Australian Royal Commission Inquiry 2015

Australia’s Royal Commission is Not Impressed With the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses, and Neither Are Their Victims

During what should be the last day of testimony during Australia’s Royal Commission Inquiry Into Institutional Responses to Child Sex Abuse, lead counsel for the Commission, Mr. Angus Stewart, did something so amazing, so enthralling, so captivating, I had a hard time breathing. At first I laughed, then I closed my eyes and thanked my ancestors for this man and everyone in that inquiry.

Let me catch you up to speed, if you have not been following this story. The Royal Commission was formed to investigate how various institutions respond to cases of reported child sex abuse. Jehovah’s Witnesses were put on that list after the Commission received numerous complaints and stories from victims. In an unbelievable turn of events, governing body member Geoffrey Jackson, an Australian citizen, was in Australia at the time in order to care for his ailing father. The Commission ordered him to appear.

If you’re not familiar with Jehovah’s Witnesses, you may not realize the magnitude and weight of this occurrence alone. The governing body of Jehovah’s Witnesses are their ultimate authority, seen as having direct guidance from Jehovah himself, are responsible for all the rules and policies of Jehovah’s Witnesses along with their doctrines and teachings, and are above anyone and everyone else in the religion. They are, in the eyes of Jehovah’s Witnesses, god’s mouthpiece on earth.

“How reassuring to know that Jesus Christ provides leadership to his disciples today through the Governing Body, the holy spirit, and the angels!”
~ March 15, 2002, Watchtower

The governing body of Jehovah’s Witnesses also typically feel that they are beyond questioning; Gerrit Losch, another member of the body, refused to appear when summoned for a court case in California, which then resulted in the Watchtower losing a $13.5 million summary judgment against them. You can read the press release about the case and the judgment here: Zalkin Law Firm Press Release.

Having someone like Geoffrey Jackson leave the comfortable surroundings of the headquarters of Jehovah’s Witnesses and all the minions therein, sit under the accusatory lights of such an inquiry, and dare to be questioned by lowly non-JW people, is of great importance to many former Witnesses. All of us have wanted to see these men be made to answer for their horrific, traumatizing policies that continuously victimize all their members, women and children especially. While many of us in the ex-JW community were hoping for the best, we also collectively held our breaths, wondering if their well-rehearsed facade, their fake smiles that continue to dupe some 8 million congregation members into thinking that they are something special, would have any effect on the members of the Commission.

That fear was set aside when just a half hour into his inquiry, Barrister Stewart did something to Mister Jackson that was so amazing, it made me realize that I could rest easily; we were in good hands.

He turned his back on him.

No, Barrister Stewart was not purposely being rude or dismissive, he was not making a gesture of contempt of any sort. Mister Jackson, who was hooked up via videoconferencing, was speaking, and Barrister Stewart went to reach for additional materials behind him. However, his manner was so nonchalant and disinterested that Mister Jackson actually stopped and asked if Barrister Stewart could hear him, probably thinking they had lost the connection. Barrister Stewart didn’t even turn around or look up as he responded very nonchalantly that yes, he could hear him and yes, Mister Jackson could “carry on.” Obviously he was less than impressed with what the man had to say.

While of course it’s anyone’s guess as to why Barrister Stewart was so unaffected in his mannerisms and response, one cannot help but to see why he wouldn’t be all that impressed with this man sitting before him. According to his CV (Angus-Stewart-CV1), Barrister Stewart has a bachelor’s degree with dual majors in both Economics and English, earned his law degree in South Africa cum laude (meaning graduating with honors) and received a class medal, and has a BCL or advanced law degree from the world-renowned Oxford University. According to the website TransLegal, “As a Master’s-level qualification, the BCL degree is one of the world’s most prestigious … Only those with first-rate grades are admitted.” He is a Rhodes Scholar, meaning he received one of the most exclusive and coveted scholarships in the world to attend Oxford; in 1992, when he would have received the scholarship, there were only 94 recipients worldwide and only 10 from his home country of South Africa. He has several professional memberships and has been recognized by his legal peers, and is licensed to practice law in both South Africa and all of Australia and its territories.

Mister Jackson? He dropped out of school at 15 to preach.

Academic achievements aside, no doubt Barrister Stewart was not impressed by the disrespect he was given by Mister Jackson. When first referencing a scripture he was going to look up and read, Mister Jackson noted the book and chapter and then said, a bit condescendingly, “Now, Mister Stewart, perhaps I could give you the page number to make it a little quicker,” to which Barrister Stewart replied, “I’m on it already, Mister Jackson.” Assuming that the person to whom you’re speaking, and especially a highly educated man who had repeatedly referenced, read from, and followed along in the bible during the course of the inquiry already, would need a child-like explanation so he doesn’t fumble along and slow down the inquiry he’s conducting, is beyond arrogant and disrespectful.

Perhaps Barrister Stewart was not impressed with the comments and answers given during the entire inquiry either. Elders were found to have laughed off stories of physical abuse, dismiss stories of sexual abuse and incest, and callously send victims home to their abusers. The lack of concern for victims shown by the elders the Commission questioned, who had made young ladies sit in front of their abusers and recount obscene details of their sexual assaults to them and to three male friends of their abusers, with no protection or support offered, is not impressive. Mister Jackson himself said that he had not read the statements of the victims before arriving, but referred on occasion the statements of the elders who had been questioned, illustrating his priorities. Many who listened to his testimony heard nothing but runaround, deflection, half-truths, and even outright lies.

Not missing anything, Barrister Stewart referred to an airing on the JW broadcast channel, asking Mister Jackson if he thought the work of the inquiry was the result of “apostate lies,” as their broadcast claimed. No doubt that statement hadn’t impressed the Commission either, any more that it impressed all of their many victims. Being laughed at, dismissed, sent home to their abusers, counseled about respecting their own violent rapists, forced to recount their horrific assaults in graphic detail, being asked if they enjoyed the experience at all, isn’t exactly impressive to a victim. Since Mister Jackson, and it would seem any and all of those in charge of setting policy, investigating abuse claims, and helping the victims, do nothing but turn their backs on them, it was very ironic and cathartic to see a man like Barrister Stewart do the same.

*** ***

Mister Jackson offering to share the page number of the scripture he was referencing is around the 14:30 mark. Barrister Stewart stepping away is around the 33:25 mark.

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27 replies »

  1. It is amazing how much this Organization are willing to lie at all cost.As a former Police Officer, I was also a Jehovah’s Witness and got to see the ugly side of this organization. A family member who had molested his own 5 year old son, his incident was kept hidden by other family members who were Jehovah’s Witnesses. I actually had an Elder defend this sick behavior, stating he was forgiven by God’s Holy spirit. Sick, sick, sick.

  2. There are bad people in good religions just like there are bad people in good countries. The true fact is the world is rapidly falling apart and no one else has any better hope. Jehovahs witnesses have made many mistakes but they have changed so much over the years which is why millions keep joining their ranks each year. Hitler declared he would wipe Jehovahs witnesses off the earth, yet he is long gone and the witnesses are going strong.

    • Except Jehovah’s Witnesses claim to be god’s spirit-directed organization on earth; how can they have have holy spirit on them and yet so much unfettered child abuse and pedophilia in their ranks? Mistakes I could accept; disgusting, obscene, abhorrent treatment of children and victims of sexual abuse is another matter. These are not “mistakes,” they are an absolute, unacceptable, vile outrage. As for “millions” joining their ranks, I’m sure if you took away the count of children getting baptized because parents pressure them, just as the governing body tells them to, you’d see a very small organization with pitiful growth. According to the Pew Research, they have the lowest retention rate of any religion in America, so you can bring them in but you can’t keep them. That speaks volumes. Hitler also tried to eliminate Jews and gays and yet they’re also going strong, so I guess by your reasoning being Jewish is the true religion and you should accept gay people into the Kingdom Halls? Please take your defense of these child raping, wife beating, rape victim shunning people elsewhere. Thank you.

      • As someone who was pressured into baptism at 11 and have been continually feed all the ‘only true religion’ propaganda.. these comments really touch my heart. Thanks

      • There are so many things wrong with this organization! During the 70’s the “end” was eminent! The organization was offering 6 month bible studies. If I didn’t get baptized after that time period, it was explained to me by Sue (a pioneer) that I would be dropped, she would have to move on and that I would be destroyed at Armageddon. 17 and terrified, I accepted the bible study and l got baptized 6 months or so later. I tried to embrace the organization and for years I did. 1975 came and went. My mother faded out of the organization. I would go from door to door preaching the “good news,” participate in the theocratic ministry school, and volunteer at the assembly hall. I increasingly felt empty and alone. I no longer could preach what I no longer believed. The new lights, the 1914 generation, the shunning, the sexual abuse, the judging of who’s spiritually strong or weak, micromanaging the music, our dress, discouraging higher education, association outside the “truth,” no blood transfusions allowed, but allowing blood fragments, having ties to the United Nations, etc… the list is almost endless! I do hope Jehovah’s Witnesses wake up and realize there will be no paradise earth. They will not be burying billions of dead worldly people, there will be no Armageddon! Open your eyes Jehovah’s Witnesses and do some research. You will see the real truth about “Your Truth!”.

      • Beautifully stated! It is a shame that Jehovah’s Witnesses have their heads buried in the sand. Most of my husband’s family not only shuns us, but will do no other research beyond their own literature.

    • Sadly, this is such a typical reply. Hitler’s declaration to eradicate Jehovah’s Witnesses is utterly irrelevant in this regard. The continuity of the Watchtower Society in the face of oppression during WW2 does not excuse the deplorable sexual deviance of its congregants. Furthermore, it does not serve to explain the blatant refusal of elders to protect the welfare of vulnerable members. It is a cloying response to state that there are ‘bad people in good religions,’ when Jehovah’s Witnesses have long vocalised their spiritual primacy over Christendom, whilst vehemently denigrating the integrity of religious multiplicities.

      The focus of The Royal Commission, concerning this particular case, was upon the surreptitious conduct of hierarchical members in the organisation. What is more, the willingness to implement archaic biblical precepts that force a victim to confront the accused, in the presence of an all-male judiciary, is macabre and repulsive. It has been evidential throughout the history of the organisation how policies and ideation are repackaged and modified to suit the ever-shifting sands of Watchtower indoctrination.

      The fact remains that in Australia alone, over one thousand souls were subjected to deploarable sexual abuse by those who purported to be trustworthy, portraying themselves in public as righteous, family oriented representatives of the Christian faith.

      Jehovah’s Witnesses are so utterly convinced of their elitist dominance over the commonality, that they are simply unable to conceive why their aberrant behaviour and disdain for secular government is now being called to account. A vile, tawdry fiscal cult that has for too long exercised a gross measure of control over innocent folk, who have fallen prey to this extremist form of millenarian habituation.

      The sheer arrogance of The Watchtower Society and affiliates in announcing themselves as the only true followers of Christ and Jehovah is astonishing, declaring all other religions as misguided pretenders to the throne. Without any validity to bolster their claims as divinely approved representatives of the God they serve, Jehovah’s Witnesses perpetuate a closed-door regimen of indoctrination and isolationism, actively pauperising the furtherance of higher education, external association and the rape of minors.

      Equally difficult to swallow is the posit that an exponential growth of Watchtower membership is proof enough that the end always justifies the means. Such wilful indifference towards the suffering of their own spiritual kin highlights an alarming maladaptive fanaticism. This has been fervently fostered by threats of exclusion, should any affiliate dare to challenge the legislation imposed by the self-assumed ‘faithful and discreet slave.’

  3. Have you got a link to the material or video where the JW broadcast channel thought the work of the inquiry was the result of “apostate lies”? I’d love to see that.

  4. Mr. Jackson’s attitude towards the RC made me think that the duffus thought he was conducting a bible study. He was evasive, tried distancing himself from ‘knowing’ anything of any importance and just plain lied his face off. If I were still a practicing JW, his pathetic testimony would greatly disturb me, especially when he said that the Organization would only consider compensating the victims whose lives were shattered due to their neanderthal rules, “if Jehovah tells” them to.

    I hope Jackson, the JW lawyers and the rest of the JW-Club who testified (and who also lied their faces off) are charged with perjury. There’s more than enough evidence to convict them. At the very least, the Organization should lose their charitable status until they start acting like Christians.

  5. I am an ex JW Elder who left on his on accord about 15 years ago in what the call ” good standing” I left the organization because there are a lot of there teachings that are not inline with the bible and not in line with their own teaching as strange as that may . They are a cult by every definition of the word. They care about two things;money and their reputation above the welfare of their people and their children……They are wolves in sheep’s clothing

    • I am so upset because im just now starting to see this..where there teaching doesnt go along with their teaching and even against the bible..
      Its so disturbing and sad … why does Jehovah the god of the bible allow them to tear apart whats in the bible and be Evil Hypocrits..
      Why..theres a huge division in the congragations.. no one agrees and some are confused at their hypocrisy!!! God what is going on???

  6. I noticed the same nonchalant, dismissive gesture by Mr. Stewart, and I loved it. He had heard the same ol’ response from the countless other minions, and therefore needed give rapt attention.
    Something I personally took from Jackson’s testimony was his reference to ’20 million associated with us’ remark he made. Realizing that many like myself who have just walked away, are still counted in some way. I think it is time to write a formal letter to disassociate any ties to this false leadership. I don’t want to give them any ‘bragging rights’ when it comes to numbers.

    • I still need to go through Jackson’s testimony but I’ll be sure to look for that. I also noticed Jackson dropping numbers when it came to how many languages for translation; anything to make themselves look bigger and more important or legitimate than they really are, I’m guessing.

  7. Wow, well now.. aha looks like they just dun goofed, big time! I’m hoping something will come out of this, like Jehovah Witnesses being a banned religion in Australia or a governing body sent to prison. To be honest, he should be sent to prison for not even showing up at court dates – which is completely illegal in the UK!

    • Hopefully the Jehovah’s witnesses will continue to get hit very hard in the pocket book and get the exposure they deserve.

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