On April 26 of 2017, Investigative Journalist Trey Bundy and Reveal media, in partnership with the law firm UK law firm Bolt Burdon Kemp, organised a landmark conference in London entitled: Bringing Abuse to Light: A convening to address the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ child safety crisis.
Bundy and Reveal had long been investigating the worldwide scandal surrounding the Watchtower organisation’s handling of child abuse, with multiple articles and podcasts devoted to the subject. However, they felt the issue was so severe, and Watchtower’s apparent intransigence to change was so troubling, that things needed to step up a gear.
Thus, the Reveal conference was organised.
The goal was to gather relevant experts, activists and abuse survivors, as well as members of the media, all together in one place so that information could be shared and strategies formulated as to how best to progress this issue, and also to alert other news organisations as to the depth and scale of the problem. JW Survey founder Lloyd Evans was one of those who attended, and he recounted his experiences in a recent JW Survey article which you can read here.
This bold strategy pursued by Bundy and Reveal has paid off in a number of ways. From lots of networking and useful behind the scenes collaboration, to increased public exposure. Indeed Watchtower’s ongoing worldwide child abuse scandal has once again featured in the media, and one of the Reveal conferences attendees is helming the show;
David Cook, an investigative reporter for the BBC.
Cook has brought the issue to BBC Worldwide’s radio series Heart and Soul, in an episode entitled “Witness Protection.” The episode not only focuses on the specific issue of child abuse, but also reaches further into other troubling aspects of Watchtower’s doctrine and the culture of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Shunning, the insular nature of the religion, and the efforts being made to create support groups for those leaving the faith are all discussed in this excellent program.
You can listen to the program here.
It’s clear to see that Cook has clearly done his research. For example, he notes that the Governing Body describe themselves as “Guardians of Doctrine.” That phrase, to my knowledge, appears in no Watchtower literature and was used only once by Governing Body member Geoffrey Jackson during his appearance before the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual abuse. Thus, it’s clear that Cook has a good familiarity with what happened at the ARC, as well as in the many other investigations into the religion.
You will also see that many of the experts and abuse survivors interviewed for Cook’s report were also attendees at the Reveal conference. Legal experts like Kathleen Hallisey and Irwin Zalkin, and abuse survivors like Nick French, Candice Conti and Karen Morgan are all featured in the program.
I’d highly recommend listening to the program, and it’s heartening to see that good investigative journalism is still alive and well, with the likes of Trey Bundy and David Cook fighting to bring public attention to Watchtower’s ongoing disgraceful handling of child abuse.