Because a person who will resign from Jehovah’s Witnesses will be shunned and treated as one who is disfellowshipped, and because children are disfellowshipped and shunned, the County Governor in Oslo and Viken decided that the Witnesses would lose the state money for the year 2021.
Jehovah’s Witnesses sent a letter of appeal dated February 17, 2022. One of the basic principles of Jehovah’s Witnesses is always to tell the truth. However, in this letter of appeal members of the Scandinavian branch office are lying to the County Governor. And the motive evidently is to gloss over one of the procedures that caused the County Governor to deny the Witnesses the state money.
I have written a letter to the County Governor pointing out how the Witnesses have been lying and discussing the disfellowshipping of children. An English translation of this letter is found below.
Rolf J. Furuli dr. art.
March 12, 2022
Statsforvalteren i Oslo og Viken
COMMENTS ON THE APPEAL FROM JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES DATED FEBRUARY 17, 2022
Because I several times have been mentioned, both by name and included in the expression “disgruntled previous members,” and the letter claims that the County Governor has drawn wrong conclusions because he has trusted my interpretations of the literature of Jehovah’s Witnesses, I would like to make some comments.
THE OFFICIAL ORDER OF SHUNNING THOSE WHO HAVE BEEN DISFELLOWSHIPPED AND THOSE WHO ARE DISASSOCIATED
In point 41 of the appeal we read:
It seems that the County Governor has not understood the difference between one who disassociates himself from the religious denomination and one whose faith has become weak, and who becomes less active and stops participating in the worship. A baptized Witness who stops participating in the activities of the congregation (for example in the congregation meetings or the preaching) is not viewed as one who has disassociated himself, one with whom the congregation will not have any contact.
What is said here is correct, and the last sentence is particularly interesting. The congregation will not stop having contact with one whose faith has become weak — and from the following sentence, it implicitly follows that the congregation will shun one who has disassociated himself. But then there comes a claim of the opposite in the next paragraph, and this claim is false. We read:
On the other hand, one who voluntarily chooses to reject his spiritual position as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses by formally disassociating himself will be respected for this, and everyone in the congregation has the opportunity to use their personal religious conscience to choose if they will delimitate or completely avoid any contact with this person.
The quotation shows that it is the conscience of each Witness that will decide how much contact he or she will have with one who is disfellowshipped or has disassociated himself. What the quotation says, is a lie.
I am cautious in connection with the use of the word “lie” because it implies that the person knows that what he has written is not true. But in this situation, I consciously use the word “lie.” The style of the letter suggests that it is written by René Stub-Christiansen, who is the attorney for Jehovah’s Witnesses, and the chairman Jørgen Pedersen has signed the letter. Pedersen and I worked together as elders for two years in the Majorstua congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Oslo before the branch office moved to Denmark and Pedersen also moved to Denmark. The treatment of those who have been disfellowshipped and those who have disassociated themselves was discussed among the body of elders in the Majorstua congregation, and all elders knew what this treatment was. Therefore, I know that Pedersen knows that to shun disfellowshipped persons and those who are disassociated is an official order from the Governing Body and that there is not the conscience of each individual that shall decide how much contact each one will have with these persons. This means that Pedersen has signed something that he knows is a lie.
I will now show what the literature of Jehovah’s Witnesses tells about this case. Until the year 1981, a Witness could declare that he did not want to be one of Jehovah’s Witnesses anymore, and this person would be treated in the same way as one whose faith had become weak. This means that everyone could have contact with this person, and he would not be shunned. But in 1981, the Governing Body decided that a person who did not want to be a Witness any longer, who wanted to dissociate himself, should be shunned. This decision was published in The Watchtower of September 15, 1981, page 23. In order to stress important expressions, I use red color:
One who has been a true Christian might renounce the way of the truth, stating that he no longer considers himself to be one of Jehovah’s Witnesses or wants to be known as one. When this rare event occurs, the person is renouncing his standing as a Christian, deliberately disassociating himself from the congregation. The apostle John wrote: “They went out from us, but they were not of our sort; for if they had been of our sort, they would have remained with us.”—1 John 2:19...
Persons who make themselves “not of our sort” by deliberately rejecting the faith and beliefs of Jehovah’s Witnesses should appropriately be viewed and treated as are those who have been disfellowshiped for wrongdoing.
The Watchtower of July 15, 1986, page 30, says:
Such ones willfully abandoning the Christian congregation thereby become part of the ‘antichrist.’ (1 John 2:18, 19)
A person who had willfully and formally disassociated himself from the congregation would have matched that description. By deliberately repudiating God’s congregation and by renouncing the Christian way, he would have made himself an apostate. A loyal Christian would not have wanted to fellowship with an apostate. Even if they had been friends, when someone repudiated the congregation, apostatizing, he rejected the basis for closeness to the brothers. John made it clear that he himself would not have in his home someone who ‘did not have God’ and who was “not of our sort.”
We note that those who leave Jehovah’s Witnesses (disassociating themselves) must be viewed and treated like those who have been disfellowshipped. The book “Pay Attention to Yourselves and to All the Flock” (1991), which is written for elders, says on page 103:
Those who disassociate themselves must be viewed and treated in the same way as those who are disfellowshipped.
The Watchtower of April 15, 1988, page 27, says:
We can be just as sure that God’s arrangement that Christians refuse to fellowship with someone who has been expelled for unrepentant sin is a wise protection for us…
God certainly realizes that carrying out his righteous laws about cutting off wrongdoers often involves and affects relatives. As mentioned above, when an Israelite wrongdoer was executed, no more family association was possible. In fact, if a son was a drunkard and a glutton, his parents were to bring him before the judges, and if he was unrepentant, the parents were to share in the just executing of him, ‘to clear away what is bad from the midst of Israel.’ (Deuteronomy 21:18-21) You can appreciate that this would not have been easy for them. Imagine, too, how the wrongdoer’s brothers, sisters, or grandparents felt. Yet, their putting loyalty to their righteous God before family affection could be lifesaving for them…
The situation is different if the disfellowshipped or disassociated one is a relative living outside the immediate family circle and home. It might be possible to have almost no contact at all with the relative. Even if there were some family matters requiring contact, this certainly would be kept to a minimum, in line with the divine principle: “Quit mixing in company with anyone called a brother that is a fornicator or a greedy person [or guilty of another gross sin], . . . not even eating with such a man.”—1 Corinthians 5:11.
The book Keep Yourselves in God’s Love (2008) pages 35 og 242, says:
At times, we are called upon to withdraw our fellowship from one who has been a member of the congregation. This situation arises when an individual who unrepentantly violates God’s law is disfellowshipped or when one rejects the faith by teaching false doctrine or by disassociating himself from the congregation. God’s Word plainly tells us to “stop keeping company” with such ones. (Read 1 Corinthians 5:11-13; 2 John 9-11) It may be a real challenge to avoid someone who had perhaps been a friend or who is related to us. Will we take a firm stand, thereby showing that we put loyalty to Jehovah and his righteous laws above all else? Remember that Jehovah places a high value on loyalty and obedience…
Is strict avoidance really necessary? Yes, for several reasons. (the author’s italics)
The book Organized to Do Jehovah’s Will (2005), pages 152, 153 says:
In contrast, if a person who is a Christian chooses to disassociate himself, a brief announcement is made to inform the congregation, stating: “[Name of person]
He is no longer one of Jehovah’s Witnesses.” Such a person is treated in the same way as a disfellowshipped person.
The quotations above show that a person who has expressed that he does not want to be one of Jehovah’s Witnesses anymore (who has disassociated himself) is treated in exactly the same way as one who has been disfellowshipped. This means that the Witnesses stop any contact with that person, they do not talk to him and they do not say a greeting to him. In The Watchtower of April 15, 1988, we find the words “refuse to fellowship with” and “cutting off wrongdoers.”
It is important for the treatment of the appeal that the advisor knows exactly which meaning Jehovah’s Witnesses ascribe to different expressions. In English, the word «shun» is used, and this is translated in the Norwegian Watchtower literature as “holde oss unna” [keep away from]. The expression “holde oss unna” is weaker and more ambiguous than “shun.” Both because of the lexical meaning of “shun” and the meaning the Witnesses ascribe to the word I will translate “shun” with “sky” [completely stay away from].
The Kingdom ministry is a small printed paper that the members of the congregations receive monthly. I compare the English and Norwegian text of the paper of August 2002, page 4.
Hvorfor det er best å være lojal mot Jehova: Det er flere fordeler ved at vi følger den bibelske ordning som går ut på at vi skal ekskludere overtredere som ikke angrer, og holde oss unna dem.
12 Benefits of Being Loyal to Jehovah: Cooperating with the Scriptural arrangement to disfellowship and shun unrepentant wrongdoers is beneficial.
The article also describes what it means to shun those who are disfellowshipped and disassociated.
This means that loyal Christians do not have spiritual fellowship with anyone who has been expelled from the congregation. But more is involved. God’s Word states that we should ‘not even eat with such a man.’ (1 Cor. 5:11) Hence, we also avoid social fellowship with an expelled person. This would rule out joining him in a picnic, party, ball game, or trip to the mall or theater or sitting down to a meal with him either in the home or at a restaurant. (author’ italics)
What about speaking with a disfellowshipped person? While the Bible does not cover every possible situation, 2 John 10 helps us to get Jehovah’s view of matters: “If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, never receive him into your homes or say a greeting to him.” Commenting on this, The Watchtower of September 15, 1981, page 25, says: “A simple ‘Hello’ to someone can be the first step that develops into a conversation and maybe even a friendship. Would we want to take that first step with a disfellowshiped person?”…
Relatives Not in the Household: “The situation is different if the disfellowshipped or disassociated one is a relative living outside the immediate family circle and home,” states The Watchtower of April 15, 1988, page 28. “It might be possible to have almost no contact at all with the relative. Even if there were some family matters requiring contact, this certainly would be kept to a minimum,” in harmony with the divine injunction to “quit mixing in company with anyone” who is guilty of sinning unrepentantly. (1 Cor. 5:11) Loyal Christians should strive to avoid needless association with such a relative, even keeping business dealings to an absolute minimum.—See also The Watchtower of September 15, 1981, pages 29-30.
The Watchtower for Oktober 2017, page 16, shows more areas where contact with disfellowshipped and disassociated persons should not occur
Respect the discipline of Jehovah. His arrangement can bring the best long-term outcome for all, including the wrongdoer, even though the immediate effect is painful. (Read Hebrews 12:11.) For example, Jehovah instructs us to “stop keeping company” with unrepentant wrongdoers. (1 Cor. 5:11-13) Despite our pain of heart, we must avoid normal contact with a disfellowshipped family member by telephone, text messages, letters, e-mails, or social media. (author’s italics)
The claim of Jehovah’s Witnesses is that how much contact a member of the congregation shall have with a disfellowshipped or disassociated person is decided by each one’s conscience. This is a direct lie! The quotations above show that the demand of the Governing Body is that every Witness must cut off any contact with those who have been disfellowshipped and who are disassociated, i.e., to shun them. This is not an issue that each one’s conscience can decide. The only exception is the contact that is impossible to avoid, for example, contact at the place of work.
THE PUNISHMENT FOR FAILING TO SHUN DISFELLOWSHIPPED AND DISASSOCIATED PERSONS
The command of shunning those who have been disfellowshipped has been strictly enforced since 1952 when it was introduced, and from 1981, also disassociated persons have been included. The Watchtower of July 1, 1963, pages 413, 414, shows that the punishment of one who does not shun those who are disfellowshipped can be that the person himself will be disfellowshipped.
Therefore the members of the congregation will not associate with the disfellowshiped one, either in the Kingdom Hall or elsewhere. They will not converse with such one or show him recognition in any way. If the disfellowshiped person attempts to talk to others in the congregation, they should walk away from him. In this way, he will feel the full import of his sin. Otherwise, if all communicated freely with the offender, he would be tempted to feel that his transgression was not such a terrible thing.
When one ignores the disfellowshiping action and continues his association with the disfellowshiped person, then it shows a bad attitude toward Jehovah’s laws. He, in effect, is showing that he upholds the offender and thinks Jehovah’s righteous laws are of no account. The seriousness of not abiding by the disfellowshiping procedure can be seen when he is called “a sharer” in the wicked works of the one disfellowshiped. Actually, the one who deliberately does not abide by the congregation’s decision puts himself in line to be disfellowshiped for continuing to associate with such one. Since he is classified the same as the one disfellowshiped, “a sharer,” then it is reasonable for the same action to be taken against this dissenter. He too can be cut off from Jehovah’s favor and from his visible organization.
What if a disfellowshiped person and a member of the congregation both work at the same place of secular employment? Could they have association then, since their work may require them to have communication with one another? Here again, it is a matter of recognizing the changed status of the one who is disfellowshiped. While it is permissible to converse to the extent necessary for carrying out the functions of the work, it would not be proper to associate in the sense of communicating freely, without regard for his status. Only the necessary business would be discussed, never spiritual matters or any other matter that does not come under the category of necessary business related to the secular employment. If the contact required is too frequent and intimate, the Christian could consider changing his employment so as not to violate his conscience.
That a person will be punished for not shunning disfellowshipped and disassociated persons is repeated in the book for elders “Shepherd The Flock Of God” 12.17 (1):
Unnecessary Association With Disfellowshipped or Disassociated lndividuals: Willful, continued, unnecessary association with disfellowshipped or disassociated nonrelatives despite repeated counsel would warrant judicial action. — Mat. 18:17b; 1 Cor. 5:11, 13; 2 John 10. 11: lvs pp. 39-40. (the author’s italics)
The words of the book for elders from 2019 are clear proof that when Jehovah’s Witnesses say that it is the religious conscience of each member of the congregation that decides whether he will limit the contact or have no contact with a disfellowshipped or disassociated person, this is a lie. The members of the congregation cannot have any contact with a disfellowshipped or disassociated person without being punished by disfellowshipping.
The only exception is “necessary association” which is the opposite of “unnecessary association.” What the meaning of this expression is, can be seen by the last paragraph of the quotation from 1963, that is quoted above. Occasional contact with a person who is disfellowshipped or disassociated that is strictly necessary in connection with work can be accepted. And in connection with relatives that are not living in the same household, the opening of a testament has been mentioned in The Watchtower as one example of necessary association. As a person who has served as an elder for 56 years, I can confirm that only such exceptional situations that are mentioned above can be exceptions from the rule that there can be no contact with disfellowshipped or disassociated persons.
The book for elders shows that the punishment for unnecessary association with disfellowshipped or disassociated family members, needs not be as severe as association with those who are not family members. Point 12.17 (2) says:
If a member of the congregation is known to have unnecessary association with disfellowshipped or disassociated relatives who are not in the household, elders should use the Scriptures to counsel and reason with him. Review with him information from the Remain in God’s Love book, page 242. If it is clear that a Christian is violating the spirit of the disfellowshipping decree in this regard and does not respond to counsel, he would not qualify for congregation privileges, which require one to be exemplary. He would not be dealt with judicially unless there is a persistent spiritual association or he persists in openly criticizing the disfellowshipping decision. (the author’s italics)
The expression “deal with judicially” means that the person will be disfellowshipped if he does not change his attitude. A father will not be disfellowshipped if he visits his grown-up son, but his punishment is that he loses his privileges in the congregation. If he, for example, is a ministerial servant or an elder, he will lose these privileges. However, there needs not be much wrong action before he will be disfellowshipped. If he, for example, continues to speak with his son about the Bible, he will be disfellowshipped.
From the quotations above, including those from the book for elders from 2019, we clearly see that the Governing Body has demanded that the members of the congregation must shun those who are disfellowshipped or disassociated and that they must cut any association, except in special situations. The claim of the letter of appeal of Jehovah’s Witnesses that all Witnesses must “use their personal religious conscience to choose if they will deliminate or completely avoid any contact with this person” simply is a lie.
This means that the members of the congregation do not have the freedom to resign from the congregation. The punishment for resigning indicates that there is great pressure on the members for not resigning. He or she knows that by expressing that he or she no longer wants to be one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, he or she will in reality be disfellowshipped and will be shunned by everyone. The attempt of Jehovah’s Witnesses to gloss over this reality by claiming that there is no demand from the organization that those who disassociate themselves must be shunned, but that this depends on each one’s conscience, is completely countered by the quotations that I have used.
. The book says: “When someone who has seriously sinned does not repent and refuses to follow Jehovah’s standards, he can no longer be a member of the congregation. He needs to be disfellowshipped. When someone is disfellowshipped, we have no more dealings with that person and we stop talking to him. (1 Corinthians 5:11; 2 John 9-11)”
CHILDREN AND DISFELLOWSHIPPING
My opinion is that the discussion of the case about “negative social control” in the appeal from Jehovah’s Witnesses is unclear. It is typically for the letters that Jehovah’s Witnesses have written to the County Governor that they contain much information dealing with how excellent the Witnesses are and how many court victories they have won — something that have little to do with the issue under discussion. But the core of the issue is not discussed. I will not try to interpret the law, but I will make some comments on the disfellowshipping of children.
My experience is that there is no better place for a child to grow up than in a family of Jehovah’s Witnesses. The parents use much time together with the child, they give him or her time to play and to be together with other children, and they help the child to develop his or her personality in a balanced way. Regarding this point, I agree with what Jehovah’s Witnesses say.
However, the members of the Governing Body have an extreme view of children in one area, namely, in connection with baptism. Children as young as ten years are encouraged to be baptized, and that means that many children are baptized Jehovah’s Witnesses. My view is that only rarely will a person who is not at least in his late teens be mature enough to dedicate himself to God and be baptized. Children are growing all the time and they change, and because there are many children who are baptized, several children will do wrong actions and will be disfellowshipped.
Jehovah’s Witnesses have only managed to find one person below 18 years who has been disfellowshipped — this person was 17 years old. Do Jehovah’s Witnesses mean that this shows that children are not disfellowshipped in Norway? Let us look more closely at this. My understanding of the decision of the County Governor is that it is the system that Jehovah’s Witnesses have in connection with children and disfellowshipping, that disfellowshipped children cannot have any contact with family and friends, which means “negative social control.”
When Jehovah’s Witnesses only can find one person below 18 years who has been disfellowshipped, I will ask which time period this relates to. All bodies of elders in Norway received a letter from the branch office in Norway dated September 23, 1992. And this letter said in part:
The Society has no archive with those who have been disfellowshipped and those who have left with personal information. This archive was destroyed in 1989 when it became clear that according to the law that authorization was needed for such an archive. After that time, the Society has continuously destroyed the forms S-77-N and S-79a when they have been received from the congregations and have been read in order to check that the cases have been treated according to the guidelines.
However, the Society has not viewed the envelopes with information about disfellowshipped persons and those who have left that the congregations keep as in need of authorization. But Datatilsynet does not agree with that, and we must ask for authorization.
We note that the branch office did not have an archive with personal information from the time before 1992, and personal information that the Society received in connection with disfellowshipping, were continuously destroyed. Today, personal information about disfellowshipped persons is not kept at the branch office but in the confidential archives of the congregations, and the branch office does not have access to these.
According to the book for elders “Shepherd The Flock Of God” (2019) 22.22-27 particular information in connection with a disfellowshipping must be put in an envelope that is sealed, and this envelope shall be kept in the confidential archive of the congregation. This envelope shall only be opened if a person seeks reinstation, or there is a special reason for it. Point 22.26 says regarding the keeping of the envelopes.
The sealed envelopes containing records on individuals who have not been reinstated should be kept indefinitely. If the person has been reinstated a full five years or has died, usually the file should be destroyed unless the case involved an accusation of child sexual abuse or an adulterous marriage or the committee believes there is some reason to retain it.
The Watchtower has sometimes given the total number of disfellowshipped persons during one year, and the numbers show that about 0.8% of the Witnesses are disfellowshipped each year. This means that since the year 2000, more than one million Witnesses have been disfellowshipped in the world and about 2 000 in Norway. The statistics shows that as much as 70% of those who have been disfellowshipped become reinstated. But about 20% of these evidently have asked for reinstation only in order to have contact with family and friends — because these are rarely at the meetings and they are not preaching.
The numbers above suggest that about 1 400 persons have been reinstated in Norway since the year 2000. My question is which information the branch office has regarding the age of the 600 who in the mentioned period have not been reinstated and about the 1 400 who have been reinstated. I doubt that the Scandinavian branch office in Denmark has any information about the age of all these. If the branch office does not have information, it is not possible to know how many children have been disfellowshipped. But if the branch office has an archive with personal information that includes the age of the mentioned persons, then the branch office should give the number of how many children have been disfellowshipped since the year 2000.
I know several instances where children have been disfellowshipped, but I have not made any notes or statistics regarding these. I know they were children, but I do not know the exact age when they were disfellowshipped. Therefore, I cannot refer to these children. However, I have received some information regarding children that have been disfellowshipped with name, congregation, and age. They do not want to be identified because of their families, so I can only give some information. I mention two girls 17 years old and a boy who was 15 or 16 years old from southern Norway, and a girl 15 years old and a boy 13 years old from middle Norway. The father of the boy objected to the disfellowshipping, and therefore he himself was disfellowshipped.
. The Governing Body’s view of child baptism and child labor is discussed in the article “Child abuse — the responsibility of the Governing Body” on my website (https://mybelovedreligion.no/category/disfellowshipping/the-governing-body-2/).
MY PERSONAL SITUATION
There are several references to me in the letter of appeal, both mentioning my name and including me in the expression “disgruntled previous Witnesses.” I bring some quotations that I will comment on. Point 148 includes me in the expression “disgruntled previous believer,” and point 151 says about me and others: “They have left Jehovah’s Witnesses by their own free will, and no one has hindered them.”
I am not “a previous believer,” and I have not “left Jehovah’s Witnesses by my own free will.” I became a witness for Jehovah in 1961, and I have served 56 years as an elder. During this time, I have raised several questions that I believed were wrong with the leaders of the organization, including the two issues that were the reason why Jehovah’s Witnesses lost their State money.
I short time after 1981, when the Governing Body decided that those who resigned were wicked and had to be shunned, I raised this issue with the leaders in Norway. I pointed out that this new procedure was an attack on the religious freedom of the Witnesses because they were treated as those who were disfellowshipped when the wanted to leave. But my viewpoint was rejected. Later I raised this question with Bent Arntsen, who was one of the leaders and a personal friend of mine. I said to him that if we continue to treat those who resign as disfellowshipped ones, we may lose the money from the state. “We will never change this, so if we lose the money, we lose the money.” was his reply. I have also raised the question about the baptism of children, and I argued that it is definitely wrong to baptize children before they become teenagers or when they are in the beginning of their teen years. But my arguments were rejected.
After the year 2010, the members of the Governing Body have given themselves unlimited power, and they function today as dictators. Everything that they say and write is viewed as something that comes from God, and if anyone disagrees with one of an interpretation of the Governing Body, he may be disfellowshipped. The Governing Body has during the 21st century made several decisions that definitely contradict the Bible. And because the arguments I made to the leaders against these decisions were rejected, the only possibility I saw to point out the Governing Body’s abuse of power and their unbiblical decisions was to write the book My Beloved Religion — And The Governing Body. Before the book was published, I sent a copy to the Governing Body, and I wrote that if the Body would start to change decisions that violated the Bible, the book would not be published. This was rejected, and the members of the Governing Body would not have anything to do with me. After the book was published, I was disfellowshipped.
Chapter 1 of the book shows in detail that the only religion in the world whose basic doctrines are directly based on the Bible is Jehovah’s Witnesses. I share the faith of Jehovah’s Witnesses, except some of the new decisions that the Governing Body has made during the 21st century that violate the Bible, including the system of disfellowshipping and that the Governing Body has dictatorial power. I support and defend Jehovah’s Witnesses, except the decisions that contradict the Bible, and that have ruined the lives of tens of thousands of Witnesses. I am no opponent or adversary, and I absolutely am not engaged in a crusade against Jehovah’s Witnesses — because it is the religion of Jehovah’s Witnesses that is “My Beloved Religion.”
MY ROLE IN CONNECTION WITH THE CASE ABOUT THE LOSS OF STATE MONEY
Jehovah’s Witnesses write about my role in connection with their loss of money from the Norwegian state for the year 2021:
140. The only reason why the County Governor has reached such a drastic decision against Jehovah’s Witnesses evidently is on the basis of a couple of complaints from disgruntled previous Witnesses, who have not described their own experiences but only hypothetic situations.
- (147) Persons who actively argue in favor of conflicting religious viewpoints have been heavily engaged in this case…Neither Rolf Furuli nor Jan Frode Nilsen has personally been affected by the hypothetical situation of which they complain.
Let it be clear: I have never complained about Jehovah’s Witnesses, and I have never referred to hypothetical situations. My first letter to the County Governor was written because Jehovah’s Witnesses had written a letter with false information. I did not use the word “lie” because I did not know whether the one who wrote the letter knew that he had given false information — the Witnesses only write what the Governing Body directs them to write. My letter had nothing to do with State money, and it did not contain any hypothetical situations. Jehovah’s Witnesses commented on my letter without answering the questions I asked in that letter.
Jehovah’s Witnesses have written several letters to the County Governor, and again I have pointed out false information and not referred to hypothetical situations. The reason why the County Governor started the investigation of Jehovah’s Witnesses, was that the Witnesses had written letters with false information and that I and others had corrected this information. The County Governor wanted to know if the corrections I and others had written were true. Therefore, the County Governor looked into the literature of the Witnesses.
The writer of the letter from Jehovah’s Witnesses lacks the ability to make a balanced academic discussion of data. He uses expressions that he could not have used in a court case. He writes:
- (126) Paragraph 6 of the law requires that the decision of the County Governor must be based on proof, and not only on unproven claims from disgruntled previous members, and absolutely not on the basis of the religious literature of a religious denomination
- (134) The subjective opinions of two or possibly three disgruntled previous Jehovah’s Witnesses cannot be viewed as proof. See below.
- (13) The investigation was started because of letters from the same disgruntled previous Jehovah’s Witness. He based his complaints solely on his theological interpretations of excerpts from selected religious publications of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
- (88) The decision of the County Governor is only based on an illegal (and basically wrong interpretation) of selections from the religious publications of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
- (118) Third, the County Governor has appraised and interpreted quotations from the religious publications of Jehovah’s Witnesses and drawn conclusions (often wrongly) about the faith and practice of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
In these quotations, we find the expressions “unproven claims”, “subjective opinions,” “basically wrong interpretations,” and “drawn conclusions often wrongly.” What would a balanced academic discussion have been? That the author of the letter in a concrete way demonstrated what was unproven claims, subjective opinions, and wrong interpretations. However, in the letters to the County Governor Jehovah’s Witnesses fail to discuss the concrete facts that I have pointed out, and they do not answer my questions that could illuminate the cases.
I will give one example of a balanced academic discussion of data. Jehovah’s Witnesses write:
- As shown above, the “religious bonds” between the one who is disfellowshipped or disassociated do change, but “the family bonds do not end. And the marriage and the family life continue.” In other words, the normal family relationship in the household continues. If the grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends are Jehovah’s Witnesses, it is something each one must decide how he or she will follow the relevant Bible principles.
I will not follow the usual method of Jehovah’s Witnesses and just say that the text in red is not true. But a balanced academic discussion requires that I make concrete statements. That it is not “something each one must decide how he or she will follow the relevant Bible principles,” that each one can decide how much contact he or she will have with the disfellowshipped or disassociated person, is a lie. They cannot choose to have contact with the person without being punished. On pages 1-12, I show by quotations that the Governing Body has ordered the Witnesses to shun a person who is disfellowshipped or disassociated, and this includes relatives that are not living in the same household as the disfellowshipped or disassociated person. The mentioned pages represent a balanced academic discussion of data. How can Jehovah’s Witnesses comment on what I here have written in a balanced academic way? If they are of the opinion that I have misunderstood something, they can in a concrete way show what I have misunderstood.
While I was writing this letter, I received an E-mail from a woman who had grown up as a Witness and who was baptized when she was 14 years old. She is not disfellowshipped, but she is no longer an active Witness. She made some comments about my article on the baptism of children and the labor of children that I refer to in note 2. What she describes is what many Witnesses have experienced, and therefore I quote what she has written.
Letter of appreciation
To Rolf Furuli
I would one more time thank you for what you have written about “child labor” and religious work by youngsters.
I read the examples to which you refer, and they were even younger than I was.
I started as a regular auxiliary pioneer when I was 14 years old when I still attended junior high school (19..19..). I continued as regular poineer when I was 16 years old (19—19–). Therefore, I did not attend high school as my coeval friends.
I had given God a promise when I was 12 years old that I should serve as a pioneer for the rest of my life.
Assemblies that influenced me:
The talk “We do not live for ourselves.”
This text was like a sharp light shining on me.
Speakers also called out with loud voices:
“Who are you youngsters who dare to sit at your desk in the classroom when Armageddon comes?”
“Who are you who can say in your prayer to God ‘I cannot be a pioneer?”
When you describe this as religious labor that is too heavy a responsibility for minors, I know that this is true. I feel like one who has been completely used to exhaustion. All my energy as a youngster was used in the full-time service, and I was not able to take care of myself.
I was spiritless. And all the time when I, as a youngster, was a pioneer, I felt anguish and I was depressed. And I even had suicidal thoughts at times. I felt that I was captured, and mentally I pressed myself to the extreme, so I should not get “bloodguilt.”
Often I walked alone on the street, and I was fond of speaking with people I did not know. I had many Bible studies, and I helped several persons into “the truth.”
But as an adult, I have had problems with taking into my mind what “happened” because my parents said; “You were so earnest, and it was impossible to stop you.” I feel that all that fault is placed on me because of my choices when I was a child and a youngster.
But I strongly feel that this was not my fault. Therefore, when you wrote about child labor, I became so thankful. I was only a child when I started as a preacher. And I pressed myself so much when I was a youngster that I got a migraine.
I did not stop before I banged my head against the wall. Then I was 21 years old. At that time I realized that I could not manage my life effectively without education. Then I was 21, and I started to attend high school at that age.
Many greetings from one who does not manage any longer to carry so much responsibility and guilt, and who is happy for everything you write on your website that lessens my pain — and now I understand much more.
With this E-mail I conclude my comments on the appeal of Jehovah’s Witnesses regarding the decision of the County governor.
. The expression “pioneer” refers to a person who has bound himself to use most of his time preaching about God’s Kingdom. The expression “auxiliary pioneer” refers to one who has bound himself to use a great part of his time as a preacher. Both pioneers and auxiliary pioneers are appointed to the service by their congregation. The expression “bloodguilt” is used in the Watchtower literature about persons who do not preach to others. The one who is not preached to will not serve God. And therefore, when he will be killed in the great tribulation, the one who has failed to preach to him, has some guilt in connections with his death. This is “bloodguilt.”