AUSTRALIA | Jehovah’s Witnesses form new religious corporations

The governing body of Jehovah’s Witnesses have approved the formation of an additional management corporation for Jehovah’s Witnesses in Australia and the formation of a new audio visual production company.

On 11 November 2019 a new Jehovah’s Witnesses company, “Kingdom Support Services (Australasia) Limited” (KSSA), was registered in Australia to “promote throughout Australasia the advancement of the Christian religion as understood and taught by the ecclesiastical Governing Body” and to “co-operate with or provide financial assistance to persons having similar aims and purposes and to other charitable organizations having similar aims and purposes within Australasia or elsewhere”.

The structure and charitable purpose of KSSA allows it to provide benevolent disaster relief (‘financial assistance’) to victims of the current bushfires in Australia, albeit limited exclusively to “Jehovah’s Witnesses [who] practice their religion under the spiritual direction of the Governing Body”. As of January 2020, the Jehovah’s Witnesses branch committee in Australia, under the direction of the governing body, have formed two Disaster Relief Committees to provide spiritual and material help to bushfire victims in Australia that meet the religion’s criteria.

Two days earlier, on 8 November 2019 another Jehovah’s Witnesses company, “AVS Productions (Australasia) Limited” (AVSPA), was registered in Australia to “record, produce, publish, and distribute or dispose by way of gift music, photographs, film, animation, and other intellectual property of a religious or charitable nature”.

Both new Jehovah’s Witnesses corporations have registered with the Australian Charities and Not-for-profit Commission (ACNC) as religious charities.

Despite the audio visual and animation production objects of AVSPA this new corporation also claims to “support members of the Worldwide Order of Special Full-Time Servants of Jehovah’s Witnesses”.

These two new Jehovah’s Witnesses companies join the new and controversial management corporation, Christian Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses (Australasia) Limited (CCJWA), which was formed on 12 April 2019 to administer congregations, congregation charities, and bodies of elders. and also to “support members of the Worldwide Order of Special Full-Time Servants of Jehovah’s Witnesses”.

CCJWA, despite being registered as a not-for-profit corporation with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC), is yet to be approved as a charity by the ACNC. On 15 April 2019 CCJWA also commenced formally trading in Australia under the business name “Jehovah’s Witnesses” despite that trading name being registered to Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of Australia Limited since 31 July 2000.

Also currently operating in Australia is another legal entity called “Christian Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses” (CCJW) which was registered as a business on 3 December 2012.

For background information on the CCJWA see the JW Leaks article: Newly registered Jehovah’s Witnesses legal entity issues elders letter to destroy records.

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Kingdom Support Services (Australasia) Limited

Mark Adrian Yeomans, director and secretary

David Melville Winder, director

Joshua Luke Sapienza, director

DOWNLOAD

Kingdom Support Services (Australasia) Limited corporate documents – pdf

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AVS Productions (Australasia) Limited

Anastasios Thomaidis, director and secretary

David Andrew De Kock, director

Darren Michael Janes, director

DOWNLOAD

AVS Productions (Australasia) Limited corporate documents – pdf

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About JW Leaks

JW Leaks is about openness, transparency and accountability within the Church of Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Watch Tower Society.

JW Leaks exposes and holds accountable the Watch Tower Society and those leaders within the Jehovah’s Witnesses organization that disregard or violate the laws of the land, and that cause religious harm to sections of the community.

Jehovah’s Witnesses . . . Proclaimers of “soon” since 1879

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Watchtower Australia 2019 Financial Returns and changes to board of directors and officers

Watchtower Australia’s 2019 Financial Returns and new company directors appointed

On 19 December 2019 Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of Australia Limited filed notification with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) of changes to their board of directors.

Out

Winston Reginald Payne (cessation date as company director: 01-11-2019)

Gregory John Frank (cessation date as company director: 01-11-2019)

Change of Officeholder Role

Allan John Wood (appointment date: 11-11-2019 as secretary, continues as company director)

New Appointments

Daryn Bentley Gee (appointment date: 01-11-2019 as director)

Tom Pecipajkovski (appointment date: 01-11-2019 as director)

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Watchtower Australia Company Directors and Charity Responsible Persons (as of 2020)

Harold Vivian Mouritz

Terrence John O’Brien

Alan John Wood

Daryn Bentley Gee

Tom Pecipajkovski

DOWNLOADS

Watchtower Australia change to company details – Form 484 – pdf

Watchtower Australia – 2020 ACNC Charity Summary – pdf

Watchtower Australia corporate documents – pdf

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Watchtower Australia’s 2019 Annual Financial Return

DOWNLOADS

Watchtower Australia 2019 Annual Financial Report – pdf

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About JW Leaks

JW Leaks is about openness, transparency and accountability within the Church of Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Watch Tower Society.

JW Leaks exposes and holds accountable the Watch Tower Society and those leaders within the Jehovah’s Witnesses organization that disregard or violate the laws of the land, and that cause religious harm to sections of the community.

Jehovah’s Witnesses . . . Proclaimers of “soon” since 1879

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AUSTRALIA | Jehovah’s Witnesses annual reports to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse

Jehovah’s Witnesses in Australia annual child protection compliance reports for 2018 and 2019

The Australian Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse (CARC) recommended that, at a minimum, eleven institutions that were the subject of relevant Royal Commission hearings should provide annual progress reports by the end of 2018 and again in 2019. The National Office for Child Safety worked with these institutions to facilitate their public reporting in 2018 and 2019. Jehovah’s Witnesses were one of those eleven institutions.

Summary of 2019 report submitted by Jehovah’s Witnesses

762 congregations of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Australia

67,816 Jehovah’s Witnesses

Jehovah’s Witnesses claim they “are fully compliant with each of the recommendations” of the CARC.

Every elder and ministerial servant has a Working With Children clearance in those states where this is legislated.

Recommendation 16.28: Regarding the involvement of women: “we confirm that women can be and are fully involved in receiving and submitting evidence of child sexual abuse and in providing support to a victim. It is the Scriptural responsibility of congregation elders to determine whether the alleged perpetrator should remain one of Jehovah’s Witnesses.”

Recommendation 16.29: Regarding shunning: “we confirm that Jehovah’s Witnesses do not shun victims of child abuse but treat them with compassion, understanding and kindness.”

DOWNLOADS

Jehovah’s Witnesses Child Abuse Royal Commission Annual Progress Report – 2019 – pdf

Jehovah’s Witnesses Child Abuse Royal Commission Annual Report – 2018 – pdf

Image by Commonwealth of Australia. 2019. Used under CC BY 4.0 licence.

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About JW Leaks

JW Leaks is about openness, transparency and accountability within the Church of Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Watch Tower Society.

JW Leaks exposes and holds accountable the Watch Tower Society and those leaders within the Jehovah’s Witnesses organization that disregard or violate the laws of the land, and that cause religious harm to sections of the community.

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Jehovah’s Witnesses . . . Proclaimers of “soon” since 1879

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AUSTRALIA | Newly registered Jehovah’s Witnesses legal entity issues elders letter to destroy records

The recently registered Australian company “Christian Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses (Australasia)” has issued a body of elders letter, dated August 28, 2019, instructing elders to destroy judicial hearing records and certain congregation records.

>> DOWNLOAD: CCJW (Australasia) BOE letter – 28 August 2019 – PDF <<

Background: a new corporation is formed

On 12 April 2019 a new Jehovah’s Witness company, “Christian Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses (Australasia) Limited” (CCJWA) was formed in Australia to administer congregations, congregation charities, and bodies of elders.

On 15 April 2019 CCJWA commenced formally trading in Australia under the business name “Jehovah’s Witnesses” despite that trading name being registered to Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of Australia Limited (Watchtower Australia) since 31 July 2000.

Also currently operating in Australia is another legal entity called “Christian Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses” (CCJW) which was registered as a business on 3 December 2012.

On 5 November 2013, Watchtower Australia sent out a body of elders (BOE) letter instructing all congregations to form as independent legal entities and charities and to register with the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission << ACNC >>. By the end of the month over 800 congregations within Australia had become their own legal entity trading under the business name “[NAME] Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses.” Under this legal arrangement congregation records, including judicial records and membership records, are the property of the individual charity and not CCJWA.

These 800 congregation charities and their corporate structure will be discussed in detail in a follow up post on JW Leaks, along with copies of all internal documents and correspondence issued by Watchtower Australia to each congregation on how to set up each new legal entity and charity.

CORPORATE DOCUMENT DOWNLOADS

Corporate documents for new Christian Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses (Australasia) 2019 – PDF

Corporate documents for old Christian Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses (Australia) – PDF

Corporate documents for Watchtower Australia – PDF

Body of Elders letter dated August 28, 2019:

In one of it’s first issued body of elders letters, the newly formed CCJWA, issued instructions to all elders to review congregational records, their personal computers, hard copy files, and their meetings bags for the purpose of record destruction.

[EXTRACT] Review of Current Records: 

After discussing this letter as a body of elders, we would like the secretary along with the coordinator, or another assigned elder, to review what is currently in the congregation’s confidential file. They should examine the contents of all sealed envelopes in the file to confirm that they contain only the documents mentioned in the Shepherd book, chapter 22, paragraphs 22-23. The assigned elders should adhere to the direction in paragraph 26 when determining if the entire contents of the envelope should be destroyed. If the elders are not sure if a particular document needs to be retained, they should feel free to contact the Service Department for assistance.

Please ensure that all records kept in the file are in harmony with what is outlined in the Shepherd book, chapter 22, and our comments above. Additionally, we ask that each elder check his personal computer, or hard copy files, and even his meeting bag, to ensure that no confidential correspondence is retained outside the congregation’s confidential file. We would like the secretary to confirm with each elder that this has been done.

Destroying congregation records

Over the past few months in Australia, various congregations, and Watchtower Australia have received written requests from individuals for lawful access to documents, including judicial hearing records, as held on them. These records as requested included child abuse records and personal records. The right to access your personal information and congregational records is granted under the Commonwealth Privacy Act 1988 and the Australian Privacy Principles. See the link below for more information.

LINK: Office of Australian Information Commissioner

In addition, a number of law enforcement actions and investigations have commenced into various legal entities of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Australia as well as into individual leaders of the religion.

The documents referred to in the above cited body of elders letter to be destroyed, as sent out by the newly formed CCJWA, are among the documents currently being sought for both criminal and civil cases. As such the destruction of them may constitute the destruction of evidence.

For the purpose of assisting individuals so as to protect information held on them, the body of elders letter sent out by the CCJWA, dated August 28, 2919, is available for downloading below:

>> DOWNLOAD: CCJW (Australasia) BOE letter – 28 August 2019 – PDF <<

LINK to elders book “Shepherd the Flock of God” as referred to in above letter

NEW: AUSTRALIA disfellowshipping records form and confidential summation guide

How to protect your right to access documents on yourself

For Australians, below are copies of two letters, in MS word doc format, that some individuals have recently used for the purpose of protecting their records; and so as to access information held on them from the Jehovah’s Witnesses:

AUSTRALIA ONLY – generic request for access to information from Watchtower

AUSTRALIA ONLY – letter TO CCJWA instructing the keeping of records

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POST SCRIPT

Current Watchtower Australia Document Retention Policy

Please note this is not the document retention policy for CCJWA and individual congregations of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Australia who are registered as a charity.

WATCHTOWER DOCUMENT RETENTION POLICY

The primary purpose for recording and retaining this information is to enable Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of Australia (“the Society”), which is responsible for the religion of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Australia, to supervise the religious activities of Jehovah’s Witnesses throughout the country, individually and collectively. This includes:

(1)  Being aware of anyone who is no longer a member of the Christian Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses;

(2)  Knowing what spiritual help and assistance has been given to the individual concerned;

(3)  Providing whatever direction is needed to ensure that the Scriptural standards, as set out in God’s Holy Word, the Bible, are maintained in the Congregations of Jehovah’s Witnesses; and

(4)  Ensuring that the individual concerned is given whatever spiritual help and assistance is needed if he or she wishes to again become a member of the Christian Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses in the future.

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About JW Leaks

JW Leaks is about openness, transparency and accountability within the Church of Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Watch Tower Society.

JW Leaks exposes and holds accountable the Watch Tower Society and those leaders within the Jehovah’s Witnesses organization that disregard or violate the laws of the land, and that cause religious harm to sections of the community.

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Jehovah’s Witnesses . . . Proclaimers of “soon” since 1879

 

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Watchtower v JW (a minor) Supreme Court documents (2019)

JW Leaks has published a full single volume of documents filed in the US Supreme Court in the matter of Watchtower v JW (a minor)

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DOWNLOAD: Watchtower v JW (a minor) Supreme Court documents (2019)

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Plaintiff and respondent J.W., through her guardian ad litem, sued defendant and appellant Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc. (Watchtower) and others for (1) negligence; (2) negligent supervision/failure to warn; (3) negligent hiring/retention; (4) negligent failure to warn, train, or educate J.W.; (5) sexual battery; and (6) intentional infliction of emotional distress. In January 2014, J.W. filed a motion to compel further discovery responses. On February 11, the trial court granted the motion in part. The trial court’s order compelled Watchtower to produce all documents Watchtower received in response to a letter sent by Watchtower to Jehovah’s Witness congregations on March 14, 1997, concerning known molesters in the church (1997 Documents).

By November 2014, Watchtower had not produced the 1997 Documents, and J.W. moved for terminating sanctions. At a hearing on the sanctions motion, the trial court offered Watchtower four days to produce the 1997 Documents. Watchtower declined the offer and refused to produce the 1997 Documents. The trial court granted the motion for terminating sanctions and struck Watchtower’s answer. The trial court clerk entered Watchtower’s default. After considering evidence, the trial court entered judgment in favor of J.W. and awarded her $4,016,152.39.

On appeal, Watchtower raises four issues. First, Watchtower contends J.W. failed to allege proximate cause in her first amended complaint (FAC). Second, Watchtower asserts its right of due process was violated. Third, Watchtower contends terminating sanctions were excessive because lesser sanctions may have been effective. Fourth, Watchtower contends the trial court erred by denying Watchtower’s motion for relief from the terminating sanctions.

A central thesis of Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc.’s (“Watchtower”) petition is that if it, as a religious corporation, claims that a document is protected by the clergy privilege, the courts are powerless to come to a different conclusion; indeed, powerless to even inquire as to the viability of that claim. (Pet. at 15.) According to Watchtower, the mere act of conducting judicial proceedings related to the claim of privilege results in excessive entanglement with religion. (Pet. at 20.) This radical position is directly at odds with hundreds of years of judicial precedent adjudicating—sometimes applying and sometimes rejecting—state law claims of clergy privilege.

Applying its thesis to this case, Watchtower argues that it is constitutionally entitled to affirmatively invoke the clergy privilege and seek court rulings upholding that assertion, but simply ignore any adverse rulings. As it had done in two prior cases involving similar orders to produce documents evidencing child molestation by its members (“Molestation Files”), Watchtower employed this “heads I win, tails you lose” approach in this case. (See, e.g., Lopez v. Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc., 246 Cal.App.4th 566 (2016); Padron v. Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc., 16 Cal.App.5th 1246 (2017).) It gambled that it could disrespect the judicial process and ignore court orders while the court lacked the authority to take meaningful action to correct its disobedience. It lost that gamble and was defaulted.

The First Amendment does not exist to provide religious institutions with a free pass to operate outside of the law.

MEDIA LINK

The Jehovah’s Witnesses want the Supreme Court to help them cover up sex abuse

POSTSCRIPT

In its Reply Brief filed this week in the Supreme Court, Watchtower claims it “is the ideal litigant to champion federal constitutional rights.” As evidence Watchtower cites a total of eight court cases in which it claims to have championed constitutional rights before the Supreme Court. An examination of those cited cases shows that Watchtower was not the plaintiff, defendant, petitioner, or respondent in seven of those eight cases.

Those eight cases cited by Watchtower are:

Schneider v. State of New Jersey, 308 U.S. 147 (1939)

West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette, 319 U.S. 624 (1943)

Martin v. City of Struthers, 319 U.S. 141 (1943)

Murdock v. Pennsylvania, 319 U.S. 105 (1943)

Fowler v. Rhode Island, 345 U.S. 67 (1953)

Wooley v. Maynard, 430 U.S. 705 (1977)

Thomas v. Review Board, 450 U.S. 707 (1981)

Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc. v. Village of Stratton, Ohio, 536 U.S. 150 (2002)

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Jehovah’s Witnesses . . . Proclaimers of “soon” since 1879.

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