In the mid 1930s, the Watch Tower Society started forbidding its' Jehovah's Witnesses members to salute the American Flag, or recite the Pledge Of Allegiance, or stand for the playing of the National Anthem, or engage in any other patriotic activity. Jehovah's Witnesses were taught to tell the news media, courts, and other outsiders that the American Flag is a false idol, and doing any of the aforementioned patriotic activities is performing religious "worship" to a false idol.
This "public relations" reasoning is actually the LEAST of all the reasons that Jehovah's Witnesses refuse to engage in any patriotic or political activities. This secondary, ancillary reasoning was developed because the WatchTower Society did not dare to have its Jehovah's Witnesses members running around repeating for the news media and courtroom judges the PRIMARY doctrine on this subject -- which would outrage the American public.
What Jehovah's Witnesses intentionally do NOT publically explain to non-JWs is that the Watch Tower Society teaches Jehovah's Witnesses that the Government of the United States is governing ILLEGITIMATELY. The Watch Tower Society teaches that the Government of the United States is under the control of Satan the Devil as his partner in Satan's universal rebellion against GOD. The Watch Tower Society teaches that GOD granted humans the authority to rule the earth only for a period of 2520 years -- starting in 607 B.C. and ending in October, 1914 A.D. The Watch Tower Society teaches that in October, 1914, the authority to rule the earth reverted back to GOD, and that He then formed a heavenly government to rule the earth. The Watch Tower Society teaches that in 1919 that Jesus Christ selected the Watch Tower Society as his sole earthly representative of that heavenly government. The Watch Tower Society teaches that the Government of the United States (as well as all other governments), is its' ENEMY, because it has failed to surrender governmental power that rightfully belongs to the Watch Tower Society.
These are the ACTUAL reasons that the Watch Tower Society forbids its Jehovah's Witnesses members to support the government of the United States -- no voting, no holding political office, no professing citizen loyalty via the Pledge of Allegiance or standing for the National Anthem, no joining the military to protect the United States, etc. Jehovah's Witnesses do not profess to be "pacifists". They claim to be "neutrals". JWs consider themselves to be "citizens" of the government supposedly formed in heaven in 1919, and that they are only "resident aliens" of the United States. The Watch Tower Society teaches that Armageddon will occur "soon", and at the Battle of Armageddon, that Jesus Christ and his heavenly armies will destroy the armies and governments of the United States, and of all other countries -- including all people who did not convert to the Jehovah's Witnesses. Jehovah's Witnesses look forward to the day when they will rule the planet.
Currently, the Watch Tower Society tells JWs not to forcefully oppose the United States, or other governments. Given their fanatical beliefs as to what they have to gain, one can only speculate what would happen if the Watch Tower Society ever told JWs otherwise. The Federal Bureau of Investigation FEARS Jehovah's Witnesses and of what it knows they are capable. Read the Secret History Cases on this website, and the Tylenol Murder Case on the sister website.
Generally, no loyal Jehovah's Witness would ever consider the possibilty of performing the duty of raising or lowering the American Flag at their place of employment. However, a few years ago, the Watch Tower Society began teaching that some previously forbidden employment activities could be performed by Jehovah's Witnesses, so long as the forbidden act only constituted an incidental part of the JW Employee's total job duties, and the performing of such act does not offend the JW Employee's conscience, nor offend the conscience of any other Jehovah's Witness who might observe the act.
Although the Watch Tower Society never admitted to such, some observers speculate that the Watch Tower Society's strict rules on such matters was hurting its' recruiting efforts with certain persons in certain economic and educational categories who worked in certain job categories.This rule change also applied to raising or lowering the American Flag at a JW Employee's place of employment, since it most often prohibited Jehovah's Witnesses who worked as janitors from working for upscale higher-paying employers (who had flagpoles). Since raising and lowering the American Flag is always incidental to an employee's main job duties, the rule change now essentially always permits a JW Employee to raise and lower the American Flag, so long as such does not offend that JW Employee's conscience, or the conscience of any other Jehovah's Witness who might observe them doing such. However, what the rule change did not change was the fact that Jehovah's Witnesses still view American Flags as evil objects. Can you anticipate the potential problems with JW Employees?
TYEISHA BOULWARE v. CITY OF PHILADELPHIA ET AL is an ongoing 2011 Pennsylvania civil court case. In February 2008, Philadelphia Councilwoman Jannie L. Blackwell hired a Jehovah's Witness, named Tyeisha Boulware, as her "Special Assistant". It is anyone's guess as to why someone who believes that the Government is Satan's partner in Satan's rebellion against GOD would seek employment with GOD's enemy. Apparently, Tyeisha Boulware failed to warn Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell as to Boulware's WatchTower beliefs, and how such would impact the JW's job performance and her politician-employer.
Boulware alleges that starting with the very first election after her employment, and subsequent election days thereafter, that Councilwoman Blackwell checked to make sure that Boulware had voted. Boulware alleges that every time that Blackwell made such an inquiry that Boulware explained that as one of Jehovah's Witnesses that she did not vote. Boulware alleges in her lawsuit that Blackwell's responses that Blackwell, who is a Baptist, did not understand Boulware's religion violated Boulware's civil rights. Boulware also alleges that Councilwoman Blackwell sometimes made critical comments about Boulware's Jehovah's Witness religion during staff meetings, and that such comments violated Boulware's civil rights by creating a hostile work environment.
On December 9, 2010, Councilwoman Blackwell complained in the presence of another employee "I don’t know if it is your religion or what, but you do not volunteer to do anything." Boulware alleges that such criticism violated Boulware's civil rights. On December 20, 2010, Councilwoman Blackwell held a "Homeless Holiday Party" for her constituients at Philadelphia's Convention Center. Staff members were instructed to wear provided "Christmas shirts". Boulware refused due to her WatchTower beliefs. Boulware alleges that another staffer told her that this was going to cost Boulware her job.
On January 3, 2011, Boulware alleges that she was effectively "laid off", but thereafter received a letter from Blackwell indicating that the position of "Special Assistant" had been eliminated. Shortly thereafter, Tyeisha Boulware filed a complaint with the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission and the E.E.O.C. In September 2011, the EEOC issued a "Right To Sue" letter. Boulware thereafter filed this lawsuit seeking compensatory and punitive damages, including money for Boulware's pain, suffering, and humiliation.
NEW JERSEY v. LEROY McKELVEY is an ongoing September 2011 New Jersey criminal court case. On Sunday, September 11, 2011, Leroy McKelvey, of Moncks Corner, South Carolina, who is the African-American father of Power 105.1 DeeJay Charlamagne Tha God, was arrested during halftime of the Jets-Cowboys football game at MetLife Stadium, which was attended by past President George W. Bush and other public officials present to honor the 10th anniversary of 9/11. Tha God excuses his father's behavior due to Leroy McKelvey being a "devout Jehovah's Witness". Commenters report that Tha God was reared as a Jehovah's Witness by Leroy McKelvey.
Leroy McKelvey, age 59, was reportedly charged with two weapons counts and three counts of aggravated assault after a brawl with a Marine and two other patrons. Reportedly, McKelvey and his three friends and/or relatives drew the ire of those seated around them due to their reported "obnoxious" and "disrespectful" behavior during various portions of the program honoring 9/11. McKelvey's entourage initially drew attention to themselves when they refused to stand during the playing of the National Anthem. Then McKelvey's entourage allegedly talked loudly and acted disrespectfully during the playing of "Taps" and "Amazing Grace".
A United States Marine, who was seated at the end of McKelvey's row, had had enough, and told the pack that they better hope that they did not need to get out, because he was not going to stand up for them. At halftime, Leroy McKelvey challenged the Marine, and a brawl ensued, during which the Jehovah's Witness pulled a TASOR and tased the Marine and two others. McKelvey was arrested, but quickly released on $22,500.00 bail.
Who wishes to bet that before this case is over that the Marines, the Jets, Stadium Management, the state of New Jersey, the Police, and a long list of others BEG these Jehovah's Witnesses for their "forgiveness"
E.E.O.C. v. AVIATION CONCEPTS was a 2011-12 Guam federal court case. A Jehovah's Witness Employee, named Armando Perez, was fired in June 2010 from his job as an assistant aircraft mechanic for "insubordination" after he refused to raise and lower the American and Guam flags at Aviation Concepts, a Guam aviation products and service provider. Perez claimed that he had explained that his refusal was due to his WatchTower beliefs. This lawsuit was "settled" in February 2012, in exchange for $51,000.00, and compliance with a number of EEOC procedure demands.
DEBORAH L. GEORGE v. UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE APPEAL BOARD was a 2008 Delaware case which involved a truthful, but naive, Jehovah's Witness female, named Deborah L. George. Deborah George was incorrectly ordered to repay past unemployment insurance benefits, and that incorrect decision was affirmed on appeal, because Deborah George made the mistake of publicly repeating what Jehovah's Witnesses are taught privately.
In September 2007, at a time that Deborah George was receiving unemployment benefits, George was offered employment with the Boy Scouts of America by a staffing service. Apparently without thinking, George repeated what millions of Jehovah's Witnesses have been taught by the WatchTower Society over the decades -- that the Boy Scouts "supported the war", and that the Boy Scout's "pro-war stance" would conflict with Deborah George's WatchTower beliefs. (Reared as a male Jehovah's Witness during the Vietnam War era, I have heard the Boy Scouts equated to the "Hitler Youth" on more than one occasion.) The staffing service conducted an internet search and determined that the Boy Scouts had not taken a position on the 2007 "wars", and subsequently reported George for refusing suitable employment.
It was not until after it was too late that Deborah George exercised some discretion and repeated a WatchTower Society's secondary and ancillary "public relations" reasoning as to why Jehovah's Witnesses cannot join the Boy Scouts nor work for the Boy Scouts. The court noted, "After the time to appeal her disqualification for benefits had passed, George would indicate that the Boy Scouts’ program materials espoused values unrelated to the war that conflicted with her religious beliefs as a Jehovah’s Witness."
SHAWNYA ROBINSON v. OAK PARK is an ongoing 2010 Illinois civil court case. A female Jehovah's Witness, named Shawnya Robinson, accuses the Village of Oak Park, Illinois, of religious discrimination after Robinson was terminated in September 2009, allegedly because Robinson refused to perform two functions required by her job position -- voter registration and domestic partner registration. Robinson seeks reinstatement to her clerical position and back wages of $50,000.00.
The Village of Oak Park initially hired Shawnya Robinson in their Community Relations department in 2005. In 2009, Robinson's position was eliminated due to budgetary reasons. Robinson was transferred to the Village Clerk's Office, where Robinson refused to perform voter registration and domestic partner registration due to her WatchTower beliefs. Robinson claims that she was initially told that such would not be a problem, but she was fired only a week later after she was told that her exemption from part of the duties of the position was causing low morale amongst her co-workers.
Robinson filed a charge with the Illinois Department of Human Rights in September 2009, but it was suposedly dismissed Sept. 17, 2010 due to lack of substantial evidence. This lawsuit was filed in November 2010 after Robinson received backing from the Legal Assistance Foundation of Metropolitan Chicago.
PHILLIS P. WHITE v. U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT was a 1994-2000 federal employee EEOC decision which involved an African-American Jehovah's Witness named Phillis P. White. Phillis White was employed as a Mortgage Servicing Clerk at the agency's Memphis, Tennessee field office. Phillis White evidently had numerous EEO complaints. First, White alleged religious discrimination in May 1994 after she requested Administrative Leave in order to "vote", but then had that Leave revoked after she revealed that she was not going to vote because she was a Jehovah's Witness. Second, also in May 1994, White alleged racial discrimination when a better qualified Caucasian female, but who had less seniority, was selected for training to back-up the Automated Technology Administrator. Third, White further claimed she was discriminated against due to "reprisal" when, later in May 1994, she was issued a reprimand memorandum by her Supervisor after she left her desk to meet with the office's EEO Counselor without prior permission. As it turned out, White was already under a warning from her Supervisor for multiple past instances of unpermissioned extended absences from her desk. After an investigation of all White's allegations, the agency determined that there had been no discrimination in any of the instances. On appeal, the EEOC affirmed.
E.E.O.C. v. ALLIANCE RENTAL CENTER, L.P. d/b/a AARON RENTS was a 2009-10 Texas federal court case which was filed by the EEOC on behalf of a male Jehovah's Witness named Tyler Templeton. Alliance Rental Center operates an "Aaron Rents" franchise in Bridgeport, Texas and other nearby north Texas locations. Tyler Templeton, who was employed by Aaron Rents as a product technician, alleged that he was initially reprimanded and eventually fired when he refused to participate in the franchisee’s "Red Shirt Friday" dress code -- a store practice intended to show support for the U.S. Military. Templeton alleged that he informed his supervisors about his WatchTower religious beliefs and his observance of neutrality on issues of war and the military, which prohibited him from wearing the company-provided red shirts on Fridays.
Alliance Rental Center alleged that Tyler Templeton had worn the company-provided red shirts on multiple occasions prior to the day that he eventually refused to do so. The EEOC lawsuit sought back pay, compensatory and punitive damages, and injunctive relief to ensure that no further discrimination takes place. The EEOC settled this lawsuit in March 2010 after Alliance agreed to pay $21,500.00, and to also update its employee handbook to include a new procedure and statement of the company's obligation to accommodate employees' religious beliefs.
VIRGINIA E. ENDICOTT v. U.S. DEPARTMENT OF TREASURY was a 1994-2000 federal employee EEOC decision which involved a Jehovah's Witness named Virginia E. Endicott. On November 29, 2004, Virginia Endicott received a memorandum documenting certain unspecified conduct involving a co-worker on November 9 and 23, 2004. On December 7, 2004, Endicott received an Official Letter of Reprimand for failing to follow the directions of her supervisor concerning her actions on November 9 and 23, 2004. On December 10, 2004, Endicott received a memorandum advising her that a future statement like that made on December 9 about bringing a gun to work would result in disciplinary action. On June 1, 2005, Complainant received notice that she would be suspended for three days, effective June 17-19, 2005. Virginia E. Endicott resigned prior to June 17, 2005. Prior to her resignation, Endicott filed an EEO complaint alleging religious discrimination, reverse racial discrimination in that she was Caucasian, plus age and disability discrimination. All claims were eventually dismissed by the agency, and on appeal, the dismissal was affirmed by the EEOC.
JOHN C. ROSEBOROUGH v. U.S. DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION was a 2002-3 federal employee EEOC decision which involved a Jehovah's Witness named John C. Roseborough. In mid 2002, John Roseborough heard that his new Supervisor had made disparaging remarks about Roseborough's religion -- that Jehovah's Witnesses mistreated females. Roseborough filed an EEO complaint alleging that he had suffered religious discrimination. Roseborough's complaint was dismissed, and on appeal, the EEOC affirmed, stating in part:
The Commission finds that the complaint fails to state a claim under the EEOC regulations because complainant failed to show that he suffered harm or loss with respect to a term, condition, or privilege of employment for which there is a remedy. ... The Commission has consistently held that a remark or comment unaccompanied by concrete action is not a direct and personal deprivation sufficient to render an individual aggrieved for the purposes of Title VII. ... Furthermore, to the extent that complainant is alleging that the identified remark is harassment, we find that as the remark was purportedly isolated and not directed at complainant, it is not sufficiently severe to constitute a claim of harassment.
E.E.O.C. v. DWW PARTNERS LLP d/b/a RIGHT HONDA. EEOC filed this federal lawsuit on behalf of a Jehovah's Witness named Dale Long, who worked as an auto salesperson in Scottsdale, Arizona. The lawsuit charged that the JW Employee was regularly harassed and subjected to a hostile working environment by managers and co-workers throughout his five months of employment because of his religious beliefs.
The lawsuit alleged that three managers verbally and physically assaulted Long after they objected to the way Long lowered the U.S. flag from the dealership's flagpole on September 29, 2001 (only a few days after 9/11). The managers supposedly demanded that Long sing the “Star Spangled Banner”, and recite the Pledge of Allegiance, or be fired. Long's refusal eventually turned into a physical fight with two of the managers. Long did not return to work, and rejected an offer by the employer to work at another affiliated dealership. The three managers were either suspended or fired, but two of them eventually returned to work.
The dealership settled the lawsuit the same day the lawsuit was filed. The Jehovah's Witness received $20,000 in back pay, $42,500 in emotional distress damages, $50,000 for physical injuries, and a detailed written apology from the corporate president. EEOC also required the corporation to provide workplace training and to develop policies concerning unlawful harassment and unlawful termination based on "religion".
SYLVIA LOPEZ v. MEXICAN AMERICAN OPPORTUNITY FOUNDATION was a 1999-2000 California lawsuit involving a Jehovah's Witness named Sylvia Lopez. Lopez worked as a teacher's aide. Sylvia Lopez said that she was fired for refusing on religious grounds to salute the U.S. flag. "Jehovah's Witnesses are not allowed to salute the flag because the salute is considered a form of worship ... ." Outcome unknown, but predictably in Lopez's favor. [Researchers should note that a California plaintiff with same name lost a medical malpractice case in early 2000s.]
MARIE MERINDA SMITH v. U.S. DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE was a 2000-2005 federal employee EEOC decision which involved an African-American Jehovah's Witness named Marie M. Smith. Marie Smith initially accused her local supervisors of religious discrimination and racial discrimination after she was denied a promotion. Smith's case was initially dismissed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Administrative Judge, but on appeal was reversed for further consideration. At some point, Smith further claimed that she was subjected to a hostile work environment due to her ongoing case. The EEOC Administrative Judge eventually ruled against Marie M. Smith, and on appeal, the EEOC affirmed that ruling.
THOMAS E. COLLINS v. U.S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE was a 1999-2002 federal employee EEOC decision which involved an African-American Jehovah's Witness named Thomas E. Collins, of Jackson, Mississippi, who was employed by the United States Department of Agriculture. Thomas Collins disagreed with his fiscal year 1998 performance rating, so accused his local USDA managers of religious discrimination, age discrimination, racial discrimination, and reprisal due to Collins multiple previous discrimination claims. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) Administrative Judge ruled against Tom Collins, and on appeal, the EEOC affirmed that ruling.
LEZLIE ROWELL v. LINCOLN was a 1995 Louisiana federal court case involving a Jehovah's Witness named Lezlie Rowell. Rowell got into a dispute with Lincoln Parish school officials after she would neither recite the Pledge of Allegiance nor salute the American flag. She subsequently sued, saying a failing grade in student teaching kept her from getting her education certification. The USDC ruled in her favor. $$$$ unknown.
There are many, many "former" Jehovah's Witnesses who have and are currently playing professional sports. There are and have been only a few professional athletes who have made an issue of their WatchTower mandated beliefs.
In 1991, Major League Baseball added a small American Flag decal to batting helmuts in a show of support for American troops fighting Gulf War 1. Detroit Tigers players, Chet Lemon and Lou Whitaker, who are both Jehovah's Witnesses, covered the decals with tape. Both had for years refused to stand for the playing of the National Anthem.
DEBRA FOURNIER v. NEW BEDFORD SCHOOL COMMITTEE was a 1980 Massachusetts federal lawsuit which involved a Jehovah's Witness School Teacher named Debra L. Fournier, of Middleborough, Massachusetts. Debra Fournier, age 25, and her husband were both Catholics who converted to the Jehovah's Witnesses in 1978-79. Fournier, a non-tenured teacher at John B. DeValles Elementary School thereafter stopped teaching her students music and songs related to patriotism and the various holidays. Fournier also refused to pledge allegiance to the American flag, and refused to stand for the National Anthem. In early 1980, school administrators ordered Fournier to resume teaching the approved curriculum, but she refused due to her new WatchTower beliefs and practices. After holding two days of hearings, the School Committee voted unanimously to discharge Fournier for insubordination. Fournier thereafter filed a lawsuit against the New Bedford Massachusetts School Committee seeking reinstatement to her position. Outcome unknown.
GAVIN v. PEOPLES NATURAL GAS CO. was a 1978 case involving an African-American Jehovah's Witness named Charles Gavin. Gavin was employed as a service operator at the Peoples Natural Gas Company in Monongahela, Pennsylvania. When assigned the task of raising and lowering the company's American Flag, Gavin refused due to a conflict with his religious convictions. Gavin was fired on May 19, 1974, so on June 4, 1974, he filed religious discrimination complaints with both the EEOC and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission alleging, respectively, violations of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act. The PHRC conducted an administrative hearing after attempts at conciliation failed. Following the hearing, the PHRC on August 27, 1976, issued findings of fact and conclusions of law and entered an opinion and order dismissing the Gavin's complaint. The PHRC held that the testimony of an Elder of Gavin's congregation established that the Gavin's refusal was not required by religious creed, that the belief of plaintiff was therefore not protected under the Pennsylvania Act, and that the complaint would therefore be dismissed. Gavin sought review of the PHRC's decision in the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania, but this appeal was dismissed by the court in February 1977, due to his failure to file the record of his case within the time limit previously set by the court.
The EEOC issued a "right to sue" notice in November 1977. Thereafter, Gavin filed a federal lawsuit under Title VII alleging that his former employer discriminated against him because of "his religion, his conscientious convictions, as well as his race." The USDC summarily dismissed the "race discrimination" claim on the grounds that race discrimination had not been asserted in Gavin's claims before the EEOC. The USDC also dismissed Gavin's other "claims" due to the testimony of Gavin's Jehovah's Witness Elder, stating: "The plaintiff here asserts that since his religion views flags as false idols, his employer was required to accommodate to his refusal to raise and lower the American flag. In the proceedings on this claim before the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission, an elder of the plaintiff's congregation testified as an expert on the beliefs which were held by members of their religion. The Pennsylvania Commission then found itself in the awkward—and, we believe, constitutionally prohibited—position of determining what belief the plaintiff could assert as a bona fide religious belief. The Opinion issued by the Commission explained: 'It is important to note that the complainant specifically invokes the protection of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act as a member of the '"Jehovah's Witness religious organization."' Accordingly, the deposition of Mr. John DeGregorio, an elder of the complainant's congregation, is entitled to great weight. Mr. DeGregorio's testimony as well as the Stipulation of Facts, compel the Commission's conclusion that the complainant's conviction is not part of the Jehovah's Witness religious creed since the complainant was never requested to participate in any flag ceremony, but merely to perform the job duty of raising and lowering the flag. The implication of this conclusion is that under an act prohibiting religious discrimination in employment, only religious beliefs which are part of a recognized creed are protected. But what if two experts were called and they disagreed on what beliefs were acceptable in a given sect? What if there were majority and minority views of what beliefs were acceptable? These are not merely academic questions, because we have before us a complainant who asserts a religious belief which has been questioned by his employer and which has, in a prior proceeding, been adjudicated not to be a valid religious belief. At a minimum, were this case to be tried, we would have to determine whether the belief asserted is to be characterized as a 'religious' belief, and whether such a belief, which may be outside the standardized creed of his faith, is protected under the Act."
The testimony of the "Elder" (minister) from Gavin's own JW congregation that Gavin's refusal to raise and lower the company's American Flag was not required by Watchtower rules blew Gavin's case in both forums. Either the Elder's testimony confused the PHRC hearing officers, or the Elder testified in "JW-speak". "JW-speak" is when a JW says something understood by non-JWs to be one thing, but understood by Jehovah's Witnesses to be the exact opposite.
For example, about ten years or so ago, Jehovah's Witnesses were fighting in one of the European Human Rights Courts for official recognition as a "religion" in Bulgaria. Bulgaria made it clear that they would never formally recognize Jehovah's Witnesses as a religion so long as the Watch Tower Society prohibited Bulgarian Jehovah's Witnesses from accepting blood transfusions. The Watch Tower Society "cleverly" responded in writing that they would no longer "disfellowship" (excommunicate) any Bulgarian JW who accepted a blood transfusion. Bulgaria thought they had "won", and issued formal recognition to the Watch Tower Society. As soon as such was in hand, the Watch Tower Society issued a letter to Bulgarian congregations that it would no longer be necessary to "disfellowship" (excommunicate) any Bulgarian JW who accepted a blood transfusion, because henceforth, any Bulgarian JW who accepted a blood transfusion would automatically be considered as having submitted their resignation as a JW.
In the instance of the testimony of Gavin's Elder, that Elder may very well have felt pressured during testimony, and he may have decided to "code" his testimony. It is not unusual for JWS to publicly state that the Watch Tower Society does not require JWs to do anything ... be it avoid holiday celebrations, accept blood transfusions, not recite the Pledge, etc. Non-JWs do not understand what other JWs understand that JW to mean. What that JW means, when they state that JWs are not required to do something actually required by Watchtower rules, is that any JW has the "free will" to resign from being a JW, or the "free will" to disobey the Watch Tower Society and suffer the punishment of being excommunicated. If you have read this far in my website, you know that 99.99% of JWs would rather die first. Saying JWs are not "required" to obey Watchtower rules is technically true, but practically false.
Employers should keep in mind that GAVIN was an older decision, and since then it has become settled law that it is the employee's personal convictions that count, NOT the creed of the religious organization, so long as the employee truly and honestly believes such.
BACHER v. CITY OF NORTH RIDGEVILLE was a 1975 Ohio state court case involving a Jehovah's Witness named Gary Bacher, who refused to raise the American Flag in front of the Ohio fire station where he was employed as a fireman. Bacher was employed in 1971, and regularly performed the flag raising duty when he was so assigned. However, when Bacher converted to the Jehovah's Witnesses in 1974, he refused to raise the flag due to his new beliefs. After Bacher's third refusal, he was terminated. Supported by the ACLU, Bacher filed suit. The lower courts ruled against him, but the appellate court ruled: (1) Freedom to act on behalf on one's religious beliefs may not be curtailed absent a compelling state interest. (2) A city may not discharge a Jehovah's Witness from his employment as a fireman for his refusal to comply with regulations requiring him to raise the national flag, absent a showing that such refusal threatens the morale, efficiency, discipline, and authority of the fire department. Bacher was reinstated with full backpay.
MITCHELL v. PHILADELPHIA was a 1972-6 Pennsylvania federal court case involving a Jehovah's Witness named David Mitchell. Mitchell was fired after he refused to salute the American flag at a football game. The City was ordered to rehire Mitchell and pay him four years backpay. The City also agreed that Mitchell does not need to take blood transfusions if he gets sick.
LEWIS v. MORGAN COUNTY was a 1951-2 Indiana state court lawsuit involving a Jehovah's Witness named William Lewis. William Lewis was fired from his job as Principal of Hall Grade School after he refused to participate in a school flag ceremony. Lewis's refusal to salute the American flag, and his public comments that he would not bear arms in defense of the country enraged citizens of this rural school district. Local parents picketed the school and refused to allow Hall to enter. Hall's wife filed assault charges against another female who grabbed a camera from her after she started taking photos of the protesters.
Hall and his wife were recent converts to the JWs. Lewis had taught for several years in an adjacent county's school system, but that school syatem "traded" him to Morgan County after his recent conversion brought them similar headaches. Outcome unknown.
MORGAN v. CIVIL SERVICE COMMISSION was a 1944 New Jersey state Supreme Court case which involved a Jehovah's Witness, named Daniel Morgan, who was a disabled WW1 veteran. Morgan's status as a disabled war veteran gave him preferential status for government jobs for which he applied. Interestingly, Morgan received legal representation from the ACLU rather than the WatchTower Society, although Morgan lived at the WatchTower Society's backdoor.
When Morgan applied for the position of "bridge attendant" in the Bergen County service, around 1941-2, Morgan was denied such by the Bergen County Board of Freeholders, because of the local notoriety created by Morgan's two school-aged sons past refusal to recite the Pledge or salute the American Flag. Morgan said that he would pledge "his allegiance" to the U.S. government and to the things for which the American flag stands, but that he would not do so to the flag itself.
Morgan appealed to the Civil Service Commission of New Jersey, which stated that Morgan could be denied the position of "bridge attendant" only due to "just cause" given Morgan's disabled veteran status and given that he had passed the civil service exam. The Civil Service Commission of New Jersey found "just cause" in the facts that Daniel Morgan:
... did not render "satisfactory service" as a probationary motor vehicle inspector in the year 1938, and in a training school conducted at the Rahway Reformatory for prison and reformatory officers, subsequent to the civil service examination for the position, he demonstrated that he was "of a highly nervous disposition" and "temperamentally unsuited to service as a prison and reformatory officer."
New Jersey's Supreme Court reversed the CSC on the reasoning that the Board of Freeholders had not given Morgan the job solely based on Morgan's refusal to salute the American Flag, and that neither the BoF nor CSC had heard sufficient evidence as to how Morgan's past wash-outs as a motor vehicle inspector trainee and prison guard trainee related to the position of bridge attendant.
"If you weren't so dumb, you would do a little investigating and become [Jehovah's] Witnesses yourself."
JWs REFUSE TO SWEAR OATHS TO NON-JW INSTITUTIONS
BESSARD v. CALIFORNIA COMMUNITY COLLEGES was a 1994 federal California court case which involved an African-American Mother and Daughter pair of Jehovah's Witnesses named Lanell Bessard and Tanella Bridges. Mother and Daughter had each sought non-professional employment at the Fresno City College campus. Both failed to make it past the initial screening phase in the college's hiring process due to the fact that they answered "NO" to the question on the college's standard job application form that stated: "Prior to employment, are you willing to swear or affirm allegiance to the United States and to the State of California?" This travesty of justice ended up costing the taxpayers $259,098.00.
Bessard and Bridges brought claims in federal court against the Community College District, alleging that their rights under the First Amendment and under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had been abridged. While the court could have considered whether or not actions could have been taken by the college to reasonably accomodate the women's religious beliefs under Title VII, the Bessard court chose to address their claims under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. This was due to the court's finding that the decision would obviate the need to subsequently address the plaintiff's statutory claims under Title VII and constitutional claims under the First Amendment. That court ruled that Bessard's and Bridges' free exercise rights had indeed been violated, which shifted the burden to the College to prove that it had both a compelling governmental interest in enforcing the policy and that the oath was the least restrictive means available to it to pursue this interest. The College stated two compelling interests. First, state law required the oath. Second, the College contended that it had "a compelling interest in ensuring employee loyalty and trustworthiness." The court renounced the College's first argument, finding that this rationale would lead to every state law being immune from attack on constitutional grounds, leaving individuals with hollow constitutional protections. With regard to their second argument, the court found that the oath was "not the least restrictive means of furthering the goal of having a loyal work force." That court expected the College to somehow prove that employees who take a loyalty oath were more loyal than those who did not. The court stated that the College could better develop and enforce employee loyalty through proper and prudent administration. The court found California's loyalty oath to be of little value in promoting worker loyalty among those who would object on religious grounds. In the end, the court found in favor of the two Jehovah's Witnesses and enjoined the College from requiring them to take the oath as a precondition of employment. In a jury determination of the damges suffered by the two Jehovah's Witnesses, they were awarded $259,098.00.
ANDERSON v. FRANK was a 1986-93 Wisconsin federal court case. In November 1986, a Jehovah's Witness, named William Anderson, 32, of Sussex, Wisconsin, was hired as an engineman at the Milwaukee branch of the United States Postal Service. However, Anderson refused to take the USPS oath of office, because it violated WatchTower rules, and he was fired about one month later.
In accordance with USPS employment disputes, in 1990, the Commission ruled that the USPS would not incur "undue hardship" by "reasonably accommodating" a Jehovah's Witness who objected to the term "defend", and the clause, "I will bear true faith and allegiance to ... ." The Commission ordered USPS to eliminate the religious conflict by deleting the "objectionable parts" of the USPS oath.
Apparently, that was not enough for William Anderson, because the media was reporting another lawsuit backed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). In all likelihood, Anderson, who had worked for only about one month in 1986, was probably seeking "back wages" for the 4-5 years when he did not work. What do you want to bet that he did not receive most of such?
DUNN v. CLAYTON COUNTY GEORGIA BOARD OF EDUCATION was a 1982-3 Georgia civil court case which involved a Jehovah's Witness schoolteacher, named Janie Dunn. Dunn was a Cosmetology Instructor at Jonesboro Senior High School. At the start of the 1982-3 school year, Dunn was fired after she refused to sign the part of her employment contract which required her to affirm or swear "allegiance" to the Constitutions of the United States and the State of Georgia. Dunn got the ACLU to take up her cause, and filed a federal lawsuit. Outcome unknown.
In the early 1980s, employees of local and state government in Florida were required to sign a simple "loyalty oath", which stated, "I ... swear or affirm that I support the Constitution of the United States and the state of Florida." In 1982, when a Jehovah's Witness named Mary Bell, of Tampa, Florida, was hired as a clerk typist at the University of South Florida's medical records department, Bell refused to sign the Oath. Florida law did not permit any modifications to the Oath, and in fact, made it a crime to modifiy the Oath. However, someone at USF permitted Mary Bell to somehow modify the simply worded Oath, and allowed her to be hired.
In September 1983, Mary Bell quit that job to take a better job with Florida's Motor Vehicle Department. Bell was again required to sign the Oath, but she again refused. This time, the HR person followed Florida law, and Bell was not hired. In October 1983, Mary Bell was re-hired at USF. It is not known whether Bell's signed a second illegally modified Oath, or whether USF allowed the old one to stand. However, some time thereafter, the state audited USF's personnel files, and discovered that Bell's Oath had been illegally modified. Mary Bell was fired effective March 1, 1984. Despite efforts by various liberals to have Mary Bell contest her discharge, Bell refused to challenge her termination. Adrian Morrison, then the WatchTower Society's spokesperson in the Tampa area, refused to call signing the Oath a violation of WatchTower teachings. Rather, he stated that Bell "might have felt that this was a violation of her [political] neutrality". In all likelihood, Adrian Morrison probably knew that other Florida JWs were working for local and state governments, and had signed the Oath.
During his 2009 Senate confirmation hearing, P. David Lopez, General Councel of the E.E.O.C., briefly mentioned that while he worked at the Justice Department between 1991 and 1994 that he had succesfully prosecuted an unidentified small school district which had either terminated or refused to hire a Jehovah's Witness as a school bus driver, who had refused to take the state mandated loyalty oath.
In 1997, President Clinton issued "Guidelines on Religious Exercise and Religious Freedom in the Federal Workplace", which include: "An applicant for employment in a governmental agency who is a Jehovah's Witness should not be compelled, contrary to their religious beliefs, to take a loyalty oath whose form is religiously objectionable."
HALL v. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE Despite Clinton's 1997 Guidelines, in 2000, a Jehovah's Witness named Michelle Hall was fired from Fort Belvoir, in Virginia. The produce worker stated that reciting "I will bear true faith and allegiance to" the U.S. Constitution conflicted with her duty to give "Jehovah" her undivided loyalty. Hall obtained the legal assistance of the ACLU, which negotiated a settlement that reinstated Hall and gave her back wages and $9,000 in attorneys' fees. More importantly, the settlement allows Hall to forego the government's loyalty oath, and instead, simply promise that she "will be a loyal citizen of the United States." Interestingly, Hall had previously signed the same Oath on multiple occasions during the ten year period that she had worked a series of temporary part-time jobs at Fort Belvoir. It wasn't until Hall was hired full-time that she complained.
SEEMINGLY "ATYPICAL" JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES
Earl H. Norman (BIO), who serves as an Elder at the Silver Springs Road Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses, in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, and who has served as "Chairman" of the local Missouri Regional Building Committee, and who on occasion has even served as a television WatchTower Society Spokesperson, is a MULTI-MILLIONAIRE. Earl Norman founded Health Services Corporation of America (HSCA), now known as MedAssets. Currently in his late 70s, Norman is semi-retired, but still owns a securities firm known as Benton Hill Investments Co. and a real estate sales and development company known as Lorimont Place, Ltd.
In addition to his door-to-door ministry as one of Jehovah's Witnesses, and in addition to his many activities as a JW Elder, Earl Norman is also extremely active in the secular community. Click the link to read about Norman's appearance and testimony before the Blue Ribbon Citizens Committee On Missouri's Transportation Needs, in June 2012, during which Earl H. Norman counseled Missouri's state legislators as to how Missouri state government could get around it being unlawful to enact a state sales tax to fund Missouri's highways and roads departments. Earl Norman has also been willing to wade into political controversy regarding the construction of a new interstate highway -- making recommendations to the States of Missouri and Kentucky, as well as the State of Illinois.
Despite the fact that the WatchTower Society has historically recommended that Jehovah's Witnesses NOT pursue "higher education", Earl Norman admirably has not merely worked publicly for additional higher education facilities in his local community, but has been willing to wade into political controversy regarding such. Earl Norman also founded Health Careers Foundation Inc., an independent not-for-profit public foundation which grants scholarships to students pursuing degrees in the health care field.
Earl Norman admirably has also led the way in the preservation of local historic structures. Too bad that they likely will not survive Armageddon when it finally arrives next week, next month, or next year.
George J. Stadtlander is a wealthy and nationally prominent Health Care industry - Health Insurance industry insider, as well as being a nationally prominent Jehovah's Witness Elder, who resides in northwest Ohio. Corporate documents show George Stadtlander to be one of the original incorporators of both the Twinsburg Ohio Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses and the Aurora, Ohio Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses. Unconfirmed rumors also allege that George Stadtlander possibly may be used occasionally by the WatchTower Society to purchase real estate in other parts of the United States in situations where the construction of a Kingdom Hall or an Assembly Hall may be anticipated to be controversial.
George Stadtlander is also one of the wealthier original members of the Board of Trustees of JAH-JIREH HOMES OF AMERICA D/B/A Legacy Place Cottages, which is a Jehovah's Witness owned, operated, and occupied retirement community located just outside Allentown, Pennsylvania. (Joining George Stadtlander, in December 2010, as founding Trustees of "Jah-Jireh Homes of America" are former WatchTower Society Attorney, Judah Ben Schroeder (who just so happens to also be the son of deceased Governing Body member, Albert D. Schroeder); Judah B. Schroeder's multi-millionaire father-in-law, Leroy Dale Baker (founder of "Dale Baker Automotive Group" in Grand Rapids, Michigan); and multi-millionaire real estate developer, Darbin T. Skeans, of Allentown, Pennsylvania.)
The Jah-Jireh Homes website shows George Stadtlander's 2010 place of residence as "Chagrin Falls, Ohio". According to this Campaignmoney.com webpage, "a" George Stadtlander, who lives in Chagrin Falls, Ohio, donated $1000.00 to the OBAMA FOR AMERICA Political Action Committee in February 2012.
As an example of how some Jehovah's Witnesses are able to rationalize away historic Watchtower teachings so as to be able to take advantage of certain "career opportunities", contrast the following scenario with the above JWs who "suffered" for their beliefs. In 2005, a Century 21 Realty agent in Gary, Indiana, named Christopher Turner, was "appointed" by the Mayor as a boardmember of the Gary Housing Authority. This "appointment" created quite a stir in Gary, Indiana political circles, because nearly everyone considered this to be a political position filled by political appointment. Why so controversial? Turner was a Jehovah's Witness. This kinda makes one wonder why hundreds of Jehovah's Witnesses in Malawi, Africa allowed themselves to be raped and murdered in the 1960-70s because the Watch Tower Society told them that they were not allowed to carry that country's political party card and still be a JW. I can't help but wonder if an "appointment" as a boardmember of the Gary Housing Authority requires a person to take an "oath"? Or, does a boardmember of the Gary Housing Authority carry any kind of "card" which identifies themself as such?
A Reader -- a former Jehovah's Witness (XJW) -- relates this highly amusing story about some of his hypocritical and dishonest Jehovah's Witness relatives:
Several years ago, at a statewide business convention, purely by chance, XJW was seated at a banquet table along with an old acquaintance, who had become a politically active attorney (PAA). PAA was slightly inebriated, and in XJW's mind, started overplaying to the other people at the table XJW's and his past relationship. PAA even related that, amazingly, only a few years previous, that he had attended a statewide Democrat Party banquet held at the state capitol in conjunction with a gubernatorial inauguration, where, also by chance, he had also been seated at a table along with a woman and her husband who through gradual conversation eventually identified herself as XJW's aunt, who then lived in XJW's old hometown. PAA further related that he had even later observed XJW's aunt and uncle riding on one of the floats in the inauguration parade.
Befuddled, XJW related to PAA, and the other persons at the table who were listening in on this conversation, that he was uncertain as to the identity of this "aunt and uncle", because XJW did not have any aunts or uncles living in his old hometown who were even politically active locally -- much less who might have participated in the inauguration festivities, including riding a float in the parade.
Slightly inebriated PAA continued relating that he had mainly spoken only with the "loud and boisterous" Aunt -- that her husband seemed timid and remained quiet. However, PAA did specificly recall that XJW's Aunt had stated that her husband was the "Vice President" of their local bank.
XJW instantly then knew who were these two relatives, because he had only one relative who was "Vice President" of a bank. And, yes, some relatives from that non-JW branch of the family were active in local Democrat Party politics. However, this "cousin" did not live in XJW's hometown, but instead lived in a city nearly 100 miles away. XJW then related to PAA that it was the "timid and quiet husband" of the "loud and boisterous woman" who was his own blood relative -- a cousin -- but, that Cousin was "Vice-President" at a bank in a city nearly 100 miles distance from XJW's old hometown.
PAA then responded back that he was quite certain that the woman with whom he had spoken had BOTH identified herself and her husband as XJW's "aunt and uncle" -- not cousins, and PAA was certain that the Aunt had said that she and her husband lived in XJW's old hometown. With PAA's expressed certainty, XJW finally began to suspect who actually were the relatives who had attended that Democrat Party banquet and rode a float in the inauguration day parade.
XJW then asked PAA whether this "aunt and uncle" were both "short and skinny" (as were both his Bank VP Cousin and Cousin's wife), OR, was the "aunt" a large woman and her husband a tall man. PAA replied that it was the latter scenario.
XJW then confessed to PAA that, unfortunately, he was going to have to apologize to PAA on behalf of that Aunt and Uncle for their having DECEIVED and LIED to PAA. XJW explained that he did have an Aunt and Uncle still living back in his hometown, and that that husband was also employed at the local bank. However, that Aunt and Uncle were JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES, who supposedly were prohibited from engaging in any type of political activities whatsoever. And, yes, while XJW's non-blood relative uncle does work at the local Bank, that uncle is not the bank's "Vice President" -- he is the bank's JANITOR.
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