“Pandora’s Box” is a simple Greek myth which explained how bad things came to be. In one version, when Pandora opened what appeared to her to be a valuable box, she let out all the evils including hope. Is hope evil? Well, the Greeks considered hope evil, even dangerous, and its bedfellow was thought to be delusion.
In the jargon of today, opening Pandora’s Box means to unwittingly unleash chaos on yourself and those around you.
It was with these thoughts that I began one of the lectures that I gave three times in Europe during the summer of 2009.
On Thursday, June 1st, Joe and I left the U.S. to fly to Geneva, Switzerland, to begin a month long journey visiting five European countries and Scotland, in what could be called, a working vacation. We were picked up at the airport by two wonderful XJWs, Roberto and Rosalba di Stefano who lived in the area and spoke English, French and Italian fluently. Also, Roberto spoke Spanish. The di Stefanos traveled with us during the entire visit.
Originally, the only lecture I planned was to speak on July 3rd at the annual conference of the International Cultic Studies Association (ICSA), held at the University of Geneva. My topic was about the hidden problem of pedophilia in JW’s organization.
ICSA picked the University of Geneva to hold their conference because the University was celebrating its 450th anniversary of the founding of the school by John Calvin, one of the most important leaders of the Protestant Reformation in the 16th century. Originally it was a theological university. Now, however, it is a secular one.
What better place to convene a conference focusing on a serious problem—How to combat the effects of harmful sects or cults who manipulate the minds of individuals, endeavoring to have absolute control over them.
Of course, we were extremely interested in the subject, but our interests were in Calvin too, and in the old city of Geneva where Calvin and his doctrine held sway. His doctrines and writings, and those of his followers, became known as Calvinism, which became the hallmark of churches generally known as Presbyterian. There was much in C. T. Russell’s ideas that originated in Calvinist doctrine since he was brought up Presbyterian. For instance, Post-Calvin or “Calvinism,” of which Russell was greatly influenced, taught the proposition that Christ died only for the “elect,” something many JWs do not realize is still taught by their own organization, a doctrine Russell introduced in 1909, which dramatically reduced the number of his followers when they disagreed with him and left the group, one of which was his own sister, Margaret.
After touring Geneva, and the area, we left for Rome where the vacation ended and the work began. Roberto, our host, had made arrangements with people in Italy and France for me to meet, so before the trip was over, I spoke at five conferences, was interviewed four times by press representatives and had three meetings with government officials; also had one radio and one TV interview where I expressed my conviction that there are policies and beliefs of Jehovah’s Witnesses’ organization that are dangerous to the well-being of its members; Moreover, I pointed out that associating with JWs can even cause harm to people not part of the group.
It is hoped that publicizing the damage the Watch Tower causes to its members’ lives will cause Witness leaders to change their ways. If they don’t, it would not surprise me if the Watch Tower receives government sanctions.
Observing what has happened lately in Watchtower’s world, it appears WTS officials are expecting to soon receive some sort of government restrictions here in the United States and that’s why they are making deep changes in organizational structure and operation, such as down-sizing the number of workers needed for their publishing concern; moving all magazine printing for North America to the Canadian Branch; putting up for sale all their real estate in Brooklyn, and telling Bethelites to have a suitcase packed in their room ready for them to take when they have to flee headquarters. (I kid you not!)
For years, Watchtower convention lectures and articles in their literature have been preparing the Witnesses for some sort of religious persecution, but their use of the word “persecution” is only a smoke-screen. They know they are responsible for thousands of deaths each year, and also immeasurable misery because Witness beliefs do cause the breakup of families. This is triggering a backlash by ex-members around the globe that has attracted the notice of government officials. If intervention by governments into the religion of JWs takes place, it’s not persecution of the religion but it is because of their harmful interference into personal lives.
Before embarking on this trip, by request, I prepared two separate lectures, the title of one was, “Secrets of Pedophilia in Jehovah’s Witnesses Religion,” and the other one was, “Why It Is Dangerous to Associate with JWs.”
In the pedophilia lecture, the first talk I gave in Europe, which actually was in Rome in the Vatican itself, I used the Pandora’s Greek myth to illustrate how Watchtower leaders are now finding themselves in a difficult situation which I contend is entirely of their own making. They unwittingly unleashed chaos on themselves and on their members when, in the name of God, they put into place organizational policies that manipulated and regulated the minds of their followers leading to harmful situations, and, in the long run, harmed the religious movement itself.
In both lectures, I discussed one or many dangerous JW policies adopted decades ago that have evolved to be even more dangerous today such as WT pedophilia policies, blood transfusion policies, and the extreme, hard-line shunning policies.
Upon our arrival in Rome late in the afternoon on June 16th, we settled in at our hotel. On the 17th, refreshed and ready to go, we met up with a former JW and his wife who came from Naples to be with us and the six of us made our way to Vatican City. It was due to the involvement of this Naples man, who is a professor at the University of Naples, that GRIS, an acronym for the Italian Catholic anti-cult organization, made arrangements for me to speak at Vatican City. Standing at the Vatican gates were the Papal Swiss Guards in their striped suits with knee-length balloon pants and stockings. Roberto asked one of them to call a certain Vatican prelate. Soon, both prelate and the GRIS director came in their tiny cars to pick us up and take us to the prelate’s office. This priest, we soon learned, has a pope-appointed position to study cults and is only one of 12 men (the 12 apostles!), who can say the Mass in the Basilica. We had a cordial visit mostly discussing JWs, who are the second largest religion in Italy, and the breakup of Italian families when a Catholic converts to the Witness religion.
That evening, we were escorted to a Vatican Music Room where there were about 50 people, including a few XJWs, waiting to hear me speak about Watchtower’s problematical policies on child abuse. Among those attending were priests and nuns who gave rapt attention to what I said. I wonder now if the priests were interested in the subject because they knew that Italy is grappling with accusations of sex abuse by Catholic priests and there is a movement to root out abusive priests as per an AP article in USA Today on Sept. 13, 2009?
Opening this lecture with the Pandora’s Box myth, I pointed out that Watchtower unwittingly unleashed chaos upon themselves and others when they published positive articles dealing with “Healing the Wounds of Child Abuse” in their October 8, 1991 Awake!.
I asked how could such an optimistic, hopeful message printed 18 years ago unleash chaos on the publishers of that Awake! which continues to swirl around them even until now.
That question was answered with information most of you are quite familiar with—of how, due to that magazine article, child abuse victims of JW molesters began to reveal their stories of molestation thinking they would have help to cope, but then had to deal with emotional abuse by the Watchtower organization. Eventually, this led to exposure of Watchtower child sexual policies by critics on Dateline in 2002 and NBC Nightly News in 2007. I discussed the 2007 out-of-court settlement by Watchtower with 16 victims of child abuse by JW molesters, and the CD I released containing 5,000 pages of court documents named, Secrets of Pedophilia in an American Religion, Jehovah’s Witnesses in Crisis. I concluded with these words:
JWs leaders need to mandate elder bodies to uniformly report abuse to the authorities no matter what jurisdiction; prohibit elders from being involved in any investigative process to decide guilt or innocence in place of the authorities; do away with the two-witness rule to determine, as if they were magistrates, guilt or innocence of someone accused; prohibit so-called repentant molesters from engaging in the door-to-door ministry, and always inform the congregation if a convicted or confessed molester is meeting with them.
To improve their image, the directors of the Witness organization need to provide a safer environment for children; transparency into their directives; open their classified data-base of molesters to police, and stop disfellowshipping internal critics who are then shunned by the flock who assume the disfellowshipping took place because there was some secret sin involved. If they would just do the right thing, there then could be a spirit of good-will.
By not attending to the evils that were exposed through lawsuits, which were actually a result of Watchtower leaders opening their own Pandora’s Box by publishing that long ago Awake! magazine, and to continue to put the interests of cunning child molesters ahead of the most vulnerable of their flock by enforcing deplorable guidelines, there will continue to be consequences, not only monetary ones in more out-of-court settlements, but a spiraling downward in membership.
For those of you who want to read the entire 45 minute speech, which I gave twice in Italy and once in Switzerland, it is on this website as well as the other lecture I gave in Paris and in Northern Italy.
What a surprise the next day held for us, because after the lecture in the Music Room we were told that we were to come back and be given a private tour of the Basilica by the very kind Catholic prelate who sponsored our visit.
It was an extraordinary tour, something that few people experience in a lifetime and one which we will never forget. Our guide was well informed of the Witness theology and he asked us questions. We also asked him some questions, such as when we saw the special area where Peter was buried. Watchtower teaches that Peter was never in Rome, but Paul was. He spent about 20 minutes explaining that WT was wrong and why. Later in the day, we returned to the prelate’s office where I was interviewed by him. That interview translated into Italian was broadcast on Radio Maria, which six million Italians worldwide listen to, to help Catholics to better understand the dangers of belonging to the Witness cult.
The prelate, who was 82 years old, understood English and we enjoyed conversing with him. I told him how I was raised a Catholic but became a JW when I was 14. He wondered why? I said it was because I wanted to study the Bible. I told him that since Catholics in the U.S. now have Bible study groups, few convert to JWs. When we were ready to leave, he invited me to return to the Catholic Church, but I opted out!
On Friday, the 19th of June, the six of us set out to see all of the most important monuments and fountains by foot. It was very hot and I wished I could jump into a fountain, but no one was permitted to put even one bare foot into any fountain. I think we saw all the ancient Roman ruins, including the Coliseum. It was fascinating to see for ourselves things we only previously saw in books and on TV.
At the Unification of Italy Museum, we had an unforgettable experience. As we were leaving the beautiful building, we noticed that a group of gulls were flying over our heads or resting on parts of the building. Soon, a number of us felt liquid coming down from above but it wasn’t rain to cool us off, but bird droppings.
On the 20th of June, after breakfast we said goodbye to our new friends from Naples and we headed for the subway which would take us to the airport to fly to Paris where we were to meet with French government officials who were involved in protecting French citizens from harmful cults.
On the 21st, the four of us toured all the famous sites to see in Paris, the Louvre (Mona Lisa), Arch of Triumph, Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame Cathedral, etc. On the 22nd, Charlene, an outspoken anti-cult UNADFI representative, along with her husband and a UNADFI French translator arrived at the hotel. They took us to the headquarters of the organization and we met Catherine, president of UNADFI. Then we and the staff of ADFI sat around a huge table to talk about harmful cults, and JWs were the prime subject. After the discussion ended, a large lunch was served. Later, in French, UNADFI posted on their website a letter written by the organization explaining my past with the WT organization and the following information, in French, of course. Here’s is a rough English translation:
Barbara Anderson met in Paris – the 22nd of June in the morning, at the headquarters of the UNADFI, Mme Catherine Picard its president, surrounded by members and employees of her association. The 22nd of June in the afternoon, initiated by the ADFI Paris Ile de France, many ex-Jehovah’s Witnesses at the home office of the ADFI Association of the 18th subdivision. Ms Anderson held a conference that attracted a great deal of attention, followed by a debate on the topic: “Why is it dangerous to become a Jehovah’s Witness?”, followed by interviews. On June 23, in the afternoon, she met in the National Assembly rooms, with a member of Parliament representing the parliament group of studies on cult. On the 24th in the morning, she met in the offices of the MIVILUDES, with the general secretary of that interdepartmental commission who reports to the Prime Minister.
This last meeting was so high-level that I was astounded. I’ve been told that because of my visit, the gap has been bridged between the US and France in this matter of proving JWs a dangerous cult.
Anyway, the French government agency is called MIVILUDES and is unique in Western countries. Its job it is to track and counter those religious and other groups it considers as being sects. MIVILUDES is an acronym of a French phrase meaning, ‘Interministerial Mission for Monitoring and Combating Cultic Deviancy.’ A sect is defined in France as being any religious organization which can be characterized as employing any of the following methods:
Mental destabilization, exorbitant financial demands, a rupture with members’ original environment, power in the hands of one person, the invasion of a person’s physical integrity, the recruitment of children, antisocial preaching and troubling public order, activities which lead it to be tried in a court of law, using parallel economic structures, attempts to infiltrate the workplace, schools, and public powers. There are around fifty religions or groups which are being tracked, the most commonly known of which are: Jehovah’s Witnesses, Scientology, Mormons, The Universal Church, Raelians and The Unification Church (Moon.)
Criticism of MIVILUDES is fierce, and since the organization began extending its activities to organizations outside of France it has also been attacked by foreign government agencies such as the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, which has in the past been highly skeptical about the motives of MIVILUDES.
In June, the French Government pressed criminal charges against Scientology for fraud. The court hearing is over and the decision will be handed down in early fall. If found guilty, Scientology will be banned, along with suspended prison sentences for highest officials, and a huge fine.
Oh, by the way, the Watchtower still owes the French government 20 million dollars in fines and back taxes, but now, due to interest, it’s 50 million dollars. Watchtower appealed this case to the highest French court but lost. Watchtower then appealed the decision to the Strasbourg European Court of Human Rights.
In Paris, the lecture I delivered to about 50 people, some XJWs, and others from the government and anti-cult people on Monday, June 22nd, was titled, “Why It Is Dangerous To Associate With Jehovah’s Witnesses.”
But before I continue on about the lecture, let me tell you about the personal experience of Charlene, the anti-cult representative who we spent quite a bit of time with. Eighteen years ago, one of her daughters dated a JW in high school and married him after she converted. The father of the groom was an elder. The bride’s parents were, simply put, shocked when they were not invited to the wedding, and in all these many years, Charlene and her engineer husband have seen their daughter less than twenty times and usually secretly. JWs destroyed that loving family relationship. This is just one example of how this religion is affecting families all over Europe. Charlene became an activist against cults because of her own family experience.
Here are some highlights of my talk “Why It Is Dangerous To Associate With Jehovah’s Witnesses” which I gave in Paris, plus some other information:
There are many good things to say about Jehovah’s Witnesses. If it was primarily a negative experience, then I would not have remained a Witness for as long as I did.
Joining this religion more often than not means severing all family association of those not JWs.
JWs do not have freedom of speech. If Witnesses ask probing and critical questions, they are disfellowshipped and shunned. Consequently, this breaks up families if family members are JWs. Tens of thousands of people want out of this group, but can’t get out because they don’t want to lose their families. They do what they are told because of the fear of shunning. It’s an organization based on fear. Fear in an uncertain world attracts people to the religion; Fear of dying at
Armageddon is what keeps most members in; fear of losing family and friends through shunning keeps them from getting out.
The ban on blood transfusions is another harmful doctrine of JWs, one that causes thousands of members to die each year.
If I were to randomly ask people on the street, “What do you know about JWs?” the reply would unfailingly be, “They don’t take blood transfusions.”
Thousands of Witnesses die each year when there is need for whole blood or some major blood components that JWs don’t approve of. Witnesses are being misled into a false sense of security. In case of massive bleeding, by not accepting blood, Witnesses can and do die, and, conversely, by accepting certain blood clotting products, Witnesses can and do die. For instance, there’s a clotting fraction which Witnesses are now allowed to receive in cases of massive bleeding. However, studies are showing that this clotting product, when given to healthy people, can and is causing heart attacks and strokes.
Witnesses also assume they can’t get HIV if they take fractions. Fractions are blood and if a transfusion can transmit HIV, so can blood components which most often are made from many donations of blood that have been pooled and more difficult to test; however, the risk of contracting HIV from a blood transfusion is extremely low nowadays, something JWs are not informed of.
The Witness organization has flip-flopped on its blood ban over the years. They also have misrepresented many points. Most Witnesses don’t know that from 1934 to 1945, the organization allowed blood transfusions. Anne Wiseman, a Gilead Graduate, now an ex-Witness, told me that in 1934, when blood transfusions were permitted, as an infant with severe anemia she had three transfusions. In 1945, the procedure was banned. In 1961 followers were told they would be excommunicated for taking a blood transfusion.
Hemophiliac treatments went through a similar flip-flop in the 1970s.
By reading the Witnesses’ old literature, published by the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, it is obvious that the only constant in the blood policy is change. Many died following a blood policy that later changed. And the blood ban is still changing. Taking blood in the veins is in no way comparable to eating or drinking blood and simply put, it is drinking or eating animal blood that the Old Testament prohibited. If you were starving to death and put blood in your veins, you would still starve to death. It just doesn’t make sense to die for being obedient to a law that is not applicable to receiving a blood transfusion.
Witnesses are thoroughly misinformed about their religion’s blood policy. Adults should have the right to make a decision regarding medical care, but not based on misrepresentation and coercion, but by making an informed choice.
Coercion by the HLC and JW visitors is not unheard of and used to influence JWs not to take blood and JWs are encouraged to report on other JWs who break a medical doctrine such as the ban on blood? If a Witness accepts a blood transfusion, the policy of JWs now is not to directly disfellowship by announcement at the Kingdom Hall but the WT says that someone that takes blood and doesn’t repent ASAP indicates by his own actions that he no longer wishes to be one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. The congregation no longer initiates the action to revoke membership in such cases. The word disfellowship is not used, but the results are the same: You will be shunned by all those you love who are Witnesses because this group will disfellowship anyone who questions the teachings of the organization.
In addition, not worshipping the Witness way, or joining another church will lead to shunning. Then the label “apostate” becomes attached to the former Witnesses reputation.
I examined whether JWs met the criteria of being a cult; discussed vaccinations; organ transplants, and higher education. I elaborated on how unhappy young JWs are cleaning windows or offices, etc., who never fulfill their dreams or use their talents, but are just waiting, and waiting for a world to end that just doesn’t. Later, I found out there was a government official from the French department of education in the audience who was deeply disturbed at JWs viewpoint of education.
I concluded this lecture saying,
If you choose to associate with JWs by becoming one of them, despite the dangers that you heard here tonight, understand when you do, you will give up your freedom of speech, freedom of choice, your family and friends, the community you belong to and perhaps even your life.
The next stop was Spain
For three days we vacationed and toured lovely Barcelona and Catalonia by the sea. Then it was back to Geneva to do laundry and rest a bit. Then we were off to Edinburgh, Scotland, where we stayed with an active JW dissident and his family. Wonderful people! We also broke bread with some very interesting XJWs at a restaurant. If it had been earlier in the year, we could have met with Scottish parliamentary members, but Parliament had dismissed for summer so the talk on pedophilia in printed form was submitted to certain officials to ponder over.
We flew back to Geneva where the next day I gave the “Secrets of Pedophilia…” lecture at the ICSA Conference at the University of Geneva. I was told there were about two-hundred people who attended all the lectures. Of that amount, ninety were speakers, which seemed to me to be too many speakers and not enough listeners. Many talks were scheduled at the same time as others so it was difficult for people to attend many of the lectures they were interested in. There were probably about twenty in the audience for my talk which took place in one of the classrooms, but I met some people working in the anti-cult movement who I was so pleased to finally meet them. So, all in all, it was a most profitable morning.
Speakers came from all over the world to this conference. Most were psychologists who represented universities or their governments. Here are some of the titles of excellent lectures that I wished I could have attended:
Public Policy and Cults in Europe; Reconstructing Lives after the Cult: How the Internet Has Helped; Restoring the Lost Self: Finding Answers to Healing from Traumatic Socialization and Mind Control in Twenty-first Century Neurocognitive Research; Risk of Children’s Rights Violations by Cultic Recruitment; Social-Psychological Pre-conditions of Cult Dependence in Ukraine; The Psychological Consequences of Being Raised in and Leaving High Demand Groups; Analysis of European Organizations Focusing on the Cult Problem; Analysis of Violations of Rights and Freedoms of the Citizens by Destructive Cults in Ukraine; Appeal to the Mind and the Heart: Cognitive and Emotional Mechanisms of Influence in Coercive Groups; Born into and Leaving – But Where to and What Now?
There were many more lectures, and we wished we could have stayed to learn from these experts, but were happy to know there is so much concern over this issue throughout the world.
Among the ninety speakers, there was another former JW and former Bethelite beside myself who spoke at the conference. The name of his talk was, “The Impact of Religious Shunning: An Exploratory Analysis of the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ Shunning Policy.” Note this thoughtful blurb advertising his lecture:
“Analysis was conducted and it was found that the shunning policy has actually created a new ‘class’ of member, the ‘fader.’ Because members do not want to be shunned, they remain JWs via the Internet but secretly believe otherwise. These faders share information among themselves and with ex-JWs, and cause much more havoc than they would if they had been disfellowshipped and shunned. So while it appears that shunning might encourage some people to remain JWs, shunning also puts the JW organization at risk because faders lead double lives and supply valuable information to JW opposers via the Internet. This is one unintended consequence of shunning that this study reveals.”
On The Road Again
Immediately after the Geneva talk, we started our drive of seven hours to two beautiful ancient Italian cities, Rimini and Cervia in Northern Italy on the seacoast. Both cities were filled with vacationers. This is where I gave two talks arranged by GRIS, one on Saturday and the other on Sunday, both starting at 9 P.M. in the evening. These two GRIS conferences were extensions to the National Convention of GRIS, the Catholic anti-cult association, which takes place once a year in Cervia. The organization is run by a Catholic priest who once studied with JWs before he became a priest, to the point of publisher but then abandoned the movement. This priest was an engineer and very dynamic and active. We enjoyed visiting his church which dated from the 12th century and added on to in the 15th century. He spoke no English; but was handsome and charming.
The French and Italian Alps were magnificent and what a treat it was for us to see the sights. We crossed the highest mountain in Europe, Mt. Blanc, through an 8-mile tunnel. Five years ago, there was a horrible accident in the tunnel and I think over 36 people died in the fire. It took three years to reopen the tunnel at a huge cost. Now, cars cannot follow closely. Everything is highly regulated including speed and distance between cars. They have put in special lights at certain points about ¼ of a mile between each other and only one car is permitted between those lights. Also, there are places of safety to go to in case of fire and these “people exits” plus turn-arounds are about a half a mile between each other or maybe less. There are cameras everywhere.
About two hours into the trip from Geneva, we arrived in Aosta, a small city in a beautiful valley in the Alps where de Stefano’s had a little chalet where we spent the night. The next morning we left early as we had another five hours to travel to get to Rimini.
We stopped in Parma which is the home of Parmesan cheese and had lunch. It was thrilling to tour another ancient Roman City and eat their wonderful food. Guess what we ate? You guessed correctly, something with Parmesan cheese in it!
We were impressed by the amount and quality of advertisement for the two lectures done by GRIS. I was given a copy of the sign and tract that was used to advertise the talks in the cities. Also, we were amazed at the amount of people that showed up to hear the talk in Rimini about the dangers of associating with JWs. I don’t know how many people left when they saw they couldn’t get into the large Church conference room because it was filled to capacity, but I was told that there were at least 175 people who heard the talk.
Oh, by the way, there was a young JW man who came to the Rimini lecture who told Rosy, the wife of Roberto, our translator, that he recently read “The Discoveries of Barbara Anderson” on an Italian website, and, he, along with nine others in his congregation, were disfellowshipped the week before for reading and discussing the information. This was so gratifying to me because of all the time spent to reveal the truth about the Watchtower although I know how difficult their life will be for a time because of the shunning policy.
One man who came to the Rimini lecture was a teacher. After the conclusion when the audience asked questions, he told the group that over the years he has had many Witness pupils who kept themselves remote from the class and could not be reasoned with in discussions. He saw the advertisements for the talk and came so he could find out more about the Witnesses. He thanked and thanked me for my efforts to inform the public about the harmful effects of being a Witness. Inasmuch as there was so much interest in the subject, the audience didn’t want to leave the church so the lights were blinked and blinked to encourage people to go home.
Before the talk in Rimini, I had an interview with a newspaper reporter. After the talk, I was interviewed by a TV reporter. Both asked me theological questions about the 144,000. I gently pointed out that I didn’t come to Italy to discuss theological differences between the Witnesses and other religions, but I hoped to help people avoid the pitfalls of being in a religion like JWs by understanding the negative impact belonging to this religion could cause them.
There were about 80 who came to the Cervia Catholic Church to hear the talk on pedophilia. Quite a mix of people made up the audiences such as priests, attorneys, Italian governmental anti-cult representatives, and teachers who saw the advertisements.
One lady came up to me before the Cervia talk and sadly said she was being disfellowshipped that week for apostasy. We hugged, and when I told her, “Now you are free” she gave me a big smile and said “Yes” in Italian and said the Italian word for “Liberty.” I don’t think she thought of this before and it was as if a weight was taken off of her back when she realized what I was trying to say. After the talk she came once again to talk to me and this time she was smiling from ear to ear and gave me a huge long-lasting hug. I was so happy that I could be of some help at that difficult time for her. [Update: Six years later, I received a personal message through my Facebook page from this woman. She said the best thing she ever did was to exit the religion, and, I was right, it was wonderful to be free!]
I was told there was a Catholic bishop at the Cervia talk. The priest who actually presided over that particular church spoke English, and my talk was about pedophilia, which, I bet was a controversial subject in his mind although he didn’t say anything negative about it. Anyway, the other talk, “Why JWs Are Dangerous to Associate With,” went over well in Rimini, and I noticed there were a number of prelates there. One of them, an older man, a bishop, was very expressive in his appreciation for the talk and spoke for some time at the end of the lecture, thanking us for coming. He asked further questions about the Watchtower organization.
By the way, GRIS put the talks on YouTube in ten-minute segments. [Video no longer available.]
Personally, I think it takes lots of concentration and time to listen to a lecture that is being translated every few sentences. However, the TV broadcast of my interview is a hoot to watch! Broadcast in Italian, the news reporter’s report of my visit to the area comes across so dramatic that one would have thought I was talking about some world-shaking event.
From ICARO TV
Interestingly, the lady at the hotel desk in Rimini gave us a huge newspaper article about our visit. It was at least a half of the page with photo. That was a surprise.
At one point, when we were traveling to Rimini from Geneva, I talked over the phone to a reporter who spoke English and his article in Italian (translated into English) as follows was the outcome of that interview. [ www.newsrimini.it ]
Barbara Anderson in Romagna (Italy). Accusations against Jehovah’s Witnesses
Her words spread from the American TV and radio networks have shaken millions of Americans. Her revelations, direct and circumstantiated, have rendered her – with all probability – the number one enemy of Jehovah’s Witnesses, accused of having covered during a long length of time cases of sexual abuses on minors.
Romagna County, July 3rd 2009 | Now – after over 40 years of association with them, to the point of being in charge to research the official history of the religious movement – Barbara Anderson travels around the world inviting young people and families to stay away from Jehovah’s Witnesses and their “dangers”.
This week-end after her today’s conference at the University of Geneva for the annual conference of the International Cult Studies Association – she will stop by in Romagna where she will participate to several events organized by the Gris. Tomorrow evening in Cervia she will speak about “Hidden Paedophilia among Jehovah’s Witnesses”, Sunday evening in Rimini, where she will give a lecture on ‘Why it is risky to associate with Jehovah’s Witnesses”. We have reached her by telephone upon her arrival in Italy.
“I started associating with Jehovah’s Witnesses, ” who she will abandon in 1997, “when I was a young person – she explains -. I was 14 years old in 1954 and it was a time of great uncertainties. It was the time of the atomic bomb; people were worried about the future. I was a catholic girl and had many questions on life and on the Bible. The Catholic Church – she adds – spoke about God as a mystery, did not answer the questions of a young girl. Jehovah’s Witnesses seemed to know the answers, finding them directly from the pages of the Bible. My mother, a Catholic of Polish origins, did not pay much attention to my interests – she emphasizes – we did not have any theological bases, we did not know well the foundations of our own religion: It has been a matter of ignorance, I would say”.
From the moment she joined Jehovah’s Witnesses in 1954, Barbara Anderson begun a kind of climb up that ladder up to the prestigious Watch Tower Writing Department of Brooklyn and to the assignment to research the official history of the religious movement, using the documents of their library.
Soon, a task opens widely what she defines the “secrets” of Jehovah’s Witnesses. “Working in such a field, inside of the Watch Tower – she continues – I have had the opportunity to discover many things, also negative things, one of them being cases of paedophilia.
Cases – she emphasizes – covered up by the organization itself. Also because – she specifies – there is a rule within the Jehovah’s Witnesses, called biblical, based on which a person cannot be accused if the accusation is not supported by at least two witnesses. In fact many secrets were known only by the elders who did not let them leak out to outsiders: in other words, dirty laundry must be washed home”.
For this reason, Mrs Anderson has progressively taken her distance from the cult, to the point of speaking out on US televisions and radio networks. Of particular interest is her participation in the “Dateline” program, an important NBC program, one of the most popular and watched in the whole country.
She points out that ‘paedophilia’ is not a sin, but a crime. Elders should have reported the cases to the authorities, instead of hiding the problem inside the organization. I can mention the case of a man who abused children during twenty years, moving from one congregation to another. Now, he is a fugitive and one of the most wanted man by the FBI”.
She argues that, various cases have ended in “Court”, where the veil has been removed from many cases but many have accepted an extra judicial agreement. Some of them settled with a very conspicuous economic agreement.
Barbara Anderson, with her husband Joe, are “dissidents”, since they left the Jehovah’s Witnesses some years ago. As a result of their position, their son – defined by Barbara Anderson as “radical” – has stopped all relationship with his parents, preventing from seeing their grandchild. “Our grandson – she added – grows in a sort of isolation”
In conclusion: Religious organizations are supposed to exist for the good of people. There’s a tremendous lack of love and also corruption in the Witness religion. Just listen to this experience recently received:
A member of the “anointed” class used the Bible to trick me, a newly baptized sheep, into sexual immorality. At the time I was so distraught I was desperate for support and leaned on a brother who then raped me and lied to the elders; he said it was consensual. I was disfellowshipped while he was reproved. No elders helped or supported me emotionally during these circumstances although I was borderline suicidal and had no comforter other than my God Jehovah. Aside from waiting on Divine justice I feel powerless.
As religious guides, the Governing Body (GB) of Jehovah’s Witnesses need to reform their one-dimensional way of dealing with child sexual abuse; dissenters’ voices; hard-line shunning; the breaking up of families inside and outside of the religion over beliefs; the mockery of their blood transfusion ban; disapproval of higher education, even if their policies are religiously motivated. They need to act more like shepherds of the flock, not policemen.
When the GB approved of policies that they say are religiously motivated, no matter what their motivation, they opened a Pandora’s Box and unwittingly unleashed chaos upon their religious organization. They hoped what they were doing would please God but it was all a delusion. Now there is a crisis in membership because of violations of human rights by harsh and harmful rules. Many European state authorities are concerned with JWs causing polarization of families; Italian Catholic authorities are also concerned with this same situation when a member becomes a JW in a country where family life is precious to the population.
Already, 63% of those who say they were raised as JWs have left the group joining tens of thousands of disappointed members around the world who have observed the pursuit of power and control on the part of their GB, the self-proclaimed “Faithful Slave” rather than the pursuit of good for all of the flock.
It appears that many good people in this world, who are not former Witnesses, are not going to allow the creators of JWs’ mind manipulation to get away with what they are doing to the unsuspecting. The internal chaos unwittingly caused by past and present Witness leadership is becoming more and more evident by their constantly calling wolf saying, “The end is eminent; the end is eminent,” but no end has come and lives have been wasted waiting. The only other message they have is “We have the truth” and “Apostates lie.” All of us know that “silence gives consent” and that’s why we’re here speaking up, raising the alarm that JWs are indeed dangerous to associate with.