, then it is not only permissible but obligatory. All the best, Rochel Chein for

there is no reason for Gentiles, including JWs, to not have them. The Watchtower Society, and those JWs who support its "no blood" policy (2Jn 10-11), will be held accountable to Jesus at the Judgment (2Cor 5:10; Jn 5:22 NWT) for all the uncountable numbers of needless deaths this Watchtower `wresting of the Scriptures' (2Pet 3:16 NWT) has caused (Dt 22:8 NWT).

"European Court releases judgments on Armenian Jehovah’s Witnesses members,", January 13, 2012. The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) released two new judgments on January 10 protecting the right of conscientious

[Right: The European Court of Human Rights, Strasbourg, France.]

objectors in the cases of Bukharatyan v. Armenia and Tsaturyan v. Armenia, both involving Jehovah’s Witnesses. The two applicants, Hayk Bukharatyan and Ashot Tsaturyan, were sentenced in 2003 to two years of imprisonment by Armenian authorities for refusal to participate in military service. Mr. Bukharatyan and Mr. Tsaturyan appealed their cases to the ECHR, stating that their rights were violated under Article 9 of the European Convention ... Armenian law on alternative civilian service allows seeking alternative service for those who refuse to join the army for religious reasons. However, young people, members of religious organizations, often refuse to enlist for alternative civilian service saying it is controlled by the Defense Ministry ... Refusal to participate in military service, even in alternative civilian service, is a Watchtower Society "tradition of men" (Mk 7:8 NWT), not a Biblical teaching. Apart from the many times in the Old Testament where the Israelites were not only commanded to fight military wars, they were told by Jehovah that he was fighting through them (e.g. Dt 1:30; Josh 10:14,42; 23:3,10; 1Sam 15:18, etc); in the New Testament when Roman soldiers asked John the Baptist "What shall we also do?" he did not say, "do not participate in military service" but rather told them, "Do not harass anybody or accuse anybody falsely, but be satisfied with YOUR provisions" (Lk 3:14 NWT). And then there was "Cornelius, an army officer ... a devout man and one fearing God together with all his household ... and made supplication to God continually" (Acts 10:1-3 NWT); who was visited by an angel who said to him, "Your prayers and gifts of mercy have ascended as a remembrance before God" (Acts 10:4 NWT). Later the Apostle Peter met Cornelius and described him as a "man that fears him [God] and works righteousness" (Acts 10:34-35 NWT). Not a word from either the angel or Peter that Cornelius should refuse to participate in military service!

"Cops Swarm Kingdom Hall Plagued by Attacks," NBC San Diego, Michelle Wayland, Tuesday, Jan 10, 2012. Police swarmed a

[Left: "The Jehovah Witness Kingdom Hall is the target of several hate crimes and arson attacks"]

University Heights neighborhood Monday night after someone reported seeing a suspicious person at a Jehovah Witness Kingdom Hall which has been plagued by recent arson attacks and vandalism. Police and firefighters were called to the Jehovah Witness Kingdom Hall on Adams Avenue around 8 p.m. after a security guard reported seeing a silhouette on the roof and smelled something burning. Police did not arrest a suspect ... The neighborhood is on high alert as the Jehovah Witness Kingdom Hall has been the target of several hate crimes and arson attacks. ... Just last week someone pried the word "Jehovah" off the building. The intruder allegedly poured gasoline inside the building and tried to set it on fire. ... In another incident, a vandal wrote "666" on the building. In the first incident, a fire in the staging area of the church was reported around midnight, according to firefighters. The suspect has not been caught and neighbors are extremely concerned. .... A $10,000 reward is being offered for information leading to a conviction in the case. ... While I certainly do not condone this, or any other, illegal action against Jehovah's Witnesses, I expect this vandal is a former Jehovah's Witness, or a family member of a Jehovah's Witness, whose life has, like so many others, been ruined by the Watchtower. The persistence of the attacks despite the increasing likelihood of being caught, the removal of the word "Jehovah," the writing of "666" and the fact that the vandal has not attacked any church or other place of religious worship in the area, points to the perpetrator being someone whose life has been severely and adversely affected by the actions of this particular Jehovah's Witness kingdom hall.

For example, he/she likely is one of the many victims of child sexual abuse perpetrated by Frederick McLean, a former ministerial servant at presumably this congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses near San Diego:

"New evidence in Jehovah's Witness allegations," Lisa Myers and Richard Greenberg, MSN Nightly News, November 21, 2007. The Jehovah's Witnesses have settled nine lawsuits alleging church policies protected men who sexually abused children for many years.

[Right: Frederick McLean: MSNBC]

Frederick McLean is one of the most-wanted fugitives in the United States, charged with 17 counts of child sexual abuse in California. Law enforcement sources say that when a victim's family confronted McLean in 2004, he allegedly confessed. But before he could be arrested, McLean fled. Authorities identified at least eight victims that McLean allegedly abused over the course of nearly a decade. One victim estimated McLean molested her "over 100 times," according to the U.S. Marshals Service. Deputy Marshal Thomas Maranda, who is leading the hunt for the 56-year-old fugitive, says McLean gained the trust of many of his victims through his leadership position, as a so-called ministerial servant, in his local congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses near San Diego. "His role in the church was significant," Maranda explains, "because we believe that his participation in the church gave him access to his victims." His role in the church also became a matter of legal controversy. Last year, some victims' families filed suit against the Jehovah's Witnesses, alleging that both McLean's local congregation and the church's national headquarters, the Watchtower Society, "knew, or should have known, that Frederick McLean was a pedophile." The Jehovah's Witnesses recently agreed to pay to settle that lawsuit and eight other similar cases, without admitting wrongdoing. The cases all involved men the church allegedly knew had sexually abused children. The settlements for those cases are confidential and filed under seal. Frederick McLean However, NBC News has obtained a copy of one of the settlements from the McLean lawsuit, and it may offer an indication of the potential magnitude of the payouts. According to the court record, the church agreed to pay $781,250 to the accuser, who claimed McLean abused her from age 3 to age 9. (After legal fees and other costs, the accuser was set to receive approximately $530,000.) ...

"Jehovah's Witnesses to meet at convention," Amarillo Globe-News, Mark Haslett, January 6, 2012. An estimated 1,500 Jehovah's Witnesses from Amarillo and around the region

[Right: Amarillo Civic Center: Devil's Rope Studios. Appropriately named!]

will attend a semi-annual convention this weekend at the Amarillo Civic Center. The gathering will welcome worshippers from as far away as Guymon, Okla., and Clayton, N.M ... The schedule of events Saturday and Sunday includes lectures, conversations and performances ... The theme for this weekend's convocation, known as a Circuit Convention, is "Let your name be sanctified," ... The Civic Center regularly hosts Jehovah's Witnesses regional events, including the annual District Convention, a larger gathering. ... The theme, "Let your name be sanctified" is from Mt 6:9 NWT. But JW's attending are worse than wasting their time. Jesus said in Jn 5:23 NWT that unless they "honor the Son just as they honor the Father" then they do "not honor the Father who sent him."

"Watchtower Building In Heights Sells for $7.1M," Linda Collins, Brooklyn Daily Eagle, January 3, 2012. BROOKLYN HEIGHTS - A Brooklyn Heights multi-family building previously owned by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society (also known as the Jehovah's Witnesses) has been sold by Massey Knakal Realty Services.

[Left: 50 Orange St., Brooklyn Heights: Brooklyn Heights Press]

The building, at 50 Orange St., on the southeast corner of Orange and Hicks streets, was sold in an all-cash transaction valued at $7.1 million ... Massey Knakal is also marketing two other properties on behalf of the Watchtower: o 183 Columbia Heights .... The asking price is $7.1 million. ".... o 161 Columbia Heights ... The asking price is $3.45 million. ... More evidence of the Watchtower's continuing decline! Following its loss in the Jimmy Swaggart case, having to change in 1990 from a sales to a `donations' system for its literature distribution, or pay sales tax, the Watchtower's revenues declined markedly. Then the Global Financial Crisis from 2008 would have hit the Society hard because its membership is less educated and lower paid and so would be more likely to become and remain unemployed. Also, non-JWs have less money to `donate' for Watchtower literature. So presumably the Watchtower is `selling the furniture' in order to survive. But it cannot continue forever doing that, as even after the GFC is over, the Society's pre-GFC revenue decline will still be in effect.

"Jehovah's Witness Jumps To Death In Brooklyn," Gothamist, Ben Yakas, December 29, 2011. A Jehovah's Witness jumped to his death from a Brooklyn rooftop yesterday.

[Right: "Brooklyn man leaps 15 stories to his death," NY Daily News, December 28, 2011]

According to police, Dwayne Fagan, 48, jumped from the top of his apartment building in the Linden Houses in East New York just before 1 p.m. Wednesday afternoon as bystanders looked on ... A ledge above the building's entrance broke Fagan's fall before he hit the ground. ... Police say Fagan, who was said to be a devout Jehovah's Witness, had warned a family member he was planning to hurt himself in a series of texts messages before his death. According to the Cult Awareness And Information Center and other reports, Jehovah's Witnesses commit suicide at a rate far exceeding (5-10 times greater) the general population. I would not normally comment on this individual tragedy except for the claim that "Jehovah's Witnesses commit suicide at a rate far exceeding (5-10 times greater) the general population" based on experts' estimates. Yet "Those who attend church frequently are four times less likely to commit suicide than those who never attend." ("Religious faith and suicide, " Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance, February 11, 2001). Jesus told us that false prophets would come and we know them by their fruit (Mt 7:15-21 NWT)!

The next issue is February 2012.

Stephen E. Jones, B.Sc., Grad. Dip. Ed.
My other blogs: CreationEvolutionDesign & The Shroud of Turin

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