News Bulletin: Australia Amends Working with Children Act – Jehovah’s Witnesses Forced to Comply or Face Severe Penalties
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On Wednesday September 13th, in a Jehovah’s Witness congregation in Sydney Australia, a Ministerial Servant was appointed. According to a verified source present at this meeting, this announcement had been previously delayed because of the revised Working with Children Act policy, which mandates that persons who have positions which place them in direct contact with children must first apply for and obtain a special card before being appointed.

Sample Working With Children Card

Sample Working With Children Card

The announcement made by the Coordinator of the Body of Elders stated:

“We’ve just got one announcement. As we’ve mentioned before we had our Circuit Overseer’s visit and we don’t always get to announce all of the appointments straight away because we sometimes have to wait for the brothers to be able to get their Working With Children Check from the Government. So now, we just want to let the congregation know that Brother [REDACTED] has been appointed as a Ministerial Servant in the congregation.”

 

As this Sydney congregation is located in the state of New South Wales (NSW), the Watchtower’s congregations, together with individual Elders and Ministerial Servants will now be forced to comply with the NSW revisions to the  Working with Children Act of 2012. 

Each state in Australia, along with its capital territory (ACT) has been tasked with implementing their own laws, which follow the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.  Jehovah’s Witnesses were scrutinized heavily during the 2015 Case Study #29, resulting in a 110 page report detailing their failure to protect victims of child abuse. 

According to this report:

“The general practice of the Jehovah’s Witness organisation of not reporting child sexual abuse to the authorities unless required to do so by law undermines the efficacy of the Working with Children Check system in relation to Jehovah’s Witnesses” – [Section 7.1 page 62]

The State of Victoria

The state of Victoria, Australia has led the way among Australian states in implementing recommendations of the Royal Commission, as evidenced by statements on their updated web site:

On 1 August 2017, a number of important amendments to the Working with Children Check Act 2005 (the Act) came into effect.

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse made several recommendations aimed at strengthening the protection children receive through Working with Children Checks. The following amendments to the Act implement these recommendations:

  1. Expand the definition of ‘direct contact’ in the Act. The definition of direct contact now includes oral, written or electronic communication as well as face-to-face and physical contact. The Act will continue to provide that a Check is not required in circumstances where the contact with a child is occasional and incidental to the work.
  2. Remove references to ‘supervision’ from the Act. This means that even if a person’s contact with children as part of their child-related work is supervised by another person, they will still need to apply for a Check.
  3. Create a new occupational category of ‘child-related work’, known as ‘kinship care’. Family members or other persons of significance caring for a placed by Child Protection under the Youth and Families Act 2005 are required to obtain a Check.
  4. Ensure that non-conviction charges (charges that have been finally dealt with other than by a conviction or finding of guilt) for serious sexual, violent or drug offences are considered as part of a Check assessment or re-assessment.
  5. Enable the Secretary to the Department of Justice and Regulation to compel the production of certain information for the purposes of compliance monitoring.

In addition, various other miscellaneous and technical amendments have been made to improve the Act’s operation and administration.

For detailed information about these changes, go to Changes to Legislation.

 

What Does This Mean for Jehovah’s Witnesses?

For Australian congregations of Jehovah’s Witnesses, the process for appointing an Elder or Ministerial Servant is now a bit more complex than before. In the past, Witness males were recommended for their positions based strictly upon their “spiritual qualifications” – a subjective decision which allowed anyone to rise within the organization with little or no real knowledge of whether they have a criminal background, or if they are a sexual predator. Criminal background checks are non-existent, and the only question posed to a prospective Ministerial Servant or Elder moments before they are appointed is:

“Have you ever been involved at any time in the past with child sexual molestation?”   –   [Elder’s Manual 2010, Chapter 3 Section 13]

The answer to this question has always been based on the “honor system” – and you can be certain that a child molester would never answer such a question in the affirmative.

During the 2015 Royal Commission investigation of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Australia, counsel assisting the Royal Commission, Angus Stewart QC, queried Watchtower Service Department chief Rodney Spinks, who admitted that the Watchtower organization had been completely disinterested in cooperating with the “Working with Children Check.”  This check would violate none of their religious principles, yet the organization was unwilling to implement any of their reasonable suggestions.

 

STEWART: “Can I just get you to address your mind to a situation  which I’m suggesting of a person who has said “Yes” to that question that they have engaged in child sexual molestation; they are also saying that they are now of good moral standing and habits; and I understand that there is a process with head office. But would you, in that circumstance, seek any external tests for that, such as a criminal records history?”

SPINKS: I think we’ve ‐‐

STEWART: Is the answer no?

SPINKS: The answer is no.

STEWART: All right. In that circumstance, would you require a person to provide a Working With Children Check?

SPINKS: That has not been the case.

STEWART: So the answer is no?

SPINKS: Correct

[Bold is mine] – Reference Australia Royal Commission Transcript-(Day-152-August 4-2015)

 

As a result of the adamant defiance of Jehovah’s Witnesses to cooperate with the simplest of safeguards for children and the congregations across the nation, they now face mandatory cooperation with state regulations which now require anyone with religious authority to be vetted by each state, or face severe penalties for failure to do so. The reality is that for prospective elders and ministerial servants with clean records, this theoretically should not present a hardship, as the process is free of charge for members of clergy who are unpaid volunteers. For Victorian citizens,the process starts with a quick visit to this web site, where all questions are answered with well-worded simplicity.

 

For the Rest of Australia

I have commented on New South Wales and Victoria, but recall that for now, each state will mandate the specific policies and procedures related to the now-mandatory requirement for elders and ministerial servants to obtain their working with children card.  For those interested in the remaining states as well as the ACT, please visit this web site:

http://www.workingwithchildren.vic.gov.au/home/resources/interstate+checks/

Having spoken at length with the government of Victoria, I can verify a few basic facts:

 

  • For volunteer or unpaid ministers, the process to acquire the card is free of charge
  • While the government has mandated this new policy revision, there is no official policing of the policy – however while the “honor system” is in place, any minister or organization caught violating this policy and practicing as a ministerial servant or elder without a valid card will be subject to extreme penalties and possible jail time. For example, in Victoria, penalties are measured in “Units”, where one unit equals $158.57 Australian dollars.
Penalty for Non-Compliance, Victoria Australia

Penalty for Non-Compliance, Victoria Australia

 

As the non-compliance chart above demonstrates, the maximum penalty for working without a card is 240 Penalty Units, or $38,057 Australian dollars, plus the possibility of two years imprisonment. It stands to reason that Jehovah’s Witnesses will not be taking the risk of evading this mandatory requirement, as the fine for both individuals and the congregations under state jurisdiction is simply too great a financial risk to take.

It is of interest how suddenly when a monetary penalty and/or a  prison sentence enters the picture, the Jehovah’s Witness organization seems all too willing to cooperate. Prior to this new mandate (as with the United States and elsewhere) -the punishment for non-cooperation with the authorities has been less than a slap on the wrist, and unless civil action is taken in trial courts, Watchtower, their congregations, and individual elders have walked away from thousands of abuse cases, with complete disregard for the feelings and rights of the most vulnerable members of our society – children.

 

Is This Policy Retroactive?

Yes. All persons who work with children according to the newly expanded regulations in Australia will be required to obtain their Working with Children Card regardless of past experience or appointments as Elders or Ministerial Servants. This protective measure is designed to ensure that any who fall under one of three primary categories of prior or current offenses will be placed under special scrutiny before receiving their card. For a comprehensive list of Category A, B and C offenses under Victorian Law, please refer to this detailed reference sheet.   The most serious offenses (such as A and B level offenses) will most often result in the denial of the card to these applicants.

This raises an interesting question – how will Jehovah’s Witnesses in Australia handle an Elder or Ministerial Servant who has failed to obtain his Working with Children Card in Australia, but would otherwise “qualify” to serve in this position in other countries? The forthcoming clash between “Caesar’s Law” and the religiously insular organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses might just drive a crack in the otherwise unified Governing Body guidelines for operation of all branches.

As reported by JW Survey on September 6th, the latest Body of Elders letter to all global congregations of Jehovah’s Witnesses does little to protect victims, and is nothing more than a protective measure for the organization itself. Sadly, we are still left with the infamous “two witness rule” which means that most cases of abuse go unresolved both within the congregations themselves, and as a result, are almost never reported to the authorities by any elders or ministerial servants. Congregation leaders are required to contact the legal department of Watchtower in every case, which almost always cop-blocks an appropriate phone call to state and local police and child protection authorities.

Another notable and impossible situation is that of a female Jehovah’s Witness intermediary acting on behalf of a victim of abuse. As most investigators will tell you, a female victim is best treated by a trained female detective or child protection advocate – but no such person exists within the Jehovah’s Witness organization. Female Witnesses are relegated to the most menial of tasks within the organization, with no opportunity for advancement or powers of judgment in any areas short of selecting the color scheme of a Kingdom Hall. And even that decision must be approved by a male Elder.

According to the government agent I spoke to in Australia, the move to a national standard is in the works, and we can only continue our quest to ensure that eventually all nations will have legislation which mandates such protective measures for children, and that Jehovah’s Witnesses, like everyone else, will be required to comply.

 

 

John Redwood

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Additional Reading:

 

Victorian Application for Working with Children Check 

Tasmanian Working with Children Legislation 

NSW Working with Children Check Procedure 

NSW Web Page – Who needs the Check? 

NSW Working with Children Act 

Queensland Review of the Blue Card System

Queensland Working with Children (Risk Management and Screening) Act 2000 – Updated July 1 2017

 

 

 

 

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61 Responses to News Bulletin: Australia Amends Working with Children Act – Jehovah’s Witnesses Forced to Comply or Face Severe Penalties

  1. Andrea says:

    That’s great news and a relief to hear for those of us who’ve been following those reports through jwsurvey and other channels.
    I wonder how strictly they’ll adhere to the rules though, seeing as how theocratic warfare is frequently their stance.

  2. Jeff canning says:

    Well done, go Aussies…

  3. John freeman says:

    I know that this is off subject but i think relevant.in UK there has been reports in the press .the hull Daily Mail.of a child of 10 years old being disfellowshiped..also a purge of people asking questions of the elders .reportedly out of around 800 in the hull congregations 100.. yes 100 have either left or been DFd..i cannot verify any of this and dont know how to link.but you can go to Hull Daily Mail webbsite for info. If this is provable how in God name can elders DF and enforce shunning of a younster of ten ? It defies belief. Surely child abuse.and illegal. Hope you can post this.

    • Dave Gracey says:

      John Freeman, this does not surprise me at all. That is essentially the reason my wife and I were dfd.

    • Imgonaburn says:

      http://www.hulldailymail.co.uk/news/hull-east-yorkshire-news/hull-jehovahs-witnesses-speak-out-444185
      The following is a quote from the article..
      Jehovah’s Witnesses in Hull confirmed two members had recently been disfellowshipped but denied there is any purge.

      A spokesman explained the process of disfellowship and shunning.

      He said: “Those who were baptized as Jehovah’s Witnesses but no longer preach to others, perhaps even drifting away from association with fellow believers, are not shunned. In fact, we reach out to them and try to rekindle their spiritual interest.

      “We do not automatically disfellowship someone who commits a serious sin. If, however, a baptized Witness makes a practice of breaking the Bible’s moral code and does not repent, he or she will be shunned or disfellowshipped.

      “The religious ties someone who is disfellowshipped had with their family changes, but blood ties remain. The marriage relationship and normal family affections and dealings continue.”
      …l know from experience that you don’t have to be dfd to be shunned. My own daughter and son in law have shunned me because I left the religion a few years ago. They’ve recently had a baby -our first grandchild. I’m not allowed to see him.
      My husband was still attending meetings so he was able to form a bond with the baby. The situation became so painful that I seperated from my husband of 30 years! We reconciled and he stopped attending meetings because he wanted our marriage to work. He was issued an ultimatum by my daughter and her husband. If he stops going to meetings to be with me they will shun him too!! He chose me- they shunned him!! Absolutely disgusting behaviour and a horrible witness. My husband hasn’t got a bad bone in his body. He’s not negative about the religion, doesn’t smoke, swear or participate in any pagan holidays etc but he’s been shunned for sticking with his wife. They don’t even respond to his text messages!
      Neither of us have been disfellowshipped.
      My son in law doesn’t like me and has told me this more than once. He’s a control freak and imho has used the religion to his advantage. The congregations provide safe haven for all sorts of abusers not just paedophiles.
      When my husband asked the elders to help they refused to get involved and said our daughter has to abide by her husbands ( head of the house) rules! One of them even said that if we want to see our grandson then I will have to go back to meetings! I repeat…I’m NOT disfellowshipped! What about my religious freedom? What about ‘honour your mother and father’?
      The comment quoted above by jw spokesman is a lie! -Since when have lies originated from Jehovah? I call bs… people who have ‘fallen away’ ARE shunned! Family ties do NOT continue as normal!
      I have to mention I also have an adult son who is a devout jw. He shunned me (not my husband) for a while too, but when he realised how much heartache it was causing his mum and dad he relented. He has the freedom as the head of his own family to make that choice. Sadly, my daughter does not.

      • Imgonaburn says:

        John Freeman
        The article does mention a 10 year old getting dfd. This makes me question not only the moral judgement of the judicial committee that made such a ruling, but also the parenting skills of the child’s mum and dad!! If that had happened to one of my kids I’d be tearing strips off elders left right and centre!! The reason I quit the religion in the first place was because my son is gay and I couldn’t turn my back on him or be dismissive of whatever is going to make him happy.
        Come to think of it…that’s probably why I’ve NEVER had a visit off an elder trying to ‘rekindle my spiritual interest’ lol they know full well not to cross a mama bear!! I think my husband may have even put them off calling for their own protection! Ha ha ha

        • John freeman says:

          Thanks for reply .one of our sons is gay in fact he phoned us a few minutes ago. Although my wife is a jw she will not shun him .ive been in jws since 1963 but am so disgusted with the cover up of child abuse and this evil shunning im almost faded out.i just take my wife to one meeting a week now..i think i will soon have to DA as the comlete bull crap coming from the elders in talks from the GB is driving me nuts to listen to..shunning a 10 year old is crazy.ive been on to the charity commision about it .im hoping they with include this in their ongoing investigation into WT uk.

          • 10 YEAR OLD BEING SHUNNED???!!! THAT’S A REAL PIECE OF WORK. OMG. I WAS RAPED BY AN ELDER AT AGE OF 5 – IF I HAD TOLD ANYONE AT THAT TIME PERHAPS I WOULD HAVE BEEN SHUNNED AT THAT AGE AS WELL. GOOD GRIEF.

  4. Average Joe says:

    Fantastic News. That is something that should be implemented worldwide. I have my certificate proving that I have no history of sexual abuse but I know I am the only one on our current body who has applied for it, even though it’s FREE! I’ve openly stated, if you’ve done nothing wrong then you’ve nothing to fear so why on earth wouldn’t you want to apply for one?!

    • John Redwood says:

      Joe – exactly right there. The implications will be felt across Australia, as the Working with Children Check not only checks for sexual predators, but they investigate many other aspects of the life of each applicant, which means that there will be some Elders and Servants excluded who have OTHER problems which also will preclude them from receiving their card. The question now remains is – what will happen to those men with responsibility in the congregation when they are denied their cards? Watchtower has a dilemma on their hands.

      • Average Joe says:

        I’m in Spain as you know and at the moment it is only an optional thing for church ministers. I think the government should go the route Australia has and make it obligatory.
        Dilemma for the WT yes if it was left to them but if the law says you can’t be a minister with a dodgy record then they’ll have no other choice to start removing elders and servants who fall into that category. Name and shame John! The GB have shown themselves to be very adept at throwing the underlings under the bus when needs must!

    • Peter Bartley says:

      I think your answer is in your question Joe.

      • Ben says:

        Yes JWs are complying with the law even though the law does not directly relate or apply to Elders and Ministerial servants. The act is wrongly applied to JWs. We have no occasion where these laws apply.

        The expanded definition says in part

        The Act will continue to provide that a Check is not required in circumstances where the contact with a child is occasional and incidental to the work.
        1. Remove references to ‘supervision’ from the Act. This means that even if a person’s contact with children as part of their child-related work is supervised by another person, they will still need to apply for a Check.

        Under point 1, notice that it said “ as part of their child-related work” we just do not have child-related work among JWs. No schools, no camps, no youth groups. There are no people who supervise any JW children out side of normal school.

  5. Ron Curry says:

    Maybe this will be addressed in the annual meeting being held on Oct. 7th/8th. A 3 hour meeting like the one we had a few years ago when Tony spoke about the tight pants. I thought I heard that some discussions will be on not visiting apostate web sites 🙂

  6. Chiafade says:

    You can bet that there is soon going to be an influx of elders and ministerial servants who all of a sudden need to step down from their post. Saying “I’m sorry brothers the stress is too much” or “I’m sick and my doctor says I need to rest”.

    Australia will also be a place where the need for elders and ministerial servants is great. This check will make it difficult to get the needed manpower. Watchtower created the perfect storm for themselves. The remaining leading men in the congregations will burn themselves out trying to juggle all of the responsibilities. They can let some of the women handle the grunt work like mics and sound. Even literature and the accounts. However the bulk of it will still fall on the men.

    This brings up another point of concern. There ARE women who are sexual predators. How will this check affect them if they are doing the work normally given to a man in the org but not officially an appointed servant or elder? Taking the lead in field service is an example of that. Where the predator, man or woman, can select the target they want to work with. The organization will absolutely take advantage of any loophole available.

    • Gwen Little says:

      Chiafade,

      That’s a good question because women aren’t to take the lead but they go out in service where there are children at home sometimes on their own.

      As far as I know here in Australia, any place that you are working with children, you must have a blue card. I have one.

  7. Doc Obvious says:

    This is what happens when you are not pro-active in doing what is right. Talking heads (Watchtower legal department, Governing Body, Elders, etc.) do not get the job done. Finally, a country and government that have the best interest in our children’s lives. The Australian government is a great model for other great countries to emulate. We need doers not talkers Watchtower. Not this look at my 1980’s Awake magazine and that’s showing the world we are ahead of the game.

  8. outandabout says:

    Now hang on a minute…..the bible views child rape as a sin, not a crime. All those predators in jail should be set free to do what they please and let god do the judging. Gods perfect word versus mans imperfection…..which comes first?

  9. XJDUB says:

    Can’t wait to hear how Watchtower will spin this as still ‘obeying God as ruler rather than men’ when for however long they’ve insisted on NOT cooperating with “Satan’s wicked system” in this regard. How embarrassing it has become to still be a Watchtower loyalist in 2017.

  10. Doc Obvious says:

    I have more confidence in McDonald’s getting the job done, than I do in Watchtower getting the job done.

  11. satinka says:

    Seriously, does this program really work? I wonder how many pedophile elders actually have one of those cards in their wallets.

    • John Redwood says:

      The program does work, but the revised laws have just gone into effect this summer (Australia’s Winter) in individual states. So it will take a bit of time to get everyone registered. If they fail to comply, the risk is extremely high, since both individual Elders and Servants will face many thousands in fines as well as possible jail time. So if you were an elder in Australia, you would naturally have to make the decision of whether you will comply (if you have nothing to hide) – or if you will step down as elder or servant because you know that you will fail the requirements. Hence this is a good measure. This is all about child protection and accountability. We will never prevent pedophilia completely – it will happen long after we are all dead – and in nearly all organizations. What we are addressing here is the proper way to handle accusations, and the best way to minimize how many children are exposed to persons who are a potential danger. No system is perfect – but this is a good start and a noble effort from the government, which according to Jehovah’s Witnesses is ruled by Satan. It seems Satan is trying to protect our children

    • JBob says:

      @satinka – you guessed it, right; it’s a placation of the public by the governments. These steps cover not only the Watchtower but the scores of charities, foundations and educational institutes that also have issues with child molestation. The Watchtower follows along because it’s the MINIMUM required to keep the government off their turf. This program of getting a background check and a card in your wallet does NOTHING to stop child pedophilia or molestation OR the ultimate goal to confront it and convict it. Odds are a clever pedophile has never been convicted or caught. So, a background check of criminal convictions only reveals these types have a clean record. It isn’t a profile or a probe to determine whether a person might have tendencies toward pedophilia.

      Parents and wards are forewarned, keep your eye on your children and train your child to be weary of ANYone whether family or spiritual relationship. Guardians, have a spine and courage to confront an elder hierarchy that seeks to install cronyism by shielding themselves against the flock they’re supposedly there to protect, if that is the case.

      On the point above, note that it is the legal entity which classified itself as a charity to skirt the more rigorous requirements and restrictions on being a “religion”. Thus, the legal entity puts JW’s into this “condition” of being tread upon by “governments.” But in today’s climate, no organization or group is above suspicion and review, especially when it comes to the safety and welfare of individuals.

      • John Redwood says:

        JBob

        It may seem like a placation – but the fact remains that the Australian government has spent millions and several years in an attempt to examine why institutional abuse happened in the first place, and what we can do to minimize it from happening in the future. We will never stop it – but when we expose organizations who have not only failed to report to the police and CPA, but they have actively hindered investigations and caused more victims to be injured, we are at the very least informing the public of the dangers of the JW organization and its policies. The more awareness created, the better chances we have of preventing future victims from being abused, and the better chance we have of keeping someone from joining a fundamentalist cult. The broad picture here is that this is a good measure of faith by the Australian government, and while child molestation will forever be a problem like so many crimes, doing something positive is far better than doing nothing.

        Where this all will lead – we will have to wait and see. But it is much better that we have contributed to driving a spike into the well sealed internal government of Jehovah’s Witnesses and have forced them to comply in a matter which would cast them as even greater villains in society were they to deny these new governmental mandates. Cheers, JR

      • Meredith J says:

        For the first time JBob the Witnesses are losing. They have always bragged that they are the best at winning court cases and the best at being able to wrangle public servants to allow them to do whatever they like. I listened to them for years, like they were invincible because they had ‘Jehovah’s protection and help.’ I think this is a downward trend for them from now on. The system won’t work for them forever.

  12. Becky says:

    I hope they add a mandatory education component that requires passing a test about the laws on reporting and on appropriate referrals to counseling.

  13. VictorE says:

    If they hide behind the “two witness rule”, and leave pedophiles off, how come they are able to disfellowship so many who commit adultery? Don’t know of anyone who brings witnesses to a fornication. Yet, the two witness rule creates no problem with their disfellowshpping for adultery. How do they get around it so easily for that but for pedophiles it’s practically impossible. Problem must not be the “two witness rule”. It must be something else. The two witness rule is just bait and if you go for it, they got ya?

    • outandabout says:

      Interesting. Perhaps they believe adults don’t lie, but children do? Perhaps they can handle the shame of a divorce in the Hall but child abuse just does not happen. “Not Us”! Too big, too shameful, too revealing. Shut it down!

  14. Whip It says:

    Great news, i haven’t heard anything even though i live in Australia, my only concern is the 2 witness rule doesn’t change, they will still hide from the authorities & how do you weed out the pedophiles from the rank & file.

    • Gwen Little says:

      That’s right Whip it.

      My concern is that the card is a Police Background Check used to screen whether the person is safe to be working with or around children but what if the Congregation elders have kept these crimes “in-house” (& possibly destroying the files of the pedo’s) then there is no Police record of the individual. This means that they are free to go under the radar until the next time something happens.

      This is a quote from the Blue Card System that I have from the Qld Govt: BLUE CARD SCREENING

      “This assesses a person’s eligibility to hold a blue card or exemption card based on their known past police and disciplinary information. This process also disqualifies certain people upfront and prevents people from working with children whose past behaviour indicates they are not eligible to enter regulated child-related employment”.

    • Ben says:

      You completely misunderstand the 2 witness rule. That applies only to if the elders can take judicial action to disfellowship someone. The 2 witness rule does not mean that it has to be 2 witnesses to the same event, but two witnesses reporting the event on different occasions.

      It has always been up to parent to report such crimes to the authorities.

      The so called two witness rule will not change as it is a Biblical one

  15. Grammar Police says:

    Love the article, honestly.

    Hate slowing down to understand poor grammar.

    “is simply to great a financial risk to take.”

    https://www.grammarly.com/blog/to-too/

    • John Redwood says:

      Dear Grammar Police

      We are pleased that you loved the article. As for grammar, sadly you are not pointing out a grammar mistake, you are referring to what is known as a “typo.” This will not be the first or last typo error you will find on this site or other sites. Most readers would not be “slowed down” when reading the sentence in question, but would instantly understand the meaning of the sentence without feeling the need to post a Grammarly article on the difference between “to” and “too.” Our writers sometimes finish articles in the early hours of the morning, often after 1-2 weeks of research. We do so as volunteers without the benefit of a paid editor. We thank you for taking that into consideration should you find the time to read a JW Survey article in the future.

  16. scotwm says:

    When the Watchtower Theocratic Ministry School was closed in 2015, I saw this as an attempt to avoid background checks on elders and ministerial servants. After all, children attend schools and there were no more schools being taught by elders and ministerial servants in Kingdom Halls. As a bonus, ministerial servants and elders were no longer being trained by this Watchtower school, thus reducing the liability of Watchtower leadership for the pedophile activities of their underlings.

    Australia seems to looking beyond the school issue and focusing on the fact that children attend all meetings at Kingdom Halls, where pedophiles can prey on them with impunity.

    • Ben says:

      The Theocratic Ministry school has not been closed, it has just changed names.

      Paedophiles can not prey on children with impunity within the JW community. A proven paedophile or one that confess is excommunicated, and the parents have always had the right to inform authorities, it is their responsibility to do so. In Australia it has only been in recent years that some states have made it mandatory for elder’s to tell authorities even when the parents do not want that to happen

  17. Big B says:

    Great article John as always.

    I personally am glad that some governmental agency has incorporated some common sense into child protection legislation. I wish the same could be said of our government stateside (USA).

    That being said however, if pedophiles are not reported, and it seems like the Watchtower is still adverse to reporting “internal problems” to the proper authorities, then this program will miss the greater majority of the intended miscreants. Is there anything in this or other legislation that makes non-reporting of possible child abuse a crime with punishments or sanctions for organizations or individuals that fail to report?

    As long as this cult (Watchtower et als) continues to practice non-reporting with their “two witness” rule and then demands elders to follow this injunction then this legislation will only catch those miscreants that are outed by reporting. Will the elders go against the Watchtower and report a possible pedophile? Will they prevent an prospective elder or ministerial servant to remove his name from consideration? I bet not. Those not reported will be able to receive their ‘blue card’. Correct?

    That’s why I feel that although the intentions of this legislation are admirable however, unless it is coupled with penalties, monetary as well as jail time for non-reporting, it will be a knee-jerk attempt to stop this blight. But hopefully the government in Australia will be able to close those loopholes and tighten the noose around those wolves attempting to satisfy their perversions at the cost of ruining innocent lives.

    Too bad so sad for the Watchtower that they could have and should have been on the cutting edge of this situation instead of being forced to comply. Another golden opportunity missed by “tight pants Tony” and the rest of the “faithful and discreet” slave.

    • Ricardo says:

      Big B, all teachers need to get a criminal check in Australia. That includes me. Although it doesn’t stop all criminal sexual behavior of teachers, it is quite effective, and the best thing it does is kick an offending teacher out of a job.

      • Big B says:

        @ Ricardo:

        Yes, but only if the teacher has a previous history of pedophilia and has been REPORTED. What about the congregational perverts that have not been reported by the congregation to child protective services. Will they be forced to report them to the authorities as to why Bro. X can not have a blue card?

        With no previous record on file of the offender, unless the congregation volunteers the information on those individuals, the predator will be issued the card, no? Hopefully the congregation would prevent this person from having a card but are they under obligation to REPORT previous offenders in order for them not to be able to get the card at a later date?

        What if offenders leave the area? Could they not apply for a card at their new location from a different congregation? Will their new congregation be informed by the applicant’s old congregation concerning past offenses? That is why, I believe, without REPORTING the offender by the community or congregation there will be no way to stop the madness. The offender, if REPORTED, can go on a national registry of child molesters to prevent them from applying or ever getting the card in the first place. But if the congregations decide not to do their due diligence, then what? Will the congregation be taken to task; how about the elders?

        Just a few concerns from Dixie, but like with most legislation, I think there are loopholes that can be (and will be) used by devious individuals to get what they want ‘by hook or by crook’. However, that being said, at least it is a good effort by Caesar’s government to close the majority of this deviation down.

        Big B

    • messenger says:

      Less than knee jerk Big B, because my guess is most of the congregant pedophiles are not servants. To totally effectuate reporting of these pedophile suspicions the state will have to impose mandated reporting statutes on all clergy members (elders, and ministerial servants) without wiggle room loopholes allowing those members non-reporting rights if meeting certain criteria.

      Those type of statutes already exists in the USA for teachers and doctors. If the same are imposed on clergy WT will be forced to clean up its act with reference to reporting, although its JC hearings of child abuse cases still might be harmful to children in other ways.

      Mandated reporters are required by law to report any reasonable suspicions of child abuse or neglect, even suspicions of emotional abuse, or child neglect. And what is a reasonable suspicion is not to be determined by an administrative body the reporter works under, such as WT.org. By law a reasonable suspicion is defined as what another reasonable professional would consider a suspicion. Also, all mandated reporters legally cannot be penalized by their organization (WT.org), nor can they become legally liable if the report is found not to have legal merit for prosecution.

      What Australia is doing so far will help, but it’s not enough to make WT clean up its act about this.

  18. Doc Obvious says:

    My thoughts on JW Broadcasting 35 – August 2017 (with Ralph Walls) is another great rebuttal by Lloyd Evans. Especially, when Lloyd showed Bible verses that contradicted the presentation by Ralph Walls. Those Bible verses from JW.org. Watchtower tries to have to get the best of both worlds scenarios by tip-toeing around issues. Nicely done, Lloyd. I, too know a GB Helper and it is so sad that these men are puppets to these men.

    • outandabout says:

      I think you’ve described bible based religion in general, Doc. Cherry picking of scripture is the only way to the ‘truth’ otherwise chaos and confusion is the result and maybe even a general waking up.

  19. RayoFlight2014 says:

    Taken from the “Who needs the check” web page:

    Religious services  

    Work for a religious organisation where children form part of a congregation or organisation is child-related work, if the work is carried out:

    as a minister, priest, rabbi, mufti or other like religious leader or spiritual officer of the organisation

    in any other role in the organisation involving activities primarily related to children, including youth groups, youth camps, teaching children and child care
    ————————————————————————-
    Given that all those who are Baptized as jws, are recognized as ordained ministers and they all work as ministers in their ministry; this could have a greater impact than most here seem to expect.

  20. Meredith J says:

    Excellent article John Redwood. Looks like to me the law is finally starting to catch up with the Untouchables.

  21. Free Thinker says:

    Guys,

    this is a bit off-topic, but could anyone corroborate whether this is a fake, or real:

    https://www.reddit.com/r/exjw/comments/72nprv/letter_to_elders_in_bolivia_admits_donations_are/

    The English sounds a bit awkward; at times, words are missing. What counts is the message, and it’s reeeeeeally interesting …

    Waiting for anyone to reply.

    Thanks.

    F. T.

  22. Whip It says:

    Free Thinker, it looks real doesnt it, will wait & see if it happens, maybe its only for some area’s.

  23. Whip It says:

    The only other thing that i saw was a clip on youtube from a former elder, telling us about assembly donations, & how its worked out on a per head basis & which area they are in, so they just make it & up & fleece the flock, i have not given a cent in over 5 years & refuse to do so & will openly tell anyone why i don’t contribute.

  24. Cecily Bruce says:

    Sadly in Australia having a blue card simply means you are a good person to work with children or in some sad cases you haven’t been caught YET. This is problematic for MS and elders because now they have to apply for the card even if they know they have a conviction. Will they simply resign their positions and go under the radar in the congregations. I doubt any convicted pedophiles in Australia would be stupid enough to apply for the card. Also what happens if the other elders know about a situation that hasn’t been reported to the authorities and that person applies for and receives a blue card. The most interesting development in Australia is the other recommendation from the commission that a person who knows of a case and does not report it to police could face up to 5 years in gaol. This includes confessions made to Catholic Priests and is causing much debate here. I don’t know when this is going to be legislated but once again it will have to be on a state by state basis.

  25. Hardy says:

    Regarding October 22nd 2017 Watchtower lesson. I think it’s interesting this lesson is about being patient while waiting for the end to come. The study article claims it can be insulting Jehovah to be impatient while waiting for the end and you/me can get Jehovah’s disapproval by being impatient waiting for the end to come. The article’s title is; ‘Are You Willing to Wait Patiently’ I think that’s very funny : ) HAHAHAHA At a restaurant some witnesses I know got mad at each other because in their discussion they saw if you want the end to come soon you’re in trouble but If you don’t feel it’s near you’re in trouble. They agreed to stop talking about it after they argued for a while. I think the society knows the end isn’t near and wants people to shut up about the end of days by intimidating them into not talking or thinking about it. It was very entertaining listening. I smiled a lot.

  26. Jado says:

    I thought some countries were enough smart to protect their citizen from ignorance and discover how Jehovah’s rule is about sex but I have realized that all humans are the same (Created in the image of God)! *Read “Shocking Record of Inhumanity” in the subtitle “Sickening Sex Attacks” in g72 12/8 p. 13. WTS is talking about Sexual attacks on women of Jehovah’s witnesses” saying they “were too numerous as well as too repugnant […]”l Those women were from Malawi, They were raped to please Jehovah god!

    Let us see whether Australians will prove to be different from Malawians. The rule of sex is so effective that WTS has “grabbed the pussy” of the world.

  27. Willows says:

    Common sense dictates that organizations who work with children inside their organizations and outside their organizations with the general public require a working with children card. If they make contact with children and talk to them in the course of their internal organization’s ministry or public ministry they need a working with children card.

    This requirement protects individuals of the general public and organizations and members thereof to have the interests of the public at heart. It is not just the internal ministry but also all those who are involved in the public ministry who require a working with children card.

  28. Ben says:

    In reality the working with children policies of NSW, Vic, and Tas, do not apply to JWs because we do not have programs that require anyone in positions of responsibility to “work with children”. We do not have schools or camps or places where children are left in the care of others except by private arrangement – “hey can you look after my children for a couple of hours while I go to an appointment”

    • John Redwood says:

      Ben

      This is not correct. Please re-read the article and the associated links. The whole point is that Victoria and other states have expanded their definition of “working with children” – which is why JWs have already begun registering, even before the new laws took effect.

      JR

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