For those outside the religion of Jehovah’s Witnesses, JWs are required to report their “field service time,” or the number of hours they spend preaching and proselytizing, along with the number of books and magazines they leave with the general public and the number of bible studies they conduct. This report is made each month and is filled out on a slip that looks like this; an older version first and then today’s version:
The slip may not look like much, but it’s good for readers to understand the overall judgmental attitude and atmosphere that is created within congregations of Jehovah’s Witnesses, with much of it resting on the numbers on this slip. Those who put in more time preaching and who leave a greater number of magazines and other pieces of literature are often considered more “spiritual,” or a better example to others in the congregation. Potential elders and ministerial servants (like elders in training) are judged on their cumulative reports, as to whether or not they’re qualified to serve. It’s even encouraged that persons “pioneer,” or put in several times the national average of hours for one month or for an entire year at a time.
This judging according to your “time” was brought out by some other ex-JWs in this video:
One thing to take away from this video is that a person can be doing any number of good works, including caring for elderly ones and even working to provide for their families, but if they don’t meet a certain number of hours each month in the preaching work, they can be looked down on as being less “spiritual” than others. A person’s “spirituality” is also often determined by how much they participate in question-and-answer segments at meetings of Jehovah’s Witnesses, how strict they are with their entertainment and free time, whether or not they are modest with their money or are a bit flashy, and if the men give nice prayers when called on.
While this judgmental attitude is bad enough in any situation, it may also be used to determine if accusations of child rape and molestation actually follow a person when they change congregations of Jehovah’s Witnesses. How so?
First note that Jehovah’s Witnesses adhere to a “two witness” rule when it comes to accusations of child molestation. If a child cannot product a second witness or a second victim to this abuse and the accused doesn’t confess, elders “leave the matter in Jehovah’s hands” with no further action, despite any other evidence they may have and no matter the credibility of the child’s claims.¹ If the child victim doesn’t report this to the police, this can leave an accused molester in the congregation; before you assume that the family of a child rape victim would automatically call the police, what if the molester is the child’s own father or mother, or a sibling, and the parents don’t bring the matter to the authorities? It was also brought out during the Australian Royal Commission inquiry that elders have threatened victims with disfellowshipping (excommunication) and subsequent shunning if they were to bring in the authorities in these cases. In turn, an accused child molester is left alone, without a warning given to other parents.
If this process is not bad enough, note the instructions contained in the handbook used by Jehovah’s Witness elders, “Shepherd the Flock of God,” for when an accused molester moves to another congregation. These instructions are to help the elders determine if they should alert the new congregation to those accusations, or not:
A person might note that, in some very rare cases, a child may be coached or coerced into making false allegations of sex abuse, often when a divorce is occurring. (See this website for more information on this subject.) However, these situations are very rare, and you’ll note that this isn’t mentioned in the information above. It doesn’t say anywhere, “Are the parents going through a divorce and do the accusations sound rehearsed or forced?” I would think that the possibility of such false accusations in these circumstances would also be a reason to leave the matter in the hands of the police, as they have trained professionals who can help pinpoint such false allegations, if any, by talking to the child apart from his or her parents and questioning the parents as well.
That point aside, note how Jehovah’s Witness elders, who have no training in psychology, criminology, behavior therapy, or any other related matter, are told to take into account the “reputation” of the parents, including whether or not they’re “spiritually mature,” in determining if child rape accusations should be forwarded when the accused person moves. This begs the question, What does that have to do with anything?
The number of hours put in by a parent when it comes to preaching on behalf of Jehovah’s Witnesses, the number of Watchtower magazines they leave with the general public, the amount of participation they have in their meetings that are question-and-answer segments, and whether or not they read the bible and the literature of Jehovah’s Witnesses every day all have nothing to do with whether or not a child was molested! A child’s credibility shouldn’t hinge on the “spiritual maturity” of their parents, as of course child molesters don’t choose their victims according to the spirituality of the parents. Parents can lack motivation in the religion, and their child could still have very well be telling the truth about being molested. What does one have to do with the other?
Imagine a child coming to the elders with a very real, very credible story of being molested by someone in the congregation, and then having that story dismissed or disbelieved, or knowing that people in a new congregation won’t be warned about your molester, simply because your parents don’t comment enough during the meetings. Now imagine the horrific injustice of seeing another child’s accusations being taken more seriously because that child’s mother comments at all the meetings and wears dowdier skirts than the first child’s mother. Consider the message this sends to a child; if your parents are not ambitious about the religion, you weren’t molested and are just lying, but if your mother pioneered three months ago, then you were molested and are telling the truth.
Consider how this would be viewed in any other setting; if a child accuses a teacher of molestation, would it make sense for the school board or police to note how often the parents of that child participate in parent-teacher days, or volunteer for the school, when evaluating that claim? he actions of the parents, especially some vague statements about their “spiritual” maturity, have absolutely nothing to do with the credibility of claims of child sexual molestation.
As said, Jehovah’s Witness elders have no training in psychology or criminology of any sort, which means they have no business evaluating any accusations of child molestation for credibility. They certainly have no business bringing the “spiritual maturity” of the parents into it! By somehow determining that the parents aren’t “spiritually mature” enough to believe otherwise credible claims of child molestation, they allow a molester to move between congregations with no warning to the new congregation about his or her alleged behavior. This also means that if another victim were to come forward in that second (or third, or fourth) congregation, someone they consider that needed “second witness” to the abuse, there would be no way of elders in the new congregation to know that they are indeed a second victim, a second witness, and that they could therefore act on their own requirements and procedures.
Jehovah’s Witnesses claim that they abhor child abuse and that they don’t give any special protection to child molesters. However, from this information alone it seems that they do anything and everything to cast doubt on stories of abuse, even evaluating the activities of the parents of the abuse victims in the religion. If having a parent who isn’t preaching enough or who isn’t commenting at every meeting is excuse enough for elders to ignore otherwise credible allegations of abuse and not even warn other elders of those allegations, how exactly are Jehovah’s Witnesses protecting children versus protecting that molester?
¹”Shepherd the Flock of God” (2010) page 72, “If the accuser or the accused is unwilling to meet with the elders or if the accused continues to deny the accusation of a single witness and the wrongdoing is not established, the elders will leave matters in Jehovah’s hands.”
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