By Srecko Sostar
The National Secular Society has urged Britain's charity regulators to ensure the restructuring of Jehovah's Witnesses (JW) charities does not obstruct victims of child abuse from claiming compensation.
The NSS has raised the issue with the Charity Commission for England and Wales and the Scottish charity regulator, OSCR, after a report on BBC Radio 4's Sunday programme this week.
Hello guest! Please register or sign in (it's free) to view the hidden content. substantial amounts of property and land that it owns. As part of a significant restructuring of the organisation, each congregation is being asked to dissolve its charitable status and merge – along with its assets – with the Kingdom Hall Trust. The trust is a registered charity whose aims include being a "custodian trustee holding title to freehold and leasehold properties acquired as places of worship".
The assets mentioned on the Sunday programme included kingdom halls, which are used for worship and meetings.
An abuse survivor and lawyers who spoke to the programme expressed concern that such a restructuring could leave JW charities unable to pay potential liabilities.
A number of JW churches worldwide have been subject to investigations regarding their handling of sexual abuse allegations in recent years. In Australia, JW organisations have consolidated and sold properties worth millions of pounds amid a series of legal claims and a damning report from a royal commission.
NSS chief executive Stephen Evans said: "It is clearly not in the public interest for charities to be permitted to restructure in ways that may impede victims and survivors of abuse within these communities from claiming compensation.
"We therefore urge the Charity Commission to use all available powers to ensure that the restructuring of JW charities does not impede abuse victims' and survivors' ability to obtain settlements."
Jehovah's Witnesses and abuse in Britain
JW communities' handling of abuse allegations will come under increased scrutiny next month, when the Independent Inquiry on Child Sexual Abuse is due to conduct hearings on the issue.
In 2018 scores of alleged victims accused the JWs of a
Hello guest! Please register or sign in (it's free) to view the hidden content. of child sexual abuse. Earlier this year at least 20 former JWs Hello guest! Please register or sign in (it's free) to view the hidden content. over abuse which they say they suffered. In 2017 the Charity Commission
Hello guest! Please register or sign in (it's free) to view the hidden content. the New Moston Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses in Manchester over its handling of allegations of abuse. And in 2016 the Supreme Court ruled that the Watch Tower and Bible Tract Society of Great Britain, which oversees JW congregations,
Hello guest! Please register or sign in (it's free) to view the hidden content. over its handling of abuse allegations. This week's episode of the Sunday programme is
Hello guest! Please register or sign in (it's free) to view the hidden content. ; listen from 5:20 to 21:45 for the relevant section.
JEHOVAH - YAHWEH
"That they may know that thou alone, whose name is JEHOVAH, Art the Most High over all the earth." "That men may know that thou, whose name alone is JEHOVAH, art the most high over all the earth." ... "So let it be known that you, whose name is the LORD, are alone Most High over all the earth." - PSALMS 83:18
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