'Clergy' and 'Ordained Ministers'

by OrphanCrow 34 Replies latest watchtower child-abuse

  • OrphanCrow

    What I can't seem reconcile are the concepts of 'clergy' and 'ordained minister'.

    The WTS has consistently won legal battles, specifically in cases involving military exemption, by making the claim that each and every baptized JW is an 'ordained minister'. And, they bolstered this label with the assertion that 'we do not have a clergy class'.

    So, why is that different now in the sex abuse trials that happening right now? Why are not each and every 'ordained minister' held accountable under 'clergy' statutes the same as 'ordained minister' qualified for military exemption? Why are not each and every 'ordained minister' within the JWS not held accountable to mandatory reporting statutes?

    I don't know what I am missing here. It seems like the legal definitions and interpretations have a pretty broad stretch to them and I am just not 'getting it'. Or does this even matter?

  • OrphanCrow

    Where I am going with this is that the legal documents for the Conti case use the term 'baptized publisher' when speaking of Kendrick. Since when did that term not mean 'ordained minister'? Is Kendrick himself not part of that legal class of 'clergy' anymore?

    Does this mean that legal precedent has changed? And when did that happen?

    Much of the tax claims that the Watchtower makes is based upon the idea that their 'Ministry Schools' and such, even the ones held in Kingdom Halls, were tax exempt because they were set up to train ordained ministers.

    Is there a tax concern that is connected to those 'Kingdom Hall religious schools that train ordained ministers' no longer doing that? They now 'train' lowly 'baptized publishers'?

  • OrphanCrow

    I just had another thought. Does this switch from 'ordained minister' to 'baptized publisher' have a bearing on why there have been some fairly radical changes in how the ministry is being conducted? Because they want to ensure that the former 'ordained ministers' are no longer being trained as such?

    This would have an impact in how the Kingdom Halls are qualifying under tax exemptions. Those spaces are no longer 'training ordained ministers', they are 'teaching translation centers', or 'literary schools'.

    The 'ordained minister' is being transformed into 'translator' or 'literacy teacher' so the WTS can avoid that classification in child abuse cases.

    Or is that too much of a stretch?

  • OrphanCrow

    Okay. Back to the 'ordained minister'. Sorry...I am on a search to solve my puzzlement. looking for answers.

    This is a quote from the appendix in Marley Cole's book that he authored in collaboration with Nathan Knorr back in the 50s, at a time that the WTS was both establishing themselves in the courts as a 'religion' and dealing with military exemptions.

    From Jehovah’s Witnesses The New World Society. Published in 1955:

    Jehovah’s Witnesses are recognized as ministers constituting a legal religious organization; and the Watch Tower Society, because of its religious status, has been found by the state and federal governments of the United States to be exempt from the payment of taxes.
    General Lewis B. Hershey, director of Selective Service, United States of America, had for determination the ministerial status of Jehovah’s witnesses in 1942. After considering all the facts, he found that Jehovah’s witnesses and the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society are recognized as a religious organization. He said, among other things:
    "FACTS: Jehovah’s Witnesses claim exemption from training and service and classification in Class IV-(d) as duly ordained ministers of religion under Section 5(d), Selective Training and Service Act of 1940...
    "Section 5(d): " ‘Regular or duly ordained ministers of religion...shall be exempt from training and service (but not from registration) under this Act.’...
    "Question, - May Jehovah’s Witnesses be placed in Class IV-D as regular or duly ordained ministers of religion exempt from training and service?
    Answer 1. The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, Inc., is incorporated under the laws of the State of new York for charitable, religious, and scientific purposes. The unincorporated body of persons known as Jehovah’s Witnesses hold in common certain religious tenets and beliefs and recognize as their terrestrial governing organization the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, Inc. By their adherence to the organization of this religious corporation, the unincorporated body of Jehovah’s Witnesses are considered to constitute a recognized religious sect. – Vol. III Opinion No. 14, National Headquarters, Selective Service System, November 2, 1942."

    Not only that, but back in the early 1920s, the ACLU was being established and that organization took on many of the Bible Students that were in prison for not serving in WW1 and it was the ACLU who were instrumental in establishing this legal standing for the WTS.

    And now, the principles that were used to make changes in those critical civil rights cases are no longer applicable.

    I don't know...there is some sort of irony in this. The WTS has the nerve to use those same rights won under those exemptions and toss them on their head.

    "Oops...we aren't 'ordained ministers' any more". We were back then...because, well you know...we had to be. We aren't now...because, well, you know....it is better this way...for our bank accounts. And furthermore...we have those First Amendment rights that the courts have to abide by!"

  • OrphanCrow

    Somebody should make the Watchtower stand on the position they took way back in the day when they so proudly and arrogantly stood 'on their faith' and claimed 'ordained minister' status to change civil liberty laws.

    If not, the Conti case stands to makes a mockery of the entire United States legal system.

    I apologize for the rant. I will sit down and shut up now.

    Thank you.

  • OrphanCrow

    Okay...okay...I apologize profusely. I have a few more questions.

    At what point did 'ordained minister' become 'baptized publisher'? How does this impact the ACLU support for the WTS in civil liberty cases where the cases were won because 'each and every baptized publisher was an 'ordained minister'? Does this change in status mean that those cases were won on misrepresentation to the courts? How valid are those earlier rulings? How valid are the changes to US law that were made previously that are now reflected in the First Amendment?

    Have those laws been changed under false pretense? Why were JWs 'ordained ministers' then, but they aren't now?

    Why was there a special relationship established then and not now? Who is lying? And why is the ACLU not concerned that all their work has been based upon a lie? Where does the ACLU stand in this matter?

    And another thing. The WTS established their religious status way back when by adhering to requirements set down by tax law. One of the requirements was (and maybe still is) is that the religion has to maintain a training school/seminary in order for those who claimed the 'ordained status' could qualify for that status at. So, in order to maintain that status for military exemption, and qualify for religious status, the Kingdom Halls became the 'seminary' and the Kingdom Ministry School held at these halls, became 'ordained minister' training schools.

    I am curious as to how far back in the tax filings of the WTS that the overlap exists - did they claim 'ordained minister' status in the civil rights courts and in their taxes at a time that they are now saying that the 'special relationship' of 'ordained minister' didn't actually exist?

  • blondie

    *** km 1/03 p. 1 par. 2 Living Up to Our Dedication ***

    Follow Christ’s Example: Upon being baptized, Jesus “commenced his work,” declaring “the good news of the kingdom of God.” (Luke 3:23; 4:43) Similarly, upon symbolizing our dedication to Jehovah by baptism, we became ordained ministers of the good news.

    *** km 9/03 p. 8 par. 5 Youths—Build a Fine Foundation for the Future ***

    Give Jehovah Your Best: When you symbolize your dedication to Jehovah by getting baptized, you become an ordained minister of God. (2 Cor. 3:5, 6)

    *** wt chap. 12 p. 115 par. 11 The Meaning of Your Baptism ***

    Then, in 36 C.E., the call widened out to include uncircumcised Gentiles. Before being baptized, the Samaritans and Gentiles had to make a personal dedication to Jehovah to serve him as disciples of his Son. This continues to be the significance of Christian water baptism down to our day. Complete immersion in water is a fitting symbol of this personal dedication, as baptism is a symbolic burial. Your going beneath the baptismal waters represents your dying to your former life course. Being raised out of the water symbolizes your being made alive to do God’s will. This “one baptism” applies to all who become true Christians. At baptism they become Christian Witnesses of Jehovah, God’s ordained ministers.—Ephesians 4:5; 2 Corinthians 6:3, 4.

    *** g 8/10 p. 9 What Do Jehovah’s Witnesses Believe? ***

    10. The clergy-laity distinction “All you are brothers,” said Jesus to his followers. (Matthew 23:8) The early Christians, including the Bible writers, had no clergy class. This Biblical pattern is the one that Jehovah’s Witnesses follow.

    *** w01 6/1 p. 14 par. 11 “If God Is for Us, Who Will Be Against Us?” ***

    They are organized in the manner of the first-century Christian congregation. Jesus set out the principle: “Do not you be called Rabbi, for one is your teacher, whereas all you are brothers. Moreover, do not call anyone your father on earth, for one is your Father, the heavenly One. Neither be called ‘leaders,’ for your Leader is one, the Christ. But the greatest one among you must be your minister.” (Matthew 23:8-11) A congregation of brothers precludes having a proud clergy class that honors itself with high-sounding titles and elevates itself above a laity. (Job 32:21, 22)

  • JWdaughter
    This has been an issue for me since the WT has been trying to downplay the minister role that they proclaim for one and all JWs, while denying it in court and on boards where folks are griping that everyone picks on JWs and always mentions their religion (not really correct), but the deal is----they go around telling everyone that they are ordained ministers and ministers have a higher perceived duty and responsiblity in our culture-just as teachers are held to higher standard and vilified more in child abuse cases as are cops, senators, ministers, rabbi's, imam's and school bus drivers,even. They are expected to be safer and better. Some of those are held to a higher standard legally-teachers can't even date legally adult students without being accused of predatory behavior, for example.
  • OrphanCrow

    Thank you for that link, Datadog. That is exactly the issue I am speaking of. And Blondie, your quotes fill in some if the missing blanks concerning the Watchtower's position according to their literature.

    Jwdaughter - I share your concerns.

    What I am curious about, though, is if this recent ruling in California for the Conti case will effect the WTS' tax filings for the years that they claimed 'ordained minister' status. Can this judgement actually harm their previous tax filings? Would it be possible that the 20 million they were successful in appealing was a drop in the bucket compared to what the WTS would lose if they had their religious status pulled for filing false tax information?

    As well, how does this change the perspective on the historical legal cases fought in the US courts, many over civil rights issues, for so many years based upon exactly that - the baptized JWs are 'ordained ministers'.

    Will the Watchtower be allowed to just say..."haha! We were only kidding. They really weren't ordained...we thought you could take a joke. Haha!" Is that what will happen?

    It is one thing to be flipp-flopping with doctrine to the JWs - the fluid Biblical teachings not exclusively the WTS' domain. But, it should be a different matter if the WTS thinks that they should be able to shift and twist their stance in a secular court of law.

    If so, then the US courts and the American public are being duped just as much as the people trapped inside the Watchtower.

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