JANUARY 23, 2019
THE HONORABLE DONALD J. TRUMP,
PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES;
THE WHITE HOUSE
1600 PENNSYLVANIA AVENUE NW
WASHINGTON, DC 20500
Dear Mr. President:
Your predecessor, President Obama, issued the following statement with which I hope you are in agreement: "We must work together to decisively and unequivocally reject hateful ideologies, teachings and practices that are incompatible with the values of religious tolerance, mutual respect and human dignity."
In his book, Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief, Lawrence Wright wrote: "People have the right to believe whatever they choose. But it is a different matter to use the protections afforded a religion by the First Amendment to falsify history, to propagate forgeries, and to cover up human-rights abuses."
I was born and raised within the religious movement known as Jehovah's Witnesses (JW). My excellent parents were sincerely devout members, and all I knew about God and the Bible was what I had been taught by them through Watchtower Bible & Tract Society (Watchtower) publications. Believing that Jehovah's Witnesses had "the truth," I dutifully got baptized at age 15; however, by age 30, I had begun to apply critical thinking to the things I sincerely believed, and I realized that they were not, in fact, "the truth."
Knowing Watchtower policies, I knew I could never officially leave my family’s religion for conscientious reasons without being completely cut-off and shunned by my family and friends who remained Jehovah's Witnesses. Therefore, I made a conscious decision to simply become inactive as a JW. In 2015, when I officially disassociated from Jehovah's Witnesses, my dear wife of 44 years divorced me simply because I no longer wished to be a JW. I have come to realize that she really did me a great favor, and I have found tremendous happiness and freedom as a direct result of leaving what I now consider to be a high-control religious cult, not Christian at all.
You may be aware of the ratings success of the A&E Network series, Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath. In response to requests from many former JWs, Miss Remini devoted the 3rd season's 2-hour premier episode to a discussion of Jehovah's Witnesses, featuring heart-rending stories of leaving the religion by more than a dozen former JWs. Through such presentations, millions of Americans have become aware of civil-rights abuses perpetrated by various cults masquerading as authentic religions while enjoying protections afforded by the First Amendment. Thousands of JW families like mine have been torn apart by Watchtower’s oppressive policies.
I respectfully submit to you, sir, that any religious organization which (1) suppresses truth, or manufactures and propagates its own version of truth; (2) arbitrarily dictates what will and will not be deemed to be matters of individual conscience; and (3) which employs a campaign of character assassination and mandated shunning against former members who leave for conscientious reasons, thereby tearing apart families, is a dangerous and harmful cult and should have its tax-exempt status revoked for violating basic human-rights. In the name of all that is decent, Mr. President, please direct current IRS Commissioner, Charles P. Rettig, to investigate the policies and practices of Jehovah’s Witnesses to see if they deserve to be tax-exempt, and correct this deplorable situation.
Thank you, Mr. President, for giving my request your careful consideration.