Watchtower Society Goes Under the Microscope

John Cedars has published the first post of a four-part series that closely examines the Watchtower Society’s claim to be “God’s Spirit Directed Organization” on earth.

Cedars is most noted for his “Global Survey of Jehovah’s Witnesses”  – hosted and maintained at JWSurvey.org. Along with his “Global Surveys” (and occasional “Mini-Surveys”) that ask for opinions on  Jehovah’s Witnesses’ beliefs and practices, Cedars also presents his own thoughts and commentary on a broader range of issues in his “Cedars’ Blog.”

His most recent posting, “Under the microscope – the Watchtower’s claims to divine direction (part 1),” analyzes the Watchtower’s assertion that it is the only religious organization on earth that receives special treatment and direct guidance from Jehovah God.  The first article examines the claim that Jehovah’s Witnesses can prove their blessed situation because of their continued annual membership growth throughout the world. Cedars checks the facts to verify that the Watchtower’s teaching is not only correct, but credible. Considering the  hours that Jehovah’s Witnesses claim to spend in the worldwide preaching work, do actual performance results prove they have a special gift from God?

In future articles, Cedars will check the Watchtower’s other major claims “proving their unique selection” by God  to be his earthly organization.

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Menlo Park: Elder Tells All – 3

This is the last segment of this series of articles about the Kingdom Hall takeover scandal in Menlo Park, California.

Two different court documents form the basis of Jason Cobb’s testimony covered in this article. Both are long and detailed, but always engaging. Many active and former Jehovah’s Witnesses will be shocked as they read about the events that have taken place in the once peaceful little Kingdom Hall located halfway between San Jose and San Francisco.

Amazingly, after two years this case is still in the courts and the players on both sides are still in the game. This battle could go on for many years.

I leave it to our readers to judge for themselves as to who wears the “black hats” in this case. Was the Watchtower Society behind a scheme to grab ownership of a valuable piece of real estate worth an estimated $2.5 million? What was behind the assignments of Paul Koehler and Steve Misterfield to that circuit? Who was it that generated the publisher transfer request for a sister who did not want to move from Menlo Park (where she lived) to Santa Rosa (where she worked) – in direct violation of the Watchtower’s own guidance?

Ex-JW.com will continue to report on this amazing story for as long as it lasts. No matter who wins or loses, the facts and details of this story will continue to reveal new information about what the Watchtower Society is willing to do to extend its control over its followers.

As editor, all I can say is “follow the money.” Who stands to make millions of dollars when the dust settles? Who has the most to lose?

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Sudbury Elders: Reconsider Your Actions

By Rory Sullivan


© Copyright Oxyman and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.Editor’s Introduction:
Even though this letter has appeared on other websites by now, Mr. Sullivan was kind enough to let me to publish and share his excellent thought-provoking “open letter” with our readers. He brings up issues that should concern all Jehovah’s Witnesses, but especially those honest-hearted Jehovah’s Witnesses who must carry the burden of serving as elders in their local Kingdom Hall.


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Menlo Park: Elder Tells All – 2

Jason Cobb was one of the four elders serving in the Menlo Park (California) Kingdom Hall dismissed from their “theocratic assignments” effective July 1, 2010. For reasons of his own, Jason chose not to take part as a plaintiff in a federal lawsuit filed the following August by his father, Jonathan Cobb Sr., and fellow elder Walter Arlen St. Clair. (See San Francisco Federal District Court, case 3:10-cv-03907-MEJ).

Wanting to stay an active Jehovah’s Witness in good standing, Jason tried to keep a low profile as he continued to attend meetings and field service. But he also worked on the sidelines in support of his father and Arlen St. Clair as they fought to restore their reputations within the congregation.

In spite of his efforts, he soon found himself drawn into the battle. It was obvious that there was far more going on behind the scenes during the takeover of his Kingdom Hall. This was turning out to be more complicated than just a simple merger with the Redwood City congregation. Even though he was still confused about the real reasons for his dismissal as Coordinator of the Board of Elders (CoBOE), he knew that something was just not right about how the takeover was being handled.

As an elder, he’d served the congregation as an officer of the non-profit corporation holding the title to Kingdom Hall and the land it sat on. As a corporate officer, he and other elders were responsible for the maintenance of the building and protecting the monetary assets of the congregation. At regular intervals, he and the other officers would report to the members of the congregation on the status of bank accounts, the overall condition of the Kingdom Hall, and other corporate business.

Within weeks after his father and St. Clair filed the federal lawsuit, Jason Cobb had to begin a fight to save his own reputation. This forced him to file police reports and a parallel lawsuit in the California state courts.

That’s a little background to get you started. But I’m going to let Jason Cobb tell his side of the story in his own way. You get to read the transcripts of both of his depositions as a witness in the federal court case. I urge you to get comfortable, enlarge the documents on your computer screen (for most web browsers use “Ctrl +”), and settle in for a fascinating read. I’ll try to make it easier for you by putting the documents and exhibits in sequence when possible as the story progresses.

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Menlo Park: Elder Tells All – 1

Readers of Ex-Jw.com who have been following this story know that on January 6, 2012 Federal Judge Maria-Elena James dismissed the lawsuit filed by two former elders of the Menlo Park (California) Kingdom Hall, Jonathan D. Cobb Sr. and Walter Arlen St. Clair. (See Menlo Park Kingdom Hall Lawsuit Dismissed .)

Since then a concurrent civil case filed in Superior Court at the state level by former elder and COBOE Jason Cobb has also been dismissed.

In an unexpected move, on March 19, 2012 Jason Cobb and his father, Jonathan Cobb Sr., filed a new and expanded federal lawsuit in San Jose, California. Even though they know that their lives as Jehovah’s Witnesses may be nearing an end, they remain convinced that they must expose the facts about the allegedly illegal steps the Watchtower has been willing to take to seize control of the Kingdom Hall where they once served as elders. They refuse to give up the fight in spite of the fact that their reputations as faithful and dedicated Jehovah’s Witnesses have been under constant attack and many of their lifelong Witness friends have apparently abandoned them.

Several weeks ago a person claiming to be a current member of the Menlo Park congregation contacted me. “This Kingdom Hall has changed so much in the last year,” she said, “it’s like we’re all living in some kind of nightmare, but not quite. I don’t think the brothers and sisters feel safe here anymore.  We know things aren’t right the way they are now, but what can we do? Where can we go? We just want things to be the way they were before the Redwood City elders took over. A lot of us would go to another Kingdom Hall if we could, but we feel trapped.” When I asked if the original Menlo Park members support the Cobbs, she replied, “Deep down, I guess many of us do. We thought they were good brothers. But we really don’t know what is truth and what is lies. I know we’re not supposed to,  but some of us have read your website, and what you say about what is going on sounds right. But how do we know if we can trust you? We don’t know you. We really don’t know what the truth is.”

To our readers: We can not judge whether the Watchtower Society, the local Regional Building Committee, or the defendants in this case have actually done anything wrong. The charges made in both the old and new lawsuits by the deposed former elders have not been confirmed by any court as of this date. Remember that people, and even corporations, “are innocent until proven guilty.” All we can do is compare how the Watchtower’s representatives have acted in their takeover of Menlo Park to  what the Society has done to other Kingdom Halls throughout North America.

We invite our readers who are still faithful and active Jehovah’s Witnesses to comment on this case and our next few articles. All we can do is to ask active JWs to honestly look at what has happened to their own Kingdom Halls and assembly halls. Do you really understand how the Watchtower has become more like the Catholic Church? Do you realize that local Kingdom Halls originally built, paid for, and maintained by local members have become part of the Watchtower Society’s real estate holdings now worth billions of dollars – without any compensation to local congregations?

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