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TrueTomHarley

Geoffrey Jackson Before the Commission - and the New Requirement to ‘Go Beyond the Law’

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In fact, certain persons cannot go ‘beyond the law’ with impunity. A doctor in the U.S. absolutely dare not go beyond the HIPPA law ensuring confidentiality; it is a meticulously enforced law, leading some to wish that more major crimes were so quickly avenged. Three confidential relationships are bedrock to Western law: confidentiality of doctor-patient, lawyer-client and clergy-penitent,36 for none of these relationships can work without the expectation of confidentiality. If law is not written otherwise, it is illegal to go beyond the law in such cases. Without a clear legal mandate, a Witness elder cannot go ‘beyond the law’ because the default law says he cannot violate confidentiality in matters where the wronged individual would prefer it so.

Geoffrey Jackson of the Witness Governing Body three times pleaded for such a consistent mandate across all territories before the Australian Royal Commission to Institutional Responses into Child Sexual Abuse mentioned above. When it was his turn to testify, he said:37

  1. Jackson: “Thank you for the opportunity to explain this. I think very clearly Mr. Toole pointed out that if the Australian Government, in all the States, was to make mandatory reporting, it would make it so much easier for us.” …
  2. Jackson: “The point being, here, another aspect that an elder needs to consider is he does not have the authority to lord it over or take over control of a family arrangement, where a person—let’s say it is a victim who is 24 or 25 years of age—has a right to decide whether or not they will report that incident. They also respect the family arrangement that the appointed guardian, who is not the perpetrator, has a certain right, too. So this is the spiritual dilemma that we have, because at the same time, we want to make sure that children are cared for. So if the government does happen to make mandatory reporting, that will make this dilemma so much easier for us, because we all want the same goal—that children will be cared for properly.” …

Council Assisting (Stewart): “Leaving aside the question of overriding mandatory law from the civil authorities, do you see the possibility within the scriptures as you have identified them for a change in the practice of Jehovah’s Witnesses?  In other words, would it be within the scriptures for the Jehovah’s Witnesses organization to adopt a policy which says that in cases where there are others at risk, a report must be made to the authorities?”

G Jackson: “That is a possible thing for us to consider, and I think, already, the assumption is there, that if any elder was to see that there was some definite risk, that their conscience should move them to do that. But the point I was trying to make, Mr. Stewart, is there are other scriptural factors that maybe make that a little complicated, and it would certainly be a lot easier if we had mandatory laws on that.”

He is pleading for sanity to prevail. Sometimes reporting is mandated. Sometimes it is not mandated, and in such cases, Witness elders run legal, even moral, risks in doing it. Where not mandated, they are not free to override concerns of family members if they choose not to report; yet they are held to account if a victimized one, years later, regrets that decision, and blames, not the family members who made it, but the elders themselves. Sometimes, doing their best to navigate a maze, our people have likely stumbled. Other times, the maze itself has tripped them up. Jackson pleads for an across-the-board policy, with no room for misunderstanding or misapplication, so that it won’t matter if a given family wants to avoid airing its dirty laundry on the 11 PM News. Even today, families do not line up to do that, whether religious or not.

If going beyond the law is so laudable, then that should become the law. With the prioritized, near-sacred quest of protecting children, one would think nothing could be easier. Failure to go ‘beyond the law’ is an invitation to Monday morning quarterbacks assigning motives, invariably bad ones, to parties they don’t like. However, in most things legal, careers are built on complexity. They are all undermined when the course is made simple.

The reader will have noted by now, and may even have been an exasperated by, this author’s disdain of the greater world for being so disunited; it has never presented itself otherwise, he or she might note. When the agency says “United Nations” and even affixes the Isaiah quotation about nations beating swords into plowshares, it is just joking. It is not to be taken seriously. It is just dreaming of an ideal it knows full well is unattainable. This author must be forgiven because he comes from a people who have pulled it off. He comes from where they are not just joking about such things and where the dream has become reality. Unity among Jehovah’s Witnesses is a commonplace and unremarkable fact. It is not in the Witness world that one hand plants the seed which produces the plant that the other will eventually have to uproot.

So the following is admittedly sarcastic—which is risky because Thomas Carlyle said sarcasm is the language of the Devil. Forgive me. The Devil made me do it. Here is my fictionalized hearing with the commissioner, not speaking specifically of Australia, but for the overall world:

 

Lead Commissioner: “Mr. Jackson, I hope that you people will straighten up and fly right and cooperate more fully with what we are trying to do. I emphasize the word “trying,” Mr. Jackson, because we are terrible at it and the overall track record of the world would be laughably bad were it not so tragic. But our hearts are in the right place.

“Mr. Jackson, I am impressed by your humility, your distress at what clearly is a problem, and your overall demeanor. We have so many people strutting their stuff about here and you almost can’t stand them. We appreciate your willingness to work with us and we hope we can further work with you along this line.

“You have pleaded with us, Mr. Jackson, to make our policies the same across all territories, for that would make your job so much easier. It is a reasonable request. Unfortunately, Mr. Jackson, we cannot comply, though we would like to, because we represent squabbling and disunited governing entities that cannot collectively tie their own shoe. You would think it would be the easiest thing in the world to do what you request. Unfortunately, it is impossible. 

“And this is just one area. Don’t get me going about international efforts to fight child sexual abuse. Children in many third world countries are routinely abused every day without anyone at all to stand up for them. That’s because there is no money over there, and consequently, no interest. But we do have a lot of money here.

“We have a request for you, Mr. Jackson. I know it’s a bit irregular, but can you take this off our hands for us? I have looked into your organized nature and have concluded that you could do it. Aren’t you the people who set up and take down your buildings of worship almost as easily as our people set up and take down Coleman tents? I know you do not have grandstanding politicians who will push and shove to do whatever will keep them in their jobs, and that you can focus on the real issues, undistracted by personal agendas. I know you can separate the truly worrisome pedophiles from the run-of-the-mill ones, who appear to be almost everyone. I know too, that you care about poor people just as much as you care about well-off people. Listen, we just want to save our kids here, and we think that if we funneled all reports to you, you would be able to handle keeping a centralized list and handle its distribution.  I know it is not your main line, but surely you can devote a committee to it. Ten of your people are worth 10,000 of ours because your people know how to work together and our people do not. The more people we add to our efforts, the more chaotic the overall picture gets.

(in my dreams)

from the book: 

    Hello guest!

    Hello guest!

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WITH RESPECT TO 'GOING BEYOND THE LAW'

(Matthew 5:40-42) 40 And if a person wants to take you to court and get possession of your inner garment, let him also have your outer garment; 41 and if someone in authority compels you into service for a mile, go with him two miles. 42 Give to the one asking you, and do not turn away from one who wants to borrow from you.

I sometimes think of this scripture when it seems that the courts want us to 'air our dirty linen' (our inner garment) by asking for information we have tried to keep secret.

 

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2 hours ago, JW Insider said:

I sometimes think of this scripture when it seems that the courts want us to 'air our dirty linen' (our inner garment) by asking for information we have tried to keep secret.

This speaks to what non-biased journalists have pegged as JWs greatest problem—the religion is “insular”—and almost by definition, “insular” does not spill. 

The trick will be to shed the negative aspects of “insularity” without sacrificing its positive aspects. After all,  being “insular” and being the required “no part of this world” are practically the same. The very purpose of insulation is to separate what is desirable from what is harmful.

The verse I think of is 1 Corinthians 5:9-10:

In my letter I wrote you to quit mixing in company with fornicators,  not [meaning] entirely with the fornicators of this world or the greedy persons and extortioners or idolaters. Otherwise, you would actually have to get out of the world.”

The latter is impossible. The former is mandated. The trick will be to merge the two. 

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1 hour ago, TrueTomHarley said:

After all,  being “insular” and being the required “no part of this world” are practically the same.

Wish it were that simple. This is only ONE of the reasons to be insular. Another reason to be insular is to hide the fact that you are just like the world in some areas and still hope that people will think of you as no part of the world. In other words, it's to hide your dirty laundry.

(Romans 13:11-14) . . .. 12 The night is well along; the day has drawn near. Let us therefore throw off the works belonging to darkness and let us put on the weapons of the light. 13 Let us walk decently as in the daytime, not in wild parties and drunkenness, not in immoral intercourse and brazen conduct, not in strife and jealousy. 14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not be planning ahead for the desires of the flesh.

I think it's helpful to always remember that we are talking about crimes: crimes that can be akin to rape and murder and torture and kidnapping and terror. Granted there are some aspects of child sexual abuse that don't appear to sound like crimes. Some persons get caught during the times when they are only "grooming" children for more serious abuse. (Romans 13:14 "planning ahead for the desires of the flesh.") A recent court case includes an elder who was able to convince the other elders that it was "accidental touching" before being caught in several other cases at various stages of abuse. 

I remember when Brother J.R.Brown did an interview and kept focusing on false accusations, accidents, and "lesser" areas of child sexual abuse, such as an 18 year old committing fornication a 16 year old. I didn't see the old 20-20 interview about CSA and still haven't. But I remember listening to J.R.Brown's comments and immediately thinking that he must know that this is a common way to shift attention away from the serious crimes of CSA, which often includes rape/violence. I believe now that the WTS had already paid out millions of dollars even back then, but this is not something that Brother Brown could admit. He made it seem like we didn't really have a problem. I think this kind of hiding, or keeping people in the dark on a matter, could have been very dangerous in that the problem was not dealt with openly. Hinting that matters of "sexual abuse" are associated with apostate lies is another way to keep people in the dark. (Granted that Lett's quote was technically accurate, but it served the same purpose because he was not willing to admit the extent of the problem.)

Brother Jackson at least admitted that these cases of real CSA were not associated with apostate lies. He admitted that it is a real problem in our community, just as it is in the world at large. That was an excellent "change" in the way we began to address the issue. I think it has led to the current shift away from trying to save the reputation of the organization, and make sure that the blame goes to the perpetrator.

Again, I think that even when a person comes to the elders with a case they would like spiritual guidance on, but don't wish to have the case go to the police or other authorities, I think that a desire for privacy should not always be a valid concern. Many types of CSA rise to the level of overriding the legal requirements. Abusers repeatedly are caught repeating the crime with another person. I think there should be times when the elders tell a parent:

"We understand that you want to avoid publicity, embarrassment, and reproach that this would bring on your family and the organization. This family head and 'breadwinner' may even lose his job and no longer be able to easily care for the rest of his family financially. And you may even have the law on your side when it comes to keeping such a terrible thing hidden. But, as for us, we must do all we can to protect the innocent, not the guilty. It is our Christian obligation to protect the innocent, look after orphans and widows in their tribulation, and therefore if necessary, to err on the side of mercy and love for the innocent. If we must make a judgment, we should err on the side of those who are often trampled by the world's justice: the children. It's what we are willing to do for the "least of these" that is deemed as if doing the same for Christ himself.

(Proverbs 11:21) . . .Be assured of this: An evil person will not go unpunished, But the children of the righteous will escape.

(Isaiah 10:1, 2) . . .Woe to those who enact harmful regulations, Who constantly draft oppressive decrees,  2 To deny the legal claim of the poor, To deprive the lowly among my people of justice, Making widows their spoil And fatherless children their plunder!

(Matthew 7:11) 11 Therefore, if you, although being wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more so will your Father who is in the heavens give good things to those asking him!

(Matthew 18:2-5) . . .So calling a young child to him, he stood him in their midst 3 and said: “Truly I say to you, unless you turn around and become as young children, you will by no means enter into the Kingdom of the heavens. 4 Therefore, whoever will humble himself like this young child is the one who is the greatest in the Kingdom of the heavens; 5 and whoever receives one such young child on the basis of my name receives me also.

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9 minutes ago, JW Insider said:

He made it seem like we didn't really have a problem. 

Ray Franz made it seem that way, too, much to the annoyance of those interviewing him. This is after he had departed from Bethel and had written many bad things about them, but he thought this topic was far overhyped.

Nonetheless, I take your point, and have stated that those brothers wishing to portray it as though CSA could never ever occur within the Christian organization have inadvertently caused that organization much reputational damage, above and beyond anything to do with the crimes themselves.

    Hello guest!

18 minutes ago, JW Insider said:

. I think there should be times when the elders tell a parent:

I am told by an elder of about 40, who is a relative, that these days elders strongly urge parents to report cases of abuse (only to find that many are reluctant) I accept this as the way things currently are, since this person was completely unaware of my interest in the subject or of anything I had written. 

23 minutes ago, JW Insider said:

I think it has led to the current shift away from trying to save the reputation of the organization, and make sure that the blame goes to the perpetrator.

 

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@TrueTomHarley 'In your dreams is right, for the whole first comment you wrote.

What twaddle. Didn't Peter and the Apostles say at Acts 5 v 29

But Peter and the apostles answered and said, We must obey God rather than men. 

And now the JW's are admitting they have a clergy class ? clergy-penitent privilege 

Quote "Unity among Jehovah’s Witnesses is a commonplace and unremarkable fact." 

What utter rubbish. JW's take each other to worldly courts. They bicker and gossip about each other. It has been proved that some congregants have been 'threatened' by Elders to keep their mouths shut or be disfellowshipped, and that includes me. There is adultery, divorce,  family disputes, all sorts of problems, dishonest dealings too. 

You rabbit on about the world and the UN, but why ?  The W/t, JW Org, GB, are supposed to be NO PART OF THE WORLD, so why doe you people even try to compare yourselves to that world ? 

I've said before, living in my house is much better than living in a sewer. Does that mean my house is perfect ? No of course not. It just means it's better than a sewer. 

So comparing W/t and JW Org to the world means nothing.  As people tell me the 'world' is a big place and is varied in many ways. But even I have met people 'in the world' that are much 'nicer' in a humane way than people in the JW Org. 

Then of course you find the need to off into the realms of fantasy, to obscure the truth about your wicked Org. So be it.

 

 

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4 minutes ago, TrueTomHarley said:

Now, now. “If it is not perfect, it is filthy,” does not fly with me.

Go argue it with Billy.

You have deliberately missed the point. You are comparing the JW Org with the world. But we know the world is filthy and horrible, so yes the Org is a bit better than the world at large.

However you should be comparing the JW Org to God's high standards, then see how smug you can be. :) 

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1 hour ago, JOHN BUTLER said:

However you should be comparing the JW Org to God's high standards, then see how smug you can be. 

The apostles did not “compare themselves to God’s high standards,” for they knew that to do so would be smug. They tried to keep them. They knew very well that they fell short. 

Instead, they said things such as with Paul: 

“I find, then, this law in my case: that when I wish to do what is right, what is bad is present with me.  I really delight in the law of God according to the man I am within,  but I behold in my members another law warring against the law of my mind and leading me captive to sin’s law that is in my members.  Miserable man that I am! Who will rescue me from the body undergoing this death?”  Romans 7:22

You really did manage to miss a lot during your time as a Witness. In your own way, you are no less judgmental than Billy—perhaps even more so.

 

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2 hours ago, TrueTomHarley said:

The apostles did not “compare themselves to God’s high standards,” for they knew that to do so would be smug. They tried to keep them. They knew very well that they fell short. 

Instead, they said things such as with Paul: 

“I find, then, this law in my case: that when I wish to do what is right, what is bad is present with me.  I really delight in the law of God according to the man I am within,  but I behold in my members another law warring against the law of my mind and leading me captive to sin’s law that is in my members.  Miserable man that I am! Who will rescue me from the body undergoing this death?”  Romans 7:22

You really did manage to miss a lot during your time as a Witness. In your own way, you are no less judgmental than Billy—perhaps even more so.

 

Yes I am judgemental. And in my own opinion I have good reason to be, as do many other ex JW's.

The JW Org, it's GB, the Watchtower, they all need to be judged. Just as they judge the Catholic church and others. 

However, for JW's to use the badness of this wicked world as an excuse for badness in the Org, that is a poor show.

I bring back another of my old saying "Well we didn't offer as many children in the fire to Molech as the other nations did".  When they knew perfectly well what God standards were. 

And i don't see in that scripture you've quoted, that Paul is saying " But I'm better than most people in the world".

Which is the excuse you seem to use.

Comparing things does not mean that you say they are equal. Comparing the JW Org to God's standards shows how wicked the JW Org really is when compared to the standards God expects. Matthew 5 v 48

Matthew 5:48 English Standard Version (ESV)

48 "You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect."

We know perfection is not attainable for us, but to use the imperfection as an excuse is so weak. 

I think you would have the pedophiles in the JW Org using that scripture from Paul as an excuse :

 when I wish to do what is right, what is bad is present with me ...   but I behold in my members another law warring against the law of my mind and leading me captive to sin’s law that is in my members.  

Any excuse for JW 's. 

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