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Jack Ryan

Fædrelandsvennen have released an official English version of their award-winning article about the JW legal system

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Official response:

No Time for an Interview

Over a long period of time Fædrelandsvennen has attempted to get an interview with the JW Branch Office for Scandinavia regarding the practice of the judicial committees.

The Branch Office at Holbæk is the entity which connects the world headquarters at Warwick, New York with the congregations all over Scandinavia.

The Norwegian spokesperson Mr. Dag-Erik Kristoffersen has declined the interview request. He has been provided with information about the specific cases in this article and knows that Fædrelandsvennen is writing about the ’Elder Manual’, «Shepherd the Flock of God».

Kristoffersen’s only reply is an email, and his comments are not on the specific cases:

«We do not wish to spend time on an interview, since the questions you raise are about fundamental issues. All is very clearly explained in our internal book, from which you refer, as well as in magazines such as Watchtower. This is not something secret, something new or unknown.

Jehovah’s Witnesses is a Christian church, and we have some clear biblical guidelines on how to behave in order to enjoy and be part of the life in the congregation. If someone commits serious sins against the moral code of the Bible, a judicial committee must address whether this person can continue to be part of the congregation. The book which you have, explains how a judicial committee works and the biblical principles they must follow.

If there are personal disputes, e.g. financial, the Elders in the congregation will try to help the parties agree to some settlement. In cases of theft or fraud, a judicial committee will be formed. This is also the case when it is necessary to disfellowship a member of the congregation.

A decision by a judicial committee can be appealed, and the case will then be tried before another judicial committee.

It is as simple as this, and we have no more to say about this matter.»

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Fairly factual document, disregarding the mild journalistic sensationalism.

Actual quotations from elder's procedural guidance show their scriptural basis, so any disputing will clearly be over the interpretation and application of scripture. Such arguments generally deteriorate into an assault on the validity of Biblical directive, attacking if not authenticity, then asserting antiquity as grounds for obsolescence. Once again, the fact that behaviour that is legislated as criminal by the state is handled from a spritual standpoint by the congregation is presented as if it had some significance.

Case studies.

No 1 presents a woman subject to domestic violence. For some reason, she married a man who had already subjected her to abuse.The catalogue of abuse that she and her children eventually brought before secular authorities was denied by the perpetrator. However he was found guilty despite his denial in the face of witnesses. The matter was handled from a spiritual standpoint by the congregation. However the approach was too lenient from the victim's standpoint, and she feels her testimony and that of her children was discounted by those who handled the case. Although eventually the abuser was disfellowshipped, his apparent reinstatement seems to have taken place rather quickly, and the unresolved issue of his continued denial of abuse in the face of his conviction on evidence remains. The case is presented as being mishandled against the congregational procedures which is unusual. The article states that the victim: "has nothing against the church itself. Yet she contributes to Fædrelandsvennens article. Her most important motive is a hope that change of internal procedures, guidelines and attitudes in her church may be possible". It is difficult to comment on  the case as only one side of the matter is presented. An ARC type investigation on video would be necessary to make a judgement. Any opinions outside of that would just be prejudiced.

No 2 presents a couple who decide on aborting a child due to the mother's mental state. In the ensuing judicial case within the congregation, they successfully feigned repentance in order to avoid disfellowshipping. Probably this is presented to illustrate the fact that the determining of repentance is a flawed process? In any event, the couple are now experiencing spiritual difficulties as a result, but apprently attribute this to some sort of perceived 'mind control' by the religious system rather than guilt over their terminating of the life of the foetus.

No 3 presents the case of a woman who embarks on a course involving fornication on a number of occasions with more than one partner. She objected to the fact a confidant informed the elders of her conduct. She understandably did not enjoy her experiences before the resulting  judicial committees, and although not disfellowshipped the first time, she was on a subsequent occasion after repeating the violation and on the grounds that she did not demonstrate a sufficient level of repentance. (This is the normal grounds for disfellowshpping). She finds her experience of being disfellowshipped as most unpleasant.

No 4 presents a woman subject to sexual abuse within the marriage. Lack of suitable testimony  meant her complaints to the police were dismissed. It seems (apparently) her complaints were sympathetically viewed by the elders, but their advice for her to try and resolve the matter was not satisfactory. Although she had grounds for a separation, there was no scripturural basis for divorce. She decided to divorce on secular grounds and remarried out of the religion. This scripturally constituted an adulterous marriage,  and she was subsequently disfellowshipped for this violation.

The agenda of the publishers of this article seems to revolve around the assertion that Jehovah's Witnesses have a "legal" system to circumvent that of the state. There is also an undertone of disapproval of the effects of the disfellowshipping arrangement.

The citing of the instructions to elders and the scriptural basis for them is actually very helpful in evaluating what is presented in the article, although it  is not clear if that was the publisher's intention.

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Case No 1. 

Quote "In 2010, before her husband became an Elder in their congregation, the abuse escalated even more. One of her sons, then 15, couldn’t take it any more."

It would appear that the Elders didn't act because the 'husband' was an Elder.  This seems to follow a pattern where Elders stick together to help each other when one is in trouble. 

What happened to the scripture about looking after 'widows and orphans', because this woman and her children were almost a 'widow and orphans' in the fact that the husband/father was not doing his duty of protecting them, but was in fact causing injury to them. 

The facts of him causing injury seem clear enough from medical reports and police evidence. 

but the black cat still blindly sticks up for the JW Org. 

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"The organization is highly devoted to what they perceive as the correct understanding of the Bible." 

Jehovah’s Witnesses is a Christian church, and we have some clear biblical guidelines on how to behave in order to enjoy and be part of the life in the congregation. If someone commits serious sins against the moral code of the Bible, a judicial committee must address whether this person can continue to be part of the congregation. The book which you have, explains how a judicial committee works and the biblical principles they must follow.

Here is the moral code:

 Jesus answered, “The most important is Listen, O Israel! The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. 3The second is, Love your neighbor as yourself.There is no other command greater than these.”  Mark 12:29-31

No other, JWs. 

In court the boy also reveals how he had witnessed his mother knealing in front of his stepfather, begging for mercy.

And how he, the 15 year old, tried to go between them to stop the violence. But nothing worked. It’s then he, out of sheer desperation, together with his older brother, approached the Elders in their congregation. The brothers tell the Elders what is going on at home.

"I can’t witness this any more, how my mother and baby brothers are treated". That’s what he told the Elders. But they did nothing," says the woman.



If there was true love among the entire army of leaders in the organization, the elders would have acted upon it and responded to the boy's plea for help.

"Because lawlessness will multiply, the love of many will grow cold."  Matt 24:12 

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