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How child abuse goes unchecked for Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses


1a.org the well know radio talk show is currently researching sexual abuse cases in the Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses. The following article appeared on their website few days ago. (1A is an American radio talk show produced by WAMU in Washington, D.C., and distributed nationally by NPR (National Public Radio).The show debuted on January 2, 2017, airing on more than 340 NPR member stations in 35 states, Washington, D.C., and the U.S. Virgin Islands)


A reckoning is taking place in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and Jehovah’s Witnesses as stories emerge of child sex abuse.

Years ago, outrage erupted over how the Catholic Church allowed such abuse to go unchecked, but fewer may be aware of how other faiths are covering up abuse in their ranks.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, also known as Mormons, and Jehovah’s Witnesses are reportedly making use of a legal exemption for clergy which allows abuse to go unreported. The exemption dictates that religious members who hear about abuse through confession are not required to report it to authorities.

Recently, newly released recordings revealed the lengths the Mormon church will go to cover up abuse and assault. Those recordings are part of a case involving Chelsea Goodrich, who grew up in the Mormon church. Her father was a bishop and began abusing her at the age of two. We hear her story and a former Jehovah’s Witness turned advocate.

We also highlight the latest reporting from Al Jazeera’s Fault Lines documentary, “Secrets of the Clergy”:

We reached out to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for a statement for this program, but did not hear back.

We also contacted the United States Branch of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Below is the statement we received in full.

Jehovah’s Witnesses view children as a sacred trust from God. Protecting children is of

utmost concern and importance to all Jehovah’s Witnesses. We treat children in a way that makes them feel safe and genuinely loved. Since the 1980’s, our religion has

provided countless articles, videos, and other materials to parents to equip them to

identify the signs of abuse, maintain open lines of communication with their children, and

help their children defend themselves against any who might seek to do them harm.

Jehovah’s Witnesses abhor child abuse and view it as a crime. We recognize that the

authorities are responsible for addressing such crimes. In all cases, victims (and their

parents, if minors) have the right to report an accusation of child abuse to the authorities.

Therefore, victims, their parents, or anyone else who reports such an accusation to the

elders of our religion are clearly informed by the elders that they have the right to report

the matter to the authorities. Elders do not criticize anyone who chooses to make such a

report.

Elders do not shield any perpetrator of child abuse from the authorities. Jehovah’s

Witnesses strive to adhere to all mandatory reporting laws. This is in accord with the

principle found in the Bible book of Romans chapter 13 and verse 1, which reminds

Christians to be obedient to the governmental authorities. Any suggestion that Jehovah’s

Witnesses do otherwise is simply false. Even if the elders have no legal obligation to

report an accusation to the authorities, elders report the matter if the victim or another

minor is still in danger of abuse.

If an alleged abuser is one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, the elders conduct a Scriptural

investigation. This is a purely religious proceeding handled by elders according to

Scriptural instructions and is limited to the issue of the alleged abuser’s standing as one

of Jehovah’s Witnesses. A congregant who is an unrepentant perpetrator of child abuse

is expelled from the congregation and is no longer considered one of Jehovah’s

Witnesses. The elders’ handling of an accusation of child abuse as a serious sin is not a replacement for the authorities’ handling of the matter as a crime.


While it is true that elders do not share details of a congregant’s sin indiscriminately,

nothing in the Bible or the beliefs and practices of Jehovah’s Witnesses prevents elders from sharing those details with the appropriate authorities if so directed by state law.

Jehovah’s Witnesses do not engage in lobbying for changes to secular laws. Instead, we endeavor to follow whatever laws exist.

Elders provide spiritual support and comfort to those who request it. They strive to treat

victims of child abuse with compassion, understanding, and kindness. As spiritual

counselors, the elders endeavor to listen carefully and empathetically to victims and to

console them. Victims and their families may decide to consult a mental-health

professional. This is a personal decision.


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