A federal judge dismissed the Menlo Park Kingdom Hall lawsuit last week due to filing and jurisdictional issues.
On January 6, 2012 the Chief Magistrate Judge for The United States District Court for Northern California, Maria-Elena James, dismissed a lawsuit filed in August 2010 by Jonathan Cobb Sr. and Walter Arlen St. Clair.
Readers of Ex-JW.com not familiar with this case should take time to read earlier articles outlining the events leading to the filing of this lawsuit along with the backgrounds of the plaintiffs and the defendants. You can find links to those articles by typing “Menlo Park” in the search box in the far right sidebar.
The judge’s decision to dismiss was not related to the issues in dispute or any of the civil or criminal acts alleged in the case. She dismissed the lawsuit due to the lack of federal jurisdiction over the issues involved. In her written opinion, she pointed out that her court did not have the authority to rule on most of the charges outlined in the plaintiffs lawsuit.
Judge James did not make any comments on the validity of the plaintiffs’ charges, nor was her ruling a vindication for the actions of any of the parties involved (including alleged criminal acts by the defendants). Instead, she ruled that the plaintiffs’ claims fell outside of the federal court’s jurisdiction, although some criminal and civil (torts) complaints might be successfully pursued in state courts. She also pointed out that because the plaintiffs had not asked for specific monetary damages (the court has a minimum threshold of $75,000 in these kinds of cases), their case did not meet those federal court guidelines.
You can read the judge’s written decision in full by clicking on this link or the one at the end of this article.
Within the next few days, millions of people in the western world will celebrate Christmas, followed a week later by the New Year. In most countries, Christmas comes on December 25, but in a few (mostly those located in Eastern Europe and Asia Minor) Christmas comes on January 7. This difference is due to the fact that most branches of the Eastern and Russian Orthodox churches still use the Julian calendar for setting their religious feast days.
But not Jehovah’s Witnesses. They don’t celebrate Christmas in December or January. Nor do they celebrate in October, the month they claim was actually the time of Jesus’ birth.
Jehovah’s Witnesses do not celebrate Christmas or the New Year. Witnesses don’t put up and decorate trees, do not exchange gifts, they sing no carols, send no seasonal cards, and have no parties. They will not wish anyone “A Merry Christmas” or “A Happy New Year!” While Jehovah’s Witnesses may believe in Jesus Christ, they do not believe in Christmas.
The original survey was conceived and initially executed by a gentleman from the UK known as “Cedars.” He suggested setting up a survey in late September as his reaction to some of the discussions taking place on the Jehovahs-Witness.net forum. [Link to original thread.]
Cedars tried to design the survey in a way that anyone connected to Jehovah’s Witnesses in any category (current JWs, former JWs, elders, Bethel members, etc.) could feel they have a voice and be able to freely express their opinions. Cedars worded the questions to be neutral, neither pro or con as they relate to the Watchtower Society or its teachings. Cedars admits that he hopes to hear from more active Jehovah’s Witnesses than some of the other groups. That way he can get a better feel for what current rank and file JWs are really thinking.
One poster on that first thread suggested that Cedars try using the online polling services provided by Survey Monkey. Cedars took that suggestion, came up with a list of questions, and installed the poll on Survey Monkey. The first version of the Global Survey of Jehovah’s Witnesses 2011 was online and ready for business on September 21, 2011.
From the very beginning, reaction and support for the Global Survey was amazing. Within just three days over 400 visitors had logged in and answered the survey. Although the first responses to his survey tended to be very positive, there were a few who followed his forum thread with suspicions about his intentions. A few posters made serious accusations about both Cedars and his motives.
The Watchtower Society is a religious organization that has for decades wrapped the self-proclaimed title of “The Truth” around itself. On the other hand, it continues to use so-called “theocratic war strategy” in a misguided attempt to prevent secular courts from discovering the real truth about what happened at the Menlo Park Kingdom Hall in late 2009 and 2010.
But I have to give them credit for the strength of their survival instincts. So far Watchtower strategy has worked.
During August and September I was in direct contact with people very close to the Menlo Park court cases. My contacts DID NOT INCLUDE THE PLAINTIFFS or any of the former elders. That’s right – there are actually twocourt cases going on involving individuals connected to that scandal. The first is the ongoing case filed last summer in Federal District Court in San Francisco by two former elders, Jon Cobb Sr. and Walter Arlen St. Clair. There is also a second case in San Mateo County Superior Court filed by Jason Cobb, the former COBOE and CEO of the Menlo Park Hall’s non-profit corporation.
At the end of this article you will find links to copies of court documents that will bring you up to date on much of the case. You’ll find that they tell parts of the story, often in great detail. But what I now find more interesting are the back stories – great little tidbits that will probably never be reported or detailed in any of the official court documents.
I found that one thing is consistent whether you read the official court records or if you hear tales told through the local gossip grapevine: The Watchtower is taking this case very seriously and seems worried that the real truth about what has happened in Menlo Park may actually get wider publicity. I’m told that the defendants try to look confident and in control while at the Kingdom Hall, but everyone close to them knows they are worried about their future – even if the plaintiffs are only marginally successful in their lawsuit.
In the meatime, “The Truth” [Watchtower] is fighting every possibility that the real truth will eventually get out and be reported by a major news outlet.
While this reporter was in the Menlo Park and Redwood City area, I met with a couple of anonymous contacts and took phone calls from two others who are still afraid to meet with me personally. I noticed that no matter which side they take in this battle, their stories remain consistent with one theme: The Watchtower Society really screwed up! They sent the wrong people to do their dirty work. Instead of a weak-willed, kool-aid drinking, self-important group of sheepish elders – they found they were facing some brothers who were willing to stand up for what they know is right, in spite of the overwhelming odds against them.
To fight this battle, the Watchtower and their legal team are doing their very best to manipulate the system any way they can. At the moment they allegedly continue to ignore subpoenas for bank records and corporate documents that are critical to getting to the truth of these cases before the courts.
The Watchtower Society is on the move! Long a fixture in Brooklyn, New York, the Watchtower is slowly and methodically selling off its vast property holdings and moving all of its operations north to Patterson and Wallkill.
Thanks to their mostly tax-free status as a “non-profit religious organization,” the officers of the Watchtower’s various corporations can sell properties they bought at fire-sale prices and then sell them off for huge profits – and keep the bulk of the money with minimal or no tax consequences.
It’s good to be a religion. We should all call ourselves “a religion.” The advantages are far too many to list here, but the evidence is clear that the Watchtower Society has educated itself on how to manipulate its assets for the greatest gain.
Please note that Mad Sweeney’s Cult Free Radio program #7 is now online. It’s been added to the Cult Free archive page. #7 was another great program with an interesting interview with two former Witnesses. Don’t miss it! Link to archive page.
On another subject entirely, check out Kurt Prochnow’s excellent comment on our most recent Menlo Park Kingdom Hall article. He provides two excellent links to sources that discuss how to identify real Navy SEALs versus wannabees or fakes. Thanks, Kurt!
The editor is taking a short vacation, but when he gets back there should be some late breaking news about developments at Menlo Park. This story is entering a new phase, and many questions should soon be answered about who is actually telling the truth and who is using “theocratic strategy” (i.e., lying). It’s been a year since this story broke and it continues to develop in ways never imagined by the editor or even by some of the participants.
Anyone with inside news or comments about what is happening at Menlo Park or any other ongoing scandals involving the Watchtower society is encouraged to contact the editor at firstname.lastname@example.org. Your personal information, if any, will be guarded and not revealed under any circumstance. Feel free to use a pseudonym and a throw-away email address. The editor is interested in what you know, not who you are. Ex-JW.com is after the truth – not exposing anyone.