A few days ago while I was walking my dog around my neighborhood, I saw a group of familiar looking faces.walking toward me. The men were dressed in suits and the women wore modest length skirts with sensible shoes. All were carrying what looked like book bags.
As my pup and I began passing them, one of the men made a point of glaring at me while one of the women whispered to the other next to her, furtively glancing at me. Wow! I thought to myself. The group looked familiar – but then again, I live in a small neighborhood – so that’s not unusual. But these people definitely knew who I was and were none too happy to see me!
As I walked up the steps to my building it finally occurred to me who these people were and that I knew them at one time.Read More
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
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
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
“TRUTH BE TOLD” is a new documentary film being released in Brooklyn, New York on March 27, 2013. An exposé of the Watchtower, the title refers to the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ perception that their beliefs are “The Truth.” This is the first feature-film directed by Gregorio Smith who was born and raised a Jehovah’s Witness. Smith, a graduate of Baruch College and a member of the International Documentary Association, is now an independent filmmaker and writer.
He describes “Truth Be Told” as being “immersive, informational, expository and controversial…an honest glimpse into the culture of growing up in the Jehovah’s Witness religion.” The film “lifts the veil on the seemingly benign Jehovah’s Witnesses religion to expose a profit-driven, isolationist culture characterized by fear, totalitarian corporate leadership, intellectual & spiritual intimidation, suspension of critical thinking, failed prophecies, doctrinal inconsistency and improper handling of physical and sexual abuse allegations within the church.”Read More
When I talked alone with Marilyn, she acknowledged her duplicity. She had lost touch with basic human decency due to poorly thought out JW policy. She regretted that she had shunned me for so many years. She wanted me back in her life. We had a long, candid conversation, shedding many tears. But not once did she say a word about how poorly she had been treated by Tim and Carter, nor why she could now talk and eat with me.
I talked one-on-one with Mama the next day. We had our conversation at her house but Mama’s tone and subsequent reaction was totally different from the one with Marilyn. Mama could not see the world through any other lens than her own. She was cold and hard, with no remorse. She wanted to be in total control of the conversation and refused to answer several of my questions and offered no explanation for why she could now talk with me.Read More
Everyone has a story to tell. The soldier returning from the middle east has a story – and so does his family. The disabled lady driving her motorized wheelchair with the large dog running beside her has a story. The old man who should be enjoying his retirement but has to work the counter at McDonald’s has his story. Those people may be surviving, but probably have stories we would consider as “tragic” or “unfortunate.”
As I’ve often said, “There, but for the grace of God, go I.”
I’m realizing that almost everyone who has been connected with Jehovah’s Witnesses has a story to tell. If you asked, most would tell you that their lives “are wonderful, full of close friends and family, and time well spent at Kingdom Halls, conventions, and in field service.” At least that’s what they would tell you.
On the other hand, if you knew them personally or dug a little deeper, you might find the opposite was true. For many raised as Jehovah’s Witnesses, life is no “paradise” at all and their real stories are far more tragic and complicated than (as JWs) they might want to admit.Read More