Thank you very much for your note. I really appreciate all the information you provided on Jehovah’s Witnesses and the personal experiences you shared in this email. In the podcast episode, I tried to convey primarily the history of Supreme Court cases and the broader effects they had on First Amendment law—not any endorsement or value judgement of the religious organization itself. But I do greatly appreciate this firsthand knowledge and context. It means a lot to me that you took the time to reach out and share all these details.
The Washington Post
Below is the email I sent to the author of a Washington Post article on JW's and the 1st amendment.
(Transcript of trial: https://archive.org/details/WalshTrial [l.facebook.com])
I would argue the actions of Jehovah's Witnesses against their own interests, and the interests of their local community, as well as nationally, were coerced by fear of excommunication in extremis, or at least insidiously coaxed into their beliefs through loyalty and disinformation.
What is my interest in all of this?
I served time in Federal prison from 1967-69 as a 'neutral' Jehovah's Witness as a result of a conviction for violation of the Universal Military Training and Service Act.
I was privately counseled by my congregation leaders not to accept alternative civilian service. I was further counseled not to reveal I had been influenced in any way by other than my own conscience. This same deliberately invisible influence was carried out as coordinated policy nationwide.
During the Vietnam war, 5,000 draft-age men turned in their draft cards rather than be conscripted. These were protests. 200,000 men were accused by the Federal Government of being Draft Offenders. 25,000 were indicted. Out of the 25,000, only 8,750 were convicted. Out of the 8,750 who were convicted, only 4,000 were imprisoned. Most of these, with some exceptions, were young men--Jehovah's Witnesses, like myself, who surrendered our loyalty to an organization and its leaders claiming to speak on behalf of the only true God.
Five years before my appearance before a draft board, the Watchtower Society had quietly and unceremoniously changed the official interpretation of Romans 13: 1,2 rather quietly, flip-flopping back to the traditional plain reading Christendom had held for two thousand years!
In fact, JW texts I was operating from had not been updated to include this change. I found out the hard way!
The Watchtower headquarters would not provide me with a membership card nor a letter attesting to my ministerial status. I later found out this was only provided in special cases where a "special Pioneer" was involved who spent 100 to 150 hours monthly knocking doors.
I had the legal right to serve alternate service working in a hospital--had it not been for the private counsel of my JW elders in strict accord with their covert (by this time) policies on Christian neutrality.
This policy too, like the previous Romans 13: 1, 2 policy, reversed many years later. Apparently, the malleable nature of Watchtower ‘truth’ repudiates its value as the divine mind channeled by an Almighty.
First Amendment champions? I think not!
This religion is fraudulent in premise and has a historical track record of trampling on human rights.
(Please read how JW's allow sexual abuse of children to flourish: