WHEN A RELIGION BECOMES BIG(Investigator 161, 2015 March)
This article is in two parts.
Part 1 tells of some Jehovah's Witnesses who made news.
Part 2 attempts to explain why it's happening.
Jehovah's Witnesses in England recently baptized Peter Sutcliffe (b. 1945) known as the "Yorkshire Ripper".
The Yorkshsire Ripper was jailed for life in 1981 for murdering 13 women and mutilating others with hammers, screwdrivers and knives between 1975 and 1981 in Yorkshire and Greater Manchester.
He was transferred to Broadmoor high security hospital in Berkshire in 1984 after being diagnosed with schizophrenia.
He was baptized at Broadmoor by JWs after 15 years of visits from them.
DELROY EASTON GRANT
In 1998 the London Metropolitan Police launched Operation Minstead which became the largest rape investigation ever undertaken by London Police.
The rapist, known as the "Night Stalker", was not converted in prison like Peter Sutcliffe but committed his crimes as an active, righteous JW.
The Night Stalker was a JW in good standing who terrorized London with about 100 sexual assaults on elderly women between 1991 and 2009. He found some of his victims while going door to door.
In 2011 Jamaican-born Delroy Grant (b. 1959), a father of eight and carer for his disabled former wife, was found guilty and ordered to serve a minimum of 27 years in prison.
Grant broke into the homes of over 90 elderly women aged between 68 and 93 after watching their homes for days, and cutting telephone lines before striking. He was positively linked to four rapes and about 30 other sexual assaults. Other victims were too traumatized to make official allegations. The injuries hastened the deaths of some of his victims.
To his neighbors Grant seemed a charming, decent church-goer who cared for his disabled ex-wife.
Grant arrived in Britain at age 16 with his father. Although separated from Jennifer, his second wife, he was employed as her full-time carer for multiple sclerosis and paralysis — and they attended at the same Kingdom Hall.
Jehovah's Witnesses Phillip Garrido (b. 1951) and his wife Nancy subdued an 11-year old girl in 1991 with a stun gun and held her captive for 18 years.
The girl, Jaycee Dugard, was repeatedly raped and eventually produced two daughters who went door-to-door distributing Watchtowers.
In 2011 Phillip Garrido was sentenced to 431 years and Nancy to 36 years.
Jaycee tells her story in A Stolen Life (2011).
MARK ORRIN BARTON
Mark Orrin Barton (1955-1999) of Stockbridge, Georgia, USA, was a JW who killed 12 people and injured 13 others at two Atlanta trading firms, making him Atlanta's greatest mass murderer.
Afterwards he killed himself to avoid capture by police.
Prior to his shooting spree Barton murdered his second wife and two children in his home with hammer blows. He left a letter which said in part:
I know that Jehovah will take care of them in the next life… If Jehovah is willing, I would like to see all of them again in the resurrection, to have a second chance. I don't plan to live very much longer, just long enough to kill as many of the people that greedily sought my destruction… (The Sun Herald 1999, August)
Frederick McLean (b. 1951) was a JW ministerial servant in California who sexually abused girls aged 3 to 12 in the congregation where he served. He went on the run in 2004 and remains one of America's "most wanted".
NBC News reported:
Frederick McLean is one of the most-wanted fugitives in the United States, charged with 17 counts of child sexual abuse in California…
Authorities identified at least eight victims that McLean allegedly abused over the course of nearly a decade. One victim estimated McLean molested her "over 100 times," … (2007 November 21)
NBC News further reported that some families filed suit alleging that both McLean's local congregation and the Watchtower Society, "knew, or should have known, that Frederick McLean was a pedophile."
Nine cases were settled without the church admitting wrongdoing. The settlements were confidential but NBC News obtained a copy of one settlement and "the church agreed to pay $781,250…"
In 1996 the Chicago Tribune reported:
The Dutroux case has horrified people throughout Europe…
Although Dutroux purports to be a devout Jehovah's Witness, he has a troubled background and long history of criminal behaviour. (1996, September 3)
Over a period of 11 years Dutroux abducted 15 girls and several older women, raped all of them, sold several into sexual slavery, and let four girls, aged 8 to 12, starve to death in his cellar.
Jeffrey Anderson was a JW in Canada who sexually abused his two stepchildren and later gunned down the children and their mother [Kim].
In line with JW shunning rules Kim's former husband James Kostelniuk (b.1948) was banned from visiting his wife and two children when he left the sect. After her divorce from Kostelniuk, Kim married Jeffrey Anderson.
The Winnipeg Free Press in 1987 reported:
Kostelniuk, a 39-year-old Winnipeg bus driver, had become disillusioned with the Watchtower doctrine after Christ failed to bring about a predicted Armageddon in 1975… In 1978 he decided to leave his marriage, his children and his friends to start life over. (1987, February 10)
Kostelniuk was a second-generation JW. He tells his story in Wolves Among Sheep (2009, Harper-Collins).
A book review says in part:
Compelled to write the book as an expression of sorrow and love for the family so cruelly taken from him, Kostelniuk also had a deep need to arrive at some understanding of why these senseless murders took place. This question led him to expose the influence of the Jehovah's Witness organization that wielded total control over Kim's life, as it had over himself…
Details of crimes by Jehovah's Witnesses that were not as horrible as the above but were still awful, can be found on the Internet and in newspapers by hundreds. The Internet has websites that specialize in producing long lists.
There are items such as:
- Dewitt man guilty of molesting boy (The Pantagraph (September 16, 1995)
- Another crooked lawyer—How church elder Shandro plundered his clients (Alberta Law Report 1985, September 23)
- Skinhead pleads guilty to murder (The Telegraph, December 8, 1995)
- Biblical beating kills girl (Chicago Sun-Times, November 13, 2001)
- Jehovah's Witness tortured foster children (The Times 2007, March 21)
WHAT'S GOING ON?
JWs as a group should not be regarded as worse lawbreakers than other large groups. Statistics proving they are worse are not available.
JWs themselves claim to be "the best people in the world":
They are making better fathers, better mothers, better children, in fact, the best people in the world.
(The Watchtower 1970 4/15 248)
A clue to what may be happening appears in the above quoted Winnipeg Free Press:
Kostelniuk, a 39-year-old Winnipeg bus driver, had become disillusioned with the Watchtower doctrine after Christ failed to bring about a predicted Armageddon in 1975…
What is happening is that two threats which JWs live under and which control their conduct, the threats of Armageddon and of excommunication, are losing their potency.
Armageddon failed to occur in 1975, and again during "the generation of 1914", and again "within our twentieth century".
Therefore many JWs can no longer be terrorized into full conformity. They no longer truly fear that Armageddon might strike while they are in a bad, sinful state and God's angels kill them forever.
The sect practices disfellowshipping (excommunication) of non-conformists; and of doubters who doubt that it alone of all religions is "God's organization"; and of "sinners" for a range of sins.
Disfellowshipping means ostracism, extreme shunning — not even getting a "hello" from former friends and family members.
It is estimated that a quarter of JWs stay in the sect and give token service to avoid the pain that disfellowshpping would cause them.
However, people who stay when they don't really believe probably lack the motivation to be more law abiding than the general population — their standards start to slide.
Furthermore, disfellowshipping is itself not as threatening as it used to be. Elders no longer monitor everyone as effectively as before which means "sinners" have good chances of escaping notice. And if a person is disfellowshipped this can often be reversed within a year.
Active JWs now number over 8 million worldwide. They are big enough to be part of mainstream religion and do mainstream things such as organize prison ministries for convicted criminals like Peter Sutcliffe. Going mainstream also means more JWs behave like the mainstream and become newsmakers like Frederick McLean and Delroy Grant.
To put it simply, it is difficult for religions to be both big and exceptionally good.
[Note: For extra information on persons mentioned in this article use Google Search. Type the name and perhaps add "Jehovah" after it.]
The facts about JWs; the truth which their Governing Body often withholds and hides; revealed on this website: