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  1. The Supreme Court of Canada Thursday heard arguments in a fight over a church’s “shunning” practice, and said it would release a ruling later, but the congregation involved and several other groups argued that the justices had no right to even take part in the fight. The fight is between Randy Wall, a real estate agent, and the Highwood congregation of the Jehovah’s Witnesses organization in Calgary. Wall was expelled from the congregation for getting drunk and not be properly repentant, court records said. He pursued a church appeals process, unsuccessfully, then went to court because he said the church’s “shunning,” that is, practice of not associating with him in any way, hurt his business. He explained his two occasions of drunkenness related to “the previous expulsion by the congregation of his 15-year-old daughter.” A lower court opinion explained, “Even though the daughter was a dependent child living at home, it was a mandatory church edict that the entire family shun aspects of their relationship with her. The respondent said the edicts of the church pressured the family to evict their daughter from the family home. This led to … much distress in the family.” The “much distress” eventually resulted in his drunkenness, Wall said. See the WND Superstore’s collection of Bibles, including the stunning 1599 Geneva Bible. Wall submitted to the court arguments that about half his client base, members of various Jehovah’s Witnesses congregations, then refused to conduct business with him. He alleged the “disfellowship had an economic impact on the respondent.” During high court arguments Thursday, the congregation asked the justices to say that congregations are immune to such claims in the judicial system. The lower courts had ruled that the courts could play a role in determining if, and when, such circumstances rise to the level of violating civil rights or injuring a “disfellowshipped” party. The rulings from the Court of Queen’s Bench and the Alberta Court of Appeals said Wall’s case was subject to secular court jurisdiction. A multitude of religious and political organizations joined with the congregation in arguing that the Canada’s courts should not be involved. The Justice Center for Constitutional Freedoms said in a filing, “The wish or desire of one person to associate with an unwilling person (or an unwilling group) is not a legal right of any kind. For a court, or the government, to support such a ‘right’ violates the right of self-determination of the unwilling parties.” Previous case law has confirmed the ability of religious or private voluntary groups to govern themselves and dictate who can be a member. But previously rulings also reveal there is room for the court system to intervene when the question is one of property or civil rights. The Association for Reformed Political Action, described the case as having “profound implications for the separation of church and state.” Its position is that the court should keep hands off the argument. “Secular judges have no authority and no expertise to review a church membership decision,” said a statement from Andre Schutten, a spokesman for the group. “Church discipline is a spiritual matter falling within spiritual jurisdiction, not a legal matter falling within the courts’ civil jurisdiction. The courts should not interfere.” John Sikkema, staff lawyer for ARPA, said, “The issue in this appeal is jurisdiction. A state actor, including a court, must never go beyond its jurisdiction. The Supreme Court must consider what kind of authority the courts can or cannot legitimately claim. We argue that the civil government and churches each have limited and distinct spheres of authority. This basic distinction between civil and spiritual jurisdiction is a source of freedom and religious pluralism and a guard against civic totalism.” He continued, “Should the judiciary have the authority to decide who gets to become or remain a church member? Does the judiciary have the authority to decide who does or does not get to participate in the sacraments? Church discipline is a spiritual matter falling within spiritual jurisdiction, not a legal matter falling within the courts’ civil jurisdiction. The courts should not interfere. Here we need separation of church and state.” The Alberta Court of Appeal, however, suggested the fight was about more than ecclesiastical rules. “Because Jehovah’s Witnesses shun disfellowshipped members, his wife, other children and other Jehovah’s Witnesses were compelled to shun him,” that lower court decision said. “The respondent asked the appeal committee to consider the mental and emotional distress he and his family were under as a result of his duaghter’s disfellowship.” The church committee concluded he was “not sufficiently repentant.” The ruling said “the only basis for establishing jurisdiction over a decision of the church is when the complaint involves property and civil rights,” and that is what Wall alleged. “Accordingly, a court has jurisdiction to review the decision of a religious organization when a breach of the rules of natural justice is alleged.”
  2. Leer esta nota: http://www.laprensa.hn/mundo/1154308-410/mujer-asesina-a-su-familia-tras-ser-expulsada-de-los-testigos-de Mujer asesina a su familia tras ser expulsada de los Testigos de Jehová, según amistades. Una mujer estadounidense de Detroit, Michigan, mató a su esposo, sus hijos y su perro antes de suicidarse el pasado fin de semana, en un caso que conmocionó a esa ciudad, informaron medios locales.
  3. Guest


    ¿Cuánto tiempo necesita uno para estar  inactivo al punto de que ya no se considere que está envuelto con la religión de los Testigos de Jehová? Â
  4. This tragic story has been developing over the last couple of days in Venezuela. There is a mixture of reports and accounts coming in.... Two Jehovah's Witnesses (and fleshly sisters) aged 71 and 65, where found murdered. A 26 year male suspect has been arrested. In the apartment where the two where found dead, the words "Death to witnesses" (“Muerte a los testigos”) had been scrawled onto one of the walls.
  5. Barry W. Bussey: Last week, the Supreme Court was asked to do something courts never do: review the solely religious decision of a church On November 2, the Supreme Court of Canada was asked to do something Canadian courts never do: review the solely religious decision of a church community. Until now, the courts have recoiled from getting involved in religious disputes—and for good reason. The case involves Randy Wall, who was dismissed from a Jehovah’s Witness church for failing to repent of his religious offences: getting drunk on two occasions and verbally abusing his wife. Wall’s appeal to another church entity was unsuccessful. He then appealed to a court of law by means of “judicial review,” on the grounds that the church had denied him a proper hearing. In Canadian law, in a process known as “judicial review,” a person can ask a court to “review” (i.e. hear) whether the decision of a “public actor” (such as a government licensing agency) was unfairly decided. Courts rarely review decisions of “private actors” (such as a church); they generally do so only if a private actor’s decision engages property or civil rights. In Wall’s case, the court had to determine whether the Jehovah’s Witness church’s decision involved property or contractual rights, which would then enable the court to review the church’s decision. "The church argued it was a private religious body, not a public body" The church argued it was a private religious body, not a public body, and that its decision did not affect Wall’s property or contractual rights. It also argued that its disciplinary procedure was a religious process involving prayer and scripture reading aimed at reconciling the relationship between Wall and the church. The lower courts both held that religious decisions can be reviewed by courts to determine whether a church gave a fair hearing, even if no property or contractual rights were engaged. However, both courts were also of the view that property rights were an issue in the case. The Supreme Court of Canada must now decide whether those courts were right. The Supreme Court reserved judgment after last week’s hearing; we can expect its decision early in the new year. Courts like to “fix things.” They naturally want to find resolutions to disputes; this is what they exist to do. However, courts have historically avoided getting involved in religious cases, recognizing that they lack the expertise and authority to settle religious disagreements. They handle legal cases, such as contractual disputes, but not religious cases that raise metaphysical truths, such as the definition of God. Wall argued his case did involve a “property right,” because his dismissal from his church meant the church members were no longer willing to do business with him. As a real estate agent, 50 per cent of his clientele were Jehovah’s Witnesses. His business folded from the loss of their support. He says there is a direct line of causation between his loss of church membership and business loss. It’s likely the case that one caused the other, but that doesn’t mean Wall’s claim is a legally enforceable property right. "A church member is not required to patronize the business of a former church member" The reality is, Wall chose to limit his business to Jehovah’s Witnesses and took a personal risk in doing so. The church did not tell him to do so, and certainly there is no known legal principle that says a church is responsible for the economic losses that might flow from a loss of membership. A church member is not required to patronize the business of a former member. In the same way, we would not expect a former husband to maintain business with his ex-wife’s family. At last week’s hearing, Wall’s legal counsel tried to persuade the court that, if there are no grounds under Canadian law for the court to interfere in purely religious matters, the court should then consider adopting U.K. law, which does allow this type of review. “Good luck!” Justice Rosalie Abella quipped, prompting everyone to burst into laughter. That exchange suggested the court was not persuaded that it is time to change the law to allow courts to get tangled up in reviewing decisions of religious bodies. That would be a good thing, as courts don’t have the moral or legal authority or doctrinal expertise to decide such matters. This hearing occurred around the time of the 500-year anniversary of Martin Luther’s nailing of his 95 Theses to a church door in Wittenberg, Germany. If we have learned anything since then, it’s that the law does not need to apply to every nook and cranny of our lives – especially our religious affairs. Barry W. Bussey is Director Legal Affairs at the Canadian Council of Christian Charities. He blogs at lawandreligion.org http://nationalpost.com/opinion/courts-have-no-business-reviewing-religious-decisions
  6. The judicial committee of a congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses asked the Supreme Court of Canada today to rule that Canadian courts do not have the authority to review the expulsion of one of their members — arguing that judicial review by the courts should not extend to decisions by private and voluntary associations that have no effect on the public at large. The Highwood Congregation, located in northwest Calgary, brought its appeal to Ottawa after Randy Wall took the congregation to court for expelling him from the church. The congregation’s judicial committee “disfellowshipped” Wall in the spring of 2014 after his family reported to the group’s elders that he had been drunk on two occasions and was verbally and emotionally abusing them — and after determining he was not “not sufficiently repentant” for those actions. After three internal and unsuccessful appeals, Wall applied for judicial review of the congregation’s decision-making process, insisting it was flawed and that the congregation’s judicial committee had “breached the principles of natural justice and the duty to be fair.” Both the Court of Queen’s Bench and Court of Appeal in Alberta declared that it is within the jurisdiction of the superior court to review Wall’s case. The congregation’s appeal of those two rulings, heard by the Supreme Court Thursday morning, has attracted a lot of attention from legal experts and religious communities across the country. Echoing the congregation’s plea today in the packed Ottawa courtroom were 12 religious, political and civil liberties groups — all of them unanimous in arguing the top court should not interfere in the membership decisions of religious bodies. The consequences of such interference, they said, would be detrimental to the self-determination of religious groups. “It (would) fundamentally alter our nation and not for the better,” counsel for the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms said in court. “The wish or desire of one person to associate with an unwilling person (or an unwilling group) is not a legal right of any kind,” the group wrote in its written submission to the Supreme Court. “For a court, or the government, to support such a ‘right’ violates the right of self-determination of the unwilling parties.” This question of jurisdiction is one that has been explored and decided on by the courts — including the Supreme Court of Canada — in the past. Case law shows the top court has recognized the the autonomous ability of religious and private voluntary associations to govern their own affairs and dictate who can and cannot be a member of a congregation. The courts have determined, however, there is room to intervene in specific cases when a membership decision turns on property or civil rights — or is of “sufficient importance to deserve the intervention of the court.” Wall — who does not dispute the allegations against him that formed the basis of the congregation’s decision to kick him out — argues his case meets those requirements because his “disfellowship” caused him to lose business clients, suffer “significant economic harm” and experience fraught family relations. In return, the congregation argues that neither Wall’s property rights, nor his civil rights, were affected by their decision. Justice Russell Brown also remarked during the hearing that “one does not have a justiciable right to earn a living.” The congregation also argued that it did not ask or force its members to boycott Wall’s business — but people choose to do so in line with their religious convictions. Counsel for the congregation also said that “the door is not closed” to Wall and he can be reinstated in the congregation in the future. More generally, the congregation argued that it would be inappropriate for the courts to review the internal decision-making processes of religious groups because those processes are ecclesiastical. In a news release, the Association for Reformed Political Action — one of the 12 intervening groups — said the case before the Supreme Court has “profound implications for the separation of church and state” and it believes the court should maintain a hands-off approach to membership decision-making by religious groups. “Secular judges have no authority and no expertise to review a church membership decision,” the association’s director of law and policy, André Schutten, wrote in the statement. “Church discipline is a spiritual matter falling within spiritual jurisdiction, not a legal matter falling within the courts’ civil jurisdiction. The courts should not interfere.” The Canadian Muslim Lawyers Association took a slightly more nuanced position, arguing in its factum that “there will inevitably be cases where judicial intervention in the decisions of religious groups is ‘warranted'” but courts “should intervene … only in the rare case where required by a prevailing public interest.” Thursday’s hearing was heard by all nine justices on the Supreme Court bench. Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin said the court will reserve its decision after today’s hearing. Overflow seating was set up in the front hall of the Supreme Court to accommodate all the people who came to see the hearing live. http://ipolitics.ca/2017/11/02/church-congregation-asks-top-court-to-keep-hands-off-membership-decisions/
  7. Nació en una familia testigo de Jehová, se casó muy joven y vivió años de violencia, maltrato y humillaciones. Sin el apoyo de la congregación, terminó expulsada buscando su felicidad. “Creo que todos tenemos un llamado interior que nos dice qué nos hace felices y qué no, y cuando no lo sos si podes cambiarlo hay que hacerlo”, contó Graciela Quipildor, más conocida como La Quipi, a InformateSalta. Es que ella es dueña de una historia de quiebres y superación que muestra los vejámenes y el destierro de quien es expulsado de una congregación, en este caso testigos de Jehová. “Nací en una familia testigo de Jehová y lo fui hasta los 29 cuando me divorcié y fui excluida”. Se casó muy joven, a los 22, con alguien que profesaba la misma fe que ella. El matrimonio duró seis años y medio, terminó con un divorcio sobreexpuesto, muy desfavorable para ella, “me quedé sin nada”. Transcurrido el primer aniversario, su marido cambió “comenzamos a tener problemas, se transformó en otra persona, se volvió un hombre violento, me maltrataba de todas las maneras posibles y cuando yo pedí ayuda a los ancianos de la congregación, que vendrían a ser el equivalente a un pastor o un cura solo me citaba un texto de la biblia que dice que la mujer sabia edifica su casa y la necia la destruye y me daban consejos para que yo no lo haga enojar”. Leer más: http://informatesalta.com.ar/noticia/126808/graciela-quipildor-una-historia-de-quiebre-y-libertad
  8. LILONGWE, Malawi – Two teenage witnesses of Jehovah , Aaron Mankhamba, 18, and Hastings Mtambalika, 15 are now having reasons to smile after they were expelled from school in Malawi. The two were sent out of school for their courageous stand in refusing to sing the National Anthem. But the school that expelled has recalled after learning about their faith. Besides, the school, according to their website, jw.org also exempted other witness children from the morning ritual os singing the National Anthem. “On May 3, 2017, Aaron Mankhamba, 18, and Hastings Mtambalika, 15, two children of Jehovah’s Witnesses, were allowed to return to school after being expelled from the Khombe Primary School because of their refusal to sing the national anthem during a school assembly. “The students had been barred from attending classes since February 13, 2017. They were reinstated after the boys’ parents and representatives from the branch office of Jehovah’s Witnesses appealed to school officials”, the JWs said in a statement. During their discussions, the branch representatives were aided by two letters from the Malawi government that they were able to show the school officials. “One letter from 1997, actually addressed to Jehovah’s Witnesses in Malawi, gave formal recognition for Jehovah’s Witnesses to be exempt from singing the national anthem. The other letter, from 2017, encouraged educators to respect students’ freedom of religion”, tjemJWs said. Hastings explains that the reinstatement came at a critical moment in the school year, since national exams were approaching: “We were so worried that we wouldn’t be able to sit for the national examinations. The opportunity to participate in these exams comes only once a year.” Failure to pass the national exams may have meant the students would have to repeat the grade. Augustine Semo, a spokesman for Jehovah’s Witnesses in Malawi, states: “The students are happy that their conscientious stand has been respected, and we thank the school administration for choosing to uphold freedom of religion and welcome these students back to class.” http://starconnectmedia.com/teenage-witnesses-expelled-for-their-faith-return-to-school/
  9. Un exmiembro denuncia a la organización religiosa por acoso y por citarle a un juicio interno Miguel García sospecha que la confesión le persigue en el fondo porque tiene una relación homosexual “Nos ponemos en contacto con usted (...) porque ha mantenido relaciones sexuales fuera del matrimonio. Por este motivo debemos citarle para una audiencia judicial, es nuestra responsabilidad teocrática”. Con estas palabras comienza la carta que la Congregación Francesa de los Testigos de Jehová en Cardedeu ha enviado a este hombre de 43 años que dejó de ser un miembro de esta comunidad hace “casi cinco años”. Este documento, que confirma la existencia de juicios paralelos a los devotos de la confesión, es “extraño”, según Miguel García, porque el libro 'Pastoreen el Rebaño' -de uso exclusivo para los ancianos que lideran las congregaciones- detalla cómo debe formarse un “comité judicial” y aclara que debe “citarse al acusado por vía oral”. Se añade también que si “un periodista o un abogado” pregunta por estos juicios no deben "proporcionar ninguna información ni confirmar su existencia". LA CONGREGACIÓN TRATA DE DESMENTIRLO Este diario ha contactado con uno de los tres ancianos que han citado a Miguel García para un juicio este lunes 26 de septiembre. Tal como dicta el libro, de entrada, el anciano ha negado la mayor. “Primera noticia”, ha respondido. Después de saber que aparecía con su nombre y apellido firmando la carta de convocatoria, ha reconocido que el juicio sí existía. Esta sesión iba a celebrarse en el Salón del Reino de Cardedeu -su local- porque se trata de un “marco teocrático" que "infunde un mayor respeto en los presentes”. "El fallo" de los tres ancianos, según el texto, tiene para los acusados “consecuencias duraderas y de gran magnitud". Delitos incluidos en el Código Penal tan graves como elhomicidio, la violación y el abuso sexual de menores o hechos ni siquiera punibles como fumar o emborracharse merecen la celebración de estos juicios. Miguel García se separó de su mujer al dejar la confesión y cuatro años más tarde se divorció formalmente. Para "liberar" a su esposa, le escribió una carta en la que explicaba que tenía una nueva relación sentimental. De este modo, ella podría obtener el "divorcio bíblico" y casarse nuevamente. Sospecha García que el hecho de que actualmente tenga una relación homosexual ha motivado en el fondo esta llamada audiencia judicial por adulterio. Se trata, dice García, de una comunidad “homófoba”, y como prueba remite a un vídeo de producción interna. PUNIBLE SI HAY COACCIÓN Fuentes jurídicas subrayan que celebrar este tipo de juicios paralelos a la legislación vigente no tiene “ninguna validez”. Y que se trataría de algo “punible” si se demostrara que existen coacciones para obligar a someterse a estos y cumplir los castigos que se impongan. Habitualmente, la pena es una reprimenda pública o directamente la expulsión de la confesión. Esto segundo resulta traumático cuando lo sufre un miembro de una familia del mismo credo porque a partir de entonces debe restringir la relación que tiene con el resto de parientes. En mayo del 2014, la ministra de Justicia de Finlandia, Anna-Maija Henriksson, avisó de que“no había espacio” en el país “para dos sistemas judiciales”. Lo hizo después de que 18 exmiembros de Testigos de Jehová denunciaran la existencia de estos comités judiciales con capacidad para condenar al “ostracismo” a los acusados. ANTE LOS MOSSOS Miguel García asegura que al dejar la organización hace casi cinco años fue “acosado” por sus excompañeros. "Terminé sufriendo un ataque de ansiedad, me ingresaron en el hospital y se presentaron allí. Tuve que pedir a las enfermeras que no les dejaran entrar", recuerda. El 19 de abril del 2014 les mandó un burofax para exigir que en cumplimiento de la ley de protección de datos de carácter personal borraran toda la información referente a él. Respondieron, afirma y documenta, que se quedarían con sus datos porque seguía constando en sus archivos como “miembro bautizado”. Tras recibir la citación para ser juzgado, ha denunciado ante los Mossos a los Testigos de Jehová por acoso, por negarse a borrardatos personales y por encubrir los abusos sexuales que sufrió en una congregación de Bélgica, y ha emprendido acciones legales por daños morales. Aníbal Matos, portavoz de los Testigos de Jehová, ha admitido la existencia de estos comités judiciales pero ha asegurado que "no son obligatorios" ni tampoco "se imponen castigos". Se trata únicamente de intervenciones para "dar orientación bíblica" a los miembros de una congregación. http://www.elperiodico.com/es/noticias/sociedad/los-testigos-jehova-quieren-juzgar-por-adulterio-5416455
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