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CESNUR threatens Christian Ministry
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The following information was posted to the AR-talk mailing list by David Reed, editor of Comments From The Friends - a Christian counter-cult ministry to current and former Jehovah's Witnesses. The information concerns legal threats from CESNUR over David's publication of an exposé. CESNUR is seen by many Christian and secular anti-cult and counter-cult workers as an organization of cult apologists.

I decided to post the information here as an example of CESNUR's tactics.

Anton Hein
Publisher, Apologetics Index

PS: (Added November 12, 1998) It should be clear that CESNUR is contesting some of the information in the exposé. It should also be noted that CMR is reporting on this dispute under the concepts of "fair comment" and "qualified privilege" (don't you just love lawyers?). Finally, our standard disclaimer applies.

 

Mail Bullet David Reed's Message from October 16, 1998. Includes the text of the article CESNUR is complaining about.

As I am preparing to leave to speak near Patterson, NY, I have just received a letter from a friendly European ex-JW who had written to CESNUR ( http://www.cesnur.orgoffsite ) asking why the Watchtower Society representatives scheduled as speakers in Italy last month failed to show up.

Enclosed was a copy of a letter he had received from CESNUR in reply explaining that Watchtower headquarters stopped the speakers because of the exposé of their involvement printed in COMMENTS FROM THE FRIENDSoffsite.

Besides attacking the COMMENTS article, CESNUR's letter said, "Actually lawyers for CESNUR U.S.A. have the file and are considering acting against 'Comments from the friends'." [sic]

Before they can shove a gag in my mouth, I will reproduce my article below, just as it was printed in the October-December 1998 issue of COMMENTS (page 5).

-David

David A. Reed, Editor      editor@cftf.com
COMMENTS FROM THE FRIENDS
Box 819, Assonet MA 02702

NEW books, tapes, CD-ROMs at http://cftf.comoffsite

------------The offending article follows:-----------------

"...Jehovah's witnesses have nothing in common with other religious groups and can never seek any affiliation with them." -Awake! November 22, 1975 page 23

Jehovah's Witnesses join
interfaith efforts in U.S. and Europe

In a surprising move contradicting its usual stand against interfaith movements, the Watch Tower Society has joined common defense efforts with other "new religions" seeking to legitimize themselves:

Official Watch Tower
delegation at CESNUR

Official Watchtower representatives share the speaker's platform with Scientologists, Moonies, New Agers, occult groups, vampire sects, and others at the CESNUR conference (the Center for Studies on New Religions) in Torino, Italy, September 10-12, 1998.

According to its official website CESNUR defends sects against charges of "the brainwashing or mind control model of conversion" since "In the 1990s it became apparent that inaccurate information was being disseminated to the media and the public powers by activists associated with the international anti-cult movement." (http://www.cesnur.org/whatisit.htmoffsite)

The program schedule-available free from CESNUR, Via Juvarra 20, 10122 Torino, Italy and also posted on the Internet at the URL below - lists the Watch Tower delegation as including representatives from the Society's French and German branches and from Brooklyn and Patterson in the U.S. (http://www.cesnur.org/Torino98progr.htmoffsite) See Session 18 titled "Jehovah's Witnesses: Sociological and Legal Perspectives."

Brigham Young University speakers represent Mormonism in Session 8. Session 19's speakers immediately following Jehovah's Witnesses explore "Finding Enlightenment: Ramtha's School of Ancient Wisdom."

On political panel with Muslim
and Scientology representatives

A July 23, 1998, press release from the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe announced a joint hearing with the House International Relations Committee on "Continuing Religious Intolerance in Europe." See (See http://www.house.gov/csce/offsite)

The U.S. government press release lists "Panel 2" as including "Mr. Jerry Powers, Director, Office of International Justice and Peace, US Catholic Conference; ... Mr. Philip Brumley, Counsel for Watchtower Bible and Tract Society; Father Alexander Karloutsos, The Ecumenical Patriarchate; Dr. Laila Al-Marayati, President, Muslim Women's League; Mr. Colby May, Esq., Trinity Broadcasting Network; Wilhelm Bluemel, Counsel for the Church of Scientology in Germany."

The Commission explains that the hearing is to address concerns affecting several religious groups:

For instance, the Belgian and French parliaments listed as "dangerous" groups such as independent evangelical Protestant churches, Catholic communities, Baha'i, Jehovah's Witness, and Hasidic Jews. Negative effects have been felt by these religious groups due to these reports.

(Memorial services for two police officers shot at the U.S. Capitol led to the panel's postponement as we went to press.-editor)

For obvious reasons, the Watch Tower Society has been keeping its inter-faith efforts hidden from rank-and-file Jehovah's Witnesses.


Mail Bullet Follow-up Message (David Reed, November 3, 1998)

How much money did CESNUR lose when Watchtower representatives cancelled as speakers?

This morning I received a Certified Letter from a Salt Lake City, Utah, law firm representing CESNUR (the Center for the Studies of New Religions) accusing me of publishing "misrepresentations" concerning CESNUR's September 10-12 conference in an article I wrote in the October-December issue of COMMENTS FROM THE FRIENDS. (See CFTF.COM and CESNUR.ORGoffsite)

"It is apparent that you attempted to intimidate, through this misrepresentation, various persons from participating in the conference," it goes on to say, and "As a result of this misrepresentation, CESNUR, its directors and officers have suffered damages."

The letter demands an apology in the next issue of COMMENTS. "Otherwise, CESNUR will take whatever action it deems appropriate in the United States and in Europe."

I have no lawyer and can't afford to hire one. I suppose I'll just have to put an article in COMMENTS correcting the inaccuracies in my earlier article (minor technicalities, in my opinion) and supplying additional details on CESNUR and The Watchtower Society to clarify the matter.

Strangely, the Watchtower Society speakers who cancelled their participation in CESNUR due to my 'intimidation' were mostly lawyers themselves.

I hope the new article will keep their friends at CESNUR off my back!

-David



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