Excellent point, undercover. They've gotten away with that extortion this long.
Can JWs really vote now , since when?
A. CO made a strange comment on this during his last visit. He said that, "Why would the elders bother to go through a Judicial process if an ex-brother had decided to vote? That brother has already made up his mind."
What passed through my mind was that, if a brother decided to vote, and was DF'd for it, there would be some really bad press if it became known. I got the feeling that this was off-limits for the elders.
If I'm not mistaken, its a technicality that as a non profit (I forget the designation 501 or 503 religion) they can't tell you you can't vote. Thus the 99' conscience matter. But like most things witness what the carefully write out in print and what is practiced are two different things many times.
What, though, if the law requires citizens to vote? In such a case, each Witness is responsible to make a conscientious, Bible-based decision about how to handle the situation. If someone decides to go to the polling booth, that is his decision. What he does in the polling booth is between him and his Creator.
Watchtower 1999 11/1 pp.28-29
Questions From Readers - How do Jehovah’s Witnesses view voting?
What, though, of voting in political elections? Of course, in some democratic lands, as many as 50 percent of the population do not turn out to vote on election day. As for Jehovah’s Witnesses, they do not interfere with the right of others to vote; neither do they in any way campaign against political elections. They respect and cooperate with the authorities who are duly elected in such elections. (Romans 13:1-7) As to whether they will personally vote for someone running in an election, each one of Jehovah’s Witnesses makes a decision based on his Bible-trained conscience and an understanding of his responsibility to God and to the State. (Matthew 22:21; 1 Peter 3:16) In making this personal decision, the Witnesses consider a number of factors.
First, Jesus Christ said of his followers: "They are no part of the world, just as I am no part of the world." (John 17:14) Jehovah’s Witnesses take this principle seriously. Being "no part of the world," they are neutral in the political affairs of the world.—John 18:36.
Second, the apostle Paul referred to himself as an "ambassador" representing Christ to the people of his day. (Ephesians 6:20; 2 Corinthians 5:20) Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that Christ Jesus is now the enthroned King of God’s heavenly Kingdom, and they, like ambassadors, must announce this to the nations. (Matthew 24:14; Revelation 11:15) Ambassadors are expected to be neutral and not to interfere in the internal affairs of the countries to which they are sent. As representatives of God’s heavenly Kingdom, Jehovah’s Witnesses feel a similar obligation not to interfere in the politics of the countries where they reside.
A third factor to consider is that those who have a part in voting a person into office may become responsible for what he does. (Compare 1 Timothy 5:22, The New English Bible.) Christians have to consider carefully whether they want to shoulder that responsibility.
Fourth, Jehovah’s Witnesses greatly value their Christian unity. (Colossians 3:14) When religions get involved in politics, the result is often division among their members. In imitation of Jesus Christ, Jehovah’s Witnesses avoid becoming involved in politics and thus maintain their Christian unity.—Matthew 12:25; John 6:15; 18:36, 37.
Fifth and finally, their keeping out of politics gives Jehovah’s Witnesses freeness of speech to approach people of all political persuasions with the important message of the Kingdom.—Hebrews 10:35.
In view of the Scriptural principles outlined above, in many lands Jehovah’s Witnesses make a personal decision not to vote in political elections, and their freedom to make that decision is supported by the law of the land. What, though, if the law requires citizens to vote? In such a case, each Witness is responsible to make a conscientious, Bible-based decision about how to handle the situation. If someone decides to go to the polling booth, that is his decision. What he does in the polling booth is between him and his Creator.
The November 15, 1950, issue of The Watchtower, on pages 445 and 446, said: "Where Caesar makes it compulsory for citizens to vote . . . [Witnesses] can go to the polls and enter the voting booths. It is here that they are called upon to mark the ballot or write in what they stand for. The voters do what they will with their ballots. So here in the presence of God is where his witnesses must act in harmony with his commandments and in accordance with their faith. It is not our responsibility to instruct them what to do with the ballot."
What if a Christian woman’s unbelieving husband insists that she present herself to vote? Well, she is subject to her husband, just as Christians are subject to the superior authorities. (Ephesians 5:22; 1 Peter 2:13-17) If she obeys her husband and goes to the polling booth, that is her personal decision. No one should criticize her.—Compare Romans 14:4.
What of a country where voting is not mandated by law but feelings run high against those who do not go to the voting booth—perhaps they are exposed to physical danger? Or what if individuals, while not legally obliged to vote, are severely penalized in some way if they do not go to the polling booth? In these and similar situations, a Christian has to make his own decision. "Each one will carry his own load."—Galatians 6:5.
There may be people who are stumbled when they observe that during an election in their country, some Witnesses of Jehovah go to the polling booth and others do not. They may say, ‘Jehovah’s Witnesses are not consistent.’ People should recognize, though, that in matters of individual conscience such as this, each Christian has to make his own decision before Jehovah God.—Romans 14:12.
Whatever personal decisions Jehovah’s Witnesses make in the face of different situations, they take care to preserve their Christian neutrality and freeness of speech. In all things, they rely on Jehovah God to strengthen them, give them wisdom, and help them avoid compromising their faith in any way. Thus they show confidence in the words of the psalmist: "You are my crag and my stronghold; and for the sake of your name you will lead me and conduct me."—Psalm 31:3.
If a JW in the US was DFd for voting, would their be a civil rights violation? I know the Civil Rights Act of 65 was more about race and color, but to deny (through threat of punishment by shunning) a citizen the right to vote seems to be on a slippery legal slope...
That's why they don't DF you for voting. Instead, they say that the voting JW disassociated himself by virtue of his action. So they use this technicality to say that they are not sanctioning anyone for voting.
But given that disassociated JWs are treated the same way as disfellowshipped JWs and given that a voting JW is disassociated against his will, I think this issue should be challenged legally.
Maybe awake JWs should vote tomorrow and if their elders call them to a JC or tell them they're disassociated, then the awake JWs should threaten to sue and raise a storm about the legality of punishing someone for exercising their right to vote. See what happens.
steve2 - I am certain that, in countries or states where voting is compulsory (e.g., Australia), the organization advised Witnesses they could register to vote and go into voting booths, strike out all the names on the voting forms and place them in the ballot box.
Actually it is a criminal offence in Australia to encourage people to vote informally. I understand Watchtower instead advises its members to simply not turn up to vote. The Aust Electoral Commission sends letters to anyone who doesn't vote, with a small fine (A$20 or so). There are a number of grounds to avoid the fine, including religious grounds, and the AEC always accepts being a JDub as a legitimate excuse. Further, most born-in JDubs never apply to be on the electoral roll in the first place, so they don't even get the AEC letter.
Undercover - If a JW in the US was DFd for voting, would their be a civil rights violation? I know the Civil Rights Act of 65 was more about race and color, but to deny (through threat of punishment by shunning) a citizen the right to vote seems to be on a slippery legal slope...
That is a damn good point. Most of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 relates to what States may not do, and so doesn't apply. However, Section 11(b) reads in part:
No person, whether acting under color of law or otherwise, shall intimidate, threaten, or coerce, or attempt to intimidate, threaten, or coerce any person for voting or attempting to vote, or intimidate, threaten, or coerce, or attempt to intimidate, threaten, or coerce any person for urging or aiding any person to vote or attempt to vote...
I can't see how Watchtower is not in breach of that section.
Edit: I didn't see comments on this issue by Island Man and others, before posting.
@stillin - Sounds like the CO was intimating that voting was an automatic disassociation offense, much like joining the military. That's one way for them to weasel out.
IF this were true, imagine the divisions it would lead to within the congregation!
For that reason, I hope they do it!
My impression, too.
Transfusions, birthdays and holidays, whistleblowing, and now, voting...
...at the rate they're switching "DFing offenses" to "DAing actions", half the rank-and-file will be XJWs before the decade's end without even knowing it. :smirk: