Bahamas: JWs versus National Insurance Board legal battle

by behemot 10 Replies latest jw friends

  • behemot

    Jehovah's witnesses in NIB Battle

    By KRYSTEL ROLLE ~ Guardian Staff Reporter ~ [email protected]:

    In a dispute that stretches back nearly two decades, the attorney representing a group of Jehovah's Witnesses made a final attempt yesterday to convince the Court of Appeal to overturn a Supreme Court decision which requires his clients to continue to make National Insurance contributions.

    Attorney W. P. Cathcart, who represents Glen Alexander Colebrooke and the Christian Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses of The Bahamas, laid out several reasons yesterday why the appellate court justices should do so.

    The Jehovah's Witnesses are appealing the entire ruling of Justice Stephen Isaacs, who dismissed their application for a review of a National Insurance Board's (NIB) decision that requires 28 Witnesses to make the contributions for a small monthly stipend that they receive.

    Members of the faith are not paid for service in the congregations, however, full-time branch workers like Colebrooke and traveling representatives get a modest monthly allowance.

    NIB has said that this arrangement constitutes a contract of employment and the funds must be taxed. But the Witnesses said Colebrooke's duties at the branch were voluntary and that he should not be required to make the payments to the NIB fund because the money is a stipend, not a salary.

    In September 2008, Isaacs ruled that there was no basis on which the court can grant the review. He said the Witnesses did not avail themselves of the appeal process to the Supreme Court as allowed by law. He noted that the appeal had to be launched on a question of law within 21 days after delivery of a decision by the Board, and a judicial review had to be launched within six months after that decision.

    Isaacs noted then that NIB made the decision on January 27, 1992, that the ministers were employed persons and must pay contributions under the Act. Isaacs, in his judgment, noted that there was no appeal from that determination. However, he added that NIB should have allowed the Witnesses to be a part of the process. They were not told of the decision until after an NIB meeting had already convened.

    On several occasions, the Witnesses, through their attorney, wrote NIB asking it to revisit the decision. However, on April 12, 2005 and again on February 16, 2006, NIB continued to reaffirm its original decision.

    It wasn't until August 16, 2006 that the Witnesses sought leave to apply for a judicial review.

    Isaacs said although the procedure for convening and conducting the hearing in 1992 was not strictly followed, the applicants stated in writing that they were not seeking a formal review.

    In the Court of Appeal yesterday, Cathcart said the decision of NIB has to be an error. He said the Witnesses never entered into an employment contract with The Worldwide Order of Special Full-Time Servants of Jehovah's Witnesses. He also pointed out that the Witnesses are volunteers and have all taken a vow of poverty.

    Court of Appeal President Dame Joan Sawyer said her difficulty with the matter is that while the Witnesses help the poor and perform other social services duties, the tax that they are now required to pay to the government is used to help the same type of people who they want to assist.

    She also questioned whether NIB presented sufficient evidence to the court to make a proper determination.

    She told attorney Harvey Tynes, who represents NIB, that he was not given all of the facts by the people who were directing him.

    For instance, she said she does not know whether Baptist ministers or Mormons are made to pay taxes.

    She said if a tax exemption for ministers is a constitutional norm, then it must be applied across the board.

    Dame Joan said she is unsure how she will frame her judgment.

    She wondered what effects her decision would have on society and the administration of justice.

    She added that while it is not her job to mull over such issues, in a society that is as small as The Bahamas, justices have to think about the effects of their decisions.

    In addition to Dame Joan, Justices Christopher Blackman and Stanley John presided over the case.

    They reserved judgment in the case.


  • StAnn

    The Witnesses don't help the poor. Why does the judge think they have social ministries? Or is the Bahamas different than the rest of the JW world?


  • wobble

    They tell porky-pies like "We teach the illiterate to read" etc. to give the impression that they are of value to the community.

    I hope they lose, and the U.K N.I dept. mounts a similar case.

  • carla

    have all taken a vow of poverty--- what?

  • behemot


    they refer to the "vow of poverty" staff at branch offices take:

    See full fext here:;wap2


    Pay what is Caesar's to Caesar. NWT: dispute in court and avoid paying at all costs. Waste as much court time as possible in the process.

  • designs

    In the US they were forced to pay Social Security taxes, why not the equivalent elsewhere, and workmen's compensation or the equal.

    A brother I knew went to work on the new Branch in Guayana and injured his back on the job site, he had to battle the Society to get the treatment he needed which was surgery.

    Indentured Servants.

  • dissed

    They have never changed. They can't stand to pay anything and are always trying to generate a loop hole not to pay.

  • Aussie Oz
    Aussie Oz

    Just read the bethel vow!

    What the f***, they try to make themselves out to be some freakin' religous order of monks or something.

    Talk about protecting themselves from any responsability to those they pursuade to join the 'order'...

    They have become:


    watchtower and



    Attorneys at law

    Lawyers, barristers and solicitors

  • carla

    I too find the 'order' language weird for jw's. Here is a part of it from the link mentioned above-


    As an ordained minister, wholly dedicated to Jehovah God. I hereby express my solemn desire to be recognized as a member of the worldwide Order of Special Full-Time Servants of Jehovah's Witnesses ("the Order"). I vow as follows:

    1. While a member of the Order, to live the simple, nonmaterialistic life-style that has traditionally existed for members of the Order;

    2. In the spirit of the inspired words of the prophet Isaiah, Isaiah 6:8, and the prophetic expression of the psalmist (Psalm 110:3), to volunteer my services to do whatever is assigned to me in the advancement of Kingdom interests wherever I am assigned by the Order;

    3. To be submissive to the theocratic arrangement for members of the Order (Hebrews 13:17);

    4. To devote my best full-time efforts to my assignment;

    5. To abstain from secular employment without permission from the Order;

    6. To turn over to the local organization of the Order all income received from any work or personal efforts in excess of my necessary living expenses, unless released from this vow by the Order;

    7. To accept such provisions for members of the Order (be they meals, lodging, expense reimbursements, or others) as are made in the country where I serve. regardless of the level of my responsibility or the value of my services;

    8. To be content and satisfied with the modest support that I receive from the Order as long as I am privileged to serve in the Order and not to expect any further remuneration should I choose to leave the Order or should the Order determine that I no longer qualify to serve in the Order (Matthew 6:30-33: 1 Timothy 6:6-8; Hebrews 13:5);

    9. To abide by the principles set out in God's inspired Word, the Bible. in publications of Jehovah's Witnesses. and in policies dispensed by the Order, and to follow the directions of the Governing Body of Jehovah's Witnesses; and

    10. To accept readily any decision made by the Order regarding my membership status.

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