Friday, September 30, 2016

Blood transfusion linked to kidney damage

“Come for a broken heart and we’ll break your kidneys, too,” would seem to be the motto of the medical profession.

A massive study of the records of nearly 2 million patients has proven that blood transfusion causes kidney injury. This is significant because the data study moves it from the realm of the anecdotal (as in, ‘many doctors have noticed what seems to be a connection’) into the realm of hard fact.
Of the 1.7 million patients who underwent angioplasty for a heart problem – generally considered a “non-invasive” procedure – 38,626 were given a blood transfusion. The justification was generally low blood count, “anemia” (hemoglobin below 10) or bleeding. Eight patients were given blood whose records showed neither anemia nor bleeding.

Of the 38,626 who were given blood, a whopping 35%  – 13,520 patients – suffered from AKI, Acute Kidney Injury. Only 8% of the non-transfused patients developed AKI. Fully twice as many patients with AKI (18.4% versus 9.1%) had congestive heart failure within 2 weeks.

“In this retrospective study, we identified an independent association between blood transfusion and AKI in [patients undergoing angioplasty],” the researchers wrote. “This association was significant even among patients with anemia at baseline… suggesting that a restrictive blood transfusion policy needs to be further investigated for its potential to improve [patient] safety.” [Read the raw data here…]

Please feel free to leave a comment.
To read more of my columns about blood medicine, click here.
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 Bill K. Underwood is a freelance columnist and author of several books, available at You can help support this site by purchasing a book.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Archaeological proof Hezekiah really did turn a pagan shrine into a toilet

“And they demolished the pillar of Baal, and demolished the house of Baal, and made it a latrine to this day.” (2Kings 10:27, RSV)

Israeli archeologists have discovered a stone toilet while excavating an ancient city gate at Lachish. The latrine is evidence a biblical king tried to stamp out idol worship there.

The scriptural reference above is to Jehu defiling a Baal temple, not to the gate of Lachish. But finding this toilet at Lachish suggests that King Hezekiah deliberately defiled the eighth century B.C.E. shrine at the door to the ancient city, just as Jehu did to the north, the Israel Antiquities Authority said.

“A toilet was installed in the [pagan] holy of holies [“. . .the high places of the gates. . .” 2 Kings 23:8] as the ultimate desecration of that place,” the IAA said in a statement. “A stone fashioned in the shape of a chair with a hole in its center was found in the corner of the room.” The authority said it was the first time an archeological find confirmed the practice of installing a toilet to desecrate a pagan worship site. 
Laboratory tests suggest the stone toilet at the Lachish gate was never used, the IAA said, making its placement “symbolic, after which the holy of holies was sealed until the site was destroyed.”

Lachish, about 25 miles southwest of Jerusalem, was conquered by the invading Assyrians under King Sennacherib in the eighth century B.C.E. The city gate was first located “decades ago,” the IAA said, but was only fully exposed in early 2016. “The excavation revealed destruction layers in the wake of the defeat, including arrowheads and sling stones, indicative of the hand-to-hand combat that occurred in the city’s gatehouse."

The discovery is just one more in a long list proving that the Bible is trustworthy. To read another column on the reliability of the Bible, click here.

Bill K. Underwood is the author of several novels and one non-fiction self-help book, all available at You can help support this site by purchasing a book.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Six more kids in India harmed by blood transfusion.

In yet another botched blood transfusion case, six Thalassemia-affected children were taken seriously ill after being transfused with blood at District Headquarters Hospital in Nayagarh district.

Similar incidents have been reported from Burla hospital and Balasore District Headquarters Hospital. Two patients at Burla had been given HIV positive and Hepatitis B positive blood, and a three year girl child had been given Hepatitis C blood.

India has been a mecca of “medical cruises” as American and other patients without adequate medical coverage found they could both vacation in India and have a hip replaced for less than the cost of their insurance deductible at home. But in the past 2 years, over 2,200 patients in India have contracted HIV from blood transfusions.

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Bill K. Underwood is the author of several novels and one non-fiction self-help book, all available at

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Why Blood is Bad Emergency Medicine

While more and more hospitals are jumping on the bloodless medicine bandwagon, emergency medicine seems to be going the other direction. Paramedics in some locations are beginning to carry blood in their ambulances and helicopters. 

Nearly every medical benefit – or supposed benefit – of transfused blood can now be achieved by some other treatment, at less cost, and with fewer negative effects. So why is blood still being used?

I’m not a doctor. But I’ve written a lot about blood, and in the process I’ve learned a lot about blood medicine. The more I learn, the more appalled I am that doctors continue to consider blood transfusion an effective treatment – for anything. This brief column is intended to summarize what I’ve written previously.

You can read some of my other columns on the subject here: 

 As we discussed in the column Blood Medicine Part Two, it isn’t enough for the hemoglobin inside your red blood cells to absorb oxygen in the lungs. It also must let go of the oxygen when it gets to where it’s needed. Since oxygen is attracted to iron, releasing it is easier said than done. One ingredient that plays a key role in the release of oxygen from hemoglobin is a blood chemical called DPG. Lowering of DPG makes oxygen ‘stick’ to the hemoglobin – not good.

Blood pH must stay between 7.35 and 7.45 - always. A number outside that range will cause your body to stop all other functions until it has corrected its blood pH. Blood pH begins to fall in storage. Donated red blood cells are stored in a solution called ACD – acid-citrate-dextrose. ACD acidifies – lowers the pH of – the blood even more. The lower the pH, the ‘stickier’ the hemoglobin becomes. At 14 days, the pH of stored blood has fallen to 6.9. Since blood pH below 7.35 is considered an urgent problem, why does an emergency room doctor wants to give it to you?  

In one study of patients who received 3 units of blood in emergency operations, the conclusion was:

“In [an] acute situation, when the organism (that’s you) needs restoration of the oxygen releasing capacity within minutes, the resynthesis [of DPG in stored blood] is obviously insufficient.”

Put simply, a transfusion of stored blood is the last thing you want entering your body in an emergency.

Stored blood:
  • Carries antigens unique to the donor that can kill the recipient.
  • Potentially carries Zika, malaria, hepatitis, HIV, Covid and a dozen other diseases.
  • Has a low pH, forcing the patient’s body to try to raise it back above 7.35.
  • Contains a high percentage of dead and dying cells that add to the workload of the patient’s organs.
  • Contains inflexible red blood cells that cause clots.
  • Contains potassium at levels 4 times higher than are considered healthy
  • Contains ammonia at up to 10 times the upper limit of what is considered safe.
  • Contains free hemoglobin that steals oxygen from the patient and adds to the workload of the liver.
  • Is deficient in DPG, lowering the patient’s cellular oxygenation.
  • Is deficient in nitric oxide, lowering capillary dilation, causing reduced cellular oxygenation as well as clots.
  • Contains anti-coagulants - something not needed by an already bleeding patient.
  • Raises blood pressure, straining and destroying fragile clots the body is trying to form at the wound site, increasing bleeding.
  • Suppresses the patient’s immune system for, at best, days; at worst, permanently.  


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 Bill K. Underwood is the author of several novels and one non-fiction self-help book, all available at You can help support this site by purchasing a book.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

The workers in the vineyard

Many of Jesus' parables were similar to stories that his listeners, the Jews, were familiar with, but with a twist.
For example, he gave an illustration called "The workers in the vineyard," you can find in your Bible at Matthew 20:1-14:

“For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard. He agreed to pay them a denarius for the day and sent them into his vineyard.

“About nine in the morning he went out and saw others standing in the marketplace doing nothing. He told them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.’ So they went.

“He went out again about noon and about three in the afternoon and did the same thing. About five in the afternoon he went out and found still others standing around. He asked them, ‘Why have you been standing here all day long doing nothing?’

 “‘Because no one has hired us,’ they answered. He said to them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard.’

“When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Call the workers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last ones hired and going on to the first.’

“The workers who were hired about five in the afternoon came and each received a denarius. So when those came who were hired first, they expected to receive more. But each one of them also received a denarius. When they received it, they began to grumble against the landowner. ‘These who were hired last worked only one hour,’ they said, ‘and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the work and the heat of the day.’

“But he answered one of them, ‘I am not being unfair to you, friend. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius? Take your pay and go. I want to give the one who was hired last the same as I gave you."

 Alfred Edersheim's The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah is one of my favorite tools on the details surrounding life in Jesus' day. It is over 100 years old, long out of copyright, so if you persist, you can usually find a free online copy of it, but it keeps moving. Just Google "Edersheim free online". 
Anyway, regarding this parable, here is Edersheim's nugget:
"The Jews already had a parable about a king who had a vineyard, and engaged many laborers to work in it. But the Jewish story went like this: 

"A king hired several workers to spend the day in his vineyard. When the king looked out over the work in the second hour, he noticed one of the workers was distinguished above the rest by his labor and skill. So the king took him by the hand, and walked up and down in the shade with him, chatting until evening. At the end of the day, when the laborers were paid, this one received the same wages as the others, just as if he had worked in the sun the whole day. At this the others murmured, because he who had worked only two hours had received the same as they who had labored the whole day. The king replied: 'Why do you murmur? This man has by his skill earned as much in two hours as you did during the whole day.'

"It will be observed that, with all its similarity of form, the moral of the Jewish parable is in exactly the opposite direction from the teaching of Christ: reward earned by labors, rather than being a gift." 

Feel free to leave a polite comment.
 Bill K. Underwood is the author of several books, all available at You can help support this site by purchasing a book.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Does the Court have jurisdiction over religious shunning?

How do you feel about shunning? 
I often come across news stories about someone who is being “shunned” for religious reasons. These stories are occasionally about the Amish, but usually they are about Jehovah’s Witnesses, such as this one:

Alberta court weighs in on jurisdiction over religious groups following expulsion of Jehovah's Witness member

The gist of that story is this: An Alberta real estate agent, Randy Wall, who was a Jehovah’s Witness, is suing the congregation that disfellowshipped (excommunicated) him. His claim is that their shunning him has hurt him financially, as most of his customers prior to the disfellowshipping were Jehovah’s Witnesses.

The news story contains more innuendo than facts. It claims that in 2014, he was requested to appear before a judicial committee of four elders about a charge of drunkenness. He admitted to two occasions of drunkenness and that he’d verbally abused his wife once. He claimed “his behaviour stemmed from stress related to the expulsion of his 15-year-old daughter who he and his wife were required by the church to shun.”

The article says: “The judicial committee found Wall was ‘not sufficiently repentant’ and he was disfellowshipped, a decision that then compelled his wife, children and other Jehovah's Witnesses to shun him. Wall appealed that decision and a panel of three elders was selected and asked to consider ‘the mental and emotional distress he and his family were under’ following his daughter's disfellowship but the committee sided with the original panel's decision.” When a letter to the Canada branch likewise failed to get the decision overturned, Wall decided to sue.

The article continues: “The court of Queen's Bench in Calgary ordered a hearing to first determine if there was jurisdiction for the court to hear the application. A judge decided that the superior court did have jurisdiction to hear the application because ‘he was satisfied the disfellowship had an economic impact on [Wall].’ The congregation and its judicial committee then appealed Wall's right to have a Court of Queen's Bench judge hear his application.”

Another salient point from the article: “Wall said his clients refused to do business with him following his expulsion because they were from the Jehovah's Witness congregation. For that reason, he argued his property and civil rights were affected by the disfellowship so the court had jurisdiction to hear the application.”

Since the judges decided two to one that a trial is appropriate, the congregation has the choice of either: 1., appealing, fighting a legal battle to prove the courts do NOT have jurisdiction over decisions made within a religion; or 2., defending themselves at trial.  

Here are some facts the news story – in fact, that nearly all news stories about shunning, got wrong.

No one is shunned by Jehovah’s Witnesses who was not a baptized member. Baptism is not some water sprinkled on one’s head as an infant. It is immersion of a person who is old enough to make decisions for himself/herself.

Becoming one of Jehovah’s Witnesses is not like taking out a membership at Costco.

No one gets baptized without first taking a vow. Baptismal candidates are asked two questions, in public, and are required to answer “Yes!”, LOUDLY, loudly enough to be heard by everyone in the entire venue, which is commonly a crowd of a thousand or even ten thousand people! They are asked:
  1. On the basis of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, have you repented of your sins and dedicated yourself to Jehovah to do his will?
  2. Do you understand that your dedication and baptism identify you as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses in association with God’s spirit-directed organization?
When Wall got baptized, he answered “YES” to both those questions. He basically agreed to meet all the requirements of being one of Jehovah’s Witnesses.

Wall knew, when he said “YES”, that drunkenness was not acceptable. Witness beliefs are based strictly on the Bible.
“Stop keeping company with anyone called a brother who is sexually immoral or a greedy person or an idolater or a reviler or a drunkard.” (1 Corinthians 5:11)
You can’t get much clearer than that. Wall also, by his own admission, violated another precept of Jehovah’s Witnesses. The Watchtower, the official organ of Jehovah’s Witnesses, has directed numerous times that Jehovah’s Witnesses not use their congregation for their business. Here’s an example:
“We should not carry on personal business activities in the Kingdom Hall, nor should we exploit fellow Christians for financial gain.”  (1/15/1997 Watchtower, p. 7)
In building his business around his fellow Witnesses, Wall chose to violate that directive.

What about the claim that, according to the news article, “the family was pressured to evict the girl from the home, leading to ‘much distress’”?

Again, Watchtower policy:
“This magazine has made every effort to encourage Christian parents to provide spiritual help to their disfellowshipped child who is still living at home.” (8-15-13 Watchtower p.8) 
The article went on to reference an article back in 1988 – long before this 15-year-old girl was born – that requires parents to care for the spiritual and physical needs of their minor children. 
“Even if [a minor child] is disfellowshipped because of wrongdoing after baptism… just as they will continue to provide him with food, clothing, and shelter, they need to instruct and discipline him in line with God’s Word.” (11-15-88 Watchtower p. 20)
No doubt Wall felt stress that his 15-year-old daughter was disfellowshipped – any good father would feel like a failure in such circumstances – but that doesn’t excuse lying about being instructed to put her out of the house when that is clearly not the direction given to Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Nor does it excuse getting drunk and screaming at his wife.

There is one other, glaring, gaping hole in this and other stories about Jehovah’s Witnesses and shunning: 
There is no mention that the shunning is fixable.

Another quote from The Watchtower:
“Our God who requires that an unrepentant wrongdoer be expelled from the congregation also lovingly shows that a sinner can be reinstated in the congregation if he repents and turns around.” (4-15-88 Watchtower p. 31) 
That article then cites 2 Corinthians 2:6, 7: “This rebuke given by the majority is sufficient for such a man; now you should instead kindly forgive and comfort him.” If Wall had simply, humbly, accepted the counsel offered, by now this whole ordeal would have been behind him.
Feel free to leave a comment.

 Bill K. Underwood is a freelance columnist and author of several books,all available at You can help support this site by purchasing a book.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

UN Chief says Religious Bigotry is poisoning Society

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said he was “appalled” by those who are resorting to religious bigotry for “political gains”, underlining that such “intolerance and opportunism” poisons society.

“Violence against people because of their religious identity or beliefs is an assault on the core values of the United Nations. Such bigotry is also one of today’s greatest threats.” 

Ban spoke in a video message for the high-level forum on global anti-Semitism at the United Nations.

He voiced concern that alongside a global rise in anti-Semitism, the world is also seeing many other alarming forms of discrimination – in particular hatred and stereotyping directed at today’s refugees and migrants.

“I am appalled by those who fan the flames of religious bigotry for political gain. Such intolerance and opportunism does more than poisoning young minds and hearts, it poisons all of society. Time and again, history has shown that those who attack one minority today will target another tomorrow,” Ban said in his message.

Ban’s strong message came days after UN human rights chief Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein lashed out at Donald Trump and Dutch politician Geert Wilders, saying the call by such leaders to ban immigrants from Islamic countries puts them in the same league as the terrorist organization ISIS.

“Geert Wilders released his grotesque eleven-point manifesto only days ago, and a month ago he spoke along similar lines in Cleveland, in the United States,” the UN official said.

“And yet what Wilders shares in common with Trump, (Hungarian prime minister) Orban, (British politician Nigel) Farage, he also shares with Da’esh (ISIS),” Al Hussein had said.

The rights chief had said that the “humiliating racial and religious prejudice” fanned by the likes of Wilders has become “municipal or even national policy” in some countries.

Ban said even though anti-Semitism is one of the world’s oldest, most pervasive and deadliest forms of hatred, Jews continue to be targeted for murder and abuse solely because they are Jews, despite the lessons of history and the “horror” of the Holocaust. [Read the original story here…]

Bill K. Underwood is the author of several novels and one non-fiction self-help book, all available at

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Is this the floor Jesus walked on?

Archaeologists have completed the restoration of ornate floor tiles which experts believe likely decorated the courtyard of the Second Jewish Temple.

In total, archaeological teams have uncovered approximately 600 colored stone floor tile segments, with more than 100 of them positively dated to the Herodian Second Temple period. The restored tiles came from the Temple Mount Sifting Project, salvaging artifacts from a Muslim construction site at the Temple complex.

The project provides visible and incontrovertible proof, backed up by ancient texts and historical context, of a Jewish Temple on the Mount.

Why would proof be needed?

Denial of a Jewish connection to the Temple Mount began at the 2000 Camp David Summit, when the Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat insisted - with no proof - that “the Temple” existed near Shechem (Nablus), and not on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.

The claim has since been taken up in the international narrative as UNESCO passed an initiative claiming the Temple Mount as an exclusively Muslim holy site. This claim went mainstream last October when the New York Times published an article questioning whether the two Jewish Temples ever existed at all.

The restoration is proof of a theory that large expanses of the Temple Mount during the Second Temple were covered with a special type of ornate flooring called opus sectile, Latin for “cut work.” The idea was first put forward in 2007 by archaeologist Assaf Avraham, director of the Jerusalem Walls National Park. The new discovery confirms it.

“So far, we have succeeded in restoring seven potential designs of the majestic flooring that decorated the buildings of the Temple Mount,” said Frankie Snyder, a member of the Temple Mount Sifting Project and an expert in the study of ancient Herodian style flooring, explaining that there were no opus sectile floors in Israel prior to the time of King Herod. “The tile segments were perfectly inlaid such that one could not even insert a sharp blade between them.”

The tile design is consistent with floors found in contemporary works built by Herod. Similar flooring has been found at Herod’s palaces in Masada, Herodium, and Jericho, among others. A key characteristic of the Herodian tiles is their size, which corresponds to the Roman foot (11.6 inches).
The find also agrees with Talmudic literature about the construction of the Temple Mount which describes rows of green, blue and white marble. The tile segments, mostly imported from Rome, Asia Minor, Tunisia and Egypt, were made from polished multicolored stones cut in a variety of geometric shapes. [Read more here…]

Since the modern archaeological age began, the Temple Mount has been off-limits, as it has been the site of the Muslim Dome of the Rock for over a thousand years. However, Muslim construction projects occurred during the years 1999-2000 that involved large scale earthworks using heavy machinery; the purpose being to create an entrance to an area Jews refer to as Solomon’s Stables (an ancient subterranean structure) which they were converting into a new mosque. In addition, in an open area on the eastern side of the Temple Mount, ground level was lowered with bulldozers in order to lay new pavement slabs. About 400 truckloads of rubble were removed and dumped in various locations, mainly in the nearby Kidron Valley.

The earth-moving was done without building permits, and without archaeological supervision. While mainstream archaeologists were enraged at the destruction, Zachi Dvira, an archaeology student, came up with the idea of collecting and sifting through all the rubble to see what was there. Despite the lack of “context,” (being able to assign a time period to an artifact based on the strata in which it was found) the thinking was that ‘something is better than nothing.’ The Sifting Project began in the Tzurim Valley National Park in 2004.  

Since then, it has been responsible for some of the most outstanding finds in Jerusalem archaeology, including:
  • A bulla (a lump of clay impressed with a seal) reading “…son of Immer.” (See Jeremiah 20:1)
  • Over 5,000 coins, including coins minted by the Jews during the revolt against Rome in 66 C.E..
  • Terracotta figurines that appear to have been smashed on purpose. (2 Kings 23:24)
  • Babylonian arrowheads.
  •  A small bronze harp that looks so much like the City of David logo that Israel now uses it in place of their own logo in some of their publicity.
  • An amulet bearing the name of Egyptian pharaoh Thutmose III

[Read more about the Temple Mount Sifting Project here…]

 Bill K. Underwood is a freelance columnist and author of several books, available in e-book or paperback at

Friday, September 2, 2016

Jehovah's Witnesses and Civil Rights

Summarized from the book Judging Jehovah’s Witnesses by Shawn Francis Peters:

It was a common sight under the Nazi regime for the “custodians of the law to look on half approvingly while youthful gangsters destroyed the fundamentals of liberty under the specious text of patriotism,” wrote an editorial in The Washington Post. However, it continued: “That such tolerance of brutality should be permitted in the near neighborhood of Washington is something to think about.”

What was the Post talking about? On the night of June 14, 1940, 50 rioters in Rockville, Maryland, invaded a Kingdom Hall directly across the street from the Montgomery County Police Headquarters. The criminals destroyed chairs, typewriters and records and vandalized the building while two Montgomery County police officers looked on.

As the month wore on, attacks continued across the country. An attack in Richwood, West Virginia, was extraordinarily brutal. Witnesses Stanley Jones and C. A. Cecil moved to Richwood on June 28 to preach. They were stopped on Main Street by state trooper Bernard McLaughlin, who took them into custody at the state police barracks. Members of the American Legion post soon arrived, including a Nicholas County sheriff’s deputy, Martin Catlette. Though the Witnesses managed to talk their way out of the detention with little more than insults, the trouble wasn’t over.

Joined by other witnesses they returned to Richwood, only to discover that the room they’d rented the previous day had been ransacked. They left to report the incident to the mayor, hoping to explain their work and debunk the rumor that they were disseminating “communistic literature.” Before they found him, however, deputy Catlette found them.

Catlette detained them in the mayor’s office. While the chief of police, Bert Stewart, guarded the door, Catlette telephoned several fellow Legionnaires and summoned them to the office, ordering them to round up the other Witnesses in town. After hanging up the phone he told the Witnesses, “You don’t know what you’ve gotten yourselves into. You’ll know you’ve been to Richwood.”

The group of Witnesses, all gathered at the mayor’s office, tried to maintain that the Supreme Court had specifically upheld their right to worship by distributing literature in public. When one of the Witnesses tried to quote a verse from the Bible, Catlette slapped him and ordered him to shut up.

The deputy then removed his badge, saying, “What is done from here on will not be done in the name of the law.” He forced the Witnesses to surrender their possessions. A whiskey bottle was passed around among the Legionnaires. Someone brought two guns; another brought a rope.

Catlette tied the right hand of each of the Witnesses to the rope. The vigilantes began forcing the victims to ingest large doses of castor oil. When one of the Witnesses resisted, they forced him to empty an eight ounce bottle. When Cecil questioned Catlette’s right to detain them, he was forced to drink two bottles. (He and several of the victims were later hospitalized, urinating blood.)

The nauseous Witnesses were marched outside, where a large crowd had gathered. Catlette recited the preamble to the American Legion’s constitution and led the gathering in a flag-salute ceremony. Ironically, part of the document read by Catlette urges Legion members, 
“to make Right the master of Might, to promote peace and goodwill.”
The Witnesses refused to salute the flag. The crowd grew to more than five hundred. Another Legionnaire, Lee Reese, addressed the crowd. “We’re carrying on this demonstration to show the people of Richwood that if anyone is in sympathy with the work [the Witnesses] are doing, there’s room for them on the end of this rope, and they will go out of town with them.” A woman protested that they deserved a fair trial. Reese responded by threatening to add her to the rope.

The mob marched to the city limits, where the vigilantes had taken the victims’ cars. The vehicles had been vandalized with swastikas and epithets such as “Hitler’s spies” and doused in castor oil.

The Witnesses lodged a complaint with the Justice Department.

The United States Justice Department had established a Civil Rights Section in February, 1939. However, the Attorney General at the time, Frank Murphy, pointed out soon after that “the authority of the Federal Government in this field is somewhat limited by the fact that many of the Constitutional guarantees are guarantees against abuses by the government itself, not infringements by individuals.” Furthermore, the Civil Rights Section’s meager resources proved to be as debilitating as its narrow mandate. The department consisted of fewer than 10 attorneys and a handful of clerks.

Hundreds of complaints were brought to the CRS by Jehovah’s Witnesses during the 1940s, but in nearly every case the unit concluded that it either lacked jurisdiction, or that the victims’ unpopularity would make it impossible to get an indictment or a conviction.

The Richwood case was no different. The U.S. attorney for Huntington, West Virginia, Lemuel Via, had no desire to institute criminal proceedings against Martin Catlette and the other assailants, believing it was an unwinnable case.

After nearly two years of wrangling among the FBI, Via, and high authorities in the Department of Justice, the Civil Rights Section’s insistence on prosecution finally carried the day, and U.S. Attorney Via was persuaded to bring the Richwood case before a federal grand jury. Via insisted, however, that he be back-stopped by an attorney from Washington. Perhaps he was leery of appearing to side with the Witnesses.

The grand jury largely ignored most of the evidence and refused to return an indictment. Convening just a few months after Pearl Harbor, the jurors were unsympathetic and openly suspicious of the victims.

But the CRS wasn't ready to quit. They convinced Via to perform an end run around the grand jury. Initially, charges had been brought under both Section 51 and 52 of Title 18. Both outlaw conspiring to “injure, oppress, threaten, or intimidate any citizen in the free exercise or enjoyment” of rights guaranteed by the Constitution. However, Section 52 refers to doing so “under color of law.” The Civil Rights Sections' lawyers determined that if the federal government abandoned all the section 51 charges – which meant dropping the charges against the Richwood citizens who were not employed by the sheriff’s department – they wouldn’t need an indictment. They could go straight to trial with charges against deputy Martin Catlette and Chief of Police Bert Stewart.

The ploy worked. Tried before Judge Ben Moore in a federal court in Charleston, West Virginia, Catlette and Stewart were convicted under Section 52. Fines were imposed on both men - $1,000 for Catlette, $250 for Stewart.

Catlette tried to claim his action of removing his badge meant he had not acted “under color of law” but the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals disagreed, and Catlette was sentenced to 12 months at the federal prison camp in Mill Point, West Virginia.

For a man so bitterly opposed to the Witnesses doctrines, the punishment must have seemed especially harsh. The majority of the inmate population at Mill Point prison camp was composed of Jehovah’s Witnesses, imprisoned for their conscientious objection to military service.

 Bill K. Underwood is the author of several novels and one non-fiction self-help book, all available at