JEHOVAH'S SERVANTS DEFENDED
IN RECENT years, and especially since the fall of totalitarian spirit upon the rulers, it has become necessary that Jehovah God's servants be defended in the courts of this land — America. Such would not have been dreamed of by the founders of this country, who fled from religious persecution during and after the Catholic Inquisition in Europe and wisely anchored and secured the liberties of the people in the fundamental law of the nation, the Constitution.
In every state of the Union, upward of three thousand servants of the Lord annually are falsely arrested and maliciously prosecuted because of their worship of Almighty God, Jehovah, and for their determined exercise of their right of freedom of press. Only and all those thus mistreated and arrested are Jehovah's witnesses.
For the sole purpose of aiding the persons concerned in insisting that justice be done, and to prevent malicious prosecutions and discarding the Constitution, this pamphlet is written.
Who are Jehovah's witnesses?
Jehovah's witnesses are not a sect, a cult or a religion. They are true and obedient servants of Almighty God, Jehovah, following exclusively in the footsteps of Christ Jesus. Religion is the doing of anything contrary to the will of Jehovah God. A cult is a system of religious belief practicing ceremonies and traditions of men in an organized body. A sect is a religious organization of persons who follow a particular creature in their belief and practice a specific religion based on the traditions of men.
Jehovah's witnesses are made up of persons who are entirely devoted to Jehovah God and His kingdom and who are diligent and faithful in carrying out His orders as commanded by the Most High by preaching the gospel of God's kingdom by presenting to the people on the public streets and at the homes literature explaining the Bible prophecies, which are God's revealed Word. This literature plainly shows that religion is a snare employed by Satan through selfish men to prevent the people from seeing the truth concerning Jehovah's purposes toward mankind. It shows furthermore that the time is near at hand when Jehovah God is about to destroy Satan's entire organization, invisible and visible, including the commercial, political and ecclesiastical elements of the present world and all persons who willingly support said organizations. That such destructive work will be by Jehovah's invisible forces at the battle of Armageddon and is to be followed by the complete establishment of a government to be ruled over by Christ Jesus known as The Theocracy, which will remain forever in the earth to bring peace, prosperity, happiness, and everlasting life unto all persons who willingly obey all the commands of Jehovah God.
This work done by Jehovah's witnesses is a kind warning to the people to abandon religion and Satan's organization now and live, or remain and die.
This work cannot be discontinued by Jehovah's witnesses in any community, regardless of threats or interference of any kind, because if they refuse to preach the gospel and proclaim the warning the lives of those not warned will be required from the witness who refuses or fails to carry out the command to give the warning. Therefore they must obey God rather than men.
Many persons object to the position of Jehovah's witnesses, "We ought to obey God rather than men." (Acts 5:29) They refuse to obey the unconstitutional
commands of persons that they stop preaching the gospel; but such commands are not laws. Laws which conflict with the law of Almighty God are mentioned by Blackstone thus:
"No human laws are of any validity if contrary to this [the Divine law] ... to be found only in the Holy Scriptures. . . . No human laws should be suffered to contradict these."
The American law writer, Cooley, says:
— Blackstone Commentaries, Chase 3d ed., pp. 5-7.
"No external authority is to place itself between the finite being and the Infinite when the former is seeking to render the homage that is due, and in a mode which commends itself to his conscience and judgment as being suitable for him to render, and acceptable to its object."
— Cooley, Constitutional Limitations, 8th ed., p. 968.
Thus it is obvious that the fundamental law supports Jehovah's witnesses in their stand in refusing to obey the whimsical commands of men.
Jehovah's witnesses are preaching the gospel, and this activity of preaching, although not practiced as do religionists, is clearly within the protection of the Constitution. It is generally understood, by almost everyone, that all associations of persons or organizations made up of God-fearing people who engage in study and worship are religious organizations. Within the meaning of the Constitution all such groups are considered religious organizations, but according to the Bible definition there is a difference. Any formal worship of a superior or supreme one by persons who rely upon traditional teachings of men, together with ceremonies, is a religious organization. A follower of Jesus Christ is one who strictly adheres to the Word of Almighty God, Jehovah, in spirit and in truth, and does so without indulging in formal ceremonies. Christ Jesus was never a religionist; and his followers, therefore, are not religionists, within the Biblical meaning of that term.
Accordingly, they follow in the footsteps of Christ Jesus in going from house to house. — Matthew 10: 7, 12-14; Luke 8:1; Acts 20:20; 1 Peter 2:9,21.
But from the legal point of view all religious organizations and also worshipers of Almighty God are put in the same class, and hence Jehovah's witnesses are entitled to the benefit of the protection of the law. The laws do not contemplate and were never intended to interfere with any persons' way or means of worship, regardless of what way or means they employ.
It is the responsibility of judicial officers under their oaths to uphold the Constitution and protect Jehovah's witnesses from wrongful arrests and prosecutions by misguided persons. To aid them in the discharge of this duty the information herein contained is submitted.
The false charges which the judges have been and are now called upon to prevent being applied to Jehovah's witnesses are "soliciting, peddling, canvassing, selling, hawking, and selling from house to house and on the streets without permit or license", "trespassing," "offending and annoying people," "disorderly conduct," "breach of the peace," "sedition," "vagrancy," "distributing leaflets and pamphlets without a permit," "inciting riot," "violating the Sabbath laws," and many others.
In every case the laws applied to Jehovah's witnesses through the above charges have been held unconstitutional as construed and applied, resulting in the charges being dismissed and Jehovah's witnesses discharged from custody. Space does not permit quotation from every case discussing the matter. Accordingly, parts of the outstanding cases are here set forth and other cases cited only. An examination of the reports will disclose the entire opinion in each case.
As construed and applied.
It should be kept in mind that it is the wrongful application of a valid ordinance or law that makes it unconstitutional and unenforceable as to Jehovah's witnesses, whose work is lawful.
In the case of Concordia Fire Insurance Co. v. Illinois (1934), 292 U.S. 535, 545, the Supreme Court of the United States said:
"Whether a statute is valid or invalid under the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment often depends on how the statute is construed and applied. It may be valid when given a particular application and invalid when given another."
In other words, the validity of the statute depends on what set of facts it is applied to. If applied to Jehovah's witnesses' activity, protected and guaranteed by the Constitution, the law becomes unconstitutional and void to the extent applied.
Laws against distribution of pamphlets without a permit.
In Lovell v. City of Griffin (1938), 303 U.S. 444, one of Jehovah's witnesses was convicted of violating an ordinance which prohibited distribution of literature, on the streets or from house to house, within the Georgia city of Griffin. She was going from house to house distributing literature printed by the WATCHTOWER BIBLE AND TRACT SOCIETY and receiving in exchange therefor contributions of money. The United States Supreme Court set aside her conviction and said:
Similar decisions holding that like ordinances are unconstitutional and cannot be applied to Jehovah's witnesses are Schneider v. State (1939), 308 U. S. 147; State ex rel. Wilson et al. v. Russell (1941), 1 So. 2d 569, where it is said:
"We think that the ordinance is invalid on its face. Whatever the motive which induced its adoption, its character is such that it strikes at the very foundation of the freedom of the press by subjecting it to license and censorship. The struggle for the freedom of the press was primarily directed against the power of the licensor. It was against that power that John Milton directed his assault by his 'Appeal for the Liberty of Unlicensed
Printing'. And the liberty of the press became initially a right to publish 'without
a license what formerly could be published only with one.' [See Wickwar, "The Struggle for the Freedom of the Press", p. 15.] While this freedom from previous restraint upon publication cannot be regarded as exhausting the guaranty of liberty, the prevention of that restraint was a leading purpose in the adoption of the constitutional provision. See Patterson v. Colorado
, 205 U. S. 454, 462; Near v. Minnesota
, 283 U. S. 697, 713-716; Grosjean v. American Press Company
, 297 U. S. 233, 245, 246. Legislation of the type of the ordinance in question would restore the system of license and censorship in its baldest form.
"The liberty of the press is not confined to newspapers and periodicals. It necessarily embraces pamphlets and leaflets. These indeed have been historic weapons in the defense of liberty, as the pamphlets of Thomas Paine and others in our own history abundantly attest. The press in its historic connotation comprehends every sort of publication which affords a vehicle of information and opinion. What we have had recent occasion to say with respect to the vital importance of protecting this essential liberty from every sort of infringement need not be repeated. Near v. Minnesota
, supra; Grosjean v. American Press Company
, supra; De Jonge v. Oregon
[299 U.S. 353, 364], supra."
See also Reid et al. v. Borough of Brookville et al. (May 2, 1941),.........F. Supp..........; also Kennedy et al. v. City of Moscow et al. (May 14, 1941),.........P. Supp. ........., where the United States District Judge for the District of Idaho said:
"Counsel for the City of Clearwater [Florida] in his brief defends the ordinance on the theory: (a) that the challenged ordinance is a war measure; (b) the chief of police by the terms of the ordinance is without discretion in the issuance or withholding of permits; (c) the ordinance is designed to prohibit the teaching of all doctrines of disobedience to all civil laws; (d) the ordinance is designed to prohibit the teaching of anarchy and a refusal to salute the flag; (e) the regulation of the distribution of the pamphlets and literature under the terms of the ordinance is in harmony with and strengthens the
national defense program; (f) other patriotic arguments are advanced. We have examined the case of Schenck v. United States, 249 U. S. 47, 39 Sup. Ct. 247, 63 L. Ed. 470, cited by counsel.
"These several arguments offered in behalf of the challenged ordinance are weighty and if presented to a legislative body could not only be influential but convincing, or if made on the hustings, would be approved and applauded by the people, but a court in the discharge of duty under our system is required to be oblivious to public clamor, partisan demands, notoriety, or personal popularity and to interpret the law fearlessly and impartially so as to promote justice, inspire confidence and serve the public welfare. The liberty and freedom of the press under our fundamental law is not confined to newspapers and periodicals, but embraces pamphlets, leaflets and comprehends every publication which affords a vehicle of information and opinion. The perpetuity of democracies has as a foundation an informed, educated and intelligent citizenry. An unsubsidized press is essential to and a potent factor in instructive information and education of the people of a democracy, and a well informed people will perpetuate our constitutional liberties."
"We must not overlook that the conduct alleged in the two criminal complaints does not amount to a breach of the peace, or engaging in a parade or procession upon the streets, or throwing literature broadcast in the streets. On the contrary it is an effort to distribute pamphlets or other printed matter upon the streets of the City and not elsewhere; which is alleged in the present complaint, to persuade a willing listener to voluntarily contribute by gift for the literature which it is claimed to be in the nature of religious views, to enable people to know Jehovah God and His purposes expressed in the Bible."
Laws requiring permits or licenses before selling articles or peddling on the streets or from house to house.
Many cities and towns have peddling ordinances requiring permits and licenses for sale of goods, wares and merchandise upon the streets and from house to house within the municipality. Such licenses and permits cannot be required of one engaged in distribution of printed matter, either for money contributions or free of charge. While such ordinances can rightly be applicable to persons selling ordinary items of merchandise or goods, they cannot be applied to one who is exercising his right of "free press". Pamphlets and newspapers are not considered 'ordinary merchandise or goods or wares' and cannot be brought within the terms of such ordinances.
If the ordinance by its terms prohibits peddling or selling of literature it is void on its face and unconstitutional.
The streets and the homes of the people are the natural and proper places for distribution of literature.
Peddling ordinances were outlawed and held unconstitutional as applied to Jehovah's witnesses in the case of Schneider v. State (Town of Irvington, New Jersey) (1939), 308 U.S. 147. Clara Schneider, one of Jehovah's witnesses, was going from house to house in Irvington calling at the homes of the people, offering to them the Bible literature above described and received contributions therefor. She was arrested and charged with violating the local peddling ordinance which prohibited canvassing, soliciting, peddling, or distribution of any matter from house to house or on the streets in the town without a permit from the Chief of Police. The Supreme Court of the United States set aside her conviction and held the ordinance could not be constitutionally applied to her work, and said:
"Although a municipality may enact regulations in the interest of the public safety, health, welfare or convenience, these may not abridge the individual liberties secured by the Constitution to those who wish to speak, write, print or circulate information or opinion.
"Municipal authorities, as trustees for the public, have the duty to keep their communities' streets open and available for movement of people and property, the primary purpose to which the streets are dedicated. . . .
"In every case, therefore, where legislative abridgment of the rights is asserted, the courts should be astute to examine the effect of the challenged legislation. Mere legislative preferences or beliefs respecting matters of public convenience may well support regulation directed at other personal activities, but be insufficient to justify such as diminishes the exercise of rights so vital to the maintenance of democratic institutions. And so, as cases arise, the delicate and difficult task falls upon the courts to weigh the circumstances and to appraise the substantiality of the reasons advanced in support of the regulation of the free enjoyment of the rights.
"... Any burden imposed upon the city authorities in cleaning and caring for the streets as an indirect eon-sequence of such distribution results from the constitutional protection of the freedom of speech and press....
"... But, as we have said, the streets are natural and proper places for the dissemination of information and opinion; and one is not to have the exercise of his liberty of expression in appropriate places abridged on the plea that it may be exercised in some other place. . . .
"As said in Lovell v. City of Griffin, supra, pamphlets have proved most effective instruments in the dissemination of opinion. And perhaps the most effective way of bringing them to the notice of individuals is their distribution at the homes of the people. On this method of communication the ordinance imposes censorship, abuse of which engendered the struggle in England which eventuated in the establishment of the doctrine of the freedom of the press embodied in our Constitution. To require a censorship through license which makes impossible the free and unhampered distribution of pamphlets strikes at the very heart of the constitutional guarantees."
In Semansky v. Stark (1940), 199 So. 129; 196 La. 307, involving one of Jehovah's witnesses, the Louisiana Supreme Court set aside a judgment and held that Jehovah's witnesses are not peddlers, and said:
"The plaintiff was distributing and selling books and pamphlets, propagating, and disseminating the doctrines of the religious sect of which he was a member and a minister. From a reading of the above quoted provision of the Act it would appear that it does not contemplate transactions of this nature. ... In view of the nature of these transactions we are of the opinion that the Legislature did not intend to require those engaged in disseminating the doctrines and principles of any religious sect, either by the distribution, or sale, of books or pamphlets pertaining to such, to pay a peddler's license, or to classify them as peddlers."
The foregoing Semansky case also upholds definitely the right of Jehovah's witnesses to carry on their noncommercial, benevolent work and to use automobiles and other vehicles for that purpose without the need to have or apply for commercial vehicle license.
In the Illinois case of Village of South Holland v. Stein (1940), 26 N. E. 2d 868; 373 111. 472, one of Jehovah's witnesses distributed the Watchtower magazine and various books and booklets and received money in exchange therefor, and was charged with a violation of an ordinance which required one soliciting to obtain a solicitor's permit, and making it unlawful to go to a private residence for the purpose of selling merchandise without obtaining a solicitor's permit. The Illinois Supreme Court held that the ordinance was unconstitutional as applied to Jehovah's witnesses, and voided the conviction. That court said:
In Cincinnati v. Hosier (1939), 22 N. E. 2d 418; 61 Ohio App. 81, the Ohio Court of Appeals held that an ordinance requiring license for business of peddlers could no more apply to Jehovah's witnesses than if attempted to apply it to an act performed outside of the state, county or city. The ordinance in question provided that a license would be "granted by the superintendent of the department of public welfare to peddlers selling goods carried by hand, upon the payment to the city treasurer by each applicant of a license fee of $25.00 per annum. ..." There the court further said:
"Thus the question is not the formal interpretation of the ordinance but the application given to it. A statute or ordinance may be invalid as applied to one state
of facts and yet valid as applied to another. Whitney v. California
, 274 U.S. 357, 71 L. Ed. 1091; Dahnke-Walker Milling Co. v. Bondurant
, 257 U. S. 282, 66 L. Ed. 239; Herndon v. Lowry
[301 U.S. 242, 82 L. Ed. 949], supra.
"If the conviction was based on soliciting the subscription of a publication without a permit, it was error under the decisions of this court. If the conviction was based on giving or furnishing a book or pamphlets as disclosed by the stipulation, it violated both the State and Federal constitutions. In either event the ordinance would be void."
"We specifically hold the ordinance constitutional, just as we specifically find that the prosecution in the instant case was unwarranted in law.
Thomas v. City of Atlanta (1939), 1 S. E. 2d 598; 59 Ga. App. 520, also involved one of Jehovah's wit-
"The ordinance itself in the Lovell case came into collision with the protections and inhibitions of the constitutional provisions. The ordinance in question here has no such infirmity. On the other hand, it is apparent that it can have no more application to the defendant for the acts charged in the affidavit than it could if it were attempted to apply it for an act performed outside the State, county, or city.
"The court should have rendered judgment for the defendant and dismissed him. The judgment is reversed and the defendant dismissed."
nesses, who was convicted of violating an ordinance of the City of Atlanta, Georgia, providing that "any person whose duty it shall be to register their business and who shall fail and refuse to do so" shall be fined. The defendant was arrested while walking along the street and from house to house with a phonograph, and was alleged to have sold and peddled literature to residents. He had not registered nor obtained a license, the same not being necessary to carry on his work of preaching the gospel. The Georgia Court of Appeals held:
"We do not think it is the duty of an ordained minister of the gospel to register his business with the city. Neither is it peddling for such minister to go into homes and play a victrola, or to preach therein or to sell or distribute literature dealing with his faith. . . . The preaching and teaching of a minister ... is not such a business as may be required to register and obtain and pay for a license so to do. Neither is a sale by such minister of tracts or books connected with his faith a violation of a statute against peddling."
Also the Supreme Court of South Carolina held, on July 1, 1941, that the "sale" of books and booklets by Jehovah's witnesses does not constitute peddling. In the case of State v. Thomas Meredith, ......... S. E. 2d........., the court said:
In State ex rel. Hough v. Woodruff (May 27,1941), 1 So. 2d........., the Florida Supreme Court found and held that Jehovah's witnesses' taking contributions for and distributing Watchtower and Consolation magazines on the city streets of Tampa did not constitute a violation of an ordinance making it unlawful for peddlers and hawkers to sell goods, wares and merchandise upon the streets without a permit, and the conviction was set aside. The court said the application of the ordinance made it unconstitutional, adding:
"The literature carried around by the defendant consisted of books or booklets entitled 'Refugees', 'Salvation', and copies of the 'Watchtower' magazine, all of which are publications issued by the Watchtower Bible & Tract Society. The testimony shows that the main and primary purpose and occupation of the defendant was to preach and teach principles drawn from the Bible, in accordance with his faith, wherever one or two were gathered together and would listen to him. His was an evangelistic work, for which he received no material consideration, and to which he devoted his life. The distribution of the books and pamphlets was but another method or channel through which he disseminated the religious opinions and beliefs of Jehovah's witnesses. An examination of them shows that they contain nothing offensive to good morals
or hurtful to the general welfare. And it is quite clear that the sale and distribution of the literature were merely incidental to defendant's work of evangelism, and not related to any commercial enterprise conducted for personal profit
. The record shows that the money paid by purchasers of the books and pamphlets was received as a contribution to the cause, and was devoted to the publication of other religious literature. . . .
"This Section (7120) does not purport either to define the offense of hawking or peddling, or to enlarge its definition as heretofore recognized, but simply declares that 'no person shall, as hawker or peddler, expose for sale or sell any goods, wares, and merchandise in any county' without having first obtained a license from the Clerk of the Court of Common Pleas. . . .
"Under the conceded facts of this case, the 'sale' of the book by the defendant was merely collateral to the main purpose in which he was engaged, which was to preach and teach the tenets of his religion. And in our opinion, it is not peddling, as that word is usually construed, nor a violation of the statute, for a minister, under the circumstances shown here, to visit the homes of the people, absent objection, and as a part of his preaching and teaching to offer to sell or sell religious literature explanatory of his faith, where no profit motive is involved. The sale of his books and pamphlets, as heretofore pointed out, was merely incidental to the chief purpose of the defendant, — which was the spreading of his religion. . . .
"Judgment reversed." [Italics added]
"The real question then is whether or not the ordinance complained of and the petitioner are within the exceptions to the general rule defined in the cases relied on by him and cited herein. We have examined these cases and while we recognize the exception contended for, we have reached the conclusion that petitioner is covered by the rule rather than the exception. We do not think the ordinance applies to him but if it did, it would be invalid to that extent. Since this is the case, State ex rel. Wilson v. Russell, decided April 8, 1941 [1 So. 2d 569], . . . would seem to rule the instant case."
In the case of Reid et al. v. Borough of Brookville et al. (May 2, 1941), ......... F. Supp.........., the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania granted an injunction perpetually restraining four muncipalities [sic] sued from enforcing against Jehovah's witnesses (1) the Brookville ordinance prohibiting sale of any merchandise upon the streets without a permit; (2) the Clearfield borough ordinance prohibiting canvassing from house to house and upon the streets for goods, wares and merchandise; (3) the Monessen city ordinance prohibiting distribution by anyone of printed matter unless a permit be first obtained, and requiring the applicant to salute the flag as a requisite to a license; and (4) the New Bethlehem borough ordinance prohibiting street preaching without a permit or peddling privately or on the public streets without a permit or without a license. The court held that all such ordinances were unconstitutional when applied to Jehovah's witnesses, and their enforcement could not continue, as such would be violative of the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution. There the court said:
See also Douglas et al. v. City of Jeannette et al. (May 2, 1941), ......... F. Supp.........., by the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania, declaring a peddling and hawkers' ordinance invalid as applied to Jehovah's witnesses.
"The function of each witness as such ordained minister is to sell or distribute the periodicals or tracts put forth by the Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society upon the street or by a house-to-house canvass. In this distribution religion as practiced and advocated by organized church bodies is denounced as a 'snare and a racket'
— this being in accordance with the declarations of the Watch Tower publications."
The fact that literature is claimed to be sold matters not.
In Commonwealth (Borough of Clearfield) v. Reid et ux. (June 30, 1941), ......... A. 2d ........., the Pennsylvania Superior Court set aside a conviction of two of Jehovah's witnesses who were convicted of alleged selling and offering for sale literature upon the streets in violation of the borough ordinance. The ordinance was held invalid as applied, and the court said:
In this connection we quote from the opinion of the United States First Circuit Court of Appeals, Boston, the following clear statement of the American principles (Hannan et al. v. City of Haverhill et al. [May 29, 1941],.........F. 2d.........):
"The historical reference to 'pamphlets' in that [Lovell v. City of Griffin
, supra] opinion and in other opinions of that court (Schneider v. State . . .; Thornhill v. Alabama, 310 U. S. 88, 97; ... etc.) is not limited to 'pamphlets' which are distributed without cost. Every student of history knows that the 'pamphlets' referred to by Chief Justice Hughes in his opinion, and by Mr. Justice Sutherland in the Grosjean case, were not for the most part circulated gratis
, but were distributed to subscribers or sold. They 'were the immediate predecessors of weekly newspapers. . . . Under Queen Anne pamphlets arrived at a remarkable degree of importance. Never before or since has this method of publication been used by such masters of thought and language. Political writing of any degree of authority was almost entirely confined to pamphlets. If the Whigs were able to command the services of Addison and Steele, the Tories fought with the terrible pen of Swift.' Encyclopaedia Britannica, Vol. 20, Pamphlets, pp. 659-660. 'The pamphlet is popular as an instrument of religious or political controversy in times of stress. It is relatively inexpensive to the purchaser, and to the author or the publisher it can be more timely than a book bound in cloth or leather, and it gives author and readers the
maximum benefit of freedom of the press.' The Columbia Encyclopedia, 'Pamphlet'."
"The streets are natural and proper places for purposes of assembly, of interchange of thought and opinion on religious, political and other matters, either by word of mouth or by the distribution of literature. Such use of the streets and public places, sanctioned by ancient usage, has become part of the liberties of the people protected by the Fourteenth Amendment from state encroachment. Hague v. C. I. 0., 307 U. S. 496, 515; Schneider v. State, 308 U. S. 147,163; Cantwell v. Connecticut, 310 U. S. 296, 303. We take it also that this constitutional right to make reasonable use of the streets for the purpose of distributing literature is not limited to handing it out free of charge, but includes also the right to offer the literature for sale so as to defray the cost of publication — otherwise, the circulation of one's opinions or the propagation of one's faith on an extensive scale would tend to become a prerogative of the well-to-do. Cf. Lovell v. Griffin, 303 U. S. 444, 452. In Cantwell v. Connecticut, 310 U. S. 296, a state statute was invalidated as an unconstitutional restriction on the right to solicit funds for religious objects.
Thus it is clearly evident that to hold that freedom of the press means that only free distribution or "gift" of literature is protected by the Constitution is to sound the death toll to constitutional rights in this country. Such a doctrine is foreign to American jurisprudence and contrary to the fundamental principles of liberty and justice. To thus hold is to make
"... Restrictions properly applicable to hawkers and peddlers selling ordinary articles of merchandise on the streets might not be appropriate to regulate the sale and distribution of literature of the sort offered for sale by the plaintiffs. ..." [Italics added]
the liberty of the press the privilege and prerogative of the rich and well-to-do and to deny that right to the poor and less fortunate.
See also the United States Supreme Court case of Hague v. C.I. O. et al. (1939), 307 U. S. 496; also Tucker v. Randall (New Jersey) (1940), 15 A. 2d 324; 18 N. J. Misc. 675; McLean v. Mackay, 124 N. J. L. 91; Dallas et al. v. City of Atlantic City (decree by United States District Court for New Jersey, October 11, 1940); Mickey et al. v. Excelsior Springs (decree by United States District Court for Western District of Missouri, January 9, 1941); Widle v. City of Harrison (decree by United States District Court for Western District of Arkansas, January 9,1941); Hibshman v. Kentucky (opinion by Pike Circuit Court, March 17, 1941); Portsmouth v. Stockwell (opinion of Court of Appeals, Fourth District, Ohio, November 1940); People v. Finkelstein, 2 N. Y. S. (2) 941; People v. Max Banks, 6 N. Y. S. 2d 41; Herder v. Shahadi et al. (New Jersey), 14 A. 2d 475; Commonwealth of Pennsylvania (City of Coatesville) v. H. C. Schuman [Schieman], 189 A. 503; 125 Pa. Superior Ct. 62.
In acting as ordained ministers and preaching the gospel publicly and from house to house it cannot be properly said that such work by Jehovah's witnesses does not constitute a proper worship or service of Almighty God. The testimony of Jehovah's witnesses that they act as ordained ministers is uncontradicted and unimpeached and is therefore conclusive upon all concerned in this matter. Furthermore, the United States Supreme Court has held that the individual alone is privileged to determine what he shall or shall not believe and how he shall worship or serve Almighty God. The law does not permit judges to settle differences of creed or confession and will not say that any point, doctrine or practice is too absurd to be believed. See Reynolds v. United States, 98 U. S. 145, 162, quoting from Jefferson's Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom; also United States v. Macintosh, 283 U. S. 605, 634.
"Green River" type of ordinance prohibiting calls at residences without prior invitation or consent of householder is invalid as to work of Jehovah's witnesses.
In some municipalities there are ordinances known as the "Green River" ordinance. This type of ordinance prohibits making calls at the homes of people by peddlers and itinerant merchants for the purpose of selling goods, wares or merchandise without the prior invitation or consent of the householder. This type of ordinance has been repeatedly held to be unconstitutional and void on its face.*
Such "Green River" ordinance has also been held invalid and unconstitutional as construed and applied to Jehovah's witnesses, by the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio in its decision of April 25, 1941, in the case of Zimmerman et al. v. Village of London et al.,......F. Supp......., where an injunction was granted to Jehovah's witnesses, and in which that court said:
"It follows therefore, that the restriction of the ordinance as enforced against these plaintiffs amounts to a denial of freedom of the press and of the right of free speech, rights guaranteed by the Constitution and protected against state infringement by the Fourteenth Amendment. Although the theory of the ordinance is purportedly trespass, the theory can give no sanction
to the denial of fundamental rights under the Constitution.
See also De Berry v. City of La Grange, 8 S. E. 2d 146, where the Georgia Court of Appeals in 1940 upheld the right of one of Jehovah's witnesses who was wrongfully prosecuted under the "Green River" ordinance.
"Democracy rests upon the theory that all men are possessed of certain inalienable rights; these rights, if democracy is to survive, must be based upon mutual tolerance and understanding. They give to no class or group the right to dictate to another what his opinions or beliefs shall be. . . .
"It is the conclusion of this Court that the plaintiffs have a constitutional right to distribute their literature from door to door in an orderly manner, without interference by state authority. There being neither allegation nor showing that such literature is against public morals or in any way improper for distribution."
Violation of Sunday laws or desecration of Sabbath.
Because Jehovah's witnesses are doing a work of charity and benevolence and are performing acts of worship by preaching the gospel, they do not come
within the terms of statutes prohibiting work and business on Sunday and therefore cannot be guilty. See Opinion of Attorney General of State of New York, 45 New York State Department Reports 286, People v. Finn, 57 Misc. 569, 110 N. Y. S. 22, and Idaho v. Morris (one of Jehovah's witnesses), 155 P. 296. Their work of necessity and charity performed, even though they take contributions of money for the books, prevents them from being declared guilty under such Sunday laws. Thus they are entitled to the same protection accorded to "religious" or "church" organizations. See Commonwealth v. Nesbit (Pa.), 34 Pa. St. Rep. 398; Cronan v. Boston (Mass.), 136 Mass. 384; State (Kan.) v. Needham, 134 Kan. 155; 4 P. 2d 464; 60 Corpus Juris 1056; Dale v. Knepp, 98 Pa. St. Rep. 389, 392; Bryan v. Watson (Ind.) 62 N. E. 666; 127 Ind. 42; Ft. Mad. 1st M. E. Church v. Donnell, 81 N.W. 171; 110 Iowa 5; Allen v. Duffie, 4 N.W. 427; In re Hull, 18 Idaho 175; Bennett v. Brooks, 91 Mass. 118.
"Press activity" such as distributing booklets does not come within prohibition of such "Sunday" laws even though not done as an act of worship, such as by newspapers. (See Pulitzer Pub. Co. v. McNichols (Mo.), 181 S. W. 1.) However, the distribution of literature by Jehovah's witnesses is their way or means of worship or service of Almighty God by preaching or declaring His message concerning The Theocracy.
Playing of phonograph records and distributing literature attacking religion as a snare is protected by the United States Constitution, and such does not amount to breach of peace or disorderly conduct.
This was expressly held in the case of Cantwell v. Connecticut (1940), 310 U.S. 296, where Newton Cantwell and his sons Jesse and Russell, ordained ministers, each one of Jehovah's witnesses, while engaged in preaching the gospel from house to house,
offering literature explaining the purposes of ALMIGHTY GOD as outlined in His Word, the Bible, and playing phonograph records containing Bible talks, were arrested in New Haven, Connecticut, and charged with statutory and common law offenses. Upon trial they were found guilty of violating a statute regulating 'solicitation' because they went from door to door and when persons obtained the literature the Cantwells accepted contributions therefor; further, Jesse was found guilty of 'breach of the peace' because of the playing of a phonograph record entitled "Enemies", describing a book of the same name, and which record was disliked by two Catholic men because it exposed and attacked their "religion". The United States Supreme Court said:
In the Cantwell case the Court also held that a statute which required a permit as a condition precedent to soliciting funds for "a religious or charitable organization" was unconstitutional as applied to Jehovah's witnesses.
"The record played by Cantwell embodies a general attack on all organized religious systems as instruments of Satan and injurious to man; it then singles out the Roman Catholic Church for strictures couched in terms which naturally would offend not only persons of that persuasion, but all others who respect the honestly held religious faith of their fellows. The hearers were in fact highly offended. One of them said he felt like hitting Cantwell and the other that he was tempted to throw Cantwell off the street. The one who testified he felt like hitting Cantwell said, in answer to the question 'Did you do anything else or have any other reaction?' 'No, sir, because he said he would take the victrola and he went.' The other witness testified that he told Cantwell he had better get off the street before something happened to him and that was the end of the matter as Cantwell picked up his books and walked up the street. . . .
"In the realm of religious faith, and in that of political belief, sharp differences arise. In both fields the tenets of one man may seem the rankest error to his neighbor. To persuade others to his own point of view, the pleader, as we know, at times, resorts to exaggeration, to vilification of men who have been, or are, prominent in church or state, and even to false statement. But the people of this nation have ordained in the light of history, that, in spite of the probability of excesses and abuses, these
liberties are, in the long view, essential to enlightened opinion and right conduct on the part of the citizens of a democracy.
"The essential characteristic of these liberties is, that under their shield many types of life, character, opinion and belief can develop unmolested and unobstructed. Nowhere is this shield more necessary than in our own country for a people composed of many races and of many creeds. There are limits to the exercise of these liberties. The danger in these times from the coercive activities of those who in the delusion of racial or religious conceit would incite violence and breaches of the peace in order to deprive others of their equal right to the exercise of their liberties, is emphasized by events familiar to all. These and other transgressions of those limits the states appropriately may punish.
"... the petitioner's communication, considered in the light of the constitutional guarantees, raised no such clear and present menace to public peace and order as to render him liable to conviction of the common law offense in question."
In the case of City of Beaufort v. Rickenbaker (decided June 28, 1941), ......... S. B. 2d........., one of Jehovah's witnesses was accused of "disorderly conduct". The South Carolina Supreme Court found and held in that case as follows:
"Vagrancy" sometimes is wrongfully laid as a "disorderly conduct" charge against Jehovah's witnesses when unlawfully interrupted in the doing of their good work. See Katherine Archer [one of Jehovah's witnesses] v. First Cr. Judicial Dist. Court of Bergen County (N. J.) (November 7, 1932), 162 A. 914, decision by New Jersey Supreme Court, setting aside her wrongful conviction.
"The appellant was one of twelve persons, men and women, who entered the city of Beaufort very early on Sunday morning, June 30, 1940, and at about first daylight distributed religious pamphlets on the porches of the residents. Some of the latter complained of the disturbance to a policeman on duty who arrested the appellant and she was later tried in the Mayor's Court and convicted of the violation of the following quoted ordinance:
'Every person, who shall by provoking or insulting
epithets, words, or gestures, attempt to provoke another shall be deemed guilty of disorderly conduct, and upon conviction thereof be fined in any sum not exceeding One Hundred Dollars or imprisonment, not exceeding Thirty days.'
"... We have carefully read the testimony, all of which is printed in the record, and we find none which would justify conviction of the appellant of a violation of the quoted ordinance under which she was prosecuted, convicted and sentenced, so the latter will be reversed.. ..
"The judgment of the Circuit Court is reversed as is the conviction and sentence of the appellant by the City Court of Beaufort."
The fact that violence is threatened against distributor is no ground for stopping Jehovah's witnesses, who rightly resist actual violence.
In Whitney v. California, 274 U. S. 357, the United States Supreme Court said:
"The fact that speech is likely to result in causing some violence ... is not enough to justify its suppression."
In Dearborn Publishing Co. v. Fitzgerald (1921), 271 F. 479, where the mayor and other officials of Cleveland, Ohio, were prohibiting the distribution of the Dearborn Independent on the streets, the United States Circuit Court of Appeals said:
Another case in point is that of City of Gaffney v. Putnam (decided June 2, 1941, by the South Carolina Supreme Court),.........S. B. 2d.......... There one of Jehovah's witnesses was distributing literature which highly offended the religious susceptibilities of one Fowler, who attacked Putnam. Putnam resisted, standing his ground manfully and firmly defended the Kingdom interests in harmony with God-given instruction contained in the Bible. Putnam was prosecuted for assault upon his assailant. On trial Putnam, one of Jehovah's witnesses, was convicted of violating an ordinance of the city, pertinent parts of which read as follows:
"If it be assumed that the article might tend to excite others to breaches of the peace the reply is plain. It is the duty of all officials charged with preserving order and peace to suppress firmly and promptly all
persons guilty of disturbing it, and not forbid
innocent persons to exercise their lawful and equal rights. . . . If defendants' actions were sustained, the constitutional liberty of every citizen freely to speak, write and publish his sentiments on all subjects, being responsible only for abuse of that right, would be placed at the mercy of every public official who for the moment was clothed with authority to preserve the public peace and the right to a free press thus destroyed. ..."
"Any person or persons creating any disturbing noises, or making, creating or engaging in any brawl, riot, affray; fighting or indulging in profane, obscene, abusive or vulgar language, . . . shall if found guilty, be subject to a fine."
On hearing the case on appeal, the Supreme Court of South Carolina held that
This Supreme Court holding upheld Putnam's right to have defended the interests of the Kingdom and clearly defined the religionist as in the wrong in attacking Putnam. Though he disliked the message Putnam was offering, he should have passed on. For entire text of this remarkable opinion see Consolation magazine for July 9, 1941, No. 569, p. 8.
"the defendant was not guilty, in our opinion, of any assault, and it is clear that Fowler, who provoked the difficulty and was the physical aggressor throughout, had no reasonably well founded apprehension of bodily harm or danger to his person. So that the real question presented by the appeal is whether the words concerning religion and Christianity, spoken under the circumstances above narrated [Putnam had called out in a normal tone of voice: "Religion is ruining the nations; Christianity will save the people"], addressed to the public at large, constituted of themselves sufficient legal justification for
the assault made by Fowler. It is plain that they do not.
"In view of the fact that peace and good order forbid that individuals shall right their own wrongs, we have announced the rule in numerous cases that in the absence of statute, mere words, no matter how abusive, insulting, vexatious or threatening they may be, will not justify an assault or battery, unless accompanied by an actual offer of physical violence, — although they may mitigate the punishment. State v. Cooler, 112 S. C. 95, 98 S. E. 845; State v. Workman, 39 S. C. 151, 17 S. E. 694; State v. Jacobs, 28 S. C. 29, 4 S. E. 799; State v. Jackson, 32 S. C. 27, 10 S. E. 769.
"Nor can it be successfully contended that in attempting to defend himself under the facts in this case, Putnam was guilty of assault upon Fowler. One acting in self-defense to repel an unlawful attack is not guilty of assault; he may repel force with force and continue his self-defense as long as the danger apparently continues."
The work of Jehovah's witnesses, or their statement that "religion is a snare", does not constitute a breach of the peace or disorderly conduct even when done in the presence and hearing of those who are offended at the message. See
People v. Guthrie (1939), 26 N. Y. S. 2d 289
People v. Ludovici (1939), 13 N. Y. S. 2d 88
People v. Kieran et al. (1940), 26 N. Y. S. 2d 291
People v. Northum et al. (1940), 41 C. A. 2d 284; 103 Cal. Supp. 295
People v. Caryk et al. (1941),......N. Y. S. 2d......
United States District Court declares Jehovah's witnesses not subversive or seditionists.
In the case of Beeler et al. v. Smith et al. (June 4, 1941), .........F. Supp.........., where six faithful servants of Almighty God were wrongfully jailed and held without bond under false charges of sedition for almost three months, indicted and released on bail, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky granted a permanent injunction holding that the literature of Jehovah's witnesses is not subversive, not seditious, and did not advocate the overthrow of the government by force; and that such prosecuting officials be restrained from interfering with the distribution by Jehovah's witnesses of their Bible literature. The entire text of the decision appears in the Consolation magazine for July 9, 1941 (No. 569).
Refusal to salute a flag is not ground for interfering with Jehovah's witnesses.
Jehovah's witnesses refuse to salute the flag of any nation, not because of disrespect, but solely because they are in a covenant with Jehovah God to do His will, and because His commandment written in the Bible is that His faithful servants must not bow down to or salute any emblem or symbol of any government or anything save and except Jehovah God. (Exodus 20:1-6) They respect the flag and the things for which it stands, and willingly obey all the laws of the land which are not in conflict with the laws of Almighty God, or which do not require them to violate their covenant with Jehovah God.
The courts have recognized the right of Jehovah's witnesses to refuse to salute the flag, and grant them protection of the Constitution in this belief. In Reynolds v. Rayborn (April 25, 1938), 116 S. W. 2d 836, the Texas Court of Civil Appeals at Amarillo said:
To teach a child the commandments of Almighty God which prohibit the saluting of any flag does not constitute a violation of the laws. In People v. Sandstrom (1939), 279 N. Y. 523; 18 N. E. 2d 840, the New York Court of Appeals set aside the conviction of Jehovah's witnesses who had been charged with contributing to the truancy and delinquency of a minor. The basis of the charge was that the parents had taught the child to obey Jehovah God and because thereof she refused to salute the flag at school. The child was expelled from school. The court held that the parents were not guilty of violating any law in teaching their child that God's law forbade the saluting of any flag.
"The flag is emblematic of the justice, greatness and
power of the United States — these, together, guarantee the political liberty of the citizen, but the flag is no less symbolic of the justice, greatness, and power of our country when they guarantee to the citizen freedom of conscience in religion — the right to worship his God according to the dictates of his conscience. Beyond my comprehension are the vagaries of people who claim and accept the protection of their government in order to worship God according to the dictates of their conscience, but refuse to salute their country's flag in recognization of such protection. Yet, however reprehensible to us such conduct may be, their constitutional right must be held sacred
; when this ceases, religious freedom ceases."
In the case of In re Jones (1940), 24 N. Y. S. 2d 10; 175 Misc. 451, the Jefferson County (New York) Children's Court set aside the conviction of one of Jehovah's witnesses who had been prosecuted as a truant for not attending school because she was expelled for refusal to salute the flag. Her refusal was held not to be a violation of the law so as to warrant the conviction and the child was held not to be a delinquent under the statute.
In the case of In re Reed (May 27, 1941), 28 N. Y. S. 2d 92, the New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Fourth Department, sitting at Rochester,
held that it was not unlawful for one of Jehovah's witnesses to refuse to salute the flag, and that court set aside a conviction of one of Jehovah's witnesses under the delinquency law of New York. The boy had been also expelled from school for his refusal to salute a flag.
A like case is that of In re Roland Lefebvre and others (May 6, 1941), 20 A. 2d 185. There the New Hampshire Supreme Court held that Jehovah's witnesses were not acting contrary to the law when they refused to salute the flag. In this case the lower court had committed to the reform school three children of Jehovah's witnesses who had been expelled from public school for refusal to salute the flag. The Supreme Court held that such did not constitute delinquency or a violation of the law, and released the children. The court also said:
"Loving parents who do their best for their children in support, nurture and admonition are of more worth than pecuniary means. Righteous and generous motives may be of more importance than notions that chime with majority opinions of what is good form or what is the best method of teaching patriotism. . . . But in view of the sacredness in which the State has always held freedom of religious conscience, it is impossible for us to attribute to the legislature an intent to authorize the breaking up of family life for no other reason than because some of its members have conscientious religious scruples not shared by the majority of the community, at least provided those scruples are exercised in good faith, and their exercise is not tinged with immorality or marked by damage to the rights of others. The purity of the action of the children in these regards is admitted."
In Kennedy et al. v. City of Moscow et al. (Idaho) (May 14, 1941),.........F. Supp.........., the United States District Court for Idaho held that one could not be lawfully required to salute the flag and recite the pledge of allegiance as a condition precedent to distributing literature.
The United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania (Reid et al. v. Brookville et al. [May 2, 1941],.........P. Supp..........) also held to the same effect in enjoining the enforcement of a similar ordinance of the Pennsylvania city of Monessen.
Wearing or carrying signs cannot be regulated by requiring a permit, or otherwise prohibited.
The Supreme Court of the United States so held in the cases of Thornhill v. Alabama (1940), 310 U. S. 88, and Carlson v. California (1940), 310 U.S. 106. Following these Supreme Court opinions are the holdings of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court in Commonwealth v. Anderson (1941), 32 N. B. 2d 684, and Commonwealth v. Pascone (April 5, 1941), _.......N. B. 2d ___
The above fifty cases involving Jehovah's witnesses, and the many others herein referred to, are just a few of the hundreds of favorable decisions rendered in behalf of Jehovah's witnesses by fair-minded, liberty-loving judges of the land of liberty. Such men are holding up the Constitution as a bulwark against the Roman Catholic Hierarchy's movement as a 'fifth column' to sabotage, hamstring, sandbag and destroy American constitutional rights and to suppress freedom of worship of Almighty God. Hierarchy-influenced judges would tolerate only those traditional religious practices that are approved by the Roman Catholic Hierarchy. They would allow only those human expressions that are perverted to conform to their devilish theories expounded, for example, in the Encyclical Letter (1832) of a reigning pontiff of the Hierarchy, Pope Gregory XVI, who wrote,
Many thousands of judges of the inferior courts of America have fallen under the evil influence of such totalitarian dictatorial movement and, either willingly or unwittingly, have yielded to demonized leadership against liberty; have spinelessly joined the hue and cry of the Roman Catholic Hierarchy to 'stop Jehovah's witnesses' and, in violation of their oaths of office, have wrongfully and without jurisdiction or justification "convicted" Jehovah's witnesses, as foretold in Psalm 94:20.
"That pest, of all others most to be dreaded in a state, unbridled liberty of opinion
. . . Hither tends that worst and never sufficiently to be execrated and detested LIBERTY OF THE PRESS, for the diffusion of all man-
ner of writings, which some so loudly contend for, and so actively promote."
Let such public officials notice.
Section 20 of the Federal Code (Title 18, Sections 51 and 52 of U. S. C. A.) makes it a felony for anyone, under color of any law or ordinance, to deprive any citizens of constitutional rights or privileges. And this statute applies to officials who seek to collect license fees from persons constitutionally exempt from payment.
A police official or other officer, or persons actively participating in causing or making an arrest under a void ordinance, can be personally held for general and specific damage. (Scott v. McDonald, 165 U. S. 58, 89) Violation of the above statute is punishable by a fine of several thousand dollars or several years' imprisonment, or both.
Among the oldest cases on the points herein set forth is the one recorded in the Bible book of The Acts of the Apostles, chapter 5, beginning at verse twenty-six. Disciples of Jesus Christ were publicly informing the people, disseminating the truths of the Word of Almighty God in obedience to His command. Religionists were grieved and angered because God's truth was being proclaimed. The clergy and other religionists conspired against the disciples who were publishing THE TRUTH. Those conspirators instigated the arrest of the disciples, who were haled into
the judgment hall. A high Roman court then sitting in Palestine heard that case. After hearing the evidence, one of the members of that court, Gamaliel, a learned counselor, arose and, addressing his fellow members of the court and all present, said:
"Refrain from these men, and let them alone: for If this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to nought: but if It be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply ye be found even to fight against God."
This temperate and salubrious principle all right-minded persons always follow.
Here it is well to remember, also, the Creator's sure word to His humble servants: "They [haters of THE TRUTH] shall fight against thee, but they shall not prevail against thee; for I am with thee, saith JEHOVAH, to deliver thee." (Jeremiah 1: 19, Am. Rev, Ver.) Any who are willing to hear, the Creator also counsels:
'Be wise now therefore, O ye kings: be Instructed, ye judges of the earth. Serve JEHOVAH with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss His Son, THE KING, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust In Him.' — Psalm 2: 10-12.
To aid all in insisting on the doing of justice this booklet is
WATCHTOWER BIBLE AND TRACT SOCIETY, INC.Brooklyn, New York.
Made In the United States of America
|"We obey God rather than men" secured by Constitution||2,3|
|Wrongful application makes law unconstitutional||5|
|Cannot require license or permit to distribute books and pamphlets||6|
|Courts must close ears to partisan demands of people so as to protect free worship||7|
|Upon the streets and from house to house proper places for distribution of literature||8, 9|
|Convenience to public officers not grounds for suppression||9|
|Jehovah's witnesses do not come within "peddling and hawking" laws||10-15|
|Fact that money is received in exchange for literature does not permit regulation or interference||15-17|
|Jehovah's witnesses are ordained ministers||17|
|Ordinances prohibiting calling at homes without prior invitation are not applicable to Jehovah's witnesses||18,19|
|"Sunday" laws are not applicable to the work||19,20|
|Attacking religion as snare is upheld by courts||20-23|
|Threat of violence is not ground for stopping work;self-defense by Jehovah's witnesses upheld||23-25|
|Jehovah's witnesses not subversive to government||26|
|Flag-salute refusal not ground for stopping work||26-29|
|Officers depriving one of freedom liable in damages||30, 31|