Bill Bowen and his associates often make statements as to what the Watchtower policy is concerning child molesters. They would like for others to believe that their statements are indeed statements of facts about the policy. They hope that others will take them at their word and not investigate for themselves. But the reality is that they have actually invented a Watchtower policy that really does not even exist in order to then discredit that invented policy. Lets examine some of these 'factual' statements and see if they are true or false. First, so that there is no confusion, understand that Bill Bowen started his website in early 2001. It is stated at his site: "The website was started in March of 2001..." With that in mind, lets examine some of their statements.
In a letter from the Silentlambs dated August 8, 2001 we read: "The organization of Jehovah's Witnesses is a closed society that requires its members to turn inward to the organization with any problems, rather than seek outside help. This practice conflicts with laws requiring the reporting of suspected child abuse."
Is this true or false?
A 1992 letter to elders: "There are times when an emotionally distressed Christian may seek professional help. Whether or not a brother or a sister pursues treatment from psychiatrists, psychologists, or therapists is a personal decision as long as the therapy does not conflict with Bible principles."
May 22, 1986 Awake, From Our Readers: "Help for Depression To help with my husband’s serious depression and resulting family conflicts, my husband and I went to special therapy with a psychologist. During the six months of treatment, we kept checking the counsel we were given with that found in the September 8 and October 22, 1981, issues of “Awake!” We found that much of the same counsel we were paying for had already been in these magazines for free, but it confirmed that the professional counsel we were getting was sound."
August 1, 1983 Watchtower: "But what if someone in the congregation suffers major depression? Suppose he suffers feelings of deep worthlessness, guilt, hopelessness or despair and nothing that anyone says seems to help? First, he should be advised to get medical advice, since major depression often has a physical cause."
And as far back as 1975 the April 15 Watchtower stated: "Do Jehovah’s witnesses feel that it is proper to consult a psychiatrist? Whether a Christian will consult a psychiatrist, or any other doctor, is a matter for personal decision.... ... he may wish to discuss it with elders in the Christian congregation—although the final decision is his own (or of a parent or the joint decision of husband and wife)."
November 1, 1991 Watchtower: "When our person or property is violated, there are authorities to turn to. You may wish to call the police....The Bible tells us that governmental authorities are “God’s minister, an avenger to express wrath upon the one practicing what is bad.”"
Now I ask did Bill Bowen accurately portray the beliefs of Jehovah's Witnesses? Or did he lie in his attempt to discredit Jehovah's Witnesses?
The letter continues: "According to church policy, the proof can include two eyewitnesses to each act of abuse. Failure to present such proof can result in the victim being ostracized and shunned by elders and the congregation for false accusations against a member."
Is this really true or is it an outright lie meant to mislead others? Two witnesses to 'each act of abuse' is not a requirement. Two witnesses to the same type of abuse is acceptable. The Watchtower policy clearly states along these lines at their website: "However, if two persons are witnesses to separate incidents of the same kind of wrongdoing, their testimony may be deemed sufficient to take action."
Bill Bowen attempts to take credit for this rule stating, "....this became a policy instituted when silentlambs pressed the issue on child abuse." But the truth is that this was stated as far back as 1981 in the Pay Attention to the Flock Book. It instructs on page 119: "If there is another witness to the same type of sin on the part of the accused, this would be basis for forming a judicial committee."
Making application of this directive, given long before Silent Lambs even existed, we know that two different children who are molested on separate occasions by the same person would qualify as the two witnesses. Other information from the Watchtower Society has revealed that the two witnesses do not have to both be children who were molested or persons who saw the molesting. It can be the court evidence and the child. It can be the DNA evidence and the child. The Jan 30 1992 letter to elders states: "Also, should further wrongdoing come to light during the trial it would be necessary for the matter to be re-examined, as is true of any judicial matter when additional wrongdoing is discovered."
And failure to present such proof does not result in ostracizing or shunning by the congregation for false accusations as Silentlambs claims. Any victim is free to report child abuse to the authorities as they wish regardless of how many witnesses there are to the abuse. As the policy at the Watchtower site clearly states: "Additionally, the victim may wish to report the matter to the authorities, and it is his or her absolute right to do so." And a letter from 1992 stated: "It is also a personal decision if the alleged victim chooses to report such accusations to the secular authorities." Indeed ALL are encouraged to report child abuse to the proper authorities as the same 1992 letter said: "...ALL in the Christian congregation would want to consider their personal and moral responsibility to alert the appropriate authorities in cases where there has been committed or there exists a risk that there might be committed a serious criminal offence of this type."
Bill Bowen has stated, "I felt compelled to resign as pastor of my local congregation in protest of internal policies that shield sex offenders and hurt children. When the church promotes child molesters to positions of leadership and requires them to call at the homes of the unknowing public that is bad policy."
Is this really so or another fabrication? The policy of Jehovah's Witnesses is to not allow former child molesters to positions of leadership for the rest of their life. The January 1, 1997 Watchtower contradicts Bowen: "For the protection of our children, a man known to have been a child molester does not qualify for a responsible position in the congregation. Moreover, he cannot be a pioneer [full-time missionary of Jehovah's Witnesses] or serve in any other special, full-time service."
A 2000 letter sent to elders concerning individuals who are guilty of child abuse goes even further than this. It states: "...you should not extend to him any specific responsibility that could be construed as an assigned duty, even though some assignments might be considered minor. He should not be used to handle accounts, literature, magazines, subscriptions, or territories. Nor would he be used as an attendant, microphone handler, to operate sound equipment, to represent the congregation in prayer, or to present "Announcements" on the Service Meeting. He would not be used as the reader at the Congregation Book Study or Watchtower Study, nor to conduct a meeting for field service. It would be advisable not to have a book study in his home. And, he would not qualify to auxiliary or regular pioneer. Whereas he could volunteer to assist with general care of the Kingdom Hall where he attends meetings, he could not be approved to work on other Kingdom Halls or Assembly Halls. He may give student talks on the Theocratic Ministry School and share in non-teaching parts on the Service Meeting, provided that his doing so will not be offensive to those in the congregation who know of his past wrongdoing." All of this before SilentLambs even existed!
Furthermore, while it is true that all Jehovah's Witnesses are required to share in the preaching of the good news of the kingdom, former child molesters are not 'required' to call at homes of the unknowing public. There are many different avenues of the preaching work that does not require door to door work. There is telephone, store to store, informal, street, and Bible study witnessing. But if a former molester chooses to preach from door to door, he or she must do so in the company of another adult. A 2000 letter states: "This would include ...not working in field service with a child..." And an October 15, 2002 letter states of former abusers who might go in the field ministry: "They should always be accompanied by an adult."
Next notice this headlines at Silentlambs. "Two eye-Witnesses” allows the rape of the second child" No doubt this must be an article about a molester who abused one child, the elders did nothing because there was only one witness, and this allowed the molester to abuse another child, right? Well, the article is about Nestor Cabada, who confessed his abuse to the authorities because the elders urged him to. Even the silent lambs article admits: "In this story the perpetrator turned him self in and this no doubt was at the direction of the local elders."
But did the policy of the Watchtower concerning two witnesses actually lead to the molesting of another child because the elders did nothing when they were told of the first molesting? Thats what the headline leads us to believe. But note what the silentlambs article says: "IF the confidential files of the congregation were accessed there would be a strong possibility that the first victim was silenced and thus had to wait till the second child was molested."
Talk about allegations with absolutely no proof. And talk about deceitful cunning on the part of the writer of the article. It just couldn't possibly be that the elders found out about the molesting after two children had been molested now could it? Even in this case where it was clear beyond a doubt that the elders saw to it that the abuse was reported, Silentlambs still must somehow at all cost find fault with Jehovah's Witnesses, even if it means publishing misleading information.
It is common knowledge that Bill Bowen and his Silentlambs organization often condemn the Watchtower Society for not having a mandatory reporting policy of ALL child abuse cases and for having a 'secret database' unpublished to the public. What you may be unaware of is that Bowen himself follows the exact same policy as the Watchtower Society. Notice his statements from the site known as JWD: "I have talked to many victims who have never reported their abuse, I simply encourage them to talk about it to counslers, close friends, or report the matter on the sl website. The more they learn they can speak out the more likely they are to report the crime....Regarding the posting of names of individual molesters we do not encourage that type of action, nor does silentlambs purposely put up that type of information....When you start going that direction it all becomes very complicated. After consulting with attorneys we evolved into the format we now use. Anonymous posting of all stories..."
An interesting exchange took place when radio host Meria Hellar interviewed Bill Bowen. In the interview she actually praised Bowen for listing the names of pedophiles at his site. But he had to embarrassingly admit that he didn't. Please take note of the transcript.
"Bill: ...I have a part of my website called "Pinpoint a Pedophile"....But then I find that many of these folks will fill out the survey "pinpoint a pedophile," tells every detail about the person, who he was, what his name was, and we keep a file on these people.
Meria: Oh Great! That's available publicly, if someone wanted to go there and check, is Brother So-and-So and Sister So-and-So a pedophile? ...
Meria: ...But you actually have a listing there where people can go in and check the names?
Bill: For legal reasons I don't have the listing on the website; I keep that in private. But I use it for survey purposes; to show how many states pedophiles are from, what positions, how many elders were turned in as being child molesters, how many actually were turned into police and went to prison."
In other words, amazingly just like the Watchtower Society, Bowen does not make public his 'secret database'of pedophiles. Neither does Bowen follow a policy of mandatory reporting of child abuse. He strongly condemns Jehovah's Witnesses, even calling it a pedophile paradise, for something he himself is unwilling to do. Using the same pair of scales that Bowen judges the Watchtower Society with, his Silentlambs organization by his own policies must also be contributing to the creating of a pedophile paradise. Bowen is nothing more than a charlatan hypocrit!
Other Bowen supporters have likewise made misleading statements whether knowingly or unknowingly. For example, Bowen's attorney Jeff Anderson states: "Child sexual abuse is not tolerated anywhere else. With the onset of the laws protecting children such as neighborhood notification laws and mandatory reporting statutes, the days when child molesters enjoyed a cloak of silence are past, except within the organization of Jehovah's Witnesses. This church seems to think they are above the law the rules do not apply to them. This case is simply about making Jehovah's Witnesses understand they have the same rules as everyone else when it comes to protecting our children."
What? Could it be that Mr. Anderson has been listening to the lies of Bill Bowen for too long? The policy of Jehovah's Witnesses is that elders should report child abuse in accord with the laws of the land. The Watchtower policy makes this clear when stating: "the elders may be required by law to report even uncorroborated or unsubstantiated allegations to the authorities. If so, we expect the elders to comply." and as shown earlier above 'all' members of the congregation have a responsibility to report child abuse if they are aware of it or if they reasonably believe a child is in danger.
Even as far back as 1962, the November 15 Watchtower on page 693 stated: "9 Worldly authorities render a judgment and punish persons, whether they are inside the congregation or outside, if they violate the laws of decency and good order....Hence the Christian congregation cannot protect any of its members if they steal, smuggle, commit bigamy, murder, libel, defraud, and so forth. The congregation must release such guilty members to punishment by worldly authorities. Since the guilty break the laws of the land and thus oppose the “authority,” they are taking a stand against God’s arrangement.
10 The Christian congregation has no orders from God and has no right to protect such opposers and lawbreakers from the due punishment by the “authority” of the land. We cannot hinder, oppose or condemn the execution of the krima or judgment by aiding or shielding lawbreakers. To do so would put the Christian congregation also in opposition to God’s arrangement...."
And then there is one of the most outspoken supporters of the Silentlambs organization, Robert King, who said of the Watchtower Society: "They have denied Jehovah by claiming before the courts that Christian elders have no responsibility before God to protect children from the crimes of a congregant."
But as discussed earlier that is not what the Watchtower lawyers argued at all. The truth is this: They argued that the Watchtower Society and the elders do not have a 'legal' responsibility to protect the children. They were arguing that they should not be held responsible for children legally speaking. They were not the legal guardians of the children. They were not appointed as trustees over the children. They did not have a common law or fiduciary (legal trusteeship) responsibility toward the children. The parents have the legal responsibility over their own children, not the Watchtower Society or the elders. And this is only logical and correct. It is common sense. They never argued that they had no responsibility to protect the children at all. In fact, that is not what the case was about. It was about their legal responsibility toward the children. The suit was dismissed by the court because the Watchtower Society was correct in their argument.
In view of the above presented evidence it is clear that truth and honesty must take a back seat to their agenda of discrediting Jehovah's Witnesses. Bowen and his cronies have shown themselves to be misleading, deceitful, and exaggeraters. Even many ex-Jehovah's Witnesses view Bill Bowen with scorn. Will you trust such a man to tell you the truth about the child abuse policy of Jehovah's Witnesses? But what about all those horrible child abuse stories that are told at the Silentlambs site? They surely can't all be false, can they?
Chapter Twenty-two: What About All Those Stories