If you do nothing else today, you must watch the YouTube video below. If you’ve already seen it, I’m sure that you were just as impressed as I was with the immediate credibility of Bo Juel Jensen.
But it’s not just Bo; it’s what he is telling the world community that will tug at your heartstrings. So who is Bo Juel Jensen, and what is his message? I would like to tackle that question with the following story. And I have a sneaky suspicion that he may soon become the Watchtower Society’s worst nightmare.
Bo was born in Denmark on March 1971, a love child. His mother was a 19-year-old student, working at a Danish bank with just enough spare time for a brief but productive affair with her boss. Bo’s biological father was married with two children and was not going to leave his wife. To make matters worse, Bo’s mom was one of Jehovah’s Witnesses (JWs) and when her parents learned that she was pregnant, she was disfellowshipped. Her father, ahead of his time for a JW, refused to speak to her. She was alone and needed help, so she did what it took to be reinstated and married a JW a year after Bo was born.
Bo’s parents moved to Norway in 1973, and a year later, he was adopted by his mom’s new husband. Bo thought the man was his real father until he learned otherwise at age eighteen. What he knew while growing up was that his extended families were all strong JWs. He cannot remember anyone he knew who wasn’t a JW before he started school at age seven, which was the norm in Norway. A year before that, he thought everyone was a JW. His four grandparents were hard-core JWs and his uncle was a Gilead graduate and long-time missionary in Korea. Building branch offices, convention halls and Kingdom Halls in Norway, Denmark and Sweden is what his family excelled at doing. Both of his grandfathers were known as, “The old giants of the truth.”
Humiliation at the hands of a hypocrite
But not all JWs that Bo knew were inclined to help him grow up healthy and happy. When Bo was five years old, he was sexually molested by an elder at his Kingdom Hall. Even now, it’s very difficult for him to talk about it. And the molestation continued for four years. Finally at age nine, Bo rallied the courage to tell his mom what was happening. It wasn’t easy. He should have done it years before. The pain, shame, guilt, humiliation and anger that he harbored from his years of abuse were not emotions he could then put into words.
Those were the dark years, producing awful memories that he tries to forget. “Huge holes in my memory,” is how he describes it today. The abuser was trusted by everyone in the Hall. In fact, the man was married with a son and two daughters. Bo still has great difficulty talking about this four-year period in his life. The fear and horror was more than he could handle at times. He was being raped and he felt helpless.
When Bo finally mustered the courage to tell his mother what was happening to him, both of his parents, along with Bo, went at once to the police. The police had experts talk with nine-year-old Bo, giving him immediate relief, like this was all behind him now. Everything would be okay. This was a bad man who would be punished. Bo was safe now. But nothing happened, except that the molester was disfellowshipped. And the reason that nothing happened is that Bo’s parents withdrew their complaint, due to the persuasive power of other elders at the Hall. “You don’t take your brothers to court. Trust in Jehovah and everything will be okay.” Without a complaint, the police had no case. What made it so onerous is that the predator actually confessed to molesting not just Bo, but several young children at the Hall. He had been doing it for years.
Bo gags with disgust recalling the four-year period when the predator was molesting him that the hypocrite actually gave talks at the Hall about immorality and how God hates it. Bo remembers on one occasion when the abuser was giving a talk on the platform, that he thought that he, Bo, was the only person in the world who knew just how awful this man was.
He was a lying cheat and Bo wanted him to disappear, but the molester was reinstated as a JW in good-standing within a year after he was disfellowshipped. He could not go to the Hall Bo attended, but Bo would see him at assemblies.
“Make him go away!”
Fellow JWs treated the contrite scumbag like he was a changed man. He had made a big mistake, but he would never do it again. Another concern of Bo’s was that the molester attended a Hall fifteen kilometers from Bo’s Hall and that made him very uneasy. Bo started to worry about his safety. When Bo was twelve, he not only saw the man at a convention, the now repentant child abuser tried to engage Bo in a conversation. When it happened, it scared Bo so much that he turned and ran as fast as he could to find his grandfather.
His heart was beating rapidly and he was scared and speechless when he found and grabbed hold of his trusted grandfather. It took a while, but finally he could speak, “Grandpa, Grandpa, he tried to talk with me. I don’t like him. Make him go away.”
Bo’s grandfather hesitated for a few moments, hugging Bo as tightly as he dared. He waited until Bo had stopped crying and softly said, “Bo, you must forgive him. Jehovah has forgiven him and so must you. He is your brother now and you must be willing to give your life for him.”
It is a moment in time that Bo will never forget. He knew that he could trust his grandfather. He wanted to believe what he was telling him. Grandpa didn’t lie. But this made no sense. Maybe Grandpa knew something he didn’t know. What Bo knew for sure was that he would never get near that evil man and no one would make him say what Grandpa said about him. He was a bad person.
“What’s the difference between them and us?”
Bo’s first epiphany—that JWs may not be God’s chosen people—occurred when he was fifteen years old. He was at a soccer game with two other JW boys. The three boys had not told anyone that they were going to watch the national team play because it was forbidden by their JW parents, as it was a poor use of their time. Going in the door-to-door work, now that’s what God would have wanted them to do. As Bo sat in the stadium, he saw a father and his son sitting two rows below him. They were watching the game and having a great time. They smiled at each other and he could see that there was a special bond between them, they loved each other. Then this little voice in his head asked him, “What’s the difference between these two people and you, Bo?”
It was a good question and easy to answer: there was no difference. They were probably better off than him and his dad. Then the inner voice asked him, “What’s the difference between the 25,000 spectators in the stadium and the three JWs there?” No difference. Finally the voice asked, “Then why would God kill all the people in that stadium and save the three JW boys there?” In a flash, he knew that made no sense. It was a silly assumption. And he thought for the first time that he probably would not always be a JW. Just when and how he would leave, he could not then imagine. But, he knew that’s what he would eventually do.
Bo’s schooling while growing up as a JW was limited. Armageddon was imminent, maybe it would happen in a year or two, so why attend college? That’s how his parents couched it. So Bo’s schooling was limited to the mandatory nine years in Norway, from age seven to sixteen. At nineteen, he found a job selling insurance to people in the financial markets, and in the process he discovered something very special about himself. He loved to sell, and he excelled at it. A good listener, he paid careful attention to what people said, and what they meant by what they said. He didn’t try to sell them more than they needed. He learned early that by focusing on creating value for his customers, matching their needs to the products that he sold, it created a win-win situation.
In 1994 and early in his working life, Bo decided that he did not want to be associated with JWs. The Watchtower’s doctrines and policies did not hold up to objective scrutiny. They no longer made sense to him. So he wrote a letter informing his congregation of his decision. He had broken no rules so he could not be disfellowshipped. Unfortunately, his wife and daughter did not share his doubts, and his wife quickly filed for divorce. She could not live with a man who was not a JW. In fact, Bo is shunned to this day by his daughter and ex-wife.
After the divorce, Bo immersed himself in his work life, selling stocks, bonds and paper assets in the Norwegian stock market. Over the years, he has worked for brokerage firms and major banks in Western Europe, served on management boards and as a partner in several asset management companies. He achieved financial success due in large part to his exceptional selling skills.
But in the summer of 2011, Bo decided that it was time for a change. He quit his job, deciding to be consultant. He is currently the principal adviser on several financial projects, working with start-up companies and venture capitalists. And he decided to do something that he always wanted to do. In his spare time, he would use his selling skills to inform people in Scandinavian countries about the dangers of high-control religion.
Great news from America
In June of 2012, he received a sudden burst of energy. Candace Conti, also a JW pedophile victim, took the Watchtower Society to court and exposed the world to their ineffective, negligent treatment of sexual offenders – particularly child molesters. And she won! This was great news for Bo. If a twenty-six-year-old American woman could take on the Society and win, why couldn’t he?
In August 2012, Bo helped launch a-not-for-profit organization called, “Hjelpekilden.” It would be a safe haven for people who had left or been kicked out of religious cults. Not just the Watchtower Society – any cult. There are currently 250 members. The organization, which is managed like a well-run business, helps people when they are most in need, still vulnerable from the crippling policies and misinformation they acquired during their time in a cult. Hjelpkilden provides human support systems, telephone services, professional health-care workers and doctors to assist people in need. It’s a group of caring people with good listening skills – cult survivors who have been there, done that.
One of the most helpful services that Bo’s team provides is good objective information. Hjelpkilden drafts op-ed stories for the media to help the public understand how cults manipulate and control their followers. His group exposes the secrets and unpleasant facts that cults like the Watch Tower Society try to hide from their members. And for Bo, it’s all about making people aware of the dangers for children in cults. He has taken it upon himself to report story after story, true stories of religious abuse.
In the Norwegian media spotlight
In December 2012, Bo hit pay dirt when NRK, the biggest and most trusted news agency in Norway, printed damaging articles about Watchtower policies for seven straight days. Bo says that it was most gratifying to help facilitate over forty interviews and to work with the three full-time writers who broke the story.
Bo was asked to appear on Norway’s national television station just a few days after the NRK articles were published. It was short notice and he did not know who would be invited or what questions he would be asked. He was called at 2pm and asked if he could be at the TV studio in five-and-half hours. “No problem, I’ll be there.” And he had never before appeared on live TV.
When he arrived, he was pleased to see Roar Henriksen, who is a long-standing critic of the Society. Together, they made it clear to the public that hundreds of children were at risk due to the damaging policies of JWs, which protect pedophiles. Four people were asked to be on the panel. One of the panelists was the author of a book about cults. Before the interview, she was convinced that JWs didn’t fit that criterion. After Bo’s persuasive arguments, she decided that many JW policies and beliefs were cult-like. If it quacks like a duck and waddles like a duck, it must be a duck.
A month before Bo was on television, he noted with interest a John Cedars’ post on jwsurvey.com about a secret letter the Watchtower Society had sent to congregations around the world. It was sent to reaffirm the Society’s policies on pedophilia. Bo made a copy of the letter but did not read it. It wasn’t until after the television appearance that he read the letter. And he was appalled! Someone had to tell the world that this was baloney. (Okay, he used stronger words than that.) So he contacted Cedars and produced a YouTube video, serving notice to the Society and the world that the battle lines had been drawn. War had been declared on high-control religion at its worst.
“Get those kids out of harm’s way!”
This is not the last you will hear or see from Bo Juel Jensen. There is much more to come. When I asked Bo what he expects to accomplish with his media campaign targeting the foul-smelling JW policies, he said, “I have a dream! And that dream is that the Tower will fall. That the Governing Body of JWs will go to trial for its unjust policies; for the many pains it has inflicted on its followers. Okay, that may not happen, but I think it’s possible that we can get the Society to change their pedophile policies. If that happens, it will protect thousands of children in the future.”
“Perhaps our work will wake up some current members about the insidious policies of this ugly cult. And for me, this is personal. No child should go through what I experienced as a child. I must help to get those kids out of harm’s way. To the Watchtower Society, I say, ‘Enough is enough!’ We will not tolerate out-of-date harmful policies. And just maybe in my lifetime, JWs will be known around the world as a diminishing, fast-fading small-time cult.”
Bo also made it clear that there are many good people who are JWs, and he knows and loves these ones. But he hates the leaders, the policy makers. “I want the world to know me. That I am a survivor, a strong person, and I will not be a victim.”
Bo has immersed himself personally in telling people what it is like to live in a cult, and how dangerous it can be. In December 2012, he and his friend Tommy Andersen were invited to the Justice Department in Norway to tell their story. It is entirely possible that criminal charges will be filed in the near future against the Watchtower Society as the policy makers for all JWs.
When I asked Bo what is driving this passion to let the world know about the unjust policies of JWs, he said, “Silence is consent, and with my good communication skills, I refuse to consent!”
I have one last little story that I would like to share about Bo. It happened in 2009 during a telephone conversation. Bo had not heard from his maternal grandfather for several years, and only twice in the last fifteen years, when he picked up the ringing telephone. Lo and behold, it was Grandpa’s voice. “Bo, how are you? I want you to come back into the truth. Armageddon is so very close and I want you to live with me forever in the new world.”
Bo was grateful for the call. It was a delight to hear his grandpa’s voice but he was happy and would never come back. After five minutes of talking, Grandpa ended the conversation with, “If we were living 2,500 years ago in Israel, you would have been stoned and I would have thrown the first stone at you.”
Further information on Bo Juel Jensen and the media campaign in Norway:
- Google translation of NRK article
- Bo’s appearance on Norwegian television
- NRK report on violent images in My Book of Bible Stories
- EX-JW.com article on the Norwegian media exposure