Preacher Jimmy Swaggart and JW Lawyers

by waiting 100 Replies latest watchtower bible

  • Friend


    JW's are presumably supposed to stay free of politics. JW's are no part of this world. JW's support only Jehovah's rule. UNLESS something comes along that may financially affect the Society, then all bets are off.

    Question: Am I “part of the world” if I dispute in court an IRS claim against me?

    Question: Am I “part of the world” if I argue a legal interpretation before a court?

    Question: Am I “part of the world” because I utilize the in-place court system?

    I assure that my under garments are not tightened over this subject. I just do not understand how some of the opinions on the subject are formed. I mean, even opinions have to have a basis. That is what I am looking for. To me those opinions appear based upon an incomplete understanding of the processes at work. Can you clarify?


  • Pathofthorns

    I can't see any problem with the Society making use of the courts this way.

    I guess the perception of the Society scrambling to legally avoid paying taxes (which we all likely do, and only makes good sense) would have been easier for many to follow if it didn't seem to come out of necessity. What I mean is, why would not the "recieved free-give free" principle have been instituted long ago?

    Why only this year has the Society stopped charging interest to congregations borrowing money they themselves donated to the Society?

    Why is the "donation arrangement" not universal in that some countries still charge for literature?

    I remember working with ones years ago who would not give a new magazine to someone if they didn't have the money. They would get a back issue or a tract. I rather like the new arrangements. They make much better sense, and appear to be more inline with Christian principles. I only wonder why things weren't done sooner. So many changes these days appear to be a legal or financial reaction, rather than having come of our own volition.

    (P.s. Go easy on me Friend. I realize my post is full of speculations, generalizations, unsubstanciated comments, etc. I'm just asking, and saying how things appear :)


  • Friend


    P.s. Go easy on me Friend. I realize my post is full of….

    LOL. Actually, I liked your post. You asked legitimate questions. Let’s take a look at them.

    What I mean is, why would not the "received free-give free" principle have been instituted long ago?

    The message of good news is what is free. On the other hand, even Jesus’ followers recognized the need for financing various activities. Otherwise, why have a money box? Why talk about an equalizing?

    Did Jesus’ earliest followers require a measure of financing in their efforts of spreading the good news (which news was free)? In various forms, yes, they did. In some cases this was no more than subsistence for themselves personally. Later there was apparently some more organized assistance.

    As for JWs today, money has been connected with our work of teaching what we believe only to the extent of covering unavoidable and necessary expenses. More or less, that is similar to what Jesus earliest followers did and Jesus himself. After all, how much pay-back has the Society received from shipping missionaries off to lands like Papua New Guinea?

    Why only this year has the Society stopped charging interest to congregations borrowing money they themselves donated to the Society?

    Actually they did not stop charging interest. What they did was lowered the annual interest rate (simple interest, BTW [BIG difference]). Off the top of my head they were lowered from about 6 or 7 % to 3 %.

    Also, I have heard this objection of paying interest on borrowed-back-donated-money before. Let me ask a question. If a congregation really donates money then what are they doing? Are they saying, "Hey, hold this for us until I want or need it back?" Are they saying, "Hey, I am giving this money to you, but if I want it back unconditionally then that is what you should do?" Of course, that is not what they are doing. They are giving it into someone else’s charge to do with as they see fit. That is the nature of donated money.

    Now, the Society does have an arrangement for conditional donations. In that case then congregations can do just as I alluded to before. They can then say, "Hey, hold this for us until I want or need it back?"

    So, if a congregation has really donated their money then they have accepted that that money is now being used for other purposes and it is not theirs any longer. If they demanded that money back then would it really have been a donation in the first place? Furthermore, considering the rate of interest (and type of interest) paid on such loans, congregations are doing little more than paying the present value of past borrowed dollars. In other words, $1,000 borrowed today may be worth, let’s say, $1,300 dollars in 10 years. If the congregation uses the money over that period then they are doing nothing more than paying back the same value of borrowed-back-donated-money as they borrowed at the beginning of the period. In that way their original donation remains intact as just that, a donation; they have not asked back that which they gave.

    As an aside, there are cases where congregations needed a building but could not afford the monthly payments of that borrowed-back-donated-money. In lots of those cases the Society has responded by saying, "Pay it back as you can afford it" with no conditions.

    Why is the "donation arrangement" not universal in that some countries still charge for literature?

    Same as above. The Society’s policy is to establish finances based upon local laws. In some lands that allows for what you call a "charge" for literature. In fact the Society is not seeking to gain from finances at all. That is why the tax laws of those lands allow it in that fashion. They are only seeking the same as Jesus’ earliest followers, to support the spreading of their beliefs. Regarding those "charges", it is hardly reasonable to say that those modest sums represent anything more than a token of what they are worth to those who give it.

    As an aside, in poor lands the Society has long provided literature at no cost whatsoever (no charge). To this day the more affluent branches offset the needs of those other branches.

    In short, the Society does different things in different lands because they are doing what works best depending upon laws which differ from land to land.


    Edited by - Friend on 6 June 2000 23:19:33

  • Caliban

    I think the situation in France was much more serious. Here they actually refused to pay taxes which we mustn't forget was a direct command from Jesus. And it's no defence to claim that the taxes weren't fair - the Roman taxes weren't fair back then which was why they were asking if they needed to pay them.
    They made a complete fuss about it in the WatchTower but never ONCE mentioned the reasons that they were being told to pay them. And WHY they had been classed as a cult.

  • Pathofthorns

    Thanks for the reply Friend.

    Just wondering who actually owns the Kindom Hall anyway?

    For Calliban:

    As far as I recollect, Jesus was not obligated to pay the temple tax, and yet he did, so that people were not stumbled. I'm sure the Society is paying the tax, but are merely trying to recieve fair treatment in this regard, and have the same benefits of the other religions.

    The open letter posted in the New York Times did contain comments that were of concern to me though.

    They will do this not only to avoid unjust
    and oppressive tax but also to help assure that all French people enjoy freedom of religion.

    Commments like the above are made which appear to sound like political lobying for other religions. Perhaps that is only my perception though. What is left out in this mention of concern for "freedom of religion" is that Witnesses by their official belief take exactly the opposite stand. We believe that all religion will be destroyed except ours. Within the religion, how much freedom is there to follow one's conscience? It appears that we want all the benefits of organized religion, while at the same time reserve the right to condemn it. Its as if its ok to be part of Babylon the Great when there are legal and tax benefits involved.

    I believe that resolving what appears to be an unfair tax in the courts is not unreasonable. On the other hand, using the media and our own publications to slam French authorities seems hardly a good way to seek a favourable judgement.

    That we have been unable to convince the French government that we are not a cult is an interesting point to say the least. With the rate of change within the organization these days perhaps it won't be long before we can shed that four letter word from people's minds.


  • Frenchy

    JW's have a unique slant on words. Our definition of terms is quite different than the perception of those terms by the general populace and thus we really do speak in our own language as a result. It's not unlike diplomatic language which is full of double meaning. You have cited an excellent example of this in your last post.
    "Freedom of religion" to JW's means the right to be a practicing JW. We categorically condemn allother religions and group them together and call them Babylon the Great and we preach their wholesale destruction at Armageddon.
    The term "it's a matter of conscience" has come to mean, "Hey, it's okay with us now!" The term, "Some Christians' conscience allow them to..." That is usually a preface to: "We're changing something here. It was a mistake but we can't say it, so now we are going to make it appear that we are merely stating the general consensus of our numbers when, in actuality, we are now telling you that you can go ahead and do it and we won't bop you over the head for it"
    There's lots more!

  • Friend


    You asked:

    Just wondering who actually owns the Kingdom Hall anyway?

    Each local congregation should have a legal entity that holds that ownership. Usually those entities are corporations or trusteeships. In case of some type of default property is then dealt with according to bylaws or rules within those legal entities. In cases of default (i.e., congregation dissolves) most often what happens with the property is decided by a unanimous vote of members (usually a quorum of all baptized publishers at the time).

    If a congregation has secured a loan with the Society with their Kingdom Hall (their property) then naturally if the congregation defaulted that loan then the Society could exercise their lean on that property and could eventually secure ownership of it if they wanted. The Society would not be entitled to anything more than the value secured. So, if the property were seized then it would most likely be sold so that the Society could separate its secured money and give the remainder back to the legal entity that secured the loan in the first place.


  • RedhorseWoman

    Much of the problem I have with the Society's recent legal moves is because of the attitude they have always expressed towards other religions attempting to do the same things.

    I can remember the scathing attacks on the Catholic Church in particular. There was much mention made of the affluence of the Church and how they used their tax-exempt status to obtain additional wealth. The counterpoint was always that the WTBTS paid "Caesar's things to Caesar" whenever it was required and was therefore following Jesus' example.

    To now see the Society fighting in court to retain a status that supposedly meant nothing to them in order to avoid paying taxes that they have always claimed they would willingly pay seems to me to be doublespeak.

    When their status wasn't threatened in any way, they would take the moral high ground and point the finger at any religious organization attempting to enrich themselves or to guard their riches. Then when they are the ones attempting to guard their riches themselves by avoiding taxes, it is proclaimed that they are fighting for "freedom of religion".

    It leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

  • Seven

    Rhw, You said, "It leaves a bad taste in my mouth." Mine too. Pass the Listerine, sister and we can both rinse and spit.

  • Friend


    I can see criticizing a tax-exempt organization from using that as vehicle to gain wealth for individuals. The Society has done this regarding various religious organizations. I do not know that the Society ever criticized the tax-exempt status of an organization just for growing, even though that growth could be at least partially attributed to the tax-exempt status.

    In the case of the Catholic Church, the Society has criticized it use of funds because it has enriched individuals—plenty of them. Can you say the same of the Society?

    As for paying Caesar’s things to Caesar, the Society is more than willing to do that. The issue is one fo equal application of law. If religious organizations meeting the definition of “X” are legally entitled to tax-exempt status and if the Society meets definition “X” then they should receive the tax-exempt status as well as anyone else meeting the same standard. The question here is not one of “do you pay your tax or not?. The Question is, is the law being fairly applied. That is what the Society is debating in countries like France.

    As an aside, I remember years back Nnorr saying, “We are more than willing to give up our tax-exempt status as long as other religions must do the same thing.” That is the real issue.

    As for guarding “riches”, the relevant difference is that the Society is not guarding anything to the material enrichment of individuals.


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