From 2012 to 2017 the Australian government examined how child abuse was handled in various institutions. Among them religious institutions. Among them Jehovah’s witnesses. The result is not flattering.
70 survivors told us about abuse in the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Of the victims we heard about, 80.0 per cent were female. The average age of victims at the time of first abuse was 8.4 years.
8.4 years. On average! That means half of them were younger than that.
As part of our case study, the Jehovah’s Witness organisation provided us with files containing allegations, reports or complaints of child sexual abuse. They provided us with documents relating to at least 1,800 children and over 1,000 alleged perpetrators.
So the 70 survivors in the report was only 4% of the number the Society themselves knew about, but refused to help. They protected over 1000 pedophiles!
the organisation dealt with allegations of child sexual abuse in accordance with internal, scripturally based disciplinary policies and procedures.
Bringing reproach to Jehovah’s name and the Bible by claiming their loveless procedures are “scriptural”.
individuals making complaints of child sexual abuse were required to state their allegations in the presence of the person against whom the allegations were made. The ‘two-witness’ rule applied – that is, wrongdoing could only be established on the basis of testimony from two or more ‘credible’ eyewitnesses to the same incident
As if being raped is not traumatic enough, you also have to face your rapist before a tribunal of old men. And you must provide additional eye witnesses testimony, because your word means jack shit, and small children apparently always make sure there’s at least one other adult watching them get raped, right?
Allegations were investigated by elders, all of whom were men and had no relevant training.
True. The Elders don’t know how to handle these things. Their role is to make the congregation appear spot free.
the Jehovah’s Witness organisation had inadequate regard for the risk that the person might reoffend. Alleged perpetrators of child sexual abuse who were removed from their congregations as a result of allegations of child sexual abuse were frequently reinstated.
They favor the abuser rather than the victim.
We found no evidence of the Jehovah’s Witness organisation reporting allegations of child sexual abuse to police or other civil authorities.
NO EVIDENCE of doing what comes natural to sane, loving people. NO EVIDENCE of reporting a most heinous of crimes to the proper authorities. NO EVIDENCE of doing what is right.
survivors of child sexual abuse […] were not provided with adequate information by the Jehovah’s Witness organisation about the investigation of their allegations, felt unsupported by the elders who handled the allegations, and felt that the investigation process was a test of their credibility rather than that of the alleged perpetrator.
We also heard that victims of child sexual abuse were told by congregational elders not to discuss the abuse with others, and that if they tried to leave the organisation, they were ‘shunned’ or ostracised from their religious community.
So when a child is raped, the Jehovah’s witnesses side with the rapist, make everything as traumatic and difficult as possible for the child, fail to support the victim, tells the victim to shut up to “not bring reproach to Jehovah’s name” most likely, and if the victim can’t take this extra abuse and decides to leave these psychopaths, they are cut off from their entire social life forever, just like their dead.
Just a fine example of “unfailing love”, isn’t it?
Who in this scenario is actually “bringing reproach on Jehovah’s name”?
Why is it this way?
The Jehovah’s Witness organisation addresses child sexual abuse in accordance with scriptural direction, relying on a literal interpretation of the Bible and 1st century principles to set practice, policy and procedure. These include the ‘two-witness’ rule as discussed, as well as the principle of ‘male headship’ (that men hold positions of authority in congregations and headship in the family). Scripturally, only men can make decisions. Other scripture-based policies include the sanctions of reproval (a form of discipline that allows a perpetrator to remain in the congregation), disfellowshipping (exclusion or excommunication as a form of punishment for serious scriptural wrongdoing), and shunning (an instruction to the congregation not to associate with a disfellowshipped person). As long as the Jehovah’s Witness organisation continues to apply these practices in its response to allegations of child sexual abuse, it will remain an organisation that does not respond adequately to child sexual abuse and that fails to protect children.
None of these principles are scriptural or applicable to Christians. The two witness rule was for Jews under the mosaic law. Male headship was severely relaxed in the Christian congregation with sister being deacons (ministerial servants). The only example we have of Sanctions of reproach is when a brother commutes a sin that was against Bible principle but not an illegal crime (marrying his fathers widow). Disfellowshipping and shunning are unscriptural and based of a misinterpretation.
What’s the solution?
We recommend that the Jehovah’s Witness organisation abandon its application of the two-witness rule in cases involving complaints of child sexual abuse (Recommendation 16.27), revise its policies so that women are involved in processes relating to investigating and determining allegations of child sexual abuse (Recommendation 16.28), and no longer require its members to shun those who disassociate from the organisation in cases where the reason for disassociation is related to a person being a victim of child sexual abuse (Recommendation 16.29).
Until the organization changes these things they are going to continue protecting and supporting pedophiles. And as long as you support them, you support pedophiles and child sexual abuse.