Success In Nashville !
The press conference in Nashville was a complete success! We were happy that seven abuse survivors and supporters were able to be present for the event. Four were Jehovah's Witnesses in good standing that had suffered abuse as children. We were able to distribute lambs to several local Kingdom Halls in the area as well as put flyers out in local neighborhoods around each inviting the public to attend the upcoming conference March 27-28 at the Sheraton Music City. We were able to put in about an eight hour day and some were concerned where to report their field service time.
We were happy to get support from local television media that stated they would be happy to help do stories for the upcoming conference.
The following is the local news story that ran in the Nashville newspaper today. Please email the editor and reporter and let them know how much we appreciate their coverage as well as you might include what you think about Watchtower PR's comments. You can email them at the following links,
Submit a letter to the editor or firstname.lastname@example.org
You can view pictures of the day in Nashville here,
Thanks to all that supported the conference it was a very positive and happy meeting, we look forward to seeing many supporters and abuse survivors at the silentlambs Summit in March!
Silentlambs conference to confront child abuse
By BRIAN LEWIS
Group says Jehovah's Witness policies limit complaints
A support group for Jehovah's Witnesses who say they are victims of sexual abuse put a white stuffed toy lamb on the steps of a Kingdom Hall in west Nashville yesterday to call attention to its cause. It also announced plans for a conference next month to draw more attention to the problem of sexual abuse.
The group, Silentlambs, says it is the only support group for sexually abused Jehovah's Witnesses. Their conference, which will be March 27-28 at the Sheraton Music City Hotel, is open to the public, said Bill Bowen, a former Jehovah's Witness elder and national director of the organization. The issues are similar to those experienced by other people, he said.
The majority of abuse is of girls by older relatives or church members, the group says. Bowen said that since Silentlambs was started three years ago, more than 6,000 survivors have come forward.
Additionally, he said, Jehovah's Witness policies make it difficult for children to come forward if they are victims of abuse.
First, he said, elders must investigate any allegation of abuse, even though these church officials are not trained in such matters.
Second, children have to present two eyewitnesses before their testimony can be believed in church, said Bowen, who is from Calvert City , Ky.
Bowen said that the stuffed lamb placed on the steps of a Kingdom Hall yesterday was the 1,000th that the organization has placed on the steps of a Jehovah's Witness building. The first was done in September 2002 by Barbara Anderson of Manchester .
''This effectively silences a child,'' he said. Also, children and their parents are not allowed to warn other people about abusers, he said.
In a written statement from the Jehovah's Witness headquarters, the church said it condemns child abuse and does not tolerate such actions.
It continued: ''If the elders learn of an accusation of child molestation, they do all that they reasonably can to protect the safety of the victim and other children, including complying with laws that mandate ministers to report to the proper authorities. This is even done when a child is the only one to allege the abuse.
''The victim and the victim's family also have the absolute right to report the matter to the authorities. Therefore, parents and others who are aware of the abuse are not hindered by the elders from reporting the situation to the authorities.''
For more information on the silentlambs conference, log on to www.silentlambs.org/silentlambssummit.htm .