Share Gains for the Watchtower – What´s New?

Updated January 21, 2020

About 4 years ago, when the source of some stock gains for the Watchtower Society became known, the outrage among loyal Jehovah's Witnesses was great.

What has happened since then?

Bloody banknotes

Was the diversification of share investments in 2014/15 an isolated case? Unfortunately not:

Philip Morris cigarettes
  • In the year before and after the year shown above, the share diversification was almost identical: 4 resp. 5 blocks of shares in the armaments industry, 2 blocks of shares in the entertainment industry, Monsanto shares.
  • From 2006/07 to 2008/09, the portfolio already included stocks in the armaments industry.
  • In 2001/02, 2002/03, and 2009/10, the stock package included shares in cigarette maker Philip Morris (whose founder is related to a member of the Governing Body).
  • In 2018/19, two share packages of the armaments industry were on board again.

Conclusion: Sadly, the Watchtower continues to accept share earnings from the armaments industry as well as from questionable entertainment companies.

Here is the original article, with updated links to public US servers:

Share Gains for the Watchtower

Regarding the finances of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society (WTBTS), the call for greater transparency is getting louder. The desire of many sincere proclaimers has become a demand, which we consider justified.

Therefore, on this page we will show you the path to facts publicly accessible to everyone, and make some considerations in the form of questions. The rating is left up to each reader himself.

Where there is clarity and openness, there is no room
for speculations and question marks.

Every nonprofit organization is obliged to submit a kind of tax return each year. This declaration on the form 990 is published on the internet.

The Watch Tower Bible And Tract Society appears as a beneficiary in the tax return of the Henrietta M. Riley Trust.

Let's take a look at part of the WTBTS income. Don't worry, it's not illegal! These documents are available for inspection on public servers. Here you can find the tax returns of the Henrietta M. Riley Trust:

HMR Trust on the website ProPublica.org

What do these dry forms mean?
As an example, let's take a look at the 2014/15 tax year. Here is the direct link:

Form 990 for tax year 2014/15 (PDF)

Man with a magnifying glass

The "Henrietta M. Riley Trust"

Form 990 page 1
Tombstone of Ms Henrietta M. Riley

Who was Henrietta M. Riley?

Ms Henrietta M. Riley, a member of a rather wealthy family, was supposedly a Jehovah´s Witness, or at least sympathized with them.

Before she passed away in 1945, she donated a capital to support the Watch Tower Society.

Founded in 1970, the HMR Trust´s sole purpose is to generate equity returns that, after deduction of costs and taxes, flow 100% to the WTBTS. The trust is being managed and supervised by employees of the Comerica Bank in Detroit.

Page 11 of this form shows that the "Henrietta M. Riley Trust"
works for the benefit and general support of WTBTS. We also see that the HMR Trust generated a net income of US$ 696,897.00 for the Watchtower Society this year:

Form 990 page 11

So are these "Watchtower Shares"? No, the pot of money is "owned by itself", so to speak. The capital is being lent to companies to work with, and they return a part of their earnings to the pot, and these gains are given to and accepted by the WTBTS. Neither does it consist of our donations. It´s the donations of deceased Ms Riley.

To make a long story short:

Though the capital is not theirs, Watchtower is ethically linked by accepting the gains.

Where do the Stock Gains come from?

The thrilling thing starts at page 25:

In which branches are shares been placed?
From which companies´ economic success did the Watch Tower Society have their benefit?

Form 990 page 25

The Stock Portfolio 2014/15

The equity portfolio includes approx. 70 companies. Here are a some of them in alphabetical order (each of the product images taken from the company's own website):

combat helicopterBOEING - Apache

Sector: a.o. Armaments industry
e.g. combat aircrafts, helicopters, missiles

End of Year Book Value:
$ 6,326

Honeywell military technologyHONEYWELL Military technology

Sector: a.o. Armaments industry
e.g. military technology

$ 8,333

Lockheed combat aircraftLOCKHEED F-16 Falcon

Sector: Armaments industry
e.g. combat aircrafts

$ 4,825

Horror movie SAWLIONS GATE Horror movie

Sector: Entertainment industry
e.g. Horror movie series "SAW I-VII"

$ 5,227

Monsanto BiotechnologyMONSANTO

Sector: Agrochemicals, biotechnology
very aggressive lobbying, environmental scandals

$ 5,647 

Northrop Grumman Combat aircraftNORTHROP GRUMMAN

Sector: Armaments industry
e.g. Stealth bomber B-2 Spirit, Combat aircraftF-14, Surveillance drone RQ-4A Global Hawk

$ 3,337

Time Warner Soft porno movie
Time Warner War movieTIME WARNER INC.

Sector: Entertainment industry
e.g. Soft porno, war and mystery movies (subsidiary Cinemax)

$ 4,955 

Time Warner Mystery movie

And what about the spiritual and moral dimensions of these economic matters?

Any Jehovah´s Witness who learns to kill as a profes­sional soldier will be disfellow­shipped.

Any "rank and file JW" who earns his living in the Arma­ments industry will be shunned if he doesn't cancel his job immediately – at the consequence of losing his family's income.

Anyone who smokes cigarettes is also kicked out – and so is anyone who earns a living in a tobacco shop.

And what about the leadership of Jehovah's Witnesses?

Should we not apply the same Christian principles here?

Hand rejecting bloody banknotes

If so, there are two ways to chose between:

A) Reject the stock gains of the HMR Trust in total or

B) Reject the specific amounts generated in questionable branches.

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