This facepalm moment includes a letter that was written by Jehovah’s Witness leadership and addressed to all bodies of elders in every congregation in the United States. (some 14,000 +) The purpose of the letter was to clarify what some elders had perhaps misunderstood in their secretive elders manual, entitled “Shepherd the Flock”, regarding the policies and procedures of the organization when it comes to child abuse. I will break it down screen shot by screen shot and numbered paragraph by numbered paragraph
4. It doesn’t take long before the rhetoric of this letter becomes questionable. Paragraph 4 says, “Thus, when elders learn of an accusation of child abuse, two elders from their congregation should IMMEDIATELY call the Legal Department for legal advice”. Why is this questionable? Because the very first phone call that should be made in ANY criminal situation should be to notify the proper authorities. A criminal investigation should be launched. The very fact that “the legal department” (aka Watchtower Lawyers) is the first to be notified shows you whose interests the leadership of JWs is most interested in protecting. It isn’t the children. It is the organization.
10. This paragraph says “regardless of whether the law REQUIRES the elders to report an accusation to the authorities, steps need to be taken to protect children.” This is code word for “now that it is too late and the child has been irrepairably harmed, do your best to comfort the child and make sure it doesn’t happen again…..oh….and since SOME states still don’t mandate that clergy report accusations of child abuse…..rest assured that if you live in one of those states……we will inform you NOT to report it.” Next they remind us that that parents have the primary responsisbility of protecting their own children. Well that’s nice. 3 pages in and they are already trying to deflect blame. I wouldn’t be so hostile about this recommendation if the organization actually made it easy for parents to protect their own children. But as you’ll soon see, the rules and regulations make it so that not only are pedophiles protected within the organization…….but parents are sometimes never even notified that there is a pedophile within their midst! How can parents have the PRIMARY responsibility when JW leadership stacks the deck against them?
11. Notice how paragraph 11 begins. ELDERS should investigate? Really? I am sorry, but elders are not qualified to do this! Ya know who is? Detectives! It is their job and their are highly trained for it. Elders are not. Period. What business do they have “investigating”? OK. I get it. They are “investigating” for congregational purposes. But what does the paragraph say next? It reminds us that the “two witness rule” is still in effect. Yep. Unless TWO witnesses saw the alleged child abuse take place…….no “congregational” action will be taken. First off, let me ask you, how often are there two witnesses to an act of child abuse? Isn’t the abuser normally vigilant to not only scare the victim into silence but also to make sure he/she is the ONLY one around? Secondly, let’s think about what that really means. Not being authorized to take congregational action = no announcement to the congregation that there may be a pedophile in their midst. As I mentioned before, how can parents have the primary responsibility for protecting their children from pedophiles if they don’t even know that one is within the very confines of their congregation? It gets worse. Paragraph 11 goes on to say IF the person who committed the crime is NOT REPENTANT, disfellowshipping (excommunication) action would be warranted. This means that IF the person who committed the crime says he/she is sorry……..he/she may not be disfellowshipped at all! A simple apology for a heinous crime and all is well! Next it says “if the decision is to reprove (discipline but not disfellowship) the reproof should be announced. This will serve as a protection for the congregation.” Except……not really. You see, when a JW is disfellowshipped, an elder simply takes the stage and says “so and so is no longer one of Jehovah’s Witnesses”. The same is true when a person is reproved. The elder says “so and so is reproved and has demonstrated repentance.” But NEVER is ANY MENTION made as to WHY the person was reproved or disfellowshipped! If they are not explaining WHY the disfellowshipping took place or WHY the reproof was made to the congregation, exactly how does this serve as a protection?
13. This is where the letter really starts to turn my stomach. “Not every individual who has sexually abused a child in the past is considered a “predator.”‘ Wow. Just wow. Who is making this call? The “branch office”…….which has no first hand knowledge of any of these sexual abuse allegations but is now making a determination as to who is and is not considered to be a predator? Here is the egregious part. “IF the branch office determines that an individual will be considered a “predator”, parents with minor children will need to be warned of the danger that exists so that they can protect their children. In such a case, and only after receiving direction and instructions from the service department, two elders should be assigned to meet with parents of minor children in order to provide a warning.” Problem 1 – Parents can only be told of the danger in their midst AFTER the service department at JW headquarters tells the local elders it is ok to do so. What if the service department doesn’t respond in a timely fashion? What if, like any other business, the ball gets dropped and the service department doesn’t respond at all……thus leaving precious weeks and months to go by before the local elders inquire again…..which leaves the perpetrator free to strike again with local parents completely unaware of the danger? Mistakes happen! Why should local elders have to follow such a legalistic protocol? Why can’t they do the right thing and warn others IMMEDIATELY? Oh yeah. Because that would protect the children and not the organization. Problem 2 – What if the branch office determines that this person doesn’t “qualify” as a “predator”? Remember, it is the branch office and the branch office ONLY that makes such a determination. And we have no knowledge of what barometers and benchmarks they are using to make that decision. But let’s just say that the branch office is presented with a case of child abuse. Through whatever process they use…..they determine that the abuser is NOT a “predator”. Now what happens? NOTHING. Since he/she is not considered to be a “predator”……..NO ANNOUNCEMENT, either discreetly or publicly, is to be made. Parents will be completely unaware. Yeah. Exactly how is this a protection to the congregation and the children again?
15. This is basically a restatement of paragraph 13. The branch office and ONLY the branch office determines whether one who has sexually abused a child is considered to be a “known child molester.” But this paragraph is different in one sense. It is regarding whether or not someone who has abused a child in the past can someday requalify for “privileges”. In other words, if he can become a church elder or ministerial servant (deacon). The paragraph indicates that such a future appointment would be unlikely, but it is NOT RULED OUT. What if the man abused a child years ago and is NOW known to have “a fine testimony?” Might he qualify for a position of trust in the congregation? According to the paragraph……yes! What if the man abused a child but he was not identified by the branch office as a “predator”? No one knows of his offense because no announcement was ever made. Perhaps he was “reproved” for a time, but nobody knows why because this information is kept secret. Therefore, as far as anyone is concerned he is “free from accusation”, “irreprehensible”, and carries a “fine testimony”. Might he be appointed to a position of trust? According to the paragraph……yes! This kind of thing can and does happen. It was the basis for why Candace Conti recently won a $15+ million judgement against the Jehovah’s Witnesses. What is alarming though is that because of their strict information control rules…..the leading faction keeps most individual JWS from ever even knowing about such a case…..or….if the case garners enough media attention that it is impossible to keep quiet…..they will just inform the flock that the case is fraudulent…..based on lies. They will be reminded that Satan the Devil controls the media and that for the protection of their faith……they must ignore all the reports they hear. And just like that millions of JWs will turn a deaf ear to the story……while claiming that this is the foretold “persecution” of their group right before “the end”…..thus drawing them even tighter into the cult. I know. It happened to me in 2002 when Dateline NBC did an expose about this very same issue. I had heard about it but was warned that it was all based on lies and that it was a test of my faith right before “the end” to see if I would allow myself to fall prey to Satan’s media outlets. Sadly, the mind control and manipulation of JW leadership got the best of me. I refused to watch the expose and I buried my head in the sand any time future reference was ever made to it.
Below is a link to the expose on the Jehovah’s Witness pedophile problem. Unlike in 2002, this report, thanks to social media has made an impact, even appearing on the Huffington Post recently.
16. Notice the clever wording here. When a KNOWN child molester moves to another congregation, the elders should follow the procedure found in the “Shepherding” textbook. That is the secret elders manual I referenced earlier. What does that page say? Let’s take a look.
OK. So the molester’s OLD congregation should send a letter to the NEW congregation explaining his situation. Got it. But……what if someone who molested a child moves to another congregation…….but the branch office didn’t determine him to be a “predator” or “known child molester”? Now what? Yet again….nothing is to be done. Only “known child molesters” are to be reported to the new congregation. The pedophile will fly under the radar…..free to abuse another child in a new congregation…..where he will be embraced with open arms because no one will know of his past. I will ask again, how are they protecting the congregations and children?
22. And there you have it. “It cannot be said in every case that one who has sexually abused a child could never qualify for privileges of service in the congregation.” Proof positive that the leadership of JWs thinks it is ok for a man that has abused children in the past to re-qualify for the same position of authority and trust that lead the small child whose innocense he stole to adore him in the first place! But…..it gets worse! The next sentence tells elders to be cautious when dealing with one who had “REPEATEDLY engaged in this kind of wrong-doing”. Notice the word I capitalized. This alone tells me that JW leadership is well aware that their policies and procedures actually protect pedophiles! They are used to repeat offenders trying to qualify for congregational authority!
23. “Considerable time should always pass before one who has sexually abused a child is recommended.” It doesn’t get much more plain than that. If you have abused children before, you are welcome to become a ministerial servant or elder with the Jehovah’s Witnesses so long as a “considerable” amount of time has passed since the last time you actually got caught.
Can you feel the love within this self-serving, self protecting, legalistic, child sacrificing cult? It is quite evident….at least to me that the Jehovah’s Witnesses are not concerned about protecting children from child abusers. They can say all they want that they “abhor” such conduct. But what do their actions prove? If you were the leader of an organization and it was proven time and time again that the policies and procedures you have in place actually serve to create a safe haven for pedophiles…..what would YOU do? Would you stick with those legalistic directives come hell or high water or would you do WHATEVER it takes to make sure children are protected? Their actions or lack thereof prove what they are most interested in protecting. And sadly….it isn’t the children.