Jehovah’s Witness Conventions: a pseudo-utopia

Each year, lots of Jehovah’s Witnesses around the world anticipate the convention season. It is a time of excitement as families set out to make plans for this annual gathering of like-minded people. For those who live far away from their designated convention arena, it is most exciting.  It is often the only vacation some families will have all year. Parents save their money for travel expenses while their young sons and daughters look forward to meeting other Jehovah’s Witness kids.

The "Divine Love" stage at the Bayfront Center arena.

The “Divine Love” stage at the Bayfront Center arena.

 

Older teens and those in their early twenties have a special plan for the convention: to meet the “one” who will become their spouse. It is hard to find a “suitable” boyfriend or girlfriend at the local Kingdom Hall, especially if there are more females than males, or vice-versa. In a lot of cases, parents have already decided who they have in mind for their daughter or son. In a way, the convention is one place where teens can be a little rebellious in between the morning and afternoon sessions. If they can break away from their parents, they can mingle in the main area outside the auditorium and hope to find a potential mate.

Elders anticipate this behavior, so they walk around carrying “Quiet please” and “Please be seated” signs. They don’t speak. They just carry the sign and make eye contact with whomever they believe is “loitering”. Unless you have to use the restroom, you had better be in your seat!

Most readers of this article have been to a Jehovah’s Witness convention. I recently found pictures from when I attended the “Divine Love” convention in 1979. My oldest brother and his wife were recently baptized. I was visiting them in Florida for the summer, so I went with them to the convention.

Me, at age thirteen. This was taken at the "Divine Love" assembly in St. Petersburg, Florida

Me, at age thirteen. This was taken at the “Divine Love” assembly in St. Petersburg, Florida

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I remember being taught that Jehovah’s Witnesses are unlike any other group of people. I was told that, when you are among “Jehovah’s people”, no one is a stranger. You could be in need, anywhere in the world, and a Jehovah’s Witness would take you in. That is the feeling you are supposed to have at these annual conventions. They have even been referred to as a “family reunion” by some Jehovah’s Witnesses.

When I attended a convention in the late seventies and early eighties, I remember the feeling of excitement and anticipation. I was in my early teens and my brother (eight years older and married) let me have a bunch of tickets that could be exchanged for food. During the lunch break, he let me go to the concessions by myself to get lunch. He told me that, even though we were in a group of thousands of people, he felt safe letting me go off by myself because everyone in the building was a Jehovah’s Witness. I know he believed what he was saying because he was usually very protective of me. In any other circumstance, he would never let me go off by myself.

Through the years, I have been told, “One way you can be sure we are Jehovah’s people is that we are united in worship. Every congregation studies the same thing during the same week throughout the world.” As I got older, I learned that the Roman Catholic Church has been doing the same thing for many years. The RCC has a missal with a three-year cycle. Each year, the Vatican assigns a cycle (A, B or C) to the worldwide churches so that their masses don’t get repeated too often.

I stopped going to meetings and conventions when I was twenty-two. My Jehovah’s Witness brother had died when I was twenty (they considered him a “martyr”) and his wife had written a letter of disassociation a few years after he died. Thankfully, no one else in my family was baptized, so we didn’t have to deal with being shunned.

In 2015, I began to watch ex-JW videos and read ex-JW blogs. I know a few former Jehovah’s Witnesses, but I didn’t realize that an international community was online! Since I had been out for so long, I wanted to attend a convention to see how much had changed since I last attended one in the early eighties. My husband, who has never been to a Kingdom Hall, agreed to go with me.

We live in a state in the Midwest, but we are both originally from Connecticut. Since we have a “New England accent”, we sound like outsiders in the state where we live. We used that to our advantage. I didn’t want us to be treated like visitors at the convention. I didn’t want my husband to be “love bombed”. Rather, I wanted us to be treated like any other rank-and-file Witnesses. It was important to me that we get badges that listed our congregation on them so we could blend in.

The badge that I wore at the 2015 convention.

The badge that I wore at the 2015 convention.

When we approached the table to get a badge, the man said, “Which congregation are you from?” I said “Wallingford, Connecticut”, since I had attended that Kingdom Hall for eleven years. He asked me to repeat myself about three times. We told him that we were traveling through the area on our way to Oregon and didn’t want to miss the convention. He said, “How do I know you are from a congregation in Connecticut?” I said, “You can call them.”, but he was busy and just handed me two badges.

As we walked to the convention area to get seats, I looked around. The first thing I noticed was the lack of concession stands. There was no food anywhere! One of the things that I remembered from going to the conventions years earlier was the aroma of baked goods and hot dogs! I guess those days are gone.

While technology has made its way into the conventions, most things remain the same. Talks are scripted down to the most mundane levels. At one point during the Saturday that I attended the 2015 “Imitate Jesus” convention, a woman and her husband were ‘interviewed’. The man at the podium asked the woman how many children she had and what were their ages and names.

My husband noticed that she hesitated and looked at an index card before responding. He asked me, “Is this an actual couple or is this a fictional couple? Why would she need to look at an index card to remember the ages and names of her children?”

There were a few more talks that involved people being interviewed about their life experience. My husband and I wondered if all of the interviews were really just scripts written by the Writing Department in Brooklyn.

One talk was specifically geared toward women. The premise of the talk was to remind women that they are expected to be subservient to men… and to be grateful for the role that Jehovah has given them. In a pathetic attempt to make an analogy, the brother said, “Women, you are not a giraffe. You shouldn’t want to be a giraffe.” I was using my video camera at the time, so I recorded that ridiculous talk.

Click here for a clip from the ridiculous talk

Later, when my husband saw the baptismal candidates answer the questions, he had a good view of them and noticed how young most of them were. My husband has learned (through my online activism) about the implications of getting baptized as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. He knew my brother and how he died after refusing to receive blood. He knows about how Jehovah’s Witnesses shun those who are disfellowshipped or write a letter of disassociation. When he saw the young baptismal candidates go behind a curtain to get ready to be baptized, be became very upset and developed a migraine.

My husband said that he saw and heard enough for one day. We planned to attend the Sunday talks, but my husband changed his mind. The entire experience upset him.

I didn’t want to go the 2015 convention, but I knew that my husband would not be able to understand my activism if he didn’t experience the convention for himself. He saw for himself how obediently Jehovah’s Witnesses take in the messages, sing the songs and clap on queue. He said he felt like he walked into a Stepford Wives movie.

When he got the migraine, we had to leave. The program still had about an hour left, so there were only a few people in the parking lot. We noticed a man walk to his car, rip off his tie in one large gesture and throw it in the car. We made eye contact with him and waved. When I looked at the man, I was hoping that he was in the parking lot (instead of in the building listening to a talk) because he was on the verge of waking up.

I’ll never know.

A Jehovah’s Witness with Leukemia: my brother’s illness and death

Today would have been my brother’s fifty-eighth birthday. My brother, Donald, died ten days before turning twenty-eight. He was diagnosed with Acute Myelogenous Leukemia (AML) on December 11th, 1985 and died on February 2nd, 1986.

A diagnosis of AML, for a faithful Jehovah’s Witnesses, is a death sentence. Leukemia is cancer of the blood and the main treatment for AML is a bone marrow transplant and blood transfusions. Donald was one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. He was a Ministerial Servant, well on his way to becoming an elder. As one who believed Watchtower doctrine, he would not consider a bone marrow transplant or blood transfusions, even when faced with a terminal diagnosis. His physicians told him that without treatment, he could expect to die within one to six weeks.

Although bone marrow transplants were once forbidden, in the Watchtower magazine’s March 15th, 1980 edition, there was a reversal in their position regarding organ transplants. Bone marrow transplants are placed in this category, so you would think it is allowed. However, in order to assure that a patient’s body will be strong enough to receive a bone marrow transplant, many pints of blood are transfused into a patient’s body prior to receiving a bone marrow transplant. Therefore, Jehovah’s Witnesses will refuse a bone marrow transplant.

Watchtower’s blood stance has evolved through the decades. In recent years, Jehovah’s Witnesses have been told that they can receive “blood fractions” as a matter of conscience. Although this new change of position would not have helped my brother (as he needed whole blood), it matters to those whose family members died before these changes were implemented. The Watchtower’s current stance on whole blood and blood components is complicated and somewhat nonsensical. I will provide links to websites devoted to that subject at the end of this article*.

Before you read my brother’s story, it will help you to know that he was the only one in my family who was one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. He became a Witness at age twenty, along with his wife.

 

Donald walking away from the baptismal pool just after being baptized.

Donald walking away from the baptismal pool just after being baptized.

He was not raised as a Witness and our parents were not Witnesses. I studied and attended the Kingdom Hall for eleven years (even after his death), but was never baptized.

My mother, Donald and his children.

My mother, Donald and his children.

I’m not sure why he looks so serious in this picture! What I notice most in this picture is how colorful he looks. His lips are a healthy shade of pink and his cheeks and nose have color to them. Months later, his face was extremely pale and his lips were completely white.

Donald’s Diagnosis

Like many Jehovah’s Witness parents, my brother and his wife home-schooled their kids. In the autumn of 1985, they drove from their home in Florida to Arizona. They called their adventure a “field trip” and my brother sent postcards to me and my mother while he traveled. In a few of his messages, he mentioned having a cold that would not go away. He visited a physician in Arizona and was told that he had pleurisy. The physician gave him medicine and suggested that he cut his trip short.

He and his wife, Carole, traveled back to their home in Florida. By the time they got home, he was feeling much worse. He was so short-of-breath, he couldn’t complete a sentence in one breath.  Every three words or so, he would need to inhale. He went to see his physician in December 1985 and learned that he did not have pleurisy. Bloodwork and a bone marrow biopsy revealed that Donald had tons of immature white blood cells (leukocytes) that were interfering with his bone marrow’s ability to produce normal red blood cells. His red blood cells were misshapen (not round) and were not able to do their job of transporting oxygen. His bone marrow was full of these immature white blood cells and misshapen red blood cells. That was the reason he felt so sick and was having trouble catching his breath. In order to live, he needed to have his bone marrow replaced.

Prognosis: One to Six Weeks

On December 11th, 1985, I was at home in Connecticut. I just got home from the library when my father told me to call my sister-in-law Carole. When I called her, she told me that I needed to fly to Florida as soon as possible. She explained the situation to me and said that the doctor told her that my brother might die within one week. Just in case he was going to die that quickly, my father bought tickets for my mother, me and my brother Mike to fly down to Florida. My father chose to stay home because he couldn’t believe that Donald was really going to die. He didn’t think anyone was lying. He just couldn’t grasp that it was really happening.

The next day, I was sitting on a plane with my mother and brother Mike. The plane was filled to capacity and I felt claustrophobic. I closed my eyes to escape my surroundings, but I couldn’t escape my thoughts. I kept trying to imagine what Donald would look like when I finally got to see him. I envisioned walking into his bedroom and seeing him looking ashen, with a gray face. All of a sudden, I felt like I had to vomit. My brother Mike held the bag (those bags on an airplane that you think you will never need.) Mike held my hair back with one hand and held the bag with his other hand. I never felt his love for me as strongly as I did in those moments. We were both scared about what we would face when we got to Donald’s house.

When we finally got to his house, a lady came out onto the porch and told us to wait. She was the wife of an elder who was “visiting” Donald.

One-by-one, my sister-in-law, Carole, let us go into Donald’s bedroom. My mother went first, then Mike, then me. Carole didn’t let us all go in at once because she thought Donald would try to talk and might get out-of-breath. When I saw him, I made the following observations: he was wrapped in a sheet; his lips were completely white and he was breathing like a rabbit—rapid and shallow breaths. (Later on, I tried to mimic his breathing to see what it felt like and I immediately became dizzy. I couldn’t even do it for one minute.)

I asked him why he had a sheet wrapped around him. He said, “My skin hurts.” The skin on his entire body hurt. Can you imagine?

In this picture, you can see how pale Donald’s lips were and, of course, he was wrapped in a sheet. Though he knew he was dying, he still found reasons to laugh and smile.

In this picture, you can see how pale Donald’s lips were and, of course, he was wrapped in a sheet. Though he knew he was dying, he still found reasons to laugh and smile.

Elders Hovering Around the Room

Three elders were in Donald’s bedroom during the day. They stayed for hours and came back day-after-day. They actually took shifts so that my brother was never alone with me, my brother Mike or my mother. Looking back, I believe it is because the elders knew we were not Jehovah’s Witnesses. They must have thought we would try to talk Donald into receiving a blood transfusion and bone marrow transplant.

After five days of having these strangers hovering around Donald, I had enough. I asked them to go home. I told them that my time with Donald was limited and I wanted them to give us time to be a family. Thankfully, the elders respected my wishes and left. I was only able to be in Florida for one week, so by the time the elders finally went home, I only had two full days to spend with Donald.

A few years later, the Watchtower implemented “Hospital Liaison Committees”. However, in late 1985-early 1986, the HLC didn’t exist yet. Instead, the three elders in my brother’s bedroom were serving in that capacity under the guise of having a “Bible Study” with him. I could hear them reading scriptures to Donald, mostly about “keeping his eyes on the prize”.

Donald did not want to die, but he also did not want to “betray Jehovah” by receiving a blood transfusion or a bone marrow transplant. His wife, Carole, read about nutritional supplementation that would build up the iron in his blood. She began to make juice out of beet roots and leaves. She also crushed various herbs and put them into oatmeal for him to ingest. (You can see the beet juice and pink oatmeal in the image of him wrapped in a sheet).

The Nights Spent Holding My Hand

At night, while everyone was sleeping, I stayed awake all through the night. I lay on the floor beside his bed. He would put his hand over the edge of his bed and I would reach up and hold it. While we were holding hands, he would watch “Cheers” and “The Three Stooges” on video tape. He also watched episodes of “I Love Lucy”. He told me that he wanted to watch things that made him laugh.

One night, while we were watching “The Three Stooges”, I fell asleep and my hand let go of his hand. All of a sudden, I heard him say “Karen!” really loud. (Keep in mind, he had been whispering and breathing shallow for a week). I woke up in a panic! Donald explained to me that the reason he wanted me to hold his hand all night was because he wanted someone to be awake in case he died. He didn’t want to die in the middle of the night, all alone, while everyone slept.

It was at that moment when I realized just how important my presence was to him. Another thing that made me feel special was that I was the only person (besides Carole) that he felt comfortable having empty his urinal. It may seem trivial (and maybe even gross), but I felt honored that he chose me to hold his hand in the middle of the night and to empty his urinal. As I write this, I still feel honored.

Typing His Assigned “Blood Talk”

Donald was a Ministerial Servant. He was eager to become an elder, so he was thrilled when he was assigned to give a talk. It was assigned to him before he felt sick. The topic: “Why it is better NOT to have a blood transfusion”.  When he became sick and his skin hurt, he still continued to type his talk. He began working on it before he felt sick and was determined to finish it before he died. During the time I was with him in Florida, he typed until his finger pads hurt. I offered to type, but he said that he must do it. He wanted to finish the task. He was using a manual typewriter, so it required pushing down hard on the keys. He told me that he preferred typing instead of writing because his vision was getting blurry.

My mother, my brother Mike and I eventually had to go back to Connecticut. Donald kept in touch with us through typed letters. Last night, as I prepared the images to go along with this article, I found the last note my brother every typed to my mother. He died ten days after my mother received this note in the mail.

Here is page one:

Even though he had less than two weeks to live, he was making jokes! “You’d think I was sick or something! I really look bad!!”

Even though he had less than two weeks to live, he was making jokes! “You’d think I was sick or something! I really look bad!!”

Here is page two:

“We went to Ponderosa and I had salad bar, grilled halibut (mmm…) and baked potato. I got real tired though. As soon as I got home, I stripped and crawled into bed for a nap. It was worth it and I had a good time.”

“We went to Ponderosa and I had salad bar, grilled halibut (mmm…) and baked potato. I got real tired though. As soon as I got home, I stripped and crawled into bed for a nap. It was worth it and I had a good time.”

Going out to eat was a huge ordeal since the clothes against his skin caused him a lot of pain. Walking, even a few steps, made him get out of breath. Chewing, swallowing and digesting food requires a lot of energy so going out to eat was a huge ordeal. Since his blood was not delivering adequate amounts of oxygen to his organs, it must have been completely exhausting. Yet, in his final note to my mother, he tells her that it was worth it.

Throughout his illness and six weeks of suffering, he never lost his sense of humor or his gratitude.  I asked him how he felt about dying. He said to me, “Don’t feel bad for me. I have the easy part. All I have to do is go to sleep. Then I get to wake up in the New System.”

Although he was speaking as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, his peace of mind was incredible to me. I was so amazed by his attitude toward his impending death that I became a hospice nurse a few years later.

My brother continued to lose his vision and eventually wasn’t able to type or write. However, he did manage to finish his “blood talk” before he died.

My brother died sitting up in bed. He was leaning against his wife, Carole, and kept saying, “I’m going to die today.” Carole said, “Don’t say that. You will be fine. We’re going to get through this.” Then he said, “I can’t see.” Carole told me that Donald didn’t speak for another ten minutes.

Then, Donald said, “I’ll see you when I wake up.” Those were his last words.

As we know, Donald believed that when he died, he would be asleep in his grave. He believed that he would wake up in the New System. To anyone else, his last words would make no sense. However, to any Jehovah’s Witness, it makes perfect (although misguided) sense.

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After Donald’s Death

Donald and his wife celebrated their wedding anniversary on January 27th. He was able to sit up and eat a piece of fish. On February 2nd, 1986, he died sitting up next to his wife (as I described above).

On February 5th, 1986, one of the brothers at the Largo North (Florida) congregation read Donald’s talk on behalf of Donald. I have a cassette recording of the talk. I can’t bring myself to listen to it because the “Brother” begins the talk by describing how Donald was a ‘martyr’ and that it was no coincidence that my brother was assigned this talk. The “Brother” implied that my brother getting leukemia and dying after refusing treatment only made the talk that much more meaningful.

On February 7th, 1986 the Largo North congregation held a memorial for Donald. My family was in Connecticut, so my sister-in-law made sure we received a recording of the talk. On the outside of the cassette, the words “196 in attendance” are written. I have only heard the tape one time. A different “Brother” gave his memorial talk. That “Brother” also referred to Donald as a martyr.

My brother was not a martyr. He was a card-carrying victim.

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Source for the above two images:

https://www.rcseng.ac.uk/publications/docs/jehovahs_witness.html/@@download/pdffile/Jehovah’s%20Witnesses.pdf

Note the wording in the above photo: “I understand that my express refusal of allogenic blood or primary blood components will be regarded as absolute and will NOT be over-ridden in ANY circumstance by a purported consent of a relative or other person or body.”

 

In the September 15, 2015 Watchtower magazine, the following can be found on pages 9 – 10:

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Source of photo: http://wol.jw.org/en/wol/d/r1/lp-e/2015682

Conclusion

Thirty years after my brother’s death, Jehovah’s Witnesses are still instructed to refuse blood transfusions.  My brother is just one of thousands who have lost their lives due to this doctrine.

Today, February 12, 2016, my brother will not get to turn fifty-eight years old.

 

* JW Facts: “Jehovah’s Witnesses and Blood Transfusions”

http://www.jwfacts.com/watchtower/blood-transfusions.php

 

* AJWRB: “Watchtower Approved Blood Transfusions”

http://ajwrb.org/watchtower-approved-blood-transfusions

The Irony of a Newborn’s Blood Transfusion

My brother, Donald, was not always one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. He became one at age twenty. This story begins in February 1958.

Donald at three months old

Donald at three months old

My mother had “type O” blood with a negative Rh factor. In other words, she had “O-negative” blood. Soon after Donald was born, it was apparent that something was terribly wrong. He was severely jaundiced and was not thriving. A blood test confirmed the physician’s suspicions. Donald had a positive RH factor. In addition, he had “Type AB” blood. The reason this is a problem is because my mother’s “O-negative” blood saw my brother Donald’s “AB-positive blood” as an enemy invader. Her body produced antibodies that attacked his red blood cells.

He developed Hemolytic Disease of the Newborn (HDN). Since my mother had O-negative blood and my brother had AB-positive blood, it could have been either of two types of HDN. One type happens when a mother’s negative Rh factor produces antibodies to fight the baby’s positive Rh factor. The second type happens when the mother’s O-type blood attacks the baby’s AB-type blood. I will never know what caused him to develop HDN.

In 1958, the treatment for babies with HDN was to perform an “exchange transfusion” soon after birth.

An “exchange transfusion” involves removing small amounts of the baby’s blood and replacing it with a healthy donor’s blood. Little-by-little, over a period of hours, the baby’s blood is completely removed and replaced (exchanged) by a healthy donor’s blood. Hence, the term “exchange transfusion”.

I am thankful that he had that blood transfusion when he was born. I cherished having him as my oldest brother.

That's me, sitting on Donald's lap. Our brother Mike is next to him.

That’s me, sitting on Donald’s lap. Our brother Mike is next to him.

The irony:

When my brother’s life began, his health was in danger and a blood transfusion saved his life. When he was twenty, he became one of Jehovah’s Witnesses:

Donald (circled in red) stepping out of the pool, moments after being baptized.

Donald (circled in red) stepping out of the pool, moments after being baptized.

In 1986, my brother was diagnosed with Acute Myelogenous Leukemia. He was told he had one to six weeks to live. He needed a blood transfusion and a bone marrow transplant to have any hope of survival. He refused to have a blood transfusion. That decision led to his death, six weeks after being diagnosed with leukemia.

Donald died ten days before his 28th birthday. A victim of the Watchtower's blood doctrine.

Donald died ten days before his 28th birthday. A victim of the Watchtower’s blood doctrine.

He lived for twenty-seven years because he had a life-saving blood transfusion.

He died after refusing the one thing that could have saved him… a blood transfusion.

Please click this link to read about my brother’s leukemia and death.

Obituary Witnessing: coercing those who are in despair

 

Cemetery photo

Cemetery photo (Source: Unsplash)

A man who endured the death of his daughter recently received an unwelcome letter. Sent by one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, the letter expressed sympathy for his loss.

How did this Jehovah’s Witness learn about the man’s tragic loss? Apparently by scouring the obituary section of a Jacksonville, Florida newspaper.

 

According to a news report, a second letter was sent to the man’s church.

A news reporter from the local station reached out to Eva Robinson, the Jehovah’s Witness who sent the letter. Robinson explained that she couldn’t understand why the man was so upset.

This was not the first time she had scoured the obituaries. No other people had expressed disgust at receiving letters from her in their moment of grief, she added.

The man who received the letter explained to the reporter that, during times of grief, it is understandable that one would want to be surrounded by family and friends. However, he said it was not appropriate for a random stranger to send a grieving person a letter with an enclosed tract in an effort to proselytize (or ‘witness’) to you.

Robinson said she was sorry and meant no harm.

McKee asked Robinson why she would send a pamphlet to someone who belongs to a Presbyterian Church. To a non-Jehovah’s Witness, it seems to defy logic and serve no purpose. To one familiar with Jehovah’s Witness culture, it is a way to count hours toward field service.

Witnessing to people who are grieving and emotionally vulnerable is a cruel way to recruit potential converts. It reminds me of ambulance chasers, the phenomenon of lawyers following a road accident victim to hospital in the hopes of drumming up business.

Reading the obituary section for the sole purpose of evangelizing to grieving families to count time for a field service report is reprehensible, and a sad indictment of the extremes to which Witness indoctrination can lead.

Hypocrisy: Will It Ever End?

The title of this blog post mirrors that of an article from the December 2015 online edition of The Watchtower.

In the Watchtower article, three people are featured: Panayiota, Daniel and Jeffery. Each person wrestles with their own dilemma, but I will concentrate on Daniel.

Daniel has disturbing memories of “priests who drank heavily, gambled, and stole from the collection plate.” However, during Mass, these priests would warn their parishioners not to sin so they would not burn in hell. The Watchtower makes it clear that these priests were hypocritical.

Later in the article, it is revealed that Daniel “made an error” which caused him to relinquish some of his privileges in the Kingdom Hall. The article doesn’t mention what he did, but it does let the reader know that he was ‘readjusted’ and able to resume his privileges “with a good conscience.”

The article ends by encouraging the reader to “find out who Jehovah’s Witnesses are” and “what they believe.”

The December 2015 Watchtower bemoans hypocrisy in “nearly every area of human activity”

Watchtower image

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When I read this article, many thoughts ran through my mind. One thing I noticed is that, when reading about the priests in Daniel’s scenario, there was no mention of child sexual abuse. These priests drank heavily, gambled and stole from the collection plate… but they weren’t pedophiles! Over the years, how many times have the Watchtower and Awake! magazines mentioned the child sexual abuse crisis that grips the Roman Catholic Church?

In the June 2009 issue of the Awake! magazine, three pages were devoted to Catholic youth. That article mentions that Catholic youth are “disillusioned by church scandals, such as those involving pedophile priests.”

While the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society was devoting pages of theAwake! magazine to warning Catholic youth about church scandals and pedophile priests, they were hiding the child sexual abuse scandal taking place within their own organization.

During my teenage years and into my early twenties, I attended a small Kingdom Hall. When I was around thirteen years old, I was close friends with another girl my age. Once in a while, after school, we would spend time together. Her mother was single and was dating a brother from the Kingdom Hall. He was the conductor of the Tuesday night book study at the Hall, so I assume he was a ministerial servant or maybe even an elder.

My friend told me that she didn’t like her mother’s boyfriend. I couldn’t imagine why. He was soft-spoken and always very nice when I saw him at the Hall. She told me that the reason she didn’t like him was that he had molested her many times over a period of about a year. I don’t know where it happened. I only know what she chose to share with me.

I don’t know if he also molested non-JW kids, but at some point, someone reported him to the police. He went to jail.

The Kingdom Hall that I attended for 11 years.

The Kingdom Hall that I attended for 11 years.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the Kingdom Hall, people noticed that he was missing meetings. I don’t think many people (except the elders) knew where he went. I remember hearing that he was away, but would be back. One night, many months later, I entered the Kingdom Hall on a Tuesday or Thursday night and he was there. People were surrounding him and hugging him. My friend and her mother were also there that night. I felt bad for them because no one knew what that brother had done to my friend. If the others knew, would they be hugging him?

That night, from the podium, the speaker welcomed this brother back to the Hall and everyone clapped. They welcomed him home as if he had just come back from serving a mission. To this day, I still think the whole thing was bizarre.

While researching for this article, I checked the Sexual Offender Registry for my home state. He is among the people listed.

In the December 2015 article, “Hypocrisy! Will It Ever End?,” it states that Daniel was ‘readjusted’ and able to resume his privileges “with a good conscience.”

Before there was an online Sexual Offender Registry, did people at the Kingdom Hall know there was a pedophile in their midst at our small Kingdom Hall? According to the list, he has been arrested for child sexual abuse multipletimes since the 1980’s. Apparently, he was not ‘readjusted’, although he was welcomed back to the Kingdom Hall and allowed to resume conducting the Tuesday night book study “with a good conscience.”

There are so many examples of hypocrisy within the Watchtower organization. In Australia, child sexual abuse within the Watchtower organization has been investigated. In England, an investigation is in the planning stages. Do these scandals make the pages of the Watchtower and Awake! magazines?

In the December 2015 article, it states that those who serve God without hypocrisy “learn to ‘remove the rafter’ from their own eye before offering to ‘remove the straw’ from their brother’s eye.” By their own definition, they are hypocrites!

It is time for the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society to follow their advice and “remove the rafter” from their own eye.