LETTER TO ALL JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES IN THE NETHERLANDS OF A JEHOVAH'S WITNESS
(this letter can also be downloaded as a PDF [only in Dutch])
The Netherlands, 1 January 2019
Dear sister, dear brother,
Of course you will not have missed out on how in the past year 'our own organization' has repeatedly turned negative in the media both internationally and nationally in connection with the policy on sexual abuse.
I am writing to you all to let you know that I am worried, angry and sad. This is because, despite the fact that the Society has already paid millions of dollars in damages and settlements, the discreet Slave still does not want to acknowledge that they have a big problem regarding their sexual abuse policy. It is alarming that in the Netherlands too the responsible brothers refuse to give openness about the fact that for years abuse files are withheld and any cooperation with the law is refused, in bitter weather of the whole 13th chapter of Romans.
In the meantime, all of this has resulted in police raids being carried out at no fewer than seven locations in the Netherlands on November XNUMXth at, for example, kingdom halls such as in Dordrecht and the head office in Emmen. Two months earlier it was already known that in Montana (US) a judge demanded more than XNUMX million dollars from the Society . due to the neglect of justice from serious criminal offenses. In their own country this summer it became known that Jehovah's Witnesses refused in a case against one Samet G. to provide crucial files to the Public Prosecution Service, which in all likelihood led to a lower penalty demand for the perpetrator. How do ordinary sisters and brothers respond to this type of message?
It has struck me that most of my sisters and brothers with all this information lapse into an uncomfortable silence or try to ignore it, when this subject is mentioned anyway, under the guise of 'having something more positive'.
Times have clearly changed. Where about ten years ago the same subject was almost always referred to the Babylonian fruit of the Catholic Church with almost cynical enthusiasm, both in lectures and at the coffee table, the subject now appears to be so poignantly topical, suddenly no longer an item to be. The rare times that the subject is discussed, perhaps because of a recent newspaper report or a critical householder, it seems that most of our reactions can roughly be divided into four categories. After I have described these four typical reactions, I will try to show why the reactions mentioned here are ultimately destructive and seriously impede an adequate approach to the actual problem.
The four reactions are:
- We never know what's true about it. There will probably have been something completely wrong sometimes but let's keep trust in the organization.
- Let's focus on something more positive, we cannot do anything about it anyway.
- You know that the entire media is in the hands of Satan and that in this time of the end we can expect this kind of slander from people who hate us. Please do not pay attention to rumors and slander yhat apostates and enemies of the truth only spread for the purpose of stumbling us. You certainly do not believe such nonsense? If that is the case, Satan will already have you!
- Of course this happening is not ok, but the brothers are also imperfect people and Jehovah will set the matters straight in due time, let's just continue to rely on that.
Reasons why these reactions are actually destructive:
- The argument of ignorance can not be called valid. As Christians we are encouraged by the Bible to investigate all things (1 Thess. 5: 21). Of course no one knows all the details in every abuse case, but every witness can in principle become aware of the policies used by the slave class and of the problems that this policy has caused and has put pedophiles and rapists on the map in recent years. The website https://www.reclaimedvoices.org offers a wealth of information about this, while the national newspaper Trouw on its website has collected a well-organized file of the most important national news facts of the past year. Anyone who might be interested in more international news, I refer to the website of the fully independent operating Australian Royal commission who already established in 2015 that more than 1000 abuse cases had not been reported to the judiciary by the Jehovah's Witnesses and the reporting on this in Trouw. The argument of ignorance has thus been dropped, as is the confidence in the organization's dealings with sexual abuse. After all, this trust was based on the above-mentioned ignorance. Ignorance because to this day the Society has not published any news or statement about its own part in this. Trust that has been violated by the lack of accountability for sometimes lofty amounts of settlements and compensations that have been paid from your voluntary contributions! An organization that does not provide openness on this point does not deserve to demand a blind trust from its members.
- Of course, there are many more positive things in the world than something as sad as sexual abuse. Of course, we prefer to conduct a Bible study or prefer to chat with our sisters and brothers at the coffee table about the upcoming international convention in the Netherlands. Understandable. But is it not exactly the task of every Christian to argue against all the currents for those who may have experienced sexual violence, whether or not committed by someone within the organization? Do we not all have the Christian duty of love to listen to their stories, without first imposing on these people the obligation to make an obligatory walk to the elders by whom they have in some cases just been abused? When we say that we should leave this to Jehovah or rather to 'the appointed brothers', how do we view all such texts as Proverbs 21: 13; Philippians 2: 4; Galaten 6: 2; James 2: 26 and Matth. 25: 36? Where is our Christian responsibility then?
- If all the media were really in the hands of Satan, how reliable are the by the Watchtower en Awake! cited abuse stories from the camp of the Catholic Church? (See eg the Watchtower 22 january 1989 and the Awake! from 8 April 1997 as two of the many examples of articles that have appeared in recent decades). These are all based on media reports. Let us bear in mind that sexual abuse is so widespread, in our country alone, that on average three people report to the Center for Sexual Violence every day, including one child on average. It would not testify to any realism given the number of reports that the Foundation alone Reclaimed Voices has received (about the 300) this problem does not play with the Jehovah's Witnesses in the Netherlands. Would it rather not make sense that Satan has blinded some of us to harsh reality and uses a kind of cognitive dissonance among many?
- This is not just about imperfection, sexual abuse is a serious crime where victims can sometimes remain traumatized throughout their lives. The whole 13 chapter of Romans also shows that there is no reason for Jehovah to disobey him in this matter. That Jehovah will soon set everything right, I am indeed convinced of that, just as I am also convinced that the Christian duties in point 2 concern us all.
Brothers and sisters, please break thesilence now, bring this topic up for discusion in your congregation and do not hesitate to enter into the conversation!
Please help spread this letter to as many sisters and brothers as possible, maybe via Facebook or simply print it out or read it out. Let us ensure that we can surrender the victims, the injured sheep among us, with love and care in this way. If you want to know what else you can do concretely, I would advise you to contact the only foundation in the Netherlands and Belgium that specifically works for the victims of sexual abuse within Jehovah's organization: RECLAIMED VOICES.
the speaking Witness (*)
* The Speaking Witness is an active Jehovah's witness who is connected to one of the local congregations of Jehovah's Witnesses in the Netherlands. He is critical of how Jehovah's Witnesses react to the media reports about sexual abuse and shows that there are also people in the organization who believe that the subject of sexual abuse should be dealt with differently.
Blogs from the Speaking Witness express the personal opinion of the author. This personal opinion does not automatically correspond with the opinion of the board of Stichting Reclaimed Voices.