A BOOK REPORT FOR JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES
For decades, the Society refused to allow JWs who were facing compulsory military service to perform whatever "alternative service" their consciences might allow, and the consequence was that THOUSANDS spent many YEARS in prison undergoing terrible treatment under terrible conditions.
For more than 11 years during the 1960s and 1970s, JWs in Malawi suffered the most hideous persecutions possible, because the Society refused to allow them to purchase a "party card". The Society gave no weight to the fact that Malawi only had one political party, which was totally controlled by the ruling dictator, thus making that "political party" something quite different from competing political parties in more complex, democratic countries.
In 1978, Ray discovered that despite the Society's refusal to allow JWs to exercise their own consciences in the situations described above, the Society had given permission for JWs to do so in several countries where it was possible for them to pay BRIBES to get out of performing military service. In addition to the sad fact that the Society was condoning the bribing and corrupting of government officials, they were turning their heads to the fact that paperwork would necessarily have to be completed which would in some fashion or other "officially" connect the "bribing JW" to the military.
(We will not allow you to legally buy a "party card" in Africa, but we will allow you to illegally buy a "military card" in Latin America. We will not allow you to discharge required military service by working in a hospital, but we will allow you to discharge required military service by illegally bribing a public official.)
The situation in Mexico was even more outrageous. There, the Society knowingly was allowing JWs to either illegally ignore required military registration, or they were allowing JWs (the majority) to legally register as inductees into the military reserves, which was evidenced by a "military card" carried by the JW. The JWs who registered as inductees (these included almost all Branch and "traveling" personnel) would then BRIBE officials to complete the paperwork which indicated that they were attending weekly military training. Upon "supposed" completion of one year's training, the JWs "officially" became members of Mexico's military reserve, and they carried a "card" stating such.
Ray commends some of the Mexican JWs, because the favorable, but unequal, treatment shown them by the Society bothered their consciences. Why did such actions not bother the consciences of those at Brooklyn? One big reason was because this was just one more of many other "Society irregularities" in Mexico. Most JWs are aware that the Society fought numerous courtcases [Pre-1945 list: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19] in the U.S. in the 1930s and 1940s to strike down governmental laws, rules, and regulations which prevented American JWs, and their children, from worshiping God the way they pleased. Many American JWs suffered persecution and prison during that time. However, during that same period, the Society chose to COMPROMISE in Mexico; not even due to intense persecution, but simply due to "possible" FINANCIAL considerations.
In the 1940s, Mexican law did not allow religious organizations to hold title to real property. Thousands of church properties, worth billions of pesos, were "technically" owned by the government, although religious organizations possessed and used such just as if they did hold legal title. Mexican law also did not allow missionaries from foreign countries. Neither of these situations would have been major obstacles to the Society's work in Mexico. However, in 1943, the Society "legally" registered with the government as a "cultural" organization, rather than as a "religious" organization.
Until 1989, Mexican JWs were forced by the Society to maintain this farce. They were a "cultural" group, not religious group. They were members of a "company", not a congregation. They "performed the symbol", rather than getting baptized. They attended "cultural" meetings, and held "cultural" studies. The Society told them not to carry Bibles when they went out in "cultural" activity. The Society would not let them sing songs or even PRAY at meetings nor assemblies.
None of this ridiculous mess was because Mexican law prohibited JWs to worship as they pleased. No, it was because the Society did not want the government to hold legal title to what few pesos worth of buildings they "might" acquire. Did Knorr actually think that if the Mexican government ever decided to confiscate possession of religious property, that the Watchtower's farcical "cultural" registration would stop the government from taking theirs? (Doesn't it seem suspcious that the Mexican authorities would allow this obvious farce to go on for over 42 years? Ray doesn't comment, but it seems likely that the military were not the only ones to receive JW bribes.)
The report on this chapter cannot be completed without noting that Ray passed up an excellent opportunity to state for the record the truth concerning the resignation of Governing Body Member Ewart Chitty. Ray simply notes that Chitty had resigned at the GB's request, sometime in 1979. Most people knowledgable about JWs (other than most JWs themselves) are aware that Chitty was quietly forced to resign due to some sort of homosexual allegation. Ray's reservation to comment is just one of many examples that COC does not go to "any length" to speak negatively about the Society.
[As a sidenote, about 3 years after Ray was "railroaded" by this "holy council", another Governing Body member named Leo Greenlees was quietly forced to resign, also due to charges of sexual misconduct, allegedly child molestation. This 1975 GB photo shows Chitty sitting at the far left, next to Fred Franz. Ray stands behind Fred. Greenlees stands at far right.]