If there is one thing Jehovah’s Witnesses love to do, it’s pray. They pray before meals, at all their meetings and conventions, before going to their preaching work, and just generally throughout the day. Witnesses include prayers that ask for guidance and direction from god, and they believe that Jehovah does actually answer those prayers, steering their actions in one way or another.
The October 1, 2015, Watchtower had an article about prayer, and it included two experiences of those who had prayed to god for guidance in supporting their families, and how they believe Jehovah gave them that guidance:
So, according to these two, Jehovah helps them to “make wise decisions” and “choose a career.” Jehovah’s Witnesses encourage this thinking in all their congregants, as you can see from the book, “God’s Word For Us Through Jeremiah,” page 127:
Elders specifically are taught to pray before meeting with congregants for any matter. Their guidebook, “Shepherd the Flock of God,” tells them to open with prayer before any form of counseling is done, as well as any part of a judicial hearing; this refers to the investigation they conduct when someone has been accused of wrongdoing.
During the Australian Royal Commission Inquiry Into Institutional Response to Child Sex Abuse, several Jehovah’s Witness elders were questioned about their handling of child sex abuse in the religion. In these two specific cases, young women approached elders in their respective congregations to inform them of their sexual abuse; one suffered at the hands of another elder, and another young woman was victimized by her own father.
As is typical with Jehovah’s Witnesses, elders, all men, questioned these women in detail, and allowed the men being accused to sit in the room during the process. These men were also allowed to say anything they wanted, one even joking about the accusations and the other threatening his own daughter for her words.
Now, years later, under the cold light of an Inquiry, elders admit how those scenarios must have made these young women feel:
The elders said many times over that they now understand how difficult the situation was for the young girls, how the setting in which they were each put was overwhelming, and that they didn’t have necessary support.
Which begs the question, Why not? Why didn’t they know, at that time, that this was a horrible situation for a young girl, for any victim of long-term sexual abuse, that it just made the entire ordeal worse for these young ladies, and that they were actually victimizing them all over again by these settings and procedures?
Why didn’t they know? These elders must have prayed for holy spirit to guide them during this time, as is their standard procedure. They believe that god’s spirit gives them guidance in getting a job and raising their families, so why not at this occasion? Why didn’t this holy spirit guide them and tell them that the young women in question were being mind-raped all over again?
Protecting the Victim and the Congregation
The feelings of the victims is one thing, but this also begs the question of why the holy spirit didn’t guide these men to a better setting so that all the information about their abuses could come to light, as both women testified that they could not fully disclose all the details of their abuses because of their discomfort. Apparently the elder in the one case groomed his victim for many years by tongue-kissing her and fondling her, before he was caught looking at her in the shower, and who then forced himself on her sexually.
Would the holy spirit not want all those details to be revealed so that such a sick, disgusting man would be removed from god’s true organization? Would the holy spirit not somehow guide the elders into creating a safer environment where this victim felt comfortable disclosing all these details, for the sake of the congregation, if not for her own safety and welfare?
It’s important to note that these elders have not denied that the setting they provided and the processes they followed made the victim very uncomfortable, and they have not denied that their processes hindered all the details from coming forward:
Elders openly admit that they now see how they traumatized her and prevented the full truth from coming out; this happened even after all their prayers for guidance, which they would have offered before these meetings, and prayers that are offered throughout an elder’s daily life, when he generally prays for god’s wisdom and spirit and whatever else. Even after all that, after all those prayers, they didn’t see back then how harshly they were treating these victims and how they could only tell them half of their stories?
Disclosing to “Worldly” Audiences
What’s also interesting is that these victims can now speak about their stories, in an Inquiry that you might compare to an impersonal court of law, in front of “worldly” or non-Jehovah’s Witness strangers, and men no less.
In a type of courtroom, being questioned by lawyers and those who are not their supposed spiritual shepherds, now these victims can speak about their ordeals and tell the whole story, and this is without any prayers being offered, any scriptures being read. I doubt that Barrister Stewart, senior counsel for this Inquiry, asked for any divine guidance or holy spirit on him before questioning anyone, and yet somehow he, and his team, managed to provide these victims with a safe environment, and also present himself with a reassuring enough manner that they could open up fully about their situations.
So, again, the question is, Why not? Why didn’t these men have some type of understanding all those years ago as to their harsh and unloving treatment of the victims and of how they were hindering their own judicial process? Either there is no holy spirit to guide Jehovah’s Witnesses, or the holy spirit itself isn’t even strong enough to overcome their ignorant, unloving, re-victimizing manner. No matter how you slice it, things just aren’t adding up in their favor.
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