Dear friends and fellow Washingtonians,
As someone who was once a born-in 30 year member of the Jehovah’s Witness community, served 7+ years in the Computer Department at their World Headquarters in New York, and has seen firsthand the challenges of balancing religious beliefs and legal and ethical responsibilities, I want to express my support for House Bill 1098, which would make clergy mandatory reporters of child abuse or neglect in Washington state.
Jehovah’s Witnesses have long preached about the “how much more so” principle Jesus promoted (Luke 11:11-13, Matthew 7:11) , which encourages individuals to do even more good than what is required of them. However, when it comes to child protection, I believe that this principle must be applied more strictly to prioritize the safety and well-being of children above any religious practice.
It is clear that the Jehovah’s Witnesses, like many other religious organizations, have struggled to balance the duty to report suspected child abuse with the confidentiality of spiritual matters. However, we must recognize that the safety and well-being of children should always take precedence, and that any religious principle should be subservient to this primary objective.
By making clergy mandatory reporters of child abuse or neglect, we can take a significant step towards protecting the most vulnerable members of our society. This is especially important given the recent allegations of sexual assault cover-ups by the Jehovah’s Witnesses in Washington state, which have highlighted the inadequacy of the state’s current reporting requirements.
As someone who has witnessed the devastating impact of child sex abuse on many friends and family members, I know firsthand the importance of reporting such incidents and ensuring that abusers are held accountable for their actions. It is my belief that by applying the “how much more so” principle in the context of child protection, we can help prevent cycles of abuse and provide the support and justice that victims need.
Brandon Gregory Fiquett