JW Bulletin

Jehovah's Witnesses in the Media

Hilde Langvann Comment – Translation

Original Reddit post where this originated HERE

“Sexual assault – biblical sin or punishable act?

“‘According to the Bible, sexual assault is a serious sin, something abominable.’ This is a representative of Jehovah’s Witnesses in the report ‘The Elder’ in the FV on April 12 this year, as a commentary on how the community is dealing with abuse cases internally.

“Hilde Langvann Hjelpekilden Norway, General Manager

“Without being aware of this, the member expresses the very essence of the challenge of sexual assault in closed-minded communities, the view of a sexual assault as a religious sin rather than a legally punishable act. This was also evident in the Tysfjords case, as spokesman for the Lithuanian assembly in Norway, Odd Fagerjord, stated in the VG report on June 11, 2016 about his role: ‘If he acknowledges that he has sinned against God and man, and forgives forgiveness, submit to the remission of sin ‘.

“This issue was highlighted in a 2012 master thesis, ‘When words are missing. About sexual assault in Lutheran-lästadian environments ». Ellen Norbakken showed here how the environment did not divorce sexuality from sexual assault as a reason that many abuse cases were not legally prosecuted.

“The fact that such an internal system of cleanup is central to the assemblies puts a lot of pressure on the victim to forgive.

“Assembly leaders used words like temptation, desire, sin, perdition and luster when they were asked about attitudes to sexual abuse and prevention of abuse. In connection with sexual assault, there is no language that does not allow for the question whether this is legal or criminal, very difficult, the researcher concluded.

“Common to many closed religious environments that have been linked to abuse cases is that biblical sin has been the focus, not the criminal event. In the treatment of all sin, including sexual assault, the sinner (perpetrator) must ask for forgiveness. As one of the proponents of Norbakkens mission, ‘There is forgiveness for everything, including sexual abuse’.

“The fact that such an internal system of cleanup is central to the assemblies puts a lot of pressure on the victim to forgive. This can also be explained by the hierarchical structure of the church, with attitudes of obedience to those who are older or who have power, combined with forgiveness being a strong religious act.

“Sexual assault is more than a biblical sin, it is a legally punishable act. To deal with abuse cases requires competence, including the knowledge of the danger of recurrence. When a case ends in the congregation with the principles of regret and forgiveness, the need for the removal of new assaults is not considered.

“A lawsuit that leads to the obligation to report whether or not completed criminal offenses will be important for the prevention of abuse. If, in addition, all religious communities draw up their own strategy plan against violence and abuse, and annually submit to the government an account of how they work with the issue, the religious environment will reflect on the challenges and hopefully open up for external abuse. Should we help to protect the children, we must help it shut up, at least a little.”

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