For decades, the Jehovah’s Witnesses have used their First Amendment right to freedom of religion to defend their distinct beliefs and practices. Members are taught that Armageddon is imminent. To enter “God’s Kingdom,” believers must remain separate from secular society and obey the edicts of Jehovah’s Witness leaders based in Brooklyn, known as the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society. But in a San Francisco courtroom, these Jehovah’s Witness leaders stand accused of issuing and enforcing edicts that cover up child sexual abuse inside the organization’s 14,000 U.S. congregations. The Jehovah’s Witnesses maintain that the First Amendment protects their right to set their own policies, even in cases of child abuse.
You can also watch our investigation on PBS NewsHour.