We just returned from seeing “Spotlight” and really enjoyed it. The film is based on the account of the Boston Globe’s expose of the systemic problem of pedophilia within the Catholic Archdiocese of Boston. The end crawl of the movie documents the prevalence of this problem in archdioceses worldwide that have come to light since that time in the early 2000s.
Of course, the scale is much, much smaller within Jehovah’s Witnesses, but one thought from the movie especially resonated with me. It put forth the idea of a conspiracy of silence growing out of priests knowing that a high percentage of them violated their vows of celibacy through, among other things, pedophilia. This idea speaks to the psychology behind a conspiracy of silence such that it’s not just about protecting the image of the Church. There is a personal component that drives it.
This rang true to me, knowing as we do that there is
knowledge among the Governing Body of similar abhorrent sins by its own
members. Although there is no celibacy
doctrine to obey, there is the expectation that the Governing Body of the One
True Religion be “unspotted, unblemished.” Knowing that this has not been the case fosters a culture of
silence from the top down.
I should point out that I am not just accepting anecdotal
evidence of this level of sin among the Governing Body. When I was serving as an elder, in the
course of conversation, a sister in our congregation volunteered that her
younger brother was molested by a member of the Governing Body back when they
were members of the same congregation in Brooklyn. The Governing Body at the time dismissed their fellow member
but he remained in good standing, serving as a Special Pioneer outside of
As of now, we have heard “conspiracy of silence” applied to cases
of pedophilia among Jehovah’s Witnesses in court documents and in transcripts
from the Australian Royal Commission proceedings. I think a personal component driving the conspiracy of
silence has merit. What do you