Mass Shooting in Hamburg, Germany, at Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses
A mass shooting event took place in Hamburg, Germany at a Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses after 9pm on Thursday evening, 9th March 2023.
The link below to a Sky News item on Friday 10th of March gives a summary of the police statement as of 15:00 that day.
An examination of this text shows that at the time of writing this article (Saturday, 11th March 2023) the police do not yet have a motive.
The author deplores the violence enacted by the perpetrator, whatever triggered him to act in this way. However, there is much that can be deducted about the motive from the information given by the Hamburg Police.
Reported: “The gunman was identified as Philipp F, a 35-year-old German, with no prior offenses, (so an upstanding citizen) who had been a member of the congregation – but had left 18 months before with “ill feelings”.”
Opinion: This is a key piece of information. The indications are that he had no prior history of violence, which would be consistent with him being one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, as Witness beliefs are strongly against violence. However, some event likely triggered a change in this, as he left 18 months before with “ill feelings”.
The author suggests that this was likely some action taken by the elders of the congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses at that time against him, via a Judicial Committee.
(For the benefit of non Jehovah’s Witnesses, a Judicial Committee is a quasi-court. For a very good explanation please see the following link: https://avoidjw.org/news/disfellowshipping-judicial-committee-meetings/)
Reported: “An anonymous letter had been sent to the Police in January 2023 saying the attacker (Phillip) should not be allowed to have weapons”.
Opinion: Jehovah’s Witnesses do not normally possess live firearms, certainly in European countries, because of their anti-violence beliefs. Why did Philipp obtain one? Did some recent event in his life trigger a change in his beliefs? Just above we have ascertained the probable cause of that trigger.
Who sent this anonymous letter?
It is highly probable it was a family member (if he had any sons, or daughters, or wife or ex-wife), Others would be unlikely to know about Philipp obtaining a gun, unless he specifically told them.
Reported: an assertion that Philipp “might be suffering from a mental illness.”
Opinion: According to Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gun_control_in_Germany a gun license is only issued when, among other criteria, the applicant has proved necessity, has no record of mental disorder and is not known to be violent or aggressive.
Furthermore, it is highly unlikely that the anonymous letter writer was a mental health practitioner making an anonymous tip.
Firstly, it is unlikely that Philipp would have visited a mental health practitioner, as there is a pervasive opinion within Jehovah’s Witnesses that psychologists cannot be trusted and are to be avoided.
Secondly, the wording is speculative, “might be”.
Thirdly, the wording could originate from that of a current Jehovah’s Witnesses. The reasoning behind this possibility is that if a Jehovah’s Witnesses leaves because of disagreement with the teachings of the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses, then they are labeled as “mentally diseased”. See this quote from the Watchtower, the main publication of Jehovah’s Witnesses teachings,
*** w11 7/15 p. 16 par. 6 Will You Heed Jehovah’s Clear Warnings? ***
Well, apostates are “mentally diseased,” and they seek to infect others with their disloyal teachings. (1 Timothy 6:3-4) Jehovah, the Great Physician, tells us to avoid contact with them. We know what he means, but are we determined to heed his warning in all respects?
Reported: “The letter also stated that Phillip was “enraged” with Jehovah’s Witnesses and a former employer.”
Opinion: The causes of this enragement are likely to be the root core cause of the motive. It seems likely there was some dispute with his former employer (probably a Jehovah’s Witnesses) which led him to approach the elders of his congregation to resolve it. Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that when they have a serious dispute they cannot resolve with a fellow witness, that, rather than report the issue to the police, or taking their fellow witness to court, it should be reported to the elders for them to deal with, by means of a judicial committee. If his employer is an elder, then it is possible that the old boys club closed ranks and refused to assist Philipp or ruled that there were not two witnesses so they could not act, (the get-out clause, by misapplying a scripture out of context, which can be conveniently ignored if the elders so choose).
Reported: “officials said the gunman had reported a potential fraud to the police, which is now being investigated by prosecutors”.
Opinion: By going outside of the elder’s judicial committee system, to the secular authorities over this accusation of fraud against a fellow JW, (which was the correct thing to do legally as fraud is a criminal matter, not a religious matter) Philipp went against the teachings of the Jehovah’s Witnesses. This would likely lead to him being expelled, excluded, disfellowshipped.
Also, it seems the investigation by prosecutors has been triggered by the shooting, rather than being acted upon when Philipp made the report of potential fraud to the police. Perhaps this contributed even more to a feeling that the only recourse he had was to take the law into his own hands.
Reported: “Police say they had received conflicting reports as to whether he was excluded or left of his own accord.”
Opinion: It does not matter much whether he was disfellowshipped or whether he left of his own accord, the result would be pretty much the same. Non-Witnesses may not realize it, but those who leave the Organization after being baptized members are shunned until they return. If they never return to the Organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses then they can be shunned for the rest of their life, by their family members (if also Witnesses) and former friends within the faith. The shunning inflicted on members is a form of psychological abuse intended to coerce them into returning, again based on misinterpretation and misapplication of one scripture from the Bible.
Based on the known facts and the background of how matters are dealt with by Jehovah’s Witnesses, it is the author’s personal opinion that ultimately the responsibility for this atrocity lies firmly in the hands of Philipp.
However, there were also strong contributory factors from the way the Organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses misapply scriptures both in the handling of disputes, and potentially criminal actions. Also, the way they subtly teach mistrust of the secular authorities and the way they treat ex-members of the faith, whether those who leave voluntarily or those who are expelled.
Message To the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses:
The author calls upon the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses to remove their unscriptural teachings on shunning.
The author calls upon the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses to remove their quasi-judicial committee system, which is not founded on scripture, and interferes with and undermines the criminal and civil justice systems as organized by the secular Governments.
The author calls upon the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses to ensure that any accusations of criminal activity by fellow Jehovah’s Witnesses be directed immediately to the secular authorities who have the God-given authority to deal with these matters.
Message to the Secular Authorities (All Governments)
The author calls upon all governments to remove the charitable status of the Organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses in their countries. They do not do any charitable work.
The author calls upon all governments to ban the judicial committee system of Jehovah’s Witnesses as unconstitutional because the judicial committee system supplants their authority and court systems of justice.
The author calls upon all governments to ban the shunning policy of Jehovah’s Witnesses in particular, but also any other religion or organization that engages in similar tactics, and if they do not comply, to remove their registration as a recognized religion and all the benefits that accrue to them as a result, i.e. favored tax status, etc.
Updates after the article was written:
Saturday 11th March 2023 – https://news.sky.com/story/hamburg-shooting-what-we-know-about-gunman-as-police-reveal-they-had-been-warned-about-him-12830255