Category Archives: Scandals

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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China Crisis for Jehovah’s Witnesses – 18 members indicted

18 Jehovah’s Witnesses indicted in relation to “using an evil religion organization” in China

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Open Invitation to the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses to Denounce the Actions of the Chinese Government and Prosecutors

We, Anonymous, demand that the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses give the same degree of attention to the plight of the 18 Jehovah’s Witnesses, indicted in China in relation to “using an evil religion organization,” as you did to the plight of Dennis Christensen, the Watch Tower Society representative in Russia.

On April 15, 2019, a total of 18 Jehovah’s Witnesses in China were arrested and charged with indictable offences relating to, “using an evil religion organization” to “incite the obstruction of law enforcement,” and one charge relating to, “obstructing law enforcement by organizing and using an evil religious organization.” Since the arrests, the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses have remained silent on the plight of these 18 Jehovah’s Witnesses in China.

Since April 15, 2019, the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses have published 11 individual articles on the JW.ORG website critical of the Russian government and prosecutors, and supportive of Dennis Christensen and other Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia being prosecuted.

DOWNLOAD | China Crisis for Jehovah’s Witnesses 2019 (translation of indictment) – PDF

The Background

April 15, 2019 (Urumqi, Xinjiang). Authorities in China’s north-western Xinjiang region indicted 18 individuals on account of being Jehovah’s Witnesses, according to a formal prosecutor’s indictment paper.

China Indictment against Jehovah's Witnesses

Indictment issued against 18 Jehovah’s Witnesses in China

Those indicted are Liu Weiguo, Lin Zaiwu, Li Yifang, Lin Jie, Jiang Xijun, Gao Xinlian, Wang Xiaoqing, Yu Bingru, Zhang Min, Jiang Jinling, Chen Meiling, Fan Tao, Wei Pengfei, Cao Lili, Ma Xiaojun, Yang Hua, Shi Xianhe, and Xu Yanli. All except for Jiang Xijun were charged with using an “evil religious organization” to incite the obstruction of law enforcement, and Jiang received a law enforcement charge for allegedly “obstructing law enforcement by organizing and using an evil religious organization.”

The indictments evidence that the defendants violated religious management regulations by establishing a congregation in Korla, Xinjiang, and converting 63 people, among other accusations of “spreading superstition and heresy” and preventing people from joining Communist Party organizations.

The charges

All charges are brought under Article 300 of the Chinese Criminal Code:

Article 300:

Whoever organizes or uses superstitious sects or secret societies or evil religious organizations, or uses feudal superstition to undermine enforcement of the state’s laws or administrative regulations shall be sentenced to fixed-term imprisonment of not less than three years and not more than seven years. If the circumstances are especially serious, the offender shall be sentenced to fixed-term imprisonment of not less than seven years.

Whoever organizes or uses superstitious sects or secret societies or evil religious organizations, or uses feudal superstition to deceive another person and causes death of the person shall be punished according to the provisions of the preceding paragraph.

Whoever organizes or uses superstitious sects or secret societies or evil religious organizations, or uses feudal superstition to rape a woman or defraud property shall be decided a crime and punished respectively according to the provisions of Article 236 and Article 266 of this Law.

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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 harm to sections of the community.

Sources: 

http://theconversation.com/jehovahs-witnesses-neglected-victims-of-persecution-114141

https://www.newsweek.com/trump-administration-slams-countries-china-russia-violating-religious-freedom-1254633

https://www.getreligion.org/getreligion/2019/2/10/for-russias-jehovahs-witnesses-and-chinas-uighur-muslims-politics-overrides-all-religious-freedom-claims

https://www.chinaaid.org/2019/06/18-indicted-for-being-jehovahs-witnesses.html

https://www.jw.org/en/news/jw/region/russia/

 

How to Survive Being Jehovah’s Witness in China?

Persecution Against Jehovah’s Witnesses Escalates in China

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JW Leaks Redux | We are back for 2019 with a Scandal

Watchtower New York Scandal

To kick off 2019, JW Leaks have published a 37 page unredacted file on all Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc., properties sold in the State of New York, between April 2004 and December 2018, for a Grand Total of US$2,081,520,000 (over 2 billion US dollars).

DOWNLOAD: Watchtower New York Brooklyn real estate transfers

This document contains the Real Property Transfer Report for all Watchtower New York sales as well as the sale price, seller, purchaser, and the date of transfer.

Some US$1.8 billion of sales occurred from 2012 onwards, after Watchtower New York lost the Candace Conti case, and the jury awarded her US$28,000,001 which was later reduced by agreement between parties following an appeal.

About JW Leaks

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

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Soon… since 1879.

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Watchtower of Britain found liable for actions of child rapist Peter Stewart

Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of Britain, the Body of Elders in the Loughborough Blackbrook Congregation, and the Body of Elders in the Loughborough Southwood Congregation have been found liable for the actions of child rapist Peter Stewart.

FROM THE HIGH COURT JUDGMENT OF  THE HONOURABLE MR JUSTICE GLOBE

[2015] EWHC 1722 (QB)

19 June 2015

3. The claimant, who is now 29 years of age, claims damages for personal injury and loss arising out of being sexually assaulted by Peter Stewart, now deceased, between 1989 and 1994, when she was between about the ages of 4 and 9. Quantum has been agreed subject to liability.

4. The first defendants are the over-arching body of the second and third defendants. It is common ground that, if the second and/or third defendants are liable, then the first defendants will satisfy the judgment on behalf of the other defendants. The Blackbrook and Southwood Jehovah’s Witness Congregations are the direct or indirect successors of the congregation that was originally known as the Loughborough Limehurst Jehovah’s Witness Congregation, then split into two congregations known as the Limehurst Jehovah’s Witness Congregation and the Garendon Park Jehovah’s Witness Congregation, which congregations are central to the factual matrix of the case…

Vicarious liability

124. That leaves the issue of vicarious liability for the elders. As summarised earlier in paragraphs 10-18, the elders had additional responsibilities to those held by ministerial servants. They were even closer and more integrated with congregational issues than were ministerial servants. They had a spiritual role and partly exercised that role, via the judicial committee, and decisions of the body consequent upon decisions of the judicial committee. The decisions that emanated from the judicial committee and thereafter from the body of elders were a fundamental part of the role of the elders within the organisation. The second and third defendants are the trustees and successors of the Garendon Park and Limehurst Congregations. They are unincorporated associations who have taken over the responsibility of the congregations. In circumstances where, having applied the two-stage test, I have already found they are vicariously liable for the actions of Peter Stewart, I also find they are vicariously liable for the actions of the elders in relation to the above breach of duty arising from the findings of the judicial committee in 1990.

Decision

125. For all of these reasons, I am satisfied that the defendants should be held responsible for what Peter Stewart did between 1989 and 1994. The claim succeeds. Judgment should be entered for the claimant. An order will need to be drawn up to reflect the agreement as to quantum.

Download Judgment:

A v Watchtower Britain and Loughborough Blackbrook Congregation – [2015] EWHC 1722 (QB) – pdf

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

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Candace Conti v Watchtower – Court of Appeal Decision

COURT OF APPEAL DECISION – 13 APRIL 2015

Conti v Watchtower – Appeals Court Final Decision (April 13, 2015) – pdf

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COURT DOCUMENTS DAMAGING TO WATCHTOWER SOCIETY’S REPUTATION

Body of Elders letter introducing child abuser to new congregation – pdf

Letters between Body of Elders and Watchtower over Kendrick – pdf

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COURT DOCUMENTS RELATED TO THE CASE

LINK  Documents and court records relating to the case of “Candace Conti v. Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York & North Fremont Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses”

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Conti v Watchtower Appeals Judgment 2015

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