Jerry Bergman, Ph. D.
(Investigator 87, 2002 November)
I am the author of several scholarly books and monographs about the Jehovah's Witnesses. My books and articles on the Watchtower and related topics are found in hundreds of university, college and other libraries, and have also been translated into 12 languages. Several of my publications on the Watchtower were based on my masters thesis in social psychology completed at Bowling Green State University.
In the past decade I have received several reports indicating my books on the Witnesses movement in many libraries were destroyed or stolen, and soon noted articles in various papers confirming this (Cebula, 1997; Hodges, 1997; Jackson, 1997; and Turner, 1997).
Scores of libraries have reported the problem, including the University of Toledo, Anderson University, Christian Theological Seminary, Marian College in Indianapolis, Concordia College, and other colleges in at least 3 states. One report noted that "Books on the Jehovah's Witnesses religion have been destroyed or stolen from area theological libraries across the state" (Hodges, 1997, p. 1).
I have researched the situation at several college libraries and what I found was very disturbing.
At Concordia Theological Seminary in Ft. Wayne, Indiana 30 books on the Watchtower were "torn in half, slashed with a knife or razor blade, or had pages ripped out" (Hodges, 1997, p. 1). At Anderson College University, 24 books were mutilated, lost or destroyed (Cebula, 1997). In 2002 at the University of Toledo I discovered the pages from my reference bibliography on the Watchtower were ripped from cover to cover and the book was then put back on the shelf. At Concordia college where the library owned three of my books, one was in the reference collection, another was checked out at the time, and a third was severely damaged.
After calling several libraries, I found out that the people involved are evidently only destroying books that are about, but were not published by, the Watchtower Society. Even reprints of older Watchtower publications were destroyed! The culprits also at times left Watchtower magazines in the library, and sometimes they called the library asking to purchase the offending books before they were destroyed (Smith, 1997). All libraries that contain books about Jehovah's Witnesses should be aware of this problem.
The Vandals (actually censors) are likely active Witnesses. Although I am sure this is not done at the specific direction of the Watchtower Society, they do teach that Witnesses should burn all literature critical of them. No doubt this teaching encouraged Witnesses to destroy all books about the Watchtower not published by the Watchtower. Also, why have no books published by the Watchtower been affected? Furthermore, the Watchtower have so far refused to condemn this activity, and from my knowledge they passively approve of it.
libraries with this
problem to utilize security cameras or place books that are targets of
vandals behind the reference desk with a marker on the stacks to let
know they are available. Destruction of public property is a criminal
and I hope that libraries will actively prosecute anyone caught
public or Library property in this way. If anyone knows of other cases,
please contact the author.
Letter to Rev. Robert
E. Smith. May 31, 1997.
___________ . 1997. Author protests book thefts. The Bryan Times, June 4, 1997.
___________ . 1998. Letter to Rev. Robert E. Smith. Nov. 10, 1998.
Cebula, Judith. 1997.
Religious books stolen,
mutilated at three libraries. May 1, 1997, pp. 1-2.
Hodges, Lydia. 1997.
Local theft of books
on Jehovah's Witnesses part of statewide pattern. South Bend Tribune,
May 16, 1997, pp. 1-2.
Jackson, Omari. 1997.
Books on JWs Stolen
from Libraries. New Light Ministries, p. 2.
Krug, Judith F. and
Henry F. Reichman. 1988.
ALA council condemns FBI library awareness program. Newsletter on
Freedom, 37(5): 1, 146-147, Sept.
Smith, Rev. Robert E.
1997. Letter to author,
Turner, Darrell. 1997.
book vandals strike at Concordia Seminary. The Journal Gazette,
May 14, 1997, pp. IC, 2C.
The Bryan Times.
1997. Vandals hit
Jehovah's Witnesses books. May 15, 1997, pp. 11.