Geoffrey Jackson's appearance before the Royal Commission left many questions unanswered
Geoffrey Jackson’s appearance before the Royal Commission left many questions unanswered

If you are one of the many current and former Jehovah’s Witnesses who spent much of last month glued to your screen watching the Australian Royal Commission into child abuse, likely you are still dumbfounded by the testimony of one person in particular: Governing Body member Geoffrey Jackson.

Senior Watchtower officials did their very best to stop Jackson from appearing, dismissing his relevance to the commission and insinuating that he was only involved in “translation.” Their efforts at insulating their leader drew the ire of Senior Council Angus Stewart, who accused Australian branch coordinator Terrence O’Brien of deliberately trying to mislead the commission over Jackson’s role.

Finally the commission saw through the shenanigans and Jackson was faced with an official summons to appear – a summons carrying legal ramifications if he failed to show. In the end, despite being in Australia (to tend to his sick father), Jackson opted to give his appearance by video link – to the disappointment of many who would have like to have seen him appear in person.

Wearing a dark three-piece suit and stripey tie, and seated at a table in what appeared to be an office conference room, Jackson had an air of confidence about him. He addressed the judge and senior council respectfully, but any humility seemed strained – especially in the context of some of the more defiant and pious expressions that were to follow.

Overall, Jackson’s testimony was a masterclass in evading the torrent of difficult questions unleashed upon him. Angus Stewart and Judge McClellan bombarded him with topics as diverse as corporal punishment, the two witness rule, the role of women, and shunning.

Jackson ducked and swerved any difficult, potentially incriminating questions with the finesse of an Aussie-rules footballer, albeit without possessing the corresponding physique. “That’s not my field” became his default retort, and if he didn’t like the question he wasn’t above modifying it in his answer. Even outright lies were deployed by the Governing Body member in his eagerness to get past the full-time whistle unscathed.

It’s difficult to do justice to the full day-long exchange, but I have taken the liberty of compiling a handy list of 12 key pieces of testimony given by Jackson that were either unusual, revealing, or downright misleading.

If you would like to examine Geoffrey Jackson’s testimony for yourself, you can do so in PDF form on this link, or using the video playlist at the foot of this article.

1. Ordinary Jehovah’s Witnesses can now officially acknowledge the problem of child abuse (at least in theory)

01 Jackson

As recently as February, Jackson’s co-Governing Body member Stephen Lett dismissed criticism of the organization’s child abuse record as “apostate-driven lies and dishonesties.” The morning worship video in which these comments were made was responded to by yours truly in the following YouTube video (skip to 03:10 to see Lett’s comments)…

As I commented at the time, rather than being “lies and dishonesties” the criticism of Watchtower’s child abuse mishandling was fully warranted, not least by the multi-million dollar judgments in both the Candace Conti and Jose Lopez verdicts of 2012 and 2014 respectively.

Still more recently, another Governing Body member, Tony Morris, indulged in an extraordinary rant on the issue of child abuse in the July 2015 JW Broadcasting episode. Not only did Morris attempt to scapegoat gay people as culpable for child molestation – he also claimed that the organization was proud of its reputation regarding child abuse and were even ahead of the game in that issue compared to the “somewhat naive” secular authorities.

Little over a month later, and under serious questioning by the senior council of a Royal Commission, Morris’ colleague Geoffrey Jackson sang an entirely different tune (bold is mine)…

Stewart: Do you recognise, Mr Jackson ‐ and in asking this question, let me make it clear, I’m not suggesting it is peculiar to the Jehovah’s Witness organisation, there are many, many organisations in this position ‐ but do you accept that the Jehovah’s Witness organisation has a problem with child abuse amongst its members?
Jackson: I accept that child abuse is a problem right throughout the community and it’s something that we’ve had to deal with as well.

Stewart: Do you accept that the manner in which your organisation has dealt with allegations of child sexual abuse has also presented problems?
Jackson: There have been changes in policies over the last 20 or 30 years, where we’ve tried to address some of those problem areas, and by the fact that they have changed the policy would indicate that the original policies weren’t perfect.

Stewart: And you accept, of course, that your organisation, including people in positions of responsibility, like elders, is not immune from the problem of child sexual abuse?
Jackson: That appears to be the case.

So there you have it. Jehovah’s Witnesses can now officially speak openly about their religion having a problem with child sexual abuse because, according to a member of the Governing Body, “that appears to be the case.”

Of course, whether there would be judicial ramifications anyway for speaking openly about child abuse in such an Orwellian organization is another matter entirely. Don’t expect “but Geoffrey Jackson said it’s true” to be a bullet-proof defense if you find yourself bundled into a backroom by the elders for mentioning the child abuse problem in a comment at the kingdom hall.

Stewart then went on to ask Jackson a line of questions that seemed expressly designed to counter the preposterous “apostate-driven lies and dishonesties” claim by Stephen Lett…

Stewart: Do you accept, Mr Jackson, that many of the efforts that are being made by different people and organisations to highlight the issue of child sexual abuse and try and find solutions are genuine efforts to improve the situation?
Jackson: I do accept that, and that’s why I’m happy to testify.

Stewart: And that such efforts are not necessarily an attack on your organisation or its system of beliefs?
Jackson: We understand that, too.

Stewart: You described earlier in your testimony that the work of this Royal Commission is beneficial. Do you accept, then, that the Royal Commission’s efforts are genuine and well‐intentioned?
Jackson: I certainly do. And that’s why we came in to the Royal Commission hoping that collectively something would come forward that would help us as well as everybody else.

Stewart: Would you disagree, then, with anyone who said that the efforts to highlight and deal with child sexual abuse in the Jehovah’s Witness church are engaging in apostate lies?
Jackson: I guess that’s a broad question, because sometimes those who make these accusations make many other accusations as well. But let me assure you, the person making the accusation is not the main thing. The main thing is: is there some basis to the accusation. And if there is some way that we could improve, the Governing Body is always interested in seeing how we can refine our policies. You see, Mr Stewart, could I just emphasise, as a religion, two very strong things we feel. One is, we try to keep a high moral standard. Secondly, there is love among the organisation. So we want to treat victims in a loving way.

That last response from Jackson was a typical example of his evasive tactics whenever an awkward question was put to him. Stewart’s question about apostate lies was direct and relevant, and answerable with a simple “yes” or “no.” But, knowing full well a “yes” OR “no” would be incriminating in different ways, Jackson dismissed the question itself as “broad” and spewed bluster about “many other accusations” leveled by apostates that clearly had nothing to do with the question.

Stewart wasn’t asking for Jackson to comment on his general observations about apostates, he was asking whether he believed scrutiny of child abuse within the organization by itself was tantamount to apostasy. As regards THAT specific question, no real answer was forthcoming. Jackson merely self-congratulated the Governing Body for its eagerness to refine its policies, uphold a “high moral standard,” and “treat victims in a loving way.”

Such fobbing off of an important question with pure bluster may get a politician through an awkward interview with a journalist, but Jackson was giving testimony on behalf of the Governing Body before a Judge at a Royal Commission. His sloppy tap dancing around difficult questions in such a serious forum will not have gone unnoticed, as I will highlight again later.

2. Jehovah’s Witnesses AREN’T allowed to spank their kids

02 Jackson

Like many who were raised as Witnesses I was spanked by my parents (using a belt, as I recall), and this spanking was ALWAYS justified on religious grounds using the bible and Watchtower publications.

So you can imagine my astonishment (no doubt shared by many current and former Witnesses) when Jackson repeatedly denied that Witnesses endorse corporal punishment. (Corporal punishment is defined by one dictionary as a “punishment administered by an adult (as a parent or a teacher) to the body of a child ranging in severity from a slap to a spanking.”)

The following are quotes from Watchtower publications that are at least permissive of corporal punishment, if not openly endorsing it (bold is mine)…

“Of course, children are children, and some are prone to be contrary, even wayward. (Genesis 8:21) What can parents do? ‘Foolishness is tied up with the heart of a boy; the rod of discipline is what will remove it far from him,’ says the Bible. (Proverbs 22:15) Some view this as harsh treatment that is out-of-date. Actually, the Bible is against violence and abuse of any sort. The ‘rod,’ though at times literal, represents parental authority that is administered firmly but lovingly and appropriately out of concern for the children’s eternal welfare.—Hebrews 12:7-11.” – w06 4/1 pp. 9-10

“Different children require different kinds of discipline. Some are not ‘corrected by mere words.’ For them, the occasional punishment administered for disobedience may be lifesaving. (Proverbs 17:10; 23:13, 14; 29:19) A child, though, should understand why he is being punished. ‘The rod and reproof are what give wisdom.’ (Proverbs 29:15; Job 6:24) Moreover, punishment has boundaries. ‘I shall have to chastise you to the proper degree,’ said Jehovah to his people. (Jeremiah 46:28b) The Bible in no way endorses angry whippings or severe beatings, which bruise and even injure a child.—Proverbs 16:32.” – “Family Happiness” book (1996), page 60

Certainly it must be acknowledged that some of the sentiments in more recent publications to the effect that “not all children need physical punishment” (w06 11/1 p.5) might be construed as a U-turn from past instructions on the matter, at least in part. A footnote to the 2002 Draw Close to Jehovah book even says: “Similarly, ‘the rod’ of parental authority suggests loving guidance, not harsh or brutal punishment.” (p.101)

But a specific, unequivocal condemnation of corporal punishment as archaic, outdated and abusive by Watchtower has yet to appear in print. A full printed retraction on the matter would be appropriate, especially given past guidance such as the following…

“There are times, of course, when every child needs discipline, even with the literal rod, but this should be done—and not overdone—firmly and in love, without displaying the heat of anger. Children will come to appreciate deserved chastisement, and it will not ‘exasperate’ them. They will appreciate, too, the kindness and loving care that they receive at other times.” – “Good News to Make You Happy” (1976), p166

3. The Governing Body MIGHT not be Jehovah’s only spokespersons


Especially since they declared themselves to be the faithful slave in 2012, the Governing Body CLEARLY believe themselves to be God’s sole spokespersons or “channel,” as stated explicitly in published statements like the following (bold is mine)…

“Even as Bible prophecy pointed forward to the Messiah, it also directs us to the close-knit body of anointed Christian Witnesses that now serve as the faithful and discreet slave. It helps us to understand the Word of God. All who want to understand the Bible should appreciate that the ‘greatly diversified wisdom of God’ can become known only through Jehovah’s channel of communication, the faithful and discreet slave.—John 6:68.” – w94 10/1 p.8

And yet, when confronted with Angus Stewart’s blunt question “Do you see yourselves as Jehovah God’s spokespeople on earth?” the answer that came from Jackson’s lips was astounding.

That I think would seem to be quite presumptuous to say that we are the only spokesperson that God is using. The scriptures clearly show that someone can act in harmony with God’s spirit in giving comfort and help in the congregations, but if I could just clarify a little, going back to Matthew 24, clearly, Jesus said that in the last days ‐ and Jehovah’s Witnesses believe these are the last days ‐ there would be a slave, a group of persons who would have responsibility to care for the spiritual food. So in
that respect, we view ourselves as trying to fulfill that role.”

Jackson thus answered the question by changing it, and not for the first time during his testimony. The question was NOT “do you think you are the only ones being used by God’s spirit?” The question deliberately highlighted the role of God’s “spokesperson,” or channel of communication. It had nothing to do with, say, an ordinary publisher offering comfort and help in the congregation.

Jackson’s answer was, therefore, another attempt at ducking a question where an honest answer would have made him look foolish and deluded.

4. A ‘worldly’ lawyer can beat a Governing Body member in a scripture duel

03 Jackson

One of the most delightful and unexpected exchanges between Angus Stewart and Geoffrey Jackson arose from the former’s attempts to persuade the latter that there IS a scriptural basis for discarding the two witness rule as it relates to child sex abuse. The fascinating conversation is captured in the video below…

Simply put, Stewart correctly argued that child sex abuse amounts to rape, and because according to Deuteronomy 22:23-27 a rape victim who is attacked without witnesses in a field is to STILL see her attacker brought to justice (despite apparently being the only witness to the attack), therefore the same precedent could be applied to child sex abuse.

After considerable bluster about “circumstances,” again apparently aimed at obscuring the question, Jackson conceded that one witness was sufficient for a rapist to be stoned to death.

With predatory precision, Stewart then moved in for the kill.

“Is it not the case that had Jesus been asked about a case of sexual abuse, he may have referred back to this part of Deuteronomy and said that it’s not required to have two witnesses?”

Jackson could only reply: “I certainly would like to ask Jesus that, and I can’t at the moment, I hope to in the future. But that’s a hypothetical question which, if we had an answer, then we could support what you said.”

Subsequent to this exchange, Jackson submitted a written testimony to the commission effectively backtracking on everything he’d conceded on this point. Apparently Jackson no longer wants to ask Jesus about the question in the future, because “new light” has furnished him with the answer in record time.

According to Jackson’s written explanation, the two witness rule overrides the rape provision in Deuteronomy. And in any case, the rapist described would have already had his guilt established without the woman’s testimony. Essentially, Jackson trusts that the rapist would have given a full confession to elders of raping the woman in the field, despite facing the penalty of death by stoning for doing so.

Dubious and desperate reasoning aside, history will show that Angus Stewart gifted a Governing Body member with an opportunity to biblically justify scrapping the shameful two witness rule in relation to child abuse. And instead of seizing this gilt-edged opportunity to protect children, for reasons best known to him, Jackson bent over backwards to reject it.

5. A Governing Body member fails to deny that shunning is cruel


A long and rather arduous exchange ensued from Angus Stewart’s brave attempts to pin Geoffrey Jackson down on the issue of shunning. As I have previously pointed out, you would think if shunning is a divine command from Jehovah himself Watchtower representatives, including Governing Body members, would leap at any chance to declare their glowing pride at the policy. Instead they do their level best to misrepresent it, or deny it altogether.

Jackson pursued just such an approach, this time by again attempting to cloud the issue. Fortunately, Stewart had done his homework on the matter and refused to be sidetracked. “I have chosen my words deliberately, Mr Jackson,” said Stewart with an air of exasperation at one such attempt to switch the subject of the question from disassociated ones to inactive ones.

Finally, after a lengthy exchange involving various hypothetical scenarios, Jackson had given Stewart enough rope to hang him with.

Stewart: Mr Jackson, you have put it that they have a choice to leave or not to leave. For someone who wants to leave, perhaps because they have suffered abuse by someone in the organisation and don’t feel that it has been treated properly or adequately, it’s a very difficult choice, isn’t it, because they must choose ‐‐
Jackson: I agree, yes.

Stewart: And it can be a very cruel choice for them ‐ not so?
Jackson: I agree, it’s a difficult choice.

And so, at the end of a marathon series of questioning, finally an end product of sorts: a Governing Body member failing to deny that the “difficult choice” facing those who wish to leave the organization is a cruel one.

6. Having a Christmas tree won’t necessarily get you disfellowshipped


In the labyrinth of questions aimed at highlighting the shunning policy, Angus Stewart asked Geoffrey Jackson the following…

So, for example, if they [a Jehovah’s Witness] had become inactive or sought to fade without formally disassociating, and the elders came to visit and found them celebrating Christmas or a birthday, they would be found to be in transgression of the rules, would they not?

Jackson’s answer was remarkable…

That is not my understanding. But again, as I said, it is not my field, that goes into policy with regard to those type of things, but from my personal experience, that’s not the case.

Anybody who knows anything about the Witness faith knows that celebrating Christmas or birthdays is expressly prohibited for Witnesses – a “transgression of the rules” as Stewart carefully phrased it. In fact “celebrating false religious holidays” is clearly listed as a form of apostasy in the Shepherd book and deemed judicially actionable by elders.

As with his earlier obfuscation about corporal punishment, Jackson’s ability to contort the truth so readily rather than take pride in teachings and practices that are supposed to be mandated by God will have been a huge wake-up call for any sincere Witnesses who dared to watch.

7. The Governing Body chooses the Governing Body (not Jesus)


Hopefully it is rather obvious that the Governing Body chooses itself, or is self-appointed. But according to Watchtower literature the Governing Body is “not appointed by any man. It is appointed by the same one who appointed the twelve apostles in the first century C.E., namely, Jesus Christ the Head of the true Christian congregation and the Lord and Master of the ‘faithful and discreet slave’ class.” (w71 12/15 p.758)

Interestingly, however, nowhere in his testimony did Geoffrey Jackson even try to claim that Jesus appoints the Governing Body members.

Early on in the questioning, Angus Stewart asked: “And is it the case that the Governing Body then appoints new members of the Governing Body?” This would have been the perfect opportunity for Jackson to give a rambling theological lecture to the effect that Jesus is actually the one who does the appointing.

Instead we got a straightforward: “That is correct.”

Thinking Witnesses would do well to ask themselves: If the Governing Body is self-appointed, how does it differ in any meaningful sense from the leaders of other religions? From where does the Governing Body receive its mandate to lead ‘God’s organization’ if the appointments are openly and unashamedly made by men?

8. The Governing Body are “guardians of doctrine”


Watchtower literature has always taught that the role of the faithful and discreet slave is to provide God’s people with spiritual food “at the proper time.” In 2012 the Governing Body exclusively assumed this responsibility from Matthew 24:45 – verses that many regard as a parable rather than a prophecy.

But repeatedly in his testimony Jackson made a claim that will have sounded strange to the ears of many familiar with Witness teachings, namely that the Governing Body are to be considered the “custodians,” or “guardians,” of doctrine…

  • “So the goal of the Governing Body as custodians of our doctrine is to publish literature that helps people in everyday life using what the Bible says.”
  • “But the qualifications of a member for the Governing Body ‐ it involves someone who is considered an anointed Witness, who has worked in scriptural, with a scriptural background, either as a missionary or a full‐time servant for many years, and is able to fulfil the role of the Governing Body, which is, may I state, a group, a spiritual group of men who are the guardians of our doctrine, and as guardians of the doctrine, look at things that need to be decided based on our doctrines, which are based on the constitution of the Bible.”
  • “What we view ourselves, as fellow workers with our brothers and sisters ‐ we have been given a responsibility to guard or to be guardians of doctrine.”
  • “Ultimately, as guardians of our doctrine and beliefs, yes, some central group needs to make that decision, but that doesn’t mean to say that we are just on our own unilaterally making those decisions without research and input from others.”

It is one thing to print spiritual material based on your interpretation of what is written in the bible, but why this sudden fixation with guarding doctrine? If God has passed down his requirements to humanity in clear and unambiguous form, why do these need to be guarded by a group of men? Couldn’t any group of religious leaders assume such a role for themselves? Why this sudden fixation with protecting established doctrine rather than focusing on principles of love, mercy and grace?

Hopefully I am not the only one who found Jackson’s repeated expressions along these lines rather grating and cultish.

9. The Governing Body doesn’t care about the feelings of child abuse victims


Justice McClellan entered the fray on a number of occasions during Jackson’s testimony with the seeming intent of getting Jackson to reason on a human level. A good example of this was during a line of questioning about the feelings of female sex abuse victims who are made to give evidence to a committee comprised solely of men.

“Can you understand how a woman might feel when allegations which she brings forward against a man in the congregation are considered and judged entirely by men?” asked McClellan.

Jackson’s response was astonishing.

“Obviously I’m not a woman, so I wouldn’t like to speak on their behalf, but the two of us, I am sure, could understand from what has been expressed and believe that perhaps there would be a hesitancy there.”

And so Jackson washed his hands of the need to empathize with the feelings of women by virtue of the fact that he is not a woman. Only “perhaps” might women be hesitant to bring sex abuse allegations against a man before an all-male tribunal.

Another clue that Jackson is less than preoccupied with concern for the welfare of sex abuse victims can be found in his ignorance of the earlier testimony of BCG.

When asked by BCG’s lawyer whether he’d read her client’s evidence, Jackson replied: “I haven’t, I’m sorry. The reason I came here [to Australia] was to care for my ailing father, and that has taken a lot of my time. Plus, I wasn’t aware of the fact that I would be called before the Commission.”

At first glance this may sound like a reasonable excuse, but a disparity soon emerges when you consider the multiple occasions on which Jackson referred to the previous testimony of his own Watchtower representatives – something he somehow HAD found the time to brush up on despite caring for his father (bold is mine)…

  • “But if I could mention, some of the reports that you have considered are from 25 years ago, and if I understand correctly, from what little I heard of the Commission in the last few days, Mr Spinks very accurately described that there has been more of an awareness of Jehovah’s Witnesses to make sure that any victim who has been a victim of a horrible crime is not required to actually go before three men.”
  • “If I understand your question correctly, from what I have heard from Mr Spinks’ testimony, that is not something that we require now.”
  • “Thank you for the opportunity to explain this. I think very clearly Mr Toole pointed out that if the Australian Government, in all the States, was to make mandatory reporting, it would make it so much easier for us.”
  • “Could I explain, Mr Stewart, that ‐ you see, I think already under testimony some of Jehovah’s Witnesses have explained that the two‐witnesses needed can be, in some cases, the circumstances.”

Therefore, Jackson HAD taken time out to research previous evidence in the commission. He was just very selective about whose evidence he listened to, and seemingly had a preference for brushing up on what Watchtower representatives had to say rather than child abuse victims.

Another telling moment came when BCG’s clearly-exasperated lawyer expressed her dismay at Monica Applewhite’s evidence as paid for by Watchtower, which seems to have been roundly dismissed as one-sided and non-credible by the Commission.

“It is really disheartening for the survivors that evidence from people such as Dr Applewhite, without any reference whatsoever to the victims ‘experience, suggests to them that the reason for engaging experts is… more to do with the reputation of the Jehovah’s Witnesses than any real attempt to get to a deep understanding of their experience.”

In response to what was, again, more of an appeal to his humanity, Jackson replied…

“I certainly hope that is not the case, and that certainly was not the intent of it. So please, be assured that we are interested in the individuals such as the client that you are representing. And may I take this opportunity, I don’t know your client, but please, could you convey an expression of my love and concern and reassure her that obviously she has had an opportunity to speak about how she feels, and hopefully this will help the policies and procedures to improve.”

So, not only had Jackson failed to find time to research the testimony of victims of child abuse within his organization, despite somehow finding time to listen to the testimony of Watchtower representatives Rodney Spinks and Vincent Toole. Jackson had also thrown away an opportunity to show compassion by admitting that the deployment of “expert for hire” Monica Applewhite was in poor taste from the point of view of the victims. And to add insult to injury, he was now issuing instructions to BCG’s lawyer to act as a go-between with her client.

My response, had I been on the receiving end of this request, would have been: “I take instructions from BCG – not you, Mr Jackson. I’m sure if you really care about BCG and her situation, you will find the time and means to convey that message to her yourself in person.”

10. Lots of things are not Geoffrey Jackson’s “field”

09 Jackson

As you’ve probably gathered by now, Jackson used every trick in the book during his testimony to dodge or evade questions where an honest answer would land him in hot water.

Here are a few examples of Jackson repeating the line that a certain subject was “not his field,” or trying to buy time before answering a question…

  • “I would have to check on that, because personally that’s not my field.”
  • “I preface this in the fact that it is not my field that I work with every day…”
  • “Seeing it is not my field per se, I couldn’t give an inclusive answer with regard to that…”
  • “Sorry, you would need to walk me through that a little further. I’m not quite sure.”
  • “I preface this in the fact that it is not my field that I work with every day…”
  • “I am not familiar with the statistics or the general practice…”
  • “That’s a very large question and I think it’s something that we would need to consider carefully.”
  • “That is a possibility, but in all fairness to your question, I think there are circumstances, but I couldn’t make a definitive comment on that.”
  • “You know, your Honour, this is not my field.”
  • “I can’t say that I would give a comment on that…”

On two occasions in particular, frustration over Jackson’s question-dodging antics spilled over.

The most notable of these instances was the previously-discussed exchange regarding Christmas, in which Jackson insinuated that celebrating Christmas wouldn’t necessarily result in a disfellowshipping.

“But again, as I said, it is not my field,” was his disclaimer.

“Mr Jackson,” said Angus Stewart, his frustration obvious, “you say it’s not your field, but you are a member of the Governing Body which is responsible, as you have said, for the whole field, and you have been a member for 10 years, and all the committees are responsible to and accountable to the Governing Body.”

“That is correct,” said Jackson.

“So it is your field, isn’t it?”

“Only as far as approving the basic scriptural principles. So is there a scriptural principle that you have in mind you want to ask me about, or are you talking about policies and implementation of policies? There is a difference there.”

Then, later on, it was Justice McClellan’s turn to be visibly exasperated at Jackson’s stubborn refusal to answer a straightforward question – this time regarding whether Witness women could be involved in the judiciary process even if not in the sentencing (or punishment)…

Justice McClellan: Could women be involved in the determination of whether or not the allegation is true?

Jackson: Well, your Honour, if I could say, I think they already are involved, in the sense ‐‐

Justice McClellan: Not in the decision, Mr Jackson. Please address my question.

Jackson: Okay. But yes, in ‐ well, please, could I just use an example. If an underage child says that something has happened and then two women are involved with helping that person, surely they have to decide whether or not the facts are true. They then present those to the elders. Otherwise, how would the elders know what the facts are?

Justice McClellan: Mr Jackson, you are not dealing with my question.

Jackson: I am sorry. I apologise humbly, your Honour.

Again, we are not talking about journalists or a random member of the public being overly inquisitive. We are talking about a Judge at a specially-appointed Royal Commission charged with uncovering the serious mishandling of child abuse.

Whatever Jackson may privately think of his performance, it is difficult to imagine him leaving a positive impression before the Commission. Indeed, Justice McClellan seemed to have a slight parting dig at him, saying “You are formally excused from your summons” rather than the usual, “you are excused.”

11. (Don’t laugh!) The Governing Body is good at saying sorry


Yes, apparently the Governing Body are quite accomplished when it comes to apologizing for their mistakes.

When asked by Angus Stewart whether he could foresee the Governing Body ever issuing an apology to survivors of sexual abuse at the hands of elders in the organization, this was Jackson’s response…

“The Governing Body has apologised on other matters, so for me to say ‐ I can’t speak collectively for everybody, but we have apologised on things in the past, in other areas, so it is perceivable.”

If someone could point me in the direction of where these apologies may be found, I would greatly appreciate it. To my knowledge the Governing Body has never apologized once for anything. And in rare instances where it has addressed areas of regret, it has usually found a way of apportioning the blame elsewhere – as was the case with the ‘apology’ for 1975. (w76 7/15 p.441 par.15)

12. Penguins are not found in the middle of Australia

10 Jackson

Ok, so the last one is a bit silly, but you must allow me a bit of a chuckle at Jackson’s rather random penguin comment. It seems remiss to exclude it from the list.

Early in the proceedings, when trying to establish the role and influence of the Governing Body, Angus Stewart asked Jackson whether the Governing Body takes responsibility for organizational manuals and guidelines. The odd way Jackson chose to answer the question came as a surprise.

“We do take spiritual responsibility for it, yes. May I just mention, if there is a printing mistake and we say that penguins are found in the middle of Australia, then, yes, it’s true, we take responsibility, but it’s without not within the realms of our expertise. But we would check to see who it was that had given that wrong information.”

Hopefully Jackson and his fellow dear leaders DO possess sufficient knowledge to question a printed claim that penguins live in Australia without having specific expertise in zoology. That said, given Stephen Lett’s recent claims that there is as much evidence for Christ’s kingdom as there is for “gravity, electricity, wind,” perhaps we need to lower our expectations.

And if only the Governing Body DID take prompt action whenever wrong information is printed in the publications! Mind you, they would have their work cut out fact-checking and issuing corrections for nearly 140 years of false predictions, pseudo-science, medical quackery, doctrinal flip-flops, abusive policies, misquotes, draconian rules and spurious interpretations of scripture – a daunting task if ever there was one.

Perhaps encountering a penguin in the Australian outback is more likely.









Further reading…

Huge thanks go to Vincent Deporter, JWsurvey’s resident artist, for contributing artwork for this article. If you enjoy Vincent’s work, you might be interested in obtaining a copy of “Sacred Cows,” a recent picture book that takes a lighthearted look at religion.

I am in the process of working on video rebuttals to Jackson’s royal commission testimony as a five-part video series. Please subscribe to my YouTube channel for updates when these videos are uploaded.

If you still haven’t watched the footage from the Royal Commission, a playlist of videos is below…

333 thoughts on “12 things we learned from Geoffrey Jackson’s testimony at the Royal Commission

  • October 31, 2015 at 2:01 pm

    Anyone else notice Jackson wearing a $12,000 watch?

    • April 9, 2017 at 7:36 am

      im interested on how you would value his watch from a skype video?

  • November 12, 2015 at 2:07 pm

    You sound like a Republican desperately trying to “get” something on Obama. Give it a break.

  • November 12, 2015 at 2:35 pm

    Al Oliver,

    You have used an appropriate analogy as the gb see themselves as a government ruling their little nation.

  • November 27, 2015 at 7:28 am

    I saw this on the BBC news this am… I hope you can all see it. It’s a UK inquiry into child abuse but does not name JW’s. Is there any way this Justice Lowell Goddard can be contacted?

  • December 1, 2015 at 1:15 pm

    Anybody seen the ARC’s findings?
    The WTS response (submission) to the findings will make your blood boil. There are some outright untruths in there… putting it mildly.
    When Lloyd has the time, I no doubt he’ll do a post on it.
    Here’s the WTS solicitor’s (lawyer’s) response (in PDF document):

  • December 1, 2015 at 2:36 pm

    Yes it’s pathetic. My favourite bit is the way Angus Stewart brought out that Geoffrey Jackson lacked empathy toward the victims by not reading anything related to their statements but keeping up with the WT’s statements.
    He’s the classic psychopathic religious leader, in my eyes.

    I plan to write a letter to Mr Stewart to thank him for bringing this to the publics attention. We are not df’d or da’d but we are still being shunned so they lie about their rebuttal with the shunning of those that just want to leave.

    Trying to keep your dignity with these people is challenging because they like smiling assassins, they will be all smiles to your face but behind your back you get labelled just to confirm their belief that you can’t walk away from them without it being something negative about yourself.

  • January 8, 2016 at 5:58 pm

    Jackson –You are as guilty as sin-Caught with your pants down and you are trying to say that your pants are up.Yet there is 10 people looking at you. They call it mentally diseased.

  • February 7, 2016 at 11:18 am


    I am a researcher conducting research into the JW’s shunning policies and have just read this article.

    You mention an ‘apology’ in W76 7/15. I am unable to find this exact magazine. The watchtower magazines (public, study and simplified) that are available on the website are all quite short, none of them amounts to over 400 pages.

    Could you direct me to the original source?

    Thank you

  • March 2, 2016 at 1:55 pm

    Another whopper that Geoffrey Jackson told UNDER OATH is that they don’t really see themselves as the only people that God works through:

    Angus Stewart: “Do you see yourselves as Jehovah God’s spokespeople on earth?”

    Geoffrey Jackson: “That I think would seem to be quite presumptuous to say that we are the only spokesperson that God is using.”

    “…Is it presumptuous of Jehovah’s Witnesses to point out that they alone have God’s backing? Actually, no more so than when the Israelites in Egypt claimed to have God’s backing in spite of the Egyptians’ belief, or when first-century Christians claimed to have God’s backing to the exclusion of Jewish religionists. The facts speak for themselves.” —-w01 6/1 p. 12

    I guess it’s time that Mr. Jackson actually do some background reading on the subject because that’s exactly what they teach. Unless of course, this “isn’t his area”.

  • April 20, 2016 at 10:54 am

    So, how come nobody here is stepping up to replace the ‘faithful slave’? I’m surprised at some of the commenters criticizing how things are done and yet, no one is offering a simple solution to how to rectify the problems they see. Is it in the realm of possibility to leave it in Gods hand? If Geoffrey Jackson just happened to be in Australia to take care of his ailing father–the same time this court was in session– and he being summoned to appear, maybe that was Gods arrangement to bring this matter into focus and have His ‘slave’ corrected. Unless of course, he’s using all of you as his substitute.

  • May 20, 2016 at 7:56 pm

    I got my already programmed blanked ATM card to withdraw the maximum of $50,000 daily for a maximum of 20 days. I am so happy about this because i got mine last week and I have used it to get $100,000. MR PEDRO is giving out the card just to help the poor and needy though it is illegal but it is something nice and he is not like other scam pretending to have the blank ATM cards. And no one gets caught when using the card. get yours TODAY. Just send him an email via

  • November 7, 2016 at 11:22 pm

    Jf Jackson is really great man i wondered how he answered for all those hours, it’s not easy though

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