Advocates for Awareness of Watchtower Abuses (AAWA) is an international non-profit education-focused organization, with 501 (c) (3) tax exempt status. Its mission is to enable the media, educators, social services, legal professionals, doctors, nurses, mental health counselors, therapists and the general public to make informed decisions about Watchtower policies, which violate the basic human rights of Jehovah’s Witnesses, the children of Jehovah’s Witnesses and ex-Jehovah’s Witnesses.
AAWA would like the general public to be appalled when they learn about several policies of the Watchtower Society that violate basic human rights and the willingness of Jehovah’s Witnesses to follow them. These harmful policies result in the high incidence of child physical, emotional and sexual abuse; domestic violence; emotional trauma due to extreme shunning of family members and friends; suicides; attempted suicides; needless deaths due to the banning of certain blood treatments; and the loss of personal and potential autonomy, growth and choice by demonizing higher education.
In addition, Watchtower has tax-exempt status, which means citizens pay the taxes for the properties they own and services required to maintain those properties. That the money Watchtower collects from contributions or donations for their literature goes to a billion-dollar corporation with a deplorable 135-year history of charitable activities.
AAWA works to accomplish its mission by sharing information (videos, fliers, news articles, etc) on aawa.co and ajwrb.org and related websites, generating research projects, making connections with film makers and writers, contacts with the media, giving lectures, convening workshops and press conferences, and networking with other organizations that seek to expose the clear and present danger of the Watchtower-like, exploitative culture of undue influence (thought reform) in their groups.
AAWA is a legally incorporated organization with well-defined objectives and principles as explained below. AAWA enthusiastically seeks to work with the press, media, doctors, lawyers, therapists, university personnel, educators and students to enable them, through research and connection, to make informed decisions about Jehovah’s Witnesses.
To that end, those who wish to show their support and volunteer for AAWA’s are kindly asked to first indicate their agreement with the articles of this Mission Statement when carrying out activities on AAWA’s behalf. There is no legally binding contract between AAWA and its volunteers, but if they could be mindful of the following at all times when working on AAWA’s behalf, this would be greatly appreciated. Obviously, when working on their own behalf, AAWA volunteers may do as they wish.
1. Key Objectives
AAWA is committed to two key objectives:
- Educating the non-JW world community about harmful policies for which the Watchtower is not currently held accountable. These policies result in the high incidence of child sexual abuse, domestic violence, suicides and attempted suicides, emotional damage due to extreme shunning of family members, needless deaths due to the banning of certain blood treatments and loss of personal growth and potential by demonizing higher education.
- Assisting those who wish to leave the organization by signposting them to the appropriate resources and networks so they can get the help and support they need
To achieve these objectives, AAWA will:
- Establish a network of willing volunteers who may assist AAWA according to their individual skills and circumstances
- Devise and implement educational campaigns and strategies with the help and cooperation of its volunteers and supporters
- Provide support to those who are already actively involved in campaigns and strategies to inform the public about harmful Watchtower policies
- Accept donations and ensure that these are only spent for the purpose of meeting these key objectives
2. A Core Belief
Freedom of choice is the first thing that one loses when one becomes a member of groups like Scientologists, Moonies and Jehovah’s Witnesses. Unchecked, these groups will continue to wreak untold psychological and physical damage on millions of people who have no idea of what constitutes undue and unethical influence. Unless action is taken to make manipulative pseudo-religious groups accountable to society for their violations of the basic human rights of their members, in particular the children of members, they will continue to deceive the public into believing they are a harmless group of people, deserving the same constitutional guarantees as benevolent religions.
3. Core Issues
AAWA believes that the Watchtower promotes and enforces a range of damaging and overly-invasive teachings and practices that cannot be briefly summarized. However, in order to drive its message home more effectively and forcefully, AAWA chooses to focus on five key areas in which the Society must introduce urgent reforms. These are (in no particular order):
- The shunning of relatives
- The mishandling of cases of child abuse
- The mishandling of cases of domestic abuse
- The demonizing of higher education
- The ban on certain forms of treatment with blood
4. Religious Neutrality
AAWA is strictly a religiously-neutral organization. It believes firmly that its cause would not be helped by trying to promote any religious or philosophical agenda or belief system. AAWA’s activities are aimed purely at the above key objectives, namely exposing the Society’s damaging policies and assisting those who wish to leave the organization.
AAWA welcomes supporters of its mission from all religious or philosophical persuasions, but believes that allowing individual belief systems to influence its work would be counter-productive to its key objectives. The personal beliefs of individual AAWA volunteer associates are entirely respected, and AAWA believes that diversity is a strength rather than a weakness in our organization. However, AAWA insists that its name and resources should not to be used to promote or extol any personal beliefs.
5. Executive Responsibility
AAWA recognizes that its purpose would not be served by any efforts to subvert its activities or objectives through any negative internal or external influence of any kind. In particular, AAWA will vigorously resist any attempt to use its organization or resources for personal gain or to promote any religious or philosophical agenda.
6. Financial Transparency
AAWA accepts donations for the furtherance of its key objectives. AAWA therefore understands its obligation to undertake its accounting and spending practices in a responsible manner. To that end, and in the interests of transparency, those who donate funds to AAWA will be entitled to a summary of how donated funds have been spent on a quarterly basis.
By the same token, any associates who are granted money or resources from AAWA for a specific purpose will be responsible for ensuring that such monies or resources are spent or used in a manner that complies with AAWA’s key objectives, and does not contravene AAWA’s principles of religious neutrality and executive responsibility, as referred to in the previous articles.
7. Corporate Structure and Governance
Advocates for Awareness of Watchtower Abuses is legally incorporated in Arizona USA, and has the following directors:
- Lee Marsh, President
- Lee Elder, Vice President
- Richard E. Kelly, Secretary & Treasurer
The above named individuals are responsible for fulfilling the legal requirements of the organization. However, the Board of Directors makes its decisions based on the advice of its legal counsel and well-informed supporters of AAWA’s mission.
The Board holds meetings on a regular basis to discuss various matters, including:
- The inclusion of new associates
- The streamlining of existing campaigns and initiatives
- The introduction of new campaigns and initiatives
- AAWA’s responses to new developments affecting Watchtower
- Financial matters, including received donations and how these are spent/allocated
- Legal considerations as required
Decisions of the board are reached on a simple majority basis, and minutes are taken (but not published, for strategic reasons).
Those who join AAWA as volunteers are valued and recognized as freely giving of their time and efforts, and as such will be afforded the utmost respect and appreciation on the part of the board. No volunteers will be pressured into doing any work that they are uncomfortable with or do not have time for.