Jehovah’s Witnesses Lose Court Battle to Suppress Freedom of Speech
In a Denmark court ruling December of 2006 Jehovah’s Witnesses lost a key decision to suppress freedom of the press. They were ordered to pay legal fees of 50,000 kroner to one of the largest newspapers in Denmark, Ekstra Bladet .
By Rikke Halberg - 8:55 - 29. April, 2004
[This is a front page view of one of the original articles in the lawsuit]
Ekstra Bladet reported a series of articles on the epidemic of child abuse within the JW organization. Since May of 2002 reports of child abuse problems have been circulated by media worldwide. Stories include the New York Times, Dateline and eight different countries offering testimony from sexually abused kids within the religion.
In the autumn of 2004 the Denmark newspaper ran a series of articles that blasted the religion for polices of covering up abuse allegations. The Jehovah’s Witness local Branch Office Committee in Denmark filed a 350,000 kroner, slander lawsuit against Ekstra Bladet and the editor of the newspaper. The religion went further and attacked victims of abuse that interviewed for the newspaper articles. Victims were told they would be sued into poverty if they did not retract the stories given to the newspaper of being raped as children. One girl due to intimidation withdrew her story and other victims went into hiding. This is a continuation of religious persecution against members that have spoken out on abuse. In the summer of 2002 five Jehovah’s Witnesses were disfellowshipped (expelled) after appearing on NBC’s Dateline and providing factual proof of child sexual abuse not being reported to authorities at the direction of the Watchtower Legal Department. The Jehovah’s Witness Public Relations Official, J. R. Brown actually suggested to media that the reason members were disfellowshipped was due to possible sexual sins or theft. As a result of these comments, Joe and Barbara Anderson filed a $20 million dollar lawsuit for slander and the reversal of the disfellowshipping decree. After a three year long battle the appellate court finally dismissed the case saying that the “First Amendment” would not allow them to rule on the case.
Jehovah’s Witnesses have long touted their record as being a defender of “freedom of speech.” They currently claim on their website they have won over fifty lawsuits supposedly establishing the freedom of people to speak as they wish or practice their faith. There is a film/propaganda piece circulating around the USA called “Knocking” that will soon air on PBS touting how Jehovah’s Witnesses protect freedom. Yet another side the public are not informed of is the inverted use of these legal victories to punish and humiliate people they do not like. “Disfellowshipping”, a word created by Jehovah’s Witnesses, is used as a weapon within the religion to destroy families and silence members through intimidation to obey whatever they are told to do. If a member is “disfellowshipped” all family and church members view them as dead and will not acknowledge their existence, even if a son walks into the same room with his mother, she will not speak to him. The shunning is indefinite until the deposed member renounces anything the church tells them to and submits totally to church leadership. For example victims of child abuse have been disfellowshipped for attempting to expose the member that molested them. Their “freedom of speech” was taken away by no church member being able to talk to them and in many instances they were put out on the street by their families as directed by church leaders. The right of the Jehovah’s Witness religion to take away “freedom of speech” from their members has in large part been won by their successful Supreme Court litigations.
If a whistleblower for a large wealthy corporation tried to alert the public to a child molestation scandal that was covered up with victims blackmailed into silence, they could be sued out of existence in the event they tried to destroy the lives of the individuals that reported the crime. When abuse survivors and advocates attempt to do this against a religious corporation they are bullied into silence with the full endorsement of the US courts. “Freedom of speech” is a relevant term in the United States, for if you choose to speak out against a religion for committing crimes against children you can expect while that religion destroys your life the courts will remain silent. The court’s “see no evil” decisions are based on twisted perversion of the first amendment that Jehovah’s Witnesses fought and won sixty years ago. So the next time a church chooses to destroy you financially, spiritually, mentally and emotionally because they do not like you exposing their crimes against children, you can say a silent thank you to Jehovah’s Witnesses for making sure their perversion of the “First Amendment” guarantees any religion can destroy your life without punishment.
How could a documentary film on Jehovah’s Witnesses miss this common practice in the religion? Jehovah’s Witnesses are well known on their website for press releases touting their legal victories in the international courts. If you go to the Jehovah’s Witness media website you can see them here www.jw-media.org . Sadly there is no reference to the Denmark decision anywhere on the jw-media website. In recent 2006 California court decisions, Jehovah’s Witnesses have also lost key court rulings on civil child abuse litigation against the church as well, but again this has been omitted from their website.
It would seem when they lose their court battles to suppress “freedom of speech” Jehovah's Witnesses appear to be silent. Could one of the reasons be the misuse of donated funds to hurt people? When a Jehovah’s Witness calls at your home they are taught to memorize this commentary at the end of offering you some free literature. “Our literature is offered without charge but we would gladly accept a small donation for the Worldwide Work of Jehovah’s Witnesses.”
When the public reaches into their pockets and make a donation to this group they are funding many different things. While part of the money goes to make more magazines and books, a significant amount goes to fund litigation. In the last five years over seventy lawsuits were filed involving the mistreatment of abused kids. When you donate to the “Worldwide Work” you fund the defense of the pedophiles that molested them. In the Denmark litigation 50,000 kroner of “Worldwide Work” donations will be spent to pay legal fees in an attempt to suppress the child abuse policy expose' articles written by a newspaper. Would anyone that understands what is actually happening wish to donate their money to assist pedophiles and suppress freedom of speech? Even if it was just a few cents of each dollar they donated?
At silentlambs we call for the immediate cessation of funding for pedophile defense litigation and suppression of freedom of speech that Jehovah’s Witness leadership has approved. It is a sad day when Denmark, a small European country can give Jehovah’s Witnesses a “slap on the ear” for suppressing “freedom of speech” and few weeks later the U S Courts continue to give Carte Blanc privileges to the Jehovah’s Witnesses and anyone else that wishes to silence victims of abuse and misuse “good faith” donations to hurt the innocent. The next time a Jehovah’s Witness happily approaches you to offer their magazines, if you are inclined accept their offering and then inform them that you prefer not to donate to their “Worldwide Work” until they stop hurting victims of abuse.
So while Jehovah’s Witnesses brag to the public regarding court victories that they say make them champions for "freedom of speech", the facts show that lawyer/elders funded by a multi-billion dollar corporation are making a mockery of the US Constitution. They persecute good people like Joe and Barb Anderson and use the Supreme Court as a knife to cut out the tongues of people that are victimized by this religion.