by steve2 24 Replies latest watchtower child-abuse

  • steve2

    During yesterday's RC proceedings (Wednesday 5th August 2015), one of the victim's lawyers questioned Mr Vincent Toole, the JW organization's legal counsel for the Australian Branch Office.

    She asked him why at least two of the JW elders who gave evidence last week refused to swear on the Bible.

    Mr Toole appear puzzled by her question and said he did not know. .

    When the victim's lawyer pressed the issue, Mr Toole again stated he did not know and speculated the elders were probably unaccustomed to court processes and that he himself had no difficulty swearing on the Bible (those were his words).

    Mr Toole then said that if he were talking to these elders, he would ask them why they did not take the oath.

    His answers are absolutely astonishing.

    Either he is playing dumb and lying or he genuinely does not know that in his own religion, Witnesses - in common with other fundamentalist groups - refrain from "swearing" or taking oaths on the Bible. They cite Jesus words (which I cannot recall chapter and verse) about letting your Yes be Yes and Your No, No and not needing to take an oath. Apparently taking an oath is also said to be of pagan origin.

    Indeed, law courts that follow the Westminster tradition have long recognized citizen's right to refuse to swear on the Bible and instead they are asked to read out a civil statement that they will tell the truth the whole truth and nothing but the truth - and, my understanding is, Witnesses do this. Is my understnading correct?

    I note that at this stage in the exchange, the judge, Mr McClelland, actually interrupted the victim's lawyer by pointing out that other groups also refuse to take the oath.

    Even so, has the JW organization changed its views on this issue of taking oaths? Can anyone cite any recent JW literature on the issue?

    Now, while I can "forgive" the victim's lawyer for perhaps not knowing this (but come on, she's a lawyer: She should know!) but surely the JW organization's own legal counsel should know this?

    If he does know it, he lied.

    If he does not, what inexplicably appalling ignorance.

    What caught my attention, wasn't so much the victim's lawyer's diverting the focus to this issue, but Mr Toole's surprising answers.

  • Village Idiot
    Village Idiot

    Don't know about the Witnesses but here is the scripture:

    33 “Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not break your oath, but fulfill to the Lord the vows you have made.’ 34 But I tell you, do not swear an oath at all: either by heaven, for it is God’s throne; 35 or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. 36 And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. 37 All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one. Matthew 5:33-37 New International Version

  • sir82

    Current WT policy is that it is a "conscience matter".

    Watchtower of January 15, 2003:

    Questions From Readers

    Is it Scripturally acceptable for a Christian to place his hand on the Bible and swear to tell the whole truth in court?

    Each individual must make a personal decision in this regard. (Galatians 6:5) However, there is no Biblical objection to taking an oath to tell the truth in court.

    [Sparing you the tedious scriptural foo-fraw that follows]

    Probably, those elders who previously gave testimony had not read a Watchtower in 20+ years, or are like the majority of JWs who, even after reading it, forget it within 15 minutes. They were probably relying on older articles where it was frowned upon.

  • 3rdgen

    I have never heard of an official policy that would prevent a JW from taking an oath to tell the truth and swear on the Bible.

    Maybe the elderz who wouldn't swear on the Bible knew they might not tell the truth. (Theocratic warfare.)

  • oppostate
    JWs who, even after reading it, forget it within 15 minutes.

    I would be one of those. No matter what article or public talk it is it all seems so contrived and without heart that it is quickly forgotten.

    I would also make an affirmation instead of swearing on the Bible.

    For me it is a matter of conscience, if my word is not good enough then swearing on a Bible isn't going to make it any better or more truthful.

    I think the lawyer was trying to see if by not swearing on the Bible the elders were trying to get away with a "fingers-crossed" testimony.

    It was surprising that O'Brien was happy to swear on the Bible but was caught in giving his legal counsel wrong information as to Jackson's involvement as a decision and policy maker.

    He likely feels that practicing "theocratic war" strategy absolves you from fully letting your yes be yes and no mean no, even if you swore on the Bible in front of other people and before his own God.

  • Marvin Shilmer
    Marvin Shilmer


    There is another more specific historical and doctrinal reason why some JWs are apprehensive about giving testimony under an oath to tell the truth.

    We all heard Toole claim ignorance to Watchtower's Theocratic War Strategy (TWS) question. (Sideline: Toole said he had not read the 1950s era Watchtower addressing this in detail since he was baptized in the 70s. Unfortunately the RC lawyer was apparently unaware that in the 1980s there was a Watchtower article citing this doctrinal position, and presumably Toole would have read this and at least wondered what that term meant.) So, getting back on track, Toole denied knowledge of TWS as a doctrinal position. But it turns out there is a peculiar twist to Watchtower's TWS doctrine. That doctrinal position EXPRESSLY allows outright deception by knowingly giving false information but just as EXPRESSLY it prohibits giving false information if the JW is under a sworn oath to tell the truth. Older JWs are certainly familiar with this, and as a practicing JW attorney Tools should be. So, a JW can be intentionally dishonest in order to 'protect the interests of the kingdom' UNLESS he or she is under a sworn oath to tell the truth. THEN the JW is prohibited from being intentionally dishonest for any reason. In the latter case the JW would have to refuse to answer and face punitive measures accordingly IF they were asked for information that would compromise 'interests of the kingdom' but did not want to give up the information. This because TWS doctrine requires telling the truth when under a sworn oath to tell the truth.

    Hope that helps.

  • barry
    It is well understood that swearing on the Bible in court and if an untruth is told the understanding is you will suffer the punishment of the last judgement recorded in the Bible
  • Diogenesister
    Back in the 70's and 80's, in England at least, it was definately not allowed due to Math 5.33 -37 . OToole also denied knowledge of theocratic warfare. Now maybe I am a typical super gullible ex JW but I have the feeling that these ivory tower high up's don't have study the mag's like the r&f do, hence once baptised they quickly loose touch with all the current doctrinal minutae . I can't think of any other reason except blatant deception.
  • steve2

    Clearly the JW organization's position has changed across the decades. When young male JWs appeared before the Courts in New Zealand in the 1960s to apply for exemption from compulsiory military training, they knew they could not swear on the Bible or take an oath so were allowed to read out a civil statement about telling the truth.

  • Mephis

    It's not directly named as theocratic warfare in the 15th November 2004 WT which covers being able to say anything but the truth when under oath and it would "cause needless harm" to the borg.

    Just to agree with Diogenesister. Swearing on bible was taught to me as wrong in 80s and 90s Britain because of Matt. 5.

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