Wednesday, February 3
On the testimony of two or three witnesses every matter may be established. —Matt. 18:16.
Before the elders take judicial action, why are at least two witnesses required? This requirement is part of the Bible’s high standard of justice. When there is no confession of wrongdoing, two witnesses are required to establish the accusation and authorize the elders to take judicial action. (Deut. 19:15; 1 Tim. 5:19) If the individual denies the accusation, the elders consider the testimony of witnesses. If at least two people —the one making the accusation and someone else— can confirm the charge, a judicial committee is formed. The absence of a second witness does not mean that the one making the accusation is untruthful. Even if a charge of wrongdoing cannot be established by two witnesses, the elders recognize that a serious sin may have been committed. The elders provide ongoing support to any individuals who may have been hurt and remain alert to protect the congregation from potential danger. —Acts 20:28. w19.05 11 ¶15-16
It is rare that anyone would be a witness to child sexual abuse. The child is vulnerable to both the sexual predator and the justice system that gives greater credence to the adult. No doubt that is why God has charged men who serve as judges in the Christian arrangement to look after “orphans” in their time of trouble. So, rather than strictly applying the law the actual law requires judges to provide extra support for the most vulnerable.
The Watchtower article on which the Daily Text is based was written to paper over the Watchtower’s pedophile problem. Paragraph five states:
A sin against the victim. It is a sin to inflict unjust pain and suffering on others. As we will see in the next article, the child abuser does just that —he hurts the child in devastating ways. He betrays the child’s trust, robbing the child of his or her security. Children must be protected from such a wicked deed, and those who have been victimized by it need comfort and help.
By their own words, the men who run the Watchtower condemn themselves. Their hypocrisy is stunning —truly nauseating. In reality, the lawyers who run the organization have done nothing to protect children or comfort victims. On the contrary, over the past few decades, the Watchtower has protected the identities of pedophiles and bullied victims into silence. In some instances, the Watchtower has even provided legal counsel for sexual predators while becoming the legal adversary of their victims. Jehovah knows it is true.
On the one hand, a few articles have appeared in their literature advising abuse victims to speak to others about their ordeal as this may be therapeutic. Secretly, though, the legal department has legally silenced victims with gag orders, essentially paying out hush money. Again, Jehovah knows this is true too.
Paragraph 12 states:
Clearly, elders have a weighty responsibility. They care deeply about the flock that God has entrusted to them. (1 Pet. 5:1-3) They want their brothers and sisters to feel secure in the congregation. For that reason, they act promptly when they receive a report of serious wrongdoing, including child abuse. Consider the questions that appear at the beginning of paragraphs 13,15, and 17.
Most elders I knew would have been much more zealous in going after pedophiles had they not been restricted by Bethel. Personally, I protested a matter to a visiting district and circuit overseer concerning a situation in a neighboring congregation in the circuit where the elders ordered a mother not to report to the police that her five-year-old daughter had been abused by a teen in the congregation. The circuit overseer sympathized but claimed his hands were tied. We know who tied them. Jehovah knows too. While the Watchtower implies that elders bear a weighty responsibility, in court Bethel’s lawyers have claimed that elders have no fiduciary duty to protect children from the crimes of congregants. Jehovah knows it is true. So, which is it? Do elders have a responsibility or no responsibility? It cannot be both.
Paragraph seven and 13 states the following:
A sin against the secular authorities. Christians are to “be in subjection to the superior authorities.” We prove our subjection by showing due respect for the laws of the land. If someone in the congregation becomes guilty of violating a criminal law, such as by committing child abuse, he is sinning against the secular authorities. While the elders are not authorized to enforce the law of the land, they do not shield any perpetrator of child abuse from the legal consequences of his sin. The sinner reaps what he has sown.
Do elders comply with secular laws about reporting an allegation of child abuse to the secular authorities? Yes. In places where such laws exist, elders endeavor to comply with secular laws about reporting allegations of abuse. Such laws do not conflict with God’s law. So when they learn of an allegation, elders immediately seek direction on how they can comply with laws about reporting it.
Back about 30 years ago all elder bodies received instructions that when allegations of child abuse come to their attention they were to call the legal department immediately. There was a special hotline just for such a thing. That is some indication of how widespread the problem was. The lawyers would then consult to determine if the laws in that particular locality required “clergy” to report such allegations. Without fail where the law did not require elders to report Bethel’s lawyers ordered elders not to involve the police. Elders even bamboozled parents and victims not to report either. There was no concern for the victim. None. It was all about protecting Jehovah’s name from reproach, as if concealing the rape of a child would bring honor to God.
And even when elders dutifully complied and reported a crime they were under orders from headquarters not to cooperate in any way with the investigation. Jehovah knows it is true.
The real crime is that the legal authorities are also God’s ministers and could be very helpful. Bethel knows this. They even cite the passage in the letter of Romans. Had the lawyers at Bethel involved the police, regardless of whether or not it was mandated by local laws, and had elders been instructed to fully cooperate with an investigation, perhaps coordinating with police or child protection professionals in arranging interviews with the child or even arranging for a medical examination, or more especially, putting the accused in the hot seat with a couple of police examiners, more than likely essential evidence could have been obtained. Perhaps police investigators could have even extracted a confession or forensic evidence could be found that would serve as a second, silent witness.
But the Watchtower’s lawyers are not interested in prosecuting pedophiles to the full extent of the law. They just want to pretend that they are the paragon of righteousness. They have become the worst sort of hypocrites. Jehovah knows it is true.
Instead of trying to paper over their gross mishandling of child abuse how much better it would be, not only for the tens of thousands of victims and their families but for the leadership of the Watchtower, if they simply acknowledged their failure and implored Jehovah for forgiveness.
We all know that will never happen. The Watchtower has an image to protect as the fountainhead of all truth and the very embodiment of pure worship. But it is just that —an image. It is not real. Too bad for them. The stench of their hypocrisy has surely reached Heaven high.
“Watch out for the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. But there is nothing carefully concealed that will not be revealed, and nothing secret that will not become known.” — Luke 12:1-2