An Italian Parliamentary Question on Jehovah's Witnesses

This item is a documentary attachment to an article on Massimo Introvigne and CESNUR.

Miguel Martinez

Senate of the Italian Republic. Session n. 485. November 12, 1998. 


To the President of the Council of Ministers and to the Minister of the Interior, the Minister of the Civil Protection and the Finance Minister.


as envisaged by Article 8, paragraph 3, of the Constitution, the Committee on religious faiths, established at the Prime Minister’s Office, has carried out negotiations to reach an agreement between the Government and the Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses and is preparing to submit the proposal to the Council of Ministers, 

with regard to said Congregation, the authors of this document have received a series of concordant information, according to which:

1) The members of the Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses must abide by strict rules amongst which there is a great predominance of norms and precepts contrasting with the laws of the Italian Republic, such as: the refusal of the right and duty to vote, the avoidance of the draft and alternative services, the refusal of blood transfusions, vaccinations, the prohibition to denounce crimes committed by members of the Congregation to judicial authorities;

2) The member contravening the precepts of the "Text book of the school of the ministry of the kingdom" is tried before a so-called judicial committee without any guarantee or safeguard of the individual’s fundamental rights;

3) All information, be it also confidential, regarding members and dissenters, as well as the decisions of the judicial committee are gathered into secret archives without the knowledge of the interested parties and used for retaliation against dissenters;

4) Every dissenter must be isolated (ref. The Watch Tower April, 15 1988) and any form of relation with the dissenter is forbidden; in the case of close family ties, every form of contact and relation must be limited as much as possible;

5) It is absolutely forbidden to read religious literature not published by the Congregation (ref. The Watch Tower January, 15 1987);

6) Jehovah’s Witnesses are allowed to marry only fellow members and the freedom of procreation is questioned (ref. The Watch Tower March 1, 1988);

7) Any crime or illegal activity committed by members is kept secret by "fellow members";

8) Every form of solidarity or help to neighbors is ignored, save for solidarity and help for "fellow members";

9) The Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses, though denying to be a commercial body, carries out such activities especially in the fields of printing, polygraphy and publishing, thus violating Article 1 of the Statute submitted to the Italian republic for legal recognition (ref. Decree of the President of the Italian Republic n. 783 of October 31, 1986 n. 1753);

10) The Supreme Court of Cassation on February 27, 1997, with sentence n.1753 of 1997 ruled that: "… the publications of a religious association, if produced for sale, are to be considered as a commercial activity."

11) The Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania ( the head company of all the congregations in the world) as of July 8, 1986 is registered in the Chamber of Commerce of Milan;

12) The commercial activities of this Congregation are confirmed by the fact that it is the dormant partner of "la Farfarina"; of "Stenone" of Angeli Denni & Co. and of " Immobiliare Verona Z" of Mario Romeo & Co., each of which is domiciled in Via della Bufalotta, 1281, Rome, Italy;

13) In Ravenna a holding company allegedly associated to the Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses declared bankruptcy (ref. Sentence of the Court of Cassation, section. II, of October 4, 1996, n. 693). It allegedly gathered voluntary donations deriving from the door-to-door distribution of publications, during which dozens of people were defrauded;

14) According to experts, the texts of said publications allegedly contain subliminal messages aimed at favoring the moral subjugation of readers;

15) The Congregation promotes and organizes through its members the exporting and the underground spreading of publications in Countries in which Jehovah’s Witnesses are banned from preaching;

16) The construction of its prayer halls is allegedly financed with money of unknown origin; the workmen are not insured against accidents and Italian Legislative Decree n. 626 of 1994 on the safety of the workplace is not applied;

17) In France an inquiry by the French Tax Authorities revealed that the Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses evaded the payment of taxes amounting to at least 300 million Francs (approximately 90 billion It. Lire);

it is asked whether:

the denial of the principles for belonging to the Nation and the rejection of the Italian Republic and all its institutions, which is proven by the rule imposed on members prohibiting them from performing compulsory military service and alternative services, as well as from participating in general and local elections, from swearing oath to the Italian Republic and its laws render what is known as the Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses incompatible with the rules and spirit of the Constitution owing to its structural and ideological characteristics; 

the Congregation’s activities, the strict observance of the rules imposed on its members which contrast with Italian legislation, the total secrecy of its organizational, disciplinary and financial data, the supremacy of internal rules over the rights of the individual, family ties, and the duties towards the whole community render the Congregation similar to underground or secret associations; 

besides its own statutory definitions, the Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses can be defined as a religious faith or, on the contrary, as a cult; 

the whole series of financial activities illustrated in the foreword of this document comply with the provisions of the Congregation’s statute and, if so, it should assume the characteristics of a business association; 

it is the case to verify the allegations according to which subliminal messages are used in the publications printed at the BETEL firm in Via della Bufalotta n. 1281, Rome, Italy; 

for said reasons, it is the case to authorize the public funding of the Congregation or to deny it, irrespective of any other ethical or moral consideration, owing to the nature of an institution which ideologically denies the existence of the Italian Government and Nation and which overtly contrasts with the Italian legal system (Article 8, paragraph 3, of the Constitution); 

it is known that the Governments of other Countries has reached agreements or stipulated conventions with the Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses.