Witnesses Decline to Take Part in the National Redress Program
June 29, 2020
“The Jehovah's Witnesses said the religion does not have the institutional settings that the voluntary redress scheme is designed to cover and it will not join,” said The Murray Valley Standard.
"The Jehovah's Witnesses have not sponsored any programs or activities that separate children from their parents at any time," it said in a statement to AAP.
The statement said the Jehovah's Witnesses did not operate boarding or Sunday schools, did not have youth groups, choirs or sponsor any programs for children, nor run youth centres.
"Jehovah's Witnesses simply do not have the institutional settings that result in children being taken into their care, custody, supervision, control or authority."
Less than 10 redress scheme applicants have referred to the Jehovah's Witnesses, it said.
"Jehovah's Witnesses have responded and will continue to respond directly to individual claims for redress in a caring, fair, and principled manner, taking into consideration the unique circumstances of each claim.
"The religion of Jehovah's Witnesses also provides spiritual comfort and assistance to child abuse victims and their families."
Now—do not misunderstand—my comment only comments on what it comments on. It makes no judgment—pro or con—on Watchtower interaction with those members who have suffered child sexual abuse. Do they fill the bill or not? I don’t go there. It’s for another post. I speak only to the government plan to lump in as one dozens of organizations for their “mutual sins”—sins the Watchtower organization does not have.
How many groups did the ARC look at? Was it not 30 - 40? Every one of them involved some program in which children were separated from parents as a condition of participation. Separation was necessary for participation, and in the case of government schools, mandated by law. It seems reasonable that if you sponsor a youth group and/or even require children to congregate, you have a greater responsibility to provide a safe environment for them.
Jehovah’s Witnesses, and they alone, so far as I can see, of the scrutinized groups, have never had any such program. They ought not be lumped into the same basket of mutual culpability with those that do. Actually, from the article, it seems that very few are signing on—just a sporting organization or two were cited.
Of course, this comment of mine was not taken lying down. Let us call the succeeding person “John,” an ex-Witness, a vociferous opponent.
John: “I've been on the ministry in the past and a child has actually asked to be with me on the doors. I've declined as I think children should be with their parents.”
Are there situations in which an adult might come into contact with a child not his own? Of course there are. Your own experience testifies to one. But they are the sort of incidental thing that could happen anywhere—if your child frequents the home of a friend and it turns out that friend’s dad is a pervert, for example.
There was a time when my father-in-law, a man with little formal education, asked elders to study with his high school son so maybe they could help him reconcile evolution vs creation and such things that he, the father-in-law, had no experience with. The elders said no—it was for him to study with his own son. It may not have even been a wise decision, but the point is there is no program for elders to wrestle children away from their own parents.
The typical abuse case among Witnesses involves the misconduct of congregation members—often members within a step-family. The culpability of the organization, if there is one, is that elders left it to the disgression of the aggrieved parties to report it. The culpability of the other groups is for systemically separating children from the parents and then allowing someone in authority to abuse them. The two courses are different enough that they ought not be included as though two peas in a pod.
The only point I made in the prior post, John, was that groups that insist upon separating children from parents and then fail to protect them ought to be held to more stringent standards than those that do not. There is nothing wrong with that point. It makes perfect sense. That is not to say it covers everything.
John: Elders take young children, that are not their own children, on the ministry. Older brothers ans sisters do likewise. Brothers or sisters take children, that are not their own, to meetings in their cars.
Of course it has happened, and still does—though in view of persons like yourself who want to stunt children by suggesting any adult contact with a child other than its own is perverted, they do it less and with much more discretion. Always in the situations you describe, it happens with full approval of the parent, and often at their request. I’ll give you an example:
My wife and I were in the ministry, along with a sister with her two children—ages probably 2 and 4. We’re all going at a snail’s pace, working in and out of the car, on account of the children. The sister, too, needs adult encouragement—she doesn’t get out all that much—and that’s why the “righteous” solution you might hit on: ‘Work with your wife, and let her work alone with her two kids,’ does not work.
When I am alone in the car with the two-year-old, and my wife, the sister, and her older child are all working together, I get impatient to do another door or two. “C’mon, Seth,” I swoop the kid up, “Let’s take a door!” I ring the bell and a woman answers. I tell her I am working with my friend Seth (whom I am carrying), and “he wants to show a video to you.” I thumb through a few Caleb and Sophia cartoon videos on my IPad, ask Seth which one did he have in mind, and act as though it is he who has made the decision. Meanwhile, the woman seems bemused by this—she’s playing along—it doesn’t happen all the time. We play the video, she views it attentively, Seth even more so because he knows them all well—they are tools for child-training, and when it is all done, I thank her, acknowledging “You’re a sport,” and we take our leave. I had the feeling that she was playing along simply for the child’s sake, and I stopped in sometime later to discover that I was right. I still reaffirmed that she was a good sport.
Now, I know child’s the mother well. I know the chemistry. This was not a stranger’s child. I know you are probably dying to make a molestation scene out of this, but anyone not completely warped in their own values will instantly see if for what it is—a win-win-win for the child, the householder, and me—and even another win if you include God, for it is advancing the ministry.
John: I've been on the ministry in the past and a child has actually asked to be with me on the doors. I've declined as I think children should be with their parents.
Why in the world would you not agree to this?—unless there is some twisted background that you are not conveying. I would do it in a heartbeat if a child asked it of me, and I knew the parents would have no objection. Do you think you are proving yourself virtuous by your all but criminalizing contact between adults and their non-offspring? Do you think the interests of the world’s children are advanced by the Boy Scouts of America driven into bankruptcy as consequence and retribution for the injuries inflicted upon a handful of children? The Boy Scouts take you out camping. They teach you how to tie knots. They teach responsibility. “Eagle scout projects” are seen everywhere in my area—deeds of civic enhancement, education, historical illumination, ecological projects—deeds that are not likely to be done otherwise. They provide opportunities for children growing up that parents will most likely not be able to provide. And now your type deprive them of that by bankrupting the organization—all the time as you bask in a narrative about how you are ‘protecting children.’
You suggest all contact with a non-related child is wrong, even twisted, and then you think you are doing the village of children a favor? Back in JoePa days—American example, you may not know of it in Britain, when a man outstanding for molding generations of youth was suddenly destroyed because in a certain instance, he did not go “beyond the law” to penalize something he didn’t know was happening—a former coach of youth sports, Bob Cook, wrote: “The most upsetting thing about many child-protection rules is they assume any adult is capable of doing something bad. If you think of yourself as a good person, and the people around you as good people, you can’t help but be taken aback. You can’t help but think a wall has been put between yourself, the children you coach, and the families you deal with. It’s a wall that seems patently ridiculous when, in the case of the Catholics involved in my Virtus meeting, were tight-knit, south side Chicago parishes where families had known each other for generations.”
It may well be an example of the verse: “All things are clean to clean people; but to those who are defiled and faithless, nothing is clean, for both their minds and their consciences are defiled.” Nothing seems clean to some, who would act in such a way as to penalize generations of children from the adult interaction that helps them grow into balanced adults themselves.
I do understand the goal of stamping out child sexual abuse. I do agree that few things are as wicked. I do acknowledge that smoking these ones out is difficult. I do agree, particularly in view of the now commonly acknowledged damage done to a child victim, that punishments ought to be harsh. I agree to all these things. But all society ought not be destroyed in order to attain that goal, for the ones who will collectively suffer the most are the children. John Holt, the homeschooling pioneer, used to maintain that a driving factor of juvenile delinquency is children being shut out of the adult world under the guise of protecting them—and this is well before CSA was on anyone’s radar—he was speaking of the overapplication of child labor laws.
I surprised myself for getting into this thread so. I hadn’t intended to. I literally wrote the book on this topic of JW CSA accusations, with ‘TrueTom vs the Apostates!—numerous chapters are on the topic, and I think there is not another like collection anywhere.
It covers events up to the initial verdict against JWs in Montana, and has not been updated to include that verdict being thrown out. Maybe there will be a “Round 2” or maybe I will tack additional chapters on Round 1: At any rate, I’ve done my share on this and did not intend to involve myself much beyond—because the topic will never be dropped, and there are other things to explore. But your demented notion of ‘nothing being clean’ draws me in despite myself.