If there has been kickback on ‘manipulation’ and ‘control’ charges, and if there has been kickback on ‘flip-flopping’ charges, then I would like to see kickback on charges that Witnesses ‘cover up’ child sexual abuse. A good place to start is by pointing out that leaving reporting up to the involved parties is not the same as ‘covering up.’
Instead, the Witness organization states that it “abhors child sexual abuse,” which, in combination with its reluctance to go there otherwise, is spun by determined enemies as though they love the stuff. Not all will do what reporter Elizabeth Chuck did and attribute it to a “penchant for privacy.”
Why do they not respond in more detail? It may be on account of their own statement. It may be that the sheer wickedness of the charge takes their breath away and makes them look like deer caught in the headlights. Yes, they know well the verse, “every sort of wicked thing will be lyingly said about you” but this—this is the wickedest thing of all! And the proactive arrangement started with such good intentions. Not so many years ago the notion of a religion “policing its own” was lauded as the ultimate in practicing what one preached.
It wouldn’t be hard to do—to provide a brief defense of criticisms leveled at them. It might start with points such as:
- “Covering up” is not the same as leaving it to the digression of ones affected to report.
- There wouldn’t be anything to be accused of covering up had not the Witness organization practiced what almost nobody else did—policing its own. Countless persons are arrested with regard to child sexual abuse. Unless they are clergy, their religious affiliation or lack of is never reported. The reason that it is so with rank and file Witnesses is that they tried to do something about with regard to their own.
- Unlike virtually anywhere else, where the leaders of an organization are themselves the abusers, the leaders of the Witness community are accused of botching the handling of instances—bad, perhaps—history will judge—but nowhere near as bad as being the ones who commit it.
That’s a few for starters. More could be added, such as
- The current “gold standard” of child sexual abuse to “go beyond the law” will inevitably cause you problems with those who, not surprisingly, expect you to abide by law.
- Child sexual abuse would appear to be the primary gross planetary product—30 years into all-out war against CSA and barely a dent has been made. Therefore efforts to prevent it ought to be given at least as much creedence as efforts to secure the barn door after the cows have fled. Nobody, but nobody, has done what the Witness organization has done, gathering every member in the world to consider detailed scenarios in which child sexual abuse might occur so that parents, obviously the first line of defense, can be vigilant. This was done as part of the program of the 2017 Regional conventions.
- The reason that the greater world will never make inroads with regard to child sexual abuse it that it feeds with one hand what it is trying to punish with another. Many portion of social media are a pedophile’s dream come true. Though it is parallel and thus not exactly the same thing, the 2020 NFL halftime show demonstrates that objectifying woman is the force that makes the world go round—the MeToo movement is doomed from the start.
The matter of CSA in the greater world does not go away. It is not being solved. Rather, each month brings some new revelation of how the very elements of this world keep it firmly entrenched as a societal ill. It’s intricate involvement with the Child Protective Service agencies recently was reviewed in a story I must have missed. “We have set up a system to sex traffic American children” said Newsweek in January 2018:
And the latest scandal—pediatricians! “Sheds light on a problem that could rival priest scandals,” states an article extrapolating from a notorious case just how many there might be. And to think I got into a squabble once with someone determined to put down the Caleb and Sophia video “Protect Your Children,” while she heralded one that specifically said that it was okay for a doctor to touch you in private areas. “Ask the young women of the U.S. Gymnastics Olympic team which video they think would have offered them more protection,” I told her.
Just a few basic tenets of defense for those who would like to have some response to when workmates, schoolmates, or neighbors hit them over the head with what they just saw on TV. It doesn’t cover every tiny thing—just the general outline. The nature of critics everywhere is that they would like their complaints on center stage, to the exclusion of whatever else used to be there. Maybe its not a good idea to indulge them so. Maybe it’s enough to correct matters that need it, such as making it crystal clear to members that there is no reproach in reporting child sexual abuse to police, since the abuser has already brought about the reproach. Maybe it is enough to focus on creating an atmosphere where CSA is less likely to happen.
Maybe. But sometimes you do wish there was more (or any) of a public response.
I did like the WT attorney’s words at the reversal of the Montana verdict. “There are no winners in a case involving child abuse. No child should ever be subjected to such a debased crime....Tragically, it happens, and when it does Jehovah's Witnesses follow the law. This is what the Montana Supreme Court has established.”
.... There was, however, one of my own side who took issue with me:
“What puzzles me, Tom, is you want people to show you their false representation of facts, yet even you have never submitted the following from the Watchtower:
In rare instances, one Christian might commit a serious crime against another—such as rape, assault, murder, or major theft. In such cases, it would not be unchristian to report the matter to the authorities, even though doing so might result in a court case or a criminal trial.
Why is that? Does this mean the phrase “child sexual abuse” needed to be included in order for this statement to be of value?”
Tom: It’s a valid point. Thank you for making it. Certainly it is concise enough and to the point. In my ‘defense,’ if that statement is in the Shepherd the Flock book not meant for general distribution, then I would not quote from it even if I had read it. It is a little silly, I know, to avoid what others have already put out there, and I don’t criticize anyone doing it with good motive. But I am still old fashioned that way and inclined to respect ‘confidential talk.’ It is a educational guide put out for elders.
I’m not a stickler in that regard. There is an example or two of the contrary in ‘Dear Mr. Putin’ But in general I stay away from what has not been made public. For all I carry on about wishing there was more access to what is critical, I am sparing in how much I go there myself. I don’t chow down on the stuff. For the most part, I agree with the expression, “You are what you eat.”
I don’t have the book. I could easily obtain it, but I haven’t. I once served as an elder, but that was 20 years ago. I know precious few in Bethel and I keep up with nobody there.
An advantage to all this is that I can come across as a regular person. Another reason that I have been slow to leave open forums is that I don’t like to be just singing to the choir. I like the challenge of discussing mature Witness topics, such as submission to authority, before people who find the notion very strange because it does not reflect the way the world is today.
Many Witnesses are not much good at speaking with non-Witnesses without going into ‘preaching mode.’ I even had someone shush me upon spotting the RING internet doorbell. “What! Do you think I’m telling dirty jokes here?” I said. “I hope they do hear me talking about regular things because then they will know that I am a regular person.”
See Part 2