As an advocate for child protection, Barbara aids lawyers who are suing the Watchtower in cases involving child sexual abuse. She is also available to media and investigative journalists as an expert on the Watchtower’s policies and cover-ups of child sexual abuse by Jehovah’s Witnesses molesters.
Fading Jehovah’s Witness
January 1993 – June 1999 (6 years 6 months) Tennessee
Even after leaving the Watchtower’s Bethel Headquarters in 1992 to help take care of her parents, Barbara continued doing research for the Writing Department from her home in Tennessee. Among other things, she studied child sexual abuse problems in other religions and amongst society at large. She felt that she could help to change the Watchtower’s child sexual abuse policies to protect children more. It was learning about child molestation in her area congregations and how Watchtower policies flip-flopped that removed all doubt from Barbara’s mind. Overcoming the Watchtower’s mental manipulation and coercion has been the most difficult challenge Barbara has had to overcome to promote child protection.
After fading for about a year she left the organization in 1998. She knew for certain that her family and friends would strictly shun her in accordance with the Watchtower’s shunning doctrine because she would be considered a threat to the religion. In 1998 she was able to overcome the Watchtower’s indoctrination against higher education by going to a local community college. Going to college was how she discovered what life was really like outside of the Watchtower and what she read in its propaganda literature.
As a Jehovah’s Witness at the Watchtower Bible & Tract Society
June 1982 – December 1992 (10 years 7 months) Watchtower Bethel Headquarters, Brooklyn, NY
She worked at the Watchtower’s headquarters in Brooklyn, NY from 1982 to 1992. From 1983 to 1989 she was assigned to the Construction Engineering Department’s staff as part of the secretarial pool and later advanced to researching zoning issues. Because of her demonstrated research accomplishments, she was transferred to the Watchtower’s Writing Department in 1989.
From 1989 to 1992 she researched the Watchtower’s official history as well as wrote a number of articles for its Awake! publication. While working for the Writing Department she discovered numerous documents that were not included in the Watchtower’s history book, Jehovah’s Witnesses—Proclaimers of God’s Kingdom because the Watchtower’s image could be tarnished. It was not in her nature to admit to nagging suspicions after seeing some of those documents. It was easier to believe in the Watchtower and make excuses for its leaders as being “imperfect men.” It took Barbara a while to overcome the Watchtower’s mind manipulation.
It was in 1984, while she was working in Watchtower headquarters Construction Engineering Department, that she first heard about a Witness sexually abusing children. By 1992 she was more concerned about following the Watchtower’s problematic procedures concerning child sexual abuse than admitting the obvious. The Watchtower’s leaders were treating accusations of child sexual abuse as a sin (and protecting the Watchtower’s image), instead of as a crime. Law enforcement is funded and responsible for investigating crimes – the Watchtower and its elders are not.
- Researched a Watchtower approved project about child sexual abuse by Witnesses for the Watchtower’s Governing Body. Each Governing Body member received that research in early January 1993.
- Researched the Watchtower’s history for its official 750-page chronicle, Jehovah’s Witnesses—Proclaimers of God’s Kingdom, published in 1993.
- Wrote seven articles for the Watchtower’s Awake! Publication
Jehovah’s Witness (Early Years):
June 1954 – June 1982 (28 years 1 month) various locations
After being baptized as a Witness in 1954, Barbara’s life’s focus was to dedicate her life to Jehovah (translation – obey the Watchtower’s doctrines and its leaders without questioning why). She put aside her heart’s desire to study archeology, because of the Watchtower’s ban on higher education for Witnesses. Distributing Watchtower publications and prophesying door-to-door as a pioneer for up to 100 hours per month took priority over education. She obeyed the Watchtower doctrines to limit associations with non-Witnesses and chose to marry a Witness. Why would a fourteen-year-old teenager agree to allow her life to be so controlled? Not only was she idealistic but she was bored, inexperienced, naïve, and gullible. She desperately wanted to cure the world’s problems and to be respected but was too inexperienced to make any valuable contributions. Her attitude left her vulnerable.
She obeyed the Watchtower doctrines to limit associations with non-Witnesses and chose to marry a Witness. Why would a fourteen-year-old teenager agree to allow her life to be so controlled? Not only was she idealistic but she was bored, inexperienced, naïve, and gullible. She desperately wanted to cure the world’s problems and to be respected – but was too inexperienced to make any valuable contributions. Her attitude left her vulnerable to mind manipulation through methods of indoctrination skillfully crafted and honed over decades by the Watchtower.
Barbara’s experiences were fairly typical for a “spiritually strong” Witness. She did not question the Watchtower’s changing doctrines because they were “new light” which must be better than the old. During the mid-1960’s the Watchtower’s leaders promoted the idea that 1975 would see the “end of the present system of things.” She and Joe were worried that maybe they weren’t doing enough for Jehovah. So in 1968, Joe quit his job with Florida Power and Light Company to spend 100 hours per month in the house-to-house ministry work. Both Barbara and Joe worked part-time to support themselves. Although the Watchtower’s “Apocalypse” did not occur in 1975, Barbara and Joe were not disillusioned because they had too much of their lives invested in their religion.
Summary of Accomplishments
- Researched child sexual abuse committed by Jehovah’s Witnesses for the Watchtower’s Governing Body.
- Owner of www.watchtowerdocuments.org.
- Interviewed on major TV and radio programs about the Watchtower’s policies and litigation.
- In October 2018, Barbara and friends created a California non-profit lobbying corporation (501)(c)(4), they named “Stop Child abuse – Advocates for Reform and Safety (SCAARS.org)” which seeks to improve the laws pertaining to child abuse, mandatory reporting, the applicable statutes of limitations, as well as court outcomes in the judicial process. Culture change is a necessary step to the solution. SCAARS recognizes that “Changing Laws, Changing Lives” and “Culture Change” are long-term transformations and are building a team of attorneys and paralegals to work with staff members and legislative offices around the country to effect needed change.
As an Advocate
Since June 1999 to the present in Tennessee:
- In 1999, because of conversations with former-Witness friends about child abuse, Barbara and her friends became convinced that the Watchtower and its policies were culpable for covering up the crime of child sexual abuse by Witnesses. They decided that they must make the world aware of the Watchtower’s irresponsible and negligent behavior and to convince the Governing Body to change their policies. But how?
- In early 2001 Barbara flew to New York to be interviewed for NBC’s “Dateline” documentary about the Watchtower and how it handled child sexual abuse perpetrated by Witnesses. Broadcast of the program was planned for some time in November of 2001, but because of the terrorist attacks on September 11th in New York City, it was delayed until May 28, 2002.
- On May 19, 2002, the Watchtower disfellowshipped Barbara for causing divisions in the organization. Her son and his family and many of her Witness friends began to strictly shun her. It was a cunning move by the Watchtower to disfellowship her before the “Dateline” show aired because Witnesses view disfellowshipped persons as unrepentant sinners who lie about their former religion.
- Her husband, Joe, was subsequently disfellowshipped in July 2002 for (1) not having his wife under control; (2) causing divisions for defending her, and (3) for expressing his personal views about how the Watchtower handled child sexual abuse committed by Jehovah’s Witness molesters.
- Barbara interviewed on NBC’s “Dateline” which aired on May 28, 2002, regarding the Watchtower’s child sexual abuse problems. https://vimeo.com/160789542
- Barbara and Joe Anderson interviewed on WKRN-TV News 2, at 6 PM on September 5, 2002. Also appeared twice on WSMV–TV News 4, September 5, 2002, first at 5 PM and at 6 PM. https://youtu.be/seUMzyekbJI
- Radio interview on the Mark Furhman Show, Spokane, WA, October 17, 2005.
- Barbara was discussed in an article that appeared Nov. 21, 2007 on the MSNBC website in conjunction with the NBC Nightly News program that aired the next night: v=N9Xjw_sk7tA http://www.nbcnews.com/id/21917798/ns/nbc_nightly_news_with_brian_williams/t/new-evidence-jehovahs-witness-allegations/
- Appeared in an expose’ about secret out-of-court settlements by the Watchtower on NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams that aired November 21, 2007. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N9Xjw_sk7tA
- Interview on WSMV, Nashville, TN, Nov. 21, 2007 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JDzz8waKlnI – in conjunction with the NBC Nightly News program that I appeared in that same evening.
- Assisted attorneys in lawsuits and the media to better understand the Watchtower’s policies and Witness mindsets. http://watchtowerdocuments.org/zalkin-court-case-documents/ ; http://watchtowerdocuments.org/candace-conti-court-documents/ and http://watchtowerdocuments.org/free-downloadable-files/secrets-of-pedophilia-in-an-american-religion/
- Produced the “Secrets” CD describing the secret out-of-court settlements by the Watchtower. http://watchtowerdocuments.org/free-downloadable-files/
- A European tour of five countries in 2009 speaking at the Vatican and two major Catholic churches about JWs and child abuse. Also spoke at the University of Geneva and gave two lectures in Paris sponsored by a French Governmental agency, MILIVUDES. In connection with this organization, Barbara had a private interview with an undersecretary of the then French president regarding JWs and their cover-up of child abuse. http://watchtowerdocuments.org/opening-pandoras-box-speech/; http://www.testimoni-di-geova.info/spip.php?article19; http://ilmondocristiano.myblog.it/2010/04/17/barbara-anderson-atto-d-accusa-contro-i-testimoni-di-geova/
- “Growing Up With Jehovah,” a Swiss TV documentary that aired in French starting in November 2010 with the Andersons discussing child abuse (copyright video in the French language available on site) Since 2010, the documentary has aired in many French-speaking countries. http://www.rts.ch/emissions/temps-present/2482487-grandir-avec-jehovah.html
- Cult Free Radio – Mad Sweeney interviewing Barbara Anderson, broadcast October 15, 2011, Part one – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9NYd9U3KfrU; Part two – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oMmlqbwEkVM&t=70s
- Radio interview, November 11, 2014, on the Chuck Morse Show-Boston, MA https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-800BSEqvL0
- Appeared on an Investigation Discovery program, August 3, 2015, in the Robert and Janet Bryant story. The following link is for a short ID program about the damage of shunning taken from Barbara’s interview with an ID producer.
- Appeared in Quebec, Canada, in a French documentary that aired on CBC, December 1, 2016: “The Kingdom’s Dirty Secrets” – Documentary in ENGLISH on Barbara’s website with her personal introduction:http://watchtowerdocuments.org/canadian-documentary-exposes-watchtowers-dirty-secrets/#more-8404 or on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_AJPHGMt9JI
- Information about Barbara appeared in a front-page headline article, SILENT WITNESSES of the newspaper, Philadelphia Inquirer, April 29 2018.
- Information about Barbara appeared in the May 25, 2018, Philadelphia Inquirer article, Jehovah’s Witness abuse suspect arrested.
- Appeared May 29, 2018, on TV in A&E’s second program of the series, Cults and Extreme Beliefs. https://www.aetv.com/shows/cults-and-extreme-belief/season-1/episode-2
- Spoke at Representative Mark Rozzi’s press conference on June 12, 2018, at the Capital Building in Harrisburg, PA. Representative Rozzi held a press conference offering solutions to the societal problems of child abuse by changing laws that will offer better protection for children and help adult victims overcome the damage done. Rozzi, a child abuse victim of a Catholic priest, invited former Jehovah’s Witness, Barbara Anderson, to speak (starting at 21:42 minutes) concerning the hidden problem of child sexual abuse within the JW’s religion. https://www.facebook.com/RepRozzi/videos/1071003006388903/
- Barbara’s July 11, 2018 interview by Reporter, Beccah Hendrickson, shown on Channel 8, WGAL, Harrisburg, PA. http://www.wgal.com/article/jehovah-s-witnesses/20897421
- Article: Missoulian Newspaper, September 30, 2018, https://missoulian.com/news/state-and-regional/montana-jehovah-s-witness-sex-abuse-case-underscores-church-s/article_fddc41e5-536b-5843-af30-200cc14892d8.html
- TV Documentary aired in Puerto Rico on October 24, 2018, https://youtu.be/faqaZBzZd4M. The Puerto Rico Telemundo Channel featured a 23-minute segment on JW child sex abuse, with a focus on policy, told in interviews. Barbara Anderson’s work was discussed.
Other Media Links
- Child sex-abuse activist Anderson interviewed on a national TV show on church allegations – Tullahoma News and Guardian
- UNADFI – French anti-cult organization covers Barbara’s 2009 European Tour
- Woman Says Church Covering Up Sexual Abuse – WSMV Nashville
- New Evidence in Jehovah’s Witnesses Allegations – MSNBC
- Jehovah’s Witnesses Settle Abuse Cases – Associated Press (2007)
Read Barbara’s Research
Recent Research from Barbara
Barbara Anderson is an unstoppable advocate for child protection and outspoken critic of the Watchtower Bible & Tract Society’s doctrines that “unduly influence” Jehovah’s Witnesses and protects sexual predators. She is an expert on the Watchtower’s history. Major TV and radio programs have interviewed Barbara because of her extensive research on child sexual abuse.
Hello Barbara – I hope this message finds you doing well. I was not raised JW, but joined after college. I’m sure you can guess all of the reasons. Looking for answers to life’s questions; wanting an end to suffering etc. I also knew on some level that I am gay on some level when I began studying. I believed that it was my “cross to bear.” 18 years later, at the age of 40, I realized the level of my self-hatred and decided that I could not live a lie any longer. That was in 2010 when I dissociated. I have done a 180 many times over and rediscovered myself. I entered graduate school in 2010 and earned my Master’s in Social Work. I wrote my thesis on “Gay and Lesbian Jehovah’s Witnesses and Issues Related to Loss.” I have reached out to Evan Dawson of NPR on numerous occasions to help tell the story of being ex JW. He has only responded on superficial level. Perhaps you could reach out to him and spur his interest. I thank you for reading this. Hopefully, I am able to correspond with you on some level.
Hi! I got interested in yous thesis. Where can i read it? I’ve goggled it but haven’t find any results.
Thank you for your insightful work. I was Raised a witness but left the organization to attend college, etc.
I have read and enjoyed the detailed work of Ray Franz. Your writings are also insightful. After your extensive research and knowledge on the subject of Christianity; what is the correct path? Is organized religion all just nonsense? How can I find peace in my heart.
Date Line reports that the JW Organization is not reporting child molestation charges to police.
Isn’t it government’s responsibility to go after those molesters once it is reported?
Dearest Barbara, please advise all parents and tell all abused sexually molested children to get a medical examination, especially girls with ruptured hymen and scarred tissues is conclusive roof as silent second witnesses to conclusively prove of sexual vaginal penetration which the medical authorities will notify the authorities and these medical doctors can be called in courts as expert witnesses this will shut the mouths of those who claim there are no two witnesses!Also there are psychologist who can assess post trauma behaviour to confirm of sexual abuse. Even better if DNA evidence is present, but that is not as easy as children speak much later after the past incidences.