It is commendable to see that the Catholic Church has over the past few years apologised for the abuse of children by their clergy. However, as stated in your article some victims and their relatives feel this is not enough and more should be done in the way of compensation and support for the victims. Certainly the pain, suffering, and emotional scars of some of these victims will never heal. What the Catholic Church has done, even if it is just a public apology, is in stark contrast to how Jehovah’s Witnesses handle child abuse cases. In 2002, US Catholic bishops publicly promised that the church would never ask for gag orders when compensating abuse survivors. Five years down the line, Jehovah’s Witnesses do just the opposite. Sixteen victims of the more than forty civil sex abuse lawsuits against Jehovah’s Witnesses were paid the largest settlement in the sect’s history. However, this victory was bittersweet. The sixteen victims were forced to sign gag orders that prevent them from speaking out about their abuse. On one hand it is good to see that the victims got financial compensation. On the other hand, it is sad and worrying because they have essentially been forced to give up their right to protect others by speaking out about their abuse to the public.
Jehovah’s Witnesses keep putting innocent kids and unsuspecting families at risk of horrible crimes because they value their secrecy and reputation more than they value children’s safety. The Watchtower has attacked and ousted members of conscience who have spoken out to protect kids. They have protected child molesters by maintaining a secret database of more that 25,000 molesters that they do not share with law enforcement and the authorities. When a few victims find the courage and strength to speak up, get help, warn others, and seek justice in court, church officials silence them with hurtful gag orders.
Those of the general public may be interested to know that the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses also admittedly allows even known child molesters to participate in the door to door ministry, provided they are accompanied by another minister. Presumably, the unsuspecting householders are supposed to feel secure in the fact that possibly only one of the Jehovah’s Witnesses knocking upon their door is a paedophile.
Jehovah’s Witnesses have a long-standing and ridiculous policy of not reporting molesters to police, requiring two eye witnesses before an abused child is believed and insisting that untrained individuals do internal investigations. This keeps kids vulnerable and predators free.
The Watchtower (Jehovah’s Witnesses) is constantly engaged in a world-wide campaign declaring the end of false religion. It criticizes the churches for, among other things, tolerating clergymen that sexually abuse children. Furthermore, when the hypocrisy of their own leaders comes to the fore, they hurriedly try to deny it and cover it up. Admittedly, most of the abusers among Jehovah’s Witnesses are not elders, (clergy) but given the failure of the Watchtower Society’s policies to adequately protect the children of the congregations from paedophiles, it is gross hypocrisy for the Watchtower Society to point their finger at the churches.
This is an international problem that needs to be addressed by one of the wealthiest religious groups in the world. Jehovah’s Witnesses are known in almost every town in South Africa. The rank and file are however oblivious to the crisis this organization finds itself in partly because Witnesses are forbidden to read anything critical of the Watchtower organization.
Watchtower! It’s time to come clean.