In March 2017, Philip Brumley, Legal Counsel for Watch Tower, gave an update on the situation in Russia for Jehovah’s Witnesses to legal staff at the World Headquarters of Jehovah’s Witnesses. In that fifteen (15) minute update, he made some interesting comments, which we have provided below for you to view or download.
The Parable of the Ant and the Train
In his update on the situation in Russia, Philip Brumley introduces his talk with an illustration of two trains. One train is Russia and the other is Jehovah’s Witnesses, where the former train considers the latter an ant. His talk is a revealing admission from a lawyer that Jehovah’s Witnesses feed off persecution. Here is what he says:
During the last several years, the authorities in Russia and the Jehovah’s Witnesses have been on a collision course: two trains on the same track heading towards each other. And in the minds of the Russian authorities, the Witnesses are like an ant. It is not even going to slow down that train in the least bit.
Little do the Russian authorities know that it is not an ant on the track. It is the mountain of the house of Jehovah. And what happens when a train hits a mountain? We know who wins.
When Satan attacks us openly, what’s the net result? Jesus foretold that it would result in a witness brought before governors and kings and so on. And that is what’s happening. In these lands where we have this kind of opposition, we grow. Russia has been growing every year except last year where it had a 1% decline. Basically because of some brothers leaving as refugees, getting out of Russia.
There is no question that if the opposition continues, it is only going to spur growth. It is only going to spur commentary on what’s taking place. And, without going too far, or saying too much, so I’ll put it this way, one could speculate as to whether what we are seeing is of Biblical proportions. So there are battles that we fight. Battles that come and go. There are some of our battles that were prophesied. And it will be interesting to see in retrospect, years down the road, as we look back on what is happening right now, whether this was something of Biblical proportions that is taking place in Russia.
Philip Brumley reveals that the Russians performed linguistic studies on Jehovah’s Witnesses’ materials to determine if the readers were being psychologically manipulated. Interestingly, he refers to the publication, My Book of Bible Stories, as an example from a list of 88 publications that are considered extremist by the Russian authorities. Here is what he said:
[The Russian Authorities] are trying a new tactic. The first step of that tactic is to refer our literature to so-called ‘linguistic studies’. This is something unknown in this country [U.S.A.].
But the concept is that a lay person could read a book and because he is so simple-minded, he doesn’t realize that he is being mentally manipulated down a certain road. And then by the time he gets to the end of the book, well his mind now has been contaminated with some ‘extremist ideology’.
So, our publications, as ludicrous as it sounds as My Book of Bible Stories, were referred to these linguistic specialist [sic] and they returned a decision that eighty-eight (88) publications that we use are extremist.
Jason Wynne, a Jehovah’s Witness whistleblower and founder of AvoidJW.org asked dedicated, baptized Jehovah’s Witnesses on Twitter to post some of their ‘favorite’ images from My Book of Bible Stories. We asked him why. He said:
My Book of Bible Stories has some of the most violent scenes ever presented in a book that is geared towards young children. Children are typically ‘simple-minded’, as Brumley puts it. These type of images are designed to affect a young child’s mind. If you ask most Jehovah’s Witnesses whether they think the images in this publication are violent and inappropriate for children, they would think not. That response in itself is evidence of a group of people who have been manipulated to think violent images in a bible-based publication is ‘wholesome reading material’.
Images from My Book of Bible Stories provided by Jehovah’s Witnesses and former Jehovah’s Witnesses on Twitter:
The Letter Writing Campaign
Philip Brumley explains the impact of the ban on Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia. This includes the potential shut-down of their local religious organizations and even the branch. Here also, he reveals that the Governing Body have directed that the legal department ‘pull out all stops’ to talk with authorities in the United States and other lands to assist in preventing the Russian authorities from banning their activities and seizing their asses. He concluded by telling those in attendance that all Jehovah’s Witnesses around the world will be asked to write a letter to the Russian authorities:
The administrative center received a notice of liquidation and this has now been referred to the Supreme Court of Russia. We just learned earlier today that the Supreme Court of Russia will hear the matter on April 5, 2017, just in a few weeks. It is a virtually foregone conclusion what will happen in the Supreme Court. Because, with a veneer or legality, the literature is extremist, the local organizations are using it, you’re helping the local organizations therefore you’re guilty – that is the branch – and the government is justified in shutting down the branch.
If this were to take place, we have over four hundred (400) L.R.O.’s – Local Religious Organizations – that would also be liquidated. So we are facing the real possibility that our kingdom halls across Russia could be shut-down or worse, confiscated. Or attempts made to confiscate it. And the branch, similarly, shut-down and the brothers not allowed to use the facilities.
So, in response to this, the Governing Body has organized a vigorous response both legally, in contacting government officials, and in the media. Brothers in Europe will be filing emergency application for a hearing before the European Court of Human Rights and before the CCPR of the United Nations. And here domestically as well, the Governing Body has instructed us to pull out all the stops, talking with authorities in this country and in other lands to advise the authorities of what is going on.
And, I might mention that this is confidential, but a letter writing campaign is being organized for the first time in decades where every one of Jehovah’s Witnesses will be asked to write a letter to the Russian authorities. Literally, the authorities will be receiving millions of letters from our brothers around the world.
On April 20, 2017, the Supreme Court of Russia declared Jehovah’s Witnesses an extremist organization and seized their kingdom halls and branches, worth an estimated $65 million. It’s worth noting that Philip Brumley talked about the branch property and kingdom halls. He made no mention of congregations who would be adversely affected by the ban.
Three years later, the Jehovah’s Witnesses are still banned in Russia. A number of elders have been been imprisoned and it is alleged that some have been tortured while in custody. The Jehovah’s Witness leaders have called on governments, courts and the media to highlight their plight but it has not had any meaningful effect on their situation.
The train that is Russia is still hurtling along on that track but the Mountain of the house of Jehovah has not yet appeared.