Why were Bill Bowen, Barbara Anderson , and Carl and Barbara Pandelo Disfellowshipped?

Brown says offenders are excommunicated only for biblical reasons. "No one has to be disfellowshiped," Brown told CT. "Only unrepentant offenders are disfellowshiped." (Christianity Today (CT), July 8th 2002 , URL: http://christianitytoday.aol.com/ct/2002/008/14.15.html )

"Both sides agree that all Witnesses - including relatives of the four - would risk excommunication by having contact with any excommunicated person, except under certain circumstances. While the four believe the show's impending broadcast has spurred the church's actions, church spokesman J.R. Brown said that before Tuesday, church headquarters had no idea that these people would be on the show. He also said local congregations decided to charge them with various spiritual violations." ( New York Post Newspaper, Thursday, May 9, 2002 )

"In an interview with the New York Post, JW spokesperson J.R. Brown stated that the threatened excommunications had nothing to do with the Dateline interview and that "church headquarters had no idea that these people would be on the show." Yet research displayed more than six internet announcements on the program, updates and names, all linked to the Silent Lambs and the Watchtower sites. Brown also said that local congregation decided to charge the members with various spiritual violations." (The Tullahoma ( Tennessee ) News, May 11, 2002 )

J.R. Brown, a national spokesman for the Jehovah's Witnesses, confirmed that the four had been called to the hearings, but he said the proceedings may focus on "sins" unrelated to public comments on sexual abuse. He provided no specifics. The judicial committees will decide whether the four should be "disfellowshipped," the group's term for excommunication. ( Washington Post Newspaper, May 11, 2002 )

''What she [ Barbara Anderson ] alleges is not true at all,'' said J.R. Brown, a spokesman for the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York Inc., the incorporated name of the Jehovah's Witnesses. Brown said he had been talking to Dateline about the show's story for a year but said he and other organization leaders did not know which members television producers had interviewed. ''We have no idea what she told Dateline,'' Brown said of Anderson . The consequences of excommunication are severe for a reason, Brown said. It is hoped that the harsh isolation that disfellowshipped members feel will draw them back to the organization. Other members of the faith are not allowed to speak to disfellowshipped members. They can't greet them in a store or share a meal with them. Live-in family members can speak to the person but never about spiritual issues. ''Our statistics bear out that you have many people every year be reinstated,'' Brown said. Brown said Jehovah's Witnesses have a strict policy about child sexual abuse. If parents come to congregation leaders with concerns that their child is being abused, the leaders follow state law, he said. If state law requires parents to report the abuse, congregation leaders tell them that. People in the organization who are accused of sex abuse are subject to a hearing like the one Anderson attended yesterday, Brown said. They are automatically removed from leadership positions and can't go door-to-door without other members' being present. Anderson said she knew of pedophiles in four Middle Tennessee congregations who had confessed to elders and who had not been disciplined. She said those elders did not go to authorities with what they knew. There was no way yesterday to corroborate the accusations that Anderson made. Brown said they were false. A call to the local district attorney at his home yesterday did not yield a return call." (Tennessean Nashville News, Saturday, May 11, 2002 )

"In harmony with what the Bible teaches, elders of Jehovah's Witnesses shepherd the flock of God in their care. They have the spiritual welfare of each congregation member in mind. (1 Peter 5:2) This pastoral work is done confidentially, out of respect for the congregation and the individual(s) involved. Even as the local elders are concerned about the spiritual health of each member of the congregation, they are also concerned for the spiritual welfare of the congregation as a whole. In fact, they are required by the Holy Scriptures to see to it that the congregation remains clean and unified. (1 Corinthians 1:10) No hasty decision is made in this process. It is never the goal of local elders to remove someone from the congregation. Rather, every effort is made, in harmony with Paul's words, to "try to readjust such a man in a spirit of mildness." ---Galatians 6:1 Contact J. R. Brown, telephone: (718) 560-5600" (Watchtower Society Press Release, May 8, 2002 )

"In a statement issued from their headquarters, the Jehovah's Witnesses said that church leaders are "required by the Holy Scriptures to see to it that the congregation remains clean and unified." J.R. Brown, a spokesman for the denomination, said that parents are not punished by the church for going to the police first in cases of child molestation. And he said that anyone found guilty of molestation by a church judicial committee is removed from all positions of responsibility and cannot evangelize door-to-door without being accompanied by a fellow Jehovah's Witness." ( Associated Press News and also on CNN.com, Thursday, May 9, 2002 )

"A Jehovah's Witnesses national spokesman, David Semonian, cited confidentiality rules and said the church could not discuss the Pandelos' case. "The proceedings may focus on sins unrelated to any public comments on sexual abuse," he said. Semonian said the church does not have specific rules against talking to the media, but churches could take action against those who disrupt the unity of the church. Semonian said he did not know about the Pandelo case. He said anyone convicted of child molestation cannot hold a position of authority in the church and cannot perfor m c hurch work alone." ( Asbury Park Press, May 14th 2002 )

"The Governing Body in Brooklyn meanwhile has appointed committees, to provide a solution on how to deal with this problem. A decision has been made on how to deal with those who have spoken out and are considered traitors. The Pandellos have already been disfellowshipped. The reason has nothing to do with them speaking out publicly, says the world headquarters. Also it has no connection with the NBC program. A Judicial hearing is also moving against Barbara Anderson , who served ten years in the world headquarters at Bethel and now assists in Bowen's project "silentlambs". She also is being disfellowshipped. When asked for the basis Brooklyn says the procedures are confidential." (SPIEGEL ONLINE Germany News - June 12th 2002 ; URL: http://www.spiegel.de/panorama/0 ,1518,198436,00.html)

"Witnesses elder says claims meritless, rules followed ... The disfellowshipment announcement had been scheduled for the end of Thursday's meeting, not the midpoint, Stockwell [Jehovah's Witness elder] said. "We've tried to follow what we consider theocratic arrangements, not make it into a media circus," Stockwell said in the first statement to the media by anyone connected with the congregation. Of Bowen's outburst he said, "He's just trying to antagonize, to provoke some kind of conflict." Stockwell said he had expected Bowen to try to interrupt the service in some way and even had spoken to the Marshall County Sheriff's Department earlier in the day about how the church should respond. The sheriff's department was not called Thursday night. "If he were in a life-threatening situation and he needed help, we'd help, but we're not going to socialize with him," Stockwell said. ... "If he were broken down on the side of the road, we'd help him." Stockwell said Bowen's allegations of local child molestation are groundless, and he questioned other allegations, calling Bowen devious. "It hurt the different ones here who knew him when he first moved here and considered him a friend ... For us it's a sad occasion that it has come to this." " (The Paducah Sun Newspaper, August 16, 2002 )

"Disfellowshipping is little known to outsiders, who recognize Witnesses only as the people who pass out magazines on Saturday mornings. But scandal in the denomination has opened a door to its core beliefs and operations. In recent months, at least three Witnesses were disfellowshipped after talking to Dateline NBC about church leaders' handling of child molestation allegations. The action made national headlines and spurred former Witnesses worldwide to step forward with their s tori es. Jehovah's Witnesses believe disfellowshipping is an act of love, intended to inspire sinners to change their ways so they eventually can apply to be readmitted to the faith. The sanction is based on I Corinthians 5, which directs Witnesses to "remove the wicked from among yourselves" and is necessary, said Witnesses national spokesman J.R. Brown, to preserve the religion's "moral integrity and cleanliness" in a corrupt world soon to be destroyed by God Jehovah." ( St. Petersburg Times Newspaper, August 22, 2002 )

"Jehovah's Witness elders -- all are men -- are the equivalent of ministers in other religions. Though unpaid, they take on responsibilities such as teaching Bible lessons and passing on denomination policy. They also investigate Witnesses accused of committing crimes against other Witnesses. In some of these cases, the police are never called. Among the elders' primary tasks is serving on small judicial committees that hear confessions and decide whether an offense is worthy of excommunication. Excommunications are announced to the congregation, but elders never say why a person was expelled. Witnesses can only guess from a long list of offenses that range from smoking cigarettes to manslaughter. Homosexuality, fornication, drunkenness, slander, fraud, gambling, apostasy, fits of anger and violence, and adultery are others. The excommunication announcement tells members to begin shunning that person. If they don't, they, too, risk being disfellowshipped. Fear of being disfellowshipped is gripping for many Witnesses. Because they believe that only Witnesses will be saved from death, many don't associate with non-Witnesses. Being disfellowshipped, then, means losing your circle of friends, not to mention family members who remain in the faith." ( St. Petersburg Times Newspaper, August 22, 2002 )

"Elders disfellowship 50,000 to 60,000 Witnesses around the world each year, Brown said. "It's not an unusual occurence, as far as we're concerned," he said. ... Brown says disfellowshipping inspires wrongdoers to come back to the religion. Those who want to reapply can do so, but they must adhere to Witnesses' policies. They are allowed inside the Kingdom Halls but are ignored by the other congregants until readmitted to the faith. Each year, Brown said, 30,000 to 40,000 are reinstated, having "come back to their spiritual senses." " ( St. Petersburg Times Newspaper, August 22, 2002 )

In the closed society, anyone who is a Witness must cut off contact with disfellowshipped members, even relatives. "They will not speak to you,'' Joe Anderson said. ``I mean, if you are lying on the road, they will drive right past you.'' Their son, Lance Anderson, 41, a church elder in Mishawaka , Ind. , said the intention isn't to punish his parents but to lead them to repentance. "I have never seen a situation come up in which we have not handled it legally and biblically the best way possible,'' he said. The son said pedophilia is a global problem but that only God - not man or government - can stop it. "I love my parents dearly, but the message they have chosen to accomplish this is harming good people,'' he said. "They are putting themselves, really, in harm's way.'' (Associated Press News Story, "Ex-Jehovah's Witnesses Speak Out", September 26, 2002 )

"Less than two years ago, Bill Bowen resigned as an elder in Draffenville's Jehovah's Witness congregation because of church policy on handling accusations of child abuse. Since then, he's been disfellowshipped, kicked out of the church and shunned by its members, including some of his own relatives, for "causing divisions" in the congregation." (The Paducah Sun Newspaper, September 27, 2002 )