Court denies summary judgement for Laurel Jehovah's Witnesses congregation
Six jurisdictions have expressly abrogated the clergy/penitent privilege with regard to mandatory reporting laws. The legal climate is changing slowly but surely and many more jurisdictions will adopt the same laws. Secrets confided to "clergy" are getting much much harder to keep. Also, with the passage of strict, no-tolerance child-abuse statutes nearly everywhere, the Supreme Court will be compelled to weigh in on clergy privilege. So many crimes are accumulating that are "exempted" for the clergy penitent privilege, there is an overwhelming load of litigation in lower courts in disagreement with each other. The SC has no choice but to address it.
Six jurisdictions have expressly abrogated the clergy/penitent privilege with regard to mandatory reporting laws
That is another topic and when the state mandates the church to report crimes, simply put, that is the law; however, JW version of confession does not disqualify them when immunity is a provision to religions.
the Supreme Court will be compelled to weigh in on clergy privilege
What entity will compel the Supreme Court to do anything? Hogwash.
So many crimes are accumulating that are "exempted" for the clergy penitent privilege, there is an overwhelming load of litigation in lower courts in disagreement with each other. The SC has no choice but to address it.
More Hogwash from you.
That's exactly how it transpires and is self explanatory. Shall I refer you to case law scope and how issues proceed to the SC and the critical path it follows. No. Do your homework.
Fisherman said: "Since government does not have any authority to interpret the Bible or any other religious code, it also lacks authority to interpret that "confession" is restricted to one clergy person. Government restricting "confession" to one priest or minister is unconstitutional because it is defining and interpreting and restricting how a religious act should be done. Who should impose the standard of how the religious act of confession should be done and with how many clergymen present? Funny that Delaware law uses Catholic shop talk.
In my opinion if this definition has to go to go all the way up to the US Supreme Court for clarification, the JW version of confession will continue to enjoy immunity same as a Catholic priest or clergy.
The WT organization enjoys a special kind of immunity from any criticism in the JW world. I think that you are under the illusion that they make the rules and can "redefine terms" for everyone else. Clergy confidentiality has a meaning. It can't become whatever is convenient for your organization. The entire law might well be illegal, but on the other hand, the purpose it serves deals with CLERGY (which you have none) and confidentiality (which you don't have as a JW, either). You want to totally redefine this to mean that a person can speak to any random person in their church and confess to anyone and they can't tell anyone-because that is how they choose to practice their faith. It is a limited exemption for a reason (that is fast going away as it doesn't serve a society well that has rule of law to deal with crime rather than only religious guilt holding people back from it).
When there are only two people in a room, there can actually be confidentiality. The minute more than one set of ears is privy to a confession of any kind, it becomes subject to gossip. A priest has his own religious duty to not say anything. A JW has HIS religious duty to tell other elders, tell the branch and announce it from the pulpit. Hence, the one ADMITTING guilt, is not expecting confidentiality.
Furthermore, the judge pointed out that these were NOT penitent situations. Those people (particulary the adult) were not confessing sin but admitting it when pressed (the boy by his mom and the woman by the elders). The woman didn't come to them in a way to get counsel, but because she was not given a choice.
Hopefully, there will soon be a removal of all clergy confidentiality laws on the books so the WT can't play this stupid disingenuous game anymore. We all know better-its a farce to protect the organization. They were not interested in helping either the child or the woman. they expelled them from the congregation. Who then were they protecting? Themselves, the reputation of JWs. Had they called in the authorities, her JWyness would have been exposed because of their relationship and the fact that she was in education. Can't have THAT!
Fisherman, do you understand what the genuine issues of material fact were, in this case?
It wasn't the status or religion of the clergy or the JWs. It was the fact that there was no indication that there WAS penitence happening and the fact that there was no expectation of privacy. They were able/willing to give leeway on a different church and even the fact that JWs were not "priests" and it wasn't in a confessional booth. The genuine issues were the fact that there was not really any penitence indicated(they were DFd after being drug to a juddical committee meeting) and there was no privacy given or expected in the process. The whole "clergy / penitent confidentiality" business can be flexible about the clergy, but this case clearly was missing some material facts for it to even BEGIN to come under 909. There was no surmounting them.
w 58 9/15
Dilemma of the ConfessionalIt's so sad to see a religion that once thought it was the right thing to report crimes to authorities to protect other people was, without question, the right thing to do. Even emphasizing the point with an exclamation mark and that it was 'fantastic' that the Catholic Church put themselves under constraint not to do so.
SUPPOSE you had a dear friend who was soon to be hanged for a murder he was innocent of, convicted upon perjured and circumstantial evidence. Then suppose the murderer came to you and confessed his guilt. Would you not immediately notify the police so that your innocent friend would not need to die? Of course you would! But if you were a Roman Catholic priest, and this man had confessed to you, you would have to stand helplessly by as your dear friend died for a murder he did not commit. Fantastic? Not according to Catholic theologians.
Thus the Catholic Herald, London, England, May 9, 1952, in its question column published the following: “Can the seal of confession be broken by a priest in the interests of justice, e.g., in such a grave matter as murder? No. Nothing whatever, except the consent of the penitent (which he can never be obliged to give), can release a priest from the seal. . . . even if the circumstances were such that the priest thought it the criminal’s duty to give himself up—even to save an innocent life—the priest himself could never make use of knowledge which does not belong to him at all, but only to God.”
Two actual incidents illustrate the foregoing: “Returns Bank Loot, Won’t Bare Thief. Priest’s Lips Sealed. . . . part of the money taken by a repentant bank robber has been returned by a Denver priest to whom he confessed, but authorities still don’t know his identity. The Roman Catholic priest, with a ‘sacred obligation’ to reveal nothing heard in the confessional, yesterday returned to authorities $6,850 in bills he said was part of $7,780 taken in a daylight robbery here Feb. 17. . . . The United States attorney said the priest promised to relay a message that partial return of the money would not absolve the robber of ‘criminal responsibility.’ ‘I hope now that he will decide to clear his conscience entirely by coming to the proper authorities,’ said [attorney] Kelley.”—Los Angeles Herald & Express, April 13, 1955.
The second incident was reported by The Inland Register, a Spokane, Washington, Roman Catholic weekly, August 14, 1953. It told of an item that appeared in the London Times regarding a priest to whom a certain convict, thinking he was dying, confessed as having committed the crime for which another man was serving a sentence. The convict recovered, but upon his death, a year later, the priest revealed his confession, causing the innocent man to be set free. It was pointed out that even death does not free a priest from his seal, and that if true, this was perhaps the first time in history in which a priest broke his seal and revealed what had been told him in a confession.
Look out: perhaps there may be some man that will carry you off as his prey through the philosophy and empty deception according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary things of the world and not according to Christ.—Col. 2:8.
According to the scripture quoted, people become prey when they find themselves subject to men's ideas rather than applying the morality encouraged through the bible.
OCrow, thanks for the thread and info.
TGND, thanks for the news link.
The Watchtower doesn't seem to care all that much about privacy in judicial committee matters. The elders share information among themselves, Bethel is notified, the congregation is notified that wrongdoing has occurred by the individual in cases of public reproof or disfellowshipping, even if they are not told the particular offence. They used to actually announce the transgression, they only stopped that when it got them into legal trouble, even then they would have a local needs talk soon after on the particular sin involved. It's often the case that elders tell their wives what happened and it becomes common gossip in the congregation. On the other hand, the Catholic church actually believes in the sacredness of the confessional, for a priest to betray privacy is considered a very serious transgression.
The Watchtower just doesn't want anyone in or outside the congregations to know they have a problem with child sex abuse and they would rather put children at risk than notify the proper authorities. They don't really care about priviledge, it's just a legal maneuver to not suffer legal and financial consequences for their stubborn refusal to do the right thing.