Charges against Jehovah’s Witnesses for fraud in legal proceedings
Below you can find an authorized translation of the original German broadcast:
SWR Aktuell Baden-Württemberg, Stuttgart, 3.7.2019 – Members of a victim protection organization have filed charges against leading members of the Jehovah’s Witnesses at the police headquarters in Stuttgart. The victim organization accuses the religious group of fraud in connection with a recognition procedure.
The corresponding complaint is available to SWR. The victim protection organization “JW Opfer Hilfe e.V.” (Jehovah’s Witnesses Victim Help) accuses the leading members of the religious group, which is considered Christian fundamentalist, of fraud for allegedly deceiving governmental authorities in court.
The legal proceedings stood in connection with recognition of Jehovah’s Witnesses as a corporate body under public law, a status privileged by the state. In Baden-Württemberg, the recognition was granted in 2015, preceded also by court hearings like the one in Berlin, among other places.
“Jehovah’s witnesses put pressure on members”
Bernd Bochow and Udo Obermayer, who both left the religious group, substantiate the claim with the fact that Jehovah’s Witnesses put pressure on members if they continue to associate with dropouts, which was in clear breach of the protection of marriage and family demanded by the Basic Law. In court, the leaders of Jehovah’s Witnesses, however, had depicted this quite differently.
Moreover, the representatives of “JW Opfer Hilfe” accuse the religious group of exerting pressure on members if they accept blood transfusions in cases of life-threatening conditions. In addition, sexual abuse within Jehovah’s Witnesses often would go uninvestigated. In practice, contrary to all official affirmations given by the leaders of Jehovah’s Witnesses, the rule that would yet still apply among Jehovah’s Witnesses was the one that an abuse would only be investigated and punished if the victim could bring forward a second eyewitness to the offence.
“A word by those who left: We need to look behind the scenes”
Considering all, such an organization as Jehovah’s Witnesses in Germany should not on top be granted privileges by the state, the representatives of “JW Opfer Hilfe” told SWR. Bernd Bochow, a former Jehovah’s Witness, put it this way: „If you happen to look behind the scenes and realize what happened during the recognition process in Berlin, that cheating and fraud was involved, I wonder whether the constitutional state would not want to take a closer look too, after all these years.”
“Jehovah’s Witnesses reject criticism”
The German branch of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Selters, Hessen, rejected the criticism in written form towards the SWR; concerning the topics in question, Jehovah’s Witnesses in Germany would have won all legal proceedings so far, and members of Jehovah’s Witnesses were free in their decision with whom they wanted to be in contact, whether they would like to report to the police or which medical treatment they would choose. All of this, though, under the requirement that in their decisions they – to quote the exact wording – “apply Bible standards.”