Is it Time for Jehovah's Witnesses to Apologize? Part 2

First, it may be well to catch up with Part 1.

Jehovah’s Witnesses did fail in this regard. Let us admit it. They failed to ‘go beyond the law.’ The stakes are so high that law is thereafter reinterpreted to mean that they did violate it. Why did they fail? Ms. Chuck accurately states that any Witness victim or family of victim was always free to report child sexual abuse and that congregation justice did not preclude outside secular justice. Arguably, then, they failed because they were insular, as she says, and they may not realize just how firmly she has put her finger on the reason. They were not inclined to air their dirty laundry before the public.

It is not hard to understand. In some cultures, the concept of ‘saving face’ is so firmly entrenched that your efforts to communicate are doomed to failure if you ignore it. The very reason there is an expression ‘skeletons in the closet’ is the universal human instinct to keep them there. It is even found in the scriptures that Ms. Chuck acknowledges underlie everything Witnesses do. Decrying the spectacle of early Christians taking one another into court over personal disputes, the apostle Paul writes: “I am speaking to move you to shame. Is there not one wise man among you who is able to judge between his brothers? Instead, brother goes to court against brother, and before unbelievers at that!” If Jehovah’s Witnesses today are ‘insular,’ it is because Christians back then were ‘insular.’

In this case, however, insularity, and the failure to ‘go beyond the law’ has resulted in child abusers who did not take their turn in the police lineup, as well as victims thereby deprived of justice. Whether they would have received justice otherwise is arguable, for no end of persons manage to evade the wrath of the law. But that is not the point. They should have been turned over to police, the argument goes, for the latter to either nail them to the wall or let them beat the rap. The victims want justice. Like victims anywhere, they don’t always get it. But don’t get in the way of their quest for it. Since the Witness organization is perceived to have gotten in the way, with law being reinterpreted so as to more damningly point to that conclusion, should they apologize to victims or issue a public statement of regret? You could certainly build a case for it.

When the cop speeds in hot pursuit and a horrific accident results, pointing out that he had permission to speed only goes so far. There are times when only a sincere expression of regret stems the tide of outrage, for who is going to dismiss a run-over pedestrian as ‘just one of those things’?  At such times legal matters become technicalities and you look tone-deaf if you harp on them. Best to say that, in pursuing one’s mission, even within existing rules, a terrible tragedy has resulted for which there is sincere regret.

Were the Witness organization to ever do that, it would cut them no slack with the Reddit group. They would merely drop down a notch on their list to highlight the next reason they hate their former religion before surfacing briefly again to declare the statement insincere. No, there will be no placating these folks. But it might very well clear the air for all other persons, who know very well, simply through personal experience, that Jehovah’s Witnesses are very fine people. Even arch-enemy Barbara Anderson concedes this, as she somehow manages to insinuate that this is despite their evil governing body, rather than the much more reasonable ‘because of it.’

Not because of it solely, of course, for Witnesses’ decency stems from the God they worship. But in the sense that the Witnesses’ governing body keeps them clearly focused on the Bible, the source they signed on for, they surely deserve credit, not condemnation. Almost all other faiths have swayed with the changing winds of contemporary culture. Witnesses have not. They merely update now and then, as they have with their procedures of child sexual abuse investigations. Is it intimidating for a victim of child sexual abuse to appear before the three men of a investigatory committee? Well, they never thought of that. Maybe they should have. So now it is that a child’s recorded testimony can serve itself as the witness and he or she does not have to appear personally. If he or she does, it can be with any congregation member they choose, whether male or female. The religion’s fiercest critics say they will never stop opposing until Witnesses fix their child abuse policies. Arguably, they already have, since almost all cases tried are from 20-30 years ago.

Not everyone likes Jehovah’s Witnesses. Probably more do not than do. But people are mostly fair. A statement of regret would go a long way for them to say: “Oh, I see. They did screw it up, but now I can see why. They really do abhor child sexual abuse over there.”  Otherwise, their enemies find it a cakewalk to portray those in leadership positions among Jehovah’s Witnesses as ‘arrogant,’ and in some cases, careful cultivators of child sexual abusers. They are probably the least arrogant people on earth, but that does not mean they cannot be painted that way.

They do Bible education work. They do it extensively and effectively. In the developing world, a person is stuck with some 200-year old turkey of a Bible translation that he can neither afford nor understand because nobody other than Jehovah’s Witnesses thinks it is inappropriate for Big Business to handle distribution of the Word of God. The Witness Governing Body does think it is inappropriate and they have invented an entirely new production and distribution channel so that the person can obtain a modern Bible at minimal cost, or even free. That accomplishment is not nothing.

They do not do all of this personally, of course. Detractors routinely spin it that Witnesses are ‘controlled’ by ‘eight men in New York.’ It makes no sense. They are modest persons. Many of them cut their teeth performing their trademark door-to-door ministry in the developing world, carrying out a work more lowly than that of the ones they ultimately lead. They have a certain knack at administration, as with any effective organization, but other than that, they have little expertise in anything. But they know where to find it when they need it. From a field of eight million members, where there are no paywalls nor turf battles, they can quickly assemble whatever they deem necessary.

Their latest offering in the field of Bible education consists of an online, self-guided, and anonymous course of Bible study offered on the front page of their website, JW.org. The Bible offers convincing answers to important questions of life, Jehovah's Witnesses feel, questions not readily answered anywhere else. The course is all available online for free, now. After each lesson there is the option to 1) go deeper, for the presentation is necessarily simple, 2) attend a group study at the Witnesses’ Kingdom Hall, 3) request a personal instructor, or 4) say ‘none of the above’ and proceed to the next lesson. It’s a relatively new feature. I don’t know how it will be incorporated. But with only some exaggeration, I am looking forward to saying: “I don’t want to study the Bible with you. Do it yourself. If you have any questions or want to go a level more, I’ll be around.” With only slightly more exaggeration again, the new feature illustrates that, if need be, the main Bible teaching component of the Witnesses’ work could be run out of a server in someone’s dorm room.

They always will be ‘insular,’ or to put in their terminology, ‘no part of the world.’ Surely, they must be permitted to be, for the alternative is to snuff out the type of Christianity that existed in the first century, arguably the most 'true' model. Snuffing out this model in favor of societally evolved ones would be a very fine outcome in the eyes of today’s ‘anti-cultists,’ who will allow that religion can have a place only so long as it is clearly subservient to contemporary life and leaders. Anything not meeting this description they are inclined to label a ‘cult’ that ‘brainwashes’ people through ‘mind-control.’ Those of that spirit of Western anti-cultists have used exactly that reasoning to fuel the furor that has banned Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia and confiscated all of their property, with many other faiths shaking in their boots that they will be next. Of a prominent Russian anti-cultist, Alexander Dvorkin, who shares Western connections via an French NGO, a human-rights expert has said: he “enjoys disseminating inflammatory narratives and hate speech.” It is no less with anti-cultists here, who further their goals through whatever avenues present themselves.

It may well be time to acknowledge that this avenue, this one involving child sexual abuse reporting, is one that became riddled with axle-bending potholes, express sincere remorse, help out to whatever extent is necessary to fill them in, so as to move on with the overall program.

End of Part 2. Part 3 to follow.

 

 


Is it Time for Jehovah's Witnesses to Apologize? Part 1

Elizabeth Chuck wrote an article about Jehovah’s Witnesses and I would have preferred she write one instead about the PTA meeting in her town. It is a normal reaction, for it was news of a huge-dollar verdict against a religious organization I hold dear. Of course I hate to see it; that’s only natural. When you find yourself on the gallows you do not angle for a selfie with the hangman.

Still, if you must hear bad news, hear it from Ms. Chuck, for her news in this case is straight reporting, not one of the hatchet jobs we often get. The topic is the most white-hot topic of all, child sexual abuse, and temptations to whip it into fever pitch are not resisted by all. She does resist it. That’s not to say I might not write it up differently. With every story, it is a matter of which facts you put where. But she doesn’t make any up or deliberately misrepresent them. Having said that, it is not to suggest that even those who do misrepresent do so on purpose, as I will outline. Well…I guess it is to suggest that, but only to suggest. It is not proof positive. When your own people merely say that they ‘abhor child abuse and strive to protect children’, but otherwise do not comment, what’s a reporter to do?

Here’s what I like about the Elizabeth Chuck story.

First of all, it is not like the Matt Volz AP article, picked up by many sources, that expressed seeming bewilderment that “the Jehovah’s Witness cases haven’t received the same national attention” [as the Roman Catholic Church]. Is not the reason a big ‘Duh’? The Montana case abuse under trial was all within a family and church leaders were accused of botching the handling of it, though blameless themselves. It’s a little different than church leaders actually committing the abuse, something which is very rare with Witnesses.

Ms. Chuck correctly (and atypically) makes clear that a “two-witness rule” used by Witnesses “is only for internal modes of discipline and does not prevent a victim from going to the police.” She correctly points out that “there are very strict internal modes of discipline within Jehovah's Witnesses.” Yes. It is not an anything-goes religion. She correctly observes that being disfellowshipped is often a painful experience and serves as a negative incentive to do what might trigger it. So far so good. It might not be as I would phrase it, but it is certainly acceptable reporting.

She stumbles briefly, though not seriously, when she says: “Jehovah's Witnesses are a misunderstood and very self-enclosed group, despite counting some celebrities among its ranks — including Venus and Serena Williams.” She is right that they are misunderstood. The only footnote I would add is about her seeming acquiescence to the common wisdom that groups are validated by having celebrities in their camp, many of whom are the most silly people on earth, living radically different lives than anyone else. However, the miscue is minor, and, after all, I make use of poor Serena Williams, too.

Ms. Chuck does her homework. She consults experts on religion, such as “Mark Silk, a professor and the director of the Greenberg Center for the Study of Religion in Public Life at Trinity College in Hartford, Conn [who says of Witnesses] ‘They don't vote. They don't celebrate birthdays and holidays. They don't say the pledge [of allegiance]. They are not just another Christian denomination.’” It is not her fault if she does not know that the guy (likely) has it in for us, spinning his facts negatively, and the reason is revealed in his very job title: he is a professor at Trinity College. If you do not accept the Trinity teaching, you are toast in the eyes of many of these people. Nonetheless, what the professor says about voting and not pledging allegiance is true enough. He does not mention that if nobody pledged allegiance to human institutions maybe the national king could not pit them so easily against each other in times of war, but that is beyond the scope of his information request. At least he doesn’t inaccurately charge that Jehovah’s Witnesses are disrespectful to country, for there are few people as scrupulous about ‘rendering to Caesar what is Caesar’s’ (taxes) than they. Reporter Chuck relates the words of another expert: “Whatever belief they have or mode of internal discipline they have, they have a biblical justification for it.” I’ll take it. It’s true. We don’t apologize for it. I prefer it infinitely over church reporters saying we are not Christian because we do not accept the Trinity. The reason we not accept it is that its scriptural support is based almost entirely upon taking literally certain passages which, if they were seen in any other context, would be instantly dismissed as figure of speech.

She relates dutifully the sparse words of the Watchtower organization that they “abhor child abuse and strive to protect children from such acts,” attributing the sparseness to “a penchant for privacy.” She takes it at face value. She does not imply that they are lying through their teeth, like Mr. Gambacorta did in the Philadelphia Inquirer, dismissing the words as ‘boiler plate,’ and even ending his article with an anecdote of spying artwork at the JW headquarters captioned ‘Jehovah loves children,’ and using it as a pretext to wink at his readers as though to say: ‘Yes, I guess we know just how they love them’ before returning to his Witness-hating base on a Reddit thread, where he is hailed as a hero. He made me so mad that I responded by letter, and when it was ignored I put it online (and I wish it got more play than it actually does, for it is good, not the whole picture perhaps, but what is?  It represents facts not exactly shouted from the rooftops. It offers perspectives not heard anywhere else.)

However, eclipsing her skill at side-stepping all these potential landmines is that she puts her finger on the real problem in the very first paragraph of her article: Jehovah’s Witnesses are ‘insular.’ She doesn’t even try to spin that into a crime, as do some. Most Witnesses would not agree to the label ‘insular’, but that is primarily because they are unfamiliar with it and unsure just what attachments might come with it. They will instantly, even proudly, acknowledge two closely related phrases: they are ‘separate from the world’ and ‘no part of’ it. It is a scriptural imperative, they will say, because if you want to lend a helping hand, you must be in a place of safety yourself. Not all will agree that life today is constantly-improving. Some will say the overall picture more closely resembles the Titanic floundering. Did I not just read that generalized anxiety has replaced depression as the number one mental health malady? Can that be because there is nothing to worry about in life today? I think not. It is the ramifications of these two views, society is ever-improving vs floundering, that causes most of the ‘misunderstanding’ that opponents of Witnesses speak of.

Witnesses are ‘insular,’ biblically mandated, and here is an instance where that insularity has contributed to a significant tragedy. Witness leaders find themselves in a situation parallel to certain vehicles being exempt from normal traffic laws—say, cops and fire emergency vehicles. Yet, in making use of that exemption, a terrible accident results and the public outcry is so great that they are convicted even though following the law. Or, to apply it more accurately, public anger is so great that the law is reinterpreted so it can be established that they did break it.

I am not a lawyer. I can quickly step out of my depth. Yet most persons reading this section of the Montana child abuse reporting laws would, I suspect, agree that the Witness organization followed the letter of them. They make every effort to do that. The prompt appeal of any Witness judicial committee to their Branch organization is not to see how they can evade child abuse laws, as their opponents often spin it, but how they can be sure their actions are in harmony with them.

On the very bottom of the document ‘Montana Mandatory Reporting Requirements Regarding Children’ is a section labeled ‘Members of the clergy or priests are not required to report when the following condition is met.... if the communication is required to be confidential by cannon law, church doctrine, or established church practice.”

Even “established church practice?” It seems extraordinarily loose, and yet there it is. It is a part of a doctrine called ‘ecclesiastical privilege.’ It has long been encapsulated into law, as has the privileged nature of the doctor-patient relationship and the attorney-client relationship, on the recognition that these relationships cannot function without the expectation of confidentiality.

If such is the law, why is the Witness organization found culpable despite stringent efforts to follow it? Because the war today is against child sexual abuse, deemed the most critical crusade of our time, and they were expected to ‘go beyond the law’ so as to facilitate that end. Thus, the law was reinterpreted so as to allow that they did violate it.

The Witness organization finds itself in a situation similar to that of Joe Paterno, the coach who was universally praised throughout his life as an excellent role model but then was excoriated beyond redemption when he merely obeyed the law regarding an unspecific allegation he heard of child sexual abuse but did not 'go beyond it.'  He followed it. He reported the allegation to his superiors. But he did not ‘go beyond the law,’ reporting it directly to police. When the allegation turned out to be true, his career was over, and even his life, for he died two years later.

If it is so crucial to ‘go beyond the law,’ then make that the law. This is exactly what Geoffrey Jackson of the Witnesses’ Governing Body pleaded for three times before an Australian Royal Commission. Isn’t that the purpose of law – to codify what is right? Make the law clear, unambiguous, and allow for no exceptions. Jehovah’s Witnesses are universally recognized for meticulously following secular law even as they are primarily guided by biblical law. Make universal mandating the law, with no exceptions. Requiring parties to ‘go beyond the law’ only enables Monday-morning quarterbacking to assign motives, invariably bad ones, to unpopular parties that have failed in this regard.

An article in the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle dated November 20th, 2011, observed that “it's a mistake to think that the failure…to report the abuse is a rarity....Studies over the past two decades nationally have consistently shown that nearly two-thirds of professionals who are required to report all cases of suspected abuse fail to do so....."I think that we fail miserably in mandated reporting," said Monroe County Assistant District Attorney Kristina Karle...” Is it not absurdly chaotic to excoriate those who did their best to follow the law when two thirds of all professionals, for a variety of reasons, do not? Does anyone charge that two thirds of all professionals do not give a hoot about children? Plainly there are other factors at work. Yet when the crusade against child sexual abuse reaches fever pitch only one factor is deemed to have any significance.

(The Democrat and Chronicle article is behind a paywall. Snippets of the above quote exist here and there, but to my knowledge, the only complete excerpt is found in a JoePa follow-up article I wrote at the time. All is not lost. Your employer will pay to get you behind that wall, and probably already has an account. Alas, my employer is me, and he likes to cut costs, seeing no need to return there, as he already has what he needs.)

End of Part 1. Part 2 to follow soon.


The Serena Williams Child Doesn't Do Birthdays. Parts 2.5 and 3

Normally the progression is from Part 2 directly into Part 3. It should be here as well, except that Serena Williams reached a landmine of her career in the interim and it cannot be passed over. At the U.S Open she made headlines for converting a physical loss into a moral win. But it depends on who you talk to. If you didn’t like her before, you will dislike her more. If you liked her before you will like her more. I’ll take the latter.

Part 2.5:

The U.S. Open ref with the poofy hair penalized her three times, only the second of which was a slam-dunk for real. When you’re hot, you’re hot, and she blew up at him. Not at first when she said: “We don’t have any code and I know you don’t know that and I understand why you may have thought that was coaching but I’m telling you it’s not. I don’t cheat to win, I’d rather lose. I’m just letting you know.” (The coach said later that he was coaching, but that it happens all the time, and he does it less than most, a point on which sportswriters agreed.)

But she sure did blast him after missing a shot and mashing her racket (which also is common): “You owe me an apology,” she shouted. “I have never cheated in my life, I have a daughter and I stand what’s right for her.” See what motivates her these days? See what she had been stewing about? Her daughter and the example set for her. The same daughter that does not do birthdays.

She called the ref a ‘thief’ for taking away the point that presaged her meltdown and that also counted against her. Men say “F**k you!” to the umpire all the time without consequence, so most agreed that she did catch it on account of being a woman, as she heatedly charged.

Her opponent Osaka won the match, but everyone booed. As soon as Serena noticed her upset and tears, she ran and embraced her and told the crowd not to boo, even through her own tears: “I don’t want to be rude. I don't want to interrupt and I don't want to do questions. I just want to tell you guys she played well and this is her first grand slam,” at which point everyone cheered.

It is so like the Bible admonition to “keep an eye, not on your own interests, but on those of the other person’s” that one wonders if she did not absorb it from her Witness upbringing. Or maybe it is just her and has nothing to do with the Bible. Either way, it means she will make a fine Jehovah’s Witness should she get everything together. She has high reputation. “…people who hate on Serena Williams' "character" obviously don't follower her off the court. She's a competitor between the lines, but a role model off the court as a person and a celebrity,” tweeted sports commentator Jeff Eisenband.

One can even picture Serena retiring at this point. Not that I would will it, necessarily, but it could happen. She is now a mom with suddenly another life to care for, a common turning point in a woman’s life. There are things about Jehovah’s Witnesses and pro sports that are not entirely compatible, such as providing opportunities to blow one’s top. The two courses are not absolutely incompatible, but they pose a challenge.

Part 3:

Part 2 ended with the suggestion that Serena might succeed in showing up the anti-JW Reddit group for what they are. It is a chicken’s way out—say something like that and then close the post, thank you very much, take your beefs to the curb. It is better to take a square look at just what they are. ‘What are they,’ anyway, that Reddit group? They are a motley assortment of people of varying talents, with the common denominator of distaste for discipline and a determination to kick over the traces. It’s regarding the Witness organization here, but the trend is seen everywhere. Despite abundant evidence that unbridled self-determination does not work out particularly well for people, they nonetheless want to go that route. It is the order of the day. People do not want to be ‘told what to do’ by anyone and they are very touchy on what constitutes being ‘told what to do.’ Thwart their definition and you are toast.

If they are to be called ‘apostates,’ they mirror apostates of the first century. Of them, Peter says they “revel in their deceits while carousing with you,” have “eyes full of adultery,” “are insatiable for sin.” How does that become a problem unless there is someone who would tell them they can’t? The governing arrangement back then cannot have been too different from what it is today, given that it oversaw a much smaller field. Plainly, there was discipline then, and the ‘apostasy’ came from those who didn’t like it.

The Reddit grousers carry a range of beefs against the Witness organization, many quite tiny and pumped up, but some more substantial. Of the latter, there are those aggrieved at suffering child sexual abuse, rarely from someone in authority, but occasionally so. They now want a day of reckoning if it turns out that the molester was not turned over to police, regardless of how they were handled through congregational investigation. It is not the same as the Church, where abuse appears common among clergy. With Jehovah’s Witnesses, even after adjusting for size differences, if you want a similar ‘catch,’ you must broaden your nets to include, not just ‘clergy,’ but everybody.

An aggrieved victim of child sexual abuse is proving the most powerful force in the universe these days. Who would ever have thought that the greater world would attempt to ‘out-righteous’ the Christian congregation on this one? It has happened nowhere else. Moreover, the ‘out-righteousing’ is illusory. Despite 30 years combatting pedophiles, there is precious little to show for it. We constantly hear of crimes committed by ones already tagged as abusers—why, they lived right down the street. While reporting abusers is certainly a good thing, decades of doing so has made little dent in the pandemic. Better to focus on prevention, and here there is reason to feel that the Witness regimen and teachings are effective to a greater degree than those of the overall world.

The ‘crime’ alleged of the Jehovah’s Witness organization is rarely an actual crime. It is generally ‘failing to go beyond the law’ in years past, to report abusers, unless members themselves chose to do it. They could have, but often they did not because the Witness religion is ‘insular,’ the charge goes. Being ‘insular’ is but a tiny misstep away from being ‘separate.’ The latter is a biblical requirement of those who would serve God.

You almost wish there would be a statement someday from the Witness organization:

“Look, here’s what happened. We extended 1 Corinthians 6:7 into non-financial matters. We did it because we were insular, an unintended byproduct of being separate. We believe that saying separate from the world is a biblical necessity, the only position from which to help distressed ones in it. “Really, it is already a defeat for you when you have lawsuits with one another. Why not rather let yourselves be wronged? Why do you not rather let yourselves be defrauded,” is the verse we extended. We tried to root out child abuse in our midst at a time few others looked into it, and we did the best we could. Sorry.”

Yes, frame it as an apology, if need be. People love apologies and forgive much for it. Determined opposers will not, of course. They will say it is an admission of guilt and/or incompetence and proves you must be fired, but this is par for the course and happens everywhere. Might such a statement stumble some of the ‘sheep’? Possibly, particularly ones who know nothing of it. But it will be more than offset by new persons who admire the candor and can well understand that real Christianity must be separate from a decaying world. And the stumbled ones are not lost. Another mea culpa may do the trick, such as with a 1975 date that didn’t turn out as hoped:

“Um, sorry. We never outright said it, really, but we came close enough to stoke up the hopes of people who hoped to see it that way. At the drop of a pin, Jesus’ followers thought The End was tomorrow. In hindsight, maybe we should have reckoned more on how easy it is to get people going. Still, we did not want to ignore the Lord’s command to ‘keep on the watch’ and the trigger that prompted the excitement was not nothing.”

The former announcement will not make people happy on the Reddit forum; they still have 50 more beefs. But it will many others. Not all victims of injustice within the congregation go the outside legal system and sue their brothers. Most will say: ‘Congregation justice may not be perfect, but it sure is head and shoulders over the justice of the outside world.’ It is a lawyer’s playground out there, with massive transfers of funds in all directions for every conceivable wrong with the barristers netting a third Some congregation members, even wronged ones, will prefer to put their trust in 1 Timothy: “The sins of some men are publicly known, leading directly to judgment, but those of other men become evident later.” It’s not perfect. But it beats the greater world’s justice which so frequently falls down of the job.

Serean 3

 


The Serena Williams Child Does Not Do Birthdays. Part 2

No sooner did I liken Serena Williams to Queen Esther for her possible future role of exposing the evildoers, than someone said: “Um, she’s not exactly Queen Esther, you know. Didn’t she appear bare-naked, unmarried, and pregnant on that Vanity Fair cover? And you know that birth is not like the one of Mary.”

Well, I actually hadn’t thought of that, if I ever knew it in the first place. Still, it changes nothing. She openly acknowledges she likes the faith but has not practiced it. Now she means to. Is it a bad thing when she has, in the past, called herself a Jehovah’s Witness?

You know, ordinarily, yes. But in this case, not necessarily. People love celebrities and will usually concede that they live in a world of their own, facing unique pressures.

For better or for worse, nobody makes a big deal of sex before marriage anymore. I don't even think the news writer of the article that her child won’t do birthdays thought to mention it, or maybe she did and it didn’t register. That people do not make a big deal of it is 'for worse,' usually, because Word says that they should, the but in this case, it is 'for better.'

Totally without evidence, based only upon a feel for the way people are, I think her vehement critics are ones who dislike Jehovah’s Witnesses, who spot the disparity of conduct and want to slam us with it. Besides these ones are many Witnesses themselves, who also spot it. Few others care.

Has she lived up to the faith in the past? She says very openly that she has not. Now she reaches a point where she says she will. I think it is a very good thing. Okay, okay, so she is no Queen Esther. Call her the Samaritan woman by the well, a women who carried on more than Serena ever did off the court, yet lived to be a powerful witness for the Lord.

Do we have a woman who is a mixed bag, having done things good and bad, and who now wants to make them all good? I'll take it every time. it is in the spirit of Jesus, I think, who came to save persons ill who had become aware of their spiritual need. She will straighten out all those things before baptism, of course, should she continue on the path she now says she was to pursue more single-mindedly. Love hopes all things and believes all things. Sometimes it is even proved wrong. But it keeps hoping and believing

Moreover, to go back to the original point of my post, part one, this Reddit group has done Witnesses huge mischief. The Philly reporter used it as his source to write four incendiary anti-JW articles in a row to present a seeming scandal without the context that illuminates it.

This group is trying with all its might to equate Jehovah's Witnesses with the sins of the Catholic church. It is a stretch, because abusers in the Church are clergy. Even after making adjustments for size, if you want to get the same 'catch' among Jehovah's people, you must broaden your net to include, not just 'clergy,' but everybody. That doesn't mean that some are not diligently trying to do it, and equate some 'non-reporting to authorities' in previous years to being actual incubators of child abuse. They are up to no good, and the alleged sin in such cases is generally  'failing to go beyond the law' in reporting such cases to police. I continually make the point that if it is so crucial to 'go beyond the law' then that should become the law, the same point that Geoffrey Jackson, a member of the Witnesses’ Governing Body, made to a recent inquiry.

If Serena was to prompt her husband, the Reddit founder, to weigh in on that group in our favor and expose them for what they are (see upcoming Part 3), I believe she would be forgiven 'a multitude of sins,' even if she never did manage to get it all together in her own life, as she seems to want to do. In fact, in the event of that outcome, and to bring matters full circle, that would be an example of something else Mordecai said to his niece. If salvation does not come through spotless Esther, it will come from some other source. Either way, I’ll take it and say ‘thank you’ to the Lord and see if there is more ammunition lying around.


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Jehovah's Witnesses and Delaware Settles a Class Action Child Abuse Case

Lawsuits are common these days, and Jehovah’s Witnesses recently settled one in Delaware, and paid fines totaling $19,500 to the Delaware Department of Justice. The offense sued over was knowing of cases of child sexual abuse in previous decades and not ‘going beyond the law’ to report them to police agencies. One provision of the settlement was stated here by a lawyer involved:

“A third requirement mandated by Delaware included the signing of an affidavit stipulating that Jehovah’s Witness elders must comply with all Delaware statutes involving the reporting of child abuse.”

This is presented as though it represents a setback to the JW organization. In fact, it is just what Geoffrey Jackson pleaded for three times before the Australian Royal Commission: Make mandatory reporting laws universal, across the board, everywhere. Then it would “make our job so much easier.”

Why should he have to make that plea in 2017? Given the present crusade over child sexual abuse, by now getting quite long-in-the-tooth, seemingly no policy change should be easier. And if this is the patchwork of conflicting laws in 2017, it is not hard to envision what it was in the 80s and 90s, the time period from which almost all of these cases stem, where the prevailing ‘crime’ is not going ‘beyond the law’ with regard to reporting. If it is so crucial to go beyond the law, then surely that should become the law. Condemning ones for not going beyond the law simply allows for Monday morning quarterbacking, assigning invariably bad motives to persons or organizations who are not liked.

My take is that this Delaware stipulation will make Jehovah’s Witnesses quite happy. It alleviates a situation full of minefields for those who feel the responsibility of policing their own for all types of wrongdoing, not just this one. It also means they can pursue their ‘two-witness’ rule to their heart’s content (one witness always being the victim him/herself, another perhaps a similar report of the same individual) without thwarting the interests of the State, which proceeds with different standards of proof.

If a crime is heinous enough, you want somebody to go to jail for it. But we are routinely reading of persons exonerated and released from prison after doing decades of time, convicted over ‘proof’ less strenuous than ‘two-witness’ and finding justice only with the advent of new DNA evidence. That is why Witnesses are not in a hurry to abandon the two-witness standard, a biblical principle which, until recently, was bedrock to Western law. But again, with universal reporting law, it all becomes superfluous. Both can pursue their own missions, neither thwarting the other.

Jehovah’s Witnesses will be happy with this development, I predict. It is a win-win.

Child-1152350_960_720


Three Incendiary Articles from the Philadelphia Inqurer

The Philadelphia Inquirer wrote three incendiary articles about Jehovah’s Witnesses, and Wow! did they ever make them look bad! Probably that was the intent, though it is hard to say for sure because nobody would ever say that the subject is nothing. It is the topic of child sexual abuse, the most white-hot topic of all.

There is some reason to think that child sexual abuse is relatively uncommon within the ranks of Jehovah's Witnesses, but just try telling that to one who has suffered from it. There is no experience that determines one's viewpoint more than this one. It is exacerbated by the Witnesses being said to be an ‘insular’ organization, and this ‘crime’ of being insular is pushed pedal-to-the-medal by the Philly reporter, who returns to an anti-Witness website after articles, where he is lauded as a hero. Perhaps he has 20 more of such articles up his sleeve. But it is little wonder that he is lauded: some of these gathered at the site are ones who have been victims.

The overall stats for child sexual abuse do not speak well for humanity. One of four girls and one of six boys will be sexually abused before they are 18 (in the U. S, according to InvisibleChildren.org)—this, despite decades of battling the evil.

Jehovah’s Witnesses in 2017, at their summer conventions, which all attend, considered detailed scenarios in which child sexual abuse might occur, so that parents, the first line of defense, could be vigilant. If anyone displays unusual interest in your child, if there are sleepovers, if there are unsupervised trips to the rest room, if—there were several others, all potential hot spots, not necessarily bad, but reason to be attentive. Nobody, but nobody, gathers their entire membership for such education other than Jehovah’s Witnesses.

There is also Caleb and Sophia, cartoon characters whose family doings are utilized as a teaching tool for Witness parents. They teach short lessons on subjects quite mundane, yet crucial to smooth functioning of society, such as the desirability of honesty. The tykes delight the hearts of JW children everywhere (except in Russia, where they are behind bars as extremists). ‘Protect Your Children’ is an especially vital lesson that addresses pedophilia, in which Mommy and Daddy coax their children on how to respond if threatened. If someone “touches you where they should not” or “asks you to do something that makes you feel uncomfortable.” “Even if it is someone you know and trust,” Mommy commends a correct answer, and her husband adds, “and then tell Mommy and Daddy right away,” who, in the video, take the news most seriously.

In three articles, the Philadelphia Inquirer makes no mention of these clearly relevant factors, though whether it is through malice or incompetence is unclear. Nor do they cite the Witness organization’s easily available printed and digital child abuse policy, which gives the obvious lie to most of their insinuations. Included only is a Watchtower Society quote that the latter ‘abhor child sexual abuse,’ which the Inquirer presents in a context as though evidence that they do not.

No, Philly Inquirer, the religion you slimed is not the scourge of humanity. It comprises a group of decent, caring human beings who encountered problems in the 80s and 90s, doing what others did not even attempt: investigate reports of this abomination, along with other types of wrongdoing, so as to strive towards the biblical imperative of ‘presenting to God a clean people.’ “You, the one saying, ‘do not steal,’ do you steal? You, the one saying, ‘do not commit adultery,’ do you commit adultery?” says the apostle Paul. Any group professing that their beliefs contribute to better social conduct should take measures to see that that is in fact the case.

You cannot mishandle what you never attempted to handle in the first place. Did anyone other than Jehovah’s Witnesses take self-policing so seriously? The Philadelphia Inquirer appears to be fully siding with enemies of the religion whose stated goal is to litigate it out of existence. Were they to succeed, they would be showing themselves friends of child sexual abuse, for few others have the proactive education and prevention record of Jehovah’s Witnesses, despite some serious missteps. Data that can be gleaned from an Australian Royal Commission, coupled with the Witnesses relentless campaign to avoid pornography in any form, plus the educational factors already cited, make this conclusion nearly inescapable, though positive proof will ever be lacking because others of the time failed to address the problem and thereby produce records. In many venues, such ‘negligence’ is a punishable offense; here it is effectively rewarded. It is Sergeant Shultz crying, “I know nothiinnnggg,” a policy that ultimately got him out of many a jam on the old TV show.

The misstep that the Inquirer exclusively zeroes in on, and it is not nothing, is the inclination of many Witnesses, upon submitting a matter to congregation elders, to not also go to outside authorities, and elders to not go over their heads and do so themselves. Ones were never prevented from doing so, but the prevailing atmosphere in the 80s and 90s was such that they were less likely to do it, and stories abound of persons being pressured in that direction. An ill-conceived desire to protect reputation is hardly unique to Witnesses of that day; the very reason there is an expression “skeletons in the closet” is that families once succeeded in keeping them there. I would not argue that Jehovah’s Witnesses were slower than most to give up that mindset. These days elders positively plead with families of victims to report to outside authorities, only to find that some are still reluctant to go that route.

In this context, some victims of child sexual abuse come to feel and deeply regret that they went unheard. Some of these later become bitter towards religion in general, and Jehovah's Witnesses in particular. It cannot be argued that circumstances did not give them a strong nudge in that direction, can it? Today, in a climate of litigation, many of these ones seek their due.

The notion that persons should be monetarily compensated for real or perceived wrongs has long been accepted by society. Lawsuits for all manner of offenses are unremarkable routine and enormous monitary awards are common. It amounts to a massive society-wide transfer of wealth, with lawyers charging a third. It is the reason insurance skyrockets at a time that inflation is quite low. It is a reason prices of goods escalate, as ‘punished’ corporations simply pass along their costs to the consumer. Few would assert that compensation is wrong, but few would deny its overall effects, either.

Witness policy has evolved to the extent they feel is possible, given their Bible outlook, but they plead for a circumstance in law that is unlikely ever to be realized. Here law mandates that allegations be reported to police, there it does not mandate it, and the default law kicks into place that it is likely forbidden, as it can constitute a violation of ‘clergy-penitent confidentiality,’ an idea as much enshrined into law as doctor-patient confidentiality and attorney-client confidentiality. The Witness attorney pleaded for understanding before the ARC (and got none) that Witnesses were having a hard time navigating this patchwork of laws, as they sought to fulfill a biblically-mandated duty that others do not take seriously. Three times before the Australian Royal Commission, a member of the Witnesses’ Governing Body pleaded for universal mandatory reporting laws, across all territories, with no exceptions. Then it wouldn’t matter if a given congregation member, for whatever reason, declined to go to the police. Elders would do it regardless. Most of the cases reported today are from 20 or more years previous, and the 'crime' alleged is failing 'to go beyond the law' with regard to reporting. Nothing is more telling of society's overall desperation at losing the war against child sexual abuse than the moral imperative to 'go beyond the law.' If it is so imperative to go 'beyond the law' then surely that should become the law. Otherwise, that lapse becomes merely a means for Monday-mornng quarterbacking to target unpopular groups.

Such universal change in law would make possible both the aims of the congregation and those of outside authorities. Roundly condemned is Jehovah’s Witnesses insistence on a “two-witness rule” in connection with their religious investigations. The Philadelphia Inquirer misrepresents this rule as though Jehovah’s Witnesses demand two spectators for every abuse incident, and let perpetrators off with a wink and a nod in their absence. They ignore that one witness is the victim his or herself, and a similar report from another party also constitutes a ‘witness.’ It is still far from watertight, but hardly the pedophile green light that they represent. Circumstantial evidence will also result in less serious censure.

The reason one ought not be too quick to give up a “two-witness rule” emerges every time someone is exonerated by DNA evidence, the latest advance of criminal science, after serving decades in prison, having been convicted with less strenuous proof. Outside authorities have their own standards for proof, and with universal mandatory reporting laws, both agencies can fulfill their duties adequately. Why was this not done long ago—passing universal mandatory reporting laws? Given the crusade to punish child sexual abuse, one would think that no task would have been easier.

Since the present legal climate makes the Witnesses' duty in policing its own, according to biblical standards, almost impossible, the situation could be framed as a contest between church and state. ‘Preach to them on Sunday, and be done with it,’ is the only liability-free policy. ‘It’s none of your business whether they apply it or not.’’ And yet, to those determined to live by Bible prinicples as best they can, it clearly is their 'business'. Is it possible that the Witnesses' underlying ‘crime’ is the resolve to stay ‘separate’ from the overall world, today portrayed as being ‘insular?’ The Jews’ determination to stay separate, moderated only in recent years, has contributed towards many a pogrom over past centuries.

Jehovah’s Witnesses are overall pretty good at allowing the repercussions of life to serve as discipline, even if they are not intended that way. “It is for discipline that you are enduring,” says Paul, adding, “no discipline seems for the present to be joyous, but it is painful; yet afterwards it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” Witness leaders are without doubt humbled and chastened by events. They may not state it to those they perceive as their enemies, because the goals of the latter go well beyond humbling, but it is undoubtedly so.

Meanwhile, when sued, they must defend themselves in court where determining what is right is complex and impartiality cannot be assumed. The reason there is an uproar with every new Supreme Court justice nominee is the universal understanding that even judges are not impartial; they interpret the law in the light of overriding philosophy and pre-existing bias; it is not enough simply to find one who knows how to swing a gavel. And no topic can trigger overriding philosophy and pre-existing bias more than child sexual abuse.

~~~***~~~

Reply to incendiary article one here:

Reply to incendiary article two here:

Replay to incendiary article three here:

Commentary on later developments here:


Who Really Abuses Children

The finding that should be spotlighted, though it was not because the mission was something else, is that children appear to be far safer in the Witness community than in the general Australian population. Case Study 54 is a follow-up to Study 29. It sheds light on the situation that will surprise some.52 Study 54 looked at the 17 instances of child abuse from the Witness organization that had occurred in the interim, from August 2015 to January 2017. Nine were historical cases and none involved an elder. All occurred in a familial setting. Of the seventeen, two had refused to report to secular authorities, as they were adult survivors and it was their right not to report. The number of Witnesses in all Australia at the time was 67,418.53

A revealing comparison becomes possible with a pool size large enough to be significant. Out of a total national Australian population of 23,968,973,54 the Australian Institute of Family Studies reported 355,925 notifications of child abuse stemming from 225,487 children (2015-2016). 12% of that number was determined to be child sexual abuse, and so the 225,487 becomes 27,058.55 From the Jehovah’s Witnesses figures, seventeen notifications of abuse over seventeen months is one per month. Let us therefore call it twelve, so that time periods of all figures equalize. Twelve abuse incidents were reported among the 67,418 Witnesses in Australia during the same one-year period that 27,058 child sexual abuse cases were reported among the entire Australian population of 23,968,973.

The figures to be used for comparative purposes are: Greater Australia:  27,058 / 23,968,973, which represents .1129% vs Jehovah’s Witnesses in Australia:  12 / 67,418, which represents .0178% From these figures it would appear that a child in the Witness community is six times safer than a child in the greater Australian community. From them the conclusion can be drawn that if greater Australia had experienced child sexual abuse in the same proportion as that of Jehovah’s Witnesses, it would have experienced but 4,510 incidences of child sexual abuse, not the 27,058 it actually did experience. Thus, there were 22,458 annual incidences of child sexual abuse that would not have occurred had the entire country had the abuse prevention record of Jehovah’s Witnesses.

The ARC focused on 1006 JW reports of abuse over a 60-year period. They could not be expected to focus on the 22,458 reports in one year. That was not their job. They focused on the 1006 reports over 60 years, which was their job. They were not able to look at any other entire denominations because none of them tracked abuse among their parishioners. They themselves tracked no record of perpetrator by religion, unless that figure was supplied by the religion itself, to be handed over upon demand. There is thus ‘negligence’ on two counts: one, of religious organizations keeping no record of abuse among their parishioners, as though none had ever occurred, and two: of Australian authorities themselves who failed to ascertain religious affiliation of perpetrators. One or the other should have happened for them to condemn the one faith proactive enough to maintain the records that show, upon number-crunching, that they were preventing child sexual abuse six times better. In many settings, negligence is a punishable offense. In this setting, negligence is rewarded and proactiveness is punished.

There is only so far you can go with the ‘six times better’ figure. It should not be relied upon as dogma. It is processed notifications into varying levels of severity on one side versus unprocessed notifications on the other. It is most likely that the 17 notifications from the Witness camp will break down similarly to stats overall, but this cannot be guaranteed. Small variations alter the results dramatically and large variations make it all but meaningless.  It is good only for a ballpark figure, the best that can be hoped for given that the ones who should have put their talents to work in ascertaining truth chose instead to bury theirs in the ground. It will have to do for now. Adjusted results from data clarification doesn’t have to work against Witnesses. It could work in their favor. If notifications in the greater Australian figures outnumbered victims, that could be true in the Witness figures as well. Maybe even all 17 reports stem from a single rotter like that fellow in San Diego. Kneecap that scoundrel and the record is perfect. We live in a world of buzzwords and catchphrases, few of which will endure rigorous shaking. It is enough to employ our ‘six times better’ figure as a starting bid and concede that further bids might alter the picture in either direction. Therefore, from henceforth, we will merely state that the Witness record of prevention is ‘significantly above’ that of the general population.

Addressing an instance of child sexual abuse ‘properly’ does not mean that it did not occur. It suggests the grief counselors dispatched to the school after a school shooting. Adults reassure themselves that they have addressed the situation properly. However, any student in the school will instantly say it would have been far superior had there been no need for grief counselors in the first place. The transcending lesson to take away from this hearing is not the 1006 abuse victims whose cases were not handled properly in the eyes of Australian authorities. It is the likely 22,458 cases of abuse nationwide (in a single year) that would not have happened were greater society able to imitate the record of Jehovah’s Witnesses.

It is so very typical of this world to relentlessly focus on post-disaster clean-up and completely ignore prevention. Is it not because prevention involves some limits placed upon free expression and some judgements made about morality? Even so, prevention is what should be given priority. ‘Handling child sexual abuse cases correctly’ essentially amounts to securing the barn door after the cows have fled. It is not unproductive to do this, but it is far better for them not to flee in the first place, and the Jehovah’s Witness record on this is significantly better than non-Witnesses. There may be more of these investigations to come. Those who despise Jehovah’s Witnesses are determined that their child sexual abuse policy will headline every one of them. The ‘star’ of Witness policy not aligning with policy of the greater world will continue to burn bright for such ones, but over time the rising star of the superior Witnesses’ overall prevention rate will burn brighter.

One can and should empathize with the two sexual abuse survivors of Witness background interviewed by the Commission. Their testimony is distressing, though no more so than the thousands of abuse cases the ARC heard in all settings. Yet somewhere along the line it ought to be acknowledged that there are far fewer abuse cases among Jehovah’s Witnesses than elsewhere due to their immersion in a culture where Bible principles were emphasized. Put simply, the Australian Royal Commission found much fault with how Witnesses handled cases of child sexual abuse. But they missed entirely the fact that there were 83% less of them to handle, per the Case 54 figures. Doubtless, the overall moral climate prevailing among Jehovah’s Witnesses accounts for the difference. Had the ARC not missed this fact, they might even have recommended that all persons in Australia become Jehovah’s Witnesses. And they might have awarded Jehovah’s Witnesses a Family Glory award, just like Putin did to the Russian Witness family.

From chapter 12 (Pedophiles) of 'Dear Mr. Putin - Jehovah's Witnesses Write Russia'

 


An Open Letter to the Philadelphia Inquirer (because they did not acknowlege, much less print, the sent one)

With regard to the April 25th story, ‘Silent Witnesses,’ about Jehovah’s Witnesses and child sexual abuse: Some significant facts are omitted, and some background facts that are included are misrepresented, leading to condemnation of a religion that otherwise has a reputation for fine works and conduct.

“Overall, they’re nice, sincere people” says vehement critic Barbara Anderson, referring to the “rank and file.” The video of Jared Kushner, from before campaign days, speaking of the Witnesses from whom he would buy their Brooklyn buildings is almost unheard of in its praise—Witnesses are persons of “high integrity” with whom “a handshake deal means something,” he says. How can this be if the leadership is as vile as the reporter represents them? Plainly, something is missing.

No topic is more incendiary than child sexual abuse. In no other area is a person’s viewpoint so determined by experience. Few evils are more widespread. The organization InvisibleChildren.org reports that, in the United States, 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys will be sexually abused before they turn 18 years old—despite years of emphasis on punishing perpetrators.

Jehovah’s Witnesses’ relationship to the pandemic can be viewed through a different lens than the Inquirer views it. The Watchtower organization was proactive at a time when few others were, investigating reports of this and other forms of wrongdoing within their ranks, and it is through this policy of vigilance that they come to be identified with this moral crime. In fact, any group professing that their beliefs contribute to better conduct should take measures to see that that is in fact the case. The Book of Romans says “You, the one preaching, “Do not steal,” do you steal? You, the one saying, “Do not commit adultery,” do you commit adultery?’ Few, if any, other than Jehovah’s Witnesses followed through on this obviously necessary self-examination.

Lucy Delap, writing for History and Policy, states that “clear guidelines for best [child protective] practice were not established until the 1990s,” during or even after most of the JW abuse cases under review. Thus, the Witness organization walked in largely uncharted territory, for the purpose of identifying this most pernicious group so as to apply discipline, often expulsion, to safeguard other congregation members, and to ensure that pedophiles could not slip unnoticed from one congregation into another (as they could anywhere else). To some extent, condemnation of the Watchtower for this proactive policy is a prime example of the cynicism: “No good deed goes unpunished.”

The fourteen persons that Mr. Gambacorta interviewed appear to be from a Reddit forum “devoted exclusively to ex-Witnesses,” who “discuss the absurdity of their experiences.” I have no reason to challenge the experiences the fourteen relate, and whether their perspective on what they report is the final word, I am in no position to say. However, it is inexcusable for the Inquirer article to link to an ex-Witness forum of 20,000 members, and not also to a Watchtower downloadable child-protection policy packet plainly showing that most its insinuations are untrue:

https://www.jw.org/en/news/legal/legal-resources/information/packet-jw-scripturally-based-position-child-protection/

To be fair, this latest update is released at about the same time as the article, but no mention is made of it by the reporter in subsequent material. Instead, he returns to the Reddit forum where he promises participants further incendiary reports.

I am a 45-year member of Jehovah’s Witnesses. I have authored three books about the faith, in digital format. The latest, ‘Dear Mr. Putin – Jehovah’s Witnesses Write Russia,’ is freely available, as it is primarily about the religious organization’s ban in Russia, which brings hardship to persons dear to me. Part 2 of the book considers the many accusations made against Witnesses, and chapter 12 of that section is entitled ‘Pedophiles.’ It is a 9,000+ word examination of that topic that includes the ARC investigation.

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/815620

Case Study 54 of the ARC mentions reports of abuse from the JW community within the period extending from the ARC’s initial investigation to its final report. It is possible to work out ratios, compare them to the non-Witness community, and conclude that the Witness organization’s vigilance has paid off, perhaps by as much as a factor of six. It is fine to handle a case of child sexual abuse properly. But it is far finer if the abuse does not happen in the first place. It is similar to calling in the grief counselors in the wake of a school shooting. Of course, it is a good thing to call them in, but how much better to not need them at all. A case of child sexual abuse ‘properly handled’ does not mean that it did not occur, and the child is only somewhat less damaged than if the case was properly handled. Thus, a story on this topic should never omit the overall relative success of the Witness organization in prevention of this evil.

Stories of Jehovah’s Witnesses and child sexual abuse are certainly not nothing, and it is easy to see why a journalist might go there. However, by being so selective in what he reports, the Inquirer maligns a faith whose overall record of producing fine people of integrity has already been mentioned, by a harsh critic, no less. You owe it to your readers to publish this letter, as prominently as you published the article trashing the Witnesses. I have no doubt that the reporter behind ‘Silent Witness,’ is overall a fine journalist. In this instance, however, he has proven far too biased in the anti-Witness material he relies upon and relates without any counterbalance.

Respectfully,

Tom Harley

See Part 2 and Part 3


"We Know that Satan's Coming After Us"

A major American newspaper has published material meant to be damning to Jehovah’s Witnesses, which refers to a group of elders at a 2017 meeting, where they were supposedly advised to destroy handwritten notes of meetings and notes of internal documents due to the potential legal harm such pose. Presumably (though it is not explicitly made clear) these are notes relevant to child sexual abuse investigations.

The reason? A Witness representative reportedly states: “Well, we know that the scene of this world is changing, and we know Satan’s coming after us, and he’s going to go for us legally. We can see by the way things are shaping up.” It is not hard to imagine what certain ones are doing with the explanation that “Satan’s coming after us.”

The reason the Witnesses have whatever child abuse records they do is that they sought to investigate this evil in their midst at a time that others did not. Should they destroy anything, it merely puts them on par with everyone else, who never left a ‘paper trail’ in the first place because they never were proactive. Seen in this light, it does indeed seem that Satan is ‘coming after them.’ It is the quintessential example of the cynical phrase: ‘No good deed goes unpunished.’

On the other side of the world, the Jehovah’s Witness organization during the same year was banned in Russia. Government and media have partnered to whip the public into a froth, hurling many virulent accusations about the faith. Yet, child sexual abuse allegations have played no part whatsoever. Chivchalov states that nobody has heard of it there. Only after the ban did the Russian Embassy, in response to one of my tweets, respond with a Western headline of pedophile charges.

In other words, they found a completely separate reason to ban Jehovah’s Witnesses.

Keep in mind that we are speaking of the faith whose members are universally recognized as ‘pacifist’ – who will on no account resort to violence or support war efforts. It is highly unusual for a large group of people to have absolutely no blood on their hands in this regard, but they do not. Is it so crazy for the Witness spokesman to say: ‘Satan is coming after us?” Given the foregoing, it would almost be crazy for him not to.

Among the most heated charges in Russia are those of Jehovah’s Witnesses refusing blood transfusions, stemming from their interpretation of scripture. It is an issue that has largely been put to bed in the West because of the success of bloodless medicine and the growing recognition that transfusion therapy poses many risks. Still, it does happen from time to time that such refusal costs a Witness his or her life. Russian media rages over this, labeling leaders of the religion murderers.

Surely, somewhere along the line it should be acknowledged that Jehovah’s Witnesses have absolutely no deaths at all attributed to illicit drug abuse, overdrinking, and tobacco use, save only for when someone is slipping into old habits. Witnesses could multiply transfusion deaths 1000-fold and still not not come close to the mortality record of the overall world. Far and away, they are the ‘safest’ religion out there. Yet they are said to be the murderers.

And we are to laugh when they say: ‘Satan is coming after us?’ One thing we know about opposers: they will always overplay their hand, giving honest-hearted persons a heads-up. How can it not be getting near to crunch time?

It is in the free ebook (soon to be in print), ‘Dear Mr. Putin – Jehovah’s Witnesses Write Russia,’ with chapter 12 devoted to pedophile accusations. I had no idea when I wrote it that the book would so quickly become so relevant.

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/815620

With the major outlets increasing dedicated to attacking Jehovah's Witnesses, it is not easy to balance the reports. One can do shares and retweets, but still. When push comes to shove, the Word makes clear that the enemies will have their day in the sun during this system of things.


A Sloppy Piece

The June 20th Philadephia Inquirer article is rather a sloppy piece but the subject is so visceral that such things are overlooked.

All is told from the point of view of the wronged girl. I don't claim she speaks untruthfully. It is simply that, humans being what they are, we are inclined to remember things the way we remember them...embellish certain points and downplay or forget others. For example, when the judge recalled certain things in a matter-of-fact way, the victim says that's not how she recalled it, and the reporter at that point forgets all about the judge and runs with the victim. I suspect that the judge recollects it more accurately, because he has not carried the emotional baggage for two decades.

When Lett, many years later, speaks of 'apostate lies,' the reporter presents it as though he is calling his old friend a liar. Of course, he is not. No one says that the bare facts of the abuse case is a lie; it is the spin that enemies (which now seem to include the Inquirer) put on it that is the lie.

I answered at some length the Inquirer's first story and emailed it to two editors and the reporter. It was never acknowledged in any way. Instead, the reporter followed through on remarks he had made on the Reddit forum, that he had more material in the hopper that he considered damning to the Witnesses. This story appears to be what he had in mind.

I take it as evidence that the Philadelphia Inqurer wants this story told one and only one way. If there is anything to mitigate a damning verdict, they do not want to hear it. Of course, they have a story. No one would say that they do not. It is a variation of the "If it bleeds it leads" theme - a familiar staple of journalism and not so terrible in itself, but the refusal to consider or even acknowledge a different lens through which the topic might be viewed, is to paint the Inquirer, imo, as a not very good newspaper. Adding to this perception is that the paper does not seem to have a comment section for its online articles.

Comment sections are not necessarily great, as they attract many a moron, especially on 'hot' topics. But they have become standard fare, and the fact that the Inquirer does not have one seems but another indicator that they will breach no dissent on what stories they report.

It is the religious version of the shabby journalism that has become the norm today. Reporters of the right or left hype up their view to the point of hysteria, and refuse to look at things that in any way confound their conclusions.