This is for those of you who may wonder, who are you? Why are you writing this blog? What makes you think you know all about Jehovah’s Witnesses. Here is a little bit of my background.
In 1974 I started studying with Jehovah’s Witnesses. I was 20 years old at the time. I was raised a Catholic, by nominal Christians who had no interest in God, the Bible or prayer. We learned memorization at Catholic School, prayers and catechism. But we never learned why we believe what we do. Why should we believe in the Trinity, hell fire or the soul? There was no bible education at that time.
I wanted to learn the Bible, to draw close to God, and understand His word. I had no biblical knowledge, nor had any idea that you can literally take things out of context and make the bible say almost anything you like.
Want an example of that? This is the funniest one I’ve ever seen!
So Judas threw the money into the temple and left. Then he went away and hanged himself. Matthew 27:5
Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.” Luke 10:37
I know, I know! It’s ridiculous! But that is exactly what Jehovah’s Witnesses do and if you are not familiar with what the Bible really teaches, you can quickly be deceived.
Now don’t assume that anyone who believes Jehovah’s Witnesses is simply naive and gullible. I’ve known college graduates who got sucked into the religion. It has nothing to do with intelligence and more to do with bible education.
I was eavesdropping on a conversation at the laundromat. I heard the lady who ran the place say, “Oh I would not buy a new car now. This system of things is ending.” It piqued my curiosity. I asked what she was talking about. She offered a “free home bible study”. This was what I had been hoping for! Someone to teach me the bible! Little did I know. She offered to answer any bible questions I had, and told me to write them down, and she would answer them! Of course when she arrived she quickly introduced a little blue book she wanted me to study. But I told her, I only wanted to use the Bible and she agreed! I quickly pulled out my list of eighty bible questions and we started going through them week after week. After a couple of weeks, after she answered each question, she would say, “Now this question is covered in this little blue book.” After about a month, we started to study in “The Truth that Leads to Everlasting Life” book. At that time, Jehovah’s Witnesses actually did answer questions. Nowadays, they turn away and say either “We are not looking to debate or argue.” Or “We are looking for sheep-like people”. (Meaning people who accept everything they say without question).
I studied every week, three hours each time, for a period of two years before I took the plunge. This began my eighteen year nightmare into a dogmatic, authoritarian, controlling religion.
I believed it all, hook, line and sinker. I believed since Jesus told us to preach, that God required us to go knocking on doors peddling Watchtower magazines. I am naturally shy by nature, and the idea of knocking on stranger’s doors, shoving my religion down their throat, made me literally sick to my stomach on days I decided to “go out in service”. (Door knocking)
So I decided to give it my best, for one month, and auxiliary pioneer (spending sixty hours going door to door in one month). By the time the month was over, naturally I had gotten better at it. Thus began my sixteen years of pioneering as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
We were always discouraged from questioning too much, and the common phrase was to “wait on Jehovah”. Just trust, and believe and don’t question. The Jehovah’s Witnesses are very slick. One of the first things you learn, is that your family and friends will try to get you to stop studying with them. When this happens, it validates what they say, which is, it’s the devil trying to keep you from “learning the truth”. Then they say, “Don’t look to the people. People will disappoint you every time. Look to Jehovah.” While this may seem fine on the surface, if you recall Jesus’ words, He said “Every good tree produces good fruit.” Well how are you going to know if they produce “good fruit” if you don’t look? So we were taught to ignore all the things we saw that were obviously wrong.
It is difficult for anyone who has never been one of Jehovah’s Witnesses to understand how things work. First they make you feel like you are part of a family, that you are accepted and loved. After you are no longer brand new, this so-called love magically disappears and you are expected to act and behave exactly like everyone else. Something happens to you on the inside, you hear that this is “Jehovah’s organization” yet you can see clearly many things wrong. There is no natural love for one another, there is gossiping, favoritism, cliques. If you are not among the elite, you are continually on the outside looking in, wishing you were invited to the party. This takes it toll on people, they suffer from depression and emotional problems. When you are repeatedly told “this is spiritual paradise, being part of Jehovah’s organization” and yet what you see contradicts what you hear, it has an effect. I would up often wind up weeping and wailing to God with many questions. “How can this be your organization, when the people act this way? I just don’t understand.”
Remember what it was like in high school? Especially if you were not one of the “popular crowd”? That’s exactly what it is like being an average rank and file member of Jehovah’s Witnesses. And auxiliary pioneering didn’t take you off that unpopular list, only regular pioneering or being an elders wife would do that.
Over the course of many years, I experienced much while inside this controlling religion, and very little of it was good. I saw that they had no love for me, but tried to ignore that, and continue to “serve Jehovah” in spite of this. In total I was a member of four different congregations. While one was kinder, than the rest, for the most part, they are much the same. If you are not wealthy, not the elder’s wife or family, just an average rank and file member, you are basically ostracized.
Finally in 1992 I stopped going. I lived far away from the kingdom hall I attended. So I was able to slip through the cracks, thankfully. No one ever called to find out why. Elders never came to my house to do a shepherding call. (If you don’t hand in your time cards each month, they generally come and visit wanting to know why, same thing if you’ve been missing meetings).
It was during my last year, in 1992, that I just heard too much, making me realize it was not only that they did not love me, did not accept me, they revealed by the things they said, they did not have love for Jehovah either. Suddenly I realized the love of God was not in them. They went door knocking for ulterior motives. Undoubtedly someone will wonder what was said, that opened my eyes.
- I only go door to door because I know that if I do, I will get a better room at Bethel. (think Vatican) (What? There are better rooms at Bethel? That’s why you go door to door? Not because you love Jehovah?)
- I only go door to door because I know that if I do, Jehovah will supply me with a husband. (What? That’s why you go door to door? Not because you love God?)
- Two elders discussing how to “pad” their time. “We’ll go to your return visit, in Upper Greenwood Lake (one hour north of the kingdom hall) then we’ll go and do my return visit in Wanaque (one hour south of Upper Greenwood Lake) then we’ll be about to “count” two hours! (I almost burst out laughing thinking it was a joke! Two hours of driving, for two return visits, total time witnessing-ten minutes)
Jehovah’s Witnesses are required to “report time” how much time they spend in the door knocking business. Minimum amount to be considered “exemplary” was ten hours. Auxiliary pioneers were 60 hours, regular pioneers were 90 hours, and those numbers have since gone down.
So it was a rather rude awakening, they were in the door knocking business NOT because of love of God, but for ulterior motives. I could go on and on describing their lack of love, but that’s not very encouraging or up-building, and I don’t want to trash talk. I saw injustice carried out by elder henchmen for years. It was like living in Nazi Germany. Friends would report friends to the elders, who quickly set up judicial committee’s in order to throw out the offender. A seemingly innocent comment made, and the congregation spy would go running to the elders. You dared not disagree, complain, or say a word that did not agree with the Watchtower. This was not an isolated case, but was rampant in all the congregations though some were worse than others to be sure. Ray Franz reports on this in his book, “Crises of Conscience”.
I had suicide attempts (yes plural), no elder was ever there to encourage. Whenever you did receive a shepherding call it was rather it was like the Spanish Inquisition. You were judged and made to feel guilty, often feeling worse than before the visit. These so-called shepherding calls, which were supposed to be for the encouragement and caring for the members was in reality, when you were in trouble with the organization.
After leaving the Watchtower Organization, I was like many, terrified to go to Church (Watchtower teaches all Christendom apostatized, all their teachings are demonic). And so began my twenty two year journey alone in the wilderness. My two kids left when I did, they also saw the hypocrisy and wanted no part of it. It was just me and the Lord, and the bible for most of those years.
Two years ago, in 2014, I came online, stumbling upon the fact that there is a huge ex-Jehovah’s Witness community online in various Facebook groups! When I first left, there was no online community, we each left alone, thinking we were the only ones. It was much harder in those days. Now those who leave can find help, comfort and support in any number of groups online. There are even Ex-Jehovah’s Witness Meet-Up groups. No one understands what an ex-member has been through except another ex-member. Such is the life.
Yes! There is life outside the Watchtower! Many of us have found “spiritual homes” in various Churches, and/or are connecting with others, discussing spiritual things online. What a vast network of support there is now!