Puerto Ricans lose the right to bar Jehovah’s Witnesses from their gated communities

FEARFUL of falling victim to rising crime, growing numbers of Puerto Ricans are moving into gated premises, a trend facilitated by the Controlled Access Laws (CAL) which were enacted to make it easier for residents to keep out undesirables.

This in turn had the effect of throwing a spanner into the works of Jehovah’s Witnesses, who found themselves being barred  from direct access to those they wished to target.


So they turned to the law for help, and eventually found it it the form of District Court judge, Gustavo Gelpí, who – according to this report– astonishingly ordered neighborhoods who maintain un-manned gates to provide beepers, keys or any other mode of access to the Jehovah’s Witnesses.

The decision, according to this report, is the latest chapter of a legal battle that has spanned several years by the Watchtower Bible Society (as plaintiffs) and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, several municipalities and neighborhoods (as defendants).

The case begins when the Watchtower Bible & Tract Society of New York, Inc. asserted that it was their religious duty to share the Bible’s message publicly and to proselytise from door to door. But when Puerto Rico enacted CAL JWs  found themselves unable to do door to door visits.

More often than not, residents would (and still don’t) not let them in, and neighborhood guards  or flatly deny them access. In the case of un-manned gates, residents simply refuse to “buzz them in”.

Following many attempts by Watchtower to reach an agreement with municipalities and neighborhoods for access, they filed a declaratory action & injunction at the Puerto Rico Federal District Court.

After several procedural steps and filings, Judge Pieras threw out the Watchtower’s case. The JWs then appealed and the case was remanded back to the District Court.

Gelpí’s decision has, unsurprisingly, not gone down well with many residents who live in gated communities. The ruling, in effect, said that blocking access impairs the JWs’ First Amendment rights under the Federal Constitution, and that people living in a gated community cannot legally keep these pests out.

Although the decision is limited to Jehovah’s Witnesses, other advocacy groups could soon file similar legal challenges, further eroding the self-imposed barriers many Puerto Ricans enjoy and cherish.

Note: It was reported here that in England in 2006 a woman who had a humorous sign outside her cottage for more than 30 years was been told by police to take it down because it was deemed a “hate crime”  – despite local Jehovah’s Witnesses saying it didn’t cause offence

The sign – saying “Our dogs are fed on Jehovah’s Witnesses” –  was put up after members of the crazy cult repeatedly pestered the occupants – even once on Christmas day.


Hat Tip: Trevor Blake

16 responses to “Puerto Ricans lose the right to bar Jehovah’s Witnesses from their gated communities”

  1. L.Long says:

    ‘ take it down because it was deemed a “hate crime” ‘
    Change the sign to read ‘our dog is fed on ALL who come to the door.’ Of coarse this means you will not get the Clearance House Sweepstakes check.

  2. kg says:

    From now on, burglars will get on the premises by saying they are JW, and no one dares not to buzz them in.
    Like in France, where banks and jewellers were robbed by people in full veil.
    A ‘natural’ process of associating crime with religion 🙂

  3. Robster says:

    Those JW’s are programmed to annoy, their concern is that they’ll spontaneously explode if they’re unable to espouse their extremely silly nonsense to all and sundry. It’s probably better to have JW’s out and about rather than bits of exploded decomposing JW’s messing up the sreetscape with their blood and gore, the passing catholics will probably think it’s jesus crackers and red wine. Given the complete lack of interest in what they’re selling it really is a surprise that they continue to bother.

  4. grneyedmonster says:

    What the article doesn’t tell you is that under Puerto Rican law all roads are public property, and the controlled access areas cannot deny access to anyone seeking to exercise “constitutionally protected activities.” (869 F.Supp.2d 215, 217-18) While the scope of the court’s opinion seems overly broad to the point of making gated urbanizations almost pointless, as long as the streets cannot be privatized, these neighborhoods cannot exclude annoying religious proselytizers. However, each homeowner probably still has the right to post a “no soliciting” sign.

  5. Stephen Mynett says:

    While the law may state access cannot be denied, it is probably only a religious group that would be so selfish as to deny people security. Had the JWs kept quiet it is likely that no-one would have noticed a law be broken or done anything about it if they had.

    The self-righteous JWs, however, will still sit back and let their children die rather than allow them the medical treatments that would save them.

  6. T says:

    When such people knock on my door or ring my phone I just tell them….”FUCK OFF” in a firm assertive manner. It normally works. If not me and my 2 boys make them wait while we sing them a song. One Pound Fish is our current piece. They soon get the message.

  7. ep says:

    you are so stupid… stupid like a door that no one knocks… a lonely stupid door…

  8. chrsbol says:

    I may have said this before but I’ll say it again. We have neighbours who are JW’s and they have a sign up that reads No cold

  9. chrsbol says:

    Sorry it doesn’t read No cold calling wtf just No cold calling.

  10. robert says:

    Jesus said: ‘Behold, I stand at the door and knock.’

    Too bad most people don’t open the door.

  11. jay says:

    In the US gated communities have historically been used to keep ‘undesirable ethnic and other groups out of sight. That’s the background of the public access laws.

  12. Ian says:

    The JWs have stopped calling at my home and I do miss them. Such nice, naive, gullible people; Dog told me that my mission in life would be to teach those who thought they knew the absolute truth about his non-existence.

    One couple lasted almost an hour before they made their excuses and left, so sad.

  13. Trevor Blake says:

    It is a sincerely held belief in my religion that I need to be given airplane tickets to be able to witness to the lost. Also I need keys to most buildings, a sandwich and some spending money. Please do not offend me and censor my religion! Which religion? Oh, just pick one, as all faiths are equal (or so I’m told).

  14. jay says:

    It’s not so difficult. Just like telemarketers you simply do not let them engage you in conversation. Shut the door. Walk away. There is no way they can waste an hour of your time unless you let them.

  15. Calven Mufote says:

    ‘Search for Jehovah, you Puerto Ricans while he maybe found. Call to him he proves to be near. Let the wicked man leave his way……..for he will forgive in a large way’ Isaiah 54: 6 and 7

  16. Jean B. says:

    Thanks Britist jehovah witnesses to stand
    with us in time of our need of precheaching door to door.