The Guardian and a warning to AQUILLA TEXAS: Jehovah´s Witnesses´ silencing techniques, as terrifying as child abuse
Growing up in a Jehovahs Witness family is different. As a child, I didnt celebrate birthdays, Christmas or July 4. Nor did I, or anyone I knew, mix with non-Witness families in Little League or Girl Scouts. Instead, I spent much of my time sharing the good news. I used to go door-to-door on my own with a big, strong, well liked man in my congregation, named Jonathan. I was just 9 and 10 when he repeatedly sexually abused me.
It is really hard for kids to speak up when theyre abused. But the Jehovahs Witnesses make it a lot harder.
They have a 2 Witness rule, which says that anyone who accuses an adult of abuse must have a second witness. If there is no second witness, the accuser is punished for a false accusation - usually by ordering that no Witness may talk with or associate with the false accuser. This is called dis-fellowshipping. For a kid raised only with other Witnesses, it was horrifying. Even your parents would have to ignore you. It was more terrifying than Jonathan.
It was the elders of my congregation who had assigned Jonathan to team up with me. When we separated from the others, he forced me into his pick-up truck and drove us to his house. Then he would say Lets play. It happened too many times. Like everyone else in the congregation, my parents liked Brother Jonathan and trusted him in our family.
My parents were consumed with some really huge problems in those years, and later divorced. I was emotionally alone - and wanted to be the best Jehovahs Witness I could be. Thats why I went out to field service - the door to door ministry that Witnesses are known for.
What my parents didnt know, was that Jonathan had sexually molested another girl in our congregation. The elders knew this and had kept it a secret. They were following orders from Watchtower leaders, based in the world headquarters in New York, who in 1989 had issued a top-secret instruction to keep known child sex abusers in the congregations a secret. This instruction became Exhibit 1 at my civil trial.
The elders and the Governing Body all knew that child molesters hide in religious groups and often are people who are likeable and friendly - like Jonathan. They knew molesters would likely do it again. But they chose to ignore the safety of the kids, in favor of protecting their image - and their bank account - from lawsuits. It was all in that 1989 letter.
A recent report by the Center for Investigative Reporting revealed that they have continued to issues directives urging silence around child abuse. Last November, elders were instructed to avoid taking criminal matters like child abuse to the authorities. Instead, they were told to handle them internally in confidential committees. The report also showed that Jehovahs Witnesses evoke the First Amendment to hide sex abuse claims.
It took me learning about Jonathans other victims for me to speak up. In 2009, I looked on Californias Megans Law website, the states official list of registered sex offenders. There, I found he had been convicted a few years before for sexually abusing another 8-year-old girl. I felt horribly guilty that I hadnt spoken up about him earlier. Now, I need to stop predators from doing this again.
The only way to end this abuse is by lifting this veil of secrecy once and for all.
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In AQUILLA TEXAS: Why Good Trade Deals Matter to a Business
Nick Martin is the co-founder of The Pro´s Closet, an online used-cycling business. He sent the following email to the White House list to highlight why a better trade deal means a brighter future for online businesses like his.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership isn´t just President Obama´s proposed trade deal -- it´s mine, too. It´s a trade deal that millions of other online small business owners in this country would be proud to add their name to. I want to tell you why:
Every time I step through the doors of one of our 4,000-square-foot warehouses in Boulder and Denver, Colorado -- every time I see the bikes and cycling parts that line those walls and take in the energetic buzz of our 30-member team -- I take a step back and reflect on a simple fact: I own a business. Its a "pinch-me" moment -- every time.
I am a cyclist and the proud co-owner of The Pro´s Closet, an online used-cycling store. And thanks to the Internet and the availability of e-commerce platforms like eBay, we´ve gone global. After all, when its not cycling season in the U.S., its peak season somewhere else in the world.
International customers aren´t just good for business abroad; theyre great for my Colorado communities. Why? Because selling in more markets means I can hire more people here at home. In fact, more small businesses are using the Internet to grow their business by reaching new customers they couldn´t reach before.
This is why trade is so important to me. If the success of American businesses in the global economy is important to you, say youre an ambassador for a better trade deal that delivers a brighter future for all of us.
It may seem like a really remote and technical issue, but it actually has a real impact on how small businesses like mine do business. Currently more than 40% of our transactions cross U.S. borders. Unfortunately, most of our trade rules were written in a "pre-Internet" era, which means they are a nightmare to navigate for small online businesses.
Heres an example: Right now, customs rules are so inconsistent and hard to follow that if we put a cycling part in the wrong packaging or mail it with the wrong label, it wont make it to our customer in one country. The rules are different for each country, and are sometimes set up in a way that completely blocks out American business.
That is why it is so important that we secure the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a new kind of trade agreement that will ensure America writes the rules and levels the playing field for online businesses and American workers by:
Reducing and eliminating tariffs across the Asia-Pacific region
Streamlining customs procedures
Making the rules more transparent, consistent, and less costly
Helping keep the Internet open and free, enabling online businesses to operate without unnecessary infrastructure costs
Of course, as the President has said, not all of our past trade deals have lived up to their promise. Thankfully, this trade deal is on track to be different. In fact, the Trans-Pacific Partnership is shaping up to be the most progressive trade deal the world has ever seen.
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