Much concern has been raised over the trustworthiness, motivations and allegiances of William H. Bowen, a self?proclaimed expert on child abuse issues within the Watchtower organization.
On the surface, Bowen claims to be an advocate and support to victims. He established a non-profit organization—NOTE: unconfirmed?— in 2001 called Silent Lambs Inc. that has become a very prominent resource over the years. In fact, the organization has been highly publicized and Bowen has been the spokesperson and been interviewed by the media many times over the years.
Recently, a young lady by the name of Candace Conti fought and won a huge legal battle against the Watchtower and was awarded $28 million dollars (USD). This was a first, since all past child abuse cases against the Watchtower were subject to gag orders. Even though Bowen and Silent Lambs were not a big part of the case, Bowen claimed this landmark verdict as a ‘Silent Lambs victory’. Bowen’s testimony was not needed on the case and this was clearly an attempt to divert credit to himself.
This raised questions and concerns for many and Bowen was questioned about his claim. His dishonesty and arrogance set off red flags for a small group of individuals and since then an internal investigation (amongst former Jehovah’s Witnesses and their supporters) has been underway.
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”—U.S. Constitution First Amendment
Due to recent controversy concerning religious rights and law it might be helpful to review the historical background of the United States’ Constitution in order to correctly understand the proper meaning of the First Amendment re: religious freedom, it appears the passage of time has contributed to the loss of its original meaning and intent.
When the thirteen colonies revolted against England, it was due to the fact that the colonists were not being treated as free men. Whereas most people today are aware of the economic and military oppression of the American colonists, many, it seems, have forgotten the element of religious oppression that was also experienced by Americans.
Patrick Henry once saw a man whipped so mercilessly that he later died. That man was a preacher who refused to buy a license to preach. William Penn was once on trial for his life because of disagreeing with the doctrine of the Church of England.
Religious freedom for individuals was what was on the minds of the early Americans as they drafted the Constitution and its First Amendment, not organizational religious freedom. The religious establishment back then had a very significant difference between then and now. Most countries today enjoy a condition of relative religious tolerance. Where there are established churches there is usually freedom of religion for other beliefs as well. Two hundred years ago established churches were not at all tolerant of those who differed. The pages of history are filled to overflowing with the details of religious tyranny and persecution. The doctrine of the established church was part of the law of the land. Disagreement with that doctrine was a crime and punishable even to death.
While the Anglican Church continues as the established church in England, what religion became established in the United States? None, of course. Why? Because the First Amendment prohibited Congress from making any law respecting an establishment of religion.
When it is realized that only a state-sanctioned church can be properly called an establishment, and when it is noted that the United States has no religious establishment according to the proper meaning of the term, then it becomes clear that the First Amendment would have to be totally unnecessary. How could Congress make any law respecting religious establishment (to regulate or interfere) when there is no religious establishment anywhere in the United States to be interfered with?
When secular courts treat all religious organizations as establishments of religion free from governmental regulation, they create serious inconsistencies in law; they allow inalienable rights to be alienated from American citizens.
In effect, whereas Congress has not made, nor can it make any law which establishes a religious organization to be the official state church the courts have made law which makes all religions official. All religions have stated sanctions to mistreat their own members much like the medieval churches did to their members except they are not allowed to bum them at the stake or otherwise execute them for exercising their consciences. On the other hand they can express church sanctions that destroy families, punish the innocent, and exercise absolute control over their members.
When courts allow religious organizations, to violate what is normally the law of the land, by violating civil liberties and denying natural justice to others, they are parties to these illegal activities. They aid and abet.
It must be remembered that when courts place their seals on corporation charters, they do so after inspecting them to see whether or not they comply with the law. If someone wanted to register a charter with purposes similar to those of a religion, to preach and teach the Bible, etc., etc., but include the notice that he would endeavor to fulfill these goals by fraud, deception and the suppression of civil liberties and natural justice, what court of law anywhere on this earth, let alone the United States, would authorize such a charter?
Therefore the context of “clergy penitent privilege” when it comes in conflict with state laws regarding reporting abuse would have no bearing if it obstructed justice. It might be compared to US Bank as a corporate entity. If the CEO was discovered to not be reporting key managers within his company who were molesting children, when the matter was discovered he would be led away in chains. Yet when a key Cardinal of a Catholic Diocese is discovered to have committed similar actions he is simply asked to resign and kept on company payroll. Here we have a distinct inconsistency in an area of law where there should be none. It is the rights of the child as an “entity” that should supersede the rights of a religion as an “entity” to break the law and not report the crime of abuse that endangers the innocent.
When religion takes the rights of the individual away using the First Amendment as a basis, it is a compromise of the very reason the First Amendment was written to begin with. The First Amendment was written to protect the rights of the people not to protect the rights of a religion to oppress the people. Freedom from religious oppression was the reason for many coming to this country and now we find that religion has in effect gotten the upper hand by twisting the United States Constitution into something it was never meant to be. Institutions like Alamo Ministries, Jehovah’s Witnesses and others will continue to exploit the loophole of the First Amendment to abuse the innocent. For those reasons we need truth tellers, people like you to educate the public that the protection of the innocent is the greatest ideal put forth by the forefathers of this great nation.
The message that must be communicated is that all crimes otherwise required to be reported by any citizen, should have the same application when it comes to a religious context. Any religion that suppresses the obeying of civil liberties and natural justice should face the same penalties in the courts as any “entity” that commits similar actions. It is only then the United States Constitution will fulfill its intended purpose, that is, to protect the individual freedom of each and every citizen.
The attendance for the meeting was a packed room; I estimated there was around one hundred and twenty five or more that made up religion writers and freelance journalists. In addition, a lady by the name of Karen Jonson also made a presentation about her abuse at the hands of an Indian Guru. The book is called “Sex, Lies, and Two Hindu Gurus”. Karen went on to share how they are virtually impossible to sue for civil damages as they hide their immense wealth in Indian Trusts.
You can listen to a full recording of the program at this link, Play Audio . There was a question and answer session following that gave much information on the topic and why this needs reporting. The reception was very positive with great education on this topic.
X The balance of time was spent talking with reporters about the abuse issues and passing out a lot of business cards for Silentlambs.
There was a film promotion of a movie that was shot in Nashville called the “Identical” it was a family based film with a leaning toward Christian values. The screened the film and Ray Liotta was there in person to promote the movie along with the other main actors.
On a lighter note William H. Bowen picture made with the Pope!
The respect given to Silentlambs has been earned through years or hard work and careful positioning as a credible and trustworthy organization to go to for factual information.
When stories develop in the future we can be a resource to offer unbiased assistance on helping accurate stories to be presented that help abuse survivors have a voice. When groups or blogs set forth to attack a religion for their doctrine they lose credibility with media. If any reporter uses them they come across as supporting yet another “hate group” against a religion. As a result few xjw groups have media coverage for this stance. At Silentlambs we have maintained neutrality as stated by the Silentlambs Mission statement. The result has been that reporters have over and over again done stories about the issues of the problems with the Watchtower policy on abuse as well as given abuse survivors a voice around the world. Jehovah’s Witnesses regularly contact Silentlambs for assistance with abuse issues and we are about to report problems in their congregations in the interests of protecting children in and outside of the organization. This type of trust is not gained overnight but built after years of assisting those in need, doing press conferences, making documentaries, and time and time again giving victims a platform to speak. Silentlambs helped file the very first lawsuits for victims and to date has assisted in close to one hundred litigations for abuse survivors. We wrote the first lawsuits describing the hierarchy of the organization and how it functions. The same wording is used in the current suits being filed to this day. Silentlambs brought out the first BOE letters and explained how they defined the policy that continues to hurt kids. We forced the Watchtower for the first time in 2001 to actually write out their abuse policy which has been used to help legal cases and explain to the public how they hurt kids.
All these various things along with many others are the reason that Silentlambs remains the gold standard when it comes to understanding the policy of Jehovah’s Witnesses on abuse and who so many abuse survivors trust Silentlambs to always work in their best interests. The efforts at this conference will lay an even stronger foundation for future stories for abuse survivors to speak out and know they are not alone. In the end what is accomplished? We protect children we will never meet.