Commentary by Stephen E. Jones on Kerry boycott

Thursday, March 8, 2012
Jehovah’s Witness’ slander action over husband thrown out
Jehovah’s [Witness’] slander action over husband thrown out, Irish Independent, Tim Healy, March 6, 2012
http://jesusisyhwh.blogspot.ie/2012_03_01_archive.html

kingdomhallsign

Killarney Kingdom Hall: Killarney.ie]
JUDGE has thrown out a Jehovah’s Witness slander action over allegations she implied her husband was an adulterer. Ruth Moram says she was shunned by members — or “disfellowshipped” — for allegedly slandering her husband by implying he was an adulterer. But she failed in a bid to bring her own High Court action for slander. Ms Moram, of Mastergeeha, Kilcummin, Killarney, Co Kerry, sought damages against three members of the Killarney Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses. She claimed she had been slandered in a letter written by one of them to her in December 2009, which accused her of slandering her husband by the adultery allegation. Her husband denied the accusation, the court heard. Mr Justice John Hedigan yesterday ruled she had shown no cause of action in her claims against Killarney Witness elders Peter Van Benthem … and Andrew Beeston … He also dismissed a similar claim against Witness member Martyn Bell … who wrote the 2009 letter. The judge also awarded legal costs against Ms Moram who said she would go to jail rather than pay them. She said she would also appeal the decision to the Court of Human Rights. In his judgment, Mr Justice Hedigan said the case dated back to June 2004 when Ms Moram claimed Mr Van Benthem and Mr Beeston accused her of slander. Later that month at a meeting of the Killarney Witnesses congregation, Mr Bell gave evidence of the alleged slander of her husband, and as a result Ms Moram was “disfellowshipped”. The court heard that she appealed that decision internally in August 2004 — and evidence was given in the appeal that Ms Moram had told a fellow Witness that a woman, referred to only by initials, had spent weekends away with her husband. Ms Moram claimed that as a result of this, she was accused of slander in that she implied her husband was an adulterer. Following these hearings, she was disfellowshipped from the Killarney Congregation. … She then wrote a letter of complaint to the Witnesses branch office in Wicklow and it included photographs of her husband on a weekend break in Galway with the other woman, the judge said. The branch sent a letter to the appeal committee, which changed its decision and told Ms Moram they “forgave” her. She refused to accept this, as she insisted she had not slandered anyone and the accusation had not been withdrawn, the judge said. The court heard that in December 2009, she claimed that Mr Bell wrote a letter which stated she had slandered her husband. The following February, she formally left the Witnesses after elders of the Killarney congregation refused to allow her to speak at a meeting, he said. Since then, she claimed, all her Witness friends had been forbidden from speaking to her and that she had been brought into public hatred, contempt and ridicule. She then issued proceedings in the Circuit Court seeking damages and a declaration she did not commit slander. A Circuit Court judge found the issues raised were beyond the limits of a secular court. The judge also said the letter was not published to anyone other than Ms Moram. She appealed that decision to the High Court. But yesterday, Mr Justice Hedigan dismissed her case saying the events of 2004 were clearly statute-barred because her proceedings must be issued within three years of the event and she had only done so in 2011. … Justice has been denied this woman, both by the Killarney Jehovah’s Witness judicial committee `kangaroo court’ and also by the secular courts. Her husband committed adultery but she was the one punished! But the secular court judge’s hands were probably tied because: a) she could not claim damages for defamation because the contents of the letter were not made public; b) the statute of limitation of “three years” applied in this case; and c) a religion’s internal disciplinary procedures are “beyond the limits of a secular court.”
However, the facts were not disputed that her JW husband committed adultery, but she is the one the JW judicial committee `kangaroo court’ found guilty of “slander” and apparently did nothing to her JW husband. And when they were given photos of her husband with this other woman, the elders admitted her allegation was true when “they `forgave’ her,” for her simply telling the truth!
This highlights again the Watchtower inhumane and un-Biblical disfellowshipping and shunning system which can be, and is, applied for comparatively minor `sins’ like “smoking, working for military establishments, working for other religious organizations, voting in elections, accepting blood transfusions and celebrating birthdays or holidays”:
“The WBTS have gone further than the practice of disfellowshipping unrepentant sinners, and have included in their reasons for disfellowshipping smoking, working for military establishments, working for other religious organizations, voting in elections, accepting blood transfusions and celebrating birthdays or holidays such as Christmas and Easter. Talking to other disfellowshipped ones, even if that one is a relative counts as a reason. Also, if a dissatisfied person disagrees with Watchtower teaching and discusses that disagreement with other Jehovah’s Witnesses so as to promote apostasy, then that person will be disfellowshipped. Thus the organization protects itself from general discontentment and enforces unity by use of disfellowshipping.” (Harris, D. & Browning, B., “Awake to the Watchtower,” Reachout Trust: London, 1993, p.320).
And even when the victim’s only `crime’ is to voluntarily disassociate herself from the Society:
“… she formally left the Witnesses after elders of the Killarney congregation refused to allow her to speak at a meeting, he said. Since then, she claimed, all her Witness friends had been forbidden from speaking to her and that she had been brought into public hatred, contempt and ridicule.
So let those who are thinking about becoming a JW, think again! Once you are a JW, there is no easy way to leave. They will punish you for leaving: all your Jehovah’s Witness friends and relatives will be forbidden to speak to you and you will be “brought into public hatred, contempt and ridicule.” Indeed, you will be “totally rejected” by them and “treated as dead”:
“Can you imagine being in a situation where you are totally rejected, treated as dead? The WBTS discourages association and friendship with those outside the organisation. So when a person leaves they are treated as a sinner rebelling against God Himself, and not even to be greeted. There is a dramatic change in his family relationship. If all the Watchtower instructions are obeyed he would hardly, if ever, see his relatives living outside the home and much of the normal family social life would be curtailed or stopped completely. Under these circumstances people have committed suicide; families have broken up. Imagine the pressure on the Witness wife of the disfellowshipped one. She still loves her husband yet the instructions of the WBTS begin to drive a wedge between their loving relationship. Her husband is no longer welcome in the Witness homes she visits.” (Harris & Browning, 1993, p.332).
As one of “the sheep who leaves the fold” you will become “as good as dead in the eyes of the remaining Witnesses,” including your JW “family and friends”:
If another Witness simply departs without breaking any rules, the departure itself is treated as a violation. A judicial committee holds a hearing and then announces to the congregation that the individual has `disassociated’ himself and therefore must not be spoken to. The end result is the same as disfellowshipping: the offender is cut off from contact with family and friends. This shunning has a dual effect; (1) the ex-Witness is punished by loss of loved ones, and (2) the remaining J.W.’s are prevented from getting a different perspective on their faith through contact with this maverick. Not only must they avoid eating with the ex-J.W., but they are also forbidden to read letters, articles, or books he may write. While, due to their separation from the secular state, Watchtower leaders lack the medieval Inquisition’s power to cut out tongues and to burn heretics at the stake, they still wield a strong hand within the organization. They can guarantee that the sheep who leaves the fold becomes as good as dead in the eyes of the remaining Witnesses, and they can make sure that the dead man tells no tales-at least, none that other Witnesses will hear.” (Reed, D.A., “Behind the Watchtower Curtain,” 1989, pp.22-23).
Stephen E. Jones, B.Sc., Grad. Dip. Ed.

 

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: