Menlo Park: What are they trying to hide?

By the Editor

  • Why must the Menlo Park Kingdom Hall bank records be marked “Confidential” and hidden from public review?
  • Did Don Adams come to the SF Bay area to visit kin? Or was it to lay out a new MPKH “war strategy”?
  • What do some of the original members of the Menlo Park Kingdom Hall think – one year after the merger with Redwood City?
  • A SEAL, or not a SEAL? Questions raised about Circuit Overseer Paul G. Koehler’s credibility.

You want to look at my bank statements? Sure! Go ahead. You’ll see a lot more money going out than coming in. You’ll see a few checks written, lots of ATM activity, and the names of my creditors and clients. You’ll see where I shop, how many times I buy gas, and a few online purchases from Amazon.com for books and software. So go ahead! Look! I have nothing to hide.

Most Americans, after thinking about it, would probably agree that their bank statements hold few secrets. Of course, they reserve the right to protect their privacy, and if it’s none of your business then you have no good reason to look at their finances. Yeah, they might be embarrassed about how little money they actually have in their accounts, but would have to admit that no real secrets about their private lives would be apparent from just a look at their checking and savings accounts.

Let me ask you: What would you expect to see on the bank statements of a Kingdom Hall? A couple of utility bills, some cleaning supplies, and bathroom paper products? Payments to the Watchtower Society for literature and other materials? Donations forwarded to the Watchtower Society for insurance, circuit and district assemblies, building funds, and “the worldwide missionary work”? All those things should be expected and are unlikely to raise any eyebrows. The Hall’s bank accounts should balance fairly close to what the COBOE reported in the congregation’s monthly financial reports.

So what possible reason would there be to keep a Kingdom Hall’s bank statements “confidential”? What could be on those statements that the elders wouldn’t want anyone to see? Why wouldn’t any group of congregation elders simply say, “There they are! Take a look. Nothing to see here folks. Just some donations coming in, and a few bills paid out. Simple. Straightforward. Just numbers. Nothing to hide.”

But that’s not the case in Menlo Park. The attorney for the defense is trying to make sure that no one outside of court will ever see any of the Menlo Park bank statements. In fact, he wants to make sure that if any bank statements are entered into evidence as part of court documents (most become public domain after they are assigned a case number), that those will be forever hidden from public review, marked “Confidential,” and then removed from the public case files.

One more time: What’s on those bank statements that the defense is afraid to show us? My guess is that if we saw them, certain irregularities would pop right off the pages and give us reason to ask for plausible explanations. Read the court documents below and decide for yourself if there is a legitimate reason the Menlo Park Kingdom Hall’s bank statements should not be publicly available as part of normal court filings?

What is known is that the Menlo Park Kingdom Hall not only has business checking and savings accounts that have existed for several years, but also other bank accounts that were set up since the merger in July, 2010. There are seven checking and two savings accounts in at least two different banks, Wells Fargo and Chase.

The Menlo Park Police Department also wants to see those bank statements and account documents because both sides have filed reports that accuse certain people with embezzlement, fraud, and forgery. The defense seems to want to exclude the police. But why? If the statements will clear these alleged criminal charges, let the police look at them. Will the authorities ever see those bank records?

Again, I ask, why not? What is hidden within those documents that would embarrass anyone connected to those accounts? Why so many bank accounts?

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InsidetheWatchtower.com

InsidetheWatchtower.com is new website dedicated to uncovering the truth about Jehovah's Witness lifestyle and culture.For those readers who have not found it yet, we’d like to announce our new website, Inside the Watchtower. It’s been online since late July, but was only announced officially on August 2, 2011.

Although it could be considered a “companion site” to Ex-JW.com, it really stands on its own and has a unique personality. Intended to provide a “behind the scenes” look at what life is like being a Jehovah’s Witness, it will avoid heated debates about theology and doctrine. It’s about the process and culture of being a Witness. How do they get through a normal week of meetings and field service? What’s it like growing up as a Witness, going to meetings, reading Watchtower publications, knocking on doors, dealing with elders, and trying to figure out what the latest Watchtower teachings and rules are all about?

After the official announcement about the site, the Editor received a congratulatory email from an anonymous former JW. “Your new site approaches its subjects in a gentle, probing way, almost caressing them with a touch of sadness and loss, but also mixed with large servings of humor. You’re making the point that it’s not easy being a Jehovah’s Witness. For me, it’s very much like having a job you hate – but can’t quit without bringing financial disaster that will destroy your family.” Another wrote, “The JWs spend so much wasted time trying to recruit new converts. But as soon as they get them converted and baptized, the Watchtower seems dedicated to tossing them out and breaking up their families. What is the logic in that?”

Another wrote, “Your writers are excellent. Everyone has their own style, but present their subjects in clear and interesting ways. Keep it up.”

We certainly appreciate the nice complements sent our way. And for some reason completely unknown to us, Inside the Watchtower seems to have gained a group of fans from all over Brazil – and this started before we put up our automated translator. We are so pleased to know that like Ex-JW.com, we have regular visitors logging in daily from all over the world.

Among the contributors to Inside the Watchtower, are some that have also published here on Ex-JW.com. Terry Walstrom, “Mad Sweeney,” and Len Miller have all agreed to contribute, all great writers – just to name a few. Plus – we have our feelers out for more knowledgeable writers and forum posters. We know that there is a huge amount of thoughtful, well-researched, and helpful material languishing in the archives of various Jehovah’s Witness discussion forums that may never again see the light of day. What a shame to lose those valuable resources. That’s one of the goals of Inside the Watchtower: mine some of that “old gold” – and then publish and index it for our readers to enjoy for years to come.

The site offers a contact page with automated email, translation services for twenty languages, easy-to-use comment forms for each article, an archive of Blondie’s Best “Comments You Won’t Hear at the Watchtower Study,” and many other unique features. Like Ex-JW.com, there will be an extensive index and links to other excellent JW discussion websites. We’ll add to a growing number of book reviews and make links available to PDF copies for some old out-of-print Watchtower publications. Coming soon will be our version of “Cliffnotes” for the most recent Watchtower and Awake! magazines. That could be fun!

So check out Inside the Watchtower. Please note that we’re still making adjustments and site upgrades. You’ll see changes as the site progresses and grows. You should find the site gentle on the eyes, easy to read, and even fun to visit from time to time. The site is also compatible with all browsers and works fine on iPhone™ and Droid® models. We look forward to reading your comments.

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