Questons Posed in the Italian Parliament

November 12, 1998
By the Group of Research and Information on the Sects (GRIS)

Senate of the Republic
485th session
November 12th, 1998

BOSI, CALLEGARO, MINARDO, GIARETTA, ZILIO, PREIONI, DIANA Lino, D'ALI, VERALDI, ANDREOLLI, NAVA, RAGNO, CUSIMANO, MARRI, BORNACIN, FUMAGALLI CARULLI, CIMMINO, NAPOLI Bruno, SERENA, DENTAMARO. To the President of the Council of Ministers and to the Ministers of the Interior and for the Co-ordination of Civil Safety and Finances.


Under article 8, item 3, of the Constitution, the Committee for Religious Confessions, established under the Presidency of the Council of Ministers, has undertaken negotiations to prepare the understanding [intesa] between the State and the Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses, and is about to deliver this proposal to the Council of Ministers;

The undersigned have received numerous and unanimous communications about the above mentioned Congregation, according to which :

  1. The members of the Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses must obey strict rules, and these rules are prevalently in contrast with the laws of the State, such as: the denial of the duty-right to vote, rejection of military duty or alternative service, the rejection of blood transfusions and vaccinations, the prohibition on informing the public authorities of any crimes committed by other members;
  2. The member who does not obey the precepts contained in the "Text book for the Kingdom Ministry School" is brought to trial before a so-called judicial committee, without any safeguard or protection of basic human rights;
  3. All information including confidential information, about the members and about those who are no longer members, as well as the decisions taken by the judicial committees, is kept in secret files of which those directly involved are unaware, and such files could be used in retaliation against former members;
  4. All former members must be shunned (ref. Watch Tower, April 15th, 1988) and any kind of relationship with such a person is forbidden; in case of close family relationship, all relations must be cut to a minimum;
  5. It is strictly forbidden to read any non-Jehovaist literature (ref. Watch Tower, January 15th, 1987);
  6. The Jehovah's Witnesses are allowed to marry only their "brethren", and the freedom of procreation is subject to control (ref. Watch Tower, March 1st, 1988);
  7. Any crime or illegal action committed by the members is kept a secret among the "brethren";
  8. No activity of solidarity or help towards others, except towards the "brethren", is allowed;
  9. Although the Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses denies that it is a commercial body, it carries out commercial activities, especially in the fields of: printing and publishing, in open contrast with article 1 of the articles of association submitted to the State in order to obtain legal recognition (ref. Decree of the President of the Republic No. 783, dated October 31st, 1986 n. 1753);
  10. On February 27th, 1997, the Supreme Court of Cassation, with its sentence No. n.1753 / 1997, established that : "… the publications of a religious association, if produced for sale, are a business activity";
  11. On July 8th, 1986, The Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsilvanya [sic] ( central office for all the congregations around the world) was registered with the Milan Chamber of Commerce;
  12. The business activities of this Congregation are confirmed by the fact that the Congregation is limited partner of the companies "la Farfarina"; "Stenone" di Angeli Denni & c. and " Immobiliare Verona Z" di Mario Romeo & c., all having legal premises in Roma, Via della Bufalotta, 1281;
  13. In Ravenna, a financial company, associated with the Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses (ref. Sentence of the Court of Cassation, sect. II, October 4th, 1996, no. 693), went into bankruptcy; this company gathered the voluntary contributions collected by door-to-door distribution of publications, and several people were swindled;
  14. According to the opinion of experts, the texts of these publications contain subliminal messages which can favour mental control [plagio] over the readers;
  15. The Congregation promotes and organises, through its followers, the export and clandestine diffusion of publications in countries where preaching by the Jehovah's Witnesses is forbidden;
  16. In order to set up their prayer halls, funds of dubious origin are supposed to be used, the workers are not properly insured against accidents, and virtually no attention is paid to the law decree No. 626 / 1994, concerning working safety;
  17. Recently in France, after an investigation promoted by the Tax Department, the Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses was found to have evaded taxes for at least 300 million franks (about 90 billion Italian lire);

We therefore ask to know :

Whether the denial of the basic principles of belonging to the Nation, and the refusal to recognise the State and the Institutions, which takes the shape of the rule imposed on the followers according to which they have to refuse to do their military duty or provide alternative service, as well as the refusal to vote during general and local elections and to swear loyalty to the State and its laws mean that the so-called Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses, because of its structural and ideological features, is incompatible with the rules and the spirit of the Constitution;

Whether the overall picture of the activities of the Congregation, the strict compliance imposed on the followers with rules which contrast with Italian law, the confidential nature of organisational, disciplinary and financial data, the prevailing obedience to internal rules in contrast with the rights of the human person, family ties and duties towards society can constitute what in law is called a secret association;

Whether, therefore, whatever the articles of association may say, the Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses can be called a religious confession or, rather, a cult;

Whether the overall picture of financial activities, described above, complies with the articles of association of the Congregation or whether these activities are such as to make the Congregation a true commercial enterprise;

Whether it will be considered to be suitable to check the truth about the use of subliminal messages in the publications printed by BETEL in Via della Bufalotta n. 1281, Rome;

Whether, all this having been taken into consideration, it is legally possible to finance the Congregation with public funds, or rather whether, apart from any other ethical or moral consideration, such funding is not due to an institution which ideologically rejects the existence of the State and the Nation and which clearly contrasts with the Italian legal system (article 8, item 2 of the Constitution);

Whether any agreement or understanding is known to have been drawn up in other countries between the State and the Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses.

Copyright © 1998 - Reproduction of this translation, in part or in whole, is forbidden without express consent of the authors.

Note: This document was posted with premission of GRIS

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