International Conventions = $$$$. WTBT$ in bed with South Korean government

by Mattieu 41 Replies latest watchtower scandals

  • cantleave

    Enlightening - I always thought the trips to Malta from the UK were overpriced, now I know why! Nothing f*cking surprises me about the cult now.

  • Mattieu

    Some people I know who went to the last International in South Africa, were slightly peed off as their accommodation package included 3 nights accommodation with a local J-dub family during the actual convention dates.

    They did the math and worked out that they actually were paying for these nights with the local families! Local families volunteered to open their homes, society charges visiting brothers & sisters for utilising this aspect of brotherly love.

    Dozy & Sir82, I used to reason the same when I saw these “advertorials” on host cities in the WT & Awake, how on earth could that be “food at the proper time?”

    It was about that time I openly compared the Awake magazine to the Readers Digest.


  • JWoods

    It was about that time I openly compared the Awake magazine to the Readers Digest.


    But I bet you the Readers Digest has never claimed you can get the equivalent of a college education by reading it (and nothing else).

    Seriously - this was a valuable thread about a little mentioned topic.

    Thanks for putting it up for us.

  • Bangalore

    Sample travel article from Awake magazine.

    *** g99 7/8 pp. 14-19 Sydney-A Vibrant Harbor City ***

    Sydney-A Vibrant Harbor City


    WHAT comes to mind when you hear the words "Sydney, Australia"? Do you immediately think of the unique opera house at the water's edge, with its roofs billowing out like yacht sails or huge shells? Depending on your interests, that could be the image that springs to mind.

    Sydney-Australia's gateway city-is rated by many as one of the most attractive cities in the world. It is the capital of New South Wales, the continent's most populous state. The national capital, however, is Canberra, about midway between Sydney and Melbourne.

    Sydneysiders, as residents of the city like to be called, are generally friendly and easygoing. Often referred to in ballads as "Sydney Town," Sydney is noted for at least three outstanding landmarks: (1) a deep natural harbor, (2) an impressive, single-span harbor bridge, and (3) a unique opera house.

    The climate is temperate, with an average temperature in February, the warmest month, of 72°F. [22°C.], while the coolest month, July, averages 54°F. [12°C.] Australia's rainfall tends to be erratic and unpredictable, but the average rainfall in Sydney is 45 inches [1,140 mm] per year, most of it falling during the summer months (December to March).

    You will hear a lot more about Sydney in the coming months because it has been selected as host city for the Olympic Games in the year 2000.

    From Penal Colony to Thriving City

    Compared with many other world-renowned cities, Sydney is a child, for its history goes back just over 200 years to 1770, when British explorer Captain James Cook made his historic landing at Botany Bay. (The north shore of Botany Bay is now home to Sydney's international airport.) Sailing north a few miles, he bypassed a deep natural harbor that he named Port Jackson. Thus, he did not go between the two headlands leading into the harbor.

    Then, in 1788, Governor Arthur Phillip arrived from England with the First Fleet and its cargo of British convicts. He went ashore to establish a settlement at Botany Bay but decided that it was unsuitable. Accordingly, he took three open boats and sailed north to see if he could find a better site.

    Sure enough, just a few miles away, he discovered the surprisingly deep and spacious bay that Cook had passed up. In a famous dispatch to Lord Sydney, England's home secretary, Phillip conveyed his impressions of Port Jackson: "We . . . had the satisfaction of finding the finest harbour in the world, in which a thousand sail of the line may ride in the most perfect security." In honor of Lord Sydney, Phillip named the cove Sydney Cove and set up the first settlement there. The name Sydney has stuck to this day.

    All the male convicts were landed and immediately began clearing the land and assembling rough shelters. The fleet carried many convicts as well as a number of wives and children, all of whom had to make the best of this enforced new "home" thousands of miles from their country of birth. For the next 20 years, the settlement consisted of makeshift tents and temporary dwellings-many of them just huts and hovels-for originally it was to be no more than a penal settlement. In 1810, however, Governor Lachlan Macquarie arrived in Sydney, and his 11-year tenure caused a rapid transformation of the colony.

    A City Begins to Take Shape

    Under Macquarie's direction, an architect who had accompanied him from England, assisted by an emancipated convict who was also an architect, designed many buildings in and around Sydney. This immediately gave the convict camp an atmosphere of permanence. Of course, labor was no problem, for convicts were plentiful. Additionally, there was an abundant supply of sandstone that was perfect for building.

    Author Portia Robinson, in her book The Women of Botany Bay, describes the rapid transformation of the colony: "Visitors, free settlers, officials, soldiers, the convicts themselves who arrived in New South Wales in the latter years of the Macquarie decade [1810-21], expecting to find the debauchery, inebriety and licentiousness believed in Britain to be characteristic of the colony, were astounded at its ‘civilisation'. Instead of huts and hovels they saw mansions ‘which would grace Hanover Square . . . streets as long as Oxford Street', magnificent churches and public buildings, roads and bridges, shops and businesses of all descriptions, neat cottages for labourers, fine carriages for the wealthy . . . ‘everything belied it was a convict colony'."

    So by the time Governor Macquarie left in 1821, Sydney already had 59 buildings of sandstone, 221 of brick, and 773 wooden houses, in addition to government-owned houses and public buildings. Today the city of Sydney, with a population of nearly four million, stands as a tribute to the ingenuity of the convicts and the free settlers and their families and to the vision of the colony's early governors.

    Sydney's ‘Noble and Capacious Basin'

    Though Sydneysiders colloquially refer to Port Jackson as Sydney Harbour, the harbor proper is really made up of three areas-Middle Harbour, North Harbour, and Sydney Harbour. Cutting back from the harbor deep into the suburbs are the Parramatta and Lane Cove rivers.

    Sydney Harbour is one of the world's finest natural harbors, its rugged sandstone foreshores extending for 150 miles [240 km]. The actual distance in a straight line from the harbor's entrance to where it blends into the Parramatta River is 12 miles [19 km], and its total water surface area is 21 square miles [54 sq km]. The harbor's inshore depth is one of its outstanding features, and the deepest point has been measured at about 150 feet [47 m]. The striking entrance from the Pacific Ocean is through two precipitous headlands-North Head and South Head. The headlands are just one and a half miles [2 km] apart, and the full extent of the harbor is not realized until you are well inside. This may explain why Captain Cook failed to explore more thoroughly what he thought was just another bay.

    Back in 1788, Governor Phillip is quoted as saying of Sydney Harbour: ‘In extent and security, superior to any I have ever seen, and the most experienced navigators who were with me fully concurred that it was a noble and capacious basin, having soundings sufficient for the largest vessels, and space to accommodate, in perfect security, any number that could be assembled.'

    Sydney Harbour Bridge -An Engineering Masterpiece

    As far back as 1815, the need for a bridge across the harbor from north to south was seriously considered, but the first recorded drawing of a bridge did not appear until 1857. As it stands today, the bridge stretches from Dawes Point on the south side of the harbor to Milsons Point on the north shore-in the exact location first suggested! One of the longest single-span bridges in the world, it took nine years to build and cost almost 20 million Australian dollars-an enormous amount in the depression years of the early 1930's. It was officially opened for traffic on March 19, 1932.

    The massive central arch is 1,650 feet [503 m] in length, with its top measuring 440 feet [134 m] above the water. The clearance under the bridge is about 160 feet [50 m], thus allowing the largest ocean liners to pass underneath with safety. The deck itself is 160 feet [49 m] wide and originally had a double-track railway, a double-track tramway (streetcar line), six lanes of roadway, and two footpaths. In 1959, Sydney replaced its streetcars with buses, so the tramway tracks were converted into lanes for road traffic. Now there are eight lanes for cars, buses, and trucks. The total length of the bridge, including the approach spans, is 3,770 feet [1149 m].

    By the 1980's, road traffic on the bridge was so congested that consideration was given to opening another harbor crossing. It was more practical to go underwater this time. Therefore, in August 1992, a four-lane harbor tunnel was opened.

    A stroll across the bridge offers panoramic views of Sydney. On the harbor's north side, set on wooded slopes, is the Taronga Zoological Park. On the opposite side of the harbor and almost below the bridge, on Bennelong Point, is Sydney's unmistakable opera house.

    Sydney's Jewel on the Harbor

    Described as the "jewel of Bennelong Point," the Sydney Opera House is surrounded on three sides by the blue waters of Sydney Harbour. In bright sunlight it certainly looks like a jewel. At night the Gothic shells sparkle at their best under the lights of the opera house.

    The foreword to the book A Vision Takes Form gives a description of the visual impact of the opera house: "Sydney Opera House has become one of those buildings that take on a decisive new character with each small shift of perspective or change in light. . . . An early morning mist or the gleams of a late sunset can help to burnish the shells like helmets from a saga of legendary giants."

    The design of the opera house was conceived by Danish architect Jørn Utzon and was finally selected from among more than 200 international entries in a design competition. But aspects of his design were deemed impractical and required substantial alterations.

    The London Architects' Journal described it as "the epitome of romantic sculpture on the grand scale." Yet, converting this romantic dream into a reality presented great engineering difficulties. Two of the engineers, Sir Ove Arup and Jack Zunz, said: "[The] Sydney Opera House is . . . an adventure in building. . . . Because the circumstances under which it is being built are so unusual, and because its problems are so difficult, it has created unique opportunities . . . for the development of new techniques. Many of these have since been used in more orthodox bridge and building works."

    The original estimated cost of the opera house was 7 million Australian dollars, but by its completion in 1973, the cost had skyrocketed to an astronomical 102 million dollars!

    A Look Inside the Opera House

    As we enter the foyer, we notice that sunlight filters through the two layers of glass in the cone-shaped mouths of the shells. Enclosing the building is an amazing total of 67,000 square feet [6225 sq m] of special glass made in France. Next we enter the concert hall. As we stand at the back looking across the 2,690 seats toward the stage, we are impressed to see the largest mechanical tracker organ in the world, with its 10,500 pipes. The ceiling rises to a height of 82 feet [25 m], resulting in a cubic capacity of 880,000 cubic feet [26,400 cu m]. This "gives a reverberation time of approximately two seconds allowing symphonic music to be heard with a full, rich and mellow tone," says an official guide.

    Equally impressive are the other three auditoriums, which were designed for opera, symphony concerts, ballet, films, solo recitals, drama, chamber music, exhibitions, and conventions. In total there are 1,000 rooms in the opera house building, including restaurants, dressing rooms, and other amenities.

    Don't Miss the Zoo!

    If you are planning a visit to Sydney, be sure to include a boat or ferry cruise around the harbor. You won't regret it. Take a ferry to Taronga Zoo. Not all visitors coming to Australia have the time to see the Australian bush and its wildlife. Therefore, a day at the zoo can be a convenient adventure into the Australian "countryside." The zoo features Australia's unique wildlife, from kangaroos to koalas and platypuses to dingoes. Just a few minutes by harbor ferry from the ferry terminal near the opera house, the zoo is almost in the heart of Sydney. It is ranked one of the best in the world. While in the harbor area, enjoy the free entertainment provided by a wide variety of buskers-acrobats, Aborigines playing the didgeridoo (a typical Aborigine wind instrument), or a jazz ensemble.

    We are confident that you will thoroughly enjoy your stay in Sydney-truly a vibrant city set on an incredible harbor in the blue expanse of the South Pacific. And who knows, we might even put another shrimp on the barbecue for you!


    Tracker action is a mechanical system that transmits air to the pipes and allows the organist to play with a more sensitive touch.

    [Maps on page 14]

    (For fully formatted text, see publication)


    Manly Beach

    Port Jackson

    Sydney Harbour Bridge


    Botany Bay

    [Picture on page 15]

    Sydney's central business district

    [Picture on page 15]

    Replica of the "Bounty," in Botany Bay

    [Picture on page 15]

    Aerial train in downtown Sydney

    [Picture on page 16, 17]

    Sydney Opera House and harbor bridge

    [Credit Line]

    By courtesy of Sydney Opera House Trust (photograph by Tracy Schramm)

    [Picture on page 17]

    Interior of the Opera House, with its 10,500-pipe organ

    [Credit Line]

    By courtesy of Australian Archives, Canberra, A.C.T.

    [Picture on page 18]

    Manly Beach, Sydney


  • truthseeker

    Wow - I didn't see a single scripture in the Sydney advertorial!

  • bobld

    Yes conventions are BIG BIG money makers for the WBTS.That is why they demand that you stay in the hotels on their list.Not to help the poor JW but to make a profit.I was told that they get free room per gratis because of the many delagates.However,they select Brothers who they can trust(SUCKER) to paid the full amount to the WBTS--(make cheque payable to --Watch Tower).That my friend is free room for the WBTS but big dollars for the suckers.They will tell you that you would be paying for the rooms anyways.

    My point give those rooms to the poor who are financially strapped.


  • Interested Observer
    Interested Observer

    I think the organization is exploiting a loophole with this arrangement. Under the Internal Revenue Code, a tax exempt organization must recognize, and is taxed on its unrelated trade or business income. Unrelated business income is the income from a trade or business regularly carried on by an exempt organization and not substantially related to the performance by the organization of its exempt purpose or function, except that the organization uses the profits derived from this activity. There is an example provided by the IRS on its website (

    Travel tour programs. Travel tour activities that are a trade or business are an unrelated trade or business if the activities are not substantially related to the purpose for which tax exemption was granted to the organization.

    Example 1.

    A tax-exempt university alumni association provides a travel tour program for its members and their families. The organization works with various travel agencies and schedules approximately ten tours a year to various places around the world. It mails out promotional material and accepts reservations for fees paid by the travel agencies on a per-person basis.

    The organization provides an employee for each tour as a tour leader. There is no formal educational program conducted with these tours, and they do not differ from regular commercially operated tours.

    By providing travel tours to its members, the organization is engaging in a regularly carried on trade or business. Even if the tours it offers support the university, financially and otherwise, and encourage alumni to do the same, they do not contribute importantly to the organization's exempt purpose of promoting education. Therefore, the sale of the travel tours is an unrelated trade or business.

    Since the organization is arranging these tours in conjunction with an International Convention, it can be argued that any income generated is related to its exempt purpose of religious education. However, I wonder if an argument could be made that it doesn't support religious education since, as I understand it but I could be wrong, the same convention program is given at the local conventions so by providing the travel arrangements to the International Conventions the organization is not furthering religious education because the same education program is provided locally.

    The reason that I bring this up is because under the tax laws, an exempt organization must provide copies of their tax returns to anyone who requests it.,,id=139231,00.html. After the enactment of The Pension Protection Act of 2006, this includes the Unrelated Business Income return. Just imagine if the organization reflects this on their Unrelated Business Income return, I am sure the rank and file would not be happy to learn how much the organization is making off these International Convention. If it is not reflected on the return, I wonder if a good argument could be made so that the IRS would conduct an audit of this arrangement. They are always looking for high profile situations to audit.

  • Interested Observer
    Interested Observer

    I apologize for the color difference in my previous post. I don't know what happened.

  • OnTheWayOut

    In return the society offered to run a 6 page tourism advertisement for Sydney, check it out in the 1999 Awake July 8 pages 14-19.

    My word. I never would have put that together. I guess as a JW, I would have defended that. I still don't see that it is wrong to make such deals in the business world between a government and a publisher of magazines, but I cannot overlook it for a religion. Pushing Sydney to get airfares and discounts.

    The South Koreans actually paid the Korean bethel to print all of the tourism merchandise with the government and societies logos.

    Cheezy tourism and commercialism at its finest.

    And these free hotel rooms are often on sold for a price to “approved” delegates from overseas.

    I did know that they soak the members for top dollar for these travel packages. I have heard some of the numbers and actually told members that I could do better on the internet with packages for the same places, travel. Of course they would say that they would never consider that, and the JW's are getting a deal because they are using the most reputable people- HA.

    I also remember that we applied a few times back in the day and we were not selected because they chose elder/pioneer couples and we were not pioneers. Later as economics changed and people with money knew a bad deal when they heard it, they were practically begging people to apply. I wasn't interested any longer.

  • WalkTall

    I could never figure out why the international convention prices were so high and an elder (who has connections to Bethelites) told me that the prices are padded and the Society uses the extra money to send the missionaries to the conventions and back home for visits. Incredible, the WT pays for nothing out of it's own coffers!

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