The purpose of this video is to provide a little bit of information to assist those who are seeking to leave the organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Your natural desire will be to preserve, if possible, your relationship with your family and friends. Often in the process of leaving, you will be confronted with a challenging situation from the local elders. If they come to see you as a threat—and people who speak the truth will be seen as a threat by them—you may even find yourself facing a judicial committee. You may think you can reason with them. You may think that if they only hear you out, they will come to see the truth as you have. If so, you are being naïve, though understandably so.

I’m going to play a recording for you that came from my own judicial hearing. I think it will prove beneficial for those brothers and sisters seeking advice about the JW judicial process.  You see, I get requests all the time from Witnesses who have been trying to leave quietly, under the radar, so to speak.  Usually, at some point they will get “a call” from two elders who are “worried about them” and just want “to chat.” They do not want to chat. They want to interrogate. One brother told me that within a minute of the elders initiating their telephone “chat”—they actually used that word—they were asking him to affirm that he still believed that the governing body is the channel Jehovah is using. Oddly enough, they never seem to ask anyone to acknowledge the authority of Jesus Christ over the congregation. It’s always about the leadership of men; specifically, the governing body.

Jehovah’s Witnesses are indoctrinated with the belief that congregation elders only seek their well-being. They are there to help, nothing more. They are not policeman. They will even say as much. Having served as an elder for 40 years, I know that there are some elders who truly are not policeman. They will leave the brothers alone and will never engage in interrogation tactics such as the police use. But men of that nature were few and far between when I served as an elder, and I daresay they are fewer now than ever before. Men like that have slowly been driven out, and they rarely get appointed. Men of good conscience can only endure the atmosphere that is now very prevalent in the organization for so long without destroying their own conscience.

I know there are some who will disagree with me when I say the Organization is worse now than ever, perhaps because they have personally experienced some horrific injustice, and in no way do I mean to minimize their pain. From my studies into the history of Jehovah’s Witnesses, I now realize that there was a cancer growing within the Organization from the days of Russell, but it was incipient back then.  However, like cancer, if left untreated, it will just grow. When Russell died, JF Rutherford used the opportunity to seize control of the Organization using tactics that have nothing to do with the Christ and everything to do with the Devil. (We will be publishing a book within a few months providing ample evidence of that.) The cancer continued to grow through the presidency of Nathan Knorr, who introduced the modern judicial procedures in 1952.  After Knorr passed on, the Governing Body took over and expanded the judicial process to treat those who simply resign from the religion in the same way they treat fornicators and adulterers.  (It is telling that a child abuser was often treated with greater leniency than two consenting adults engaging in extramarital sex.)

The cancer continues to grow and now is so pervasive that it is hard for anyone to miss.  Many are leaving because they are troubled by the child sexual abuse lawsuits plaguing the Organization in country after country. Or the hypocrisy of the Governing Body’s 10-year affiliation with the United Nations; or the recent spate of ridiculous doctrinal changes, like the overlapping generation, or the sheer presumptuousness of the Governing Body in declaring themselves to be the Faithful and Discreet slave.

But like some insecure national dictatorship, they have built an iron curtain.  They don’t want you to leave, and if you do, they will see to it that you are punished.

If you are facing the threat of being cut off from your family and friends, don’t try to reason with these men.  Jesus told us at Matthew 7:6,

“Do not give what is holy to dogs nor throw your pearls before swine, so that they may never trample them under their feet and turn around and rip you open.” (New World Translation)

You see, the elders have sworn their loyalty to the Governing Body.  They truly believe those eight men are God’s representatives. They even call themselves substitutes for Christ at using 2 Corinthians 5:20, based on the New World Translation rendition. Like a Catholic Inquisitor in medieval times who considered the Pope to be the Vicar of Christ, Witness elders dealing with what they call “apostasy” are today fulfilling the words of our Lord who assured his true disciples, “Men will expel YOU from the synagogue. In fact, the hour is coming when everyone that kills YOU will imagine he has rendered a sacred service to God.  But they will do these things because they have not come to know either the Father or me.” (John 16:2, 3)

“They will do these things because they have not come to know either the father or me.” John 16:3

How very true those words have proven to be. I have had firsthand experience with that on several occasions. If you have not watched the video covering my own mockery of a judicial hearing as well as the subsequent appeal hearing, I would recommend you take the time to do so. I have put a link to it here as well as in the description field of this video on YouTube.

It was an exceptional judicial hearing in my experience, and I don’t mean that in a good way.  I’ll give you just a little background before playing the recording.

As I drove to the Kingdom hall where the hearing was being held, I found I couldn’t park in the parking lot because both entrances had been barricaded with vehicles and stationed with elders acting as sentries. There were other elders guarding the entrance into the hall itself and one or two wandering around the parking lot on patrol. They seemed to be expecting an assault of some kind.  You have to bear in mind that Witnesses are continually being fed the idea that soon the world is going to attack them.  They are expecting to be persecuted.

So afraid were they, that they wouldn’t even allow my companions onto the property.  They were also very worried about being recorded. Why?  Worldly courts record everything. Why would the judicial procedures of Jehovah’s Witnesses not rise above the standards of Satan’s world?  The reason is because when you dwell in darkness, you fear the light. So, they demanded I remove my suit jacket even though it was quite cold in the hall since it was in early April, and they had turned the heating down to save money because it wasn’t a meeting night. They also wanted me to leave my computer and notes outside the room. I wasn’t even allowed to take my paper notes nor my Bible into the room.  Not allowing me to take in even my paper notes nor my own Bible showed me just how terrified they were of what I was going to say in my defense.  In these hearings, the elders don’t want to reason from the Bible and usually when you ask them to look up a scripture, they will be disinclined to do so.  Again, they don’t want to stand under the light of truth, so they will say, “we are not here to discuss the scriptures.” Imagine going into a court of law and having the judge say, “We are not here to discuss the law code of our country”?  It’s ridiculous!

So, it was clear that the decision was a foregone conclusion and that what they sought was only to cloak what I can only describe as a travesty in justice with a thin veil of respectability. No one was to know what went on in that room.  They wanted to be able to claim whatever they wanted to since it was to be the word of three men against mine.  Bear in mind that to this day, I have never heard nor seen whatever evidence they claim to have acted upon, though I have requested it repeatedly both by telephone and in writing.

Recently, while going through some old files, I stumbled upon the telephone call that I got to arrange for the appeal hearing. Why did I appeal, some have asked, since I didn’t want to be a Jehovah’s Witness anymore?  I went through this whole time-consuming and excruciating process because only in this way could I shine some light on their unscriptural judicial procedures and, I hope, help others facing the same thing.

That is why I’m making this video.

As I listened to the audio recording that I’m about to play, I realized that it might serve others who have yet to go through this process by helping them to understand exactly what they are facing, to have no pretensions about the true nature of the judicial process as practised by Jehovah’s Witnesses, especially when it comes to anyone who begins to doubt or disagree with their man-made teachings.

David: Hello yep, hello, yep. This is ahh David Del Grande.

Eric: Yes:

David: I’ve been asked to chair the appeal committee to hear your appeal? From the original committee.

Eric: Alright.

David: So ahh, what we’re wondering is, would you be able to meet with us tomorrow evening at the same Kingdom hall in Burlington at 7 PM will that……

I knew David Del Grande from years before. He seemed like a nice fellow.  He was used back then as a substitute Circuit Overseer if my memory serves.  You’ll notice that he wants to hold the meeting the very next day.  This is typical. When summoning someone to a judicial hearing of this nature, they want to get it over and done with quickly and they don’t want to allow the accused to have adequate time to mount a defense.

Eric: No, I have other arrangements.

David: Okay, so…

Eric: Next week.

David: Next week?

Eric: Yeah

David: Okay, so Monday night?

Eric: I’ll have to check my schedule, David. Let me check my schedule. Ahh a lawyer is just sending a letter to what’s his name, Dan, which is going out today so you guys might want to consider that before the meeting. So let’s put a pin in the meeting this week and then come back.

David: Well, we have to be meet at a time when there are no congregation meetings so that’s why if tomorrow night doesn’t work for you, it would be really good if we could do this say Monday night because there are no meetings in the kingdom Hall on Monday night.

Eric: Right. So lets…(Interrupted)

David: Can you, can you, get back to me on that?

He completely ignores what I have said concerning the letter from the lawyer.  His only concern is to get this hearing over with as quickly as possible. He doesn’t want to consider my feelings or thoughts on the matter. They are irrelevant, because the decision has already been taken. I asked him to postpone the meeting until a week from Monday and you can hear the exasperation in his voice as he responds.

Eric: Let’s make it a week from Monday then.

David: A week from Monday?

Eric: Yes.

David: Ahh, you know what? I’m not sure that ahh the other two brothers are going to be available a week from Monday. I mean, you know the the the,the meeting is really just because to um, because you’re appealing the decision that was originally made by the committee, right?

David should never play poker, because he gives way too much away.  “The meeting is just because you’re appealing the decision made by the committee”? What’s that got to do with scheduling?  Between his earlier sigh and his saying “the meeting is just because…”, you can hear his frustration.  He knows this is an exercise in futility.  The decision is already made. The appeal is not be upheld. This is all a pretense—it’s already wasting his valuable time on a done deal and so apparently he is annoyed that I’m dragging it out further.

Eric: Yes.

David: I’m not sure why, I’m not sure why you need that length of time you know in order to… we’re trying to make make, make, we’re trying to accommodate you, you know your request for an appeal so… you know, there’s other brothers involved besides myself, and you right? so we trying to accommodate them as well, those who are on the appeal committee, but do you think you can work it out for Monday night?

He says, “I’m not sure why you need that length of time.” He can’t keep the annoyance out of his voice.  He says, “we’re trying to accommodate you…your request for an appeal”. It would appear that they are doing me a very great favor just by allowing me to have this appeal.

We should be mindful that the appeal process was only introduced in the 1980s. The book, Organized to Accomplish Our Ministry (1983), refers to it.  Prior to that, the publisher was simply disfellowshipped with no formal chance for appeal. They could write in to Brooklyn and if they had enough legal clout, they might have gotten a hearing, but few even knew that was an option.  They certainly were never informed there was any option for appeal.  It was only in the 1980s that the judicial committee was required to inform the disfellowshipped one that they had seven days to appeal. Personally, I have a feeling that was one of the positive things to come out of the newly formed Governing Body before the spirit of the Pharisee took over the Organization completely.

Of course, rarely did an appeal ever result in the decision of the judicial committee being overturned.  I know of one appeal committee that did that, and the chairman, a friend of mine, got dragged over the coals by the circuit overseer for reversing the committee’s decision. The appeal committee does not retry the case. All they are allowed to do is two things, which really stacks the deck against the accused, but I will wait until the end of this video to discuss that and why it is a sham arrangement.

One thing that should trouble any honest-hearted Jehovah’s Witness out there is David’s lack of concern for my well-being.  He says he’s trying to accommodate me.  An appeal is not an accommodation.  It should be considered a legal right.  It is the only thing that will keep any judiciary in check. Imagine if you could not appeal any case in civil or criminal court.  What option would you have to deal with judicial prejudice or malfeasance? Now if that is considered necessary for the courts of the world, shouldn’t it be even more so for Jehovah’s Witnesses?  I’m viewing this from their perspective.  In the courts of Canada, if I am found guilty, I could be fined or even go to jail, but that’s it.  However, based on Witness theology, if I’m disfellowshipped when Armageddon comes, I will die forever—no chance at a resurrection. So, by their own beliefs, they are engaged in a life-and-death court case. Not just life and death, but eternal life or eternal death.  If David truly believes that, and I have no reason to assume otherwise, then his off-hand manner is completely reprehensible.  Where is the love that Christians are supposed to show, even to their enemies?  When you hear his words, remember what Jesus said: “Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.” (Matthew 12:34)

So, at his insistence that it be Monday, I check my schedule.

Eric: Ok, so, yeah, no Monday I can’t make it. It will have to be the following Monday. If Monday is the only day you can do it, then it would have to be, let me see the calendar here; okay,so today is the 17th, so the 29th at 3:00 pm.

David: Oh wow, ha ha, that’s leaving it pretty long, um…

Eric: I don’t know what’s the rush?

David: Well I mean, hah, we’re trying, we’re trying to ahh, we’re trying to ahh, accommodate you with your appeal that’s ahh, you know…Normally people who want to appeal the decision usually want to meet as quickly as they can. Ha ha ha, that’s quite normal.

Eric: Well, that’s not the case here.

David: No?

Eric So thank you for thinking of me that way, but it’s not a rush.

David: Okay, I will ahh, so you’re saying the earliest you can meet is when?

Eric: The 29th.

David: And that’s a Monday, is it?

Eric: That’s a Monday. Yes.

David: Monday the 29th. I’ll ahh have to get back to you and check with the other brothers about their availability for that.

Eric: Yes, if that’s not available, we could go for, since you’re kind of limited to Monday’s (is interrupted when he says we could do the 6th)

David: It doesn’t have to be the Monday, I’m just saying that’s the night there are no meetings at the hall. Are you available Sunday night? Or Friday night? I mean, I’m just talking about nights that they don’t have meetings at the Kingdom hall.

Eric: All right, okay. So we are at the 17th, so we could make it the 28th as well if you want to go for Sunday night, April the 28th.

David: So you can’t make it all next week?

Eric: I don’t know why you are in a rush.

David: Well, because we all have, you know, we have appointments. Some of us are to be away toward the end of the month, so I’m just saying that if we’re trying to accommodate you, but we also have to make ourselves available too.

Eric: Sure, absolutely.

David: So would you be available say Friday, next week?

Eric: Friday, that would be, let me think…. that’s the 26th? (interrupted by David)

David: Because there would be no meetings in the hall at that time.

Eric: Yeah, I could do it Friday the 26th as well.

David: Okay, so, so, it’s the same kingdom Hall where you came before, so it will be at 7 o’clock. That’s okay?

Eric: Alright. This time am I going to be allowed to take my notes in?

After dithering for a couple of minutes, we finally arrange on a date that satisfies David’s rush to get this over with.  Then I pop the question I’ve been waiting to ask since he started talking.  “Am I going to be allowed to take my notes in?”

Imagine going into any court in the land and asking that question to the prosecutor or the judge. They’d take the question itself as an insult, or think you were just an idiot. “Well, of course you can take your notes in. What do you think this is, the Spanish Inquisition?”

In any civil or criminal court, the accused is given discovery of all the charges against him prior to the trial so that he can prepare a defense.  All proceedings in the trial are recorded, every word is written down. He is expected to bring in not only his paper notes, but his computer and any other devices that will aid him in mounting a defense. That is how they do it in “Satan’s World”.  I’m using a term Witnesses use.  How can Satan’s world have better judicial procedures than “Jehovah’s Organization”?

David Del Grande is about my age.  Not only has he served as an elder of Jehovah’s Witnesses, but he has also worked as a substitute circuit overseer as I already mentioned. So, the answer to my question about bringing in my notes should be on the tip of his tongue. Let’s hear what he has to say.

Eric: Alright. This time am I going to be allowed to take my notes in?

David: Well, I mean, you can… you can write notes but no electronic devices or tape recording devices- no, that’s not permitted in judicial hearings. No, I think you know I think you know that, but…

Eric: The last time I was not allowed to take my paper notes in.

David: I mean you can make notes while you’re in the meeting, if you choose to do so. You know what I’m saying? You can you can make notes if you choose to do so.

Eric: Well, maybe I am not making myself clear. I have printed notes from my own research that are part of my defense…

David: Okay..

Eric: I want to know if I can take those into the meeting.

David: Well, you understand what the purpose of this meeting is? The original committee, you know what decision they came to?

Eric: Yes.

David: So as an appeal committee, you know what our obligation is, is to determine repentance at the time of the original hearing, right? That’s what our obligation is as an appeal committee.

This is an important part of the recording to analyze.  The answer to my question should be a simple and straightforward, “Yes, Eric, of course you can take your notes into the meeting.  Why wouldn’t we allow that.  There is nothing in those notes that we would be afraid of, because we have the truth and those with the truth have nothing to fear.”  However, notice how he evades answering. First, he says that no electronic devices are permitted and no recordings can be made.  But I didn’t ask that. So, I ask a second time clarifying that I’m talking about notes written on paper. Again, he evades answering the question, telling me I can make notes which again is something I wasn’t asking about. So, again have to clarify like I’m speaking to someone who is mentally challenged, explaining that these are paper notes which I need for my defense and for a third time he evades giving me a simple, direct answer, choosing instead to lecture me on the purpose of the meeting, which he proceeds to get wrong.  Let’s play that part again.

David: So as an appeal committee, you know what our obligation is, is to determine repentance at the time of the original hearing, right? That’s what our obligation is as an appeal committee. Having served as an elder before.

According to David, the only purpose of an appeal committee is to determine that there was repentance at the time of the original hearing.  He is wrong. That is not the only purpose. There is another which we will get to in a moment and the fact he makes no mention of it tells me that either he is grossly incompetent or is being willfully misleading. But again, before we get into that, consider what he says that the appeal committee is to determine whether there was repentance at the time of the original hearing.  First of all, if you don’t repent the first time, there are no second chances in the organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses.  Since they claim Jehovah’s name, they make him responsible for their harsh attitude.  I wonder how our Heavenly Father feels about that.  But there is more and it is worse. This rule is a joke. A colossal and very cruel joke.  It is a heinous miscarriage of justice.  Just how is any appeal committee going to determine whether there was repentance at the time of the original hearing since no recordings were made?  They have to rely on the testimony of Witnesses. On the one hand, they have three appointed older men, and on the other hand, the accused, all by himself. Since the accused was not allowed any witnesses nor observers, he has only his own testimony.  He is a single Witness to the proceedings.  The Bible says, “Do not admit an accusation against an older man, except only on the evidence of two or three witnesses.” (1 Timothy 5:19) So the three older men, the elders, can back up each other and the accused doesn’t stand a chance.  The game is rigged.  But now on to the thing David failed to mention. (By the way, he still hasn’t answered my question.)

David: So I mean, if, if, if if if it’s to, you know, it’s to provide more information to support what you been doing then you know that would be something we be concerned about, right? You know what I’m saying?

Eric: Well, you’re not being honest there, or maybe you just don’t know what the book says, but the purpose of the appeal is to first establish that there was the basis for a disfellowshipping and then…

David: That’s right.

Eric: …and then to establish that there was repentance at the time of the original hearing…

David: Right. That’s right.  is right now in the case know that in the case of the original

Eric: …now in the case of the original hearing, there was no hearing because they would not allow me to take in my own paper notes …that was my defense. They were basically stripping me of the opportunity to make a defense, right? How can I defend myself if I’m relying only on my memory when I have evidence that is in writing and that was on paper, no recording, no computer, just on paper and they wouldn’t let me take those in. So I want to know if I’m allowed now to take my defense in so that I can present a defense to show that the original hearing’s basis for disfellowshipping was flawed.

I can’t believe they didn’t brief him on what occurred at the first hearing. He must know that I never got to provide any information.  Again, if he truly doesn’t know that, this speaks of gross incompetence, and if he does know that, it speaks of duplicity, because he should realize that he still needs to establish if there is a basis for action against me, no matter what testimony the three elders may have given to him.

The Bible says, Our law does not judge a man unless first it has heard from him and come to know what he is doing, does it?”” (John 7:51) Well apparently, this law does not apply in the organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses, you can’t judge a man without hearing, or ever hearing, what he has to say.

According to the Shepherd the Flock of God book, there are two questions an appeal committee must answer:

Was it established that the accused committed a disfellowshipping offense?

Did the accused demonstrate repentance commensurate with the gravity of his wrongdoing at the time of the hearing with the judicial committee?

So here I am asking yet again, a fourth time, whether I can bring my paper notes into the meeting. Do you think I will now get a straight answer?

David: Well, you.. alright, let’s put it this way, I’ll talk to the other four brothers, but you come for the meeting and then we’ll sort that out—at the time when you come, okay? Because I don’t want to speak for myself, or speak for the other brothers when I haven’t talked to them. Okay?

Eric: Right. Okay.

Again, no answer.  This is just another evasion.  He won’t even say that he’ll call them and get back to me, because he already knows the answer, and I have to believe there is enough of a sense of justice in his soul to know that this is wrong, but he doesn’t have the honesty to admit it, so he says he’ll give me the answer at the meeting.

If you are a reasonable person unfamiliar with this cult-like mentality, you may be wondering what he’s afraid of. After all, what could my paper notes possibly contain that would instill such fear?  You have six men—three from the original committee and three more from the appeal committee—at one end of the table, and little old me at the other end.  Why would permitting me to have paper notes have so changed the balance of power that they would be terrified of facing me that way?

Think about that.  Their complete unwillingness to discuss Scripture with me is the single most compelling piece of evidence that they do not have the truth and that deep down, they know that.

Anyway, I realized I wasn’t going to get anywhere so I dropped it.

He then tries to reassure me that they are unbiased.

David: We’re…none of us, none of us know you personally, at least in talking to the others. So it’s not like …ahh you know, we’re partial, okay, we don’t know you personally, so that’s a good thing.

When I went to the appeal hearing, I was again not allowed to bring witnesses even though the Shepherd the Flock of God makes provision for that.  When I saw that there was no way they were going to allow me to go in with my Witnesses, I asked the elders guarding the locked front door of the hall if I could bring my paper notes in, at least. I’m going back to the original question now, I’m asking for the 5th time. Remember, David said they’d let me know when I arrived. However, they would not summon even one of the elders inside the hall to the front door to answer that question.  Instead, I was required to go in by myself. Frankly, given the intimidation tactics I’d already experienced in the parking lot and the evasiveness and dishonesty evident in the way the men at the door were dealing with me, never mind David’s dishonesty in his discussion with me, I was loathe to enter a locked hall and face six or more elders all by myself.  So, I left.

They disfellowshipped me, of course, so I appealed to the Governing Body, you are allowed to do that by the way. They have yet to answer, so if anyone asks, I tell them I am not disfellowshipped because the Governing Body needs to respond to my appeal first.  They may be reluctant to do so because, while governments tend to avoid getting involved in religious matters, they will step in if a religion violates its own rules, which they most definitely have done in this case.

The point of all this is to show those yet to go through what I’ve really come up against, what they are facing.  The goal of these judicial committees is to “keep the congregation clean” which is double-speak for “Don’t let anyone air our dirty laundry.” My advice is that if the elders come a-knocking, best to avoid speaking to them. If they ask you a direct question, like do you believe the Governing Body is God’s appointed channel, you have three options. 1) Stare them down and maintain silence. 2) Ask them what promoted that question. 3) Tell them that if they show you that from Scripture you will accept it.

Most of us would find it hard to do number 1, but it can be great fun to see them unable to handle the silence.  If they answer number 2 with something like, “Well, we heard some disturbing things.” You simply ask, “Really, from whom?” They will not tell you, and that will give you the chance to say, are you hiding the names of gossipers?  Are you supporting gossip?  I can’t answer any accusation unless I can face my accuser. That’s Bible law.

If you use number three, just keep asking them to show you scriptural proof for every assumption they make.

In the end, they will likely disfellowship you no matter what, because that is about the only way a cult has of protecting itself—slandering the name of anyone who disagrees.

In the end, they will do what they will do.  Be prepared for it and have no fear.

““Happy are those who have been persecuted for righteousness’ sake, since the Kingdom of the heavens belongs to them. 11 “Happy are you when people reproach you and persecute you and lyingly say every sort of wicked thing against you for my sake. 12 Rejoice and be overjoyed, since your reward is great in the heavens, for in that way they persecuted the prophets prior to you.” (Matthew 5:10-12)

Thank you for your time and thank you for your support.

 

Meleti Vivlon

Articles by Meleti Vivlon.
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