Gry Nygård has been a Witness for Jehovah for more than 30 years, and the worship of Jehovah has filled her whole life. On one occasion in 2018, a man whom she knew had oral sex with her while she was sleeping. This is defined as rape by Norwegian Criminal law. After this incident, she contacted the elders in her congregation and asked for help. Instead of giving her help, she was disfellowshipped. But exactly which sin she had committed for which she was disfellowshipped was not mentioned. To the contrary, in the District Court and the Court of Appeals, two elders from the judicial committee and two from the appeal committee gave four different accounts that contradicted each other as to why she was disfellowshipped. Because no evidence that she had committed sexual immorality was presented by the committee members, objectively speaking she was disfellowshipped because she was raped.
The proceedings of the District Court were videotaped, and what the witnesses said to the court was played in the Court of Appeals. Below is the transcript of what Nygård said to the court based on the videotape.
Big boys don’t cry. But when I for the first time read what Nygård said to the court, I wanted to cry. This is a very strong reading! This fine sister was first manipulated by the three elders in the judicial committee who did not show any mercy or discernment, but they destroyed her life without any reason. Then she was manipulated by the three elders in the appeal committee who neither showed mercy nor discernment and who consented with the elders in the judicial committee about disfellowshipping.
Nygård is still worshipping Jehovah. She attends the meetings of the congregation by Zoom, she studies the Bible, and she tries to live in the same way that she did before she was disfellowshipped. I have spoken with her many times and asked questions, and I have no doubt that what she said to the court is true. She has a strong conscience, and from her point of view, just to tell one lie would destroy her relationship with Jehovah.
. See my analysis of the court cases in two parts in the category “disfellowshipping” on www.mybelovedreligion.no.
THE WITNESS TESTIMONY OF GRY NYGÅRD
This is an oral account that is transcribed exactly the way the participants spoke. This means that often there are not full grammatical sentences.
Translated by Rolf J. Furuli
D: The judge.
DA: The counsel of Gry Nygård
G: Gry Nygård
R: The counsel of Jehovah’s Witnesses
D: Let us see. What is your full name?
G: Gry Helen Molland Nygård
D: When were you born?
D: Your address?
D: Your occupation?
G: On disability aid.
D: The situation is that what you say to the court must be true. If you are in doubt, please say that. You have legal liability if you give false information to the court. The same is the case if you do not give information that is of importance to the case. You are obliged to explain things that are relevant for the case even when you are not asked about that. When you are going to speak, you must give a declaration, and I ask if you will solemnly and sincerely declare the truth and nothing but the truth and not conceal anything. So please repeat: “I solemnly and sincerely declare.”
G: “I solemnly and sincerely declare.”
D: Please, counsel Danielsen.
DA: I will start with the beginning. Can you tell a little about your background as a Jehovah’s Witness? When did you become a member? How did it happen, and what happened after that?
G: Yes, I grew up in a family, and we were not Jehovah’s Witnesses. My mother started to study when I was a few years old. So when I was 15, almost 16, I became baptized and became a Witness. My family did not know about it; it was one hundred percent my choice. It was — please wait a minute — it was on July 11, 1987.
DA: Why did you make this choice?
G: Because I felt that this was the way I wanted to live…and my faith, I had worked a lot with my faith. I felt that being baptized as a Jehovah’s Witness accorded with what I had studied and was right in connection with what I believed was the truth. It was a choice that was based on what I had discovered —I had studied a lot of things. So I felt this was the right thing to do.
DA: Do you acknowledge the same faith today?
G: Absolutely, absolutely. Nothing has changed for me. I made a dedication and a baptism at that time, and regardless of what has happened after that, nothing has changed for me.
DA: I see, so your faith is the same today?
G: It is the same today as it has been all the time.
DA: Can you say anything about your network of friends since you became a Witness, particularly recently. What friends have you had and…?
G: Like most people, you are mostly together with the persons that you often meet. Here is where your network of friends develops. I also have a family. But when I grew up and moved away from home and to different places in the country, my network of friends has been in the congregation where I was. But I also have many friends roundabout. This is what I have had time for. My network of friends has been satisfying and good. And my network has grown as the years have passed.
DA: How many friends have you had in the congregations?
G: I will say that I have [laughing]… I feel that I still have the same friends. But I cannot speak with them. I am speaking about thousands.
DA: Thousands, yes.
G: So many friends that it is a problem of luxury to keep so many friends.
DA: That is true. And what about your family? You mentioned your mother and that you have two children who are Jehovah’s Witnesses? Anyone else that you have not mentioned?
G: Yes, I have cousins, their wives and children, and an aunt. They are a part of my network of friends. I meet them at meetings and assemblies when the situation is normal, as I say. I think very much about this.
DA: Do you have friends outside the congregation?
G: I have almost no friends in that category — close friends. I have not had time to take care of friendships outside in addition to those I have had in the congregation — and previous friendships. I often meet the same persons in the supermarket. But they do not know me. They are acquaintances but not friends.
DA: People who recognize you.
G: Yes. But these are not persons I contact or contact me asking how I am. So there is no network outside the congregation. Persons who are for mutual support in the situation where I am — it takes many years to develop such friendships.
DA: That is true. Then we come to March 2018, to March 10, 2018.
DA: Can you tell with your own words what happened? You can start a few days before that if you like.
G: The prehistory — much of that is relevant — is that when I visited a woman who is a friend of mine, I met a man whom I knew when I was young, But I had not seen him for 25 years. We had a conversation, and he was in the same situation that I was; his wife had left him. I felt it was good to speak with a person who had some experience. I was in the same situation, and I felt that I was thrown into this situation of which I was not prepared for and which I…There are few persons you can speak with about such a situation.
DA: What do you mean when you say that he was in the same situation as you?
G: That he in a way was divorced, but that he was not free to remarry because there was no porneia. We were in the same situation because my husband had demanded separation without having a biblical reason for that. So I was bound to him, even though he had demanded separation… Therefore, I felt that it was good to speak with someone who was in the same situation.
DA: So you were in the same family situation?
G: That is one way to put it.
DA: Yes, please continue.
G: He was self-employed, and he did not have much time for a vacation. So sometimes, he made a trip to Oslo, and that was his way of taking a vacation. Then he asked here and there if someone would like to meet him in his mini-vacation. And because I had met him, I was one of those he asked. But most persons had their own plans. I did not have any plans, and I felt it was good for me to experience something outside my home after a very tough winter. I thought that it was good for me to leave my flat, and therefore I accepted the invitation. At the outset, the meaning was that we should not be alone. He had invited several other persons, but it turned out that I was the only one that could come.
In connection with the invitation, I had no special goal. If I had meant to be together with a man out of the sight of others, I had not met him at Oslo Plaza. It was Grand Prix in Oslo Spectrum [a building beside Hotel Plaza], and there were not few people who were around that day. But to be seen by others was no problem for me. I was not afraid of that because I did not have any other goal than to experience something outside my home and to speak with someone — and possibly meet others if someone else had accepted his invitation.
DA: So, what was your agreement?
G: We agreed that I should come to Oslo. He had already booked a room at the hotel in connection with his mini-vacation. That was his custom. He knew that I was sick, and therefore he suggested that we should share a meal together at the hotel. After that, I would take a train or a taxi home, depending on how tired I was, so I should not have to walk for a long time. The purpose was not that we should walk around, only that we should spend some time together in order to talk with each other. Therefore he said that he wanted that we should eat at the restaurant at the hotel so I should not walk a long distance.
DA: You said that you are sick; can you tell us something about your sickness?
G: Yes, my basic diagnosis is ME, which is a chronic fatigue syndrome, and that cannot be cured. I have been on disability aid since 2005, and partially I use a wheelchair, and I have many different tools that I can use. And I have very much — in long periods of time, I feel bad, and I am exhausted. But there are also periods where I feel better and function relatively well. It is not easy to know how it is; I wish I could solve the situation.
DA: I interrupted you a little, but you said that this was the reason that you met each other then?
G: Yes, that was the background because he wanted to treat me in a good way because I was not well. He wanted that I should… I understood that he wanted, or he asked if I would relax or take a rest before I went away. I understood that he cared for me because of my sickness.
DA: Just to go a little further, you said that you should get your coats. Did you then go to his room?
G: Yes, we left our coats when we were on our way up
DA: Up to the restaurant?
G: Yes, up to the restaurant. We left our coats, and when we went down from the restaurant, we should get our coats.
DA: Yes, you had dinner at the top?
G: Yes, I do not remember the name of the restaurant, but it was on the top.
DA: On the top of Oslo Plaza. And then you said that you went down to get your coats?
DA: Then you went down after?
G: When we were on our way down, he has mentioned some details, but embracing and such things, I have no recollection of that.
DA: Can you try to recollect the memories that you have?
G: I remember that we were there and that we spoke with each other. But I do not remember what we talked about. I remember that I lay down on the bed. I had boots on and…
D: Can you please speak a little louder? Take the microphone…
G: Yes, sure. I sit a little backward.
D: If we cannot fix it.
G: Is it better now?
G: Thanks, then …where were we?
DA: You said…You said that you lay down on the bed.
G: Yes, I remember that. After that…
DA: You said something regarding your clothes. I do not know what you said about that.
G: I had boots reaching over the knees, such long boots, and pants, and a jacket. I remember that because I had boots on, I placed myself diagonally on the bed [showing with her hands] so, I should not make the bed dirty. Basically, I remember very little. But I do not remember anything related to sex.
G: Absolutely nothing that has to do with sex. I have not. But what I remember is that I woke up in the morning without clothes with a feeling of…The first thing I thought was: “What? What is this? What happened here?” I was very confused, and I was very uncertain because I did not, I did not know what had happened, so to speak. Because of my previous history, I am not the kind of person who raises up quickly and cries loudly: “Oh, what have you done?” Or something like that. I am a person who looks inside myself. And I try to analyze and try to find out what had happened. And that was what I did, I tried to find something out. And he — the time was about 11:30 when I woke up. So I got dressed, and we just left the room. We spoke very little together. I did not know what to say, and I did not know what to do. I did not know what this was. I was simply extremely confused. And I had no feeling that he had had sex with me. I had no feeling…no feeling in my body, and this made me also confused because I was naked. For I believe that I would have felt it if there had been sexual intercourse because it is so long time since I have been together with my previous husband. So I… it made me very confused. I did not know how I should interpret this situation…I did not view myself as free to remarry.
So I did not think clearly. I had not sat down and studied the boundary for what I could do and not do, because I felt that I was bound. And I was satisfied with that because I wanted very much to be inside the guidelines that were given and to have a good relationship with God. So I did not have any need to go as close to the boundary as possible. So I had not made a thorough study of what porneia is because I have been married for almost 25 years. Then it is good to have sex and not good to have sex. And I neither looked for a man nor wanted to have a man because I was bound to my husband.
DA: I understand. But how did you get to know what had happened?
G: He told it to me, what he had done. That I was…. He.. when we went out of the hotel room he said to me that he had a very bad conscience. I said that I did not know what he meant by that. I only know what do you mean by what you have said? Then he said that he had passed the boundary of porneia. I only answered: “I do not know what you mean?” “What is it that you are saying?” He did not at that time give any details about it, except that he had crossed the boundary of porneia — and I was so confused. I did not know what had happened; I did not know what he had done. Then there was a telephone at a later time. I do not remember if that was in the evening or the next day. I do not remember that. Then he told me that he had had oral sex with me, or on me, so to speak.
DA: So this he told you in the telephone?
G: Yes, he told me that in the telephone. It was one sentence, and that was it.
DA: And what did you think?
G: I almost vomited. I reacted very strongly. And I felt…… I did not know how I should tackle this emotionally. But I believed what he said. I did not have any reason not to believe what he said, even though I had no memory of such a thing. I became very… because I had experienced abuse earlier, so I felt that several things returned to me and overwhelmed me, so I did not have the power to ask for more details. I felt it was too shocking to hear. So I just listened. And I did not ask anymore. I felt that I could not handle it. And I did not want to know what he had done because I became unwell.
DA: Mm… And then we have a picture of you with a wound above your eye and a sick-journal.
G: mm [nodding in agreement]
DA: I do not know what you thought when you visited the doctor. This has been a subject.
G: Yes, I know that. And I went into what we may call a bubble that I…A searching for one, what is that. I went into a bubble and I was beside myself. I wanted to know what that was, to get..so I could handle the situation in the right way. But I did not know what it was. I did not know how to handle the situation. I only felt that a great number of emotions were coming. Bad feeling, strange feelings, confusing feelings. It was a very tough situation. And I…the morning I woke up. I was on my way to the toilet, and I got a sting, and everything turned around for me. The only thing I remember is that I lay with my head inside the shower cabinet. I had sat down in the closet, then I fell, and I fainted. Everything was chaotic, and I was bleeding. I was not able to look in the mirror. But I took a piece of paper and put it behind my glasses [showing]. I was completely exhausted. I lay down on the sofa, and I woke up a few hours later when the phone rang. During that conversation, I looked into the mirror, took the paper away, and I said: “I must stop our conversion because I must go to the emergency department.” Then I first realized what had happened. I was…I did not understand fully what had happened after I fainted. I was completely…It was like, in a way [gesticulates with her hands]. It was so many things at one time [takes a deep breath]. Can you pose the question one time more? I forgot what it was.
DA: We can go on. The emotions that you mentioned, they overwhelmed you. Was it more — I was almost saying — more emotions than you use to have?
G: For a long time I had been in a special situation in my marriage, and I had reported my husband to the police for violence against me, and this was considered by the police. I expected an investigation. There were so many things, and I was very vulnerable and stressed. So when I came to the emergency department, I did not come to tell about abuse or rape. But I came to get help for my eyebrow. I had not spoken with anyone about the situation, only him. About what had happened. I thought that when you for a long time experience a bad situation and you tell someone about it, the person will not believe what you say. There was one situation about the abuse of my husband, and the elders in the congregation did not believe what I said. You cannot speak with all your friends about such things. A great part of my life consisted of not telling anybody what really happened, so I did not see any need to tell anyone at the emergency department what had happened. I was afraid to tell my life history. I was there to be treated for my eyebrow, so to speak. And there were seven stitches — I was not there to find a psychologist.
DA: No, I understand. But then you contacted KS [An elder in her congregation] by SMS. Why did you do that?
G: Because already on Sunday, I felt that I needed help in this situation. I did not know what it was. I know what he said what he meant it was, but I was not certain about my own role. I did not know what had happened. I only knew that I was naked. And I did not know what the definition of all these things was, according to the instructions. Shall I have a good conscience? Shall I have a bad conscience? For what? I did not know all this. So I thought that in connection with this, I will speak to an elder for safety’s sake. Because I do not want to have something sticking with me, that is unsettled. The issue here is what I feel inside myself, that I must have a good conscience. If not, I will destroy my honesty. Also, in connection with my integrity and the way I live my life. Then. I… for me it is important to feel…I myself have chosen to live according to these moral standards. No one has asked me to do that. This is exclusively my own choice. And for me, it is important to continue with this in one way or another. Even though I… I have seen the elders. It was not.., I have experienced many things by the body of elders that have not been positive. But I have strong confidence in the elder arrangement. I thought that everyone must get a chance, so I contacted KS because he is in my group — there are different groups in the congregation. He was not present at the meeting on Sunday, so I thought I would speak to him at the meeting on Tuesday. He was present at that meeting. But immediately after the meeting, he went to a meeting of elders. Therefore, I sent a message and asked if I could speak with him.
DA: So, you had confidence in KS?
G: Yes, I did not have any reason not to have confidence in him. And I had confidence in the elder arrangement. That someone has said or done something bad to me in the past does not mean that he will do that again. So I thought. The elder arrangement as such, it…It was a natural thing for me to seek help from the elders.
DA: Mm. For you said that it was something unclear for you what really had happened? How should you make a system of it?
G: Yes, I did not know where I should place the different things.
DA: Did you think that the elders would help you?
G: Yes, yes. That was the reason why I wrote that I needed help to handle the situation. I wanted help to put together the puzzle if I can use that expression. And this issue I had not studied thoroughly. I had not seen the need for that previously, to use that expression.
DA: But you use the word porneia in one of the messages..
G: Yes, I wrote that. If I was guilty of porneia or not — the reason for that was that he had said that he was guilty of porneia. I was uncertain whether that included me. What is porneia? What are the rules in connection with it? That was the reason I sent a message to them so I could understand that. I did not feel that I had done something wrong. But at the same time, I felt that the whole situation I was in was… This was a situation that I would not like to be in.
G: It was thrown upon me to use that expression, so I….
DA: And then you sent the messages. An then you had the first meeting?
G: Yes, I was asked to come a little before … It was the weekend meeting in the Ski congregation, Sunday at 5 p.m. And I was asked if I could come at 4 o’clock. So a little past 4, I met them, and we had a conversation of about 30 minutes — before the regular meeting. It was REA and KS that were present at the meeting. The only thing I had to do was to tell about the different things that had happened. And I felt I gave a good account about what had happened, so they could have a picture of what had happened. But I could not tell them about something that I did not remember. So I could only tell about what I remembered, so I told that. They asked about what he had done to me. And then I told them that he had oral sex with me. It was…I did not give any details — I felt it was unpleasant — and also because I revealed what he had done. The relationship with the congregation relates to what I have done. And they did not know, and I did not know what I should tell in that connection. But what I really do know is that I would never have given my consent to staying the night in the room if I had any choice. But I did not have any choice.
DA: Did they get a description that was just as detailed as the one you have given the court today?
G: Yes [nodding]
DA: That you slept and woke up, and everything that he told you in hindsight of what had happened, and so forth. So what do you think in connection with this case, that there has been a confession?
G: Well, I wonder what they mean, what they mean by a confession. I have never said that I have committed sexually immoral actions. First of all, I have no memory of that, and I, I know where it comes from. So I react strongly in connection with that. I have tried to ask, and I have looked at the letters that I have written. Can anyone explain that to me? Can we have a dialogue? Please tell me. Can we have a meeting? I do not know what it is. Now, it is the first part of October. I believe that it was in October in the statement of case from the other part. That is the first time I saw that someone claimed that I have made a confession, and I wonder what this confession is. Because I cannot tell anything about or confess something I do not know.
DA: That is right. Then we come to March 18., right, then you had a meeting with KS and REA.
DA: And you had another meeting four days after that.
DA: Can you tell us about that?
G: At the end of the first meeting they said that everything was OK. A few days passed, and Wednesday, KS and TG called me and asked if I could come to a meeting that day at 6:30 p.m. I said that I would come. I did not have… I…They did not say that there was an accusation against me. I viewed this as a continuance of the first meeting. But I, and at that time I did not have any knowledge of the instructions or anything. So I had a sincere belief that they followed the instructions, and that was OK — I did not have any reason for not coming to the meeting. I could not make any demands, so, of course, I would come…I had asked to speak with them so they could help me. And I believed that there should be a new meeting where they possibly would have more persons to help me.
But when I came to the meeting, they said that the reason for the meeting was what had happened with you that you had told. For example, they did not tell me that they believed that I had done something wrong. That was, in a way, the introduction. Then they asked me to tell everything that I had told previously because TG had not been present at the first meeting. So I did the same one time more. So I did the best I could regarding what had happened. And they posed some questions around it, and I had no feeling that this was going in a particular direction. I had no feeling about… they did not say that I had committed a sin or not. They only asked questions about what had happened and a little about what I thought about it. What did I feel about meeting him, and if I used to meet someone in this way. I said that this was something I did not do. I had met other men previously, but with another purpose. I had been at Burger King and shared a meal with KS and his kids without his wife being present. Similar situations had occurred. My brother and I had been at a restaurant and had dinner, and he was not my husband. But I have never gone and never met someone, and I did not view the man as anything but a friend. So my intentions were only to come out from my home and nothing else.
DA: Mm. Was this the word the judicial committee use at this meeting?
G: I cannot remember that. But in that case I would have reacted because I did not understand that they accused me of having committed a sin. And therefore, I was shocked when they came and told me that I would be disfellowshipped. Because I did not understand that this was a judicial committee. That was what I understood. When I look at it in hindsight, I see that I…I had wished I had known more about the instructions.
DA: You have mentioned this, but…
G: Of course, I cannot say one hundred percent that they did not say that [it was a judicial meeting]. But I did not understand that. So I cannot say they are lying [when the elders claimed they said it was a judicial meeting]. But the whole context, the whole situation…
DA: Did you confess any sin at that meeting??
G: Not the sin I have been accused of [sexual immorality]. But I said that I had a strong feeling of guilt because I did not see it. What shall I say when I look back? One may think that I should not have been there, that I should not have traveled to Oslo. There are many things that I should have done differently. So looking back, I have a strong feeling of guilt— I was naïve in that context. But I have never confessed that I have done something that…I do not know what that should be. I have not agreed with anything, neither spending the night in the hotel nor what he did to me.
DA: How do you analyze from hindsight that you felt guilt? If you will look back now?
G: When you have lived many years in a marriage that was characterized by abuse, then you become accustomed to both hearing and accept guilt, so that is common…This is my way: “They probably are right, It is true what they say, and I must have done something wrong.” Even though I did not understand it, that was the reaction I had when it happened. I was not concerned with placing the guilt on him because it was… I did not. I connect a person who blows up and places the guilt on others as a proud person…I went too far. It would be misunderstood humility when you place too much guilt on yourself. But this is also what you are accustomed to doing, and you do not have a balanced view of accepting guilt. Therefore, one accepts guilt for the smallest thing. But I did not know for what I accepted guilt. But I had a very strong feeling of guilt. This is something I still do, I accept guilt for the smallest thing: “I am sorry, it is my fault, I am sorry, everything will be fine…” But I have progressed a little because I realize that the feeling of guilt may, in some instances, be wrong. That. But that was not the way I thought at that time.
DA: Do you know if this is a common experience for those who have been abused?
G: Yes, in hindsight, I know that. But I did not know it at that time, but now I know. I also had a similar reaction in connection with the problems with my husband. I stayed two weeks at the woman’s shelter. And I was helped to understand the classic traumatic reactions in connection with difficult situations. I had that in mind, but I had too little experience to handle it, to understand the full meaning of it. But I understood that this was the normal reaction in an abnormal situation.
DA: Just to be certain… We mentioned some rules in connection with the need for witnesses at a judicial meeting. Was that mentioned at the meeting on March 22?
G: Now, there were no witnesses. They did not tell me that I had made a confession. I just explained the situation, and then they pronounced the judgment. And when they said that I would be disfellowshipped, I said, “Hæ? Why?” The KS said: “Do you not understand that?” I answered: “No, I do not understand that. You must explain that.” The answer was that it was because I spent the night at the hotel and what happened at the room of the hotel, without any further explanation.
I do not know, but I had some experience that it is futile to make any protests. I myself was uncertain, and I thought, “they are right” so I will not argue. They are right, they know something that I do not know. They know the situation better than me, regarding rules. But I thought that I had to try to understand the situation. So I had no reason to make a protest in connection with their decision. At present, when I know the rules and the details, I have a different understanding of the situation. So I would not have reacted in the same way.
DA: So in time, you wrote an appeal?
DA: Would you say something about the contents and what your thoughts were at that time?
G: I was very, I was in the same condition, desperation, and uncertainty. Three days before that, I was told that I was guilty of serious wrongdoing, and in a way, I had no reason to believe that they were wrong. Because the situation was — I do not know more than they do. So I decided, and thought that they…they must be wrong, but I do not know why. I do not understand. So I tried to appeal to them and to understand what they meant — and my letter of appeal shows how confused I was. I wrote, for example, that it does not matter whether one is sleeping or not — but of course, that does matter. But I tried to find answers in connection with what this could be because I had not received any explanation. So my letter, my letter of appeal. I did not write anything about the sin I was accused of because I did not know anything about the details. I use this expression because this is the expression that has been used in connection with me, so I do not know exactly what they meant about that. What had I done in this connection? I had not received any proof of that, and I was very confused. I felt that there is something that does not add up, but I could not point out what it was —because I lacked experience about what the definition was, and what… What is this? I did not know how I should view it. It was that. What is the name? Breaking new ground. So I tried to complete the puzzle. This was how I tried for myself to solve the puzzle in order to get a picture of the situation.
DA: What did you think that the appeal committee would do for you?
G: I did not feel that I was heard in the first one. I felt that something had happened that I could not explain to myself or point to in the first one. And I felt that those in the committee, that they saw something that I did not see. I do not know on what they built. They had heard my story. But I felt that what happened in the committee did not fit my story. There must be some missing link there that could explain the big black hole. I did not know the function of the whole. I was desperate. But I did not know what I should do; I did not know how I should solve it. I only knew that here I stand alone, and I must do the best I can. But I did not know what that was.
DA: So you hoped that the appeal committee would hear and understand?
G: Yes, that was my hope.
DA: When you arrived at the meeting on April 2, was it clear for you that this was an appeal committee?
G: Yes, I understood that. But I did not know what would happen at the meeting.
G: It was not. When we came there, the room was very small, perhaps 15 square meters. We call it the B-room. That is a small room in the Kingdom Hall where the congregation has the meetings. Three men were sitting there as well as three other men. I became very uncertain because I did not know what would happen. I did not know with whom I should speak. I did not know with whom I should speak and what I should do. So it was a very difficult situation because of my uncertainty, which was very high. I did not know the guidelines. I did not know what the appeal committee had. Did they start from scratch? Have they read the letter of appeal? I did not know anything. So I…There were no witnesses at that meeting.
DA: What did actually happen when you came into the room.
G: I said a greeting. And the others [the members of the judicial committee] were seated in the background, and they listened to what was said. Then I was asked to tell, and I started in the same way as previously. And I told the story again. They asked some questions, but I had no feeling in which direction the questions would lead. That is OK. But because my uncertainty was so great, it was difficult for me to understand the procedure. I did not feel that I was secure. .. .l And I felt it was very tough for me that the members of the judicial committee were present. I felt that I was very much monitored and watched by those who were sitting there. It was not a good feeling — and I had nothing to hide. That was not the problem, but my uncertainty was problematic. They spoke with me, asked some questions, and then they left the room. And the…I was sitting there, and the judicial committee also left the room. The judicial committee had a few comments, but it was not…They asked some questions…then they left. I apologize that what I say is not always clear, but I try to be as clear as possible. Well, they left the room and were away for a while. Then both committees entered the room. They said that they had considered the case and also the issue of remorse. There had been a progression, but they had to agree with the decision of the judicial committee.
They asked if I had been raped, but I said that I would not answer that question on the background that I had been asked that question before, and then… I did not have the right foundation. I felt that the question meant, «Has he raped you?” I did not feel that the question meant “Are you a rape victim?” To the first committee, I answered No because I would not accuse a man without having the right foundation for the accusation. And to the appeal committee, I answered that I would not answer this question because I did not have the judicial and the full basis to answer that question. And I would not be put in a place where I accused someone without having the correct foundation. For me it is very important not to accuse anyone without having a strong basis for it, or rather, I will call it “proof.”
DA: Did you say that? That you did not want to accuse anyone?
G: Yes, that was the reason for my answer. And that was also the reason that I would not give an answer to the appeal committee.
DA: So, in hindsight, if someone says that rape has occurred, is that correct?
G: No, that is not right. I have not wanted to speak about it. And the members of the first committee, they also asked me. It was REA who asked about that, and then he asked, “Do you mean that he must have guilt for the thing that was done?” I said, “Yes.” So what I said was clear, but I did not know… it was after that that the word “rape” was mentioned as a subject. That was a subject I had not considered. I knew what I had experienced, but I did not know the true name of it.
DA: You were, as you said very confused.
G: Yes, I was confused. And when they asked me, I used quite a long time before I answered. I considered what had happened, and I would not answer anything that…I must stand up for my answers. If I answered Yes, then I had to defend that. And therefore, I answered No because I would not accuse anyone, and not for any other reason, as in the appeal committee. Then I would not even answer because they could pin me to the wall. And I would neither be dishonest nor make false accusations against anyone. In hindsight, I know it, I know the judicial definition, and I am not in doubt what I would have answered.
DA: But based on…I understand you to say that in the appeal committee, you gave the same information as you gave to the judicial committee and that you also have given the court today.
DA: That is correct, is it not? You said…
D: That is not absolutely correct. She said that there were some things that she would not answer in the two committees. So she has not told exactly the same.
DA: I am sorry. I tried to avoid that — in relation to what really happened in the hotel room.
DA: Have you given the same detailed account in the judicial committee, the appeal committee, and in the court today?
G: Yes, but there may be minor nuances that differ because my memory has changed since that time. Today, I remember less than I did before because it is one and a half years since it happened. But nothing I have explained has had any sexual relation. So a nuance can be regarding the time; was it 10:30 or 11?
DA: But to ask about something that is important. Did you tell them that you slept?
G: Yes, yes, yes.
DA: Did you say that he told you afterward that he had performed oral sex on you?
G: Yes, I told that.
DA: All of them?
G: Yes [nodding]. That I told. I have no memories. But I remember that I told that to the appeal committee as well.
DA: Please let me continue.
G: I am sorry.
DA: And you also said on that occasion [to the appeal committee] that you were not able to assess what it meant at that time. But do you think in hindsight that those who were sitting there should have been able to…
G: Yes, yes.
DA: To distinguish between rape and something else. Do you think that you gave so much factual information that this could be identified?
G: Yes, absolutely [nodding]
DA: Did you believe that they would help you with this, to make the correct frame in a way, without you at that time knowing what it was?
G: At that time, I thought so. But I became very confused because I did not get any answer. If there were some instructions. In a way, I trusted them, to a certain degree. I had no reason to… I trusted that they followed the instructions they had because I did not know what these instructions were. Because I think that the arrangement with elders, judicial committees and so forth…This is an arrangement that I fully support. I understand the advantage of this and want to do everything in the right way. I would absolutely cooperate with the congregation.
DA: But in hindsight, do you think that the elders should have identified this as rape?
G: Yes, yes, yes, absolutely.
DA: I do not know the conclusion of the appeal committee. What did they say?
G: The conclusion of the appeal committee?
G: The conclusion was that they saw development in connection with regret, but they agreed with the decision of disfellowshipping. That was the conclusion that they conveyed to me.
DA: Yes, that was the conclusion. But then, what was this….
D: Sorry, an hour has passed. How do you view that?
DA: I am almost finished. How was this announced?
G: It was announced Monday, April 2, and 8 days later at the meeting on Tuesday—we call it the midweek meeting—the information was given that I no longer was one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. I did not listen to it myself, but I knew it would happen. I attended the meeting by telephone, and I listened to the first half of the meeting, but I did not listen to the second part —that was not possible for me.
DA: What kind of medical assistance have you received after the disfellowshipping that may be relevant for this case?
G: I have been at the hospital five times because I have collapsed on different occasions. The first two times were after the meetings with the persons who represented the judicial committee. That was not constructive meetings. I was very worn down because of what happened at these meetings, and I was in despair. And I did not know how I should…I asked for meetings with explanations, but that did not happen. So I felt that I had run my head against the wall. And that has caused me…It has been very tough to stand completely alone, and I was taken to the hospital several times. And I have strongly wished…The despair and the pain reached one point where I did not want to live anymore — I could not carry the pain any longer. I did not know how I should come out of this. I could not speak to anyone in the congregation. No one answered my pleas in a way that was meaningful — I was very dismayed and downhearted, and I wanted help from someone. I tried to understand; what had happened was very incomprehensible. I had a very ambiguous feeling inside me. I have learned how I shall think, and how we should show love for other persons and…
DA: The load was so big that you…
D: Yes, you will have the time. We continue to 9:30 and we have good time.
DA: Yes, then there is something I will ask about. Have you had any contact with your family after April 10, 2018?
G: At the outset, I have not had any contact with them. But as you saw in the document that was shown, after the first meeting, I was really in despair. I think that KS contacted my son and explained that I was not well, and the background was that I said it was better to sleep in death than this. On this background, my son came on Monday and drove me to the hospital. And he was together with me at the hospital at that time because my situation was so difficult. My health was very reduced, I was ill, and they [her two sons] cleaned my flat and made it fine. When I came home from the hospital, they had helped me, but I was not present.
Then there have been some meetings with the psychiatric team of doctors in Ski municipality. So he drove me. No, it was my mother who drove me to the hospital in September after I had spoken to the brothers about an appeal for reinstatement. It was my mother who took me to the hospital and Oliver [her oldest son] was with her. Oliver was with me one or two times. But after that, I have not seen him. So I have not had any contact with him since that time, for one and a half years.
DA: Why not?
G: No, there has been no contact. I sent an SMS to him when I was at the hospital, in order to tell him where I was. But I have not met him. We have had no contact. I have not met him. My youngest son I saw shortly after the disfellowshipping when I was at the meeting. But I did not speak with any of them, and we have had no contact. I have never seen Dennis..
DA: Why have you not had any contact?
G: Now, that is the frame of a disfellowshipping that is found in the instructions to the congregation — there shall be no contact with those who are disfellowshipped.
DA: Yes. So that is the reason why you have had no contact with your family.
DA: What… You said that you had one thousand friends, or a lot of friends. Have you had any contact with them?
DA: Why not?
G: It is the same reason; because I have been disfellowshipped. Well, I am disfellowshipped, and I am not a member, but this is a part of my soul. So even though I am disfellowshipped, I will respect these rules…All the members must follow these instructions, but there are some nuances that can be used. But I myself have a strong desire to live this way, and I have full respect for them.
DA: But have you contacted any of these friends?
DA: Why not?
G: Because I respect the arrangement.
DA: But do you think they would have wanted to have contact with you if…?
G: Yes, yes, yes. I am absolutely certain that everyone loves me, and I love them. I am sore, and they are just as sore because they cannot have contact with me. But we obey the instructions, and that does not relate to our emotions, to what we desire to do. We want to do what is right.
G: That you feel is right.
DA: You cannot have contact?
G: No, not more what is absolutely necessary, and that is a question of definition.
D: Should we now come to an end?
DA: Yes, are any of your former friends here today?
DA: You have not had contact with them since the disfellowshipping?
D: She has answered that question
DA: Eh, lastly. You reacted strongly regarding what RB said at the end of his testimony. Would you like to say something about that, related to being free to remarry?
G: Yes, he said that I, that I contacted my husband was an admission that I had, that I said that he was free to remarry — that was an admission that I was guilty of porneia. I reacted to that because the instructions say — because then I had already been told that I was guilty of porneia — but I did not now why. I only wanted to do what was right, and I contacted him and told him. But I did not say: “I am guilty of porneia.” I said: “You are free to remarry.” Then I tried the best I could to tell him what had happened. He knows that I slept. He knows that I know nothing. I cannot have said; I have not told anything more than I have told others because that was what happened.
DA: So this information does not mean that you confessed a sin?
G: No, no. I did not do that.
D: That was what you answered. You gave a general answer.
G: I am sorry.
D: That was not my question.
DA: Then I have no more questions.
THE TESTIMONY CONTINUED
U: Just remember to drink something before we forget it.
G: Thank you very much.
D: Yes, that was the videotape recording (…)
V: Yes, we just use this camera if that is OK?
D: Yes, there is a videotape recording.
R: Are you ready?
G: Yes, can one be ready?
R: Just speak up. I was thinking. To return to what you said that you respect the elder arrangement. It is good to know these things and your viewpoint. What is the reason why you want to respect it? How do you view the arrangement of disfellowshipping and biblical principles?
G: Well, I have the impression regarding what is the heading of one of your articles that it is an arrangement based on love. I think that when the arrangement is practiced in the right way, its purpose is fulfilled.
R: I wonder if we agree that this is a religious arrangement that is.
G: Yes, but not exclusively. I agree with the arrangement. But that it exclusively is a religious arrangement, I think is too restrictive.
R: OK. I was thinking about the text message that you sent on March 13, 2018. I do not know if you remember that message.
G: Just quote it. I remember it if you quote it, and I.
R: I can give it to you.
G: Yes, if we shall speak about it, that is fine.
R: Yes, I thought we should speak about it, so.
G: Thank you.
R: In this text message, was it then that you asked for a meeting with the elders?
R: What was the reason why you asked for a meeting there?
G: That I wrote in the first text message. The reason was that I had experienced something that I needed help to understand, to make clear what it was.
G: So that was the reason why you contacted the elders because I felt they were. Because the shepherds will help people to understand the different sides of being a Christian, I wanted very much to know what I should do with this case…So my real desire was that I could get help.
R: The word you use is «porneia». You know that this refers to sexual immorality?
G: Yes, yes.
R: Is this your view of a serious sin?
G: It is my view of serious sin, and that was the reason why I did not push it away but wanted to speak about it. If one is uncertain about something, it is better to speak about it, so it is cleared up than to hide something — and then it turns out that this should we have spoken about. In other words, it means that I want to live in the right way.
R: You have explained that you have experienced abuse?
R: And is it anything in this text message, as you see it, that indicates that you accuse someone of abuse?
G: I did not know what it was. It is difficult to accuse someone of something that you do not know what is. If something is stolen from you, it is not certain that it is a thief. It can be an accident. I wanted to know what this was. What is it, in which category? The man had said that it was porneia, but for me, it was an open question. I did not know what I should believe or not believe. I did not know what, how it was, and therefore I asked for help — in order to name it, to name it in the right way.
R: There is something I do not understand. Do you mean that what you experienced is defined as rape?
G: No. I did not know what the definition of rape was at that time. I did not think, “Now you have been raped.” I experienced something very unpleasant that I could not describe with words. I tried to describe what happened so others could help me to describe it with words – because I was not able to do that myself. I was confused, so to speak.
R: But your counsel said that every sensible person knows that what you have described is rape.
R: But you did not understand that?
G: No, because I was not a rational person at that time. That is the reason I asked for help, I was in a condition of shock. I was not able to — if you know the concept “window of tolerance” — I was very far from my window of tolerance at that time. I was not able to work it through. I had to sort the pieces of the puzzle because it was confusing and difficult at that time. It was chaotic. I could not sort it out myself. Even though I view myself as a rational being — but because of my condition, I was not a rational being, so I could manage this. Therefore I asked for help.
R: But if you explain it with these words. How can others if you do not manage it yourself? How can others understand it, that it is, that it is an opinion that you have in your head?
G: No but. Do you think of the elders?
R: Yes, I think of the elders.
G: I think that the elders should consider this in relation to the instructions; for example, are there proof? Are some parts of this a confession, or is it not a confession? Who can confirm that? Inside the frames, there is the intelligence that I spoke about, and this part means to place it where it belongs according to the instructions. And that is what I think that they, they were there not because they had experienced abuse. So they seemed to be well, and I assumed that they had — they were three, and I was in a condition of shock — so I trusted that they had some kind of a clear consideration. That they could help me in this situation. And I experienced that they did, so it was…
R: I understand that (…). I would like to take a look at the letter of appeal that you wrote. This is recent proof, and that is the reason why I will look at it.
G: Yes, I would like to speak about that.
R: [Goes to G and gives her the letter]. Let us see, for the sake of the court, this is page 1341.
R: Well, on March 10, you had a meeting with two elders about what happened.
G: On the 18th, I think?
R: Eh, Let us see. I think of the first one.
G: On March 10, what I experienced happened.
DA: The first meeting was on March 10.
R: Let us see here. On March 10, you were at the hotel, that is Hotel Plaza. No, I am wrong, March 18, yes. You are right, and it is good that you point that out. On March 18, you had a meeting with two elders. Is that correct?
R: You had, in a way, a meeting because of the text message.
R: So you asked for a meeting on the background of the text message. What did you think the frame of this meeting should be?
G: I have explained that. I wanted to get help. The frame was that I wanted help so I could know, yes. I wanted to know, I wanted to tell what had happened so they could understand how they could help me, both to understand one thing and the other thing, so to speak.
G: That was the frame, yes.
R: But you understood that porneia, that is sexual immorality, if you ask for a meeting, then.
G: But I did not know that I was guilty of porneia.
G: So I…
R: But that was written in the text message.
G: Yes, yes, I know that, but I did not know that I was guilty of porneia.
R: But you knew that the meeting would consider what you had written in the text message?
G: Yes, I know what was the text message. But I have not said that I am guilty of porneia.
G: I have never said that because I am not. I needed help to get a definition, and after that to view it in the light of the instructions where it belongs.
R: Yes, I understand that you mean that. I would like to proceed with the appeal that you yourself have written. And that is something that happened a short time after the meeting with the judicial committee. Is there anything in this letter, as you see it, that suggests that errors were committed in the way the judicial committee handled the case?
G: I did not know that the letter of appeal should contain descriptions of errors made by the judicial committee. I was just asked to appeal. If I wanted, I could appeal and give the letter to KS. This was the information I received, and I wrote the letter on the background that I still was searching to find out what this was. I was told that I had committed a sin, but I did not know to what they referred. I did not know what they defined as sin here — or anything, I would say. But I had no reason to be suspicious of them. So this is a letter where I am seeking answers.
R: I understand.
G: I try to be sincere. I try…In my desperation to get help, something I felt I did not get. I got a new shock when they said, “You will be disfellowshipped.” I experienced a new shock that I again experienced and which I had to deal with.
R: I understand. Having confidence in one goes in both directions after they have spoken with you. They also had confidence in you when you explained the situation. Therefore I ask about what you said to them.
G: That is the reason why I am a little uncertain.
R: If we now look at this recent proof that was made shortly after the judicial committee handled the case, is there anything in the letter of appeal, as you see it, that there was anything else than the sin that they should consider?
G: Yes, the course of events around what I have been telling. It is clear that I am in a difficult situation and has been in a difficult situation, so yes.
R: OK. What is it in the letter that you think of that support what you are saying?
G: No, I attached to the letter of appeal information about my ME-sickness, about traumas and trauma reactions that I had printed out. I put this together with the letter.
R: Yes, I understand. But I am thinking about the sin. I think that…
G: Yes, yes. But I do not remember the question. Please repeat it.
R: No, I think about what was in the letter that the appeal committee should understand?
G: I do not know. I did not know what the committee would look after, I only knew that I wanted to be heard. I wrote what I believed would be right so I could be heard again. And I did not have words that could define what it was to make what I meant concrete because I did not know. I had not received any understanding of anything. I do not know how the appeal committee viewed this. But neither do I know what I should have written — in a way — I had no instructions that I could follow of what a letter of appeal should contain.
R: No, I just asked what you…
G: What is here are emotions, and it is chaos and despair, and it is a desperate cry for help.
R: Yes, you have mentioned that several times.
R: You write: “the sin that I am in”. You also write other things here: “the despair of having sinned against Jehovah.”
R: “And to have a good relationship with Jehovah again,” and “the bad choices I took that led to the sin.”
R: And that you “were so sorry that you had harmed Jehovah.”
R: “I have only a strong desire to do the right things according to the laws of Jehovah,” and “after I have sinned.” Then you write that you “violated God’s law.” Then you write: “It does not matter if I remember or not if I slept or not, and who made what. The sin has been committed, and I should not have been in that situation at all.” It also says: “All I did, directly or indirectly, I must take the responsibility for.” “I can only blame myself for my own actions.”
G: Yes, yes, yes.
R: You appealed because your opinion is that you have not committed a sin, or because you not—that you disagreed whether you showed regret or not.
G: I was not able to define it at that time because I did not know on what I should appeal. So I wrote a letter where I tried to clear up what it was. Now in hindsight, I can answer.
R: Yes. OK.
G: But at that time, it was a way to try to be listened to…I had no capacity to formulate my question in a specific way and all the thoughts that I had. I could have written: “Please help me.” And that was what I tried in my next letter to the circuit overseer, where I wrote: “Can you please tell me what I have done?” This is what I tried to include in one sentence in my next letter to the circuit overseer because I felt that no one would tell me exactly what I had done.
R: OK. We can leave the letter of appeal. If we go to the text message in the file with documents, page 61. It is, let me see, you will get a transcript. [Gives transcript to G]. I think it does not contain so much. We shall not use much time on it. But what I will point out in this text message is that 22:13 o’clock is written there. Can you shortly tell which understanding you had in connection with the elders and the meetings? Did they want you to come there or?
G: Yes, they wanted me to come there. They exhorted me to come to the meetings. I have done that my whole life since I was a girl. So why should I stop doing that now? I would not stop with that; neither dis I want to be disfellowshipped. This is the life I want to live.
R: Yes, it was not an important point because it is not…
G: Now, I wanted answers regarding what I could do in order to attend meetings now when I was ill because I am much ill. I do not have the whole text message with the answer. But he told me that I could use an electronic device
R: Then you have the text message that is dated June 18, page 65 in the file of documents. [Gives the document to G]
G: Thank you very much.
R: This is three months after your meeting with the judicial committee.
R: Here you wrote: “You have misunderstood me in relation to the instructions. I was raped, and you accuse me.” I must ask you: Is this the first time you write that you were raped?
G: It is the first time I say that it was rape, yes, but not the first time I have considered that.
R: Sorry. What did you say?
G: It is not the first time I have considered that.
R: Not the first time you considered it, but the first time you expressed it?
G: Yes, with that word, yes.
G: But I have used other words.
R: The reason why I mention it is because I am a little confused in connection with the document from the woman’s shelter. [Gives it to G]. It is you who have included this document. I suppose that you know (…). So please clear that up.
D: On which page is it?
R: Sorry, it is on page 1358. In this letter you say, or it says that you have told about. They say that you tell that you are a member of Jehovah’s Witnesses, and you chose to tell the congregation about the abuse, and that resulted in your disfellowshipping. I wonder to which time you refer.
G: From day one, I have told about the abuse. If someone comes and says that some person has taken something from you, and he says: “Someone has taken my car,” then someone has stolen your car, even though you do not say, “Someone has stolen my car.” If you later say that…
R: OK. I understand.
G: Do you see the point? So it does not mean that I have not spoken of abuse. But it means that I have not used that word.
R: I just wondered. I think about which time you refer to — the beginning. What is “the beginning”?
G: The beginning. We can go back to the text message from Tuesday March 13, “Hi, I need to speak a little with you elders.” Then it is written that it refers to something that happened while I was sleeping.
R: OK. So this is what you refer to because it is not clearly stated in the book of the court, you see.
G: It was not the meaning that they here should go into details about the rape. This refers to my whole situation that I was to receive help from the health service.
R: OK, It is fine that this is cleared up. If I understand you correctly, you did not tell the judicial committee that you were raped or abused?
G: But neither did I say the opposite.
R: No, you say so because you at that time did not know what it was.
G: Yes, and I would not accuse anyone. That was the background that I would not accuse anyone when I did not know what it was. So I did not confirm it or deny it.
R: But you understand that rape is a criminal offense?
G: Yes, and therefore it was very important for me neither to say Yes or No in connection with it. If I accuse someone of a criminal offense, I must stand up for that accusation; that is that. There were witnesses, right? The judicial committee was present and would hear my possible accusation. I cannot just accuse someone of such a serious accusation. It does not mean that it is not correct. But at that time, I could not say it. For it was not. I had not, it was not something that I had discussed with myself. I had a feeling of having been raped. Now I can use the words, but at that time, I could not. And I am not that person —as I have said before—that I will accuse someone without proof.
R: Yes. Did you choose to refer the rape to the police?
G: No, I did not do that at that time. I was not unwilling to refer the case to the police at that time, and in the time afterward I have. I referred my husband to the police for violence inside the family a time before this. And the burden it was to be with the police, make a declaration, and then waiting without knowing what happened, and all the other things was a huge burden. And I was still in that process, and I felt that this I am not able to do if not that process leads to something. And I knew that I did not cry at once: Wow, this is rape!” This was something that I gradually realized when I learned the judicial concept around it. And then I was uncertain: “Is it too late to do something with it? What would I achieve with this?” And I chose at that time not to do something with it because I did not have mental health or the power to have a new burden on my shoulders. Because I already had a burden that reached up to my neck to use that expression. So it was, I experienced it at that time, that I could not see the end and what I would achieve. It was a tough situation for me. As time has passed, I have thought differently. And I will not rule out referring it to the police if that should be necessary in some context.
R: I am considering … At some time, you have changed your view of what sin is.
R: Did you change your viewpoint because of texts from the Bible, or was it the criminal law?
G: It was a combination.
R: OK. Which texts from the Bible?
G: It became clearer for me that both the criminal law and the Bible define sin that is… There are sine that are related to what we cannot do, that is related to imperfection, and then we have serious sin that is made by one’s will. Everything relates to will and to consent. There is something that I have learned that has become more clear for me, also because I have studied what intention or purpose means. And I have seen the same things in the text of the Bible. There must be free will, an intention, and there must be a conscious choice in connection with serious sin. If one does not have a purpose or intention and doing it with one’s free will, one cannot be accused of being guilty of a serious sin. Both things have become more clear for me.
R: Thank you. I look at the time, it…
D: Yes, we can continue a little more. Did you arrive where you wanted to be? If not, I think we can… I also have some questions, so…
R: Yes, OK.
R: It is possible I can … You can ask your questions first.
D: I wonder, first of all, if you had the event on March 10 in mind. Or perhaps I should start from the opposite end. You said that KS told you that the disfellowshipping was because of your stay at the hotel during the night and what happened at the hotel room. In order to understand, how do you understand the reason that was given?
G: I do not know, I still do not understand. And I did not dare to ask more about it because there was.
D: But is it correct that you have not received any reason for your disfellowshipping?
G: Yes, nothing more than this message. This is the closest I have come to an explanation.
D: But was it because you spent the night there and what happened at the hotel room?
G: What more it includes? I do not know.
D: Can you say something about your relationship regarding your stay during the night. Alcohol has been described as well as embraces.
G: Yes, the issue about embraces I do not know anything about, if that has not been mentioned here — I have no memories regarding embraces. But it may be something that he has said and that he has told others. But I do not have anything. I remember less of what he told me now than my own memories. But I do not have any memories, I cannot remember that I have any memories. I cannot say that they are telling a lie, but embraces are no reason for disfellowshipping.
D: But has this person made an account for some of the committees?
D: Have you told them his identity?
D: Had you wanted that he should give an account for the committees?
G: I have no problems with his appearance before the committees giving his account, no. I had not seen any problems if he had given his account. But according to the principles and the instructions, he would be only one witness, and two witnesses are needed — when I myself is no witness, as I have understood. It would not have had any purpose in relation to the instructions in relation to the congregation to call him as a witness because he is only one witness. And what could he tell, and what would he tell? Things that I do not know anything about, and just one witness, not the requirement of two witnesses. But as for me, I see no problems if he gave his account.
D: But did you ask that he would be a witness?
G: I did not know that I could ask for witnesses.
D: Can you tell how much alcohol hat was consumed during the party?
D: Is this something you have explained to some of these?
G: I… What I have explained in relation to that is that I consumed alcohol. I was never drunk, and it was a moderate amount. My experience is that I had full control of myself. But I would not drive my car home. I would not do that. Therefore I have a TT-card, and I have a card for disabled persons. Therefore I would use a train or taxi to my home, depending of how tired I was.
D: Did you explore the procedures of how the appeal committee would handle a case?
G: I tried. I did not have as… It was very little. I tried to search, but I did not have access to the procedures that are mentioned in the Book for Elders. I had access to the Organization book, and it says that the appeal committee shall consider the case anew. But how the committee will handle the case, which forms that shall be filled in, and how witnesses will be presented are not written. About such things, the appeal committee I did not know anything. I only knew that I should appear before the appeal committee and that they should consider the case anew.
D: I think you answered this at the beginning. I think it is there. Anything more? If there are more questions, we can do that.
R: No, I (….). My question is: According to your view, when is it appropriate to be disfellowshipped?
R: That one is disfellowshipped?
G: It is appropriate when the requirements are fulfilled.
R: Can you tell what these two things are according to your view?
G: The first point is that there are proof according to the instructions that a serious sin has been committed. And second, that the person does not regret the conscious sin, to use that expression.
R: What do you think in connection with proof?
G: Yes, that is point one, and point two is, in reality, not relevant. It there is no proof for sin, it is difficult tp express regret for something you have not done. Then there will be a claim that is not proven. It may be right for someone. But these are the instructions that are given, and if they are not followed, then…But I support one hundred percent when it is done in the right way — with witnesses and proof. And the instructions, for example, say that the elders cannot proceed with the case when there is only one witness.
R: So you agree, there is one consequence, so you support it when the requirements are fulfilled?
R: So you are not criticizing the arrangement?
G: No, absolutely not. I fully support it when it is used correctly. It is not the case that I am meddling in what the elders have done in other congregations and their decisions. That is not what I refer to, I am just speaking for myself.
R: Yes, my question was general, so it is OK.
G: I do not have anything to do with it.
R: [nodding] Yes, thank you.
D: then I think we have reached the end for today. We meet again tomorrow morning at 9 a.m.
Nygård gave the same explanation as the one above to the two elders who first spoke with her, to the judicial committee, and to the appeal committee. It is completely incomprehensible for me that both committees, after hearing her testimony, could disfellowship her because of sexual immorality.
I can see two reasons behind the conclusions of the two committees. The first one is the new and extreme view presented by the present Governing Body regarding who must be disfellowshipped. The second one is that the elders have not been educated in the handling of judicial cases, and therefore, many of them are incompetent.
The correct biblical view of disfellowshipping was held by the leaders of Jehovah’s witnesses when I became a Witness sixty years ago. According to Paul’s words about disfellowshipping in 1 Corinthians chapters 5 and 6, persons who commit a serious sin one or a few times shall not be disfellowshipped. Only persons who are permeated by one of the eleven disfellowshipping offenses mentioned in the Christian Greek Scriptures must be disfellowshipped
The Watchtower of July 1, 1963, page 411, says:
Therefore, the ones who are hardened in wrongdoing are the ones who are disfellowshiped. It is where serious violations of Jehovah’s righteous requirements have become a practice that this measure is taken. First John 3:4 states: “Everyone who practices sin is also practicing lawlessness.” So dedicated Christians who become practicers of lawlessness in the Christian congregation today are disfellowshiped.
Forty years ago, the Governing Body also showed that they understood the difference between being permeated by a wicked action and doing a wicked action one or a few times. The Watchtower of May 1, 1983, page 8, says regarding the word “drunkards” in 1 Corinthians 6:10:
First, it should be noted that there is a difference between being unwittingly overtaken by drinking too much on one occasion and being a drunkard—making it a practice to become intoxicated.
Disfellowshipping a person from the Christian congregation should rarely occur because only wicked persons should be disfellowshipped — and very few Christians would become “wicked” or “hardened by wrongdoing.”
However, not only have the members of the present GB rejected the view that only persons who “are practicing serious sins” and who “are hardened by wrongdoing” deserve to be disfellowshipped. But they have consciously gone in the very opposite direction. The book for elders “Shepherd The Flock Of God”, published in 2010, chapter 7, point 7, says:
Even if this is the individual’s first time before a judicial committee, it is necessary to determine whether his actions and attitude indicate that he has repented and can thus remain in the congregation.
The book “Shepherd The Flock Of God”, published in 2019, chapter 16, point 7, expresses the same idea with slightly different words. So from 2010 on, the members of the GB have set their disfellowshipping standard too low. The result has been an explosion of disfellowshipping — around 600,000 persons worldwide have been disfellowshipped from the congregations of Jehovah’s Witnesses since the year 2010.
It is quite ironic that the renderings of 1 Corinthians 6:9 in the revised NWT in English, Norwegian, Danish, and Swedish support the view that was expressed in The Watchtower of 1963 and contradict the Governing Body’s present view of disfellowshipping, that a Christian can be disfellowshipped for being guilty of one single serious sin. Below are the renderings in the mentioned order:
9 Or do you not know that unrighteous people will not inherit God’s Kingdom? Do not be misled. Those who are sexually immoral, idolaters, adulterers, men who submit to homosexual acts, men who practice homosexuality.
9 Vet dere ikke at de som gjør urett ikke skal arve Guds rike? Ikke bli villedet. De som praktiserer seksuell umoral, [those who are practicing sexual immorality] de som tilber avguder, de som er utro mot ektefellen sin, menn som praktiserer homoseksuelle handlinger [men who are practicing homosexual actions] eller lar seg bruke til dette.
9 Er I ikke klar over at uretfærdige mennesker ikke vil komme til at arve Guds rige? Lad jer ikke vildlede. De der lever et seksuelt umoralsk liv [those who are living a sexually immoral life], tilbeder afguder eller begår ægteskabsbrud, mænd der lader sig bruge til homoseksuelle handlinger, mænd der lever som homoseksuelle [men who are living as homosexuals].
9 Vet ni inte att orättfärdiga människor inte ska ärva Guds rike? Bli inte vilseledda. De som lever ett sexuellt omoraliskt liv [those who are living a sexually immoral life], de som tillber avgudar, de som är otrogna mot sin äktenskapspartner, män som utövar homosexualitet [men who are practicing homosexuality]. eller underkastar sig sådant.
The English NWT13 is not so explicit as the Scandinavian translations. But the expression “those who are sexually immoral” implies that the reference is not to one or a few actions but to persons who are permeated by serious sin. And the expression “men who practice homosexuality” clearly refers to many actions that continue.
The extreme militant view of the GB for the past ten years regarding who deserves to be disfellowshipped has been transferred to the bodies of elders. That is the reason for the witch hunt that led to the disfellowshipping of Nygård. I am certain that what happened with Nygård is not the exception but rather the rule. This means that the lives of tens of thousands of Witnesses have been ruined because of the extreme viewpoints of the members of the Governing Body that collides head-on with the Bible’s view of disfellowshipping.