Do You Respect Plagiarists?
A New York preacher and a Texas editor repeatedly take articles from “The Watchtower” and “Awake!” and publish them as their own in their religious paper
WHAT do you think of a man that lifts articles from one magazine and has them published in another magazine? What do you think when he attaches his name as author of the stolen articles? What do you think of him when he continues to do it after he has been caught and has promised to quit? And does the fact that he claims to be a minister of religion shock you still more?
Again, what do you think of the magazine that uses the plagiarized articles? What do you think of the judgment of such a magazine when it denounces as false another magazine, then turns around and prints as truth the articles plagiarized from it? What do you think of the editor that tells the injured magazine its word is worthless when it brings the plagiarism to his notice? What do you think of him when he ignores the proof sent to him? What do you think when his magazine continues to use the stolen articles? And does not the fact that this magazine poses as Christian make the plagiarism even more reprehensible?
Can you have confidence in such a writer? or in the magazine that uses his plagiarized copy? or in the editor that directs it? Consider the facts, then form your opinion.
The “writer” is Antonio Ochoa of New York city and is a minister of the Churches of Christ. The magazines from which he copies his articles are The Watchtower and the Awake! published by the Watchtower Society, who are publishers for Jehovah’s witnesses. The magazine that uses the plagiarized articles is the Churches of Christ paper Gospel Broadcast, published in Dallas, Texas. The editor and publisher of it is Eugene S. Smith.
The Watchtower Society learned of this unethical practice when a member of the Churches of Christ presented one of Jehovah’s witnesses with a copy of the Gospel Broadcast. “We were somewhat shocked,” wrote the witness, “to find that this magazine, namely the Gospel Broadcast, is copying the articles from The Watchtower and is printing them as though their minister was the originator of them.” Churches of Christ members were very much more shocked when Jehovah’s witnesses at their doors would tell them that parts of their Gospel Broadcast were only reprints of parts of The Watchtower and Awake! How odd, since their religious leaders tell them these magazines are false, for their paper to use articles from these magazines and credit one of their ministers as the author!
A HASTY REPLY
When we wrote Editor Smith asking if it was his policy to republish articles without giving credit to the original publications he snapped back: “Since you give no specific information concerning the date of issue or title of article, I have only your word as given in your letter—and if this is no better than others I have received from your organization in the past, it means absolutely nothing.” Would not a reliable editor have investigated such a serious charge before answering? Above all, should not an editor claiming to be Christian be guided by the Bible principle, “He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him”? Hasty replies that question the veracity of others are not characteristic of men possessing understanding: “He that is slow to wrath is of great understanding: but he that is hasty of spirit exalteth folly.”—Prov. 18:13; 14:29.
Smith’s quick retort may have sprung from the high esteem in which he holds Ochoa, for the man in charge of the Gospel Broadcast’s publishing plant is reported to have lauded Ochoa as a great scholar, not knowing apparently that the scholarly articles had been lifted from the publications of Jehovah’s witnesses. But whatever Smith’s reasons for his slurring reply to our letter about the plagiarized material, we responded to it by sending marked copies of nine different issues of The Watchtower and one of Awake! that had been plagiarized in fourteen issues of the Gospel Broadcast in just nine months; and a number of other examples could have been cited.* Our letter accompanying the proof of plagiarism stated:
“In your letter of May 23  to us you said you had only our word on this matter and concluded that our word meant absolutely nothing. The foregoing gives you proof that it does mean something. Now we would like to know if you have any apology or reconsideration to make concerning this discourteous dismissal of our first letter bringing this matter to your attention. Do you think your appropriating of another organization’s labor and writing without giving credit is ethical or Christian? While you may not have known your contributor was lifting the articles from The Watchtower, yet you must know that publishers cannot shift responsibility in such matters to contributors. The publisher bears responsibility for what he prints.”
This registered letter requested the courtesy of an answer. None was received. It seems that this editor that called our word worthless was knocked speechless when he realized he had thrown a verbal boomerang. It must have been a sickening sensation when he checked and saw paragraph after paragraph in Ochoa’s articles that were lifted bodily from earlier issues of The Watchtower and Awake!
A BROKEN PROMISE
What did the Churches of Christ minister, Antonio Ochoa, have to say when confronted with his plagiarist activities? Writing on May 18, 1953, he said: “In respect to your letter of May 16, I have to admit that it is true that I have quoted certain articles from your magazine and I haven’t said the origin of such research, because of the strong prejudice among the people who read those articles, against Jehovah’s witnesses. I thank you very much for your letter and the advice you give me, and I promised that never I will do that any more as that is your will. Although I have to tell you that I never have received money for the things I write, my only purpose is to do something good and open the eyes of the people who don’t have perhaps the opportunity to see the truth more perfectly because of the prejudices and the environment where they live.”
What Ochoa is saying is that the people of his own religious faith are so prejudiced that they would not consider Bible truth if they knew it came from Jehovah’s witnesses. Because of these prejudices he says they “don’t have perhaps the opportunity to see the truth more perfectly.” This is an admission that their own church does not provide them with clear truth and that to “open the eyes of the people” he brings into their view the clear truth presented in The Watchtower and Awake! But “because of the strong prejudice” against Jehovah’s witnesses, he says he must let them think the needed truth is from his pen to get them to take it in. Apparently he puts Editor Smith in the same prejudiced class in need of truth, and gets him to accept it for publication by concealing its real source.
But what of Ochoa’s promise to steal no more? Instead of falsely branding our word worthless Smith could truly say of Ochoa’s word, “It means absolutely nothing.” Four months after Ochoa’s promise to quit plagiarism the Gospel Broadcast of September 17 published almost in its entirety an article from the February 8, 1953, Awake! and their issue of September 24 carried an article copied paragraph for paragraph from the June 8 Awake! But Ochoa still feels that the Gospel Broadcast readers are too prejudiced to take truth straight from the original source; so he took full credit. The October 8 Gospel Broadcast again carried reprints from The Watchtower with typist Ochoa posing as the author. As he had frequently done before, he even used our title, “The Greater Happiness of Giving,” in copying from our August 1 issue. Mixed in with our material, which highlighted the happiness of giving spiritual food, was Ochoa’s thanks for money sent to him. He enjoys receiving money, but spiritually gives only what he has taken from others. Perhaps the spiritual pantry of his own church is bare. Editor Smith must think it is, else why knowingly continue an accomplice to literary piracy?
As this is being finally written, the latest plagiarism is in the November 19 Gospel Broadcast. It has word for word the four-page article of the February 1, 1953, Watchtower entitled “Transmitting God’s Word.” That is, word for word except where Ochoa failed to copy carefully and left out three lines, resulting in sentences that made no sense. Ochoa did not catch his copyist errors, nor did Smith, nor did proofreaders. Similar carelessness occurred in the February 5, 1953, Gospel Broadcast, which took an article from The Watchtower but made some cuts to fit the available space. This article was documented, with reference numbers in the article and at the end these numbers and the sources of proof were listed. When they cut the article some reference numbers were cut, but at the end of the article these omitted numbers appeared with their sources, just as in The Watchtower’s complete article. They are very careless plagiarists, as well as unprincipled.
“BY YOUR WORDS YOU WILL BE CONDEMNED”
Jesus said: “By your words you will be vindicated, and by your words you will be condemned.” (Matt. 12:37, NW) So hear their words. In the Gospel Broadcast of last May 14 their writer James Lovell said: “The world does not take our word or recognize our goodness above that of any other religious body and HAS NO VALID REASON TO DO SO. It is high time those of us who call ourselves Christians returned to God.” We agree, and suggest as a beginning the ending of plagiarizing and the questioning of our word when they do not think very highly of their own. “First extract the rafter from your own eye, and then you will see clearly how to extract the straw from your brother’s eye.” (Matt. 7:5, NW) In the November 25, 1948, Gospel Broadcast Lovell noted the growth of Jehovah’s witnesses despite persecution and said: “Our love for and faith in Christ are not enough to bring any sort of persecution in any nation.” After mentioning the tremendous circulation of Jehovah’s witnesses’ literature, he said: “Much of the stuff we print is trash which our own members will not buy or read, much less being able to sell it to others.” Saying Watch Tower publishing was done “by members who work for $10 a month ‘expense money,’” he contrasted: “We have a few loyal, consecrated servants who give themselves to the Cause for $50 a sermon ‘expense money,’ but, like a Catholic, there is an extra ‘expectation’ for preaching a funeral or performing a wedding!”
In the May 28 Gospel Broadcast of last year Lovell lamented the twenty or more divisions of the Churches of Christ in America, saying: “Every faction among us is headed up by an editor who either seeks personal power or who sells books. . . . Our attitude as much as says forget what Christ taught or wants as long as we can build a business or father a faction.” No soldier of Christ needlessly “involves himself in the commercial businesses of life.” Paul warns: “Keep your eye on those who create divisions.” Also, “Does the Christ exist divided?” A church “divided against itself will not stand.” A divided church may assume the name of Christ’s church, but it is what they do more than what they say that counts: “Not everyone saying to me, ‘Master, Master,’ will enter into the kingdom of the heavens, but the one doing the will of my Father who is in the heavens will.” (2 Tim. 2:4; Rom. 16:17; 1 Cor. 1:13; Matt. 12:25; 7:21, NW) And it is not Jehovah God’s will for Christians to shun persecution, or print trash, or charge $50 for sermons, or build a business, or father a faction!
“THAT STEAL MY WORDS”
Nor is it Jehovah’s will for Christians to be plagiarists. False prophets in Israel would mingle with their lies the true words of Jehovah delivered by faithful prophets. Jehovah’s judgment was: “Behold, I am against the prophets, saith Jehovah, that steal my words every one from his neighbor.” The unscrupulous falsifiers mixed in true expressions to give their religious lies a deceptive ring of truth.—Jer. 23:30, AS.
Again, in ancient Israel dishonest merchants would add water to the wine to make it go farther, and Jehovah used this to illustrate moral and spiritual corruption, saying: “Thy silver is become dross, thy wine mixed with water.” (Isa. 1:22) Tasty wine that gives joy of heart should not be adulterated with water; nor should God’s Word be adulterated by mixing in false creeds or modern philosophies. Yet this is done, to make the Bible acceptable to a wider class of persons, to spread its watered-down message farther and bring in greater financial returns. Paul condemned this, saying: “We are not peddlers of the word of God.” He used the word “peddlers” to indicate dishonest merchants, such as those alluded to at Isaiah 1:22. His expression can also be rendered: “We are not those who commercialize or make gain of the word of God,” or, “We are not adulterators of the word of God.” A little later in his writings he said: “We do not behave improperly, but we have renounced the underhanded things of which to be ashamed, not walking in craftiness neither adulterating the word of God, but by making the truth manifest recommending ourselves to every human conscience in the sight of God.”—2 Cor. 2:17, NW, margin; 2 Co 4:1, 2, NW.
We cannot comprehend how one who claims to be a Christian minister can deliberately and regularly plagiarize and yet have a clear “conscience in the sight of God.” Does it not rather seem that men who can do this have been “marked in their conscience as with a branding iron,” rendering it seared and insensitive to any guilt prickings? Is that why Ochoa and Smith have not “renounced the underhanded things of which to be ashamed,” but continue “walking in craftiness,” one pretending to write and the other publishing what is not theirs? Their continuing careers in plagiarism call to mind the words: “Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination? nay, they were not at all ashamed, neither could they blush.”—1 Tim. 4:2, NW; Jer. 6:15.
Amos 8:11 (AS) states: “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord Jehovah, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of Jehovah.” This spiritual famine is now on in the churches of Christendom, whether they be the fundamentalist groups whose creeds are based on pagan teachings such as trinity and purgatory and eternal torment, or the modernist cults that embrace worldly philosophies and unprovable evolution theories. This famine explains the moral collapse and spiritual anemia rampant in Christendom at the present time. On the other hand, why are Jehovah’s witnesses so zealous in preaching and so enduring under persecution, as Churches of Christ Lovell noted? Because they are spiritually well fed. Can a man do heavy physical labor on starvation rations? Neither can a man zealously preach and faithfully endure as a Christian when deprived of wholesome spiritual food.
No honest person would condone plagiarism. It is against the law. But our purpose in objecting to it is for an additional reason. Jesus warned his disciples: “Be on the alert and watch out for the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” By “yeast” was meant false religious teachings. Paul showed what the result would be of mixing such yeast with the truth, when he announced the principle: “A little yeast ferments the whole lump.” By mixing the false with the true the entire presentation is spoiled. It is like spoiling good wine with water. As Paul further said: “What fellowship does light have with darkness?” (Matt. 16:6, 11, 12; Gal. 5:9; 2 Cor. 6:14, NW) Since we believe the teachings of the Churches of Christ are erroneous we do not approve of our articles based on Bible truth being wrapped up in the same package with theirs, being made a part of the lump in which their yeast ferments. Also, some sincere readers of the Gospel Broadcast may see in the articles plagiarized from our magazines the message of truth; they would naturally look to that religious group as the source of such truths and put trust in it. This would leave them exposed to the falsehoods taught by that group.
Viewing it from the standpoint of the Churches of Christ: if they think we are wrong and they are right, why would they want to contaminate their message with what they consider our error? The Scriptural principle outlined in the preceding paragraph operates, regardless of which is right and which is wrong. Maybe Ochoa and Smith are not sure they are right. Surely they would not reprint as their own The Watchtower and Awake! if they thought those magazines in error. And if the writers for and the editor of the Gospel Broadcast are so unstable, how can the readers feel confident in the paper’s guidance? Readers can hereafter wonder when they see its articles: Are they by Churches of Christ ministers as it says, or are they reprints from the Watchtower or Awake! magazines? How can readers hereafter rely on that paper or its writers or its editor?
Christ Jesus said: “Be on the watch for the false prophets that come to you in sheep’s covering, but inside they are ravenous wolves. By their fruits you will recognize them. Never do people gather grapes from thorns or figs from thistles, do they? Likewise every good tree produces fine fruit, but every rotten tree produces bad fruit; a good tree cannot bear bad fruit, neither can a rotten tree produce fine fruit. Every tree not producing fine fruit gets cut down and thrown into the fire. Really, then, by their fruits you will recognize those men.” (Matt. 7:15-20, NW) So the conclusion of the matter is an easy application of this rule given by Christ. Do you think plagiarism is fine fruit from a good tree? Or do you think it is bad fruit from a rotten tree? You answer for yourself.
Of the following articles copied from The Watchtower, six had under the titles “By Antonio Ochoa.” The remainder were credited to him in footnotes and were further identified by having his picture published with the articles. Ochoa has no scruples against taking credit for the work performed by others, and Smith seems willing to give it.
Gospel Broadcast Title of Date of Watchtower
date articles copied from
July 17, 1952 Are Popes Fallible or March 15, 1952
July 24 Are Popes Fallible or March 15, 1952
September 4 Constantine’s Cross August 1, 1951
October 16 True Religion versus February 1, 1952
January 8, 1953 Is God Responsible for April 1, 1952
January 22 Choosing Now to Live Then: March 15, 1952
January 29 Choosing Now to Live Then: March 15, 1952
February 5 Early Christians Unspotted March 1, 1951
from the World
February 19 Is Christmas Christian or December 15, 1952
March 12 Do You Have Hearing Ears? May 15, 1952
April 9 God’s People and the Bible December 15 and
November 1, 1952
April 16 God’s People and the Bible November 1, 1952
April 23 God’s People and the Bible November 1, 1952
June 4 Is the Holy Mass a March 1, 1953
June 11 Is the Holy Mass a March 1, 1953
Additionally, the September 4, 1952, Gospel Broadcast copied from the October 8, 1951, Awake! The August 28, 1952, Gospel Broadcast article “Was Peter the First Pope?” was copied from the June 1, 1951, Watchtower, but was not credited to Ochoa. Whether this meant another Churches of Christ minister was following in Ochoa’s footsteps or not we cannot say. A pamphlet entitled “God’s People and the Bible” by Ochoa was copied from The Watchtower, but the publishers did not identify themselves.
[Picture on page 36]
Ochoa-Smith Plagiarism Mill