Petitioning Australian Charities And Not-for-profit Commission (ACNC)

Cancel The Watchtower Bible And Tract Society's Charity Status

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This petition is in direct support of the following concerns raised with The Australian Charities and Not-for-profit Commission (ACNC)

Case no. 291746

Case no. 290182

The nature of my concern relates to the uncharitable and harmful activities of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society or Jehovah's Witnesses. I learnt of these concerns as I was indoctrinated into the Jehovah's Witnesses as a child. In addition to my experience, a report entitled 'REPORT OF CASE STUDY NO. 29. The response of the Jehovah’s Witnesses and Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of Australia Ltd to allegations of child sexual abuse' was released on October 2016 by the Australian Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. The report can be found at: http://www.childabuseroyalcommission.gov.au/getattachment/c2d1f1f5-a1f2-4241-82fb-978d072734bd/Report-of-Case-Study-No-29 The seven example doctrines below also speak to a summary of the detrimental effects of the organisation:
1. Forbidding Blood Transfusions.
2. Disfellowshipping / Ostracism (includes ‘brazen conduct’). Shunning of ex-Jehovah's Witnesses is a cruel practice of ostracism (see Human Rights Articles 18 and 20). The Human Rights Commission has no jurisdiction over Institutions, therefore although this has been reported to them, they have no powers to act on this information.
3. Baptism age and consequences. Child below the age of consent are permitted to be baptism which is a dedication to the religion. If the child subsequently leaves the religion, they are subjected to the ostracism described in point 2. above. The impact of this practice on a child means that they are held captive by the organisation as they are shunned by their entire social and familial network.
4. Watchtower actively discourages university education.
5. Discrimination against female members is ingrained as the Jehovah's Witnesses believe that a women should be 'in subjection' (see Human Rights Article 2). The Human Rights Commission has no jurisdiction over Institutions, therefore although this has been reported to them, they have no powers to act on this information.
6. Child slave labour occurs routinely, for example in construction and food preparation, etc. (see Human Rights Article 4).The Human Rights Commission has no jurisdiction over Institutions, therefore although this has been reported to them, they have no powers to act on this information.
7. Biblical Judicial Committee. In the ongoing Australian Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, Jehovah's Witnesses revealed that in 1,006 cases of Child Sexual Abuse, not one of these were reported to the authorities. Instead, they were heard by a biblical 'judicial committee', allowing perpetrators to reoffend and victims to be traumatised. As 1,006 cases have now been reported to the Royal Commission, it is critical that the ACNC now investigate the released report to review charity concerns.

As harm is caused (as described in the example doctrines) in the areas of discouraging education, emotional harm and family division and its attitude to domestic violence and rape, it is now clear that the detrimental effects outweigh the beneficial aspects and that the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society cannot be considered charitable. Evidence of the charity actively harming vulnerable individuals is supported by 1,006 cases of Child Sexual Abuse reported to the Australian Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. Jehovah's Witnesses should be reclassified as a cult since their definition in practice described above matches that of a cult and not a religion. As the Charity Act 2013 states the purpose of advancing religion as a charitable purpose means that religious organisations that only hold church services can qualify as a charity, it should be noted that Jehovah's Witnesses are by definition a cult and not a religion. If you require further evidence we can provide it to you in the form of:
* copies of Royal Commission submissions, and/or
* copies of Police Reports, and/or
* statutory declarations.

The Australian Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse is ongoing and the Jehovah's Witnesses are due to reappear before the Commission on 10 March 2017 to hear Case Study 54. Case Study 54's scope includes:
* The current policies and procedures of Jehovah's Witnesses and Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of Australia Ltd in relation to child protection and child-safe standards, including responding to allegations of child sexual abuse;
* Factors that may have contributed to the occurrence of child sexual abuse at Jehovah's Witnesses and Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of Australia Ltd institutions;
* Factors that may have affected the institutional response of Jehovah's Witnesses and Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of Australia Ltd to child sexual abuse;
* The responses of Jehovah's Witnesses and Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of Australia Ltd to relevant case study report(s) and other Royal Commission reports;
* and any related matters.
A further report will be released after this, however this should not stop the ACNC from acting on what is already been established.

Please note that the UK Charity Commission has already commenced an investigation into the Watchtower Society (https://jwvictims.org/2016/04/19/the-uk-charity-commission-asks-to-hear-from-victims-of-the-watchtower-society/ I urge the ACNC to urgently contact the UK Charity Commission to commence dialogue (Nicholas.Beales@charitycommission.gsi.gov.uk) regarding the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society on behalf of the taxpayers of Australia.

This petition will be delivered to:
  • Australian Charities And Not-for-profit Commission (ACNC)

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