Menlo Park scandal on Cult Free Radio

The ongoing scandal surrounding the July 2010 merger of the Menlo Park and Redwood City (California, USA) Kingdom Halls will be discussed in an upcoming UStream podcast hosted by “MadSweeney” on Cult Free Radio, Saturday evening, May 28, 2011 at 10:00 PM, EDT / 7:00 PDT.

Our editor, John Hoyle, who has followed and reported this story since it broke last August, will be a guest on the show. In addition to discussing the background story, he will also report on late breaking developments.

“Cult Free Radio,” is the brainchild of a former Jehovah’s Witness known as “MadSweeney.” It’s intended to be a new online tool for educating the public about the dangers of cultish religions. While its true that the subject of Jehovah’s Witnesses will come up often, Sweeney, the host and moderator, has made it clear that his program is not just about the JWs and the Watchtower Society. He is out to identify and expose the dangers of any cult or religion that seeks to control the minds of its members, often destroying lives and families.

The premier of the podcast took place Saturday, April 30, 2011 at 10:00 PM EDT. There were some technical glitches during that first show, but host “MadSweeney” says that he has worked out most of the details and feels that his program is “ready for primetime.”


Read our special interview with MadSweeney!

CULT FREE RADIO (Interview)


Listeners may simply monitor the show by accessing it through their browsers, or they can register and then enter social commentary with the host and other listeners as the program progresses. Anyone wishing to call in may do so by using Skype, a free communications service. Skype is available free for computers and most iPad, iPhone, and Android cell telephones. There are user guides available on the UStream website.

To listen to the show, access the site at:

http://www.ustream.tv/channel/cult-free-radio

Skype callers can call in to “cultfreeradio” after the show begins and MadSweeney opens up the lines for discussion.

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Read this book! You too could be homeless

My wife has little or no interest in reading books about the Bible, religion, or anything about Jehovah’s Witnesses. She thinks I’m obsessive in my research about the history and teachings of the Watchtower Society. Her eyes will start to glaze over about thirty seconds after I bring up the subject of my past life as a Jehovah’s Witness.

On the other hand, she loves to read. She’ll read for hours before going to sleep at night, and always urges me to read the books she finds interesting. While most of her favorite books are not to my taste, she has been able to point me to some really good novels and biographies that I’ve enjoyed reading over the past few years.

I can suggest that she read a book by Richard Dawkins or Bart Ehrman, but she never does. I was shocked when she agreed to read Kyria Abrahams’ JW memoir, I’m Perfect, You’re Doomed. She read most of it, but lost interest about 2/3 of the way through when Kyria changed the style and mood of her story. But like me, she really enjoyed reading the first half of I’m Perfect…

I can’t even remember who it was that first turned me on to Brianna Karp. Other than the fact that Brianna grew up in Southern California, I really had nothing in common with her. Look – I’m a retired grandfather living in Oregon with one foot in the grave – and she’s a young, vibrant, hot chick from “The OC” with her whole life ahead of her. The only thing we seemed to have in common was that we were both raised as Jehovah’s Witnesses.

Someone’s tip pointed me to her new book, The Girl’s Guide to Homelessness. At first I thought – uh, a girl’s guide? Homelessness? Probably not a book for me. Not really interested. OK, she was a Jehovah’s Witness at one time – that might be interesting to read about. I could read the JW part and then toss the book or give it to the Goodwill. Maybe, like Kyria’s book, my wife might be interested in reading parts of it. But this was Miss Karp’s first book – and first books by non-writers are usually very, very bad.

And yet, for some reason I found myself intrigued by what I had read online about her book. I decided to contact her and ask if she had an advanced copy that I could borrow. If I liked it, I’d write a review for her. Because of her past connection to Jehovah’s Witnesses, I told her that it might get a mention here at Ex-JW.com.

We exchanged a couple of emails and she agreed to send me a pre-publication ARC version of the book. I promised to read it quickly and then return it to her. Sure enough, a few days later an advance copy of the book arrived in a plain gray postal envelope.

At first glance the cover really didn’t grab me – a young woman sits on the arm of a chair in the middle of an empty parking lot while dark gray storm clouds brood in the background. It certainly was not very “Jehovah’s Witnessy,” and at first glance, even a bit foreboding. Oh, no! I hoped this wasn’t another book about some depressed chick that drowns her troubles with drugs and alcohol because she thinks “no one loves her.”

I grabbed the book and found a comfortable seat – you know, one with a hole in the middle and the little handle on the side – to give myself a relaxed ten minutes or so to get acquainted with the book.

An hour later my legs had gone completely numb from sitting so long. From the very minute that I started reading it, I couldn’t put the book down. I had to call my good friend, author Richard Kelly. “Dick – you’ve got to read this book by this JW girl who lives near Riverside. Let me see if I can get her to send you a copy. This is really good!” I think he knew I was on to something unique.

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Why Judge Rutherford went to prison

By “Alfred”

It’s been over 93 years ago, so we’ll probably never know all the facts, but the Watchtower Society continues to claim that its president, Joseph F. Rutherford, and other officers of the corporation were falsely accused and sent to prison on charges of “sedition”. However, a May 9, 1918 New York Times article that covered these arrests and sedition charges states that the accused were charged with “spreading doctrines calculated to promote unrest and disloyalty among the men of the army and navy.” The article concluded that the indictment was based largely upon printed matter published in the Watch Tower magazine, Kingdom News, and the book The Finished Mystery.

I looked up “sedition” on Wikipedia and found this definition (in part):

“In law, sedition is overt conduct, such as speech and organization, that is deemed by the legal authority to tend toward insurrection against the established order. Sedition often includes subversion of a constitution and incitement of discontent (or resistance) to lawful authority. Sedition may include any commotion, though not aimed at direct and open violence against the laws. Seditious words in writing are seditious libel. A seditionist is one who engages in or promotes the interests of sedition…”

It might interest current and ex-Jehovah’s Witnesses to know that Rutherford ordered the Bible Students to rip out pages 247 through 253 in all copies of The Finished Mystery in his last ditch attempt to avoid jail time. Surprisingly, the Proclaimers book (p. 652) partially admits that this happened (that the pages were removed), but does not explain that it this was done so that Rutherford could avoid jail time.

On March 5, 2011, I posted on Jehovahs-Witness.net some bullet points based on my recent reading of the book The Finished Mystery. (See previous article on Ex-JW.com.) What I forgot to mention at the end of my post were the notes I took from while reading pages 247 through 253, the “seditious pages” that Rutherford later ordered ripped out.

Below are my notes about those pages. I’ll let you decide whether the charges of “sedition” were false – or not…

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The Finished Mystery – the book Jesus approved

By “Alfred”

A few months ago a friend sent me a copy of The Finished Mystery – published in 1917. This wasn’t a PDF download, but an actual copy of the book. I must say that this was the most disturbing book I’ve ever had the displeasure of reading. But I read it because this was the main publication that was being distributed worldwide when Jesus supposedly chose the Watchtower in 1918. I basically wanted to see for myself what Jesus saw in the Watchtower Society that would compel him to choose this religious corporation over all other religious denominations.

Anyway, if anyone is interested in knowing the actual contents of this book, here are some bullet points I’ve put together from some of the notes I took while reading the book:

  1. Charles Taze Russell is the “faithful and wise servant.” (p.4)
  2. Jesus gave Russell the key to understanding God’s mysteries in the last days. (p.6)
  3. Jesus is the “Alpha and Omega” in Revelation 1:8, 21:6, and 22:13. (p.15, p.318, p.336)
  4. The Adventist Nelson Barbour showed Russell Biblical proof that “Jesus was present since 1874” – and Russell found this evidence satisfactory. (p. 54)
  5. As per Russell, there’s no need to learn the Hebrew or Greek languages to gain a correct understanding of the Bible since the “Presbyterians and Methodists have good versions of the Bible at reasonable prices.” (p. 55)
  6. The “remnant” will be taken to heaven in 1918. (p. 64)
  7. The “7 messengers” in Revelation are Paul, John, Arius, Waldo, Wycliffe, Luther and Russell. (See illustration after page 64)
  8. The “7 trumpets” in Revelation 8:2 are the trumpets of the Lutherans, the Anglicans, the Presbyterians, the Baptists, the Methodists, the Evangelical Alliance, and The Bible Students. (chart after page 64)
  9. Jesus began his reign officially in “1878.” (p. 66)
  10. A three-page list of Biblical texts prove that Jesus’ second advent occurred in “1874.” (p.68–71)
  11. The “behemoth” mentioned in Job 40: 15-24 is the “stationary steam engine.” (p. 84)
  12. The “leviathan” mentioned in Job 41:2-19 is the “locomotive.” (p.85)

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Confronting Misinformation

By Richard E. Kelly

I am currently writing a sequel, The Ghosts from Mama’s Club. It’s an autobiography of my forty-seven years of life after leaving the Club. The “ghosts” in the book are dysfunctional behavior patterns, toxic residue acquired from the time my family and I spent as Jehovah’s Witnesses.

The most haunting “ghost” for me and my wife, and most people, is the prodigious amounts of misinformation acquired wittingly and unwittingly while we were in the cult. Therefore, the biggest challenge to leading a full, happy life after departing will be confronting misinformation.

Shedding “things a person knows that ain’t so” can be very daunting. Some “ain’t so’s” manifest themselves as phobias. So before nagging untruths induce debilitating behavior, it’s important to clearly identify what they are. When a person is consciously aware of their “ain’t so’s,” they can easily quarantine them. Were I to leave the Club today, my recovery plan would include reading the following six books, in the following order, and why:

  1. Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl. The author gives a moving account of his life in Nazi death camps and his discovery of logotherapy—a positive approach to the mentally/spiritually disturbed person. His treatment focuses on the freedom to transcend suffering and find a meaning to one’s life regardless of circumstances.
  2. The Source by James A. Michener. A great bit of storytelling based on factual data about early civilization in Israel, debunking JW myths.
  3. The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins. Okay, he’s an atheist, but a person coming out of a group like JWs will appreciate and relate to his hard-hitting, factual observations about the imbecilities of religious fanatics and the dangerous rise of superstition in today’s world. (This is a good book to test your ability to hold two opposed ideas in your mind and still retain the ability to function.)
  4. Jesus, Interrupted – Revealing the Hidden Contradictions in the Bible by Bart D. Ehrman. Jehovah’s Witnesses are completely in the dark as to what scholars have been saying for 200 years about Bible history, forgeries, and contradictions. Whichever side a person sits on biblical inerrancy, this is an eye-opening read.
  5. The Sins of Scripture by John Shelby Spong. This book exposes the evil done by people who use the Bible like weapons in the name of God. It points out texts that have been used to discriminate, oppress and distort the truth of Christianity, casting doubt on God’s love.
  6. Why Evolution is True by Jerry A. Coyne. I hate the title, but after years of hearing non-scholarly JW evolution rebuttal, this well-written explanation by a knowledgeable scientist gives the reader a fresh, nonthreatening perspective of how old our earth is and how new species evolved from previous ones. And, it makes a good case for the fact that God is not a micromanager, as JWs claim.

If people who’ve left the Club will read these books, they will be amazed how refreshing and energizing basic science and honest history can be. Not only will they have confronted the “ghost of misinformation,” it will be like getting a good, Liberal-Arts-101 college education at a bargain price. For it to coalesce, they’ll need to get outside of themselves and cogitate about the new things they’ve learned. It will also help to take walks, meet new people, do random acts of kindness, volunteer for charitable work, enjoy a hobby and be a friend if they want to lead a full, meaningful life.

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Menlo Park Kingdom Hall – Updates

Since the previous article about the Menlo Park Kingdom Hall court case was published two weeks ago, I’ve received some updates and a few corrections.

Corrections

The city limits of East Palo Alto, CA: One writer pointed out that the city limits of East Palo Alto do extend a few blocks west of the Bayshore Freeway (US 101). In the article I wrote, “Its [Menlo Park’s] eastern edge, the Bayshore Freeway (US 101), separates it from the community of East Palo Alto.”

While I was making the point that the freeway separates the “cultures” and the “economic status” of the two cities, I should have made it clearer where the real city limits are. Those sections of East Palo Alto that do fall on the west side of the freeway are more akin to the cities of Menlo Park and Palo Alto. That does not change the fact that the freeway clearly acts as a wall between the two communities in more ways than simple geography. That’s why I added the line, “The Bayshore Freeway and Santa Clara County Airport act as effective barriers, separating a wealthier Palo Alto from its much poorer neighboring city.”

The Kingdom Halls of Redwood City: Redwood City lies directly north and west of Menlo Park. It now has two Kingdom Halls. One is in the northwest section of the city (631 Iris Street) that is the home to two congregations, “North Redwood City” and “South San Mateo.” Both have predominately white, English-speaking members.

Redwood City's Iris Street Kingdom Hall

The Circuit Overseer involved in this court case, Paul Koehler, lives in a home next to this Kingdom Hall. Donations from the congregations he serves probably cover most of his expenses while he lives in that home.

The second Kingdom Hall is known as “South Redwood City.” I wrote: “[South] is now the home for two or three Spanish-speaking congregations.” I’ve been told that it actually services four Spanish-speaking congregations. It’s at 681 2nd Avenue.

Threats to a former Menlo Park elder: I wrote: “Jon Cobb Sr., one of the plaintiffs, allegedly received threats against himself and his family. It’s been reported that he has moved his family several hundred miles away…” Actually, the elder receiving those reported threats was Jason Cobb, the son of Jon Cobb Sr. and the CEO of the existing Menlo Park corporation.

It was also reported to me that Jason Cobb has refused to give up original copies of the corporation papers. He has allegedly received threats via email and possibly other means that have implied that he and his family are at risk.

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