The Friday Column: Governing Body Issues Apology to Abuse Victims, Announces Radical Policy Changes


April 1st 2016

Breaking News

In an unexpected turn of events, the Watchtower Organization has issued an apology to victims of child abuse who were denied justice over the past 50 years, and has authorized congregation elders, ministerial servants, and individual members to contact child protection authorities and law enforcement immediately upon learning of any accusations of abuse to a minor child.

In a letter to elders, the Governing Body has agreed to rescind  its infamous “Two Witness Rule”, but only for cases involving children who have come forward about abuse which took place while they were minors. The 7-member panel cited suggestions from the Australian Royal Commission and other child protection experts as the basis upon which the policy changes were made, stating that these alterations do not conflict with their Christian beliefs and principles.

In related policy changes, the organization has announced that it will no longer require minor children to submit to the extensive Jehovah’s Witness baptismal procedure, which includes a grueling 80-question vetting process performed by 3 different elders. Children will still be allowed to be baptized, but without  the 80 questions, and without being publicly required to answer yes to the following question:

“Do you understand that your dedication and baptism identify you as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses in association with God’s spirit-directed organization?”

The net result will be that children may still follow the religion of their parents, but without the severe consequences of disfellowshipping and  shunning if  they become adults and choose to exercise their right to change their beliefs.

Attached to the new Governing Body directive is the revised blood transfusion policy, which states:

“The Governing Body has concluded that while we still believe blood to be the sacred embodiment of life, it will be up to each Christian to decide whether to accept a blood transfusion when deemed necessary. Significant advancements in science, along with the understanding that Jehovah’s command to the Israelites and early Christians applied to the original Law Covenant, has revealed to us  that transfusions are a personal medical decision. We trust that all of Jehovah’s people will respond positively to our increased understanding of the scriptures.”

In addition to these major changes, the Governing Body has announced that it has added one member to its executive leadership counsel, presidential candidate and New York billionaire Donald Trump.


governing body trump
Donald Trump joins the elite Jehovah’s Witness Governing Body



OK, by now you realize that it is April 1st, and none of the information above is true.

To the outside world, such changes in policy would seem to be a very reasonable compromise, particularly in light of increasing media scrutiny of the caustic practices of Jehovah’s Witness leadership. Throughout the world, tens of thousands have lost their lives in hospitals, where trained Witness elders swarm to the side of patients in need of blood, preventing doctors from doing the one thing they are trained to do: save lives.

Children are subjected to years of propaganda in the form of books, videos, and peer pressure from fellow Witness companions, who are themselves victims of this process. Before they reach puberty, they are dragged into the public eye every weekend and forced to knock on doors instead of going to soccer, football or baseball practice. Relentless conditioning batters their desire to excel in academics or sports, leaving no alternative path but the one which results in a water baptism. Once baptized, there is no turning back. A child who recognizes later that he or she has made a mistake has no recourse – if he chooses to leave, he will be abandoned by every friend he has ever known, and every family member including his parents.

For those young ones who were touched, abused, neglected, or beaten by adults inside the organization, there is no due process. Criminal offenses such as these are treated as “sin” first, and must be reported to elders, rather than legal authorities who are trained to intervene and protect such children. Only when forcibly compelled to contact police will Witness elders comply with the law, and only then after contacting the legal department of the Watch Tower Society.


What is the solution?

If you are one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, perhaps even a member of the New York headquarters staff, give some thought to the opening paragraphs of this article and ask yourself whether such changes are unreasonable.

If God is the giver and preserver of life, would he really oppose the transfusion of blood? Would he allow a Witness to die, when membership and preaching is considered so critical in these turbulent times? God has apparently already given permission to Witnesses to accept blood fractions, which are derived from whole blood. Do you really believe the Almighty looks with favor on parents who fight the transfusion which would save a baby’s life?

On the matter of child baptism, do you truly believe it is just and righteous to place the heavy burden of baptism on a child, considering the fact that every teen or preteen is so easily influenced by his peers and parents? Why not permit a child to leave the organization, instead of holding his family and friends as hostages should he decide to take a different pathway? While you may believe that his course will result is his drift from God, do you really have the right to penalize him for his free will?

And finally, when it comes to justice for those abused, would it violate God’s law to report cases of abuse to the police and child protection authorities? Would this not benefit others, including non-Jehovah’s Witnesses who may have been victimized by the same perpetrator? Certainly there is nothing unscriptural about protecting children and allowing qualified secular authorities to handle the matter.

Consider this a sincere appeal to the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses to strike down the influential policies which have redirected and stolen the lives of millions over the past century, all in the name of loyalty to God and one organization. Remember, the JW religion claims to be a volunteer faith. By definition, this means one can enter and leave at will. But this is not the case. Joining comes at great cost, and leaving is even more expensive. Let these people go; release them from medical suicide, release them from child indoctrination, release them from abuse. As Moses said to Pharaoh:

Let my people go.


John Redwood






Mark O'Donnell

Mark O'Donnell is a former Jehovah's Witness turned whistleblower after discovering the disturbing child abuse epidemic within the religion. His story, along with the revelation of a secret database of child molesters were featured in the March 2019 online issue of the Atlantic Magazine: O'Donnell continues to investigate allegations of child abuse within the Witness organization, and works with law enforcement, attorneys, and survivors of abuse, writing about his findings on and other outlets.

199 thoughts on “The Friday Column: Governing Body Issues Apology to Abuse Victims, Announces Radical Policy Changes

  • April 7, 2016 at 9:16 pm

    when people become malcontent they become disrespectful, rude, they fight with each other and feel hurt because all of their discontentment is mixed with malice. My ‘worldly’ cousin visited this topic, scrolled down, and after reading the comments he said, “Oh they’re just angry, I’m not going to pay any attention to this.” And he went on to netflix. I wish I had waited a few weeks before telling him about jw survey. He lost interest right away. A witness couple are call on him. He studies with them because of my dad. He looks at my dad as a father. He never knew his dad. Adios Amigos. I’m taking a vacation from all of this. See ya. Wouldn’t want to be ya.

  • April 7, 2016 at 10:05 pm

    You got me John

  • April 8, 2016 at 8:48 am

    I used to be one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, disassociated about 20 years ago. I am also an adult survivor of child abuse.

    One thing I’ve learned from my experience is that most people who have never experienced being abused as a child (my abuse lasted 10 years) can easily wrap their minds around what it is really like…and I am really happy for that. I wouldn’t want anyone to experience anything like this, even come close to being able to comprehend it. It was horrible beyond words.

    That being said, some people may say or write things that seem insensitive to abuse survivors. Over the years I have heard or read things like that, often being nothing malicious but the result of a lack of insight into the actual experience of being an abuse survivor. Some were jokes and, while I found them in poor taste, were just that–a joke. Not the best thing to joke about in my opinion, but I never found that anyone telling such a story really sided with abusers or pedophiles or were malicious. Thoughtless, perhaps, but purposefully seeking to irritate my wounds? I doubt it.

    After reading this article and the responses posted, all I can add is this: some found it poorly written, some were disturbed, and some were not. It is not a wisely chosen battle to judge the author of this work or those who produce this site and claim that they were purposefully being hurtful anymore than it is right to claim that those who were hurt by what was written have something wrong with them. We can’t possibly know what another feels and what causes them to react in ways they do anymore than read the heart motives of authors.

    What is wrong is when we act like the JWs and the Watchtower and will not admit we may have made a mistake and that there is no reason to apologize. The Watchtower has a history of not budging on its position, of never taking the feelings of others into account, and of refusing to say the simple words: “We never realized. We goofed.”

    I think a lot of people might have goofed over the past few days. Maybe the article was is bad taste. Maybe some of the reactions in support and against it were a little more judgmental than they needed to be toward others. Maybe people who don’t believe they could possibly be wrong are indeed wrong. Maybe.

    Always remember that taste is a matter of opinion, jokes are not often meant to be hurtful, and there are more important things than arguing over an article on this site…but there is nothing more important that being kind, forgiving, and being with honest with ourselves and others that we can’t always know we are making mistakes unless others tell us.

    What feelings stir in me when I read something like this are unseen by writers and fellow readers. Something I find in bad taste can at the same time be funny and the same time never appropriate. Some things I truly disapprove of cause me to laugh, and some beautiful and funny things make me sad and cry. How do I judge this article and those who wrote it? I don’t.

    Words can hurt and abuse. If we are truly against child abuse then we will not use our words to abuse anyone, at any time, in any manner. And finally I can’t say whether this article was written in ignorance or short-sightedness. I will say that if the true ignorance and maliciousness from my abusers didn’t cause me to remain a perpetual victim, then I won’t worry about articles that may or may not have been inappropriate. I have gone through the real thing and successfully survived.

  • April 8, 2016 at 9:03 am

    Please everybody stop hurting each other. I was in tears as i began to read the last the GB have woken up and are showing some love. Alas not. However it did show what we all would love to see. Probably we would rather read that the GB had all been removed and WT ceased publication .please come back mr Redwood

    • June 26, 2016 at 10:40 pm

      I agree…almost copied the link to give to some of my dear stolen family…then I realized it was a joke I think the point was made though!

  • April 8, 2016 at 9:20 am

    It had me going for a while .nicely written .people who had a problem with it need to take a chill pill

  • April 8, 2016 at 12:11 pm

    Thumbs down this time round ….sorry ! I have to be true to myself first –

  • April 9, 2016 at 5:36 am

    Great comment Carmichael Hortez ! So well said! Thank you for taking the time to write all that for us!

  • April 9, 2016 at 7:59 pm

    I liked the article very much. It was also obviously an April Fools joke, and well done. In what universe will the GB ever say things like what they’ve ‘said’ in this article?

    Keep up the good work Mr Redwood. Your point was well made.

  • April 12, 2016 at 10:55 am

    You had me there for awhile ! Surely, while I could not believe my eyes, I thought , wow, the bell has rung ! All offended by the gb now have a new path . It was believable purely to me because the Catholic church also under extreme scrutiny has at lease tried to make their abused members whole. Im saddened this was just folly , not so much for me, but for my family still under the spell

  • April 12, 2016 at 10:59 am

    It would have served you much better to superimpose Pope Francis instead of “the Donald” as we here in NY refer to Trump. Pope Francis so much more a likable figure

  • April 13, 2016 at 8:01 pm

    I was had to…. and almost in tears…til my husband said…April fools! Duh! I thought ….just maybe these guys have a heart….but Nothing doing! Sad! What does the script say…in her was found…everything disgusting…and hated bird…! Please!!! We NEED!!!! Pope Francis!

  • April 13, 2016 at 8:04 pm

    Donald Trump…A member of I knew it…has the same arrogance as Governing Body members!!!

  • April 15, 2016 at 9:36 am

    “…release them from medical suicide, release them from child indoctrination, release them from abuse…”

    They do that, they’ll have virtually no one left.

  • April 20, 2016 at 8:26 am

    I was born into this crap, verbally abused and looked down on by my family growing up for having different opinions, and grew to hate everything to do with it. Every ex witness child says it was horrible to grow up in but there are various degrees and I was raised by the most severely dedicated crazy conspiracy theorists you’ll ever find in that religion.

    Listen to me when I say you can’t convince insanity of seeing sanity. The ones who listen to you had already made the decision to escape in their mind and are planning it carefully. Because you suddenly have no support and are all alone suddenly.

    The ones who don’t have been successfully taught. Me and my cousins use to joke about leaving. I thought they were serious and was excited because I wasn’t alone. Six months later when we were legal adults and I saw them again it wasn’t so. I found out their mother threatened to have nothing to do with their grandchildren if they left. For them getting married was a big deal and so was family. It was not so for me. I made it my goal to oppose them at every moment.

    That method is smiled upon BTW. My grandma was so proud of how my aunt handled her daughters. I literally became terrified instantly. Its probably the same feeling someone gets trying to talk sense into an Islamic terrorist about to hit the red button – the moment they realize the terrorist thought they were joking and hit the button anyways.

    The longer you’re away the crazier they seem. Almost like a mad house. No matter what you say they are too far gone too hear it.

    • April 20, 2016 at 5:50 pm

      Excellent points Brooke. I come from a highly entrenched JW family as well and can say that you are spot on with your comments.


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