Questioning Humanity: the Jehova’s Witnesses ‘Two-Witness Rule’
Stimulating the reinforcement of the law
This article is one of the least favourite subjects that needs to be written about. I, however, don’t have another choice because I am a big supporter of education.
When I was about fourteen years old I first got acquainted with the Jehovah’s witnesses when they knocked on my door. I was raised not to be afraid of other religions and to adapt when necessary which is what I did by keeping my door open.
We had a pleasant conversation. “Is it okay if we come back in a week or so?” the young man and woman asked. Who am I to tell them no so I said: “Sure, why not.” I spent the rest of that Sunday afternoon reading the material they gave me.
I never forgot their kindness. That is definitely one of the first things you will notice when you come in contact with Jehovah’s witnesses: their kindness. I, however, was shocked when I learned more about this community and therefore felt the necessity to write this article.
First things first: we as human beings are free to practice any type of religion. I do not believe in the arguments saying we should banish religion. ‘Religion is accompanied by misery’, is not something I believe in. There will, after all, always be factors that force people to learn how to live with each other. Religion or no religion. Adequate and suitable leadership are key to make this as successful as possible.
Problems in society only occur when (religious) acts are justified for impure purposes. Or even worse: to legalize crimes and when consciousness and morality are missing.
The theme of this article is the ‘the two-witness rule’ and applies to the abovementioned.
The ‘two witness-rule’ implies that when there aren’t two witnesses to a crime such as sexual abuse one will not act appropriately by not immediately calling the authorities.
If there aren’t two witnesses to a crime the matter should be resolved by Jehovah, according to the Jehovah’s witnesses. Here Jehovah is the name for God. Even though the community claims they urge victims to report the crime and that they do not protect child molesters; unfortunately reality tells us otherwise. Recently, during a major trial in Australia the following was revealed:
“It also examined evidence from case files held by the organisation which recorded allegations, reports or complaints of child sexual abuse by 1,006 members of the organisation.
The Royal Commission found children are not adequately protected from the risk of child sexual abuse in the Jehovah’s Witness organisation and does not believe the organisation responds adequately to allegations of child sexual abuse.” Source: https://www.childabuseroyalcommission.gov.au/case-studies/case-study-29-jehovahs-witnesses
The consequences of this ‘two-witness rule’ are drastic and invasive. Not only will the victims, mostly many innocent children and teenagers, be scarred for life, the community will also be hotbed for sexual offenders and paedophiles. Because one doesn’t immediately report the crime the perpetrators will also be able to commit another crime soon after.
How can any child provide two eye adult witnesses to child sexual abuse.
In the long run the members and victims will let go of their religion and stop believing in God. All because the name of God is used inappropriately and in an unjustified manner. The statement that the ‘two-witness rule’ is derived from a verse in the Bible is to be rejected. There is no binding interpretation of verses in scriptures from which we can assume that God supports crimes.
The purity of religion is innocent, but religion that is accompanied by crime is toxic and alarming.
Jehovah’s witnesses are afraid that their community will be slandered when these type of affairs are discussed outside of their inner circle. Their policy is that, after an incident, a victim needs to explain to three elders what exactly happened. However, these elders know nothing of victim or legal support. Instead of offering the victim the right kind of support after a traumatic experience, the victim will have to answer dubious questions about the incident. The perpetrator will be released with a mere warning and won’t be thrown out of the community if he repents.
Repenting is for adults with a common sense who know what the word ‘repent’ means. Not for sexual offenders who need to be treated by professionals and experts to help them get rid of their sick minds.
With their policy the Jehovah’s witnesses choose to live in a pink bubble; thinking they are smart enough to solve these kinds of sexual abuse cases, instead of facing the truth. The reality is that there are allegations, reports or complaints of child sexual abuse by 1,006 members of the organisation and nothing has been done about this. The ‘two-witness rule’ still exists. And this happens everywhere.
The Watchtower is the main legal entity used worldwide by Jehova’s Witnesses to direct, administer and disseminate doctrines for the group and is often referred to by members of the denomination simply as “the Society”. The Watchtower possesses tremendous control over its members and is mainly responsible for all of their policies.
That arrogance from inside the community shown towards outsiders, who are only trying to do what is right, cannot be rewarded by accepting their ambiguous policy. Every day the list of victims increases because of this rule. For this reason we like to work on a solution.
The first logical step would be to work on making evident that protecting child molesters is a crime. However, at the same time this isn’t enough. The problem can also be found in the vicious circle as Jehovah’s witnesses believe they are allowed to live above the law.
According to one ex-Jehova’s witness who successfully sued the Watchtower:
“To accomplish this, to help the victims, the victims are going to be able to have to know how to be Watchtower at their own game. To beat anybody at their own game you need to fully understand what that game is and how Watchtower plays it.”
He advices to take legal help because this is a very complex case.
It is difficult to talk to Jehovah’s witnesses. They don’t see the dangers of this ‘two-witness rule’. It is our job, as the so-called outsiders, to make them understand the dangers of this rule.
With education, debate and adhering to the law we will be taking a step in the right direction.
One needs to investigate which child molesters are protected by the community of the Jehovah’s witnesses to make sure legal steps can be taken. We need to clarify their policy and this needs to be more supported by the law. However, this is only possible when we get access to what happens on the inside. In addition, the leaders need to be willing to talk about the problems. The secrecy within this community is a sign that this matter should be handled politically.
I understand why Jehovah’s witnesses are afraid to stand up and demand change. They are afraid to be thrown out and don’t know any other place besides the one they have within the community. However, if this rule changes, one of the cornerstones of this religion will start to fall apart. That pink cloud they live on will start to fade. They never learned to rely on God and trust themselves, but only to trust and rely on their unjust (male) leaders within the community. And that is difficult for them.
But there is hope. Because of the ongoing trials, the activists against the ‘two-witness rule’ and because of the work of alert journalists the necessity to deal with this issue is a matter of today.
The next time you run into Jehovah’s witnesses on a mission, out on the street or at your door, don’t ask them about the contents of the reading materialthey hand out for free. Ask them about the two-witness rule and, again, how any child can provide two eye adult witnesses to child sexual abuse. That is also how you can contribute to shedding more light on this dreadful subject.
Ask them why the amount of sexual crimes increases in their community. Tell them that it is not a good thing. That this is not something God would want. That there are a number of ongoing trials about it. It is possible that they don’t even know this is going on.
Be an educator yourself and teach others who know nothing of the subject. People might see the light; the light of justice.
Are you a Jehovah’s Witness and are you looking for support? Please do not despair, ask for help. You’re not alone.
For more information about this subject:
- Case Study 29. Jehova’s Witnesses: https://www.childabuseroyalcommission.gov.au/case-studies/case-study-29-jehovahs-witnesses