Readers particularly interested in the MILITARY SERVICE subject of this webpage should also see our separate webpage, JEHOVAH'S WITNESS FUNERALs, MEMORIALs, and BURIALs with FULL MILITARY HONORS.
In a 2008 Department of the Interior Press Release, the Minuteman Missile National Historic Site announced the hiring of John Black as the site's first Facility Operations Specialist, effective March 17, 2008. John Black, a National Park Service employee for nine years, is also an active member of the Philip, South Dakota, Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses.
Minuteman Missile National Historic Site was established by Congress in 1999 to tell the story of the Minuteman ICBM system, including the development of the system, the personnel who served at the 1,000 nuclear missile sites throughout the upper Great Plains, and the impact the system had on the communities nearby. The U.S. Air Force transferred administration of the site to the National Park Service in 2002, and staff began planning and developmental operations in October 2003.
In addition to contemporary buildings, Minuteman Missile National Historic Site includes two assets on the National Register of Historic Places, 35 features on the List of Classified Structures, two Cultural Landscapes, and historic furnishings and reproductions. In addition to Black's demonstrated abilities with restoring and rehabbing historic sites, Black will also oversee the design and construction of the site's future visitor center/administration facility. Black says that, "he is very excited about the new position and is anxious to join the site's management team in establishing Minuteman Missile as a major historic site in South Dakota for the visiting public."
JW FIGHTER PILOT COMMITTED SUICIDE BY CRASHING AIR FORCE JET. In 1997, the Craig Button saga was played out in the media for several months. Craig Button was reared as a Jehovah's Witness, but supposedly never became an "active" member. His mother was a Jehovah's Witness, and his father joined the Jehovah's Witnesses after retiring from the Air Force.
As a 23 year-old Air Force ROTC cadet, Button wrote to a commander: "My mother who is a Jehovah's Witness raised me to think that joining the military is wrong." The Air Force's "psychological autopsy" revealed that Button was a "perfectionist" who was inwardly torn by his relationships with his JW mother and a former girlfriend. A ROTC classmate stated that Mrs. Button "would not allow him to wear his ROTC uniform in the house." Susanne Button, a half-sister, stated that his mother had wanted him "to leave the military for the airlines."
In the weeks before Button's suicide, he seemed to some people to have become disillusioned with his life in the military. A former landlord recalled that in two telephone conversations before his death, Button seemed "out of character," saying he was "learning to kill people." A fellow USAF pilot who shared an apartment with Captain Button at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, near Tucson, Arizona said that in the month before Button committed suicide that Button's "mother became increasingly vocal in her negative feelings towards her son's job and role in the military."
Button's parents had visited him for a week long stay the week preceding his suicide. On April 2, 1997, Button was scheduled for a training run, in what would have been the first time that Button had ever dropped live ordnance. However, in the early stages of the exercise, Button broke formation from his unit, and then flew from southern Arizona to the Colorado Rockies, which he loved. There, Button flew his jet into the side of a mountain near Vail.
In 1982, Captain Harry Craig Chestler Jr., age 30, of Flint, Michigan, a U.S. Air Force B-52 instructor pilot stationed at Ellsworth AFB refused to wear a uniform, and refused to perform any further duties, after his conversion to the Jehovah's Witnesses. Harry C. Chestler was initially charged with various military offenses until the Air Force rather quickly thought it best to simply drop the charges and quietly grant Harry Chestler an "honorable discharge".
ARCHIE STROUD v. U.S. DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS was a 1993-99 federal employee EEOC decision which involved an African-American Jehovah's Witness named Archie Stroud. Stroud was employed as a Laboratory Worker at the agency's West Los Angeles Medical Center. Archie Stroud filed a complaint alleging racial discrimination, religious discrimination, and discrimination on the basis of physical disability after Stroud's caucasian Supervisor prohibited Stroud from displaying WatchTower literature in the work area; prohibited Stroud from reading WatchTower literature in the work area during duty hours; prohibited Stroud from discussing his WatchTower religion during duty hours; denied Stroud early leave and leaves of absence; etc. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Administrative Judge found no evidence of discrimination, and such findings were adopted by the agency. On appeal, the EEOC affirmed.
The agency has a policy which prohibits displaying and reading religious materials at the workplace during working hours. The record indicates that appellant read his religious material during working hours. Several witnesses testified that appellant frequently read religious materials and discussed his religious beliefs with his co-workers during working hours. In addition, despite the agency's policy which prohibited the use of the telephone for personal business other than emergencies, several witnesses testified that appellant used the agency's telephone, on a daily basis, for religious purposes. ...
... Despite being denied leave, appellant did not report to work from February 15, 1996 through March 15, 1996. Accordingly, an AWOL was issued for those days. Several witnesses testified that appellant generally failed to comply with procedures for leave requests and usually gave no advanced notice.
Over the decades, there have been a smattering of media articles reporting various deportations of WatchTower Society Missionaries from countries whose USA-opposed governments had claimed that such Jehovah's Witness Missionaries had been discovered to have been connected with the C.I.A. Nearly everyone has always dismissed such claims as ludicrous given the Jehovah's Witnesses own well-publicized issues with the Government of the United States, and the widespread impression that Jehovah's Witnesses would never ever partner with a governmental entity to further its own goals. However, given that the WatchTower Society was only recently discovered to have officially affiliated itself in 1992 with the United Nations, an organization which the JWs had strongly condemned for decades, the details of a 1983 deportation of a Jehovah's Witness from the U.S.S.R. may indicate that such previous assessments should not have been made so hastily.
Sometime in 1981, an American Jehovah's Witness, named Sue Pamela Carne, described as "in her 20s", arrived in Moscow, Russia, to work as a "governess" for an unidentified "American Diplomat". In 1982, Sue P. Carne was assigned by the American Embassy to work for William G. Plunkert, who may have replaced the person to whom Carne had previously been assigned. Plunkert has been identified as the then Second Secretary of the Political Section at the American Embassy, which in turn supposedly identifies Plunkert as a C.I.A. operative. By only May 1983, possibly in less than two years, the Russian K.G.B. had already gathered enough intelligence on Sue Carne sufficient to arrest and deport her out of the country.
According to Associated Press reports, Sue Carne was accused of organizing and training a "cell" of Jehovah's Witnesses in the city of Kalinin, which is about 90 miles northwest of Moscow. Soviet officials claimed that Carne had organized, trained, and funded the "cell" while using the alias "Paula Combs". "Paula Combs" had posed in Kalinin as a Russian-language student studying at Moscow's Pushkin Institute. Carne/Combs supposedly supplied the Kalinin group of JWs with banned WatchTower literature, typewriters, tape recorders, and other duplicating equipment, along with funds used to construct a headquarters building -- all of which may indicate that the Kalinin group may have been more than just a local operation.
If one wants to pursue the theory that Sue Pamela Carne was simply a young, single American female who was coincidentally an extremely devout Jehovah's Witness, who wanted the adventure of moving to a then despotic communist country where practicing her own WatchTower religion was outlawed, in order to eek out a living as a "governess", then one must first explain how Carne obtained the necessary diplomatic "security clearances" required for her to be hired and sent to an enemy foreign country to live with and work for a high level C.I.A. operative. In all likelihood, simply being a "Jehovah's Witness" would normally have been an automatic disqualifier.
Then there are questions as to how a "governess" was able to accomplish so much, in so short a period of time, seemingly indicating that Carne had hit the Russian ground running. Her quick accomplishments would seem to indicate that Carne was not only an extraordinary individual with extraordinary intelligence and abilities, but she also would seem to have needed special training in multiple unrelated but coordinated areas that neither the C.I.A. nor the WatchTower Society could have provided individually. It also would seem that Carne's quick accomplishments would have required the support and cooperation of quite a pre-established network both inside and outside the American Embassy. And, if the K.G.B.'s accusations pointed in the right direction, the even better question is whether Carne was a CIA-trained WatchTower operative, or was Carne a WatchTower-trained C.I.A. operative? And, if either the former or latter is true, in how many other "enemy countries" over the decades has the C.I.A. actively promoted and furthered the WatchTower religion as one of its multiple avenues of weakening those countries' governments and social systems?
Clint Eastwood's 1982 movie FIREFOX will give readers a good feel for what life and travel was like in and around Moscow during this time period.
In June 1986, a UPI news article reported the death of a 45 year-old Jehovah's Witness Missionary, named Norma Jean Waagan, in Guatamala City, Guatamala. Norma Waagan was killed on a Saturday night when her automobile EXPLODED so violently that she did not have the ability nor time to even attempt escaping from the vehicle. Her corpse was burned beyond recognition. The explosion apparently occurred at a location somewhere other than near her residence or workplace given that it took police approximately 24 hours to identify her, and they did so only after finding remnants of WatchTower literature, and then questioning local JWs.
Norma J. Waagan apparently was a WatchTower Bible School of Gilead trained missionary whom had been assigned to the "politically volatile" Guatamala in 1977. (The original name was "Watchtower Bible College of Gilead" in the WatchTower Cult's routine modus operandi of exaggeration. In 1947/48, the WatchTower Cult was forced to change "College" to "School" because "Gilead" did not meet the New York Department of Education's standards for use of the label, "College".) However, a spokesperson from the WatchTower Society Branch in Guatamala City told reporters that Waagan had "stopped preaching" for the Jehovah's Witnesses in 1983, but continued to attend "meetings". Waagan spent her time "teaching English". The Branch spokesperson made the point to reporters that he did not believe that Waagan's car had been deliberately blown up, which is the best evidence that such was a good possibility.
There was no mention of a spouse, nor mention of any family, for this middle-aged female, whom was probably age 47, rather than 45, as reported, which would have made her 38 years old when she was first sent to Guatamala. The news article simply stated that Waagan was from Tacoma, Washington. Google indicates that she likely grew up in Rosemead, California.
AN ACTIVE DUTY SAILOR JOINS THE JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES
An "Experience" Never Related at a WatchTower Society District Convention
As Told by Captain Ralph Miller, in "Jehovah's Witnesses: Victims of Deception"
1958 was a very eventful year in my young life. It was the month of June and I had just celebrated my seventeenth birthday, and with my mother's written permission, I had joined the United States Navy. In June of the previous year, I had quit high school and found that jobs were not very plentiful, so the Navy seemed like a good opportunity for excitement and adventure, and the means to earn a livelihood.
Almost two years later, in 1960, while on military leave in my home town of Indianapolis, Indiana, I met and just three months later married my wife, the former Linnie Jane Gilreath. After being transferred a number of times, I was assigned to the Naval Air Station at Jacksonville, Florida.
It was the early summer of 1963 and Linnie and I were now the proud parents of two beautiful blond headed boys: Daniel Patrick, age two years, and Anthony Scott, age five months. My family and I had transferred to Jacksonville from Long Beach, California, where I was stationed on board the U.S.S. Bayfield, a Marine troop transport.
We had just moved into a newly redecorated home located on Lavin Road, not far from the Naval Air Station. The house was an FHA repo that we were able to purchase with no money down and small affordable monthly payments. My wife and I were very elated to be moving into our very own home. During our three years of marriage and nomadic military lifestyle, we had always lived in apartments or government housing with very little room for our growing family. We had been transferred and had to change residences four times thus far, and we were looking forward to an assignment at a shore installation, where I expected to be stationed for at least two years. We were very happy at the prospect of a comparatively normal lifestyle, where I would be able to come home almost every evening and spend time with my family.
However, we wouldn't have been so happy if we had known what the future held for us. We didn't know it yet, but this was to be our last duty station and the end of my promising career in the U. S. Navy. It was also the beginning of problems and difficulties that would plague our entire family for the next thirty years.
I returned home one day after work at the Air Base and was advised by my wife that there had been two women there earlier in the day who professed to be ministers. They had told my wife that they were engaged in a "great separating work" for God, informing people about an impending disaster that was about to come upon the entire inhabited earth. "Armageddon", they called it, the "War of the Great Day of God the Almighty."
They told my wife that the only way to be saved was to become a member of God's organization, which was the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of Jehovah's Witnesses. Everyone who didn't belong to the organization, they said, would be destroyed. I could tell that this revelation frightened and intimidated my wife. At the insistence of these ladies my wife had invited them back the following week to study the Bible with us, at a time in the evening when I would be home from work.
I objected to this Bible Study that was being imposed on us as neither my wife nor I had any experience at all in religious matters. Linnie and I were both just twenty-two years of age at the time and had never read the Bible. We had received a King James Version of the Holy Scriptures as a wedding gift and it was sitting on the coffee table in the living room, gathering dust. Neither of us had come from families who placed much importance or emphasis on going to church, or were what you would refer to as "religious." We both believed in a Supreme Being of some kind. However, like a lot of other people, we just didn't give it much thought. I didn't want to be disrespectful or unkind to these women representing themselves as ministers of God. But I also wasn't interested in studying the Bible.
I informed my wife that she could do whatever she wanted to. However, if she elected to study with the women, she would have to do it without me. I would see to it that I wasn't home. The following week, the day arrived when the ladies were to study with us. Just before the designated time for their arrival I went outside to the car to leave. It was pouring down rain and, as luck would have it, my car wouldn't start. I was still in my automobile trying to start it when the two women pulled in behind me, blocking my route of escape. I decided that I was trapped and might as well make the best of it. I cordially greeted the ladies and invited them into the house, where my wife introduced us.
One of the women was a very elderly person, with white hair and I would guess her age to be in her mid seventies. Her name was Emily Sassard. However, she said that everyone just called her "Sassy." The lady accompanying her was rather matronly looking and appeared to be in her late forties or early fifties. Her name was Una Fremont and she was obviously the one in charge of the two, as she immediately took control of our study.
We informed the ladies that we had our own Bible, the King James Version, and we would use it to study from. Una replied, "That is fine." However, she was quick to point out that there were many better translations of the Bible, explaining that the King James Version was written in archaic English and was difficult to understand. However, Una did concede that you could get the truth from any Bible, as long as it was interpreted properly. As I recall, we proceeded to take turns reading, starting in the Old Testament with the book of Genesis. Una explained the creation account to us, stating how God intended for mankind to live on a paradise earth forever and what God purposes to be, will ultimately come to pass. When it was Una or Sassy's turn to read from the Bible, they read from a modern English translation called the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures. After they had read several times from their modern English version, I had to admit that it was easier to understand, and I asked Una how we could get a copy of this Bible. This seemed to please them a great deal and they told me that when they returned the following week they would bring us each a copy. After several hours Una concluded the study with a prayer.
After Una and Sassy had left, promising to return on the same day and at the same time the following week, my wife and I talked about how nice they were and how knowledgeable concerning the Bible they seemed to be. Una especially impressed us with her enthusiastic and articulate manner. She was very encouraging, complimenting us often on how quickly we learned and how smart we seemed to be. Una made over our babies, lamenting that she only had one grown son and that she seldom even saw him.
Una also related that her husband was now deceased and that they had not had a good marriage. She further stated that her husband had not been one of Jehovah's Witnesses and that he had been an alcoholic and very abusive of her. Una explained that she was a "pioneer" for the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society. She voluntarily put in many hours going from door to door 'just as Jesus and his disciples had,' doing this great separating work for Jehovah God and the Society.
Una further explained that the work consisted of separating the "sheep" from the "goats." The "sheeplike ones" were God's people who were teachable and would listen and respond to the Society's message and join the Watchtower organization. The "goatlike ones" were those who would not listen or respond to the Society's message. These were "worldly people," or Satan's followers. We were told these goatlike ones were to be destroyed at Armageddon in the very near future.
Very punctually, the following week, the two nice ladies appeared at our door, Bibles in hand. Just as they had promised, they brought us each a brand new copy of the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures. Also, they had brought us each a copy of a book entitled "Let God Be True". Una explained that this was a "Bible study aid" written and published by the WatchTower Society, which we would be using. She further explained that the Bible was a very complicated book and that no one could understand it without help from the organization. The only cost to us was a very small contribution to the Society, just to defray the cost of printing. I gave Una two dollars for the four books and thought it quite a bargain.
Over the next several weeks we learned many new and exciting things from our Bible study, about God and what his purpose was for mankind and what he expected from us. We learned all these things from the WatchTower Society's "Bible study aid," occasionally looking up scriptures in the "New World Translation of the Bible", which supported what they were teaching us.
Some of the things that we learned were that God's name is Jehovah and that his true followers always call him by that name. This was also part of the proof that Jehovah's Witnesses were God's only true people. No other religious organization called God by this name, we were told. Linnie and I also learned that there were two classes of followers in Jehovah's organization. There was the "anointed class" or the 144,000 who would go to heaven to rule with Christ, and there was the "other sheep class," the millions of other followers of the Watchtower Society who would be permitted to live on a restored paradise earth, forever, after Jehovah cleansed the earth by killing off all the wicked.
The wicked, we were taught, consisted of all those who were not part of God's organization, the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of Jehovah's Witnesses. It was further pointed out to us that the wicked included all of the religions of the world, together with all of the churches of Christendom. The churches of Christendom were especially evil in Jehovah's eyes, because they were teaching the people "God dishonoring" doctrines such as hellfire and the Trinity. Una and Sassy also taught us that the churches were responsible for the majority of the wars that had been fought in history and that Christendom has always supported the evil governments of the world, prostituting themselves in an effort to gain favor and power.
It was also shown to us from the Scriptures, how all of the world's military forces would be bought into direct opposition to Jehovah by Satan the Devil and would be completely destroyed at Armageddon. Needless to say, this information made me feel a bit uneasy, since I had intended to make a career of the military.
During the course of our studies, with the coaching of our teachers, we determined that we were of the "other sheep class" who would inhabit a restored paradise earth after Armageddon. After all, Linnie and I reasoned, we had no real desire to go to heaven, a place that we knew virtually nothing about. The mental picture our teachers gave us of what the earth was to be like was magnificent. No more wars, sickness or hunger, and even death would be done away with. Everyone would have a beautiful home of their choice and man and animals would live in perfect harmony together, under one world government. I remember thinking, "Who wouldn't want to live in a wonderful world like that?"
We were later to find out that the worldwide government they were referring to would be the Governing Body of Jehovah's Witnesses. Elders in each congregation were portrayed as "Princes in the Earth" who were preparing to govern and carry out orders directly from the Society's headquarters in Brooklyn, New York. Loyal followers, who would be the survivors of Armageddon, would be expected to take commands and direction from the elders or 'Princes,' without question. Those who opposed this arrangement in the "New World Order," we were told, would immediately be executed.
After studying with Una and Sassy for several more weeks Una advised us that we should be attending the meetings at the "Kingdom Hall," in addition to our weekly home Bible study. She explained that the "Kingdom Hall" was what they called the place where individual congregations met to study the Bible and the Watchtower publications as well as worship Jehovah. Una likened the attending of these meetings to "taking in spiritual food." She said that there were five meetings a week and that we should try to arrange our personal affairs in an effort to attend them all. Una explained that on Sunday mornings there was a Public Talk that lasted for one hour. The second meeting immediately followed the first and was for the purpose of studying The Watchtower magazine, one of the Society's monthly publications. There was an article selected from this magazine each week and everyone in attendance was expected to study the article in advance and be prepared for the question and answer session. This meeting also lasted for one hour.
On Tuesday evenings there was another Bible Study that everyone was required to attend. The congregation was broken up into small groups and met at the Kingdom Hall, as well as private homes. Each group had a study conductor who was either an elder or some other "servant," as their leaders are called. One of the Society's books was studied at these meetings which lasted for one hour. You were also required to study prior to this meeting and be prepared for the question and answer session. Everyone was expected to participate.
Then there were two meetings on Thursday nights. They were of one hour duration each, one following right after the other. They were called the Theocratic Ministry School and the Service Meeting. Basically these meetings were used for the purpose of teaching Jehovah's Witnesses public speaking, and demonstrations were given on how to effectively place the Society's literature and solicit donations from the public.
Una taught us that to miss any of these meetings, unless it was absolutely unavoidable, was a sin. In addition to all of these meetings, Jehovah's Witnesses are expected to spend as much time as possible in "service" to Jehovah and the organization. This "service" is to be done to the exclusion of secular work, such as overtime on your job, extracurricular activities such as sports, Scouting or hobbies, or even obtaining a higher education. "Service" involves going from door to door, witnessing to people about Jehovah and the organization and placing the Society's literature, soliciting donations and attempting to start Bible studies, in an effort to gain converts. The donations received from the sale or placement of their magazines, books and tracts are sent to the Society's headquarters in Brooklyn, New York. This procedure is still in effect today, just as it was in 1963 when we first became associated with the organization, only with a slight twist. The Watchtower followers today are expected to donate money out of their own pocket for the publications when they first receive them; then if they are able to obtain a contribution at the door, that is also required to be sent to the Society.
For persons going out in "service," usually arrangements are made to meet in car groups at the Kingdom Hall or some other designated location. There are maps available of the area to be canvassed and this "territory," as it is called, is an area within a specific circumference of the Kingdom Hall. Detailed records are kept of interested persons with the "territory." Interested persons were basically defined as people who have accepted literature and/or made contributions to the Society. This is done so that some other Witness working the "territory," perhaps the following month, might call on that same person again. These records are also used to make notations about problems at certain addresses. For example, it might be noted that a person is violently opposed to the witnessing work, or that someone harbors a vicious dog that could pose a danger. The next Witness working that "territory" might wish to skip the house in question.
A record of the amount of time put in by individual Witnesses, or "publishers" as the average rank and file members are also called, is very important and is turned in on a monthly basis to the Society's head quarters in Brooklyn, New York. The Society suggests that regular publishers should put in at least ten hours per month. "Pioneers," that is, persons who go out in "service" full time, are supposed to put in at least sixty hours per month. The Witnesses teach that the amount of "service" that a person performs has a direct bearing on their eternal salvation. Even though Jehovah's Witnesses believe in a type of grace doctrine, through the blood of Jesus Christ, they also believe that their followers must zealously pursue the works program formulated by the organization. These works must be vigorously and faithfully performed in order to be worthy of salvation. Each "publisher" and "pioneer" is required to turn in a written report of all their activity each month: the number of hours they have spent in the door to door ministry, as well as the hours spent conducting Bible studies and a detailed breakdown of Watchtower publications they have placed. These individual activity reports are compiled into a congregation report by one of the elders and then forwarded on to Society headquarters.
Una pulled into our driveway in her ancient and dilapidated Ford. The first meeting, the Public Talk, started at 10:00 a.m. and it was decided that we would all ride in Una's car for our very first visit to the Kingdom Hall. It was especially difficult for my wife, getting herself and two small children ready for the occasion, and Linnie and I were both apprehensive about meeting a lot of new people. After loading ourselves and the babies into Una's compact automobile the drive to the Kingdom Hall only took a few minutes. Una wanted us to get there early so she could introduce us to everyone.
The Kingdom Hall was a very unpretentious building, plain looking in fact, located at the end of a dead end street. It was not like any church or Synagogue that I had ever seen, and there was really nothing to indicate that it was a place of worship, except the large sign near the entrance that said, "Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses." I used to think that all Christian congregations exhibited a cross on their building or place of meeting. However, Una had explained to us in our studies that the cross was a pagan symbol that came into use by the churches when Satan the Devil seized authority over them. Una also informed us that Jesus Christ had been "impaled" on an upright "torture stake," without a cross beam.
As we entered the building, Una was busy introducing us to almost everyone there. I thought it amazing that Una knew so many of the people in attendance, and I wondered how I was going to remember all of their names. Everyone there was very neatly dressed and well groomed. The men and boys were almost all wearing suits and ties, and I felt slightly conspicuous in my casual slacks and sport shirt. I determined then, that if I wanted to fit in I would have to buy myself a suit at the earliest opportunity. Everyone was extremely friendly and courteous and it seemed to me that everyone had a smile on their face. I remember thinking, "What a happy looking bunch of people!"
It wasn't long until a voice boomed over the public address system and stated, "Brothers and sisters, it's time to find a seat and begin the meeting." After just several minutes, everyone had been seated and it became very quiet. The speaker was introduced and began his talk. There were approximately one hundred people in attendance and they all appeared to be paying close attention to what the speaker on the platform was saying.
However, at this point I was more engrossed in looking over the inside of the Kingdom Hall building and the people sitting around me. The speaker didn't sound anything like the preachers that I had heard the few times that I had been in church when I was a youngster. The speaker was very businesslike and well polished and you could tell that he had some kind of formal training in public speaking. After approximately forty-five minutes, the discourse was concluded and everyone applauded. The applause took me by surprise and somehow it didn't seem appropriate in a place of worship. However, I joined in, since it was apparent ly the accepted thing to do.
The speaker then announced that there would be a ten minute intermission before the next meeting began, and he encouraged everyone to stay for the Watchtower Study. Apparently this break was to give people the opportunity to go the rest rooms and to stretch their legs. I excused myself and went outside and lit up a cigarette, along with a number of other men.
It seemed like no time at all that I heard someone announcing over the public address system for everyone to take their seats, as the Watchtower Study was due to begin. After the Watchtower Study was finished and everyone dismissed, Una introduced us to the "Literature Servant," so we would know whom to obtain the Society's magazines, books and tracts from when we started going out in service on our own. Una also showed us how to fill out the Monthly Activity Report form that everyone had to turn in at the end of each month.
From that point on, my family and I started attending the five required meetings a week on a regular basis. We discovered that it wasn't easy being one of Jehovah's Witnesses. Linnie concluded that attending the meetings, going out in service, taking care of two small children and a husband, not to mention cooking, cleaning and taking care of a household was no small task. I found it very difficult as well.
However, we were determined to be loyal to Jehovah and his organization, so we continued to endure. After about six months of diligent study with Una, sometimes twice a week, in addition to all the other activities and meetings, it was decided that we should be baptized. Una advised us there was a District Assembly of Jehovah's Witnesses that was being held at one of the sports arenas in Jacksonville in a week or so, and she felt that we were ready for baptism.
Linnie and I were both rather elated at the prospect. Baptism to us meant, among other things, that we would be full fledged members of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of Jehovah's Witnesses; we would be God's people and perhaps deemed worthy of our family being spared at Armageddon. By this time, we were well aware that our salvation hinged on our faithful obedience to the Watchtower organization. We had been taught that after baptism we would be required to continue faithfully attending all of the meetings each week, going out in service from door to door as much as possible and placing the Society's literature and soliciting donations. We would also be expected to start Bible studies with interested persons, in hopes of bringing them into the organization, and keeping abreast of current teachings through our own personal study. This would be a formidable task for anyone.
However, I was soon to find out that I had an even greater challenge ahead of me that was destined to change the course of our lives forever. Jehovah's Witnesses had taught us that the military establishments of all the earthly governments would be in opposition to Jehovah, and would be completely annihilated at the Battle of Armageddon, when it occurred.
As a result, Jehovah's Witnesses were conscientious objectors, refusing to be in the military, or even perform alternative service. We had been told that some of the brothers had gone to prison rather than serve.
Then there was the dilemma of saluting the flag. The Witnesses had taught us that saluting your country's flag was an idolatrous act, and I had been maneuvering now for several weeks, attempting to avoid locations where I knew there was an American flag. This was no easy task, when you consider that I spent eight to twelve hours a day on a military installation, where there were a great number of American flags.
Also, needless to say, my superiors were not very understanding as to why my Christian conscience would not permit me to render the required salute when the occasion called for it, and I had already been taken to task several times for failure to do so.
In addition, as soon as it became known to my comrades in arms, that I was refusing to salute our country's flag, I became the object of a campaign of patriotic harassment. Each day when I reported for duty, I would find various pamphlets on the history of the American flag all over my desk. When I went home in the evening, I would find more pamphlets and pictures of American flags all over my car.
Also, people at work whom I once considered friendly and took coffee breaks with, would no longer speak, and they made it abundantly clear that they didn't want to associate with me. I was feeling totally ostracized and rejected by my peers.
When I talked to Una and the Congregation Overseer about the situation, they explained that this always happened to true followers of Jehovah. They showed me scriptures in the Bible where Jesus said that his followers would be persecuted, just as he had been. This persecution I was suffering further assured me that the Witnesses were truly God's people, and it gave me the courage to do what I did next.
I wrote a letter to the Chief of Naval Operations in Washington, DC, via the proper chain of command, requesting that I be discharged from the U.S. Naval Service, due to my new found religious convictions. I explained that I had come to believe that fighting wars, which resulted in the killing of my fellow man, was contrary to Bible principles and the teaching of Jesus Christ. I further stated that my Christian conscience would no longer permit me to be a member of a military organization.
The congregation overseer wrote a letter in my behalf and I submitted it, along with my request. When I turned the letter in to my supervisor, he read it and sneeringly stated, "You really don't think this request will be approved, do you?" I advised him that I didn't know if it would or not. However, to satisfy my Christian conscience, I had to try. My supervisor then informed me, "If it is approved, you'll probably be given a 'Bad Conduct' or 'Dishonorable' discharge. They may even give you some time in the brig."
Needless to say, these possible repercussions pointed out by my supervisor, were not very encouraging. However, I had done what I believed to be right, and what Jehovah and the organization had inspired me to do. Whatever happened now, I would just have to accept the consequences.
I was told by my supervisor that it would take several weeks to get a reply to my request, so I resolved to wait. A day or so later, as I was busily engaged in some typing at my desk, the Chief Personnelman who was my supervisor, called me over to his cubicle and informed me the Base Chaplain wanted to see me in his office.
I got my hat and quickly walked the two streets over to the building where the Chaplain's Office was located. I had anticipated this happening. The Witnesses had warned me that Satan the Devil would try to keep me from leaving his domain. What better way, than to have one of Christendom's ministers of false religion try to talk me out of the decision that I had made to get out of the military. I was very nervous as I walked into the Chaplain's Office and told the receptionist my rank and name and that I had been ordered to report to the Chaplain. The receptionist advised the chaplain over the intercom that I was there, and he directed her to show me into his office.
As I entered, the Chaplain was sitting in a large overstuffed chair behind the desk, smoking a pipe. The aroma from the lit pipe tobacco permeated the air, and he puffed several times as I briskly walked to the front of his desk and stood at attention. I informed the Chaplain of my rank and name and that I had been ordered to report to him. He advised me to stand at ease and directed me to sit down in a chair across from his desk. The Chaplain was a slender built man, probably around forty years of age, starting to gray at the temples, with a stern, "no nonsense" look about him. I don't remember his name, but I do recall that he held the rank of Lieutenant Commander.
The Chaplain informed me that he had been asked by my commanding officer to talk with me about the letter I had submitted, requesting to be discharged from the Navy. The Chaplain began to ask me questions about Jehovah's Witnesses and their beliefs and wanted to know how long my family and I had been associated with them. He also asked me numerous questions about the Bible, in an obvious effort to test my knowledge of the Holy Scriptures.
I fully expected the Chaplain to try to convince me that what the Witnesses were teaching wasn't the truth and hysterically denounce the organization in some manner. Instead, the Chaplain very calmly asked questions and took notes concerning the answers I gave, occasionally taking a puff from his pipe. After questioning me for what seemed to be an eternity, but in reality was probably forty-five minutes, the Chaplain very politely informed me that that was all he needed from me and that I could report back to work.
As I walked back to my office, I was slightly perplexed and disoriented by the encounter that I had with the Chaplain. Surprising ly, he didn't even try to talk me out of my course of action, and never said a disparaging word about Jehovah's Witnesses. I remember thinking, surely Jehovah was watching over me.
The time for the District Assembly came, and Linnie and I were baptized. The Congregation Overseer said it was permissible for me to go ahead with my baptism, inasmuch as I had made a formal written request to be discharged from the military. Una was very happy and elated and told us how gratifying it was for her to have brought us into "the Truth."
We were very fond of Una and since Linnie and I were both so far away from our own families, it was natural for us to feel very close to this maternal woman who had befriended us. Una advised us, now that we had been baptized and were members of the organization, it wouldn't be necessary to continue our weekly Bible study with her. She informed us that now we should be trying to cultivate our own Bible study to bring others into "the Truth."
This didn't come as too much of a surprise, but we still felt like the mother bird was kicking us, her young fledglings, out of the nest, and it gave us both an insecure feeling. We had come to depend on Una as our spiritual guide and mentor. Now it seemed we were on our own.
However, we didn't realize just how much alone we really were until that fateful day when I received the reply to my request to be dis charged from the Navy. The Chief of Naval Operations' reply was very brief and to the point. It simply directed that I be honorably discharged immediately from the U.S. Naval Service, with all veterans' benefits in tact.
As I read the letter, I didn't know whether to be happy or to cry. However, my supervisor didn't have any such mixed emotions. The Chief Personnelman very annoyingly related that he just couldn't believe that they would give me an "Honorable Discharge", and was really surprised that the Chief of Naval Operations hadn't ordered me to be court-martialed.
My supervisor further asserted that he was going to "check it out" with our Commanding Officer before he started processing me for separation. A short time later my disgruntled supervisor returned and very disappointedly advised me to report back for duty at 0800 hours the following day, and he would have my discharge papers ready.
I was in shock as I drove home from the base that evening. Everything was happening so quickly. I had completed six years of service toward my retire ment and I was a Second Class Petty Officer (E-5), making a comparatively livable salary, not to mention the fringe benefits: medical care, commissary privileges, longevity pay, family allotment pay, etc. All of that would be gone tomorrow morning.
Now I had to figure out what I was going to do for a living. I had a wife and two small children who were depend ing on me to take care of them. The Navy had trained me to do clerical work, teaching me how to use various office machines, and I could type -- not exactly what you would call "high paying skills" in the civilian labor market. Also, I had heard that jobs were scarce in Florida, and I began to wonder now just how I was going to make those "easy monthly payments" on our house, car and furniture. When I arrived home I broke the good news to my wife. Effective tomorrow morning, I would no longer be a member of the U.S. military, which the Wit nesses had taught us was in opposition to Jehovah God. The bad news was that I would also no longer be among the gainfully employed. Linnie's reaction was also one of disbelief, that things were happening so quickly. However, she encouraged me by reason ing that, because it did happen so quickly and since I was to be discharged honorably, with no time in the brig, and had retained my veterans' benefits, surely these were signs that God's will was being worked out in our behalf.
The next morning I reported to the naval Air Station, Personnel Office, promptly at 8:00 a.m. I had brought all of my uniforms and other equipment that I had been issued, and was instructed to turn them in to the Base Storekeeper. Upon returning to the Personnel Office, I was handed my DD-214 Form (Statement of Service), a set of Military Orders, and an Honorable Discharge certificate signed by the Commanding Officer. That was it. My military career was over. I felt a deep sadness and apprehension as I stopped at the gate and watched the Marine guard motion me through for the very last time.
The next six weeks or so were spent pounding the pavement and driving from place to place filling out applications and going to job interviews. I didn't have much experience in job seeking, inasmuch as I had been in the Navy since I was seventeen years old, but I was learning fast.
For example, I learned not to make known the fact that I had been discharged from the Navy as a conscientious objector. The first interview that I mentioned this, the interviewer gave me a very disapproving look and advised, "We'll call you." He acted as though I had just divulged to him that I was a Russian spy. Needless to say, he didn't call.
After that, when inquiry was made concerning my military record, I simply told them that I had been discharged honorably. I also found out that employers didn't like to hire high school dropouts. At one job I applied for with the railroad, I had to wait for an interview for almost three hours. When I finally got in to see the man doing the hiring, he looked at the application I had laboriously filled out and stated that he couldn't use me because I hadn't finished high school. I vigorously protested that I had an equivalency certificate. I informed the interviewer that I had received a high school level GED while in the military. Apparently the interviewer wasn't impressed. He simply shrugged and stated, "That isn't good enough," and that was the end of the interview.
All the time that I was looking for a job, we were still faithfully attending the five weekly meetings and going out in service as much as possible. The only time we saw our good friend and mentor Una was at the Kingdom Hall meetings, and occasionally Linnie would accompany her out in service. Everyone at the Kingdom Hall was friendly enough and sometimes they would even inquire as to how I was progressing in looking for a job. However, that was about the extent of their concern for us. No one came to visit us at our home or offered us assistance of any kind.
I was beginning to feel abandoned by God and the organization, and my previously felt enthusiasm for "the Truth" was starting to fade. My perseverance in job hunting eventually paid off and I landed a job with Ryder Truck Lines as a clerk and teletype operator. I don't remember what the job paid. However, I do remember that it was considerably less than what I was earning in the Navy.
After several more months, due to my period of unemployment, coupled with working at a job that paid less, we were starting to get behind on our house, car and other financial commitments. This development necessitated my getting an additional job, working nights and weekends as a store clerk for Seven Eleven Markets in an effort to try to catch up and to "make ends meet."
I was working so many hours now, I no longer had time to attend the meetings and go out in service. I wasn't able to do anything except work, eat, sleep, and become more and more disillusioned and depressed. When it became apparent that I wasn't attending the meetings, the Congregation Overseer inquired of my wife if there was a problem. Linnie explained to the Overseer that we were having financial difficulties, and I was required to work seven days a week at two different jobs, in an effort to take care of our obligations. The Overseer advised my wife that he would talk to me concerning the situation very soon, explaining the seriousness of missing the meetings and my "spiritual food."
The next afternoon, as I was preparing to go to my second job at the Seven Eleven Market, the Overseer knocked on our front door. I invited him in and apologized that I was running late for my second job and that I couldn't talk very long. The Overseer informed me that he understood and advised me that he wouldn't keep me. The Overseer then handed me a fifty dollar bill, and related to me that he was sorry that my family and I were having such a difficult time. However, I would just have to do whatever was necessary in an effort to get back to attending the weekly meetings on a regular basis. After all, he explained, quoting from the Scripture, "What would it profit a man if he were to gain the whole world and forfeit his life?" I interpreted this to mean, What good would my jobs do me, if I were destroyed at "Armageddon"?
I graciously thanked the Overseer for the fifty dollars and very timidly informed him that I would do the best that I could. The following day at work, came the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back. Around lunch time I was told by my supervisor at Ryder Truck Lines that there was a man in the front office who wanted to see me.
When I went to the front office I was confronted by an abrasive, rather muscularly built young man who informed me that he was from the finance company where I had financed our 1958 Volkswagon automobile. The young man reminded me that I was two payments in arrears on my account and that he had instructions to repossess my car. The man further stated, in a rather cavalier manner, that we could do it the easy way or the hard way, indicating that if I didn't give him the keys, he would "hot wire" the car. I was stunned and extremely embarrassed.
Nothing like that had ever happened to me before. In a clumsy attempt to act nonchalant in front of the office secretary, who was taking it all in, I removed the car keys from my pocket and tossed them to the man and told him, "You might as well do it the easy way." I had to take a cab home that evening after work.
When I arrived home and explained the humiliating way that we had lost our car, our only means of transportation, I also informed my wife that I just didn't feel like we could "make it" here in Florida. I had talked to my mother and stepfather, who lived in Taylor, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit, and they had consented to our staying with them for a while -- until I could find work and get us back on our feet financially. I felt that there were more numerous and higher paying jobs to be had up North.
My wife was devastated, and very unhappy at the prospect of giving up the only house that we had ever purchased. Linnie asked, "What are we going to do about the house and furniture?" I informed her that our credit was already ruined, due to our falling behind on all our payments, and inasmuch as the finance company had just repossessed our automobile, we might as well let our creditors repossess the house and furniture as well.
However, what I didn't tell my wife was, in addition to trying to better ourselves financially by moving to Michigan, I was also trying to distance myself from the organization of Jehovah's Witnesses. I had come to the realization that I just couldn't live up to the demands that they had imposed on me and my family, and I was beginning to resent the fact that I had to give up my career in the Navy.
I also blamed the Witnesses for the financial problems we were having and the humiliation that we were suffering as a result. I just wanted back the peace of mind and security that we once had, before we became involved with Jehovah's Witnesses.
However, I still believed that the Witnesses were God's people and the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society was God's sole channel of communication here on earth, just as they had taught us. At the time, I had no reason to believe otherwise. I just felt that I was weak and inadequate and as a result, I would surely be destroyed at "Armageddon."
After the embarrassing day that my car was re possessed, I never went back to work at Ryder Truck Lines. I resigned by telephone and asked that my final pay check be sent to my Mother's address in Michigan. I called the Federal Housing Administra tion, where our house was financed, and informed them that we would be moving out of state and we would have to let the house be voluntarily repossessed. I then called the loan company that held the lien on our furniture and informed them that we couldn't pay for it and they should come and pick it up.
Surprisingly, within just a few days, all of our affairs were settled and we packed up what few possessions remained and shipped them via rail to Taylor, Michigan. Prior to our departure for the railroad station to begin our long journey north, Una and the Congrega tion Overseer came to our house to bid us farewell. Una hugged us and our baby boys and told my wife to be sure to get started back to the Kingdom Hall, just as soon as we got settled in Michigan. The Congregation Overseer shook our hands and very sarcastically informed my wife that if he had known we were going to leave, he wouldn't have given us the fifty bucks.
CARRIE R. MARTIN v. U.S. DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS was a 2005 federal employee EEOC decision which involved an African-American Jehovah's Witness named Carrie R. Martin. Limited details. In lieu of pending termination, Carrie Martin resigned in 2005, and thereafter filed a complaint alleging religious discrimination, racial discrimination, and reprisal by being fired. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Administrative Judge ruled that no discrimination had occurred, and the EEOC affirmed on appeal.
YVONNE BLOUNT v. U.S. DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS was a 2006-07 federal employee EEOC decision which involved a Jehovah's Witness named Yvonne Blount. Limited details. Blount started working as a Secretary in the Police and Security Section of the agency's Detroit, Michigan medical center in November 2003. In May 2006, Yvonne Blount was terminated for "Unacceptable Performance." Thereafter, Blount filed a complaint with the Merit Systems Protection Board alleging sex discrimination, religious discrimination, discrimination due to disability (diabetes, ankle, and gastrointestinal problems) and reprisal for prior protected EEO activity. The MSPB Administrative Judge ruled that there had been no discrimination. On appeal, the MSPB affirmed. On further appeal, the EEOC affirmed.
MYLES L. JACKSON v. U.S. DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS was a 2005-07 federal employee EEOC decision which involved a female Jehovah's Witness named Myles L. Jackson. Evidently, Myles Jackson was hired in December 2005 as a seasonal "Casual-Christmas" worker at the agency's Kansas City, Missouri medical facility. Jackson was initially verbally terminated during a discussion of her work performance, on December 16, 2005, after Jackson stated to her Supervisor, "If you want to fire me, go ahead." The Supervisor eventually returned Jackson to work, and the Supervisor took no formal action to terminate Jackson's employment. However, Myles Jackson was finally terminated on December 19, 2005, during a meeting in the Supervisor's office, when Jackson attempted to tape record a meeting with the Supervisor and an agency "Inspector". Jackson was fired based on her refusal to turn off her tape recorder, which was a violation of agency rules prohibiting the tape recording of conversations between agency employees. Thereafter, Myles L. Jackson filed a complaint alleging religious discrimination, sex discrimination, and reprisal. Further, Jackson alleged that her first termination was caused by her failure to acquiesce in her male Supervisor's flirtatious behavior. Jackson further alleged that she had been "assaulted" during the second meeting with the Supervisor and Inspector. Jackson claimed that the Inspector touched her on her right breast when attempting to turn off her cassette player, and restrained her from leaving the office by blocking the door. Jackson further claimed that the Supervisor pried her fingers from off of his telephone as she tried to call the police. The EEOC Administrative Judge ruled that there had been no discrimination, and on appeal, the EEOC affirmed.
EEOC v. DRESSER-RAND COMPANY is an ongoing 2004-6 New York federal lawsuit involving a Jehovah's Witness named Harry Davis. Davis was employed as a Machine Tool Operator by the Dresser-Rand Company from 1974 to 1982, and from 1986 until December, 2002. Davis has been a member of the Jehovah's Witness faith for more than 25 years. One of the tenets of Davis' faith is that he may not perform work on any part or product that could be used as an implement of war. As a result, on any occasion that he had been asked to work on projects that involved orders from any of the Armed Services, Davis refused to work on such projects, and the projects were assigned to other machine operators. In December 2002, Davis was asked to work on a project for the United States Navy. As he had in the past, Davis informed his supervisor that he could not work on the project. Because he refused to carry out an assignment, Davis was immediately placed on suspension. Pursuant to a collective bargaining agreement in place at the time, a meeting was held between a company representative, a union representative, and Davis. According to the employer, in an effort to accommodate Davis' religious beliefs, he was offered a position in the shipping department. The employer contends that this was the only position available that could have accommodated Davis' beliefs. Davis contends that he was not officially offered a position in the shipping department, and in any event, the shipping department position was not a reasonable accommodation. Because the parties were unable to reach an agreement with respect to how Davis' religious beliefs could be accommodated, Dresser-Rand terminated Davis' employment. Thereafter, Davis filed an administrative complaint with the EEOC claiming that the employer discriminated against him on the basis of his religious beliefs. The EEOC then commenced this action in June 2004. Dresser-Rand's motion for summary judgment was denied in July 2006. Outcome unknown.
2011 UPDATE: In 2010, Dresser-Rand attempted to limit its liability for back wages by arguing that Davis should have sought re-training before settling for what may have been a lower paying job. In August 2011, the USDC ruled that all that was required of Davis was to seek employment with the qualifications and skills possessed at the time he was illegally fired. Thereafter, in November 2011, Dresser-Rand settled this drawn-out case for $110,000.00.
CARL L. CLARK v. REVIEW BOARD is a 1988 unemployment compensation case involving a Jehovah's Witness named Carl L. Clark, who went to work at an Indiana manufacturing plant owned by Firestone Tire and Rubber Co. Although Clark did not know it at first, his first assignment was the assembling of military tank tracks. He discovered such a few weeks later. Although it was against Clark's religious beliefs to engage in the production of any military equipment, Clark decided to wait and complete his 60 day probationary period and achieve permanent status as an employee before protesting his work assignment. Clark did not notified his immediate supervisor and union officials until a few days prior to achieving permanent status. It was then that Clark was told that due to the union contract that he would have to wait and "bid" on jobs which would not offend his religious beliefs. Clark then waited until the day that he achieved permanent status to submit his resignation to the company. Clark then applied for unemployment benefits, which were denied because Clark continued to work after discovering the job violated his religious beliefs. Clark then filed a lawsuit in state court, where his unemployment benefits were granted.
EDWARD THOMAS v. REVIEW BOARD OF THE INDIANA EMPLOYMENT SECURITY DIVISION was a 1981 UNITED STATES SUPREME COURT decision involving an African-American Jehovah's Witness named Eddie Thomas.
"Thomas, a Jehovah's Witness, was hired initially to work in the roll foundry at Blaw-Knox [Foundry & Machinery Co]. The function of that department was to fabricate sheet steel for a variety of industrial uses. On his application form, he listed his membership in the Jehovah's Witnesses, and noted that his hobbies were Bible study and Bible reading. However, he placed no conditions on his employment; and he did not describe his religious tenets in any detail on the form. Approximately a year later, the roll foundry closed, and Blaw-Knox transferred Thomas to a department that fabricated turrets for military tanks. On his first day at this new job, Thomas realized that the work he was doing was weapons related. He checked the bulletin board where in-plant openings were listed, and discovered that all of the remaining departments at Blaw-Knox were engaged directly in the production of weapons. Since no transfer to another department would resolve his problem, he asked for a layoff. When that request was denied, he quit, asserting that he could not work on weapons without violating the principles of his religion. The record does not show that he was offered any non-weapons work by his employer, or that any such work was available. Upon leaving Blaw-Knox, Thomas applied for unemployment compensation benefits under the Indiana Employment Security Act."
Thomas was denied unemployment compensation benefits, and he fought the denial all the way through the Indiana Courts to the United States Supreme Court, which finally ruled in Thomas's favor. One factor that played a significant role in the various lower courts' decisions which denied Thomas unemployment benefits was Thomas's testimony that "when he realized that his work on the tank turret line involved producing weapons for war, he consulted another Blaw-Knox employee - a friend and fellow Jehovah's Witness. The friend advised him that working on weapons parts at Blaw-Know was not "unscriptural". Thomas was not able to 'rest with' this view, however. He concluded that his friend's view was based upon a less strict reading of Witnesses' principles than his own." This actual situation of two Jehovah's Witnesses disagreeing on the exact same issue evidently created difficulties for staff at the state's UCB, as well as several of the Indiana judges. The obvious question is: How can an employer be expected to handle similar situations better than trained government employees, attorneys, and judges? Evidently, employers should not assume that all Jehovah's Witness employees interpret Watchtower rules the same under the same or similar circumstances. Another important issue was: How is an employer to know where a Jehovah's Witness will draw the line? In Thomas's case, he had previously worked with good conscience in the department which produced rolled steel which other departments then used to manufacture various parts for military tanks. Since most Jehovah's Witnesses avoid employment where this scenario could arise, those employers who merely have incidental or occasional business relations with the military or other military suppliers are the employers who are most likely to stumble into a confrontation with a Jehovah's Witness Employee.
JANESE BOLDEN v. ADMINISTRATOR UNEMPLOYMENT COMPENSATION ACT was a 1984 Connecticut unemployment compensation case involving a Jehovah's Witness named Janese Bolden. Until her resignation in July 1983, Bolden had been employed as an electronic assembler by Dynamic Controls, Inc. for approximately eight years. She had been a Jehovah's Witness for three years as of that date. In December 1982, Bolden discovered that some of the parts which she assembled would be used for military products. Not until July 1983 did she notified the employer of her intention to voluntarily terminate employment. The personnel manager asserted at the hearing that at the time the plaintiff submitted her notice of termination, the plaintiff merely indicated that she did so for "personal reasons" and did not suggest any religious motivation. Moreover, the plaintiff did not request a transfer to another position or department before submitting such notice. In her statement of claim Bolden asserted that she resigned because her religious beliefs as a Jehovah's Witness prohibited her from continuing to work on the production of military products. Bolden testified that she did not request a transfer to another department because she could not be sure that other parts which she would work on would not be used for military purposes. The state concluded that Bolden did not seek all available reasonable alternatives for continuing employment which would not conflict with her religious beliefs and, therefore, did not have sufficient "cause" to voluntarily terminate her employment. Specifically, he found that the plaintiff was a Jehovah's Witness who believed that the precepts of her religion prohibited her from working in the production of military parts. He also found that these beliefs motivated her to seek nonmilitary work and that they were good reasons for doing so. He also concluded, however, that Dynamic manufactures nonmilitary, commercial products which account for 10 to 50 percent of its contracts, and that if a transfer request had been made, Dynamic would have attempted to place the plaintiff in a position which did not involve military products. Bolden appealed to all levels of the UC system, and then to state court, and even alleged she had been denied "due process" by being aggressively asked too many questions. Bolden lost at all levels.
"... the record discloses that Powell received training from her co-worker, Ken Small, and from her immediate supervisory instructor, Diane Glass. These endeavors are sufficient to sustain a factual finding that any problems encountered in this training resulted from Powell's personality, temperament, and attitude, rather than from her race, religion, or gender. Moreover, Powell was offered the opportunity to receive additional training by attending several government-sponsored seminar, but could only offer conflicting explanations as to why she declined these offers."... the evidence shows that she encountered difficulty in dealing with several co-workers--difficulties apparently caused by Powell's lack of interpersonal skills, not by her race, religion, or gender. There is also no indication that Powell received discriminatory allocations of work. As to her initial assignment it is clear that Wolff [a white male hired at the same time as Powell] was placed into a different area involving more field work because he had more field experience. Powell's own substandard performance prevented her from accepting work with more responsibility. Moreover, Powell's complaints of having to perform clerical work appear disingenuous given the fact that she declined an earlier offer to delegate these duties to a secretary."... Powell was unable to provide any credible evidence that she was subjected to unfair or discriminatory evaluations. The record is replete with testimony of her substandard work performance. The only defense Powell offered was her own testimony as to the lack of training she received. This uncorroborated and self-serving testimony, however, was controverted by other testimony and documentary evidence which indicated that Powell had in fact received proper training. ..."From the outset Powell's stint at Kelly AFB was rife with dissension. The record reveals that Powell became alienated shortly after arriving at Kelly AFB, and that this alienation continued and occasionally worsened during the remainder of her employment. What the record does not disclose, however, is evidence of any type of discriminatory or retaliatory animus by her employer that would constitute a Title VII violation."
Freedom of religion is a constitutional right; and this employee's exercise of that freedom is constitutionally guaranteed. However, unemployment compensation benefits may not be awarded simply as a reward for the free exercise of one's religion. Neither may they be withheld as a penalty for that free exercise.This claimant knew at the time he accepted AVCO employment that his religion prohibited activities furthering the national defense effort. What he claims he did not know was the extent of AVCO's involvement in that defense effort. If he wished to justify, for benefits purposes, leaving work on the basis of those religious beliefs, he was under some obligation to inform himself about the employment.The whole community has known for a decade that AVCO is involved in defense work. It required a singularly detached individual to avoid the acquisition of any particle of such knowledge until he had been employed for more than a year by that employer. Such detachment may be a desirable philosophical attribute, but it can win no unemployment benefits prizes in our modern industrial economy. Had the claimant found out about the nature of the work and quit AVCO within several months, then his religious scruples would have constituted sufficient work-connected cause. However, he did not do this, and must be denied benefits ... .
In 1952, an unnamed Jehovah's Witness in New York sought employment as a welder with an employer that he knew manufactured both non-military and military products. The JW Employee specified work in the non-military section. However, six months later, the JW Employee was assigned to the military section due to changes in operations. The employer was unable to accommodate the JW Employee due to union seniority rules, so was forced to lay him off. Unemployment benefits were initially denied twice before being granted based on this legal reasoning: "The test as enunciated by these cases is not whether or not the standing of the claimant in his church would be affected but rather as to whether or not the acceptance of the work would be an offense to claimant's conscience on the basis of religion and morals. There is no question in this case, and the referee so found, that claimant is sincere in his objections to work on military implements on the basis of his religious beliefs and that the acceptance of such work would be in fact an offense to his religious and moral conscience. Under such circumstances, his refusal to accept work on that nature was justifiable and the lay off which resulted therefrom cannot be deemed a voluntary leaving of his employment without good cause."
MICHAEL MOURSI v. NCR CORP was a 1992 Colorado federal lawsuit involving a Jehovah's Witness named Michael Moursi. Moursi began working for NCR in 1986 as automotive marketing manager. In 1989, he was offered a promotion to military marketing, but he refused the promotion to the military-related job that he says violated his religious beliefs. Moursi claimed in his lawsuit that he was demoted and forced to resign. Outcome unknown.
DALE V. DeREMER v. UNITED STATES was a 1963-5 Minnesota federal appellate court decision. Dale Verne DeRemer, of Mankato, Minnesota, was a Jehovah's Witness who battled the military draft system for more than a decade. First, DeRemer battled to have himself classified as a "conscientious objector". The running battle, which started when DeRemer first registered in 1954, was interrupted around 1957/8, when he claimed and was granted a IV-F classification due to an unknown disability.
However, the disability classification was lifted in 1959, and Dale DeRemer re-started his quest for classification as a "conscientious objector". The specifics are unclear, but in 1961, DeRemer was possibly granted "conscientious objector" status, but then objected even to being assigned to "non-combatant" service, to which "conscientious objectors" were routinely assigned as an alternative to regular military assignment. Apparently, after DeRemer even refused to comply with his "conscientious objector" status requirements, in September 1963, DeRemer was tried, convicted and sentenced to two years' imprisonment by the Minnesota USDC. On DeRemer's appeal, the USCA affirmed.
What is so interesting about this Jehovah's Witness court case, other than the fact that it was one of the longest running draft cases, was that all during this case DeRemer was employed by Northern Ordnance, Inc., a known military defense contractor, which worked almost exclusively for the U.S. Navy.
UNITED STATES v. LOUIS E. BURGUENO was a 1970 California federal appellate court decision. A Jehovah's Witness named Louis Edward Burgueno was convicted on various draft evasion charges after failing to report for duty due to his claim that he objected to all forms of war. The USCA gave this appeal the quick heave-ho, but not before noting that Louis Burgueno was employed at Douglas Aircraft, a major manufacturer of military aircraft.
PAUL M. HUNTER v. UNITED STATES was a 1968 Washington federal appellate court decision. Paul MacArthur Hunter apparently had been reared as a Jehovah's Witness, since he was baptized in 1958, when he was 14 or 15 years old. When Paul Hunter turned 18, in 1961, he registered for the draft, and applied for "conscientious objector" status rather than "minister" status, because by that time, his meeting attendance had become irregular, and his "field service" was practically nil. After being denied even "conscientious objector" status, Paul Hunter was convicted on draft evasion charges after he failed to report.
The USCA affirmed Hunter's conviction. First, several of Hunter's fellow JWs were unduly critical of Hunter's shortcomings with regard to meeting attendance and field service. (Par for the course. Jehovah's Witnesses have a "salvation-by-works" culture, under which Christ himself would be criticized for doing too little.) Second, and pertinent to this webpage, is the fact that after applying for CO status, Hunter relocated to California, where he went to work in a defense plant operated by Hobeck Precision Metals.
CRAIG A. KEEFER v. UNITED STATES was a 1963 Arizona federal appellate court decision. In 1961, a Jehovah's Witness, named Craig Allen Keefer, was convicted of various draft evasion charges. The saga first began in 1953, in the state of Washington. Craig Keefer subsequently moved to California, and eventually to Arizona. The USCA affirmed Keefer's conviction, stating in part:
"In this case there are several matters in the record which may be said to reflect adversely upon the credibility and sincerity of appellant. The record also shows without contradiction that in November, 1953, less than a year after he filed his claim for a conscientious objector classification, appellant accepted employment with the Boeing Airplane Company, Seattle, Washington. During his employment with Boeing, which ended in April, 1955, he worked in a maintenance shop on military aircraft. A Boeing supervisor advised that appellant was aware that he was working on military airplanes and never objected to doing so. He also worked for Mitchell Avionics Corporation in Chico, California, from July 18, 1957, to October 18, 1957. This firm was then mainly engaged in the repair and rebuilding of airplane motors under a contract with the Air Force. Appellant's willingness to do work under military contracts could have been considered by the Board to be inconsistent with his claim that he was opposed to the participation in war in any form, thus casting doubt upon his sincerity. ... ."
UNITED STATES v. HENRY B. BONGA, JR. was a 1962 Michigan federal USDC decision in which Henry Bonga was convicted of refusing to be inducted into the military. Amusingly, when questioned about his refusal, Bonga stated that he refused to serve in the military because, "I have been studying the Bible and I now object to going into service as it is against the teaching of Christ Jesus." Apparently, while "working" in the military during a time of peace violated the "teaching of Jesus Christ", Bonga's then employment at the Livonia horse racing and betting track did NOT violate Bible principles.
UNITED STATES v. HERBERT W. MANKE was a 1958 Maryland federal USCA court decision. Herbert William Manke, of Baltimore, Maryland, first registered with the Selective Service in 1949, when he was a freshman in college. Manke requested and was granted Conscientious Objector status. Soon thereafter, Manke's draft board learned that Manke was enrolled in Air Force ROTC, and changed his classification to I-D. Manke thereafter "officially" joined his parents as one of Jehovah's Witnesses by getting "baptized". Manke then reapplied for and was granted Conscientious Objector status again. However, Manke also supposedly became a "pioneer" (full-time recruiter) for the WatchTower Society, and applied for "Minister" status with his draft board, in 1953. Thereafter, Manke was assigned "alternative service" as a CO, but he refused to perform, and he and the Selective Service went at it until this 1958 hearing before the USCA, during which the federal appellate court made this ruling:
" ... we find no merit in appellant's contention that the denial of ministerial and conscientious objector classification by the Appeal Board was without basis in fact. Ministerial classification might have been and evidently was denied chiefly because of the comparatively little time which appellant spent about his work as a "Pioneer" for Jehovah's Witnesses and the relatively long hours which he spent during the same period in secular work. ... Likewise, there was a basis in fact for denial of conscientious objector classification in that the file showed his participation in Air ROTC at the University of Maryland at the time he asserted his conscientious objector claim and [thereafter] his full-time secular employment as an instrument mechanic's helper in the fuel department of the Bethlehem Steel Company, a defense plant closely connected with the production of war materials.
UNITED STATES v. DAVID BRIAN JACOBSON was a 1957 Washington state USDC decision. Jacobson was a member of the Washington National Guard when he converted to the JWs. Jacobson transferred to "inactive status", which resulted in his draft status upgrading, and he was thereafter eligible for induction, which he refused. Outcome unknown, but during all this, Jacobson had no problem building BOMBERS for the U.S. Air Force at his high-paying job with Boeing.
ALVA E. BLALOCK v. UNITED STATES was a 1957 North Carolina federal appellate court decision. Alva Eugene Blalock, a Jehovah's Witness, was convicted on various draft evasion charges. Hayden C. Covington represented Alva Blalock on appeal. The USCA affirmed the conviction, stating in part:
"At this interview, Mathis asked the registrant if he would work in a defense plant, and Blalock's reply was that he would, because the use made of the products 'isn't my responsibility' and 'is no concern of mine.' In view of this admission, coupled with a declared intention not to perform any civilian work in the national interest if so ordered by the board, the State Director reopened the case. The local board reclassified him I-A, and again the case was appealed and referred by the appeal board to the Department of Justice for investigation, hearing, and recommendation.
"At the departmental hearing which followed, the examiner asked a question similar to that propounded at the earlier draft board interview pertaining to Blalock's willingness to work in a defense plant. He again answered that his religious beliefs would not prevent him from engaging in such work if it were necessary. ... the Special Assistant to the Attorney General, on review of the file, recommended denial of the claim in view of the registrant's statement that he would work in a defense plant. ...
"Afforded an opportunity to reply to the Department's recommendation, Blalock altered his position regarding defense work, stating that he would not engage in such work if the materials were to be used in war. Thereupon, the appeal board, as the Department had suggested, classified appellant I-AO, rendering him subject to non-combatant military service. On being ordered to report, he reported, but refused to submit to induction; and this criminal proceeding followed. ... ...
"Not only could the appeal board consider the decision of the local board which had had an opportunity to view the registrant's demeanor, but it could determine and evaluate any incongruity in his condemnation of war on the one hand, and his willingness, on the other, to do defense work with avowed indifference to the destructive use of the products of his labor. Had Blalock actually worked in a defense plant, that circumstance would have been a pertinent one in evaluating the conscientiousness of his objection to non-combatant duty. ... His willingness to do so, though he has not in fact done so, is also pertinent. ... The Board could consider, in addition, that his attitude regarding defense work was later modified when the adverse effect of his admission became known to him."
DOYLE J. JONES v. UNITED STATES was a 1957 South Carolina federal appellate court decision. Doyle Julian Jones, a Jehovah's Witness, was convicted on various draft evasion charges. The USCA affirmed the conviction, and published this quote from the District Judge:
"It also appears from the record that the defendant was employed for approximately a year at the Savannah River Plant of the United States Atomic Energy Plant Commission, commonly known locally as the 'H-Bomb Plant'. I find that the defendant's willingness to work at an installation so closely connected with the national security activities of the United States as the Savannah River Plant of the Atomic Energy Commission is peculiarly inconsistent with a claim of conscientious objection to participation in war in any form, ... . This fact in itself to me appears sufficient to justify denial of the defendant's claim. This is particularly true in view of the fact that the defendant sought and obtained employment at the Savannah River Plant only some three or four months after he first made his claim of conscientious objection."
UNITED STATES v. GEORGE T. DEAN was a 1957 California federal court decision. A Jehovah's Witness "Conscientious Objector", named George Thomas Dean, age 23, pleaded "guilty" to draft evasion charges, but received five years probation. Details are missing, but probation was possibly granted so that George Dean could return to his previous employment, which was described as a Police Officer for the City of Taft.
WILLIAM J. BATELAAN v. UNITED STATES was a 1954 California federal appellate court decision. William Joy Batelaan was a Jehovah's Witness who also battled with the draft system to be classified as a "conscientious objector". Typical of many Jehovah's Witness cases, numerous arguments and issues were raised and developed at each level, but as in the DeRemer case above, this Jehovah's Witness "draft dodger" was found to be employed in a defense contractor manufacturing plant in California -- Lockheed. When confronted with the hypocrisy that his job involved the making of war munitions, Bill Batelaan defensively stated that "the job at Lockheed is only to get money to live on."
UNITED STATES v. JACKSON was a 1955 Texas federal court decision. In July 1955, a Jehovah's Witness, named Fred D. Jackson, of Commanche, Texas, was sentenced to two years in prison on draft evasion charges. Jackson had been granted "conscientious objector" status, but he refused to perform alternative service at a Texas hospital. Interestingly, Fred Jackson was employed at a defense contractor plant which manufactured military aircraft.
UNITED STATES v. WHITE was a 1954 California federal appellate court decision. Clair Laverne White was represented in a losing effort by WatchTower Society lead attorney, Hayden Covington. The Jehovah's Witnesses challenged the draft board's classification of Clair White as a "Conscientious Objector available for noncombatant military service only".
It was likely that the following ruling played a major role in the WatchTower Society's crackdown on JWs working in war-related industries. This court also picked up on the fact that the JWs main objection to military service is not "war", but rather the doing of the bidding of the government. As the point is made all through this section, most arguments that JWs make publicly are "public relations" arguments. The actual reason for JWs not doing most of the covered topics is because JWs are "anti-government". In part, the USCA stated:
"Furthermore, the board was cognizant of the fact, disclosed in the questionnaire, and in the registrant's personal appearance before it, that registrant was engaged as an employee of a concern making parts for Douglas Aircraft. The report of the hearing officer shows that these were war contracts on which he was thus employed from 1949 to 1951. The Board's minutes of what transpired at the time of his personal appearance did not purport to be a verbatim account of all that was then said or done. It is obvious, however, that the board was given to understand from the information then furnished it that the registrant was engaged in the manufacture of military equipment.
In view of his experiencing no difficulty working upon the manufacture of munitions for war, the board was not without justification in concluding that White had no conscientious objection to participation in war through the manufacture of arms and munitions, just so long as he did so for a private company and not for the government. It was therefore but natural for the boards to believe that if the registrant's conscience was not bothered while working on war contracts he could not justly claim he was conscientiously opposed to noncombatant participation in war activities and that his mere objection to wearing a uniform because it marked him as one working for the government was not the kind of objection contemplated by the statute. Objection to serving a country, even on religious grounds, is not the standard under the statute. The registrant's facility in forwarding the cause of war, force and killing through activity in a war plant, may well demonstrate his failure to establish his status as a person conscientiously opposed to noncombatant duty.
We think that it cannot be adjudged that the local board with its opportunity to size up the registrant upon his personal appearance, which could evaluate his sincerity as it observed his manner and demeanor, and which moreover was confronted by a young man whose obvious objection was not so much to making instruments of death as to doing anything for or on behalf of the government, can be said to have acted without basis in fact when it concluded the appellant's conscientious objection did not extend to noncombatant service.
UNITED STATES v. ROGER D. CLARK was a 1954 California federal appellate court decision. Roger Dean Clark was another Jehovah's Witness who battled with the Selective Service to be classified as a "conscientious objector". Typical of many Jehovah's Witness cases, numerous arguments and issues were raised and developed at each level. Part of the Draft Board's reasoning for denying Clark's CO classification request was due to:
"Registrant told the Hearing Officer that among the customers of the company for which he works is a military establishment. On interrogation registrant stated that he would willingly work in a war plant as a civilian but not if enrolled by the Government. The contribution he would be making to the war effort was immaterial in his consideration. Registrant admitted that he would use force in self defense, defense of family and fellow church members. ... Registrant testified that he devoted eight hours a week to his religion."
UNITED STATES v. THOMAS BOUZIDEN (1940s). UNITED STATES v. ANNETT and UNITED STATES v. TOM BOUZIDEN were 1952 Oklahoma federal draft dodger cases which were related in more ways than being decided on the same day. Both Jehovah's Witnesses, who were cousins, were represented by the almighty Hayden C. Covington, Head of the WatchTower Society's Legal Department.
The 1940s BOUZIDEN case was a previous conviction of Thomas Bouziden during WW2, for which a waiver had to be obtained in order to draft Bouziden for service during the Korean War. In the 1952 case, Tom Bouziden claimed "conscientious objector" status, but such was denied after a hearing in which certain "evidence" contained in the F.B.I.'s investigation report was not disclosed during the hearing; thus giving Bouziden no opportunity to refute such. The USDC found Bouziden "not guilty" due to not having had a "fair hearing", but still subject to further draft proceedings.
What was the negative "evidence" developed by the F.B.I. that caused Bouziden's claim of "a deep-seated, conscientious objection based upon religious training and belief as required by statute" to be denied? Well, even the USDC opinion chooses not to provide the explicit details: "... the evidence disclosed that the activities of the registrant were not altogether wholesome and in keeping with his claim for exemption by virtue of a deep seated religious belief. In fact his activities with the wife of a soldier who was then fighting in Korea is reprehensible, and his operation of the cafe at Ringwood, Oklahoma, was something less than it should have been."
Hayden Covington replied, "... that immoral conduct even if true is not relevant, and that such conduct has nothing to do with the belief of a registrant and his conscientious objections to participation in war in any form."
Bouziden's cousin, Gene Tony Annett, LOST his case also claiming CO status, over Hayden Covington's many objections. Again, the USDC opinion fails to provide explicit details, but simply indicates that the F.B.I. report contained many interviews of those who knew Gene Annett, and that there was sufficient evidence to conclude that Annett did not hold "a deep-seated, conscientious objection based upon religious training and belief." The hearing officer also concluded that Annett did not display the demeanor, specifically, the "humility" typically displayed by persons claiming CO status.
UNITED STATES v. WALTER KOBIL was a 1951 Michigan federal court decision. A Jehovah's Witness, named Walter Kobil, 25, of LaSalle, Michigan, received a directed verdict in his favor in his jury trial on draft evasion charges, because of a number of errors committed by his local draft board. However, the federal judge noted that Walter Kobil was still a hypocrite, regardless of whether he was classified as a "minister", or as a "conscientious objector", given that this JW draft dodger was employed at a Toledo, Ohio factory that manufactured parts for military vehicles. Walter Kobil went on to get a college and law school education, and thereafter represented JWs in various Ohio-area court cases for decades until his recent death.
UNITED STATES v. CLIFFORD GOLEMGESKE was a 1945 Wisconsin federal court case. An 18 year-old Jehovah's Witness, named Clifford Golemgeske, of Waukesha, was indicted on draft evasion charges. Cliff Golemgeske stated that he "didn't believe in war, and refused to fight for his country." Golemgeske was arrested at his job at the Waukesha Motor Co., a "war plant" that manufactured aircraft engines.
As examples of court cases similar to the above that I have NOT posted due to unclear details, there is the 1943 court case in which a Massachusetts JW was convicted of draft evasion. He was arrested at his job in a factory located in a Massachusetts city that was known as a hub of defense plants. Yet, I don't have source material that specifically states that the factory where he worked was a defense plant, so I won't post that case.
In another 1944 court case, a Pennsylvania JW was convicted of draft evasion. He was employed at a US Steel subsidiary just outside Pittsburgh. Anyone who knows anything about WWII, knows that in 1944, that the vast majority of steel was going into war materials. There would not be any steel plant in the U.S., even the stray specialty plant, that did not manufacture steel for the defense industry at some point in time in any given year of the war. Yet, I don't have source material that specifically states that the JW was involved in manufacturing war materials, so I won't post that case.
In another 1950s court case, a California JW was denied CO status by his draft board after he indicated "that if there were no other work available, he would be willing to accept employment in a Naval Shipyard." It is clear from the appellate opinion that the board was referring to a shipyard where "war materials" were handled, but from the limited summary and verbiage used in the appellate opinion, I cannot be certain that the JW understood such.
Ruppert Leon Sargent was a volunteer "employee" of the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War. His status as a Jehovah's Witness is unclear, but both his wife and his mother were Jehovah's Witnesses. That is a known fact, because when Lt. Sargent was posthumously awarded the nation's highest military award for heroism - the CONGRESSIONAL MEDAL OF HONOR, his widow and mother refused to attend the award ceremonies in Washington D.C. (Remember the CMH ceremony in "Forrest Gump".) President Johnson first approved the CMH for Sargent, but because of his family's refusal to accept it, the award had to be approved again when President Nixon took office. The Army evidently did not take "NO" for an answer, and Sargent's widow finally gave in and agreed to accept the award in private. In 1969, a Brigadier General from the Pentagon hand delivered the CMH to the Sargent home in Hampton, Virginia. A Pentagon officer said that he felt Mrs. Sargent had no right to try to keep her husband's Medal of Honor a secret. "He belongs to the country," the officer said.
If the officials at the Pentagon knew the historical facts that are now known, they might have had a better chance convincing Lt. Sargent's JW family to attend the CMH ceremonies. Lt. Sargent was not the first person with JW ties to be awarded the CMH. That honor goes to 3-star General William P. Hall, who also served as the Adjutant General of the United States Army. General Hall was a convert and close friend of the Jehovah's Witnesses' founder, Charles Taze Russell. Hall served as a Watch Tower Society official at the same time he served as Adjutant General in Washington D.C. If that would not have been convincing enough, maybe the Sargent family would have been interested in knowing that 4-star General and U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower was reared as a Jehovah's Witness. Eisenhower's father was an Elder, and their home served as the local "Kingdom Hall" until after Eisenhower went to West Point.
Brothers Jason and Johel Woodliff (slow loading) were Jehovah's Witnesses who were also volunteer "employees" of a U.S. Marine Corp Reserve Battalion that lost 48 members during a 2004-05 tour in Iraq. A mile-long parade, which was attended by thousands of strangers, greeted the Battalion upon its' return in October 2005. However, the Woodliff "heroes" had no family to greet them. Their parents, Thomas and Mia Woodliff, who are devout Jehovah's Witnesses, were nowhere to be found. Johel told a reporter, "I begged my mother to come, but I knew she wouldn't." The parents are behaving according to the doctrines of their faith, said a spokesman for the Jehovah's Witnesses headquarters in New York. "As Christians, we're neutral with respect to the conflicts that nations have," said J.R. Brown, director of public information for the Watchtower Bible Tract Society. Jehovah's Witnesses who volunteer for military service have essentially opted to leave the church and abandon neutrality, Brown said. Such a move can mean the end of their relationships with other church members, even family, he said. Jason Woodliff said he was kicked out of the house for telling his parents he wanted to join the Marines when he was 18 years old. He said, "I haven't had a conversation with my dad in five years. For him, it's 100 percent about the religion." Johel Woodliff said his parents reacted similarly when he announced plans to enlist.
Readers should be aware that there have been at least two other newspaper articles reporting on other young Jehovah's Witnesses who have chosen to "buck" Watch Tower Society teachings and have enlisted to serve their country in Iraq. Nineteen year old Dontrell Lendsey of Fountain, Colorado was kicked out of his home when he informed his adoptive mother that he was joining the Marines. Another JW unfortunately lost his life, and his family refused to even attend his burial. I will post details if I ever ran across the article again.
Chief Warrant Officer Eric A. Smith told his JW Mother, Lillian Lake, of Lake Placid, Florida, that he was fighting so that she could have the freedom to live as a JW. Lake attended her son's memorial, but apparently offended the other attendees with her WatchTower inspired comments that her son's death was an honor.
Short BIBLE TOPIC Readings Selected For Those With Jehovah's Witnesses Backgrounds
Wifely Subjection: Mental Health Issues in Jehovah's Witness Women
Jehovah's Witnesses and the Problem of Mental Illness
The Theocratic War Doctrine: Why Jehovah's Witnesses Lie In Court
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