If you study the religion of Jehovah’s Witnesses, you will see that they have a tremendous problem with pedophilia in their ranks. This isn’t some exaggerated response from a former member; they are currently facing dozens of lawsuits over the problem in the U.S. alone, and the Australian Royal Commission Inquiry (this post) revealed over 1000 pedophiles among them in that country in the past few decades, with not one being turned over to the police by elders. Not one.
The Two-Witness Rule
In your study of Jehovah’s Witnesses and their problems with pedophilia, you may find out about their “two witness” rule. This refers to their practice of needing a second witness to child molestation before they feel they can act on the accusations. They claim this is based on scriptures that say that every matter should be established by two witnesses.
It’s easy to pick apart this reasoning; the bible wasn’t written for children, this requirement couldn’t possibly include or exclude every single matter, and Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t require two witnesses for determining if a woman who claims to have been raped is telling the truth (this post). The bible was also written before other evidence could be found against someone in any type of child molestation case through modern means, such as a collection of child pornography on someone’s computer, DNA left at the scene of molestation, security camera video, and so on.
None of this matters, because the “two witness” rule isn’t why they have such a huge problem with pedophilia in the religion.
Handling It Internally
Jehovah’s Witnesses also tend to handle the matter of child molestation internally rather than calling the police, because they believe that it’s not recommended that you “take your brother to court,” or involve any type of outside law enforcement, also based on scripture. Their belief is that they should be able to judge matters among themselves rather than rely on non-JW courts, juries, police, judges, and the like. They feel that they are more qualified to handle matters internally, since they see non-JWs as being already condemned to death (see this post), as being unrighteous and generally corrupt, without guidance from god, and the like.
This too is easy to argue, as police and investigators are trained in matters of child molestation, physical evidence, corroborating stories, and so on. Real detectives know what questions to ask alleged child abuse victims to get to the truth without leading them to certain answers, and know how to put them at ease so they get the entire story. Jehovah’s Witness elders have no training with psychology, criminology, behavior therapy, police procedures, and the like.
This isn’t why Jehovah’s Witnesses have such a huge problem with pedophilia, however.
Pedophilia as a Sin
Another problem that makes the religion of Jehovah’s Witnesses a near safe haven for pedophiles is that they treat pedophilia as a sin, not as a crime. If you read this post, you’ll see where a letter from a local headquarters of Jehovah’s Witnesses spoke of a man fondling the breasts of his sleeping stepdaughter as a “minor uncleanness.” A letter regarding child sexual molestation and abuse, dated October 1, 2012, and sent to all elders worldwide, repeatedly referred to the matter as a sin. For example (bold added for emphasis):
“If the person is not repentant over the gross sin, disfellowshipping action would be warranted.”
Treating this action as a sin rather than a perverse, damaging crime against children that scars them for life is why Jehovah’s Witnesses allow child molesters to remain in the religion, if they “repent” of their sin and say they’re “sorry.” This then gives molesters virtually unfettered access to other vulnerable children.
This isn’t, however, why there is such a problem with pedophilia in the religion.
The Real Reason
Why do Jehovah’s Witnesses cover up pedophilia in their religion and refuse to report molesters to the police, and take such a soft stance toward this disgusting behavior in the religion? Why do they put the victims through the horrific process of this internal judicial process where their allegations are virtually ignored and where victims are often berated, dismissed, and even blamed for their abuse? It’s very simple, really. I can sum it up in three short words.
They don’t care.
They don’t care. They don’t care about how their policies affect children and about how it makes them feel silenced and dismissed. They don’t care that untrained and unqualified men mind-rape those children all over again by getting angry with them, accusing them, asking them obscenely detailed questions, and making them recount their abuse in front of their abusers. They don’t care.
The elders don’t care about those children either, I can guarantee it. In my thirty-some-odd years as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, I never met an elder who cared about anyone in any capacity, with only two possible exceptions. I mean that sincerely; my mother was suicidal from her abusive marriage, and I remember the elders shouting at her that she needed to be “more submissive,” whatever that means. Other domestic violence victims were lectured in a similar way, and even when my mother was suicidal and in a mental hospital, the elders still lectured her and me, if they said anything at all. An 11-year-old girl trying to manage a household and take care of her little brother, and herself, and going through this situation again and again as her own mother repeatedly attempted suicide, and the elders said nothing other than to deliver harsh, shouting lectures. They didn’t care then, and they don’t care today.
If you don’t believe me, browse the videos of the elders that were questioned during the Australian Royal Commission, including the video of governing body member Geoffrey Jackson. I dare you to find one minute of real feeling for the victims from these men, in their testimony or in the notes they made about the incidents in question. The chairperson and lead counsel both showed more concern and empathy for the victims and how they were treated than the Witnesses. The elders, however, didn’t care. They don’t care.
Jehovah’s Witnesses also don’t care about what those on the outside of the religion tell them. As the inquiry showed, it never occurs to them to think about other children who might be victims of a molester, and one elder seemed confused and almost angry when the subject was mentioned to him:
It was brought out repeatedly how female victims felt very vulnerable and uncomfortable when having to face a panel of all-male elders without any support, and especially the support of women. That didn’t faze them in the least; investigations are conducted by elders, and elders are always men. Period. The opinions and recommendations of outsiders, experts who were so attuned to the feelings of the victims, meant nothing; they don’t care.
They don’t care.
If you don’t believe me, consider the words of Geoffrey Jackson during his testimony, in a discussion about why they don’t report child sexual abuse unless required by law.
“… if the Australian Government, in all the States, was to make mandatory reporting, it would make it so much easier for us.”
Think carefully about what he’s saying. If the government made some type of law that absolutely required them to report all cases of child abuse, then they wouldn’t need to grapple with the question of whether or not they should call the police and have such a person removed from society. If there was a law saying that the police should investigate, they could have the children put in the hands of professionals. They would do this if there was a law that would cause them trouble if they failed to report these incidents, but not because they care about these victims. Jehovah’s Witnesses will protect future victims and other children from molesters, but not because they care about those victims; they would do it only if there is a law in place, or a figurative gun pointing at their head.
This question of whether or not they should call the police on a child abuser, it won’t be solved by the thousands of victims they’ve created over the past several decades. They won’t change their policies and practices no matter how many children come forward and talk about being abandoned to their abuse, no, that won’t make them change. The damage to these children’s lives, the absolute decimating of their self-esteem, sense of security, mental and emotional health; that won’t cause them to change because that’s not what they care about. Having a law that could result in fines and imprisonment if they failed to act on it; that and only that will do the trick, because fines and jail they care about.
The victims; their lives, their pain, the damage done to them? They don’t care. They just don’t care.
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