The fact that the JWs will tell lies if necessary—also in order to cover up things that are embarrassing to them—has been shown by this “file case” several times. At times the organization denied the existence of such files when the newspapers reported it stolen. Jorgen Larsen and Erik Jorgensen (both from the branch office in Holbaek) have spoken lies several times in newspapers and on the news program of Denmark ’s channel 2. They denied several facts that later became public knowledge (1993, p. 3).

Other dishonesty in this case includes the Watchtower claim that a file was kept for only five years after a person is readmitted following their disfellowshipment. The Copenhagen Politiken uncovered a document showing that “several of the registered cases were more than forty years old and were stamped ‘must not be destroyed’” and also included cases in which the expelled Witnesses had been readmitted (Henricksen, 1993, pp. 3-4). The Watchtower further claimed that the number of cases in each local storage site is limited to between 0 and “maybe” 7 or 10. Henricksen’s investigation concluded that local files on the average contain far more cases than this.

Many other cases of lying have been well documented, but the above is a recent case that is not related to church doctrine, but to secular law, and is evidently an example of direct lying to government authorities in violation of the law. This well documented case cannot be claimed to be due to a misunderstanding or poor communication.

Magnani also claims that the Watchtower uses the doctrine on their own members. An example he gives is as follows:

When curious people examine the Watchtower’s history, they find numerous facts that the present day Society tries to cover up. For instance, Watchtower leaders are very embarrassed that the Society’s founder, Charles Taze Russell, was nearly worshipped by Watchtower followers for many years. Since the Watchtower believes that Russell taught many false doctrines, they go to extremes to cover up his history. (R.T. p.47 Marcus Reyes. Case 6936-C, Abilene , TX ).

One example Magnani gives is as follows: They deny ever having written a biography of Russell’s life. In the Watchtower’s history book, Jehovah’s Witnesses in the Divine Purpose , Page 63, we read this question:

… is it true YOU HAVE NEVER published a biography of Pastor Russell?

The answer: THAT’S RIGHT. Jehovah’s Witnesses admire the qualities he possessed as a man, but were we to give the honor and credit to Pastor Russell, we would be saying that the works and successes were his.

This is a good example of the Watchtower’s own use of Theocratic War Strategy, NOT ONLY ON THE PUBLIC BUT ALSO ON JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES THEMSELVES. Because when we check the record we find that the Watchtower DID publish the BIOGRAPHY OF PASTOR RUSSELL in three successive years: 1925, 1926, and 1927! (R.T. p.47 Marcus Reyes, Case 6936-C, Abilene ).

Lying In Court

The Watchtower has a long history of using the theocratic warfare doctrine in court–from the first president, C.T. Russell, in his divorce testimony and elsewhere, to Fred Franz, a previous Watchtower president. A now half-century-old example in which less than full honesty is self-evident is the following exchange between Franz and the prosecutor:

Prosecutor:

Have you also made yourself familiar with Hebrew?

Franz:

Yes …

Prosecutor:

So that you have a substantial linguistic apparatus at your command?

Franz:

Yes, for use in my biblical work.

Prosecutor:

I think you are able to read and follow the Bible in Hebrew, Greek, Spanish, Portuguese, German, French.

Franz:

Yes. . .

Prosecutor:

Can you, yourself translate that into Hebrew?

Franz:

Which?

Prosecutor:

That fourth verse of the second chapter of Genesis?

Franz:

No.

(Cross Examination of Fred Franz. Pursuer’s Proof of Douglas Walsh v. The Right Honorable James Latham, Clyde , Scottish Court of Sessions, Wednesday, November 24, 1954 , p.7, pars. A-B. and p. 102, par. F.)

Another example is the testimony by Hayden C. Covington, a former vice president and lead Watchtower attorney, who stated that Witnesses must accept a “false prophecy” as true.

Prosecutor:

… A false prophecy was promulgated?

Answer:

I agree [to] that.

Prosecutor:

It had to be accepted by Jehovah’s Witnesses?

Answer:

That is correct.

Prosecutor:

If [a] member of Jehovah’s Witnesses took the view himself that that prophecy was wrong and said so he would be disfellowshipped?

Answer:

Yes … Our purpose is to have unity.

Prosecutor:

Unity at all costs?

Answer:

Unity at all costs …

Prosecutor:

And unity based upon an enforced acceptance of false prophecy?

Answer:

That is conceded to be true.

Prosecutor:

And the person who expressed his view … that it was wrong, and was disfellowshipped, would be in breach of the covenant if he was baptized.

Answer:

That is correct.

Prosecutor:

And as you said yesterday expressly, would be worthy of death …

Answer:

I will answer that yes, unhesitatingly.

Prosecutor:

Do you call that religion?

Answer:

It certainly is.

Prosecutor:

Do you call it Christianity?

Answer:

I certainly do.

(Douglas Walsh v. The Right Honorable James Latham Clyde Scottish Court of Sessions, November, 1954, p.347-348, Cross Examination of Fred Franz; also see entire testimony for other examples).

The Preparing for Child Custody Booklet

Watchtower legal battles have “become so common [that] they offer its followers a pamphlet entitled ‘Preparing for Child Custody Cases’ (Montgomery, 1992, p. 14)” intended for Witnesses facing court custody battles. The booklet, which openly advocates deception and advises Witnesses to deceive the court, was

… designed for their internal use in helping their members prepare to discuss custody matters in divorce hearings [and] encourages Witness children, under oath, to present a distorted view of the opportunities that a Witness child has to assume a place in the larger world. An example of this is the comment in this publication that Witness children could become journalists (a vocation requiring a college degree), when attending college is at best strongly discouraged, and at worst condemned by the Witnesses as a vehicle by which Witness children can lose their faith and be subjected to immoral association (Duron, 1991, p. 18).

Court testimony states:

Watchtower attorney Wah also stated under oath that she assisted the Society in writing the booklet Preparing for Child Custody Cases in about 1986, and admitted the booklet was produced because of a growing concern about articles published in the social science and psychological literature by Watchtower critics that were detrimental to the Society’s interests. ( Hetrick v. Hetrick, Blair Court Common Pleas No 2240 CP 1991 p. 259, Wah testimony)..

The Watchtower legal department is now to be contacted by the congregation elders in all custody and other cases involving individual Witnesses and religion (Confidential Watchtower letters dated 1989, 1991). Not uncommonly, even if the Witness hires a secular attorney, the Watchtower Society will provide extensive free-of-charge legal services and assistance by the Watchtower legal staff (see Watch Tower, Our Kingdom Ministry , Aug. 1992, Vol. 35, No. 8, p. 7 and Feb, 1996 p. 3). Because several of the Watchtower’s full-time attorneys focus on defending Witnesses in custody cases, they have developed an enormous amount of experience and expertise in this area, and they know how to deal with the courts to their advantage.

Walker (1990) concludes from his study of the custody booklet and the Watchtower's letters relating to this issue that the Watchtower advises Witnesses to paint a decidedly untrue picture in court to the extent that they are in certain situations “to say in court the exact opposite of what they would normally say in a Kingdom Hal l” (p. 7). An example is the Watchtower booklet, School and Jehovah’s Witnesses , and official teachings that for years have openly condemned involvement of Witness children in organized sports and all after school activities, hobbies, and higher education, concluding that this time should be used principally to pursue Watchtower interests. The Watchtower, though, instructs Witnesses to imply exactly the opposite in court of what they actually believe (Walker, 1990, p. 23). In Tanya A. Stevens v. Max P. Stevens (District Court of the 5th Judicial Court of the state of Idaho , in the county of Blaine , Case no. CV-96-2858 Judgment 10-17-96 for Max Stevens, defendant) the Judge ruled:

It is detrimental to the best interest or welfare of the children to teach them that their father, as a non-Jehovah’s Witness, is not entitled to the whole truth, or that it is proper to hide the truth from God’s enemies (particularly in a courtroom situation). Neither Tanya nor any other person or party may do so. (p. 42)

Judge Bouska of Kansas City concluded from his review of this Watchtower booklet as part of a case before his court, that the booklet “was designed, and encourages, the Jehovah’s Witness to cover up some of their true beliefs and mislead the court as to what their beliefs and practices are with reference to children.” He also concluded that the Watchtower teaches that “There is nothing wrong under the religion, as I understand it, in misleading or even lying to somebody that is not a Jehovah’s Witness” (Witness, Inc., 1994). In short, the Watchtower “encourages its faithful to fudge their testimony” (quoted in Montgomery , 1992, p. 14). The concern, as Raines notes, is that:

Judges have ruled in favor of allowing custody and visitation rights to the non-JW parent or grandparent once the damaging and restricting nature, i.e., “cult-like” behavior and methods of the group are freely discussed and documented in court.

This includes the use of “theocratic warfare” by JWs in court. The Society in their Preparing for Child Custody Cases booklet clearly advocates JWs to in effect perjure themselves in court by giving false and misleading information to the court on Witness beliefs and practices. This is easily documented ... much to the chagrin of the Watchtower. Because of this, the Watchtower Society is being forced to change their positions. Courts do not look favorably on groups that limit growth potential in children such as forbidding or discouraging higher education and involvement in sports and after school clubs and organizations (Raines, 1996, p. 30).

Witnesses justify this deception in court by the theocratic warfare doctrine discussed above in which lying (or, in Watchtower words, withholding the truth) is proper if it defends the interests of the Watchtower. This justification includes efforts to deny their past doctrine, a tactic that will likely have some effect on their current teaching. For example, the Watchtower may de-emphasize certain past views, such as only Jehovah’s Witnesses can please God and earn the gift of life, and that all governments, religions, and businesses except their own are controlled by Satan.

When asked if people of other religions will survive Armageddon, the Watchtower suggests this answer: “Jehovah makes those judgments, not we.” In actuality, although they attempt not to alienate potential converts and others, the Watchtower teaches that only baptized members of the Watchtower who are in good standing will survive Armageddon (Bergman, 1999). The official Watchtower book You Can Live Forever in Paradise Earth, clearly teaches that only one religion is true, all others are false, and all persons in false religions will soon be annihilated:

Did Jehovah ever use more than one organization during any period of time? In Noah’s day only Noah and those with him inside the ark had God’s protection and survived the floodwaters. (1 Peter 3:20) Also, in the first century there were not two or more Christian organizations. God dealt with just the one. There was just the “one Lord, one faith , one baptism.” (Ephesians 4:5) Likewise in our day Jesus Christ foretold that there would be only one source of spiritual instruction for God’s people. ... there are [not] different roads, or ways, that you can follow to gain life in God’s new system. There is only one. There was just the one ark that survived the Flood, not a number of boats. And there will be only one organization—God’s visible organization—that will survive the fast approaching “great tribulation.” It is simply not true that all religions lead to the same goal. … You must be part of Jehovah’s organization, doing God’s will, in order to receive his blessing of everlasting life (Watch Tower, 1982, pp. 192, 193, 255-256).

In an excellent summary of the Preparing for Child Custody Cases booklet, former Watchtower governing body member Raymond Franz notes the 60-page booklet is a guide for Witnesses who may testify in court. The booklet reviews questions that

may be presented by the opposing side and then offering suggested sample responses … Watchtower … [teaching] on honesty ... [is to] respect the truth, [not] ... willing to twist the truth a little bit, to get out of an inconvenient circumstance, or to get something we want … Compare that with some of the responses suggested in the Society’s manual. Under “APPROACH BY WITNESS PARENT TO CROSS-EXAMINATION ,” we find this question ... Will all Catholics (or other) be destroyed? … [and the suggested answer on Page 12 is]: Jehovah makes those judgments, not we. This sounds good, implies freedom from a dogmatic, judgmental attitude. Yet the Witness so responding knows that his organization’s publications clearly teach that only those who are in association with “Jehovah’s organization” will survive the “great tribulation,” and that all those who fail to come to that organization face destruction. (Franz, 1991, p. 283)

Franz then evaluates the section “DIRECT EXAMINATION AND RESPONSES FOR LOCAL ELDER,” in which the booklet presents the “proper” responses in parenthesis to common questions:

What view does ... [the Witness religion] take toward people of other religions? (Jesus taught love neighbor as self, includes all; we respect others’ rights to worship as they choose) … [Do Witnesses] teach that young people should learn only about religion of Jehovah’s Witnesses? (No. Consider following objective consideration of other religions in our publications). (Franz, 1991, pp. 29-31)

In response to this section of the booklet, Franz notes that the Watchtower implies an attitude of considerable tolerance about religion but

… the Witness elder responding knows that his religion teaches that “people of other religions” are all within “ Babylon the Great,” the empire of false religion, depicted as a “great harlot” in Scripture, that the worship they have chosen is considered unchristian and if continuing in it, they face destruction. He also knows that Witnesses are urged not to have social relations with such “people of other religions,” since such would have a “corrupting” effect, the only approved association with such being in “witnessing” to them in the hope of changing their religion. He knows that all the articles set out in the brochure’s list emphasize negative aspects of the “other religions” discussed and that the organization discourages reading literature directly proceeding from other religions; only what it itself publishes about such religions is viewed as safe reading (Franz, 1991, p. 284).

In summary, Franz concludes that people counseled to respond in this way

...must know that they are being asked to present an outlook that is very different from the one urged upon them in Watchtower publications. If they are speaking the truth, without “twisting it a bit,” they would not have to be told to speak differently from the way they would in a circuit assembly—or anywhere else for that matter (Franz, 1991, p. 285).

In this writer’s experience, the Witnesses and their attorneys regularly and routinely follow the booklet’s advice to deceive the court on the stand. MacGregor, who has consulted in many Witness custody cases, concludes:

Your J.W. mate (or ex-mate) will desperately try and get custody of the children. Be prepared for the worst. Many have faced false charges difficult to defend. They want to prove you “unfit” as a parent. You will need strong character witnesses who have observed you with your own children. ... At their disposal will be their own legal experts, and your mate and children will be coached in what to say in court. Lack of preparation on your part or your lawyer’s will lose you your children!

... They will have no hesitation about lying, even under oath. They have a doctrine called “Justified Lying,” teaching that you only have to tell the truth to those “who are entitled to it.” The courts, legal system, family care workers, the ex-mates, etc., because of their resistance to, or not being part of “Jehovah’s” organization, do not deserve to know the truth. In Jehovah’s Witness thinking, they are of Satan and it’s okay to lie to him or his people to protect “Jehovah” and his organization on earth [The Watchtower Society]. ... All sorts of things will be told to the children to scare them away from any involvement with “evil” you. They will be coached on what to say about you in court. Even if the courts forbid religious things being taught to the kids during visitation times, the children will be instructed to “hate” you because you are opposing ... God’s organization (MacGregor, 1994, p. 4).

An example of the use of this doctrine in court by a non-Witness to support her friend follows:

I knew the Watchtower Society controlled very carefully what was said in courtrooms. … I had seen the brochure about Child Custody cases that they put together. But until I actually spent two weeks this last July, every day, in court … in a child custody case, I didn’t realize the extent to which the JWs take their Spiritual Warfare tactics … I came in to both be a moral support to the family, and to transcribe the proceedings so that the family could refer to them later. … I couldn’t believe what my fingers had to type, so stunningly bold were their lies. Since the JWs believe that anyone who is an enemy of the Jehovah is not “entitled to know the truth,” which basically includes anyone who is not a JW and all governments and representatives of governments, like judges, they proceeded to lie, lie lied LIE and tell semi -and “half” truths under oath in front of that judge! … Two solid weeks of it … People going against the JWs in court should assume NOTHING—especially do not assume that the JWs will play fair or shoot straight. They believe this is war and that to lie to “God’s enemies” is what he [God] wants them to do—and God’s enemies in this case and all cases—is anyone that is not a JW. (Anonymous, letter published in Comments from the Friends, 1999, p. 9)

Witnesses may, for example, swear under oath that they have no problem allowing their children to celebrate the holidays, play with “worldly children,” participate in school sports, attend college, or have a blood transfusion if it meant the child’s life, even at times falsely claiming that this is not a disfellowshipping offense (Bergman, 1994). Some state they would at the least permit their non-Witness ex-spouse to make the decision (that would in essence allow the child to have a blood transfusion) even though this is contrary to Watchtower policy that must be followed under pain of total expulsion:

If a Christian is asked to submit to something that would be a violation of God’s higher law, the divine law comes first; it takes precedence [and if a court] ... authorized the forcing of a blood transfusion on a Christian ... Christians must take the same stand that the apostle Peter did; “we must obey God as ruler rather than men”--Acts 5:29 ... [and must be] absolutely determined to obey God even if a government directed them otherwise ( Watchtower June 15, 1991, p. 31).

The Society stresses the degree to which this Watchtower rule is to be enforced by citing the example of a twelve year old who:

left no doubt that “she would fight any court-authorized transfusion with all the strength she could muster, that she would scream and struggle, that she would pull the injecting device out of her arm and would attempt to destroy the blood in the bag over her bed.” She was firmly resolved to obey the [Watchtower’s ruling on] divine law. ( Watchtower June 15, 1991, p. 31)

A problem for the Watchtower is that no Scripture exists that clearly and directly condemns the medical use of blood or any other organ transplant, and many Scriptures condone their use to save lives (Bergman, 1999). Even the Society has historically allowed blood transfusion—it was not a disfellowshipping offense until 1961, almost a century after the Society’s founding ( Watchtower , Jan. 15, 1961, pp. 63-64). The average Witness accepts these doctrinal changes because of the “new light” doctrine, meaning that they believe God’s will is progressively revealed through the Watchtower. The necessity of avoiding transfusions includes prohibiting placing oneself in the position where a transfusion could occur, and if a court ordered transfusion seems likely, a Witness must:

put forth strenuous efforts to avoid a violation of God’s law on blood [and if] authorities ... consider him a law-breaker or make him liable to prosecution ... the Christian could view it as suffering for the sake of righteousness ( Watchtower , June 15, 1991, p. 31).

As Duron notes, Witnesses are instructed to die rather than submit to a transfusion:

Witnesses seldom actually state succinctly that they would not hesitate to allow their minor children to die rather than to allow the child to receive a blood transfusion” (1991, p. 18).

Watchtower attorney Wah said under oath that she has represented adults in two situations:

… who, while conscious and competent, a court order was obtained authorizing physicians to transfuse them. It would be my position that such an order was illegally obtained and the Christian, as an adult, would certainly fight it and that could include physically. … It is in my mind, and the best analogy would be compared to rape. For myself, as an adult, to be raped by court order, the presence of a court order is no justification for it. But that becomes quite a different situation if I had a minor child who was under court’s order, just as it would be a different situation for self-defense. … ( Hetrick v. Hetrick, Court of Common pleas of Blair County, PA, No. 2240 CP, 1991, p. 234, Wah Testimony).

If a blood transfusion is equal in seriousness to rape as Wah maintains, one would hardly allow a person to “rape” your child!

Another deceptive line of reasoning the Watchtower not uncommonly uses to argue that their refusing a blood transfusion is rational is the risk of AIDS and that their choice is medically wise in the long run. They often cite cases of people who obtained AIDS from blood transfusions, but typically grossly distort the evidence and deliberately try to frighten their followers. American blood banks began screening blood for AIDS in March of 1985, and since then of the “more than 120-million blood transfusions ... only 21 people appear to have been infected with HIV” and the relationship between HIV and AIDS is not yet understood (Nixon, 1993, p. 3). The probability of contracting HIV from a single blood transfusion in the United States is now considered roughly one out of one-quarter million transfusions, and new testing procedures have “dramatically lowered the risk of post-transfusion hepatitis C virus” (Carlson, 1996; Rutherford and Kaplan, 1995). The safety level is now so high in the United States that autologous transfusions are now rarely recommended over allogenic (donor) blood (Rutherford and Kaplan, 1995).

Is the Doctrine Used by the Average Witness?

Many historical studies of the Witnesses movement record examples of common Witnesses using theocratic warfare. To convict a person for being a member of an illegal organization in Canada requires documentary proof, such as a membership card, or a confession. Kaplan (1988, p. 70) found that in Canada Jehovah’s Witnesses “generally refused to admit membership” in the Watchtower after it was banned. Nonetheless, “almost all Jehovah’s Witnesses who were charged were convicted” (Kaplan, 1988, p. 72).

Jehovah’s Witnesses who are caught in the act of distributing their literature often tried to claim that they “had found packages of the tract on their doorstep and became so interested in the contents that they felt the urge to go out and share the material” (Kaplan, 1988, p. 75). This explanation was likely not readily believed. Furthermore, in hunting Jehovah’s Witnesses down, individuals were often interrogated who were assumed to be Witnesses, including people who sympathized with some of their ideas. In many cases, claims by a person that he or she was not a Witness were not believed, partly because so many Witnesses themselves lied about being members that the courts became very skeptical of the testimony of all persons who they believed were Witnesses.

This widespread practice of lying to defend the interest of the Watchtower Society has similarly unfortunate repercussions today—it is still commonly seen in court cases, especially child custody or wrongful death cases related to blood transfusions. Witnesses or their attorneys often openly stated in court that Jehovah’s Witnesses do not approve of letting their children die for lack of a blood transfusion (R. Reed, personal interview [Reed was a high-ranking Witness and is now an attorney], March 3, 1999).

Kotwall (1997, p. 1) claims that “many Jehovah’s Witnesses … are unaware that the Watchtower … encourages them to lie.” To evaluate how many Witnesses are aware of this doctrine and how it is applied, the author surveyed 92 Americans and 39 Italians, most of whom were ex-Witnesses and volunteered to fill out the survey. The responses of the two groups were so similar that they were combined. The respondents learned about the survey from various advertisements in magazines and on the Internet. The three pages of questions included several on the “theocratic war strategy doctrine.” The responses in table I printed below resulted.

These data indicate that a majority of Witnesses are aware of the doctrine. These data also indicate a clear relationship exists between the level of activity in the Watchtower and awareness of the doctrine. All of the former circuit overseers were fully aware of it, and over half admitted that they used it. Although 37 persons (28% of the entire sample) claimed they never heard of the doctrine, only 3 persons (2%) chose the incorrect definition of the doctrine, response “A.”

 

 

Table I. Number of Witnesses who have heard of the Theocratic Warfare Doctrine

 

Response

 

Member

Pioneer

Ministerial

Servant; Elder

Circuit

Overseer

A.

Never heard of it

37

7

3

0

B.

Vaguely

19

2

3

0

C.

Fairly familiar with it.

11

3

7

1

D.

Very familiar with it.7

7

5

7

2

E.

Very familiar and applied it in some situations.

2

1

4

2

F.

Very familiar and applied it in many situations.

0

1

6

3

 

Total

74

19

30

8

 

The next question—“How would you best describe the theocratic war doctrine?”—was answered as follows (the numbers do not add to 131 because the respondents could select more than one response) is reproduced in table II

 

(Page Three-click here)