Appeal Committee Meeting 

of 

James Caputo

My purpose for publishing my judicial committee meetings is not to establish my innocence or to "expose" another person's culpability. It is, however, to reveal how a mechanistic and unquestioning mode of thinking can greatly impair one's ability to exercise justice - causing one to resort to dishonest and irrational argumentation.

 I do not question the general character of the elders who judged my case. I might have displayed a similar lack of charity seven years ago. I'm quite sure that these same men in any other circumstance would be perfectly lucid in their reasoning and equitable in their dealings. Having been raised as a Jehovah's Witness I understand why they made the decision they did. I therefore harbor no r for them personally. 

 I am quite certain, however, that no impartial  jury in the free world would ever sustain the verdict of this body of men. After considering the contents of this case, I believe it will be obvious to the discerning reader why such trials are held behind closed doors.

  This particular trial reveals how even in the face of devastating evidence, Jehovah's Witnesses are loyal to their fundamental teaching that the Watchtower acts as a unique channel of communication between God and mankind. It also sheds a glaring light on the religious intolerance and ecclesiastical tyranny that result from such a false concept. 

 

Dialogue - Normal Font

Bible Quotes - Indented and Italicized

Watchtower Quotes - Indented and Bolded

Parenthetical comments are made throughout to indicate who was saying what to whom and to describe gestures or the spirit in which a particular thought was expressed. 

[OBSERVATION] Publishing this hearing on the Internet has generated a considerable interest in Jehovah's Witness apologetics. I have since received countless emails from around the world requesting my comments on the Jehovah's Witness mind-set and rationale. In response to such inquiries I have included highlighted notes on particular patterns of false reasoning and argumentation that I found worthy of observation. It should be noted, however, that specious argumentation is not exclusive to Jehovah's Witnesses nor is religious intolerance. This "spirit of intolerance" has affected Christianity for two thousand years and has resulted in the fragmentation of Christ' body into some 22,000 sects. 

Some emails I received on my judicial hearings

 

[IMPORTANT] In an effort to educate those unfamiliar with Watchtower doctrine, I have explained some key doctrines and important differences between Jehovah's Witnesses and Evangelical Christians as they come under discussion throughout the case. In so doing, I am not indirectly identifying myself as an Evangelical - that is, a member of an evangelical church or party. I consider myself fiercely non-denominational.

 

When anyone is replying to a matter before he hears it, that is foolishness on his part and a humiliation. 

- Proverbs 18:13 NWT

 

 

The Charge 

Apostasy, Promoting a Sect

 

The evidence 

A private conversation in Tokyo, Japan in which I spoke critically of some Watchtower teachings and past Watchtower leaders.


Brother "M" : Weíre going to rehear the case. So we asked Brother "C"  who is from the Meriden area and Brother "M2" to come rehear the case now. I probably should tell you at the outset, I know these brothers have talked back and forth (with you) about differences of opinion and so forthÖ and I donít know that we want to get into a lot of discussion along those lines. But we do want to hear your thoughts, all right?

James: Ok.

Brother "M" : And we do want to hear why you appealed. Well, we have your letter. Youíre aÖ you look like a very articulate person and Iím sure that we rather hear it from you. But before we even get into all thatÖJim uhÖ Brother "C"  doesnít know you. The only thing I knew about you before was that youíre a very famous singer.

James: (Joking) Not that famousÖworld famous in New Haven. 

Brother "M" : (Laughing) Brother "M2" knows you but Brother "C" and I really donít. Could you start out first and just tell us your backgroundÖHow you got the truth, that kind of thing so we can know you a little bit better?

James: Actually thatís exactly how I wanted to start. I was raised as a Jehovahís Witness. My parents were Catholics and came into the organization in the late fifties. So I never did much with the teachingsÖsort of like an inactive kid. At the age of twenty-three I realized that I needed to change around my life and started to read the Bible very seriously... and did so for two years... and did change my life from (the age of) twenty-three on. I am thirty-one years old now. 

And so after two years of studying the Bible I had gone to San Francisco for an opera internship. While I was out there I met a very nice Brother. I was attending some meetings. I met a very nice Brother named Brother Garrett who really befriended me. He was like a father figure. At that time I wasnít very close to my father. Through befriending meÖhe made it very clearÖhe said, "you know Jim you love the Bible, youíre life is good, itís clean. You express an interest for spiritual thingsÖdonít you think you should get baptized?" I said, "well you knowÖI would like to get baptized, I see that thatís in the scriptures. People believed and they were baptized." However I was sort of between a rock and a hard place. I felt that with my profession I wasnít your cookie-cutter Jehovahís Witness because I was traveling a lot. But none the less I felt the necessity to get baptized. And was very happily baptized. I came home from San Francisco, studied with Brother Smole from our congregation and decided to get baptizedÖand was baptized seven or eight months after that.

Brother "M" : Forgive me, Iím a little slow

(Brother "M"  says "I'm a little slow" when he wants to take notes or gather incriminating evidence.  "Help me/us to understand" is also a favorite. He was anything but "slow!")

 So you studied the Bible for a couple of years, you went out to San Francisco. This brother said to youÖwell have you thought about getting baptized? And then you came back here and for seven or eight months studied with Brother Smole and then you got baptized?

James: Right. Exactly. I Literally got baptized on a Saturday in Monroe and that Monday moved to San Francisco where I would live for a year. I associated with the Burlingame congregation, a very warm congregation. Brother Garrett was a wonderful father figure to me. I canít complain about the way he treated me. He was very loving. 

I was very active with the Witnesses. I was very sincere with the Witnesses. I loved being a Witness. I loved the Bible. During the year that I was out there I had made a statement to two close friends on separate occasions that I didnít believe that Jehovahís Witnesses were doing a separating work. I felt that the scriptures showed that the nature of the separating work is something that pierces so deeply into the kidneysÖthe motivating force of someoneÖand that just a presentation of the magazines at the door couldnít really be considered a "separating"Ö and that Jesus would come with his reapers at the end of the age to do that. That would be with the angels. And they said "oh yes but the society teaches that we do a separating work." I said, "I really donít see that in the scriptures." But I believed enough of the things of the Witnesses and was friends with them... so that it wasnít really a problem. 

I moved back a year later and when the separating doctrine changed my friend called me and said "my god you were right about that." And I said well itís not a big deal, I just saw it clearly in the scriptures. My friend said "but it was in the Watchtower." I said I think that if in your heart you see the Bible teaching one thing and the Watchtower says something else, I would go with what the scriptures say. She said, "you canít go out of the channel." I said, Iím not going ahead of "the channel" I just think those words (those of Jesus) were penned two thousand years ago and I think that channel (Jesus Christ) communicated that truth to us. 

Word started going around in San Francisco. I donít know if some of you have done circuit work out there but itís very very "tight." The Witnesses are black and white, (concerning "apostasy") in and out. (Concerning disfellowshipping) When I came back here to Connecticut I was with some close friends from Boston. We were going to a party in Delaware. They were complaining about the elder arrangement and what not. Everyone was sort of "cavetching"Ö (Yiddish slang for trifling) nothing serious. I mentioned that I donít see in the Bible that itís scriptural that everyone should go door to door. There was a Bible in the car and I said look at Romans 12... it says that weíre many parts (members) in the body and every part has different gifts and different functions. Even Ephesians said:

"some as evangelizers." 

Paul shows the bodyÖthe Christian congregation working with different functions. And my friend said to me "thatís what the apostates say."  Brother Garrett had talked a lot about "apostates." I never knew anything about them. He (my friend from Boston) said,  "well thatís what apostates say." I said Iím quoting (The Apostle) Paul,  are you calling Paul an apostate? He asked, "do you feel strongly about that?" I said yes. That was that. I lost my friends in Boston over that conversation. 

Following that Brother Garrett called me from San Francisco and said Jim we have to talk. Did you claim that even if the Bible says one thing and the Watchtower is preaching something else then you should adhere to the Scriptures? He said, "Brother youíre like a son to me and Iíve been a witness for fifty-five years and I can tell you, between friends like you and I, we can discuss these things...but we canít discuss these things with other people." I said, "but Brother Garrett itís in the Bible." He was really like a dad to me. I said, I donít understand doesnít Godís word prevail over any uninspired manís writings? He said, well Jim thatís just the way it is. Then he said, "heck, Jim look, in the Bible it says: "some as evangelists" and yet all of us have to go door to door!" 

I remember a cold sweat coming over me. My mouth was just wide open. I said, I wasnít crazy about that. This brother who has been in the organization for years and has a very good rapport with the governing bodyÖheís sees that in the scriptures too. (That it is unscriptural to demand all to formally evangelize) 

He had mentioned to me in that conversation that the "apostates" were going crazy over the generation change. I remember that that was something that really bothered me too. I thought to myself: the Witnesses have put that in the masthead of the Awake as the "Creatorís Promise." That was the purpose of the Awake to inspire hope in the promise of the Creator that the generation of 1914 wouldnít pass away until all those events had taken place. That bothered me. It pricked my conscience that he was calling people "apostates" who had taken the same position with the things that perturbed me. They were being called "apostates." I saw that I was (considered) an "apostate" as well for mentioning what (the apostle) Paul said when he (Brother Garrett) verified my words. 

Right after that point I was in Sarasota Florida... and he called me. I was singing. (At the Opera House) In all honesty I was really struggling with my faith....not faith in God and Christ, but really struggling with my faith in the Watchtower because of those things... but I saw a lot of good. I think I brought that out last week to Brother "D." I see wonderful things in the Watchtower and I love Jehovahís Witnesses. (Getting back to my testimony) 

I met a woman in Florida, she was ninety-three years old...a sister. She called me up and said, "I want to go to the opera and I want to take you to the Kingdom Hall." I wasnít really going to meetings. I was really struggling. I said, "ok Iíll go with you." I drove with this sister to the Kingdom Hall. I said, (to her) "how long have you been a witness?" She said, "I was born into the organization." I said, "my god you were born into the organization? Your father must have been a witness?" She said, "he was but he didnít die as a witness." And I said "why is that?" And she answered, "well, when 1914 fell through he had sold everything, and many of the brothers around the world had committed suicide because of the failure of 1914." 

I had always gone door to door and told people that we knew 1914 was the end of the gentile times but we werenít sure exactly what would happen. Thatís what I preached...because colleagues that were Christians in various opera houses where I would work would say to me, "Witness are false prophets." I would vehemently and vigorously debate that that was not the case. I asked the sister, "youíre telling me that we predicted the end of the world?" "Absolutely!" She said, "you know what? The society doesnít want anyone to know how severe it was. Thatís why my husband ended up leaving the organization. He left with almost no faith in God whatsoever."

 So I came home and at this point I was completely a mess... and I went to my father who was good friends with a man named Steve Suraci... in West Haven. (To Brother "M2") Do you know Steven?  Heís a nice man, a nice gentleman. Heís a Bible Student straight from 1916...Russellite. He looks at Russell like heís God. I met with him. I said, "Steven"Ö(starting another thought) they love Jehovahís Witnesses. They believe God has used them in a mighty way. 

IMPORTANT : While the Dawn Bible Students believe God has used the society in a mighty way to accomplish his will, the Watchtower unblushingly refers to them as "The Evil Slave Class." This they do despite the fact that they and the Dawn Bible Students share virtually the same cardinal beliefs.

 I said "Steve I want you to level with me. I know you love Russell, but Iím at a crossroads in my life and I want to know, did Russell predict the end of the world for 1914." (Responding) "Yes he did." "Did brothers commit suicide around the world?" (Responding) "Yes they did." And when that happened to meÖ(Getting emotional) I hope Iím communicating my sincerity to you brothers. When that happened to me, my world collapsed. 

And I said at that point, I want to look into this (The Watchtowerís) history because there are things I donít know about their history. When I looked into the history of the WatchtowerÖand I bought the volumes (from 1879 onward) and I went through all the booksÖand I found someone who had the Finished MysteryÖ well this completely ruined what I had believed. I donít know what to tell you, but the prophecies that I read with these Brothers (The Elders from the first meeting) last week... while they might see those things as "adjustments" and "clarifications" I canít with a good conscience see what God says about a false Prophet and what Jesus Christís words say about future false prophets who will claim that he is in a hiding place or in the desert unbeknownst to mankindÖI cannot look at those things and say my organization is not guilty of that. (Meaning false prophecy) I have to put God and his standards above what (The Watchtower) people claim.  I expected a Catholic to do it when I went to his door...and I expect a witness to do the same...and if thatís "apostasy," then Iím an apostate.

Brother "M" : Well we appreciate that. Is there something that you brothersÖ

Brother "C" : Well just that the things thatÖyou no longer believe itís the organization or itís the true organization. You donít feel that youíre one of Jehovahís Witnesses any more, is that it?

James: No, I havenít attended meetings in three years. It was at that point where I completely discontinued my participation as a witness.

Brother "M2" : Jim if I may, I know the brothers had, I guess showed you a letter from Brother "H" who lives out there in California?

James: Yes.

Brother "M2" : He lists some things that you supposedlyÖ you talked to him about. I guess you had an opportunity to go through that. To some (To some of the accusations of the letter) you say, yeah this is the way I feel, to some maybe not.  There was a point in there about everyone going to heaven. How do you feel about that? You know what the witnesses feel about a heavenly class and an earthly class. You personally from your investigation of the scriptures, how do you feel about that?

James: I appreciate that. I feel that when reading the scriptures... and I donít claim to have any special interpretive skill in reading the Bible. But I do know that since the age of twenty-three I would read he Bible a half hour every morning, a half hour every night very prayerfully. I found that when I put down the Watchtower and just read things (the Bible) contextuallyÖletters as they were to be read, as letters. (Epistles) I found the position of the witnesses untenable from this point of view: 

When Paul writes that there is one hope with one calling in which all of you are called, those I believe are inspired words. Jesus prayed that people would believe on their (the apostles) word in his last prayer (John 17:20).  I believe on that word, and I believe that thatís speaking to me. Why I donít believe what the witnesses believe? Itís (For) the simple fact that the man who declared that the one hope in which all Christians were called was no longer in function, was a man by the name of Joseph Rutherford. In studying the body of his workÖand I have studied the body of his work quite diligently, I donít feel that man was inspired of God nor had the authority to change scriptureÖ to at a certain point just arbitrarily say, well the inspired word says this, but as an uninspired manÖ(Expressing another thought) and none of the Watchtower leaders claim to be inspiredÖ(Returning to the former thought) but as an uninspired man, that calling is no longer in effect. Now thereís a New Hope! And based on Paulís words that if anyone, even an angel from heaven should come and declare good news beyond that from what you have heard from us as good news, let that angel be condemned.

IMPORTANT : Jehovah's Witnesses know very little about the evolution of their theology. The entire process of how the organization officially establishes doctrine, is at best, very hazy to them.  Putting a face and name on the particular WT leader who introduced a unique tenet can be very helpful to a Witness in that it can reveal that  the same WT leader who formulated their cherished belief was invariably guilty of propounding many erratic doctrines. If one can help a Witness to identify the highly fallible leader as the source of the doctrine and not God , the JW will possibly reconsider the trustworthiness and validity of the teaching. 

And so my position is, Paul who is invested with this incredible ministry, the ministry of reconciliation, and the ministry of teaching that hope...And was revealed his message by Jesus Christ according to Galatians 1...He didnít go into communion with flesh over what he learned, but it was revealed by Jesus. (That is he didnít learn it from a human agency) What uninspired man can claim a revelation beyond that of Jesus Christ given to Paul about the one hope?

Brother "M2" :is there anyone going to stay on the earth?

James: (Chuckling) You know what Brother "M2", I donít have all the answers. Itís interesting, thereís a man I listen to on the radio. Heís called "the Bible answer man."

Brother "M2" : Heís evidently not a witness heís just a Bible reader like yourself?

James: No heís not a witness, heís a Bible scholar. People call up and ask him questions...and they were asking him what about the heavens, what about the new earthÖ what about this and what about that? Two years ago when I was listening to him he said, "Iím not ready to answer that. Iím studying different constructs of what people believe and certain scholars." (Believe) 

Two years later, just last week he said, "Iím still very reticent to give a comment on exactly how I feel about that." He said, "anything we say about what is to come in the future, we will prophesy partially about all of those things. But what we do know in the light of scriptureÖ anything that is substantial has to out weigh that which is someoneís opinion (conjectural) or someone just putting the scriptures together in their own way." 

What I see in the scriptures as a body of Christian teachingÖI donít see Paul... and I think I explained this last week, I donít see Paul and his associates when speaking of the Kingdom of GodÖ(Trying to find the right words) their expressions about the Kingdom of God were not in the sense of "this beautiful paradise earth." (That which JWís emphasize to their neighbors) We (Jehovahís Witnesses) show  people pictures of people playing Volleyball and petting animals. Paul said I seek to know nothing but Christ and him impaled... And I feel the same way. I, from my own study have gotten to the point where that means everything. (The sacrificial death of Christ) If you can show people that they have fallen from a good relationship with God and that Jesus Christ has paid the price for their sins and to put faith in that name. 

Brother "M2" : I know you had mentioned about Joseph Rutherford. You feel that he really didnít have the right to adjust things in the scriptures as you had mentioned. How about the other presidents of the society or prominent onesÖ if we can refer to them as that in Jehovahís organization? That was not the only thing that there has been an adjustment on.

IMPORTANT: Some Jehovah's Witnesses such as this elder will openly admit that prominent WT leaders have indeed "adjusted things in the scriptures." While this might startle a Christian, The Witnesses' belief in post-biblical revelation allows for these "adjustments." In fact, such "adjustments" in the scriptures are seen as God's active involvement in the organization. 

James: Well along the same linesÖ(To Brother "D") do they have my papers that I had last week? (The false prophesies)

Brother "D" : Yes

James: Along those lines, I believe a personís credentials and claimed authority to make such an "adjustment" should be weighed in the balance of the evidence and the proof that they speak for God and they act as a "channel of communication." I believe the study that Iíve doneÖ(referring to the False Prophesy) and thatís just scratching the surface, that those men were not in that position. [False Prophesies] 

Also going back to Galatians chapter 1... when were Paulís wordsÖI donít understand this, and I ask a sincere question if anyone has an answer to it... when were Paulís words to be updated? In other words if Jude says to make a hard fight for the faith that was once for all time delivered to the holy ones, then why would it have to be re-scripted? Why would new factors, new elements, new aspects of it have to be brought out? (In terms of the nature of the Kingdom) I donít understand that. I donít see it in the scriptures.

Brother "M" : (Not answering me) Forgive me Jim Iím a little slow. Bob asked you a question before I got the answer to the question before. I was writing. So what your saying is you believe that all individualÖtheir hope is heaven.

James: I believe the Bible teaches that people who put their faith in Christ have that hope.  

OBSERVATION: That this statement can be remotely viewed as "apostate" evidences how far the Watchtower has deviated from the Christian New Covenant. Could you imagine a council being formed in the first century because someone among the brothers had asserted in a private conversation that all those who put their faith in Christ have the hope of glory and immortality in the presence of God The Father and the Lord Jesus Christ? Better yet, could you imagine the apostles judging one an apostate for such a confession of faith? This, however, (as clearly seen in this case), is exactly what the Watchtower does today . The sheer irony of it all is that the organization claims to have restored "true Christianity" which supposedly was contaminated after the death of the apostles. History shows, however, that this "hope of glory" was on the lips of the Christian martyrs of the first centuries of Christianity.

Brother "M" : As opposed to a paradise earth?

James: Right. And I admit that I donít have all the answers for the end times into the thousand-year millennium.

Brother "M" : It was not our intent to turn this into a Bible scholar pounding-the-table-type of discussion. (No one was pounding the table)

All 6 Elders: (Laughing)

Brother "M" : UmÖand youÖand of course you know well enough how we feel. We appreciate the comments that you make. You know we donít agree with them obviously. ButÖweíre here to understand how you feel and why you feel injustice was made as far as you being disfellowshipped. 

Are there otherÖand again we ask this question not to go into debate.  But are there other matters just so that we understand that you do not agree with as far as Jehovahís Witnesses are concerned?

IMPORTANT : Jehovah's Witnesses are taught that the views of former members are dangerous and not even worthy of discussion or refutation. Hence, Brother "M"s trepidation to discuss or "go into debate" over the issues. In fact, there is never a point in the meeting where any of the six elders attempt to encourage me to readopt the Watchtower's teachings. Their purpose is not to make a defense of the faith or draw back an erring brother, but to gather incriminating evidence. 

James: Well there are many matters that I do agree with. Like I said, Iím coming from a different perspective because Iím studying the Bible by itself. I feel that many of the claims by (of) the Watchtower, that being "the faithful and discreet slave" are not realistic. (I meant true) I think they are assumed. But when questions are asked to the validity of what they claim to be, those questions cannot be answered. This evening I just ask five questions about "the faithful slave." And this in all seriousnessÖwhen I was having a crisis in my life I tried to speak to certain ones and I never got an answer. No one ever said well yeah Jim, Paul did say this, there is "one hope" however the Bible shows this...  Especially Brother Garrett he just jumped down my throat and said those apostatesÖand this and that! I knew I could never talk to him. 

I spoke to another brother in the Branford congregation, a very private conversation, a friend of the family. And we spoke for a couple of hours and I showed him those prophecies that were not fulfilled and that really stumbled me. He was just sort ofÖso what?... so what? That was hard for me. Then I asked him these questions that I made up here about "the faithful and discreet slave." 

(Handing out six copies of questions and WT photocopies to the elders)

Brother "M" : (Referring to the papers from the prior meeting) Was that part of your package? 

James: No. I think these are sincere questions. Yet, none the less, I feel that I canít get answers. In asking this question to a brother, he just stared at me. (The Brother I just referred to) He was a close friend to me.

Brother "M" : Jim help us understand. As you well know there is a difference between a person who doesnít understand something and thereís a person who already has come to a conclusion about it and has set his pattern of life. Based on the things you have said right up to now it doesnít look like youíre looking for understanding. Am I correct in that statement?

James: Itís correct in the sense that three years after the factÖ(After leaving the organization) I think I would go insane if I stayed on the edge tottering between world views and theologies. I mean of course Iíve had to come to certain conclusions. Iíve been by myself for three years. So while I am set in things I do believe based in Godís word Iím not beyond where I wonít discuss something in an open forum and respectfully.

Brother "M" : But if I understand correctly and help me if Iím incorrect. If I understand correctly there are certain areas like heaven that you are convinced that that is in fact so?

James: For Christians, yes I believe that.

Brother "M" : We appreciate you being honest with us. You know weíreÖas an appeal committee itís our charge to be as fair and to offer you as much dignity as we can.

(Keep this in mind as you read on)

James: I appreciate that.

Brother "M" : If you feel that thereís ways that you just differ from us and those are just inconvertible that thatís the way you feel, well we respect that about youÖyou know, thatís how you feel.

James: You know what I donít understand Brother "M" ? I donít understand howÖfor example when I was using the scriptures with these BrothersÖand I love these brothers. I donít know Brother "M" to wellÖ

Brother "M" : Öheís the same.

All 6 Elders: (Laughing uproariously)

James: The Watchtower wrote a great article once in the sixties about having loyalty to church over loyalty to Godís word. And for me looking at the principles set forth in the Bible, Deuteronomy 18 about a prophet speaking something in the name of Jehovah and it not coming to pass, Jesus Christí words about being careful and warning us about false prophets. To me, for a person to look at their own organization, (Inserting an idea) and thatís a thorny issue because that touches home...thatís our organization...the same way a Catholic has that loyalty. 

To look at the history as we did last weekÖof Russell saying: In 1881 weíll all be in heaven. In 1914 the world will end. In 1915 it will end. In 1918 weíll be glorified. 1925 Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are coming back. The forties, seventy-five, the prophecy about the generationÖand say that those are "clarifications"Öespecially in the manner in which those statements were made. Millions of people will die from Christendom. The churches will be devastated. Speaking of Beth Sarim saying: "all of the churches are gnashing their teeth at the testimony of Beth Sarim and the prophets who are shortly to return." 

To look at those things and sort of play a wordsmith game almost like we see Clinton doing, (At the time President Clinton was equivocating over what the word "is" in the Monica Lewinski scandal) and say those are "adjustments" not false prophecies. 

IMPORTANT : The Watchtower euphemistically refers to its failed prophecy as: errors, mistakes, misinterpretations, misunderstandings, premature expectations, mistakes in their understanding, matters on which corrections of viewpoint have been needed, unrealized hopes, misplaced expectations, inaccurate concepts, views in need of refinement, serious disappointments and formerly cherished views. BUT NEVER FALSE PROPHESIES.

To listen to the words of Christ who says there will be false prophets, who will say Iím in a hiding place, donít believe them. And Mr. Russell comes on the scene and says (in)ÖZionís Watchtower and Herald of Christí Presence Christ is present from 1874 and teaches that for forty years, he "heralds" that false date. (Actually fifty) 

Yet when we read in the scriptures and itís even under the heading of "apostasy" (Reasoning book pg.36) about certain men whose words have passed like gangreneÖhave spread like gangrene and that Hymenaeus and Philetus are of that sort deviating from the truth because they taught that the resurrection had occurred... So Hymenaeus and Philetus are of the sort to be considered "apostates" but Russell isnít? That to me is biased. 

IMPORTANT : Russell taught that the resurrection of "anointed Christians" took place in 1878. The Watchtower would go on to teach this for some five decades. In the Watchtower's official apologetics manual -Reasoning From The Scriptures- Hymenaeus and Philetus' premature declaration that the resurrection had taken place is used as an example of first century apostasy. This appears in the chapter entitled APOSTASY. Yet, as seen, the Watchtower's founder was guilty of similar offense. Currently the Watchtower teaches that all "anointed" Christians were resurrected in between the years 1918-1919. When an "anointed" witness dies today, it is alleged that he is immediately resurrected.

All 6 Elders: (Pregnant pause)

Brother "C" : (Completely ignoring everything I just said) When you wereÖyou probably didnít do enough looking when you were young. I had the advantage of seeing a lot of these things early and having the material. I had to make the choice whether this was really the truth or not. Whether youíre going to hitch yourselfÖor hitch your wagon to this organization. When you did you got baptized with the agreement to be one of us. A lot of these thing maybe you should of sort out after and made a firm decision. I think a lot of the friends didnít do that until something tests them. And when they get tested they either stay in or they stay out. 

The organization has set themselves up with a pretty good structure so that we can speak in agreement at least...and that was Paulís admonition as well...and although we all might not really agree with everything the society says at all times in everything, because we donít understand everything. We wait, weíre patient. We call it loyalty.

James: Does Godís word standÖ?

Brother "C" : (Interrupting me) We will eventually find out. Weíll find out whether they were right or wrong on certain subjects. We always admit that. The difference is we donít call them a false slave because they donít intend to deceive us, but they give us the best they can at the time. Probably if you did your research you read the material. The society gave a pretty good answer on tacking back and forth, which the answer for a lot of the apostates charge us for us. (He meant "apostates" i.e. former witnesses, accuse them of changing their teachings) I read the Watchtower myself being aware of a lot of material I get in the mail and the people I talk to and I hear...but you make decisions in your life. Where you gonna go, which way?

James: When you say "tacking" do you mean going back to former views?

Brother "C" : Sometimes theyíve done that. The society has gone back to some things they thought before. They went back and forth with the elders as well. (The elder arrangement) But itís a struggle to try to establish truth, to stay within Jehovahís arrangement of things. 

I think like this fellow youíre talking to on the radio thatís pretty much a lot of what we try to do as wellÖto give as clear and distinct a message as you can. 

(So what's the difference between them and "the guy" on the radio?) 

Are they going to change? Sure theyíre going to change. There are adjustments from time to time. Where do you want to be when this is finally worked out. You know youíre making your choices that this is not the organization. Thatís what youíre ultimately saying, this is the false prophet. This is not the one.

IMPORTANT : How does the Watchtower justify this process of continual vacillation as "tacking?" It does so by attributing each alteration in doctrine and policy to Jehovah God's ever "increasing light." The following doctrinal example of "tacking" suggests otherwise: 

Will the men of Sodom be resurrected?  WT 7/1879, p.8-YES!...  WT6/1/52, p.338-NO!...WT 8/1/65 p.479-YES! ...WT 6/1/88, p.31-NO!...Live forever, early editions, p.179-YES!...Live forever, later editions, p.179-NO!...Insight, Vol. 2, p.985-YES!...Revelation, p.273-NO! Is the light getting brighter or is it blinking? 

James: Last week one of the brothers, I wonít point him out. At the end of the discussion it (he) ended that the Watchtower when it comes to false prophecy is above the principles of God. Does everyone believe thatís true?

Brother "C" : I donít understand what that means "above the principles of God."

James: In other words if the Bible sets forth what a false prophet is and the Watchtower has false prophecyÖ

Brother "D" : You specifically asked the Brother when you presented your information, would you say the Watchtower is a false prophet? He said no. Thatís what youíre referring to.

James: Right. And then I asked, is the Watchtower above the principles of false prophecy? [Quote]

Brother "C" : I think the society has answered that. Iíll pretty much answer what the rest of us would say. We donít consider it a false prophet at all.

James: So what is it when you say the world will end and it doesnít?

Brother "C" : They make adjustments. They donít understand everything.

James: That paper that I brought from the Watchtower Brother "C"  said that someone who says the world will come to an end and it doesnít, is guilty of false prophesying. (Awake! 10/8/68 pg.23)

Brother "C" : Yeah, I read that.

James: So, are there two measures of weights?

Brother "C" : No you have to understand the societyís stand. They take their best stand. They never said guaranteed in everything. Remember Seventy-five, (1975) Everyone predicted that that would be the end. The society felt pretty close that it could be. They didnít say it would. 

(Remember that statement) 

I know a lot of people who left the truth because of it. They really depended on it being the end. It had to be the end for them. 

I had a lot of friends who did. And we had some pretty good discussions on it. But the society I thought was pretty good in the way they presented it. They even apologized at one point to say if they had misled friends. Itís not their intention. Itís not their work; itís not their efforts. Theyíre genuine. You see I know the men too. Theyíre genuine. Their interest is in us. Their interest is not in getting something.

James: But itís still the principles of God. In other words I can have all the interest in the world in you. If I commit fornication, I have to say fornication is wrong. But if I commit false prophecy, false prophecy is wrong.

Brother "C" : They thought it would be the end, and thatís what they predicted

James: They were guilty of false prophecy!

Brother "C" : They were wrong. They were wrong. But we donít convict them as the false prophet to death forever because they correct themselves and make changes. Thereís a difference. We can accept them for making mistakes and making changes.

James: Can you show me that in Godís word?

Brother "C" : That you canít make mistakes?

James: That they could be false prophets and Jesus would forgive them?

Brother "M" : UmÖletís see what do they do in the football games (making the time-out sign)

All Six Elders: (Laughing)

Important: Did you notice how he at first blamed the membership for the 1975 expectations? Witnesses do this because the leadership has suggested several times through the columns of the Watchtower Magazine that such was the case. Throughout its history, Watchtower leaders have scolded the membership after each prophetic blunder. Yet, deep down this old-time Witness (who is in his seventies) knows better. When pushed into a corner concerning the watchtower's culpability in nourishing false hopes in JWs  for the year 1975, he actually admits that "they thought it would be the end, and thatís what they predicted!"  

Brother "M" : We didnítÖyou didnít appeal your disfellowshipping and you didnít ask for an appeal committee so we can have a long discussion on doctrine. Weíre not here for that. Youíve askedÖyou have said to us, I want to remain as on of Jehovahís Witnesses. 

James: No no I did not say that. In fact my course of life has proven that thatís not the case.

Brother "M" : At this point youíre thinking or feeling that you donít want to be one of Jehovahís Witnesses? 

James: I have not wanted to be one in three years. I havenít been to a meeting in three years. 

(thatís usually an indication)

Brother "M" :So why are we here tonight then? 

James: It begs the question! Basically for this reason. When I found out all these things I stopped going to meetings. I lived here another year. A year in which no shepherding calls were made or anything like that.

Brother "M" : Itís because you didnít offer any coffee. 

Sidebar :  Before the meeting the visiting brothers were teasing the Branford elders for not having prepared coffee. Apparently my not having received any shepherding calls for a years was an opportunity for some "theocratic levity."

James: (Amazed at his cavalier manner) Is that what it was? 

Brother "M" : I donít mean to be facetious.

James:  Thatís ok.

Brother "D" : Heís ribbing me.

James: After that year I pretty much got a clear idea that no one was going to answer those questions. Brother "C"  looked at those questions. I donít think they can really be answered. I moved to Philadelphia. I wanted to get away to start fresh in my life. And did so. Moved to Philadelphia, went to The Academy of Vocal Arts. I studied there and had a wonderful life. In (during) that year  Linda kept calling me. A former friend. "Are you going to meetings?" "No Iím not." Never divulging my beliefs. She was relentless with me, Soliciting information. We did one thing together. We read Romans Chapter eight. 

She said, "you think they all people are going to heaven? You sound like a "born again" when you talk about the Bible." I said "well, will you read one chapter of the Bible with me?" (We) read Romans eight, about those who are led by Godís spirit. And how Paul shows that those who are led by the flesh and have enmity and have condemnation and those who are led by the spirit have peace and joy and are "sons of God." And when we arrived at the verse that says all those who are led by the spirit these are the sons of God, she said, "your God is Satan the Devil and I will never speak to you again." Thatís all we did. That was it. 

The next night Scott calls me - The other friend. I hadnít spoken to him in two years. (Imitating my "friend") "Hey how ya doin? I just wanted to ask you a few questions." I knew I was getting set up. I said , "you know what Scott , itís my business. Iím not giving any information so you can solicit all you want Iím on my own and Iím not giving any information." (Directing the question to the local body of elders). And he said that to youÖthat I didnít give any information. 

The next night (Imitating a phone) BBBRRRING! From nine o clock to twelve thirty in the morning. Brother Garrett was calling me. Calling and calling and calling and calling and calling. And I know (it was) him because he doesnít leave messages on the machine. Finally I picked up. He said, "this is Brother Garrett ." Heís a real old-time witness in the pejorative sense. (Imitating the person) He said, "this is Brother Garrett and I want to tell you that Linda and Scott are very upset. 

You answered in the affirmative to the third baptismal question which recognizes you"ÖYou know the whole thing! I said "Brother Garrett those people are calling me I didnít say anything to Linda. I wrote her a letter and said she had a closed mind. I didnít want to discuss anything and will never call her again! Scott I never said a word to. He said, "well you have to square with headquarters." I said "square with headquarters? Iím sitting here in Philadelphia minding my own business...why do I have to square with headquarters." He said, "because you made a decision and you have to separate yourself"Öand this and thatÖ and "you havenít heard the end of me." 

I said "Brother Garrett youíre like my dad why are you doing this? Donít you want to hear why I lost my faith in the organization? Why I am where I am now? Do you just want to hang up in five minutes?" (He said) "Go ahead, you have five minutes." 

I related some of the thingsÖmuch like the story I told you. A much-abridged version than the one I told you. At the end of five minutes he said, "thatís it, thatís what the apostates say!" (Imitating the Phone) Click!  And then the letter came in. I think the elder bodyÖI donít want to put words in your mouthÖsaw kind of a conspiratorial nature to the whole event.

Brother "D" : We had askedÖas you had mentioned that you did agree that you said certain things but then again you made it very clear that it was not forthcoming.

James: Right. Right. What happened after thatÖand this is where the story gets a little convoluted.

Brother "M" : And this is going in the direction as to why weíre here tonight?

Brother "D" : Just to clarify: you had also said that you donít talk to people

James: No. And my sister called (The elders) and said heís my brother and he hasnít shared his thoughts with me. 

Brother "D" : So again, thatís what we made clear as long as youíre not talking to anyone.

OBSERVATION:  The fact that I had not shared my religious thoughts with my own sister would be a pretty good indication that I was not expressing my views among the friends. Furthermore, why would there be such a fear of my expressing myself if the Watchtower has "the truth" and is perfectly innocent with nothing to hide? 

James: I get hired to go to Japan with this Japanese brother who is also in San Francisco...and we are in Japan together and he says, "oh whatís going on with Brother Garrett and Linda no one says anything about you." And I recounted what happened. "It was a tough thing for me, they went after me." I said I was living a peaceful life in Philadelphia. And basically he said, "well you know youíre a good brother, You have good questions. I donít have answers to your questions and the things you say but if you were in my congregation, I would work with you. We would write the society together." We ended amicably.

When it came to the end of the concert runÖhe had done business with the brothers there too in Japan. We had just a friendly contract. A contract in which I was promised X amount of dollars for each concert...and at the end of four concerts he gave me not even what one concert was worth or what we had agreed upon... I said Brother "H" youíre cheating me. And he said no Iím not cheating you...and I said, well Iíll tell you the truth, if youíre not cheating me then Iím going to call the other Brothers and see what they agreed to pay me. 

He got on a plane and left me in Japan. Paid me X amount of dollars for four concerts. They (the other Brothers) paid X dollars a piece for those concerts! You can call the Brothers and Iíll give you the number. Brother Honma, (former) Branch overseer of Japan. He was in the yearbook of last year. He ( brother "H") got caught extorting money from me...and when he went home (To San Francisco) he cavorted with Brother Garrett and thatís why Iím here. And thatís why I say it was not my intention to start a "sect." I wanted to live a peaceful life. My extortionist is bringing me down. I say that before God.

SIDEBAR: At the time, because of the flavor and general tone of the letter, I surmised that Brother "H" and brother Garrett orchestrated their efforts in writing it. To be fair, however, I cannot say beyond a shadow of a doubt that brother Garrett was behind the second letter. However, the first letter and systematic rounding-up of the two false witnesses was all his doing.

Brother "M" : Those are serious charges obviouslyÖwas there something in writing that you had.

James: A friendly agreement. From this day to that day Iíll be giving concerts with Mr. "H."  The fact of the matter is when this happened I went to Brother Honma and Brother Saito and I said, I was just given X dollars for four concerts. And they went " oh my God we just gave X dollars for each concert! And Brother "H" got on a plane and I had to buy my own plane ticket home...and it was a Fiasco in Japan! All the Brothers had saw that this man had extorted money.

Brother "C" : Have you taken it up with him?

James: No, Iím not going to do that...and just to tell you brothers, I was to leave in three weeks for Japan. X dollars in contracts...and it fell through last week because Iím getting disfellowshipped. The witnesses were doing the publicity and all that and my pianist is a witness and for that reasonÖ

Brother "C" : They didnít want to be associated? (with you)

James: No

I spoke to Mr. Homna who was the branch overseer and he said "youíre a good man, I donít know what to tell you. This (Brother "H") is a dishonest man." 

Brother "D" : It was not our part that made it fall through.

James: No no no! I honestly called and faxed Mr. Homna and said this is the situation. He was heartsick over that.

Brother "M" : And how longÖthis happened last year?

James: Last year.

Brother "M" : Well you know Iím sure from reading the Bible that when a situation like that occurs itís not tolerated in Jehovahís organization. You basically have two options. The first option you know is to go to the congregation. Your second option is to forgive. But you might have done better to do the first one if you feel you have been wronged.

James: You know I thought of the first one but for the simple fact that I had separated myself from the entire system (The Watchtower system) I didnít want to use the system on another person because I wanted to be free of punitive action on the part of the Watchtower. So why would I go and insert myself back into that judicial system to have someone act against a Jehovahís Witnesses? I figured I would cut my losses. The contract that I got this year for the four concertsÖthey gave me an extra X thousand. They felt badly and they were behind me. Well I said I got more money out of this anyway. I was vindicated.

Brother "C" : The same group or a different group?

James: The same group. He (The Brother "H") got exed out of the equation. I had no correspondence with Japan he was doing all of it. Then when I went thereÖthey were beautiful. The Brothers and Sisters were so sweet to me, very kind.

Brother "M" : So when you tell that story you also have to add the details you just added, correct?

James: Oh yeah, I donít say that reflects Jehovahís Witnesses. Jehovahís Witnesses are by and large good and honest people.

Observation: One would think that in light of the dubious character of brother "H" that these elders might want to look into the matter further to establish whether or not brother "H" could possibly have had ulterior motives for his accusations against me - perhaps investigate to see if my expressions in regard to the Watchtower organization were forthcoming or systematically solicited as future ammunition should a possible money scandal ensue. Even though at this point I was perfectly willing to furnish the elders phone numbers of the brothers in Japan as confirmation of the truthfulness of what I was asserting, no effort was made on the part of these six elders in that regard. The fact that I was re-engaged the following year by the same Japanese brothers for a larger concert series and brother "H" was excluded all together (at their request) would also suggest that brother "H" was less than innocent and that I was certainly not "promoting a sect" among the friends in Japan. All these factors for some reason are mysteriously overlooked. 

AT THIS POINT SOMETHING WENT AWRY WITH MY RECORDING DEVISE CUTTING ABOUT TEN MINUTES OUT OF THE MEETING.

Brother "M" : You donít consider yourself one of Jehovahís Witnesses?

James: No. I have not for three years.

Brother "M" : Do you consider yourself associated with any religion?

James: No I donít

Brother "M" : Do you have people that you work with kind of in a study group at all?

James: My close friends from High schoolÖwe might get together and read some chapters from the Bible together and things like that. But in terms of formal worship I wanted to give myself a couple of years of really studying the word. I didn't want any kind of outside influence on me.

Brother "M" :So again I guess we go back to that question I asked before, why are we here tonight?

James: Weíre here tonight because I feel that Iím getting snagged in a policy. A policy, which says, well if someone leaves quietly we wonít go near them. But if three people can vehemently and vigorously solicit information and that Brother blurts out some of his feelings or his viewpoints, then the machinery starts and it eats you up. There are no extenuating circumstances. This is the way it works. While in the congregation itself there can be many people who left the organization who decided that they no longer want to be Jehovahís Witnesses. They live quietly and theyíre not dragged before a judicial committee. 

And so I see it as somewhat arbitrary that because these people solicited information from meÖand they even admitted it. (Starting a new thought) The charge of "starting a sect" What kind of a sect is that? Weíll go from Japan to San Francisco? where are we going to have our first meeting? I mean itís silly! 

(My point was that the accusation that I wanted to "promote a sect"  was obviously bogus in that all my accusers were a six hour plane ride away from me. This geographical reality would preclude the possibility of my promoting a sect).

It was not my desire to start a sect. I just want to leave in peace. I donít want labels put on me as someone who is unfit for a sharing of a meal or a salutation. I donít believe my crime deserves that punishment. I donít think Iíve done anything wrong.

 

Brother "C" : You understand that did join to be one of Jehovahís Witnesses and behold the organization. These things you might have hashed out before but you didnít you took it up later. You donít believe like us, You donít believe like we believe in the organization and what it does, how it works. You donít believe the same things that we believe. So you really arenít one of Jehovahís Witnesses in any way, so how can you stay as one of Jehovahís Witnesses and walk away when we know that? This is your testimony and you ultimately repudiate how weÖyouíre not one of us.

James: So let me see if I understand what youíre saying. If you leave the organizationÖso you can never leave without having judicial action taken against you?

Brother "C" : All I know is you. You want to addressÖ

James: No no no Iím asking in general. Iím asking in general. If even among our elder body (certain) family members (of the elders) left the organization with impunity...

Brother "C" : I donít know. We donít know their cases.

James: No Iím saying if they leave the organizationÖ

Brother "C" : They just go off and we donít see them or have contact with them? Well you came here and talked to the Brothers and told them the story that you donít believe like one of us at all. So youíre testimony of yourself is that Iím not one of them.

James: But do you think the people who leftÖI have a particular Brother in mind whoís an elder who has two daughters that left years agoÖmarried non witnesses, one lives an immoral life. How come sheís not disfellowshipped? She lives right around here.

Brother "C" : I donít know. When the contact is made if something happens maybe they will. I donít know.

OBSERVATION: The people I was referring to were the children of one of the active elders in the congregation. Surely his children's beliefs would not be unknown to their own father so as to necessitate waiting to some unspecified future point when Jehovah would "reveal them." This kind of nepotism is commonly found in the Watchtower system.

James: Does that reflect Jehovahís impartial judgment to you?

Brother "C" : You have to understand you want to decide all of them. Weíre only here to decide yours!

James: Thatís not righteous. Thatís not righteous way to view it. Thatís not righteous Brother!

Brother "D" : If you remember a year ago, up until the last three years you said you had no contact. You did walk away. A year later we didnít put you out of the congregation.

James: I appreciate that.

Brother "D" : So it wasnít like we were aggressively pursuing you. And we mentioned at that point that we were not going to aggressively pursue it if things stayed quiet. But they didnít.

James: But you heard the circumstances of those things...(Going to another thought) No, youíre talking about promoting a sect.

Brother "D" : No no no, I didnít say anything about promoting a sect.

James: Yes you did. We read about two weeks ago the scripture about promoting a sect.

Brother "D" : But that was among other things. 

(The disingenuousness of this brother can be seen in that I spent a considerable amount of time defending the fact that I was not promoting a sect in my first meeting. Something this brother seems to forget).

James: Yes but if the accusation is that Iím promoting a sectÖ

Brother "D" : What we had asked and what we had presented to you was Brother "H"' letter. Do you say these things about the organization and we explained it and and you gave your opinion as to not believing what you formerly believed.

James: So what about those witnesses who no longer believe what they formerly believe at one time and left the organization? 

(What about the Watchtower when it no longer believes what it formerly believed?)

Brother "D" : Well as Brother "C"  mentioned, we donít know what they believe at this point.

Brother "C" : You did let a number of friends know. It gets to be among the friends. Now I guess the friends all know. 

(That was not a true statement. If " a number of the friends knew,"  why were there no local witnesses testifying against me?)

James: Where is the righteousness of that? That arbitrarilyÖwe donít know yet so it doesnít matter, so Jehovah doesnít have to take action. But if we know Jehovah takes action?

Brother "C" : Weíre not Jehovah weíre just men.

James: But shouldnít we reflect the way he judges things?

Brother "C" : We do in that weíre looking at your caseÖ

James: What about someone elseís case?

Brother "C" : Weíll see what happens when it comes there but you canít decide it either.

James: Thatís not righteous. You have to show me that in the scriptures.

Brother "C" : You want to have more than one personÖ

James: No I want you to be scriptural! Jehovahís not impartial.

Brother "C" : You have to understand that this information that you brought forth to us now, that you testified before these guys is your own testimony now that you donít really want to be one of Jehovahís Witnesses. You havenít associated with them anymore. So why shouldnít you be put outÖ?

James: Well for the simple fact that I have not tried to promote my views. So what youíre saying is because people solicited information from me and now "the process" has begunÖnow whenever I go to my sisterís house... when they have a gathering they canít invite me because other witnesses are there? Yet for three years Iíve had meals with them and I havenít shared my views with them. But I got caught in a system, is that what youíre saying?

Brother "C" :well maybe Jehovah opened it up for us. We donít know.

James: Thatís not sufficient! To say "maybe" and read the mind of Jehovah God is not a sufficient answer.

Brother "C" : He might have revealed it. He might of made it all come out. The sins of some men would be manifest right awayÖ cause we view it as a sinÖ the sins of others will be manifest later. Itís not in our hands. When itís revealed.

Brother "M" : I think that the basis for our discussion is probably second John 9. Iím sure itís not new to you I didnít bring it up as being a new bit of light. I guess Jim our focus is really verse eleven. To us this is just very clear. Verse ten: 

If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, never receive him into your home or say a greeting to him.

  Now you have demonstrated to those of us sitting at the table that you donít feel as Jehovahís Witnesses do. You donít espouse the same doctrines that we do. So I donít know, we could talk until the cows come home. You feel so strongly on the way you feel. The epitome of they way we feel is in verse 10.

James: Can I ask you something Brother "M" ? If I were right now sitting before a Mormon council in a similar situation. And they said, "well you know James:  

"anyone that does not bring this teaching, donít receive him into youíre house.."  

Would that be valid?

Brother "C" : From among their organization it would be valid. Youíre view is itís not Jehovahís organization. You see youíre outside that

James: Thatís where I disagree. Because youíre saying "apostasy" is a denominational affair. In other words if I put three-hundred people in this room who all changed their (religious) organization, then, in some way they're all apostates to someone else in how their related. 

(If) I put a Catholic, I put a protestant, and I put a Muslim, (in this room) all of which changed to a different religion, and (they say to each other) Apostate! Apostate! He was in our religious organization now heís in that organization! 

What about the Biblical definition of apostasy, does that enter the equation?

Brother "C" : (Completely ignoring me) Where we stand hasnít changed. 

James: No no. I asked you a question.

Brother "C" : (Continuing to ignore me) Where Jehovahís Witnesses stand has not changed. We have our tenets we have our beliefsÖ

James: So itís a denominational affair? So then denominationally Iím an "apostate?"

Brother "C" : As far as weíre concerned youíre an apostate from the truth as well.

James: Well wouldnít you have to show that in (from) the Bible?

Brother "C" : You donít believe like we do.

James: Then no one will sit down with me? Listen, Iíll tell you. I will sit down weekend after weekend until Iím blue in the face. If you can show me, (I'm wrong) I will absolutely change. Absolutely change. I promise you that....And Iím sincere about that. I mean you just read me a scripture (looking at the heading in my NIV Bible for second John) 

"Beware of anti-Christís" 

and said that Iím an anti-Christ!

Brother "C" : Thatís our view rememberÖ

James: Am I an anti-Christ?

Brother "C" : Ultimately to us it (you) would be an anti-Christ because you donít believeÖ we believe weíre associated with the Christ and with Jehovah God and that we are Jehovahís Witnesses. We have organized ourselves as a bodyÖ

James: Yeah, Iím saying scripturally am I an anti-Christ? (Reading from the Bible) It says: 

"anyone who does not confess Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh." 

Do you think That I donít confess that? (Don't) Do you think that was what John was talking about? 

ALL 6 Elders: (Silent)

James: But that doesnít matter? Thatís ridiculous! Thatís what I meant last week, the Bible doesnít matter! Paulís words donít matter "some as evangelists!" Paulís words donít matter that donít (not to) listen to a new gospel!

Brother "M" : Jim we appreciate what you say. Hereís the way we look at it. We look at it very simply. You were one of Jehovahís Witnesses. When the Brother gave the baptismal talk and asked those two questions you said yes, I believe those things. Itís as simple as that. We appreciate that. Things happened in youíre life that changed your opinion. 

Important: The  Society said the following in the Watchtower of 7/1/55 :

"A Christian cannot be baptized in the name of the one actually doing the immersing or in the name of any man, nor in the name of any organization, but in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. This shows among other things, that Christianity is not a denominational affair, that sects have anything to do with it."

 Subsequent to this Watchtower, the baptismal formula was expressly altered to render baptism just that ; a "denominational affair." Notice the multiple references made to the baptismal questions? This topic resurfaces toward the end of the meeting with an eye-opening admission. 

James: You know what happened that "changed my opinion?" I got baptized with partial information. Brother "C"  said I should have "filled myself in." Yet there are Brothers who are elders, who are district overseerís, who donít know the things that I brought out last week to these Brothers. So whoís concealing the sin if people from the highest ranks of the society donít know that Jesus Christ was  (presumably) reigning since 1874 and that the heavenly hope (As joint-heirs) was cut off in 1881 (And taught) for thirty years? 

Brother "M" :Youíre coming to us and saying "no I donít want to be disfellowshipped from Jehovahís Witnesses."

James: Iím saying I want to leave with dignity.

Brother "M" : But youíre also saying that you donít want to be disfellowshipped.

James: Yes, I want to leave with dignity. In other words I want to go about my life. If I meet a witness in Stop and Shop ( a local grocery store) I want to say, hey how are you doing, nice to see you, say hi to your husband. Thatís all that Iím saying. Is that an unreasonable request?

Brother "M" : We understand what youíre saying. But you also have to look from our prospective. You were one of Jehovahís Witnesses, right?

James: Yes.

Brother "M" : When you used to read second John 9 through 11... if someone came to you with teachings different than what you believed what would you do?

James: I would never not say a greeting to them.

Brother "M" : But the Bible says so.

James: But the Bible says: 

"whoever says that Jesus Christ did not come in the flesh" 

You have to say what it (The Bible) says. You canít pull one line out of it!

Brother "M" : This is our focus point. 

OBSERVATION: What this brother meant by "this is our focus point" was that he much like brother "C," didn't care that the verse before was explicitly talking about antichrists who denied that Christ had come in the flesh. He just wanted to "Focus" on verse 10, take what he believed was the scriptural treatment accorded to such antichrists and then tranquilly accord that punishment  to me.  

James: But what was being discussed was the Docetists who said that Christ did not come in the flesh. That was a group of people who said that Jesus was a supernatural thing. Iím not that.

Brother "M" : (Ignoring what I just said) Is there anything else that you would like to say to us? Is there anything else thatís important and hasnít been said?

James: I think it merits mentioning that I do feel that the Watchtower believes itís above the word of God. I definitely feel that. I think I made that clear when I said that Hymenaeus and Philetus said the resurrection began and the scriptures say they deviated from the truth and subverted the faith of people who listened. Yet when Russell did it. "The light got brighter." 

The same thing with all the false prophesies. I think brother M1 mentioned it last week that the principles of the Bible concerning false prophecyÖthey donít apply to the Watchtower. Even the fact that Paulís words (I meant Johnís) are talking about an anti-ChristÖwell "this teaching" means the "Watchtowerís teaching." 

I feel itís very sad to talk to people who spend their lives in Godís word, condemning the world, (as the) "the great harlot." What Iíve seen in Christianity does not come close to this type of unrighteousness. 

I believe this Brother "M" Öand Iím directing this to you because youíre looking at me straight in the face. I believe this Brother "M" , if I were able the other night to sincerely have the meeting I had with these three Brothers before a congregation of people like they did it in the New Testament or even in the Old Testament when they went before the judges at the gates... I believe people would leave the organization and that this is suppressing information. 

People look at a person as myself whoís truly committed to God and truly loves Godís word... and because their arenít answersÖ(turning to Brother "C"  who was examining my research on the "faithful slave") because there are not answers to that right there on the "faithful slave"...and you know there are not answers! You have to silence the person. 

Thatís what "apostates" areÖ because Iíve met the "apostates." They are people who put the witnesses against the standard of the Bible, and their (The Watchtower's) history  and show that it canít stand up.  So we must put the hermetic seal around the (the witness) community. I really believe that. Because if you really thought I was misled you would say Brothers, lets get three Brothers, lets work with this kid. I donít feel you do.

Brother "M" : (Not replying to anything I just said) UmÖnow lets seeÖ thereís one area that Iím a little disconcerted about. You say that you havenít talked to others unless theyÖsort of dug it out of you?  Is there anybody that you know that you talked to that is no longer associating with the congregation? 

(The Witch-hunt begins!)

James: I donít follow you. People who are not associating?

Brother "M" : Yes, that used to associate?

James: Yes "Anonymous." (This person has not been officially ousted and so must remain anonymous)

Brother "M" : Do you talk to "Anonymous?"

James: Yes

Brother "M" : "Anonymous" used to be a witness?

James: x years.

Brother "M" : Forgive me I donít know "Anonymous." "Anonymous" used to come to the Kingdom Hall? (Fishing) Would you say itís because ofÖ that itís for some other reason "Anonymous" stop coming?

James: You know what? (Up to) At this point Brother "M"  everything that has come out of my mouth has been rehashed to me. The proverb of not betraying the confidence of anotherÖI have not seen that among witnesses. And I Ďm never going to speak on "Anonymous" account. Youíll have to get "Anonymous" here and talk to "Anonymous" because I donít feel comfortable about that.

(Not satisfied, the inquisition continues)

Brother "M" :  Do you folksÖagain weíre from out of townÖhas "Anonymous" voiced (themselves) in anyway that this is why "Anonymous" stopped Coming to meetings?

Brother "D" : No not to us.

James: Than again I feel Brother "D" you guys have a responsibility to see "Anonymous." Pasture the congregation! No one will pasture when you have these questions. (The questions on the "slave class") No one will pasture! 

Brother "C"  that right in front of you (My questions) will never be "pastured to" because there are no answers... because itís not true. I believe that. Thatís not true! Thatís why there are no answers.

So we build an organization and we become policy-oriented... and we keep people out. 

(Goading him) If there were answers to that you would say, my poor young Brother, youíve been deceived.  But there is not. You read the last page are there answers to those questions?

Brother "C" : Have you paid attention to the societyís answers to a lot of these questions?

James: There are no answers to those questions.

Brother "C" : Have you paid attention to the societyís answers to a lot of these questions?

James: Iíve studied the Watchtower ad nauseum ad infinitum!

Brother "C" : Also about the "tacking" back and forth?

James: I know about the "Tacking." (pointing to my questions) No what I said about the "faithful slave," right there.

Brother "C" : Well a quick one, Iíll take a quick one. (A question)

James: Youíll take one? 

IMPORTANT:  An argument consists of a premise (or several premises) and a conclusion. A premise is a reason, an explanation, or a justification. If the premise is part of a logical argument, it provides supporting data or evidence that leads the person to the conclusion. The conclusion of the argument is only as compelling as is the premise from which it is derived. If the premise is well-constructed (usually meaning well-understood and factual), and if it logically leads to the conclusion, then the listener will have to accept the conclusion, and the speaker will have accomplished his or her goal. As will be clearly seen here, the Watchtower's premise of divine authority is bereft of historic substance. It is asserted yet never proven. 

Jehovah's Witnesses believe that they are led by a divinely appointed group known as "the faithful and discreet slave." Upon this one teaching hinges the entire theological infrastructure of the Watchtower Organization's claimed authority. I now set out to prove that their view of the "faithful slave" is historically nothing more than a concocted concept. 

Although I am in the presence of six elders, this is the first time in the evening one of them will truly attempt to answer one of my questions. Notice the following exchange.

(pointing to the Watchtower magazine) 

It says that the "faithful slave" has existed for 19 centuries from Pentecost C E. And it shows that one generation of the slave fed the succeeding generation. Not only did it feed it one after the other but it gave progressive spiritual food. ("The light" kept on getting brighter over the 1800 years) (Reading from the WT Magazine) 

"So we see then that the method of feeding was not of isolated independent individuals but a close-knit body."

So my question is this: 

Since history is by no means silent on religious development down through the centuries, even giving us a fairly complete picture of a stage by stage development of a universal Catholic Church organization and also the disagreements and separations from that system and the formation of various movements leading up to the reformation... why is it nothing can be found that would acceptably fit the Watchtowerís description of a single on-going "faithful and discreet slave class"... a homogeneous close-knit collective group functioning down through the centuries as the one and only feeding source for generation after generation for all Christians in all places?

Brother "C" : So you want them to feed (he meant show) from the first century until now? You want an apostolic successionÖ (Freudian slip?) or a succession rather?

James: No I want them to locate them. We have history in minutiae of the evolution of Christianity with schismsÖthe Lollards and WaldensesÖwe know everything in minutiae. 

This is (Allegedly) Godís arrangement. He has a body that he deals with from 33 C E, progressively teaching this "close-knit body"... dispensing food that progresses with every generation. 

Well where is there any evidence in the last 1900 years? Point to one group.

Brother "C" : Do you want the societyís stand on it?

James: No no Iím asking! Where was this group in the fifteen hundreds?  Who was the "faithful slave?"

Brother "C" : I donít remember them taking a stand on any one direct connection. Theyíve always taken the stand that Jehovah knows his people. 

(Thatís a little vague. Jehovah is God, he knows everything)

James: But this says that it was a close-knit body. Where was the close-knit body?

Brother "C" : I can only identify it from the organizationís time on.

OBSERVATION :  This is something like saying; "Microsoft has existed for two thousand years, but I can only identify it from Bill Gate's time on." 

James: So we have Paul in the first century, and Russell in 1879, and nothing for 1800 years? 

Brother "C" : Theyíve always said that various peopleÖ

James: So where are they?

Brother "C" : They always saidÖthey never said that they can guarantee who they were. They would leave that in Godís hands. 

James: So itís completely invisible?

Brother "C" : No they just said they would never identify them. 

(A difference without a distinction) 

The Lollards they said may beÖuhÖthat they donít pass judgment on them.

James: (Showing him a photocopy of pg.41 in the Reasoning Book) So why when we talk to Catholics about the Apostolic Succession we ask them: 

Has an unbroken line of successors been traced from Peter to modern-day popes? 

Why do they have to show us a succession?

Brother "C" : Because they make the claim that there is a succession.

James: Donít we make the claim that there is a succession?

Brother "C" : Not to my knowledge.

James: Didnít I just read to you (from the WT magazine) that we have a succession that feeds one generation to the next?

Brother "C" :Iím not sure that thatís the right understanding.

James: (Placing it in his hands for examination) Here! Thatís the Watchtower!  Whereís the difference with the Catholic successionÖ"Apostolic Succession" and the "faithful slave" succession? 

We ask them to identify it. Will you identify yours?

Brother "C" : They have never identified it.

James: Oh ok, so itís a chain of invisible links?

Brother "C" : There are people over the centuries that Jehovah has worked with.

James: Will you give me one? (Example) This close-knit body can you show me one?

Brother "C" : (Defeated) No I canít, no.

James: (Dropping the issue) Ok.

OBSERVATION : It is incumbent upon anyone making a truth-claim such as this to offer positive evidence. Extraordinary claims demand extraordinary evidence.  Man can make no greater claim then to speak for God. Notice, however, how his faith in the Watchtower's divine authority is divorced from any historical evidence. His vague argument, if applied to other historical inquiries, would destroy our knowledge of all of ancient history - especially that of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. 

Jesus' resurrection was demonstrated by over 500 eyewitnesses over a 40 day period of time, on 12 separate occasions.  His empty tomb was observed,  his reanimated body touched. He was seen eating physical food and people listened to him teach nearly a month and a half. This is not hearsay evidence. Furthermore, the immediate successors of the apostles beginning in the late first and early second century testified to the fact that the Gospel accounts and apostolic epistles were authentic history.  In A.D. 95 Clement of Rome cited the Gospels. Around A.D. 110 Ignatius quoted Luke 24:39 (a crucial text on the resurrection of Christ). Polycarp, a disciple of John the apostle cites the synoptic gospels as authentic. The Epistle of Barnabas (135) quotes Matthew. Papias (125 and following) speaks of Matthew, Mark, and John writing Gospels saying three times that Mark made no errors. 

Unlike the Watchtower's "faithful and discrete slave" myth which cannot furnish one visible body of individuals over the last 2000 years as an historical link to it's alleged modern-day counterpart, the succession of witnesses to the historical event of the resurrection can be traced generation after generation to our present day.  

 

Brother "D" :That doesnít mean it doesnít exist. Because someone canít prove it to you. If your faith is based on that you have to see somethingÖ 

Brother "C" : They have always said that over the centuries there were men of faith and that Jehovah knows his people.

James: No they said it was a close-knit body that fed itself progressively. So progressively that when it arrived to Charles Taze RussellÖ(starting a new thought)...why didnít he contact the 1900 year-old "faithful slave?"

Brother "C" : (Ignoring me) Who do you think they are then?

James: But Iím asking; why didnít Charles Taze Russell contact the 1900 year-old "faithful and discreet slave?" As a 19-year-old boy he picked the Bible up and studied it himself. Didnít he act "untheocratically?"

Brother "C" : Against who?

James: Iím asking you! Wasnít that untheocratic? 

Brother "C" : Did any organizationÖdid he claim to beÖhe was a MethodistÖ

OBSERVATION: That's my point. Who was the faithful slave when Russell was 19 years old? Where was "God's organization?" Why did Russell strike out on his own independent of the 1900 year-old slave class? Just imagine if today a 19 year-old Jehovah's Witness brother struck out independently from the Watchtower's "faithful and discreet slave." 

IMPORTANT : In reality the "faithful slave" as understood by Jehovah's Witnesses had its beginning in the person of Charles Tazes Russell in1879.  Therefore there can be no concrete historical answers to these questions prior to his arriving on the scene. In hopes of not appearing as just a twentieth century sect, the120-year-old organization claims that the "faithful slave" has existed for 2000 years. It thus paints itself as an established institution of antiquity. This causes a problem, however, in that the Watchtower cannot link itself with any specific group of the past-for virtually all of them embraced doctrines the Watchtower considers apostate. 

?

The chain of invisible links

James: The "faithful slave" was 1900 years old. Charles Taze Russell is 20 years old, why didnít he contact them... They had 1900 years of ever-shining light?

Brother "M" : (Arbitrating and ending the obviously lost battle) JimÖ

James: Thatís my point though! Thatís my point! Thatís why I have to be called an "apostate," because those are fables of men.

Brother "M" : Jim I guessÖand Iíll just give you a personal opinion and thatís all it is. It is good to have questions about the Bible. It is good to have questions about things we read. It shows an active mind. And many times over the years individuals in the congregation have come to me and said, "I donít understand this." And I always say to them well then itís time that you look for an answer. And I say hereís an index and this is how you use it. You look up everything you can find and then come back to me and weíll talk about it. And if you still donít understand it will talk about it some more. But you need to make sure that you have looked in every comment the society has made about it.

IMPORTANT: All biblical research done by the great majority of Jehovah's Witnesses is accomplished by referring solely to past Watchtower literature. The average witness would not dream of entering a Christian book store much less base his biblical research on scholarly works outside the framework of the society's "theocratic library." This self-validating methodology ensures conformity of thought and ultimately shields the rank and file witness from any evidence that could undermine the organization's unique teachings. This unilateral approach to research, however, is wholly circular.  It is something like my saying; I am the greatest singer in the world. If you doubt that, have questions about it or don't quite understand it, "it's time you look for an answer." "Look up everything you can find" that I have ever written about my singing "and then come back to me and we'll talk about it." In essence, the Watchtower does the same, for it only desires to hear its echo.

James: Brother "M"  I have exhausted my study of the Watchtower. 

Brother "M" : No no no you didnít let me finish.

James: Sorry.

(I thought he was suggesting that I had not done enough research on the subject, but he was recounting how he deals with witnesses who have questions)

Brother "M" : And so generally what happens is a person comes back and they say "I found an answer to my question," or "I didnít find an answer." And I kind of quiz them to see whether they really researched it or not. You know just to make sureÖmaybe there are a couple of citations that they missed. So I say, did you check this? "No I didnít check that." Well go back and check that. And sometimes they come back and say you know I couldnít find anything in the societyís publications on that subject. So I say what are you going to do? "Well Iím just going to wait and Jehovah in time will reveal it to me." Ok fine thatís good. 

Thatís one kind of person. Another kind of person may not do that. 

OBSERVATION: Brother "M" is insinuating that my inquiries should be in abeyance until Jehovah reveals the answers. Yet he commits a logical fallacy. One would not have to wait for Jehovah to reveal something if the society already teaches it? The fact that they teach the doctrine of a 2,000 year-old faithful and discreet slave would indicate that it has already been "revealed." Furthermore, if the Watchtower is categorically unable and unwilling to specify a composite body of believers over the last two-thousand years who fits its unique description of the "faithful slave," then how can they rightly claim it ever existed - or better yet, how can they assert that the nature of its teaching was "progressive."  Based on what data can one make such qualifications if it's impossible to concretely identify even one individual from "the slave" at any point in history prior to 1879? 

James: When you say "Jehovah" you mean the organization donít you?

Brother "M" :Iím sorry.

James: When you say "Jehovah will reveal it" you mean the organization? 

(Jehovah God=Watchtower Society?)

Brother "M" : I donít want to get caught in that discussion. Itís as simple as Jehovah will reveal it through his organization. Thatís all Iím going to say. 

IMPORTANT: Is it that "simple," as Brother "M" suggests, or isn't that the very issue that's been questioned all evening? Does The Watchtower = Jehovah? Is not agreeing with the Watchtower going ahead of God? Does conscientious objection to unique Watchtower teachings constitute Biblical apostasy? 

James: But are those legitimate questions Brother "M" ?

Brother "M" : (Refusing to reply) Iíve just expressed myself. 

And I thinkÖI know Brother "C"  feels this way because he has a few Grey hairs. Youíve come to a point in your life where you believed Jehovah. 

(I still believe Jehovah) 

You know Jehovah is the God of the universe. 

And there are a myriad of things that we donít know about Jehovah yet. Everyday we learn something about Jehovah. It may be thousands of years before Jehovah reveals certain things to us. But we know heís going to do it. And we have that faith in Jehovah that thatís going to come. And if thereís something there that maybe we donít understand today, in time Jehovah will reveal it to us.

 Iím not trying to say that you should feel this way.

James: No I appreciate it. I have to respect that. 

Brother "M" : And I know that at some point I might read something in the Watchtower or I might read something in the Bible. And I say you know I just donít understand that. But I can only tell you in the forty odd years Iíve been a witness, thereís been things that maybe I havenít understood. In time Jehovah reveals them to us. It might be through the Bible, it might be through the Watchtower or Awake, it might be through whatever, but it comes to us. Thatís the faith that I have as a witness. That itís going to be taken care of. 

IMPORTANT : The future revelations Brother "M" is so confident to receive will no doubt come through the publications of the Watchtower. Through that literature, he trusts, that Jehovah in time will by some mysterious process communicate his will to faithful men in Brooklyn, New York. Ninety-nine point nine percent of Jehovah's Witnesses, however, will never meet these "faithful men."  How does the Watchtower inspire millions of adherents to place their unyielding faith in faceless men ? The Watchtower accomplishes this by not disclosing the names of the people who write the articles for their publications. JWs therefore erroneously accept the content of such "ghost writers" as if emanating from Jehovah himself. 

This wizard-of-Oz" situation can be better understood if viewed historically.  For some years Judge Rutherford signed his name on all WT literature as did Russell. He sternly warned that the repudiation of Russell's fanciful doctrines was tantamount to repudiating the LORD. After the schism of Russell's devotees it became apparent that Rutherford had to re-anchor the "divine authority" of the Watchtower in someone or something other than pastor Russell. Hence, "The Judge" recognizing his inability to fill the the shoes of his predecessor, sagaciously transferred the willing loyalty and submission conferred upon Pastor Russell to the magic word and concept of "organization." (This is similar to how the word "church" [which originally applied to God's gathered people] in the second century came to be understood as referring to Church leaders and their authority). 

In true Wizard-of-Oz fashion Rutherford then slipped behind the Watchtower curtain and continued his monarchical rule. He would go on to anonymously author virtually all Watchtower literature throughout his presidency.  Jehovah's Witnesses from that point on would now credit Jehovah for the content found there-in. Rutherford had effectively effectuated the Watchtower's transition from Russell's "cult of personality" to today's  "cult of anonymity." 

Jehovah's Witnesses now attribute all spiritual food to a mysterious "faithful and discrete slave" which is no longer Russell or any one man for that matter, but a composite group of 8,735 Christians dispersed throughout the earth. How does this disjunctive group communicate God's new light to Brooklyn Headquarters? The fact is, they don't.  Less then one percent of these Christians have anything to do with the literature published by the society. In fact, it is safe to say that the preponderance of what Jehovah's Witnesses receive by way of the written word is authored by members of the "great crowd." These men are no different than local Jehovah's Witness elders. This concept of the "faithful slave," however, is so deeply embedded in witnesses that they fail to come to grips with this reality. Therefore, the publications published by the society take on a "divine aura."

James: So what about a personÖlets say "Anonymous" had similar questions, and put these questions to Brother "D" or whoever the body of elders were and said this is legitimate... I want an answer for that. If this is not true and you canít identify any "slave" and you just have to say it was there but we donít know where... Well to say that this is a doctrine of necessity for salvationÖthat God has always had an organization, 1900 years of which we canít identify... Thatís a serious question. Shouldnít Brothers be equipped to answer those questions?

Brother "M" : Does "Anonymous" want to do that? 

(Notice how he didnít answer the question but wants to go after "anonymous?")

James: Want to do what?

Brother "M" : To sit and ask these Brothers that question? 

OBSERVATION: The inquisitorial nature of this dialogue is truly chilling. Why would anonymous want "to sit and ask these brothers that question" when as seen, "these brothers" had no meaningful reply to "that question." Is Brother "M"'s intention really to build the faith of "anonymous" and heal the spiritual wounds of "anonymous?"  

As seen,  Jehovah's Witnesses who have questions or doubts cannot approach the elders for answers to their inquiries lest they run the risk of being disfellowshipped. They cannot speak to friends or family for that would be evidence of their "promoting a sect."  If you recall, Brother "M"'s very first statement of the evening was that he didn't want to go into a lot of discussion along doctrinal lines. The obvious question springs to mind: 

If one cannot speak of these matters with friends, family members, elders, or even at their own religious judicial committee meeting when they are being tried for "apostasy," when does one discuss them?

James: I think if the Brothers went and spoke to "Anonymous."  "Anonymous" would speak to them, absolutely. Iíve been open. I donít hide what I believe.  Iím not embarrassed. Iím not ashamed of what I believe. I believe itís rooted in the scriptures. I believe the question I asked Brother "M"  is a legitimate question to which I got a fanciful answer. "It just was there but we donít know it."

Brother "M" : I guess what I was trying to sayÖwell lets take one thing at a time. If you would like to suggest to "Anonymous" that "Anonymous" invites the Brothers over, Iím sure they would be happy to come.

James: Would "Anonymous" do so with reprisals?

Brother "M" : (Uncomfortably long pause) Thatís an interesting question. Do you feel itís a possibility? 

(He asks me?)

James: No Iím asking you. 

Brother "M" : Is their mind such that they... I guess really the question is, are they looking to understand or are theyÖor they already made up their mind?

James: You know Iíll answer it with a statement. No one wakes up one day and is in the position where I am today. I am where I am today because no one would speak to me. I had those questions three years ago.

 I started to think (about the) Apostolic Succession. I saw it in an encyclopedia. (Discussing what I read) Witness hierarchy is much like the Catholic Church claiming a succession of apostolic authority...yet the witnesses donít attempt to locate any of their apostolic authority through out their history.

Brother "M2" : Where did you find that information?

James: Encyclopedia of American Religions. So my question wasÖat certain points I had these questions. Three and a half years ago when my faith was wavering when I was in Florida, I went to the two closest people I could speak to. I went to Brother Garrett a little at a time...and he would talk about "apostates." (Imitating the person) and thatís what "apostates" say. I went to another brother in our congregation. (an elder) He never came back. Where do you go?

Brother "D" : What about meetings?

James: Why would I come to the meetings? My faith was rocked!

Brother "D" : Where else could you build faith? You canít build it by yourself.

James: But no Iím asking you as shepherds of the field, donít you go after the one that strays from the ninety-nine?

Brother "D" : Absolutely. We couldnít find it. (the sheep)

James: Brother "D"  I lived here a year before I moved. (To Philadelphia)

Brother "D" : You werenít anywhere near our door. (Meaning the kingdom Hall door)

James: So you canít come to my door? 

OBSERVATION :Could you imagine a shepherd that only shepherds those sheep that come to him?

Brother "D" : I didnít know where you were. 

James: I wasnít living home for one year? 

(My family with whom I lived attended that congregation during that entire year)

Brother "D" : Jim, I donít really want to discuss it.

James: well, I mean, you donít want to discuss it because you know that you didnít come and visit me. Donít be silly!

Brother "D" : (Blaming the sheep) If you had doubts about what the society is teaching did you right to them? Wouldnít you want to go to the source and say will you please explain this?

Brother "M" : Because a lot of people do.

Brother "D" : I mean if you had a question on what they wrote wouldnít that be logical instead of trying to get your own answers from your own thinking?

James: What about from older Brothers?

Brother "D" : Everybody has some kind of viewpoint on things. I come with my viewpoint you come with yours. The society wrote that wouldnít you want to see what is your answer to this? 

IMPORTANT: I didn't write the society because I had read numerous testimonies confirming the fact that when Headquarters receives such questions they dispatch elders to the person not to answer the questions, but to ask questions about that particular personís loyalty, to the organization. Much like Brother "M" was doing in regard to "Anonymous." This has been testified in case after case from those who submitted similar questions to headquarters.

Brother "C" : I used to write. Remember I told youÖI had to make a decision. I had to make a call. What was I going to do? Was I going to be part of Christendom and just drift with the world the way it was going or be one of Jehovahís Witnesses? I had some association with Jehovahís Witnesses through my mother. But I sure didnít want to do it. But you had to make some choicesÖsomeplace along the line to make some choices.

James: I could say unhesitatingly that there are hundreds of thousands of people like me... on the fringes of the Watchtower Society no longer associating in fear (of) asking questions because it comes down to this. (Judicial hearings)

Brother "M" : I guess what I was trying to say beforeÖyou brought up . I guess what I was trying to say before Jim and I know you recognize this so I know you will take it in the spirit in which itís offered. Personally speaking, Iíll stay up all night and all day and three days after with someone whoís really looking for the answers to understand. But I think we all agree youíre kind of beyond all that now. Am I correct in that?

James: Well I could only say this, there were people who absolutely believed in the Trinity and wanted to debate about the trinity with witnesses...and a witness went to his door, showed the reason why he didnít believe in the trinity and that (Trinitarian) belief (of the householder) became disbelief...and if that works at the door on someone who is absolutely convinced (of the Trinity)... If the evidence is substantial enough anyone who believes... what they believe can be turned around... if there are answers. 

Wouldnít you agree with that? 

(I was not personally arguing for or against the Trinity, but using it rather for the sake of argument in that Jehovah's Witnesses have proven very successful at debating the Trinity doctrine)

Brother "M" :I think thatís a general statement that is probably true in many situations. However what weíre saying hereÖand let me just try to keep the focusÖthe focus is thatÖyou know we getÖlets see how can I say it? I want to say it as delicately as possible. 

James: You donít have to. Itís all right. I can deal with it.

Brother "M" : I want to say it delicately and kindly. UhÖyouíre no longer looking for understanding as one of Jehovahís Witnesses. Youíre beyond that. Maybe it would have been nice if three years ago someone had stayed up all night and all day but that didnít happen. Nor did you come to meetings, which you should have. Nor did you write the society, which you should have. 

But nevertheless, today youíre beyond all that. Youíve come to a point in your life when you say look I donít believe it I donít want to be part of it. I donít believe as they do, itís as simple as that.

James: But why canít I leave quietly? I donít get that. 

The accusation has been made that Jehovahís Witnesses are a cult. The reasons why they say Jehovahís Witnesses are a cultÖnot theologically but sociologically, (is)  because members canít leave with dignity. 

Iíve read many books on abusive churches and cults and it is for this very reasonÖ that someone who in their heart...out of a good conscience (who) can no longer hold certain tenets of an organizationÖ(starting another thought) that instead of leaving as a gentleman where someone says, you know what? Heís a man of God. He differs from how we feel, but heís a good man. Like many of you people left your religions. 

(Speaking to Brother "C" ) Iím sure you left the Catholic Church at one point. Does your family let you eat a meal with them... the Catholic relatives? 

Brother "C" : (Nodding yes) 

James: Well theyíre much more tolerant than Jehovahís Witnesses! 

Why? Why canít witnesses dignify people? I love God. You love God too. We all love God. Weíre all trying to get knowledge of God. 

Dignify people! Dignify them! "To labelÖdonít say a salutation, donít share a meal." I donít deserve that. Iím a man of God, I donít deserve that!

Brother "C" : If you donít believe like us and you donít follow or work with our teachingsÖ

James: Iím not in your organization.

Brother "C" : Why do you want to be viewed by them? 

James: I have family, weddings, all sorts of things. Itís intricately interwoven our lives with other lives. I'm 31 years around these people. I mean itís a pretty obvious reason why I feel that way. 

OBSERVATION:  Brother "C" is asking why I should even care about such individuals acknowledging me. The fact is that ex-witnesses who leave because of theological differences are shunned by their life-long friends and are labeled as "apostates." 

I feel itís like Jim Jones said to people (His Followers) when they were in Guyana, "oh you can leave if you want, but we keep your kids." Itís the same thing! Itís the same thing. 

 It happens to witnesses who have children whose grandparents say we donít want to associate anymoreÖ (And the children say) theyíre not to see our grandchildren any more. And thatís why itís called a "cult,"  because that is not acceptable behavior, even in a democratic society, never mind "theocratic." Thatís not democratic.

OBSERVATION:  I made the parallel to Jim Jones for the following reason. Brother "M" said the following at the start of the evening: 

"You know weíreÖas an appeal committee itís our charge to be as fair and to offer you as much dignity as we can." [Quote]

"If you feel that thereís ways that you just differ from us and those are just inconvertible that thatís the way you feel, well we respect that about youÖyou know, thatís how you feel" [Quote]

Brother "M" in reality, however, did not have the decency to answer my questions or acknowledge many of my statements. He also joked cavalierly when I expressed dismay in not having received "shepherding calls." 

Not only did "Brother "C" call me an apostate and anti-Christ to my face, but the entire body of Elders unanimously made a decision that led to a public announcement that  would sully my good name, causing my friends to eternally renounce me as "spiritually dead." This is hardly "offering someone dignity," or "respecting how one feels."  Like Jim Jones, who informed his followers that they were "free to leave" only at pain of losing their children, these men in like manner were couching their actions in gentlemanly expressions in order to trivialize the reality of the injustice they committed and resulting pain they caused in my life and that of my family.

 

Brother "M1" : Itís theocratic! 

James: Itís not theocratic my friend.

Brother "C" : You have to understand that weíre different. We do recognize that weíre different. Thereís no doubt. You knew that when you joined that we do hold a strong stance in Jehovahís organization. Thatís what we call it. I know you donít believe thatís what it is.

James: Well let me ask you a question. When you changed from being a Catholic should your former family members have viewed you as an "apostate" and never shared a meal with you again? 

Would that have been "theocratic?"

Brother "C" : Had they been following the standard that they were to suppose toÖ

James: No Iím asking you, would that have been "theocratic?" Would it have been theocratic for them never to speak to you? 

IMPORTANT: Note in what follows how all the elders involved in this discussion are unanimous in the belief that if non Jehovah's witnesses really believed the Bible, they would shun their Jehovah's Witness family members in obedience to scripture. Their unanimity proves that it is not a mere "coincidence" that Jehovah's Witnesses hold to such convoluted ideologies, but that the concepts are funneled down from the leadership of the organization. 

Brother "M" : Had they followed the Bible, yes.

Brother "C" : In their view, sure. In fact itís not that I havenít been called an apostate from Catholicism itís just that they donít care.

James: (Speaking to Brother "D") I mean in December when I go to your familyís houseÖyour aunt Rose and all thatÖand we sit there and they have all their Christmas stuff. You say a prayer. They dignify you. You say Jehovahís name. You say amen. Should you be considered "apostate" from those beautiful people?

Brother "D" : They hold nothing to the Catholic Church in that they live immoral lives from the viewpoint of the Catholics. If they strictly held to the Catholic view, they would. (This brother's non-witness family are, in fact, not immoral from anyone's viewpoint)

James: (Horrified with their implications) They wouldnít eat a meal with you?

Brother "M" : Well they shouldnít, if they were reading 2 John.

Brother "D" : If they felt they had the true faith they certainly wouldnít. But they donít feel they have the true faith. 

James: (Utterly stupefied) So you donít think that applies to anti-Christs? I mean there are twenty-eight thousand denominations of Protestantism. All recognize that they believe in the essentials, that the Bible is inspired, Jesus died for mankindís sins and... thereís some camaraderie of just showing dignity to a human being. 

(At the breaking point) I mean I literally feelÖand itís only in talking to people who are not witnesses that I realize that Iím not crazy. How do you view that as a person unfit...? 

I had spiritual conversations when I was in Japan. I had spiritual conversations when I was with Stephanie and my friends in California. Tons of spiritual conversations about being good, loving God, being loyal to your mates, doing whatís right, showing self-controlÖunfit to eat a meal? Amazing...amazing world you live in!

Brother "C" : I told you we hold a strong standardÖ

James: No you hold a biased standard! 

Brother "C" : Well it was not unknown to you when you joined.

James: Well itís a club, itís a club. Thatís silly, "you joined"Öeven the words you use "you joined."

Brother "C" : Well thatís what you did. You became one of Jehovahís Witnesses. You didnít Join the Catholic Church.

James: No you know what it is? Instead of being baptized in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, itís the "spirit-directed organization"Öbecause we can even change the words of Christ if we want, canít we? Sure why not!

Brother "C" : No we donít do that.

James: Why is that what he (Christ) said the "spirit-directed organization?"

Brother "C" : Thatís the term we use, sure. Every term we use is in the Bible.

James: Jesus said "the spirit-directed organization?"

Brother "C" : They baptize in the Father Son and the Holy SpiritÖ

James: No...and the "spirit-directed organization!"

Brother "C" : When we baptize do we say those things?

James: Yes.

Brother "C" : No we donít. (All the other elders looked on in horror. No one corrected him)

James: Brother "C"  per favore! (Please! Trying to appeal to our shared ethnicity)

Brother "C" : We ask you the questionsÖ

James: And that do you recognize that thisÖ

Brother "C" : But when you were baptized in the water it was notÖ

James: Thatís not true. Thatís the third baptismal question. You speak from ignorance.

Brother "C" : We ask you that question: Do you recognize that you joined with us, that youíre a part of our organization?

James: So you changed the words of Christ!

Brother "C" : Well we could eliminate that (The words "the spirit-directed organization") if we wanted to, but we donít.

James: Why?

Brother "C" : Because it makes us an organization. 

OBSERVATION: This is perhaps the most telling statement of the evening in that it encapsulates the mentality of Witnesses vis a vis the Bible and the Watchtower organization.

If you remember, it was Brother Garrett who when ordering me to "square with headquarters" reminded me that I had "answered in the affirmative to the third baptismal question." [Quote] Brother "M" also stated that it is as "simple" as "when the Brother asked the two baptismal questions you said yes." {Quote} And now Brother "C" after being hard-pressed admits that the Watchtower did in fact "alter" the baptismal formula from The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit to The Father, Son, and spirit-directed organization.  He justifies this by openly admitting that they did so for the express reason of establishing the Watchtower organization. 

James: See how youíre above the Bible though! Youíre above "false prophecy," "a different gospel." Youíre above (the biblical application of) "the anti-Christ," youíre above the words of Jesus. 

(Laughing) Amazing, amazing!

Brother "M" : (Speaking to the Elders Brothers "D,"M1" and "G") Is there anything that you Brothers wanted to mention?

Brother "D" : Itís very consistent with what we heard.

James: (Joking) Itís consistent right? The message is consistent?

Brother "D" : Brother "M"  mentioned it and I mentioned it, you were very willing to meet with us which we appreciate. You didnít say one thing to us, and another hereÖ

James: I have nothing to be ashamed of.

Brother "D" : And like I said to you, these are your beliefs and you should hold to them.

James: I do. But I feel I should leave with dignity. I donít feel Iím an anti-Christ. Brother "C"  might feel Iím an anti-Christ, but I donít believe I am.

Brother "D" : Well I also mentioned to that you should honor the beliefs of others as well.

James: You can believe in three classes of Christians and I would still eat a meal with you.  Isnít that gracious of me? (Laughing)

Brother "M" : Weíre going to adjourn, weíll go upstairs. Maybe thereís coffee upstairs. 

All 6 Elders: (Boisterous laughter over the fifth joke about coffee!)

Brother "M" : (About to leave the room) Youíre a very articulate man, it must be from all that singing.

James: Yes...all of my articulation has led me right out the door!


THE VERDICT

If you recall, my judicial committee meeting ended with the confession that when it comes to false prophecy, the Watchtower is above the very principles of God as found in the Bible . My appeal committee meeting now ends with an overt admission that the Watchtower has altered the express words of Christ in reference to baptism in order to establish a religious organization. If you have a high view of scripture, what more do you need to hear?   

As in all Jehovah's Witness closed-door trials, I was not permitted any witnesses. The six elders not only functioned against me as prosecuting lawyers for both my accuser and the Watchtower Society, but acted as judge and jury as well.  Even  the Bible's explicit principles were not enforced in that my accuser never approached me in the spirit of Matthew 18, nor was he obliged to. Far from meeting the biblical standard of justice, such a judicial arrangement would never be permitted in any enlightened country. 

When one considers the medieval tactics and  blatant disregard for holy scripture, it is little wonder that the "appeal committee" decided to sustain the verdict of disfellowshipment.

SUBTERFUGE 

I appealed by writing a letter to the society. I was informed some three and a half months later that an announcement of "disassociation" would be made. Not desiring to give the false impression that I had proactively asked to be disassociated, I once again contacted the service department.  The service department kept me on hold for sometime until they found someone who was familiar with my case. I was informed by this department head that one could not be disassociated unless one specifically requested to be. As you have seen, I did anything but make such a request. I was then told to have the presiding overseer call Bethel promptly that day. 

Two weeks later, unbeknownst to me, an announcement was made at the Branford Kingdom Hall that I had "disassociated myself."  Confused, I phoned the presiding overseer to find out why he never communicated to me the fact that such an announcement was to be made. 

It turned out that, as ordered, the elder had indeed called the service department that day only to discover that they (the service department) claimed that I had never called and that they had never spoken with me. Rather then clear up a possible miscommunication, the service department issued the directive that the elder should proceed as planned with the "disassociation" announcement. 

Having read the testimony of Raymond Franz and countless others who have had unspeakable injustices committed against them by the duplicitous headquarters' staff, I had the presence of mind to record my phone conversations with them as proof of their dishonesty.

AFTERMATH

Since that announcement I have lost all my friends and associates. Those who I considered intimate acquaintances do not acknowledge my presence when they see me in public. Those who do continue to speak to me must do so clandestinely less they suffer the same punishment. 

Even the once impregnable bond of my family has been severed causing great strife, division and heartache. Reality has been replaced by pernicious rumor and suspicion. Due to the Watchtower's censorship on all literature critical of the sect, any attempt to communicate via letters has proven fruitless. 

The shunning has accomplished its intended goal; to put a lid on any discussion of incriminating evidence against the Watchtower - to place an hermetic seal on the Jehovah's Witness community.  

Witnesses are taught to unquestioningly take the word of  elders regarding judicial hearings.  Therefore, the fact that I have in my possession a tape-recording of both committee meetings and Bethel phone conversations is of little import. That, however, should not come as a surprise to you if you have taken the time to read these two transcripts. For as you have seen, evidence many times is not enough.

If I could do it all over again, I would not change anything. Leaving the organization and losing my good name has resulted in my drawing closer to God and His precious Son. It has given me the privilege to share in the suffering of the Christ. It is with boldness that I echo the words of the beloved apostle Paul:

   

What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ--the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead. Philippians 3: 8-11

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jcaputo@cshore.com

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