Dear Royal Commission,
From all over the world, there are a massive amount of witnesses, former witnesses, people related to the issue of Child Molestation, and cult’s awareness watchdogs that have been following carefully your and your colleagues’ lines of questioning during the Investigation carried by the Australia Royal Commission.
As a somebody who was an elder for several years and was involved in Child Molestation cases in several countries outside Australia, I can say that it is refreshingly impressive how well-versed you and your team are about the structure, doctrine, procedures, and practices of the Watchtower Society and its religion the Jehovah’s Witnesses. I wanted to wholeheartedly commend you for your efforts at making this religious organization something way more opened to the public scrutiny. Even it is by the force of the law. I am not sure if you even fathom the reach of the work of the Commission. You are doing a fantastic work and people like me -who know how things are really “cooked” within the walls of the Watchtower organization, are deeply grateful for it.
Please, don’t be fooled and don’t allow Justice McClellan to be fooled by the lame diversions, misleading statements, and outright lies the elders have said so far during their testimony. Here are some examples:
1) Vince Toole: “Theocratic Warfare” is a fundamental doctrine that is taught and repeated time after time to the witnesses since even before getting baptized. The purpose is to prepare them against negative comments they will soon hear from family and friends about their new religion.
2) Terrence O’Brien: a) Even though it is true that Governing Body members have their particular assignments and these tend to not overlap others’, it is also true –and even more important, that they as a “body” are always directly or indirectly involved in every doctrinal aspect of the religion and major organizational decisions that spans across all their departments and assignments. What to teach and what to enforce in the life of every single witness around the globe is decided by vote during the closed-doors meetings these men of the Governing Body regularly have; and all of them must be aware of the nature of those matters so they can vote. Some might be more deeply familiar with a particular subject than others, but all must be familiar enough with the issue to give their vote. If they are not present, I believe they vote by proxy. Bottom line, at the Governing Body level, it is completely irrelevant if they are assigned to different areas. They all represent the final authority in how witnesses must understand and apply the bible. Geoffrey Jackson –or anybody from the Governing Body, must be summoned, fully cross-examined, and thoroughly questioned. b) No branch around the world have the authority to publish anything without the explicit authorization from the Governing Body. The only things that every branch may have authority are related to local technical, logistical, or practical decisions. For instance, what way to go to deliver publications to congregations, how to coordinate the territories for preaching work, etc. Another example could be related to a pamphlet used by the witnesses during their weekly meetings called “Our Kingdom Ministry” in which some local information is presented only within the boundaries of the branch. This information can be… extremely short stories from local witnesses during their preaching work, local statistics, etc., nothing really relevant as policies or doctrine.
3) Geoffrey Jackson: If Geoffrey Jackson’s testimony is eventually requested, he might want to distance himself and the rest of the Governing Body from any organizational responsibility, since they don’t really belong “legally” to any of the Watchtower legal entities. This was an administrative move done in the early 2000’s. But this move was done to “focus the efforts of the Governing body into teaching the bible and ‘spiritually feeding’ the worldwide congregation of witnesses”. This means, to tell witnesses what to believe and how and when to practice it.
4) All of the elders: They all seem to present this attitude of “not knowing very well”, or “not being sure or completely sure” of how things are done inside the religion. They all have tried to portrait themselves as having a very vague position or responsibility on all these matters. Don’t believe it. Elders often exercise an authoritarian way to address the flock and make them to comply with the Governing Body doctrine. They must be and are fully aware of all the changes and procedures of the Watchtower. They make others obey them by direct threat of accusing other as apostates, disobedient, rebel individuals who cause division and with the threat of disfellowshipping. It is true that there are some softer and more loving personalities among the elders, but they are not the majority and they usually submit themselves to a “herd mentality” dominated by the most aggressive elders.
Almost every witness who have testified have mentioned that the organization “would be willing to implement any improvement proposed [by the Royal Commission], if we don’t stray from the scriptures”. This is highly misleading in its very nature. Historically, changes in the organization have happened only if its money o properties are touched or threaten to be touched by the civil and criminal authorities. And I am pretty sure that some changes like… allowing women in their judicial committees, will never see the light. I can see though, eventually, professional witnesses women taking a supportive part to truly help the victims, assigned by the body of elders as requests in a needed-per-case basis.
Another thing it is being repeated over and over by the questioned elders is “the help” they always try to give. Practically, you must be aware –if not already, that this “help” is just reading well-selected bible passages that say “god loves you and want to forgive you but you need to confess to the elders first” and/or “just wait on Jehovah” which actually means be quiet, don’t complain, don’t talk to anybody about it, and keep doing your work as an obedient witness who patiently waits for the “new order” in the allegedly and always coming future earth paradise. There is not any help but a cold reminder of “don’t do anything to put any shame on “Jehovah’s name””, meaning: the organization.