Phelicity Sneesby: The story Watchtower didn’t tell you
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ps“Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.” -Mark Twain

 

 

February’s edition of JW Broadcasting, the televangelism arm of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, featured the moving story of Phelicity Sneesby, a young Australian girl born with a serious heart condition that cast severe doubt on her chances of surviving birth. As it turned out, thanks to the efforts of skilled medical professionals, Phelicity was able not only to survive birth, but has also been able to live to the age of 13.

You can view the JW Broadcasting episode in question here, but there are a number of things in the video worthy of comment.

Firstly, Watchtower showcases the fact that 13 year old Phelicity is baptised, and presents this practice of child baptism as a positive thing that other JW parents are clearly expected to imitate. This continues the trend of Watchtower putting increasing  pressure on young children commit to the Organisation long before they can make an informed adult decision based on greater life experience.

Most civilised societies do not allow children to make life changing commitments at a young age. Activities such as marriage, serving in the armed forces, voting in elections, accepting financial burdens such as a loan and so forth are deliberately kept away from children, as it is recognised that they do not have the life experience, mental and emotional stability, or the education to make informed decisions on such issues.

Yet Watchtower is increasingly putting pressure on pre-teen children to make a binding lifelong commitment of obedience to the Governing Body that they cannot take back on pain of shunning. One wonders how long it will be before Watchtower starts to glowingly report the baptism of pre-school infants.

However, there is another very important aspect to this story that you won’t get if you only view Watchtower’s broadcast.

Phelicity is dying.

The high costs of Watchtower doctrine

ps2According to recent news reports, Phelicity is currently in the US, undergoing treatment for a complication in her condition. Sadly, it appears that this treatment has failed, and that Phelicity is now terminally ill. However, it was not possible to fly her home due to the costs involved in the special medical flight that would be required. The cost of the flight would be a colossal sum of $150,000, money the family simply did not have. They have apparently expended all of their money funding previous trips abroad to obtain treatment for their little girl, and simply could not afford to bring her home for the closing days of her life.

Thankfully help came, not in the form of Watchtower, but in the form of a gofundme campaign. For those not familiar, Gofundme is one of many crowdsourcing sites available online, where people from around the world can contribute funds to ideas, business or charitable causes.

There are three points we can learn from this.

Firstly, the root cause of having to fly a critically ill girl around the world for treatment was seemingly not a matter of the required treatment being unavailable in her home country. Hospitals in Australia capable of providing this treatment do exist, but the hospital Phelicity was taken to in the US is one that many Jehovah’s Witnesses apparently rely on for performing bloodless surgeries. Whilst no definitive statements from the family or other sources have so far been made, this strongly indicates that the Watchtower’s ever changing and contradictory “no-blood” policy was a driving factor in this family feeling obligated to bankrupt itself flying thousands of miles to obtain medical treatment that might otherwise have been easily and cheaply available had blood not been an issue.

Secondly, whilst it is clear from the comments in the gofundme page that many witnesses are now contributing to the campaign, it also appears that a huge bulk of the donated funds come from people who are, as Watchtower likes to say, “in the world.”

The kindness of the world

679Watchtower frequently uses the derogatory term “in the world” or ‘worldly” to denigrate and dismiss people who do not subscribe to the doctrines and behavioural commands of the Governing Body. Watchtower literature frequently groups all non-witnesses together under a single banner, and attributes to them en-mass almost every negative human trait you can think of. Here are just a quick selection of the countless references available at jwfacts.com.

Awake 1996 October 22 p.15
Since worldly people are existing as slaves of corruption, their company cannot bring you true happiness.

Watchtower 2013 Feb study ed. p.24 “Our choice of associates. Of course, some contact with unbelievers — such as at school, at work, and when sharing in the ministry — is unavoidable. It is quite another matter, though, to socialize with them, even cultivating close friendships with them. Do we justify such association by saying that they have many good qualities? “Do not be misled,” warns the Bible. “Bad associations spoil useful habits.” (1 Cor. 15:33) Just as a small amount of pollution can contaminate clean water, friendship with those who do not practice godly devotion can contaminate our spirituality and lead us into adopting worldly viewpoints, dress, speech, and conduct.”

Watchtower 1984 October 1 pp.15, 19 Remain “Without Spot From the World” 
“We must avoid the speech, conduct and attitudes that are so common among worldly individuals, but that are out of harmony with God’s Word. For instance, hatred, greediness, shameful conduct and obscene jesting have no proper place in our life. We must ‘put up with one another and be forgiving, even as Jehovah has freely forgiven us.’ (Colossians 3:13) That is not the common worldly way of dealing with others, but it is the godly way.”

Have the people of the “world” involved in this gofundme campaign been acting in the way Watchtower implies above? Wicked? Obscene? Hateful? Selfish?

$240,000 and counting says otherwise. Additionally, The Age reports that Qantas Airlines, a “worldly” business, have contacted Phelicity’s family to see if they can assist, potentially resulting in a significant cost saving for the flight.

Thirdly, it appears from the available facts that, although a number of individual Jehovah’s Witnesses have indeed come forward to donate to the gofundme campaign, the Watchtower itself has apparently not done so. This is despite its sale of properties in Brooklyn expected to net them over 1 Billion US dollars.

Why is this relevant?

Watchtower: The charity that doesn’t engage in charity.

charity

In many countries, Watchtower is registered as a charity. By doing so, it avoids paying significant amounts of tax towards the upkeep of the social structures and institutions of the countries in which it operates, and often obtains significant help from governments that would be unavailable were they not listed as a charity.

Yet does Watchtower really qualify for such status? Significant concerns have been raised in this area, resulting in the UK Charity Commission undertaking an investigation of Watchtower’s UK arm. Does this incident shed any light on the legitimacy or otherwise of Watchtower’s claim to be a charitable organisation?

Well, here is the definition of a charitable organisation:

charity: noun
an organization set up to provide help and raise money for those in need.
“the charity provides practical help for homeless people”
synonyms: non-profit-making organization, non-profit organization, not-for-profit organization, voluntary organization, charitable institution; fund, trust, foundation, cause, movement
“they raised money for an AIDS charity”

In other words, this should be a perfect opportunity for Watchtower to step in and give some charitable assistance. $150,000 is a lot of money, but it’s a drop in the ocean when you’re cheerfully banking $1 Billion in real estate profits.

Did they step in?

No.

Whilst clearly happy to feature Phelicity for propaganda purposes, and to pressure other witness parents into baptising their young children, their interest in her clearly didn’t extend to actually helping her in the final days of her life. That is something they left to their followers to handle, many of whom are already short of cash and being squeezed for even more.They did not even update the JW Broadcasting episode to highlight the gofundme campaign so that their followers would know of its existence.

Thankfully, the people of the “world” were able to step up and help out when Watchtower either could not, or did not care to, and the media outlets of the “world” were able to champion her cause when JW Broadcasting fell silent.

The thoughts and sympathies of the JW Survey team are with little Phelicity and her family at this difficult time.

For additional links on this story, please see below, and please visit the gofundme campaign if you are able to assist Phelicity and her family in this matter.

UK Daily Mail Article on the Story.

ABC news article on the story.

The Age.com article on the story

Gofundme page

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115 Responses to Phelicity Sneesby: The story Watchtower didn’t tell you

  1. Twmack says:

    No way would they ever credit outsiders with unselfish
    acts of kindness. It’s imperative that they maintain their
    illusory distinction between the chosen ones and the
    Ungodly, the opposers, Satan’s brood.

    The lines must not be blurred or softened. Black. and
    white thinking only. It’s a classic cult method of
    Brainwashing.

    On the subject of reporting, it’s yet another coercive tactic.
    many would not go knocking on strangers doors if there was
    no check on them.

  2. Crazy4Jesus says:

    Most Religions from the beginning of recorded history and before, at their root involve human sacrifice. Blood sacrifice is also in the Baal worship Jewish tradition, Christian and Mormons. In the occult thinking a ritual dose not need to be on a alter but the intent. In occult thinking Jehovah’s Witness who die from the teachings and rules give great power to them.

  3. Larry says:

    Humm, True to form this is my story too. My wife of 20 years developed throat cancer. Her illness was long ,three years. During this time the hospital bill was 3 times the value of my home so I could not borrow to pay the doctors and hospital. when the doctors and hospital began collection against me the encouragement I received from the JW, congregation was this: “The wicked one borrows and does not repay” It was fine for me to donate $12,000 to put a new roof on the kingdom hall,but let me now need help and who will help me up?
    It was the samaritan who came to my aid, not the congregation. It took years yet I let my yes mean yes and eventually was able to pay the doctors and hospital.
    However being referred to a a wicked person at the time was not very helpful. I have left that place now.
    With these words I will close.
    “Its not church it is business”

  4. Bad Penny says:

    This story is so sad. The little Phelicity was used as an example for child baptism! The poor little soul probably felt she must get baptised in order to receive a resurrection, should the worse happen. It now seems that the worse is inevitable.
    In the ABC news article, her mum felt that all the financial help they had received in order to get Phelicity home, was an answer to their prayers. This seemed a little bizarre given the facts that ‘Jehovah’ has used all those worldly people’s contributions to help and not his ‘own organisation’s’ finances isn’t it?
    Of course, we know that the Society would never fund anything like this. If they did it for one they would have to do it for all. They expect the rank and file to do the giving, and I feel sure that many have probably donated.
    I have heard of other tragic cases where witness parents have lost their children. Unfortunately, I have also witnessed how these parents then feel obliged to stick with the religion for fear of never seeing their little ones again. One old sister I know of has kept her deceased son’s room exactly as he left it, toys and all, awaiting his return. Her mental prison has meant that she has never been able to move on.
    I hope that Phelicity’s parents will realise that even if you are not a JW, you can have compassion, empathy and love. Something that the GB is sadly lacking.

    • @Bad Penny. Your comments really sum up the mental strait jacket the GB have in the emotional hold over their flock . If a loved child dies the parents cling to the JW religion in the desperate hope of seeing their dead child again.
      Mental manipulation of the highest degree.
      Plus also your valid point of never financially supporting those in need of money for their sick child otherwise the floodgates would open but the GB will happily fleece the flock of even children’s ice cream money to finance all their building projects. Sickening !

      • Bad Penny says:

        Thanks Winston.
        Phelicity’s parents, it seems, have no qualms about accepting help from non-JWs. I wonder if any who contributed were ex-JWs? – Just a thought, because this week I found out that a lady I used to have a bible study with has lost her son through suicide. (I have not seen her since I disassociated). Foolishly, I guess, I spoke to her on the ‘phone, offered my condolences and asked if there was anything at all that I could do to help. She said that she had no shopping done. I immediately said to give me a list of things and I would go for her. I awaited her call ….the following morning her husband rang to say that they preferred me not to visit at this time, what with her faith and all ….
        It appears that my ‘good Samaritan’ action was perceived as a threat!! The Jew who fell among robbers in Jesus’ parable accepted the help from the Samaritan, despite their differences.
        Such is the mind manipulation and control of JWDom.
        I cannot believe, God forbid, that had the shoe been on the other foot, that I would have turned away their support.
        I guess I will have to ‘stay on the other side of the road’ in future and walk away. This shunning policy is downright evil.

        • Pow says:

          Bad Penny,
          Of course, Jesus healed on the sabbath, clearly by the power of baalzebub. ..no righteous Pharisee would ever make that mistake.

  5. Kaye says:

    I was trying to think of the reasons why the Watchtower would want to present this very emotional story.

    Amongst other reasons, I think they found this story a good one to highlight the idea that JWs will go to any lengths to provide the best medical care for their children.

    This must now be very embarrassing for the Watchtower because of the very public way the family have asked for money.

  6. Wip it says:

    It makes me Sick

  7. L says:

    Allways wondered why they push young kids to get baptised. What if a young one decided the religion wasn’t for him/her? Would the parents and elders disfellowship or excommunicate the child at say 12 years old? If the child can’t make the decision to leave, then they are not making a decision to stay.

  8. edy says:

    I’m not surprised. WT only know how to milk their followers dry. I know of a late brother, in Nigeria, a special pioneer that died of something he couldn’t have died and now, his family is suffering and he had spent all his years pioneering for WT.

    I was just so infuriated when he died that night because I know no help will come from WT to the family he left behind.

    • Faithful & Discreet says:

      Your comment reminds me of what happened with my family. My great-grandfather and his four brothers were from a very wealthy but spiritual family in upstate NY. In the late 1800s, they came across WT publications on business trips to PA, corresponded with the Society, and once Russell found out how wealthy they were, he came here personally to bilk my great-grandfather and his brothers out of millions in order to establish most of the congregations in Northern NY. After 50 years of donating money to build dozens of halls and finance the preaching work throughout the region, that left very little to pass on to their heirs. “That’s all right,” they were told, “the system is so near the end that they will be in the New Order before you know it.”

      As if that weren’t bad enough, most of their modern descendants are actively persecuted by the body of elders within their specific congregations. It’s as if the elders “cliques” are deliberately trying to stumble us out. Must be a guilty conscience or something.

  9. Claudia says:

    So sad story. Sad for Phelicity, sad for the mental prison in which her parents stands.

    This organization does not care at all about people, their only worry is money.
    Watchtower has choose the Bible and the religion, as a source of income. Better browse monex than Bible’s pages!
    ClaudiA

  10. Doc Obvious says:

    A new report from the GoFundMe page states that the little girl has passed away. She passed away in Australia at her home. We should be proud of the fact that they raised more money than they needed. Good neighbors are priceless. Those who contributed should feel really good. We gave this girl what she wanted. To go home with her family.

  11. Grace says:

    Rest in Peace, dear little Phelicity.

    My heart is aching for her family as I have been down this road.

  12. Man from the lions pit says:

    Sleep in hope sweet heart !She lost the battle but not the war !
    My condolences and prayers go to her whole family !
    hugs & love

  13. Tara says:

    This is what has been posted on FB.
    It has been confirmed by her family in Brisbane, it is sad that we lost a brave young sister, who was featured in Feb Broadcast. Deepest sympathies to the family. She really touched our lives in so many ways than we could imagine.

    This is what was reported.

    Created on January 26, 2016
    Megan Latham

    Our family had to say goodbye to our precious daughter. She died faithful and surrounded by family. Today I have a greater appreciation for Ec 7:1, because on the day of her death she certainly had a good name. I’m at a loss to explain our pain and how sad we are. We will mourn for her until we see her again. When she is resurrected she will have so many to teach about Jehovah and then she will marry and have her babies that she longed to have. Thank you to each and every one of you who helped get her home so she could be with her family during this time.

    It’s a tragic story. Poor wee mite. xxx

    • Carrie says:

      To the point of her death and her parents statements regarding her return after resurrection, I find it tragic the family may not completely understand Watchtowers views on marriage after the resurrection.

      Watchtower 1987 6/1 p.31
      “Some have felt that Jesus was here referring to the heavenly resurrection, yet there are reasons to believe that his reply was about the earthly resurrection in the coming system of things. What reasons underlie this view? Those questioning Jesus did not believe in him or know about a heavenly resurrection. They asked about a Jewish family under the Law. In reply Jesus referred to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, men who hoped for life again on earth. (Genesis 42:38; Job 14:13-15; compare Hebrews 11:19.) Those patriarchs, and millions of others, who are raised on earth and who prove faithful will be like the angels. Though mortal, they will not die once God has declared them righteous for endless life. So if a Christian finds it hard to accept the conclusion that resurrected ones will not marry, he can be sure that God and Christ are understanding. And he can simply wait to see what occurs. ”

      I’m saddened this poor girls parents think she is coming back to have children of her own. They are in for a long life of not fully grieving and disappointment.

  14. Anon says:

    Charity? Well they do get involved in disaster relief, literacy classes, save the odd person from suicide, etc. Somebody ought to check what percentage of their spending is on these things though.

  15. tonyB says:

    This organisation is so despicable and evil. If I believed in hell I would hope they would end up in there. Shame on them for all eternity.

  16. AussieneedingComfort says:

    Been thinking and thinking about this particular topic. My nephew was baptized in 2015. He was SEVEN YEARS OLD. It made me so angry. Just be forewarned, the March 2016 Study WT has two very pointed articles aimed directly at “children” in the congregations. Notice the changes they made in the New “Silver Sword” to support baptizing children.
    Older New World Translation says:
    Proverbs 20:11
    Even by his practices a boy makes himself recognized as to whether his activity is pure and upright.

    New Revised says:
    Proverbs 20:11
    Even a child is known by his actions, whether his behavior is pure and right.*
    (see footnote) or “boy”

    Older New World Translation says:
    Proverbs 20:7
    The righteous is walking in his integrity. Happy are his sons after him.

    New Revised says:
    Proverbs 20:7
    The righteous one is walking in his integrity. Happy are his children who come after him.*
    (see footnote) “sons”

    THE WATCHTOWER (STUDY EDITION) MARCH 2016
    This issue contains the study articles for May 2 to May 29, 2016.

    Young Ones—Are You Ready to Get Baptized?
    Three questions can help you to decide.
    Note paragraph 4: 4 The Bible does not suggest that baptism is a step to be taken only by those who are older or who have reached at least an age at which certain legal rights  may be granted. We read at Proverbs 20:11: “Even a child is known by his actions, whether his behavior is pure and right.” One who is somewhat younger can realize what it means to do what is right and to be dedicated to his Creator. Thus, baptism is an important and appropriate step for a young person who has manifested considerable maturity and has made a dedication to Jehovah.—Prov. 20:7.
    Young Ones—How Can You Prepare for Baptism?
    What if you are not sure that you are ready? Or what if you want to get baptized but your parents feel that you should wait?

    Scary stuff if you ask me. Over and over in the articles it tells young ones to dedicate themselves to Jehovah. That’s not a problem, what is the problem is the baptism questions that they have changed clearly show what they are really asking these children is to dedicate themselves to the Organization. The old set of questions are: (1) Have you repented of your sins and turned around, recognizing yourself before Jehovah God as a condemned sinner who needs salvation, and have you acknowledged to him that this salvation proceeds from him, the Father, through his Son Jesus Christ?
    (2) On the basis of this faith in God and in his provision for salvation, have you dedicated yourself unreservedly to God to do his will henceforth as he reveals it to you through Jesus Christ and through the Bible under the enlightening power of the holy spirit?

    And the new set of questions are:
    (1) On the basis of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, have you repented of your sins and dedicated yourself to Jehovah to do his will?

    (2) Do you understand that your dedication and baptism identify you as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses in association with God’s spirit-directed organization?

    Yet no where in either of those two articles does it cover this statement of identifying them as belonging to an organization. So wrong! Beware and be forewarned. If you have a spouse who still takes your children to the KH, you need to prepare what you can say to them. Just had to get this off my chest!

  17. Mark Rolly says:

    I’m not associated with Watchtower or a JW but this article really made me laugh because I am associated with the family and you have made some ignorant, uninformed comments. During the time of filming which was long before the video was released phelicity was doing quite well and it was such a privilege in her mind to be able to tell her story and have someone say they are proud of her. When she fell ill once again, her loving parents did all they possibly could to give her the highest quality medical care. The go fund me account was set up to help them and many private donors gave money as you know. Watchtower did nothing wrong and those associated with her from Watchtower that became aware of her condition and needs, privately gave their own personal money to help, but Ofcourse you wouldn’t know that because frankly it’s none of your business. So it’s quite offensive to our family that you would bash people that did nothing but good for us and that actually put a spotlight on phelicity and allowed her to have support from all around the world. This is a silly article that has no basis.

    • Covert Fade says:

      Hi Mark
      Thanks for reaching out to us.

      I appreciate your points, but we at JW Survey stand by our article and the information you have provided does not seem to address any of the points we made in the article itself.

      If you can supply verifiable information that refutes or modifies the following points we made, we will update our article accordingly:

      1: Did the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society provide any financial assistance to Phelicity to assist her getting home? (Note: We are not referring to individual witnesses contributing their own finds. Our article acknowledges this happened. Our criticism refers to the Watchtower organisation itself.)

      2: Did Watchtower Bible and Tract Society provide any publicity or promotion to the gofundme campaign? (Note: We are not referring to individual witnesses assisting the campaign. Our article acknowledges this happened. We are referring to the Watchtower organisation itself.)

      3: Was the gofundme campaign supported entirely by Witnesses, or did many non-witnesses also contribute?

      4: Did non-Watchtower organisations such as Quantas airlines offer to help?

      5: Does Watchtower teach as one of it’s key doctrines that “worldly” people (non-witnesses) are untrustworthy and of lesser moral standing than Witnesses, and that as such they deserve to die when God brings Armageddon? Would such teaching include the many non-witness people who assisted the gofundme campaign?

      In closing, please understand that our article was not an attack on Phelicity or her parents, or any who helped her. We feel deeply for the loss her family has suffered, and some of us assisted with the gofundme once we found out about her case. We do not doubt that her parents loved her deeply and did all they felt within their power to give her the best treatment and the best possible life.

      Our article was specifically critiquing the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society organisation and those in control of it.

      It appears in this case (and will continue to appear unless you can provide evidence to the contrary) that the Watchtower organisation was happy to use this little girl as a PR tool (including using her as an example to encourage child baptism into a religion that will then command the shunning a baptised child who later leaves), but offered no help at all to her as an organisation when she really needed it, despite positioning themselves as a charitable organisation

      This fits a pattern of behaviour from the Watchtower organisation that has built up over many years and is a legitimate news story: Watchtower is registered as a charity in many countries, yet appears to do nothing to earn such a status, the example of it’s inaction here is just one of many examples. Thus we feel that our coverage is justified to highlight a wider, worldwide issue.

      Again, thank you for reaching out. As I have said, if you can provide verified factual information that disproves any of the points we made, we will modify our article.

      I really hope you will respond Mark. If you do not wish to respond publicly, please feel free to use our contact email as listed on site.

    • Cedars says:

      Thank you for visiting our site. I hope you understand that we are mourning the loss of Phelicity, who was clearly a beautiful and remarkable girl. We at least share that in common, even if we think it’s deplorable that her plight was exploited by Watchtower for propaganda purposes. I fail to understand how you could argue that Watchtower was instrumental in raising publicity for the go-fund me campaign when it didn’t mention it once on its pages. The timing may not have been right for the broadcast, but there was nothing stopping Watchtower adding a link to the newsroom feature on JW.org. Instead, it was left to the “worldly” media to raise awareness. Surely you can see our problem in supporting your position?

  18. Sguar says:

    Si estas en contra de los Testigos de Jehová, por qué visitas su página? Por qué lees sus revistas?

    • Julien says:

      ?Por que si los testigos de jehova odian tanto alos mundanos no dejan de predicar? Por que no dejan vivir en paz a los que quieren hirce de la organizasion sin destruirle la vida? Por que obligan a sus miembros a adhirirse a no acceotar transfusiones de sangre pero permiten que utilizen su conciencia en transplantes de organos? Tu sabes que hay mucha pero mucha sangre en un organo, o no? Ustedes siempre se creen victimas. No tienes derecho a decirle a ningun adulto lo que deben o no deben hacer. Los t de j siempre estan con el mismo canto hay respeten respeten pero ustedes no respetan a nadie. La oranizacion se limpian el ya tu sabes que con el sufrimiento humano. Si te moleste tanto vete tu.

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