Sault Star - "every child in danger"

by Nathan Natas 1 Replies latest watchtower scandals

  • Nathan Natas
    Nathan Natas

    Report abuse to police

    Sault Star staff

    Saturday, February 08, 2003 - 09:00

    The sincerity and basic goodness of an awful lot of Jehovahs Witnesses is going to be unfairly questioned because of a gross lapse by their church elders.

    Acknowledging that church records contain allegations about members molesting children, the Canadian wing is resisting a call by former Witnesses to release names and allow police to investigate.

    Clive Thomas, spokesman for the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Canada Ltd., the churchs governing body, says that child welfare authorities are notified when abuse is suspected. Its up to those authorities to notify police if they feel its necessary, he said.

    Those authorities must indeed automatically get police involved when sexual abuse of children is alleged. However, that doesnt absolve this church or any other church of notifying police as soon as any such allegations surface.

    Thomas says child welfare authorities are notified because thats required by law, but the church itself isnt legally obliged to disclose the names of known or suspected abusers to police. For a religion that focuses so strongly on obeying the laws of God rather than the laws of man, thats some pretty fancy legal hair-splitting.

    Even if there is nothing in state statutes or in the Bible that expressly orders everyone to notify police of child sex abuse allegations, that has to be about as obvious a moral requirement as you will ever find. It shouldnt have to be expressly stated anywhere.

    Incidents such as sexual abuse are handled internally by councils of church elders who decide what should be done. That can continue, as far as religious repercussions are concerned. But it is not sufficient. All people of good will have a moral obligation to report such allegations to police so that any damaging behaviour is stopped.

    Jehovahs Witnesses have a particular interest in this, since chances are that their own children are at greatest risk. However, the community as a whole has a legitimate interest because in addition to protecting Witness children already more than sufficient cause for general concern and involvement every child of every faith is in danger when a sexual predator is on the loose.

    Silentlambs, a U.S.-based group of ex-Witnesses and abuse survivors, says the churchs international headquarters in New York City has files on nearly 24,000 known child molesters. Even if the actual number were a small fraction of that in the U.S. and Canada, those names should be turned over immediately to investigators to assure that any abuse has not been allowed to continue or expand.

    As part of their religious beliefs, Witnesses proselytize door-to-door. Such scandal, and hypocrisy on the the part of church leaders, is going to make it that much harder to even get people to hear their message, less say convert.

    If the welfare of children is not enough, the church has to change its stance if members hope to be as effective as they can saving the souls of others and thereby their own.

    That being said, everyone must acknowledge that the overwhelming majority of Witnesses are good people, devout in their faith and fine parents and neighbours. No one should use this failure by leaders as license to abuse the rank and file who sincerely follow their conscience.

  • Lady Lee
    Lady Lee

    yeah - glad to see the Soo is on the ball

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