Councils in the UK make decisions every day about wind farms, motorway extensions and signage on high streets. Councillors are elected to represent local communities and to take into consideration detailed factors that may have a detrimental effect on local communities.
The possible move to Temple Farm in Essex of the Jehovah’s Witnesses Headquarters should fall into this category. Many people who have some knowledge and experience of the JW organisation take the view that there should be a government health warning attached to the printed materials of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
What seems to be happening in Essex is that parish councillors are not looking too deeply at the facts about this publishing corporation. It is hoped that further consultations will uncover a range of factors that will help them make an informed decision about the possible re-location of JW HQ.
The Essex Chronicle which has followed this evolving story reports that in May 2014 there will be three public consultations about the use of a former breakers’ yard as the new UK headquarters of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Mill Hill, the long time current site of the headquarters of Jehovah’s Witnesses in the UK is “too expensive” so says the Essex Chronicle. This may be the reason the UK headquarters is looking to relocate to Temple Farm in Essex. The move is still up for discussion and a decision has not yet been made, as the new site could be contaminated with illegal waste. An ecological report about the site is awaited.
Local councillors who may grant approval for the building of a new HQ appear to know very little about Jehovah’s Witnesses and the multitude of concerns that are expressed every day, all over the internet, about the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society’s practices and doctrines.
West Hanningfield parish councillor Thelma Alexandra, visiting the current HQ at Mill Hill in north London, told the Essex Chronicle: “The place at Mill Hill is absolutely out of this world. It is clean, quiet, everything is done nicely; it really shocked me.”
A superficial visit to Mill Hill will not allay the concerns of most people who have done more than take a public relations visit to the existing HQ. If Councillor Thelma Alexandra is to represent her constituents she may want to research how people have been unduly influenced to their detriment by the materials that may be printed at Temple Farm.
In an earlier article in the Essex Chronicle, The Leader of the Council Conservative chief Roy Whitehead said the move should be considered a business matter and not the introduction of an evangelical centre. A few business related facts seem to have escaped the Leader’s attention.
Jehovah’s Witnesses pay no salaries and as a Charity they will pay no tax; they generally use their own JW suppliers and free JW labour for building property and, therefore, this could be a very unattractive business proposition.
Although about 800 Witnesses could be moving to Temple Farm, they will mostly be single young men without incomes to invest in the local economy.
Women are not allowed to take any leadership roles as they are subject and are subservient to the decisions of male leaders. Decisions are not taken democratically and inclusively. There is no equal opportunities policy at Mill Hill and there will be no equal opportunities at Temple Farm.
Perhaps the councillors should also consider that Jehovah’s Witnesses will actively try to convert local people into a system of beliefs that shun families, denies blood transfusions to children and requires two witnesses to have been present during the numerous cases of child abuse.
There is an opportunity in May 2014 for a range of voices to be heard about this possible move, as the International Bible Students Association, a charity used by Jehovah’s Witnesses will answer questions at three public consultations alongside architects, traffic engineers and consultants.
The dates of the consultations were not given by the Essex Chronicle but comments can be left on the website. Further information about the consultations will be posted when available.
Women and Jehovah’s Witnesses Link