An Open letter to Jehovah’s Witnesses UK on behalf of all UK Survivors of child sex abuse at the hands of Jehovah’s Witnesses
August 7, 2020
To the leaders of Jehovah’s Witnesses in the United Kingdom,
We, the survivors of child sex abuse at the hands of Jehovah’s Witnesses, seek a public apology; we invite you to “say sorry” on behalf of your UK religious organisation, for your inadequate policies which have failed to protect us and the wider public from perpetrators of child sex abuse.
During the ongoing sex abuse inquiry in England and Wales by IICSA religious institutions, including Jehovah’s Witnesses on August 10, have the opportunity to go on public record with an apology; we ask you to admit that you are among the institutions that have let children down in the past and substantiate your claim to “abhor child abuse” with a contrite apology, as other religious institutions have done, rather than claim that you “do not have the institutional settings” to merit being investigated by IICSA.
One of your own articles in your religious magazine, The Watchtower, (under the heading “When an Elder Makes a Mistake”), explained how leaders in the Bible such as David apologized and therefore “trying to justify, ignore, or minimize a mistake is much more likely to cause others to lose confidence” whereas apologizing “earns the respect of others.” Whilst we welcome your recent small improvements, such as the change to no longer require survivors to face their abuser, such changes are absent of any apology despite decades of harmful practice. Any attempt by you to suggest that such improvements have always been in place is insensitive to victims. We would therefore like to remind you of some of the things that we feel merit an apology.
We would like an apology for:
- Failing to report all allegations of child sex abuse to the authorities
- Forcing survivors to have had to face their abuser in male-only judicial meetings.
- Omitting to undertake criminal record checks for all congregation elders and ministerial servants.
- Promoting unvetted members of your congregations to mentor children of single-parents.
- Instigating the practice of unvetted ministers in your congregations inviting children to accompany them in preaching and on Bible study work after school.
- Recommending children struggling with loneliness to befriend older, single men who work as ministerial servants in your congregations.
- Teaching children that male elders can be trusted like Jesus, whilst omitting to inform parents that some elders have a history of child sex abuse.
- Allowing known abusers to knock on doors of the unsuspecting public.
- Mandating the shunning of those who speak out. (Shepherd Flock of God, Chapter 12, Paragraph 39 (4))
We also invite you to explain how survivors of child sex abuse can obtain future compensation, as the Jehovah’s Witnesses organization in the UK accelerate their efforts to dissolve individual congregation charities, moving local funds and property assets under the protection of a company trust.
An apology can help heal, and is often sought in preference of financial assistance. We think it is the Christian thing to do, and so we appeal to you:
“Please say sorry.”
On behalf of all UK survivors of child sex abuse at the hands of Jehovah’s Witnesses.