Investigating Feasability of a Project: Can You Help?

by AuldSoul 12 Replies latest watchtower scandals

  • AuldSoul
    (from Internal Revenue Service)

    Exempt Purposes - Internal Revenue Code Section 501(c)(3)

    The exempt purposes set forth in section 501(c)(3) are charitable, religious, educational, scientific, literary, testing for public safety, fostering national or international amateur sports competition, and preventing cruelty to children or animals. The term charitable is used in its generally accepted legal sense and includes relief of the poor, the distressed, or the underprivileged; advancement of religion; advancement of education or science; erecting or maintaining public buildings, monuments, or works; lessening the burdens of government; lessening neighborhood tensions; eliminating prejudice and discrimination; defending human and civil rights secured by law; and combating community deterioration and juvenile delinquency.

    According to this, the religion Jehovah's Witnesses meet the standard of qualification as a "charitable" organization. Legally. Explicitly.

    However, there are two courts in this country and in every country with a legal system. There is the court of Law and there is the court of public opinion.

    What good works do Jehovah's Witnesses accomplish with the funds that are donated to them? Surely there are some, such as the Relief work they sponsor (in exchange for insurance reimbursement), medical services for long-time residents of Bethel or long-time foreign missionaries, defending their religion's Constitutional right to preach publicly, refuse military service, refuse to salute the flag, and uphold other such religion-specific convictions.

    What do they actively do for their community? On the other hand, where do they actively spend donated monies that would appall the community that donates to them, if only they knew about it?

    This is supposed to be just a preliminary to an exhaustive research effort, so please offer any ideas you have.


  • BurnTheShips

    AS, As you note a religious institution is considered charitable by nature, even if they do not do "charity" at all. What good did FLDS do? Nothing got done until allegations of abuse came out.

    I really do not think you have a legal leg to stand on, but I wish you luck.


  • AuldSoul

    Um, thanks BtS, but I pretty much said there is no legal basis for anything in my OP. I am looking for as much grist as you guys can throw my way that might affect the court of public opinion and I will be helping take that grist and grind it down for sifting and packaging .

    So what do you have that burns you up about how they misuse donated money? It doesn't have to be illegal misuse, just things that strike you as morally and ethically wrong even if technically legal.


  • OnTheWayOut

    Apparently, other countries (Not the U.S.A.) have felt that Watchtower is not a
    beneficial religion. I don't have the data, but there have been countries that want
    to rule that the JW's are a destructive cult or at least not a legitimate charity or

    As pointed out though, in the U.S, there is no necessity that they do more than
    advance their religious ideas. They don't have to be viewed as a positive contribution
    to the community by a majority because the courts will be liberal in their application
    of the law.

    Still, grass roots beginnings sometimes amount to something. The pendulum is
    swinging toward dislike for these "religious" groups and anyone that teaches
    hate (JW's hate homosexuality and interfaith and politics).

    I would challenge the claim that the organization even does any real relief work as
    a charity. They ask the members to donate to the worldwide work when a disaster
    strikes, then they send the RBC to organize the totally volunteer group. I say they
    make more money than they spend on relief. Most of the food and equipment is
    donated by members, all of the labor is free.

    Medical care for their Bethelites- Well, if you make it up the ladder. Now, a claim can
    be made that they take advantage of younger workers and dismiss them before they
    cost money in healthcare. Eventually, successful lawsuit will overwhelm them on that.

  • Eyes Open
    Eyes Open

    Decrying government, the UN and other religions. Pressuring non-acceptance of medical treatment. Pressuring family members into shunning.

    All the best with your investigation/project.

  • AuldSoul

    Eyes Open! Thanks. I hadn't thought of that as a cost (donated funds) issue, but I think that would be appropriate to the extent that they publish (monetary costs) this sort of societally destructive pressure.

    And thanks, OTWO, I had not considered those aspects of the relief work. I will have to research that out more thoroughly. I was pretty much tossing the scant and highly selective offering of medical services in as sardonic humor. I like the "hate message" angle.

    Okay, that's a good start. Anyone else?


  • Meeting Junkie No More
    Meeting Junkie No More

    Ok, not directly on topic but since you are into 'research' and this is in the scandals section:

    It might be interesting to find out how many times this scenario plays out:

    Brother marries widowed sister of means, they together make a 'conditional donation' to the Society's conditional donation arrangement (funds are all hers from previous marriage). Unbeknownst to wife, husband allows that in event of HIS death, funds go directly to Society. Sister only finds this out upon husband's death - TOO LATE! Society already has funds....

  • AuldSoul

    Thanks, MJNM. I would definitely want to know how much money goes to the organization from bequeathments. I'm not sure how to even begin finding out the specific situations in specific bequests, but I will check into it.

  • besty

    AS - it depends on the geographical scope of your project but in the UK a 'public benefit' policy has just come into force, meaning that all charities have to prove their contribution is of 'benefit' to the 'public'. Both words are open to debate as to definition.

    One aspect of this policy that is attracting some comment is the need to balance any public benefit against any possible harm. See here

    Another aspect to consider in your project is the lack of equality for women. Most charities have an equal opportunities policy and government agencies almost always do as well. Not the WTS. No senior managers or leadership positions without at least one bollock.

  • Nathan Natas
    Nathan Natas

    I think we need to consider the origins of these United States. Remember that many of the colonies were formed by people fleeing religious persecution in Europe. That'sat least a large part of why the American attitude toward wacko religions is more tolerant (in a "hands off, let 'em do their thing" way) than that of the Europeans, who can simply revert to their old way of dealing with different ideas.

    While I think that is part of the reason, I wish it was otherwise. I wish that the secular authorities would permit whatever silly spiritual beliefs and practices a person wanted but keep a cold, unblinking eye on the pyhsical consequences of those spiritual beliefs and actions. Thus, charitable works would be encouraged, and religious filicide would not.

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