Australian Royal Commission Inquiry Follow-Up, March 2017

On March 10, 2017, the Australian Royal Commission (ARC) Inquiry into Institutional Responses to Child Sex Abuse held a followup review hearing of Jehovah’s Witnesses. As brought out on their website and in this post, the ARC is set up to investigate how institutions like schools, churches, youth groups, etc., handle accusations of child sex abuse in their ranks, with the purpose of then making recommendations to those institutions, and to lawmakers, as to new policies that should be put into practice.

This brief review in March of 2017 was to note if Jehovah’s Witnesses had taken into account any of the recommendations given after their initial round of questioning back in July/August of 2015 (referred to as Case Study 29). I’ll post a YouTube video of the inquiry below; note my observations, with the approximate time marked, so you can more readily follow.

2:40 – Governing Body Refuses to Answer

Right off the bat, we see the horrific attitude the governing body of Jehovah’s Witnesses has toward the ARC and victims of child sex abuse within their religion; Barrister Angus Stewart, Senior Counsel Assisting the Royal Commission, notes that they have no authority to compel anyone from the governing body of Jehovah’s Witnesses to appear,  as the religion and the governing body are located in the United States. The ARC sent official correspondence to request that a member of the governing body answer questions of the ARC, either in person or via video conferencing, and the governing body refused.

As Barrister Stewart states, that is “a matter of considerable regret,” as the Australian branch of the JWs is subject to the control of the governing body. It’s also regretful that the governing body obviously has such little concern for how their policies, procedures, and practices continue to hurt children who are victims of sexual molestation in their religion, as those men can’t even be bothered to appear through a video link and answer questions about desperately needed policy changes.

5:20 – Failure to Respond Adequately

Barrister Stewart notes that Jehovah’s Witnesses have not responded adequately to matters of protecting children from child sexual abuse within their organization. He notes the most significant failures:

  • The organization does not have a practice of reporting abuses to police or any other such authority.
  • Before 1998, a child sex abuse victim was required to make their accusation in the presence of their abuser. (See this post to learn more about their current policy.)
  • If there is no confession, there is an “inflexible requirement” that there be two eyewitnesses to an incident of child sexual abuse, or two or more witnesses of such abuse, before the accused is dealt with by the congregation (the “two witness” rule).
  • “Women are absent from the decision-making process of the internal disciplinary system.”
  • There is no provision for a survivor to be accompanied by a support person during internal disciplinary process.
  • Limited and ineffective risk management practices.
  • The practice of shunning those who leave, including survivors of child sexual abuse, is also noted.

7:00 – Their Commitments

It is noted that, during the 2015 Inquiry, Jehovah’s Witnesses committed to certain reforms, including:

  • Mandatory reporting
  • Consolidating multiple sources of policy into a user-friendly source that would be provided to, not just elders, but also survivors and parents
  • The role of women during their investigations into child sexual abuse

The purpose of this review hearing conducted in March 2017 was to explore the progress of these reforms; this is why their meeting was so much more brief than the Inquiry in 2015. This time around, they were not reviewing a new laundry list of failures on the part of Jehovah’s Witnesses, but were reviewing their progress in discussing their previously noted failures.

Barrister Stewart notes how Jehovah’s Witnesses admitted that their policies needed to be better communicated to elders and members of the congregation; this, too, is a glaring issue that begs the question of how they can claim to be guided by god when so many of their internal policies are kept secret from congregation members. What scriptural basis do they have to keep an elder’s handbook secret, to not tell congregants the policies that elders are following, to not tell them why certain decisions are made? The scriptures are composed of many letters written about matters that were considered by the elders, and then directed to be read aloud at congregations, but Jehovah’s Witnesses do the opposite and practice quite a bit of secrecy against their own members, including victims of child sex abuse.

10:10 – No Problems Complying, But Still Not Complying

Barrister Stewart notes that Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that there are no impediments to developing responses to many of the concerns brought up in the initial Inquiry. As he points out, however, Jehovah’s Witnesses had yet “failed to address many of the recommendations” that had arisen from that Inquiry.

  • Barrister Stewart notes that one recommendation is that child sex abuse victims not be required to confront their abusers in person and that this should be communicated to victims, but, while this policy has changed, it has only been communicated in writing to elders and not to congregants. (See the post cited above for more details.)
  • The “two witness” rule was mentioned.
  • Barrister Stewart notes that the ARC recommended that women be allowed to participate in the “assessment of the credibility of allegations,” but that Jehovah’s Witnesses restrict the participation of women to doing no more than presenting allegations to elders and supporting the complainant.
  • Putting it in writing that complainants are allowed support through the process was also recommended; it was brought out that “mature minors” are allowed to have a non-parent support person but the policies are silent as to the provision of support for younger survivors other than a parent, and none during the judicial hearing.
  • There is also the mention that Jehovah’s Witnesses should have it as a policy that elders inform police of allegations of abuse especially when other children are at risk, and should actively seek permission from adult survivors to report these as well.
  • The shunning of child abuse victims who choose to disassociate was also noted.

Keep in mind, that initial Inquiry was conducted in July/August of 2015, with this followup review being conducted a full year and a half later. Apparently that is not enough time for Jehovah’s Witnesses to make changes to their practices that continue to victimize children who have been molested in their religion.

16:20- Programs That Separate Children

It is noted at this point that Jehovah’s Witnesses do not sponsor programs that separate children from their families or that provides access to children without their parents, and this is true to a certain extent. There are no summer camps or youth groups sponsored by Jehovah’s Witnesses, but what about field service (their preaching work)? Children can and often do go off with someone else to participate in this work, in an arrangement created by and sanctioned by the religion (the organizing of car groups before the work begins). Men, and especially elders and ministerial servants, are typically the ones to arrange such groups, making it easy for a pedophile to choose to have a child accompany him, apart from that child’s parents.

Some might argue that a parent has the right to keep children with them, but read the literature of Jehovah’s Witnesses and you’ll see time and again where they are told to obey the authority of the elders (Nov. 15, 2013, Watchtower simplified edition, pages 21-26; October 15, 2009, Watchtower simplified edition, pages 13-17, et al). Interestingly, when governing body member Geoffrey Jackson was questioned about corporal punishment in the organization, he said the he could only testify as to the “spirit” behind their writings. (See this post.)

If Jackson wants to hide behind the “spirit” of what they’re supposedly trying to say in order to protect himself from accusations of child abuse under the guise of corporal punishment, what about the “spirit” behind their writings that say to be obedient to the elders? Yes, a parent may have the right to say that they want their child with them in the preaching work, but may yield to the person making these arrangements for car groups, due to the many suggestions that they be obedient to the elders, as this is the “spirit” of the message given in the literature when it comes to the authority of the elders. In turn, children may be put at risk when an elder or any man suggests they go along with them in this preaching work.

17:25 – Our Voices Have Been Heard

Barrister Stewart notes that, since 2015, the Australian Royal Commission has received more than 1,165 pieces of correspondence from all over the world (the UK, Austria, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Belgium, Brazil, New Zealand, etc.) regarding sexual abuse in the religion of Jehovah’s Witnesses. As he says, “the correspondence has been overwhelmingly critical of the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ institutional response to child sexual abuse.”

Nice work, apostates.

19:00 – Reproof

After mentioning the many areas of improvement that were called for by those who have contacted the ARC, it was noted that “repentant” child molesters could be reproved rather than removed from the congregation, potentially giving them access to future victims.

27:45 – External Advice

It’s noted that the organization did not take any external advice as to what procedures should be introduced; the elder noted that they went through the reference materials provided by the ARC, but actually ask for advice from anyone else? Of course not. They have god’s magic holy spirit to guide them, why ask advice from child psychologists, criminologists, sexual abuse experts, or even lawyers for that matter.

31:00 – Secrecy Is Questioned

Barrister Stewart brings up the need to have a consolidated, easily understood document that explains the policies and practices of Watchtower when it comes to allegations of child sexual abuse, beyond the standard Watchtower articles read by congregants. He notes some correspondence sent to the branch office that is meant to be kept confidential even from branch secretaries, and asks why the secrecy of these “procedural” documents.

There is no sufficient reason offered by the Jehovah’s Witness elders as to why these letters are meant for the eyes of the elders only, even if it’s for their “function and role.” “Discretion required” doesn’t seem to satisfy Barrister Stewart, as he points out:

“Congregants are being kept from information in regard to issues that govern their lives.”

This is a very valid point; how can you even know how to answer a question about abuse or know what to expect by way of questioning when you don’t know the processes by followed by elders? How is this scriptural?

47:00 – Minors “Approaching Adulthood”

The August 1, 2016, and October 1, 2012, letters to all elders noted that, from a congregation standpoint, as far as child sexual abuse was concerned, they were not discussing situations of a minor “approaching adulthood” who was a “willing participant.” It is put to the elders what exactly is meant by these phrases.

Elders, of course, evade and weasel and don’t provide specific details as to what ages would be indicated; one elder actually stated that they probably have a “stricter view than the law.” Barrister Stewart notes that the law has exact legal guidelines as to when someone could and could consent to sexual intercourse, but Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t, and says outright that it would make things a lot easier and lot clearer if they simply followed the law. The elder actually claims that this is a secondary consideration to the law and that Jehovah’s Witnesses “always” abide by the law.

Well, if that were the case, why is this even mentioned in those letters? As I’ve brought out in my handbook to attorneys, this statement actually gives elders the right to “look for” signs of willingness on the part of children; these victims have even been asked if they enjoyed their sexual abuse.

57:00 – “Never Had a Practice of Not Reporting”

Barrister Stewart notes that in their earlier Inquiry, it was determined that Jehovah’s Witnesses had a practice of not reporting child molestation allegations to authorities; as you can note from this post, there were some 1006 alleged pedophiles reported in the organization in the last few decades, with elders reporting not one to the police. The elders being questioned actually object and say that they’ve “never had a practice of not reporting.” Barrister Stewart presses the issue, and the elder says that it’s not that “the organization” doesn’t report, but it’s left to the elders who are to take the matter to the authorities.

When pressed again, the elder actually says that they report when it’s mandatory to do so, and if the child or other children are at risk, they will report. He also states that they “always” inform the parents or adult survivor that they have the right to report.

The lies in this section are sickening. It was proven, from the elders’ own mouths and own hands, that they absolutely do not report when multiple children are at risk, as was demonstrated by the victims who were interviewed during Case Study 29. One woman was being molested by her own father, who was raping all four daughters in the home; the elders had credible reports about this molestation from the four girls and the mother herself, and they did nothing in the congregation, nor did they report the matter to the police. They abandoned those girls, as they do so many other victims, to their abuse.

Also, as the elders failed to report any of those 1006 cases brought to them, this is also proof that they do not report, even when other children are at risk. Do we really think that not one of the pedophiles involved in those 1006 cases was a danger to more than one victim, whether that was multiple children in one home, children in their neighborhood, children in the congregation, friends of their own children, and others?

Barrister Stewart pushes the issue, asking where in their documentation it states that they should inform the police when another child is at risk of harm, and the elder notes that this is covered in elders’ meetings and branch meetings … but of course it’s not noted in writing, in letters to elders or other documentation. There is supposedly a mention of it in their new safeguarding policy being prepared in March of 2017, which I have yet to see as of this writing.

The elder then claims that it is documented in their reports at the legal department of the branch, that if a child is at risk they report it, whatever the risk to them as an organization, but their own records betray this claim. Not only do Jehovah’s Witnesses fail to inform victims of their right to report to authorities, but it was testified in Case Study 29 that one victim was asked why she would want to “drag Jehovah’s name through the mud” when she expressed a desire to report this abuse herself, on her own.

1:09:55 – Right to Report Versus Encouraged to Report

Barrister Stewart notes that, while Jehovah’s Witnesses claim that they tell parents that they have the right to report allegations of abuse to authorities, they are certainly not encouraged to report. The elder tries to again weasel out of the question, saying that the statement is not correct, then repeating the very objection, that they inform victims that they have the absolute right to report. Not only is this statement very questionable, given their poor track record of reporting, but it doesn’t address the question  about encouraging victims to report.

There is some discussion about the difference between procedures of Jehovah’s Witnesses, which is what would be included in written documents, and practices, which is what they claim to do. It’s brought out by the chairperson that, while JWs may claim to have certain policies in place, if those procedures are not written out in documentation, there is the risk of the organization going backwards in what they do.

There is also the consistent question raised of what they would do if it was an adult who reported the abuse, but there would be other children still in danger (such as a younger sibling). What then? The elders seem to have had no idea, no answer to that question.

Again, this is something that needs to be addressed by a “worldly” organization and not something that Jehovah’s Witnesses take into consideration when it comes to being proactive in their child protection policies. How hard is it to write out your policy and ensure that all elders follow it, versus tossing things out during meetings and just hoping they do the right thing? We’re talking about children’s lives, after all.

1:16:50 – Why Do You Legalize It?

An outstanding question is asked by Barrister Stewart at this point, when the elders could not give a legal answer to whether or not they report historical abuse of someone now an adult (meaning past abuse, when that adult was a minor), if there is a minor child who may still be in danger:

“Why do you legalize it all the time and rely always on what the law provides? Why do you, as an organization, just not adopt a policy, as many other organizations do, of reporting as a matter of course, if there are still children who might be in harm’s way?”

The elder refers to it as a very “isolated point” and tries to hide behind the idea that they’re getting legal advice, so they rely on what the law provides, and lots of other useless words that mean nothing in real life. There is more discussion of the documentation and practices, but the question is incredibly valid. Why all the complicated policies about who makes the call, calling the branch, what is meant from a congregation viewpoint, who gets what correspondence, and so on? Write out a policy that is simple and practical; if there is a minor child involved, alert the authorities. If the victim is an adult by now and there are no other obvious cases of children who may be at risk, ask their permission to phone authorities, in consideration for any unknown children who may still be in harm’s way. If the victim is an adult by now and there may definitely still be children in harm’s way, such as a younger sibling in the home, alert the authorities for the sake of those children. Not only should you alert the authorities, but you should ask what you can and should do to ensure the safety of children involved and those at risk.

Why is this so clear to so many other people but so muddy and complicated for this religion? Priority one, protect children. Priority two, see priority one. Jehovah’s Witnesses claim that this is their practice, but cannot produce a written policy; why not? Again, their own history betrays this claim. If there had been a policy in writing, how many other children would have been spared such abuse? Such a legitimate, simple question.

1:19:00 – Nope, No Help From Us

Barrister Stewart asks if Jehovah’s Witnesses can give any recommendations to the ARC, the ombudsman, and lawmakers as to how laws can be improved to protect children. Their only response is that it needs to be put into a national and simple law that it’s mandatory you report such abuses.

Beyond that, nope, nothing, nada, nil. They have nothing to share with the ARC as to recommendations.

It’s bad enough that they, again, ask for the law to dictate their actions to them, but the religion that claims that they’re guided and directed by god, that thinks everyone else on earth needs to die so they can be left alone as the only members of society in order to have a paradise on earth, has nothing to share about how to protect children.

1:23:00 – Age of Consent Has Changed

It’s brought out that laws have changed in some locations for heterosexual and homosexual ages of consent, for anal intercourse for men and women. Jehovah’s Witnesses didn’t know that.

1:24:00 – Please Don’t Argue With Angus Stewart About Law … or Anything

Barrister Stewart notes that the ARC has strongly recommended that Jehovah’s Witnesses forego their stringent “two witness” rule, and acknowledges that they (JWs) feel this rule cannot be changed, according to the scriptures. There has apparently been some correspondence sent back to the ARC that stated that the law required corroboration; Barrister Stewart was having none of that, pointing out that the courts and the law do not demand corroboration in cases of child sex abuse, easily rattling off the section of the criminal code that abolished the need for corroboration. He referred to this statement as “misleading,” trying to argue that the law was in harmony with their need for two witnesses.

Don’t mess with Angus Stewart. Seriously. Did the elders really think they could pull one over on him? The man is a Rhodes Scholar, he attended Oxford, he’s licensed to practice law in two countries. He just weeps of intelligence and competency, like if James Bond suffered some kind of career-ending ankle injury and decided to go to law school instead of becoming a spy. The elders, on the other hand, reeked of bumbling incompetence, like they were teenage boys and Axe Body Spray recently released two new scents, Bumbling and Incompetence.

1:28:00 – Trauma as Evidence

Barrister Stewart notes that, during Case Study 29, governing body member Geoffrey Jackson said that evident trauma of the survivor could be taken into account as corroborating evidence, as part of their discussion of the “two witness” rule and if that could ever be set aside:

Note that Jackson said it “would need to be taken into account,” not that it would be used as evidence itself. Considering that Jackson had not even read the statement of the victims during that last Inquiry, and no one from the governing body could even bother to hook up via video conferencing, and considering the lack of empathy any of them have shown to such trauma to date, I feel bad that Mr. Stewart even thought to ask if this was part of their discussions for areas of improvement, after they had finished with Case Study 29.

1:41:00 – New Shepherd Book

Apparently the Witnesses are working on a new “Shepherd the Flock of God” book, or handbook for elders. That should be interesting. As with so many other “refinements” and changes, however, it begs the question of how they can say they have any guidance and direction from god if they always need to change things, and if those changes are at the insistence of “worldly” institutions.

1:42:00 – Service Desk Guidelines, Not to Face Accuser

As brought out in this post, accusers are no longer required to face the accused in a meeting; this is brought out in a letter circulated to all elders worldwide, dated August 1, 2016. However, Barrister Stewart notes that the “Shepherd” book, the elders’ handbook, tells them to call the service department of their branch office for direction when there has been an allegation of child sexual abuse. This direction, that an accuser doesn’t need to face the accused, is not included in the service desk guidelines, potentially leading to an elder overlooking this information.

There is direction to go back and forth to different pieces of correspondence, but it’s virtually impossible to follow those directions. This was one section where I noticed an inordinate amount of fumbling through letters, directions, and other paperwork to find a response.

At 1:47:00, after considering the matter noted below, Barrister Stewart returns to this issue and asks if there is a system of monitoring if the accusers are informed that they do not need to face the accused. The elders says there is, but his response is that this is done by the elders calling the branch for direction. Mr. Stewart moves on, but I would hardly call a telephone conversation and oral direction a “system of monitoring” to ensure compliance.

1:44:00 – Internal Processes Trump Outside Courts?

Barrister Stewart asks about someone who is convicted in a criminal court of law, beyond a reasonable doubt, but for whom there has not been established child sex abuse by way of the “two witness” rule, and if the matter would be left “in Jehovah’s hands,” as Jehovah’s Witness literature directs. While the elders argue that this is incorrect, Mr. Stewart notes that the documentation from the JWs says that the service desk of the branch “may” impose restrictions on this person. The elder says that this does not relate to a person in a position of responsibility and that “in every case, steps are taken where the authorities are to be involved; there is to be no individual in a position of responsibility where secular authorities have established guilt. That situation does not exist.”

That’s interesting, because in the case of child molester Jonathan Rose in the UK, the man went to jail and elders still insisted that his victims meet with him after his release, in a judicial committee meeting, to determine if he should be disfellowshipped. This is the case where the elders asked the girls, who were aged 5 and 10 at the time of their abuse, if they enjoyed it at all. See this post for more details. The October 1, 2012,  and August 1, 2016, letters to all elders also both state that someone who has molested a child in the past may have privileges of service, or authority, in the congregation. It does not say, “Unless that person has been convicted in a court of law.”

1:48:00 – Practice of Shunning

The subject of shunning those who disassociate themselves from the religion, even child sex abuse victims, is considered.

The elders of Jehovah’s Witnesses tried repeatedly to stress that a sex abuse victim who disassociates is the one making the choice to leave, that it is not their (the JWs) policy to simply shun a victim of sex abuse outright.

The chairperson himself steps in and notes that, in many cases, it’s the victim feeling that they need to leave the religion for their own survival. He also points out that this decision may be because of “how they’ve been treated inside the organization,” and says that, if there is no action taken due to there not being two witnesses, this can lead to a “chain of circumstances” that make them (the victim) feel as if they need to disassociate.

“It’s a pretty cruel way, isn’t it, of dealing with someone who has suffered sexual abuse.”

The elders continuously double down on this policy, stating that this is what’s done for anyone who disassociates, and puts the responsibility back on the victim for having made the choice. One elder states that the congregation takes the action, yes, when disfellowshipping someone, but in the case of someone who disassociates themselves:

“They’re actually taking the stand to shun the congregation.” 

One elder says that they (the victim) can choose to be inactive, and he repeats the thought that the individual is making the statement that they are shunning the congregation; he says that they do not need to put themselves in that position as they can “walk away,” or just go to another congregation.

Barrister Stewart calls them out on their statement that the victim or disassociated one is shunning the organization and notes, quite rightly, that these statements, that an inactive one does not lose their social network, are “highly contested” by a lot of people. (Again, nice work, apostates. Let those voices be heard.)

Certainly it should be contested; perhaps the elders answering these questions didn’t attend the summer regional conventions of Jehovah’s Witnesses in the year 2016. During these conventions, it was emphasized that even inactive ones may be, and should be, shunned. A personal experience was shared of a man whose mother was inactive but whom he thought was doing something sinful; he reported the issue to elders and then decided to limit his association with his mother while waiting for the elders to act. (Skip ahead to about the three minute mark of this video below.)

Think seriously about what this means; his mother was not yet disfellowshipped by elders, but that didn’t matter to the man. His own mother was to be kept at arm’s length even while waiting for the elders to act. The elders seriously want to state that an inactive one is not shunned, that they don’t lose their social network and ties?

The “Shepherd” book, the handbook used by elders, says on page 23, about the congregation service committee, “A member of the service committee gives direction on conducting a study with an inactive brother or sister who needs temporary spiritual help.” The group overseer “periodically arranges to visit all in his group to provide encouragement and counsel, concentrating on those who are weak, irregular in meeting attendance or field activity, ill, depressed, or inactive.” If inactive ones enjoyed the same social support as when they were active, would there need to be direction on conducting a study with them, would there need to be actual “periodic arrangements” to visit them?

The April 2017 Watchtower simplified version, in the article, “What You Vow, Pay,” stated, “The apostle Peter warned us that there is a danger that we could become inactive in our service to Jehovah. We can avoid this if we work hard to grow in faith, knowledge, endurance, and godly devotion.” So, being inactive is a “danger” and reflects a lack of faith and godly devotion, according to them. It’s not simply a matter of survival, as the chairperson said, or so Jehovah’s Witnesses claim.

In the book “Insight on Scriptures,” Volume I, pages 1006-1010, under the section of “Greek” (meaning the Greek language), there is an explanation for verbs and voice, and it says, in part, “So Paul is here telling Christians that they must not be inactive as merely being in the position of Christians, but they must participate in Christian activity.”

None of this information about being inactive even implies that one who fades away is treated the same as those who are active; as Mr. Stewart said, there is a reason that this claim is so “highly contested.”

2:09:10 – Money Shouldn’t Be the Main Issue

The question is asked by one of the elders regarding the amount of monies included in a national redress scheme for victims; the chairperson reminds the elders that it’s their response that has “compounded the damage to that individual.” In other words, rather than trying to nickel and dime their response, they should be concerned about how they’ve hurt people after suffering sexual abuse. Stop hurting, and you don’t need to worry about the amount of money you need to pay.

2:14:00 – The Women

The point is brought up regarding women being part of the process of investigating child abuse claims. It’s brought out that women can bring accusations to the elders and can give support to a victim. Decision making, however, can only be made by men; women cannot be part of the judicial committee process.

2:19:00 – Available to Congregation Members

There is question about directions regarding child molestation cases now being available to congregation members. The elders note that it hasn’t been decided how these instructions will be disseminated, if it’s in printed form or electronically to each congregation’s files.

Barrister Stewart notes the difference between making it available, in case someone asks about it, and whether or not it’s “actively distributed.” This was exactly my thought as the elders shuffled their papers and used weasel words when talking about these instructions being “available,” as we know there is a difference between providing something if someone knew to ask for it, and actually proactively distributing something.

That thing I said a minute ago, about not trying to get anything past Barrister Stewart? Still applies. The heck were they thinking, trying to sneak out of this subject? “Since people’s rights are articulated in those documents, they need to know what those are,” as he said. I’ve long questioned why the “Shepherd” book should be secret, as well as so many letters to elder, and Mr. Stewart seems to share those thoughts, with good reason.

2:20:00 – About Compassion

Right before closing, the Commissioner of the Inquiry’s board brings up a point about the grievous effects of child sexual abuse, that they are life-changing, and that victims need therapeutic intervention. He asks about the JW’s response to the 1006 files or claims mentioned during Case Study 29, whether the JW branch has assisted or plans to assist those victims with their needs for intervention.

The elder notes that they would do that, and it’s asked if they do that presently. Of course they don’t do that presently; they just now hired lawyers to contact the solicitors of victims. The elders note that they will, as required by law, participate in a redress scheme, which brought about what I could so see was instant irritation from this Commissioner.

“This is not really about the law. It’s about … compassion and actually providing people help for grievous psychological harm.”

Isn’t it interesting that a “worldly” person needed to point that out?

One Last Thought …

One prominent concern I had throughout this followup was how unprepared, disorganized, and downright bumbling the elders were, especially Rodney Spinks, who is a representative of the branch and not just a local elder who drew the short straw and was sent to appear. He needed to constantly go back and forth between papers and books, but not in an organized and concise way as Barrister Stewart did. As was repeatedly pointed out, various letters and correspondences omitted information, gave conflicting information, and used ways of phrasing that were not clear and concise and which were easy to misconstrue or misunderstand. I’m to believe this religion is really guided by god? Their awful “two witness” policy, which they pick and choose when to apply, their disgusting lack of regard for victims as was demonstrated by the governing body’s refusal to appear, and their concern for money all betray that claim alone. Not even being able to get your own paperwork organized only compounds the problem. I literally cringed at their lack of professionalism and inability to defend their own organizational procedures, much less their scriptural reasons for handling child sex abuse claims the way they do, and I don’t think that’s just my OCD flaring up. They should be ashamed of themselves for being called up in front of the ARC in the first place, much less the unprofessional, disorganized, haphazard way they conducted themselves. It speaks volumes as to how important this issue is, or should I say isn’t, to the men in charge, when they can’t even get their own paperwork together, much less create a clear and concise policy that protects children. Dragging their heels on changes and needing to be prodded and led along by the nose also betray any claim to empathy on their part. Shame on them, just absolutely shame on them for everything said and done during this entire ARC process, and just for their very existence in general.

Thank you to Susan Gaskin for posting the video above.

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