We have some breaking news for you! Some very big news as it turns out.
The Organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses, through its branch office in Spain, has just lost a major court case with far-reaching implications to its worldwide operations.
If you watched our March 20, 2023 video interview with Spanish Lawyer Carlos Bardavío, you’ll recall that the Spain branch of Jehovah’s Witnesses under the legal name Testigos Cristianos de Jehová (Jehovah’s Christian Witnesses) launched a defamation lawsuit against the Asociación Española de Victimas de los Testigos de Jehová (The Spanish Association of Victims of Jehovah’s Witnesses).
The plaintiff, being the Spain branch of Jehovah’s Witnesses, wanted the defendant’s web site, https://victimasdetestigosdejehova.org, to be taken down. They also wanted that the legal registration of the Spanish Association of Victims of Jehovah’s Witnesses be eliminated with all its “injurious content” removed. The JW Spain Branch demanded that the dissemination of comments and similar information that attacked the Derecho al Honor, or “Right of Honor” of the religion of Jehovah’s Witnesses cease. In compensation, they demanded that the Association of Victims pay damages amounting to $25,000 Euros.
The JW branch also petitioned the court to require the defendant to publish the headline and ruling of the judgment on every platform it had and was using to disseminate its “unlawful interference” with the Organization’s “right of honor”. Oh, and finally, the Organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses wanted the defendant Association of JW Victims to pay all of the legal court costs.
That’s what the JW plaintiff wanted. Here’s what they got! Nada, zilch, and less than nada! Jehovah’s Christian Witnesses have to pay all of the court costs. But I said they got less than nada and here’s why.
I remember remarking in that March video interview with Carlos Bardavío that I felt the Organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses was making a huge mistake in launching this lawsuit. They were effectively shooting themselves in the foot.
By doing so, they were assuming the role of Goliath by attacking the David-like Spanish Association of JW Victims comprised of a mere 70 members give or take. Even if they won, they’d just come off as big bullies. And if they lost, it would be even worse for them, but I didn’t realize how much worse it would be. I don’t think they even realize it yet. This case has become much more than a simple failed defamation lawsuit. It has sweeping ramifications for the worldwide work of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Perhaps that is why it took so long for the Spanish court to come out with its ruling.
Back when we did that interview, we expected the court to rule on the case by May or June of this year. We didn’t expect to have to wait nine long months. The fact that it took so long to deliver this legislative baby is testament to the enormous international implications of the court’s ruling against Jehovah’s Witnesses.
I’ll give you some of the highlights now, though I hope to follow up with more details in the days to come. The information that follows is from a press release published in Spanish announcing a December 18 Press Conference in Madrid, Spain. (I’ll put a link to the announcement in the description field of this video.)
I’m paraphrasing to simplify some key excerpts from the court’s final judgement in ruling against Jehovah’s Witnesses and in favor of the defendant.
In arguing that the religious denomination of Jehovah’s Witnesses constitutes a “cult”, the court explained that the publications of Jehovah’s Witnesses gave evidence of excessive control exercised over the lives of its members concerning matters that modern Spanish society would consider to be positive, such as university studies, relationships with people of different faiths or lack thereof, marriages of people with different religious sensitivities as a sign of pluralism and healthy coexistence.
While acknowledging the right of a religion to hold its own particular beliefs concerning such matters, the court saw that JW leadership was utilizing its religious power to greatly control the attitudes of its members through coercive indoctrination.
The Organization’s insistence on knowing the details of certain relationships, whether amorous or not, its distrust of some eye-witness testimony, and its requirement to consult first with the elders, all point to a strict hierarchical system and exposes an atmosphere of insistent supervision. Furthermore, the absence of a fluid relationship with people who do not share their faith is intended to create an environment of isolation and social segregation.
The Spanish dictionary defines “cult” (in Spanish, “secta”) as “a closed community of a spiritual nature, guided by a leader who exercises a charismatic power over his followers”, charismatic power being also understood as “a compelling or indoctrinating power”. The key element of this definition is that the religious community is cut off from society with its members being compelled by its leaders to be very obedient to their rules, to their warnings, and to their counsel.
The court acknowledged the Organization’s argument that it is a well known and officially recognized religion. However, that status does not put them above reproach. There is nothing in the legal system of Spain to shield a religion from truthful criticism based on its own behaviour toward its current and former members.
The 74-page ruling will soon be available. Perhaps the Organization will decide to shoot itself in its other foot and appeal this decision to the European Supreme Court. I wouldn’t put it past them because of what Proverbs 4:19 says.
If you’re one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, you might jump in now and say, “Eric, don’t you mean Proverbs 4:18 about the path of the righteous getting brighter and brighter?” No, because we are not talking about the righteous here. The evidence points to the next verse:
“The way of the wicked is like the darkness; They do not know what makes them stumble.” (Proverbs 4:19)
This lawsuit was an expensive, time-consuming waste of resources for the Organization, and worse than that, a sure way for them to trip up, to stumble in the dark. I can only imagine that they looked at the glorious history of winning civil and human rights court cases going back to the days of Rutherford and Nathan Knorr and thought that “God is on our side, so we will come off victorious.” They simply cannot understand that they are not the ones suffering human rights abuses and violations anymore. They are the ones causing them and inflicting them on others.
They are walking around in the dark and don’t even know it, so they stumble.
If the Spain branch of Jehovah’s Witnesses does appeal this to the European Supreme Court, it could very well end up having that court support the decision of the Spanish court. That would mean that the religion of Jehovah’s Witnesses would be legally considered a cult throughout all the European Union countries.
How could this situation ever have come to pass to the religion that once was a stellar champion for human rights? Decades back, I was told by a friend working for famous Canadian lawyer and Jehovah’s Witness, Frank Mott-Trille, that to a large degree, the Canadian Bill of Rights came about because of the civil rights cases fought by Glen How and Frank Mott-Trille to enshrine freedom of religious rights into the law code of the country of Canada. So how could the Organization I once loved and served have fallen so far?
And what does this say about the God they worship, indeed, the God that all Christian religions claim to worship? Well, the nation of Israel worshipped Yahweh or YHWH, yet they also killed the Son of God. How could they fall that far? And why did God allow it?
He allowed it because He wants His people to learn the path to truth, repent of their sins, and gain a right standing with Him. He puts up with a lot. But He has His limits. We have the historical account of what happened with His errant nation of Israel, don’t we? As Jesus said at Matthew 23:29-39, God sent them prophets time and again, all of whom they killed. In the end, God sent them his only begotten Son, but they killed him too. At that point, God’s patience ran out, and this resulted in the annihilation of the Jewish nation, destroying its capital, Jerusalem, and its holy temple.
This is the same for Christian religions, of which Jehovah’s Witnesses are one. As the Apostle Peter wrote:
“The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise as some understand slowness, but is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish but everyone to come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9 BSB)
Our Father puts up with the abuses of Christian religions seeking the salvation of many, but there is always a limit, and when it’s reached, look out, or as John says, “Get out of her, my people, if you do not want to share with her in her sins, and if you do not want to receive part of her plagues.” (Revelation 18:4)
Thank you to all who are praying for the safety and recovery of the many who have been abused and misused by the Organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses. I would also like to personally thank all of you who have helped us by supporting our work.