The Australian Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sex Abuse concluded last week with a string of recommendations toward institutions and government for requested changes to increase the safety of children. I won’t, here, go into the details of what the commission recommended, as such information has already been covered elsewhere in abundance. Today, I am more concerned with Watchtower’s attitude toward victims.
Watchtower, you’ve got a bad attitude and I think it’s about time we address it.
Honourable Justice Peter McClellan said something quite beautiful in his concluding speech. Certainly, it’s worth repeating here.
“Although the primary responsibility for the sexual abuse of a child lies with the abuser and the institution which they were part, we cannot avoid the conclusion that the problems faced by many people who have been abused are the responsibility of our entire society.” – Honourable Justice Peter McClellan
See that? That’s called taking accountability. The Honourable Justice acknowledged the problem and then owned it as something that is his business. It’s your business and it’s my business. It’s the business of our entire society. Here, there is a problem and it needs to be fixed. He stated quite clearly that, “the problems faced by many people who have been abused are the responsibility of our entire society”. In case you missed it, I’ve taken the liberty of stressing it twice.
Can you imagine—try very hard—a world in which a member of the Governing Body uttered similar words? I can’t and I have a very good imagination. Look, I’ll give it a real shot.
Imagine Geoffrey Jackson or one of his colleagues took a deep breath, manned-up, stood up and said, “The problems faced by many Witnesses who have been abused by Elders and congregants are the responsibility of our entire organisation.”
Can you imagine how instantly your respect for him would increase? Such an act would demonstrate real love, courage, and empathy. Such an act would be reflective of a man more intent on providing support to people, than maintaining the image of a corporation. I’d respect that man, but he doesn’t exist.
Compare the above words of Honourable Justice Peter McClellan with the victim-blaming narrative disseminated by Watchtower in the October Awake! of 2007.
“The primary responsibility for protecting children against abuse belongs to parents.” Awake! Make Your Family a Safe Haven, October 2007.
I’ve included the reference, so give it a read if you wish. You’ll find that Watchtower takes zero accountability for the child abuse that takes place in their congregations and sometimes on their properties. If parents let their guard down in the “spiritual paradise”, and their child is raped, then it’s entirely their fault. This is so insulting that its equivalence is the Governing Body saying, “Ha! It’s your fault for trusting us, not our fault for supplying the paedophiles, the venue, and the opportunity. Guess you’re just crappy parents for believing us … we, the men who speak for God.”
It’s the same stunt they pull at every level of the organisation. Indeed, it’s the same stunt they pulled in 1975. “If you refuse to believe in the dates with which we provide you, you will be put out on your backsides, but if we’re wrong … Ha! It’s your fault for being stupid enough to trust us.”
You cannot win against such faulty reasoning. This is the definition of an abusive relationship. A man promises not to hit his wife, but she angers him running late with the groceries, so he strikes her. “Ha! It’s your fault for taking too long with the groceries. You know that makes me mad. You should have known I would lose it!”
Am I the only one seeing a pattern here? The 2007 Awake! article I quoted from earlier, opens with the following.
““HAVING no natural affection.” With those sad words, the Bible describes many people of our time, a period called “the last days.” (2 Timothy 3:1, 3, 4)” Awake! Make Your Family a Safe Haven, October 2007.
No natural affection? All right, let’s do this one last time, shall we? Scroll up and re-read what the Honourable Justice Peter McClellan said regarding the welfare of the victims of child abuse. He owns it; sees it as something broken that needs to be fixed. Compare that Watchtower’s bad attitude and you tell me who’s lacking in, “natural affection”. Is it the guy who wants to help the victims of organisations he’s never even been involved with? Or is it the guy who physically runs the show and is in the best possible position to enact real change, but does not?
I don’t know, maybe I’m crazy. You tell me.
“A child cannot understand the full meaning of sexual acts … In other words, if an adult (or significantly older youth) has relations with a child, the older person cannot excuse the act by saying that the child did not object or that the child asked for it. The adult is guilty of rape. This is a crime, often punishable by a prison sentence. The responsibility for the rape belongs with the rapist, not the unwilling victim.”
The saddest part for me, I think, is that Watchtower appears to be quite competent in understanding the depth and breadth of issues relating to child abuse, even acknowledging that it’s a crime. Despite this, they do nothing to reduce the problem, and, as we saw throughout the royal commission, they staunchly resist any change for the better.
“Sadly, though, most of such crimes go unpunished by authorities today. In Australia, for example, it has been estimated that only 10 percent of offenders are prosecuted, and few are convicted. Other lands have had a similar record. While governments may be able to do little to protect the Christian family, the application of Bible principles can do far more.” Awake! Make Your Family a Safe Haven, October 2007.
And you know what could do even more than the application of Bible principles? Reporting child abuse to the authorities. That might help budge those unpunished crimes for which you express such sadness. Or, is this just another example of the shameful Jehovah’s Witness logic, where they see a problem in the world, feel sad, and then say, “Oh well, because … paradise!”?
“True Christians realize that the God who had those principles recorded in his Word has not changed. He sees every deed we carry out, even those that are hidden to most humans. The Bible says: “All things are naked and openly exposed to the eyes of him with whom we have an accounting.”—Hebrews 4:13.” Awake! Make Your Family a Safe Haven, October 2007.
I see, I was right … thought so. This final paragraph nicely sets the scene for Elders to discourage parents from going to the police. “How so?” asks the never-in. “Ah, let me tell show you,” says the born-in. I’ll break it down nicely. It goes like this.
The Ten Steps of Silencing Victims of Abuse – An Elders’ Guide
By Cael McIntosh, your friendly resident Apostate
- Bob finds out Jerry has been raping his kid.
- Bob storms up to Jerry and says, ‘You’ve been raping my kid! She told me.’
- ‘No I haven’t,’ says Jerry.
- Bob goes to the elders, furious. A judicial committee is formed.
- Poor little Betty is interrogated, but she sticks to her guns and says that Jerry did it.
- The Elders read some Bible verses, including the scriptural basis for the “two-witness rule”.
- Bob can’t believe what he is hearing. Jerry didn’t rape Betty in a public space. He was babysitting. How could there possibly be a second witness?
- Bob threatens to escalate the matter to the police.
- The elders provide Bob with council, saying, ‘You can go to the police if you want. We won’t try to stop you, but keep in mind what the scriptures say about bringing reproach upon Jehovah’s name and his organisation by making private divisions public.’
- Not wanting to piss off God or risk being disfellowshipped, moves to a new congregation, but stays silent. ‘Jerry will get what’s coming to him at Armageddon,’ Bob consoles himself. ‘We’ll just have to wait on Jehovah.’
Those are the ten steps used by Watchtower to silence victims of abuse. And look, they don’t say a single thing to incriminate themselves! They keep everybody silent without once silencing anyone. No dirty hands here. Nothing more to see. Move it long, people. Right? If it weren’t so vile, I’d almost be impressed.