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 first part of the Australian Royal Commission Inquiry Into Institutional Response to Child Sex Abuse, elders were questioned about their handling of a case where a young woman approached them to inform them of the sexual abuse she suffered at the hands of another elder. As is the case with Jehovah’s Witnesses, the elders, all men, questioned her in detail, and allowed the man she was accusing to sit in the room during the process. He was also allowed to say anything he wanted, even joking about her accusations.
Now, years later, under the cold light of an inquisition, they admit how that must have made this young woman feel:
The elders said many times over that they now understand how difficult the situation was for the young girl, how the setting in which she was put was overwhelming for her, and that she 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, a victim of long-term sexual abuse, that it just made the entire ordeal worse for her, and that they were actually victimizing her all over again by the setting 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 woman in question was being mind-raped all over again, that she couldn’t even fully disclose all the details of her ordeal to them because of how horrific the situation?
Protecting the Victim and the Congregation
The feelings of the victim aside, it also begs the question of why the holy spirit didn’t guide these men to a better setting so that all the information about her abuser could come to light. Apparently the elder in question groomed her for many years by tongue-kissing her and fondling her, before he was caught looking at her in the shower and 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 them into creating a safer environment where she 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, before these meetings and throughout an elder’s daily life, when he prays for god’s wisdom and spirit and whatever else. Even after all that, they didn’t see back then how harshly they were treating this victim and how she could only tell them half her story.
Disclosing to “Worldly” Audiences
What’s also interesting is that this victim can now speak about her story, in the equivalent of an impersonal court of law, in front of “worldly” or non-Jehovah’s Witness strangers, and men no less. In a courtroom, being questioned by lawyers and those who are not her supposed spiritual shepherds, now she can speak about her ordeal and tell the whole story, and this is without any prayers being offered, any scriptures being read. I doubt that Barrister Stewart, lead counsel for this inquiry, asked for any divine guidance or holy spirit on him before questioning her, and yet somehow he managed to provide her with a safe enough environment and present himself with a reassuring enough manner that she could open up fully about her situation.
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 victim 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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