A schoolgirl who left the Jehovah’s Witnesses after learning of its alleged failure to protect vulnerable women has blasted the organisation in a powerful speech to her classmates.
Holding back tears, she recalled her personal experiences as a member of the church and how she was taught everyone outside the religion, including her father, would be sent to Armageddon.
She also highlighted women’s lowly position in the hierarchy of the organisation and how they are viewed as inferior to men.
“They cannot teach men. They cannot even speak at a podium in front of men as I am doing now,” she said. “They are not to question any decision made by a men. That is slander.”
Dissenting from the orthodoxy on church doctrine and practices is forbidden as a Jehovah's Witness and those who do are shunned by religious leaders. Independent thought is discouraged and is thought to have been introduced by the devil.
The most shocking allegations relate to women the girl spoke to, who were members of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, and wished to remain anonymous.
One, she called Jane, was allegedly interrogated by the church elders after she was raped, while at work as insurance salesperson.
The elders apparently said she tempted men by the way she dressed and that men were “only human”.
In order to be forgiven and not be excommunicated, or “disfellowshipped,” Jane was forced to dress more conservatively, quit her job and worst of all drop the charges against her attacker.
Another, called Donna, was allegedly molested by a man in her congregation when she was a young girl, but did not tell anyone because she knew nothing would be done.
It is claimed Donna was then abused physically and emotionally throughout 14 years of marriage and when she went to the church elders for support she was told it was her fault and should be a better wife.
Eventually Donna secured a divorce from her husband, but her torment did not end there. She was “disfellowshipped” from the organisation, which meant she was unable to speak to her friends or family members in the church.
“To make matters worse her children were taught not to speak to her because she was evil, they were isolated by her ex-husband and know nothing other than this religion. They are also terrified of disappointing their father and their god,” the girl said.
“The religion is separating a capable and loving mother from her children. Nothing could be more devastating for a mother.”
The church has battled with previous allegations of silencing victims of sexual abuse, to avoid embarrassing the church, but have always vigorously denied any wrongdoing.
In 2015 a Californian court ordered the Watch Tower Society, the company which runs the Jehovah's Witnesses, to pay $2.8m in damages after failing to disclosure the past abuse of a congregation member, which led to the sexual abuse of a nine-year-old girl.
After learning all the religion has hid from its members the girl finished her speech by saying she wanted “no part in it”.
“It is a religion that preaches love and acceptance, but the reality is everything is conditional. Love and acceptance is only extended as long as members practise absolute obedience and question nothing, ever,” she said.
“This religion destroys lives, destroys families and they do it largely unchecked… because they are really good at silencing the people who leave.”
The Jehovah's Witnesses were not immediately available for comment.
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