Reveal News: How Jehovah’s Witness leaders are responding to child abuse scrutiny by Trey Bundy
Thank you for your comments. You ask:
"Why would an innocent organization stonewall a reporter who could help them clear up misconceptions?"
The org. HAS talked to some to clear up misconceptions. For example recently during the ARC hearing, and also in their “rebuttal” of Angus Stewart’s submission. It seems to me though they do not trust Mr. Bundy to be genuine in wanting to clear up any misconceptions. There must be a reason for that. But if Mr. Bundy is genuine in wanting to clear up misconceptions, then he can read WT’s “rebuttal” to Angus Stewart and write an objective report about that.
Regarding the child abuse problem specifically, this recklessness and hubris consists of them thinking they actually know better than the authorities on how to handle "congregational matters" and "to keep free from reproach on Jehovah". They don't consider that the "two witness rule" is one of principle to make sure an innocent person is not convicted on one person's word, but that in modern times this can mean guilt being proven in more ways than literally "two witnesses to the same alleged event."
The org. is concerned with the spiritual aspect of sin, in which case it is probable that it does know better than the authorities, who do not concern themselves with this aspect. Also as regards the “two witness rule” it IS the whole point that an innocent person does not get convicted on just one person’s word. That is the whole point of the Bible stating this rule. However, you are incorrect when you say that literally two people are required to witness the one event. It can be two people to a separate event, and one of those witnesses does not have to be a person. Forensic evidence etc. also counts as a witness.
I don’t think this has anything to do with arrogance, or hubris and recklessness as you call it. The GB believes it is the “faithful and discreet slave” (whether the FDS is real or not is each person’s opinion but for the sake of argument we will assume the FDS is a fact, in any case, they believe it is a fact). As the FDS, it has grave responsibility towards God. So rather than being arrogant and reckless in applying and interpreting scripture, they are anxious and fearful that they may be doing so correctly. Hubris and recklessness has no place among professed Christians in God’s eyes. They are concerned with doing everything right by God. If I was to be extreme in my expression I would say they are “obsessed” with doing so. Because according to scripture, if the FDS is found lacking, he (Jesus) “will punish him (FDS) with the greatest severity and will assign him his place with the hypocrites. There is where his weeping and the gnashing of his teeth will be” (Matt 24: 48-51). If I was the FDS, I would not like to be found on the wrong side of God, and obviously they don’t either.
Sure, families can talk to disfellowshipped ones "if they want to", sure a family can report an alleged abuse to authorities "if they want to", sure someone can get a blood transfusion "if they want to", but they will pay the price for it in their congregations one way or the other, either by losing privileges, losing friends and family relationships or even being disfellowshipped for good.
This is actually not a lie at all. It is the truth. Everyone has the privilege to exercise their right of freedom of choice. This right to choose was given to the first human couple (if you believe Adam and Eve were real) and this right has never been retracted or taken away. But there is the law of consequences. A person can eat undercooked chicken if they want to, but that does not mean they will escape the consequences of salmonella. Everything we do has consequences, whether good or bad. People who are honest with themselves, accept that. However, society in general has tried to evade these consequences. People want to have their cake and eat it. With everything. They want to smoke without getting lung cancer, they want to have sex without commitment, they want to break rules without paying a fine….the list goes on….. by the same token those who got baptized as JWs have accepted they will live by certain rules. Those rules have not changed, neither have any been added.
As for a family reporting an alleged abuse to police, well that falls outside the parameters of congregational involvement. I grant you that yes, some in the past have been discouraged from going to the police. But those cases are based on personal beliefs of the Elder involved in the case, and not on WT policies. WT has NEVER discouraged a victim of child sexual abuse from reporting to the police and has never punished them because of doing so.
Here is a story and opinion of a victim of sexual abuse who is and remained an active JW:
I am seeing a psychotherapist and have come to the conclusion that I am the victim of what could be called a negative sexual experience as a child. The other boy who did this went on to do more serious sexual abuse in the congregation. The parents were given the option to report to the authorities which they chose to do, and received no sanctions from the Elders. The boy was not baptised and was severely disciplined and was interviewed by the police, who felt that he had made a mistake and was not a general danger to children.
I could report the separate abuse of me if I wanted, but I choose not to. The abuse happened 20 years ago and I only really accepted what had happened about 6 years ago, when I was 22 years old. From age 8 I believed that I was a fornicator and was loathed by Jehovah God. Despite 6 years of therapy I couldn't even say out loud what had happened and had to write a letter to my therapist to explain what happened. That is how difficult it is to talk about! How do you think I would feel having to go over it all with police and give evidence in court?! My younger brother visited a court as part of his law studies and he said that there was a little kid who was the victim of child sex abuse in tears giving evidence because the defence lawyer was tearing into him, calling him a liar etc. A little kid!
I understand why parents on this forum (JW forum) do not understand why victims and their families to not report allegations to the authorities, but as a victim myself, I completely understand, and if the elders had a policy of mandatory reporting, it may well put victims off from talking to their spiritual shepherds if they know that they will report the allegations to police.
It severely angers me to see apostates campaigning to change our policies when many of them are not victims themselves and are completely ignorant of the process and just want to use this issue to their own agenda.
With regard to me, I am starting to heal and am taking steps to move towards true Christian forgiveness of my abuser. I have come to see him as a victim himself and hope to be reconciled soon. I have never blamed Jehovah or his organisation, and I hold Satan's system ultimately responsible.