The Watch Tower Society has issued a new letter to all Bodies of Elders instructing them on how to handle cases of child abuse in the wake of the Candace Conti verdict.
It was hoped that the Governing Body would use the lessons learned from the Conti case to bring the Society’s child protection policy into conformity with the law, not to mention the basic principles of community responsibility.
However, it is shocking to note that this October 1st letter addresses none of the key procedural flaws that lead to the children of Jehovah’s Witnesses being routinely exposed to predatory pedophiles within the organization. Such individuals are often aware of the loopholes in the judicial practices of Witnesses and how to effectively exploit these to gain access to new victims. Still, despite the jury’s multi-million dollar award of punitive damages against the Society in the Conti case, little is being done to ensure that similar cases do not arise in the future.
If anything, the Society has rigidly stuck to its stance on the “two witness rule” and has assumed yet more jurisdiction for itself in deliberating over these sensitive and often complex cases. In an astonishing development, the Society is now insisting that the branch office should have the final word in deciding whether a pedophile is to be considered a “predator”, or even a “known child molester”.
Only if the brothers at the branch office determine that a brother is a “predator” can parents in the local congregation be warned of his tendencies. Only if the branch office decides that a brother is a “known child molester” can he be blocked from ever serving as an elder. Many would rightly argue that whether or not someone is to be classified in these ways depends on the local law enforcement authorities, not some remote branch office of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Barbara Anderson, who is a well-known campaigner for the protection of children in the organization, noted the significance of these dramatic changes in policy, saying: “Both of these are radical departures from Watchtower’s historical position that matters are decided locally.” She added, “By taking these decisions in-house, Watchtower is admitting that judicial decisions are not made purely by local elders on the scene. This is a pill being swallowed by Watchtower, the result of recent litigation. I believe this letter opens up the Watchtower for more liability, not less. In my opinion, a religion shouldn’t be making a psychological/criminal evaluation that others in the religion are counting upon. This could lead to serious problems.”
The letter was once available for download on these pages, but has now been removed for legal reasons. However, if you have a friend or relative who is an elder, he should be able to confirm its existence. In the next few paragraphs I will be explaining (with quotes) why this letter falls so woefully short in offering guidance to elders that would genuinely serve to protect Witness children, and why so little has changed despite the June 2012 verdict.
The “Two Witness Rule” still stands
At the epicenter of the Watch Tower Society’s entire approach to the handling of cases of child abuse is their love affair with the “two witness rule”. It is because of this rule that a pedophile is considered innocent unless two people witnessed the abuse (the victim and someone else) which is hardly ever the case in instances of child molestation. Usually child molesters are smart enough to carry out their despicable crimes without someone else watching.
It is also because of this rule that the Society insists on managing all child abuse cases themselves to the extent possible, because (in their view) they do not want those accused of child abuse to be judged by “worldly” standards, but through God’s standards as determined through a mistaken application of the Mosaic law.
The Society also has a keen eye on its public image and reputation, and its latest measures to increase its power and control over congregational decisions is a clear indication that local application of the “two witness rule” on its own is becoming increasingly inadequate in their eyes. This raises the question, if the rule is becoming so complicated to implement with regards to child abuse, does this alone not indicate that its application needs to be completely revised in judging cases of criminality?
Indeed, it was hoped that the Conti case might result in the Society revisiting the “two witness rule”, and perhaps coming to the realization that they are wrong to apply it to criminal matters. However, sadly this has not happened. Note the following comments in paragraph 11 of the new letter…
“In addition, the elders should investigate every allegation of child sexual abuse. When elders learn of an accusation, in addition to this letter, they should carefully review the direction outlined in the Shepherding textbook, chapter 12, paragraphs 18-21. However, in evaluating the evidence for internal congregational purposes, they must bear in mind the Bible’s clear direction: ‘No single witness should rise up against a man respecting any error or any sin . . . At the mouth of two witnesses or at the mouth of three witnesses the matter should stand good.’ (Deut. 19:15) This requirement to consider testimony of two or three witnesses was confirmed by Jesus. (Matt. 18:16) Thus, although they investigate every allegation, the elders are not authorized by the Scriptures to take congregational action unless there is a confession or there are two credible witnesses. However, even though the elders are not authorized to take congregation action when there is only one witness, the elders should remain vigilant with regard to the conduct and activity of the accused. (See paragraph 12 of this letter.) If two persons are witnesses to separate incidents of the same kind of wrongdoing, their testimony can be deemed sufficient to take judicial action. (1 Tim. 5:19, 24, 25) If the person is not repentant over the gross sin, disfellowshipping action would be warranted.”
You will see from the above quote that the Society uses two citations from the Greek Scriptures in support of their application of the Mosaic “two witness rule”. These are as follows:
“Moreover, if your brother commits a sin, go lay bare his fault between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take along with you one or two more, in order that at the mouth of two or three witnesses every matter may be established.” (Matthew 18:15,16 – New World Translation)
“Do not admit an accusation against an older man, except only on the evidence of two or three witnesses. Reprove before all onlookers persons who practice sin, that the rest also may have fear…. The sins of some men are publicly manifest, leading directly to judgment, but as for other men [their sins] also become manifest later. In the same way also the fine works are publicly manifest and those that are otherwise cannot be kept hid.” (1 Timothy 5:19,24,25 – New World Translation)
If you notice the text that I have highlighted in bold in both scriptures, something should become immediately apparent. That is, both scriptures apply the “two witness rule” of the Mosaic Law in judging over cases where a brother in the congregation commits a sin. In the case of Matthew 18 it is a case of a brother committing a sin against another brother. The scripture in 1 Timothy describing an “accusation” appears to be little more than a rewording of Jesus’ words in Matthew 18. The fact that the “accusation” refers to some form of sin is made clear by the context (highlighted by the Society) in verses 24 and 25, which I will go into in greater detail shortly.
The problem we have is that the Society has an entirely wrong perspective of child abuse as being first-and-foremost a sin, and only coincidentally a crime depending on the laws of the land. This is the reason why, if an accusation of child abuse comes to light, the elders will assume this falls under their jurisdiction to investigate the matter (because it is a sin), when really the supreme jurisdiction should fall to the superior authorities for these to investigate the matter and determine guilt.
For example, imagine for a moment that a brother murders another brother in your congregation. You alone see him do it, and you telephone an elder to tell him what happened. The elder would not question the validity of your accusation because you were the only witness, nor would he delay for a moment in calling the police (if you hadn’t already done so). He certainly wouldn’t tell you that the body of elders first needs to launch their own investigation to determine guilt before the authorities can be notified, if they are told at all. Murder is a crime, and therefore the police would be called straight away to intervene! Anything else would be reckless in the extreme, and would leave the killer on the loose to kill yet more people.
Just because life is not always lost when a child is molested, child abuse is still a crime and should be treated as such. Therefore, if the Society wishes to insist on using the “two witness rule” to determine whether the SIN of child molestation has been committed, this is their decision. However, just as with murder, child abuse is a crime – therefore the jurisdictional priority falls to the police for them to intervene and determine who the culprit is before anyone else is harmed.
Unfortunately, the Society completely underestimates the harm caused by child abuse. As an example, you need look no further than the previously quoted scripture in 1 Timothy 5. Please read again what it says in verses 24 and 25:
“The sins of some men are publicly manifest, leading directly to judgment, but as for other men [their sins] also become manifest later. In the same way also the fine works are publicly manifest and those that are otherwise cannot be kept hid.” (1 Timothy 5:24,25 – New World Translation)
What Paul is saying here is that when some people sin it is “publicly manifest” because someone witnesses it. However, sometimes when people sin, it becomes “manifest later”. In other words, the sinful pattern continues until the person makes a mistake and gets caught in the act by two or more witnesses. By using this scripture, the Society is effectively saying: “Don’t worry if a pedophile abuses a child but nobody witnesses it, because he will very likely abuse another child, and THEN we will catch him.”
You may find the way I have paraphrased this verse shocking, but this is effectively what is being said in the way this verse is applied in the letter. This highlights more than anything else the Governing Body’s callous disregard for the serious and devastating effects of molestation on young children. They feel that abused children are expendable as “evidence” in the primary goal of bringing a sinner to repentance. The law views things very differently, and maintains that a molester should be brought to justice BEFORE he abuses another.
In this way, through their stubborn refusal to let go of the “two witness rule” in judging cases of child abuse, the Governing Body demonstrates how oblivious and dispassionate they have grown regarding their responsibility to protect the children under their stewardship. Our Governing Body should be letting the Law judge cases of crime, and only THEN, after the Law has intervened, busy themselves with deciding which of these crimes constitute sin. Instead, they proudly bypass the law and allow themselves to judge cases over which God has appointed the “superior authorities” to adjudicate. – Romans 13:1
This is the problem that lies at the very heart of this ongoing problem with child abuse – a total failure to grasp the seriousness of it as a crime first-and-foremost. It is for this reason that, rather than humbly conform to the law and basic principles of community responsibility, the Society proudly continues to drag this on to the bitter end. The Governing Body would rather “go down fighting” and try to weather the storm of lawsuits and adverse publicity than reform its policies and thereby protect children.
No change on reporting
The letter instructs elders to advise parents that they bear the primary responsibility for protecting their children, but it does not explicitly state what this means – namely that parents should immediately contact the authorities to report an accusation of child abuse without fear of reprisals in the congregation.
Paragraph 10 of the letter attempts to shift blame for when things go wrong from the elders to the parents, who in most cases turn to the elders for guidance and are assured by them that everything is being “dealt with”. The Society uses this passage in the letter in a cowardly way, getting elders to inform parents that they bear responsibility rather than directly reminding parents through their publications to report all cases of abuse to the police.
Note what is said in paragraph 10…
“Regardless of whether the law requires the elders to report an accusation to the authorities, steps need to be taken to protect children. Elders should help the parents of the children involved to understand that they have the primary responsibility for protecting their children. Obviously, such parents will be keenly interested in taking precautions in this regard. Our publications contain helpful information on how parents can protect their children.—w10 11/1 p. 13; w08 10/1 p. 21; g 10/07 pp. 3-11; lr pp. 170-171; g03 2/8 p. 9; g99 4/8 pp. 9, 11; g97 4/8 p. 14; w96 12/1 pp. 13-14; fy pp. 61-62; g93 10/8 pp. 5-13.”
I have checked each of the above publication references to see what they say, and they mostly offer advice on how to prevent child abuse in the first place using such precautionary measures as (1) discussing sex with your child at an early age, (2) telling children how to respond to would-be attackers, i.e. “I’m going to tell on you!” (3) not allowing teenagers to dress provocatively, (4) keeping an eye on the child’s use of the internet, (5) being vigilant of other adults’ behavior towards your children.
Out of all the above-quoted references, the final reference from the 1993 Awake! article is the only one that comes close to instructing parents to contact the authorities in the event of child abuse. It has this to say:
“Some legal experts advise reporting the abuse to the authorities as soon as possible. In some lands the legal system may require this. But in other places the legal system may offer little hope of successful prosecution.” – Awake! 1993 10/8 page 9
The Society would likely argue that the above half-hearted admonition doesn’t dissuade parents from contacting the authorities. However, it’s surely plain to see that the word “some” was inserted in the first sentence to immediately instill doubt as to whether this is always the right course of action to take, and the final sentence in the paragraph hardly fills parents with hope of a favorable outcome if they call the police. In short, the paragraph is inserted in the article by the writers through legal necessity, and the Society does everything they can to make contacting the authorities sound like something that is either optional or sometimes ineffective.
The article even goes on to urge similar caution with seeking help from a psychiatrist, and suggests parents or victims should only do this if the professional will “respect” Witness beliefs.
“Parents must therefore make every reasonable effort to protect their children! Many responsible parents choose to seek out professional help for an abused child. Just as you would with a medical doctor, make sure that any such professional will respect your religious views. Help your child rebuild his or her shattered self-esteem through a steady outpouring of parental love.” – Awake! 1993 10/8 page 9
Overall, the references provided in the letter as evidence that the Watch Tower Society “protects” children are at best insulting if used on a parent whose child has just been molested (i.e. if you’d done all this, it wouldn’t have happened!), and at times the statements made in the quoted publications are downright hypocritical. Consider the following quote, also in the 1993 Awake! article…
“AFTER using children to satisfy perverted lusts, after robbing them of their security and their sense of innocence, child molesters still want something else from their victims—SILENCE. To secure that silence, they use shame, secrecy, even outright terror. Children are thus robbed of their best weapon against abuse—the will to tell, to speak up and ask an adult for protection.
Tragically, adult society often unwittingly collaborates with child abusers. How so? By refusing to be aware of this danger, by fostering a hush-hush attitude about it, by believing oft-repeated myths. Ignorance, misinformation, and silence give safe haven to abusers, not their victims.” – Awake! 1993 10/8 page 5
The hypocrisy in the above quote is astonishing, coming from an organization that refuses to openly encourage parents to always report those who abuse their child to the authorities in the first instance. The failure to encourage parents to approach the authorities is precisely the sort of “hush-hush” approach which, to use the words of the Awake!, results in the Watch Tower Society unwittingly collaborating with child abusers. The only difference is, with each passing lawsuit and media onslaught, the Society’s damaging stance on child abuse becomes less and less “unwitting”, and more and more deliberate.
Branch to decide on who is a “predator”
In these new instructions, elders are told to “remain vigilant with regard to the conduct and activity” of someone accused of child abuse. This advice applies “especially” to those who are found guilty of child abuse but who are not disfellowshipped (reproved), as well as those who are disfellowshipped for child abuse and later reinstated. Consider what is said in paragraph 12 of the letter…
“Loving elders should take steps to protect children, especially when a judicial committee determines that the one who has sexually abused a child is repentant and will be allowed to remain a member of the Christian congregation. The same concern would be shown when one who has sexually abused a child is disfellowshipped, later cleans up his life, and is reinstated. The elders should be especially mindful of the activity of any who are known to have sexually abused a child in the past. They should also ensure that newly-appointed elders are made aware of this caution. It would be appropriate for elders to talk kindly but very frankly to individuals who have manifested a weakness in this regard, strongly cautioning them to refrain from displaying affection for children, to avoid hugging or holding children on their lap, never to be alone with a child (other than their own), not to allow children to spend the night in their home, not to work alone in field service (hence, they should always be accompanied by another adult), and not to cultivate friendships with children. This not only serves to protect children but will help to prevent those who have sexually abused a child from putting themselves in the way of temptation, being subjected to an unfounded accusation, or doing things that may cause concern to others in the congregation. (1 Cor. 10:12, 32) If the individual does not follow this direction from the elders, the elders should immediately call the Service Department for assistance.”
As mentioned, the above guidelines are specifically applied to cases where a child molester is found guilty of child abuse by the elders and either “let off with a warning” (reproved but not disfellowshipped) or disfellowshipped and then later reinstated.
Paragraph 11 indicates that a person who is accused of child abuse but not found guilty by a second witness may also have his “conduct and activity” watched, although the letter does not make clear whether an accused person would be warned or watched to the same extent as a reproved or reinstated person, or how long this surveillance would go on for. One assumes this is left to the discretion of the branch office, who advise the elders on how to deal with each case individually.
With all of the above in mind, what happens if someone accused or found guilty of child abuse ignores the elders’ warnings and spends time around children? Please consider paragraph 13…
“If the individual [the accused, reproved or reinstated child molester] does not follow the above direction from the elders [to completely avoid children], or if the elders believe he may be a ‘predator,’ the elders should immediately call the Service Department for assistance. A ‘predator’ is one who clearly lacks self-control and by his actions provides reason to believe he will continue to prey on children. Not every individual who has sexually abused a child in the past is considered a ‘predator.’ The branch office, not the local body of elders, determines whether an individual who has sexually abused children in the past will be considered a ‘predator.’ If the branch office determines that an individual will be considered a ‘predator,’ parents with minor children will need to be warned of the danger that exists so that they can protect their children. In such a case, and only after receiving direction and instructions from the Service Department, two elders should be assigned to meet with the parents of minor children in order to provide a warning. At the same time that parents are warned about an individual, it would be appropriate for the elders to inform the individual that parents in the congregation will be discreetly informed.”
On the surface many elders reading this letter may feel satisfied that the Society is finally allowing them to warn parents in the congregation of a predatory pedophile being in their midst. However, when read in context, elders are ONLY given this permission at the sole discretion of the branch – not the local law enforcement, or even based on their own concerns or observations. It is left to men in a remote office with only second or third hand knowledge of the situation to decide whether families should be warned that there is a predatory pedophile in the congregation worshipping alongside them.
Most disturbingly, even these seemingly robust instructions still allow loopholes through which committed and cunning child molesters may still find opportunities to prey on young children. By way of an explanation, consider the following scenario…
A loophole in the “predator” rule
Imagine a man is found guilty of child molestation following a judicial committee hearing. Despite his best efforts to cover his tracks, a mother in the congregation has discovered him molesting her child and has immediately reported him to the elders. Because there were two witnesses to the abuse (the mother and the child), the man sees little point denying it and confesses everything to the elders when they question him.
In the judicial committee hearing the man weeps profusely and expresses deep regret for what has happened. He tells the elders that he is spiritually weak, and needs their help. The elders decide he is repentant and they reprove him, but do not disfellowship him. Instead, they warn him to stay away from other children in the congregation, and advise him that they will be keeping a close eye on his “conduct and activity”.
An announcement is read from the platform, “Brother So-and-so has been reproved” as per the instructions in the elder’s manual. Nobody in the congregation (apart from the elders and the victim’s family) know what he has been reproved for, and the parents of the abused child are informed by the elders that the matter has been “dealt with”.
It is now for the branch office alone to decide whether he is a “predator”, and so far (to the elders’ knowledge) he has only abused one child, so they proceed under the assumption that he will not abuse another. Therefore, no other parents in the congregation are warned of his abuse because the branch have not deemed the brother a “predator”.
The parents of the abused child are hesitant to approach the authorities, because they have been assured that it has been dealt with judicially – even though they have been informed that the “responsibility” for protecting their child rests with them (and shown a number of articles to imply that it was their fault in the first place for not taking better care). The elders may never have told the parents NOT to inform the authorities, but neither have they told them that they SHOULD report the abuse. The parents are therefore under the illusion that this is first-and-foremost a judicial matter against their “brother”, and from their viewpoint, everything is under control. They have trust that Jehovah has resolved matters, and that no other children will be harmed.
The elders are now supposed to be “on alert” regarding ANY contact that the brother may have with children in the congregation. The problem is, this is a relatively small body of elders, all of whom have jobs and families of their own, and they cannot be everywhere all of the time. Only the victim, the victim’s parents and the elders themselves know what has happened, and all of these individuals are observing strict confidentiality according to the Society’s guidelines.
The man belongs to a field service group that is under the oversight of an elder who works long hours. Although the elder takes the field service arrangement on a Saturday, he entrusts the midweek field service arrangements to his group assistant, who is a ministerial servant. This servant knows that the brother has been reproved, but doesn’t know what for, because this is strictly between the brother, the elders, and the victim’s family.
It is the time of the school holidays, and the brother shows up at the midweek meeting for field service and asks to work with a young girl who is there with her mother. The mother knows nothing, the girl knows nothing, and the servant who is leading the group is also completely oblivious to any danger. They go out in service together.
The man finds he has opportunity to work with the young girl repeatedly through the school holidays in midweek. He is fully aware of the warning from the elders and cunningly goes out of his way to only work with adults during the weekend when the elder is present. The servant feels no need to tell his Group Overseer anything because he doesn’t know what the brother has been reproved for. Also, the servant sees the brother working with adults during the weekend, so he suspects nothing.
So you see, even after these latest guidelines from the Society have been implemented – a cunning and determined predatory pedophile could still find loopholes to exploit, allowing him or her to gain access to children in the congregation at an opportune moment. I have considered just one scenario in this article, but there are many similar permutations that a determined child molester could conceivably take advantage of, whether they are accused, reproved, or reinstated.
Even so, some might say, “Well, even if that brother does something to the young girl, he might then be caught, disciplined by the elders, and labelled a ‘predator’ by the branch – and under the new rules all the parents in the congregation would then be alerted by the elders”. However, those who argue in this manner are, like the Society, failing to see the point. If the confirmed child molester in the above scenario succeeds in abusing just one more young girl before being caught and exposed to other parents as a “predator”, he has still abused one victim too many who could otherwise have been protected if the elders had been allowed to perform their duty to warn parents in the congregation of someone who has previously been found guilty of child molestation.
This is precisely the problem with Watchtower policy regarding child abuse, it allows opportunities to pedophiles where none should exist – and just one victim who is abused as a result of these loopholes is one victim too many. This is what the Society fails to understand, because they do not fully grasp the seriousness of child sexual abuse.
Branch to decide who is a “known child molester”
In the eyes of the law, a “known child molester” is someone who is known to have molested a child. In other words, if a body of elders are aware that a brother or sister in the congregation has molested a child, then in the eyes of the law that person is a “known child molester” to them. However, even in this simple area the Watch Tower Society insists on having their own definition of the term. Why? This is all to do with the matter of who gets to serve as a congregation elder.
Note the following words from paragraph 15…
“Who is considered a known child molester? The January 1, 1997, Watchtower article ‘Let Us Abhor What Is Wicked’ mentions on page 29 that a man ‘known to have been a child molester’ does not qualify for privileges in the congregation. The expression ‘known to have been a child molester’ has reference to how such a man is considered in the community and in the Christian congregation. In the eyes of the congregation, an adult ‘known’ to be a former child molester is not ‘free from accusation’ or ‘irreprehensible,’ nor does he have ‘a fine testimony from people on the outside.’ (1 Tim. 3:1-7, 10; 5:22; Titus 1:7) In view of his past, those in the community would not respect him and congregation members might be stumbled over his appointment. Keep in mind that the branch office, not the local body of elders, determines whether one who has sexually abused a child is considered a known child molester.”
Notice from the above how, regardless of whether a person has been found to molest a child with the elders having full knowledge of their actions, the Society insists that only THEY should have the authority to decide whether someone is to be considered a “known child molester”. What is the reason? Put simply, they do not believe that molesting a child at some point in the past is necessarily grounds for a brother to not serve as an elder in the future. It’s shocking, but true.
If this sounds too outrageous, you need only read paragraph 22 – and the first sentence in particular…
“It cannot be said in every case that one who has sexually abused a child could never qualify for privileges of service in the congregation. However, the elders will certainly want to be very cautious, especially when dealing with one who had repeatedly engaged in this kind of wrongdoing or who had been disfellowshipped for such an offense. Before privileges can be extended, such a man must meet the Scriptural qualifications of being ‘self-controlled’ and ‘irreprehensible.’ He must ‘also have a fine testimony’ from individuals inside and outside the congregation. (Titus 1:6-8; 1 Tim. 3:2, 7) Elders should keep in mind what is stated in the January 1, 1997, Watchtower article ‘Let Us Abhor What Is Wicked,’ page 29, paragraph 2: ‘Child sexual abuse reveals an unnatural fleshly weakness. Experience has shown that such an adult may well molest other children. True, not every child molester repeats the sin, but many do. And the congregation cannot read hearts to tell who is and who is not liable to molest children again. (Jeremiah 17:9) Hence, Paul’s counsel to Timothy applies with special force in the case of baptized adults who have molested children: ‘Never lay your hands hastily upon any man; neither be a sharer in the sins of others.’ (1 Timothy 5:22).’”
Once again, here we have a clear example of the Society not taking child abuse seriously enough. They admit in their own publications that “many” child molesters repeat their “sin” – yet they stop short of admitting that, for this reason, it would be entirely wrong to allow ANYONE who has previously molested a child to serve in a position of trust as an elder or ministerial servant. By making such a serious lapse in judgment, they fall foul of the words they themselves quote from 1 Timothy 5:22 and become sharers “in the sins of others”.
A terminally flawed policy
The Watch Tower Society’s child abuse policy is like a leaky bucket – however it is adjusted or reworked, it is rendered entirely useless by the Society’s insistence on the “two witness rule”. No matter how they try to adjust the policy, it is still ineffective and dangerous because it allows determined pedophiles to find loopholes through which to operate without hindrance.
What is needed is not an amended patched-up policy that still allows child abusers to exploit loopholes, but a NEW policy – one that recognizes that it is the God-assigned role of Caesar’s law enforcement authorities to decide who is or isn’t a child abuser, and not unqualified ministers.
At the core of any such new policy should be three key principles. These principles might be summarized under the acronym “RIP”, or “Report, Inform, Prevent”, as follows…
- REPORT – Child abuse is a crime. Therefore, accusations or confessions of child abuse should be reported to the police or law enforcement authorities immediately when they come to light.
- INFORM – Parents in a congregation should be discreetly informed by the elders of any known pedophile who might potentially come into contact with their children by worshipping alongside them. There should also be no repercussions for parents who wish to inform other parents of a known child molester if the elders fail to do so for any reason. Elders should also be freely able to inform the elders of another congregation if a known pedophile decides to move on.
- PREVENT – Child molesters should be prevented from serving in positions of trust in any congregation, or from enjoying privileges that would enable them to gain unsupervised access to children or conceal their history from congregation members.
The above principles are both reasonable, legally compliant and scripturally justifiable. They reflect the fair expectations of a modern society where any institution bears a responsibility to protect the children under its care from known child molesters. The sad part is, most Witness parents probably expect some if not all of the above principles to already be in place, but the truth is – none of them are.
It is disturbing to think of the number of children who are taken to Witness meetings each week by parents who are totally oblivious to the true depth of negligence in their congregation’s child abuse policies as dictated by the Governing Body. If all Witness parents were fully aware of the true ramifications of such policies, many would likely be shocked and appalled.
How it is…
As things stand, child abuse victims and their parents are often locked into a “triangle of secrecy” with their abuser and the elders. The police are marginalized and the Branch assumes complete control of the situation through the elders. In turn, the elders take their orders only from the branch and not from the local authorities, who are mostly kept out of the loop unless they are contacted and therefore able to intervene. Other parents are also oblivious to what is going on, meaning that the abuser has a greater likelihood of finding more victims.
Unless the abuser openly tries to spend time with other children, other parents are not to be informed of his “sin”, even if he is found guilty and disfellowshipped according to the “two witness rule”. Child molesters can therefore use this “triangle of secrecy” to bide their time and prey on yet more victims, as I have already discussed in my hypothetical scenario above. But it doesn’t need to be this way!
How it should be…
If everything were to be done properly, the police would be involved from the very beginning in every case. If the victim (or the victim’s family) approached the elders BEFORE informing the police, then the elders would tell them to phone the police immediately. The police would then assume full management of the situation, including conducting their enquiries with the accused, supporting the victim (taking evidence, offering therapy, etc), and informing the elders as to whether other parents in the congregation need to be warned (for example, if the accused is released on bail until the trial and still wishes to attend meetings or go out in service).
Under this correct arrangement, the role of the elders would simply be to pass on information, protect the other children in the congregation, and provide spiritual support wherever needed (as depicted by the grey arrows in the diagram). If the Governing Body wishes, there wouldn’t even be any need for the elders to accept a criminal prosecution as evidence of wrongdoing on the part of the accused if they don’t want to – they simply have to fulfil their responsibility to inform others who may be at risk, and not impose any sanctions on those who take it upon themselves to do this.
During the investigation, this would mean the elders warning other parents in consultation with the police if the police deem it necessary, and advising the branch office of what is happening. Contact with the branch office would be of particular importance if the accused was an appointed man (an elder or ministerial servant) within the congregation, but otherwise it would be a mere formality because the authorities would be managing the situation, and the elders would be taking advice straight from them.
This is how it should be, but despite the modest improvements in this latest letter (which actually make the Society more vulnerable to lawsuits than ever before), we are still a long way off from seeing policies introduced that would genuinely protect Witness children from devious, cunning and committed child molesters in the future.
What this letter proves
Firstly, this letter proves that despite the enormous uproar surrounding the Conti case the Society is STILL refusing to seize this obvious opportunity to introduce urgently needed reform to their out-dated, ineffective and dangerous child abuse policy. Over the decades the Watch Tower Society has clearly grown out-of-touch and oblivious to the very real dangers that its current flawed policy exposes children to.
I have already demonstrated this by highlighting the Society’s use of 1 Timothy 5:24,25 to imply that, even if a child abuser succeeds in covering his tracks to begin with, he will eventually be caught when he repeats his “sin” in the future – as though the number of victims a child molester accumulates before he is stopped are expendable. As another example of the Society’s failure to take the threat posed by child molesters seriously, consider the following statement in paragraph 11 of the letter…
“If the decision is to reprove [a child abuser], the reproof should be announced. (ks10 chap. 7 par. 20, second bullet) This will serve as a protection for the congregation. Information concerning an individual accused of child molestation, proved or otherwise, should be placed in the congregation confidential file and marked ‘Do Not Destroy’ and kept indefinitely.”
Precisely how is the congregation “protected” by an announcement from the platform that “So-and-so has been reproved” when there is no information as to the nature of his wrongdoing? The very fact that the Society can consider a vague platform announcement as a “protection” is extremely disturbing, because it demonstrates that they have no idea what they are doing. Just because an individual is reproved, this does not mean parents will assume he is a child molester – or is this how all parents should now look upon anyone in the congregation who is reproved?
In addition to giving clear evidence that the Society is seriously out of its depth in coping with this urgent problem, the very release of this letter proves something else, perhaps even more profound. This letter, which must have been leaked by a conscientious elder, proves that there is a growing movement of unsettled elders who know there is something deeply wrong about the organization, and are starting to find the courage to do something about it.
I salute the honesty, bravery and conscientiousness of whichever elder forwarded this letter to my colleagues for our analysis and distribution to others. Whoever did this has real courage and is to be greatly admired for putting the needs of Witness children first above everything else. The very fact that the Governing Body can no longer release letters in privacy shows that any claims that their organization enjoys the support of God’s spirit are entirely unfounded.
What can you do?
As you read my article, you may perhaps feel helpless or even enraged that so many children within the Witness faith are being endangered by the Governing Body’s neglect in their approach to child abuse. This is completely understandable, and as you can perhaps tell from my writing, I share this sense of deep despair and frustration.
As I’ve said before, the Governing Body has shown itself to be completely disinterested regarding the concerns and opinions of those whose lives they control, but this doesn’t mean we should all simply give up and not try to do something about it. If you have the courage and the circumstances, please pass the information in this article along to someone else so that as many people as possible can learn about this new letter and how it falls so woefully short when it comes to protecting children.
If you’re not able to take such bold action, that’s totally understandable. Still, I would urge you to register your disapproval of the Watchtower’s shamefully negligent child abuse policies in our 2012 JW Survey (to take part, click here). Four of the options in the final question relate directly to the issues I have discussed in this article, so you can make your voice heard (anonymously, if you want) by ticking to say that you disagree with the Governing Body’s approach to child abuse. This is only a relatively small thing that you can do, and there are no guarantees that it will make a difference – but it’s still a means by which you can tell the Governing Body that you disapprove of its failure to safeguard the children under its self-assumed duty of care.
For more background on this issue, please read Barbara Anderson’s new essay entitled ‘Megan and Candace – Casualties of Known Molesters‘
148 thoughts on ““We will decide who is a predator!” – New Watchtower Instructions to Elders on Child Abuse”
Oops! Wrong video – good one – but not the one I intended!
Here it is! Sorry! :D
Another attempt – I dunno what the problem is…
Okay – I give up. Please YouTube “Lack of belief in gods”… thats the one! ;)
may I suggest that you take up your issues with Jehovah God himself because the stand the Brothers take is in compliance with The Bible
1.) The Bible has little to say on sexual predators per se. There are a few Old Testament verses about a girl screaming out if she is raped. There also appears to be a verse that indicates that a young women must be forced to marry her attacker. Other than that, it is fairly silent.
2.) Every other Christian Church has (relatively) the same Bible as the JWs and yet for the most part they are able to let common sense prevail when dealing with sexual predators and allow those with the proper credentials provide support for victims.
3.) Since the Jehovah’s Witness religion has flip-flopped on so many other teachings and predictions over the years, why do they feel unable to make changes to comply with experts and governments on protecting children from predators?
4.) The problem with taking up our issues with Jehovah himself is that he never seems to return any of our phone calls and emails.
You and I tend to read the same books, Braincleaned! It seems ironic that by the logical writing of such men that light is thrown upon what’s truly wrong with modern religious fundamentalism. Presently I see organised religion as merely institutionalising our personal prejudices. Old Testament ‘ethics’ and the modern Divine Command Theory provides the nourishment for such a drive keep mankind’s mind from progressing.
To give you an example, one of my favourite debates is where Hitchens (missed a lot) is the token atheist on a panel of theists. Characteristically, he take the reins and makes mince-meat of the weak claims of the theists, telling us that God holds out to us an eternal life of happiness if only we would endure the insanity of this present Earth and that he offers this freely. Hitchens flies back that: Does he really? No. If you refuse his ‘kindness’ then be sure to burn in Hell or some other place of torment for your refusal!!
Fundamentalist religion teaches the vindictive God who holds humans in disdain, but undeservedly holds out the hand of help to filthy, sin-filled humans. Atheism and, to some extent, agnosticism challenges this fundamentalist view and attempts to build the self-esteem humanity has lost as a result of such hierarchical systems. People like Hitchens say exactly what our race should have said centuries ago. But some memes do tend to hang around to our detriment.
Often the Old Testament is used as an example of the danger of fundamentalist thinking. The WTS, for instance, melds its disfellowshipping system (social shunning as a form of “stoning” or being “dead” to their believing relatives) and, as previously discussed, the moral-absolutism of the “two witness rule.” But here’s a conundrum of Old Testament ethics up against our modern educated view:
How different is it ethically and morally to destroy, eradicate, an ancient people for the crime of offering up children as human sacrifices and then offering the children of the Canaanites as spoils of war? Is life truly sacred to the person who ordered the ‘execution’ of those who had committed no crime (unless the ‘crime’ was being born to the wrong people at the wrong time)?
How sacred is blood when it is innocently shed?
Is practical expedience a good reason for such a war-crime?
Obviously you’ll see the parallel here with the subject of this blog, Braincleaned.
I meant to say that the melding of the two doctrines is with Christian principles with Old Testament commands, the latter which was done away with Christ.
Well articulated, Frank.
I miss Hitch so much! But what fantastic body of logic and proper rant he has left us with!
I agree with all you say here. Even as a kid, the Canaanite issue has always left me wondering if YHWH had a special hate for them just because they were practicing what he wanted special glory for; the sacrifice of his own son.
It always seemed to me that this deity was created in the image of man rather than the opposite, as his character is that of the most petty of men; jealous, demanding worship, despot, and ready to kill for a protocol that he himself has invented on a whim of self-indulgence (as he has nobody to answer to). Also, a god that can massacre 42 young boys by having them ripped to shreds by 2 she-bears – just for calling a prophet “baldy”, has some serious issues of proper measure in punishment! (2 Kings 2:23-25).
* This said, I never bought the story, as the bears would have caught only the few that ran slower than the others – I can’t for the life on me picture how 42 kids can get ‘caught’ by 2 bears – no matter how big. In any case – even if not literal, what quality is this supposed to show from this self-named loving God? What is the moral of this story?
Bottom line; the OT is an embarrassment to morality, science, and logic. The NT is not much better, because Christ totally defended the OT and it’s barbaric laws. Matthew 5: 17-19 is clear on his stance. Furthermore, Jesus added a special twist in the commandment to worship God; he said “And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.”
Yep, it is the first new commandment calls for “compulsory love”.
How can anyone be forced to love, and damned if one cannot? This is easily one of the most ridiculous impositions from Christ.
I will pass the many other unloving things he stated, like the only reason for divorce being adultery – not a word for a battered spouse or a marriage where the husband (or wife) abuses the children, etc… nope – just adultery (which falls under the all too natural human behavior of just looking at a person with sexual desire).
Granted, he had beautiful words of wisdom too – but nothing original that was not said 800 years before him by Confucius
So much can be said – and it’s nice to say it amongst friends of a same understanding. But one must not hold one’s breath in thinking that any evidence of logic will ever deter a faithful, unless also a seeker and ready to question one’s own bias.
All of this follows the opening article by Cedars.
The WTS stance is unacceptable with our modern moral conscience.
They clearly and criminally confuse the term “sin” with “crime”.
But we must realize the problem runs MUCH deeper. Right or wrong, the WTS’s policies are based in Biblical law and requirement.
True, the Bible contradicts itself enough to confuse anyone, as “love” should be enough of a reference to negate the 2 witness rule of other age-old protocol.
My point being we can’t just point fingers at any one cult or religion. What we must analyze it the source of their moral code.
Of course, Hitch wasn’t an atheist, but an avowed anti-theist. Listening to his lectures (free online) reminds you that when he sees the OT and the fundamentalist interpretations religion uses to maintain its all-too terrestrial power, he saw traditional church teachings of devotion to a hierarchy as being in a “celestial North Korea”! He could say this when, as a journalist, he relates the bloody war-crimes and the immediate aftermath of these conflicts (headless bodies, mad dictators who treated their people like cattle, as well as describing the zombie-like state of those who live, as he put it “under a Necrocracy (dead dad, reigning son – an arrangement one-short of a trinity).
Today I finished Dinesh D’Souza’s new book, God Forsaken: Bad Things Happen. Is There a God Who Cares? Yes. Here’s Proof. As one of the Catholic Intelligentsia I find a few of his arguments interesting, but I’ve heard most of them before in his debates.
Fond of self-created tautologies, one of his oft-used arguments is the so-called “Fine-tuning” anthropic argument. He considers this knock-down argument that has ‘become an embarrassment to the atheist empire.’ Actually, it’s fundamentally flawed and it’s not hard to see how. This argument is based on the idea that ‘the universe was made for man,’ not the evolutionary counterpart, ‘man was made for the universe.’ The latter simply argues that we live in a universe that is conducive not just to life, but also to oxygen-breathing life. As it is often observed, if the dinosaurs had not become extinct, human life probably would not have arisen. There, that was easy, wasn’t it?
I remember Hitch embarrassing D’Souza almost into silence when the latter described Einstein as a theist! Hitch quickly reminded his opponent that Einstein had written extensively that he resented being called a believer in a personal god.
William Lane Craig, touted as one of America’s leading Christian apologetic debaters, is one to look out for. His sleight-of-hand methodology is to take control of the debate by laying down 6 or 7 bases on which HE will debate the existence of God and then state that unless his opponent logically destroys his philosophical set-up and then erects his own knock-down arguments, he has won the debate! This is common among theist debaters who have little or no demonstratable science with which to adorn what they claim.
Hitch also lambastes the Catholic Church for its dark child abuse secrets and delivers a stinging rebuke in the Intelligence-Squared Debate: Is the Catholic Church a Force for Good? Well worth a listen (along with Stephen Fry).
I think time itself will sort out eventually what is true and what is not.
Yes, you’re right, Braincleaned; the OT is an embarrassment, and often invites silence when old morality wounds are exposed.
Finkelstein and Silberman, two archaeologists (notice their names?), went into the Promised Land the ’80s to prove the Bible correct through archaeology and were surprised to find that, to their understanding, the evidence unearthed (their book is called The Bible Unearthed) that the Jews were actually the Canannites! Far from being any evidence of major conflicts, only small tribal skirmishes appeared to have taken place.
Most notably, there seems to be no break in the cultural evolution from polytheism to the better-known monotheism! (interestingly, this was attempted without success at least once in ancient Egypt under Tutankhamen’s dad’s, Akhenaten’s reign). Perhaps it was that what we see encountered the OT was the painful realisation that a new morality needed to replace old standards and this required the set-up of a new revolutionary way of thinking!
This would be fully consistent with the parsimonious idea that the stories accounted were likely inspirational cautionary tales told over camp fires among the Bedouin tribes that became something bigger. And, boy, did it ever!
Absolutely on both your comments. I still rerun all I could get from Hitch’s YouTube videos – such a pleasure to watch and listen.
I find myself flirting with the term anti-theist, because even if I am proven mistaken on the existence of YHWH, and suddenly have proof of his existence – I would still rather die than worship such a despotic monstrosity. Survival is not paramount to good conscience. I would consider any allegiance to him no better than that for Hitler.
I don’t agree with this god’s morals, that I find insulting to any thinking and well-intended human being. One must be consistent with one’s conscience, and my conscience most definitely refuses such an allegiance.
The platitude and lame excuse suggesting that we cannot know what He knows and that his ways are perfect is also a slap in the face of logic, kindness, love, and all of the good qualities I can think of.
So in view of this – I may well be an anti-theist myself; to all the gods I know of, in particular the one I know best, as an ex-christian.
I admire your courage to read Dinesh D’Souza’s book. He has always been a joke for me.
He did well to resign from Kings College after it was publicly revealed that he was engaged to a 29-year-old woman while still married to his wife of 20 years.
Fine example for a man who defends God.
Someone said…I think it was Hitch, that Christianity is a ‘cult of human sacrifice.’ Some see this as God saying that, “I sacrificed my son, so you should be willing to do so too.” The WT have happily obliged their adherents to do this in two major doctrines at least – refusal of a certain medical procedure and in requiring social shunning (“treating as if dead” [stoning]) when disfellowshipped. The relationship too may be seen in the subject of this blog. Enter Western ethics and, in many cases, court orders are written to ensure that such parents are not burdened with having to make the mistake of making a decision with permanent consequences on the basis of their own religious viewpoints.
At the moment I’m reading Martha Beck’s book, Leaving the Saints, in which she recounts her belief that her father, a high-ranking Utah professor and apologist, sexually molested her. Obviously controversial, we are told of the gynecological tears in her reproductive parts, strange nightmares that go back to when she was aged 5, and a “methinks they do protest too much” denial from within the eschalons of the church.
Some of the book has chilling parallels and reminded me of possibly how the allegations made against one of the WT governing body members was handled; the name of the alleged perpetrator being equal to the reputation of the organisation.
What is it called in politics? ‘Plausible deniability’? We know from actual documented evidence from the UN that the Organisation’s relationship was likely more than a desire to use a library card. Yet, today, the desire to get this serious violation of political neutrality (another GB doctrine) out in the open meets only with “We’re only imperfect men,” “now there’s more light,” and attempt to stop talk by closing down the conversation! (and as ‘evidence’ that the critic is not doctrinally in full agreement with the GB [a disfellowshipping offence called, ‘apostasy’]).
You may know Plausible Deniability by the more pseudo-Biblical religious rhetorical tool of “Theocratic War Strategy.”
It seems D’Souza’s trouble stemmed from stupidly introducing the lady on his arm at a function as his ‘fiance.’ He sent an email to all who follow his site stating that nothing improper went on during his time with her, but that he is estranged from his wife.
It’s funny, people say to me, when I ask them to answer the question: Why does God destroy the innocent with the wicked? “We just don’t know. We can’t know everything!” To which as tell them, “I don’t want to know everything, but this question goes to the heart of basic Bible and human morality. Surely, a Christian apologist can tell me why God couldn’t have found a more practical way to accomplish his will without such a cost to humanity!”
If people would use their logic and prudence in their view of religion or gods with the same logic and prudence they deal with business, health, and other personal and family choices – they would never be this gullible of putting faith in something with not a shred of evidence, with a hope based on what is not seen (Heb.11:1).
Everyone has a healthy dose of skepticism – they don’t trust just anyone with their children, their money, or their health – yet that skeptical critical thinking just vanishes in the presence of gods – conveniently different in varying cultures.
“The elders should not ask an alleged victim, the accused
person, or relatives of the victim or accused to call the Legal Department. The elders should call the
Legal Department even in the following situations:…After a report has been made to the Legal Department, depending on the need, the elders may be
directed to contact the Service Department for assistance with questions regarding theocratic or judicial
aspects of the case or regarding how to protect children.”
– Body of Elder Child Abuse Letter from the Governing Body.
Looking at just this small quote from the leaked Body of Elders letter dated 1 October, 2012, could we honest say that this represents an “aggressive child protection policy”?
Further on, this statement is made: “Elders should help the parents of the children in-volved to understand that they have the primary responsibility for protecting their children.”
The situation arises where a parent (continuously up to now admonished to tell elders of accusations against congregation members) informs an elder/elders of their accusation. The elders form a judicial committee (or not if there is a denial during the initial investigation) and the accused person confesses to sexually molesting a child of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
The perpetrator cries buckets of tears and the elders, moved by his genuine repentance, tell him they will not take the matter further but he will receive a severe rebuke and loss of congregational privileges. The congregation is not informed that there is a sexual molester in their midst.
How, in this situation, have the investigators helped the situation? How many incidents of molestation have they investigated? One? Probably. Have they ascertained whether or not that this person has a history, possibly a long history of sexual crimes against children? Obviously not.
In not informing the congregation, how are parents to shoulder their “primary responsibility” to protect their children when the elders, the only protection between the molester and their potential victims, have kept the details and even the identity of the offender “private” (secret)?
The WTS has a long history, like serial-prophesying, of making unwarranted claims; one of which is that ‘God’s People’ live in a ‘spiritual paradise,’ part of which is knowing that you can trust each and every member of this ‘righteous’ people. It is quite possible that if a parent/parents refused continually to let their children work with ministerial servants and elders in the field service ‘for their advancement,’ they may be spoken to and even disciplined for not co-operating with a ‘theocratic arrangement.’
What the WT doesn’t yet get is that child molesters are more-often-than-not recidivists and are simply waiting for an opportunity to indulge their perverse ‘tastes.’
Graham Spanier, other Penn State officials showed ‘total disregard to the suffering of children,’ AG says | PennLive.com
In the Penn State case
The decision is made, if any organization hides a sex offender its to prison they go if the child abuse is not reported to the police,
The three should be sentenced tomorrow.
Now what is the Watchtower going to do ?
Sorry I am no good at putting up links.
@ susanna ~ It’s the same perceived Ecclesiastical privilege and from the other side, tolerance and allowance shown to Religion that is counted on to allow abuse of all types against the sick, weak and vulnerable to thrive in cloistered orders…I’ve heard it I don’t know how many times and even in the presence of police officers more than once where Elders have declared their “Ecclesiastical Privilege” because they were taught that by the Society. The first time the officer asked, “What is that? This is a criminal investigation…you have no privileges here” The second time, I explained to the Elders in the presence of the officers that there was no Ecclesiastical Privilege during the course of a criminal investigation. Ecclesiastical Privilege does apply in confidentiality matters pertaining to certain information and circumstances that are case specific but not where a criminal investigation is at hand.
One of the above illustrations, that of the little girl putting her hand out to say, “No!” to the potential abuser, clearly shows why this “aggressive” policy could be deadly to its victims.
As the comment below it indicates, the responsibility is put on a child’s parents to train their children and then second to this PLACES SUCH A RESPONSIBILITY ON THE CHILD TO REFUSE THE ADVANCES OF AN ABUSER.
The purpose of the policy is that the elder body is bypassed for any responsibility under the “aggressive” WT policy. Under secular law that potential abuser would likely not even be in the bedroom of the little girl. This is because their name would be on a sex offender’s list that the public can access. Conversely, it could be that even the girl’s parents may not know when in a sleepover situation.
How much good is it in such a situation if the nature of the abuser is not seductive, but violent? I don’t think a held-out hand is going to be effective here.
The first reason why the decision whether a perpetrator is a sexual predator should not be left in the hands of untrained religious leaders is, as discussed above, that they have no understanding of the recidivist nature of paedophiles, who merely await their opportunity. They are there to investigate ONLY the specific accusations made and likely have no knowledge of past crimes.
Second, lack of objectivity, because likely the accused will be known to the judges. In order to be truly impartial (a word bandied around during judicial hearings) the investigators/judges will need to objective. Obviously, this underlines the need to hand it over to secular authorities who are objective and truly impartial.
“Loving elders should take steps to protect children, especially when a judicial commit-tee determines that the one who has sexually abused a child is repentant and will be allowed to re-main a member of the Christian congregation. The same concern would be shown when one who has sexually abused a child is disfellowshipped, later cleans up his life, and is reinstated.”
This ‘advice’ alone should be considered dangerous for any children affected by it! Obviously this is a system that knows nothing about the serious subject it makes itself judge of.
Louis Theroux, a British documentary maker, made an American paedophile penitentiary the subject of one of his episodes. Some of the inmates complained that they had been incarcerated AFTER they had served their jail sentences by court order, others told of how they would NEVER leave the institution. This should be a warning to all those affected and those who deem themselves qualified to state as above.
“People agree one child abused, ….. is one too many.”
The one who abused this child is a predator!!
Deciding who is and who is not a predator is … absurd, contrary to reason or common sense,…. in short,… mentally ridiculous.
“One child abused, is one too many.”
You are so correct. Having been one of the children, my father not only molested me he also molested my mothers daughter from her first marriage. He destroyed her life and mine. He became an elder in the Congregation after molesting me. He and my mother lied to people in the Congregation about me when I left home, totally destroying my reputation. After lying they moved from the Southern part of the State where I grew up to the Northern part of the State, and proceeded to tell people that they had no children. Imagine how shocked the Congregation was when I showed up after finding out how ill he was before his death. At his Memorial Service, several of the people in the Congregation that they belonged to had the audacity to come up to me and thank me for arranging his funeral and the financial help I provided. They had the nerve to say, we didn’t know that they had any children, they told us they didn’t have any (another lie they told and got by with.) They are not right mentally. They live apart from the real world making it very hard for their children to cope in the outside world when they become adults, unless they remain in the Organization and lead their sheltered little lives. They adopted me when I was 5 years old from my real Grandmother who was in their Congregation. They do abuse their children, they do buy children, my real sister has my papers, they do lie and they are not a healthy type of people to be around. I was so overprotective of my children because of the way that I was raised, that my daughter will not speak to me because her friends convinced her that I was not normal. All I wanted was for my children to NOT have to experience the hurt that I had to when I was growing up. Yes the Governing Body IS TO BLAME. They make the rules.
Friends, when I read through these comments I feel such rage (at the perpetrators) and such sadness for the victims that I want to burst. And the sickening part – this is just the tip of the iceberg. Well, men may appoint themselves to all sorts of positions, and claim all sorts of authority, but there is One above them all, with whom true justice resides.
As to the discussion, let’s add the following:
1. Jehovah describes Himself particularly as the Protector of the powerless (widows and orphans are mentioned repeatedly) – and He promises to bring vengeance against those (in authority) who fail to do His Will in this regard. So – by refusing to place the interests of abused children first – the WT Society has placed itself in a confrontational situation with the very One they claim to worship.
2. The Mosaic Law was provided for a particular people, at a particular time – the Jewish nation. The state was both a secular and a religious authority. So the Law provided a set of rules, one of which was to protect innocent people from being framed. For this reason, the ‘older men’ of the villages and towns ‘sat in the gates’ and held judicial enquiries IN PUBLIC, so that everyone was aware what was happening. Therefore, in ancient Israel, if a man were caught raping a child, he would be tried IN PUBLIC – and executed by stoning. So, if the WTS wishes to cite Mosaic Law, it needs to be consistent at every step – cherry picking is not allowed, or it makes a mockery of the WT Society, and the very Law they claim to uphold. And it causes additional injury to the victims.
3. Forensic science and other investigative methods weren’t available back then – BUT THEY ARE NOW. SO TO DENY THE JURISDICTION OF THE ‘SUPERIOR AUTHORITY’ makes the WT Organization guilty as an accessory. And, I would suggest, if an abuser uses the arcane and incomprehensible legalistic juggling of the WT society to abuse further victims – THEN THE WT SOCIETY IS AN ACCOMPLICE. And should rightly be tried as such. Each and every time.
4. Not all abuse is sexual, or of minors: Here’s a case history provided by an elder, (name withheld): “I was invited to assist a special pioneer with a small congregation that was inexplicably dying. We soon discovered that the problem was the presiding overseer, who bullying various members of the congregation. None of the victims ever mentioned sexual abuse – yet one and all they were dead scared of him, and were adamant they would never be alone with him (e.g. in the field-service). When he became aware that we were investigating, he tried every trick in the book to mislead and later, discredit us. We however, persevered, and won the confidence of some of the victims, and the story started to emerge. My own ‘moment of truth’ came when he found a moment to be alone with me, and suggested we work together to “get rid of” the special pioneer. When he realized that I was not to be bought, he later physically assaulted me. It happened like this – I was working alone in the Kingdom Hall flat. Suddenly I was grabbed from behind, pinned to the chair, (I was typing) and the assailant started to throttle me. Instinctively I fought back, and a struggle ensued. The next bit is still confused in my mind, but I think there was a noise at the door, maybe one of the sisters looking for my wife, who was out. Startled, my attacker released me, I jumped up, and we confronted one another face to face. And he just laughed it off, with the words “they’ll never believe you. Now why don’t you just go away, and leave us alone.” The first bit proved true. He was feared, he was even detested, but he was still regarded as a ‘pillar of the congregation’. Much later he was caught out, with the necessary witnesses present. And we thought it was all settled. Sadly, a year later the special pioneer phoned me to say that the decision to remove this abusive bully had been overturned on appeal to the branch. The abuser had moved on to another congregation, and been re-appointed.“
5. It has been (quite understandably) claimed that the WT Society creates a ‘paradise for pedophiles’. Again, it’s not for me to judge, but we can identify the following factors:
The Society has an obsession about its own authority. This is indisputable. It is simply the Medieval concept of the “Divine Right of Kings” translated into modern terms, backed by misquoted passages from Mosiac history. And it breeds a culture of abuse of power. History bears witness, all the way back to King Saul of Israel, and beyond. Put it all together, and it tells me that the WT Society doesn’t understand the basic principles of Christianity – where power is used with love, for the benefit of the weak, and NEVER abusively.
Wow Frank… makes me want to meet this bully and beat him up. I know a few like that. I never backed down, and one finally left – I mean LEFT – the Religion, everything! 2 years down the road he got caught for killing a man over diamonds. Nice guy. Obviously he was made an elder thru the Holy Spirit! :D
I thought this page was pulled out… glad to see it’s still on!
After hearing all this talk and who is this and who is what, whats it all about. This leaves me only one thing to say. If the society of 8 old men are so determined to defend child molesters,then I have to come to the conclusion that maybe they are trying to protect their own. Don’t the police protect their own? don’t unions protect their own? don’t gays and lesbians protect their own? don’t families protect their own? don’t wealthy people protect their own? Need I say more?
As the movie quote goes, “let’s see how deep the rabbit hole goes”. Are you sure the body of elders would call the authorities if there is only one witness to a crime? A corpse can tell the tale, we now know with criminal forensics. Let’s suppose a sister poisons her abusive husband or otherwise causes his demise so that cause of death is questionable. She rushes to have the body cremated; the elders do not call in the authorities, or demand an inquiry into cause of death, to cause injunction to the cremation. Still think the elders are so “innocent” as to defend against murderers and manslaughter?
Slip a little poison into one of the Governing Body, or Bethel member’s, coffee (or tea) and it seems like a cardiac–no investigation.
Believe me, you’re lucky to get out of this group with your life.
If possible. I would like to get a copy of that letter. Please sent it to me thru my email.
God! This article made me mad. The WTS says we are mentally disturbed but I think it is the other way around!
Why is the WTS sticking to Mosaic Laws when Jesus came along and wiped everything and gave us two commandments: 1. Love yourself (2. love your neighbours?
“Believe me, you’re lucky to get out of this group with your life’ ~ Tell me about it! They’ve been trying to kill me for years! And came pretty close more than a few times…No Human control or efficiency or absolute clockwork precision could operate as this organization does at such a task across Europe and the countries of North America and the US without the assistance of spirit forces!
Nor could I have been spared and be alive with out divine protection!
I fail to see the reasoning about the two witness rule,because pedophiles operate in secret and is very hard to have two witnesses to oversee the crime being committed,but I also like to mention that accusing someone without any evidence or proof can be a double edge sword, Granted if the individual has confess to the allege crime for which he or she should be punish to the full extend of Caesars law.
RC, I agree that false accusations are not good. However, an accused person is innocent until proven guilty by a jury of their peers, in a court of law.
Personally, I would always inform the authorities and let professionals handle the case. It is absolutely not acceptable for untrained elders to decide if a case has to be answered.
As mentioned by other posters, these despicable individuals are cunning and are willing to wait for their sick thrills. We cannot afford to give individuals the benefit of the doubt – not with the safely and well being of children at stake.
False accusations are incredibly rare, and can be uncovered by professionals. We must believe children who come forward and we must pass cases to the authorities immediately. Only then can we hope to create a world where our children are safe.
One in 10 Falsely Accused of Abuse: Survey–.
One in six of the respondents personally knew someone who has been falsely accused of domestic violence, child abuse, or sexual assault
About twice as many persons have been falsely accused of child abuse as domestic violence or sexual abuse
Three-quarters of the falsely accused persons were male
Nearly seven in 10 of the accusers were female
In over a quarter of the cases, the accusation was made as part of a child custody dispute
Nearly one in 10 – 9.7% — of respondents said they themselves had been falsely accused of abuse
One in 10 adults has been falsely accused of domestic violence, child abuse, or sexual assault, according to a survey conducted by Stop Abusive and Violent Environments (SAVE). The survey also found a strong disparity between the number of males and females falsely accused: more than three quarters of all false accusations are levied against men. Nearly seven in 10 false accusers are female.
The survey is the first of its kind to be undertaken, and uncovers distressing trends within the American abuse-reduction system.
Child abuse is the commonest false charge — about twice as many people have been falsely accused of child abuse as of domestic violence or sexual assault. In over one quarter of cases, the false allegations were made in a child custody case. as you can see False accusations are not incredibly rare. I am not in any one approving of those who are guilty of pedophilia in the JW organization and being fount guilty.
hmmm…my entire reply has disappeared :-(
Sarah, I’m so sorry. I know your pain. I was abused by and elser in my cong. also, and nothing was ever done to him and I was the evil Lolita at age 12!! My mother believed them and I was beaten and punished and got to watch his smug face every week at the kh. Hate them and everything they stand for. Hope you were able to move forward, as I am still working on it after many years of therapy, anger, hurt and mistrust. Hope you have been able to find your happy place and have some peace with the knowledge that they are in the hells they built for themselves, and it ain’t no damn paradise!!
So an older man gets to boink a child and you are not suppose to say anything just because he’s old? I really don’t think this is what Jehovah meant at all. Funny thing though I was told by Elders that they don’t deal with child molestation cases at all and they said they are not suppose to deal with them. So here is the problem we have blind Elders. They are suppose to turn a blind eye to anyone who is a victim of pedophilia. Guess what? WT doesn’t deal with it either until they are dragged to court!
“Just because life is not always lost when a child is molested, child abuse is still a crime and should be treated as such.’
Hi Cedars, thanks so much for your site, and your insight. The above quote is taken from the above article, and,I would just like to say, that a life IS always lost when a child is molested
I am appalled as a survivor of abuse that such claims could be made, if they are indeed false. But 1 in ten does not account for the 9 out of ten cases which are true. This article proves that the WTBTS are just as culpable as the perpetrator. To be silent is consenting to the vile act that was done. The elders not bothering to take heed of Romans 13:1-7. I left the organisation because they would not protect children. It lets the sickest and most twisted of people allowed to slip through their fingers and free to continue to abuse. This is wrong. If one case comes to light, then the elders should contact the authorities, regardless of whether it may be false. I do agree however that anonymity should be retained in all cases until the accused is judged accordingly. And if it turns out to be false, then at least the person did not have his name slandered in the public eye. But if it is true and they have committed these sick disgusting acts towards children, then they deserve everything they get. And the congregation should then be free to make their own choices, after the accused has served jail time, about safety for their children in the association of such a criminal. WTBTS just as culpable when covering stories like this up and encourage their body of elders to do the same.
Could it be that everyone is protecting their own? Cops protect their own,gays protect their own, unions protect their own,then maybe the 8 old men in Brooklyn are protecting their own.
So amazing be enlightened.
20 years in the JWs, hate to think of it as a waste. An ex-elder told me to see it as a character building exercise.
Sure, but what a waste too. I am a songwriter/singer, this was frowned on and you never got the chance to shine unless you were a theocratic family affair. Shame on the GB.
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