I: SOME RELEVANT QUOTES FROM WATCHTOWER PUBLICATIONS
1: The position of the Watchtower as regards smoking
*** jv 181 13 Recognized by Our Conduct ***As a further forward step in consistent application of that Bible counsel, none who were still smoking were accepted for baptism from 1973 onward. During the following months, those who were actively involved in tobacco production or in promoting the sale of tobacco were helped to realize that they could not continue to do that and be accepted as Jehovah’s Witnesses.
2: Watchtower criticism of the Catholic Church's involvement in the tobacco business
*** g95 10/8 28 Watching the World *** “Holiness, why does the
Vatican still sell cigarettes?" a priest asked John Paul II during the pope's yearly audience with the clergy of Rome. He continued: "Besides damaging health, this commerce contradicts your continual appeals in favor of the protection of health and our pastoral activity." For Ugo Mesini, the 76-year-old priest, the fact that the Vatican sells tobacco and cigarettes containing the statement "smoking is damaging to your health" is a "counter-testimony" and a "contradiction" to the pope's message. As reported in the Rome newspaper Il Messaggero, the pope replied that on the matter of tobacco, his "conscience is clear." He promised, though, to speak about the Vatican's cigarette sales with the overseeing cardinal.
3: Watchtower quote on whether a Jehovah's Witness can be involved in selling cigarettes
*** w99 4/15 29 Questions From Readers *** 3. To what degree is the person involved? Let us return to the example of a store. Probably an employee assigned to run the cash register or to fill the shelves only occasionally handles cigarettes or religious items; that is a small part of his overall work. What a contrast, though, with an employee in the same store who works at the tobacco counter!
4: Quote regarding not investing in "unethical" enterprises
*** g00 10/8 pp. 25-27 Is It Wise to Invest in the Stock Market? ***
By considering the background of a company, an investor can also ensure that his money will not be used to support an unethical enterprise.—See Awake!, February 8, 1962, pages 21-3.
II: THE HENRIETTA M. RILEY TRUST.
The H M Riley Trust is a U.S. trust that has the Watchtower Society as the sole beneficiary. Basically, it is a vehicle to make income for the Watchtower, using assets left by Henrietta Riley. The income generated by the trust is transferred to the Watchtower by means of a "donation". For the year ended April 30, 2002, the trust generated income of $1,740,127 and donated $1,945,645 to the Watchtower. In comparison, for the 2001 year the trust generated $2,939,731 in income, and donated $3,285,050 to the Watchtower. The difference between income and expenditure is made up by realising gains on the assets held.
The income of the trust is from two main sources. The majority is from "oil and gas royalties." The trust also has almost $2 million of investments in various stocks and other vehicles.
Figure 1: Front page of HM Riley Trust form 990, year ended April 30, 2002
Figure 2: Second page of form 990, HM Riley Trust year ended April 30, 2002, showing primary purpose as "support Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society"
As part of the annual return of the trust, schedules are attached giving details of the trust's investment income, and investment assets held at the year end. There are a variety of corporate stocks that have been traded and held, in such companies as Exxon Mobil, Coca Cola, Barclay's, JDS Uniphase and (ironically) Proctor and Gamble. It is a long list. However, here is an extract of the 2002 listing of stocks held:
Figure 3: Extract of investment listing of HM Riley Trust, April 30, 2002
One name that jumps out from the list above: Philip Morris Companies Inc, one of the world's largest manufacturers of cigarettes and tobacco products. Philipmorris.com states:
The Philip Morris name has long been associated with high quality tobacco products and globally recognized cigarette brands. Today the name is proudly carried by the leading cigarette manufacturer in the United States, Philip Morris USA, and by Philip Morris International, the world’s leading international cigarette business with products sold in 160 countries worldwide.
Thus, the trust has made an investment in a cigarette company, with the object of generating income which will be transferred to the Watchtower Society.
The initial quotes showed clearly that the Watchtower regards smoking as an unchristian activity. Indeed, smoking is a disfellowshipping offence for a Jehovah's Witness. A Jehovah's Witness is also not permitted to be employed in the tobacco industry, even to the extent of working at the cigarette serving counter of a store. There can be no doubt that if an individual Jehovah's Witness invested in the cigarette industry, the Watchtower would consider this an unchristian type of investment.
Yet, a trust which exists for the primary reason of generating income for the Watchtower, invests in a cigarette company. While the amount of the investment is small, it is not the amount that is the issue, but the principle: the Watchtower Society will benefit from an investment made in the tobacco industry.
They will do this knowingly, because if I can get hold of this information, do you really think that the Watchtower Society doesn't have a copy of these very same documents? And while the objection could be made that it is not actually the Watchtower Society itself making the investment, but just receiving the cash, is this a valid defence? If they know that the money is from a source they have condemned as unchristian, are they not hypocritical in receiving it? Remember that the sole purpose of this trust is to generate income for the Watchtower.
In fact, here is another example of the Watchtower's hypocrisy in matters of principle. That which they condemn other religions for, and restrict their individual followers from, becomes acceptable when it results in $$$ for the Watchtower Society itself.
From their own lips:
*** g70 2/8 23 Churches in Business *** After listing some of the many companies in which the Vatican has substantial interest Mr. Lo Bello observes: “The foregoing details provide an uncomfortably sharp realization that the Vatican and its men have indeed carved a niche for their firm in the world of big business.”
The vast business holdings of the and of other religious organizations bind them inseparably with the business world. How unlike the true Christians concerning whom Jesus Christ said: “They are no part of the world”!—John .
The religious organization that truly is serving God, in harmony with the example set by Jesus Christ, concentrates on preaching and teaching the liberating truths of his Word and does not become involved in commercial businesses. Following the Bible’s instructions, it does not involve itself in “the commercial businesses of life.”—2 Tim. 2:4.