|New Directive from governing body
|The recent events in Sweden seem to indicate a new directive from the governing body on dealing with abuse survivors
|Disfellowshipping of Anders
Recently the Swedish television program "Mission Investigate" did a rebroadcast of the original program that aired in April of this year. After the first program was aired, not one elder contacted Anders, the young man featured on the program and the only person that appeared without covering his appearance. Anders had not been summoned to any judicial hearing nor was any decision pending regarding his status in the organization.
On June 28th the rebroadcast of the program aired across Sweden . Two days later on the 30th two elders came to the place where Anders works, and told him that he would no longer be considered as a Jehovah's Witness. Anders asked for the basis for their decision and no reason was given. The only comment offered by the elders was, "That his course of action showed that he not longer wanted to be a member of the congregation."
The wording of this comment is interesting in that it indicates Anders was not "disfellowshipped" but instead was "disassociated." A disassociation within Jehovah's Witnesses represents a loophole to excommunicate a member but not create discord with the government by forbidding members for military service. The penalty is the same you are completely shunned by all members and family, but spokesman will formerly state to officials that you were not "disfellowshipped" instead you "disassociated" yourself by your course of action. When a person is disassociated there is no committee meeting that they can be invited to as the action already committed determines the outcome. To give an example, a JW joins the military - automatic da. Join another religion - automatic da. Take a blood transfusion and express no remorse - automatic da. No committee meeting, no chance to appeal the decision is final. It now appears this action has been redefined to cover abuse survivors that talk to media and is a new directive dictated by the governing body.(leadership of Jehovah's Witnesses) At a recent district convention in Sweden a member of the Branch Committee specifically addressed the recent airing of the "Mission Investigate" program from the platform. He stated that most of the information was false and though a few things may have had substance they had been handled by the elders. He went on to state that after the program aired that numerous cases of abuse were reported to the elders and they were in the process of investigating these allegations. (Not one word of reporting these matters to police of course) He then went on to relate that he had spoken to a member of the governing body and instructions were specifically given on how to handle these matters. This would appear to cover the nationwide smear campaign against Anders along with a new directive on what is covered under disassociation.
The new directive appears to be this; any Jehovah's Witness that goes forth publicly to media and speak about being abused will now face automatic excommunication without a hearing or any chance of appeal. This represents the most heinous way to treat any abuse survivor. When a Jehovah's Witnesses attempts to speak out to help others they are spiritually "murdered" by directives from leadership known as the "governing body," with no chance to defend themselves.
According to judicial hearing policy, a Jehovah's Witness that is subject to judicial action is given seven days to appeal the decision. The appeal committee is automatic in the case of "disfellowshipping." When "disassociation" is involved policy dictates no appeal committee is granted. Anders tried to appeal his excommunication within the seven day time frame but his right of appeal was denied. The following week his excommunication was announced in the congregation.
After the congregational announcement was made the national media did an interview with Anders on the second of July, they also telephoned the Branch Coordinator in Sweden , Bengt Hansson to ask his response. Mr. Hansson confirmed that Anders had been excommunicated, but went on to deny that it had anything to do with Anders being part of the television program telling his experience of how Jehovah's Witnesses cover up child abuse. Mr. Hansson refused to confirm the basis of Anders' excommunication saying it was confidential.
The following day after Anders was interviewed in a local evening newspaper, he said to the reporter that the reason was "secret", so secret that he was not even allowed to know it himself.
While much could be said in final comment in these matters perhaps the Bible says it best at Ezekiel 34:4;
"The sickened ones you have not strengthened, and the ailing one you have not healed, and the broken one you have not bandaged, and the dispersed one you have you have not brought back, and the lost one you have not sought to find, but with harshness you have had them in subjection, even with tyranny."
(also you can read the letter Anders wrote to the Swedish Branch Office at the link below)