For nearly as long as the internet has existed, from around the world, there have been anecdotal internet postings of alleged instances of clandestine spying and surveillance of both former and current Jehovah's Witnesses conducted by Jehovah's Witness Elders and Ministerial Servants -- which gives credibility to the belief that such a sneaky, underhanded, and often illegal practice has been secretly promoted for decades by WatchTower Society World Headquarters.
However, credible reports of clandestine spying and surveillance of both former and current Jehovah's Witnesses conducted by Jehovah's Witness Elders and Ministerial Servants, and even by other rank-n-file members, predates the internet by several decades. Despite Governing Body Member Geoffrey Jackson's sworn public denial of the existence of a "spy network", author David Manwaring, who studied the WatchTower Cult during the 1950s, noted in his 1962 book, Render Unto Caesar: The Flag Salute Controversy, "The [Watchtower Society] national office has an extremely efficient surveillance network capable of quickly seeking out and punishing any [Jehovah's] Witness lagging in his work or his faith."
In February 1978, The Melbourne Sunday Press published an article entitled, "Sect Split on Spy Claims: Rebels Hit 'Big Brother Society'", in which WatchTower Cult dissidents exposed the Cult's even-by-then decades-old practice of spying on its members, while a WatchTower spokesperson flatly denied that internal spying occurred. Referring to the "WatchTower Society" as the "Big Brother Society", the newspaper quoted one former JW who claimed that "Jehovah's Witnesses have a spy network that would 'make the KGB and the CIA look like amateurs.'" Another quoted dissident alleged that "it was not uncommon for church 'spies' to watch members' homes, interrogate neighbours, or follow them in their cars."
In the 1999 Australian Court of Appeal - Western Australia case, QUEEN v. DEREK NEIL SMEDLEY, which was the criminal prosecution of an Australian Jehovah's Witness Elder for CHILD MOLESTATION, there is actual testimony from the JW Elder's victim -- his teenage step-daughter -- that that JW Elder once took his step-daughter along on such a clandestine spying and surveillance of a "recently expelled member", and that that JW Elder sexually fondled his step-daughter to pass the otherwise boring time.
In the 2009 Australian Family Court of Australia case, BEARD v. McCARTHY, which was a child custody court case, the Jehovah's Witness Ex-Husband was found on multiple occasions to have stalked, surveilled, and videotaped his Ex-Wife and a man that JW Ex-Husband believed to be Ex-Wife's boyfriend. TELLINGLY, that Court records that on at least one of those spying and surveillance missions that JW Ex-Husband had been accompanied by one of the ELDERS from JW Ex-Husband's local Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses.
Here in the United States, prior to the cellphone age, Jehovah's Witness Elders are known to have secreted audio recording devices on their person or in their briefcases when performing "shepherding calls" in the private homes of JW members. (Confirmation goes to FIRST GILEAD CLASS MEMBER and former WatchTower Foreign Missionary Justin Oehling for privately confessing his complicity with another JW Elder in such an ILLEGAL incident, and asking for forgiveness prior to his death.)
In the early 2000s, a former JW then claiming to live in California, who further claimed to have once been employed by one of the internet's larger Email Service Providers, publicly alleged a lengthy scenario during which a Jehovah's Witness official -- higher than local rank -- had once privately approached him and inquired whether he was familiar with the September 1, 1987 WATCHTOWER article, "'A Time to Speak' — When?". The Jehovah's Witness official allegedly then produced a photocopy of that WATCHTOWER article and proceeded to discuss such with the "spin" that loyal Jehovah's Witnesses had a duty to help fight against "Jehovah's enemies", even if such put their employment in jeopardy. Former JW also alleged that JW official's ancillary comments also seemed to indicate that this was not an isolated contact and conversation, but rather that similarly employed Jehovah's Witnesses across the United States were being identified and approached for a discussion on the content of that article.
In 2012, a former Jehovah's Witness living in a foreign country, who is/was employed by an Internet Service Provider (ISP), has publicly alleged that he was once approached by that country's WatchTower Society officials who requested that he provide them with documentation of certain private internet activities of a fellow Jehovah's Witness.
Several of the employment cases posted in our JW EMPLOYEES website include instances of JW Employees secretly tape recording Employers and Co-workers, including three cases HERE.
In 1987, Greece law enforcement authorities arrested and successfully prosecuted a staff member from the Greece Branch Headquarters of the WatchTower Society along with an Elder from one of the local Athens, Greece Congregations of Jehovah's Witnesses, after those two WatchTower Cult Leaders were caught secretly surveilling a private religious meeting held at the private home of a former member. The following [edited] excerpt is taken from former GOVERNING BODY MEMBER Raymond Franz's account of those events, which Franz published in his second and last book, IN SEARCH OF CHRISTIAN FREEDOM:
About 1986, the [Greek] branch office of the Watch Tower Society, located in the Athens [Greece] area, began applying intense pressure on [Jehovah's] Witnesses who gave any indication of not being in total agreement with [WatchTower Society] organizational teachings and policies. The number of those disfellowshiped evidently reached more than a hundred. Others simply ceased association quietly. In an interest to maintain [their] spirituality, some of these [former members] began to meet with others for Bible reading and discussion in private homes. This, too, was done quietly and without fanfare. The Greek [WatchTower Society] branch office, however, manifested an extreme concern to seek out and take action against any doing so. This in time introduced some remarkable measures and led to a court case described in the portions of an Athens newspaper ... . This is what happened:
On Tuesday, April 6, 1987, a group of about 50 persons gathered at the home of Nick and Eftihia Bozartzis for Bible discussion. From his balcony Nick noticed two men standing across the street watching the individuals entering his home, some of whom had not formally withdrawn from the [WatchTower] organization. Recognizing one of the two observers as a [Jehovah's] Witness, [Nick] went down to speak to them, but as soon as he appeared on the street level they literally ran off. Within days, three of those attending the gathering were "disfellowshiped" by elders in judicial hearings.
On Friday, others normally went to the home of Voula Kalokerinou, a former [Jehovah's] Witness, but since they planned to gather for the celebration of the Lord's [Evening Meal] on Sunday, their gathering on Friday, April 9, was canceled. That Friday evening, however, Voula noticed a car with five persons inside parked across the road from her house, and the car and its occupants remained there for hours. The next evening the same. ...
The following Sunday, April 11, [1987,] a number of persons went to Voula's home to commemorate the [Lord's Evening Meal]. [Voula Kalokerinou] noticed an unfamiliar car parked across the road on one corner and a van parked on the other corner. The rear window of the van was covered over with paper but with a hole cut in the center of the covering material. The occupants of the car crossed over to the van several times, talking with those inside it. Voula asked [a male visitor] who had come to her home to find out why the cars were parked there. When he approached the car, those inside quickly drove off. He then went to the rear of the van and looked in through the hole of the material covering the rear window. Inside he saw video camera equipment being used by two [Jehovah's] Witnesses -- an elder named Nikolas Antoniou, and a member of the Athens Watch Tower branch office staff, [named] Dimetre Zerdes. A number of others from Voula's home came over to the van and a policeman stationed at the nearby Italian Embassy also appeared to find out what the problem was. The [Jehovah's] Witnesses in the van managed to drive through the surrounding group and drove to a nearby park where they began quickly unloading their video equipment. They were interrupted by the arrival of two police cars and were arrested on charges of "invasion of privacy". The video equipment was confiscated. The film in it showed Mrs. Kalokerinou's home and zoom shots of the front entrance with closeups of all those entering.
Before the District Attorney, the two [Jehovah's Witnesses -- Nikolas Antoniou and Dimetre Zerdes --] stated that they were only there to film a relative of Dimetre Zerdes, the Watch Tower branch office member. His cousin, Eftihia Bozartzis, mentioned earlier, had "disassociated" herself two years before. As a "loyal" [Jehovah's] Witness, [WatchTower Society] branch office member [Dimetre Zerdes] should have had no [further dealings] with [Eftihia Bozartzis] -- he certainly should not have had any reason for wanting to film her secretively two years after her "disassociation".
The case eventually came to trial. In his presentation at the close of the trial, the District Attorney, Mr. Kontaxis, stated:
"I don't think there is any Christian organization that tells its members to tell lies, but when the defendant and his organization does so, I would want them to accept the responsibility and say, "Yes, we did spy." And if an organization did such a thing then how can it expect others to follow it? They had and used special equipment with witnesses seeing them filming, and yet the defendant comes along and says he didn't do it to spy but just to film. All this doesn't honor either the defendant or the organization to which he belongs.
"We are all free to belong to any organization we want, but we are also free to leave that organization and do whatever we want within the bounds of the law.... Does a person's leaving, abandoning the organization, give it the right to follow and spy on its members? One is protected by law against cassettes, tape recorders, filming, when such are used to pry into one's personal life and personality. This comes under CONFIDENTIALITY and is protected by it in such cases, and that includes one's private convictions. This is very serious. Obviously the defendants were trying to cryptograph the private life of the plaintiffs by using video equipment, and this purposely, not by chance.
"The Watch Tower Society, by teaching it is the 'Ark,' and that one must enter it to be saved, by teaching it is God's channel, creates tremendous dependency on its members and thus [they] are directed to do everything to threaten and trample all that we call human rights."
In the course of the trial, one of the judges asked the [Jehovah's] Witness elder, the owner of the van, how long he and the [WatchTower Society Branch Office Member] had been stationed in the van that day. The answer was, six hours. When asked if the windows of the van were clear, the elder said, No, that the back window was covered with paper with a hole in the center through which they had done filming with the video cassette camera. He claimed that all this was solely to film his [accomplice's] relative. The confiscated film showed zoom shots of many persons at the house's front entrance and on its balcony. But the relative did not appear anywhere on the film. Actually she could not have appeared - for the simple reason that she was never at the gathering! The court rendered a guilty verdict in the case.
On Christmas Day, 1968, a member of the Watchtower headquarters staff rang my doorbell and asked, "Are you Connie Grizzuti's daughter who used to be associated with the Lord's sheep?" ... "It has come to our attention," the man said, "that in 1963 you were observed making obeisance in the Shiva temple in Warangal, India. You are also known to have made the sign of the cross while passing a Roman Catholic Church in Guatemala City. These are grounds for disfellowshipping. If you can prove, before a group of elders, that you are innocent of the charges, disfellowshipping charges can be halted. If we remain convinced of your guilt, you may be reinstated in the Lord's organization if you beg forgiveness. If we judge you guilty and you do not confess, you will be disfellowshipped. If you refuse to appear before the elders, you will be automatically disfellowshipped."... I said, "Wouldn't it be redundant to disfellowship me? After all, I left ten years ago of my own accord." He said, "But you can't leave. You can never leave us. We can expel you. But you, having been baptized into The Truth, are one of us until we say you're not."I declined ... to appear before the elders. ... They did not disfellowship me; I don't know why. ... In any case, I was left to wonder if they had SPIES who followed former [Jehovah's] Witnesses around the world to collect evidence. It was not until 1974 that I was paid another official visit.
As related in his 1984 book, The Orwellian World of Jehovah's Witnesses, in 1961, at the age of 18, child prodigy-genius, world traveler, and already WatchTower insider, Gary Botting, then moved to Hong Kong to "pioneer" and become the "Congregation Servant" of the English-speaking Jehovah's Witness community in Hong Kong. Not long after moving into the Hong Kong Branch Office of the WatchTower Society, Botting reports that the "Assistant Branch Servant", named Kenneth Gannaway, ordered Botting to SPY on the Branch's two Chinese translators, who themselves were recent graduates of the WatchTower Bible School of Gilead. The WatchTower Branch administration reportedly was concerned about the non-watchtower books which the two Gilead Missionaries were suspected to be reading and were possibly affecting their work. Botting relates that one of those two Gilead graduates, Daniel Ng, was in fact reprimanded based on Botting's surveillance.
Over the past decades, literally tens of thousands of former Jehovah's Witnesses across the planet who have attempted to voluntarily leave the WatchTower Cult quietly and without fanfare, but without formally filing official notice of their "disassociation" with their local Congregation (sometimes referred to as "fading"), have found themselves and their family members HUNTED DOWN and STALKED by not only Elders and Ministerial Servants from their former Congregation, but even by JW family members, JW friends, and other rank-n-file Jehovah's Witnesses. Even "faders" who have purposely relocated to other cities, other counties, and other states in an attempt to escape such HARASSMENT, have been stalked by Jehovah's Witness Elders living in that new locale after the Body Of Elders at their former Congregation had uncovered their new address, and had reported such to the BOE in the "faders" new locale.
In her autobiography, Awakening Of A Jehovah's Witness, Diane Wilson documented the extremes to which Jehovah's Witness "Secret Agents" will go to demonstrate to dissidents that the WatchTower Cult governs their lives until the Cult decides otherwise. Diane Wilson and her JW Elder Husband were the parents of a son and a daughter who both had become baptized Jehovah's Witnesses when they were teenagers. However, in 1989, around her 17th birthday, Diane's daughter informed Diane that she "planned to leave home and [leave] her life as a [Jehovah's] Witness" on her 18th birthday -- a threat which that daughter did in fact keep in 1990. During the following year, Elders from the Wilson's Congregation repeatedly and relentlessly attempted by all possible means of communication -- telephone, mail, etc. -- to contact the Daughter and force her to meet with them and disclose to them how and with whom she was now living her life.
In 1991, Diane and her JW Elder Husband went on a vacation to Hawaii, and as was their custom, they paid a fellow Jehovah's Witness Male who had grown up in their Congregation to take care of their house, garden, mail, etc. while they were gone. This young JW Male had been friends with both the Wilson's son and daughter, and he had spent much time at the Wilson home, including overnight visits.
The Wilson's local BOE decided to take advantage of this situation to trick the Wilson's daughter into coming to her parent's home, where the BOE planned to position its "Secret Agents" to AMBUSH and ILLEGALLY DETAIN the Daughter. The BOE enlisted the JW house-sitter to telephone the Daughter and LIE TO HER about a non-existent "problem" at the Wilson's home with which he required the Daughter's help. The house-sitter purposefully asked Daughter to meet him at the Wilson's home after it had turned dark. That night, three JW "Secret Agents" arrived early -- HIDING themselves in three different spots around the Wilson's yard so that they could be certain to be able to quickly physically accost the Daughter regardless of where she parked her car. At the agreed time, the Daughter's car arrived and parked on the street in front of the Wilson's home. As the young female driver exited and walked up the pathway to the Wilson's front door, the three WatchTower Cult "Secret Agents" sprung their TRAP -- only to be surprised that they were physically accosting in the dark a young female whom they did not know. The Daughter had sent a female friend in her place, whom the Daughter had warned that such an AMBUSH and TRAP should be expected.
In 1980, John Higgins was an Elder in the Port Moody Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses, in British Columbia, Canada. Around the time that Olga Higgins delivered their second child, the Higgins began to disagree with certain WatchTower Society beliefs and practices (possibly related to blood transfusions). The Higgins eventually decided that the WatchTower Society did not have "the truth", and that they no longer wanted to be "Jehovah's Witnesses". However, the Higgins also decided that they wanted to fade out of the religion with the least amount of hoopla as possible. They did not wish to be "disfellowshipped", nor did they wish to "disassociate" themselves. John stepped down as an Elder, and the Higgins gradually ceased performing "field service", and ceased attending all meetings. The Higgins simply hoped that they would just be left alone.
Having been a Congregation Elder, John Higgins likely knew better. John Higgins also likely knew that Congregation Elders were secretly encouraged to surveil "faders" like he and his family -- especially given his former position in the local congregation. Thus, even though the Higgins Family had not attended a Kingdom Hall Meeting in over one year, it should have been no surprise when, on a Sunday morning in the summer of 1982, the Higgins spotted what appeared to be two individuals hiding in some bushes located on the playground adjacent to their home. John Higgins grabbed his camera, slipped out of his home, and circled around behind the two "spies", who turned out to be two Elders, who also had a camera, plus binoculars. Higgins took a photograph of them as "evidence" of their surveillance, and then asked what did they think they were doing. It was rather obvious that the two Elders were hoping to a get a photograph of a dressed-up Higgins Family getting in their automobile and going to church on that Sunday morning.
If embarrassed, the two Elders did not show such. In fact, those two Elders formed a Judicial Committee, along with two other Elders. John Higgins was ordered to attend a "hearing" of that Judicial Committee. At that hearing, John Higgins again confronted the two Elders whom he had caught red-handed spying on he and his family. Higgins asked those four Elders by what authority did they have the right to spy on he and his family?
One Elder responded, "If a man doesn't come to the meetings, wouldn't you be concerned about where he was going on Sundays? Wouldn't you want to find out what he was doing?" Another Elder continued, "Where are you going? What are you doing for spiritual nourishment? Are you meeting anyone? What are you doing, because you use to have a routine and come to the Kingdom Hall ... ?"
John Higgins refused to answer their questions. Despite the fact that John Higgins voluntarily had ceased participating in any WatchTower functions more than a year previous, and despite the fact that the Judicial Committee had zero evidence to "convict" Higgins on any charge worthy of his being disfellowshipped, that is exactly what the four satanists decided to do. Such proves that the WatchTower Society is actually a Nazi fascist organization with its own Gestapo and SS elements.
International Law Enforcement should NEVER discount or dismiss reports of "stalking" or "surveillance" committed by Jehovah's Witness Elders or Ministerial Servants based solely on the fact that the person reporting such "stalking" or "surveillance" has not attended their local Kingdom Hall, nor otherwise associated with the WatchTower Cult, for many weeks, months, or even years.
In 2015, we received a report from a "Reliable Source" of his being "stalked" by a JW Elder while "RS" was driving to church. As background, "Reliable Source" was a born-in Jehovah's Witness who formally never was "disassociated" nor "disfellowshipped", but who last attended his local Kingdom Hall 18 YEARS AGO -- where RS's only active relative is a 75 year-old mentally ill Aunt. RS has experienced no unwelcomed "shepherding calls" to his home since the last one which occurred 13 YEARS AGO, on Christmas Morning, when RS angerly "trespassed" this same JW Elder and the then visiting WatchTower Circuit Overseer. NINE YEARS AGO, RS told this same STALKING JW ELDER to his face that RS occasionally had been attending another local church over the previous two years. All other local Jehovah's Witnesses have known for 9 YEARS that RS disavows the WatchTower Cult and occasionally attends other local churches. Now, 18 YEARS, after last setting foot inside the local Kingdom Hall, RS currently irregularly attends a different "country church".
On a recent Sunday morning, while driving the 5 or so miles to that isolated, rural "country church", RS noticed that a Mini-Van had followed him all the way through town, past the local Kingdom Hall, and then out of town -- which would speed up OR slow down depending on whatever it took to maintain a 800-1000 foot distance back from RS's vehicle. Although it was by then only 10 minutes until the Kingdom Hall meeting started back in town, RS was still confident that he was being "tailed" by a JW Elder -- assumedly so that that JW Elder could discover IF and WHERE RS was currently attending some other church. After going over a hill which blocked the line of sight between the two vehicles, RS made a quick turn-around and drove back towards the Mini-Van. Tellingly, some of the Mini-Van's occupants -- TWO JW ELDERS and their families -- STUPIDLY became noticeably animated as soon as they topped the hill and saw RS's automobile coming towards them, and then even MORE STUPIDLY quickly changed to "stone-faced statues" as the two vehicles met and passed. Apparently, whatever information this vanload of JWs was attempting to obtain was worth the "anathema" of their being late for the start of the Sunday meeting.
Try to convince RS that the WatchTower Society is not a dangerous, privacy-violating, stalking, surveilling CULT!!! Again, it has been 18 YEARS since RS last set foot inside that local Kingdom Hall. All local citizens who care to know, including JWs, have known for NINE to ELEVEN YEARS that RS has disavowed the WatchTower Cult and attends other churches. So then, after all these years -- and even more SIGNIFICANTLY -- YEARS after all lines of communication have been closed, for what reason would the local Jehovah's Witnesses STILL be "stalking" and "surveilling" RS unless the WatchTower Society itself is maintaining ILLEGAL FILES of "dissidents" -- SECRET FILES which contain those individuals' personal and confidential information -- which require regular updates from local JW Elders??? For what WatchTower Cult purpose or purposes are those files maintained with so much effort and difficulty -- not to mention the exposing of those local "stalking" and "surveilling" Jehovah's Witnesses to eventual physical retribution???
In her autobiography, Awakening Of A Jehovah's Witness, Diane Wilson repeated an "experience" that she had heard told at a local XJW support group meeting by another JW Wife who, at the time, also was still in the process of exiting out of the WatchTower Cult. That JW Wife related that her JW Husband and she had decided to attend a local church service to "see what going to a church was like before they decided to leave the organization". However, they were extremely apprehensive about doing such since they lived next door to one of their Congregation's Elders. Eventually, they put aside their "paranoia", and decided that they would go ahead and attend a local church service. Unbelievably, on the drive there, they eventually began to notice that a car following behind them was turning every time that they turned. As they turned into the church's parking lot, the car behind them began flashing its headlights. Sure enough, it was their JW Elder neighbor, who angrily shook his fist at them, and began shouting, "I see you! I see you!" as he drove past.
Deciding to attend a meeting of a support group made up of former Jehovah's Witnesses had been no easy task for this wife of an active Jehovah's Witness Elder. Wilson explains, "I felt apprehensive about attending its meetings. If the organization knew of the existence of this group, the real possibility existed of their sending a spy to the group meetings ... . I knew this was a genuine risk ... . ... To protect myself from being "turned in" ... , I remained anonymous to the group; I didn't tell them my name, where I lived, or to what congregation I had belonged."
In his autobiographical book, Jehovah's Witnesses and the Hour of Darkness, former Jehovah's Witness Darek Barefoot relates that during the months leading up to the disfellowshipping of himself, his brother, and both their wives, during which Barefoot was accumulating a large amount of research relating to subliminal images occurring within WatchTower publications, and during which Barefoot was anonymously submitting his findings to WatchTower HQ, that one of Barefoot's Jehovah's Witness Employees SEARCHED Barefoot's private business office, STOLE some of Barefoot's private correspondence, and FORWARDED that stolen correspondence to both Barefoot's local BOE and to the BOE at the southern California congregation from which Barefoot had recently relocated.
In his book, written only shortly thereafter, Barefoot speculates that the SEARCH and THEFT was triggered when the JW Employee accidentally viewed some of Barefoot's research which Barefoot had carelessly left viewable in his business office. It is not known how Barefoot arrived at that speculation. Possibly, that was what Barefoot was told during his judicial proceedings. However, given Barefoot's 6-7 years of occasionally discussing the topic of his research with JW family members and others, and given his then recent anonymous submission of that research to WatchTower HQ, we would not discard the better speculation that Barefoot's JW Employee had been instructed to search Barefoot's business office and steal whatever incriminating materials that could be found. And, if that JW Employee saw fit to mail those materials to a BOE in California, then copies were likely also mailed to WatchTower HQ.
SIDEBAR: Any person anywhere in the world who has a telephone conversation with their country's WatchTower Society Branch Office should automatically assume that their telephone conversation is being recorded. Laws regarding the secret recording of private telephone conversations vary widely from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, and it would be the epitome of stupidity to think that the WatchTower Cult even cares what are the local laws. In 1982, two prominent native Irish JW Elders flew to NYC to speak "personally" with certain members of the "Governing Body" with whom they were either friends or acquaintances regarding the ongoing "schism" at WatchTower World HQ. Their multiple requests for such a face-to-face meeting with their "supposed" friends were denied. Lyman Swingle, then "Chairman of the Governing Body", acquiesced to accepting a telephone call from the two prominent Irish Elders, which lasted nearly 30 minutes. Six months later, a "Judicial Committee" headed up by the WatchTower Cult's Ireland Branch Coordinator was formed to "investigate" those two Irish Elders for alleged "apostasy". At that Hearing, when one of the Accused Irish Elders attempted to recall and relate to the members of the Judicial Committee the content of his 30 minute private telephone conversation with Lyman Swingle, the Ireland Branch Coordinator, Arthur Matthews, interrupted the Accused and informed him that the members of the Judicial Committee were already familiar with his telephone conversation with Lyman Swingle, because they had already LISTENED TO THE AUDIO TAPE -- which had been sent to Ireland HQ from WatchTower HQ in Brookyn. The naive Irish JW Elder was dumbfounded that not only had his private telephone conversation with a member of the "Governing Body" been SECRETLY RECORDED without his permission, but afterwards, a copy of that secretly recorded private telephone conversation had been distributed internationally for the perusal of persons who had nothing whatsoever to do with that private conversation.
SIDEBAR: International governments, law enforcement agencies, and human rights groups should know that it is a FACT that WatchTower International HQ has ordered its local Jehovah's Witness Congregations to maintain an annually updated RECORD of ALL FORMER MEMBERS who live within a Congregation's territory. Congregation Body Of Elders have been ordered to "consider" the content of that FORMER MEMBERS ROLL "once a year". WatchTower HQ further orders, "If any [Jehovah's] Witness, in the house-to-house preaching or in any other way, learns of a disfellowshipped person living in the territory, he should give that information to the Elders." At a minimum, this WatchTower HQ Directive means that at any given time, WatchTower HQ has immediate telephone access to the names and residential addresses of nearly ALL FORMER MEMBERS across the planet. Who knows what other personal-private-confidential information belonging to former members that BOEs have been privately instructed by WatchTower HQ to acquire and record. How does anyone know that that same personal-private-confidential information is not also automatically forwarded to WatchTower HQ, instead of only being maintained locally?
BETTE VAULS v. NICK G. LAMBROS, JACK R. GERMROTH, and ARTHUR E. KIRKPATRICK was a 1985-89 Maryland civil court case filed against three individual "Elders" at the Baltimore, Maryland area Rosedale Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses, accusing them of "Invasion of Privacy" and "Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress". The plaintiff, Bette Vauls, had been disfellowshipped in November 1983 -- allegedly on trumped-up charges -- by those Jehovah's Witness Elders, whom Bette Vauls alleged had for several years had it out for all three members of the Vauls Family --- Bette Vauls, her husband John Vauls, and their daughter Kathy Vauls. Most of the "problems" between the Vauls Family and their Congregation's Body Of Elders stemmed from repeated, ongoing "issues" with their "troubled" teenage daughter, Kathy Vauls, dating all the way back to 1976. It was not until 1979 -- after three years of discord between the Vauls Family and the BOE -- that Kathy Vauls revealed that she had been sexually assaulted in 1976, when she was only 14 years-old, by a 27 year-old Ministerial Servant for whom she had been babysitting.
The discord between the Vauls Family and the BOE only increased in 1979 after the Judicial Committee which investigated and ruled on the sexual assault of Kathy Vauls decided that the 14 year-old VICTIM had been as much to blame for her "rape" as had been the Ministerial Servant whom "raped her". The Judicial Committee reportedly even "publicly reproved" Kathy Vauls, while merely "privately reproving" the still unidentified Ministerial Servant. TYPICALLY, on top of all that, the "rape" was CONCEALED from the authorities.
In this lawsuit, Bette Vauls alleged that in Nick Lambros' attempt to gather "evidence" on which to disfellowship her, "in 1979 and 1980 [Elder Nick Lambros] began following her in his car". Vauls further alleged that during 1982 and 1983 that "the unauthorized surveillance continued, including several occasions when [Elder Nick Lambros] parked outside her residence and 'watched the house'. On one such occasion ... he 'gave her the finger'."
Vauls also claimed that Nick Lambros came to her home in 1982 and accused Vauls of having "slandered" (a disfellowshipping offense) a fellow member of the Congregation. According to Vauls, Lambros told her that he had ordered a fellow female congregant of Vauls -- named Rossini -- to secretly tape record telephone conversations between Rossini and Vauls, and to then turnover those secretly recorded tapes to Lambros. It was in one of those conversations that Vauls supposedly slandered another member of the Congregation. That illegally obtained "evidence" allegedly was used against Vauls by the BOE during the disfellowshipping investigation and trial.
In his book, In Search of Christian Freedom, onetime WatchTower Society Governing Body member, Raymond Franz, related that after he had been disfellowshipped that he had been contacted by literally hundreds of disaffected current and former Jehovah's Witnesses seeking his advice and counsel. Franz noted the "intimidation" and "fear" felt by many of those Jehovah's Witnesses who knew for a fact that the WatchTower Cult was a "police state", which absolutely has its own "spy network":
I have ... [communicated] ... with people even taking out special post office boxes in order to correspond, all the while using a pseudonym to protect their identity. One young man, who said his father was a prominent elder, phoned me and had only spoken a sentence or two when he asked, "You're not TAPING this conversation, are you?" I assured him that I did not do that. He continued, "You don't have computer equipment to trace my number?" ... He said he was sure I realized what a risk he was taking in phoning me and that if his wife came in he would have to hang up immediately. Not long into the conversation he did bring it to a quick close. The next day he phoned again and said, "I guess I sounded a bit paranoid." I replied, "Yes, you did, but I understand why." He has communicated over a period of many months and I still do not know his name ... .
A now former Jehovah's Witness submits this real-life scenario which involves alleged breach of confidentiality and retaliation by a United States Postal Service mail carrier. Tipster relates that the involved time period was the early 2000s when Tipster was going through the typical withdrawal pains of someone who personally chooses to gradually exit the WatchTower Cult as that person slowly and gradually discerns the many sins and fallacies of the WatchTower Cult (as opposed to those XJWs who first get kicked-out of the Cult for moral delinquency and thereafter discover the Cult's faults). As part of their gradual "exit", Tipster found it advantageous to relocate to a small mid-western town where they were completely unknown as one of Jehovah's Witnesses by either local JWs or non-JWs. During this merely "inactive" period in their life, Tipster began to further question their long-held WatchTower Cult beliefs and practices, and began searching the internet for answers. After a few months of ordering confidentially packaged materials from a variety of counter-WatchTower ministries, and exchanging emails with the operators of others, InactiveJW became somewhat concerned when they found themselves unwantedly being placed on mailing lists and receiving additional unsolicited envelopes and materials which contained identifying words, logos, and "return addresses" which any active Jehovah's Witness could easily identify as "apostate" or "anti-watchtower". InactiveJW eventually dismissed their initial worries given that noone in the new locale knew them as one of Jehovah's Witnesses.
InactiveJW relates that it was only after 2-3 of months of receiving the above described "apostate" or "anti-watchtower" materials and envelopes that InactiveJW noticed a drastic change in their mail delivery. Prior to then, for about 9-10 months, InactiveJW had never given their mail delivery a second thought. However, now, instead of their mail regularly being found in a neat stack in their mailbox, half or more of the time, their mail began to be found crammed into InactiveJW's mailbox in a twisted and bent mess which often left the envelopes and their contents damaged. Even then, InactiveJW simply assumed that the "experienced" USPS postal carrier had been replaced by a new hire. About a month or so later, it dawned on InactiveJW that they had not yet paid one or more of that month's routine bills. In fact, on checking their checkbook, InactiveJW discovered that two separate credit card payments had been missed. Fortunately, InactiveJW was a recycler, and was able to locate all of the old junk mail in a nearly date order recycling stack. InactiveJW found not only all of the missing bills, but other important mail, all individually tucked inside various pieces of open sided junk mail solicitations -- all appearing to have been purposefully placed where they would not have been found unless InactiveJW had turned every single page of every single piece of junk mail.
A few days later, InactiveJW was able to take a late lunch break and visit the local USPS branch office. After identifying themself and their address, InactiveJW first inquired whether there had been a change in mail carriers on his route in the past month or so. When the Postmaster indicated that there had been no change, InactiveJW startled the Postmaster by inquiring whether InactiveJW's USPS letter carrier was a "Jehovah's Witness". The Postmaster turned several different colors before regaining his composure and then asking why InactiveJW would ask such a question -- but then quickly cutoff InactiveJW before they could answer while stating that he (postmaster) had no idea regarding the mail carrier's religion, plus that he (postmaster) would not release such info even if he did know. Suspecting that the mission was 90% accomplished, InactiveJW did not go further into the religion issue, but rather explained the problems with several unpaid bills due to several recent "lost" bills and other important mail which "appeared" to be INTENTIONALLY scattered and hidden amongst routinely disposed junk mail. Notably, InactiveJW's mail delivery returned to normal after that single visit with the Postmaster.
In his book, Jehovah's Witnesses and the Problem of Mental Illness, clinical psychologist Dr. Gerald Bergman related that one of his Jehovah's Witness "Elderette" Patients was so "paranoid" that her JW Elder husband was cheating on her that she continuously reported "evidence" of such to the other Elders in their Congregation. Bergman reported that, "In response to her complaints, the other Elders spent some time clandestinely following [their fellow Elder] around ... ."
In her autobiography, Awakening Of A Jehovah's Witness, Diane Wilson related that shortly after she had stopped attending meetings and stopped going out in field service that her Congregation's Body of Elders had held a secret BOE meeting which had excluded her own JW Elder Husband. The purpose of that meeting? The BOE met to discuss the Wilsons, and decided to place under SURVEILLANCE Diane's unwaveringly loyal JW Elder Husband in order to see if he was doing anything about which they felt the BOE should know. Diane's husband was never disloyal to the Cult; did not follow Diane out of the Cult; and never gave his fellow JW Elders any reason to question his loyalty. Apparently, SURVEILLANCE of members, even fellow Elders, in the WatchTower Cult, is a common and easily decided matter.
WATCHTOWER CULT COUNTER-ESPIONAGE
SIDEBAR: Only one year after Charles Taze Russell had put down the 1894 WatchTower Headquarters Rebellion, Russell was faced with yet another significant schism, which has received zero coverage by WatchTower historians. In 1892, "Pastor" Russell's personal secretary, Ullysses Morrow, had left the Watch Tower Society due to doctrinal differences, and had founded in Allegheny, Pennsylvania, a second "Second Adventist" magazine named THE HERALD OF GLAD TIDINGS. In early 1895, Ullysses Morrow became a follower of Cyrus Teed and his Koreshan Unity cult. By Spring 1895, Morrow was spreading Cyrus Teed's teachings amongst the growing crowd of former Russellites living in and around Pittsburgh. (Notably, just like Charles Taze Russell, Cyrus Teed claimed to be a successor to William Miller, rather than a follower.)By Summer 1895, Teed and Morrow were openly challenging "Pastor" Russell and his teachings in the Pittsburgh newspapers. Russell initially ignored attempts by the Pittsburgh newspapers to draw him into the fray. However, after Teed and Morrow began having some success in drawing active Russellites to their meetings, "Pastor" Russell evidently decided that he needed to "infiltrate" his until-then insignificant competition, so as to gain accurate inside "intelligence". Russell's chosen INFILTRATOR easily infiltrated the welcoming group of former Russellites. However, Russell's INFILTRATOR made an easy mistake -- a mistake which likely has been long remembered at WatchTower HQ. Within only a matter of weeks, Russell's INFILTRATOR seemingly had done such a good job of infiltrating the group, including endearing themselve to the local cultists, and gaining their trust, that when the Cult decided to legally incorporate the Pittsburgh Branch in June 1895, Russell's INFILTRATOR was elected "PRESIDENT".That organizational meeting had occurred on a Sunday. On Monday, one of the ELDERS in Russell's Allegheny congregation, whom also was a prominent Pittsburgh businessman, learned that local newspapers were reporting that his WIFE was now "President" of the Pittsburgh branch of Koreshan Unity, which was targeting for its own membership followers of the Watch Tower Society. Probably at Russell's insistence, Husband hurried to the newspapers and attempted "damage control". Husband told the Pittsburgh newspapers that his WIFE had attended only four Koreshan Unity meetings; that she had done so merely as an "investigator"; and that she had not even been present at the organizational meeting where she had been elected "President" without her knowledge or consent. Husband further related that his WIFE denied any connection whatsoever to the Koreshan Unity, and that she totally repudiated Cyrus Teed and his teachings.Russell's fumbled attempt to secretly infiltrate the local branch of the Koreshan Unity only lent credibility to the cult amongst his own followers. By September 1895, as many as six dozen former and current Russellites were attending local meetings of the Koreshan Unity. That included at least two prominent Bethelites -- James and Elizabeth Weimar -- whom Russell promptly disfellowshipped. (Notably, the Weimars had played a leading role in helping Russell to crush the 1894 WatchTower HQ Rebellion.)Given that that was the 1890s, it is especially interesting that Russell decided on a FEMALE as the person best suited for the job of infiltrating, deceiving, and spying on the very people whom best knew the internal workings of Russell and his cult. (See Page 2 of this section for instances where Charles Taze Russell used MALE spies and infiltrators on outside targets.)