Former Jehovah’s Witnesses- Are you asking Questions? Do you need advice?
When we leave a controlling group we go through a process of self-discovery and enlightenment. It takes time. We move forward with our lives and establish our own belief system, new paradigms, and traditions in our own way.
Folks contact me asking for advice fairly often. Many want to vent and tell their story and that is a healthy thing to do. First off, there is nothing wrong with asking for advice or ideas or seeking a listening ear! It can be very therapeutic and if you feel like contacting me or any of the other great folks in the exJW community you should not be afraid or hesitate.
Hello my fellow JWStrugglers! This is a quick update to let you know what has been happening with me lately. I have decided to try putting my new videos on Vimeo, a really cool video channel that is in many ways WAY better than the big boy on the block, YouTube. No advertisements, less restrictions, and really good quality. Click here to watch:
Here are the comments from the new video:
It’s been a few months since I’ve written a new post here. I started the blog in September of 2010 while I was in the midst of a spiritual crisis and had only recently learned The Truth About The Truth. (TTATT) I wrote something nearly every day for quite a while. I felt that I needed to do it. I had to get it off my chest and figure it all out!1 But now nearly four years later some three months have passed and nothing new has been published on the blog until today. Be assured I am doing well and am not laying in a ditch somewhere. In fact I’m doing better all the time; so much so that I am following the crazy world of Watchtower less and less these days. I no longer compulsively download and skim all the Watchtower Magazines off their official website JW.org. Nor can I even hope keep up anymore with the amazing array of videos found on YouTube and Vimeo about the Jehovah’s Witness religion and the impressions of the thousands of disillusioned members. That’s part of the arc that many of us that escape cult-like groups travel; there’s nothing wrong with a declining interest in the religion we have escaped, rather it is a sign of a healthy recovery. A psychologist gave a lecture at my place of work a couple months ago and he talked about cognitive dissonance, a term that many of us are quite familiar with. After his lecture I told him a brief version of my story, and he was quite positive in his comments. As a parting word he reminded me that its “only been a few years” since I got out of a high control group and that I needed to continue to work on deprogramming myself. This was good advice in my mind and I appreciated the admonition to keep working on my clarity and critical thinking.
Before I go on I would like to talk about what I mean when I say “Follow Your Arc”. It is a phrase that I used quite a while ago here on the blog and also in an online video on this topic.2 It is not an often used expression in fact after doing several internet searches I found that it can’t really be found as a commonly used phrase at all. Perhaps it is because our situation is so unique in how we have escaped a mind-controlling cult. At any rate “following your arc” to me means that we all have a natural progression and evolution to our minds when it pertains to emotional and spiritual maturity. This path is not necessarily a straight line, but it is also not a meandering, backwards-traveling journey either. The definition or the word “arc” is helpful to describe this:
A friend of mine recently wrote this thoughtful update on his life1 and where he is at now that ten years has passed since he moved away and faded from the Witnesses. His mentally unstable JW ex-wife tried to get him DFed and sent out the elders to pursue him but they were unsuccessful. I know this man personally and can say he is a friendly, caring, generous person. Like anyone, we have variations in viewpoint and how we see God, but that’s what makes the world and the billions of lovely people in it so amazing. So anyway, here is how he is getting along in his own words:2
10 years ago I stopped attending Jehovah’s Witness meetings for good. Walked out of the kingdom hall cold turkey never to return based on injustices I observed among others and myself at the hands of elders giving out not God’s counsel but personal opinions as counsel. Some of them weren’t even giving out WT Society counsel- just personal opinions. This alleged “counsel” destroys lives if followed, breaks up families, and the stress from having to live up to “perfect” expectations can drive Witnesses around the bend mentally, emotionally, and physically. Many like myself – at one time or another reach our “breaking point” where we just cannot take the micromanagement of our personal lives anymore. I reached that point at age 44 over 10 years ago after having been born and raised in the JW cult for 44 years.
It wasn’t until AFTER exiting the Jehovah’s Witness organization that I started learning how insane, destructive, and criminal this organization REALLY was as I was under “information control” not allowed to be exposed to outside information to educate my mind and be informed so as to have a fuller, clearer picture of how myself and other JWs were SO deceived and manipulated. These are a few of the points I thought I’d share that I discovered so perhaps newly exiting Witnesses hoping to have freedom of mind will perhaps feel LESS guilt or fear in starting a new life after leaving the Witnesses and WT Society organization.
The thing that puzzled me being raised up a JW was always being told how “special” we were as Witnesses. Phrases were used to control our thinking like “you are a people for special possession” or we were such “privileged people” when compared to allegedly “worldly people” whom Jehovah would destroy at Armageddon because they were “sinful” and not in the Jehovah’s Witness organization. In my opinion I feel that this is one of the main reasons Jehovah’s Witnesses have such an ELITIST attitude about themselves being better than non-Witnesses due to the fact that this “privileged people” thinking is pushed so hard into their psyche by WT leaders and writers from the moment they start reading JW material or listening to talks at kingdom halls. And the ironic thing is that JWs are ONLY considered “special” to Watchtower Society leaders interests based on how much they attend meetings or donate contributions to WT Society interests. In reality- in the REAL world JWs are no more special than ANYBODY else on the planet – except in their own eyes THEY feel more worthy than non-Witnesses. Once a Jehovah’s Witness sees the WT Society for what they are (a money making corporate business disguised as a religion) and exits the religion- they no longer remain a “special person” to ANY former JWs they knew. Including WT leaders. They become expendable.
Baptism is a risk! That’s what the Watchtower of June 15, 2011 page 5 says. (This article can be found on the official website of Jehovah’s Witnesses at JW.org) You may be surprised at such an admission, but it is there for all to see when you read between the lines, and the ramifications of such a statement are chilling when analyzed. I thought it was worth breaking down and disassembling what this means in the light of critical thinking, something that is sorely lacking among most Jehovah’s Witnesses unfortunately. I made a video on my YouTube channel about it to accompany this article.1
You may have noticed that the writers of JW.org and other Watchtower literature and policies are expert spin doctors at implying things without ever actually saying them. Propagandists, demagogues, and professional symbol manipulators excel at the art of implying something without ever coming out and actually saying it. Communist governments are especially good at spreading propaganda this way so as to exercise influence and control upon the people they rule over. Watchtower leaders have imitated their methods (consciously or unconsciously) it seems.
It was May 28th of the year 2002, and I was a young elder with a newborn baby and a devout Jehovah’s Witness wife. On top of owning and operating a business and having family responsibilities, my elder duties seemed endless. In the five years since being appointed an elder I had already seen two elders removed, which caused bitter in-fighting on the elder body because of it. Two “alpha-male” elders were constantly sparring and trying to out-quote the other using Watchtower articles during backroom elder meetings. These would sometimes last for four or five hours and were exhausting. I was serving as the Service Overseer and was a regular pioneer, although the pioneering had to give way soon as my body could not indefinitely take the pace of such a breakneck schedule.
Another young elder (we had been appointed at the same time and he was only a year older than me) had confessed that he and his wife had committed fornication prior to being married and he had covered it up for years, but the elders used a loophole in the KS91 Flock book (the name of the secret elder handbook at the time) to justify his “repentance”1 which then allows the suppression of this revelation from the rest of the congregation. He was never reproved or deleted and continued to serve as the Congregation Secretary. Not long after his confession he moved his family to a neighboring Kingdom Hall, to “get a fresh start” as he said2. Since there was now only three elders left on the body at this point I took on the secretary position as well as the Theocratic Ministry School Overseer position. Shortly thereafter my wife complained that she “felt like a single mom” since I was hardly ever at my seat during meetings to help with the baby.
It was against this hectic backdrop that a mature and well-respected Ministerial servant said there was going to be an edition of the TV news show “Dateline” coming out that all in the congregation should watch. He said it was going to be a smear of lies against the Witnesses and that we needed to watch it so as to be prepared for the fallout. I had never heard of such a high-profile television show doing a piece on Jehovah’s Witnesses and I had absolutely no idea what it was about. I watched it, and it was far worse than anything that I had imagined it might be. The title was, “Witness For The Prosecution” and it was a devastating presentation3. It outlined wide-spread child molestation among Jehovah’s Witnesses, and even had two insiders that were brave enough to come on camera and speak out against the damaging Watchtower policies that allowed these crimes to take place.
When I mentioned to a former longtime elder that I was working on this story (initially for YouTube2
I recently completed a new YouTube video about the terrible state of affairs that thousands of grandparents have found themselves in after they stop serving the Watchtower Organization and it’s Eight-man “Slave Class”. The description and the link is below:
A heartbreaking situation is played out every day for many grandparents that are former Jehovah’s Witnesses or Mormons: Their precious grandchildren grow up without knowing them, and in some cases the little ones are told that their Grandma or Grandpa hates God and is serving Satan and will be killed at Armageddon.
Why would such a terrible thing be done? It is because of the Mormon Church and Watchtower Society’s harsh shunning policies. Some Jehovah’s Witnesses have used this terrible doctrine as a weapon against their own parents and it is a tragedy and a horrible loss for all sides. Once a person is indoctrinated into a cult, they will even turn on their own family members and this is one example of it in action.
What finally got me moving was an awakened brother from Brazil who messaged me and said,
“I just want to thank you for your courage to record your judicial committee. That was really shocking to see how they treated you. My wife also wants to thank you because, as she said, we would never believe this story if someone just told us. Thank you! You helped save our lives and our marriage!
My wife is waiting for the elders to call on her. She’s missing meetings for a month now. We believe they are consulting their spies my now. Because of your work, we learned to do it the right way. We are going to record it as well, and we are going to ask the right questions. No ‘debate’, as they say.
Would you consider transcribing your judicial committee? My wife was willing to translate and post your video with subtitles in our language. There are 750 thousand JWs in Brazil who would die to see this judicial committee. My brother-in-law wants to see it, but he can’t understand English.”
How could I say no to this? I have also had offers from others to translate the tribunal into Polish and Spanish as well. Since the videos of my “Apostasy Trial” were posted in late September of 2012 the series has been viewed over 60,000 times. The feedback and thanks I’ve received has been overwhelming. I had written one article about this several months ago entitled, “Feedback on my Judicial Meeting” but I would like to include a few of the new ones that have come in:
Alfonso GUTIÉRREZ via YouTube on 4/10/2013
Brother you’re really a disciple of Christ. What a loving prayer you said in behalf of those brothers blinded by the unscriptural policy of the WT. Eric, my brother, you will certainly be blessed by our loving father Jehovah when our Lord Jesus’ kingdom take over human affairs.
From: Sunshine Sky via YouTube, on 8/21/2013
Jwstruggle, this is the video that woke me up. I knew that I was being disobedient by watching it, but by the end of all of them… I just felt like my chains where falling apart, and my guilt was no longer there.
From: Dave Tony via YouTube, on 6/21/2013
As I watched this video I burst into tears because I felt those Elders hearts and that they were genuinely concerned yet so lost and blinded!! My heart really goes out to them….. Your bravery is inspirational because I haven’t had the courage to do what you did.
From: luomio via YouTube, on 6/2/2013
I was disfellowshipped from the Mormon church while “on my mission”, as Mormons say. Looking back I realize how insignificant those who disfellowshipped me and the organization are. I do enjoy letting them know how I feel though. I’m waiting for the right moment to officially resign from the church. Great videos.
pebbles6085 via YT on 5/09/2013
My family and I still worship Jehovah. However, we no longer go by the teachings of the Watchtower or their organization. We have never been happier and JEHOVAH still answers our prayers. Thank you for sharing your video. God Bless you always Brother.
Michael Atkinson via YT on 4/26/2013
These were the most revealing and touching 6 videos I’ve seen. There were moments when I was literally cheering after some of the points you made, because I could tell that The Holy Spirit was working in you. I am hoping one day my mother will listen to me, and leave the WT, and learn the real truth that’s in the Bible. Until then, all I can do is pray for her and all the Witnesses who are lost. I will also pray that people like you keep speaking the truth w/ love like you did. So inspiring!!
No, it was for therapeutic reasons of my own that I began to write a blog. I had almost no one to talk to. My best friend was my wife, and she had already begun calling me names like “apostate”, despite seeing me read the Bible every day, study with the children, etc. I was gaining weight, eating and drinking too much, and the cognitive dissonance was getting worse. On top of this I had to remain anonymous and was worried that I would be outed. It was something I felt I needed to do- to write down my thoughts and impressions, and get it all out.
I decided to call myself “JJ”. First off it was short and easy, and it was a nod to my deceased Mother whom I still love very much and miss every day. She wanted to name me JJ before I was born but my father exercised his veto power and I was named Eric instead.
The questions asked by the brother giving the baptism talk (since 1985) read:
1. “On the basis of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, have you repented of your sins and dedicated yourself to Jehovah to do his will?”
2. “Do you understand that your dedication and baptism identify you as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses in association with God’s spirit-directed organization?”
Many have noticed that a person is not actually being baptized into Christ (See Romans 6:3 and Galatians 3:27) at this occasion as the scriptures indicate the first century Christians did. Also, as has been discussed on the JWStruggle forum and in other places online and by Bible scholars, there is strong circumstantial evidence that Matthew 28:19 was “adjusted” by those that hoped to cement their new trinity doctrine back in the fourth century, and the Father and the Holy Spirit were added to the original text. This is beyond the scope of the subject at hand but some references in the notes have been provided if any want to do further research on this topic.
Contrast this with what the Apostle Paul said at Galatians 1:8 which says, “However, even if we or an angel out of heaven were to declare to you as good news something beyond what we declared to you as good news, let him be accursed.”
That aside, what is this unique take of the Kingdom? Notice a few quotes from the August 1, 2004 Watchtower, in the article entitled, “God’s Kingdom Government—A Reality Today”
This message from the 2011 Watchtower is being strongly reiterated in the current District Conventions being held throughout North America and other parts of the world right now. There is a symposium with a talk about “Human Apostates” that is very slanderous and defamatory and has the ex-JW blogosphere up in arms over it.
The fact that loyal JWs are going against this advice is actually quite encouraging to me, as it shows that people are thinking for themselves more and more, even if they are operating from a position of ignorance on some points.
Here’s a video I made on this phenomenon back in February:
Some of these rogue Jehovah’s Witnesses that are trying to defend “The Truth” are sincere. Unfortunately many of them are also bullheaded and arrogant in the way that they try and make their case. I wrote about this once before in February of 2013 (See article, “JW Apologists Keep Commenting”) but thought it was worth revisiting. There seems to be some commonalities with these JW militants that I’ve gathered:
1. They are strong in their opinions and the “rightness” of their comments, which reflects the JW culture’s black and white thought process.
The following guest article by GoJira101 is quite informative, dealing with reading body language and how we can utilize simple clues when talking to a friend or loved one about TTATT. Without further ado, here is the article:
I am writing this information with the hope of helping you approach your friends and family with The Truth About The Truth (TTATT). The perspective I’m approaching from is how we can read their non-verbal cues to help us to wake them up. Also if you are still attending meetings or having contact with Jehovah’s Witnesses, how can you avoid telling them too much if you are being questioned and/or how to read their non-verbal communication to know when to stop talking and “back off?”
First I should explain how I have become knowledgeable on reading non-verbal communication. As a sign-language interpreter I have had extensive training, through college classes, on reading body language and facial expression (non-verbal communication) in order to work with someone who is deaf. My knowledge base also comes from the practical, everyday experience of working with deaf people. With American Sign Language (ASL), 93% is all body language, 7% is the actual signs/words. With ASL, because 93% of the language itself is body language and facial expression, I have to be able to read the person’s body language and facial expression in order to understand the meaning of what they say. For example, the sign for “FEAR” and “SCARED” are the same sign, but as we all know, being scared about something and having a fear, are two different things. Without being able to read the person’s body language I wouldn’t know what the person is trying to say.
I know you are probably thinking, “But how does this help me with talking to people about TTATT?” People read non-verbal communication every day without even realizing it. It is not difficult to understand non-verbal communication. People from all over the world have their own set of cultural non-verbal communication that truly shows what they are feeling/thinking. We experience these interactions every day.