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The Reproach of Child Sexual Abuse Falls on the Abuser

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In Jehovah’s Witness congregations, victims, parents, or anyone else, have always been free to report allegations of child sexual abuse to the police. The troubling reality is that many chose not to do it. They alerted congregation elders and went no further. Why? Because they thought that by so doing, they might be bringing reproach on God’s name and the Christian congregation.

That situation has been resolved. The May 2019 study edition of the Watchtower, reviewed via Q & A participation at all congregations of Jehovah’s Witnesses—it will escape nobody—addressed it specifically: 

“But what if the report is about someone who is a part of the congregation and the matter then becomes known in the community? Should the Christian who reported it feel that he has brought reproach on God’s name? No. The abuser is the one who brings reproach on God’s name,” states the magazine.

The problem is solved. Can one bring reproach on God or the Christian congregation by reporting child sexual abuse to police? No. The abuser has already brought the reproach. There will be many who had long ago come to that conclusion, but now, unambiguously, in writing, for elders and members alike, here it is spelled out.

From the beginning, child sexual abuse controversies as related to Jehovah’s Witnesses have been markedly different from those of nearly anywhere else. Incidents have mostly been within the ranks of the general membership, come to light because the Witness organization takes seriously passages as Romans 2:21-22, and investigates wrongdoing within its midst so as to “keep the congregation clean” in God’s eyes, something that they think He demands:

“Do you, however, the one teaching someone else, not teach yourself? You, the one preaching “Do not steal,” do you steal?  You, the one saying “Do not commit adultery,” do you commit adultery?” (Romans 2:21-22)

Elsewhere it is the leaders being looked at exclusively. Usually, no mechanism at all exists that the wrongdoing of religious members comes to light. When the police nab John Q. Parishioner, it is as much news to the church minister as it is to the public. When was the last time you read of an abuser identified by religious affiliation unless it was a person in position of leadership?

As I write this, it now appears that the time has come for Southern Baptists to take their turn in the hot seat. Just eight days prior to this writing, a Houston Chronicle headline (February 10, 2019) announces: “Abuse of Faith - 20 years, 700 victims: Southern Baptist sexual abuse spreads as leaders resist reforms.”

Who are the victims? Entirely those who were abused by leaders. The latter “were pastors. ministers. youth pastors. Sunday school teachers. deacons. And church volunteers.” Were any of them just regular church members abused by other regular church members? No. There is no apparatus for that to ever come to light. The church preaches to them on Sunday but otherwise takes no interest in whether they actually apply the faith or not. Doubtless they hope for the best, but it is no more than hope. Only a handful of faiths make any effort to ensure that members live up to what they profess.

It has always been apples vs oranges. That is what has long frustrated Jehovah’s Witnesses. With most groups, if you want to find a bumper crop of pedophile abusers, you need look no farther than the leaders. With Jehovah’s Witnesses, if you “hope” for the same catch, you must broaden your nets to include, not just leaders, but everybody. It is rare for a Witness leader to be an abuser, the rotter in San Diego being a notable exception. It is the rule elsewhere. The most recent Witness legal case, involving a lawsuit in Montana, involves abuse entirely within a member’s step-family that did not reach the ears of the police, which the court decided was through leadership culpability.

To account for this marked difference in leadership personal conduct, this writer submits a reason. Those who lead among Jehovah’s Witnesses are selected from rank and file members on the basis of moral qualifications highlighted in the Bible itself, for example, at Titus 1:6-9.  In short, they are those who have distinguished themselves in living their religion. Leaders of most denominations have distinguished themselves in knowing their religion, having graduated from divinity schools of higher education. They may live the religion—ideally, they do, but this is by no means assured—the emphasis is on academic knowledge.

Add to the mix that Jehovah’s Witness elders preside without pay, and thus their true motive is revealed. Most religious leaders do it for pay, and thus present conflicting motives. One could even call them “mercenary ministers.” Are they untainted in their desire to do the Lord’s work or not? One hopes for the best but can never be sure.

Confounding irreligious humanists who would frame the child sexual abuse issue as one of religious institutions, two days after the Southern Baptist exposé, there appeared one of the United Nations. On February 12, the Sun (thesun.co.uk) reported that “thousands more ‘predatory’ sex abusers specifically target aid charity jobs to get close to vulnerable women and children.”

“There are tens of thousands of aid workers around the world with paedophile tendencies, but if you wear a UNICEF T-shirt nobody will ask what you’re up to. You have the impunity to do whatever you want,” Andrew Macleod, a former UN high official stated, adding that “there has been an ‘endemic’ cover-up of the sickening crimes for two decades, with those who attempt to blow the whistle just getting fired.” Sharing his data with The Sun, Mr. Macleod “warned that the spiralling abuse scandal was on the same scale as the Catholic Church’s.”

All things must be put into perspective. Child sexual abuse is not an issue of any single religion, much less a tiny one where otherwise blameless leaders are perceived to have bungled reporting to police. It occurs in any setting in which people interact with one another. The legal system being what it is, one can prosecute child sexual abuse wherever it is encountered. The tort system being what it is, one prosecutes primarily where there are deep pockets. Arguably, the child sexual abuse issues of the Southern Baptists have taken so long coming to light is because that denomination is decentralized in organization, presenting no deep pockets.

With the May 2019 Watchtower mentioned above, finally the reporting issues of Jehovah’s Witnesses are fixed. Anyone who knows of abuse allegations may bring those to the attention of the police, and regardless of how “insular” or “no part of the world” Witnesses may be, they need not have the slightest misgivings about bringing reproach on the congregation. Both goals can proceed—that of societal justice and that of congregation justice—and neither interferes with the other.

Witness opposers were not at all gracious about this change, that I could see. Many continued to harp on the “two witness” rule of verifying abuse, for example. It becomes entirely irrelevant now. Were it a “40-witness” or a “half-witness” rule, it wouldn’t matter. It is a standard that guides congregation judicial proceedings and has absolutely no bearing on secular justice.

“Well, it only took a landslide of legal threats around the world to force their hand on this,” opposers grumbled, as they went on to claim credit. Why not give them the credit? Likely it is true. Everything in life is action/reaction and it would be foolish to deny the substance of this. Once ones leave the faith, people within lose track of them. It is easy to say: “Out of sight, out of mind,” and opponents did not allow this to happen. They should seriously congratulate themselves. Many have publicly stated that their opposition is only so that Jehovah’s Witnesses will fix their “broken policies.” Now that they have been fixed, one wonders if their opposition will stop.

Members have been given the clearest possible direction that there should be no obstacle or objection to their reporting whatever allegations or realities they feel should be reported. Few journalists will hold out for elders marching them down to the police station at gunpoint to make sure that they do, even if their most determined opposers will settle for no less.  There are some experiences that seem to preclude one’s ever looking at life rationally again, and perhaps child sexual abuse is one of them. The only people not knowing that the situation is fixed are those who are convinced that Jehovah’s Witnesses are evil incarnate whose charter purpose is to abuse children, and they will not be convinced until there is a cop in every Witness home.

With a major “reform” making clear that there is absolutely no reproach in reporting vile things to the authorities, some of the most virulent of Witness critics lose something huge to them, and the question some of them must face is a little like that of Tom Brady—what on earth is he ever going to do with himself after he retires? A few face withering away like old Roger Chillingsworth of the Scarlet Letter, who, when Arthur Dimmesdale finally changed his policy, “knelt down beside him, with a blank, dull countenance, out of which life seemed to have departed. ‘Thou hast escaped me!’ he repeated more than once. ‘Thou has escaped me!’

This will not be the journalists, of course. Nor will it be the legal people. Nor will it even be Witness critics in the main. But for some of the latter, former members who are vested in tearing down what they once embraced, it will not be an easy transition. They almost have no choice but to find some far-fetched scenario involving “rogue elders” that could conceivably allow something bad to yet happen and harp on that till the cows come home. There are always going to be ‘What ifs.’ At some point one must have some confidence in the power of parents to be concerned for their children, and for community to handle occasional lapses, particularly since governmental solutions have hardly proven immune to abuse and miscarriages of justice themselves. It is not easy to get between a mama bear and her cub.

All told, it would appear that even if the leaders of Jehovah’s Witnesses practiced child sexual abuse themselves, their “contribution” would be the tiniest part of an overall endemic. But since they do not—since their alleged sins are failing to report on what some members have done, the efforts of their apostates to paint them as a prime source of the degradation is but vengeful. They deliberately construct a damning and inaccurate picture of the faith that others in lands less enamored with human rights act upon. 04

 

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Poor old Tom. He makes statements that he cannot prove. He paints all ex-JW's with the same colour as he is too frightened to look at them as being individuals. He generalises so much that he makes himself look stupid. 

And for an author that wants to be taken seriously he really lets himself down with his over emotional rant. 

Anyone taking Tom seriously and anyone believing Tom's words needs to get back into the real world. 

It would be too easy to shoot Tom down on what he has written above, but for those that want to believe Tom it would not make any difference. It looks to be out of emotional guilt that he needed to write so much. Poor Tom. 

 

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Author of two free ebooks, one on opposition to the Witness work in Russia, one on opposition in Western lands.

Tom I found this for you  :) 

https://taleflick.com/?utm_source=Facebook&utm_medium=PaidSocial&utm_campaign=UKIR_&utm_content=AuthorsWriters&fbclid=IwAR25I9Rjcw2vBi_Dqr3Fq0PhNUChHoL5gOfTsNoq2OwBwEJnmg5JaH_3hu0

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2 hours ago, JOHN BUTLER said:

It looks to be out of emotional guilt that he needed to write so much. Poor Tom. 

 

2 hours ago, TrueTomHarley said:

There are some experiences that seem to preclude one’s ever looking at life rationally again, and perhaps child sexual abuse is one of them. 

I had you in mind when I wrote the above, John, and I honestly feel sorry for you.

Though apparently wrapped in a newfound ‘personal relationship with Jesus,’ you have acknowledged that your conduct has worsened since leaving Jehovah’s Witnesses.

You should strive to get your act together on this, and salvage what remains. In time, you can once again make progess in actually applying Christianity.

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3 hours ago, TrueTomHarley said:

In Jehovah’s Witness congregations, victims, parents, or anyone else, have always been free to report allegations of child sexual abuse to the police. The troubling reality is that many chose not to do it. They alerted congregation elders and went no further. Why? Because they thought that by so doing, they might be bringing reproach on God’s name and the Christian congregation.

The "Keep yourselves in God's Love" book page 223. This is from the 2008 edition.  This book was studied in the form of a question and answer at the book study, and is a book that is studied with those wishing to get baptized. Unfortunately, as you say, some chose not to go to the authorities because of worry of reproach, and host of other worries (https://1in6.org/get-information/common-questions/why-do-adults-fail-to-protect-children-from-sexual-abuse-or-exploitation/) Even as late as 2014, one of the elders testifying at the ARC expressed similar sentiments to one of the two adult survivors who wanted to testify, by asking her: "why would you want to drag the organization through the mud?".  To keep child sexual abuse from the authorities however has never been JW policy. But Tom, you can't reason with the unreasonable.

Thankfully, as we know, the ARC turned out to play a key part in what we all see as a welcomed improvement. Not so much in our policies, but in their clear transparent presentation to ALL Jehovah's Witnesses (and anybody else who is interested).

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@TrueTomHarley    Quote "I had you in mind when I wrote the above, John, and I honestly feel sorry for you."

Nice of you to think about me Tom. Thank you. But feeling sorry for someone is such a negative attitude, and in your case i feel the sorrow is not genuine. Why ? 

Quote "Though apparently wrapped in a newfound ‘personal relationship with Jesus,’ "  That is sarcasm Tom and shows your lack of 'feeling sorry for me'  I do not have a 'personal relationship with Jesus', nor do i pretend to have.  Can you quote me as saying that i have ? 

I have always thought that individuals should pray to God through Jesus Christ. And surely all Christians should pray in such a way on a daily basis ? I went into our back garden early this morning and put food out for the birds, and when birds arrived i thanked God for the happiness those birds bring to humans. Just watching those birds in the garden, such a simple thing, but it gives me such pleasure. Now God must have built that into humans to like or love animals / birds / creatures. So in that way you could say we all have a 'personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ', or would you not agree ? 

If you don't agree that people can have such a relationship with God and Christ then it seems as if you are saying that a person can only give praise twice a week, that being at JW meetings............. Now that creates a Clergy Class doesn't it ? 

But oh yes that reminds me Clergy Class, Clergy privilege. 

The clergy–penitent privilege, clergy privilege, confessional privilege, priest–penitent privilege, clergyman–communicant privilege, or ecclesiastical privilegeis a rule of evidence that forbids judicial inquiry into certain communications (spoken or otherwise) between clergy and members of their congregation.

I do believe that Elders are using this 'excuse' to refuse to give evidence in court cases. Am I right in this thinking ? 

But of course the JW Org does not have a 'Clergy Class' does it ? Contradiction i think. 

Quote " applying Christianity. "  That phrase means different things to different people Tom.  If all those Pedophiles in the JW Org had applied Christianity then all the aforementioned on this topic would not exist. 

 

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To the rest of you that feel the need to rally round and stick up for the ones you worship. The GB and it Org.

You are completely missing the point of this Watchtower. It is aimed at the Elders.

It is not so that congregants can know what to do. IT IS TO TELL THE ELDERS TO BACK OFF. TO TELL THE ELDERS. NOT TO TELL THE CONGREGANTS TO KEEP QUIET. 

BECAUSE IT SEEMS THE ELDERS WERE TELLING THE CONGREGANTS NOT TO REPORT THINGS TO THE POLICE OR THE AUTHORITIES. 

UNLESS AS I'VE SAID BEFORE, YOU ARE CALLING ALL THE VICTIMS LIARS. 

And for the Kid, yes Kid experience is better than second hand information, but Kid i have both. 

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2 hours ago, BillyTheKid46 said:

Really, I don’t see it. You’re just a waste of time. I believe TTH made it to where he thinks you still have a viable soul. I don’t. You lost that right to call yourself a Christain. Therefore, you are once again a tax collector (Pagan). That’s why your mockery and inclinations are meaningless. Please! downvote me. I find your hypocrisy humorous. 😂 

You don't see it.  What don't you see and what should i have to prove to you ? You are a funny person Kid. 

Once again you make sweeping statements which mean nothing. And you judge me as if you have been given that right by God Himself. You are so so funny Kid. So immature. 

Tell me oh clever one. How did I lose the right to call myself a Christian ?  

And you seem to have got mixed up with your definition of Tax Collector. A Tax Collector was an Israelite that worked for the Romans collecting taxes from other Israelites. They were not Pagans... Matthew was a Tax Collector yet Jesus called Matthew to be his follower. 

Hope you get better soon Kid. Try losing the bitterness in your heart, it does show through so much. 

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8 hours ago, JOHN BUTLER said:

You are completely missing the point of this Watchtower. It is aimed at the Elders. 

Obviously it's aimed at everyone, otherwise the elders would receive this information in the form of a letter to the body of elders. So I don't know what point you are trying to make...?

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9 hours ago, JOHN BUTLER said:

I do believe that Elders are using this 'excuse' [clergy-penitent privilege] to refuse to give evidence in court cases. Am I right in this thinking ? 

No more than the motorist uses the posted speed limit sign as an “excuse” to explain why he was driving that fast.

Clergy-penitent privilege, like doctor-patient and lawyer-client privilege, has long been part of law, on the supposition that these three relationships cannot work without the expectation of confidentiality. Elders of Jehovah’s Witnesses, who for legal purposes correspond to clergy, use this law where appropriate, as do clergy, doctors, and lawyers everywhere. Ironically, barristers have managed to whittle down two of the three applications. The only one still standing is their own.

I know of no other scenario on earth where, when confronted with an issue with obvious legal implications, consulting with one’s attorney first would be spun as an evil, as it is when BOE’s speak with WT Legal first. This is done, not to evade law, but to ensure compliance with it.

Unless there has been human error, JWs always act in compliance with law, but the outrage over CSA (and the disillusionment with religion) triggers reinterpretation of law to present it that they did not. In some instances, the plain equivalence of Witness elders to clergy has been denied, partly on the basis that they are “not paid.” An irreligious world can relate to spiritual things only if they can be reduced to what is easily understood—money. The concept of serving out of love for God and humanity is completely beyond them and they are apt to spin it as a matter of wanting power or control.

9 hours ago, JOHN BUTLER said:

That is sarcasm Tom and shows your lack of 'feeling sorry for me'  I do not have a 'personal relationship with Jesus', nor do i pretend to have.  Can you quote me as saying that i have ? 

I might have inferred this based upon your constant remarks that one does not need an organization or GB, and that just following Jesus is enough. I do have a soft spot for sarcasm, which is not necessarily good, because it can backfire. That said, when I engage with virulent opposers on this site, I do not patiently reason with them over all their grievances. One advantage of a worldwide organization is that you know what other people have done, not on an individual basis, but cumulatively. To ones who have sailed past all efforts to reconcile that exist in all circuits, I do not imagine that I am the one to turn it all around.

Nor, beyond a tentative attempt or two, do I imagine myself a therapist. You have revealed some very personal tragedies, and usually I respect that due to the bravery required and the assumed motive of helping others. @Annaactually did rise to the occasion as a therapist for a few comments, and her reward was for you to hurl everything back in her face and call her a hypocrite without a conscience. You have seemingly learned nothing at all from your suffering and you use it only to justify continual hysterics and obnoxious displays.

You continuously reveal yourself an unreasoning animal on this topic, an enraged bull that charges at each red GB flag, and impales himself each and every time with unhinged tirades that would embarrass you if you were capable of it. Of course I wish that you would get over it, for then you would be less ugly here. But I also wish that you would get over for your own sake, for you will not find peace until you can approach your experiences with more rationality, perspective, and forgiveness.

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