Previous to a major policy change in 1990, Watchtower literature was distributed at what was termed a "specified contribution" price for each item. Witness canvassers (called "publishers") bought their literature supplies from the congregation and then resold these from door-to-door. All monies were then remitted to the Society's headquarters in Brooklyn, New York.
The new policy announced in 1990 detailed a complete donation basis for literature. It was now to be supplied without charge to congregations, but contribution boxes are placed by the counter for donations from the publishers, supposedly to cover the cost of printing and distribution. In the field, donations for the items are solicited, but are supposedly not necessary in order to obtain books and magazines. Such donations received from the public are then to be brought back to the Kingdom Hall and sent to the Society.
What was the motivation for these changes?
The Society's answer was that less paperwork would be needed and the literature could be more easily distributed. "By adopting a method of literature distribution based completely on donation, Jehovah's people are able to greatly simplify our Bible education work and separate ourselves from those who commercialize religion." (Letter from the Watch Tower Society to all U.S. congregations dated February 21, 1990.)
This is a blatant lie! The real truth is:
In the SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES, October Tenth, 1988, Case No. 88-1374, filed on June 22, 1988, Clerk Joseph F. Spanol, Jr.
On that date and file number, The Attoreny James M. McCabe,and Donald T. Ridley, 25 Colombia Heights, Brooklyn, NY 11251 (718)606-4993, Attorneys for Amicus Curiae, Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc. filed a "Friends of the Court" brief on the behalf of the famous preacher, Jimmy Swaggart and his Ministries.
Why would the Watchtower Society, direct channel for Jehovah's holy spirt, which also godly hates Babylon the Great, which also Christiandom is the largest part, go into the Supreme Court of the United States and file a legal brief to help Jimmy Swaggart's ministries in his trial which was Case No. 88-1374: Jimmy Swaggart Ministries, Appelant vs. BOARD OF EQUALIZATION OF CALIFORNIA, Appeller?
Early 1980 State of California informs Jimmy Swaggart Ministries that tax is due for religious books and tapes sold in the state since 1974. Swaggart eventually pays the tax--$183,000.00--but sues for a refund. The case begins moving toward the U.S. Supreme Court.
February, 1989 U.S. Supreme Court rules it is illegal for Texas (and 14 other states) to exempt religious books from sales tax. Some states had been taxing religious books all along.
Summer, 1989 WT Society gives away "free" books released at U.S. conventions. Witnesses are instructed to place donations in contribution boxes to cover the cost.
June 22, 1989 Watchtower Society, files amicus curiae ("friend of the court") brief with U.S. Supreme Court in Jimmy Swaggart case. Others filing similar briefs include National Council of Churches and Society for Krishna Consciousness.
January 17, 1990 U.S. Supreme Court rules against Jimmy Swaggart Ministries, declaring that the sales tax must be paid.
February 9, 1990 WT Society writes letter to congregations announcing that literature will no longer be sold at Kingdom Hall and no price will be set in door-to-door distribution.
February 25, 1990 February 9th letter from Society is read at Sunday meetings of Jehovah's Witnesses across the United States.
March 1, 1990 New policy of distributing literature without naming a price goes into effect.
The March 15, 1990, WATCHTOWER magazine and March 22nd AWAKE!--printed earlier--still say "25 cents (U.S.) a copy" and "$5.00 (U.S.) per year." The April 1, 1990, Watchtower no longer carries a price.
March 11, 1990 Announcement is made at Kingdom Halls in the U.S. that food will be available at no cost, on a freewill donation basis, at JW conventions.
The Watchtowr Bible and Tract Society simply did not want to pay the tax on goods sold.
"the Scriptures justify the 'war strategy' of hiding true facts from the enemy."--THE WATCHTOWER May 15, 1960, page 295