When the website “Mormon Leaks” debuted, it came under fire for revealing many confidential documents that were part of the Mormon religion, and which were typically kept secret from the church’s rank-and-file members. Along with criticisms, however, the site also received a tremendous amount of encouragement to include other religions in its process of revealing confidential materials, especially as those materials related to financial misconduct, corporate policies, and sex abuse allegations.
Even With a “Long History of Violence,” a Man Can Still Be an Active, Approved Jehovah’s Witness
During an investigation into allegations of child sex abuse against a member of a congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Massachusetts, U.S.A., whom I’ll call “John Doe,” it was revealed that this man was not only sexually molesting his daughters, but was also physically violent toward them. At one point, the elders agreed that John Doe had probably gone “overboard in the disciplining of his daughters.” You can read their statement as part of this document, 2004-08-15-JW-Warehouse_Point-Dear_Brothers, on the last page, but here is a screen capture of just that section:
A few years before this letter, another letter had been sent from the headquarters of the religion back to this man’s local congregation, noting that John Doe had “established a long history of violence.” This statement was in reference to John Doe’s abuse of his daughters, as well as the fact that the man’s employer had fired him for use of “excessive force” in defending himself against someone in his care. You can read that very brief letter in full here, 2000-01-20-JW-Christian-Dear_Brothers.
That letter says that John Doe would be deleted as a ministerial servant (something of an elder in training), because of this “excessive force,” and his history of violence.
That’s all the letter says should be done with this man; it says nothing about actually removing him from the congregation, about ensuring that he was no longer one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. The religion doesn’t think that this history of violence and abuse, against his own children and someone in his care at work, is enough to say that he’s no longer welcome as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, that they no longer approve of his behavior. John Doe would still be an active member of the congregation, welcomed into the Kingdom Hall with all the other members, freely associating with them, going in the religion’s proselytizing work with them. When this announcement about his removal as a ministerial servant is made, there would be no explanation to go along with it, so the congregation would be none the wiser as to his abusive, obscene temper.
This speaks volumes as to the persons who make up the congregations of Jehovah’s Witnesses, both the rank-and-file members, and the elders who handle such information. Not only could any member who is sitting in the Kingdom Hall be guilty of having a “history of violence,” but elders may know full well of this person’s actions, and do nothing to stop it. No calls to the police or child protective services, no warnings to other congregants who might leave their own children in this person’s care, and no removal of this person from the congregation. They are happy to approve of this person and keep them on as an active member, albeit without a position of prominence and authority.
This also speaks volumes as to the care and concern the religion has for the victims of that violence. The daughters that John Doe abused were also active members of the religion, and they are made to suffer the indignities of seeing this man be a welcome, approved member of the religion, even after having been sent to the hospital on more than one occasion because of his violence. Yet, their feelings are never mentioned in that letter above, nor are the feelings and opinions of the person or persons John Doe abused at his place of employment.
According to Watchtower practices, they will decide who is approved in the religion, and you simply need to accept that decision, no matter how much you may be hurt, humiliated, and even afraid of the person sitting next to you. The men sitting in the religion’s New York headquarters, and the elders in the local congregations, are not the ones to suffer from this “history of violence” and “excessive force,” but they feel this man’s behavior still makes him an acceptable member of their religion. They’re okay with inflicting that decision, and this man himself, on other congregation members. Their insensitivity to victims both in and out of the religion is immeasurable and obscene.
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