As I bring out in this post, Jehovah’s Witness elders are given instruction to “use discernment” if a woman makes a claim of being raped, based on her “mental disposition, circumstances leading up to the incident, and any delay in reporting.” It’s vital that people understand the gravity of these instructions, as elders who “discern” that a woman has not been raped and has committed “fornication” have absolute authority to disfellowship her, which involves complete and total shunning from the congregation, and her own family. You can imagine how devastating this would be for a woman who has suffered such a horrific and brutal crime, now having to face the further punishment of being cut off from her friends and family.
In this post I note how Jehovah’s Witnesses demand “two witnesses” when it comes to accusations of child molestation in their congregations. There needs to be another witness to the crime, or a second victim, in order for them to remove the person from the congregation and warn other parents. They base this on 1 Timothy 5:19, which says, “Do not accept an accusation against an older man except on the evidence of two or three witnesses,” and Matthew 18:16, which says in part, “so that on the testimony of two or three witnesses every matter may be established.”
This, too, is absolutely devastating for children, as there is rarely, if ever, a second witness to child molestation. This is a crime committed in secret and, in many cases, involves molestation of children in their own home. Accusations without a second witness are also typically covered up and kept quiet so that parents do not know an accused child molester is sitting right next to them in their own congregation. Jehovah’s Witnesses are now facing many lawsuits from children who have been molested by men in their congregations because of this staunch “two witness” rule.
The hypocrisy of these two situations is obvious; Jehovah’s Witnesses demand two witnesses to the crime of child molestation, but don’t demand two witnesses to decide that a woman has committed fornication versus having been raped. If elders are going to disfellowship a woman for fornication without her actually confessing to fornication, shouldn’t they need two witnesses to that sin? They should need someone who saw the woman willingly go into a man’s home after being out with him all night, or a witness who heard the woman confess that she lied to the elders when she said she was raped, or a witness to the actual sexual encounter itself.
Instead, they base their decision on some vague instructions about her “mental disposition,” if she delayed reporting the incident, and the circumstances surrounding the incident, or in other words, on their own opinions alone. However, they don’t “discern” if a man has molested children based on his “mental disposition” when accused of the crime, or any “circumstances” leading up to or surrounding the accused crime. They decide for themselves, and all by themselves, that a woman has committed fornication, without any real proof or credible evidence and without “two witnesses,” but won’t decide that a man has molested a child with anything less than that second witness.
I don’t know to whom this is more insulting, the children who have credible accusations of being molested, or the women who are told that it’s been decided that their rape was actually fornication, and who are then punished and shunned by everyone.
To further demonstrate their hypocrisy in this matter, recently some top-secret “elder training” videos were leaked online; I’ll be commenting on them in another post but you can view them on this site. The first videos show the scenario of a young man, “Robbie,” confessing to fornication and getting a girl pregnant. The elders need to decide if Robbie should be disfellowshipped, and late in the video they determine that they don’t think Robbie, despite his tears and confession, is remorseful. They say that he isn’t concerned enough about how he’s violated Jehovah’s law, and doesn’t seem “cut to the heart.”
It’s also noteworthy that, in the video, one elder points out that Robbie says the girl contacted him “a few weeks” after their sexual encounter and told him she was pregnant, but the elder says that’s not possible since she wouldn’t know she’s pregnant until “six weeks” after having sex. The ignorance of this statement is blinding; this is not the 1800s where women needed to rely on a calendar to find out they’re pregnant; a doctor’s blood test can tell you that you’re pregnant within days of conceiving. The “six weeks” formula also works only if a woman has sex the day after her last period, then waits four weeks for her next period, then waits another two weeks after her period is late to start putting the pieces together. What if she had sex with Robbie on Friday the 1st, and was expecting her period the next Friday, the 8th? She might wait another few days after the 8th to become suspicious, but a pregnancy test at that time could confirm her condition, and, yes, it would then be “a few weeks” after their sexual encounter.
My point is not to give a lesson in female anatomy; my point is that the elders “discern” that Robbie isn’t repentant based on gross ignorance of conception. Apparently they’re also ignorant of at-home pregnancy tests and how soon a woman can use one accurately. However, rather than finding out those facts or even trying to confirm Robbie’s statement with the girl herself, they simply decide among themselves that he’s lying.
In Robbie’s case, as in the case of a woman claiming to be raped, they don’t use “two witnesses” to determine that a serious sin has been committed; instead, they feel that they can make that decision on their own. In the elders’ video, they “discern,” not just the truthfulness of Robbie’s word, but also his own heart condition! Yet, despite this, they feel they have no place “discerning” if a child has been raped, no matter the credibility of that child’s statements, no matter the reaction of the accused, no matter anything else but those needed “two witnesses.”
I would ask Jehovah’s Witnesses why they have this double standard when it comes to child molestation versus so-called fornication committed by adults in other situations. Either the “two witness” rule should be applied equally to everyone, or it should be applied to no one. Remember, too, that a rape victim and men like Robbie are not a danger to anyone in the congregation the way child molesters are, so it would seem they should be given the extra consideration, if you’re going to give preference to any group. However, if you won’t disfellowship men accused of pedophilia based on your own “discernment,” what gives you the right to disfellowship men and women accused of fornication based on that same so-called “discernment”? Why are you so bold so as to disfellowship one group, but hide behind this “two witness” rule when you need to protect children from another group?
Do you think you might owe an apology to those children, to rape victims, and to poor blubbering Robbie?
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