The Word on the Week

Cults becoming kosher

An air of respectability has grown up around the two best know American belief systems that have crossed the Atlantic. Indeed the contender for the US Presidency is a Mormon and the Jehovah’s Witnesses are now well established in Ireland.

The latter were in the news this week for all the wrong reasons.

A child abuse case in California was successfully taken against an abuser in one of their congregations. Unusually the victim did not settle for an out of court cash settlement. This led to the revealing of the flawed procedures JW’s have used for many years. They are:

1. The 2 witness rule whereby the victims story is dismissed unless it can be collaborated by a second witness. The likelihood of this ever happening in cases of child abuse is almost zero.

2. The local congregation Elders must report each occurrence to the JW’s Branch Office who then apply the 2 witness rule ending the proceedings.

The Court did not like these procedures and awarded the victim, now aged 26, (who had resisted the temptation of an out of court settlement so these matters could be brought out into the open) compensation of $7 million and punitive damages against the JW’s of $21 million.

If the verdict is sustained on appeal it is likely this case will open the floodgates to further trials. As always considerable courage is required in both the victim and the victim’s family who may be dis-fellowshipped and cast out of the organisation.

What does the Bible say about these things?

Early in the Bible a rule was introduced for capital offences requiring the evidence to be confirmed by two or three people. Deuteronomy chapter 17 verse 6.

The JW’s misinterpretation of the text has led to it being used to silence cases of abuse leading to the Court awarding the highest amount of punitive damages ever made against a religious organisation.

In the trial of Jesus the witnesses gave false testimony but could not get their made-up stories to agree! In the end the High Priest took matters into his own hands in order to pronounce the “guilty” verdict. St Mark chapter 14 verses 56/64. The Religious were in a struggle to preserve their way of life. If Jesus had been allowed to continue doing miracles everyone would believe in him and the Romans would step in and their jobs would be gone. St John Chapter 11 verses 45/48. As one of them put it, speaking wiser words than he knew, “It would be good if one man died for the people”.

It is Jesus substitutionary death for repentant sinners that is the only hope for JW’s, their victims, you and me when we meet him on judgement day.

Trust him – he loves you.