While I was in St. Petersburg, Florida on vacation in February, I got a call from one of the elders of my former congregation “inviting” me to a judicial hearing the following week on the charge of apostasy. I told him that I wouldn’t be back in Canada until near the end of March, so we rescheduled it for April 1 which ironically is “April Fool’s Day”.
I asked him to send me a letter with the details of the meeting and he said he would, but then 10 minutes later he called back and told me that no letter would be forthcoming. He was terse on the phone and seemed uncomfortable talking to me. When I asked him for the names of the other elders that would be sitting on the committee, he refused to give them to me. He also declined to provide me with his mailing address, but after several voice mails and texts, responded with a text giving me the Kingdom Hall mailing address and telling me to use that for any correspondence. However, I was able to ascertain his own mailing address by other means, so I decided to cover all the bases and send out a letter to both addresses. To date, he hasn’t picked up the registered letter addressed to him.
What follows is the letter sent to the Aldershot congregation body of elders. I’ve removed any names as I do not wish to target individuals who may only be acting out a sincere, albeit misguided, belief that they are obeying God, just as Jesus foretold at John 16:2.
March 3, 2019
Body of Elders
Aldershot Congreation of Jehovah’s Witnesses
Burlington ON L7M 2L7
I am writing concerning your summons for me to appear before a judicial committee on the charge of apostasy on April 1, 2019 at 7 PM at the Aldershot Kingdom Hall in Burlington.
I was only a member of your congregation briefly—about a year—and I have not been a member of your congregation since the summer of 2015, nor have I been associating with any other congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses since that time. I have no contact with members of your congregation. So I was initially at a loss to explain this sudden interest in me after such a long time. My only conclusion is that the Canada branch office of Jehovah’s Witnesses has either instructed you directly—or more likely, through your Circuit Overseer—to initiate this action.
Having served as an elder myself for over 40 years, it comes as no surprise to me that everything about this flies in the face of written JW.org policy. We all know that Organization oral law supersedes what is written.
For instance, when I asked for the names of those who will serve on the judicial committee, I was tersely denied that knowledge. Yet the elders manual, Shepherd the Flock of God, 2019 edition, gives me the right to know who they are. (See sfl-E 15:2)
Even worse is the fact that the official web site of the Organization tells the whole world in multiple languages that Jehovah’s Witnesses do not shun former members who have chosen to leave. (See “Do Jehovah’s Witnesses Shun Former Members of their Religion?” on JW.org.) Obviously, that is carefully worded PR spin to mislead non-JWs about the true nature of Organization membership, i.e., that “you can check out, but you can never leave.”
Still, since I have not been associating for almost four years, calling me to a hearing to disfellowship me would seem to be a time-wasting formality.
I must therefore conclude that the motivation of the branch office Service Desk lies elsewhere. You have no authority over me, because I do not grant you that authority, but you do exercise authority over the diminishing number of Witnesses who remain faithful to the leaders of the Organization, both local and at headquarters. Like the Sanhedrin who persecuted all who followed Jesus, you fear me and those like me, because we speak truth, and you have no defense against truth other than the rod of punishment in the form of shunning. (John 9:22; 16:1-3; Acts 5:27-33) This is the reason that you will never engage in a Bible discussion with us.
Thus, you are now using what the Organization itself called “A Weapon of Darkness” back in the January 8, 1947 issue of Awake! (p. 27) to keep your remaining followers from learning truth by threatening them with being completely cut off from all their JW family and friends should they have any contact with those like me who back up what we say with Scripture rather than the speculateive, self-serving interpretations of men.
Our Lord Jesus said:
“For whoever practices vile things hates the light and does not come to the light, so that his works may not be reproved. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that his works may be made manifest as having been done in harmony with God.”” (Joh 3:20, 21)
I know you men believe you walk in light, as did I when I served as an elder. However, if you truly ‘come to the light, so that your works may be made manifest as having been done in harmony with God’, why do you refuse to do these things in the light of day? Why do you hide?
When I asked for information regarding the hearing in writing, I was told that none would be forthcoming. In the secular courts, the accused gets written notification of the specific charges against him and discovery of all accusers, witnesses, and evidence prior to the trial. But this is not done in the case of Witness judicial hearings. Elders are instructed to avoid putting anything in writing, and so the accused is blindsided when he finally sits before the judgment seat. Even during the hearing itself, secrecy is paramount.
According to the latest Elders manual, you have to enforce these restrictions during judicial hearings:
Generally, observers are not allowed. (See 15:12-13, 15.) The chairman…explains that audio or video recordings of the hearing are not permitted. (sfl-E 16:1)
Star Chambers and Kangaroo Courts are known for this type of “justice”, but using techniques that depend on darkness will only continue to bring reproach on Jehovah’s name. In Israel, judicial hearings were public, held at the city gates in the full view and hearing of all entering or leaving the city. (Zec 8:16) The only secret hearing in the Bible where the accused was denied any support, or counsel, or time to prepare a defence was that of Jesus Christ before the Sanhedrin. Not surprisingly, it was marked by the very abuse of authority a transparent process is designed to prevent. (Mark 14:53-65) Which of these patterns does the Organization’s judicial process emulate?
Additionally, depriving the accused of the support of counsel, independent observers, as well as a written or recorded record of the hearing turns the vaunted JW appeal process into a sham as well. 1 Timothy 5:19 states that Christians cannot accept an accusation against an older man except at the mouth of two or three witnesses. An independent observer and/or a recording would constitute two or three witnesses and allow for the possibility of winning an appeal. How can the appeal committee ever decide in favor of the accused if he can only bring one witness (himself) to bear against three older men?
I have nothing to fear from bringing everything into the open, into the light of day, as it were. If you are doing nothing wrong, then neither should you.
If you are to bring all this into the light, then I will need what the secular courts of Canada guarantee: Full disclosure of all evidence to be brought against me, as well as the names of all involved—judges, accusers, witnesses. I will also need to know the specific charges and the Scriptural basis for same. This will allow me to mount a reasonable defence.
You can communicate all this in writing to my mailing address or my email.
If you choose not to comply with these reasonable demands, then I will still attend the hearing, not because I recognize your authority, but to fulfill in some small way the words of our Lord at Luke 12:1.
(Nothing in this letter should be construed to imply that I am formally disassociating myself from the organization. I will have no part in supporting what is a self-serving, harmful, and wholly unscriptural policy.)
I await your response.
Writer’s note: I’m a little ticked off with myself for getting the final Bible quote wrong. It was supposed to be Luke 12:1-3. Since Witnesses are not trained to read the context of Bible verses, the elders of Aldershot may well miss the relevance of that reference. We’ll see.