Help: Re: Letter to elders NOT to disfellowship otherwise legal action will be taken

by LouBelle 51 Replies latest watchtower bible

  • thenoblelodge

    I didn't write a letter but I did tell the PO and London Bethel legal dept to leave us all alone or I would sue each and every elder in our ex-cong.

    Haven't heard a word since but who knows what they will eventually do.

  • Band on the Run
    Band on the Run

    This is the crux. Unless you are an intimate friend of an elder and he breaks his silence, you never know what actually triggered it. I know i get extra benefits from talking to consumer companies when I say that I am a lawyer and demand a supervisor. Behavior which is very odd for me when raised to be completely deferential. Other times I am convinced that most people despise lawyers and I am incurring extra suffering as a result. There must be ethical rules about not sending letters to people when there is no plausible theory to proceed.

    It is sad b/c those who pay a legal fee will almost always triumph over someone who cannot afford a lawyer. Part of me would want to pay an elite law firm for a letter just to feel some paternal protection. It evens the playing field. The Witnesses are very arrogant in their work. Most churches believe this stuff is none of our business that God is a god big enough to handle it.

  • ohiocowboy

    Band on the run, I enjoyed your posts on this thread and found them to be very informative! I am sure there are many here too-I am one of them, who does not always think or even realize that there are profiles of individuals on this site. I too did not understand when I read that comment about you, as you were only trying to help. I am sure that most here found your posts helpful, and your insider knowledge of the law can help others who are looking for a way out of the Watchtower.

    Good luck to the OP's Aunt in her situation!

  • TD
    With what I know, it is inconceivable to me that a court would police relationships within a religion. It is exactly what courts are forbidden to do.

    Yes. That's one of the reasons I was curious if the JW's were legally congregational or hierarchical. The courts won't interfere in internal church discipline, but the way a church is legally organized has a bearing on what exactly constitutes the "church"

  • Band on the Run
    Band on the Run

    Thanks. The legal organization of churches affecting First Amendment rights sounds like a PhD dissertion in political science or a law review article. Oh, how what I find interesting has changed. I wish I knew more about it.

  • Gerard

    The fact is that in U.S.A. there is a separation of church and state so the courts will NEVER get involved in doctrine practices - unless there is a criminal component.

  • freskalynn

    wow!! What a letter. Great!! Wish I had had something like that when I got out in 1982. I was used as an example. My dad was the CO. and very stuanch at that. He went by the organization book to a T. He would do things the others didn't want to do. He was a sincere true believer. I saw him have tears running down his cheeks at district assemblies when they would do some of those dramas.

  • shepherd

    Thing is, JW's no longer announce you are disfellowshipped for this or that or even that you left of your own free will. Alll they say is that you are no longer a JW. No court would challenge that, because as soon as you say you do not recognise their authority you have in effect left. You can't sue for libel or slander either, since they will only make that brief announcement.

    I understand your anger with the shunning policy, I really do, but you would be hard pressed to find a court in any country to stop them from saying that simple sentence, even thought the consequences are so bad.

  • DocBob

    I was never contacted by the local elders after I wrote that letter in 1999. A friend who left a few years later told me that there was a local needs talk about my "situation" and that they did not mention me by name.

    I am not a lawyer, but I would think that in the U.S. you could get some legal traction on the point that after you are announced as "no longer one of Jehovah's Witnesses" that if you are treated differently than any other non-JW that it could be seen as an infringement of your civil rights.

  • Justitia Themis
    Justitia Themis

    Thanks. The legal organization of churches affecting First Amendment rights sounds like a PhD dissertion in political science or a law review article. Oh, how what I find interesting has changed. I wish I knew more about it.

    Then here is the book for you!

    "God versus the Gavel" by Mari Hamilton

    Amazon review:

    When you think of people who break the law and get by with it, what kind of person comes to mind? A rogue bureaucrat who can arrange an audit of anyone who opposes him? A cop on the take, who can hide some evidence and manufacture the rest? A celebrity who can buy a trial, and later write a book about it?

    If so, expand your thinking a bit. The ability to break the law goes beyond individuals whom we easily recognize as seedy, scheming characters. Some people use our most cherished institutions as vehicles for such criminal activities as child abuse, murder, and theft. Those seem like strong words at first blush, but case histories show those claims are accurate.

    And the courts routinely aid and abet these crimes by providing exceptional protection to those who commit them. Thanks to Constitution-violating court decisions, criminals who hide behind the mantle of religion remain free to strike again and again. At the heart of this maelstrom of magisterial malfeasance, we find the issue of church vs. state. Hamilton looks at this issue closely, and lays to rest the myths upon which courts justify their complicity with criminals who happen to represent religious organizations. Replace the myths with truths, and the entire house of cards tumbles.

    The courts, in their support of religious offenders, are doing religious organizations no favor. Just look at what has happened to the Catholic church. The Catholic church continues to harbor pedophile priests, and the courts help them do it. This has diminished the church to most Catholics--many of whom are becoming ex-Catholics. Consequently, many Catholic schools are closing their doors and the treasuries of Catholic congregations are on life support.

    The Catholic church isn't alone in sowing the seeds of its own destruction. Hamilton shares several examples--from several religions, including Jewish, Protestant, Catholic, and Muslim--where the leaders of a religious group show complete disregard for the public good or for people outside their group. In many of these cases, the religious leaders behaved so poorly that you have to wonder if they are religious people at all. Innocent citizens then turn to their government for assistance and come away with nothing but a judicial farce.

    God vs. the Gavel takes us into the world of judicial incompetence that ignores the concepts of fairness and justice. It's a place where the separation of powers isn't, but where the corruption of power is. Judges routinely misconstrue, misapply, and mislegislate from the bench. This, despite the fact they have a duty to discern the facts and are Constitutionally barred from legislating.

    Hamilton isn't on a crusade against religion, religious organizations, or religious people. But she is against using religion as a license for behaving in a loveless, predatory manner that hurts and kills other people. She is opposed to using "religious freedom" as a free pass for torturing children. She is opposed to using "religious freedom" as justification for destroying entire neighborhoods. She is opposed to using "religious freedom" to justify forcing our prisons to spend millions of dollars "accommodating" dozens of different religious meal restrictions, religious reading requirements, and the demands of new "religions" formed for the express purpose of gaming the system. Buy this book for no other reason than to read the lists of lunacy on page 157 - 161, and you have spent your money well.

    So, what does Hamilton want, and why does she go through such effort to show us what's wrong with the status quo? What Hamilton is asking for is a balanced approach that respects the rights of everyone. In her vision of how things should be, judges would abandon circular reasoning and twisted logic--in favor of common sense.

    She explains the "do no harm" principle, and she shows us how reasonable accommodation of religion can and does work. For example, the US military changed its policy to allow soldiers to wear unobtrusive religious gear such as yarmulkes and crosses. That's very different from using "religious freedom" to sentence an innocent child to death by refusing life-saving blood transfusion. And it's very different from ignoring zoning laws so a religious meeting place transforms a quiet suburban neighborhood into a high-traffic thoroughfare.

    God vs. the Gavel is more than just a fascinating expose. Hamilton also offers a vision of how things should be. People who use religion as a license to victimize others will oppose losing that license, and will thus oppose the change that Hamilton is trying to bring about. But people who, like Hamilton, see religion as bringing meaning and guidance to life will very likely agree with her.

    Religious leaders who seek to be above morality and the law often claim First Amendment rights. And the courts normally comply with those leaders in knee-jerk fashion, even when no First Amendment issue is involved.

    The First Amendment reads, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances."

    Nothing in the First Amendment gives any religion special status under the law. The First Amendment merely bars Congress from making laws against particular religions. Hamilton explains the history and reasoning behind this right. But the courts routinely ignore the Constitution, history, and reasoning--so that they can give religious organizations or their leader special status under the law. The consequences of that special status should have us all worried.

    A note on the writing. I review quite a few books, and have grown disgusted with the sloppiness trend. Thus, it is now my policy to let potential readers and buyers know about the quality of the writing itself. Form is important, as it dictates readability. Fortunately, this book scored very well on substance and on form. This book actually uses Standard Written English (SWE). This is a refreshing change from the Pidgin English that so many of today's authors slop onto our reading palettes. The care taken in writing this book shows that the author and publisher actually cared about the reader. That's a huge plus.

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