We have been reviewing the videos and transcripts of the inquiry by the “Australian Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse” as it pertains to Jehovah’s Witnesses in Australia. It is important to note that the Royal Commission is not singling out Jehovah’s Witnesses, nor are they singling out religions. According to its website, the Royal Commission investigates “how institutions like schools, churches, sports clubs and government organizations have responded to allegations and instances of child sexual abuse” and “creating a safer future for children.” So this inquiry would not qualify as an personal attack on the Watchtower organization. It seems more like an opportunity for accountability.
In fact, if the procedures of the Watchtower organization are appropriate and do protect children, as Brother Stephen Lett suggested in the February 2015 television broadcast (at 7:44), then this inquiry will give them an opportunity to prove their honorable actions to the whole world and “to make a defense before everyone who demands of you a reason for the hope you have.” (1 Peter 3:15)
Here are the areas of inquiry:
- The experience of survivors of child sexual abuse within the Jehovah’s Witnesses Church in Australia.
- The response of the Jehovah’s Witnesses Church and the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of Australia Ltd to allegations, reports or complaints of child sexual abuse within the Church.
- The systems, policies and procedures in place within the Jehovah’s Witnesses Church and the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of Australia Ltd for raising and responding to allegations of or concerns about child sexual abuse within the Church.
- The systems, policies and procedures in place within the Jehovah’s Witnesses Church and the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of Australia Ltd to prevent child sexual abuse within the Church.
- Any related matters.
The inquiry began on Monday, July 27, 2015 and is expected to continue until Friday, August 7, 2015. After the inquiry has been completed, we will likely publish our response.
We hope all in the Jehovah’s Witness community, especially active Witnesses, pay attention to the inquiry as we suspect it will have a significant impact on the Watchtower organization as a whole, on the Witnesses in the congregations, on the effectiveness of their public ministry, and on their relationships with friends and work mates. Now is the time “to prove what sort of persons you are.” (2 Peter 3:11)
“For there is nothing hidden that will not become manifest, nor anything carefully concealed that will never become known and not come out in the open.”
– Luke 8:17
We believe very few Witnesses will be able to escape some form of questioning about the inquiry so it is best that all be well informed.