My debut on stage at The Evening Muse, NoDa, Charlotte:
It was something like a honky tonk rodeo clown trying to sing.
No tomatoes were harmed. Continue reading
Hey there. You missed me?
It’s only been twenty years or so?
Yesterday I feared going outside. No. Not all together, just after I went “pink”. I promised my mother I’d confess later, and here I am.
Where to begin?
Oh, to start I have already confessed to wanting to be God’s intern, or having already applied and having been accepted, as well as having requested his job should ever want to leave a woman in charge while on vacation or something.
If that doesn’t do me in, I don’t know what will.
“To answer your question, the call came in late the evening of the 3rd, 1-2:00 am, he stopped breathing 6-7:00 am on the fourth.”
News reports claim that the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, the official name for the organization that governs the Jehovah’s Witnesses worldwide, has been engaged in covering up child abuse within the religion on a massive scale.
But are these reports justified? Is this a case of an innocent religion being unfairly maligned because of the actions of one or two bad apples in their ranks? How many victims are there? Do the Governing Body know about these issues? What’s really going in the multiple courtroom cases that Watchtower has been fighting across the world?
Jehovah’s Witnesses and Child Abuse—Is there a problem? is a painstakingly researched documentary that draws together evidence from sources spanning the past twenty five years…
“Another way we can contribute to the oneness: rejecting false stories that are designed to separate us from Jehovah’s organization. As an example, think about the apostate-driven lies and dishonesties that Jehovah’s organization is permissive toward pedophiles. I mean, that is ridiculous, isn’t it! If anybody takes action against someone who would threaten our young ones, and takes action to protect our young ones, it is Jehovah’s organization. We reject outright such lies.”
Lett’s talk about the Watchtower budget with more expenditures than income, the new fixed monthly “donation arrangement” for “kingdom hall” construction, and the amount of money involved in Warwick…
While Lett encourages Jehovah’s Witnesses to “honor Jehovah with your valuable things”…”a small donation from each of many of Jehovah’s people add’s up to a large amount of dedicated funds that can be used powerfully by Jehovah’s organization.”
If a child does not have two witnesses, they and their parents are made to feel their case isn’t good enough for the Jehovah’s Witnesses.
— Angela Marié Glass (@Ang) December 17, 2015
And if their case isn’t good enough for the ‘congregation’, then what compels them to see the help of qualified professionals? Not ‘elders’.
— Angela Marié Glass (@Ang) December 17, 2015
What are some ways that we can be generous toward Jehovah? We can also be generous toward Jehovah. “Honor Jehovah with your valuable things,” admonish the Scriptures. (Prov. 3:9) Those “valuable things” include our time, energy, and resources, which we can freely spend in his service.
Even young children can learn to be generous toward Jehovah. “When our family makes a donation at the Kingdom Hall, we let our children put the money in the contribution box,” says their father, Jason. “They enjoy it because, as they put it, they’re ‘giving something to Jehovah.’”Children who experience the joy of giving to Jehovah while they are young are likely to continue being generous toward him in adulthood.—Prov. 22:6.
NBC News, New York, reports that “the Jehovah’s Witnesses, the door-knocking religious group that’s been based in Brooklyn for a century, is selling its headquarters and other properties for an expected price tag of $1 billion or more.”
The Watchtower Society writes, “Having sufficient, adequate places of worship is vital, as Jehovah continues to ‘speed up’ the gathering of ‘a mighty nation. In order to meet these ever increasing needs, the Governing Body has directed that an adjustment be made in the way Kingdom Hall and Assembly Hall construction projects are financed. In harmony with 2 Corinthians 8:12-14, congregations will now be asked to pool their resources worldwide to support the construction of theocratic facilities wherever they are needed. …all congregations will have the opportunity to support Kingdom Hall and Assembly Hall construction work worldwide by resolving to make a monthly donation from congregation funds.”
Tucker Reed, president of the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership, called $1 billion “a conservative estimate” for the Witnesses’ real estate portfolio. If sale of the December 2015 list property brings the “expected price tag of $1 billion” or more as reported by the news media, then the total Brooklyn, NY based property sales for this non-profit since beginning the move to Warwick in 2004 will be almost $2 billion dollars. (See table below.)
Legal and Liability Distinctions
Particularly since 2000, Jehovah’s Witnesses have maintained a distinction between their corporations and their volunteer religious organization.
In 2001 the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York was listed among the top forty revenue-generating companies in New York City, reporting an annual revenue of about $951 million US dollars. [See Wikipedia]
Meanwhile from 2005 to 2013 there was a 39% reduction in pages of printed content (see table below), and now there is now a push to use digital technology as a means to access their online content rather than reliance on printed materials.
The number of Jehovah’s Witnesses participating in collecting donations in the worldwide preaching work has increased since 2001, while producing and printing magazine content has been reduced to minimal cost.
A California jury awarded Candace Conti $28 million in damages in a case against the Jehovah’s Witnesses–the largest verdict for a single victim of child abuse against a religious organization in U.S. history.
The amount was later reduced to $15.6 million, including $8.6 million in punitive damages…
Now, years later, an appeals court has eroded her courtroom victory even further by ruling that the leadership of the Jehovah’s Witnesses had no duty to warn congregants that a confessed child molester was one of their own.
The decision by the California Court of Appeal is the latest ruling in a rash of lawsuits aimed at Jehovah’s Witnesses policies directing elders to keep child abuse secret from their congregations and secular authorities.
As a result, judges eliminated the punitive damages in the case. Still, Conti stands to receive $2.8 million.
There were also several other cases settled in Southern California for unspecified millions.
Still, that’s not much compared to annual donation revenue from fixed monthly donations to the kingdom hall building work and donations collected to support the worldwide preaching work + capital gains from property sales.
Plus, as a non-profit, the Watchtower doesn’t follow the same tax rules as a corporation.
Meanwhile over in the UK, the Charity Commission has opened an operational compliance case on a Jehovah’s Witnesses congregation in Wales after Mark Sewell was found guilty of numerous sex offenses. Seven charges of indecent assault against adults and minors, and one of rape; the crimes took place between 1985 and 1995.
A spokeswoman for the commission said the regulator was aware of the situation. “We have opened an operational compliance case on the charity,” she said.
“The Charity Commission’s regulatory concern is whether the trustees of the charity have complied with and fulfilled their duties and responsibilities as trustees under charity law and how the charity dealt with risks to the charity and its beneficiaries, including the application of safeguarding policy and procedures. We cannot comment further while the case is live.”
She said the case would be conducted independently of two statutory inquiries into Jehovah’s Witnesses charities opened last month in relation to issues including child protection.
On 10 June 2015, the regulator announced that it was investigating the Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses, and the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Britain, the religion’s governing body.
A spokesman for the Watch Tower Society asked for all media enquiries to be directed to the governing body. Which governing body?
In the United States, congregations are set up as non-profit corporations with three elders from the congregation that has the property. The elders are only trustees and do not own anything nor does the congregation. If any of these elders are removed or step down, die, or move outside this congregation, another trustee is appointed by the body of elders (BOE).
The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society is governed by the laws for non-profit corporations set up by the IRS in the United States. Nonprofit corporations are businesses that don’t allow ownership and do not have an appreciation of stock or dividend distribution.
Even if the Watchtower were dissolved “as governments turn on religion“, the nonprofit organization is not “owned” by the person or persons that started it. It is a public organization that belongs to the public at-large. The parties responsible to operate the organization for the stakeholders are the members of the board of directors.
Also, a nonprofit corporation cannot be sold. If a nonprofit corporation were to “close down”, or dissolve, the board of directors of the nonprofit must distribute all of the nonprofit’s assets to another nonprofit corporation after all debts have been settled.
If a congregation (corporation) is dissolved, the property reverts to the parent non-profit corporation—the Watchtower Tract Society.
Also, Watchtower congregation’s circuit or district overseer may request to sell a property and be denied.
For instance, the loan on the Menlo Park, California Kingdom Hall was granted by a private individual, thus Watchtower Society (WTS) had no lien on the property.
The loan was paid in full in 2009 and the property now worth $2.2 million was owned free and clear by an independent California corporation called The Menlo Park Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses Inc.
The big issues here are the structure of the Watchtower Society and ownership of Kingdom Halls, or the individual, local church buildings where the congregations meet.
Among many changes to establish legal interest was to start getting recorded on deeds as the first position lien holder when making remodel and quick build loans. The Society also started a group insurance program for all Kingdom Halls, ostensibly to provide lower cost premiums, but also this showed an interest in each property.
The Watchtower Society argued that it was indeed a hierarchy, something it had denied for years.
The Society than proceeded to structure things so it actually owned and had title to each Kingdom Hall.
When any Congregation decides to build a Kingdom Hall, upon approval from The Watchtower headquarters, of course, the Watchtower Society will fund it, holding a mortgage which the congregation will eventually pay back in regular monthly payments, like you pay for your house.
The big difference is that when you get done making payments, your house is yours. When the Jehovah’s Witnesses congregations finish making payments, the Kingdom Hall belongs to the Watchtower Society.
However, the local Elders/Corporate Officers of Menlo Park Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses Inc. did not agree to remodel, and they refused the Watchtower loan.
This Menlo Park Congregation/Corporation was formed without by-laws and as such the local corporate laws apply: as one person said, “the WTS has no more right to take over this independent corporation then they do Saint Mary’s Cathedral in San Francisco.”
The Watchtower responded by removing and replacing those local Menlo Park congregation elders.
Under California law, there is no requirement for the Officers of an independent corporation to also be Jehovah’s Witnesses or Elders. Therefore, while you can remove them as elders, you can not legally remove them from their positions on the corporate board.
Perhaps the most poignant moment from the Menlo Park case came when Watchtower’s legal representative, Calvin Rouse, made the following declaration in court…
“Ordinarily I wouldn’t be here, but this is one of our 13,000 congregations in the United States. We are a hierarchical religion structured just like the Catholic Church. And when the order from the Pope comes down in the church defrocking a priest and kicking him out, he no longer has any say in any matter in the local parish priest – in the parish. The same situation as here. In his complaint he brings one claim. He claims that he wants to be reinstated as a director and an officer in the Menlo Park Congregation. This is contrary to our church rules and regulations and bylaws. We brought our organizational bylaws book, our rule book here, and we are prepared to present witnesses that this is a hierarchical organization.” — court transcript
The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society is one of the largest private development companies in the world, in possession of over 80,000 properties worldwide. (According to the Watchtower LDC meeting, Patterson, Nov 15-18, 2014)
Again, all by volunteers and donations—no employees expenditures like social security, health and life insurance, nor taxes, etc.
Imagine if the parent non-profit corporation discerned it was pertinent, given the times, for the congregations to go underground?
Now, remember, the broadcast is to give Jehovah your valuable things because the Watchtower has more expenditures than income—why?
Did leaders of Jehovah’s Witnesses cover up child sex abuse? PBS NewsHour special correspondent Trey Bundy of the CIR’s Reveal reports on how the Watchtower organization is using the first amendment to fight these charges.
The Handling of Cases of Child Sexual Abuse Watchtower Judicial Committee = Obstruction of Criminal Justice “Leave it in Jehovah’s hands”
— Angela Marié Glass (@Ang) December 17, 2015
In the United States, the Watchtower Defendants in the Candace Conti case have now lodged an appeal the case with four main arguments:
“If therefore you are offering your gift at the altar, and there remember that your brother has anything against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. Agree with your adversary quickly, while you are with him on the way; lest perhaps the prosecutor deliver you to the judge, and the judge deliver you to the officer, and you be cast into prison. Most certainly I tell you, you shall by no means get out of there, until you have paid the last penny.‡”
“Would you disagree then with anyone who said that the efforts to highlight and deal with child sexual abuse in the church is engaging in apostate lies?” — Asked Australia’s royal commission into institutional responses to child sexual abuse of Geoffrey Jackson, Watchtower governing body member.
In summary, the Watchtower tells of when the world’s religious system will turn on Babylon the Great who symbolizes ‘false religion’. Meanwhile, the Jehovah’s Witnesses, who claim to be no part of Christendom, have been making headlines for selling chunks of their sizable Brooklyn holdings in preparation for a move upstate to their new world headquarters in Warwick.
The organization, which has been headquartered in Brooklyn Heights since 1909, owned 42 Brooklyn buildings before it began selling them off in 2004. And according to city records, it’s sold $425 million worth of New York City property since then — not including around $100 million of properties in contract, according to published reports.
By comparison, the organization’s new 253-acre campus in Warwick, N.Y., will cost an estimated $11.5 million to build.
As reported by the Watchtower’s Awake magazine, “By the end of 2004, three Catholic dioceses in the United States had filed for bankruptcy. All three were forced to take this step because of the financial costs of clergy sexual abuse scandals. A number of dioceses have talked about the possibility of having to file for bankruptcy, but the first to do so was the Archdiocese of Portland, Oregon, in July 2004. That action halted two lawsuits in which plaintiffs were seeking a total of $155 million in compensation for molestation. According to the National Catholic Reporter, “the archdiocese and its insurers already have paid more than $53 million to settle more than 130 claims by people who say they were abused by priests.” In September 2004, the diocese of Tucson, Arizona, became the second diocese to seek bankruptcy protection from multimillion dollar claims being brought against it. The diocese of Spokane, Washington, became the third, in December 2004.”
According to a spokesperson for the Witnesses, 18 properties remain. Those properties include 25 Columbia Heights and a large parcel between Vine Street and Columbia Heights in the Brooklyn Heights area, as well as massive Dumbo site 85 Jay Street, which is zoned for residential development.
The group’s $1 billion portfolio of buildings — which also includes holdings in the East Village — has been marketed variously by Massey Knakal, Cushman & Wakefield, and Eastern Consolidated. This past July, a partnership led by Jared Kushner’s Kushner Companies and Aby Rosen’s RFR Holdings announced that it was buying six Dumbo buildings totaling 1.2 million square feet from the Witnesses for $375 million. The industrial buildings will be developed into loft-style office space. The deal is set to be Brooklyn’s largest this year.
The Watchtower places children in the organization at significant risk for sexual abuse
Meanwhile the Royal Australian Commission find that the practices and procedures of the Jehovah’s Witness organization for the prevention of child sexual abuse, and in particular for the management of the risk of an abuser reoffending, do not take account of the actual risk of an offender reoffending and accordingly place children in the organization at significant risk of sexual abuse.
Royal Commission findings on Watchtower shunning
Members of the Jehovah’s Witness organization who no longer want to be subject to the organization’s rules and discipline have no alternative than to leave the organization which requires that they disassociate from it.
The Jehovah’s Witness organization’s policy of requiring its adherents to actively shun those who leave the organization:
Luke 18 One day Jesus told his disciples a story to show that they should always pray and never give up…
“There was a judge in a certain city,” he said, “who neither feared God nor cared about people. A widow of that city came to him repeatedly, saying, ‘Give me justice in this dispute with my enemy.’ The judge ignored her for a while, but finally he said to himself, ‘I don’t fear God or care about people, but this woman is driving me crazy. I’m going to see that she gets justice, because she is wearing me out with her constant requests!’”
Then the Lord said, “Learn a lesson from this unjust judge. Even he rendered a just decision in the end. So don’t you think God will surely give justice to his chosen people who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will grant justice to them quickly! But when the Son of Man returns, how many will he find on the earth who have faith?”
Woe to those who make unjust laws,
to those who issue oppressive decrees,
to deprive the poor of their rights
and withhold justice from the oppressed of my people,
making widows their prey
and robbing the fatherless…
What will you do on the day of reckoning,
when disaster comes from afar?
To whom will you run for help?
Where will you leave your riches?
Nothing will remain but to cringe among the captives
—or fall among the slain.
Yet for all this, his anger is not turned away,
his hand is still upraised.
“Why is there no mandatory reporting to a country’s judicial authorities when crimes occur? Taking actions against perpetrators is part of justice.”
Monsignor Charles Scicluna, the Vatican’s former chief sex crimes prosecutor, denied that the Holy See encourage cover-ups.
“Our guideline has always been that domestic law of the countries where the churches operate needs to be followed,” he said.
Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, the Vatican’s representative in Geneva, said that the Holy See welcomed any suggestions, which could help it in protecting children.
Since his election last year, Pope Francis has appeared to offer new hope to victims, with a call for action on sex abuse in the Church. Under his papacy, a Vatican committee has been set up to fight sexual abuse and help victims.
In a report by Vatican Radio, the Pope asked for forgiveness for the “evil” damage to children caused by sexual abusers in the clergy and said “sanctions” would be imposed.
After a spate of new cases in 2010, the Vatican issued new rules saying bishops should report suspected cases of abuse to local police, if required to do so by law.
The UN’s Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) said the Vatican Holy See had not acknowledged the extent of crimes committed and had not taken the measures necessary to address cases of child sexual abuse and to protect children.
Reacting to the UN report in February, Barbara Blaine, the president of Snap (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests), said it was clear that the Vatican had put the reputation of Church officials above protection of children.
“Despite all the rhetoric from Pope Francis and Vatican officials, they refuse to take action that will make this stop.” she said.
In 2011, the Watch Tower Society had 98 branch offices worldwide reporting to New York directly with other nations’ offices report to large branches nearby. The sale of the entire Spain branch complex will likely be for more than US $100 million dollars, with the Denmark Assembly Hall and seven additional Kingdom Halls up for sale for more than $30 million.
If expenditures, as Brother Lett says, are more than the Society’s income, then just where is all this money going?