Arrogance And The Missing Apology

Time and again we see the Watchtower organisation and the Governing Body dig their heels in and insist that their policies for dealing with cases of child sexual abuse are correct.  However, by doing this they compound the damage already done to many child and adult victims of these crimes.  In this article I am not going to discuss these policies, rather I shall explore the way they choose to react to the victims.

The Governing Body readily admits that it is made up of imperfect men.

The Governing Body is neither inspired nor infallible. Therefore, it can err in doctrinal matters or in organizational direction. [1]

So the Governing Body has admitted that it can make mistakes, how do they deal with such mistakes?  On the subject of doctrinal matters the same article goes onto state:

For example, the Watch Tower Publications Index includes the subject “Beliefs Clarified,” which lists adjustments to our understanding of the Bible since 1870.

This is a very interesting turn of phrase that they use when referring to changes in doctrine, “Beliefs Clarified”.  This certainly doesn’t give the impression that they are admitting mistakes.  Even in doctrinal matters, they only discuss “an amplification and adjustment in understanding”[3], rather than admitting that they have previously made mistakes.  This quote in full states:

This is an amplification and adjustment in understanding of what appears in The Watchtower of November 15, 1974, pages 703-704, and of February 15, 1978, pages 30-32. Those who acted on the basis of the knowledge they had at the time are not to be criticized. [3]

It seems to imply that it is the ordinary Jehovah’s Witness who needs things clarified because they didn’t understand the matter correctly.  They are subtly putting the onus on the rank and file, rather than on the Governing Body as the one who has erred.

Even with this subtle of use of gaslighting, some may say “ah but this is only in reference to doctrine and as the Last Days progress the ‘light gets brighter'”.  Even taking this into account, shouldn’t the Governing Body be open, honest and upfront with their readers?  Should’t they show humility and admit when they have made a mistake?  Shouldn’t they apologise?

According to the Watchtower themselves:

Yes, a person should never be too proud to swallow his pride, apologize, and seek forgiveness.[4]

So, as the Governing Body admits that “it can err in doctrinal matters or in organizational direction”, why will it not admit that it has made many errors in it’s dealing with victims of child sexual abuse?  Why does it continue to minimise the damage that they have caused, and why do they continually dismiss and belittle the victims themselves?

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Geoffrey Jackson giving evidence to the Australian Royal Commission

Geoffrey Jackson, a member of the Governing Body, admitted that there is a problem with child sexual abuse in the organisation[5], when questioned under oath for the Australian Royal Commission.[6][7]

Mr Angus Stewart SC: Do you recognise, Mr Jackson ‐ and in asking this question, let me make it clear, I’m not suggesting it is peculiar to the Jehovah’s Witness organisation, there are many, many organisations in this position ‐ but do you accept that the Jehovah’s Witness organisation has a problem with child abuse amongst its members?

Mr Geoffrey Jackson:  I accept that child abuse is a problem right throughout the community and it’s something that we’ve had to deal with as well.[6]

Mr Jackson, even went onto admit that the organisation’s policies have also presented problems in this regard and this is why they have had to change them over the years.

Mr Angus Stewart SC: Do you accept that the manner in which your organisation has dealt with allegations of child sexual abuse has also presented problems?

Mr Geoffrey Jackson:  There have been changes in policies over the last 20 or 30 years, where we’ve tried to address some of those problem areas, and by the fact that they have changed the policy would indicate that the original policies weren’t perfect.

Answering a further question, Geoffrey Jackson then went onto state that the Governing Body has “apologised on other matters” in the past, so that it was “perceivable” they may consider apologising to survivors of child sexual abuse.

Mr Angus Stewart SC: Just on that point, Mr Jackson, has the Governing Body considered apologising to survivors of child sexual abuse at the hands of elders within the organisation?

Mr Geoffrey Jackson:  I haven’t been in any discussions with regard to that.

Mr Angus Stewart SC: Is that something that you foresee might happen ‐ in
28 other words, that an apology at least be considered?

Mr Geoffrey Jackson:  The Governing Body has apologised on other matters, so for me to say ‐ I can’t speak collectively for everybody, but we have apologised on things in the past, in other areas, so it is perceivable.

However, sadly, no such apology was ever forthcoming.  In fact the Watchtower organisation appears to have doubled-down on other public denials that they are doing anything wrong.  In an article in today’s Dagblad van het Noorden[8], which discusses the Dutch parliament’s motion for an investigation into Jehovah’s Witnesses handling of Child Sexual Abuse[9][10], a representative of the Watchtower in the Netherlands states:

“The Reclaimed Voices foundation says that this is a structural problem within our church. We do not recognize ourselves at all “, says spokesman Michel van Hilten.

So despite Geoffrey Jackson’s tacit admission that the fact that they have changed the policy would indicate that the original policies weren’t perfect”[6], representatitives of the Watchtower are now openly saying that there is no “structural problem” within the organisation.  I would like to point out that an organisation is the sum of its policies.  So, if a policy needs to be changed, it means that the policy and by extension the organisation was flawed to begin with.  We saw earlier in the article that the Watchtower organisation itself has admitted in print that mistakes can be made in “organizational direction”.

The Governing Body is neither inspired nor infallible. Therefore, it can err in doctrinal matters or in organizational direction[1]

serveimageNot only are they now refusing to admit there is a problem, they are refusing to co-operate with any investigation carried out in the Netherlands.  Rather than take this as an opportunity to apologise to victims for how they have been treated by the organisation, they are even refusing to engage in dialogue with the victims.  Reclaimed Voices[2], a foundation set up to represent abuse victims of Jehovah’s Witnesses in the Netherlands has been attempting dialogue for some time but the Watchtower organisation had rebuffed all attempts. [11]

 “The first abuse is sexual; the second and more painful, is psychological.” This second abuse occurs when the church refuses to listen to victims of abuse, fails to take their accusations seriously…[12]

You may wonder where this particular quote above comes from.  Is it referring to the Jehovah’s Witnesses?  No.  This quote is from the Awake! April 8, 1993 and the article is entitled, “Victims of Pedophile Priests Speak Out”.  It is about the child sexual abuse scandal that has rocked the Roman Catholic Church.  The Watchtower has condemned the Catholic Church at every turn over its long history, and how it handled its child abuse scandal was long used as proof that the church is part of false religion and “Babylon the Great”.

It is ironic then that the Watchtower, an organisation that claims to be the only religious organisation on earth used by God – that “practices godly love, exercises faith in Jesus”[13] – would treat the victims of these heinous crimes perpetrated by those in its organisation this way.  Surely they should show Christian loving kindness in helping to heal these victims by listening to them, and ensuring that they are protected and get justice?  Surely they should show sincere humility and apologise to victims for organisational policies which have compounded the abuse and punished the victims further?  Going back to the quote about apologising from earlier in the article, the full quote continues:

Yes, a person should never be too proud to swallow his pride, apologize, and seek forgiveness. Of course, for sincerely humble individuals, apologies are not so difficult to make.[4]

If the Governing Body was truly made up of sincerely humble individuals, they would apologise without hesitation.  An apology by itself isn’t nearly enough, but it would be an acknowledgement to victims that the organisation caused further damage, that things should have been done differently.  At the very least it would be a step in the right direction.  However, time and again they prove that they are nothing but arrogant and egotistical individuals, without any true love and understanding for the damage they have caused.

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[1] Who Is Leading God’s People Today? – The Watchtower – Study Edition – February 2017
[2] Reclaimed Voices – https://reclaimedvoices.org/
[3] Honor Godly Marriage! – The Watchtower March, 15 1983 p.31
[4] Apologizing – A Key to Making Peace – The Watchtower – Study Edition – November 1, 2002
[5] It is important to point out that no-one is suggesting that Jehovah’s Witnesses are the only organisation with this problem or with issues surrounding its child protection policies, but this article is specifically discussing the reaction of the Governing Body to admitted problems within the Watchtower organisation.
[6] Governing Body member Geoffrey Jackson’s testimony before the Australian Royal Commission – Case Study 29 – Transcript – The response of the Jehovah’s Witnesses and Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of Australia Ltd to allegations of child sexual abuse (Jehovah’s Witnesses) – Day 155 – 14082015
[7] Australian Royal Commission official website: https://www.childabuseroyalcommission.gov.au/
[8] http://www.dvhn.nl/groningen/Frank-doorbrak-het-heilige-stilzwijgen-over-seksueel-misbruik-bij-de-Jehovas-Getuigen-23347220.html – English translation available HERE.
[9] Motion on investigation into Child sexual abuse within Jehovah’s Witnesses is unanimously accepted by Dutch parliament.  – https://www.tweedekamer.nl/kamerstukken/stemmingsuitslagen/detail?id=2018P10970
[10] https://www.rtlnieuws.nl/nederland/politiek/tweede-kamer-eist-onafhankelijk-onderzoek-naar-misbruik-jehovahs-getuigen – English translation available HERE.
[11] https://www.nu.nl/binnenland/5248856/jehovas-getuigen-weigeren-reageren-kindermisbruik-binnen-kerk.html – English translation available HERE.
[12] Victims of Pedophile Priests Speak Out – Awake! April 8, 1993
[13] What does the Bible Really Teach? 2005, 2014 – Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania

 

2 thoughts on “Arrogance And The Missing Apology

  1. Dear Evelyn,

    How clever of you to use the WBTS own words to describe the revictimization of sexual abuse through denial. I love watching your videos and reading your blogs. You are so inciteful and genuine. Please don’t stop sending your thoughts and words out into the universe. We need people like you to give ExJW’s a gentle place to land when we finally wake up. 💜

    On Sat, Jul 7, 2018 at 1:13 PM Evelyn De L’Ombre wrote:

    > Evelyn De L’Ombre posted: “Time and again we see the Watchtower > organisation and the Governing Body dig their heels in and insist that > their policies for dealing with cases of child sexual abuse are correct. > However, by doing this they compound the damage already done to many chil” >

    Liked by 1 person

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