Jehovah’s Witnesses do not have a very effective or reputable track record when it comes to pedophilia and child rape within their religion. They require a second witness to this act before elders will do anything for the accuser, and until their official policy was rewritten in 2010, they outright forbade parents from calling the police in these cases, in order to protect the reputation of the congregation. Currently, they still do not allow parents to warn other families when there is a molester in the congregation, in order to protect that person’s confidentiality, and will put known pedophiles in positions of authority over others, including children, without warning parents of this person’s past. They also require these pedophiles and child molesters to participate in door-to-door preaching work.
Maybe one reason for this horrific approach is that Jehovah’s Witnesses just don’t seem to grasp the depth of this crime and how it affects children, including the long-term consequences they may suffer. Jehovah’s Witnesses tend to see the molestation of a child as a form of fornication, and therefore a sin, not a crime. In this post I talk about how their leaders once referred to the sexual molestation of a man’s stepdaughter as a “minor uncleanness” after he fondled her breasts while she slept, their words equating this horrendous act with going a bit too far with someone when on a date.
Recently I was reminded of information found in the book “Learn From the Great Teacher,” originally published by the Watchtower Society in 2003, and which is like a bible story book meant for very young children. The book has lessons on morals and how to live your life according to the Jehovah’s Witness doctrine along with those stories, and, yes, they even talk about child molestation.
The Real Concern is Becoming Gay
Note what the book says on page 170:
However, sad to say, some grown-ups like to have sex with children. When they do, boys and girls may begin to do bad things that they have learned from these grown-ups. They also begin to use their sex organs in a wrong way. That is what happened a long time ago in the city of Sodom. The Bible says that people there, “from boy to old man,” tried to have sex with men who had come to visit Lot.—Genesis 19:4, 5.
We immediately see the problem here. First they refer to a grownup having sex “with” a child. An adult doesn’t have sex “with” a child; they force themselves on the child in the most brutal, violent, horrific, obscene act possible. They are not having sex “with” the child anymore than a kidnapper is going for a ride “with” their captive; both are done against the child’s will, both are traumatizing and terrifying, and both are crimes!
Note, too, what they say happens after a child is brutally raped and molested. They may go on to “do bad things,” and may “use their sex organs in a wrong way.” I will agree that a child who grows up with violence of any sort may (or may not) be more prone to commit violence himself or herself, but in this instance, those “bad things” to which they’re referring are obviously homosexual acts.
This blog post is not to discuss the concept of homosexuality in of itself; personally, I don’t believe that homosexuals are sinful, immoral, etc. I have a homosexual friend and he is the sweetest, nicest, most decent man I’ve ever met, and he just happens to be attracted to other men. I would also question this connection between child rape and homosexuality later in life. I don’t know of any reliable studies that say that a victim of molestation will grow up to be gay; as a matter of fact, I would think that if a child is raped by a member of the same sex in a brutal and horrific act, wouldn’t it make that act more off-putting for him or her, not more desirable?
However, for the sake of this argument, let’s “go with” the Jehovah’s Witness thinking that being molested can make you gay, and that homosexuality is immoral. Since when is this more serious and more noteworthy than the aftereffects of being raped as a child? Note how the material doesn’t say that after grownups have sex “with” the children, those children may go on to suffer from anxiety, panic, depression, anger issues, lack of self-esteem, inability to form attachments and relationships with others, and a host of sexual problems as adults. It doesn’t say that these grownups shouldn’t have sex “with” children because it’s vile, obscene, disgusting, hurtful and hateful to the children, and makes them feel powerless and helpless, as well as ashamed, embarrassed, guilty, and fearful of others.
The only side effect that worries the writers of this material is that the children may then grow up to be homosexuals, and “use their sex organs in a wrong way.” There is not one mention of the mental and emotional damage done to children, much less the physical pain caused by being raped by an adult. Nothing is said of how a child has been violated, but only of the potential sins a child may commit later in life.
Even if you’re staunchly opposed to homosexuality and believe it’s an immorality and a sin against god, I would assume you can see the obscenity of only worrying about what a child might do later in life, versus how a child is affected by being molested and raped. The sin a child might commit is more important than the sin committed against a child in this case.
What’s the Point of Telling?
To their credit, the writers of this book instruct children on how to resist being sexually molested, including telling the potential molester to stop and to not believe the person if they say it’s the child’s fault. They also instruct the child to tell an adult about what has happened.
I firmly agree that children should tell adults about any potential molestation, but when it comes to pedophilia that happens within a home or the congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses, I might ask, What’s the point?
As brought out, elders in congregations of Jehovah’s Witnesses require two eyewitnesses to cases of child molestation before taking any action, and they keep this information confidential from other parents, even if a pedophile confesses his or her actions. Jehovah’s Witness parents almost always go to the elders of their congregation for advice on what to do in these situations before they do anything else, and often willingly forego calling the police to protect the reputation of the organization. They also take seriously the threat of sanctions against them if they were to warn other parents. So again, What’s the point? Why tell them to inform an adult if nothing comes of that conversation? A Jehovah’s Witness child has little chance of being protected against further abuse even if they do speak up.
The Hypocrisy of Not Calling the Police
It’s also worth noting that the information is lacking any direction in calling the police, which is important to note, because the book talks about calling the police in other situations. On page 86, it’s stressing how children should help others no matter their skin color, and says that if they see someone hurt, they should call a policeman (I guess policewomen are useless, but that’s for another blog post). Page 106 gives the same advice for children who see a fight, and pages 150-151 stress how Jehovah’s Witnesses are to obey the police in other situations.
Yet, despite this advice on involving the police for things like fights and for when someone is hurt, there is no advice or instruction given for involving the police or calling them for help in a case of child molestation! It’s also noteworthy that Jehovah’s Witness elders are instructed to call the legal department of their branch office first, before they ever call the police, in cases of reported pedophilia, and only report these cases to the police when absolutely required to do so by law, and after instruction from that legal department.
While I give the writers of this book points for at least discussing the problem of pedophilia and trying to empower children to resist such assaults, yet again, the little bit of good they do is overshadowed by the attitudes they reveal, and by what they omit. To them, growing up gay and using your “sex organs in a wrong way” is the major problem with children being raped and abused, not the act of rape itself. By not advising parents and the children themselves to contact police, they are not only failing to protect them properly, but are also showing their hypocrisy in insisting police be contacted in other matters, but not in cases of child rape. This is an obscenity, and explains why it’s also such a common problem in their organization.
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