By JOHN BUTLER
I've often thought of this point of reproof from the platform. It does nothing positive at all, it just leaves people wondering why the person was reproved.
And it certainly does not protect the congregation.
2019 “Shepherd the Flock of God”: The Problem With Public Reproofs for Child Sex Abuse
by Alexandra James In January of 2019, elders in the congregations of Jehovah's Witnesses were issued a new version of their confidential handbook, "Shepherd the Flock of God." This handbook covers, among other topics, when a person should be "reproved."
For those unfamiliar with the their practices, Jehovah's Witness elders might determine that someone guilty of a serious sin is repentant and will be "reproved" rather than disfellowshipped [excommunicated]. This reproof might be administered privately, or it might include a very brief announcement to the congregation.
Public Reproofs Are Not a Protection
The "Shepherd" book makes the claim that a public reproof serves as a "protection" to the congregation against certain dangerous behaviors, such as child sexual abuse; note this statement from chapter 14, "Child Abuse::
However, this announcement of reproof includes no information about the person's "sinful" behavior, as instructed in chapter 16, "Procedure for Judicial Hearings":
The "Shepherd" book even outright instructs that a person's sinful acts should not be connected to their reproof, such as when a "warning" talk is given regarding their behavior; also from chapter 16:
This statement alone demonstrates that the entire "public reproof" arrangement protects no one from congregation members who might pose a danger to others, including children. Simply stating that someone has "been reproved" doesn't warn a congregant of that person's specific behavior, and especially when there is a long list of reasons why someone might be publicly reproved, including:
Smoking Fornication, adultery Theft Lying, slander Various forms of "apostasy" Severe fits of temper, fighting Drunkenness Using narcotics Taking up boxing After hearing a rather generic announcement that someone has been "reproved," without knowing the actual reason for that reproof, how would congregants know to keep their children away from them? Another congregant might assume that a person being reproved was caught smoking or fornicating with an adult; child sexual abuse might be the last thing they would consider when they hear of someone having been reproved!
Your Conscience Shouldn't Be Clean
This begs the question of why Jehovah's Witnesses think that their consciences can be clean in these cases. Elders honestly think that making an announcement of so-and-so having been "reproved" protects the congregation and so they've done their job of keeping people and children safe?
Nothing can be further from the truth, especially when it comes to child sexual abuse. This "public reproof" arrangement purposely conceals the action that warranted the reproof, so it warns no one about a congregant who might be a danger to their children.
This announcement does not take away from an elder's complicity in hiding allegations of abuse. Any elder who hears of such a credible allegation and doesn't notify authorities, cooperate with their investigations fully, and then do everything possible to keep a potentially dangerous person away from children shares guilt and blame if that person goes on to molest another child.
The bottom line is that Jehovah's Witnesses and elders especially have no problem lying to themselves and to the general public about their supposed "protections" for congregants. They shield alleged molesters by purposely ensuring that no information about a particular act is associated with "reproved" persons, and then tell themselves that this passive-aggressive "hinting around" is going to somehow alert congregants to the need to keep their child away from him or her.
While the authors of these practices and the elders charged with enforcing them might go to bed with a clean conscience, remember it's not them who suffer the consequences of their actions; the elders are not being raped and abused, the men who wrote this "Shepherd" book are not the ones who will be the next victims of these "reproved" persons.
Their complicity in this horrific act is bad enough, but their smug self-righteousness in thinking that they've somehow done enough to protect children with a generic "reproof" is just another slap across the face of those same children.
By Jack Ryan
Here some points I noted not sure if these r different from the previous edition:
medical marijuana is a personal choice
Any allegations of child sexual abuse r to b given to the legal department to tell the elders how to proceed.
Also specific instructions to not make abused persons face their accuser
The elders should all b made aware of any sexual predators and if they move the new congregation elders should b made aware including parents of children in the congregation. This is only done if the legal department says to.
Victims of abuse or their parents r to b advised that they can go to the police and r not to b discouraged from doing so.
Masturbation is not pornia and is not really covered. Not sure if this is new and the org is backing away from discussing it.
Probing sexual questions r to b avoided during a judicial committee
Sexual offenders r not to receive any major privileges in the congregation, possibly minor ones such as handling mics after an extended time has passed.
The elders r to clearly tell people that they r being invited to a judicial committee and what the meeting is about up front.
Things they r still clinging to:
Still sticking to the two witnesses rule for child abuse
it says that attempted suicide victims may b subject to a judicial committee ( someone that has mental illness should not b subject to more trauma I find this to b so disgusting)
Of course all the other ridiculous invasive restrictions we all have experienced
Highlights from the book above (2019 links added)
The three year rule is re-iterated without specific mention of "three"
An elder or MS will be removed if he allows his adult DA'd child to move into family home
An elder can be removed for filing for bankruptcy
The language around the definition of rape is better - no more references to the woman having to scream
The stayover rule is still there. If you stay in the house of a member of the opposite sex, and two people know about it, it's a judicial matter.
"Abhorrent" forms of porn are now a DF offense. Gay, Lez, child, violent, bestial.
Gluttony is now listed as a DF offense. Not sure if it was there before
They have narrowed the definition of apostasy: " Deliberately Spreading Teachings Contrary to Bible Truth " the end of that sentence used to read "as taught by Jehovah's Witnesses"
I think this the first time they explicitly stated that marking talks can be given based on misconduct from unbaptized minors
There's a whole new section on CSA. It seems like an improvement overall and includes the child no longer having to confront her rapist in most cases, but it still doesn't have the promised female representation from Jackson's promise to the Australian court.
Willingly taking blood remains an automatic disassociation offence.
Reinstatement is "several months, a year or even longer"
Ownership of kingdom halls. They make clear that regardless of what it says on the title, a congregation does not OWN their own kingdom hall.
jw.org email - all correspondance between elders is now via the elders private account on jw.org. I guess they want to make sure they know EVERYTHING
Congregation file: Still they say the best place to keep it is at the KH. Therefore, paper records of all judicial matters should be in those files. ALL CSA RECORDS HAVE "DO NOT DESTROY" WRITTEN ON THEM
Here's the entire section on legal action as a result of judicial action. I think it's worth noting that it demonstrates that they will leave you alone if you write a legal letter:
IF THE ACCUSED THREATENS LEGAL ACTION 18. If the accused threatens legal action against the elders, the elders should suspend proceedings and promptly telephone the Legal Department. 19. If a member ofthe media or an attorney representing the accused contacts the elders, they should not give any information about PREPARING FOR JUDICIAL HEARINGS CHAPTER 15 “SHEPHERD THE FLOCK OF GOD” the case or verify that there is a judicial committee. Rather, they should give the following explanation: “The spiritual and physical welfare of Jehovah’s Witnesses is of paramount concern to the elders, who willingly provide spiritual assistance to congregation members. The elders extend this spiritual assistance confidentially. This makes it easier for those who seek the elders’ help to do so without worrying that what they say to the elders will be divulged later. Consequently, we do not comment on whether elders are currently or have formerly met to assist any member of the congregation.” If there is a need to do so, the elders may obtain the inquirer’s name and phone number and inform him that their attorney will contact him. The elders should then promptly telephone the Legal Department. 20. Ifthe authorities request confidential congregation records or ask that elders give testimony regarding confidential congregation matters, the elders should promptly telephone the Legal Department.
This seems like a big change below as it codifies what we have all been hearing about ownership of KH's:
OWNERSHIP 2. A Kingdom Hall is dedicated to the worship of Jehovah. Whether the property title, or deed, is held in the name of a local corporation or by means of a trustee arrangement or it is held in the name of a legal entity managed by the branch office, no congregation should conclude that it “owns” the Kingdom Hall. However, it is the responsibility of the congregations using the property to care for it and see that it is used in harmony with Kingdom interests. 3. As many as three or four congregations may be assigned by the branch office to use the same Kingdom Hall auditorium in order to make full use of the facility and to keep expenses to a minimum. The branch office will generally correspond with only one of the congregations using the facility regarding legal, property, and related matters. Usually, this contact congregation holds the documents related to the Kingdom Hall and the property on which it is located. This is for practical reasons only and does not provide a basis for the contact congregation to make unilateral
By Jack Ryan
"Shepherd the Flock of God" is intended for elders and is also used as a textbook during the Kingdom Ministry School
Shepherd The Flock of God.pdf
Chapter 1: Shepherd the Flock of God
Chapter 2: How Elders Work Together as a Body
Chapter 3: Appointment and Deletion of Elders and Ministerial Servants
Chapter 4: Assisting Those Who Are Weak
Chapter 5: Determining Whether a Judicial Committee Should Be Formed
Chapter 6: Preparing for the Judicial Hearing
Chapter 7: Judicial Hearing Procedure
Chapter 8: Appeal Hearing Procedure
Chapter 9: Implications of Disassociation
Chapter 10: Matters Related to Disfellowshipped and Disassociated Ones
Chapter 11: Reinstatement Committee Procedure
Chapter 12: Clarifications and Guidelines on Handling Certain Matters
List of Annotations
chapter 2, paragraph 11, after the first sentence, each elder should insert “He must be less than 80 years of age.”
By Srecko Sostar
According to this text in "Shepherd book", page 84,85 woman in JW congregation are viewed as minor children, not entitled to hear information that are important for her marriage and family life and her life at all. JW elders look at them as a people of the second rank. Even a male underage child or teenager or young male/man, who is baptized, has a higher status than any sister, young or old, single or married, publisher, pioneer or missionary or anointed.
Meeting With Marriage Mates
11. If the accused is a married sister, it is best
to have her believing husband present for the hearing.
He is her head, and his efforts to restore her and
direct her can be very helpful. (1 Cor. 11:3) If unusual
circumstances are involved or the elders feel it would
be best not to invite the husband because of their
concerns for the safety of the wife, the elders should
call the branch office.
12. If the accused is a married brother, his
wife would normally not attend the hearing. However,
if the husband wants his wife to be present, she
may attend a portion of the hearing. The judicial
committee should maintain confidentiality.
13. If the husband committed adultery, he
has an obligation to inform his wife of the facts. The
judicial committee should promptly inquire of the
Christian wife as to what her husband has told her. If
he refuses to inform her of his adultery, the elders
should inform her that because of her husband’s
conduct, it is up to her to decide whether to pursue a
Scriptural divorce or not. Furthermore, they should
inform the innocent mate that her resuming sexual
relations with the guilty mate would negate any
claim to Scriptural freedom. But they should not give
her further details. On the other hand, the elders
may find that while the husband did confess adultery
to his wife, he did not tell her the full extent of his
wrong conduct and left out important information
that the wife should know. The elders should not pro-
84 “Shepherd the Flock of God”—1 Peter 5:2
vide this confidential information to the wife, but
they can suggest that she speak with her husband
again. Even if he does not tell her anything more, this
will alert her to the fact that he is withholding information
from her, and this may help her to determine
whether to forgive or not.
Chapter 6 85
By Srecko Sostar
According introductory words in "Shepherd book", this publication is "congregation property". What would be your answer on question -What is congregation? Who are members of congregation? By normal logic all JW members are congregation and by their membership (legality of membership come throughÂ baptism) inÂ congregation are entitled to read this book and Â to get to know the contentÂ of this book. But this is not how reality looks. Many, almostÂ all "ordinary" members even doesn't know that this book or similarÂ writtenÂ instructions exist.
AnotherÂ shockingÂ fact from the 2010 Letter to the elders come to daylight.Â Instruction to elders given by GB (or from some WT Department that is under direct supervision of GB) shows usÂ once again howÂ this "theocratic" organization treats women's at all, and sisters as members of the congregation. SistersÂ are compared withÂ unbelieversÂ and working stuff of outsides companies.Â Shameful!
This publication is congregation property. A
copy is issued to each appointed elder. If an elder
is deleted for reasons other than moving to
another congregation with a favorable recommendation,
he should turn over this handbook
to the Congregation Service Committee. The
secretary should keep the book in the congregationÂ’s
file so that it may be returned to the
brother if he is reappointed as an elder. No
copies are to be made of any part of this publication.
Neither is it to be converted into any
WATCH TOWER BIBLE AND TRACT SOCIETY OF PENNSYLVANIA
All Rights Reserved
WATCHTOWER BIBLE AND TRACT SOCIETY OF NEW YORK, INC.
Brooklyn, New York, U.S.A.
This publication is not for sale. It is provided as part of a worldwide
Bible educational work supported by voluntary donations.
Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture quotations are from the modern-language
New World Translation of the Holy ScripturesÂ—With References.
Â“Shepherd the Flock of GodÂ”Â—1 Peter 5:2
Made in the United States of America
page 6 quote
2. Â“Shepherd the Flock of GodÂ” has been designed
as a handbook for elders to supply vital information
that will help them care for congregation matters.
page 7 quote
Because of efforts to simplify this publication,
it does not cover every aspect of our work as elders.
At times you may need to consult other publications
and letters to the body of elders for detailed
information. Be alert to future direction and adjustments
so as to stay up-to-date on theocratic direction.
By Srecko Sostar
According to this text in "Shepherd book", page 38,39 elders are allowed to hide their own sins or sins of colleagues, elders.
19. If it comes to light or an appointed
brother confesses that he has committed a disfellowshipping
offense years in the past:
The body of elders may determine he can continue to
serve if the following is true: The immorality or other
serious wrongdoing occurred more than a few years
ago, and he is genuinely repentant, recognizing that
he should have come forward immediately when he
sinned. (Perhaps he has even confessed to his sin,
seeking help with his guilty conscience.) He has been
serving faithfully for many years, has evidence of
God’s blessing, and has the respect of the congregation.
20. If the sin occurred before he was appointed as
an elder or a ministerial servant, the elders will need
to take into consideration the fact that he should
have mentioned this possible impediment to his being
qualified when elders interviewed him just prior
to announcing his appointment. Moreover, the nature
of the sin may reflect greatly on his qualifications
to serve. For example, the sin may involve past
child abuse, and this would likely disqualify him for
many years.—w97 1/1 pp. 26-29; w77 pp. 697-698.
38 “Shepherd the Flock of God”—1 Peter 5:2
21. If the wrongdoing occurred within the past few
years while he was serving as an elder or a ministerial
servant, he is disqualified from serving as such, not
being “free from accusation.” (1 Tim. 3:2, 10; Titus 1:
6, 7) Depending on the circumstances, the situation
may also need to be handled by a judicial committee.
Chapter 3 39
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