Shunned Ex-Members Take Jehovahs Witnesses To Court

A group of former Jehovah’s Witnesses has taken the religious organisation to court in Belgium for discrimination and mental manipulation.

The Jehovah’s Witnesses in the Belgian city of Ghent have been taken to court by former members Patrick Haeck, 56, his family members and nine civil parties in a rare case Haeck hopes “can trigger something internationally”.

He told local media: “I was the responsible elder for Ghent. I always believe in the organisation of God, which gives a cosy feeling, but it is like children who believe in Father Christmas, once you pull on the beard there is no turning back.”

“I have been confronted with things that bother me, and I can no longer believe in them.”

Haeck, whose parents were Jehovah’s Witnesses and was raised in the faith, said he has been fighting to bring the organisation to court for 10 years.

Credit: CEN/@patrick.haeck.39
Patrick Haeck

Haeck’s faith was first shaken when he saw the organisation transferring money from a local non-profit organisation (NGO) to their head office in the Belgian municipality of Kraainem.

He claimed: “Members worked hard to renovate an old meeting room and paid for everything themselves. When the room was sold for around 200,000 EUR I suggested putting it in the NGO’s account. The organisation decided to put it in their headquarters’ account because the money had to go to ‘Jehovah’, so to speak.

“That was the first time that I was really shocked.”

He added: “The second time was when I reported a member for molesting 10-yearold girls. I set up a committee to investigate the case, but the organisation would not let me exclude the man because he had repented.

“I wanted to report him to the police, but I was immediately threatened that my powers would be revoked.”

Haeck began researching the Jehovah’s Witnesses, including books and material banned by them, and after being a member for 30 years, he realised they displayed all the characteristics of a “sect”.

He said: “The awakening process is slow. It wasn’t until four years later that we were able to leave the Witnesses as a family.”

Haeck said that his family was instantly shunned by everyone, including their own friends and relatives.

He added: “My wife sometimes has icy contact with her parents, but I don’t. They blame me.”

According to local media, Haeck and his daughter Oriana and son-in-law Matthias have taken the organisation to court for mental manipulation and discrimination along with nine other former members already registered as civil parties.

Credit: CEN/@patrick.haeck.39
Patrick Haeck

None of the claimants are reportedly allowed to have contact with relatives still in the organisation.

According to reports, the public prosecutor’s office has been investigating the case for five years.

After a hearing at the Ghent court earlier this week, the trial has been adjourned until 15th September.

Jehovah’s Witnesses spokesperson Louis De Wit said: “We want to study carefully what the charges mean before responding to them.”

To find out more about the author, editor or agency that supplied this story – please click below.
Story By: Lee BullenSub-EditorJoseph Golder,  Agency: Central European News

The Ananova page is created by and dedicated to professional, independent freelance journalists. It is a place for us to showcase our work. When our news is sold to our media partners, we will include the link here.


We don’t spam! Read our privacy policy for more info.

Signup to our Newsletter