Silentlambs Summit Success in Nashville !
We are happy to report on the silentlambs summit in Nashville . The weather was perfect and the attendees were happy to meet each other as well as renew old friendships. Where do we begin? Well let’s do a run down of the week’s activities.
We arrive in Nashville and present local news media with a packet of press conference to be held on Thursday and Saturday. In the packets was complete information on what will be discussed. Some were surprised to see us there but it offered an opportunity to explain what and why we were meeting in Nashville . After seeing all television stations and Newspapers it was a long day.
We met the press at 1 pm at the Obrien Street Kingdom Hall and have an excellent response. All the local networks show up along with writers from the Associated P ress and the Tennessean local newspaper. What did we say? The following;
March 25, 2004 P ress Conference
“Three years ago media was first alerted that Jehovah’s Witnesses have a policy that en dan gers children. Since that first report in which I identified a fellow elder in Kentucky that was a confessed child molester and who remains a Jehovah’s Witness in good standing to this day, over 6,000 abuse survivors have came forward to say they too were molested and silenced by Jehovah’s Witness policy on abuse. The church has acknowledged they maintain a secret data base that insiders have reported contains over 23,000 child ab user s, most of which have never been reported to the authorities.”
“Today we are here because of an invitation that was sent to nine JW Kingdom Halls in the Nashville area. We simply asked to meet with church leaders and abuse survivors as well as provide an information sheet on how to report and recognize child abuse. All nine congregations ignored the letter and when they were telephoned refused to accept our invitation. Any member that attempts to attend the silentlambs conference will be threatened with excommunication if they do so. So today we are delivering information sheets to nine congregations in the Nashville area alone with a lamb to try and let Jehovah’s Witnesses know there is help when abuse issues arise. If this information helps one child it will have accomplished its purpose. We are asking for two minutes of silence at 10 am on Sunday morning to honor the courage of abuse survivors.”
“We wish to invite any Jehovah’s Witnesses and anyone else in the Nashville area that is interested in raising institutional abuse awareness to attend the silentlambs summit on Saturday starting at 1pm at the Sheraton Music City . If you are a JW we will protect your identity to prevent the church from attacking your or your family.”
“I have with me today Jeff Waldron, an abuse survivor from the Nashville area that was silenced by the JW policies on abuse. This weekend we will present silentlambs “courage” awards to abuse survivors that have found their voice and spoken out in the interests of protecting children. Jeff I would like to present you with a silentlambs courage award today. You were nominated by your sister also an abuse survivor, and this is what she had to say, (quote) Thank you for no longer being a silent lamb.”
“This concludes this press conference I will now deliver the information to this Kingdom Hall.”
Jeff went on to interview with the media and several television cameras were rolling. He stated that his ab user went on to molest several more JW boys over a period of several years until he finally molested a non believer and was reported to police. He was sent to jail. You can review pictures of the press conference here,
It was a smashing success as we made six news spots that evening and followed with a newspaper story the following Friday. What did it say? Well that was on Friday.
Group renews charge that Jehovah's Witnesses indifferent to sexual abuse
Local Jehovah's Witness leaders are ignoring requests to meet with survivors of sexual abuse and their advocates, an organization calling for change in the church's policies on sexual abuse said.
Bill Bowen, national director of Silent Lambs, said sexual abuse in Jehovah's Witness congregations is ''an epidemic that's got to stop. Jehovah's Witnesses provide an excellent example of policy gone wrong.''
He was speaking outside a west Nashville Kingdom Hall, as the Jehovah's Witness churches are called. Silent Lambs also is sponsoring a conference on combating ''ignorance and apathy when it comes to sexual abuse'' tomorrow and Sunday at the Sheraton Music City Hotel, 777 McGavock P ike.
J.R. Brown, a spokesman for the national Jehovah's Witness organization, said that while accusations had been made that the church was shielding pedophiles, they had not been proved. If members commit sexual abuse, they can be excommunicated, Brown said.
The role of a church leader is to help a person spiritually, not prosecute someone for a secular crime, Brown said. Consequently, church leaders report to secular authorities only in states where they are required to do so by law, he said.
''Generally, the purpose of a cleric or minister is to entertain confessions of sin the person has committed and try to help the individual restore thei r r elationship with God,'' Brown said. ''I don't know of any religious organization that has required all of its ministers to report every case of child abuse.''
However, some religious organizations, including the Roman Catholic Church, do require clergy to report all cases of sexual abuse to the police.
Also at the news conference, Silent Lambs presented an award to Jeff Walden of Nashville for speaking out about the abuse that he suffered as a child in a Memphis Jehovah's Witness congregation.
''If you speak out in this religion, you have to leave your life behind you and move on,'' said Walden, who said his experience as a Witness had turned him off to organized religion.
Brian Lewis writes about religion, faith and values. He can be reached at 259-8077 or firstname.lastname@example.org .
Is it just me or did the reporter seem to have JR Brown’s number? The same recycled answers from WT P R are not being as freely accepted by the better educated press on this topic.