As many people know, the Australian Royal Commission Inquiry Into Institutional Responses to Child Sex Abuse (ARC), in 2015, queried some 30 institutions for how they handle allegations of child sex abuse under their roofs. Watchtower Australia, aka Jehovah’s Witnesses, were case study 29 of that Inquiry.
For those unfamiliar, the ARC was not a criminal trial; these Inquiries are conducted often in Australia, so an Inquiry can then make recommendations for new laws to be enacted, based on their findings.
After the Inquiry Into Institutional Responses to Child Sex Abuse, the ARC released recommendations for dozens of new laws that would protect children from sex abuse in churches, orphanages, and other such institutions, and that would ensure these incidents are handled more appropriately, to preserve the feelings of the [alleged] victim first and foremost. (See this post.)
Along with these recommendations, this ARC outlined what is called a national redress scheme, or a program that “…provides access to counselling, a direct personal response from the institution and a monetary payment to survivors of institutional child sexual abuse.” (See this news article.) This redress scheme is (so far) voluntary, so that each state in Australia and each organization can decide if they will participate in this scheme.
The 30 institutions questioned during the ARC were asked if they would be willing to participate in this scheme, given the volume of historic abuse cases that were discovered and brought to light; this is the answer from Jehovah’s Witness governing body member Geoffrey Jackson when he was asked about this redress scheme¹:
On Thursday, May 31, 2018, the Salvation Army, the Scouts, the Anglican Church, and the YMCA joined this redress scheme, which had already been endorsed by the Catholic Church in that country. These organizations specifically and publicly offered apologies to child sex abuse victims as well.
Noticeably missing from those who have joined this scheme and offered their apologies? Jehovah’s Witnesses, of course:
While this redress scheme is a step in the right direction, even this news story above notes some criticisms from victims, including the somewhat low compensation amount they would each receive. However, that simply makes the lack of participation by Jehovah’s Witnesses even more reprehensible!
If this redress scheme promised millions of dollars for each victim, I might understand the hesitation of the Watchtower, but at a mere $150,000 [Australian] per victim, there is no reason for the organization to be holding out. This is especially true in light of the recent revelations that the organization has some $1.3 billion [U.S.] in real property, and I assume that number is for their United States properties alone. (See this post.) Note, too, that other smaller churches and organizations with far less property and wealth have already willingly joined the scheme, as this news report shows.
Not voluntarily joining a redress scheme is despicable enough on the part of Watchtower, as it’s their policies and practices that have created this issue. This includes their stubborn yet grossly hypocritical insistence on a victim producing a second witness to their abuse before they put the abuser out of the congregation (see In a Shocking Hypocrisy, Watchtower Refuses to Apply Their “Two-Witness” Rule to Adults Committing Immorality!).
Also contributing to the suffering of child sex abuse victims within the walls of the Watchtower are horrifically untrained, angry, misogynistic, power-hungry, abusive, perverted men, put in the position of elders who act as investigators and judges of such incidents. These men often make it even worse for victims, with their accusatory questioning and sometimes perverse approach toward female victims in particular.
Jehovah’s Witnesses also refuse to give up on their stubborn insistence when it comes to protecting the abuser above the abused, even telling child abuse victims to “respect” their abusers, in the case of incestuous abuse:
What is also appalling, and what also adds to how they victimize these children all over again, is the callus disregard and disdain for those on the outside of the organization, including law enforcement, shown by the Watchtower, which has also created this problem for so many abuse victims under their roofs.
This situation in their organization is their mess; why shouldn’t they be willing and even eager to help clean it up?
No Apology From Jehovah’s Witnesses Either
That being said, it’s the lack of any apology or even acknowledgement of their responsibility for these issues that is the most disgusting. As I’ve brought out on this website before, the governing body of Jehovah’s Witnesses has simply blamed homosexuals for pedophilia in general (this post), and have referred to accusations that their organization is permissive toward pedophiles as “apostate-driven lies and dishonesties” (this post), in effect, calling the victims liars.
During the ARC Inquiry itself, it was apparent that Jehovah’s Witnesses feel no regret over their actions; this was demonstrated by Geoffrey Jackson, who hesitated over his answer when questioned about the Inquiry being the result of “apostate lies.”
The elders questioned during the ARC also showed not one shred of empathy or regret for their actions, even appearing angry and resentful over the questioning. When one elder was asked why they don’t alert authorities in cases of child sex abuse, he responded with the disgusting retort, “What ability have we got to protect every child in Australia?”, as if the inability to protect every child from sex abuse somehow justifies protecting no children from such abuse:
Anyone familiar with Jehovah’s Witnesses knows that they will address the epidemic of child sex abuse in their religion, and the horrific re-victimization of children by elders assigned to “investigate” such allegations, only when legally forced to do so, when dragged along by their nostrils, as it were. Jehovah’s Witnesses would rather blame apostates, homosexuals, or just Satan himself for any exposure of child sex abuse in the religion than admit culpability, and before they offer a simple apology to those victims.
The religion’s stubborn, self-righteous pride, and the need to preserve their own reputation, trumps everything, including the simple decency of paying into the fund used by victims to get counseling and support.
Any religion that is willing to call victims “apostates” and “liars” has shown their true colors when it comes to how they feel about those victims, and this gross lack of cooperation of Watchtower in paying a few dollars into this redress scheme, and their avoidance of offering even a token apology, speaks volumes.
Remember this, the next time Jehovah’s Witnesses tell you that theirs is an organization based on love of family, and love of neighbor. They don’t even love children in their religion enough to say they’re sorry for that child’s rape and abuse; how much love do you think they really feel for anyone else?
¹Case study 29, Day 155, page 15986
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