BIBLE AND TRACT SOCIETY OF PENNSYLVANIA
THE RIDGEWAY LONDON NW7 1RN ENGLAND
TELEPHONE 020 8906 2211
July 14, 2002
TO ALL CONGREGATIONS IN THE UNITED KINGDOM
At Psalm 144:15 we read: "Happy is the people whose God is Jehovah!" We see the truthï¿½fulness of this inspired statement when we associate with our brothers and sisters at conventions, assemblies, and congregation meetings. We enjoy a warm atmosphere of peace while we benefit from fine spiritual encouragement from Jehovah and his organization. (Psalm 29:11) What a conï¿½trast to those of the world who lack true spiritual guidance and a solid hope for the future! --Isaiah 65:13.
What enables us to maintain our happy spirit? For one thing, we fear Jehovah and we deeply respect the admonition in His Word, including what the Bible says on sexual matters. (1 Corinthians 6:9 ,10 ; Hebrews 13:4) At first, it was not easy for some of us to bring our lives into harmony with Jehovah's elevated standards. We had to make significant changes in our lifestyle before we could qualify for membership in Jehovah's clean, spirit-directed organization. Was it worth the effort? Absolutely! How happy we are to be living in harmony with God's righteous reï¿½quirements!
In recent weeks, the press in this country has focused attention on the way accusations of child abuse are handled by various religious organizations. Such reports may cause some sincere individuals to ask about the procedures followed by Jehovah's Witnesses, Therefore, we believe that it will be beneficial to review with you our Bible-based position, so that you will "know how you ought to give an answer" to any who may inquire.-Colossians 4:6.
Simply stated, we abhor the sexual abuse of children and wil l n ot protect any perpetrator of such repugnant acts from the consequences of his gross sin. (Romans 12:9) We expect the elders to investigate every allegation of child abuse. Even one abused child is one too many. However, in evaluating the evidence, they must bear in mind the Bible's clear direction: "No single witness should rise up against a man respecting any error or any sin .... At the mouth of two witnesses or at the mouth of three witnesses the matter should stand good." (Deuteronomy 19:15) Later, this requirement to consider testimony of two or three witnesses was confirmed by Jesus. (Matï¿½thew 18:16) Thus, although they investigate every allegation, the elders in not authorized by the Scriptures to take congregational action unless there is a confession or there are two credible witï¿½nesses, However , if two persons are witnesses to separate incidents of the same kind of wrongdoï¿½ing, their testimony can be deemed sufficient to take action.--l Timothy 5:19, 24, 25.
What if someone is a proven child molester? The article "Let Us Abhor What is Wicked !" published in the Jan 1 st 1997 , issue of The Watchtower had this to say on page 29: "For the proï¿½tection 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 or serve in any other special, full-time service." We take such decisive action because we are concerned with maintaining Bible standards and protecting our children. (1 Timothy 3:2, 9, 10) Everyone in the organization is ex pected to meet the same requirements, namely, to be clean physically, mentally, morally, and spiriï¿½tually.2nd Corinthians 7: 1; Ephesians 4:17-19; 1 Thessalonians 2:4.
Our position is that the secular authorities deal with crime while elders deal with sin. To avoid a miscarriage of justice elders must not interfere with, prevent, or impede any secular investigation into child abuse. They must ensure that secular laws are adhered to (Romans 13:1)
To that end they are instructed to contact the legal dept at Bethel whenever they receive information from even one person who alleges that child abuse has occurred. When a report is received guidance is given by the legal dept to ensure that:
1. The alleged victim and other potential victims are protected from possible abuse.
2. The council is given to report crime to the proper authorities and to comply with any additional legal requirements.
The elders know that it is the absolute right of the victim, his or her family or anyone else to report the matter to the authorities, if they so wish. (Galatians 6:5)
At least since 1981, articles have been published in our journals, The Watchtower and Awake ! , with a view to educating Jehovah's people and the public on the need to protect children from child abuse. Besides the above-quoted article, there was the article. "Help For the Victims of Incest," which appeared in the , Watchtower. Awake! has featured such articles as "Your Child is in Danger!" "How Can We Protect Our Children ? " and "Prevention in the Home" (October 8, 1993) as well as "Child Molesting-Every Mother's Nightmare," in its Jan 22 nd 1985 issue.
We believe that we have a strong, Bible-based policy on child abuse. Over the years, as we have noted areas where our policy could be strengthened, we have not hesitated to follow through. At Kingdom Ministry Schools the elders receive ongoing reminders regarding this policy and related matters. And we continue to urge the elders to follow closely the procedures that we have esï¿½tablished.
The moral cleanness of the congregation continues to be of vital concern to the "faithful and discreet slave." (Matthew 24:45) As we keep applying Scriptural principles in our lives, our hapï¿½piness will increase. We trust that these reminders will be helpful to you as you share the Kingdom hope with right-hearted ones. We have much to be grateful for in the way of spiritual refreshment as a result of attending the "Zealous Kingdom Proclaimers " District Conventions. What a happy prospect! Yes, there is no doubt about it: "Happy is the people whose God is Jehovah!"-Psalm 144:15.
Watch Tower B. & T. Society of Pennsylvania