My parents were active in the Methodist church and they loved and trusted their minister. The minister once told my dad to never listen to the Jehovah’s Witnesses because they were a “cult.” But Mom did not hear his warning.
In fact, Mom actually disagreed with their minister about which books of the Bible were authentic. His opinion was that only two of the gospels were likely to be true.
Shortly after my brother was born, two Jehovah’s Witnesses came knocking at our door. Mom asked them if they were the group who gave “free home bible studies.” She started her indoctrination (studying) to be a Witness in 1974.
Dad was curious about what the JWs had to say, so he soon began talking to them. He was impressed with how quickly they could find scriptures in the Bible. When they challenged Dad to find where in the Bible it talks about people “burning in hell” he searched but could not find anything. After that he started listening to them and what they had to say.Read More
Every month I get emails and contact messages from Jehovah’s Witnesses asking me whether or not they should “take the leap” and try to leave the Watchtower organization. I wish it was easy for me to answer their questions – but it’s not. I know that while I have a very strong opinion, leaving has to be a decision that each person must ultimately make for oneself.
What I do try to get them to understand is that they will be just fine – no matter what their ultimate decision might be. If they are happy being Jehovah’s Witnesses (and many are quite content in that lifestyle), then I would be the last person in the world to suggest that they leave and face the complications that come from making that decision. On the other hand, if they are unhappy and really want out, then I urge them to set aside their fears. I want them to know that even though their lives will change, they will survive through everything they may have to face by making a decision to leave.
Many Jehovah’s Witnesses won’t admit it publicly but would really like to get out. No one knows the actual numbers for sure, but there are far more than the Watchtower would admit. Because the religion promotes and encourages shunning of those who leave, Jehovah’s Witnesses face issues that many people simply can’t deal with. Even many high-profile former Jehovah’s Witnesses have had to face the effects of shunning by family, friends, and even close business associates. When their own parents, siblings, and children are willing (or are forced) to break off all connections – and then say that it is the fault of those leaving – many Jehovah’s Witnesses simply feel they can not choose freedom. It’s a price too high for them to pay. They would rather stay in the cult and live with the pain than face being shunned by their own family.Read More
In mid-September I received an interesting invitation from a journalist calling himself “The Thinking Atheist.” He told me that he had seen one of my websites and was intrigued by my take on the Watchtower Society and Jehovah’s Witnesses. Part of my appeal, he said, was that I did not seem to be “angry,” nor was I busy trying to promote some other religion as my preferred substitute for Watchtower doctrine. He asked if I would agree to be a guest on his podcast scheduled for Tuesday, September 17th. I enthusiastically said “Yes!”
My segment was actually recorded a short time before the broadcast via a telephonic hookup. Seth Andrews (his real name) assured me that he could edit for any serious technical issues or interruptions that might come up during the recording session. That turned out to be a good thing. During the recording call my little Maltese lap dog saw someone walking their Golden Retriever in front of our house and started yapping at the top of her voice for about 20 seconds. As you can tell when you listen to the edited podcast, he did a great job. Other than that small glitch, what you hear was our totally unrehearsed and non-scripted conversation. Absolutely!!!Read More
As a Jehovah’s Witness teenager I was always hoping that someday I would be found worthy enough to be accepted as either a missionary and go to Gilead school or become a Brooklyn Bethel volunteer. I knew being given such a privilege would make my parents proud and would forever seal my reputation as a “faithful Witness of Jehovah.” I also figured that when I returned home from those assignments I would likely be promoted to become an elder (called “servants” in those days).
Fortunately, neither of those opportunities came to me and in my mid-20s I was pretty much done with being a Jehovah’s Witnesses. That did not make my parents proud of me, but my life became a lot more enjoyable and productive. Reading Brock Talon’s new book made it clear to me that I made the right choices.
“Brock Talon” would be a great name for a fictional Marvel Comics’ superhero. But “Brock Talon” is actually a real person with a real story to tell. And now, after reading his story, he’s definitely a hero in my eyes.
I’d never met or even heard of Brock Talon until a couple of weeks ago. Until I received a pleasant email from him suggesting that I check out his new book, I didn’t know he existed. While I still haven’t met Brock (and maybe never will), I feel that I know him as well as my own brother.
His new book, Journey to God’s House, is exactly as the subtitle describes it: An inside story of life at the world headquarters of Jehovah’s Witnesses in the 1980s.Read More
For three years from 2002 to early in 2005, Carl helped shepherd Mariuca, always giving her balanced advice. When she was sick with polymyositis, he and a fellow elder visited with her regularly. Even after she had partially recovered, she enjoyed going in the door-to-door service with Carl’s family because they worked at a slower pace and took it easy on her.
During one conversation with Carl, he privately told her that he was seeing a therapist. This was a bit of a shock because she knew most JWs frowned on going to professionals. At the same time, it was comforting news for her. She also found and met with a reputable therapist who helped her identify several key issues.
Once during the summer of 2005 after going door-to-door, Mariuca was riding in a car with Carl, his wife and their seventeen-year-old daughter, Maggie. For no apparent reason, she asked, “If you don’t have your mind, what have you got?” She had been thinking about her relationship with her paranoid and schizophrenic grandmother, wondering if she might eventually become just like her.Read More
During her first year of single life, Mariuca requested “shepherding visits.” This is a JW process phenomenon designed to encourage and pump up members in the early stages of losing their faith or struggling with a loss. (It is a poor attempt at giving members therapy by Jehovah’s Witness “wannabe therapists” who have no training in counseling. If you are a “good JW,” getting advice from a licensed psychologist is considered a “no-no.”)
The person in need requests a meeting. If granted, one or two elders are assigned to be “shepherds.” During the meeting the problem is identified and followed with a pep talk. The “shepherds” cherry-pick scriptures to make it feel like Jehovah is there working His magic.
Mariuca had three shepherding visits after the divorce. At the time she thought they were helpful, due in large part because the elders she met with were compassionate and caring. But not one of the shepherds was properly educated to evaluate Mariuca’s mental state. While their efforts were well-intentioned, they were actually setting her up for a major breakdown. It was only a matter of time.
However, the best therapy for Mariuca was work, rubbing shoulders every day with a hundred men in the Bethel Pressroom. Her brother, Randy, was one of them. During lunch time the two of them loved to play cards, in particular Bid Whist. They also partnered up and played Whist in the evening, which gave her the opportunity to meet interesting single men in a relaxed environment. While she didn’t pursue anyone, she soon became the pursued. The man’s name was Lewis.Read More
The Advocates for Awareness of Watchtower Abuses (AAWA) announced on May 30th the release of a new video that describes the ways the Watchtower uses horrific imagery to indoctrinate children of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Here is the link to original article on AAWA.co:
New AAWA videos highlight Watchtower’s child abuse record
Since the 1920s The Watch Tower Society has used terrifying illustrations in its literature to describe their view of what will happen at Armageddon to non-believers and Jehovah’s Witnesses who have left the organization. Earlier books were directed mostly to adults who could understand that some of those images were somewhat exaggerated and symbolic. Starting in the late 1950s the Watchtower began publishing books directed to and intended for children.
Many of those books provided simplistic Watchtower versions of basic Bible stories like the Garden of Eden, Noah’s Flood, and the ministry of Jesus. When the Watchtower began predicting that Armageddon might come in 1975, they reinforced their views of the coming destruction of the world and most of its people. More books and magazines were printed that included horrifying illustrations of average people dying in painful and agonizing ways.Read More
It was an unusual response—something I don’t normally do— triggered by a not-so-unusual email from a Mama’s Club reader, Mariuca Rofick. An ex-Jehovah’s Witness, she told me that she had spent ten years working at Bethel, the equivalent of the Vatican for JWs. I’m not certain why, but I intuitively sensed that she wanted to tell me a story and was fishing for a nonjudgmental listening ear. I was someone who had been there, done that. So at the end of a short email response, I typed, “Now tell me a thing or two about you.” That was a request I’d never made before to anyone based on a single email.
In less than twenty-four hours, Mariuca sent me a heart-wrenching reply. At the end of her email, she wrote, “Sorry! I guess you didn’t ask for my entire life story. Once I got going, I couldn’t stop. I am heading to the car right now, but I will continue later this evening.” When she made good on her promise, I knew I had a whopper of a tale to tell – if she’d let me tell it. It would be a true story with many crazy twists and turns along the way. For some people, it will create a serious “moral dilemma.” For others like me, it’s a heartwarming love story, albeit an unlikely one. And it’s a story which should convince every reader that it’s never too late.Read More
I was part of the fourth generation of Jehovah’s Witnesses in my family. Legend has it that my great-grandmother ran into some Russelites who were out street witnessing one day and brought home a Zion’s Watchtower. The rest, as they say, is history.
I grew up “PK,” or what is commonly referred to as a preacher’s kid. My father was an elder for most of my childhood, at least until I was about 15 years old. My mom would vacation or auxiliary pioneer (put in 60-90 hours per month in the door-to-door ministry work) when she could – if she wasn’t working. This meant, as we were reminded often by my father, that we lived “under a microscope.” Our family had to be above reproach in the congregation, because any misstep on our part would not only bring shame upon Jehovah, but it could cost Dad his position in the congregation. That would be really bad. A man with no position in the congregation was dismissed as a slacker, lazy, unmotivated, and certainly not “leadership material.”
An elder’s wife had to dress modestly, be in subjection to her husband, always have the children dressed properly, have meals on the table, support her husband in his congregational duties, and pioneer as often as possible. My own mother was expected to be a regular June Cleaver with a meek attitude.
As an elder’s child, I was always told that I was “to be seen and not heard.” My brother and I most often kept each other company in our childhood, as there was only one family that my father considered “approved association” for us. We were exuberant on those rare occasions that we would be allowed play dates on short school days with the sons of this family. Only twice was I ever allowed to spend the night at another girl’s house. My father was too worried that some ill might befall me or that they weren’t quite up to snuff in the spirituality department. It was a sad and lonely existence to have no one to confide in. My only alternative was imaginary friends and animals, which I kept a deep secret lest I be declared “demonized.”Read More
The organizers of AAWA (Advocates for Awareness of Watchtower Abuses) released a new series of videos that illustrate the damaging effects of the Watch Tower Society’s “shunning” doctrine.
Historically, “shunning” was applied and directed only toward baptized Jehovah’s Witnesses who had been “disfellowshipped” from the organization for committing adultery, some other form of “fornication,” drunkenness, or criminal acts. Since the 1950s, the leaders of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society have expanded the use of shunning to include almost any actions not approved by Jehovah’s Witness elders.
Starting in the early 1980s, “shunning” was extended even to those who had committed none of the usual “sins” that would typically result in someone being disfellowshipped. Added to the list of “sins against Jehovah and His organization” were engaging in private group Bible studies or questioning the beliefs, teachings and policies of the Governing Body. Shunning was applied to those “reproved” or put on probation for any number of minor missteps. In recent years, shunning has been extended to include non-baptized children of Jehovah’s Witnesses and other non-baptized publishers.
The use of “shunning” results in lasting damage to families, children, and relationships with spouses and close friends. Some who have been shunned are permanently scarred by the experience. Some try to reduce the pain of exclusion through the use of drugs or alcohol. A few eventually end their own lives.
Effective May 1, 2013 AAWA is beginning its first major campaign to educate the public about the Watchtower’s unscriptural application of shunning as a way to control every aspect of the lives of Jehovah’s Witnesses and their families. AAWA is releasing the following video in North America and Western Europe. The video is being translated in many other languages and will soon be available worldwide. WatchTowerWatch.com is pleased to be a part of this educational program.
Other Languages Available soon!Read More