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Do Jehovah’s Witnesses Still Have a Major Pedophile Problem?

Watchtower HeadquartersA lot has happened since I wrote What You Don’t Know About Jehovah’s Witnesses And Pedophiles back in 2013. In that article, I tried to raise awareness of a problem that has largely gone unnoticed by the general public and even many Jehovah’s Witnesses. The issue concerns pedophiles and the rules that make it far too easy for them to molest children within their congregations. One of the biggest problems is known as the “two witness rule.” This policy stops elders from acting on an accusation of wrongdoing unless two people witness the crime or the accused confesses. I doubt many pedophiles would molest a child in front of another person, so the two witnesses rule leaves the deck stacked in the pedophiles’ favor right from the start. The problem is made even worse because victims, and their parents, are forbidden from turning to law enforcement unless the elders find the accused person guilty. That’s right, they have to go to the elders before they can report the crime. If a victim does turn to law enforcement, they will be “disfellowshipped” (excommunicated and shunned even by their own families) which is the severest form of punishment a committee of elders can dish out. Meanwhile, the perpetrator is assumed to be innocent by the congregation and will be treated as a member of the faith in good standing. This is how all accusations of wrongdoing are handled within congregations, not just those concerning pedophiles. But the problems with this system are obvious.

At the time I wrote my previous article, Candace Conti’s court case against the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society (the corporate entity behind Jehovah’s Witnesses) was the biggest news to happen on this front. Yet even then, most people have never heard of her and few know about the details behind the Society’s larger pedophile problem. You can listen to Conti’s experiences in her own words here.

In the United States, Silent Lambs and many others have urged the Society to change these rules. So far, they have refused. In short, yes, it’s still a major problem. But some interesting updates can be found below.

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What You Don’t Know About Jehovah’s Witnesses And Pedophiles

Candace Conti
Candace Conti.

Everyone in the United States knows that the Catholic Church has a major issue with pedophiles, but hardly anyone knows that Jehovah’s Witnesses have similar problems. Many cases involving Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Watchtower Society have been reported to the public (a search string using “Jehovah’s Witness pedophile” will yield pages of results, including video of various newscasts) but most of these stories have failed to sink into the public psyche. Even Candace Conti, who was awarded millions of the Watchtower Society’s dollars, is mostly known by former Witnesses like me and few others. Many Jehovah’s Witnesses have yet to hear the name of Candace Conti and are blissfully unaware that child abuse is a real issue within the organization on any level.

The Watchtower Society may not be as big as the Catholic church, but officially, there are nearly eight-million Jehovah’s Witnesses worldwide. Even if there are only eight-million people who believe in the Society’s “truth” (there could be as many as nineteen-million who believe the Society has “the truth” if you go by Memorial attendance) that’s still a lot of people. I’m not suggesting that there are millions of cases of pedophilia here, but I do think the public should know more about pedophilia among Jehovah’s Witnesses and how the Society’s policies have done more harm than good. Especially Bible studies (or students) of Jehovah’s Witnesses who have children. It’s a big enough issue that several organizations like Silent Lambs and JW Survivors were formed specifically to oppose pedophilia within the Watchtower Society’s Kingdom Halls.

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