Watchtower Bible and Tract Society
Brooklyn, NY 11201
I am writing to make further appeal to do something that is needed in the interests of the Flock. As spiritual shepherds you brothers have expended yourself for many years with the interest of trying to guide the flock in the way Jesus would approve. As you may recall it was Peter who said, “Therefore, to the older men among YOU I give this exhortation, for I too am an older man with [them] and a witness of the sufferings of the Christ, a sharer even of the glory that is to be revealed: Shepherd the flock of God in YOUR care, not under compulsion, but willingly; neither for love of dishonest gain, but eagerly; neither as lording it over those who are God’s inheritance, but becoming examples to the flock. And when the chief shepherd has been made manifest, YOU will receive the unfadable crown of glory.” (1 Peter 5:1-4) This scripture helps to explain the importance of what it means to shepherd the sheep entrusted to your care. If the sheep are to be cared for, how much more so the little lambs that exists as children in the congregation.
When I wrote my first letter to you around one year ago I was very upset at a problem that presented itself to me in the congregation. As a local shepherd I felt my hands were tied to prevent a child from being molested. How could I be a good “shepherd” and not protect a little lamb that was in danger? I was instructed to “leave it in Jehovah’s hands,” yet would Jehovah wait one day if he knew a child was being hurt? I do not believe so, nor could I wait. As the scripture says in Acts, “Pay attention to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the holy spirit has appointed YOU overseers, to shepherd the congregation of God, which he purchased with the blood of his own [Son]. (Acts 20:27-28) In serving as an elder would I be “paying attention” if I ignored the needs of a child in danger?
My letter had very strong words, I realize, yet I was trying to compel you to see how horrible a danger this was to the flock. I felt you needed to wake up to the clear and present threat to the congregation. Another reason my letter was worded so strongly is being contacted by numerous persons who brought to my attention that their child molestation had for the most part went unreported while they were forced to live as silent lambs. In order to remedy this problem and after conferring with several experts in the field, I offered three suggestions on how to protect children from pedophiles within the congregation:
- If a child is molested call the police first.
- No brother or sister who molests children should be allowed privileges in the congregation.
- No brother or sister who molests children should be allowed to go in the door-to-door ministry.
The purpose of those recommendations was to protect the flock. Each point offered specific safeguards that preserved the high moral standards adhered to by the organization.
The first suggestion, “If a child is molested call the police first,” not only helps the child to have a proper investigation to determine what happened and get proper treatment if needed, but it also puts any child molester on notice that if he or she touched a Witness child they would not be able to hide behind the body of elders, instead they would face the “superior authorities.”(Rom. 13:1) This would also show that Jehovah’s Witnesses differ from many mainstream religions by having a zero tolerance policy when it comes to molested children.
The second suggestion, “No brother or sister who molests children should be allowed privileges in the congregation,” would not only be a deterrent for any would molest but also put the congregation on notice that certain people may need to be watched and not trusted with children, thus protecting the flock to a better degree.
The third suggestion, “No brother or sister who molests children should be allowed to go in the door-to-door ministry,” would let the public know Jehovah’s Witnesses never send child molesters to an unknowing public which in turn gives them confidence the Witness calling at their door is a safe person. This alone protects the image offered to the public of all Jehovah’s Witnesses.
My question is why did you choose to do nothing? What reasoning allowed you to ignore the cries for help documented on the silentlambs website? How many children have been molested in the last year since these suggestions have not been acted upon?
In January 1, 1997 Watchtower, the impression was given that one of these suggestions had been acted upon. The article “Abhor What Is Wicked” indicated child molesters would never have privileges in the congregation, yet the March 14, 1997, letter to “All Bodies Of Elders,” plainly stated persons with a history of child molestation before baptism were “not to be queried” thus opening the possibility of pedophiles continuing to serve in appointed positions. The June 1, 2001 letter to “All Bodies Of Elders” in Britain took matters a step further by stating if “a long period of time” had passed since his last molestation, a man who committed the act of child molestation when he was baptized, could be used as elder again or could continue to serve. What were you thinking? Do you really believe you can tell the flock one thing and have the elders act on hidden directives through BOE letters with the truth not coming out? Brothers this has to end. This is not about one personality or another it is about protecting children, safeguarding the congregation, and not bringing reproach on Jehovah’s name. Psalms 74:18 states, “Remember this: The enemy himself has reproached, O Jehovah, And a senseless people have treated your name with disrespect.” If this problem is ignored, could this bring further reproach on Jehovah’s name, his people and make the Governing Body look like a “senseless people?”
I urge you brothers to hasten and take action immediately. The brothers and sisters will respect and appreciate a decision that protects the interests of the flock. Jesus said, “I am the fine shepherd; the fine shepherd surrenders his soul in behalf of the sheep. The hired man, who is no shepherd and to whom the sheep do not belong as his own, beholds the wolf coming and abandons the sheep and flees—and the wolf snatches them and scatters them— because he is a hired man and does not care for the sheep.” (John 10:10-15) I entreat you to please not act like the hired man and leave the flock, the lambs, exposed to danger. Imitate Jesus who was willing to go beyond the call of duty even giving his life to defend the safety of the flock. Whatever the reason for inaction, now is the time to act, apologize for not preceding sooner, let those wronged know they are loved and will be better protected in the future. The brothers and sisters will revere you more so for showing yourselves to be humble shepherds acting in the interests of Jehovah’s “little sheep.” (John 21:15-17)
Please listen, please take action, please stand up for what is right, please give a voice to the silent lambs and please protect the flock.
William H. Bowen