Jehovah's Witnesses show tremendous levels of cognitive dissonance when it comes to the proven subject of the systematic abuse of children within their organisation, the publishing corporation Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society. This publishing corp. has for years vilified the Catholic Church's cover up of the sexual abuse of minors by priests, yet fails to adequately face up to the same abuse taking place within the Kingdom Halls of Jehovah's Witnesses around the planet.
Evidence of this cognitive dissonance can be see here and here. Rather than facing up to the destroyed lives of children at the hands of elders and other Jehovah's Witness men, men who were seemingly protected by a layer of secrecy and 'sealed envelopes' and phone calls to the Branch office rather than phone calls to the authorities, Jehovah's Witnesses like the one linked to above, focus in on technicalities. Rather than looking squarely at the Governing Body's claim that the "spiritual food" contained in the magazines and books printed by the publishing corporation is from God himself, which means that Jehovah God himself is behind the Watch Tower Society's duplicity regarding child abuse (according to Governing Body logic), a Witness will doggedly "strain out the gnat but gulp down the camel" to defend a group who say they speak for God, but do so without evidence.
Yet, disturbingly, Jehovah's Witnesses will turn a blind eye to that lack of evidence, while at the same time turning an eagle-eyed lawyerly frown towards any claim that their religious order, incorporated in the United States, has poor child protection policies; "where's the evidence?", they growl.
Sometimes in my opinion, however, they take their defence of the publishing company that dominates their lives too far. Such as in this response from StandFirm;
The lying Bowen's letter is saturated with falsehood. Many of these lies are documented at Thirdwitness' website.My intention was to reply to StandFirm's comment within the comments of the blog post. However, it's my opinion that his mindset so clearly reflects the very worst of mental leaps a Jehovah's Witness will make to defend a handful of business-suited men in North America that it bears closer scrutiny.
Here's but one example:
"This policy was again stated to the public in The Watchtower 1995, 11/1 pages 28-29 in the Article, ”Comfort for Those With a Stricken Spirit”, under the heading, “What Can Elders Do?” it plainly states:...If two different persons recall abuse by one pedophile, how could he be viewed as “an innocent” man?"
Here Bowen makes it seem as though if two separate people testify that someone abused them, their testimony will be ignored unless it is to the same act of abuse (which is of course impossible). That is a total lie. The 1995 Watchtower was talking about repressed memories (note how "remembers" is in quotes). The elders' manuals make clear that two witnesses to the same type of sin on differentoccasions is acceptable as a basis for judicial action. ("Pay Attention to Yourselves and to All the Flock" p. 111; "Shepherding the Flock of God" p. 71.)
As for the Thomas Gold case: Homosexual acts are simply sexual acts performed with a member of the same gender. Thomas Gold molested a boy, thus it was homosexuality; albeit worse than consensual sex. Put 2 and 2 together, note that the elders told him to go to the police. Clearly they saw it as more than just homosexuality, since homosexuality is not illegal.
The elders may have messed up in not ensuring that the abuse was reported. However, in so doing they went against organization policy. One also wonders why the victim or his family did not report, as it is really primarily their responsibility.
There is no systematic cover-up of child abuse in the organization. You knew this before your leaving the Witnesses. The elders are people too and so hate child abuse just as much as you and I. This letter to elders sums things up nicely.
The lying Bowen's letter is saturated with falsehood. Many of these lies are documented at Thirdwitness' website.But is Bill Bowen lying about the children who have been abused within the Watch Tower Society or about the elders who were instructed not to contact the authorities unless there are 2 witnesses to the abuse, yes or no?
Homosexual acts are simply sexual acts performed with a member of the same gender. Thomas Gold molested a boy, thus it was homosexuality; albeit worse than consensual sex. Put 2 and 2 together, note that the elders told him to go to the police. Clearly they saw it as more than just homosexuality, since homosexuality is not illegal.Molesting a child is homosexuality because the child is a boy? Are you actually serious? "Albeit worse than consensual sex"? Are you actually serious?
"Put 2 and 2 together" and get what? The problem with StandFirm, and the men who make up the rules at the publishing corporation's headquarters in North America, is that they thing abusing children is just another sin, much like getting drunk or "copping a feel" of your girlfriend.
But perhaps the reason they are willing to belief such an absurdity is because the Watch Tower Society policy is to treat it as such;
- sin has been committed
- sin has been reported to the elders
- does the sin have 2 witnesses to prove that it was committed
- if no, dismiss report and warn the accuser of the sin to remain silent about it for fear of themselves committing the sin of gossip
- if yes, hold judicial hearing whereby the accuser has to face the one whom they are accusing
It doesn't matter to this process if the "sin" is abusing children or getting drunk.
But abusing children isn't "just" a sin; it's a crime. And all crimes should be left to the authorities who are trained and qualified to investigate the crime. You let them decided whether there is a case to answer, not the "elders who are people too".
Let's face it, and I'm speaking from experience, Jehovah's Witness elders have little or no training on how to deal with the "big stuff". They're unpaid, volunteers and what little training they do get is all based around perpetuating the unsubstantiated premise that they're part of the true religion, chosen by Jesus in 1919 (although proving that date isn't actually possible).
One also wonders why the victim or his family did not report, as it is really primarily their responsibility.And now we get down to classic Watchtower apologist fare; apportion some sort of blame on the victim.
StandFirm, are you able to place yourself in the shoes of someone who has either been sexually abused within the Watch Tower Society, or has a child who has been abused? Can you put yourself in their shoes as they go to the elders and ask to speak to them about something, something they want to get off their chest? Can you try and imagine plucking up the courage to unburden yourself about the abuse that's happened to you or your child, doing so while you sit in a small room at the back of the Kingdom Hall, facing all of the elders in their business suits, with their large briefcases full of Watch Tower Society policy and dogma?
Can you imagine listening to the elders telling you that, because there's no witnesses to the abuse, they can't do anything about it? Can you picture yourself hearing the news that, because there's no witnesses to the abuse, you can't discuss the abuse with anyone? Can you feel your heart sinking as you know you'll need to carry the weight of what's happened on your own for fear of "bringing reproach on Jehovah's name" by taking the story of your abuse outside the walls of that small room at the back of the Kingdom Hall and going to the authorities? I mean, why would the authorities believe you when the most important thing in your life, the Watch Tower Society, has told you via it's representatives that they can't believe you because you don't have two witnesses?
Can you understand why, when you honestly evaluate the amount of power and dominance the elders have over your life or the lives of the people you love, that someone would choose not to go to the police?
You see, "one also wonders" about the people involved in this case;
- who were the elders that told Thomas Gold to go to the police?
- what were their opinions on Gold before the accusations were brought up?
- did they have any intuitive misgivings about the man?
- how did these elders feel when they told the victim and his family that there was nothing they could do about the abuse as they didn't have two witnesses?
- did this make them feel uneasy, or where they happy that they were protecting the "name of the congregation"?
- did they start treating Gold differently after that?
- did they start keeping a close eye on him around children, their own children perhaps?
- did they have a sealed envelop in the congregation's "permanent file" with Gold's name on it?
- did they contact the British branch office with the allegation levelled against Gold?
- if so, what was the response of the branch? Did it already have info on Gold, per Society policy?
- did Gold remain in the congregation where the abuse occurred, or did he move on to pastures new?
- if so, did the elders notify, even unofficially, the elders in the new congregation that there had been an accusation of abuse concerning Gold?
- how do the elders feel now that Gold has been convicted and their congregation, and "Jehovah's name" is in the news?
- how do the elders feel now that it looks like they 'covered up' his abuse by not going to the police about it themselves?
- do they see that they are no better than the Catholic Church, long vilified by the Watch Tower Society, and its handling of abuse?
StandFirm, and other Jehovah's Witnesses reading this, what lengths will you go to to defend the Watch Tower Society, a publishing corporation that claims, without any corroborating evidence, to speak for God?