KINGDOM BULLETIN #12
Over the course of the past 15 years the Watchtower has come under increasing scrutiny regarding child sexual abuse among Jehovah’s Witnesses. There have been numerous high profile lawsuits brought against elders and the Watchtower corporation, multi-million dollar judgments, capped in 2015 with the Royal Australian Commission holding a public inquiry and the subsequent bombshell revelation that of over 1,000 known cases of child abuse in Australia not a single crime was reported to the police.
As the heat has gotten hotter the Watchtower’s spokesmen have been adamant in claiming that Jehovah’s Witnesses abhor child abuse and the organization’s policies are effective —that is, until now. As of September 2016 the Watchtower’s Legal Department has quietly begun to institute a new policy.
Prior to this time the Watchtower has been resolute in concealing the identities of Jehovah’s Witnesses who have been accused of, or even admitted to, committing crimes against children. Even in the instance when a person was disfellowshipped for sexually abusing a child, often the congregation members had no idea why the person was expelled.
The Watchtower even reserved to itself the right to appoint men to positions of oversight, men whom it knew to have have committed crimes against children, and so long as the appointee was not notorious it was considered none of the congregation’s business what the Service Committee did. (See the article: Is Your Elder a Known Child Molester?)
Apparently, though, the lawyers have determined that a new policy will better protect the organization from legal liability. Because Bethel maintains a database of over 20,000 known pedophiles, the new policy decrees that upon notification by headquarters congregation elders are to approach so-named individuals to inform them, among other things, that they are being restricted from holding any position or performing any service in the congregation and that parents are going to be notified that Brother XXXXX poses a potential danger to their children. Here is an excerpt of a letter that was sent to one congregation informing them of the restrictions they should place upon Brother XXXXX:
He should not be used to assist with accounts, literature, magazines, or territories. He should not be used to serve as an attendant, to carry or adjust microphones, or to operate audio/video equipment. He should not represent the congregation in prayer, nor should he be used as the reader at the Congregation Bible Study or Watchtower Study or to conduct a meeting for field service. He does not qualify to auxiliary pioneer or regular pioneer. His home should not be used for congregation meetings or meetings for field service. Although he could assist with the cleaning and general care of the Kingdom Hall where he attends, he is not approved to work on other Kingdom Halls or Assembly Halls. He cannot use the Kingdom Hall for his wedding.
As for his participation in field service here is another excerpt:
Brother XXXXX should be informed that he is not allowed to work in the ministry with congregations other than his own and that each time he shares in the ministry he is required to be in the company of an elder. Brother XXXXX is never to share in the ministry alone, nor is he to work alone with his own minor children. He should never be left alone with a child. He should let the elders know ahead of time of his desire to share in the ministry so that arrangements can be coordinated. He should be willing to adjust his schedule in order to comply with this requirement, since the elders may not always be able to accommodate his request. He should also be informed that he should not use the telephone, Internet, or any other electronic media to share in the ministry. Neither should he share in letter writing. An elder should conduct the meeting for service where he attends. He should not be included in a group with minor children other than his own. The conductor should keep in mind that Brother XXXXX is always required to be in the company of an elder.
The most radical change in policy is in regards to parents of minor children.
Whereas, over recent years the Watchtower’s lawyers have claimed in court that elders have no fiduciary responsibility to protect children from the crimes of a congregant, now elders are being instructed to approach parents of minor children to notify them that Brother XXXXX is a child predator. Here is what the Watchtower wrote to one body of elders with instructions to adhere closely to the following:
The brothers should begin the discussion by letting the family head know that we deeply appreciate all that they are doing in caring for their family’s spiritual, emotional, and physical needs. Jehovah will undoubtedly reward them for their faithful service. Of course, as this system’s end draws near, dangers are ever present. We know that God’s Kingdom will soon remove the stain of sin from mankind, but until that time, some even within the congregation will struggle with human imperfection in a way that poses a danger to children. Though a person may have repented and has been forgiven, we recognize that he may still have a battle with this weakness. Therefore the body of elders wants to provide each family head of minor children with important information that will assist in protecting their children.
Next, the elders are instructed to convey to parents, verbatim, the following:
“The elders want to assist you to care for your Scriptural responsibility to protect your children. (Read Deut. 6:6, 7; Eph. 6:4) Thus, please review with your children the information found on pages 170-171 in the book Learn From the Great Teacher. With that counsel in mind, we encourage you to ensure that your child is never alone with Brother XXXXX (Read Prov. 22:3) Other parents of minor children who are in the congregation are receiving this same information by means of a visit from the elders. Thus, there should be no need for you to discuss this matter outside of your immediate family. Please remember that Brother XXXXX is a member of the congregation and should be treated in a Christian manner.”
After meeting with each parent(s) of minors in the congregation the elders are to follow these instructions:
After each visit to parents, the two elders should prepare and sign a brief statement that includes the name of the individual, the names of the parents who were informed, and the date they were informed. The elders should be alert to inform the parents of any new family with minor children. Each statement should be placed in the envelope labeled with the individual’s name and marked “Do Not Destroy.” This envelope should be kept indefinitely in the congregation’s confidential file.
It is good that the Watchtower has finally taken the crime of child sexual abuse seriously. But after decades of denial, of persecuting victims and their advocates, of providing cover for men who were accused of doing horrible things to children, ought the Watchtower be commended for taken preemptive action to protect children from known pedophiles?
And it is not as though the Governing Body are unaware of the nature of pedophiles. Here is an excerpt from the January 1, 1997, Watchtower article entitled Let Us Abhor What is Wicked:
But a dedicated adult Christian who falls into the sin of child sexual abuse reveals an unnatural fleshly weakness. Experience has shown that such an adult may well molest other children. True, not every child molester repeats the sin, but many do. And the congregation cannot read hearts to tell who is and who is not liable to molest children again.
As indicated by the quote above, Bethel was well aware 20 years ago that child molesters are notorious recidivists. That being undeniable, why did it take so long for “the faithful and discreet slave” to implement a policy that can actually protect innocent children from being preyed upon by cunning predators?
In all of their carefully-crafted, lawyerly jargon the Legal Department fails to mention that pedophilia is a crime against children. Nor do they refer to pedophiles as criminals. By labeling it a “sin” and “human imperfection” the intent is to imply that it is solely a congregation matter. That is because Bethel’s lawyers still have in place a policy of non-cooperation with police and legal authorities who investigate and prosecute crimes committed against children.
But “repentant” Jehovah’s Witness pedophiles do not merely pose a potential danger to the children of Jehovah’s Witnesses. No doubt such men also interact in the community too and come into contact with children whose parents are not connected to a congregation. By letting a person who has committed a crime against a child go un-prosecuted due to their refusal to cooperate with the relative authorities, are not the elders making themselves complicit in the event that a known pedophile abuses a child outside the congregation? Would not their cooperation help to place known sexual predators on a public watch list and thus contribute to the public good? Where is the love of neighbor?
It should be apparent that the Watchtower’s new child abuse policy was not motivated by any genuine regard for the welfare of children. It has taken massive judgments against the organization, and no doubt the threat of more lawsuits in the future and potentially more losses, to move Bethel to draft a new decree that is obviously primary crafted to legally protect the Watchtower. That is why elders are instructed to sign a legal document that verifies that parents have been warned that a pedophile is in their midst. The intent is not to protect children. It is to insulate the Watchtower from being sued in the future if Brother XXXXX molests another child! It is a policy intended to deny the legal claim of the poor!
Long ago Jehovah foresaw this very situation, which is why Isaiah 10:1-2 states: “Woe to those who enact harmful regulations, who constantly draft oppressive decrees, 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!”
Now that the world situation has developed to the crisis point, brought to a head by the nuclear powers being brought into direct conflict, the rhetorical question Jehovah next poses is most relevant: “What will you do on the day of reckoning, when destruction comes from afar? To whom will you flee for assistance, and where will you leave your wealth?”
Jehovah is the God of justice. He is well aware that not only have thousands of children been robbed of their innocence by animalistic men, the Watchtower’s harmful regulations have contributed to the evil. Although the letter of James makes clear that a fundamental requirement of true worship is looking after orphans and widows in their time of trouble, the leadership of Jehovah’s Witnesses have proven time and again that they are primarily motivated by the desire to protect the Society’s coffers. For that reason Jehovah is determined that their wealth be plundered, as the passage in Isaiah goes on to say: “I will send him against an apostate nation, against the people who infuriated me; I will command him to take much spoil and much plunder and to trample them like mud in the streets.”
Just as the Assyrian served as Jehovah’s executioner in times past, Jehovah is fully capable of now commissioning the same imperial beast to serve as his punishing agent. Because Bethel has unequivocally demonstrated that it has no regard for God, what is left? Again, Jehovah answers: “Nothing remains except to crouch among the prisoners or to fall among the slain.”
This article is being mailed to hundreds of congregations in the United States