Article: Religious privilege undermines abuse victims’ access to justice

by AndersonsInfo 8 Replies latest watchtower child-abuse

  • AndersonsInfo

    Religious privilege undermines abuse victims’ access to justice

    Posted: Mon, 22 Aug 2016 10:40 by Richard Scorer

    Religious privilege undermines abuse victims’ access to justice

    Richard Scorer, a specialist child abuse lawyer at Slater & Gordon draws attention to organisations seeking more lenient treatment over child abuse-connected matters because they are religious and makes the case for no concessions being given.

    Which is more important: religious freedom, or safeguarding children from abuse? Should churches and religious organisations be exempt from secular standards of child protection? Two recent court cases involving the Jehovah's Witnesses raise this issue in its starkest form.

    Some background. Over the past two decades a significant number of abuse cases have emerged in the Jehovah's Witnesses. Clients of mine who allege they have been abused within the organisation describe a culture which is profoundly collusive with child abuse. It's hard enough for abused children to speak out in any setting; in the Jehovah's Witnesses, it's bordering on the impossible. The organisation is notorious for its "two witness" rule: anyone who accuses an adult of abuse must have a corroborating witness. Since the vast majority of child abuse occurs in secret, the effect of this rule is to silence abuse victims. Moreover, if there is no corroborating witness, the complainant is often treated as having made a false accusation. This leads to the complainant being "disfellowshipped", or ostracised by other Witnesses. A terrifying prospect if, like most children growing up in the Jehovah's Witnesses, your entire family life revolves around them. In this way, victims say, the culture of the Jehovah's Witnesses facilitates and protects abusers.


  • darkspilver
  • StarTrekAngel

    This is, personally, the first time I finally read an official news report where there is a remark regarding what happens to the accuser who decides to speak up without a second witness. This is important. Most of us know this is how it goes down but most of the public reporting only concentrates on the two witness rule, leaving out the fact that there are repercussions for those who choose to exercise their right to appeal to the secular authorities.

  • cha ching
    cha ching

    "If the Jehovah's Witnesses imagine that they can escape scrutiny of their safeguarding failures, I am certain they will be proved wrong. The courts have certainly given them short shrift. But in exposing what has happened, we need to nail the central issue once and for all: child protection is more important than religious expression. Religious organisations need to obey the law of the land, just like everyone else. When it comes to child abuse, religious exceptionalism needs to stop."

    Romans 13:1 Every person must be subject to the governing authorities, for no authority exists except by God's permission. The existing authorities have been established by God,

    Do Jehovah's Witnesses "subject themselves to the authorities"? According to them, "authorities have been established by God." JWs question the authorities. Do they really care about what God says? Do they really care about the children?

    Actions speak louder than words.

  • steve2

    Hmmm something strange here. I'm pretty sure I posted a response to this article earlier in the week - but I cannot find it. My comment queried the current status of this law firm, Slater and Gordon, given the significant financial woes it experienced a couple of months ago. I'm assuming from the well composed article that the firm is still operational or whether it was a localized incident (e.g., confined to Australia and not the UK).

  • darkspilver

    Hi steve2!

    My comment queried the current status of this law firm, Slater and Gordon, given the significant financial woes it experienced a couple of months ago.

    Also, if you haven't already, the Sydney Morning Herald article I linked to previously, just above the video TV advert, is well worth a read.

  • jhine

    I do not know anything about Slater and Gordon other than seeing their adverts on TV . However the point being made that religious institutions of any kind should not be above the law is absolutely right .

    As cha ching points out

    " every person must be subject to the governing authorities "


  • steve2

    Thanks for the links darkspilver - very helpful.

  • JHK


    From Spain.

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