Jehovah’s Witnesses pay no tax while Watchtower owns the Kingdom Hall and they pay no tax if or when it is later sold. Furthermore, a lot of the money for the property is provided by donations from Watchtower adherents. The Watchtower does and has provided “loans” which the Kingdom Hall must pay back. In reality, the Kingdom Hall members are paying back a loan to a company that already owns and will continue to own the property even after paying off the loan in full.
Let me say this another way: All kingdom halls built, paid for and maintained by its members are all part of Watchtower’s portfolio of properties that are worth billions of dollars. The kingdom halls are not owned by its members.
Are Jehovah’s Witnesses aware of this scheme? Indeed, do they know who owns their Kingdom Halls? If they did know, would they continue to pay off their loan to Watchtower? The answer to these three questions is: It’s doubtful.
In 2010, the Watchtower directed that the Menlo Park Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses in California, U.S.A sell their Kingdom Hall and merge with the neighbouring Redwood City Congregation. The elders in the Menlo Park Congregation were reluctant to sell their Kingdom Hall as they did not feel there was a need. Subsequently, Watchtower had them removed from their privilege as Congregation Elders and replaced by elders from the Redwood City Congregation. After all, this Kingdom Hall was one of the tens of thousands of Watchtower assets around the world!
Watchtower Legally Defines Itself As A Hierarchy
Three of the four former elders filed a number of suits against the Watchtower during 2011 and 2012. These elders have since been disfellowshipped for their “insubordination”. But, what is most interesting about the cases is how the Watchtower has described itself in court, by means of its legal representative, Mr Rouse (underlines are mine):
MR. ROUSE: Your Honor, a complaint was filed against these three named party defendants who are ministers in a local Menlo Park Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses. They are the current ministers of the congregation. And the complaint was filed by our ex-minister, one that has been removed by the organization.
And I say “organization.” I am general counsel for the National Organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses out of Brooklyn, New York. Ordinarily, I wouldn’t be here, but this is one of our 13,000 congregations in the United States. We are a hierarchal religion structured just like the Catholic Church. And when the order from the Pope comes down in the church defrocking a priest and kicking him out, he no longer has any say in any matter in the local parish priest — in the parish.
The same situation as here. In his complaint he brings one claim. He claims that he wants to be reinstated as a director and an officer in the Menlo Park Congregation. This is contrary to our church rules and regulations and bylaws.
We brought our organizational bylaws book, our rule book here, and we are prepared to present witnesses that this is a hierarchal organization. It is governed from the top down. We are protective of property rights and office holding rights of any degree at all in any of our churches.
And I am representing the presiding minister, Mr. Brede here. And so we challenge that. We say that that is a matter of First Amendment constitutional law. He can’t do an end run as a defrocked minister and try to get his toe back in the administrative structure of our religion and by means of a court order. So, that’s one point we are going to show through the evidence.
Jehovah’s Witnesses in Poland
The legal name of Jehovah’s Witnesses was recently changed to “Jehovah’s Witnesses in Poland”. As part of that change, a letter addressed to all the Bodies of Elders in Poland set out a number of legal changes made to the religion in that country. One of the most eye-opening changes, was the paragraph entitled “Ownership of real estate“. In there they explicitly state that all real estate used by the congregations and circuits is legally owned by the organization known as “Jehovah’s Witnesses in Poland” or abbreviated to the “Religious Order” within that letter.
Redefining the Governing Body
So, it turns out that after all these years, the Watchtower’s denouncing of hierarchical churches, such as the Catholic Church, has been a sham! It is as hierarchical as the Catholic Church. Is it no wonder then that it is now legally establishing its place as a hierarchical church. How? Since 2013, the Watchtower has redefined who the Faithful & Discreet Slave class is. Previously, it was all of the Anointed followers of Jesus Christ but now it is only the Governing Body. The July 15th 2013 Watchtower makes this clear on pages 21 & 22:
Do all anointed ones on earth make up the faithful slave? No. The reality is that not all anointed ones have a role in dispensing spiritual food to fellow believers worldwide. Among the wheat are anointed brothers who may serve as ministerial servants or elders in their local congregation. They teach from house to house and in their congregation, and they loyally support the direction from headquarters. But they do not have a part in dispensing spiritual food to the worldwide brotherhood. Also among the anointed are humble sisters, who would never try to assume the role of teachers in the congregation.—1 Cor. 11:3; 14:34.
Who, then, is the faithful and discreet slave? In keeping with Jesus’ pattern of feeding many through the hands of a few, that slave is made up of a small group of anointed brothers who are directly involved in preparing and dispensing spiritual food during Christ’s presence. Throughout the last days, the anointed brothers who make up the faithful slave have served together at headquarters. In recent decades, that slave has been closely identified with the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Note, however, that the word “slave” in Jesus’ illustration is singular, indicating that this is a composite slave. The decisions of the Governing Body are thus made collectively.
Isn’t it clear that this is new understanding of scripture? It is redefining the Faithful & Discreet Slave as only the Governing Body. But, does it make sense? No. The “slave” in Jesus’ Illustration was always singular. This “composite slave” is a made up term created simply for legal reasons. Redefining the “Faithful & Discreet Slave” as solely the Governing Body and not all Anointed individuals closes a legal loophole that was noticed as part of the court cases with the 3 former elders from the Menlo Park Congregation in California.
Previously, all who saw themselves as “Anointed” had a share in the Watchtower’s Assets as they were legal representatives of “God’s Kingdom on Earth”. But changing the definition of the Faithful & Discreet Slave to just the Governing Body means that all Watchtower’s Assets are now safely in the hands of the small number of individuals who rule the organization from the top down, in a hierarchical fashion, “just like the Catholic Church”.
The Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses have lost their faith and love in God and are now legally establishing their Watchtower assets. Their faith and love is now in the almighty dollar.
Note: Section entitled “Jehovah’s Witnesses in Poland” was added November 12, 2015.