Achille Aveta[1], (IT)

Free-lance author


The Theocratic War Doctrine: Why Jehovah’s Witnesses Lie in Court” is the title of a 1998 booklet by Jerry Bergman[2], Ph.D. (available from Witness Inc., P.O. Box 597, Clayton, CA 94517, USA).          As Dr. Bergman wrote, «The teaching that “the truth should be told” only to those who have “a right to know” excludes all Watchtower opposers and critics, none of whom have a right to know the truth (Watchtower, June 1, 1960, p. 352. See also February 1, 1956, p. 78). … In answer to whom it is proper to use theocratic war strategy, The Watchtower, (April 15, 1957, p. 256) specifically states any enemy of “God’s organization” or the Watchtower Society, and those who “hate what it teaches” and “want to stop others from learning [about it] …”. In other words, a Witness is justified in using theocratic war strategy against anyone who interferes with the Watchtower’s work».


In Bergman’s booklet we read of Judge Bouska, of Kansas City, who, as part of a case before his court, concluded from his review of a Watchtower booklet, entitled Preparing for Child Custody Cases, that the booklet “was designed, and encourages, the Jehovah’s Witness to cover up some of their true beliefs and mislead the court as to what their beliefs and practices are with reference to children”. (An interview of Judge Bouska on a DVD, entitled “Battling Over the Children – Jehovah’s Witnesses and Child Custody Cases. Practical Guidelines for the Legal Profession”, is available from Witness Inc., P.O. Box 597, Clayton, CA 94517, USA).


To Judge Bouska’s testimony we can add a case from an Italian court, which came to the same conclusion as the American Judge. The case refers to a Jehovah’s Witness woman who sued her husband – a non-Witness – charged of obscenity in front of their son. Finally the non Witness man was discharged; but it’s very interesting to know what the Italian court has to say about the same question handled by Judge Bouska.


In fact, the First Section of the Tribunal of Bari (Italy) – with ruling number 1407/99 Reg. Gen. of December 11th, 2000, registered with the Chancery on February 5th, 2001 – notes: «Another Jehovah Witnesses’ booklet – the one addressing the question of the relationship of children with their unbelieving (non-Jehovah witness) parent, who, in a legal separation case, ends up having no foster care authority – turn out to be part of the hearing documentation … The booklet discloses precise and detailed instructions on how to lie scientifically in front of a court, in order to obtain the custody of the children or to baffle the right of visit of a mate with no foster care authority. The risk – openly dreaded by the Governing Body of Jehovah – “is that the unbelieving parent, may flatter the child with gifts, amusements and the like trying to nullify the impact of the education imparted in the fear of Jehovah” (reported from page 28 of the booklet)»[3].



The woman Witness appealed against that decision, but the Court of Appeal confirmed the decision of the lower Court.


In fact, with ruling number 483 Reg. Ins. 03, registered with the Chancery on July 3rd, 2003, – Bari Appeal Court, Family Criminal Section, observes: «the first judge has performed a commendable and accurate critical examination of each individual element necessary to the judgment, providing the exposition thereof with wide, accurate and convincing motivation»[4].


In conclusion, as Dr. Bergman says, «Jehovah’s Witnesses do not always lie outright, but they often lie according to the court’s definition – not telling “the whole truth and nothing but the truth,” which means the court requires the whole story, not half-truths».


[1] Achille Aveta is an Italian free-lance; he is also author of many articles and books on Jehovah’s Witnesses Movement.

[2] Dr. Bergman’s research on the mental health and history of Jehovah’s Witnesses has resulted in numerous books, articles, book chapters, several papers presented at professional conferences and a master’s thesis at Bowling Green State University in Ohio. A licensed professional clinical counsellor, he is the leading American expert on the psychology of Jehovah’s Witnesses; his experience includes having worked with almost 200 mentally ill Witnesses.

[3] To tell exactly, the Italian rendering follows: La Sezione Prima del Tribunale di Bari (Italia) – con sentenza n°1407/99 Reg. Gen. dell’11 dicembre 2000, depositata in Cancelleria il 5 febbraio 2001 – osservava: «Altro libretto dei Testimoni di Geova – quello concernente la particolare ottica con la quale viene considerata e trattata tutta la questione dei rapporti dei figli con l’infedele genitore non affidatario nelle cause di separazione coniugale – risulta inserito nel fascicolo per il dibattimento … In quell’opuscolo si rilevano puntuali e dettagliate istruzioni su come mentire scientificamente in tribunale, allorché si tratti di ottenere l’affidamento di un figlio o di eludere il diritto di visita del coniuge non affidatario. In quanto il rischio – apertamente paventato dal Consiglio Direttivo di Geova – “è quello che il genitore non credente, magari lusingando il figliolo con doni, svaghi o quant’altro cerchi di annullare gli effetti dell’educazione impartita nel timore di Geova” (cfr. testualmente pag. 28 di tale opuscolo)».


[4] To tell exactly, the Italian rendering follows: Con sentenza n°483 Reg. Ins. 03, depositata in Cancelleria il 3 luglio 2003, la Corte di Appello di Bari, Sezione Penale Famiglia, osservava: «il primo giudice ha fatto una mirabile opera di accurata disamina critica di ogni elemento utile ai fini del giudizio, dandone conto con ampia, accurata e convincente motivazione».