Jehovah's Witnesses and child abuse – is there a problem?
IN RECENT years, news reports featuring the Jehovah’s Witnesses have been growing significantly in number.

The reports claim that the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, the official name for the organisation that governs the Jehovah’s Witnesses worldwide, has been engaged in covering up child abuse within the religion on a massive scale.

But are these reports justified? Yes, according to Lloyd Evans, above, founder and senior editor of JWsurvey and activist against cult indoctrination.

This week Evans, an escapee from the cult, published on YouTube a painstakingly researched documentary that draws together evidence from multiple sources spanning the past twenty five years.

According to this JWsurvey report, "the film takes the viewer step by step through the issue, from the accounts of the survivors and lawyers involved in the court cases, to the interviews from journalists who have investigated the claims.

"The film takes us to Barbara Anderson, the whistleblower who first raised the alarm on this issue, and shows footage of members of the Governing Body, the group who lead the Jehovah’s Witnesses, being interrogated under oath on the subject by the Australian Royal Commission, and being grilled by reporters at a District Convention.

"The results are eye-opening and deeply concerning, and reveal a genuine risk to both the children of Jehovah’s Witnesses, and also to the children of the general public."

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So the church is exactly like any other business, and, is simply protecting its enormous assets from attachment....with no additional moral obligations or desire to help victims.

Sadly, that happens.   It happens to us in universities, too, or do you imagine that all of our administraitors always do what's in the best interest of educating students for the common good?   Have you seen our tuitions lately?

It's an interesting social argument whether NFP entities like hospitals, schools, churches, and public benefit organizations should pay taxes of different sorts.  In the U.S. all of them pay taxes on income that's not related to their charitable purpose.   Do we really think it's economically efficient to tax hospitals for their health care income?   Tax churches for their collections from people who have already been taxed?   

In the U.S., we decided in favor of separation of church and state, so the ability of the state to tax churches is limited.  Other countries subsidize churches the way we subsidize public schools and public and private universities.  Still other countries oppress and steal from churches.   We call these dictatorships.

I must say that I agree with you, almost completely. The only point I would make is that I think it is quite optimistic to think that these people aren't turned over to protect the victim. I think that if people cared about the victims they'd find ways to keep them anonymous to all except a jury and a few officials and then prosecute the offenders to make sure that there are no further victims.

I haven't seen anything to show that sex abuse among religious institutions happens more than any other group that works with children. Nor have I seen anything to point to celibacy leading to sexually criminal or otherwise "deviant" behaviors (of course that would likely be a closely guarded secret if it did happen, but it would be hard to keep that big a secret for so long: case in point). Turns out that a guy from my high school tried to start up a relationship with a young teenager as an assistant youth minister (no one was surprised, dude was always creepy), but did he become an assistant youth minister because he "felt a calling" or because it gave him an opportunity to proposition a child? I think it was the latter.

It's something that everyone needs to be aware of; child-sex abusers are typically predators who find their way into many positions and would otherwise seem like good people.

I think as atheists our outrage at the perpetrators who are authorities in a church comes from the fact that these are the same people that would think and have others think that they morally superior to us just because we are non-believers. One would think that being a priest, pastor, imam... what-have-you, would make one more resistant to committing these crimes. That these people still abuse children at the same rate of the general public is telling.

Yeah, it IS moral outrage that the people CLAIMING to be the source of morality are no more moral than anyone else, and, further, that claim provides the sheepskin camo needed to perpetrate the abuse even more effectively.

Its like when a cop is guilty of a robbery, etc...its is more likely to cause outrage than if an ordinary civilian does.

If "a calling" was real, you'd at least think that the proportion of abusers in the clergy would be lower than elsewhere.  So, that means the "calling" is the siren song of vulnerable prey, and not god.

Of course the statistics only count convictions, and, the conviction rate for accused clergy is very low compared to say the boy scouts, etc...BECAUSE being clergy, they do get off more that sheepskin camo is very very effective.

So, the abuse rate is higher among the clergy if the skewed conviction data, and, the fact that the data did not include all parishes, as the info was supplied voluntarily, and, some excluded parishes had over 500 convictions on abuse alone, the "calling" seems to favor the predators and have nothing to do with religion other than as a cover.

So, to be fair, it IS a percentage, and, SOME are simply nice people...but, proportionally, the clergy is laced with abusers...and, not less than other professions that also provide cover.

Its a sick profession.

Yeah, it IS moral outrage that the people CLAIMING to be the source of morality are no more moral than anyone else, and, further, that claim provides the sheepskin camo needed to perpetrate the abuse even more effectively.

None of us theists, clergy or otherwise, claim to be the source of morality.  Nor have we ever claimed to be more moral than anyone else.  But I get the whole notion of violations by people in a position of trust (police, clergy, teachers, etc.) as being more egregious because of their ability to act under the color of authority.  Goodness knows these acts by priests infuriate me more than other perpetrators of similar crimes, whether that's rational or not.

As @Sagacious points out, predators seek out positions of trust to enable their predation.  I don't think these people ever had a "calling" to religious life or teaching or being scout leaders.  I think they were drawn to those positions because of the access to kids such positions afford, and the positions of trust that get beyond ordinary barriers of suspicion.   We don't think Jerry Sandusky became heavily involved in kids' programs because he was called to that sort of charitable work, do we?

For my church and the U.S. scouts, we have a wealth of data not associated with either prosecution or convictions, so the statistics in both those cases encompass all accusations and credible reports that were made.  Those are unique data sets, they were not provided voluntarily, and they were maintained by central authorities not individual parishes or scout troops.    

By contrast, for teachers, coaches, etc. we only have arrest and conviction data.  There was no central authority maintaining records of accusations.   As a result, there is a strong appearance that clergy and scout leaders are "worse" than other populations.  Anyone with a rational understanding of the data should recognize such a perception is exactly the sort of artifact of data availability that you describe, @TJ.

That excuses nothing, of course, and it places a great deal of moral culpability on those in positions of central authority who did not act adequately or worse, covered up incidents and shuffled people around.   Hanging is too good for them, IMHO.

It's hard also not to lay blame on our justice system, which rarely prosecutes and convicts crimes of this sort.  The scout files are full of cases reported to the authorities that they chose not to prosecute; indeed part of the reason the scouts kept the files was to try to protect kids because these people are so rarely prosecuted successfully.

 The JW’s are ignoring guidelines and keeping authorities in the dark much like the Catholic Church did.

I think it should be made clear that we are not talking about "Sexual Abuse" which would be Very Rare with Jehovah's Witnesses, more so than the General Public. I know because I was a Member for 10 years. The "Abuse" Comes from Denying Blood Transfusions to anyone, "including Children",  Because the Bible says "You must not drink the Blood of any Living Creature" They take this to mean Blood Transfusions also. They do love their children as much as any normal person, they say there are Chemical Substitutes for Blood, that carry oxygen as well as Blood Does! I don't know about that, I am not a Doctor. By the way, they do Believe in using Doctors, and Medicine, otherwise.That was not my reason for leaving, I left because Studying the Bible in Depth, made me an Atheist!


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