What crime should elders report?

by kramer 38 Replies latest jw friends

  • Richard_I

    If a JW came up to an elder and told the elder they killed someone 20 years ago and nobody found out about it, would the elder report it to the police? Or would he call the Legal Department first?

    What if a JW told an elder he abused a kid 20 years ago and never told anyone about it before? Would the elder report it to the police or call the Legal Department?

    I think we know the answer.

  • elderINewton

    Personally I've felt that anything that would violate the commandant to love your neighbor should qualify.

    Covers pretty much everything, and hey follows the Bible. Go figure

    So that would include protecting your neighbors from pedophiles and murders and even abusers of spouses and kids.

  • Anders Andersen
    Anders Andersen



    so the elders should report every accusation (not proven claim) of petty theft, or assault?

    You're creating a straw man here.

    Anyway my personal opinion is that confessional confidentiality in regular churches is hardly justified. I don't realy care about perps of whatever kind who need to confess to stop feeling guilty. They could just go to the police and deal with whatever they did wrong, cleansing their conscience in the process. So clergy should report confessed crimes to the police imho, but it should be mandatory to report child abuse at least.

    As for Jehovah's Witnesses: they don't do confessions. They have no confidentiality. So they should at least report child abuse, especially when the law says they should.

    Imho elders and clergy have the same rights and responsibilities as any other citizen. Besides, protecting victims and not perpetrators is the right thing to do.

  • TheLiberator

    It makes no difference what the law requires the elders to do. We are not talking about just any legal entity here. We are talking about an organization that claims to be God's organization.

    They may say that they technically did the right thing or what is minimally required by law, but did they do the GOOD thing for the victim? In addition no matter what the crime is, you are talking about an organization that claims to be from God, and so it is by necessity they need to think first of the victim. They need to stop thinking about their stupid image and do what is right AND GOOD. God requires us to go beyond the bare minimum.

    Clergy confidentiality should mean nothing to the Watchtower. They are supposed to be the most loving organization. They are supposed to do what is good for the victim. They have failed at this. They have failed at their God-given responsibility.

    Maybe they should start applying the scriptures that they cram down other people's throats. Namely:

    1 Corinthians: 10. 23. "All things are lawful for me," but not all things are profitable. "All things are lawful for me," but not all things build up. 24. Let no one seek his own, but each one his neighbor's good."

    Galatians: 5. 22. "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, GOODNESS, faith, ..."

  • LoveUniHateExams

    assault on a congregant? - yes, definitely.

    should report speeding offences? Or jay walking - why not?

  • Gargamel

    A very thought-provoking question, and I don't suppose I have an answer.

    For a start, I feel that if a crime is in danger of being repeated it should qualify; people who interfere sexually with children are usually repeat offenders.

    And then there is a crime where repetition wouldn't be likely to occur (perhaps murdering someone in anger), but the seriousness overcomes being forgiven without legal restitution being made (i.e. probably a lengthy term of imprisonment in this case).

    I suppose that if someone drove recklessly while angry and there were no consequences, that need not be reported, especially if they went for therapeutic help on anger management. But if there were consequences like injuring or killing another, again the seriousness ought to take precedence.

    If it came to stealing something minor from a shop, undetected, and someone was genuinely remorseful, personally I think that could be dealt with in-house - maybe by making financial restitution anonymously and stripping of "privileges".

    No hard and fast rules perhaps, but I suppose the problem would be about leaving such decisions in the hands of people who know the perpetrator personally and who would be biased about bringing a bad name on the organisation.

  • sir82

    It's been posted on here dozens of times - there is no "clergy - penitent confidentiality" in the JW system.

    Brother X confesses to an elder he committed a crime. Immediately the elder has to get another elder to hear the confession so there are "two witnesses". Then the 2 elders report back to the entire BOE, so anywhere from 2-20 other people know about it.

    If it is a serious legal issue (child abuse, murder, etc.), elders are commanded to "call Bethel". They will call, and who knows how many WT attorneys and/or service desk personnel will discuss the issue.

    So, potentially dozens of people will know all about the confession of crime.

    And that's just doing everything "by the book". Add in the elders who can't keep their yaps shut, who tell all to their wives, golfing buddies, etc. and before long the whole bleedin' circuit knows.

    Compare that to the Catholic system - one penitent confesses to one priest, and that is as far as it goes.

  • nugget

    The witnesses supposedly hold themselves to a higher standard so no criminal act should be tolerated. What they say is that confessing to a sin and accepting spiritual punishment is sufficient. They are more concerned about whether or not it is a gross sin and whether someone is repentant. I think that this is a fallacy when there is a sanction for an act and consequences for a crime then a person should take the punishment imposed by the law. Elders do not have the rights of the confessional this has been established in court so they should not remain silent if a crime is made known to them.

  • Vidiot

    kramer - "What crime(s) should elders report?"

    Same ones that should be reported by any other decent law-abiding citizen.

    All of 'em.

  • redvip2000


    You are missing one important point. You need to differentiate the crimes for which the the "victim" can decide if he wants to report or not. For example, let's say one brother steals from another. Now the victim has decided that it's not worth going to the Police, because it's not all that important, or for whatever other reason. Should elder report this? Well probably not.

    Now let's say they find out a case of child abuse. Should they report it? Yes clearly they should, because the victim, in this case the child, is not in a position to report it, or doesn't understand they should report it.

    How about domestic violence? Well if the elders feel that the victim is being intimidated not to report, then they should report it themselves.

    In summary elders should evaluate the ability for the victim to report a crime.

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