Judicial Action

What action is taken against persons who have been found guilty of abuse by confession or by two witnesses? Is it publicly revealed to the congregation in order that all can be made aware of the dangers and need for caution? Note how the policy at the Watchtower site continues: "If, when confronted, the accused confesses that he is guilty of child abuse, the elders take appropriate congregational action. If he is not repentant, he will not be permitted to remain a member of the congregation."

Notice that Jehovah's Witnesses do something that few religions do. They actually remove practicing child molesters from the organization and they shun them. And it is not just those in responsible positions that this action is taken against. This action is taken against ANYONE in the congregation that is a practicing child molester. They are not just concerned about lawsuits and making sure that elders are removed. This action is taken because Jehovah's Witnesses want to protect the children.

It is this very practice that often times brings criticism upon the organization by opposers. Consider. If Jehovah's Witnesses followed the course of other religions and didn't even bother to remove practicing pedophiles then there would never be criticism heaped upon them when a molester was reproved rather than disfellowshipped. There would never be criticism because of the two witness rule since the rule would be unnecessary in view of the fact that child abuse cases would not be handled judicially in the congregation. But Jehovah's Witnesses choose to try to obey the Bible command to "remove the wicked man" rather than disobeying in order to remove the criticism. How ironic that Jehovah's Witnesses could easily ignore the Bible command as other religions do and thus avoid much criticism.

But opposers argue that oftentimes the molester is merely privately reproved and no one even knows about it. He is then free to molest again since the congregation is unaware of his being reproved. Is this really the policy of Jehovah's Witnesses? Lets see.

First off, the instructions from the Watchtower Society reveals that there is no such thing as private reproof for child molesters. It is ALWAYS public. The February 15, 2002 letter states: "While there are many situations in which it would be wise to announce the reproof to the congregation, two were specifically mentioned at the Kingdom Ministry School:(1) If the offense was adultery ...(2) If the offense involved the SEXUAL MOLESTATION of a CHILD, an announced reproof would serve to protect the congregation, indicating that not all is well with the repentant wrongdoer."

During the 1980s notice the course of action that was followed when one was publicly reproved. September 1, 1981 Watchtower: "The same evening, but somewhat later in the service meeting program, an assigned elder could deliver a firm Scriptural talk....he could discuss what Godís Word says about the type of error or sin involved in this instance, its danger and how to avoid it...." So yes the congregation was definitely made aware of it by the talk on the very same night that the reproof was announced. Later during the 1980s this changed. The talk was to be given a couple of weeks later rather than on the same night and the congregation is still made aware of the type of wrongdoing, the dangers, and how to protect children from such danger.

The bottom line is that when someone is found guilty of child molestation, he is publicly announced at the meeting either as being disfellowshipped or publicly reproved before all. If he is publicly reproved a talk is given about his sin a few weeks later at the meeting. Thus everyone is made aware and the children are protected.

But what about former molesters that are reproved or later reinstated? After a few months or years pass won't they be able to receive privileges again and perhaps even serve as elders or ministerial servants in responsible positions? Wouldn't this give him easy access to molest unsuspecting children since he would be in a position of trust? And wouldn't this make the Watchtower Society responsible at least to some extent?

Chapter Eleven: Its a Privilege