Vårt Land – 23rd March 2018*
Reviewing Jehovah’s Witnesses
A UK review commission assesses its own investigation of sexual assault in Jehovah’s Witnesses, after members have been refused to report abuse to the police
PICTURE: One of Jehovah’s Witnesses’ Norwegian Assembly House. The source of help states that they receive a number of inquiries during the year about assault that has been dwarfed into Jehovah’s Witnesses. “The elders of the churches comply with laws that require them to report abuse of children,” said Tom Frisvold, spokesman for Jehovah’s Witnesses in Norway.
“Jehovah’s Witnesses would like to go through a process that sets out the assault, the sinner apologizes, forgiven, and then it’s done. They do not realize that this creates a recurrence hazard,” said Hilde Langvann. She is the general manager of the Help Source, which assists people in religious fracture processes.
Jehovah’s Witnesses have been subject to investigation in a number of countries, including Australia and the United States. Now the investigation of the community in Britain is stepped up. In British media, a number of former members of the community have claimed that they have been refused to report abuse.
Langvann emphasizes, however, that Jehovah’s Witnesses have taken hold of later years.
“Since 2012, the faith community has been given internal guidelines to follow the country’s laws and rules regarding reporting of abuse,” says Hjälpekilden-leader.
In 2014, the British government established its own investigation commission for child abuse, after disclosures of sexual assaults in religious institutions. This commission has investigated abuse in several churches, as well as a number of municipal institutions. Now, the Commission is considering creating a separate review of Jehovah’s Witnesses, according to The Guardian newspaper.
“The discussion in the UK goes a long way in such closed environments, where it has been permitted to abuse,” says Jan Erik Mustad, first-time lecturer in English at the University of Agder.
Will handle internally
Sometimes victims of abuse in Jehovah’s Witnesses want such cases to be investigated internally, as they have a distant distance and skepticism to the big city and police,” Langvann said.
Even if the religious community would like to handle things internally, this can also be difficult. Among other things, Jehovah’s Witnesses have a rule saying that two witnesses must witness a violation for the purpose of conviction.
“You do not need two witnesses to raise the matter with the leaders of the assembly – but at the same time there is no evidence if the counterparty denies the crime, and word word word,” says Langvann.
Also in Norway
Previously, the community has received concrete criticism in Britain for how they handled an assault case at a meeting in Manchester. Also in Norway, the source of help is given Notice of Abuse in Jehovah’s Witnesses.
“I have no figures on how many people come to us who have experienced abuses that were dwarfed into Jehovah’s Witnesses, but there are some inquiries a year,” said Langvann.
Despite the attention now being directed to Jehovah’s Witnesses, the Mustad do not think the British believe they have seen the last of the revelations.
“Investigations like this have set the minds in a cook in the UK. At the same time, my impression is that many believe what has already been revealed, both among media personalities and in religious communities, just the top of the iceberg,” says Mustad.
Through an email from his spokesman Tom Frisvold, Jehovah’s Witnesses in Norway write that they do not want to comment on the allegations from the source of help.
“Jehovah’s Witnesses make the strongest distance from sexual abuse against children. The elders of the churches comply with laws requiring them to report abuse of children. The victim and his or her parents have the full right to report the case to the police. The church does not protect the perpetrators against the consequences of their actions. Anyone who is guilty of child abuse may be excluded from the congregation. Any suggestion that Jehovah’s Witnesses cover abuse of children is completely wrong”.
Jehovah’s Witnesses are a worldwide religious community with over 8.3 million active members.
They look at themselves as Christians, whatever religious science classifies them as.
Yet they differ from the Christian faiths because they reject the Trinity doctrine. They look at Jesus as the Son of God, but rejects that He is both true God and true human. They have their own Bible translation: New World.
Jehovah’s Witnesses do not celebrate Christmas or birthdays, but mark the easter with a memory of the death of Jesus. They do not greet aggressively, deny military service and blood transfer.
Jehovah’s Witnesses in Norway found public support for 12,479 members last year
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