As I bring out in this post, Jehovah’s Witnesses have a peculiar “two witness” rule when it comes to cases of suspected pedophilia or child rape. They require a second witness to the crime, other than the victim, if the accused does not confess. If there is no confession or second witness, the matter is typically dropped.
Families are also discouraged from calling the police, as this would “bring reproach on Jehovah’s name,” or make the organization look bad. Jehovah’s Witness elders may also keep quiet about confessed pedophilia, so as to avoid this “reproach.” They are told to report these cases to police only where required by law.
The reason that Jehovah’s Witnesses handle pedophilia this way, is that they view it as a mere sin, to be addressed by the congregation, and not necessarily as a crime that should involve outside law enforcement. In a letter to all elders, dated October 2012, they instruct how accusations of pedophilia should be handled, and that letter says in part:
However, in evaluating the evidence for internal congregational purposes, they must bear in mind the Bible’s clear direction: ‘No single witness should rise up against a man respecting any error or any sin . . . At the mouth of two witnesses or at the mouth of three witnesses the matter should stand good.’ (Deut. 19:15) This requirement to consider testimony of two or three witnesses was confirmed by Jesus. (Matt. 18:16) … If two persons are witnesses to separate incidents of the same kind of wrongdoing, their testimony can be deemed sufficient to take judicial action. (1 Tim. 5:19, 24, 25)
The scriptures they quote above read as follows:
Matthew 18:15,16: “Moreover, if your brother commits a sin, go lay bare his fault between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take along with you one or two more, in order that at the mouth of two or three witnesses every matter may be established.”
1 Timothy 5:19,24,25: “Do not admit an accusation against an older man, except only on the evidence of two or three witnesses. Reprove before all onlookers persons who practice sin, that the rest also may have fear …”
Why Pedophilia is Not a Mere Sin
Let’s first discuss why Jehovah’s Witnesses should not consider pedophilia to be a mere sin, or on the same plane as other behaviors such as adultery, smoking, taking drugs, or consistent viewing of pornography (all sins according to the JW beliefs). The reason that pedophilia is different is because someone who would rape a child is not just sinful, but they are completely
fucked up in the head. Someone who would do this is broken, twisted, obscene, vulgar, and fractured in their thinking. There is something deeply, deeply wrong with them that the word “sinful” doesn’t even begin to cover.
Keep in mind something else about pedophilia, namely, that persons who do this to children also need to keep them quiet about what’s happening to them. This usually involves some type of trauma, or threat to the child. As an example, Bo Juel was molested by a JW elder from when he was 4 or 5, until he was 9. After this man was done raping Bo, he would then take him down to the basement and put him in a small room, and said he would die in that room if he (Bo) told anyone about what was happening. Bo would sit, locked in that room, for hours, terrified and traumatized. This type of threat or terror is not uncommon in cases of child rape, and further demonstrates that these people are not just “sinful,” but are downright sociopathic.
Let’s contrast this with an example of “sin.” Two people who are not married, and who have sex with one another, may be considered sinful according the Witness teachings; however, these two people are not messed up in the head. They may be weak from the JW point of view, sure, but their actions are, for the most part, quite normal. Sexual expression between two consenting adults is not the same as forcing yourself on a young, innocent child, and certainly not the same as then torturing and terrifying that child into silence. Adultery, fornication, smoking, drunkenness, and behaviors like these may be weak and sinful, but they’re not dangerous, so handling them in the congregation may be acceptable.
However, pedophilia is very, very different. Pedophiles pose a very real danger to children. Adults who commit adultery or who smoke are not dangerous to others. Anyone who knows of any type of credible danger has a moral responsibility to protect those who cannot protect themselves, not from sin, but from rape, trauma, and terror.
Failing the Community
It may be obvious how Jehovah’s Witnesses are failing their own children, and other children in their religion, with how they handle claims of pedophilia, but how are they failing the community?
For one thing, when it comes to pedophilia, a perpetrator often has more than one victim. In some cases, they may only prey upon a certain child, but in many cases, it’s more than one. Fathers may rape one daughter after another, or a man may be taking advantage of many young children in the neighborhood. In Bo Juel’s case, it was revealed that the elder raping him was also raping several other young children in the same congregation.
Who’s to say that children in the neighborhood of these ones aren’t also in danger?
Police have ways of investigating allegations of pedophilia that can determine if the accuser is telling the truth, and help determine if the molester may be putting other children in danger. For example, they may look to see if this person works in a school or medical office; they may get a warrant to look at this person’s computer for evidence of homemade child pornography, or anything else that might indicate there are other victims at risk. However, how can they conduct this investigation if accusers are discouraged from making reports, and Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t call the police even in cases of proven pedophilia?
Bear in mind that a person found guilty of a crime is put in jail for two reasons; to punish them, and to keep them from being a further danger to society. Failing to call the police and report these crimes, or any credible suspicion of these crimes, may very well be putting children in harm’s way.
By keeping this information and these accusations to themselves, Jehovah’s Witnesses are grossly overstepping their boundaries when it comes to inflicting their religious beliefs on others, and are failing the community by not alerting the authorities to these real dangers. Whether or not a religion should set up soup kitchens, or get involved in disaster relief and other community services, is debatable, but whether or not you should alert police to credible threats of child sex assaults? Not serving the community with charitable works is one thing, but failing the community by not warning them of very real threats to children is completely different and not open to debate.
The Hypocrisy of Sounding One Warning But Not the Other
Do you know why Jehovah’s Witnesses go out in their preaching work every day? It’s because they feel that at any minute, Armageddon will arrive and destroy all the wicked people on this planet. This means everyone who is not one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. They view their preaching work as a warning to others, so that those people can make changes in their lives, in order to be spared at Armageddon.
Think about that hypocrisy. Jehovah’s Witnesses want to spare strangers from death at Armageddon, so they pound the pavement day in and day out, knocking on individual doors to warn persons of this impending doom, but refuse to call the police so that their neighbors can be protected from the very real threat of child rape! What is the point of sounding one warning, but not the other?
Jehovah’s Witnesses also claim to be an organization based on love, including love for their neighbors. Wouldn’t that mean loving the children in the neighborhood? If I were an innocent child and there was a very real, credible threat to me, I would want adults to do whatever they could to protect me. Jehovah’s Witnesses fail to show that love by thinking that they can handle these cases of “sin” within their own ranks, neglecting how their policies affect not just children in their congregation, but children in the families of pedophiles, in the neighborhood, and elsewhere.
Please share with others using the social media plug-ins below. If Jehovah’s Witnesses will not warn the community about the known pedophiles in their midst, it’s important that others do this. Thank you.