WILLIAM GLEN HOW (1919-2008)

(Investigator 199, 2021 July)

W. Glen How was a lawyer of Jehovah's Witnesses (JWs) in Canada, and graduate of their "Gilead Missionary School". He headed the Legal Department of the Canadian Watchtower Society (WTS), and founded the law firm W. Glen How & Associates located at the Watchtower Complex.

Glen How was born in Montreal, Quebec; baptized by JWs in 1941; graduated from law school and called to the Bar of Ontario in 1943; and served as a JW elder in congregations in Toronto and Ontario. His mother was in the JW "pioneer" ministry for 40 years.

How argued cases in defense of JWs before the Supreme Court of Canada in the 1950s-1960s which enshrined the right to freedom of speech and assembly in Canada, and influenced Canada's Bill of Rights and its Charter of Rights and Freedoms in the area of freedom of worship and conscience. W. Glen How & Associates LLP write:

The American College of Trial Lawyers presented Mr. How with the Award for Courageous Advocacy on September 8, 1997 ... the first Canadian to be so honoured.

Not within JWs

Despite helping to broaden freedom of speech and worship in Canada Glen How did not campaign to bring about these same freedoms within his own religion, the JW Organization. He supported the JW Governing Body's policy of ordering the shunning of dissenters by all other JWs including their relatives.

This included the excommunication and shunning of dissenters who followed all the moral rules but criticized false predictions for 1975, the generation of 1914 doctrine, Armageddon "in the twentieth century", and other foolish doctrines.

Vicky Boer

A commentator on the "Web" writes:

Of course none in the media ever asked him why his own organization would not give the same freedoms and rights to its members as Canada gives to its citizens. To me his claim to fame will be how his team would try to cover for abusers…

Another reports that he handed Glen How a card from an ex-JW support group during the Vicky Boer trial, and the next day: "Glen walked into court with a bevy of JWs and threw my card in my face."

Vicky Boer was sexually molested from age 11 to 14. The congregation elders, following the Governing Body's policy at the time, advised her not to seek outside help but to confront the abuser so he can repent. The trauma caused her a nervous breakdown.

Boer later filed charges against the Church and the judge ruled that the Church had been negligent in their treatment of her. Boer sued for civil damages but the judge awarded her only $5,000! In a later legal hearing the judge ruled she should pay all the legal costs for the WTS — $142,000.

 Jerry Bergman explains:

The reason the judge gave for assigning the victim legal costs was that the Watchtower offered $20,000 to settle the case, then during pretrial motions they raised their offer to $56,000 and an apology (but required her to sign an overly broad gag order). The gag order stated if Vicki (or even her family) let slip the terms of settlement, they will be liable for millions of dollars in damages! Vicki rejected the offer…

The lawsuit was handled for the WTS largely by W. Glen How and Associates.

Glen How, during his long legal career, would have heard of many other instances of child abuse within the JW sect and known about the Governing Body's policy at the time of discouraging victims from involving the police.

In Australia the Royal Commission uncovered among JWs the abuse of 1800 children by 1000 abusers which had occurred over a 65 year period with no abuser reported to the police. Because the JW Governing Body insists on unity to its rules among JWs in every country their child-abuse victims in Canada could be a comparable number. Apparently Glen How never challenged the Governing Body's policy.

Blood transfusions

In Canada Glen How successfully argued cases supporting patients' rights to bodily autonomy. The Malette v Shulman (1990) decision confirmed an adult's right to have his advance decisions on what medical treatment to accept or reject respected.

In a 1961 article "Invading The Family Circle — The Blood Transfusion Statutes", Glen How argued against new legislation in Australia that gave: "medical doctors power to override parental objections and to administer blood transfusion to minors…"

He ignored that millions of lives were being saved around the world by blood transfusions and cited four doctors.

One of the doctors referred to blood-letting which was practiced in the 18th century and killed "hundreds".

However, to imply that today's science is wrong because primitive viewpoints and procedures centuries ago were wrong is nonsense because it would be an argument for rejecting every modern discovery not just blood transfusion.

The second doctor argued, "Every blood transfusion is fraught with potential danger…"

However, everything has risks, even eating food, wearing clothes and riding in a bus, because food can be choked on, clothing might catch fire, and the bus might crash. Science, as well as common sense, considers relative risks. A treatment that, for example, saves 80% of patients from death, and neither saves nor hurts 19% who would survive with alternative treatment, but injures 1%, is worthwhile until better is discovered. This is the situation with blood transfusions (but the percentages would differ in different countries and other decades).

The third doctor criticized blood transfusions given "for cosmetic reasons".

This was a fair comment since in the early 1950s blood was sometimes given just to improve patients' complexion. But it is not a reason to let people, many years later, including children, bleed to death.

How introduced the fourth doctor, A.J. Shadman, as "a surgeon of wide experience". Shadman claimed that transfusions transmit poisons in the blood that produce insanity, diabetes, cancer, syphilis, impulses to commit suicide and murder, etc, and "Of all the ridiculous medical practices … this present blood transfusion craze is the worst."

Alonzo Jay Shadman, authored Who Is Your Doctor And Why (1958). He supported the pseudoscience of homeopathy and opposed vaccinations, even claiming "There is no such thing as a virus…" At least some of Shadman's "wide experience" was medical quackery.

Probably a few advocates of unscientific views exist in every area of science and knowledge. To seek out and quote this fringe and ignore expert science is usually a dubious tactic that promotes wrong beliefs. In his Australian Quarterly article Glen How "cherry picked" a few quotes which ignored mainstream medical science and did this even though some JW children who required a blood transfusion had already died from lack of one.


A WTS brochure prepared for How's memorial service eulogizes him as a "man of God" who "encouraged the young to pursue a life in God's service", a "delightful man", etc.

In addition to the shunning, child abuse and blood transfusion issues, this delightful man supported the Governing Body's policy of persuading JW teenagers to discontinue high school at the earliest lawful age on the basis that Armageddon is imminent and their best course is therefore to preach. That in part is what's meant  by "encouraged the young to pursue a life in God's service". This "man of God" also turned a blind eye when the JW leadership called their false predictions regarding the 1914 generation "the Creator's promise", the "promise of Jesus" and "God's Word".

Many people have exposed the often oppressive, unenlightened, power of the JW Governing Body, but Glen How apparently never did.

He had an inspiring example in fellow Canadian M. James Penton (b. 1932), a man as accomplished as himself, a JW elder, professor of history, and author of many books including Jehovah's Witnesses in Canada (1976) which told the history of JWs' fight for civil liberties under Canadian law. Penton left JWs because of the false prophecies, harmful policies and loss of liberty imposed by the Governing Body.

A commentator on the Internet gives this summary:

Glen How was a lot of things, but integrity to stand up for what is true no matter what was not one of them. He towed the Watchtower party line, whatever that called for. He was a hired man.


Awake! Magazine April 22, 2000, 18-24

How, G. Invading The Family Circle — The Blood Transfusion Statutes, The Australian Quarterly, December 1961

https://ca.vlex.com/vid/malette-v-shulman-68082 9337


Commission Report of Case Study No, 29



Dictionary of Jehovah's Witnesses at: