Watchtower Bible and Tract Society
25 Columbia Heights
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 take care of 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 from protecting 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? Simply, 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) 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 brothers 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 was being contacted by numerous persons who brought to my attention that their child molesters 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 child molestation issues:
If a child is molested call the police first.
The first suggestion, "If a child is molested call the police first," not only helps the child to have an proper investigation to determine what happened and get proper treatment if needed, but it also would put 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 but instead would face the "superior authorities."(Rom. 13:1) This would also show that Jehovah’s Witnesses were different than many mainstream religions by having a zero tolerance policy when it came to molested children.
The second suggestion, "No brother or sister who molests children should be allowed privileges in the congregation," would be not only a deterrent for any would be molester but also put the congregation on notice that certain people may need to be watched and not trusted with children. This again would protect the flock.
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 that Jehovah’s Witnesses would never send child molesters to an unknowing public which in turn would make the public feel confident the Witness calling at their door was a safe person. This alone protects the image offered to the public of all Jehovah’s Witnesses.
My question to you brothers is why did you choose to do nothing? What was the reasoning that allowed you to ignore the cry for help offered on the silentlambs website? How many children have been molested in the last year since these suggestions have not been acted upon?
In 1997 the January 1, Watchtower, the impression was given that one of these suggestions had been acted upon. The feeling given from the January 1, 1997 Watchtower was that all child molesters would never have privileges in the congregation, yet in the March 14, 1997, a letter to "All Bodies Of Elders," plainly stated persons with a history of child molestation were not to be queried thus leaving open the possibility of brothers continuing to serve in appointed capacity. The June 1, 2001 letter to "All Bodies Of Elders" in Britain cleared up any misconception by stating if a period of time had passed since his last molestation, a brother could be used as an elder again or could continue to serve. What were you thinking? Do you really believe you could tell the flock on thing and have the elders act on hidden directives through BOE letters? Brothers this has to come to an 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." Brothers do you want to bring further reproach on Jehovah’s name, make yourself an enemy and look like a senseless one?
I urge you brothers with due haste to take action now. The brothers and sisters will respect and appreciate a decision that acts in 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 brothers to please not act like the hired man and leave the flock, the lambs, exposed to danger. Be like Jesus who was willing to go beyond the call of duty to the point of dying to defend their safety. Whatever the reason for inaction, now is the time to act, apologize for not acting 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 in the end for showing yourselves to be humble shepherds acting in the interests of Jehovah’s possession. (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