Are the children of a state the responsibility of the state?

by sabastious 16 Replies latest watchtower child-abuse

  • sabastious

    A few months back the newly appointed Governor of Wisconsin, Scott Walker, took a lot of heat for the monetary policies he put in place. I remember hearing him make statements to the crowds regarding the future of the "children of Wisconsin." He made a point to mention the children's future in regard to their debt that was feared as too big for the future to handle.

    How would Governor Walker react to Witness child policies if he was told what actually takes place in many congregations of Jehovah's Witnesses. Would he not agree that the children in his state are being abused needlessly by a religious organization? Could a state law, such as the one in the Australian State of Victoria, be worth considering for him if he indeed wants to protect the children of his state?

    The more I think about it the more I see the Watchtower as a virtual country. They put "God's law", or Watchtower law, above all else effectively making them their own government so as long as they get to hide under the tag of Religion.


  • Damn The Watchtower
    Damn The Watchtower

    Hello Sabastious,

    What exactly are you referring to? Is there a type of child abuse among the Witnesses that does not occur in the general population?

  • sabastious
    What exactly are you referring to? Is there a type of child abuse among the Witnesses that does not occur in the general population?

    Any kind of child abuse violent or sexual.

    Of course those things do happen in the general population, but the difference is that the JWs are around kids consistantly; that's why slient lambs reports so many abuse cases. I guess if the State of Victoria successfully convicts the Governing Body of breaking their registration and background check laws it will sent a precendent for the rest of the world.

    People who are around children should be accounted for, as well as their backgrounds checked, and the only way to account for everyone in a state is through government.


  • Damn The Watchtower
    Damn The Watchtower


    "but the difference is that the JWs are around kids consistantly;"

    Many people are "around kids consistantly" their teachers, their neighbors, their family members, etc. Every child who attends a church, a school function, a neighborhood recreation area etc on a regular basis, is exposed to possible encounters with abusers. Just walking down the street has become a hazard. I'm no friend of the Governing Body but we must at the very least use common sense and keep a balance when accusations are made.

  • Band on the Run
    Band on the Run

    Why can't the elders report the allegations to the police? Beyond a reasonable doubt is the highest standard of proof. Proceedings could occur on two different areas: the criminal law and disfellowshipping. It does strike me as ridiculous that the criminal law at its most exacting does not demand two witnesses. Corroboration is required. A totality of the circumstances should be considered.

    The New York Times had quite extnesive coverage of the Fla. governor turning down federal money to slap Obama care. I am not certain it is the same governor. Scott was a name.

  • dgp

    I think Sabastious has a point. One that, incidentally, is very difficult for Americans to even grasp, because of the very way America was created.

    Let us just look at what happened (or happens) in the Yearning for Zion ranch. In my non-American mind, t's simply outrageous that a government should know what goes on inside such a community and won't act more decisively. And it's even more outrageous that there will be organizations, such as the ACLU, complaining about government intervention because someone posed as a 16 year old. The fact that such abuse was (or is) taking place there seems to have no importance to the ACLU.

    I don't think religious freedom means freedom to abuse your own.

    By the way, if Walker said that debt should not be too big for the generations to come to handle, he said something that only a rare politician will acknowledge.

  • Mad Sweeney
    Mad Sweeney

    The point, Damn the Watchtower, isn't to single out the Watchtower legislatively, but to enact background check laws like the one established in Victoria, Australia. The Watchtower has refused to comply with those laws, instructing its local elders to disobey the authorities and to NOT get criminal background checks. Victoria's school teachers and administration comply with those laws. "Babylon the Great" church leaders comply with those laws. Why does the Watchtower instruct its middle managers to refuse compliance?

    What would happen if it was an American state and not an Australian state? Do American politicians care about the children enough to enact a similar law? And would the Watchtower in the USA comply?

  • dgp

    Exactly, Mad Sweeney.

  • NewChapter

    I don't know if that would fly in the US Sebastious. We have a huge anti-government, pro-christian movement here. Unless a governor wants to be viewed as an anti-christ, he probably won't get involved in the inner workings of a church unless the abuse is systematic. Abuse in the org is done by individuals acting outside the WT teachings--so--they wont' be storming any kingdom halls.

    Fox News would manufacture outrage, the Bachmanns would hop up on the soapbox of opportunity and scream this proves that Obama is a Muslim socialist, and the ACLU will be concerned with slippery slope arguments.

    Australia is very different from America---even the part where private citizens can actually direct and fund prosecutions.

    Maybe some day, but certainly not today.


  • blondie

    If the desire is to deal with child abuse, one must fight it on every front. It is so much larger than the WTS....look at the Catholic Church still having new cases come up and finding that they are still concealing abusers.

    If you want to be effective, join the groups already fighting to get stronger laws on the book, increasing the statutes of limitations, mandated reporting for all, including religious leaders and lay persons who work with them.

    This organization also works with other religious groups on this. Fight against child abuse and help the laws be more effective and you will deal with the WTS and every other religious institution.

    These laws are formed at the state level, so there are 50 states in the US that need to be looked at. What are the laws regarding child abuse in your state or province, your country. What can be done to strengthen the laws?

    Here is something by Barbara Blaine, an attorney in Chicago and the head of SNAP, had to say.

    The S urvivors N etwork of those A bused by P riests

    Opinions & Editorials

    Select essays from around the nation

    Reforming the Statute of Limitations - The Single Most Effective Legislative Remedy
    To Make Sure Kids Are Safer

    By Barbara Blaine (312 399 4747) and David Clohessy (314 566 9790)

    Like most Americans, Kentucky lawmakers have been shocked and dismayed by the recent clergy sexual abuse scandal. And they are asking the right question: "What can we do to make sure such horrific crimes do not happen again?"

    Two very different proposals are being advanced in Frankfort that seek to answer this question. One is what we abuse survivors call a "feel good" bill. It would strengthen the requirement that clergy report suspected child abuse to the proper authorities.

    The other proposal is what we abuse survivors call a "do good" bill. It would extend the time in which abuse victims could expose their molester and seek justice the American way: through the courts.

    Both approaches rely on a "threat" or penalty that would force adults to work harder to protect children. But the "mandated reporter" approach relies on individual church officials to change their decades-long patterns of behavior - a risky proposition. The "time extension" approach relies on juries - a tried-and-true system of justice that has served our country well for more than 200 years. The "mandated reporter" bill hopes to change organizational "insiders," prodding them to disclose suspected abuse. The "time extension" bill enables outsiders to make church leaders change.

    On paper, making clergy "mandated reporters" of suspected abuse seems logical: Teachers, doctors, social workers and other professionals are required to report suspected child abuse. Why shouldn't priests and ministers be obligated to do likewise?

    We of course support such legislation, but are convinced it is far less important and effective than extending the statute of limitations. We know of only one minister anywhere who has ever been prosecuted under such laws. And the penalties are often pitifully weak (i.e. six months probation or $1,000 fine in Massachusetts for example).

    Is this law better than nothing? Sure. Will it make a big difference? Not really. It's a risky stab at protecting kids. What kids need and deserve is a proven approach that will make them safer.

    That reform is the extension of the statute of limitations. The statute is an archaic and dangerous time limit that prevents many childhood sexual abuse victims from seeking justice. It will prevent future abuse, by virtually forcing those who oversee children to work harder to protect those children.

    Take two neighboring dioceses, separated only by the Mississippi River: St. Louis Missouri and Belleville Illinois. During the mid 90s, 12 abusive priests were publicly removed from ministry in Belleville. Over the same period, none were publicly removed in St. Louis, even though it has five times as many priests!

    Why the stark difference? At that time, the statute of limitations in Illinois was "victim-friendly," enabling those who were wounded to pursue litigation even years afterwards. Conversely, outdated Missouri statutes and restrictive state Supreme Court rulings made St. Louis church officials virtually immune to any possible legal threat.

    Extending or eliminating the statute of limitations is the cheapest law enforcement money can buy. To catch more child molesters, we can substantially beef up the budgets of police and prosecutors. Or we can make a simple legislative reform, open the courthouse doors, and let victims expose and remove perpetrators through peaceful, legal means.

    Conservatives ought to support such legislation because it's a low cost way to prove they're tough on crime. It requires no government regulations, but rather provides "incentives" for decision-makers to do the right thing. Liberals ought to support such legislation because it gives equal access to our justice system, regardless of when one was victimized.

    And it jives with what we know about human nature. The threat of traffic tickets is required to prod motorists to drive more safely. And the threat of litigation is required to prod churches and other organizations to worker harder at protecting kids.

    As we abuse victims in the Survivors Network often point out, there is no "statute of limitations" on the suffering caused by sexual molestation - the pain is pervasive and on-going, even despite years of therapy. There is likewise no "statute of limitations" on the molesters - they usually continue victimizing children until they are caught and imprisoned or they die.

    We therefore believe that there can be no "statute of limitations" on exposing and removing perpetrators from positions of trust and authority, and no "statute of limitations" on protecting children who are at risk.

    Lawmakers should, of course, support both measures. But if it boils down to a choice,
    we urge the time-tested approach: letting the wounded who are struggling to expose their molesters at be given their "day in court." Let those who employ and supervise molesters be prodded to become more diligent and proactive at protecting children.

    We all know that public attention is fleeting. Now, there is widespread concern about sexual abuse. Next year, despite good intentions to the contrary, that concern may well be gone or greatly diminished. Therefore, the chance to take decisive and effective steps to genuinely make youngster safer is NOW. Kentucky legislators should not squander this chance.

    Five or ten years from now, the scandal will have shifted, from abusive clerics to abusive coaches, or teachers, or summer camp staff or counselors. When that happens, Kentucky lawmakers should be able to look themselves in the mirror and realize that in 2003, their wisdom and courage made it possible to stop some molesters, detect and remove other molesters, and thereby allow some innocent kids to escape the life-altering harm that was done to us.

    David Clohessy of St. Louis and Barbara Blaine of Chicago are leaders in SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, a Chicago-based nationwide support group for clergy abuse victims. It can be found at


    or this by Judge Marci Hamilton, who started out her career clerking for Sandra Day O'Connor.

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