In 1991, Philip Brumley gave a talk entitled ‘Haled Before Kings’. In it he detailed some of Watch Tower’s notable Supreme Court case wins in the 1930s and
This talk is very interesting, not only for Jehovah’s Witnesses, but also for researchers, journalists, lawyers and politicians. Here are some points worth noting. You are sure to find others:
- Brumley has a dreadful understanding of those whom he refers to as ‘The Apostates’; he sees them as money-making schemers who use the courts to spout their beliefs.
- He believes in a legal fairy whom he refers to as ‘Jehovah’; this fairy coordinates events so that Jehovah’s Witnesses win (or lose) supreme court cases.
- He not only admits that Jehovah’s Witness children have been used as guinea pigs in clinical trials for alternatives to blood products, he condones it.
- He admits that the legal corporation behind Jehovah’s Witnesses interferes in court cases involving child custody where one parent is a Jehovah’s Witness and the other is not.
You are sure to find other interesting nuggets of information. Try and ignore the endless use of the terms, “So”, “And so”, and “Well”.
Haled Before Kings
It’s certainly good to see so many of you here this morning, some maybe for the first time. We certainly welcome you to help you understand the information presented and ask some questions you may have for him later.
We have a very special guest with us today from the Brooklyn headquarters and he is in charge of the legal department there in Brooklyn. And so, we will have him … he will speak to us now for the next hour. And his subject is “Haled before Kings”, Brother Philip Brumley…
I’d like to begin by reading a portion of a letter that was written by one of our sisters not long after she was released from jail while awaiting trial. Her letter stated in part:
“Allow me to tell you what it was like in that jail. We were always locked in solitary confinement and denied any toilet facilities. A five-gallon bucket was given us to use for a period of five days at a time. We had no cover for this bucket or any toilet paper. We had no soap or towels. We had a little water basin that we could manage to get water from to drink. The beds were filthy with blood-stained mattresses and no sheets. At no time were we allowed out of this confinement or was anyone allowed to come in to see us. Yet, it was not this treatment that bothered me so much. It was knowing my young innocent son was on the floor below me with all those vile criminals. I didn’t know what they might do to him. I feared for his life but could only pray to Jehovah to look over him and let no harm come to him. Afterwards I learned that one of the husky prisoners who was awaiting trial for murder did guard and protect him from the other prisoners.”Grace Morris
So, where do you suppose this letter was written from? Perhaps this sister and her son who escaped from Nazi Germany? Or maybe North Korea? Perhaps Cuba? Some country behind the Iron Curtain? No, this was written by sister Grace Morris in 1943 and she wrote this not long after she’d been released from jail for being arrested for distributing literature in a little company owned town called Chickasaw, Alabama, which many of you might know is not far from Mobile.
Well Grace Morris and her son were convicted of distributing literature without a license on private property. But interestingly, her case was litigated all the way up to the Supreme Court in 1943 which resulted in one of the Supreme Court victories that established our right to go door to door.
So, you might read that and you would say, ‘Well that’s an interesting point piece of history. The letter that she wrote from jail. They certainly were dismal circumstances that she and her son found themselves in. But surely those types of things don’t happen to Jehovah’s people today. Nobody gets locked in solitary confinement just because they’re going door the door. Well do Jehovah’s Witnesses today suffer the same types of persecution in this country that Sister Morris suffered back there in 1943?
Well, let me give you a couple of examples:
Example 1: Forced Blood Transfusion
The first one: The young couple goes to the hospital apparently because the wife is in labour prematurely. Thankfully she gives birth with no complications. The baby is fine although the baby was delivered by caesarean section. So, it looks like everything’s under control and everyone goes home including the husband. No one realizes it at the time but she’s bleeding internally. And she bleeds for several hours. Finally, some nurse decides it’s time to call the doctor. He delays in several hours in getting to the hospital. But now here it is three or four o’clock in the morning. They wake her up and tell her that her haemoglobin has dropped to a life-threatening level and she needs to take blood or she’s not going to make it to the morning. Well she[‘s not even] doesn’t even have the energy to call her husband, or anyone else for that matter. And all of a sudden all types of hospital personnel start coming into that bedroom telling her that she has to save herself in order to take care of this child she’s just given birth to. An illegal court order is obtained. The sister is tied down later on in the morning, and then forced blood. Well that case was also litigated and resulted not long ago in a state Supreme Court victory.
Example 2: Child Custody & Apostates
A second example: A young couple is studying the Bible. They have a couple of children. Not long after they’re studying, the wife decides that being a witness is not for her, so she decides to stop the study. After a bit she gets more and more violent, more and more aggressive in not consenting to a study in the home. And then the blow comes. Divorce papers are filed upon her husband. Even though he’s lived with his wife in the same house for over 15 years, the court order obligates the husband to abandon the marital home and to live outside the home. And a temporary order is entered granting custody of the children to the wife. Now this husband who is new in the truth is concerned about how are his children going to come to know Jehovah? Since he can’t even talk to them about what he’s learning. Then comes the really low blow. As he’s preparing for trial, he learns that his wife, through his wife’s attorney, has hired the services of former Witnesses, apostates! And these apostates are going to show up at trial and offer testimony about how harmful it is to be raised as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. They ought to know because they used to be Witnesses and now, they can tell the judge how beautiful it is to be liberated and open-minded. And that if the judge has any sense at all he sure won’t let these kids be raised by this husband who’s now appeared to a new faith. Well this is also just an example of something that happened within the past couple of years. Later on, we’ll tell you how that one finished up.
But when you listen to these two examples you can see that the trials or persecutions that Jehovah’s people face today are different but no less severe in the trials that Jehovah’s people faced back in the 30s 40s and 50s. And so, what we’d like to do is, is break this consideration up into two parts.
Legal History of Jehovah’s Witnesses
Let’s first of all consider the history of Jehovah’s Witnesses, the legal history of Jehovah’s Witnesses in this country. But then into the second part, what is being done today to protect the legal rights of Jehovah’s Witnesses In our efforts to serve Jehovah? And as we consider both segments it’s good to get a scriptural perspective as to what we’re doing and why we’re involved in litigation and in protecting our rights.
The first point is simple – you can jot down in your notes – I’m not going to read all the scriptures because there’s not enough time to go into all of them but maybe you can just jot down in your notes some of them and look them up later. Psalm 110 verse 2 prophesied the way in which Jehovah would establish or Jesus would establish his kingly rule in our day. It says there:
The rod of your strength Jehovah will send out of Zion saying – this is the point – go subduing in the midst of your enemiesPsalm 110:2
Now if you look at the phrase carefully ‘go subduing’ means that there would be a gradual warfare. It would not be one all-out victory and then after that the kingdom would be established and be no more confrontation. Instead, that phrase indicates that there would be a gradual conquering, [a] prevailing of Jehovah’s principles over the principles of Satan. And so this is what has occurred during the last days – and in your notes you can jot down Revelation 6:2 – that verifies, when it talks about Jesus on the white horse, he said that he went forth with the crown to conquer and to complete his conquest. So once again to complete his conquest denotes a progressive activity, something that would begin and then be carried to a conclusion. So we have then the scripture telling us that there would be a gradual but constant warfare [over the last], over the last generation.
Well what type of warfare is this? Well, if you look at 2nd Corinthians Chapter 10 – it’s a very familiar scripture but think about it now in the context of legal reasoning – 2nd Corinthians 10:4 and 5:
For the weapons of our warfare are not fleshly but powerful by God for overturning strongly entrenched things. For we are overturning reasonings and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God and we are bringing every thought into captivity to make it obedient to the Christ.2 Corinthians 10:4, 5
Did you notice – and this is a very interesting part – that it said that ‘the weapons’ although not physical were powerful and that they overturned ‘strongly entrenched things’? One of those strong entrenched things is false religion. But how about governments raised up in opposition Jehovah’s people? Those are also strongly entrenched things. And so, we’ll see it in our consideration how Jehovah blessed his people in our day in overturning these strongly entrenched governments that had tried or made an effort to stop our people, to stop our witnessing. And so, Jesus prophesied about this too – if you want to jot down in your notes Matthew 10:17 & 18 – and there he mentioned an interesting aspect of this preaching work that we would have. There Jesus said:
Be on your guard against men for they will deliver you up to local courts and they will scourge you in the synagogues or you will be haled before governors andMatthew 10:17, 18
Kingsfor my sake – and if you look at the last part of the scripture it says – for a witness to them and to the nation’s.
This is another very interesting aspect of our legal warfare. People that would have never heard of the Witnesses – perhaps people that we could have gone door to door every day and they’re not at home; they’re in the court. And there are these types of people that maybe have butlers or maids that answer the door. So, you never would have reached these people. But because of the litigation that your Jehovah’s Witnesses have pursued, legal briefs have been written and these legal briefs, often as not, have quoted scripture more than legal precedent. And so, the court clerks, the magistrates, and yes, the judges have had to listen and read these briefs. And so, it was a witness to them and to the nation’s when they confront these issues. They have to find out who are Jehovah’s Witnesses? What do they believe? Why do they believe this? And in so doing they receive a witness and so, this is a very interesting aspect of our witnessing: our litigating endeavor. Paul talked about this as well when he said that:
The Lord had stood near me and infused power into me that through me – that is Paul – the preaching might be fully accomplished, and all the nations might hear it.2 Timothy 4:17
And that was when Paul was before several different magistrates, governors in his day. But he also likened that to the preaching work, to getting the witness accomplished. So, in our day, this is what has happened. It’s interesting, too, that the scriptures in Revelation indicate that the litigation would be carried on and that the sea would come to the aid of the woman and this is what has happened. The book ‘Your will be done on earth’ is talking about Revelation 12:16 – if you want to put that down in your notes. The work or the site from ‘Your will be done on earth’ says:
In a number of lands also the judicial courts have rendered decisions favorable to Jehovah’s Witnesses and relieve them of restrictions and oppressions by the King of the North or by those who partake of his spiritYour Will Be Done
And so, it was prophesied really that we would prevail legally in many of the courts during the last days in order to accomplish our ministry.
So now, let’s get down to some specifics about the legal history of Jehovah’s Witnesses and when we do so – when someone asks you what is the most important trial that ever happened for Jehovah’s people? If you think about it, what is the one that would really come to your mind?
The Finished Mystery: Governing Body Imprisoned
It’s the trial that resulted in the imprisonment of the governing body right after the first world war. And perhaps you’ve wondered how is it that the governing body end up in jail? What in the world could they have done? Or what in the world could have been alleged that they did that would merit imprisonment? Well it’s a rather interesting story.
First of all, you have to remember that Pastor Russell had passed away without finishing the last volume of ‘Studies in the Scriptures’. And so, the last volume of ‘Studies in the Scriptures’ was entitled ‘The Finished Mystery’. To put it mildly, we were not very tactful back then. But we put down [in The] in ‘The Finished Mystery’ was a condemnation of religion that spared no punches in dealing a death blow to what we thought of religion at that time. Let me just read you one paragraph out of ‘The Finished Mystery’. It’s up right at the very beginning of the book, by the way. If you have a copy in the library, it merits reading, if nothing else for the humor in it. But one paragraph talks about the papal succession, or one pope to the other during the Middle Ages.
Christopher 900 – 903 boldly deposed his predecessor Leo the Fifth declaring him unfit to reign, which was doubtless true. Leo died of grief in prison less than 40 days after he had ascended the throne. He probably had something given him to help his grief along. Christopher himself was murdered by his successor Sirjus the third, from 904 to 911. Having murdered Christopher, ascended the throne and emulated the kings of earlier days. His concubine Marozia, bore him several children. John the tenth from 915 to 928, and Leo the Sixth from 928 to 929 were both killed by Marozia to make room for others in whom she’s interested. John the Eleventh from 931 to 936 was the son of Marozia by Pope Sturgess the third. One of the Brethren poisoned him. John the twelfth 956 to 964 was murdered while in the act of committing adultery.
Now, you can imagine during the first part of this century – an upstanding Catholic reading that paragraph about the papal succession in his church. But the interesting thing is that this was all historical. This was not made up! Nevertheless, it was inflammatory information, to say the least. Well, what could the religions do – particularly the Catholic Church – after seeing this ‘Finished Mystery’ on the streets?
Well they couldn’t very well go around and attack the credibility or the legitimacy of what was said. So, they attacked the source. That is, the governing body. Their main threat was, our assertion was, that the Axis powers (Germany and the powers involved in first world war) were using the Bible students to foment chaos in the United States. The idea being that if I the Bible Students could foment enough chaos, it would undermine the war effort of the United States in the first world war. Well, they had to have some proof of this. So, they went to the military authorities with whom they were very friendly, of course. And they started spreading some very far-fetched tales about the brothers. One of them was that Judge Rutherford was communicating with Germany by means of a wireless. At that time, radios were not very common but one of the brothers had given judge Rutherford a wireless radio. And he had an antenna on top of 124 Columbia Heights. Well, they used that as an assertion that he was actually communicating with these German ships offshore, who in turn would relay information back [to] Germany. And in return Germany would relay information back to the Bible students in Brooklyn with the information to go ahead and foment this chaos in order to undermine the war effort.
And so, the trial was brought on the basis of sedition, sedition to undermine the United States government. The brothers that had been involved in writing ‘The Finished Mystery’ were the ones arrested and taken to trial. The trial lasted fifteen days – and it was there in Brooklyn – federal courthouse – and later it was revealed that there were 122 reversible errors that occurred during that trial. It was like Jesus trial in that the witnesses against the brothers couldn’t agree on their stories as to exactly what it was that the brothers had said or done that was seditious. Nevertheless, because of the war hysteria, the jury returned a verdict of guilty on all counts of the sedition. So, seven of the eight brothers were sentenced to four counts of twenty years, to be served concurrently. Brother DeCecca who had translated ‘The Finished Mystery’ into Italian was sentenced to only ten years because it was thought that he hadn’t written the book; he’d only translated it. But he also had to serve those ten years, four counts, successively.
Now then, if you’re convicted as a criminal, what’s the first thing you think of today? Well, you’re going to appeal the case. And in the meantime, you post bail so that you can be free. Well, now these were men that had all types of credentials. They’re not the type of man that were going to leave the country. Nevertheless, bail was denied. And so, within a week after receiving the verdict of guilty, they were on the train to Atlanta Georgia for the federal penitentiary.
Well, when the brothers were imprisoned the Bible students started a campaign requesting the government to obligate the courts to grant bail for the brothers. At the same time to pursue an appeal. At a time when they were less than 5,000 Witnesses in the United States, the brothers obtained 700,000 signatures to free the brothers from the Atlanta penitentiary. Well, in April – I didn’t give you the dates – in June 8, 1918 is when they were tried and convicted and sent to prison. In February was when these petitions were circulated, and these signatures obtained. In April of 1919 the federal appeals court heard the case, and in May – the next month, the convictions were reversed.
Now, there were three judges that heard the appeal. Two of them were objective judges. The third was a Roman Catholic. There was no way he was going to reverse the brothers’ conviction. So, the convictions were reversed two-to-one. But that was sufficient enough to have the convictions reversed and the brothers were free.
Later it was found out this judge – the Roman Catholic judge – was found guilty of accepting a bribe of 186 thousand dollars and he was sentenced. Yes to 20 years just like the brothers got. And he spent the last 20 years of his life in jail serving out that sentence for having accepted a bribe.
And so, what was interesting about this case, really, was how religion fomented a case against the brothers that was able to capitalize on the war hysteria and then the brothers were imprisoned but how, when reasonable individuals took a look at the situation, as I mentioned, they found a hundred and twenty-two reversible errors at trial. And so, the case was remanded for a new trial. At that time, when the government considered retrying the brothers, they thought there wasn’t enough evidence and so the case then just evaporated and the brothers’ records, then, were clean. They were [they were] not ex-felon or fellows that had been pardoned or paroled.
Well then, after 1919, you recall the scriptural or the theocratic development of Jehovah’s Witnesses during the 20s and early 30s was a time of relative freedom and not many difficulties. But then the second world war came along and it was during that time that once again war hysteria and opposition by the clergy coupled to fight against the brothers. One of the aspects that we have to mention when we go into the 1930s and 1940s and 50s, is Brother Covington.
Those who have been in the truth for a while remember Hayden Covington. He was the principal litigator on behalf of Jehovah’s Witnesses in this country during those three decades. And so, you might think, ‘Well, Brother Covington, no doubt, was a Harvard graduate, a heavy from Yale or some Ivy League college. No, Brother Covington graduated from a little college in Texas. It doesn’t even exist anymore.
And so, he was quite literally a redneck that went up to Brooklyn. And yet, how Jehovah took that man and turned him into a giant of a man. A man that really, more than anybody else, has changed the course of jurisprudence in this country. He is still the person or the individual that holds the record for the most supreme court victories: 37. No other attorney could ever say that he’s obtained 37 supreme court victories. Thurgood Marshall – who just retired from the Supreme Court – before becoming a Justice of the Supreme Court had litigated 23 favorable decision from the Supreme Court. But you see, that falls far short of Brother Covington’s mark at 37.
Now, it’s interesting when Brother Covington would brief cases. He was an attorney but far and above being an attorney, he was a minister. And so, when he would write his briefs, he had more scriptures in there than case precedent. And so, the judges that had to read these things were obligated to read this witness to them. For example, Cantwell versus Connecticut, one of the major cases that had to do with the door-to-door work – let me read you one paragraph of Brother Covington’s brief:
The undisputed evidence shows that the Witnesses were acting in this capacity as duly ordained ministers of Almighty God, preaching the gospel of his kingdom under Christ Jesus. And with us exclusively worshiping and serving Almighty God JEHOVAH, in spirit and in truth, according to the God-given commands recorded in Holy Writ and in accordance with the dictates of their kind.Hayden Covington
Now, the interesting thing that Brother Covington did whenever he used the word JEHOVAH, it was all cap. And whenever he used the word THEOCRACY, it was also in all capital letters. And so those words jumped out at the reader: THEOCRACY JEHOVAH. And the reader couldn’t help but see well this is as much a sermon as it is a legal brief. Nevertheless, the principles were undeniable and because the principles – the legal principles – were undeniable then the witnesses prevail.
So, I’d like to – just very briefly – give you the story of two developments and see how you can see Jehovah’s hand in this. He took Brother Covington, and a small group of people – see, during the 30s and 40’s, there were about 50 to 60 thousand Witnesses in the United States – just a small fistful – and Brother Covington, this little lawyer from Texas, that sits up there in Brooklyn trying to help out the Witnesses all across the United States. But notice how Jehovah helped him. We’re going to review our right to go door-to-door and the flag salute issue. Those two issues. And see how Jehovah blessed us in both endeavours.
Door to Door
First of all, the door to door – or our right to go [to] preach door to door. One of the first cases came right out of Georgia: Lovell versus Griffin. And in this case, Alma Lovell, refused to purchase a license to go door-to-door in the city of Griffin. And as a result, she was convicted, and it went up on appeal and finally up to the Supreme Court. But the Supreme Court ruled in her favor, saying this:
Legislation of this type of ordinance in question would restore censorship in its baldest form.
As the ordinance is void on its face, it was not necessary for appellant, sister Lovell, to seek a permit under it. Well today, you would think, ‘Well that’s great. So, we finally got up to the Supreme Court with Lovell versus Griffin and we won the case. No doubt that was the end of the matter.’ No. That was [the] only the first gunshot so to speak in this battle. After Lovell versus Griffin, literally dozens of cases started winding they’re way up through the courts towards the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court got to the point where it was sick of hearing about these cases.
And so, finally in 1940, the case of Cantwell versus Connecticut got up to the Supreme Court. This was two years after Lovell versus Griffin. These are historical cases ever won by Jehovah’s Witnesses. In Cantwell versus Connecticut, Russell and his two sons were going door-to-door – in the small town in Connecticut – playing the phonograph to whoever would want to listen to it. And a man accosted the two boys and the father. And there was a dispute about who started the fight and who did what. But eventually – because these three individuals had not purchased the license to go door-to-door in the town – they were the ones convicted instead of the assailant.
Well, this once again started winding its way through the lower courts and finally got to the Supreme Court. By the time Cantwell versus Connecticut got before the Supreme Court, they had already decided 12 cases involving Jehovah’s Witnesses, and our right to go door to door. This was the 13th time this had come [before their] for their attention. Well, in Cantwell versus Connecticut, the Supreme Court made a pivotal ruling that has affected the rest of jurisprudence until this very day. [It] used to be, that when the Supreme Court would decide a case, it had validity only for those parties involved. So, when Lovell vs. Griffin, for example, was litigated, that only had effect on the state of Georgia, but not on Mississippi or Alabama or any other state. And when Snider versus Texas got before the Supreme Court: when we won Snyder versus Texas once again, and it only had effect in Texas; not in California or Washington or in any other state.
Well finally, in Campbell versus Connecticut, the Supreme Court made this decision. It said, ‘not only are we ruling in favor of the Cantwell brothers and their father, but we’re going to tell you henceforth, when we make a decision involving civil rights in one state, that applies in every state in the country; meaning don’t bring us a case next week from New York or from California or from someplace. This is it, Cantwell versus Connecticut; we’re telling you we don’t want to hear these cases anymore across this country from any state.’ And the marvelous thing about Cantwell versus Connecticut is that it was a unanimous decision – nine to zero – in our favor. That is a very rare thing for someone to get unanimous decision out of the Supreme Court.
So, you would think, ‘Well, and then that’s finally it. Jehovah’s witnesses finally won their right to go door to door.’ No. Satan was more tenacious than that. What happened then was that people started looking at, ‘Well, if we can’t put in ordinance requiring a license, maybe we can give the license away, but they don’t have to pay for it; but they still have to come down and get it. And so, when they come down to get it, we can slow them up a little bit.’ So, this was the next issue: what about a license you don’t have to pay? But you do have to get fingerprinted and you do have to wear a lapel card and many other things, other restrictions. Well, that case came out of Alabama, in a case called Jones versus Opelika.
Brother Jones was one of these blunt brothers that would just tell you exactly what he felt about things when he went door to door. He was going door to door in a small town. And they told him, ‘Listen, the license is free, but you got to go down and pick it up.’ And he refused to do that. So, of course, he was arrested – he and his family.
So, Jones versus Opelika started winding its way up to the Supreme Court. Now, then came the blow. We lost Jones versus Opelika. We lost it: five judges against us, only four in our favor. So, it was a narrow decision. But, nevertheless, we lost it five to four. So, now, you could almost hear all of the municipal authorities rubbing their hands saying, ‘Now we know how to stop the Witnesses. All we have to do is tell them that the license is free, but they’ve got to come down and pick it up. And so, this way, it will slow down their work.’ Well, notice just one paragraph out of Lovell vs. Griffin:
In previous cases we held that the purchase requirement invalidated the ordinance. But when – as in this case – the practitioners of this noble calling choose to utilize the vending, – see – the sale of their religious books and tracts as a source of funds, the financial aspects of their transactions need not be wholly disregarded. To subject any religious group to a reasonable processing fee for their money-making activities does not require our finding that the license – the license acts – are purely commercial. It is enough that money is earned by the sale of articles.
So, you notice the two reasons that the Supreme Court used: First of all, it was only a processing fee and the processing fee at that time was minimal; it was 10 cents in this case. But also, they focused in that we were selling literature, according to their view of the matter. And, because there was a sale, then they could tax that sale. So, we lost that case 5 to 4 in 1942; June 8, 1942.
Well, when we consider that battle now – and it looks as though the battle was going downhill – what would we do about it? Well, remember the Proverb 21:1. This is one you can jot down in your notes:
A king’s heart is as streams of water in the hand of Jehovah; Everywhere that he delights to, he turns it.Proverbs 21:1
So, we have done all we could. We’ve litigated several dozen cases by now. Won a lot of them. But now we lost Jones vs. Opelika. And this was right in the middle of World War 2. You have to remember the time frame that we’re in: 1942. It really looked as though – to some brothers – that this was it: the preaching work was over. And now even the legal precedent was in the Supreme Court to stop our work.
Well, Jehovah had other thoughts in mind. He got President Roosevelt thinking about some things. At that time, President Roosevelt was creating an office called the ‘Office of war mobilization’. And he needed someone to head up this ‘Office of war mobilization’. He needed someone that was very respected. The ‘Office of war mobilization’ was to encourage factories to switch over from civilian production to military production. And so, you needed someone that would rally the civilian troops – so to speak – someone that they would look at in all respect and follow.
He had two men in mind: both of them Justices of the Supreme Court. One of them was James Burns or William Douglas. Now, the interesting thing is that Burns had always voted against us; Douglas had always voted for us. So which of these two men would President Roosevelt choose to head up this ‘Office of war mobilization’? Well, Jehovah saw to it that Roosevelt chose Burns. So, Burns was removed from the court. Now, that 5-4 split became a 4-4 split because Burns was no longer in the picture. Or who would President Roosevelt choose in replacement of James burns? Well, a Justice by the name of Wiley Rutledge. The interesting thing about Justice Rutledge as an appellate judge: he had always ruled in our favor.
And so, now there were five justices on our favor in the Supreme Court and only four against. And so, what did we do? Well, we did something very unusual. We asked for a rehearing in the case. Now [is] as you know, perhaps you see or talk to an attorney. In the last-ditch effort, when everything else is lost, you asked the judge to rehear the case. You basically say, ‘I know we didn’t do it right the first time, but if you’ll just let us do it again reason will prevail, and we’ll win this time.’ Re-hearings are granted probably less than one in a hundred, or one and two hundred. And in the Supreme Court not even that often. But we ask for a rehearing of Jones versus Opelika and, to the amazement of many, a rehearing was granted.
And so, in the spring of 1943, we brought Jones versus Opelika back before the Supreme Court. This time it was piggybacked with about six other cases that had been winding their way up to the Supreme Court. And of course, the one that’s the most famous, Murdock versus Pennsylvania. So, at the same day that they heard Jones versus Opelika, they also heard Murdoch versus Pennsylvania and Martin versus Struthers, and about five other cases all together.
Well, we won Murdock versus Pennsylvania five to four. Just that one swing vote that Jehovah saw to it that happened over the winter of 1942/43 was enough to turn the tide so that we won those cases. Let me read you just one paragraph of Murdoch versus Pennsylvania. There the court said:
The hand distribution of religious tracts is an age-old form of missionary evangelism – as old as the history of the printing press. It is more than preaching. It is more than distribution of religious literature. It is a combination of both. Its purpose is as evangelical as the revival meeting. This form of religious activity occupies the same highest state under the First Amendment as do worship in the churches and preaching from the pulpits.
And so, with this one swing vote, Murdock versus Pennsylvania and Jones versus Opelika, over 2000 cases that were winding their way up to the Supreme Court were all resolved because now the court saw – yes, the Supreme Court has said, categorically, Jehovah’s Witnesses have the right to go door to door. Well, we’ll finish the chapter on our door-to-door efforts as we talk about the modern-day developments of Jehovah’s Witnesses later. But let’s look at another issue that was hotly contested and see what Jehovah did for us in this issue. This one is even perhaps a little more dramatic than the door to door work. And that has to do with the flag salute.
The Flag Salute
Originates with Hitler
Many think that the flag salute is an issue that was been around for centuries. That’s not the case. The flag salute itself was written by socialists interestingly, during the last part of the 1800’s. And it was not used in school [for] as a common practice until later on in this century. Why was that? Well, during the 1930’s, Hitler of course, was starting to nationalize everything in Germany and to throw their shoulder behind the Third Reich. And so, Hitler wanted to have the youth movement get the young people involved in this. And it was at one of the first youth movements that someone spontaneously shouted out ‘Heil Hitler!’ and raised his hand in a salute; the very famous ‘Heil Hitler’ salute. Well, that caught on throughout all of Germany then.
And so, whenever Hitler would appear in some big ceremony, all the crowds would stand up and start yelling ‘Heil Hitler’. Well, what were the people in this country worried about? Patriotism. Somehow you had to get the soldiers and the people of this country involved in the Second World War. During this time there was a strong isolationist policy in the United States. Basically, a lot of people were saying, ‘This is not our war; that’s over in Europe. Why are we sending our people over there to die?’ So, of course, once again you had to get into the schools – into the young people – and get patriotism started at that level. So, enter the flag salute.
It’s very interesting too, today when someone talks about the flag salute, what comes to your mind? Well, maybe a baseball player with his cap over his heart, or a school child with his hand over his heart as he’s saying the Pledge of Allegiance. Well, that wasn’t the way the flag salute originally started in this country.
Let me read to you a description of the flag salute out of West Virginia versus Barnette. This is the way the flag salute used to be:
What is now required is the stiff-arm salute. He is required to keep his right hand raised with the palm turned up, while the following is repeated, ‘I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America.’ And so on.
Now, it doesn’t take a genius to see that there’s not a lot of difference between this and this [Brumley shows audience difference between US flag salute and German salute, by means of gesture]. This is how Hitler; and this is ‘I pledge allegiance to the flag’. And so, basically, the United States was one step behind Hitler in its effort to invoke patriotism among the schoolchildren. While we can see why that would be objectionable, you can see any Witness child standing up saying, ‘I pledge allegiance to the flag’ with its palm up. Well that is very much a nationalistic act; very much an act of reverence.
So, Witnesses started refusing to salute the flag. And, of course, hundreds of them were expelled. If you talk to the older brothers in the congregations, a lot of them will tell you about going to Witness classrooms during the 40’s because they couldn’t go to public schools because they’ve been thrown out.
Well the first case that got up before the Supreme Court was the case of Minersville School District versus Gobitis. And if we ever lost a case, we lost Gobitis. The court ruled against us, eight to one against us. And notice what they said:
The ultimate foundation of a free society is the binding tie of cohesive sentiment. Such a sentiment is fostered by all those agencies of the mind and spirit which may serve together up the traditions of a people, transmit them from generation to generation, and thereby create that continuity of a treasured common life which constitutes a civilization.
Now that’s a lot of highbrow mumbo-jumbo. What it is really saying is, ‘We’re going to stamp out uniform people. We’re going to pass down one singular tradition. And this singular tradition is going to be our civilization.’ In other words, ‘You conform or you’re not one of us.’ And that was written by Justice Frankfurter. We could talk about two days about Justice Frankfurter because he was our chief villain in the Supreme Court. He was Jewish. He made a big deal about the fact that, as a Jew, he understood minorities better than anybody else in the Supreme Court. But, at the same time that Frankfurter was Jewish, he was also a fascist. He ruled against individual rights in almost every case that was brought before the Supreme Court. For a long time, he was considered as the genius of the Supreme Court. Whatever it was that Frankfurter said, everybody else fell in line.
For example, Jones versus Opelika, he wrote that decision. In the decision of Gobitis, he wrote that decision. And so, everyone thought, ‘Well this is the genius that’s along. Whatever he says we’ve got to follow with. He was the one that we were principally litigating against. He and Brother Covington mixed it up several times in front of the Supreme Court.
Well remember that we had talked about what Jehovah had done in Jones versus Opelika: taking that one Supreme Court Justice off and putting the other one on. Right? Well, what would he do with Gobitis? Gobitis we lost 8 to 1. You certainly couldn’t take 8 judges off and put 8 new ones on. So, what was he going to do? Well, during that war time period when Jones versus Opelika was decided in our favor – the second time – three judges that had ruled against us in Gobitis publicly stated that they felt their decision in Gobitis was erroneous; that they had been swayed by wartime hysteria, and that they now saw the ‘saluting the flag’ was a political statement, and that no one should be obligated to do that if it offended their religious beliefs.
So, you had – of the eight – three already saying that they didn’t like what they said earlier. Remember that a fourth one had just been appointed. And, of course, we had the one that had voted in our favor anyway: Justice Stone. So, once again, you saw how there were five that had voiced an opinion in our favor; for just a few years previous eight had gone against us.
Well, we started litigating dozens of cases. And the first one that went up was West Virginia versus Barnette. Now, it’s interesting when you talk about West Virginia versus Barnette. Do you notice that it’s not Barnette versus West Virginia? Whoever is appealing to the supreme court, his name comes first. He’s the losing party. So, it’s the losing party that is named first, and it’s the prevailing party that’s named second. But the case is captioned ‘West Virginia versus Barnette’. Why is that? Well, in spite of the Gobitis decision, when the Barnette kids went to trial, the trial court ruled in their favor. And they said, ‘We realize this goes against the Supreme Court, but we don’t agree with the Supreme Court in this instance.’ And they wrote a decision in favor [of the Gobitis] of the Barnette children.
Then the appellate court also agreed with the trial court. They said that, ‘We have reasoned it through. We think that the Gobitis decision is erroneous. We also agree that you can’t be forced to do something against your religious beliefs.’ So, West Virginia had to appeal the case to the Supreme Court; not the Barnette children. Well, West Virginia versus Barnette was the decision that came out in our favor: six to three. And one of the paragraphs in West Virginia versus Barnette is almost poetic in what it says:
If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein.
Well that decision was a public slap in the face of Justice Frankfurter. All of his minions had abandoned him. And now they were voting against him. So, he had to write the dissent this time, not the decision. And the first sentence of his dissent says:
One who belongs to the most vilified and persecuted minority in history [Jews] is not likely to be insensible to the freedoms guaranteed by our Constitution.
He then spent eight pages trying to reason why he had voted the way he did and why he wouldn’t change his vote. But the fact of the matter is that after West Virginia versus Barnette, Frankfurter’s prestige collapsed, and he left the court several years later.
So, it’s very interesting how one of the main principle forces against us ultimately lost and had to leave in disgrace. Now you might think once again – we mentioned last night – ‘the speaker is enthusiastic but maybe he’s exaggerating things a bit’. Let me read you what a worldly non-Witness authority has said about Jehovah’s Witnesses and these two battles. This was written by Professor McAnnich at the University of Cincinnati, and he was just published two years ago. He said this:
If ever an organization had a successful day in court it was May 3, 1943, on which the court decided 13 separate Jehovah’s Witnesses cases, consolidated for hearing an opinion into poor decision. The Witnesses prevailed on the merits in all of them.
The same writer went on to say:
Jehovah’s Witnesses have had a profound impact on the evolution of constitutional law, particularly by expanding the parameters of the protection for free speech and religion. They expanded the right to speak – that’s the door to door work – and established the right to refrain from speech – the flag salute issue.
The civil rights movement of the 1960’s was really an offshoot or a second-generation effort of what was done by the Witnesses in the 40’s and 50’s and 30’s. The term, for example, ‘civil disobedience’, when Martin Luther King marched without a permit. And that was called civil disobedience. Well, that March, without getting a permit, merely mirrored what we had done back in the 40’s and 50’s. By the time the civil rights movement was using civil disobedience, Jehovah’s Witnesses had already established it as a very usable trial tactic in winning our cases when we would refuse to purchase a permit, get arrested, and then have to litigate the case. And so that’s the foundation upon which other civil rights have been built.
Well, we could go on and talk about many other things. But just very briefly, let’s talk about what is being done today. Who had the right to make their own medical care choices without regard to their physical condition or status as parents? Notice that they said, ‘or status as parents’? This State had argued, ‘Well, this sister doesn’t have a right to refuse blood because she has a baby. So, we have to protect her, in order to have a mother for this baby.’ And yet the New York State said, ‘Even if it had meant her death – which it didn’t – she still had the right to refuse blood.’ Well, these are just some of the many cases that we’ve obtained victories in, in just in the past few years.
I’ll talk a little bit more about it just after the abbreviated format of The Watchtower consideration.
Jimmy Swaggart: Giving Away the Literature
But perhaps the final point to be made this morning is, really, how the pendulum is turning the other way. And that is, Satan is using false religion to undermine the precedents established by the Witnesses in the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s. For example, many of you have heard of the case of Jimmy Swaggart out of California. Well everyone realized that he is a money-making individual. That’s what his motivating force is. And when he got before the Supreme Court of the United States, one of the justices, Justice Marshall, for impact, asked the attorney for Mr. Swaggart, ‘If he’s making the money why doesn’t he pay the buck?’ In other words, if he’s making all these millions, why doesn’t he pay the tax?
Well, after Jimmy Swaggart was decided, the right to go door to door without registering for a license, that we established in Murdock versus Pennsylvania, was overruled. And then, last summer, another case came down: Smith versus Unemployment Division, out of Oregon. The Smith case was an instance where American Indians wanted to use marijuana in their religious practices. And in so doing, they were fired from a job with the State of Oregon. Well, that case also went up to the Supreme Court and [this] the religious freedom lost. In that case, the Supreme Court said, ‘[We can no longer] Accommodation of minority religions is a privilege we can no longer afford.’
And so, you see the way the Supreme Court has gone from establishing liberties to taking them away. And so, the very latent fact or truth right now is, that these rights previously won are now very tenable, and they could be taken away at any time. And so, it alerts us to the fact that as we’re admonished to preach in favorable season, because we may not have this season forever, it may be a time when someone will close down the doors again. Of course, we’ll allow Jehovah to make that determination. In the meantime, we do what we can to continue with our Witnessing endeavors.
And so, for example, the effort we’re currently involved in – in giving away the literature – why did we do that? To distance ourselves from people who make money. No one can say now that Jehovah’s Witnesses are going door to door in order to obtain funds, or to sell literature. We don’t do that anymore. Maybe other religions do, but not us. In distancing ourselves in this way, then, we’re promoting the preaching work.
So, these are just some of the examples of which Jehovah has done to help us during these last days. It’s really a lesson for us to take to heart, to not take these freedoms for granted. Because, it’s something that was litigated and obtained only after a lot of work, a lot of effort. As I mentioned, after The Watchtower consideration, we’ll consider – just real briefly – some of the things that we’re doing currently to establish our rights in blood and other areas.[Applause]
Perhaps – just to pick up where we lift off – on the Blood issue and we’ll move on to other things.
The Blood Issue
Over the past four years, refusal or treatment or refusal of blood in medical treatment for Jehovah’s Witnesses who are adults has really ceased to be a problem. Particularly with the work of the local liaison committees, we now have matters set up so well in Brooklyn that if there is any medical emergency involving an adult, rarely is there any problem in getting him either treated or transferred to someone who will treat.
You recall it recently in The Watchtower considerations we dealt with the subject of youths and the refusal of blood, and the importance of youths having their own set of values, being able to articulate these. This came out of a case involving a sister by the name of Ernestine Gregory in Chicago. It was so interesting in that the court got started almost with a pro forma ‘don’t even bother us with this’ attitude. All Witness children get blood. That’s just the way it is.
Sister Gregory was 17 years old at the time and was able to very clearly articulate why she didn’t want blood in connection with her chemotherapy. And that case was the one that went all the way to the Supreme Court of Illinois, where they did say, ‘Yes, if a [per] person, although not a confident adult – not 18 yet – is able to articulate why they don’t want certain medical treatment, then we’re willing to allow them to make their own decisions.’ That case has had a domino effect in several other states now. And other state supreme courts have also followed the same course of Ernestine Gregory in the case that she litigated in Illinois. Canada also has had a similar case deciding the right of a mature minor.
Freddie Adams – The Guinea Pig
What, though, about what we would call minor minors? In other words, children that let’s say within 12 years or younger. How do we litigate those cases? Well, basically, those are won by proving that there are alternatives to the blood treatment. And one case that’s kind of interesting in this regard has to do with a young brother by the name of Freddie Adams [in Illinois] in Indiana.
Brother Adams is a hemophiliac. And the state not only started a court proceeding to force blood on him, but to terminate the parental rights of his mother. And so, the society got involved, helping Sister Adams in connection with the case. It was very interesting that the Indiana authorities were really rather arrogant about their treatment of Freddie that this woman was willing to let her son die. And they were certainly not going to let that happen. And so, they were going to obligate Freddie to receive transfusions of factor 8. Factor 8 is the very small component of blood that aids in clotting. What happens is, as a practical matter, when someone donates blood, they put it through a centrifuge and draw out factor 8 and they keep that to one side. Received blood is transfused without the factor 8 because most people don’t need that. Well, what happens, then, is that hemophiliacs who get transfusions in factor 8 – even 5 cc’s of it, which is only about that much [Brumley uses a gesture to describe 5 cc] – can be from as many as 30 different donors because that’s how many they have to get to have one transfusion.
Well, what we found out after a while, was that actually they were using Freddie as a guinea pig or wanted to. Freddie was one of the few hemophiliacs in Indiana that had never received a transfusion. The federal government had just developed, or just approved the development of a synthetic factor 8, and they wanted to see how it would work on somebody in Indiana. The medical facility that brought the papers against Freddie wanted to use him to see whether the synthetic factor 8 would work. Well, we found out that the same synthetic factor 8 had been developed by DuPont in Delaware.
So, right in the middle of the case we took Freddie out of Indianapolis and drove over to Delaware with him. As soon as we arrived in Delaware, and started getting treatment for him there, he needed surgery to correct one of his legs that had had a joint problem and needed surgery. They said he couldn’t have the surgery without blood. Delaware did the surgery without blood and used synthetic factor 8. And the court papers were dismissed in Indianapolis. But then we found out the revealing thing, when we had the hematologist on the stand in Indianapolis, that 95% of hemophiliacs in Indiana are HIV positive. And why are they HIV positive? Because of these multiple transfusions from factor 8. So, Freddie is one of the few hemophiliacs in that State that was clean of HIV, and that’s why they wanted to use it.
Well, we’ve been using the alternatives approach in litigating cases on behalf of witness children. The hardest case deals with premature new-borns: neonates. Typically, when a neonatologist starts treating, the last thing he or she is concerned with is the approval of the parent. Basically, the neonatologist says, ‘I am the doctor and I’m going to do what’s needed. So, you just sit quiet and let me do what I have to do.’
One of the things that the neonatologist typically do is draw blood every two hours to measure the blood gases of the new-born well you can imagine a new-born is only about that big [Brumley uses his hand to describe the size of a new-born]. If you draw blood every two hours, before long you have a need for more blood. And so, one of the first things we learned in litigating cases with neonates, or involving neonates, is that the court papers very rarely state that the treating facility has caused the anemia. But that is the case. Many times, they are the ones that have caused the anemia that now necessitates – supposedly – a transfusion.
Well, once again, the idea of using alternatives; for example, monitoring the blood gases instead of drawing blood, you can hook up what is called a transcutaneous monitor. It’s hooked up to the heel and one hand of the new-born, and it measures the blood gases through the skin, and this obviates – or does way with – the need of drawing blood. As soon as the judge learns that the Witness parent is not asking to let the child die but is rather asking the judge to tell the doctors, ‘Instead of drawing blood, please use this transcutaneous monitor’ – this alternative – then the judge sees it in a wholly different area, and he says, ‘No. If there’s a choice of treatment, the parents have the right to decide.’
So, these are the methodologies that were using to win cases involving even new-borns and it’s working very well.
Typically, we do lose cases from time to time involving children. So, in spite of the advances we’re making using alternatives, how are we going to stop these court orders to transfuse new-borns or children?
Well, the Publishing Committee approved our initiating about a dozen cases for money – damage suits – and the first one finally was decided last summer in California, where we got a half million-dollar verdict, where a doctor lied in order to transfuse – in order to get approval to transfuse a young child. So, the idea is that the bottom line is the dollar. And when the medical profession sees that it costs money – if you bring a court order for a Witness child – then they’ll stop. So, now we have the case law in our favor, and in order to enforce the case law, we’ll bring these damage suits.
Leaving blood to one side, then, let’s move on to a different area. I alluded to it in the introduction of the talk, and that is: What happens in these custody cases where apostates show up? [It’s] very interesting in these cases because we noticed the trend. You know in Matthew 24 when it talks about the wicked slave, the evil slave, what does he do? He begins beating the faithful slave. How does he beat the faithful slave? He looks for any podium, any place, any platform that he can use to spout his beliefs. And the courts are one of those places. And so, there are some – few apostates – who have made a living out of looking for cases where they can testify as supposed expert witnesses against the Witness parent in a custody battle.
One such individual became particularly well known among the apostates and was used very often. He had acquired some supposed degrees in psychology and so on. Well, it’s very interesting. We have a sister who handles our custody battles – an attorney – and when we found out that he was going to show up in a case in Atlanta, about a year and a half ago, we decided it was time to send her in to see if she couldn’t stop him from testifying. Now, most of the time, exclusionary orders are granted when we show up and show the judge, ‘Really all this man wants to do is use this trial as a setting to spout his religious beliefs. 90% of the time, the judge won’t even allow the apostate to testify. In the 10% that they do allow it, you have to hit him hard.
Well, the Sister Wah, who was assigned to handle this case, really did her homework. This apostate that was going to show up in Atlanta is from Texas. His family’s still in the truth. So, she went down visiting with the family. So, the apostate got up and gave his dissertation to the judge in Atlanta, and said, ‘I was raised as a Witness. It was a very confining environment. I couldn’t do what I wanted to do. Finally, when I was about 26, I left that organization and now I’m really free.’ And, as I mentioned, his argument was, ‘If you know anything judge, you won’t allow the Witness to have these kids.’ But then Sister Wah started asking some questions on cross-examination: ‘So you had a very bad childhood, did you?’ ‘Yes, I really did.’ ‘Well, I have a letter you wrote to your mom when you were nine years old. Would you care to read it?’ So, he had to read this letter out loud so the judge could hear: ‘Dear mom, visiting cousin So-and-So, we went out in service today. I placed four books. Cousin So-and-So has a Bible study that I went on and later the three of us went out and played basketball. Had a great time.’ So, she said, ‘Well, looks to me like you were enjoying yourself. He said, ‘Well, yeah. I had a good time that day but basically was a sad childhood.’ Well, out came letter number 2. And it took about 45 minutes, but he had to read nine letters that he had written home at various times throughout his childhood. Then came the real embarrassing letter, the letter he wrote to the society when he left Bethel after four years of Bethel service. He wrote and said, ‘I’ve spent four years here at Bethel. I came in as a boy; I’m leaving a man. This is the best experience that I’ve ever had in my life. I hope to encourage others [to fulfill] to come to Bethel as I have.’ So, he had to read that to the judge. And then Sister Wah had the privilege of asking the question that every attorney always wants to ask a Witness and she said, ‘Well now, Mr. So-and-So, you’ve read all of these letters and all of these letters you said you were enjoying yourself. And yet you’ve testified that you had a sad childhood. I want to know: were you lying in these letters or are you lying now?[Laughter from the Audience]
So, it was obvious that he played the undermined testimony. Well, the judge turned over, and it is rare that a judge would do, this but he looked over at him and he said, ‘What kind of fool are you?’[Laughter from the Audience]
So, needless to say, the brother in this case got custody of the children. We’re doing this so [that] often now. You see the little announcement in the Kingdom Ministry that if someone is faced with a custody battle, they can write to the Society. So, we have things in place. Interestingly, after we have cross-examined and really impeach the testimony of these apostates, their involvement has diminished significantly.
Suits by apostates against the Society became fairly common during the early 80’s and mid-80’s. They used ever different type of legal tact they could to try to sue the Society. One case that was reported on in the magazine had to do with a sister in the West Coast who had disassociated herself. And years later moved back to the neighborhood and tried to re-establish herself in the community. Well, else she got incensed of the fact that the brothers wouldn’t talk with her. And she sued the local elders and the Society. Well, she had an argument that sounded good at the beginning. She said, ‘I lost my business because I’m a hairdresser. My clients won’t come anymore because they were Witnesses. My family won’t talk with me. My friends will no longer get together at the weekends with me. So, my entire life has been ruined by the fact that I’ve been disfellowshipped from Jehovah’s Witnesses’, or better said really that she disassociated herself.
That case went to the state court in Washington, and then to the appeal court in California – the federal appeal court. And in ruling in our favor, I just like to show you what the court said:
We affirmed the district court’s grant of summary judgment in favour of the defendant, Watchtower Bible and tract Society of Pennsylvania. Although we recognize that the harms allegedly suffered by Janice Paul may be real, permitting her to recover for intangible or emotional injuries would unconstitutionally restrict Jehovah’s Witnesses free exercise of religion. The First Amendment of the United States, and therefore of the protections of the Washington Constitution, provide Jehovah’s Witnesses with a defense to the plaintiff’s cause of action. The defense of privilege, the constitutional guarantee of free exercise of religion require that society tolerate the types of harms, perhaps suffered by Paul, as a price well worth paying to safeguard the right of religious difference that all citizens enjoy.
“Never lost a case against an apostate”
This was decided in 1987. And since that time, we have had absolutely no case [before even] before any court brought by apostates. It is interesting to talk about that subject. Jehovah has allowed his people to lose every type of case imaginable: draft cases, blood cases, child-custody cases, in every type of case, door-to-door cases; we have never lost a case against an apostate. They have never won even a motion in court. And so, you see the line that Jehovah has currently drawn; that the wicked, or evil slave, will not be able to beat the faithful slave to that degree. Because, even though there’s been hundreds of these motions and cases brought, not one has prevailed.
Developments Around the World
So, now let’s leave the legal area and let me talk to you just about some of the developments, exciting things that are happening around the world.
One of the brothers recently gave his own report to the Bethel family from Africa. And there are some things happening there that are just incredible. Angola is a country where the work is still not legalized. And so, Angola has a country committee, not a branch committee. So, last year, the country committee wrote its report. Since Angola was a former Portuguese colony, the country committee reports to the branch in Portugal who, in turn, then sends it into Brooklyn. And when the brothers and Portugal got the report from Angola, among other things, the report said that the brothers in Angola were conducting 40,000 Bible studies. And the brothers in Portugal said, ‘This is a round figure. It’s obviously an estimate. I wonder if it’s not an exaggeration.’ So, not long thereafter, one of the members of the country committee was in Portugal. So, the branch committee member pulled him aside and said, ‘Listen. We see this number you have here, and we just wonder if this isn’t a slight exaggeration. We want to tell Brooklyn just really, legitimately, what the situation is.’ And the brother from Angola said, ‘You know, I’m glad you asked me that question. We got together and we were considering how to fill out the report, and we did thought we should really minimize some of the figures because you wouldn’t believe them. But if you would like to know the reality, the figure really is more like 80’000 Bible studies. And so, they actually had to double what was sent into Brooklyn.
So, there was one experience out of Angola that was quite humorous. A sister was going door-to-door and one household, in particular, really treated her pretty rude. So, she went back home and was obviously discouraged and her husband – who was not a Witness and in the military – saw her come in and really discouraged and he asked her, ‘What happened?’ ‘Well, I was at this door and I was talking and the man didn’t want to hear and so on’ And the husband got a little upset and he said, ‘So, we’re going to go back there.’ So, right there, and with his full uniform and everything and the gun in the holster, and they both went back to this door. And he knocked on the door for her and said, ‘Listen. A few minutes ago my wife was here and she was trying to tell you something important and you need to listen to what she has to say, if you have a few minutes.’ ‘Well, sure.’ So…[Laughter from the audience]
He invited the man in with the wife. And the wife had been trying to witness to this [office..] – to her husband – excuse me – but she hadn’t really had the courage to do so. But she realized this was the opportunity. So, she started witnessing, really not so much to the householder, as much to her own husband. But of course, it was all indirect. Well, after a while then, the presentation was over. And she asked the householder, ‘Would you like to have a Bible study or for us to come back?’ ‘Yeah, so fine.’[Laughter from the audience]
So, they went home. A couple of weeks passed, and the husband remembered the return visit. He said, ‘Hey, don’t you remember? We’re supposed to go back and see So-and-So today.’ ‘Well, that’s right.’ She said. ‘Well maybe you’d be better this time if you just went in a suit instead of with your uniform?’ ‘Well, that’s okay.’ So, the net result, the end of the story: both the householder and the husband came into the truth after that. So, that was an unusual way to get started.
There is also some experiences that came out of Liberia. And because of all the press for the Persian War – Gulf War, a lot of what happened in Liberia has not been reported on. But what has happened in that country is atrocities that is just unimaginable. But it is incredible how the brothers helped each other out. There are some that did lose their lives. There are some brothers who starved to death in Liberia. But, by and large, by working together, they were able to help each other out. The branch, for example, became the location of a secret refugee camp because the brothers of a given tribe had to flee Monrovia or they would be killed. Many of the brothers weren’t able to leave Monrovia that were of this tribe. And so, they went to the branch, and they were hidden in the branch.
Well, after a while, the food in the branch ran out. So, the brothers that were from a different tribe had to go across Monrovia to get food. Of course, they ran into a roadblock. And when the men at that roadblock stopped them, they could tell immediately that the people wanting their food were of the same tribe. But they stopped them. ‘Where are you going? What you want?’ ‘Well, we need to get some rice and some things and we’re taking it back to our family.’ ‘Well, why do you need so much rice?’ Because they were asking for large quantities for all these people that they were hiding in the Branch. Well, they said, ‘We … you know how [the] there’s a warfare between our tribe and this other tribe?’ ‘Absolutely!’ ‘Well, we’ve got some of our tribe living with us.’ ‘Well, in that case you can have all the rice you need.’ And they didn’t mention that they were also hiding members of the other tribe – the tribe that this man was trying to kill – but the officials not only gave them the rice but doubled it, so they came back and had enough food for another month for the brothers in the branch. But this was literally how the love of the Brotherhood saved each other because as these tribes were killing each other, the brothers were pulling together.
One of the interesting stories came out of Yugoslavia as well. You know that that country is in the middle of civil war. And yet during our International Convention in Zagreb, there were twelve bus loads from Belgrade that had to travel from Belgrade to Zagreb. Well, that is precisely the two factions that are fighting – the Serbs and the Croatians – while those brothers brought the Serbian brothers over into Zagreb where the Croatians live. In the middle of this civil war, there were about 300 Serbian brothers sitting along with thousands of Croatian brothers. And this was an incredible testimony to the people in that part of Yugoslavia. Jehovah’s Witnesses were first of all meeting openly, and secondly, that they got along even though they were of different ethnic backgrounds.
Russia & Czechoslovakia
One of the more emotional parts of the summer came when they had the impromptu conventions in Russia. And Brother Jaracz was over in Russia. And one of the things that happened there: during the final part of the program, they released the Bible in Russian and gave the Bible free to the Russian brothers. And so, for the first time, they got their Bibles.
That also happened in Prague, in Czechoslovakia. There was a rather interesting thing that Brother Henschel was telling us. The ‘Greatest man that ever lived’ book was being released in Prague. And so, it was, the part was being translated into 13 different languages as the brothers were speaking. And so, the time came for the release of this new book. Well there was the copy for the Germans. There was the copy for the French and for the English-speaking brothers. And there was the copies for all the other languages. But Brother Henschel had to look up to the brothers there and the Czechs and the Slovaks, and said, ‘Well I’m sorry, we don’t have this publication in Czech yet or in Slovak.’ Well, the brothers thought, ‘Well, maybe next year we’ll get it.’ But then Brother Henschel said, ‘We do have something though, for you.’ And he pulled out of his two vanilla envelopes: The New World Translation in Czech and in Slovak. And those Bibles were given away to the brothers there in Czechoslovakia.
So, Friday, Saturday, here they have been coming with their big Bibles with crosses on them, that they’ve been using for years. But on Sunday, they all showed up with their brand-new copies of the New World Translation, and they started looking up the scriptures in their new Bibles. And they said it was a very emotional experience for them. For years they had thought, ‘Maybe someday we’ll get the New World Translation.’ But they had no idea that it would be that soon. This was something brother Henschel brought out in talking to the Bethel family. Even though the work in Czechoslovakia has been under ban – in fact it’s still not legalized – they’ve been translating the New World Translation, or working on the translation of it, for over 15 years under ban. They just coincided that they finished the work at the same time that they were able to have the International Convention.
Another somewhat humorous [humorous] experience came out of the Sudan. A young girl started studying and became a Witness, even though she was only about 6 or 7 years old. And she was visiting her aunt and her aunt took her to a video store. It surprised me to find out that they’ve video stores in the Sudan, but I guess they do. So, anyway, the aunt was picking out which video they were going to see and the little girl was saying, ‘No, it’s is too violent; this one’s got immorality; this one’s too violent; this one still got immorality in it.’ And the store owner was really perplexed. This little girl doesn’t want any of these videos. And the aunt said, ‘Well, you have to excuse my niece here. She’s a Jehovah’s Witness. She doesn’t watch these things. She has to find something clean.’ But the store owner said, ‘I’ve been looking for months for Jehovah’s Witnesses. Where are they?’ And the little girl started a study with the store owner and put her in touch with the local congregation. And now the store owner is also in the truth. So, it’s interesting how out of the mouths of babes, sometimes, the truth does get spread.
There are many other experiences, but time really doesn’t allow. It’s just a thrilling thing to see how the work is progressing. How Jehovah is blessing the efforts worldwide. Really, we’re finding more and more countries where the work is being legalized. There are many more witnesses than we had anticipated.
Just to – kind of perhaps – the final experience. The brothers in the USSR – during the early 60’s, a considerable portion of the brothers – when they received the articles on the superior authorities – they’d been smuggled into the USSR. Many of the groups meeting question whether the KGB had infiltrated the Brotherhood, and whether the KGB had managed to doctor articles – change them – so as to lend support to the understanding that the supreme authorities actually are the governments and that they exist in relative position to Jesus and Jehovah. And so, these groups stopped studying The Watchtowers printed from ‘63 forward. They would only study the literature printed from ‘63 back, thinking, ‘Well, this is the plain literature that’s been unadulterated.’
Well, during the conventions in Romania and Czechoslovakia, and these other places, many of these Russian brothers were able to come out in 1988 and ‘89 and they – the splinter groups that were no longer associating with Jehovah’s Witnesses – sent representatives – not the whole group – but representatives – to these international conventions. And Brother Jaracz once again mentioned meeting, along with Brother Schroeder, about 30 individuals from these different groups and discussing with them the superior authorities and other issues that they had been vague or unclear on. Well, the groups mentioned back to brother Schroeder and Brother Jaracz that the doctrinal consideration had not convinced them nearly as much as the conduct of the brothers in those International Conventions. Seeing those dozens of language groups – all meeting together harmoniously – they said, ‘No this is the truth. There’s no question about it.’
So, what happened? Well, these representatives went back into Russia and informed these groups that were no longer associating, ‘We did make a mistake back in ’63. They do have the truth and that is the superior authorities and so on.’ Well, the net result is that the number of publishers we have in Russia is much greater than we anticipated because these other groups are now meeting with the entire organization.
So, I guess, in conclusion, just mention this: If you’ve ever read a yearbook, read the one that’s coming out next … these next few months because it’s going to have some things in it that are really mind-boggling; what in Jehovah has done that we hadn’t known about in these areas where the work has now been legalized. So, sorry I had to talk so fast – I was trying to cram a size 10 foot into a size 5 shoe. And so that’s why it went the way it did.
Elizabeth and I had a very good time down here. It’s nice to see the brothers and to notice how Jehovah is obviously blessing you here in your fine new accommodations. We obviously bring you the love and the regards from the Bethel family. If you care to, I’d be more than happy to return your love back to the Bethel family and the Governing Body.[Applause]