Jehovah’s Witnesses are well-known for their public proselytizing efforts – or preaching, was they call it. You will have seen their mobile carts close to bus stations and marketplaces. Or they may have knocked at your door on a Saturday morning.
But what transpired a couple of days ago was shocking even to those in the know of their worst transgressions:
A local group of Jehovah’s Witnesses [in Colorado Springs], knowing his past [as a convicted child molester], allowed Ivery to go door-to-door on behalf of the group. [as reported by KOAA5]
Now here’s the thing. Waymon Ivery has served his time, and as a secular humanist, I firmly believe that people deserve a second chance. But with sex offenders, there are several things to consider, one of which is:
Don’t send them door-to-door where they will be in touch with children, some of whom may even open the door without their parents, as Lloyd Evans points out.
As a former Jehovah’s Witness, I can corroborate that this happened quite often. And while Ivery says that he never went from door-to-door alone, I personally feel the local congregation was highly negligent in allowing a convicted child molester to participate in public witnessing.
The fault is entirely the congregation’s, obviously. Chances are, Ivery would have been in trouble if he would have declined to participate, as the preaching duty is mandatory for any baptized Jehovah’s Witness. Since his local congregation had no qualms in sending him door-to-door, Ivery probably didn’t have a choice.
Jehovah’s Witnesses so far have not responded to media inquiries. But this reveal will have them in panic mode. In 2015, evidence surfaced showing Jehovah’s Witnesses in Australia hat failed to report child abuse in over a 1000 cases. This extensive reporting on JW.org’s child abuse policy is a must-read.
That’s why the report of a convicted child molester being sent door-to-door is alarming. And this is not a case of a local congregation going rogue. In their revised recommendations for handling child abuse, the organization outlines how Elders should treat a convicted or alleged child molester:
The elders will be directed to caution the individual never to be alone with a minor, not to cultivate friendships with minors, not to display affection for minors, and so forth.
I am really not that sure whether cautioning is the right approach when dealing with sex offenders.
By the way, if you thought Jehovah’s Witnesses would have learned from their Australien experience and put in motion changes to their policy, you will be interested to know Jehovah’s Witnesses still don’t recommend proactively reporting cases; instead, they write:
In some jurisdictions, individuals who learn of an allegation of child abuse may be obligated by law to report the allegation to the secular authorities. In all cases, the victim and her parents have the absolute right to report an allegation to the authorities. [emphasis by me]
This is wrong on so many levels. Regardless of any legal obligation, Jehovah’s Witnesses should make it mandatory for their elders and followers to always report such allegations. Also, not only is it an “absolute right” of victims and parents to report an allegation, they should be proactively encouraged by their elders.
Also, don’t send convicted child molesters door to door.
What makes this all the more outrageous is the fact that a Jehovah’s Witness minor recently lost their status as a publisher, meaning: they are not allowed to engage in public witnessing, neither from door-to-door nor with a trolley. The reason: the youth had come out as an atheist.
Apparently, to Jehovah’s Witnesses, an atheist is more dangerous than a convicted sex offender.