Astonishing news is spreading that the activist group Anonymous is now targeting the Watch Tower Society with an attack aimed at uncovering a database of sex offenders that is said to be held electronically at central offices of Jehovah’s Witnesses in the United States. The database, which is rumoured to contain the names of thousands of individuals who have been accused but not convicted of sex crimes, has been alluded to in Watchtower organizational correspondence but has yet to be publicly acknowledged.
Anonymous made their threats against the Society via videos posted on the popular website YouTube. The group is known to have already attacked the Church of Scientology during “Project Chanology” in 2008, resulting for a brief period in some of the church’s websites crashing and certain documents allegedly being leaked. In the wake of the publicity surrounding the Candace Conti verdict, the group has now targeted the Watch Tower Society as part of “Operation Pedo Chat”, which is a broader operation aimed at bringing child molesters to justice.
Here is a transcript of the Anonymous video:
Hello Citizens of the world. We are Anonymous.
Dear brothers and sisters,
Now is the time to open your eyes and expose the truth!
Operation Pedo Chat has commenced with a great deal of success and enthusiasm to protect the innocent from these disgusting pedophiles that roam the internet. While this war on internet Pedophilia has only just begun, more cries for help has gained the attention of Anonymous. A cult under the umbrella of Jehovah’s Witnesses has 23,000 plus pedophiles names and their offenses on this list within Watchtower Head quarters which is not available to the public. The Watchtower headquarters is located at 100 Watchtower Drive, Patterson, New York, 12563. Jehovah’s Witnesses official website is www.watchtower.org When a Jehovah’s Witness is faced with being victim to a pedophile, the accusing parents and the child are told to go to the elders first, not the police, and then let the elders make the decision.
When they bring their child to the elders to explain, the elders hear the story and then bring in the pedophile. If the pedophile denies the charges, they leave it up to “Jehovah” to bring it out and go no further, unless there are witnesses.
Anonymous calls on the 99% to infiltrate this group and uncover any data pertaining to these cultish pedophilia crimes and expose this cult for who and what it is. Anonymous must get this pedophile list and submit it to the following:
The Pirate Bay, Wikileaks, and www.silentlambs.org
Anonymous will expose the vile pedophiles and free the silent lambs.
We are anonymous.
We are Legion.
We do not forgive.
We do not forget.
So far, there has been no official reaction to the threats of Anonymous on the Society’s official media website. However, given the group’s track record, there must surely be some concern behind closed doors as to the potential ramifications if any confidential information were to be leaked.
Does the Society hold a secret list of pedophiles?
As has been previously mentioned, the Watch Tower Society does not acknowledge in its publications that it keeps any records on those accused of pedophilia or related crimes. However, there IS documented evidence to suggest that records are kept of those found guilty of child molestation by a body of elders. This came to light recently during the Candace Conti verdict, when certain private correspondence was published.
Consider the following Watchtower letter to Fremont North congregation, dated June 19, 1998, in which the Fremont elders were reminded to send in specific details on Jonathan Kendrick in compliance with a previous letter to all bodies of elders.
You will note that another letter is alluded to in the above letter – namely a Society letter dated March 14, 1997, to all bodies of elders. A copy of one of the pages of this letter, which requests the information, is reproduced below:
This March 14, 1997 letter served the purpose of requesting all congregations to send in details of any brothers either currently or previously serving in appointed positions within a congregation who had been found guilty by a body of elders of child molestation. The Fremont elders had evidently overlooked the request to do this in the case of Kendrick, and so sent the following belated response, dated August 31, 1998. Note the numbered responses to the questions posed in the March 14, 1997 letter.
As evidenced by the above letters, there were 12 questions that ALL bodies of elders were required to answer in relation to those found guilty of child abuse. The Fremont elders, in this case, answered the majority of those questions regarding Jonathan Kendrick – but it was incumbent on elders in ALL congregations to answer the same questions regarding similar offenders known locally. These questions were as follows:
- How long ago did he commit the sin?
- What was his age at the time?*
- What was the age of his victim(s)?
- Was it a one-time occurrence or a practice?
- If it was a practice, to what extent?*
- How is he viewed in the community and by the authorities?
- Has he lived down any notoriety in the community?
- Are members of the congregation aware of what took place?
- How do they and/or his victim(s) view him?*
- Has he ever been disfellowshipped, reproved, counselled, or otherwise dealt with?
- If he has moved to another congregation, please identify the congregation to which he has moved.
- Was that congregation advised of his past conduct of child molestation, and, if so, when?
* It appears that, inexplicably, certain questions were not answered by the Fremont elders in relation to Kendrick.
As mentioned, the above questions were asked of elders concerning child molesters in all congregations (specifically, molesters who had served in some appointed capacity). It would be reasonable to assume that, once received by the Society, the answers would then be compiled on a central database, either in writing or electronically. In that respect, the questions themselves may be thought of as corresponding with fields on a database.
Given the number of congregations responding to these questions, and the number of offenders whose details would need to be processed, it would take only the wildest of imaginations to assume that this database was anything other than computer-based and networked (leaving it susceptible to attack by Anonymous), rather than kept in a handwritten book or ledger.
Many will no doubt raise questions as to why a database of child offenders should be held by the Society if it is not automatically shared with the authorities so that these can investigate all reported cases and bring those found guilty to justice. As explained in my recent article on the Candace Conti verdict, the primary motivating influence behind the Society’s policy of confidentiality in respect of child molesters is to rigidly enforce the “two witness rule”.
Put simply, the Society firmly believes that, unless a third person is on hand to witness a child being molested, the incident should be “brushed under the rug” if the perpetrator denies it. This is why the Society insists that THEY should be consulted first by elders rather than the authorities, so that they can manage any incidents and ensure that the “two witness rule” is applied and any legal entanglements kept to a minimum. It is this blatantly negligent approach that opposers of the Watch Tower Society commonly refer to when they say that the Society protects pedophiles – because this “loophole” favors the offender rather than the victim, and bypasses the authority of local law enforcement in determining whether someone is guilty or not.
What can we expect?
Anonymous would themselves acknowledge that they have courted controversy since their inception in 2003. Their methods are questionable and, many would argue, downright illegal. I would in no way wish to use the pages of this website to encourage anyone to break the law or support those who do so. However, in their stated aim to expose pedophiles and bring such monsters to justice, it is difficult not to admire the group’s motives in this particular campaign.
Whether they are fulfilling these objectives by exposing those monsters who find sanctuary on the Society’s database and in its policy of secrecy is for each one of us to decide. In turn, whether the “ends justify the means” is a matter for the authorities to determine. It is, after all, the authorities who carry the responsibility of prosecuting any child molesters who are uncovered as a result of this or any subsequent attempts to extract the database.
Regardless of our personal feelings or observations, it would appear the attack has already begun. It seems intelligence is already being gathered, and protests are being planned that will doubtless draw media attention. Many inside the organization will likely conclude that this is an attack by Satan, and the existing “persecution complex” and paranoia of such ones will be heightened. Others who are well-informed about the Society’s history and policies will see it as justice for those who have suffered at the hands of an organization that refuses to protect its most vulnerable members.
In any case, perhaps now would be a good time to remind ourselves of two pertinent scriptures:
“What, then, shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who will be against us?” – Romans 8:31 (New World Translation)
“And so, under the present circumstances, I say to YOU, Do not meddle with these men, but let them alone; (because, if this scheme or this work is from men, it will be overthrown; but if it is from God, YOU will not be able to overthrow them;) otherwise, YOU may perhaps be found fighters actually against God.” – Acts 5:38, 39 (New World Translation)
Indeed, whatever happens in this matter will happen regardless of any intervention by any of us. My personal view is that it is best to wait and see what transpires. In doing so, we do well to remind ourselves that, if God is truly backing the Watch Tower Society, then we should be seeing an organization that is growing and flourishing in spite of any attacks by Anonymous, or similarly damaging developments.
If, on the other hand, God is NOT backing the Watch Tower Society, then this should become apparent – either through a successful Anonymous campaign, or through closer inspection of the organization on an individual basis. We do well to remain observant and inquisitive as events unfold.
Many would argue that the continued spate of branch closures and operational downsizing by the Society already sends a worrying omen that all is not well within the organization, and it is not enjoying the success it once did – either financially or otherwise. I’m sure this latest attack by a committed group of activists could not have been more poorly timed for the Governing Body, who will already be preoccupied with “putting out fires” in the wake of the Candace Conti verdict.
It goes without saying that a successful attack by Anonymous would have a crippling effect on the Society’s reputation and credibility, possibly beyond anything we can contemplate. Indeed, the very fact that Watchtower is now being targeted by a non-Witness activist group would seem to indicate that the wider public’s patience towards the organization regarding its terrible track record on handling child abuse is wearing thin.
[Update: since this article was written, Anonymous seems to have relented in their pursuit of Watchtower. I am led to believe that a database file WAS extracted, but it was too heavily encrypted to be deciphered without assistance from the authorities. Anonymous did produce other incriminating information related to Watchtower (in particular its shady financial practices), but this is mostly already available on Ex-JW websites. Since Anonymous has slipped back into the shadows, a new organization has come to the fore in helping to expose Watchtower. JWsurvey.org is proudly affiliated with Advocates for Awareness of Watchtower Abuses (AAWA.co) – a legally incorporated organization which aims to raise awareness of Watchtower’s harmful practices through respectful and well-informed activism.]