How to sue the WT over shunning policy. It CAN happen!

by Bad_Wolf 224 Replies latest watchtower bible

  • TD


    Again TD watchtower is considered a hierarchical faith. It has been ruled by courts and is the definition from Black's dictionary.

    The courts have held on multiple occasions that church leadership has acted hierarchically. I agree with you.

    Like you said: "What a religion policy is very important in the law but the law defines things as it sees it too"

    Judicial interpretation of their behavior vis-à-vis civil liability is not the same thing as the legal structure established through their corporate charters and filings and the two should not be conflated.

    Unless things have changed considerably in the last ten years or so (?) individual JW congregations must file charters and/or articles of incorporation themselves.

    As a separate legal entity, a congregation is responsible for its own finances, which means congregants must vote when money needs to be spent. A motion must be introduced. It must be seconded. Congregants must be given an opportunity to voice their opinion. And then they vote.

    Similarly, a financial accounting must be read publicly, just like a local garden society or homeowner's association would have to.

    I'm sure most JWs have wondered at one time or another why a religion that sneers at the political process would follow democratic procedure at the congregational level.

    The answer is simple: The legal structure of a congregational church demands it.

    Ownership of real estate must similarly fall in line with the legal structure of the church.

    Like I said, In a congregational polity, ownership of real estate is determined on the basis of non-doctrinal provisions in the deed. In a hierarchical polity ownership of the property is retained by the national organization inasmuch as individual parishes and congregations are simply agents of that organization.

    Again, unless things have changed considerably in the last ten years, JWs fall into the former category. JW congregations are not agents of larger corporations. The are independent legal entities and must vote when handing over money or property to other corporations, including the CCoJW.

    Again the legal structure of a congregational church demands it.

    Doctrinal allegiance is another area where hierarchical and congregational churches differ considerably. In the latter, it is wholly voluntary. A Baptist congregation can vote to break away from, or to join any of the various Baptist conventions anytime they want, which is a freedom utterly alien in a hierarchical church.

    JW congregations may not realize it, but they have this freedom as well. Doctrinal allegiance at the congregational level is voluntary. Congregations recognized by the Pennsylvania corporations have to complete and submit a form provided by Watchtower where they acknowledge subservience to “the faithful slave” et al. which again, is utterly alien and entirely superfluous in a hierarchical church.

    I could go on, but I think we could settle this question very quickly and easily. If there is a legal instrument binding JW congregations to the larger JW corporations in some sort of subsidiary relationship, etc., then let's produce it.

    Citing cases where through their behavior, JW corporations have incurred the liability of a hierarchical church are interesting, but that's not the same thing.

    If it helps, I do agree with you on the larger question. Successfully suing the Watchtower corporations is virtually impossible for the rank and file JW.

  • poopie

    Forget sueing for money were talking human rights.

  • StephaneLaliberte

    Religions have the right to enforce their rules through discipline and they also have the right to expel members. That being said, the rules of the church can be denied by the state. For instance, polygamy.

    Considering that freedom of association is recognize as a basic human right, religions should not enforce rules that would deny or limit that right.

    So far, the courts have not been able to act against religions due to the way the shunning policies were presented to them. People have the individual right to shun whoever they want and religions have the right to admonish people not to associate with bad people.

    However, I don’t believe that the courts ever dealt with a scenario in which it was demonstrated that shunning was enforced/organized by the church. That is, the courts need to be presented a case where someone has suffered consequences due to his/her personal choice regarding his/her association.

    For instance, someone associates with an ex-member of the JW and is excommunicated for it. In that scenario, both the ex-member and the excommunicated one could bring the local congregation and the WT to court for “intentional infliction of emotional distress” as the action taken by the church was solely meant to limit the right of association. As such a right is a “basic human right”, the action taken against it is illegal.

    The WT would easily be held accountable as its instructions on the matter are found in their “Shepard the flock of God” book.

    About freedom of association: The United States Supreme Court held in NAACP v. Alabama (1958) that freedom of association is an essential part of freedom of speech because, in many cases, people can engage in effective speech only when they join with others.

  • JC323

    TD this discussion is about the legal environment which is what I am speaking about. legally the courts.

    Poopie- Civil suits require that you sue for money. a civil court is there to provide relief to make you whole. At least in the US you have to sue for money otherwise it would be dismissed for failing to state a claim.

    Stephanie: Civil rights are only protected when the government is attempting to curtail a civil right. In the case that you referenced the NAACP sued the State of Alabama because the state was attempting to stop their association, not a private organization. The state was doing it with their state or governmental powers.

    There are plenty of cases also that speaks to your assertion that if only the courts can see if someone is being Disfellowshipped because they were associating with a disfellowshipped person. In fact, that is what the claim was in the Canadian case was involved. There are also cases in the US where one church disfellowshipped another religious congregation as a whole and forbade any of their members from speaking with the members of the other church. This lead to one member attempting suicide because he was in love with a girl from the other church. The parents attempted to sue but the Alaskan supreme court ruled that it is not their place to interfere with religious law. In the Scientology case the California supreme court ruled that a church could advise it's members to stop speaking to people under penalty of discipline.

  • poopie

    It's not about the money it's human rights

  • JC323

    Again you cannot sue in civil court without asking for money. that is the way that civil courts are able to bring relief.

    in Malloy vs Watchtower just this month the 6th circuit court of appeals wrote this.

    To avoid dismissal for failure to state a claim, “a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.’

  • Simon
    Considering that freedom of association is recognize as a basic human right, religions should not enforce rules that would deny or limit that right.

    Your interpretation of it is completely back to front. They have freedom of association and to chose who to associate with - no one can deny them the right to associate. The freedom of association is to make that choice, not for someone to FORCE someone to associate with someone they don't want to.

  • poopie

    Not about money human rights.

  • JC323

    Then sue Watchtower over human rights.

  • StephaneLaliberte
    JC323: The Canadian case you mention upheld the right for religious people to believe in shunning. No one can force people to associate or buy products/services from anyone. It did not address the church taking actions against people based on their association. This leaves us with the Scientology case you mentioned, do you have a link to it?

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