Holly Folk Speaks to Child Sexual Abuse Among Jehovah’s Witnesses.

Out of nowhere a scholar has appeared who talks dispassionate sense on the subject of child sexual abuse as it relates to Jehovah’s Witnesses and is unswayed by secular jingoism. Are/were you a Jehovah’s Witness who was abused as a child? That is very bad, Holly Folk agrees, but she cautions such ones that they must be on guard not to be abused a second time. It may happen at the hands of those who mostly feign interest in their trauma so as to enlist them in their greater goal of taking down a religion they hate. “All I ask is that you consider, for a moment, that you might be being used again, by people who care little about achieving justice for victims,” she says.

“Both official reports and media often confuse ‘institutional’ abuse in religious settings and abuse happening in families that happen to be religious.” It is a statement as pithy yet complete as anything I have written in several chapters of TrueTom vs the Apostates! She instantly cuts to the chase of the matter, whereas I pussyfoot around forever before arriving at an echo not quite so well put.

She pinpoints the flaw of the ARC’s Case Study 29, which I also attempted, but did not put it so concisely. Every other case was an investigation of institutional abuse within an agency, sometimes religious, sometimes secular. Case Study 29 was the only investigation of a religion itself. It is unique. It was rammed into the ARC agenda mostly at the behest of ex-Witnesses who hounded them relentlessly until they overrode their normal sound judgment. It plainly doesn’t fit into the overall program. JWs have no institutional settings, as did all the other agencies on the hot seat. Next move will be to hold Walmart responsible for abuse that has occurred among their shoppers.

It’s why you don’t sign on to a redress scheme tailor made for situations of institutional abuse that you don’t have. You wait for a redress scheme tailor made for situations of abuse that occur among Walmart’s customers. That you can sign on to it as a reasonable parallel.

In a second article (it is a four-part series) she criticizes the studies of the Netherlands and Belgium. I hadn’t gone there, assuming they would be no more than a rehash of the ARC. They were all that and less, she writes, so slipshod and lacking in any sound methodology of social science that it will be a scandal if they are relied upon for policy. Yet they might be, she opines, goaded on by the sheer noise that comes from Witness detractors, mostly ex-Witnesses settling the score, and given false credibility by the prestige of the Atlantic journal.

As a dispassionate outsider, not a Witness herself, she can do what is very difficult for any Witness to do, self included. She can bypass the reputation of a religion as something immaterial and focus on the greater affront to fight child sexual abuse. It is all diluted, she charges, when ex-members redirect rage against child sexual abuse to a target that is essentially a non-factor. The Witness religion overall does pretty well at fighting the perversion, she writes. I mean, who else [my contribution, not hers] gathers every member in the world (at the 2017 Regional Conventions) to consider detailed scenarios in which child sexual abuse might occur so that parents, obviously the first line of defense, can be on their guard? If there are sleepovers, if there are tickling sessions, if there are unsupervised trips to the restroom, if anyone displays unusual interest in your child—all these things were identified as potential red flags, not conclusive in themselves, but things to keep you eye on.

Witnesses will find her tack hard to copy. Their first response will be violent indignation at these patent efforts to undermine the religious organization they hold in high regard, and in the process, they are likely to come across as tone-deaf to the suffering of victims. But Ms. Folk has no skin in the game, so she can focus directly to how this vendetta of ex-JWs undermines efforts to fight child sexual abuse. She can express indignation that those with an anti-religious agenda squander resources that could be far better employed elsewhere.

Some villain on Twitter accosted me the moment I put the subject out there: “So, NO child is EVER separated from its parent(s) for ANY reason for religious purposes (or within a religious setting) by JWs... is that what you are saying?”

Well, duh—no. But NO child EVER separated is a far cry from ALL children ROUTINELY separated, which is the case with other groups Witnesses are compared to, as though apples to apples. Sunday Schools, youth camps and clubs—alas, they have proved to be breeding grounds for child sexual abuse. Witnesses do not have such settings. What! Do they chain their children at home so that no outside contact is possible? Does any balanced person? Imagine the uproar if they did.

Holly Folk also carries the “advantage” of being a survivor herself. “How would you know what it feels like to be abused?” people can (and have) said to me. I don’t. But she does. It gives her a freeness of speech that no non-victim will possess.

The closest I ever came to abuse was when I was walking up and down auto dealer row prior to my 16th birthday, anticipating the used car I might buy once I had my license. A certain slimeball approached and tried to befriend me. “They keep the really good cars in back,” he told me, eager to go there. Even as I evaded him, it was not due to my street smarts or lack of naïveté. I was as sheltered a lad as ever existed, with no specific knowledge of even what a child abuser was. (an ignorance not uncommon at the time.) I just knew that you don’t put the really good cars in the back—you put them up front where people can see them.

They are very thorough articles that Holly writes. Press on the links:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

I like it also that Holly Folk does not fear to take on the “money tree” that is lawyers. This doesn’t speak for or against victims in itself, of course, just the inherent possibility for abuse of such as system. In my community, there are so less than 7 accident injury firms that constantly advertise. Not to mention about twice that number that advertise over various carcinogens, medical treatments, devices, and of course, sexual abuse claims. Almost always the Catholic Church is targeted, and the Boy Scouts. Sometimes I hear a catch-all of any abuse in any religious setting.

I get it that injured people seek redress. Still, the sheer cacaphony of legal noise will strike most as overkill—a massive societal transfer of funds with lawyers netting a third. Don’t think the profit motive is absent with the Witness situation, Ms. Folk says, just like it is not in any other. It is no different than defense companies cooking up scenarios of peril so as to sell their goods, or pharmaceutical companies overplaying threats to our health for the same reason, or for that matter, any merchandiser doing whatever it must to expand the market for its goods or services.

”My lawyer got me 5 million dollars, 23 times what the insurance company said.” Such are the ads that I hear. What I do not hear is, “My neighbors all celebrated with me. Then they opened their insurance premium bills.” Where does anyone think the money comes from? The insurance company itself? They just pass the cost along. They have to, in order to survive. 

....

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A Response to the Daily Beast

To portray Jehovah’s Witnesses as “an immensely dangerous” cult on a par with Heaven’s Gate (whose members committed suicide on command) is clear evidence of malicious intent. As is also the opening comparison to an organization in which the religious leaders themselves are the perpetrators, rather than those just said to mishandle it.

Details of any abuse are always wrenching to hear. At worst, the article reveals Witnesses have failed to eradicate from their midst what every other group on the planet, religious or secular, has also failed to eradicate. Thirty years of all-out societal war against child sexual abuse has made barely a dent in the evil.

Plainly, police will not be deterred by any “two-witness” rule of religion, which will only be for congregation use. Four years ago, every Witness in the world (at their summer conventions) considered detailed scenarios in which child sexual abuse might occur so that parents, obviously the first line of defense, could be vigilant. Two years ago, a study article considered by all at a weekly meeting made clear that any “reproach” of sexual abuse fell solidly and solely on the abuser, thus removing any stigma that any member might have felt of reporting such ones to police.

https://www.tomsheepandgoats.com/2019/02/the-reproach-of-child-sexual-abuse-falls-on-the-abu.html

Pedophilia roots run deep. It was endemic to the Ancient Greece that provides the underpinnings of Western civilization, widely practiced and never spoken against. It thrives today despite monumental efforts to snuff it out. Would that those efforts were more successful.

If Jehovah’s Witnesses have not solved the problem of child sexual abuse, neither has anyone else. A more balanced view of the topic, lacking the malice presented here, is that of [non-Witness] scholar of religion, Holly Folk, presented here:

https://bitterwinter.org/jehovahs-witnesses-and-sexual-abuse-4-answering-some-criticism/

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Jehovah’s Witnesses to Join the ARC Redress Plan

Authorities are urging the Jehovah's Witnesses to contact them to get the ball rolling on the religious group's decision to join the national redress scheme for child sexual abuse survivors.

“The organisation says it will sign up because of new rules introduced by the federal government, which mean it would lose its charity status - and subsequent tax exemptions - for continuing to hold out.

"’Now that the law requires charities to join the scheme, Jehovah's Witnesses will comply,’ it said in a statement to AAP on Wednesday.

"’Jehovah's Witnesses believe that it is their responsibility before God to respect and co-operate with the authorities.’

“A spokeswoman for Social Services Minister Anne Ruston has welcomed the statement but implored the organisation to contact authorities.

"(We) encourage them to make urgent contact with the Department of Social Services so they can make good on this commitment," she told AAP.

"It can take up to six months for institutions to complete the process of joining and the department would hope to work co-operatively and with haste to facilitate the Jehovah's Witnesses joining as quickly as possible.”

....

This is not hypocritical, Vic, nor is it hard. Nor does it show, “it’s all about money with these guys.” 

The Aussie authorities devise a plan that fits all other parties for the institutional abuse of their youth clubs, youth schools, youth camps. They invite organizations to join. The WT declines because they do not have such settings. Whatever outlier cases may occur with them they will handle on a case-by-case basis.

The Aussie authorities then say they MUST come aboard, on pain of losing the tax status that is afforded every other charity. At that point, it becomes an operational cost. They still don’t think it is justified, but it becomes a cost of operating in Australia.

There are times in life when it is all about money. One of those times is when someone is trying to take it from you and you alone. 

There is no "principle" at stake here. They attempted to escape a "fee" they felt unjust and were thwarted. At which point they drop back and say governments have the power and authority to impose or not impose fees. It's what they do, and adjusting to it is no more than obeying the superior authorities. 

Appealing the verdict of a court is not the same as disregarding the superior authorities. It is a right afforded any citizen or collection of citizens. Will this be appealed? No idea. 

....

I would not be so sure that genuine victims will get a better deal with this program. It may be that handling complaints on a case-by-case basis, as was being done, will be more to their advantage. Governments with their agencies, not to mention lawyers, tend to seriously erode funds meant for victims. Plus, it has already been revealed that those churches that did sign on, to much fanfare, are subsequently dragging their feet and are being as uncooperative as possible. These things tend to be facades, with everyone taking bows while raiding the till, and the victims don’t fare nearly as well as you might think.

It may turn out to be more like the vaccine court in the U.S. Though you can sue a manufacturer for every other defective product, you cannot sue for a vaccine injury. Pharma managed to legislate themselves immunity. There is a vaccine court for redress, funded in part by surcharges on each vaccine given. Ask any injured party and they will tell you that their cases are almost invariably denied, and it is only by fighting it out with lawyers that they may, after a few years, get a few thousand dollars, seldom very much. This is true even in cases of permanent paralysis.

...

Jehovah's Witnesses believe that it is their responsibility before God to respect and co-operate with the authorities."

I actually think the statement is a little clunky—for it doesn’t account for the reversal— and that it might have written it better, along the lines already stated. Still, it is such a white-hot issue, and some are trying to milk it for various reasons, that maybe it is just as well not to risk looking “defensive”—state what has been stated, and move on. 

It is a good deal to have resolved. I am sure they are happy to do that. I am sure victims are happy, too. That is the nature of any reconciliation. People are happy when it is done.

I liked how Holly Folk did not shirk from taking on lawyers. Essentially, if you have money, someone will devise a means to take some of it. It will not be a completely fictional means, for that will seldom produce results. It will be something that is real, but overstated, exaggerated, and legitimate cases will be mixed with more dubious ones. It is in lawyers’ interests to portray people as victims, whatever happened to them was not their fault. Accordingly the “cult” mantra is hugely popular with them. At times, one wonders if they to some degree have invented the idea, for they surely benefit from it.

It is not just CSA. That is but a tiny part of the iceberg. In my community, there are about twenty legal firms that advertise on media, and some of them do it virtually non-stop. I can remember a time when manufacturers were the prime sponsors of TV shows. Now they are sidled aside by lawyers. What does that tell you as to the nature of society?  It amounts to a global society-wide transfer of funds, with barristers netting a third.

I was a defendent in such a case. I don’t think many people have not had some such experience, unless they have taken care never to do anything in life. This one involved a house I rented out. Insurance kicks in and you have little to do with it, but if you don’t know that in advance, it is very disconcerting. Even knowing it in advance, it is not comfortable. The suit was for $6 million and the settlement was for $200K. “How can the insurance companies afford this?” I asked my agent. “They can’t,” was the reply. “They just keep raising their rates.”

”My lawyer got me 5 million dollars, 18 times what the insurance company offered.” Such ads are staples on TV. In satire, I append the following to them: “All my neighbors rejoiced with me. Then they opened their premium bills.”

My teenage daughter’s car was hit—not her fault—and within days the other insurance company was hounding me to “settle.” Settle what? I was not accustomed to this new normal. They offered thousands of dollars if only I would settle. Finally I told them, “I don’t think this is going to cost you a dime. Pay a few chiropractic bills and that will be the end of it. But I am not signing anything away, for I don’t know what the finale will be.” They paid a few bills. I never did settle. There was never any reason to. I was probably a chump. I probably should have hit them up for as many thousands as I could. I just didn’t know that mindset, and concepts like “honesty” got in the way. The latest prompting from TV lawyers is that you call them immediately after your doctor to find out what “your accident is worth.” I am of the generation where you didn’t call them at all. You had insurance, the other party had insurance, you relied upon them for fair compensation, and were seldom dissatisfied with the result.

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Vic Vomodog’s Blood Pressure Shot to the Sky—They Had to Call NASA

Vic Vomodog’s face got redder and redder. His blood pressure shot to the sky—they had to call NASA.

F8BEBDDC-9D7F-4DC5-962E-5BC6B0B6AD73

I began to worry for him—just like I should have worried for the small-town judge Victor V Blackwell stood up to. Victor had been representing draft-age Witnesses in the volatile WWII years and the petty tyrant would barely allow him to open his mouth. “Another word out of you and I will jail you for contempt!” he roared.

“I looked around and saw lawyers, reporters, and professionals—I knew I wasn’t going to jail,” Brother Blackwell related years later at a Niagara Falls assembly. He told the judge: “Your Honor, if we have reached the place in this country where a lawyer can’t speak for his client, or present his defenses, I may as well be in jail with him.”

From his book, O’er the Ramparts They Watched: “Hot anger blazed from the “judge’s” face. His countenance flushed redder than a beet. The veins in his neck protruded like the swelling in the throat of a chameleon. Everyone in the courtroom waited for him to burst asunder....After some little time, gaining a small measure of composure, he told me and my client to stand up in front of him. We did. Then came the sentence:

“I sentence you to serve five years in a federal prison to be approved by the Attorney General. My only regret, you yellow coward, is that I cannot give your twenty-five years.”

Don’t think neutrality is an easy sell when nationalistic fever runs hot.

The judge died several days later. Townspeople said he had never cooled off from his fit of anger. When Victor next visited that town, the locals told him, “You killed our judge.” “I’m sorry,” he responded, but he later allowed at the Niagara Falls assembly that the bullying fellow had brought it on himself.

Every once in a while Vic Vomodog gets worked up like that. He fires out accusations as with a Gatling gun and I begin to worry that if I answer them it will be detrimental to his health.

Ah, well—if he dies, he dies.

You Jehovah Witnesses are a cult!

It used to be that if you fell under the spell of a charismatic leader, withdrew from society, dressed oddly, did strange things—you just might be a member of a cult. Nowadays just thinking outside the box is enough to trigger the C-word.

Um, did the early Christians falsely declare the Great Day of Almighty God?”

Yes. “While they were listening to these things, he told another illustration, because he was near Jerusalem and they thought that the Kingdom of God was going to appear instantly.” (Luke 19:11)

Did they pretend to be the ‘faithful and discreet slave’?

Yes. “As they traveled on through the cities, they would deliver to them for observance the decrees that had been decided on by the apostles and the elders who were in Jerusalem.” (Acts 16:4)

“Ban Jehovah's Witnesses they prefer seeing people dying than receiving a blood transfusion and this is enough to ban them.”

It is controversial to be sure, but since they do not smoke, do not do illicit drugs, do not drink to excess, do not war, they on balance save far more lives than they cost. Even their stand on blood has sparked development of bloodless techniques and these have probably saved more lives than transfusion refusal has cost.

They’ll use their ban in Russia to feed their persecution complex!”

Probably. This is because of the many verses such as Matthew 5:11‬: “Happy are you when people reproach you and persecute you and lyingly say every sort of wicked thing against you for my sake.  Rejoice and be overjoyed...for in that way they persecuted the prophets prior to you.”‬

As an organisation they have keep silence about abuse amongst their members and the wall of silence regarding child abuse is unforgivable.

Alas, there is no sizable group on earth, religious or not, that has successfully purged all child abuse from its midst. Still, with JWs, it is almost always members’ abuse that leaders are accused of ‘covering up.’ Not good, but better than the pattern elsewhere where leaders are the ones committing the abuse and there is not even a mechanism for discovering abuse among members.

You didn’t sign on to the Australian redress plan. What’s wrong with you?

When a child abuser is nabbed, unless he is a person in authority, is his religious affiliation ever even mentioned? With Jehovah’s Witnesses, abuse committed by leaders is rare. With the other signees, be they religious or not, it is the pattern. Witness cases that have come to attention are nearly always among rank and file members, something the other signees haven’t even a mechanism to track. 

Other signees have structure in which children are systemically separated from parents, such as Sunday School or youth groups. If you sponsor such a program, it stands to reason that you ought be held accountable to provide for their safety. JWs do not have such programs.

The differences are significant enough that JWs have not signe on to a “one size fits all” program, but instead handle cases that arise on an individual basis. Next thing you know, Hyundai will be supposed responsible for abuse situations that arise among its customers.

No one has apostates as dedicated to their crusade as do Jehovah's Witnesses. One could say they validate us. Since they were a huge concern in the first century—no NT writer not dealing with them—if they were not a huge concern today, would one not have to wonder why?‬

“If only the were banned here, like Russia. The only way to make sure they won't come back here is to open the door naked.”

This does not work. A friend of mine, a registered nurse, said to one such person: “You don’t have anything that I haven’t seen before.”

 

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Witnesses Decline to Take Part in the National Redress Program

The announcement that Jehovah’s Witnesses will not sign on to the national redress plan of Australia provoked the instant wrath of some. However, I rather liked the Witnesses’s reasoning.
 

“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.

(Backtracking)

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.

 
 

 

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Top Norwegian Awesome Scholar Proves that CSA Hysteria Against Jehovah’s Witnesses Is Bogus”—Rolf Furuli—Part 3

Q: What does Rolf have to say in his new book about the controversy of child sexual abuse and Jehovah’s Witnesses?

A: Almost nothing. “Not even in a much too long dissertation on porneia and similar words,” I am told. However—in the footnotes, he writes:

“I would like to add that several accusations against the GB on the Internet and other places are not true. For example, in connection with child molestation, the GB has been accused of having directed elders to hide such crimes from the authorities. The first time such crimes were known to elders in Norway was around 1990. Since then, elders have been advised to take particular measures to protect children, and always to cooperate with the police. So this accusation is wrong!”

Ah. So the real headline to be taken from the Rolf book, obscured by 50,000 wet dream malcontent posts on the internet, is 

Top Norwegian Awesome Scholar Proves that CSA Hysteria Against Jehovah’s Witnesses Is Bogus

In writing this headline, I hesitated to use the word “proved.” Had he really done that? He just gave his testimony. But then I deferred to the words of a certain dodo on the internet who declared of Rolf’s book—without having reading it: “I think this gentleman and his book proves the point I'm making here.”

In fact, it ‘proves’ just the opposite. (If he can do it, I can do it.)

In a roundabout way, Rolf brings his gift to the altar. Are legal assaults against JW HQ In recent years due to how leadership evolved over time and how Rolf doesn’t care for the current take on Matthew 24:45-47?

“Who really is the faithful and discreet slave whom his master appointed over his domestics, to give them their food at the proper time? Happy is that slave if his master on coming finds him doing so! Truly I say to you, he will appoint him over all his belongings.”

Or—are they about sensationalized investigations of CSA that sometimes one could wish the JW organization would kick back a little more on? Put Rolf on the stand as star ‘expert’ witness for the defense—after lauding him as Moses descending with the tablets, opposers can hardly say that he has no sense whatsoever—and knock the legal ball out of the park. It can be a win-win. It is just a matter making lemonade out of lemons.

“If he has said his piece, and remains as low-key as he should,” maybe it will all blow over. That’s what my unnamed source said—“unnamed” because I am trying to prove myself a modern journalist, and also because he may be bashful. Maybe it will be some esoteric matter for the airy halls of academia with little spillover into everyday life—after all, it is well-known that the ‘thinkers’ and the ‘doers’ often are from different sides of the tracks.

Maybe. However, this kind of “wishful thinking” often fails because enemies will not let it remain low-key. It has made their day, if not year, and they will pump and pump until it becomes the only story that matters!!!

The 2003 WT, 4/1 writes in the article ‘Mildness—An Essential Christian Quality’ of how a “young man reported to Moses that Eldad and Medad were acting as prophets in the camp—“My lord Moses, restrain them!”he cries. Moses mildly replied: “Are you feeling jealous for me? No, I wish that all of Jehovah’s people were prophets, because Jehovah would put his spirit upon them!” Maybe the HQ brothers will act the same, it was surmised. Maybe. But I added to the account:

“But the young man again said, this time emphatically, “My Lord Moses, restrain them!’ Moses mildly replied: “Not a problem. Chill.”

But the young man once again said: “My Lord Moses, restrain them!!!!!” Moses mildly replied: “Let’s stay low-key about this.”

But the young man once again said:MY LORD MOSES, RESTRAIN THEM!!!!”  (this is going to be good!!!!)”

Time will tell.

.....[Edit] I was called out on this one several days later:

“So the real headline to be taken from the Rolf book, obscured by 50,000 wet dream malcontent posts on the internet” - this quotation from your blog exhibits a complete contempt for the experiences of others. Would love you to use this language on the doorstep!”

Of course I will not use it there, for every saying must be put in its proper setting. “If it helps,” I replied, I will concede that the “50,000 wet dream posts” is not a phrase that would be heard in the Kingdom Hall, though it is exceedingly mild for the internet. Nor when I speak of them am I referring to anyone who genuinely was wronged. I am referring to a 2nd buttressing layer of supporters who have opposed the JW work and faith since long before CSA arose as a topic.

Even so, maybe certain phrasing should be backed away from. No sooner do we imagine we have razor-sharp intellect than we use it to get others riled. It is the reason that I recently changed but a single letter to take a bite out of Vomidog.

 

 

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A Book Review from Top Cat O’Malihan

What I loved best about one of Tom Harley’s books—they’re all so good—is his recall of a squabble between Amy and he over a child abuse video. He was favoring the ‘Protect Your Children’ video of Jehovah’s Witnesses and she was skewering it for not dealing the the possibility that mommy and daddy might be the abusers. She favored a video from the Sinatra foundation, featuring circled areas of a child’s body which were no-touch zones, suggesting both that a child wouldn’t know its ass from its elbow, and also that it would need mentally consult the diagram in order to determine whether it felt bad about a touch or not. 

“I remember how Tom pointed out how the JW video spoke of a child having a conscience, and in fact, it did deal indirectly with her scenario, as one of the parents said ‘Let no one touch you inappropriately’—whereas the agency video specifically said that it was okay for a doctor to touch private places. ‘Ask the young women of the U.S. Olympic team which video they think would have better protected them,’ he said.”

....

Tom responds: Much as I appreciate this review from Top Cat, in fact the account has been edited out of ‘Dear Mr. Putin - Jehovah’s Witnesses Write Russia’ and has not been inserted elsewhere.

I had a ‘pedophile’ chapter in Dear Mr. Putin and I later edited it out because such charges never once arose in a Russian context. The chapter had been there in the first place is because I was mounting a defense of charges made anywhere and I threw in everything but the kitchen sink. On and on the chapter went, and it began to feel—even to me—a little defensive; of course, that is by definition the nature of a defense, but even so..... I also didn’t know at the time that I would be writing ‘TrueTom vs the Apostates!’ about charges in Western lands, where the accusation does fit. But the deleted chapter still hasn’t found a home, save for on my blog.

There is also an Apostasy chapter in ‘Dear Mr. Putin.’ That remains because it does fit—apostates played a prominent role in exposing some of their former brothers to arrest and jail. But even there, about a dozen paragraphs with no Russian context whatsoever—they were just more pet indulgences on my part—have been deleted. Some of them appear in the latter book.

Top Cat included his photo. I wouldn’t want to meet him in a dark alley:726F6A0D-1538-4621-BB4A-CCEA9C0967F9

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Fight With the Army Have, Not the Army You Wish You Had

Like any nation, you must fight with the army you have, not the army you wish you had.

We want our people to be Rhodes Scholars who never misjudge, who hold their own easily among the brightest the university has to offer, whose every utterance sweeps you away for its sheer brilliance.

What we get is a bunch of yahoos who make all the blunders that yahoos have always made. We should not run from this. We should embrace it. It is because Christians are derived from—the very ones taking the lead were described this way—the ‘uneducated and ordinary.’ 

Now when they saw the outspokenness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and ordinary men, they were astonished. And they began to realize that they had been with Jesus.” (Acts 4:13) They always remained so, by the standards of greater society.

We should embrace it because that is what God favors—“the uneducated and ordinary.” In the brilliant book ‘Tom Irregardless and Me’ (which, brilliant though it is, cannot touch ‘No Greater Love—How My Family Survived Genocide in Ryanda’) I wrote of how the great ideas of this world’s thinkers

all sounded good – heaven knows one can spin college degrees from them. But when put to the test – when placed under stress – they don’t work.

One might suppose that the architect of ideas that don’t work would be discredited. Bizarrely, the ‘doesn’t work’ caveat doesn’t matter. It is just the fine print at document’s end which nobody reads....Surely it is the fault of the little people below and not the great idea!’....It is that way with the bedrock ideas upon which this world is constructed. Despite being lauded to high heaven, they don’t work. Those who have earned university degrees in them do not sacrifice any prestige on that account. Instead, they go on to master other ideas that don’t work.

God laughs at the wisdom of this world, and in the passage above we see why. He says: “There is a generation that is pure in its own eyes, but has not been cleansed from its filth.” (Proverbs 30:12) Tell those educated ones: “Show us the just world that has resulted from your brilliance, and then maybe we can talk.”

So we ought not run from our ordinariness. We should embrace it. When Celsus ridicules 2nd century Christians for being “labourers, shoemakers, farmers, the most uninformed and clownish of men,” don’t run away from that quote. Don’t try to mitigate it (as do most Christian apologists). Instead, say: “You don’t know the half of it!”

An attribute of much of my writing—which is not appreciated by all Witnesses—is to give away many a fault, particularly faults that will make some look ridiculous, as when Tom Irregardless rattles on for ten minutes in that instruction talk about a woman’s ‘ministerial cycle’ because he has forgotten the word ‘menstrual.’ He recalls only cruder terms that he knows would not be suitable for the platform. (This really happened.) 

There is a joke about the sister who collected $6000 dollars by selling eggs every time her husband gave a bad talk—and brothers collapse upon themselves telling that joke—yet no one will tell it within 300 yards of Tom Irregardless because with him it is no joke—it is reality. You risk hurting his feelings. “Why would anybody ever take that risk? In all your days you will never find a more caring, generous person than Tom Irregardless. If you need help he is there. You can pop in at the Irregardless home anytime; they are delighted to see you. They don’t wonder why you didn’t call first. Tom is an excellent man through and through, but only in Jehovah’s organization would he be a public instructor.”

[Actually, this is not nearly so true as it once was, since in recent years there has been more emphasis on speaker quality and less opportunity for them to mess up]

The point is not to humiliate people. The point is to glorify God. When great things are accomplished and the workers themselves are great, you can say that was the reason. But when great things are accomplished and the workers are just regular unexceptional folk, the glory goes to God. So not only do I not hide embarrassing things—I highlight and even exaggerate them—always with 2 Corinthians 12:9 in mind: 

But he [God] said to me [Paul]: “My undeserved kindness is sufficient for you, for my power is being made perfect in weakness.” Most gladly, then, I will boast about my weaknesses, in order that the power of the Christ may remain over me like a tent. So I take pleasure in weaknesses, in insults, in times of need, in persecutions and difficulties, for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am powerful.

‘Don’t try to be something you’re not’ is the idea to glean. The strategy of admitting faults would have served even with regard to handling cases of child sexual abuse, the plague of the planet. Barely a day goes by that it is not uncovered somewhere, in some new setting. Yesterday I heard one new to me—that of a man suing the newspaper. Decades ago he was a paperboy molested by his supervisor. Young people will not remember, but it was always children delivering the paper back in my day.

Rather than hope for the perception that CSA could never ever occur among a people devoted to God, I wish our people would have said: “Oh, yeah—tell us about it—we’ve had some of those slime balls, too, and let me tell you they are tough to deal with!” It would have all been good. We would not be having opposers who now carry on as though with the mission statement:

“CSA among JWs is very very serious and must be exposed! CSA among the 99.9% that is everywhere else? Stuff happens.”

It would have been better if no one had ever thought it necessary to write that May 2019 article pointing out that the reproach of CSA falls on the abuser and not on the congregation. It’s a great article, and timely, but it would have been better if nobody had ever thought it necessesary.

When I used to be a bad boy and interacted with the malcontents, I would point out that the CSA is not prolific among JWs. They (the more reasonable ones) would not challenge me on this. Instead, they would respond with: “Oh, so now you are saying that you have the same problems as everyone else!” They accepted my premise, that we do abhor it and it is not prolific—it was the perception of self-righteousness—as though imagining selves immune to the problems of everyone else—that got them incensed. It would have been better to have given no cause for that perception, and it would be nice if it is a lesson internalized for future guidance.

It is very very difficult to be the required “no part of the world” and not be perceived as self-righteous, because the world automatically takes offense at non-participation. “If you were part of the world, the world would be fond of what is its own,” says Jesus. “Now because you are no part of the world, the world hates you.” Still, I think we do unnecessarily bring trouble upon ourselves sometimes, and the above is a prime example.

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I Almost Wish There Would Be More Public Response

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:

  1. “Covering up” is not the same as leaving it to the digression of ones affected to report.
  2. 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.
  3. 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

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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

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Reversal in Montana

After the multi-million dollar verdict against Jehovah’s Witnesses in Montana was reversed, I visited the Witness-bashing website to see how they were taking it. They were not happy. However, the ones who knew law were analytical.

“This isn’t the fault of the courts,” one said. “It’s the fault of the Montana law as written. Courts must follow law or risk reversal on appeal. This case was never going to be ultimately won. The law was way too clear on the matter.”

Another: “Montana followed the law. It’s that simple and of course Watchtower followed the law...”

Yet another: “The case never should have been started, as the law clearly backed JW’s actions. It never had a chance of surviving appeal.”

They sure didn’t talk that way after the first trial. Some of their cohorts wanted to rub my nose—line by line—through that first transcript. ‘The court found your people guilty, TrueTom! Why would they do that unless they had broke the law—they who say they follow the law!’ I didn’t respond because I am not a lawyer that would try to unravel their affairs. Moreover, courts, while they may represent the best human justice available, are clearly not above bias from pre-existing philosophical leanings—if they were, confirming a Supreme Court Justice would take ten minutes. ‘Wait until the fat lady sings,’ was my attitude. When she did, it was to throw out the judgment of the skinny lady.

Not all were so retrospective after that reversal. “F**k the Montana Supreme Court!” was the outraged complaint woven throughout the thread, with some accusing those seven justices (the reversal was 7-0) of being enablers themselves! Child sexual abuse is the most white-hot topic of all and calm heads rarely prevail. One of them muttered at how they must be “celebrating this victory” at Watchtower HQ. But if so, they showed no sign of it. The Witness attorney summed up events: “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.’” Obviously if one is on the hook for several million dollars and then no longer is, they will not mourn over it. But the focus was kept on the victim, as it should have been. Ideally, she gets full justice from the perpetrator directly responsible.

The gold standard in matters of child sexual abuse is to “go beyond the law.” It is a crazy expectation and I can think of no parallels to it. The expectation is found in a remark already presented, but in truncated form. The full remark was: “Montana followed the law. It’s that simple and of course Watchtower followed the law, rather than just simply reporting child abuse like a good Christian organization.”

If the gold standard regarding child abuse is to “go beyond the law” then MAKE that the law! That’s what law is for! Three times before the ARC Geoffrey Jackson pleaded for such a change—it would make his job “so much easier.” ‘Going beyond the law’ is sure to trigger the wrath of those who, not unreasonably, expect you to abide by the law! Change the law and everyone is happy.

As though on cue, a report surfaced regarding another faith. An Oregon woman has filed a lawsuit for $9 million against the Mormon church because they DID report a confidentially disclosed sexual abuse of a minor. “Clergy are not required to report known or suspected child abuse if the knowledge results from a congregation member's confidential communication or confession and if the person making the statement does not consent to disclosure," Justice Beth Baker wrote in the Montana Supreme Court opinion. It is a statement that will clearly help the Oregon woman, but would not if it were not the law. Change the law if you are really serious about nabbing pedophiles.

The way everything unfolded in Montana pretty well accords with my initial assessment. So great is the world”s frustration at not being able to make a dent in the child sexual abuse pandemic that the first court chose to ignore law in pursuit of that end. It might well be combined with some religious bias, but I would not hang my hat on the latter—outrage over child sexual abuse is sufficient in itself. The Witness organization did follow law, as the Supreme Count confirmed, but the first court reinterpreted law and made it retroactive to make it seem that they did not. I wrote about it here:

Change the law! Why cannot that be done? If Watchtower wants to change a policy, they can do it overnight and have it implemented worldwide within the week. It is the basket-case eternally squabbling, turf-guarding, plethora of competing jurisdictions that cause many Witnesses to become Witnesses in the first place—they see how hopeless it is with human governments.

Ones who want to bring the Watchtower down on the pretext of child sexual abuse, such as those who predominate at the Witness bashing site, are hardly out of bullets, but they are continually frustrated. Their efforts to put Witness stories above all others gains little traction because the pattern elsewhere is that the leaders of organizations, religious or otherwise, are the abusers themselves, something rarely true with the Witness organization, and also that child sexual abuse appears to be the primary export of the planet, crowding out stories of “lesser” significance. With Watchtower (as in Montana) the situation is typically that of abuse within a family or step-family and Witness leaders come under the gun for evoking law and not reporting it, leaving that up to the persons involved—sometimes they do but often they don’t. History may well judge that harshly, but it does not hold a candle to leaders actually committing the abuse themselves. The class action suit in Quebec that I wrote about was similarly dismissed. Moreover, that contributing perception—that it is a disgrace to call attention to child sexual abuse—has been firmly put to rest among Witnesses.

The Epstein joke making the rounds is: “If you were surprised at Jeff Epstein committing suicide, just think how surprised he must have been!” Of course. With prison security protocol breaking down “at every level” and with 60 Minutes concluding that his injuries are far more consistent with homicide over suicide, the conclusion that he was put to sleep by powerful interests to protect other pedophiles will never be squashed. People are naive, but not that naive.

A DisneyLand executive was recently sentenced for pedophile offenses, and Erin Elizabeth of HealthNutNews, who has lived in the area, says it happens all too often. The point is, there is no place where child sexual abuse is not, but participants on the anti-JW site see it in only one place—a place where its intensity pales next to places where leaders are the abusers, not just ones trying to stem it who may have done so clumsily.

Thirty years into all-out war against child sexual abuse and barely a dent has been made! For my money, the JW organization is the most proactive of all, gathering every single member on earth to consider detailed scenarios in which child abuse might happen—if there are sleepovers, if there are tickling sessions, if there are unsupervised trips to the rest room, if someone, even a relative, shows unusual interest in your child, and so forth—so that parents, the obvious first line of defense, can be on the alert. This was done at the 2017 Regional Conventions, which were held globally.

It is the common and accepted legal practice to go as high up on the food chain as possible with regard to any lawsuit—everyone knows this and judges it an unremarkable fact of life. “Knew or should have known” is the legal expression that carries the day and effectively amounts to a tax on the common person. Governments raise taxes. Businesses raise prices. When I hear that my neighbor’s lawyer secured him millions of dollars for his auto accident, I rejoice with him—then I open my insurance premium bill.

As people become ever more debased, just where does this end? Women on airlines are reporting sexual abuse. Even rape has been reported, and with passengers being packed in like sardines, attendants expected to monitor this are caught dumbfounded. Do they “know or should have known?” In an increasingly depraved world, your guess is as good as mine.

As to sentiment on the Witness-bashing website? Look, whenever one discards a scenario in which there is discipline for one in which there is not, it will be like releasing a compressed spring—it rebounds wildly, delirious with its newfound freedom, caring not where it goes. This will be true when one leaves behind the school, the military, or the job. It will especially be true if one quit or was expelled from that institution—and that is the case of most on the anti-JW site. Many of them have come out as gay. Witnesses may not gay-bash as do some evangelicals, plenty of whom froth on the subject and tirelessly prod legislators to make it hot for gays in general society—Witnesses don’t do that—still, there is no place for gay sex relations within the Witness organization—and that hardly endears them to former members who have gone that way. There is a plain backdrop of ‘settling the score’ to be detected in many posts. It is anything but easy to hold the line on Bible morality in a quickly changing world.

......

Coverage of the original Montana trial here.

 

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“Does God Care About Women?”—“No”...Really? Where is Quality Control When You Need Them?

Oh, for crying out loud! Where is Quality Control on these things?

From The Watchtower, September 1, 2012: “Does God Really Care About Women?”

“No” is the answer, as reproduced in the Research Guide, followed by: “Genesis 1:27 states: ‘God proceeded to create the man in his image, in God’s image he created him; male and female he created them.’ So from the very beginning, humans—both male and female—were created with the ability to reflect God’s qualities. Although Adam and Eve had their own unique emotional and physical makeup, they both received the same commission and enjoyed the same rights before their Maker. (Genesis 1:28-31)

This explanation accords with a ‘Yes’ answer, not a ‘No’ answer. Something is goofy. What is going on?

Look up that September 1 Watchtower and you will see a heading that is not reproduced: “Did God Create Woman Inferior to Man?” Ah—this clears it up. The answer to the missing heading is “No.” But why is that paragraph cited without the heading that explains it all? What’s with THAT? It is the collection of bloopers in the movie that appears as the credits roll—except this one has been left in the movie! So it is the scene of George Washington crossing the Delaware and the actor playing George has neglected to remove his wristwatch! Quality control, if you please? Find that brother and assign him potato-peeling duty in the HQ basement for the next 20 years, right next to the fellow who thought it a fine idea to hang out at the UN library.

My first reaction was mortification. I told a certain pal who seems to know every other person in Bethel—to have them make corrections. But he just laughed his sides off. Whether he did it or not I do not know. Then I said, “Nah—leave it in. They’ll discover it soon enough and the next update will make changes.” Leave it in so the rabid JW detractors can zero in, highlight it, gleefully sing it to the heavens, and then look like utter fools when anyone with a brain can go to the source and see the missing heading. Even if the Watchtower did feel in their heart of hearts that women are second class citizens—What! They are going to run a headline: “Does God Care About Women? No.” I don’t think so. Let those detractors go way way out on a limb with it, the same way they did with that article on women dealing with a difficult home life—the crash will be all the more spectacular when it comes.

The fact of the matter is that Jesus does this kind of thing all the time, and he does it deliberately—not exactly this sort of thing, but close enough in my book. He does it when he likens God to that unrighteous judge who will grant justice but only when you pester him to death. (Luke 18:6) He does it when he likens his ideal follower to the crook who robs his master blind and the master praises him for his use of “practical wisdom”—even adding: “for the sons of this system of things are wiser in a practical way toward their own generation than the sons of the light are!” (Luke 16:8)

What in the world is Jesus thinking? My guess is that he gives the “wise and intellectual ones” rope with which they can hang themselves. They mock the verse for its logical inconsistency and miss entirely the greater lesson taught! It is not unlike—sorry to switch to politics here—when Trump tweets that North Korea has launched its missels and anyone with common sense runs for the hills. The “wise and intellectual ones,” however, run to their keyboards to point out that the idiot can’t even spell the word right! It may be deliberate. Or it may just mean that he can’t spell—It is not JWs who buy into that concept of Trump the “flawed messiah”—that is the evangelicals that you are thinking of.

“I publicly praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and intellectual ones and have revealed them to young children,” said Jesus at Matthew 11:25. I think he uses hyperbole as a tool in his toolbox because humble, honest, and hungry ones will instantly get the sense of it but the critical thinkers will not. “He catches the wise in their own cunning, so that the plans of the shrewd are thwarted,” is the thought expressed at Job 5:13.

I think that is what Jesus is doing—I don’t know it. Others may take it differently. “Why would he deliberately mislead people?” one atheist flung at me. The answer is that “he catches the wise in their own cunning.” Look to your heart. Note from that same Research Guide the commentary on Genesis 1:31, this one from the 1/1/2008 Watchtower:

“Evolution presents modern man as an improving animal. The Bible presents modern man as the degenerating descendant of a perfect man.”

Though the Watchtower does not make the application, I believe this explains why the essentially “top-down” approach of the JW organization resonates with its members—the “top” of the human organization taking the mantel of the “older men in Jerusalem” who had brought Christianity to the rank and file in the first place. “Critical thinking,” on the other hand, is far more in keeping with the approach of man as an “improving animal”—developing powerful skills of thought to lift us all up by our own bootstraps. It is not that the tool is valueless. It is that it should not be relied upon as the be-all and end-all—which is the way humanists usually do think of it. Let them debate themselves right off the deck of the ship before it reaches Port Newsystem.

Now, to be sure, The Watchtower is not inspired, nor is the Research Guide where I first discovered this blooper, a commentary on Genesis 1:27. It is not even as clever (sorry—politics again) as the trap Trump laid for his enemies in calling a press conference—and boy, did they come running!—expecting him to duck out of the 2016 presidential race after his ‘grab them by the you-know-what’ remark* came to light, but instead, they found him flanked with the three women that had accused President Clinton of gross misconduct! No. This one from the Watchtower is just pure clumsiness. It might even be deliberate—a prank by some immature kid at Bethel to see what he could get away with. It will be corrected soon enough—and I, having the rare “collector’s edition,” will sell it to Nemo for $100K.

It has not been a good week for Witness enemies—Nemo will be pulling his hair out. They were putting huge stock in that multi-million dollar verdict against Watchtower in a child sexual abuse matter and now that verdict has been reversed without a single dissenting vote. One of them muttered how they must be “celebrating this victory” at Watchtower HQ. But they showed no sign of it. The Witness attorney said, “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.’” Obviously if one is on the hook for several million dollars and then no longer is, they will not mourn over it. But the focus is kept on the victim, as it should be. Ideally, she gets full justice from the perpetrator directly responsible.

If the actual requirement is that Witnesses or anyone else go “beyond the law,” then make that the law—Witnesses have demonstrated themselves pretty good at following law—and the problem is solved. Ones who want to bring the Watchtower down on this pretext are hardly out of bullets, but they are continually frustrated. Their efforts to put Witness stories above all others gain little traction because the pattern elsewhere is that the leaders of organizations, religious or otherwise, are the abusers, something rarely true with the Witness organization, and also that child sexual abuse appears to be the primary export of the planet, crowding out stories of “lesser” significance. With Watchtower (as in Montana) the situation is that of abuse within a step-family and Witness leaders come under the gun for evoking law and not reporting it, leaving that up to the persons involved—sometimes they do but often they don’t. History may well judge that harshly, but it does not hold a candle to leaders actually committing the abuse themselves. The class action suit in Quebec that I wrote about was similarly dismissed.

It is the common and accepted legal practice to go as high up on the food chain as possible with regard to any lawsuit—everyone knows this and judges it an unremarkable fact of life. How much did whoever “know or should have known” is the legal expression that carries the day and effectively amounts to a tax on the common person. Governments raise taxes. Businesses raise prices. When I hear that my neighbor’s lawyer secured him millions of dollars for his auto accident, I rejoice with him—then I open my insurance premium bill.

As people become ever more debased, just where does this end? Women on airlines are reporting sexual abuse. Even rape has been reported, and passengers being packed in like sardines, attendants expected to monitor this are caught unawares Do they “know or should have known?” In an increasingly depraved world, your guess is as good as mine.

...*

The President’s wife passed off her husband’s remarks to Billy Bush as “locker room talk.” Given that the media was every day trying to take him out and had apparently been sitting on that sound bite for ages, waiting for just the right moment, I made up a broadcast (in No Fake News but Plenty of Hogwash) that I named: Live From the Locker Room:

Good evening. We’re broadcasting live from the locker room tonight to reveal to America just what goes on in this previously obscure culture that has so suddenly thrust itself upon the national stage. We’ll interview some players in this intriguing venue. Ah, here’s comes a jock now. “Hey! Yo! Whazzup? We’d like to ask you some questions.”

“Why, good evening sirs, madam. You must be members of the news media. Welcome to our humble locker room. It’s not much, but please make yourself at home. There are refreshments in the adjacent room, just past the gentleman snapping his neighbor’s buns with the wet towel.”

“Charlie, it is as we thought. ‘Locker room talk’ is but a lame excuse. They’re not crude at all here. They are quite refined and sensitive and…”

Hey, ya wanna get your crap outta here?! I can’t get to my @%!# locker!”

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the ebook ‘I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses—Searching for the Why’ (free).... and in the West, with the ebook ‘TrueTom vs the Apostates!’ (free)