Consider that there is a group stating to its members that the Devil is in control of our world. That this group educates they are God’s only organization. Any other group, any other religion and any government, is operated by the Devil.
Consider that children brought up in the organization are educated, from a very young age, that everyone outside the group is not to be trusted, even their teachers (if they aren’t home-schooled) and those in law enforcement are to be feared because they are component of the Devil’s organization.
Now consider that this church also educates that a man is the indisputable head of the family, his orders are to be observed without question. A women must submit to her husband, just as he submits to God. Likewise, the little ones must obey their father, regardless. The church selects particular men from the members to be elders, to “shepherd” and guide the rest, morally and scripturally – and if they feel a woman has misbehaved, they must talk to her husband about her conduct, counting upon him to correct it. Women, obviously, cannot be elders, nor can they take place in the formal operations of the organization. They can cleanse the building and assist their husbands, but that is the full scope of their power.
Consider that this church, recognizing that they do not reside totally outside the reach of secular law, have conceded that there has to be some procedure in place to address probable abuses of power. The procedure they put in place is basic – anybody who feels they have been wronged can speak to the elders, who will call a meeting between the individual who feels wronged, the person they think wronged them, and a council of three elders, who will do what they feel is proper to correct the situation. If there is a argument as to the accuracy of the claims the accuser makes, the elders must call eye-witnesses to the wrong.
Now consider that, based on their meaning of scripture, this group has a rule that all statements of wrongdoing should be supported by either a admission on the part of the wrongdoer, or by two trustworthy eye-witnesses to the occurrence. In a case where there are no eye-witnesses, the elders will cease the judicial procedure, counselling the accuser and the accused to mend their differences privately.
What would occur if a young woman were raped by her father, who is an elder in the church? She has been informed that if she is aware of a wrongdoing, she must report it to the elders. Even though she is aware that he is a friend of the very man who assaulted her, she has no choice but to go to a different elder.
Consider that the organization has some other rule: If a teenager wishes to talk to an elder about her father, even to criminate him of pedophilia, she has to do so only with her father present, and then only after talking to him about it first. Even though she does not tell the elder what she needs to speak to him about, once he hears that she needs to tell him about something her father has done, the conversation is over: she must bring her father into this dialogue.
Consider that when the discussion at some point takes place, there are five individuals in the room – the girl, her father, and three elders, all friends of her father. If she chooses to complain against her father’s repeated sexual attacks upon her, this is the only way she is permitted to make that issue. She is not forced to tell the authorities or seek out medical or psychological support, nor is she informed whether or not the men believe her. She is informed not to spread ‘rumors’, and made to repeat her account over and over again, with her father listening not a few feet away, even interjecting, and threatening to beat her once he gets her home. After it is all over, her father was kicked out of the congregation – not for the attacks on her, but because of his affair with another woman – and the daughter has a new reputation in the congregation as a social pariah, with the tongues wagging behind her back calling her ‘liar’, ‘seducer’, ‘slut’. Even her mother does not help her.
Now consider that you’re not imagining.
This horrible set of conditions did without a doubt take place, to a woman of my generation, in Australia. The group working out the coercive control? The Jehovah’s Witnesses. I genuinely wish this was fictional, and I truthfully wish that I had not, in researching this, had to observe a supposed man of God inform the Royal Commission that he ‘honestly couldn’t understand’ why another woman, put in a identical situation, would have felt uncomfortable at a meeting with three men and her male accuser, with no companion on her side, no other woman in the room, and having to reveal in depth a sexual attack made by a man sitting a few feet away from her. He could not understand why she felt awkward. “We offered her scripture,” he informed the Commission with a blank look.
This is a perfect storm of undue influence: secrecy, threats of shunning and damnation, disenfranchisement, and automatic compliance blend, producing a fertile breeding ground for the perpetration and preservation of pedophilia. The end result: an whole religious organization devoting its energy – and the donations of its faithful – to the process of protecting not its children, but the predators.
There is nothing more I can include here. No words can communicate my indignation that a apparent religious organization could do this to its children, and my total appalled anger and shock that any so-called ‘shepherd’ could safeguard such policies without blinking an eye.
For those who desire to watch the hearings, you can see them here, but if, like me, are simply enraged by smug pseudo-clergy defending the indefensible, I would not suggest it.
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