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 Craig Chestler, a U.S. Air Force B-52 instructor pilot stationed at an unidentified South Dakota "bomber base" refused to perform any further training duties after his conversion to the Jehovah's Witnesses. 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 Chestler an "honorable discharge".
ARCHIE STROUD v. U.S. DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS was a 1993-1999 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 U.S.A.-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 C.I.A.-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.
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 2006-7 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 2005-7 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, 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. 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. BOUZIDEN (1940s). UNITED STATES v. ANNETT and UNITED STATES v. 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. 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 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. 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 2004-5 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.
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