Saturday, May 30, 2009

Murdered Woman Left Disassociation Letter

St Thomas Times-Journal
Decision is final: slain wife
Posted By KYLE REA, Times-Journal
Eugena Smith expected "wagging tongues to flutter with delight" after they read the letter she wrote saying she was leaving the Jehovah's Witness church.
That comes from a five-page draft of the missive, read aloud to a trial jury on Wednesday and addressed to the Watchtower Bible Society of Jehovah's Witnesses. It was found by investigators lying among a pile of clothing on the floor of Eugena Smith's bedroom, shortly after the 33-year-old St. Thomas woman was found murdered in her 9 Balaclava St. home in June, 2007.
Her estranged husband Michael Smith, 37, is on trial for first-degree murder in the city's Superior Court of Justice.
The couple's daughter, who was three-and-a-half years old in June, 2007, wasn't home at the time.
Justice Peter Hockin is hearing the case, which is expected to last five weeks.
The Crown argued in an opening statement Tuesday that Eugena Smith was trying to leave both her husband, and her church, just days before she died on June 7, 2007. Michael Smith, the Crown says, thought she was having an affair.
Among a mountain of evidence presented in court on Wednesday, Eugena's draft letter stated "I no longer wish to associate myself with the (Watchtower) organization" and urged people not to persuade her to come back.
"My decision is final."
Wednesday also saw testimony from Const. Terri Hikele and Const. Marc Vaughan, two St. Thomas identification officers who investigated, photographed and video-taped both Eugena Smith's home and Michael Smith's Talbot Street apartment. The court heard cellphones, computers, medication and clothing were seized by police.
Some objects, such as a black woman's shirt cut from neck to waist, a pair of thong underwear, stained bed sheets and wads of toilet paper with a red substance on it, all found in Eugena Smith's bedroom, were sent to the Centre of Forensic Sciences in Toronto for testing.
Swabs taken from Michael Smith's penis and a sexual assault test kit with samples taken at Eugena Smith's autopsy were also sent away to be tested, the court heard.
Photos, video and items seized from Michael Smith's apartment were also presented to the jury. One of those items included a letter from Michael Smith's father, Joseph, addressed, "To my son."
Read aloud for the jury by Vaughan, the letter asks forgiveness for a "previous outburst," and talks about a heated argument involving Eugena Smith and her inlaws. In the letter Joseph Smith worries he won't get a chance to see his granddaughter again.
"Don't make (her) pay for a few words."
The trial continues today.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Spanish JW’s Upset Over Bethel Move

On April 1, 2009 a letter was sent from the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses to congregations in Spain informing them that the printing, shipping, and storage of Watchtower publications would be discontinued at the Madrid Branch office. The letter expressed confidence that the Spanish Witnesses would, despite the move, continue to generously support the world wide work and ends with an appeal to remain united under the direction of the Witness leadership.
At a glance, this story may seem like a non-issue, perhaps, just another example of reorganization and consolidation within a multinational corporation; however, the dissolution of the printing branch has caused considerable hard feelings among some of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Spain. To understand the reason we must first look at the history behind the branch office and external factors that some feel prompted this abrupt move.
Early in their history, Jehovah’s Witnesses began printing their trademark Watchtower magazines and associated books and tracts in-house at their ”Bethel” headquarters in Brooklyn, New York. As the religious organization grew and expanded overseas, “branch offices” and printing facilities were established in different locations across the globe to support the preaching work in those territories. Such was the case in Spain in 1980, where the need for a local printing facility was explained at Spanish district conventions of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
At the time, expansion at the headquarters in New York left the Watch Tower corporation without the finances to build offices and a printing facility in Spain and so the Spanish Witnesses were solicited to follow the example of the Israelites in bringing their gold, silver, and valuable items to Moses in order to build the Tabernacle. (Exodus 35:5-9) The 1983 Yearbook of Jehovah’s Witnesses, reports the generous way that the Spanish Witnesses responded to this appeal.:
At the close of the conventions, people were lining up to contribute their jewels, gold and silver rings and bracelets, so that these could be turned into cash to finance the new project. At the convention in San Sebastián in the Basque country, an elderly sister handed over a heavy gold bracelet. When asked if she was sure that she wanted to donate such a valuable item, she answered: “Brother, it is going to do far more good paying for a new Bethel than it will on my wrist!”
With the unsparing financial support of the Spanish Witnesses a new branch office and printing facility was later constructed in Madrid. Being financed within the country, this new Bethel was a source of pride for the Spanish Witnesses. Many would make special trips just to tour the facility. Now some are hurt to watch as the printing presses that they gave their precious heirlooms to buy are shipped to Germany and the Bethel that they sacrificed their savings to build is anticipated to be sold, with the proceeds of the sale returning back to the US Watch Tower corporation that was originally unable to finance its construction. This situation might not be near as bitter if it were not for the events that transpired in Spain that some feel to be the impetus behind this relocation.
In December 2007, after an investigation, the Social Security office of Spain issued a ruling that the Madrid Bethel was required to provide a pension for those who worked in its printing facilities. Historically, Bethel workers receive no such benefits. Upon joining the Bethel “family” they take a vow of poverty and are inducted into a religious order, not unlike a Catholic monastery. While at Bethel they receive a small monthly stipend for personal items in addition to room and board. Though they are working in a modern printing operation, they are viewed as religious volunteers and have no workers’ compensation benefits or pension to support them, if injury, health, age, or other circumstances should force them out of their Bethel “home”.
In recent years, the Watch Tower has seen a fair share of corporate downsizing. This has been particularly felt in the United States headquarters, which has experienced significant cutbacks within the New York Bethel family. Many men and women in their youth were encouraged to make service at Bethel a “life career”, at the expense of family, education, and a secular career. They entered Bethel with the idea that they would stay there for the rest of their life, making it their “home”. Now as older adults they are feeling the sting of cutbacks as they are asked to leave their Bethel home, starting all over again in the secular world without pensions or without having contributed toward retirement or Social Security. This is the current situation in Madrid, where it is estimated that up to 200 Bethel workers are being asked to leave without reassignment.
The Spanish Social Security office’s decision to hold the Madrid Bethel responsible for providing benefits for printing factory workers and other members of the order presents a considerable financial hit in a religious organization that has already experienced hardships in tough economic times. This has caused some Spanish Witnesses to believe that the decision to relocate printing operations to another country is specifically motivated by the fiscal implications of the Social Security office’s decision, despite what the Branch Office claims about the reorganization being motivated by other factors such as simplification.
The Spanish Witnesses who might normally completely trust the decisions made by the organization’s leadership have reason to be suspicious. After losing their petition against providing Social Security benefits to Bethel workers, the Spanish Branch Office of Jehovah’s Witnesses sent a letter to the local congregations announcing the new provision. In the letter, Witness leadership implies that it was they who petitioned Social Security for entry into the system in order to provide benefits. The congregations were kept in the dark about the real reason that these contested benefits were being provided to those in the religious order.
A similar situation occurred in the United States in 1990. At the time, Jimmy Swaggart Ministries was in the US Supreme Court, challenging taxes assessed on publications sold by the popular televangelist. Unknown to US Witnesses, the Watch Tower, filed a “friend of the court” brief (amicus curiae) in the Swaggart Taxation case, because the ruling would open the door for taxing the Watch Tower, as Jehovah’s Witnesses went door to door selling their Watchtower magazine and associated literature. When Swaggart lost the case, the Watch Tower, quickly adopted a new “donation arrangement”, where the magzines and literature were offered without a specified cost, and a donation request was made.
In a letter sent to all US congregations the Watch Tower explained the new arrangement saying,
“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.”
No mention was made of the connection between the new “donation arrangement” and the Jimmy Swaggart case, and to this day, this is relatively unknown among Jehovah’s Witnesses. Similar to the way the Spanish branch handled the Social Security ruling, the US branch office spun the “donation arrangement” as a way of simplification without revealing the real reasons.
The Spanish Witnesses feel slighted that the religious organization they gave their life and finances to is now treating them so carelessly. Equally they are hurt by the lack of candor and honesty coming from headquarters about the current situation. Currently the discontent among the religion are organizing and making their case that any funds coming from the sale of the Bethel facility should be go back to the ones that financed it the first place. They suggest that such money could be used in a charitable way, such as providing a retirement facility for those in their ranks that are now aging, without provision, having giving their life in service of the religion. Ironically, they are vying to provide the very care that Witness leadership itself is reluctant to give.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Bethel Workers Are Entitled To Compensation If They Are Injured

Read the following news article. It will give you an indication of what is presently happening in Spain with Jehovah's Witnesses.

Church may be forced to pay millions BY JESS WISLOSKI
DAILY NEWS WRITERS A 46-year-old woman who devoted her life to the Jehovah's Witnesses said she was forced to move from their Brooklyn compound after she was seriously injured while serving the church. But a judge's ruling this week that she is entitled to worker's compensation payments could end up costing the church millions of dollars. Brenda Upton and her husband, Michael, took a vow of poverty and moved to the Witnesses' Brooklyn headquarters in 1998 to work as chiropractors for other church members. She injured her spine while running to catch a bus at an upstate church compound later that year. "They take wonderful care of you up to a point, and then you're on your own," Upton said. "That's why we wound up going to court." She said she suffered debilitating nerve injuries that have left her barely able to carry a laundry basket. The church took care of her medical care until 2001, when she and her husband were asked to leave and were given a $79,000 stipend. But Workers' Compensation Law Judge Stephen Goldstein ruled Wednesday that Upton is entitled to $400 a week in workers' compensation payments. "I'm finding they were not religious volunteers," Goldstein said. "They were engaged, particularly Dr. Brenda Upton, in a number of work-like activities." The Witnesses vowed to appeal the ruling, saying Upton and the other 5,800 Witnesses who live and work in the church's New York operations are volunteers, not employees. But if the decision stands, the Witnesses - and other religious organizations - could potentially face millions of dollars in workers' compensation insurance premiums and payments, said church lawyer John Miller. "It'll pretty much put religious orders out of business," Miller said. "It would certainly impact whether we would ever want to continue operations" in New York. The church owns about 40 properties in downtown Brooklyn and has plans to build a huge new structure on a vacant lot. Miller would not speculate how the workers' compensation case would affect those plans. "We don't have a spiritual conflict," said Upton, who has moved with her husband to Washington State. "Our problem all along has been medical-legal. We are still active Jehovah's Witnesses."

2009 District Convention Drama

1. There's no Bible-times costumes this year.
2. It's all modern day and its a tear-jerker "prodigal son" theme.
3. Two kids leave "da troof" and one comes back.

Governing Body Member Had A Stroke

On May 19th, Theodore Jaracz had a stroke.

He's in very serious condition in the hospital.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

All countries should have laws like this!

Parents prosecuted for forcing girl to join religious group
30 April 2009
Zlin, South Moravia, April 29 (CTK) - A Czech couple is prosecuted for oppressing their 18-year-old daughter for her refusal to join the religious society of which they are members, the Zlin police told CTK Wednesday.
The parents reportedly urged the girl, a secondary school student, to join the Jehova's Witnesses grouping. After she refused to do so, they expelled her from home.
If found guilty they face up to six months in prison.
The parents left the girl without financial means. They told her she may return home only on condition she joins Jehova's Witnesses.
"The daughter has already come of age, but she does not yet work to earn her living, therefore the parents are still obliged to support her," police spokeswoman Jana Bartikova said.
She said the crime of oppression, when a perpetrator abuses the someone else's dependence or emergency situation to force him/her to do something, occurs only rarely in the Zlin region.
Jehova's Witnesses present themselves as genuine Christians.
The Christian churches generally consider Jehova's Witnesses a sect, oppose their interpretation of the Bible and criticise their totalitarian organisation and ways to spread their views.
Headline: CzechRep extends ways to punish unlawful steps by distrainersDate released: 29.4. 2009Time released: 10:37Key words: Czech; Chamber; law; distraint; PHOTOID: T200904290245201Service: ccePriority: 3Category: eng
CzechRep extends ways to punish unlawful steps by distrainers
Prague, April 29 (CTK) - The Czech state will have more chances to punish the Distrainers' Chamber for steps contradicting the law, under the amendment to the Distraint Order that the lower house passed in a shortened procedure Wednesday.
The law empowers the Justice Ministry to suspend the Distrainers Chamber's decisions which it would suspect of contradicting law.
Afterwards it would be up to a court to decide whether the discrepancy really exists and possibly to abolish the Distrainers Chamber's decision.
The law also reinforces the supervision of distrainers' work. The supervision is no longer the task for the Justice Ministry only, but also for court chairmen.
The ministry, which initiated the amendment, says local courts have the best information about the performance of individual distrainers in the respective localities.
Before the vote Wednesday, outgoing Justice Minister Jiri Pospisil told deputies that the amendment provides instruments for solving problems that have recently arisen around the Distrainers' Chamber.
It is meant as prevention, not witch-hunt, Pospisil said.
The draft amendment was supported by 151 lawmakers. No one voted against it.
Pospisil said the Distrainers' Chamber breached the ministerial directive by failing to launch a central registry of distraints in December.
However, a gap in legislation has made the ministry unable to force the chamber into observing the legal requirements.
The newly passed amendment enables to impose fines of up to 10 million crowns.
Copyright 2008 by the Czech News Agency (ČTK). All rights reserved.Copying, dissemination or other publication of this article or parts thereof without the prior written consent of ČTK is expressly forbidden. The Prague Daily Monitor and Monitor CE are not responsible for its content.
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