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What's the Best Way to Leave Jehovah's Witnesses?

by Brenda Lee 10. August 2009 14:17

Three Classifications of Defector That You Need to Understand

 

Based on the countless stories I’ve heard from those who have exited the organization, the best way to leave the Watchtower/Jehovah Witnesses, and possibly keep your Jehovah Witness family unit and friendships intact, is s…l…o…w…l…y (and methodically—i.e., have a plan).  Currently, there are three categories of leaving the Jehovah’s Witnesses and I have listed them from least severe to most impactful.  They are as follows:

 

1)      The Fader:  Jehovah’s Witnesses are typically less hostile towards the ex-member who simply “faded away.”   The reason?  They consider that person the least threatening to their spirituality (i.e., indoctrination).  What does it mean to “fade”?  It means you simply stop associating with the congregation, forego meetings and do NOT express any opinion about the Watchtower organization’s teachings one way or the other.  Once you “fade,” no matter how much you are encouraged to do so by other Jehovah’s Witnesses, it is imperative that you never share your thoughts with another Jehovah’s Witness (good or bad), unless you truly don’t care whether or not you are ultimately shunned.  If you do share your thoughts or show any signs of independent thinking (i.e., too many questions or concerns), you will find yourself being involuntarily moved by Watchtower elders into category #2, below.  In category #1, as a fader, your family typically will NOT be expected to shun you.

 

2)      The Disassociated One:  This is the person who innocently answers the elders’ inquiry:  “Do you still want to be known as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses?” The thing you must understand is, in asking this question, the elders are trying to determine if you are disassociating yourself so that they take action to instruct the congregation to shun you.  Above all else, do NOT respond to any questions like this.  If you answer “no,” that is all they need to adversely impact your life.  In this category, your family is expected to shun you.  Whether or not your family shuns you (or gets away with not shunning) depends upon how closely your family follows the nuances of the organization’s changing rules and how well the leaders within your home congregation monitor your family dynamics.  Still, The Watchtower organization expects family members to shun loved ones whether that person ‘disassociates’ or gets kicked out for some perceived sin.

 

Here’s the thing most Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t even realize:  The whole shunning policy wasn’t that stringently enforced prior to 1981.  Since then, however, and subsequent to the whole shakeup at headquarters involving the disfellowshipping of Governing Body member Ray Franz (author of “Crisis of Conscience”) Jehovah’s Witnesses have been taught that there is no difference between being disfellowshipped for “sin” and disassociating from the organization.  The expectation is the same—shun your beloved family member.  Confused?  It simply means this:

 

DISASSOCIATED=DISFELLOWSHIPPED.  CONSEQUENCE FOR EITHER=SHUN.

 

For any Jehovah’s Witness who challenges this policy, refer to the September 15, 1981 Watchtower magazine (p. 23-24):  "Persons who make themselves not of our sort by deliberately rejecting the faith and beliefs of Jehovah's Witnesses should appropriately be viewed and treated as are those who have been disfellowshipped for wrongdoing." This was the very magazine my family used to justify their shunning of me back in 1981.

 

Also refer to the more obvious and current April 15, 1988, Watchtower magazine which states:  "By also avoiding persons who have deliberately disassociated themselves, Christians are protected from possible critical, unappreciative, or even apostate views."  "shunning would be appropriate... for anyone who rejects the congregation [of Jehovah's Witnesses]." 

 

3)      The Disfellowshipped One:  This is the person who is kicked out of the Watchtower organization (excommunicated), i.e., removed involuntarily.  The justification for this usually involves some perceived ‘sin’ incurred by the now-defunct member (what constitutes a ‘sin’ is determined by the leaders and can include challenging their authority related to policies of sexual abuse, shunning, etc.).  In this category, your family WILL be expected to shun you.  If they do not, they too can be disfellowshipped from the organization and find themselves being shunned by other Jehovah’s Witnesses.

 

In the case of #2 and #3 above, congregation elders are instructed to “mark” you as trouble at the first sign of doubt or outright rebellion and disfellowship/shun you quicker than you can say, “OK, OK, I repent already.”  Marking is a technique the organization uses to ensure other members begin avoiding you.  You, essentially, are seen as a leper.  You are always free to TRY to return to the Watchtower organization, but if you want to return, it involves you jump through some major emotionally abusive hurdles (that requirement alone is another topic for discussion).

 

One piece of advice I always give Jehovah’s Witnesses who are thinking of leaving is:  Make sure you establish some outside friendships before you fade away.  That way, you will have a lifeline when the waters get turbulent.  In addition, read everything you can so you can educate yourself about this organization.  Google words such as “spiritual abuse,” “thought reform,” “cult dynamics,” and “former Jehovah’s Witnesses.”  It will help validate whether or not you’re making the right decision.   Understand what a dysfunctional church looks like.

 

Your family may try to impose guilt, induce shame, and levy threats to get you to return to the Kingdom Hall (KH). Don’t fall for any of it. You have the right to question what you are being taught.  Remember, all cult leaders say that they have The Truth, The Way, The Light, the Sole Channel to God.

 

Just to show you how ridiculous the criteria for excommunications have become, in 2005 Joel Jahn, Washington (USA), was disfellowshipped because he questioned the validity and morality of the organization’s policy that there must be two eye witnesses in order for the child to be believed if the child makes sexual abuse accusations against another member.  His concern seems reasonable, doesn’t it?  What child has two eye witnesses around when they are being sexually abused?

 

Consequently, Jahn’s family shunned him.  His sister-in-law is reported to have said in the Oct. 17, 2005 Davenport Times: “I pretend he’s not there, like he’s someone I don’t know…We have beliefs that we know are in the Bible, but he caused you to doubt what you think.  When we had get-togethers, I really didn’t want to be with him because of his attitude…I feel protected now.”

 

Joel described shunning as “religious abuse.”  Joel’s wife, Linda, who wasn’t disfellowshipped is also feeling the effects of being shunned because her family sees her as a woman married to a man they consider a sinner.  Linda remarked, “We’re supposed to be dead in their eyes.  Why can’t we have the freedom to change our religion without losing our family?

 

It is shocking, then, for former members (like me who has been shunned by my mother, sister, brother and nephews/niece for nearly 30 years) to read something so blatantly hypocritical from the Watchtower.  I’m referring to the Watchtower Bible & Tract Society’s July 2009 Awake! magazine in which the Watchtower writes in an article titled, “Is it Wrong to Change Your Religion?”:

           No one should be forced to worship in a way that he finds unacceptable or be made to choose between his beliefs and his family. 

Go to Brenda Lee’s blog entitled, “Do Jehovah’s Witnesses Break Up Families” to read more…

From www.outofthecocoon.net

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The "Watchtower" Movies

by Brenda Lee 10. August 2009 14:13

Comment By Joan F:

 

I keep seeing similarities between the JW experience and movies....

 

What about "The Truman Show" where the main character wakes up one day to discover that his whole life is a scripted "loop" in a program invented by shadowy others...and what he thought was really real was nothing more than entertainment for someone else. I thought the similarities with this premise and the Jehovah Witness experiences were too spooky for words. I have come to firmly believe that the Governing Body and their handpicked Bethel minions are indeed sinister puppet masters. Bethel Headquarters is to me like the control tower of a "Mother Ship" pushing the buttons of people's lives and enjoying the outcome. I don't think their so-called policy changes are changes at all but cynical intelligence tests to see how many of the rank and file will run like lemmings in whatever direction they decree. They know that anyone who stops running and says "STOP THE INSANITY" will be trampled in the melee or turned on and turned in. This is one of the ways they get rid of people still capable of using their powers of reason.

 

“The Stepford Wives" remake was another eye opener for me.  Actually the original was closer to the sinister message intended by the author. It was like watching what happens to a person becoming a Jehovah Witness...the banality of evil served up with oily smiles and lovely promises and if you can't see the "paradise" then there's some serious adjustments that need to be made, like sucking your rational mind out and inserting JW Dub-speak. The movie was billed as a dark comedy and that too was on the mark.

 

Comment by Brenda Lee: 

What about the movie “Cocoon” where you never grow old and you never die or “The Village” where people are psychologically chained to a communal lifestyle through fear induced by the leadership?

 

Then too there’s “Logan’s Run” in which the entire community is housed within a sort of bubble, protected from the outside world, and killed off in a ritual ceremony before they get old.  The two lead actors go along with the program until they realize their time is up and make a run for their lives.  In doing so, they discover a world outside the bubble that isn’t nearly as frightening as portrayed.

 

The theme in all of these movies feels oddly familiar.  Makes you wonder if some of these Hollywood writers grew up in JW-ville, doesn’t it?

 I just finished watching a movie called “Frailty” and it was an eerie depiction of the dysfunctional dynamics of a cult leader’s mentality as portrayed by a father who decides that God has chosen him to murder “demons.”  Watch it yourself and see if you see the similarities.  Nearly every line in the movie was a replay of my own experiences (minus the literal murder part). Someday I’d love to see my story, “Out of the Cocoon,” made into a movie!  Anyone know a good screenplay writer? Can anyone think of any other movies that portray cult or mind control? 

From www.outofthecocoon.net

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Terror at the Jehovah Witness Assembly

by Brenda Lee 10. August 2009 14:07

From Art:  The conventions were repetitive, boring, uncomfortable, arduous, and, ultimately, silly. But I had learned “The Truth” and, therefore, I had been set free to attend this charade once a year. Or else!  

One memory in particular stands out. I was at the District Convention in Denver (Colorado, USA) at the old McNichols Arena (which has since been torn down), and I was standing outside the east entrance one convention morning when, all of a sudden, this pale-faced (I mean the guy was white as a sheet) young man with the fear of God on his face came rushing along ordering everyone to get away from the edge! I was leaning up against this "edge" which was something like three stories above the parking lot down below. The "edge" was, in fact, a low concrete wall that served as a barrier to kept people from falling. I had been enjoying the morning view of the Denver skyline when this berserk brother with a "Convention Security" label under his nametag had come, and I was naturally alarmed. Honestly, my first thought was (I kid you not) "Sniper!" As the guy gets up to me I asked him what was going on, and his reply was, "Get away from the railing, we don't want to encourage them!" and then he was on his way, continuing some divinely inspired task, no doubt. So, I walked back to the edge and looked down to see what had caused such terror. 

There was nothing. Later, I found out that it had all been about a young man and a young woman who, I guess, were "apostates" (I had to guess this because apparently they had left their horns, pointy tails, and fellow slave beating equipment at home) and who had managed to bring a hastily scrawled sign and an armload of what might have been tracts that they had been trying to give away. When the realization of the total absurdity of the situation hit me, I felt like crying. Then, slowly, but for the rest of the day, the more I thought about it, the more anger I felt, until it became a low, simmering rage. "What a bunch of *%!" I kept saying to myself. That the power, majesty, and truth of Jehovah could be set into such spasms of fear, stupidity, and arrogance simply because two people wanted to say something. These guys loved to boast over Bible characters that had stood against armies because they knew that God was with them, but these twits soil their pantyhose over a pair of people! Later that day the attendance was mentioned as some figure over 10,000, and all I could think was, "Yeah, and completely brought to their knees by (just) two people." 

From www.outofthecocoon.net  

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Does the Watchtower Believe in Womens' Equality?

by Brenda Lee 10. August 2009 13:21

Here’s what the leaders of Jehovah’s Witnesses have written in their literature over the years: 

When there are no qualified male members present in a congregation, a woman may perform duties otherwise reserved for men; she must, however, in that event, and if she is teaching others in the presence of her husband or another male, wear some form of head covering besides her hair, which she normally always has.  (Aid, p. 725).   

A Christian husband is instructed to be mindful of the “limitations and vicissitudes” of his wife and to “consider the opinions, likes, and dislikes of his wife, even giving her the preference when there is no issue at stake. (Awake, April 22, 1972).   

A married woman who favors having her ears pierced should rightly consult her husbandly head. (Watchtower, May 15, 1974).  

If women had complete equality with men, governments would draft women to fight in the fields, jungles and trenches…Would you really want equality with men in digging coal out of a mine thousands of feet underground if men did their share of the housework?  Would you really want to spend equal time plowing fields and shoveling manure with your husband if he agreed to help you cook and clean at home? (Awake, May 22, 1972) 

From www.outofthecocoon.net

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Do Watchtower Teachings Spill Over Into Your Life Today?

by Brenda Lee 10. August 2009 13:15

If so, in what way?

Question to Brenda Lee:  Here is a “problem” I’ve had, not mentioned, but I’ve wondered for the past few years if it is related to Watchtower indoctrination.  I really am not handling getting old well, at all.  I try to reason with myself, natural, happens to everyone, part of life’s cycle…  but every time I look in the mirror, or see my reflection somewhere, I just can’t stand it.  I’m almost 59.  I should be getting used to these changes by now.  Could it be… because those first 30 years I thought I would never get old?  Shouldn’t I have adjusted my view on reality by now?  Have you heard of anyone else who thinks this way?  Who knows, maybe it’s even normal for people who knew they’d grow old and die eventually.  I’d appreciate your thoughts on this.

Brenda Lee’s Response:  I'll tell you, I never did buy into the whole Armageddon thing and always believed I'd grow old and die someday, and yet I still look in the mirror and see wrinkles, gray hair--just now sprouting, and remember what I used to look like.  Oh, the days of youth. 

So to answer your question, I think what you're feeling is perfectly NORMAL.  If it weren't, there wouldn't be so much Viagra, hair coloring, Botox, liposuction, laser eye surgery, teeth whitening, etc., on the market out there.  I think what is important is that we keep reaffirming that we are beautiful at any age and that beauty changes year to year. 

Think of the wisdom you have now.  Would you trade that for a younger body?  I sure wouldn’t!  Appreciate your youthful spirit and the inner beauty you possess and so unselfishly share with those around you.  You're absolutely gorgeous! 

 From www.outofthecocoon.net

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Do Jehovah's Witnesses Really Follow the Bible?

by Brenda Lee 10. August 2009 13:12

 “For decades they (JWs) believed that it was “the Creator’s promise” in the Bible that the New World will be here before the generation of 1914 passes away. They said they believed this because of what Jesus said in Matthew…But in November of 1995 the Watchtower Society stopped teaching such a thing.  What did the Jehovah’s Witnesses then do?  If the real reason they believed that teaching was because it was truly based on the bible, then even though the Society stopped teaching it, Witnesses should have continued to believe it anyway.  But they didn’t.  They all stopped believing it the moment the Society stopped teaching it.  What does this show?  It shows that the real reason why they believed that teaching was because that’s what the Watchtower Society was teaching” - Don Cameron, author of Captives of a Concept 

 

From www.outofthecocoon.net

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Jehovah's Witnesses: Most Family Oriented Group on the Planet?

by Brenda Lee 10. August 2009 13:11

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Actual Shunning Letters from Jehovah's Witness to "Loved" Ones

by Brenda Lee 10. August 2009 13:08

(Note:  emphasis was added to certain words and names were replaced with asterisks to maintain privacy) 

From a 19-year old to her aunt  Dear ***,I cannot begin to describe to you the mixed emotions that I felt upon receiving your e-mail.  I cannot say that I was particularly happy about it either…I can't imagine that after all your years in the truth you would be so stubborn in continuing to try to speak to us when you knew very well that your actions would lead to a severance of any communication with usI think it is absolutely inconsiderate and actually unfeeling that you would continue to subject me to this.  If I knew you were making some effort to come back to Jehovah and to his organization I would be happier than anyone else.  But, since you are not anywhere near that and don't plan on ever being, I would appreciate it if you would stop trying to contact me.  It is not fair to me to keep pulling my emotions back and forth in a relationship which I know will never develop into anything closer than what it is right now, with no communication between us …If you keep trying to contact me I just want you to know that I will not respond.  If you are so very happy with your life now, then live it.  Enjoy it while it lasts and please stop trying to convince me that I can still be a part of it.  It's not going to happen.  

From a brother to his sister Work is all good, and it does keep me fairly busy…Without being rude however I am having a hard time with how this is going. I know that you have left the truth, I get pretty upset when I think about the boys not being encouraged to develop a relationship with Jehovah God. To take away from them the chance to live forever.  I just don't get it.

… Hopefully you will soon see that you have isolated yourself from a lot of the things that make life purposeful...I mean no malace (sic) in this and it breaks my heart to have to send a message like this to someone that I have always enjoyed a good relationship with, but it needs to be said that without a relationship with Jehovah to bind it all together then how long can it go on. I mean what happens when Armaggeddon (sic) starts up and you are not in the kingdom.  What do I tell deceased brother and deceased mother if I get through and all your family does not.
________________________________________________

Where’s the Christian love in this correspondence?  Tragically, thousands of people worldwide receive letters like the ones above every single year from a mother, father, grandparent, brother, sister, aunt, uncle, or child, a relative who is a Jehovah’s Witness.  They create this perverted dynamic of emotional abuse, they say, because they love them. 

From www.outofthecocoon.net  (look for periodic updates to this blog).  PLEASE send your family's shunning letters to Brenda Lee if you would like to have them posted here.  Your submission can remain anonymous. 

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A Family Member Describes Her Sister's Conversion to Jehovah's Witness

by Brenda Lee 10. August 2009 13:02

The author of this, who chooses to remain anonymous, was never a Jehovah’s Witness.

I "had" a sister who joined the Jehovah Witness (JW) cult, and I got to watch their deceit and slight of hand up close and personal.

It was amazing to watch those people just BLINDLY follow and vehemently support any nonsense the Watchtower society spewed forth--including their end of the world "prophesy" around 1980. The day came and went as did any other day, with all the JW cultists--for that is what they are--expecting the world to end at any second, and all JW's being transported into "The New System," while the rest of the world, including me, was to be destroyed. Well, as I said, the day came and went, and they were collectively at a loss as to explain why I and every other non-JW was still alive. That part is simple to me now, having learned more about TRUE Bible prophesy: we have not yet been subjected to a one-world government and ruler, and a cash-less society.

 

Anyway, the way the JW's lured my sister with boys and booze, positively poisoned her against her own family, arranged a marriage for her ("for her own good", but married her to a man who was deeply in debt, moved 3500 miles across the country to be married to her, and then they moved ELEVEN TIMES in the four years after their "marriage" to stay a step ahead of his debt collectors). They then kept track of nearly every single thing I did through their local "grapevine" and quite possibly were the instigators in a series of problems that would have had me walk away from the family farm so my sister (read: the local JW's) could take it over, making the very name of them today taste like snake venom to me.

I haven't heard a peep from my "sister" in eight years, and I try to keep my business only to myself so the local JW "grapevine" is stymied in their efforts to frustrate and/or ruin me in their spite at not getting our family farm to distribute among themselves, the end result, of course, in it also largely going to the Watchtower Society.

 

They are a vicious, evil-to-the-core, cultist organization, formed merely to make every single pamphlet and book they publish and guaranteed "best seller" because the unsuspecting sheep of their flock have to buy them all, whether they are able to get their money back in distribution or not. And, of course, the Watchtower Society MUST keep changing their philosophy, to make the next new publication "news," or the need to purchase them would quickly become stale. What more "shattering" "news" could there be than the end of the world, predicted to the day? Any changes in concept or philosophy--and there were MANY in the days I was exposed to the JW's through my "sister"--are also deemed noteworthy, as the entire cult must buy them to remain "informed". I watched Maple Leaf wieners be condemned, then approved, then condemned again in the course of less than a year. The JW's collectively were adamant on the disproval/ approval/disproval of them.  The Maple Leaf flap (pardon the pun) happened around 1980, also, and was focused on whether Maple Leaf put animal blood in their wieners. I doubt they did, as that would shorten shelf life…(and) all carcasses are 'bled out,' so there wouldn't be any in the wieners, anyway.  I was a teenage kid then, but after my sister left, I made sure my parents bought Maple Leaf wieners only, just to show my disgust at the JW's blind and foolish cultist followings.

 

After the Jonestown massacre (in 1978), my parents became alarmed at the possibility of a mass JW suicide calling, as JW's collectively WOULD have blindly followed ANY directive given them by the Watchtower Society... but dead cultists don't buy magazines and books in the millions, and the Watchtower Society isn't that stupid.

 

From www.outofthecocoon.net

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