QUESTION: I’d like to get your opinion to my question in order to help me clarify a justification I’m trying to make. When the WTBTS withdrew from being an NGO associate couldn’t it be viewed as their realization they had done something wrong and were trying to rectify the situation? I know from the book of Daniel the holy ones would be brought back into a clean condition. Could all of the changes being made in the Organization be a sign of this? I know the focus now seems to be very clear and the motivation positive?
ANSWER: As a former elder and one who has sat in on too many judicial committees – probably two dozen altogether —it was the task of the committee to determine whether the offender was repentant. The Watchtower provided a few guidelines for elders to help them determine if there was genuine repentance.
One of the primary determinants is whether the person was found out or whether they voluntarily came forward in confession.
Also, was the offender forthcoming or did they try to hide the facts and shift the blame?
Judging by just these two criteria we would have to conclude that the Watchtower organization fits the profile of an unrepentant sinner.
In the case of their brazen, 10 year UN/NGO affiliation, the Watchtower was hardly forthcoming, nor did they ever admit to any wrongdoing. The only reason they dissolved their association with United Nations is because their secret affair became quite public due to the fact that the London Guardian published an exposé. The Watchtower’s Public Relations department then went into high-spin mode.
First they claimed that the registration documents that had on file contained nothing objectionable. Later, though, they shamelessly claimed that some low-level clerk at the UN had misled them into believing they had to register as an NGO in order to access the library.
There was no addressing the fact that for many years Bethel’s Writing Department peppered the Watchtower and especially the AWAKE! Magazine with many featured articles touting the supposed accomplishments of the United Nations and hundreds of little factoids in the Watching the World segment highlighting the policies, achievements and accomplishments of dozens of organizations within the United Nations. This, of course, was what they were obligated to do as an associate level NGO.
But there was no reason for the Watchtower to lie and concoct such an absurd cover story. Had Bethel merely admitted that they had made such an unwise compromise for the purpose of coopting the resources of the UN in order to facilitate their humanitarian relief of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Africa, I am certain that the brothers and sisters would have been forgiving. Perhaps Jehovah would have been forgiving too. But, unfortunately, to this day the leadership has not been upfront about their UN connection.
So, no. There is no evidence of repentance in regards to their NGO Association. They lied and shifted the blame and have never been truly forthcoming in acknowledging the extent of what was required of them in their association with the United Nations.
The Watchtower’s response to the growing number of complaints from sexually abused victims follows the same pattern. Up until recently the Watchtower was able to brush a lot under the rug, so-to-speak, by quietly making out-of-court settlements to keep matters from going to court. But the tide has turned in more recent years and a number of high profile cases have gone to court and gone against the Watchtower. Still, they keep up their mantra “we abhor child abuse,” but their policies have been revealed to the public to show that they actually conceal the identity of pedophiles and refuse to cooperate with police and the courts in investigating crimes against children and prosecuting the offenders.
This week a Royal Commission in Australia continues its hearings on the Watchtower’s bungling of over 1,000 child abuse cases in that country. Geoffrey Jackson of the Governing Body was made to put his hand on his New World Translation and swear to tell the truth before the committee. I haven’t watched the four hours of video that has appeared on YouTube yet, but according to the media that are covering the case brother Jackson has intimated that the Society might compensate victims of child abuse in Australia. He also floated the idea that the Society may even publicly apologize. This would certainly be an extraordinary thing, considering that the Watchtower has never, ever apologized for anything, at least not in recent times. Such an thing would be an an odious anathema to the lawyers who run the organization
But here’s the thing: Should the Governing Body have to be dragged before a worldly court under the gaze of international media before it even considers apologizing to hundreds of victims who have had their innocence stolen and their lives ruined due in no small part to the policies enforced by them?
Paul once wrote to the Corinthians expressing his deep disappointment that brothers who had disagreements with each other were hauling each other before the courts of this world. Paul said it was altogether a defeat for them that they could not settle differences among themselves. What does that say for the Watchtower? Is it to their credit that after years of stonewalling and denial that they now have been forced by the relevant superior authorities who have been charged by God to punish wrongdoers to say ‘We are sorry’? It is as the wise apostle said, it is altogether a defeat for them and a reproach.
No. This is not any sort of refining of the holy ones. Making some sort of public apology that has been drafted by a public relations department and vetted through lawyers means nothing. It is just more of the same. Even if they pay out millions, will that set matters straight? Will that purify the hearts of those who callously disregard the legal claim of the proverbial orphan and the downtrodden? Will crafting some sort of official apology for the public win them Jehovah’s favor? The answer to all the questions above is “no.”
At this point there’s nothing the Watchtower can do. Tinkering with organizational policies now is futile. They had the opportunity years ago to do the right thing and they resolutely refused.
They have reproached the name of Jehovah. Now they must face up to the discipline. As Jehovah long ago foretold in the book of Micah regarding his unclean organization ‘there is a wrecking work and the wrecking work is painful.’
See commentary on Micah in Jehovah Himself Has Become King