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Lloyd Evans: The biggest Jehovah’s Witnesses stories of 2019

 
What a treat: Ex-JW activist Lloyd Evans brings us this great rundown on the biggest Jehovah’s Witnesses stories of 2019. Make sure you subscribe to Lloyd’s amazing YouTube channel for the latest breaking JW news.

 
2019 has certainly been an eventful year for those of us keeping a close eye on goings-on with Jehovah’s Witnesses and their leadership. In February, a Watchtower magazine was released (the May 2019 issue) defending the organization’s child sex abuse policies and using clever wording to make them sound more palatable to the rank and file. The same month, it became clear that Watchtower was using an aggressive “subpoena warfare” strategy in an attempt to curb the steady flow of embarrassing leaks. Dozens of subpoenas had been issued since early 2018 apparently aimed at intimidating whistleblowers who were sharing information anonymously while anxious to avoid the penalty of shunning.

One individual who struggled to stay anonymous during an ill-fated trip to the liquor store on a Sunday morning at the end of March was outspoken Governing Body member Anthony Morris. Morris was covertly filmed spending hundreds of dollars on an expensive haul of premium single malt, despite his involvement in producing cartoons that urge kids to part with their ice cream money to aid Watchtower’s printing and construction efforts.

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May saw the welcome news from the UK that IICSA (The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse) would be adding Jehovah’s Witnesses to the list of religious organizations whose policies it is investigating. Watchtower has the unenviable task of convincing a statutory inquiry that it takes child sex abuse seriously when its newly-released 2019 elders manual is ambiguous on the need to report sexual molestation of children to authorities but advises elders to contact the authorities “promptly” if there is any damage to their places of worship.

Watchtower higher-ups will no doubt be hoping that IICSA can somehow remain oblivious to their apparent craving for keeping secret child abuse records, as highlighted during their failed petition to the United States Supreme Court in 2019. Jettisoning a proud legacy of appearing before the Supreme Court to fight for religious freedoms, Watchtower insisted on their “right” as a religion to keep child sex abuse records (or “intra-faith communications”) beyond the reach of courts or law enforcement. They will also hope that the multiple child sex abuse lawsuits filed this year by lawyer Irwin Zalkin, naming the Governing Body as defendants, are similarly overlooked.

August 2019 saw Watchtower release what is arguably its most disturbing “JW Broadcasting” propaganda video to date, in which the martyrdom of an 11-year-old named Jerod Septer in 1992 was celebrated. Jerod’s tearful parents appeared on camera describing the emotional challenges they faced in the process of killing their son by refusing him a life-saving blood transfusion – an atrocity for which they had zero remorse.

Finally, on October 3rd, a jury of 12 in Arkansas convicted former elder Rod Watkins for molesting multiple Jehovah’s Witness children. With testimony concerning seven victims heard in the trial alone and with stories of more victims in other states, Watkins is arguably the most prolific sex offender in Jehovah’s Witness history. And with an organization that refuses to automatically report abuse to authorities, even to the point of fighting for its perceived “right” to withhold criminal evidence on potentially thousands of offenders, it’s not hard to understand how depraved individuals like Watkins could amass so many victims before being brought to justice.

— Lloyd Evans

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