Disfellowshipping decision to go before Canadian Supreme Court

by Simon 48 Replies latest watchtower beliefs

  • Finkelstein

    Its really the public's choice to whom they want to do business with, where there might be some established laws in business dealings is when a business is being openly discriminate or prejudicial with whom they are wanting to do business with, based upon a person's race or religion.

    Where this fellow might have something little to stand on is when the JWS publicly announce that one of their members is being DFed and therefore all other JWs are not to have contact with them, this may also include any associated business dealings but the catch is he was in preconceived acceptance and knowing of that being a baptized confirmed member of the JWS.

    If another religious organization likes or strives to do business within its own members of their relgoius faith, they have that discriminate choice as well.

  • ElderEtta

    I have a problem with the charges drunkenness and the allegations of abusing his wife. If these issues surface in a court of law then he may have a chance to prove slander if they are not true

  • Richard Oliver
    Richard Oliver

    ElderEtta that is why Watchtower doesn't announce why someone was Disfellowshipped. All that is announced is that someone is no longer one of Jehovah's Witnesses which is a true statement.

  • ElderEtta

    I understand what you are saying Richard However the fact is that I heard it and you heard it and the question is what was the source and how did it get to us

  • Richard Oliver
    Richard Oliver

    It is possible that the information was inserted into a pleading and that is part of the factual background of the case. The pleading could read that the person was Disfellowshipped for drunkness on two occasions and for the beating of his wife. Because it could be said that is what he was disfellowshipped for and not make the claim that is what he did that is where the difference matters for slander.

  • jwleaks

    I for one am glad Watchtower is fighting this all the way. A ruling in Watchtower's favor could open the way for situation reversal, in that members of Christendom could actively prohibit themselves doing business with Jehovah's Witnesses as the religion, and its members, disassociated itself from Christendom knowing full well the Bible requires the practice of personal and business shunning.

    Jayden MacEwan, the lawyer for the Highwood congregation, believes the courts have no place in this case. He stated in the interview "can the court decide who you should be forced or compelled to worship God with? Or is that not more just a purely personal decision?"

    Is Watchtower claiming that an individual who does business with, or enters into commercial contracts with, another party is engaging in worship to God? Is Watchtower arguing that freedom of religion and freedom of worship applies equally to commercial contracts or business?

  • Spoletta

    As far of the legality of the whole issue, I would think it would fall into the area of being a kind of boycott. I recall some Christian denominations calling for parishioners to boycott Disney films for some silly reason or other, and don't think there was anything illegal about it. As someone said, you can't force people to patronize your business.

    It would be good, however, if this exposed the practice of shunning to some who weren't aware of it.

  • OrphanCrow

    For background and more details on the case:


    from the article:

    The 1992 Supreme Court decision regarding a Hutterite man who was expelled from his Manitoba colony noted that the courts "are slow to exercise jurisdiction over the question of membership in a voluntary association, especially a religious one."
    The exception was when property or civil right hinged on membership.
    Since 1992, there have been other cases that set the precedent for courts to have jurisdiction when "there has been a breach of the rules of natural justice or the complainant has exhausted the organization's internal processes."
    Wall argued the internal process was unfair — that the church's framework for expulsion was unclear.
    He submitted that he wasn't told whether he could retain a lawyer, if there would be a record of the proceedings, the details of the allegations against him or whether there would be written reasons for the committee's decision
    On the basis of those allegations, and because Wall had exhausted all avenues of internal appeal, the panel found the Court of Queen's Bench has jurisdiction to hear the application.

    Details of Randy's disfellowshipping procedure:

    In 2014, Wall was accused of "alleged wrongdoing involves drunkenness" and was directed to appear before the Judicial Committee of the Highwood Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses. That committee was composed of four elders.
    Wall told the panel his behaviour stemmed from stress related to the expulsion of his 15-year-old daughter who he and his wife were required by the church to shun.
    The congregation had already kicked the teen out of the community and as a result, even though she was a dependent child living with her parents, the family was pressured to evict the girl from the home, leading to "much distress."
    At the meeting, Wall admitted he'd been drunk twice that he'd verbally abused his wife once.
    The judicial committee found Wall was "not sufficiently repentant" and he was disfellowshipped, a decision that then compelled his wife, children and other Jehovah's Witnesses to shun him.
    Wall appealed that decision and a panel of three elders was selected and asked to consider "the mental and emotional distress he and his family were under" following his daughter's disfellowship but the committee sided with the original panel's decision.
    Finally, Wall sent a letter of appeal to the Watch Tower and Bible Tract Society of Canada but he was told the Canadian Branch would not overturn the decision.
    After exhausting the church's appeal avenues, Wall made an application with the Court of Queen's Bench in Calgary which ordered a hearing to first determine if there was jurisdiction for the court to hear the application.
    A judge decided that the superior court did have jurisdiction to hear the application because "he was satisfied the disfellowship had an economic impact on [Wall]."
    The congregation and its judicial committee then appealed Wall's right to have a Court of Queen's Bench judge hear his application.
    One of the congregation's arguments was that the Court of Queen's Bench judge erred when he found the religious practice of shunning infringes civil and property rights.

    It appears that the JWs internal judicial process will be examined at the Supreme Court hearing.

    At question will be if the JC proceedings violated Randy's basic rights.

  • search

    Just to add clarity:

    This case is about two simple things:

    - Did the Judicial Committee follow the "principles of natural justice"? - A requirement in Canada.

    - Did the Judicial Committee follow its own internal rules (eg. in The Shepherd the Flock of God book)?

    The statements made by Gnam and MacEwan as to freedom to associate, etc. are superfluous, strawman statements.

    (And, no, Richard Oliver, I am not a wife-beater).


  • Simon

    re: the "principles of natural justice" - I'm not a lawyer but what I gathered from reading a few articles about it is that it seems to apply more to the government dealing with non-legal administrative decisions than private memberships:

    Failure to Observe Principles of Natural Justice

    "This Court has affirmed that there is, as a general common law principle, a duty of procedural fairness lying on every public authority making an administrative decision which is not of a legislative nature and which affects the rights, privileges or interests of an individual "


    The other challenge is that the internal rules, even when "defined" such as in the Shepherding book, tend to be rather vague (probably intentionally so). Therefore finding if they have followed them to the letter or not would seem to be difficult and, even if they didn't, it feels like it relies on the previous claim being of great legal consequence to make it a crime.

    I can fully understand the desire to "strike back" at the WTS but I wonder if sometimes it does more harm than good. It's fighting an opponent on shaky ground when they have all the advantages of resources and the tag of "religion". Maybe your counsel has told you this and you want to go ahead anyway, maybe they are encouraging you and they shouldn't, maybe you have a great case (as I said, I'm not a lawyer) so I wish you well however it goes.

    But just remember - we've often lost a lot because of the WTS and dedicating our time and energy to retaliating against them, while oh so satisfying if we can, isn't always really best for us and for our family.

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