As of May the 10th the mainstream media is beginning to cover the Silentlambs’ press release publicizing the Watchtower’s recent million-dollar payout to 16 victims of child sexual abuse.
Evidently the legal department felt that they did not have a very strong case going into court, and so as shrewd lawyers often do they advised their client – in this case, the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society – to cut their losses and settle the cases out of court and thus avoid the public spectacle of numerous protracted trials and the potential of massive damages being awarded by outraged juries.
The exact amount of the payoff is undisclosed, however. That is because Bethel exploited the legal technique often used in out-of-court settlements by big corporations of legally silencing the plaintiffs with what is called a gag order (In this case politely called “a confidential agreement”). A gag order not only prevents the plaintiffs from disclosing the exact sum they received but, most noteworthy, it disallows them from further discussing the crimes committed against them or the negligence on the part of their adversary at law. This legal silencing of the victims serves as a striking, even sobering, reminder of the insidious dichotomy between what the Watchtower says (in publications) and what it does (in reality). By way of example, note the following published statements made in the Watchtower’s admitted full recognition of a victim’s need to be able to speak about what they suffer through:
It is often helpful for victims to talk about their experiences. “Some 20 years ago,” says a presentation sheet from the IRCT, “torture victims were often victims in a double sense. First by being exposed to the physical/psychological act of torture, and then second by not being able to talk about it.” (Awake, January 8, 2000, page 24)
Recovery doesn’t usually begin until you talk to others. A trusted friend can help you to see that what happened to you was indeed rape and was not your fault. An old proverb states: “A true companion is loving all the time, and is a brother that is born for when there is distress.” (Proverbs 17:17) Also, spiritual shepherds can “prove to be like a hiding place from the wind and a place of concealment from the rainstorm.” (Isaiah 32:2; 1 Thessalonians 5:14) For some victims, contacting a rape-crisis center or a professional counselor may be needed to help them sort out their feelings. (Awake, March 8, 1993, pp 8-9)
What a startling contrast to the reality evidenced by the legal wranglings of the Watchtower to securely muzzle victims through the legalistic maneuvering and installation of gag orders as a condition for settlement, a settlement that consequently allows the Watchtower to avoid actually accepting responsibility. Basically, the Watchtower has taken the approach: ‘Okay, here’s a few million dollars, but mind you, we have never done anything wrong.’ What unabashed boldness to not only evade any responsibility and accountability, but also pass along even the monetary burden to Jehovah’s Witnesses who regularly give monies for use as part of the Kingdom funds, by then redirecting those funds to the unconscionable handiwork of silencing victims under the pretense of justice–a point that will be readdressed later in this commentary!
After years of legal wrangling and filing motions to have the cases dismissed, no doubt one of the determining factors that caused the Watchtower’s legal team to suddenly get “righteous” was the recent Napa Valley court ruling that raised the possibility that the Society’s secret database of thousands of pedophiles, as well as confidential congregation records, could be brought to light during trial. Naturally the Governing Body would prefer to keep Jehovah’s Witnesses and the general public in the dark as regards the true extent of the prevalence of pedophiles in the organization. Purportedly the Watchtower has the names of over 23,000 pedophilic Jehovah’s Witnesses on file.
Bethel frequently says that they “abhor child abuse.” Predictably a Watchtower spokesman issued a brief statement to the press saying: “Our loving heavenly Father makes it clear in his Word, the Bible, that he abhors child abuse.”
Actually, the Bible does not specifically mention child abuse – except in the case of the horrific practice of child sacrifice. However, our loving heavenly Father does make it abundantly clear that he hates injustice – especially on the part of those who are in positions of authority. As the leadership of the Watchtower Society knows, Jehovah specifically charges all Christians, but especially those who serve as elders and shepherds of his people, “to look after orphans and widows in their tribulation.” And not only that, but God also requires that his shepherds go so far as to plead the legal case of the afflicted and downtrodden.
Now, the question thinking Jehovah’s Witnesses ought to ask is why – after the Watchtower dismissed these cases for years – yes, why it took the threat of massive payouts and the fear-inspiring prospect of further public exposure in court for the Watchtower to finally decide to do recognize the legitimacy of the plaintiffs’ legal cases.
Is it really a cause for boasting in view of the fact that Bethel had to be forced to make a boardroom decision to cut their losses and save themselves from public exposure by preventing the victims from having their day in court? Where is the righteousness in that?
If the Watchtower Society abhors child abuse as they claim, why do they silence the victims with confidential attorney’s agreements; thereby preventing others from knowing the details of the victim’s ordeal and thereby possibly raising awareness of the nature of sexual crimes against children? Are truth and righteousness served by concealing the fact that a crime has been committed against a child? Are potential victims best served by the Watchtower’s ongoing conspiracy of silence?
It is common knowledge that those who prey upon children cunningly use the child’s own sense of shame and guilt against them, and possibly even threats, in order to trick them into keeping the abuse secret. The Society’s so-called child abuse policy merely perpetuates the pedophiles’ agenda.
If the Watchtower Society were really intent on doing what is righteous in the eyes of Jehovah why didn’t they simply compensate the victims on their own, years ago? Why did they force the downtrodden and abused to seek legal redress from the courts? No doubt the victims would have settled for far less had representatives of the Society genuinely ministered to them years ago and offered some monetary compensation for their injury.
As Paul said to the Corinthian Christians who were dragging each other before non-Christian judges: “Really, then, it means altogether a defeat for you that you are having lawsuits with one another. Why do you not rather let yourselves be wronged? Why do you not rather let yourselves be defrauded? To the contrary, you wrong and defraud, and your brothers at that.”
It is altogether a defeat for the Watchtower that they had to be forced by the plaintiff’s lawyers to do what is right – not that the use of a gag order is the right thing.
The Society’s spokesman went on to hypocritically and lyingly state: “As an organization, we will continually strive to educate families and congregations with sound Scriptu
ral teachings that they can use to protect their children from child molesters. And we will continue to do our utmost to protect children from this horrible crime and sin.”
In saying “we will continue to do our utmost to protect children” is to deny any fault in the many cases of abuse that have occurred in the past. But if the leadership of the Watchtower Society has always done their “utmost to protect children,” then why the million-dollar payout?
The sleazy confidentiality agreements aside, the fact that the Watchtower has paid damages is in itself an admission of guilt. If the Watchtower is not at fault then why are they letting themselves be shaken down by a bunch of ‘worldly lawyers’? Why are they allowing kingdom funds to be extorted in such a way? Why not go to court and fight for righteousness and let Jehovah defend them from the false accusations?
Furthermore, is the Society’s spokesman being truthful when he states that the organization has educated “families and congregations” so that they can best protect their children from child molesters? It is true, the Watchtower has published a number of articles on the topic of child abuse, but in all of their writing on the subject they have never once cautioned parents not to entrust their children to any man, even if he is an elder or ministerial servant or whatever. After all, many of the abusers have been Watchtower appointed elders and ministerial servants.
As reported by Silentlambs, some of the 16 recently-compensated victims were abused by a slime-ball by the name of Fredrick “Rick” McLean, who is still at large and presently listed on America’s Most Wanted fugitives. Now the question: If the Watchtower were really concerned about justice why have they never alerted Jehovah’s Witnesses to the activities of this former ministerial servant? Bethel publishes the most widely-read religious journal in the world, why haven’t they plastered a picture of “Ricky” McLean in the Awake Magazine and offered a reward to anyone who can help the police nap this pervert? Why does the Watchtower do nothing while public funds are being used by law enforcement agencies to track this guy down? The Society has done absolutely nothing, yet all the while Bethel bellows on about how they “abhor child abuse.”
Perhaps the most disgusting aspect of the Society’s latest legal maneuverings, as was mentioned earlier in this commentary, is the fact that their multi-million dollar settlement was paid out of funds donated to the Society for the advancement of the “World Wide Work” without notifying the donors of how their funds are being used. The Society even boasts of the fact that oftentimes children from around the world donate small amounts of money to the Watchtower from their allowances and elderly widows living on limited means donate from their meager funds or even leave the Watchtower Society large sums in their wills. If Jehovah’s Witnesses only knew that their gifts were used to gag persons who were sexually abused from speaking out they might think twice before dropping their money into the contribution box at the kingdom hall.
Of course, the Watchtower Society will never disclose their backroom double dealings to Jehovah’s Witnesses. As a result of this supreme arrogance, the publishers, whose donations also support the entire Bethel headquarters staff, are not entitled to know what the Governing Body does with their money. In all of their literature we may be sure no mention will ever be made of the fact that kingdom funds were used to buy the silence of abuse victims.
Jehovah’s Witnesses are pathetically ignorant of the Watchtower’s treacherous doings. Up to this very moment the rank-and-file Jehovah’s Witness has been deluded into thinking that the Watchtower is being unfairly accused of covering up child abuse by disgruntled ex-Jehovah’s Witnesses and “opposers.”
Of course, Jehovah knows the truth. He sees all. He sees through Bethel’s phony pretense of righteousness.
In October of 2006, e-watchman sponsored the distribution of an open letter to the Watchtower Society entitled: A Conspiracy of Silence Soon to End. It was distributed to several thousand congregations of Jehovah’s Witnesses in the United States, Canada and Great Britain, for the purpose of informing the elders of the oncoming judgments of God contained in the prophetic Scriptures.
As in the days of Jeremiah, Jehovah gave the leadership of the Jewish nation many opportunities to make their dealings good so as to retain Jehovah’s blessing and continue residing in their land. However, Jehovah specifically warned the Jews not to presume to have his blessing merely because Jerusalem was home to God’s magnificent temple. Through Jeremiah, Jehovah said: “Do not put your trust in fallacious words, saying, ‘The temple of Jehovah, the temple of Jehovah, the temple of Jehovah they are!’”
God went on to say that the way his people could retain his blessing was by carrying out justice and by doing what is right and not defrauding the alien resident, fatherless boy or widow. The Jews failed miserably to meet God’s standards of righteousness and so God caused the ruthless Babylonian army to sack Jerusalem and completely destroy Solomon’s temple.
God’s standards do not change. Just because Jehovah’s Witnesses may have enjoyed God’s good favor in the past does not mean that they always will. The Society has made it abundantly clear that they have no intention of doing what is right in behalf of the downtrodden. Their most recent settlement was obviously motivated by mere expediency. If the Society really cared about the lives of those that have been crushed by the cruel crimes of pedophilic Jehovah’s Witnesses wouldn’t we expect to see some formal apology to the victims? Would that be too much to ask of those who claim to be the lowly and humble footstep followers of the Lord Jesus Christ?
The Watchtower Society claims to be the “temple class.” That is to say, the Governing Body present themselves as the earthly leadership of the spiritual temple of God. For that reason all of Jehovah’s Witnesses assume that Bethel will always bask in the light of divine favor.
But in light of the general assumptions of Jehovah’s Witnesses buttressed by Bethel’s latest official utterance, it is clear that the leadership is essentially promoting our trusting in the very same self-dooming, fallacious words of Jeremiah’s prophecy; namely: ‘The temple of Jehovah, the temple of Jehovah, the temple of Jehovah they are!’
Just as Jehovah once used the Assyrians and Chaldeans as his forge hammer for smashing Israel and then Judea and “all the earth,” so too, Jehovah also has a modern-day avenger, soon to emerge as the foretold last king.
In the opening verses of the 10th chapter of Isaiah Jehovah pronounces “Woe to those who are enacting harmful regulations and those who, constantly writing, have written out sheer trouble, in order to push away the lowly ones from a legal case and to wrest away justice from the afflicted ones of my people, for the widows to become their spoil, and that they may plunder even the fatherless boys!”
The Watchtower Society has indeed “enacted harmful regulations” in the form of their “child abuse policy” that protects the abuser and which has “pushed away the lowly ones from a legal case” and wrested “away justice from the afflicted ones” of Jehovah’s people – all to the greater glory of Jehovah’s untarnished visible organization.
However, Bethel’s billion-dollar nest egg is due to be pillaged by Jehovah himself, even as Jehovah’s decree at Isaiah 10:12-14 sates: “With the power of my hand I shall certainly act, and with my wisdom, for I do have understanding; and I shall remove the boundaries of peoples, and their things stored up I shall certainly pillage, and I shall bring down the inhabitants just like a powerful one. And just as if a nest, my hand will reach the resources of the peoples; and just as when one gathers eggs that have been left, I myself will gather up even all the earth, and there will certainly be no one fluttering his wings or opening his mouth or chirping.”
No wonder the letter of James pronounces woe upon Christians who have fattened their hearts for the day of slaughter. Those who live like kings and princes in the ivory towers of Patterson and Brooklyn should give heed. Yes, indeed, let those who imagine that Jesus judged Jehovah’s house back in 1918, and that Christ supposedly appointed the Watchtower over all the master’s belongings already, wake up to the judgment to come. Let those who live off the nickels and dimes cajoled from the orphans and widows, but who deny the afflicted the wage of true justice, pay attention to the most relevant and timely message of the letter of James:
“Come, now, you rich men, weep, howling over your miseries that are coming upon you. Your riches have rotted, and your outer garments have become moth-eaten.Your gold and silver are rusted away, and their rust will be as a witness against you and will eat your fleshy parts. Something like fire is what you have stored up in the last days. Look! The wages due the workers who harvested your fields but which are held up by you, keep crying out, and the calls for help on the part of the reapers have entered into the ears of Jehovah of armies. You have lived in luxury upon the earth and have gone in for sensual pleasure. You have fattened your hearts on the day of slaughter. You have condemned, you have murdered the righteous one. Is he not opposing you?” (James 5:1-6)