Rookie exJW Question

by Phoebe 49 Replies latest jw friends

  • Phoebe

    I was wondering if someone could help me with a question.

    I am a rookie exJW, I only left the organization 4 months ago and everything I've discovered (UN/ARC/Malawi/Mexico etc) I've only discovered in the last few months so you can image it's been a HUGE shock to me especially after after 50 yrs!

    Every time I think I've heard everything, something else pops up.

    Now I've come across a YouTube video that mention TV evangelizer Jimmy Swaggart and the Watchtower. I remember Jimmy Swaggart from the time I lived in the U.S.A and I remember the scandals with him and prostitutes etc. But I did not know he was taken to court for not paying tax and the Watchtower had an invested interested in him winning his case.

    I searched this forum and came across a thread from many years ago and I've been reading it but it's quite complicated to me.

    Can anyone tell me if the Watchtower really did support this person in their court case and was it because they were worried they'd lose their charity status? Because they were charging for the literature? If it's true, this is so shocking to me!

    I remember the days of charging for literature and I remember it coming in that we were to change to donations. We were told it was because it was so very important we got God's word into people's hands we were going to give it to them and just ask for a donation but it didn't matter if they didn't give one.It was viewed as a loving thing the society were doing.

    Most JWs I knew really thought this was actually Jehovah using the authorities to put us right and stop us peddling the word because we were often accused of that in the ministry.

    I honestly, need to lie down sometimes because all these revelations have totally floored me and if this is also true...I wonder what else I am going to discover!

    Please forgive me for asking, as I say there was a long thread about it years ago but, the thing is, while a lot of things like this may well have been discussed on this forum in the past, there are a lot of us who have only recently left and we have been in the dark about many, many things. All these things are a new discovery.

  • Wake Me Up Before You Jo-Ho
    Wake Me Up Before You Jo-Ho

    I just learned about the Jimmy Swagart court case today, also, and WT's secret support for his trial. It was in this video:

  • Phoebe

    @Wake Me Up Before You Jo-Ho

    Thank you for that...I didn't know that one.

    i heard it in a Jason Zelda video shared by Mikey and Kim.

    Not only about Jimmy Swaggart but he also spoke of the secret book about child custody cases and a clip of an elder actually lying about that in court.

    I'm only half way through this video and I'm floored already!

  • darkspilver

    I understood the basic issue in the Jimmy Swaggart case was whether tax needed to be paid on 'religious' books and magazines that where sold?

    And that was an important principle that would effect many religious organizations

    The JWs were effectively selling their publications, so if tax needed to be paid, the WT would have needed to also pay the tax - hence the WT had a 'vested' interest in the outcome of the court case.

    The WT thus became a:

    someone who is not a party to a case and is not solicited by a party, but who assists a court by offering information that bears on the case.

    And of course, following the case, the WT went down the 'literature donation' path... which some believe was the first 'trigger' in the WT's apparent financial problems that continues to have ramifications down to day - by removing a consistent revenue stream - maybe they should've just kept charging, and paid the tax...

    there's more here, as you may have already read:

  • Splash

    Key dates:

    EARLY 1980
    'Jimmy Swaggart Ministries' is informed by the State of California that tax is due on all publications sold since 1974 in the state. The total of which is $183,000.00. Swaggart pays the tax but sues for a refund. This puts the wheels in motion for the case moving toward the U.S. Supreme Court.

    FEBRUARY 1989
    The U.S. Supreme Court rules sales taxes must be paid for religious publications sold. Although some states had been taxing religious publications from the start, Texas along with 14 other states were not doing so previously.

    During the U.S District Conventions of Jehovah's Witnesses, the Watchtower Society gives away books for free. Instruction is provided to Jehovah's Witnesses to place "donations" for covering costs in the Contribution boxes located throughout the faculty.

    JUNE 22, 1989
    The Watchtower Society files a "friend of the court" brief (amicus curiae) with the U.S. Supreme Court in the Jimmy Swaggart taxation case. This places the Watchtower Society with other religious organizations performing similar acts, such as Krishna Consciousness and the National Council of Churches.

    JANUARY 17, 1990
    The U.S. Supreme Court upholds that sales tax must be paid on all religious publications ruling against Jimmy Swaggart,

    FEBRUARY 9, 1990
    The Watchtower Society prepares a letter to be sent and read to all congregations announcing that literature will no longer be sold but offered at a "donation" basis.

    FEBRUARY 25, 1990
    The Watchtower Society's letter is read to the congregations of Jehovah's Witnesses throughout the U.S. The reason given in the letter? Ironically even after filing a friend of the court, it states... "By adopting a method of literature distribution based completely on donation, Jehovah's people are able to greatly simplify our Bible education work and separate ourselves from those who commercialize religion."

    MARCH 1, 1990
    New "donation arrangement" goes into effect, including distributing magazines and books door-to-door without stating a price. Since they had already been printed, the March 15, 1990 Watchtower and the March 22nd Awake still carried a 25 cents a copy and 5 dollars a year listing in their respective magazine. If this was such a well thought out and planned move by a so-called Godly directed organization, why were the prices still there after such a planned adjustment? The reason is it was not planned, not thought out, and not God directed. It was a quick business decision to avoid taxation, but the brothers worldwide were spun an entirely different story.

    *** km 3/90 p. 3 Announcements ***

    Literature offer for March: The Bible—God's Word or Man's? for a contribution of $1.00. April and May: WT subscription. One-year subscriptions to semimonthly editions are $5.00. One-year subscriptions to monthly editions and six-month subscriptions to semimonthly editions are $2.50. Where the subscription is not obtained, two magazines and a copy of any brochure, except the School brochure, may be offered for the contribution of 80¢. June: Survival Into a New Earth for the contribution of $1.00.

    *** km 4/90 p. 7 Announcements ***

    Literature offer for April and May: Watchtower subscription. One-year subscriptions to semimonthly editions are available on a complete donation basis. Six-month subscriptions to semimonthly editions and one-year subscriptions to monthly editions can also be obtained. When the subscription is not obtained, two magazines and a copy of any brochure, except the School brochure, may be offered. June: Survival Into a New Earth. July and August: Any 32-page brochure, except the School brochure.

  • cofty

    Thanks for the time line Splash.

  • darkspilver

    crofty: Thanks for the time line

    be aware that I understand that the actual introduction of the 'donation arrangement' in the above time line refers to the USA.

    It appears to have taken nearly three years (January 1993?) before it was introduced elsewhere, such as in Britain:

  • Phoebe

    @ Splash @ darkspilver

    Thank you both so much. I had absolutely no idea. I and everyone I knew, truly believed it was something directed by Jehovah. Whether it was to get the literature (and therefore the message) into people's hands or as you said above to simplify the work, we all believed it was God behind it.

    I am continually shocked....

  • darkspilver

    I and everyone I knew, truly believed it was something directed by Jehovah.

    But then why wasn't it introduced worldwide at the same or very similiar time?

    It got confusing for JWs travellling around Europe in the early 1990s

    Where you in a 'charging' or 'donation' country?

    Remember it wasn't just for the ministry - it effected EVERY JW because it included their personal copies too that they picked up at the KH.

  • Phoebe


    I was in the U.K. so we asked for donations. I never liked to ask so I just gave the magazines to people :)

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