AUSTRALIA - Petition to Cancel the Charity Status of Watchtower and Jehovah's Witnesses
A petition has been launched in Australia to coincide with the Child Abuse Royal Commission's adverse findings against Watchtower and Jehovah's Witnesses. The petition is to the Australian Charities and Not-for-profit Commission to cancel their charity status.
This petition is in direct support of the following concerns raised with The Australian Charities and Not-for-profit Commission (ACNC)
Case no. 291746
Case no. 290182
The nature of my concern relates to the uncharitable and harmful activities of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society or Jehovah's Witnesses. I learnt of these concerns as I was indoctrinated into the Jehovah's Witnesses as a child. In addition to my experience, a report entitled 'REPORT OF CASE STUDY NO. 29. The response of the Jehovah’s Witnesses and Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of Australia Ltd to allegations of child sexual abuse' was released on October 2016 by the Australian Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. The report can be found HERE.The seven example doctrines below also speak to a summary of the detrimental effects of the organisation:
1. Forbidding Blood Transfusions.
2. Disfellowshipping / Ostracism (includes ‘brazen conduct’). Shunning of ex-Jehovah's Witnesses is a cruel practice of ostracism (see Human Rights Articles 18 and 20). The Human Rights Commission has no jurisdiction over Institutions, therefore although this has been reported to them, they have no powers to act on this information.
3. Baptism age and consequences. Child below the age of consent are permitted to be baptism which is a dedication to the religion. If the child subsequently leaves the religion, they are subjected to the ostracism described in point 2. above. The impact of this practice on a child means that they are held captive by the organisation as they are shunned by their entire social and familial network.
4. Watchtower actively discourages university education.
5. Discrimination against female members is ingrained as the Jehovah's Witnesses believe that a women should be 'in subjection' (see Human Rights Article 2). The Human Rights Commission has no jurisdiction over Institutions, therefore although this has been reported to them, they have no powers to act on this information.
6. Child slave labour occurs routinely, for example in construction and food preparation, etc. (see Human Rights Article 4).The Human Rights Commission has no jurisdiction over Institutions, therefore although this has been reported to them, they have no powers to act on this information.
7. Biblical Judicial Committee. In the ongoing Australian Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, Jehovah's Witnesses revealed that in 1,006 cases of Child Sexual Abuse, not one of these were reported to the authorities. Instead, they were heard by a biblical 'judicial committee', allowing perpetrators to reoffend and victims to be traumatised. As 1,006 cases have now been reported to the Royal Commission, it is critical that the ACNC now investigate the released report to review charity concerns.
As harm is caused (as described in the example doctrines) in the areas of discouraging education, emotional harm and family division and its attitude to domestic violence and rape, it is now clear that the detrimental effects outweigh the beneficial aspects and that the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society cannot be considered charitable. Evidence of the charity actively harming vulnerable individuals is supported by 1,006 cases of Child Sexual Abuse reported to the Australian Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. Jehovah's Witnesses should be reclassified as a cult since their definition in practice described above matches that of a cult and not a religion. As the Charity Act 2013 states the purpose of advancing religion as a charitable purpose means that religious organisations that only hold church services can qualify as a charity, it should be noted that Jehovah's Witnesses are by definition a cult and not a religion. If you require further evidence we can provide it to you in the form of:
* copies of Royal Commission submissions, and/or
* copies of Police Reports, and/or
* statutory declarations.
The Australian Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse is ongoing and the Jehovah's Witnesses are due to reappear before the Commission on 10 March 2017 to hear Case Study 54. Case Study 54's scope includes:
* The current policies and procedures of Jehovah's Witnesses and Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of Australia Ltd in relation to child protection and child-safe standards, including responding to allegations of child sexual abuse;
* Factors that may have contributed to the occurrence of child sexual abuse at Jehovah's Witnesses and Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of Australia Ltd institutions;
* Factors that may have affected the institutional response of Jehovah's Witnesses and Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of Australia Ltd to child sexual abuse;
* The responses of Jehovah's Witnesses and Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of Australia Ltd to relevant case study report(s) and other Royal Commission reports;
* and any related matters.
A further report will be released after this, however this should not stop the ACNC from acting on what is already been established.
Very interested to see where this goes. Overall it's well structured but I am not sure where the child slave labour element comes in. It used to be the case that children were regularly included in volunteer work in construction and food prep at assemblies but I would be surprised if Australia is any different to the UK, US and (AFAIK) Europe in only allowing those over 16 onto sites along with the fact there is no organised food prep any more except for some schools - which kids would rarely if ever be involved in.
I can recall anything in print which encourages the forcible inclusion of children in construction, food or other voluntary activities. Of course some kids are made to do some things like hall cleaning and most have to go on the ministry but I think you'd be hard pressed to count that as child slavery.
Sadly I think that bit undermines the rest of the genuinely strong arguments in the petition.
I've signed it, but what happens when it reaches 500 signatures? If you get 100,000 in the UK parliament will discuss it.
Done, with pleasure
Have to agree with konceptual99 on the child slave labour tho
RE: Child Slave Labour
The Australian Human Rights Commission has no power to investigate Watchtower and the JWs over child labour. The Charity Commission and the Senate do.
Australia has strict laws prohibiting corporations from using underage children for financial gain. During the ARC, in an attempt to deny any responsibility or relationship with children, Watchtower denied ever engaging children as volunteers. This denial is all encompassing and includes in construction. Therefore the children were not in a charity-volunteer relationship with Watchtower or the JWs, of which relationship is lawful. As such the child labour provided to Watchtower and the JWs was unlawful.
Children working on a construction site cannot by law be under parental supervision. They are either under the supervision of the builder or a subcontractor.
Ironically it appears that the strategy that Watchtower legal department came up with to protect Watchtower from liability towards children, i.e. by denying any relationship, has in fact opened the way for action against Watchtower by these very children. A charity-volunteer relationship between Watchtower / JWs and children creates a legally binding contract as the religious organisation is providing necessities to the child in the form of Christian charity work.
No contract means Watchtower and the JWs have no protection under law. A claim can be made for compensation. In addition a complaint can be made to the charity commission that the Watchtower / JW system practices child slave labour.
If I was the GB or Watchtower legal in the USA I would be getting rid of Australian Watchtower lawyer Vincent Toole asap for his failure in managing this situation and the ARC. I would kick Toole out to pasture. Toole turns 70 this year ... maybe the GB can make up some new rule that, like COs and COBEs, he cannot serve over the age of 70. Problem solved. Of course Toole would then qualify for the in-house Bethel nursing home. This keeps him around. To save face and embarrasment all round Toole himself could come up with an excuse, at the enforcement of the GB, that he doesn't want to spend his retirement in Bethel but wants to retire in some god-foresaken location in Australia.
So are you saying that if a child does some cleaning at the KH under the supervision of their parents this is legally child slave labour under AU law?
It's certainly the case that under 16s did get involved in KH projects in the 80s in the UK but I know it was not allowed at AH construction level even then. They enforced an under 16 rule pretty quickly in the QB days in the 80s and over the past years the processes and procedures for getting onto a site have been gradually made more and more rigorous to the point that there is no way kids can be involved even in a casual way.
I know this similar practice is followed in the States, Europe and certainly on any large build worldwide so I'd be surprised if similar processes were not in force in Australia.
On top of this under 16s and those not "approved" have not been able to be involved with most aspects of assembly related volunteer work for a long, long time now, the only exception being cleaning that I can think of where kids helping their parents is still allowed (as far as I know).
I understand the legal ramifications of what you are saying but do you think that current practices within the WTS can be classed as child slave labour?
Xanthippe: what happens when it reaches 500 signatures?
It's a competition! Australia v America....
Xanthippe: If you get 100,000 in the UK parliament will discuss
yes, IF you use the UK Government's website at https://petition.parliament.uk
The Australian Government also have a website at http://www.aph.gov.au/petitions - but this petition isn't on that?