Sweden Branch of Jehovah's Witnesses files complaint
The following is a rough translation of keys part of a decision that was made by the "Boardof Examination” a regulating panel for media in Sweden . The Swedish Branch of Jehovah’s Witnesses at the authorization of the Governing Body filed a complaint in order to discredit the program, “Mission Investigate” that did an extensive exposed on the child abuse problem of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Sweden . The program created a furore within the media that resulted in national broadcasts on primary networks and newspaper coverage across the country. The program followed up with at least two more broadcasts of further outrageous actions the religion committed against the victims interviewed in the program. The Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses in New York authorized thousands of dollars in newspapers ads to discredit abuse survivors that appeared on the program. They then went on to excommunicate abuse survivors that appeared on the program shortly thereafter. A friend in Sweden wrote the following comments about what tactics the organization has attempted;
I would like to inform you about the last development regarding the program "Mission Investigation" in Sweden . The Watchtower has tried to sue the program. In Sweden we have a strong freedom for press. An attorney is not allowed to file a lawsuit against the press or TV until the highest legal authority in Sweden "The chancellor of Justice" has approved the litigation.
The Watchtower filed complaint that the program was persecution of Jehovah Witnesses. But the “Chancellor of Justice” rejected all their claims.
The next step was to report the program for an independent jury called "Board of Examination" If you want to file a complaint against a program you can make a report and they will examine the program and see if there is any reason for criticism. This procedure has nothing to do with the legal system. It is more or less an ethical committee.
The Watchtower more or less reported almost everything in the program. They used an attorney to cover everything in the complaint. The accusations of complaint covered more than 20 pages, plus references.
This week the "Board of Examination" made its decision. Only one point was criticized and it was that the reporter did not mentione the difference in age between Anders and his molester. They said that the reporter should have said that the abuse stopped when the molester was 18 years. After this they write: "In othe r r espects the board did not find that the program is against the demands of impartiality or objectivity. The program is neither against the regulation of respect for the private integrity"
And on the same page they write
"Regarding the Watchtower criticism the board can not find any support that the demand of objectivity has been violated"
As you can see in my translation "the Board of Examination" criticizes the program in just one aspect, and that is that they should have give the age of the ab user (he was 18 years) when the abuse stopped. I think that this is a very irrelevant thing. An 18 year old man is fully responsible for what he is doing. And even if the ab user was minor, there is no excuse for the elders to not report it to the authorities.
It is also amazing that the Watchtower does not mention the other four cases that were shown in the program. These were;
- An elder have sex with at least two 13-years old boys. He was later found guilty in a court of law. The congregation knows what took place but did not report it.
- An elder abusing a 14-year old mentally handicapped girl. He confessed his crime for the police, but was not disfellowshipped.
- A Ministerial Servant abused his daughters. The daughter was told by the elders not to report it to the police. He was not disfellowshipped.
- An elder confessed in a telephone conversation with the reporter that he has abused a 13-year old girl. There were a lot of cases around him that was not mentioned in the program.
So as the reader can see truth has little “objectivity” when the Governing Body goes after you. Below is the balance of the decision of the “Board of Examination” regarding the ethical presentation and integrity of the program. It should offer to anyone that reviews this material the real culprits that are guilty of immoral and unethical behaviour, doing so in the name of God.
If you wish to review further actions on this information please review this link,
Decision from the ”Board of Examination” dated 17th December 2004 No 788/03.
To review the Swedish version, go to this link www.grn.se then search for 788/03
“Board of Examination” is an independent board that reviews all accusations against any program in TV o r r adio in Sweden .
After the program “Mission Investigation” that was broadcast in Sweden the 8 th April2003 the Swedish branch office of Jehovah’s Witnesses filed a complaint against the program to the ”Board of Examination”
Jehovah’s Witnesses complaints are summarized as follows:
“Documents show that it is the reputation of the congregation that is the most important. It is better to take a personal loss, than letting the event (molestation) be publicly known.”
“How could a person in good conscience neglect the needs of a child and consider that protecting the need of the congregation?”
“Two other cases show how Jehovah’s Witnesses consistently protect paedophiles.”
In several pages the Swedish program defends themselves from the accusations.
On page 9 of the document is the decision from the ”Board of examination”
The Board of Examination noticed that the program included an examination of the attitude of Jehovah’s Witnesses regarding how molestation of children amon g there own members is taken care of. Such an examination is in line with the broadcasting company rights according to the approval to broadcast. The critical angle of the program does not mean that the program is not fulfilling the obligation of being unbiased.
In the program extensive criticism was focused against Jehovah’s Witnesses, in particular the attitude of the organization regarding how abuse against there own children is dealt with. The criticism was such as it was answered in the course of the program. The Board of Examination noticed that several elders were interviewed in the program and the reporter’s extensive efforts to contact representatives for Jehovah’s Witnesses, was also shown. Jehovah’s Witnesses have furthermore in their own notification said that they will not take part in interviews. With that background and evidence the Board of Examination can not find that the program in this allegation is violating the complaint of fulfilling the obligation of being unbiased.
The Board notice that the reporter at several occasions has made strong statements regarding Jehowahs Witnesses and their policy. Even if these statements in some aspect appear sarcastic, the Board does not find that this means that the program in this area is violating the obligation of being unbiased.
All further allegations in this regard have no substance.
The Board of Examination noticed that the reporter in the program said that Anders as a child for ten years was exposed to sexual abuse by a man in a congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Anders stated in an interview on the program that he was afraid of that man. In the interview with Johanna the reporter stated that the abuse was committed by an adult male. The program stated that the abuse continued until Anders was fourteen years and the ab user eighteen years of age. In Johanna’s interview she stated that the abuse continued until she was nine years and that the ab user was six years older than herself. By not clearly stating that the ab user s in these instances were not adults the Board of Examination finds that the program in this respect was violating the demand of objectivity.
In one part of the program the mother of one of the thirteen year old boys stated that the ab user s wife had been disfellowshipped from the congregation when she filed for divorce after finding out about the abuse. The program stated that one of the elders in a recorded interview confirmed that statement. With that background information the Board of Examination could not find that the program in this part is violating the demand of objectivity.
Concerning all the other accusation that have been made by the complainants (here they refer to the JW) the Board of Examination does not find support that the demand on objectivity has been violated.
Respect for privacy
Concerning the respect for an individual’s privacy the Board of Examination considered the case with two elders which names were mentioned and agreed to review the material regarding the regulation about respect for privacy. In the program it was mentioned that they knew that child abuse had taken place in the congregation and that they did report this to the police or social authorities.
The board is of the opinion that this information was of the nature that it was not an encroachment of their privacy as this should been considered as a matter of public interest. The board does not find that the program is violating the regulation about the respect of privacy.
Concerning all other accusations that have been made by the complainants the Board of Examination does not find any violations of the respect of privacy.
The Board of Examination considers the information that was offered by the program when it did not clearly state the ab user was underage also was misleading with regard to the background of the age of the molester. The Board finds that the program in this respect is contrary to the demand of objectivity.
For the remaining several pages of accusations filed by the Swedish branch of Jehovah’s Witnesses the Board of Examination does not find support that the program was contrary to the demand of objectivity, finds that the program did not violate the obligation of being unbiased nor did the program violate the regulation of the respect for privacy.