Toronto, Canada (OPENPRESS) June 16, 2005 — As a result of repeated legal threats from the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania (hereinafter referred to as WTBTS) beginning in January, 2005, the personal website www.quotes.watchtower.ca was shut down for five days in late May.
While the site is currently back in operation, it is unclear where the legal dispute will go from here.
Jehovah’s Witnesses have taken great pride in publicizing their past legal battles, some even in front of The Supreme Court of the United States, to secure their right to publish and distribute their religious literature and to proselytize publicly and from door to door in America.
They are quick to make it known that the benefits of their legal efforts on behalf of freedom of expression and religion have by extension protected these same rights for many other people and organizations.
However, apparently the current leadership of Jehovah’s Witnesses does not believe that these hard won rights extend to those who disagree with them or their teachings and activities. Under the guise of protecting their publication copyrights, their legal representatives were successful in shutting down a web site that did nothing more than quote excerpts from various WTBTS publications. The brief quotes catalogued at the quotes.watchtower.ca site fell well within the realm of “fair use,” even under the strictest interpretation of copyright law.
So then, why would WTBTS leadership want to shut down a web site that did nothing more than quote from their own religious literature? Because the very nature of these quotations is embarrassing to them.
From their own words the web site documented years of their failed prophecies, constantly changing Bible chronology, flip-flopping doctrinal changes, bizarre medical advice, and dogmatic teachings that many consider physically and emotionally harmful.
For example, one of the most recent additions to the collection is Watch Tower’s 1932 claim that the “theory of gravity” is thoroughly in error and that electrical forces, instead, hold the planets in orbit and hold everything down on the earth’s surface — a remarkably ludicrous claim, even when compared to the limited scientific knowledge of the 1930s. Also included were quotations demonizing the Internet, the Media, the United Nations, and other non-Witness entities as ‘tools of the Devil.’
Obviously, the WTBTS would rather these embarrassing writings be quietly ignored or entirely forgotten, and they are willing to resort to legal threats and pressure to make it so.
[Quotes], registered owner of the aforementioned domain and designer of the web site, is a former member of the Jehovah’s Witnesses religion.
After years sincerely believing the claim of the Witnesses’ leadership to be ‘God’s sole channel of communication to mankind,’ [Quotes] was heartbroken to find that he had not been taught the truth about the religion’s history and the development of their current beliefs.
In a spirit of scholarship, research, and fairness he created the web site to accurately document the Witnesses’ own self-incriminating words.