I have a question on the Circuit Accounts Scam thread

by gubberningbody 43 Replies latest jw friends

  • JeffT

    Accountant here.

    1) It's legal.

    2) That doesn't make it ethical.

    It is simplist if the assembly hall is owned by a separate entity. (Almost certainly true, since several circuits will share a hall. That entity rents out the place for say $25,000 a weekend. The circuit now owes Assembly Hall LLC $25K. It doesn't make any difference if it only costs the hall $1000 to operate. The actual cost for rent is 25K, anything over the expenses gets sent to somebody.

    It may take a bit more trickery in a rented hall, but not a lot. They rent the building for 25K, they anticipate 1000 people coming, so your cost is $25 per person. If 2000 people show up, the estimate is is still $25 until they settle all the accounts and they've taken in 50K not 25.. But by the time they do that, everybody has gone home and there is no way to refund money to anybody, so it goes to the next level up the food chain.

    Question: do the set up a separate entity (call it Curcuit 2B Assemblies LLC) to handle all arangements for the assemblies where they have to rent buildings? If so this would be easy. The LLC would rent the building and come up with an estimate of costs per publisher. Buried some where in all the paperwork is a note that any overage will sent to the society (and if they're smart), underage will be billed to the congregations involved.

  • SnakesInTheTower

    I used to have access to quite a lot of the behind the scenes goings on at the local assembly hall - including getting to see the actual books. They had an elder from a local congregation come in once a week to enter and pay actual bills and generate reports for the local Assembly Hall Committee members.

    I was able to see the reports that the "per publisher" amount was based on. Not something the average elder was allowed access to. It was not just the standard utilities, supplies, etc. There were amounts in every accounting category that went into the running of the assembly hall property. This amount was totaled at the end of the year. The next years "per publisher" amount was based on the total amount of publishers using the assembly hall (as reported to the society in those monthly service reports -- ah, now we know why it is important for those field reports to be in from so many publishers - dilute the "per publisher" rate). So if there were 150 congregations with 15,000 publishers. Let's say there was a $7.50 per publisher rate. take that times 15K = $125,000 * 2 times per year (CA and SAD) = $225K per year in just those donations. If the assembly hall is paid for, shouldn't this be enough? Nope. There were deep pocket brothers that also made large donations to the assembly hall or paid for expenses (or like kind donations such as landscaping supplies) themselves.

    So the per publisher rate was only a small piece of the overall money pie. I can tell you that donations outside of the assembly hall (CO/DO expenses, WT money, etc.) was recommended by the CO/DO and rubber stamped by the "business meeting" of elders at the assemblies. I only once ever heard it questioned.

    The assembly hall I attended was well maintained and there were lots of "extra" things going on in the background -- dinners for the committee, COs and DO;s etc. I have commented on this crap before, this thread just brought it back to mind.

    Glad I am so done with that.

    Snakes (Rich )

  • Scully

    The scam is in how the so-called "deficit" is reported to the congregants at conventions.

    They report the previous day's "take" as up-to-date receipts, knowing that there are piles of money from today that are not figured into the total - completely underhanded and dishonest.

    The "gift" to the WTS is deducted from the receipts, up-front, so that the convention starts out with a deficit in excess of actual expenses, and the WTS makes sure that they receive payment first and foremost.

    Any surplus, thanks to the guilt-induced donations shelled out at the tail-end of the convention, is also diverted to the WTS, rather than held in trust toward future conventions.

    Oh and there was that whole Parking scam about 10 years ago or so, whereby the convention organizers claimed to the venues that there were going to be no fees for parking on the grounds, so that the venue would not charge the WTS a rate for use of the parking lot. It turned out that the convention organizers figured to sell, in advance, daily parking passes for the convention site to congregation members attending. They bilked the venue out of revenues, and led JWs to believe that the money was actually going toward expenses for the convention, when it was actually going to the WTS.


  • ziddina

    Okay... This is the part that fascinates me...

    "Russel started a series of corporations. There were 50 stockholders who could vote. This number never changed. Russel gave away "stock" in exchange for contributions but that stock was not voting stock. He later got most of that back anyway.
    The New York chapter also started a bunch of corporations, but all of those are subsidiary to Russel's corporations. The WTBTS now has hundreds of interlocking, dependent corporations, trying to trace ownership through that mess is not easy. They did this for a reason.
    The governing body members do not own stock and cannot vote the stock. They own NOTHING.
    The stock passed to whoever the original stockholders left their shares to when they died. This has happened several times since the early days. ..."

    I have long wondered what the Governing Body's motivation in 'serving' was - since they didn't seem to be gaining major financial benefit from the vast wealth of the Watchtower Corporation[s]...

    What would it take to find a listing of the original 50 shareholders' names?? The Watchtower Corporation isn't a publicly-traded corporation, so that level of visibility and public access probably isn't available.

    Does anyone know? How could we obtain those names - or better yet, the names of the CURRENT stockholders??

    Are "not for profit" corporations required to list their stockholders? Is there a Federal authority that such lists are given to or registered with??


  • oppostate

    jay88 wrote: "Russel started a series of corporations. There were 50 stockholders who could vote. This number never changed. Russel gave away "stock" in exchange for contributions but that stock was not voting stock. He later got most of that back anyway."

    Isn't now the number of stockholders still 500, who meet at the annual corporation meeting and have the power of vote?

    Note this description from a 1971 WT:

    *** w71 12/1 pp. 725-727 pars. 31-35 What Its “Right Condition” Means for Us Today ***

    31 On September 30 through October 2, 1944, a special Service and business Assembly was held at Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S.A., where the registered offices of the Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society are located. On the opening day the Society’s president addressed the gathering of 5,000 on the subject “The Theocratic Alignment Today.” The following day the public address was on the subject “One World, One Government.” The Society’s annual business meeting was postponed from this day to the next day, Monday, October 2. This business meeting, which began at 10 a.m. was noteworthy. How so?

    32 After the Society’s directors and its officers were elected by the shareholders there represented, consideration was directed to six amendments that were proposed for the Charter of the Society, which was a Pennsylvania corporation incorporated sixty years earlier, in the year 1884. These would amend Articles 2, 3, 5, 7, 8, 10. The first amendment resolution that was adopted proposed the enlarging of the purposes of the Society so as to assume properly the great worldwide work that lay ahead. Also, this amendment put God’s name, Jehovah, into the Charter. Amendment Three did away with the original charter’s provision that fixed one’s membership in the Society on the basis of one’s money contributions to the Society; henceforth the membership was to be limited to not more than 500, all of whom were to be chosen on the basis of their active service to Jehovah. As the Watchtower issue of November 1, 1944, said in its report: “This amendment will have the effect of bringing the charter as near to Theocratic arrangement as the law of the land permits.” All six amendment resolutions were adopted.

    33 It was necessary to get the approval of the State court so as to make all these amendments legal. The following year (1945) the Amendments were duly recorded and thus became part of the Charter. With such an amended Charter the Watch Tower Society has served as a legal instrument of the anointed remnant worshiping Jehovah at his “sanctuary” or “holy place,” ever since.

    34 Nicely timed, though the anointed remnant was then not aware of it, came the publication of the leading article entitled “Organized for Final Work” in the October 15, 1944, issue of The Watchtower. Right on its heels, in the November 1 issue came the leading article announcing “Theocratic Organization in Action.” Under appropriate subheadings this article discussed “President,” “Diakonos, Servant,” “Qualifications,” “Governing Body,” and “Theocratic Conduct.” The term “president” here did not refer to the president of the Watch Tower Society, but paragraph 12 said: “The elders in the congregations, who were also spiritual overseers thereof, presided at meetings of the disciples. Any elder thus acting as chairman of a meeting would be the president of the gathering on that occasion.” Under the subheading “Governing Body” paragraphs 33, 34 said: “In the first century it was the group of the apostles in particular, together with the body of elders that they associated with them at Jerusalem, that made up the visible ruling body of Jehovah’s Theocratic organization on earth. . . . That governing body was not made up of perfect men.”

    35 In the article that followed the above, in the same issue of The Watchtower, namely, “The Theocratic Alignment Today,” paragraph 3 said: “The visible governing body of the Theocratic organization is and must be appointed only by Jehovah God the Supreme Ruler, and Christ Jesus the Head of His church. Its purpose is to issue directions and spiritual provisions to all God’s people. Acting in harmony with the governing body, all the Theocratic organization and its associates act in unity throughout the earth.”

  • ziddina


    Thanks, Oppostate!!

  • jamiebowers
    I mean, the GB don't seem to be living in the lap of luxury - correct me if I'm wrong.

    There's been eye witness testmony of private apartments, and use of cars and planes at Bethel and of a gb member refusing to stay with congregants but rather at a very fancy hotel during a visit to an island country. I think I remember who told that first story, so I'll verify with her and get back to you. As for the island story, does anyone remember who it involved and who told the story?

  • Scully
    I mean, the GB don't seem to be living in the lap of luxury - correct me if I'm wrong.

    While not quite living in the lap of luxury, they do a lot of travelling - including nice vaycays in places that I couldn't even dream of going to even now, even on my decent salary. They wear high quality clothes, get driven around in expensive vehicles. They get three squares a day, and the best accommodations that Brooklyn Bethel has to offer, without having to lift a finger in terms of REAL work. They all have taken a vow of poverty - and it's the R&F JWs who ultimately fund this with their donations. Does that sound like "poverty" to anyone else, because it sure doesn't sound like it to me.

  • Broken Promises
    Broken Promises

    The "lap of luxury" is only conditional, as Ray Franz confirmed in his book.

  • Terry

    This article has been republished with the permission
    of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch

    Preachers teach each other

    Fifteen years have passed since Bakker's Praise the Lord empire turned to dust, the victim of a motel tryst with Jessica Hahn and a criminal conviction of defrauding thousands of investors in his Heritage USA theme park.

    Swaggart, too, fell fast and hard, after a rival minister caught him meeting with a prostitute. His guilt-ridden, tear-streaked face still graces mocking Internet Web sites.

    Even Roberts, dubbed the father of television evangelism, took fire for claiming that God would "call me home" unless his viewers sent him $8 million, a statement seen by some as a form of evangelical blackmail.

    Since then, cooperation among televangelists seems to be growing. They regularly contribute money to each other's ministries and often come together for rallies and conferences.

    When one comes up with a new idea for making more money, the others seem to follow.

    In September, Meyer stood on stage before 3,000 worshippers at Randy and Paula White's church in Tampa.

    Meyer, clearly the biggest name of the three, told the flock that they had to start copying each others' successes. She told them how Paula White, an up-and-coming preacher with a TV show of her own, wanted to pick Meyer's brain to find out how Meyer had become one of the most successful women evangelists.

    She said White wanted to ask her: " 'How did you do this? How did you do that? What about this? What about that?' ... She wants to know how I got where I am, because she has a dream and a vision."

    Paula White, sitting in a chair on the side of the stage, smiled and nodded.

    Days later, the Whites hosted a five-day "Fall Campmeeting" session, a kind of classroom for new preachers. Creflo Dollar, Jesse Duplantis and Robert Kayanja appeared to share their knowledge.

    Start-up ministers begin by organizing with the IRS as a tax-exempt religious organization. That allows them to accept tax-free donations, buy and sell products like books and videotapes - mostly free of sales taxes - and keep their financial books closed to the public and the government.

    Most set up boards made up of themselves, friends and family members. Some board members are also employees of the ministries.

    Next, an upwardly mobile TV evangelist needs to find a way to get on cable television. The cost can be relatively inexpensive, depending on the station. The more and bigger the stations, the bigger the audience. The bigger the audience, the bigger the gifts to support the ministry and the ministers.

    Paul and Jan Crouch's Trinity Broadcast Network, home to some of the biggest names in TV evangelism, is considered the top of the Christian TV ladder's rung and a kingmaker, or queenmaker, for television preachers.

    The ministers now have added another medium: the Internet.

    An Internet check turns up a seemingly endless number of preachers asking for prayers and money. Many of the sites point to their ministry's support of a variety of outreach programs, such as programs for hungry or abandoned children. The sites often show the preacher's TV program 24 hours a day.

    Most televangelists release dozens of self-help and religious books and tapes that are available to their followers who send them a set donation.

    The newest tool to assure a continuous pipeline of funding allows supporters to make direct monthly deductions from their bank accounts. Ministries tout it as a "more convenient" method of monthly giving.

    Many also make use of marketing companies to saturate a certain demographic group with requests for money. Using target lists, the preachers send out mailers and catalogs.

    Some send out "free gifts" - small booklets with inspirational messages, blessed cornflower and bottles of holy water - through the mail to woo the recipients to send money to them.

    Last month, Meyer began using her Web site to ask followers to send the ministry money for $7 million worth of new TV equipment to help her improve the quality of her show, saying she needs to compete with sports shows and movies on television.

    In return, she promised to send out free crystal globes - small, medium and large - depending on whether the follower's gift was $100, $500 or $1,000.

    As a result, many of the ministries have enjoyed astonishing success. Of the 17 ministries researched by the Post-Dispatch, six surpass the $100 million-a-year mark.


    Malachi 3:10 “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house, and test Me now in this,” says the Lord of hosts, “if I will not open for you the windows of heaven, and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows.”

    By the nation Israel tithing under the Law of Moses, they were to trust God acknowledging that everything belongs to Him. It is impossible to tithe as given to Moses, for it was mostly agricultural. Today we hear that we are to obey the tithe law. The tithes were not gifts, they were taxes, tithes were given in addition to other numerous offerings which ended up to be over 22% (not just 10%). Under the law if you were only giving 10 percent on your tithes you would still be robbing God. One tithe was used to support the Levites (Numbers 18:21-32), who were not allowed to own property like the other tribes of Israel. However, this tithe from the people brought to the Levitical priests was not just money. The goods the Levites received would provide their living for their work in the tabernacle. They also were to tithe on part of the goods that they received, and were to dedicate to the Lord a tenth to the office of the high priest (Numbers 18:21-28). It was the Levites who were to “bring up the tenth of the tithes to the house of our God, to the chambers of the storehouse” (Nehemiah 10:38). The Malachi passage that so many use to prove we are to tithe is not rebuking the people, he is rebuking the Levites for keeping the tithe that went to them.

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