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Chapter Eight

The next six years of our lives were reminiscent of
a chapter directly from the Bible Book of Job, and
after our young son was killed Linnie and I both
came to believe that Jehovah had completely turned
his back on us. Just six months after our son's
tragic death, my stepfather Elburn Dorris suc
cumbed to his second heart attack and died. Dad
had been ill for several years, and the whole family
felt that Daniel's untimely demise was just too much
for Dad's already weakened heart.

Then in 1988, my father Joseph Miller, who was a
retired railroader living in Port Charlotte, Florida,
passed away. My father was hospitalized at the time
for the removal of a spot from one of his lungs. Even
though the surgery was deemed a success, complica-
tions were later encountered, resulting in heart
failure, and the doctors were unable to resuscitate
my father.

Next, in 1988, my wife Linnie and I and our
youngest son Chris were on a mini-vacation in Hot
Springs, Arkansas. While on an amphibious sight
seeing bus called "the Duck," we were hit head-on by
an automobile traveling at a high rate of speed.
Miraculously, no one was killed in the accident.
However, Linnie and I both sustained severe neck
and back injuries requiring a short stay in the
hospital and eight months of physical therapy.

As our misfortune continued to mount, in 1989 it
was learned that it was going to be necessary for my
wife Linnie to have a complete hysterectomy. It was
during this time that we had our first real encounter
with Jehovah's Witnesses' so-called "blood issue."

The Witnesses do not believe in taking blood
transfusions, citing the Bible Book of Leviticus that
placed dietary restrictions on the Israelites, from
eating blood. The Watchtower teaches that taking a
blood transfusion simply bypasses the digestive
process and directly nourishes the body. All Jeho-
vah's Witnesses carry a signed Medical Card on their
person, directing emergency medical personnel that
they are not to be transfused with blood under any
circumstances. The Witnesses carry this card, which
constitutes a binding legal document, in the event
they are found unconscious or for some other reason
are unable to make their wishes known. The
Witnesses are taught by the Watchtower that, rather
than violate God's Law against taking blood, it is
preferable to die. They reason that if you should die
because of refusing a blood transfusion, you will
have proved your loyalty to Jehovah and the organ
ization and in all probability, will be resurrected in
the New System.

The Watchtower Society has recently formed
"Liaison Committees" that accompany Jehovah's
Witnesses to the hospital, who consult with medical
staff to ensure that no blood is used, should surgery
be performed.

Linnie consulted with her gynecologist, relating to
him that she was one of Jehovah's Witnesses and
explained her religious views concerning blood trans
fusions. The young doctor arrogantly informed my
wife that he wouldn't perform the operation, guaran-
teeing her there would be no blood transfusion. The
doctor further elaborated that if he felt it necessary
during the procedure, he would get a court order and
force a transfusion on my wife. The doctor's insen-
sitive attitude upset my wife and only added to her
apprehension concerning the needed surgery.

We looked for another gynecologist who would be
more understanding and accommodating concerning
our religious stand. We were finally able to locate
another doctor, who was very kind and under
standing of our plight. The doctor was a very reli-
gious person himself and even though he didn't agree
with the Watchtower's teachings on the matter, he
consented to perform the surgery without a blood
transfusion. However, it was necessary for my wife
and me to sign waivers relieving the doctor and the
hospital of all liability in connection with this
"bloodless surgery." The doctor explained that after
we had signed the necessary documents, there would
be no turning back. Once Linnie was anesthetized
and the surgery was in progress, I could not change
the decision she had already made. This information
frightened me because, in the back of my mind, I had
already plotted that if an emergency arose and the
doctor thought that a blood transfusion would save
Linnie's life, I would give my consent. I reasoned
that under those circumstances, Jehovah and the
organization couldn't hold my wife responsible, and I
was already disfellowshipped, doomed for destruction
in any event. Fortunately, as it turned out, my fears
were allayed, as the surgery was successfully
performed with no complications requiring a blood

Linnie recuperated nicely at home for the next five
or six weeks, and I was able to take time off from
work to care for her. Also, Linnie's mother Eva
Gilreath was able to make arrangements to stay with
us for several days during Linnie's convalescence.
Unfortunately, as fate would have it, that was the
last time we were able to visit with my mother-in-law.
Some time later, after Eva returned home, she
suffered a stroke and was rushed to the Lexington,
Kentucky, Medical Center. She passed away three
days later without ever regaining consciousness.

After her mother's death and all the other losses
we had suffered, Linnie became very despondent and
withdrawn. She was extremely depressed and at an
all-time spiritual low in her life. Because of this,
Linnie discontinued her door-to-door witnessing
activity and no longer attended the meetings either.
In Linnie's words, she felt as though she had hit
rock bottom.

In July of 1990, after almost nineteen years of
service, I retired from the Madisonville Police Depart
ment. I was a Shift Supervisor at the time, holding
the rank of Captain. Normally, I wouldn't have been
eligible for retirement for another year. However, I
had been diagnosed with a hearing impairment that
interfered with the performance of my duties. I had
been fitted with several different types of hearing
aids, one of which was hypoallergenic. However,
they all still produced an allergic reaction and I
wasn't able to wear them. This partial loss of my
hearing ability prematurely brought my career as a
police officer to a close. A short time after my retire
ment, I secured part time employment, working as a
security officer at the Regional Medical center in
Madisonville. It was during this time that I turned to
God once again.

However, this time it was completely different from
the several previous occasions that I had vacillated in
and out of the Watchtower organization of Jehovah's
Witnesses. For some unexplainable reason, I was
feeling a great love for God and wanted to please
Him, whereas before I felt only fear of his Divine
retribution. I had an overwhelming desire to truly
know my Creator, and I felt drawn by Him. This was
especially perplexing to me, because up to this time,
due to all the misfortune we had experienced during
the preceding six years, I felt betrayed and alienated
from God. I even cursed Jehovah in a drunken fit of
rage one night, shortly after my son's tragic demise
and asked God to take my life as well. I was grief-
stricken and depressed and I blamed God for my
son's senseless death. At the time, I no longer
wanted to live.

The only way that I knew how to fill this great need
for intimacy that I was experiencing was through
prayer and study of God's Word the Bible, just as the
Watchtower organization had taught me so long ago.
I had ample time since my retirement, and I began to
study the Bible with a passion, often reading for as
long as six hours at a time. The compulsion I felt
was similar to physical hunger, and in a very short
time I had completely read the Holy Scriptures
through twice. However, even though I was praying
to Jehovah regularly and taking in knowledge, as the
Watchtower taught, I still felt that there was some
thing missing.

A short time after my employment at the hospital,
a long-time acquaintance named Ray Peach, who
was also a retired police officer, became my coworker
in the Security Department. Ray was a Christian
and a student of the Bible, and during the next year
or so, we had many interesting and lively discussions
concerning the Holy Scriptures and our different
beliefs. Ray and his wife Brenda were both Baptists,
and even though I professed no particular Christian
denomination at the time, I had studied for many
years with Jehovah's Witnesses and had accepted
their teaching and interpretation of the Bible. This
led Ray and me to be mostly at odds in our many
verbal encounters. Nevertheless, Ray and I became
close friends, and one day he invited me to his
church's weekly Bible study.

Ray informed me that they met every Wednesday
evening at 6:00 p.m. in the church for study and
discussion of the Holy Scriptures. I was reluctant, at
first, to accept Ray's invitation, reverting back to
what the Witnesses had taught us: that the churches
of Christendom were evil and teachers of false
doctrines. However, I finally consented, reasoning
that I was disfellowshipped by the Witnesses anyway,
so what did I have to lose? After the mistake the
Watchtower organization had made concerning the
occurrence of Armageddon in 1975, I was confused
and wasn't sure what to believe anymore.

I informed my wife Linnie that I was going to a
Bible study at a church with Ray and Brenda. Linnie
didn't approve of the idea. However, inasmuch as
she wasn't attending the meetings at the Kingdom
Hall herself, she didn't object too strenuously.

Wednesday evening arrived and Ray and his wife
picked me up around a quarter of six. When we
arrived at the church, Ray introduced me to the
pastor and several others, and promptly at six o'clock
we began our study. The first thing the pastor stated
was, "The Trinity consists of God the Father, God the
Son and God the Holy Ghost. If you don't under-
stand it or you don't believe it, that's just too bad,
because that's the way it is."

I was completely taken back by the pastor's
adamant assertion, and it seemed almost as if his
declaration was made specifically for my benefit. I
had been taught, and Jehovah's Witnesses believe,
that the Trinity doctrine of Christendom is of pagan
origin and that it dishonors God's sovereignty. We
further believed that Jehovah and Jesus Christ are
two separate persons, with Jehovah being the
superior of the two. The Holy Spirit is Jehovah's
invisible active force that He simply uses in
accomplishing His purposes -- certainly not a person
as the churches of Christendom teach.

I felt offended by the pastor's remarks, and I
resolved then and there not to return. After the
study, driving home, I thanked Ray and Brenda for
inviting me to accompany them. However, I also in
formed them that because of the pastor's distressing
statement concerning the Trinity, I wouldn't be going
back again. Ray advised me that he was annoyed as
well and was surprised by the pastor's blunt
statement. Ray further informed me that he had
contacted the pastor prior to the Wednesday night
meeting and had told him that he was bringing a
friend who was a Jehovah's Witness to the study.

Ray had specifically requested the pastor not to
mention the Trinity, because, through our numerous
discussions, he knew that it was a very sensitive
issue with me. This revelation disturbed me even
further, as it then became apparent that the pastor's
abrupt statement was planned and was made in an
effort to shock or annoy me. If that was the pastor's
intent, he had succeeded. I then informed Ray and
Brenda that I was thinking of returning to studying
the Bible with Jehovah's Witnesses again. After all, I
reasoned, even though they obviously weren't perfect,
who knew more about the Holy Scriptures than the
Watchtower Bible and Tract Society?

When I arrived home, I informed my wife about my
negative experience at the church and how I just
couldn't understand how any informed person could
believe in the Trinity doctrine. Naturally Linnie
agreed with my sentiments, and it was then that I
informed her that I had decided to return to studying
the Bible with Jehovah's Witnesses. Linnie was
surprised and elated at the idea, and she confided in
me that her conscience had been bothering her since
she became inactive several years earlier. After some
further discussion Linnie and I resolved to start back
to the Kingdom Hall together, that very next Sunday.

Our return to Jehovah's organization and the
Kingdom Hall was a momentous occasion. My wife
Linnie was gladly received and appropriately treated
like a "long-lost relative" that was returning home
after being absent for a very long time. Brothers and
sisters in the faith clamored to shake her hand or
hug her, welcoming her back into the fold. However,
I was treated with the same coldness that I had
experienced at our son's funeral some years before. I
was greeted with blank stares and complete
indifference, and no one spoke to me or even
acknowledged my presence. It was a strange feeling
to be shunned in that manner and, in some ways, it
was almost comical. I remember thinking of the
humor in the situation and the lyrics to an old Chris
Christopherson song, "Are you a figment of my
imagination, or am I a figment of yours." I was
beginning to wonder if I was really there.

Linnie and I dutifully took a seat at the back of the
Kingdom Hall, because that was where disfellow-
shipped persons were expected to sit if they were
being properly humble. After the Public Talk and the
Watchtower Study adjourned, we were approached
by the Congregation Overseer. He was a middle aged
Afro-American who, we later learned, had recently
been transferred to the Madisonville Congregation
from Illinois. The elder's eyes nervously jumped back
and forth between Linnie and me, as he asked
questions and made comments. Since none of the
Witnesses were supposed to talk to me due to my
disfellowshipped status, our conversation was similar
to speaking through an interpreter. The overseer
looked directly at my wife as he asked, "Is he really
sincere in wanting to return to the Kingdom Hall?" I
answered in the affirmative to my wife, and Linnie
shook her head "Yes" to the overseer. This procedure
continued during several more questions, and then
the overseer abruptly terminated the conversation
and walked away. The overseer's last comment was
that he and one of the other elders would pay a visit
to our home in a few days to discuss with me the
procedure for being reinstated.

Several days after we had attended our first meet-
ing at the Kingdom Hall, the overseer called my wife
and asked if it would be convenient for him and
another elder to come to our house that evening.

After consulting with me, my wife arranged for the
brothers to meet with us at 7:00 p.m. I was
extremely nervous all through supper, wondering
what I was going to have to do, in order to win the
brothers' approval and reinstatement to Jehovah's
organization. At approximately 7:00 p.m., the
brothers arrived, and I invited them into the house.

The overseer introduced the elder accompanying
him, and all four of us were seated in the living room.
The overseer immediately asked Linnie if she would
mind leaving us alone. After my wife excused herself
and left the room, the Congregation Overseer asked
me if I was still smoking or used tobacco products of
any kind. I assured the brothers that I had quit
smoking almost a year earlier and didn't anticipate
any difficulty in continuing to abstain.

The overseer then informed me that, in order for
me to be reinstated to the organization, the first
thing that I would have to do is write a letter to the
Watchtower Bible and Tract Society. In the letter,
the elders instructed me to state why I was disfellow
shipped initially and to request that I be reinstated.

Next, I would have to faithfully attend all of the
meetings at the Kingdom Hall that I possibly could,
for an undetermined period of time. This was to
show my sincerity, and during this trial period I was
to exhibit a repentant attitude by sitting in the back
seats of the Kingdom Hall. In addition, I was not to
speak to anyone else in attendance, nor would they
greet or speak to me. I was informed that these
conditions would prevail until such time as the
elders saw fit to reinstate me. I willingly agreed to
the conditions and then very timidly asked if it would
be possible for someone to study with me. The
overseer advised me that until I was officially
reinstated that wouldn't be proper. However, just as
soon as I won reinstatement to the organization, one
of the elders would be assigned to study with me and
my wife. After the elders left, I immediately sat down
and composed a letter to the Society, requesting
reinstatement just as the brothers had directed me.
I put the letter in the mail the very first thing the
following morning.

After almost six weeks of faithfully attending the
meetings at the Kingdom Hall, I was standing in front
of the bulletin board located at the back of the
building, casually glancing over the various an
nouncements posted. It was Sunday morning, and I
was just passing the time, waiting for the Public Talk
to begin. Linnie was sick that morning and had not
accompanied me, and there was little else to do,
since I wasn't permitted to speak with anyone. There
was another brother standing next to me, also
looking over the various notices stuck to the board.

He too looked as though he was just "killing time"
until the meeting began. I recognized the brother as
someone I had known from some years before, when
my family and I had previously attended the King-
dom Hall. My wife had earlier informed me that this
brother was a disfellowshipped person as well, and
that he was also attempting to be reinstated to the

Suddenly, I felt a kinship with this man whose
circumstances appeared to be very similar to my
own. He too was an outcast that no one would speak
to or associate with. I thought of what an
unbelievable situation this was, for grown men to be
treated like adolescent boys, being punished for their
mischievous behavior. As I stood there, I envisioned
the two of us being made to stand in a corner,
wearing dunce caps on our heads. As I looked over
at the brother I smiled and said, "How are you?"

Without ever turning his head toward me, the
brother slyly looked back at me out of the corner of
his eye. Through a sheepish grin he whispered,
"Pretty good! How are you?" At that, I turned and
walked away from the brother, smugly feeling as
though I had just gotten away with the crime of the
century. I returned to my seat at the back of the
Kingdom Hall and waited for the Public Talk to begin.

Immediately after the meeting, the Congregation
Overseer confronted me as I was going out the front
door. It really took me by surprise, inasmuch as no
one had paid the slightest attention to me in six
weeks. The overseer very accusingly asked me what
I was doing talking with that other disfellowshipped
brother. I replied that I didn't think there was any
harm in speaking to another disfellowshipped per
son. After all, I attempted to reason, weren't we "in
the same boat?" The overseer sarcastically informed
me that we were not "in the same boat," and he
reiterated that I wasn't to speak to anyone at the
meetings. I subserviently informed the elder that I
was sorry and that it wouldn't happen again. Driving
home, I thought to myself how humiliating it was to
be treated like a child, and the incident made me
realize just how closely I was being watched.

After a total of almost three months of continuing
to faithfully attend all of the meetings at the Kingdom
Hall, one Thursday night meeting the Congregation
Overseer instructed me to wait and see him after the
meeting. I wondered what I had done wrong now.

When almost everyone else had left, the overseer
ushered me into a small room that doubled as an
office and a library. Accompanying the overseer was
another elder, and after the three of us were seated I
was instructed to turn in my Bible to Chapter
Eighteen of the Book of Matthew. I was then told to
read along silently, as the overseer read aloud verses
twelve and thirteen. It reads, "What do you think? If
any man has a hundred sheep and one of them has
gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the
mountains and go and search for the one that is
straying? And if it turns out that he finds it, truly I
say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the
ninety-nine which have not gone astray."

After the overseer concluded reading the foregoing
verse, he abruptly closed his Bible and said, "Ralph,
you are that lost sheep." With that the overseer
stood up and stuck out his hand to me and said,
"Congratulations, brother! You've been reinstated."
As I stood and shook the brother's hand, I felt sur
prised and delighted. Finally, my shunning period
had come to an end, and I would now be able to
fellowship with all of my brothers and sisters in the
congregation. The overseer also informed me that
one of the elders, who was designated as the Ministry
School Servant, would be studying with my wife and
me. This was considered to be somewhat of an
honor, as that particular elder had the responsibility
of instructing the entire congregation in the art of
public speaking as well as witnessing from door to
door. Before I left that evening, arrangements were
made to study with this elder for one hour every
Wednesday evening.

The following Wednesday at the prearranged time
of 7:00 p.m., the elder arrived to start our study. As
I directed the brother into the kitchen, where we had
decided to conduct the meeting, I felt a mild sense of
excitement and anticipation. I had been looking
forward to studying the Bible with the Witnesses
again for some time, because I still believed that they
were genuine Bible scholars and, in fact, the final
authority in matters pertaining to the Holy Scrip-
tures. I hungered for the Bible knowledge that, we
had been taught by the Society, would lead us to
eternal life. The elder informed Linnie and me that
we would be studying a Watchtower publication
entitled You Can Live Forever in Paradise on Earth.
He provided Linnie and me each a copy of the book
and after saying a prayer asking Jehovah's guidance
and direction, our study began.

Linnie and I progressed well in our studies, and
after several months I was informed that arrange
ments would be made for me to start going out in
service once again. Linnie was advised that she
could go out on her own. However, apparently it was
felt that I needed some type of special supervision.

The first few times that I went out were on Sunday
afternoons, and I was accompanied by several of the
elders. This was acceptable to me, inasmuch as I
really didn't feel confident enough to go out on my
own just yet. For the most part, the elder I was
paired off with did the talking and I simply stood
there and listened.

At almost all of the meetings there was great
emphasis placed on the door-to-door witnessing for
Jehovah and the organization. The "pioneers," who
put in sixty hours or more each month in service,
were held in very high esteem and were constantly
praised as excellent examples for the rest of us to
emulate. After a time, I began to be aware and to
take note of a constant barrage of what I considered
to be threats. Sometimes they were subtle, and in
other instances they were extremely direct and to the
point. One incident stands out in my memory quite
clearly, involving the Congregation Overseer at the
end of the Service Meeting one Thursday night.
Addressing the entire congregation from the plat-
form, the elder indicated that we were becoming lax
in the number of hours that we were devoting to the
door-to-door ministry. In an elevated and ominous
tone of voice he stated, "Brothers and sisters, lives
are at stake and perhaps even your own." Everyone
there understood the implication of this threatening
statement. The overseer was relating that people
outside the organization were in danger of being
destroyed at Armageddon, if we didn't spend
sufficient time in service, offering these people salva-
tion through the Watchtower Society. If we failed in
this important separating work for Jehovah and the
organization, we too would be deemed worthy of

These constant threats irritated me, and I told my
wife that I didn't like the way the elders were always
trying to intimidate us. However, even though the
threats annoyed me, I reasoned that this was God's
work, so I resolved to try my best to comply, and I
was determined to start going out door-to-door as
often as I could. In an effort to increase my service
hours, in addition to the Sunday afternoons that I
had already been going out with the elders, I decided
to also go out with a different group on Wednesday
mornings. I knew that the elders would be proud of
me when they noticed that my time in service had
increased, and perhaps they might even consider me
for a more responsible position in the near future.
This was called "reaching out."

Several weeks later the elder we were studying
with arrived at our home for our usual weekly Bible
study. After the meeting was concluded the elder
looked at me and very sternly asked, "Can I speak
with you frankly?" "Sure!" I replied, thinking to
myself that the elder was just joking around. The
elder slammed his book shut and angrily announced,
"You've gone against the theocratic order." I was
shocked and dismayed at the elder's accusation.

When I meekly inquired as to what he had reference
to, the elder informed me that I had gone out in
service without asking him first. This indicated an
independent spirit on my part. I was truly be-
wildered by this surprising allegation, and I defended
myself by pleading ignorance. I advised the elder
that I wasn't aware that it was necessary for me to
obtain his permission, and I thought all the elders
would be pleased that I was displaying some
initiative. The elder then very dogmatically warned
me that, even though I had been reinstated from
being disfellowshipped, I was still in somewhat of a
probationary status. After the elder's departure, I
was rather disheartened, and I concluded from the
incident that I was still being watched very closely,
and anything that I might want to do that was not of
the usual routine, I had better ask permission from
someone first.

While out in the door-to-door ministry one Sunday
afternoon on the dusty back roads of Hopkins
County, we came upon an old "Block House." It was
fairly isolated, setting back off the road, and there
were no other houses close by. Even though it was
inconvenient, it was part of the "territory" that the
elder accompanying me had selected, and inasmuch
as we were taught that everyone should have the
opportunity to learn the "truth," we dutifully pulled
off the road up towards the house. As we drove
nearer, the house's decaying and deteriorating
condition became more apparent. If it hadn't been
for the very old truck parked at the side, I would
have concluded that the house was deserted.

As we walked from our automobile to the front of
the residence, I could see the outline of a man
standing in the front doorway. As we got nearer, I
could see that the man was unshaven and very
shabbily dressed. He was of medium height and very
slender build and appeared to be approximately
forty-five years of age. As the elder and I reached the
doorway, the man politely greeted us and asked what
he could do for us. As the elder introduced us both
and began his spiel in an effort to place the
Watchtower and Awake! magazines, I could detect
the repugnant smell of body odor emitting from the
man. The householder advised us that he would like
to have the magazines. However, he didn't have any
money to give us for a donation. The elder and I
both assured the obviously indigent person that it
was quite all right, that the donation wasn't always
required and that he could have the magazines if he
would read them.

The man assured us that he would look at the
magazines and invited us into the house as the elder
continued his persistent prepared discourse in an
effort to lay the groundwork for a Bible study, or at
the very least gain the man's permission to return at
another time. As we entered the dwelling and I
looked around, there appeared to be only four rooms.
The small house was even more decrepit and dirty on
the inside, and the only sign of furnishings was a
mattress on the floor of one room and a single worn-
out looking overstuffed chair in what I guessed was
at one time a living room. There was a wood burning
stove near the center of the room we were standing
in, and I saw a double barrel shotgun leaning against
the wall in one corner.

The man apologized for not having any place for us
to sit down, explaining that he was getting his
belongings together to move his residence. The man
further related that he was out of work and his rent
was due and he didn't have any money to pay it.
When I asked the man if he had any family who
could assist him, he informed us that he was
divorced from his wife, and they had a grown
daughter. However, the man elaborated that his
daughter was married and had two small children of
her own and really didn't have the means to help
him. I then inquired of the man where he was going
to move to. He replied in a desperate sounding,
almost sobbing voice, that he just didn't know what
he was going to do. In addition to all his other
problems, this destitute individual informed us that
the power company had sent him a final notice
before turning off the electricity to his house. As if
these problems weren't enough, his old truck was in
need of repair and the man had no means of
transportation or the money required to obtain the
necessary parts to fix it.

In the face of all this adversity it seemed ludicrous
to me to continue attempting to impart anything
spiritual to this poverty stricken "down and out"
individual. However, the elder accompanying me
seemed undaunted by the man's pitiable
circumstances and continued quoting him the Bible,
chapter and verse. After the elder finally concluded
his dissertation of the Scriptures, I asked our host
how much his rent was. He replied that it was only
forty dollars per month. I glanced over at the elder,
thinking perhaps he might suggest some practical
solution to the man's immediate needs. I thought
possibly there might be some sort of monetary funds
available at the Kingdom Hall for just such emer-
gency situations. The elder didn't comment, and
judging from his unconcerned attitude, it became
abundantly clear that if this man was going to
receive any relief, it would have to come from me
personally. I reached into my pocket and pulled out
two twenty dollar bills from my wallet and handed
them to the man. The man was obviously surprised,
and he thanked me profusely all the way to the front
door as we made our exit. As we departed, I advised
the man that I would return the following day to
check on his welfare and see if I could assist him

As we drove on to the next house, the elder said
nothing concerning the incident. However, I got the
distinct impression that the elder thought that I had
been foolish in giving the destitute individual my
hard earned money. The Watchtower Society doesn't
place any great emphasis on helping needy persons
outside the organization. After all, everyone who is
not a member of the Watchtower Society is part of
Satan's realm. I knew that I certainly wouldn't be
criticized concerning my monetary gift to the man,
and it would be considered a good deed by the elders,
even though the recipient was a "worldly person."

Nevertheless, the Society's thinking was that the
preaching of the Kingdom message which leads a
person to eternal life was the greatest gift that we
could give another person. That was considered to
be much more important than anything of material
value. However, in my opinion, it seemed almost un-
Christian to see a person in such dire circumstances
and not do something in a practical way to help.
This incident later made me wonder just what the
Watchtower Society did with all the money their
followers contributed. With over four and one half
million Witnesses worldwide, the organization surely
received millions of dollars in contributions each
week. I determined to ask one of the elders con-
cerning the matter at the next available opportunity.

It wasn't long after the episode with the indigent
householder that one of the elderly widowed sisters
in the congregation invited Linnie and me to dinner
at her home. The sister also invited one of the elders
in the congregation and his family to join us. After
enjoying a delicious leisurely meal together, the elder
and his wife and Linnie and I adjourned to the family
room. It was suggested that the four of us play a
game of cards while our host and the elder's two
daughters cleaned up the kitchen. As we played
cards and engaged in casual conversation, I thought
this might be an opportune time to ask the elder
some questions concerning the finances of the
Watchtower Society.

I began by inquiring of the elder if he had any idea
how much money the organization received in the
form of contributions each year. The elder eyed me
rather suspiciously and replied, "Why would you
want to know that?" I informed the elder that I was
merely curious and that it had occurred to me that I
had never seen a financial statement published by
the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society. I further
explained that hypothetically in terms of simple
arithmetic, if each of the four million plus member
ship were to donate as little as two dollars per week,
that would amount to eight million dollars. In a
month's time that figure would increase to thirty-two
million dollars and, over the span of one year, it
would multiply to three hundred eighty-four million

I further stated that I felt that the estimated two
dollars per person per week figure was probably low,
as I believed the Witnesses to be very generous in
their monetary contributions to the Society. In
addition, that wasn't taking into consideration
donations received at the doors from those outside
the organization. I couldn't even venture a guess as
to how much revenue that generated. I also pointed
out that the expenses involved in producing the
Society's books, magazines, and other literature were
extremely moderate. We had read in the Watch
tower magazines how all of the people who worked
at the headquarters in Brooklyn, New York, were
brothers and sisters who volunteered. The workers
were provided with their room and board and a small
monthly allowance of eighty dollars. In addition, the
Watchtower owned and operated a farm and a dairy,
which provided the bulk of the food required for their
work force and staff.

The elder's entire demeanor had changed by now,
and he was obviously on the defensive. The elder
informed me that the Watchtower published a
financial statement every year in a publication
entitled the Yearbook of Jehovah's Witnesses. I
replied that I was familiar with the publication he
was referring to and it didn't contain what I would
call a financial statement. The information that the
elder was alluding to in the Yearbook was a list of
some expenditures made by the Society on behalf of
the organization's traveling overseers and pioneers.

I explained to the elder that what I was curious
about and wanted to see was a ledger of some type
listing the annual amount of money taken in by the
organization and all the monies paid out and what
those expenditures were for. I further explained that
I would also be interested in seeing a list of the
Society's assets, to see what properties and other
holdings they owned. I elaborated that these seemed
like perfectly legitimate questions to me, that might
be asked by anyone who solicited and personally
made contributions to the organization.

By this time I perceived that the elder was
becoming quite annoyed by my inquiries concerning
the Watchtower's finances, and it occurred to me
that he probably knew just as little about them as I
did. In any event, the elder abruptly brought the
matter to a close by sternly informing me that there
had never been a "money scandal" in our organiza-
tion, such as there had been in the churches of
Christendom. Furthermore, the elder strongly
indicated to me that I probably shouldn't concern
myself with such matters. I concluded that, in view
of the elder's indignant and hostile attitude, it would
probably be in my best interests simply to drop the
subject. I was very much aware that, if my questions
and comments were to be interpreted by the elders
as "critical thinking" concerning Jehovah's organiza-
tion, I could be disfellowshipped once again.
Inasmuch as the atmosphere had now become rather
strained, a short time later we thanked our gracious
host for the meal, and we took our leave.

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