by Randall Watters
The following is presented as a public service to warn the online community about the secret attempts of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society (Jehovah's Witnesses) to deceive the courts in their favor during child custody trials, which are often Witness Parent vs. Non-Witness Parent. Because the courts have historically not viewed with favor a family situation where children are deprived of normal interaction and social skills, the Watchtower thus attempts to portray the Witness household as "normal," i.e., giving children the same opportunity for healthy growth and social maturity as in any other household. While the Watchtower and its attorneys may thus "coach" its followers on what to say in court to convey this impression, the evidence (right out of the Watchtower publications themselves) reveals that the Watchtower has a history of cruel and restrictive rules and taboos that can cause severe disfunctionality in children who grow up in such a restricted and oppressive environment.
This section of the Watchtower's booklet is the "Introduction" and a list of questions that a Witness parent may be asked in court. In the next file, linked at the end of these pages, you will find the Watchtower's "sample" responses for the parent to give under cross-examination. The text of the booklet is always represented inblack type font, and my comments are made in red. Quotations from Watchtower publications will be in green text. Most of my comments are contained in the sections designated as "sample responses" by the Watchtower.
Certain paragraphs throughout the booklet will be highlighted inblue and underlined, and is my way of conveying to you some counter points regarding what the Watchtower is saying, or is a link to related information. Just click once on the blue text, and use your "back" button on your browser to return after you are finished.
Since almost all my references in challenging their stated position are taken out of recent Watchtowers from the last 15 years or so, and since every Jehovah's Witness can obtain the entire text of the Watchtower and Awake! magazines for the last 20 years or so, there is no need to photodocument their statements, for they can be verified by any Jehovah's Witness who has a library or their 1993 or 1995 CD-ROM of Watchtower publications. Quotes are reproduced for the benefit of the reader in order to see what they have said on the issue. Page numbers are indicated in green, after each page, for the sake of reference. If a paragraph is split by a page break, the page number indicator falls after the end of said paragraph, rather than in the midst of it, to facilitate reading. Most of my commentary will be found in the "Sample Response" areas rather than among the lists of questions that the Witness may be asked in court.
This booklet is designed to help you and your attorney prepare for the difficulties Christian parents often face in child custody disputes. In the eyes of the law, the overriding concern in every custody suit is the welfare and best interests of the child. In deciding which parent will better provide for a child's best interests, courts will examine all aspects of the child's physical, emotional, and spiritual welfare in either household. Thus your religious practices and teachings as one of Jehovah's Witnesses will probably be a subject of inquiry by your former spouse and the court.
Opposers often focus attention on refusal to consent to blood transfusions, holidays and birthday celebrations, arguing that Witness children are deprived of a "normal" upbringing. There is no need to hide or distort your religious beliefs and practices in the face of such criticism. When giving an answer, always try to focus on the positive aspects of your religious beliefs, showing how they have benefited you and your family. (Isa. 48:17) Be sure to answer questions regarding such subjects in a way that is both understandable and reasonable, accurately presenting the wholesomeness of the Christian home. --1 Pet. 3:15.
This booklet will also help you prepare for psychological examinations that frequently are required as part of a child custody determination. Having some idea of the type of questions a psychologist may ask should help you handle the examination naturally and without undue anxiety.
Disputes over child custody can be an ordeal for Christian parents. But with preparation and reliance on Jehovah, you need not be without hope, knowing that in the end Jehovah will set all matters straight.--Ps. 43:1; 1 Pet. 3:12.
SAMPLE CROSS-EXAMINATION QUESTIONS THAT WITNESS PARENT COULD FACE
When answering questions about holidays, we want to remember that many people view our religion as a litany of negative responses. Therefore, whenever possible, add some positive statement which emphasizes the benefit to ourselves and our children when we refrain from a celebration or holiday. For example, rather than simply saying, "No, I don't celebrate Christmas," you may respond in the affirmative, "After a careful investigation of the Scriptures and the historical background of Christmas, my family and I concluded that the celebration of Christmas was not necessary to have God's approval. We have decided not to limit our gift-giving and family gatherings to specific predetermined dates, but would rather enjoy these activities year round."
[Note: As trivial as it may sound to some, the holiday issue divides many families, and is the source of temper flares and bad feelings among those in the family who do not see things the Watchtower way, as it most often conveys a sense of snobbery.]
On the subject of holidays you may face questions such as the following:
Many try to portray the beliefs and practices of Jehovah's Witnesses as dogmatic and restrictive. When answering questions about your religious beliefs and practices, emphasize the fact that you have formed your beliefs and adopted your practices after much study and reflection your religion is not simply a matter of rules
which have been imposed by the elders. You want to emphasize the fact that you are a thinking, well-balanced, and reasonable individual who is competent to act as a parent. Avoid any response which gives the impression that you are unwilling or unable to provide for your child's best interests because of your religious beliefs.
[Note: The court generally wants to determine if something else will precede the child's best interests in terms of mental and physical health. Will necessary medical attention be withheld in emergencies? Will the child be raised with dogmatic and narrow views of other human beings and their religions and customs? Will the children grow up to fear invisible "spirits" and beleive that they somehow influence their lives daily, causing them to act abnormal or antisocial? Will the child view the people of his religious beliefs as the only ones who ultimately have the right to live and enjoy life?
As you will see later, their pre-planned "responses" actually play down and even fully deny their dogmatism as expounded in their own literature.]
On the subject of religion you may face questions such as the following:
Some confuse our stand on the use of blood and blood products with the position of religions that believe in faith healing and refuse all medical treatment. You want to show that you are a loving, caring parent who wants the best medical care possible for your child. Explain that you are aware of many serious and possibly fatal dangers from blood and that you have made arrangements with your doctor to provide alternative non-blood management for your child. Acknowledge that your former mate properly has a right to participate and have a say in any medical decisions involving your child. Stress the fact that you want the best available medical treatment for yourself and your child and that avoidance of blood, in your opinion and the opinion of many in the medical community, is a sound, healthful course.
[Note: The Watchtowerposition on blood is very inconsistent. At the time of this writing, many members of the JW's Hospital Liasons Committee are planning a class-action lawsuit against the Watchtower for wrongful death of persons under their own supervision!]
The stand which Jehovah's Witnesses take regarding governments is often misunderstood. When responding to questions regarding your view of government, accentuate the positive -- you pay all your taxes, you are honest and law abiding, you do not involve yourself in civil disobedience, and you believe that the superior authorities, including court officials, should be obeyed and are worthy of our honour and respect.
[Note: Witnesses are taught to believe that Satan controls all the governments of the world. This has landed them in prison in many countries, since people are generally classified as either for or against a particular government. When they will not vote, carry office, join the military, or salute the flag, this is understandably viewed by many governments as seditious.]
Many do not consider Satan to be a real person and will find your belief in Satan to be childish or fanatical. When giving an answer, distinguish the Bible's view of Satan from the cartoon character with a pitchfork, as many people view Satan. If people believe in God and His angels, why is it childish to believe that some angels chose to disobey God?
[Note: Satan is generally viewed in the courts as a fantasy figure only taken seriously in religious circles, and any paranoia resulting from such beliefs are viewed as unhealthy by the court.]
Armageddon marks a time of destruction of the wicked, as well as the beginning of Jehovah's righteous new system. Emphasize the positive aspects of the event. It is not like the frightening hellfire doctrine, which keeps the wicked in torment forever.
[Note: If fear of burning in hell was a key factor in the religious upbringing of a child, the courts may not look with favor on it. Fear of being destroyed at Armageddon for not doing enough is no different.]
[Note: This centers primarily around the required meetings and study habits required of Witness' children. Most courts would not look with favor upon 10+ hours of religious instruction per week for small children.]
Many feel that Jehovah's Witnesses are against education. On the contrary, the children of Jehovah's Witnesses are encouraged to make the most of their education and to become proficient in reading, writing, and analytical abilities. In fact, Jehovah's Witnesses often excel in school. You may use the Index to investigate the wide range of topics on which the Society encourages discussion and research. The Society's publications encourage our youths to be diligent and serious-minded in their studies.
[Note: When all other children except the Witness children are viewed as potentially dangerous recruiters of Satan, and that many of their art projects and holidays are those fostered and inspired by Satan, it hardly gives a healthy picture of raising children to face the world. This is an area where the Witness child is taught to use deception in answering others more than any other area.]
[Note: In recent years the JW custom of whipping children into submission at the tender ages of 3-12 while sitting in a Kingdom Hall for hours, squirming at boring lectures, has come under attack. Duh!]
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