Our friends at OAASIS posted an informative link to an article by Trey Bundy on RevealNews.org regarding a recent letter that was sent by the “Christian Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses” to male elders of the the different churches in the United States.
The letter specified that church leaders should immediately call the Legal Department, and wait for a possible judicial committee if possible–even in cases of rape, murder or child abuse. Here is an excerpt of paragraph 14 that specifies the prescribed reporting of crimes:
“14. Handling reports of other crimes: When the elders learn of alleged criminal activity
on the part of one of Jehovah’s Witnesses or someone associated with the congregation as the
accused or the victim, they should immediately call the Legal Department. In some cases, the
elders will form a judicial committee to handle alleged wrongdoing that may also constitute a
violation of criminal law (e.g., murder, rape, child abuse, fraud, theft, assault). Generally, the
elders should not delay the judicial committee process, but strict confidentiality must be
maintained to avoid unnecessary entanglement with secular authorities who may be conducting a
criminal investigation of the matter. For example, even the fact that a judicial committee has
been formed should not be disclosed to persons not entitled to know. In
addition, the Legal Department should be contacted for legal advice on how to protect
confidentiality that is specific to the circumstances of the case.”
It would seem, in light of several major sexual abuse cases involving child sexual abuse within Jehovah’s Witnesses congregations in Texas, California, and Oregon, these church governing bodies would be sending out revised letters to their elders recommending LESS confidentiality and more transparency in keeping with the laws and statutes to which their non-profit organizations are bound. As a religion based around trust and faith, it would seem in the best interest of the church, its elders and the youth they all serve to mandate instructions that protects its youth from future abuse, empower those who have already been abused, and work with “secular authorities” to bring offenders to justice.
If you have information about sexual abuse within a Jehovah’s Witness congregation and wish to speak to someone confidentially, please call 1-888-407-0227-4 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.