Today, many former Jehovah’s Witnesses are clinging to every word said during the Australian Royal Commission’s Inquiry Into Institutional Responses to Child Sex Abuse. This inquiry is right now questioning elders of Jehovah’s Witnesses and how they have handled sex abuse cases in their congregations over the past few decades.
It’s not good.
While there is much to discuss, one shocking revelation is found in a short clip which I’ll share below. An elder openly admits that Jehovah’s Witnesses, when dealing with a man (or woman) whom they know has committed an act of child molestation, if they are “not satisfied that this person will not offend again,” do virtually nothing to warn other people. No calls to the police, no warnings to parents. Nothing to protect more children from being raped and abused. Nothing.
The clip above is only two and a half minutes long but it’s worth watching. It is established first that a person has committed an act of molestation, and as brought out above, elders are “not satisfied that this person will not offend again.” It is then noted that, while they may face restrictions as to association with other Jehovah’s Witnesses, this person is free to associate with those “outside of the church.” It is outright asked:
“You don’t take into consideration, do you, how people outside of the church might be kept safe from such a person?“
The elder then states, almost angrily, that if “they are inside the church and a close friend, I would tell them.” It is then clarified that the elder only means, in his own words, “a close friend of mine.” When pressed for how he would take steps to protect those “outside of the church,” the elder is silent for a full 10 seconds (I counted). The question then needs to be asked of him again.
The elder tries to weasel out of it by noting that they cannot protect every child in Australia. It is suggested that they could call child protection authorities, and he is forced to admit that this is not done unless there is a legal requirement for it to be done.
So there you have it.
I have actually touched on this subject before; in this post I note how Jehovah’s Witnesses fail the community in general by not reporting suspected and even known pedophiles to the authorities. They put children in that person’s neighborhood and family at risk by allowing him or her to walk freely.
What is especially telling is that this elder openly admits that there is a need to warn others, but he only does so with “close friends.” His “close” friends and their children deserve warning, but not the children of strangers. That child who lives next door to the pedophile, who comes over to play with that person’s own child, children in a school where the pedophile might work or visit a playground where the pedophile eats his or her lunch; they don’t deserve protection. If they get raped and abused and tortured by someone who has already done the same to another child, well, that’s not the problem of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
I might also suggest that other children in their own congregations don’t even deserve protection, as he says outright he would warn his “close friends.” Typically, in my experience, elders and their families stick together, with the rest of congregants being somewhat beneath them. My mother was never friends with any elders in the congregation where I was raised; would she get a warning? Was I not as important as the children of other elders?
Jehovah’s Witnesses say that they love their neighbors and this is why they go out and preach, but apparently that love doesn’t extend to doing the simplest task of warning people that a known pedophile is in their midst. They “love” you enough to want to convert you to their religion, but not enough to protect your child from the reasonable threat of being raped and abused. They also don’t seem to even “love” all the children within their own religion, as only “close friends” are warned about protecting their children from such a credible threat.
Many of us in the ex-JW community have noted how the man questioning the elders seems to have a hard time understanding their answers, and controlling his anger at the obscene lack of regard for children that is being revealed among Jehovah’s Witnesses. All I can say is, welcome to our world.
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