Elders and Confidentiality - Court Case

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Marina
Posts: 2142
Joined: 5 years ago

Elders and Confidentiality - Court Case

#1 Post by Marina » 11 months ago

Someone takes cannabis, gets disfellowshipped then he comes along and pushes someone over outside the KH car park. That one breaks his hip, elder witnesses it, goes to court and refuses to break confidentiality about why the one who took cannabis was thrown out.

The one who took cannabis had waived his right to confidentiality so the elder got fined. But on appeal the decision to fine him was overturned.

https://www.lawandreligionuk.com/2020/0 ... -v-warner/

Here's some quotes from the article;-
The role was underpinned by a principle of confidentiality, and any breach of that confidentiality would have serious consequences for Mr Warner and would lead to his removal, not only from eldership but also as a Jehovah’s Witness.
confidentiality underpinned the work of the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ elders and that an insistence on answering would therefore not only expose the appellant personally to very severe consequences but might also undermine the work of the elders generally. Given that the point which defence counsel wished to make could have been made in other ways, we think that it is strongly arguable that the discretion could have been exercised in the appellant’s favour … we think it is strongly arguable that the judge may, upon analysis, have concluded that more harm than good would result from compelling answers from the appellant.
Marina

Bobcat
Posts: 3316
Joined: 7 years ago

Re: Elders and Confidentiality - Court Case

#2 Post by Bobcat » 11 months ago

Hi Marina,

That was an interesting case, if I understood it correctly. I think it was hard to follow because they used the names. It would have been easier for me if they had used the characters. Here is how I understood the action and the three main characters:

Characters:
DFed man: Gets DFed for marijuana use. Goes to KH and pushes "JW Victim."

JW Victim: Is pushed by DFed man and breaks pelvis.

JW elder: Was on Judicial committee that DFed "DFed man." He also witnessed "DFed man" push "JW Victim."

The action:
DFed man is charged with a crime. In court, JW elder refuses to testify, claiming that he has penitent privilege as a clergyman and that WT legal has told him he will be removed as an elder and DFed himself if he testifies.

Jury says DFed man innocent due to lack of evidence. Judge charges JW elder with contempt and fines him for refusing to answer questions. JW elder appeals and gets released from contempt and fines as he was not aware that DFed man had waived his rights to confidentiality.

End result:
DFed man is free to go. JW elder is free to go. JW victim still has broken pelvis, and not so 'free to go' anymore.


Bobcat (Thinking 'something is crazy in Denmark.' Or, is this another case of WT defending its own rights [i.e. clergy-penitent privilege'] at the expense of the victim?)

ChetA
Posts: 4
Joined: 11 months ago

Re: Elders and Confidentiality - Court Case

#3 Post by ChetA » 11 months ago

I’ve had a real change of heart on this matter, of late. I used to think that ecclesiastical privilege needed to be respected, but at this point in time, I have come to the conclusion that it is just a holdover from the hegemony of the churches. Why should a title, appointment or ordination from a manmade organization change someone’s status in the eyes of the law?

The problem, as I see it, is that organized religion is a manmade construct. In ancient Israel, the priesthood was of Divine appointment and the entire nation was under the Law given to Moses, so the secular authorities would not be any different from the spiritual authorities. They would both be serving an identical law. A priest that heard of a sin punishable by death would have the obligation to enforce the Law of Moses. There would be no dichotomy of authority.

There are no God-appointed priests in our day, but no surfeit of people that claim to be God-appointed. The Bible Students were a non-organized group that studied the writings or Russell, but I don’t believe that they ever attempted to establish congregational discipline. There were no Ecclesiastics to confess to, this no ecclesiastical privilege. The JWs took a giant step into organized religion and, perhaps inadvertently, into the same trap that the churches fall victim too; claiming that there are members within that are afforded special status. In looking back, the Elder Arrangement strikes me as a turning point when instead of being a congregation comprised of ministers, it gradually took on a clergy:laity distinction, with one specific group allowed to hear confessions. This is in opposition to the biblical counsel to be open about our sins to one another.

Back in the ‘80s, I heard an elder speak about ecclesiastical privilege and was a bit surprised. It seemed a step in the direction of Christendom. But they now defend their secrecy based upon this legal status, which is not originated in scripture, but is a relic of the era when the churches held considerable political power. The Witnesses have long taught that Christendom would lose its influence and power before the end, but by adopting Christendom’s practices, they are subjecting themselves to the same fate.

Marina
Posts: 2142
Joined: 5 years ago

Re: Elders and Confidentiality - Court Case

#4 Post by Marina » 11 months ago

Hi Chet

Yes its the division of church and state. Jesus said his kingdom was no part of the world, which just left a secular state with no God given authority in the way that the Patriarchs such as Abraham or the Prophets, Kings and Judges of the House of Jacob had authority. That said, there are superior authorities, just as the Romans were in power in Jesus' day.

Christians are supposed to be brothers and sisters with the same Father via our mediator is Jesus Christ. Christians comprise an international body of people who are identified by their brotherly love for one another and their actions which reflect adherence to the teachings of Jesus Christ. Jesus did not break the Mosaic Law and as the King of God's Kingdom brought in certain changes (end of sacrifices in the temple etc) while maintaining the morality God requires of His spiritually clean people.
Marina

Bobcat
Posts: 3316
Joined: 7 years ago

Re: Elders and Confidentiality - Court Case

#5 Post by Bobcat » 11 months ago

Greetings ChetA and welcome to the forum.

Interesting thoughts in your post. Clergy privilege is usually something WT never mentions to the R&F. I think they also see it as one of the factors that help maintain their position/status among JWs, which probably explains why they defend it as they do. Any elder who breaks it (e.g. by reporting to the police) will get the ax. The fact that they continue to protect that privilege after handing appointments of elders over to COs, shows that that change had little to do with trying to be more scriptural. It appears to me more of an attempt at buffering themselves legally.


Bobcat

Stranger
Posts: 1901
Joined: 3 years ago

Re: Elders and Confidentiality - Court Case

#6 Post by Stranger » 11 months ago

Bobcat wrote:
11 months ago
Clergy privilege is usually something WT never mentions to the R&F.
How right you are Bobcat, it's always the other way around, the R&F mention it as coming from the holy spirit through the slave class channel. (JW broadcasting! :lol: )

That makes it pretty convenient for WT clergy I would think. They have trained them well.



Stranger

Orchid61
Posts: 566
Joined: 5 years ago

Re: Elders and Confidentiality - Court Case

#7 Post by Orchid61 » 11 months ago

May 8, 2020
Court: Raids on Jehovah's Witnesses were lawful

ZWOLLE (ANP) - The raids that justice did in church buildings and among elders of the Jehovah's Witnesses in 2018 were lawful and necessary for the police investigation. The court in Zwolle ruled that on Friday.

In the context of an investigation into alleged sexual abuse among the Jehovah's Witnesses, the judiciary raided the headquarters of the church organization in Emmen, a number of homes of elders and the Kingdom Halls in Assen and Dordrecht, two years ago. The prosecution sought documents from judicial committees that form the Jehovah's if a member is accused
child sexual abuse. The elders who initiated this complaint procedure are not suspects in these criminal investigations.

"This statement is very disturbing. We expect the government to respect the privilege of religious servants," said board member Michael van Ling of the Christian Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses in the Netherlands. "We will review our legal options for appeals."

The court rules that the elders cannot invoke the right of non-disclosure. "In this case, there is no confidentiality obligation that is part of the relationship of trust that mental health and care providers have with the person asking for help," the court ruled. "The information shared within the judicial committee is not entrusted to the elders in their role as counselors, but in their role as members of the judicial committee."

Elders Jehovah's should not remain silent in case of NRC abuse May 9, 2020

Can an elder of Jehovah's Witnesses Netherlands, a Christian community of about thirty thousand members, invoke the right of nondisclosure that applies to clergy?

That question was central to a case filed by Jehovah's Witnesses Netherlands after police raids and searches by elders and at the headquarters in Emmen.

The raids took place on November 19, 2018 and were part of a criminal investigation into nine (former) members of the Jehovah's Witnesses. They are suspected of sexual abuse. The organization complained that they consider the raids “intimidating and wrongful”. Elders, the Jehovah's Witnesses attorney said, are subject to what is known as a right of nondisclosure and need not simply reveal a secret they have been told in confidence.

The court in Zwolle does not agree with that, as the decision revealed on Friday. According to the judge, an elder who investigates an abuse case does not provide spiritual care.

In addition, a secret does not necessarily remain secret within the religious community. Reports of sexual abuse are often made by an internal
Committee of Elders that determines what to do with the alleged perpetrator. This means that the right of non-disclosure expires, according to the judge. "There is no functional duty of confidentiality."

Sexual abuse covered
Earlier this year, the organization also went to court to block the publication of an investigation into sexual abuse within the community through summary proceedings. This was also rejected by the judge.
The report, commissioned by the Ministry of Justice and Security, from Utrecht University, showed that hundreds of people within the Dutch community of Jehovah's Witnesses reported abuse during childhood and that this abuse was covered up. It is not always reported to the police, there is no adequate help for victims, and perpetrators are tried by an internal justice system, the report said.
The church may appeal in cassation against Friday's ruling. In a response, board member Michael van Ling calls the court ruling "very disturbing." "We expect the government to respect the privilege of non-disclosure of religious ministers."

ChetA
Posts: 4
Joined: 11 months ago

Re: Elders and Confidentiality - Court Case

#8 Post by ChetA » 11 months ago

Bobcat wrote:
11 months ago
Greetings ChetA and welcome to the forum.

Interesting thoughts in your post. Clergy privilege is usually something WT never mentions to the R&F. I think they also see it as one of the factors that help maintain their position/status among JWs, which probably explains why they defend it as they do. Any elder who breaks it (e.g. by reporting to the police) will get the ax. The fact that they continue to protect that privilege after handing appointments of elders over to COs, shows that that change had little to do with trying to be more scriptural. It appears to me more of an attempt at buffering themselves legally.


Bobcat
Years ago, an elder with whom I was friends, told me about Ecclesiastical Privilege, apparently having learned about it in one of their endless schools for elders. I learned the hard way, that not all elders respected the privacy of publishers and on more than one occasion, I have been told of confidential matters, even though I was not an elder. (Having seen some corrupt dealings by certain elders, I had no desire to become one and was the subject of great criticism because of this.)

Ecclesiastical Privilege, as Marina stated, comes down to a church/state authority issue. Church and State have been going back and forth on these matters for some time and it usually ends up as a bit of a deadlock. The State can’t force someone to speak, but they can withhold the favored treatment of the Church. If the State literally raids the churches, that will cause a lot of unrest among the populace, so they tend to limit their actions to sanctions, while at least some churches push the boundaries and act as if they are above the law. When the JWs started speaking of Ecclesiastical Privilege, they placed themselves solidly on the turf of the churches.

The game was bad enough in the past, but nowadays, with the child abuse issues that have arisen, churches possess information that the secular authorities find very interesting. Coupled with the downturn of authority held by the mainstream churches, the State is beginning to assert more power and because a lower percentage of the population attends church, the political clout of the churches is not what it used to be. What I find astounding is that the JWs have predicted this very thing for as long as I can remember, yet they chose to throw in with the churches on the matter of Ecclesiastical Privilege.
Stranger wrote:
11 months ago
Bobcat wrote:
11 months ago
Clergy privilege is usually something WT never mentions to the R&F.
How right you are Bobcat, it's always the other way around, the R&F mention it as coming from the holy spirit through the slave class channel. (JW broadcasting! :lol: )

That makes it pretty convenient for WT clergy I would think. They have trained them well.

Stranger
The whole authority structure of the Organization is based upon circular logic. If I told you that I was the best banjo player in the world, and you asked how I could possibly know that, what would be my proof? If I said that because I am the best banjo player in the world, this uniquely equips me to know who is best, then I’m calling upon my self proclaimed authority to back up my claim to possess authority.

Organization: “We’re the Faithful and Discreet Slave”.

Me: “Why should I listen to you on this matter?”

Organization: “Because we’re the Faithful and Discreet Slave.”

You can iterate the argument as many times you like, but it still reduces to the Organization telling its adherents that they have to listen to the Organization, because it is the Organization that you have to listen to. Such reasoning can be seen throughout history and is the sort of thing despots use. Like all bullies, eventually such a facade of authority crumbles and we see that there is nothing behind the claims. In the meantime, a lot of lives are being damaged.

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