Legal Question in Civil Litigation in Florida

Is the Watchtower safe from punitive action?

Mr. Alan Wagner, can you as one of Jehovah's Witnesses yourself, settle this finally that the published watchtower discriptions of how a dissasociated person is to be viewed( by the members of the congregation) the same( as adulterer, drunkard, denouncing christianity, and the antichrist) when the member has not done any of those things, is without any legal consequences?

This is a real concern for parties involved.

Thanks again

Asked on 3/25/09, 2:33 am

1 Answer from Attorneys

Alan Wagner Wagner, Vaughan & McLaughlin, P.A.
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Re: Is the Watchtower safe from punitive action?

I am not a Jehovah's Witness -- not that it matters, though. I don't have a clue about what a "watchtower description" is. There is no law that prevents someone from "viewing" someone else as something else or thinking bad things about someone, even if they are untrue. There is nothing to prevent a group from telling others in the group that they should not associate with someone who has left the group or been kicked out. It may be stupid and narrow minded (and probably is), but they can choose to associate with whomever they want to.

Opinions, even false ones or stupid ones, do not give rise to a right to sue. Saying that John Doe "should be viewed" as a drunkard, adulterer or the antichrist is not saying that John Doe is a drunk, adulterer or the antichrist. It is a pronouncement of how, in the church's opinion, John Doe ought to be seen by its members. I don't particularly agree with that approach and it sounds like you do not either -- so it is perhaps a good thing that you are not part of the Church anymore.

Feel free to e-mail me directly if you have any other questions. A specific question to a specific person is not really appropriate for the lawguru forum. My contact information is in the reply, I believe.

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3/25/09, 8:41 am

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