Xpress staffer reflects on past life as a Jehovah’s Witness

Defining your own beliefs and developing a philosophy on life outside those taught by your parents is one of the greatest things one can accomplish in growing older. Many of us are tethered to the religions, expectations and dreams of our parents, and some never venture further than a moderate view of what their parents think.

The point is not to say that your parents or role models automatically have it wrong. Part of being a well-rounded and critically functioning being is to question your own beliefs. Be comfortable with the possibility you may be wrong and do not know something.

I have a fear of raising my children in any particular religion. This fear comes from my personal experience, one that may be biased, as being raised by my mother as a Jehovah’s Witness.

Though I never paid much attention to the Christian-rooted doctrine of the Witnesses while growing up, I pledged my life to the organization through baptism at 16. Half of my family were all Witnesses, and most of my friends were all Witnesses as well, so the social comfort was there. It was hard to mentally overcome the possibility that my closest friends and family were all wrong in their beliefs. At the time, the beliefs seemed to make sense.

I didn’t stay a Witness for long. Within a year, I left on my own accord, and wrote a letter of formal “disassociation” from the organization, asking that I no longer be considered a Witness. I left because I didn’t consider myself philosophically a Witness anymore, nor did I want anything to do with any religion.

The Witnesses have a practice of “shunning” anyone who is kicked out of, or formally leaves the religion. They do this to keep “bad association” away from God’s people, to show the ex-Witness what happens when they abandon the “truth,” and to hopefully compel the ex-Witness to come back.

Ultimately, I choose not to fixate much on these divisions. Some relationships — whether family, friends, or a partner — are not lifelong. If they’re ended over absurd reasons, the more absurd, the easier I’ve found it to move on. I found the Witness’ cookie-cutter nature of shunning to be one of the most unloving and intolerant practices, and beyond hypocritical to the ideals of any religion claiming to be God-inspired.

It terrifies me to think of children that are taught to accept what their parents teach them, and grow up afraid to think otherwise out of fear of abandonment or harsh judgement. Question your parents, pastors, professors, role models, idols, mentors — anyone that tells you how to live or think.

In the very end, if their association with you depends on accepting everything they believe without questioning it, perhaps you should take another look at how much value you place on that person’s word.

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  • A balanced article that anyone that is a critical thinker could agree with.

    I also was raised as JW from infancy and became a high ranking elder for some years. After doing independant research and asking hard questions I realized that the judgmentalism and the bigotry taught by the Witnesses was wrong and not in accord with how Jesus told people to behave.

    All my longtime friends and family
    members that are in the Watchtower movement shun me and it has taken some adjustment to gain a normal life. This is a damaging religion that breaks up families every day. YouTube and Google is filled with pages and videos of ones that have been hurt by it.

    • Thank you for your comment, I am currently still a jw member but not attending meetings. I too have experienced the shunning. I was blacklisted by my wife, son, body of elders and others. I began to challenge the organization, reading other publications at the library. I Felt empty in life, family disfunctional, unfulfilled. It was an endless drudgery! All those years (24) spent in service, conventions, and so on and I was’nt experiencing a happy, victorious life. Where was the love I thought. I began to look below the surface and Question my beliefs.Its been hard, very hard! I have cried buckets of tears. It seems I’m so alone but I go online and read the comments like yours and their encouraging! I am realizing just how cut off(psycologically) from the world and people and life I have been. Wer’e taught to seperate ourselves from society so our whole world becomes those on the inside. I believe in God and Jesus, so trying to connect with others who can identify with me and try and get through this . Guess I’m saying I could use a friend. or 2 ! Wife left me, son wont talk to me, when my mother finds out she’ll disfellowship me from her life. I’m keeping the faith though! Just abandoning all the mind control. Now its a one on one with god as Jesus being the mediator himself. Not the watchtower society. Thank you

      • There is plenty of support from those who feel similar, David. Exjw recovery group 3 on facebook may help you feel less alone. Best wishes.

        • thank you, I’ll look for that group

  • I have observed the breakdown of many families due to this uncaring high control sect. The leadership have grown comfortable inheriting a belief system that suggests their decisions and words are Gods exclusive and only direct communication to the world. How frightening! How arrogant.

    The Watchtower this year has been the most vicious and unloving with their hate speech directed to those who have left. This summers assemblies spewed out poisonous words directed towards former members disguised as loving instruction to those who remain in the fold.

    Like the Berlin wall in past years the Watchtower will be challenged more and more by those who believe in freedom and liberty to follow Gods path, not those of the Governing Body leadership. ..

  • I agree. I was raised to generally believe in God, between a Muslim father and a Christian mother who settled for “it’s the same basic thing”, and was more or less agnostic as a teen and young adult following in the foot steps of my brothers who decided it was all a load of bull. Revisiting religion on my own accord in most recent years, I find it is not bull and that God is real. The main point: You don’t need a religion to believe in God, God doesn’t have a religion, He is just Reality. Religions are just attempts to educate the masses about the Consciousness of Reality by the name God and Lord, which are valid names for One who is capable of anything and everything. There are many paths to know our Creator, the ones disposed to division and sectarianism are the least efficient, because their practices are the opposite of Unity, and tend to push people away from God rather than welcome them to Him.

  • Could not agree more!!! i grew up a JW and everthing you say is right on the money! they discourage independent thinking and higher education!

  • When neighborhood children are known to regularly engage in bad behavior, we routinely tell our children to stay away from them.

    If a student continually misbehaves the mandatory school attendance law is set aside for that individual and he is expelled so that he will not disrupt those trying to learn.

    Adults who seriously violate the law are imprisoned so that they do not disrupt law-abiding citizens.

    We do not individually decide which students should be expelled and which criminals should be in prison. Those in authority make those decisions.

    The Bible, not a Jehovah’s Witness rule, specifically commands Christians “to quit mixing in company with anyone called a brother that is a fornicator or a greedy person or an idolater or a reviler or a drunkard or an extortioner, not even eating with such a man. … Remove the wicked [man] from among yourselves.” (1 Corinthians 5:11-13)

    This is the part of disfellowshipping that some object to so strongly: the public notice of that one’s no longer being part of the congregation. That notice serves to protect those not yet aware of that individual’s character, just as the arrests reported in the newspaper inform the public about unsavory sorts.

    Jehovah’s Witnesses do exactly what every other segment of society does. That’s not hypocritical or judgmental; it’s common sense and the universally practiced course.

    • Remove them from the congregation if they are claiming to be part of that congregation. While you paint the picture of those who leave as the dregs of the earth the truth is people leave for many reasons including finding that your so called truth….is not.

      Face the facts. Your group has had many failures and make many exaggerated claims. Just because you can’t admit it doesn’t mean others have to live the lie too.

    • Dear TNMtnBob,
      I agree with you that at times the wise course is to cut ties with a disruptive influence. You refer to those who “regularly engage in”, “continually misbehaves”, or who “seriously violate” laws. As you quote, it IS scriptural to remove those who are actively engaging in sin. Yet, the examples you provide are extreme examples Keep in mind, a JW is disfellowshipped not for the sin itself – but for his attitude toward it. In other words, one should only be df’d if he/she has an unrepentant attitude toward the sin. That’s the scripural principle and what the Elders are taught. However, in practice it is not always done. Think about it. There are on average over 700,000 cases of d’fing a year. Do you really believe ALL of these were completely unrepentant and so set on sin they just had to be removed to protect the congregation? If so, that would call into question the shepherding being done in the congregations.
      I ask you, if one is df’d but later stops the sin and even changes his/her attitude toward it. why are they not immediately reinstated or at least a process begun to get them back?
      The scriptures show this to be the way is should be. See the numerous examples of Israel, several Kings most notably David, and the first century example of the man who took his father’s wife. After a number of months Paul chided the Corinthians for being TOO unloving toward the man and to let him come back. And the scriptures give no hint of him going to meetings and being shunned or having to write a letter asking for reinstatement. Paul encouraged pro-activeness in this regard.
      So, I further ask you – why is is easier to be removed from the JW organization then it is to be reinstated? Logically, wouldn’t that be the time the person needs encouragement the most? Yet, he/she may spend months still being shunned. To protect what?
      Please explain if you feel you can.

    • Is questioning ever-changing teachings of the WatchTower Tract Society, Inc included in your idea of doing bad things? Is not totally not agreeing with WTS teachings and policies and voicing that disagreement, something worthy of extreme shunning? No. Every person who awakens to WTS’s changing teachings as not being God’s channel of communication with humans isn’t a morally bad person. WTS is not synonymous with Jehovah. WTS changes and is more concerned with enforcing policy than real love. I know this as a past 30 year plus member of the WTS.

      Number two of the latest baptism questions makes the candidate aware at that time of her or his acknowledging this baptism means adhering to the WTS organization. Therefore, questioning this organization may lead to shunning.

      My stating the above is to inform Jehovah’s Witnesses that it’s not only “sexual immorality”, smoking, accepting a whole blood transfusion or having a relationship with a disfellowshipped person, that will get a WTS Member shunned. Even the natural thing to do with anything which keeps changing, questioning it, may certainly get a WTS Member shunned.

  • There once was a young man who played in the sandbox with his family and friends. This young man sat in the corner and focused on himself while the others made it easy for him. One day the young man decided to leave the sandbox. Instead of thanking his family and friends for trying their best to guide him and for protecting him from the world outside he scoffed at them and even blamed them for his painful transition to the outside.

    This inexperienced youth was still focusing on his own issues just as he had done all of his life in the box. We can only hope that someday he will open his heart and realize we all must accept the consequences of our decisions, both positive and negative. Until he is true to this truth he will never be true to himself. If he cannot be true to himself he will never be true to anyone.

    • bluesjam

      You write complete nonsense.

    • This is the kind of dribble that the Watchtower would promote and the members would prepare for their ministry school talks.

      Sandbox??? Family and friends??inexperienced youth was still focusing on his own issues just as he had done all of his life in the box.? “….

      This is not genius. This is high control, guilt treatment, manipulation.

    • There should be nothing wrong with disagreeing with WatchTower Tract Society, Inc’s ever-changing teachings and walking away from the deception. A WTS Member, however, can’t leave WTS honorably.

  • This site looks desperate:-
    Single dating for JW brothers and sisters

    No different from all the other apostates crooning to the same old hate tune.

    • Face the facts. You man made and manufactured sect is dying and the internet is educating people. The Watchtower leadership hates that and will try and fail to stop people from learning the truth.
      The Watchtower is the new Berlin Wall. All your labeling and smearing people campaign shows who is REALLY DESPERATE.

      • WHO IS REALLY DESPERATE? YEA SURE, THIS DESPERATE SITE & PEOPLE LIKE YOU WHO ARE PART OF THIS YOUR SO CALLED MAN MADE MANUFACTURED SECT IS DYING IN BITTERNESS. HATE HAD CONSUMED YOU PEOPLE SOUL, IS DETERIORATING EVERY MOMENT.

        THE INTERNET IS JUST A TOOL, IS PEOPLE LIKE YOU & THIS DESPERATE SITE, EXPOSING ALL YOUR TRUE COLORS. LITTLE DO YOU PEOPLE REALIZED IT, THEY ARE SMEARED ALL OVER THE PLACE.

        MAYBE YOU ONE TO TAKE A LOOK AT THIS SITE, THEN YOU WILL KNOW WHAT I MEANT. MY ADVICE TO YOU PEOPLE IS, IF YOU DON’T KNOW HOW TO LIE THEN DON’T LIE, YOU FOOLS ARE EXPOSING YOURSELF, GOOD RIDDANCE.

        • Can’t accept the truth I see.
          Why does the Jehovah’s Witness religion lie to new converts telling them they are offering a free Bible study when in reality is is nothing but a lifetime of Watchtower publication studies?
          Might as well study the Book Of Mormon.
          Same thing.

        • Some fools rave of happiness, blissfulness, togetherness. Some fools fool themselves I guess, They’re not foolin me, ooh,ooh love hurts

          • Have another beer. lol

          • LOL!! Too bad I don’t drink

          • Then you don’t need to.You’re already delusional.

          • Very funny, well is only on occasional…otherwise try not to.

          • Gosh!! Time is really running fast, alright signing out – ciao.

          • One glimpse at this fake site, you know is not advisable, it should be discouraged. By the way, this site is only meant for JWs no room for apostates. No genuine JWs will suggest nor encourage this, right!.

            What pissed me off is, labelling others as “apostates” doesn’t make them look any “righteous” either. If that is the case, then we won’t be seeing this fake site. Is like the phrase (The pot calling the kettle black).

            Who ever this dolt fool who created this site must have his/hers brains in their ass. What makes them so sure that the person who “join this group” is one of JW. It could be anyone right, anyone can be anything they want to be online, (An EX JW/ Apostates/Someone who doesn’t know anything about this religion or Wolf).

            Such a put off, what a cockamamie idea.

          • LOL!!

        • Oh My Gosh!!

    • LOL!!

  • Do Jehovah Witnesses Shun Former Members ?

    Get the real facts from the source, not a disgruntled “former” Witness.
    http://goo.gl/GV6dfV

    Why Some Are Disfellowshipped ?
    http://goo.gl/CKHlCP

    Frequently Asked Questions About Jehovah’s Witnesses.
    http://goo.gl/GLIfwF

    • My Life after Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Watchtower

  • Welcome to:
    Jehovah’s Witness Recovery
    Our Mission is to provide an online environment that promotes positive healing and recovery from the Watchtower Society of Jehovah’s Witnesses.http://www.jehovahswitnessrecovery.com

  • – Facts About Jehovah’s Witnesses

    http://www.jwfacts.com/watchtower/1800s.php

  • Is the New World Translation a valid version of the Bible?

    “The Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Watchtower Society realized that their beliefs contradicted Scripture.”

    http://www.gotquestions.org/New-World-Translation.html

    • These arrogant wolves in sheep’s clothing claim to be Gods only channel of communication to the earth.
      These Satans helpers have broken up families and friends worldwide.

  • Get to know your cult leaders:

    The Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses – Explained

    http://jwsurvey.org/cedars-blog/the-governing-body-of-jehovahs-witnesses-explained

    • These arrogant wolves in sheep’s clothing claim to be Gods only channel of communication to the earth!
      These Satans helpers have broken up families and friends worldwide.

    • Hey Alex thanks for the awesome web link, is indeed very well defined informative website. Read the news on Candace Conti (The Watchtower Punished: Society loses legal battle over child abuse case).

      Honestly, is hard to believed it, normally we have all these common news happening in Catholic Churches or Churches but within the JWs Organization?? – No way, how could this be??, not till I read Candace case.

      Candace should be admired for what she did & to those of you who suffered the same faith as her, do not hesitate to do likewise… if it fell on deaf ears. Take the brave decision to pursue for justice.

      • “Hey Alex thanks for the awesome web link…”~Elle
        You are welcome.
        More to come.
        Stay tuned!

        • LOL!!

          • Laughing won’t stop people from learning about what really goes on under the Watchtower surface.

          • Honestly, (someone’s affliction/sorrow) is not a laughable matter, especially not when you least expected this to happened in JWs Organization.

            What makes it laughable is you. The way you put it, your phrasing of words into sentences, is amusing especially when one thought it just words till one realized is not a joke. Seriously, your repetitious comments makes people laughed but hey in the end you got yourself victory.

            Yeah, you’re right, I won’t stop myself from getting down to the underlying issue of the Watchtower.

          • “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi ~

          • Yawn!! 🙂

          • ….then they yawn.

          • Yea, that’s what I wanted to said but I thought too much of “then” in it so I shorten it. How can you read my mind?

  • How does the Governing Body operate?

    The Governing Body holds weekly meetings every Wednesday at the World Headquarters in Brooklyn, although occasionally they will meet at other facilities (such as Patterson) as the need arises. During these meetings, reports are heard from around the world, and decisions are made regarding the organization of the worldwide preaching and teaching work. Doctrinal matters are also discussed at such meetings.

    There are six committees over which the Governing Body has oversight. Each is assigned to direct various aspects of the worldwide work. At least one Governing Body member is typically assigned to each of these committees. Non-Governing Body members of these committees are described as “helpers”

  • “Name-Calling” at the 2013 District Convention

  • Nice story. I particularly like the line “If they’re ended over absurd reasons, the more absurd, the easier I’ve found it to move on.”