Witnesses and the UN Declaration of Human Rights.

by gonzobear 7 Replies latest watchtower beliefs

  • gonzobear

    I'm researching a piece on the witnesses, as an ex born in witness now writer, and would really appreciate any thoughts.

    As most of you all know the witnesses rely heavily on Article 20 of the above act - everyone has the right to peaceful assembly and association. But they also contravene several other articles of the act with their policy of disfellowshipping, causing mental distress to people who leave, they split up the family - a protected unit- and don't allow members to vote or to partake in national service, things protected by the act. Here's the link to the act, read it though and see if you can spot things witnesses aren't allowed to do that every human should be allowed to do freely -


    So my questions are firstly, does anyone know if ex-witnesses in the past have tried to use this in a legal setting to question the legality of the organisation's policies? And if not then what to do with this information - there's certainly a lot out there in public to undermine the witnesses, but i'm increasingly thinking that what they impose on people - because I guess the whole thing they would say is it's a choice the individual makes - is illegal, and they should be taken to task for that.

  • LoveUniHateExams

    Excellent OP.

    does anyone know if ex-witnesses in the past have tried to use this in a legal setting to question the legality of the organisation's policies? - I don't know but am looking forward to reading posts from people that do know.

    And if not then what to do with this information - there's certainly a lot out there in public to undermine the witnesses - absolutely.

    The truth is, the WT have used western freedoms to challenge western courts only to further the existence of the WT Society. They've never really acknowledged that freedoms work both ways.

  • JeffT

    I think the UN Declaration is a goal not a legal document. It isn't actually enforceable, and may not apply to private groups. I know the US constitution does not. Trying to get a court to go after the WTBS on the basis of this document is probably an uphill battle at best.

  • Simon

    I agree, think of rulings made where someone's human rights were deemed to have been violated. Was it things like "mommy didn't invite me to the family BBQ" ?

    The chance of winning a human rights case against the WTS even if you had $billions to spend is practically zero IMO.

    That doesn't mean they don't do cruel things. Just that the line has to be drawn somewhere and it can't be drawn there for practical reasons. There are more important problems that I would rather the courts were dealing with than such things, however important they seem to us, they really pale into insignificance next to some of the more tangible abuses that take place.

  • gonzobear

    I've been looking into it all day, I'm in the UK. What's interesting is they use the EU Convention on Human Rights as a means of gaining religious freedom in countries that have tried to restrict it, but the second article of the very section they use states people should have the freedom to leave a religion, so it seems they pick what they want but are not called out for the way they treat others. They can't be taken to the EU court of human rights, since they aren't a public organisation, but there's still the charity commission and I think it's important to create conversations around it as much as possible in the press. So many people just think the organisation's a little bit nuts and that people are in the main benign, as oppose to it wrecking lives and destroying families, something the more people know about the better.

    The right to family, to privacy and to vote are all ratified by the UN and the EU, and therefore the organisation absolutely violates human rights over and over. I do agree that such violations pale when compared with so many civil violations, but on the level of the individual who's been wronged and denied basic rights then it's still an abuse, no organisation should wield that level of control.

    It's only legal for countries who have ratified it, and some can agree to certain sections and others to not, but it's an ideal many organisations uphold, and are there to uphold, PEN and Amnesty being amongst some. Anyway, rambling!

  • Simon
    The right to family, to privacy and to vote are all ratified by the UN and the EU, and therefore the organization absolutely violates human rights over and over

    Please explain how you think they have done this.

  • gone for good
    gone for good


    A willing member of a church that practices shunning is not a human rights victim if he/she becomes shunned for the reasons and in the manner prescribed by their chosen religion.

    Acknowledged membership and affinity with any religious lunatics gives said lunatics tacit consent to exercise their ecclesiastic authority over you in complete accord with whatever idiocy you yourself accept and espouse as a member of that group.

    "Quitting Quietly" is an approach that I have promoted here for some time for the following reasons:

    No one can be denied their right to leave any religion, for any reason and at any time they chose. You are not required to write a letter, to explain your reasons nor to consent to further internal scrutiny or counsel from the group or its representatives.

    Send a dated letter to a lawyer or other trusted outsider, stating that you have terminated (past tense) your faith and belief in the group and its religious activities. NEVER allow the elders to convene any type of meeting with you for any reason - the Shepherd the Flock book states that to meet with elders is "... to thus acknowledge the congregations authority over the person."

    You are now free, and any further actions taken will be a violation of your right to religious freedom - a right you have already expressed by leaving.

    The surest way to show you value your rights and freedoms is to exercise them.

    Research the case of ex-Mormon Norman Hancock to see how effective this is.

  • truth-or-consequences

    I think that Canada will be the best country to provide an answer.

    Canada's Charter is far different from the US.

    An interesting quote (Justice O'Sullivan - Lakeside Colony of Hutterian Brethren v. Hofer (Manitoba Court of Appeal):

    Much has been said in this case about freedom of religion as if the Charter of Rights protected religious bodies in their freedom to oppress their members. What the Charter, as distinguished from the American First Amendment, protects is not freedom of a religious group to conduct itself in whatever manner it pleases, but rather the freedom of the individual to liberty of conscience and religion. I see nothing in the Hutterian belief or practices which militate against liberty of conscience.

    Europe seems to be all over the map in their decisions:


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