During yesterday's RC proceedings (Wednesday 5th August 2015), one of the victim's lawyers questioned Mr Vincent Toole, the JW organization's legal counsel for the Australian Branch Office.
She asked him why at least two of the JW elders who gave evidence last week refused to swear on the Bible.
Mr Toole appear puzzled by her question and said he did not know. .
When the victim's lawyer pressed the issue, Mr Toole again stated he did not know and speculated the elders were probably unaccustomed to court processes and that he himself had no difficulty swearing on the Bible (those were his words).
Mr Toole then said that if he were talking to these elders, he would ask them why they did not take the oath.
His answers are absolutely astonishing.
Either he is playing dumb and lying or he genuinely does not know that in his own religion, Witnesses - in common with other fundamentalist groups - refrain from "swearing" or taking oaths on the Bible. They cite Jesus words (which I cannot recall chapter and verse) about letting your Yes be Yes and Your No, No and not needing to take an oath. Apparently taking an oath is also said to be of pagan origin.
Indeed, law courts that follow the Westminster tradition have long recognized citizen's right to refuse to swear on the Bible and instead they are asked to read out a civil statement that they will tell the truth the whole truth and nothing but the truth - and, my understanding is, Witnesses do this. Is my understnading correct?
I note that at this stage in the exchange, the judge, Mr McClelland, actually interrupted the victim's lawyer by pointing out that other groups also refuse to take the oath.
Even so, has the JW organization changed its views on this issue of taking oaths? Can anyone cite any recent JW literature on the issue?
Now, while I can "forgive" the victim's lawyer for perhaps not knowing this (but come on, she's a lawyer: She should know!) but surely the JW organization's own legal counsel should know this?
If he does know it, he lied.
If he does not, what inexplicably appalling ignorance.
What caught my attention, wasn't so much the victim's lawyer's diverting the focus to this issue, but Mr Toole's surprising answers.