The following is an open letter that was sent via email to Robert Luccioni on December 8, 2020. It was in response to a video he appeared in on jw.org entitled, Strengthen Your Spiritual Core (2 Tim. 3:13). We recommend you watch this video in full before reading the open letter.
I watched with interest your Morning Worship video, “Strengthen Your Spiritual Core (2 Tim. 3:13)” that was published in November. Obviously, this was recorded Friday October 4, 2019 as part of the day’s text for that date. You said, “wicked men and impostors would arise in the last days and they would advance from bad to worse”. That’s your words mixed with the words of 2 Timothy 3:13. You went on to say that “wicked men and impostors would twist Jesus words”, “capitalize on errors that were made”, and “inflame statements that people did not understand”. You said that “wicked men and impostors … use lies and misrepresentation. They lie with how we deal with child abusers; how we care for the victims of child abuse. They twist statements that are made regarding our stand on blood; loyalty to families, disfellowshipping. They capitalize on what they perceive as errors, perhaps dogmatic statements we made in the past regarding a bible prophecy or our understanding of the time of the end, and then we later changed it. They also put a negative spin on changes that they do not understand. See, why we simplify; did reassignments in 2015; the new explanations of the generation; changes at world headquarters.”
You were very clear on listing all the subjects and statements that so-called “wicked men and impostors” have discussed online, in print and elsewhere. However, you failed to provide just a single example of such “lies and misrepresentation”. Therefore, I would like to take this opportunity to do so. I think it may help to clarify who really are the “wicked men and impostors”.
The first item you listed as a lie was “how we deal with child abusers”. What are some of the claims made? Isn’t the claim made that many child abusers remain upstanding members of the congregations of Jehovah’s Witnesses despite allegations of child abuse made against them? Is this a lie or a misrepresentation? Isn’t it true that unless there are two witnesses or a confession, we cannot disfellowship a Jehovah’s Witness for such a crime? (sfl 12.40-42; 14.7(8); 14.18) Or is that a lie or a misrepresentation? Another claim that is made is that child abusers may be disfellowshipped but can be reinstated as a member of Jehovah’s organization in much the same way as any other crime/sin. (sfl 14.18-19; 19) Is this a lie or misrepresentation? This leads me to the second item on your list of “lies and misrepresentation”.
The way Jehovah’s organization cares for the victims of child abuse has been criticized. Hasn’t the claim been made that victims and survivors of abuse may be re-traumatized by attending the same kingdom hall as their abuser? Is this a lie or a misrepresentation? Isn’t it true that most of those who made this claim are the victims and survivors of abuse? Or is this a lie or a misrepresentation? Also, up until about 2016, the claim has been made that Jehovah’s Witness elders had victims face their abuser in judicial committee meetings when allegations of abuse were made. Is this a lie or a misrepresentation? Who made the claim? Wasn’t it the abuse survivors themselves? Would you call these abuse survivors “wicked men and impostors”? Are they lying or misrepresenting what they endured? Isn’t it true that three elders in Utah had a 15-year-old girl listen back to a tape of her rape by an 18-year-old brother? Isn’t it true that she had to listen to it over two two-hour sessions? Isn’t it true that the lawyers representing the organization have not denied it took place? Rather, isn’t it true that they claimed that the conduct of the elders is “common religious practice” and so is protected by the U.S. Constitution? Isn’t it true that the lawyers for the organization also said that “the teen could have walked out of the meeting”? Is that a lie or a misrepresentation? (R. Williams v Roy Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses) What kind of treatment is this to a victim of abuse? Where is the love that is intended to describe Jehovah’s Witnesses at John 13:35? Can it really be said that the claims leveled against you as to “how you care for the victims of child abuse” are lies and misrepresentation? Who are the “wicked men and impostors” when it comes to “caring” for victims of child abuse? In Australia, didn’t Jehovah’s Witnesses say to the National Redress Scheme that they “have responded and will continue to respond directly to individual claims for redress in a caring, fair, and principled manner, taking into consideration the unique circumstances of each claim”? Do you think that it is unfair for victims of abuse to be apprehensive, suspicious, and skeptical of our organization’s claim to be “caring, fair, and principled” when they see how we treat a 15-year-old girl? Is what I write lies or misrepresentation? If it is not, who are the “wicked men and impostors”?
In the third item on your list of “lies and misrepresentation” you said, “they twist statements that are made regarding our stand on blood”. What are these statements? Hasn’t the claim been made that a person who accepts a blood transfusion will be expelled? Is this a lie or a misrepresentation? It may be said that they disassociate themselves by accepting a blood transfusion so to say we expel is a misrepresentation. But is that not a misrepresentation? If a person accepts a blood transfusion, has she a choice not to disassociate? Isn’t it true that she doesn’t have a choice. And isn’t it true that the net result of disassociation and disfellowshipping is the same? Or is that a lie or misrepresentation? (sfl 18.3(3))
Your fourth item is “loyalty to families, disfellowshipping”. What is the claim made here? Isn’t the claim made that when a person is disfellowshipped, their Jehovah’s Witness family are not permitted to talk to them? Is this claim a lie or a misrepresentation? David Gnam, a Canadian bethelite, elder, and lawyer has stated to the Supreme Court of Canada that “as far as their family members are concerned, normal family relations continue with the exception of spiritual fellowship”. Was this a lie or a misrepresentation? I’ve copied my mother in this communication because she is of the opinion that normal family relations do not continue. Does she misunderstand Jehovah’s Witness doctrine? Is it not a case this week we will be encouraging family members not to communicate with those in our family that are disfellowshipped? (mwb 202012 p.2 Love for Jehovah Stronger Than Love for Family; compare 1 John 4:11, 20) Isn’t it true then, that David Gnam is a liar? I’ve copied him on this communication so he can clarify his stance because it is quite evident to me that he may fall into the category of “wicked men and impostors”. (See Case 7:18-mc-00268-NSR involving Paul Polidoro, pp. 20, 96-97)
Another claim that is made is that we keep a record of the sins of disfellowshipped ones, and file them away under “tracking persons” in HuB and locally at the kingdom hall. Is this a lie or misrepresentation? On September 12, 2018, in a discrimination hearing, I explained how disfellowshipped and disassociated ones are tracked in HuB to three elders in my locality. Was that a lie or a misrepresentation? (bo 6-16:69; sfl 2:3(13); 12:42, 56; 14:25; 15:17; 18:3(1); 22:9, 11, 16, 22-26; see also report to Norwegian Data Protection Authority by Dag-Erik Kristoffersen: In Norwegian | English translation)
Three ladies in Norway described how the shunning has impacted their lives. It was shown on prime-time TV in that country. I’m sure you are aware. Two of those girls are only in their 20’s. The third woman is a firm believer in Jehovah’s Witnesses and yet despite how hard she tries to get reinstated, she cannot. She even took the religious organization to court because she felt she had no other choice. The court case was recorded. You fought hard to ensure the court case would not be televised, but you failed. Why would you not want it shown to the world? Should you not be very proud of your clinical application of scripture? There was no emotion. There was no empathy. It was all rules and how those rules are applied. Matthew 7:12 comes to mind. So, who really are the “wicked men and impostors”?
The fifth item in your list of “lies and misrepresentation”, you claimed that “wicked men and impostors … capitalize on what they perceive as errors, perhaps dogmatic statements we made in the past regarding a bible prophecy or our understanding of the time of the end, and then we later changed it.” I’m not one to care too much about our interpretation of the Bible. I think it is safe to say that all religions have made errors in this regard. It is very easy to make dogmatic statements, including the dogmatic statement that all persons who criticize the organization are “wicked men and impostors”, even if they have justification for doing so. As regards our “understanding of the time of the end”, I found it very humorous when Stephen Lett in his Governing Body Update #1, described this time period as, “the final part of the last days, undoubtedly the final part of the final part of the last days, shortly before the last day of the last days”. This is a very long way of saying nothing definitive. One could say it is a misrepresentation of time and prophecy. In any case, I’m sure you would agree that many, if not all, who criticize Lett are “wicked men and impostors”.
Your list of “lies and misrepresentation” ends with, “They also put a negative spin on changes that they do not understand. See, why we simplify; did reassignments in 2015; the new explanations of the generation; changes at world headquarters.” I find this item very curious. If a positive spin were put on matters that are not understood, would that mean such persons would not be “wicked men and impostors”? Is it only when a negative spin is applied? I’m sure you understand how propaganda works? It is where we say something to further an agenda or influence an audience. How could we do this? If we wanted to suggest to our audience that disfellowshipping is a loving arrangement, we could get examples of those who were reinstated and who are willing to say that they felt the discipline was beneficial and they appreciated it (Example 1, Example 2). We would not include any negative examples because we are trying to further the idea that disfellowshipping is a loving arrangement. Another way to illustrate propaganda is to relate to our audience some examples of where government officials responded appreciatively to the 2020 Kingdom Campaign held last month. We would not include any negative examples where government officials felt that they were being harassed by Jehovah’s Witnesses. Could we accuse Jehovah’s Witnesses of using propaganda as a tool or encourage members?
That reminds me, I received Dag-Erik’s letter to the Norwegian Prime Minister, Erna Solberg. You two know each other, right? It is a very concise letter. He attempted to distribute a special issue of the The Watchtower to government officials in Scandinavia. Have you done something similar in New York, Robert? Did President Trump get sent his personal copy? What about the president-elect? Was it just coincidental that you aligned the special campaign with the U.S. presidential elections? Or would it be a misrepresentation to claim that it was not a coincidence? Dag-Erik is getting nervous writing letters to the media these days. Instead, he is asking that they meet in person to address “misunderstandings”. I find it interesting that he has not used “lies or misrepresentation”. He is being very political in his use of words, considering that if he were to use your words, the Norwegian public may see it as an attack on the three women’s testimonies mentioned above.
Is it not human nature for persons to put a negative spin on things they do not understand? You yourself did it in your talk. You describe everyone who questions the organization as “wicked men and impostors”. Clearly, you do not understand or even want to understand why many persons are criticizing or questioning the organization. You tar them all with the one brush. This is a pity because such a mindset is described in 2 Timothy 3:3, where you are “having no natural affection, not open to any agreement, slanderers, without self-control, fierce, without love of goodness.” It is a pity that Jehovah’s organization is run by a very judgmental group of men. I’m sure you can see how the scriptures of judgment apply to others, but can you see how they might apply to you? Or are you above judgment?
I’d like to draw your attention to a couple of verses in the Bible. The first scripture is Matthew 7:12, which says, “All things, therefore, that you want men to do to you, you also must do to them. This, in fact, is what the Law and the Prophets mean.” The second verse is 1 Corinthians 13:5 where it says that love “does not behave indecently, does not look for its own interests, does not become provoked. It does not keep account of the injury.”
Would you willingly attend a judicial committee meeting if you committed a serious wrong, knowing what you do about how the judicial committee process works? Would you be okay with three elders, some of whom may know you well, asking you very invasive questions about what wrong you committed? Suppose they decided that you are not sufficiently repentant, would you be okay with them writing a summary of your case, completing a S-77 form, and putting it on file at your local congregation, and also having a copy of it uploaded into HuB under “tracking persons”? Would you answer a resounding YES to all these questions? Or would you think twice about it? If you think that the judicial committee process is theocratic in nature and complies with Matthew 7:12, you should undoubtedly be able to answer YES because all things you want men to do to you, you also must do to them.
The direction in our literature is that the judicial process and the decision the elders reach must be respected. Isn’t that true? If the process were respectful of a person’s dignity, it may be a process that could be respected. However, if it isn’t respectful of a person’s dignity, should we respect it? Is it not true that most Jehovah’s Witnesses have no idea what goes on behind the closed door of a judicial committee meeting? Why are they directed to respect something they know little or nothing about? We are all repeatedly told that disfellowshipping is a loving arrangement. Isn’t that true? However disfellowshippings are recorded, contrary to 1 Corinthians 13:5 where it says that love does not keep account of the injury. If accounts of disfellowshippings are recorded, how can disfellowshipping be loving? It goes against the very definition of love. But again, most Jehovah’s Witnesses are unaware that records of people’s wrongs are kept. Isn’t that true? Isn’t it true, too, that most Jehovah’s Witnesses who have sat in a judicial committee meeting are unaware that the notes the elders are taking are used to create a summary of their case so that such records can be made. The case of Louise in Norway bears testimony to that. Or would you consider her one of those “wicked men and impostors”?
Here is a wholly hypothetical situation. Robert, imagine for a moment that you committed a serious sexual sin. Let’s say it was adultery. Would you willingly go to the elders and confess your sin? Or lets say you tried to hide your sin but your wife found out. She went to the elders and told them about what you had done. Would you willingly sit in on a judicial committee meeting you’ve been invited to and have them ask you sexually invasive questions? Would you be okay with them asking you how far your penis went inside the woman’s vagina? Would you be okay with them asking you if you touched her, where you touched her, and for how long? Would you be able to tell them where you committed the act(s), and what sexual positions you were in? Are you getting uncomfortable with me asking you these questions, even though it is completely hypothetical? Do you think members of the Governing Body would be happy to be called before a judicial committee meeting and face three or four elders and have sexually invasive questions asked of them? I dare say they would not.
Do you think such line of questioning aligns with the direction in Matthew 7:12? I was asked these type of questions by Derek Kubath, who is copied on this communication. If what I am saying is lies or misrepresentation, he can clarify what I’ve said. He is also one of the elders who completed a S-77 form and wrote a summary of my case and sent it in a little blue envelope to the branch and kept a copy of it on file at my local kingdom hall. Did he tell me he was doing this? No. In fact, I was told in my judicial committee meeting by John Browne (deceased) that they were keeping notes only so that they can remember what I told them. They deceived me. I didn’t find out that this was the process until about 15 years after I was disfellowshipped. I had to find this out by reviewing the “lies and misrepresentation” of the so-called “wicked men and impostors”. Is there anything about Matthew 7:12 that allows us to deceive our brothers? Do we deceive because we want to be deceived? Or did they feel that I was not entitled to know that they were going to write a summary and keep a record of my case? Am I not legally entitled to know when sensitive personal information about me is being stored or retrieved?
I understand that come January 1, 2021, most of the bethelites will no longer be able to send or receive external e-mail, including communication between jw and jwpub accounts. External access will be restricted to certain users. I guess the organizaation cannot risk “wicked men and impostors” spreading “lies and misrepresentation” to bethelites around the world. But is Jehovah’s organization worried about the lies that can be easily refuted, or the truth that is impossible to repudiate? A January 15 1974 Watchtower asked the question, Can you be true to God, yet hide the facts? It asked, “And who, primarily, objected to Jesus’ bold declaration of the truth that exposed the way God’s standards were being violated? Was it not the religious leaders, the scribes, the Pharisees and chief priests?” So, I ask you and the organization today, why do you object when we expose the way you are violating God’s standards? We know the high position of trust and confidence that you and the organization hold in the eyes of the publishers. Should we remain silent and not warn them? We will continue to forcefully and publicly expose you as betrayers of God and man, as lovers of popularity and praise, as “hypocrites,” “blind guides” who are like “whitewashed graves,” beautiful outside, but full of uncleanness inside, persecutors of those speaking the truth from God. Read Matthew 23:1-36. 2 Timothy 3:13 describes the current state of the organization: “Wicked men and impostors will advance from bad to worse, misleading and being misled.” And let me finish with the reminder that the truth has a very curious way of revealing itself. – 2 Timothy 3:9.
P.S: I am aware that the song, Listen, Obey and Be Blessed has been recorded and commercially released by non-Jehovah’s Witnesses recently. I saw it on a compilation by an organization associated with the Roman Catholic Church, and I saw too that the musician Aled Jones, famous for the 1982 Christmas song, “Walking in the air” also recorded it. I’m sure the song has caused a great amount of distress to our brothers and sisters who have seen it on his Christmas album, Blessings. As long as our darker, end-of-the-world songs don’t end up as a cover on a death metal album, I suppose.