JW Chronicles: Disfellowshipped Apologist

JW Chronicles: Disfellowshipped Apologist

Disfellowshipped Jehovah’s Witness Scotty writes:

Sister or Brother???? I am actually in tears right now… Why, you may ask. Ill tell you. I am currently disfellowshipped right now and i now that i was disfellowshipped for my own willingful wrong doings. While i was commiting my sins, i didn’t care and i went along with everything that THE BIBLE says not to do,,,,,not just the WITNESSES. I hope Jehovah will be able to forgive you for blaspheming like your doing. I will pray for you tonight even though i don’t pray for my self because of feelings of unworthyness.

I read some of your advice to ex-witnesses. and i beg you to stop this. I knw that you know in the back of your mind, that this is the true religion, but you constantly battle try not to afirm it.

The US and Russia are about to go back to a cold war and just like daniel prophecy says, things will come to pass. Jehovah won’t lie and just like he says that you reap what you sown……..what your sowning right now is very rotten and wrong. I didn’t beleve a lot of things that the witneesss say but ive come to see what is truth. And this organization is absoulutely the truth. Children need to be disciplined sometimes in order to mold them into something dignifyable. Whether you parent does it (Jehovah) or you parent tells your older brother to whip you (the elders) its all for our benefit. If something is handled wrongly, then LET JEHOVAH DEAL
WITH IT IN HIS OWN TIME. I beg of you sisiter of brother, shut this website down, and truly repent!!!!!!!!!!! Please, please, please, stop playing GOD

This is a nearly perfect example of the kind of thing that appears in my mailbox on a regular basis.

First off, my heart really goes out to Scottie, although he would never believe it. I recognize this mind-space that he is in, with all its agonized and agonizing contradictions. He is currently being shunned by everyone he knows and loves, and his reaction is both to judge others very harshly and also to be plagued by an even deeper insecurity. Scottie, you’re right where you are intended to be, feeling horrible, judging others, trying to make yourself feel better, and ready to come back for more indoctrination. He doesn’t believe a lot of what they say, yet he believes it is the truth. He can’t see the contradiction. What Scottie needs right now is a friend, and I hope he has one. I’m the last person he would listen to if he considers my advice to recovering JWs to be blasphemous, so I’ll (reluctantly) have to leave that to others. I hope the prayers will help him – you never know when grace might happen.

For the record… No, in fact I do not in any way believe that this is really the true religion, neither in my mind, nor in my heart (nor even in my deepest paranoid fears). Amazingly enough, I’m not wrestling with the meme of the Watchtower as the “Truth” anymore – it is a very pernicious virus, to be respected, but it is survivable. I don’t believe in the idea of a “true religion.” I’m not sure how many of us religious non-absolutists there are. I think that different religions have their strengths and their faults and blind spots too, just like human beings do. I think that words about God are flawed – by definition, they have to be. Humans are not God, nor do we have the heart-mind of God (or gods). What we have are strengths (gifts) in different areas – as prophets and judges and thinkers and mystics and healers and scientists and teachers and lots more. Our religious traditions, at their best, are attempts to codify and disseminate religious insights. But none of us is God, and none of us is perfect, and our texts and traditions are based on human realities, not the life of God.

One of the common themes in the JW letters is the idea that I’m “playing God.” It is so drummed in that you must never think for yourself – not even to become closer to God, not even to let your spiritual gifts (whatever they may be) grow and thrive, not even to discern better ways of handling situations. JWs are not allowed to think or grow – they are only allowed to be submissive sheep, ready for Jehovah (the abusive father) to tell the older brother (the elders) to whip them again and again. But no matter how often they are whipped, they can never be good enough – hence the pervading sense of unworthiness, which is not to be confused with genuine humility or meekness.

Here is someone who really truly is unable to digest or process any of the information. Maybe I should add questions at the end of each paragraph, for repetition and emphasis, like they do with the publications. He knows (however dimly or incompletely) that he needs help (either that or he was being naughty when he sought and found the recovering JW advice page). Yet he is not able to confront the idea that there may another perspective. He immediately feels guilty. He sees blasphemy. That’s how tightly controlled the psychology is. This dynamic will loop back on itself until the very experience of reading another perspective will lead him back to more comfortable terrain. For now. Perhaps some small point will be retained somehow and may help him at another time.

While he asks me to wait on Jehovah to deal with any injustice – or is it to order someone else to be whipped? – he intervenes to ask me to close the website. Well, perhaps God will sort it out in time. But I think the gift of freedom is a valuable gift, and one’s use of one’s free choice is the foundation for the development of character as well as one’s religious path.

No person, no organization has the authority to take God’s place in anyone’s heart-mind-spirit-soul – and especially not as some sort of dictator of the soul. God is no dictator.

Dictators are interested in total control, power, their own gain.
Dictators are not interested in freedom, love, or compassion.

Scottie will most likely go back again and again until they “whip” the soul and spirit right out of him. In a worst case scenario, he might even have brought himself to this point willingly in order to undergo a religious trial, and thus create a deeper sense of conviction.

My feelings for the great majority of JWs are swirled in a big mixing pot, the main ingredients of which are empathy and sorrow – admittedly also with an occasional a dash of impatience, such as what you might feel while witnessing a successful con game and being unable to rescue the mark. Most of the JWs are trying to do good, to follow biblical principles – but they get entangled with the controlling psychology and its reinforcements and they lose their sense of priorities as well as their sense of self.

I criticize the behavior of the leadership because of its destructiveness to their people. I offer support for those who wish for it. You see above the standard product that is reaped from the sowing of the Watchtower Society. Is this what God intends for humanity? Dwell on that question. Everyone has their own path, if they wish to feel for it.

The biblical text is not a threat. It’s a simple statement: What you sow, that also you shall reap.

If you plant corn, you get corn. Cause – effect.

What you nourish in yourself or in the world is what grows.

Stand against destructiveness and hate. Nourish kindness and love.

Plant a seed.

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail

28 thoughts on “JW Chronicles: Disfellowshipped Apologist

  1. Actually we don’t darkman. 😉 Truly religious types are not inclined to condemn, patronise, criticise, plead for understanding or get hung up on dogma, rules, or authority.
    Those who call themselves spiritual or religious are known by their fruits. It seems to me that Scottie was engaging in the time honoured way of making yourself feel good by admonishing others re the error of their ways.

    BTW VirusHead, I’m incline to think that all religions at their core are one and that God, the Ground of Being, the Tree Beyond Which There is No Passing,, or the Spirit of Creation isn’t in competition with Him/Herself. Hence there is no such thing as a true religion only an erroneous perspective on what true & religion actually refer to.
    Hugs,
    Elainna

    (Thanks Elainna! I like that distinction. – Heidi)

  2. You are not alone,i am the “Watchtower Whistleblower” on the net and get the same hysterical rants.

    What’s going to happen when 2 million Jehovah’s Witness baby boomers my age (48) realize they have NO retirement assets saved because they trusted in the Watchtower to bring the end of the world?

    (1) The central CORE dogma the entire creed of Jehovah’s Witnesses is that Jesus had his second coming (invisibly) in the year 1914.LOL

    (2) Every single Jehovah Witness will grow old and die just like everybody else.NOTE:They don’t think that they are as their cult leaders have promised them the ‘end of the world’ any minute.

    Lots of Jehovah’s Witnesses are about to ‘drink the watchtower kool-aid’.-Danny Haszard http://www.dannyhaszard.com

  3. It’s amazing how most ex-witnesses just spew negativity. Nothing positive. They never encourage you to read the Bible, they don’t tell you what hope there is, where to gather, nothing beneficial. Just attacking the Watchtower. They all believe different things now, fragmented just like Babylon of old and Bablylon the Great. If there is one God, he contradicts himself teaching there is a hell in some religions and that there isn’t in others; that He and Jesus are the same in some religions and that they’re not in others. Yet the universe teaches us he isn’t confused or disorderly. As to Danny Haszard’s points: Abraham died without seeing anything promised to him; gave up a home, normal family life and is considered a man of faith, the father of those having faith. Noah built an ark for 50 or 60 years, his children gave up having families all this time and he is also an example of faith. So did Daniel, Isaiah, the Apostles. Many died without seeing the promises made to them by God and were not sour or disgruntled. Neither are Jehovah’s Witnesses. Even if the end doesn’t come soon, this is the best way of life.
    Many mothers, fathers smoke passing on to their children birth defects or cancer, drug addictions. But do they spend their whole life attacking verbally their parents. No they forgive. Apostates first leave because of “injustices” made to them. They were already spiritually weak. Then came the attacks on the beliefs of their former brothers. Why not forgive for the supposed injustices made to you. That is the Christian way.

  4. Jay say’s–“”Why not forgive for the supposed injustices made to you. That is the Christian way. ”

    Excuse me Jay,,,,it’s the Jehovah’s Witneses who proclaim that 6 billion non-JW’s are about to be exterminated just because they don’t go to the Kingdom hall.

    BTW Jesus himself condemned Judas because he was a bum.–Danny Haszard

  5. Jay – I guess you couldn’t digest the post if you think it was about “spewing negativity.” I can’t speak for all former JWs, but I can say that my own perspective isn’t based on injustices done to me (these are small potatoes compared to what I’ve since seen and heard). For me, it is about the psychological theft of the soul that the Watchtower perpetrates. They are guilty of leading the faithful away from their authentic relationship with God, they are guilty of pounding away at their members’ souls, and of hijacking their spirits into a destructive, totalitarian multi-level-marketing scheme that uses fear about a coming apocaypse in order to manipulate people. They aren’t alone in doing so, of course.

    Incidentally, if you think that Abraham died before seeing anything that was promised him, you need to do a little more reading. In any case, what also marked all these heroes of faith is that they stood with God, not with the institututions of the day (like the Watchtower Society).

    I agree that the life of faith doesn’t have anything to do with rewards. The JWs think that it does, however. Each generation is told that they are the last, and that JWs will shortly live on paradise earth. It is the carrot and the stick, this apocalyptic expectation.

    You would compare genetic defects of parents to the Watchtower Society? It’s an interesting move, I’ll grant you that. (I hope you’re not skipping class to make these comments? You are posting on a school network.)

    Danny – I don’t think JWs are capable of understanding that the God they describe is not really a very loving God. Somehow the indoctrination of a hating, abusive father-god takes precedence, no matter what thin justification there might be for that. Yet they will say, “God is love.” It seems so obvious, but every JW who has written has the same problem with this.

  6. I would compare the genetic defects of WT from your pont of view and the blma game you play. And Christians have told for thousands fof years the end is near-1 Peter 4:7; Matthew 24:33
    I prefer to wait for paradise then to live without hope, blaming everyone for a decision I made: to get baptized and serve JEHOVAH not Watchtower forever. -Romans 14:12.

  7. Interesting. When JEsus said those words at Luke 17:21, he was speaking with Pharisees. Certainly the kingdom was not in these wicked men. The Kingdom, as the word itself means, is a government in heaven (Matthew 6:9,10).

  8. Kingdom means the domain of a king, wherever its location.

    The Pharisees asked Jesus to name the time when the Kingdom was going to come. He answered that is was already within them. Yes, Jay, even these wicked men, these hypocrites – – yes even inside those vultures at the Corporate Headquarters of the Watchtower Society.

    Let me put it terms that you might better absorb. You can look these up in your small approved reading list. What does “within” mean? The word entos (within, inside) is used in only one other place in the Greek Scriptures, in Matthew 23:26, when Jesus says:

    “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess. Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within (entos) the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also.”

    Both corruption and the Kingdom of God were within them – and the rest of us as well. We are human, with a spark of spiritual nature and drag of corruption.

    The Kingdom of God is within you, it is within me, it is within each each member of your family, within your friends, even within your enemies. High or low, it is within all of us. That’s the good news that you’re supposed to be spreading instead of fear. That’s the meaning of the spirit of love, the spiritual kingdom of the god of love.

    When Jesus’ own disciples asked when the Kingdom would come he never once told them. You can’t really say “when” the Kingdom of God is coming because it always is. There is no “when” to it.

    We are already part of the Kingdom. We “enter in” to it within ourselves, experientially, for the Kingdom is even now “at hand” – here. It is now within you and needs no direction from Brooklyn.

    The Kingdom is a spiritual thing, not an earthly thing. It is not directed by any publishing empire in New York.

  9. It’s gonna be awesome when you and everyone else puts an end to all other kingdoms!-Daniel 2:44
    When you bring peace-Isaiah 9:7
    So the kingdoms of Daniel 2 (gold, copper, etc.) were people?
    when Jesus preached the Kingdom of God, he really preached the insides of people.
    Look first for the kingdom means to look inside us first?-Matthew 6:33
    What about the transfiguration? Jesus likened it to seeing him coming with the Kingdom, coming with what’s inside us?-Matthew 16
    His apostles always fought as to who was bigger in the kingdom. Who was bigger inside them? They wanted to sit at the right and left of Jesus in his kingdom. Sit to the left and right of ourselves, inside?.
    Acts 1:6 they asked if he was restablishing the kingdom in israel, the spiritual inside themselves?
    The unrighteous don’t inherit the kingdom, the insides of something? – 1 corinthians 6:9-11
    The anointed rule as kings in the kingdom over the Earth. They rule over our insides, spiritually? Revelation 5:10
    WOW THAT MAKES SENSE! You must be the faithful slave.

  10. It’s really hard to get across metaphorical language to a literalist.. You don’t seem to have any problem with the Daniel text – of course the symbols are for specific earthly kingdoms.

    Earthly Kingdoms are under an earthly king, and you may recall that when the Israelites wanted a king, God argued with them about it, warning them of all the bad results of having kings.

    Look first for the kingdom. Inside us, yes. God is in your hearts, minds, spirits, souls.

    “Likened it” is the operative phrase.

    Reflecting the apostles’ constant misunderstanding, still struggling for power – the cause of some frustration for Jesus.

    Obviously, he wasn’t reestablishing the kingdom in Israel, tight? They wanted an earthly kingdom, an earthly messiah. He turned their expectations upside-down.

    People who are consistently unrighteous turn away from the spark of the divine within them, yes.

    You can get really messed up trying to interpret Revelations. Just a tip.

    Ever wonder why you never hear directly from the Governing Body? Ever wonder why none of the 144,000 ever speak to the sheep? Ever wonder if the number 144,000 might be symbolic, like the kingdoms in Daniel?

    I’m not the faithful slave (most other translations use different words than these anyway) – and neither are the corporations of the Watchtower Society.

    Keep working. Compare the passages – try reading the chapters before and after the specific verses to get a sense of some of the context. Keep always in your thoughts that God is love.

  11. LAST POST: I know you’ll get the last word anyway, so this is it.
    Be positive, guide people, tell them where t go for hope, encourage them to read their Bible daily and help others spiritually. That is what makes you happy (Matt.5:3), not bashing others because of what they did in the past. If that were the case, Jehovah would have all rights to destroy all of us for all the pain we’ve caused him. This is my last post. As Brother Russell said: If you stop and kick every dog that barks at you, you’ll never get anywhere. GOODBYE.

  12. Hey, you came here to bark, didn’tchja?

    I don’t think anyone needs to debate whether God has the right to destroy us all. If that is your vision of God, your encouragement means little.

  13. What I noticed in the conversation between VirusHead and Jay is how VirusHead avoids answering questions and misinterprets what Jay says. Example: Jay didn’t say God would destroy us all, he says he could rightfully. Psalm 103:10 says: “He has not done to us even according to our sins;Nor according to our errors has he brought upon us what we deserve.” And the Bible does teach that soon God will put an end to wickedness, just like in Noah’s day, Lot’s day, in 70 C.E. If your vision of God is of One who will permit innocent people to suffer forever here and in the afterlife, I fell for you.

    “For, according to their wish, this fact escapes their notice, that there were heavens from of old and an earth standing compactly out of water and in the midst of water by the word of God; and by those [means] the world of that time suffered destruction when it was deluged with water. But by the same word the heavens and the earth that are now are stored up for fire and are being reserved to the day of judgment and of destruction of the ungodly men. “-1 Peter 3:5-7

  14. So is this still Jay (same IP 204.108.88.12 Los Angeles Unified School District) or Jay’s buddy?

    My response was based on the assumption that a God of love, a God that has grown beyond the idea of a tribal warrior code of justice, is a God for which the very question of destroying everything simply isn’t an issue.

    How do you end wickedness with wickedness? You don’t. You end wickedness with an alternative to wickedness. If you want to stick with the parental metaphor for God here… When your child misbehaves, you teach them the boundaries and limits. You don’t kill them or beat them. Or maybe you do, but if so, you’re not in line for the loving parent’s award.

    70 Common Era (AD, after the death of Jesus, not in the time of Noah or Lot) is considered the date of the destruction of the temple, not the end of the world.

    My vision is one in which there is no need for global destruction, that a God of love has better ways to operate. I believe that the canonical biblical texts (with the exception of the books of the Torah) were carefully selected from a wide range of available texts once Christianity became a state religion under Constantine. The other texts were dramatically burned (they burned libraries full of them) or otherwise destroyed. Some of them have been rediscovered since, and it’s clear that a wide range of beliefs already existed for the early Christians. Rome and the Church codified doctrine later.

    The apocalypic myth and the myth of a fiery hell have been used for centuries to control people and I believe it’s all hogwash. Why? For textual and historical reasons? Sure, but more fundamentally because I believe that God is love.

    If you believe that the solution to wickedness is to kill most of the population, you have some company in world history. However, they are not usually considered the heroes.

    Even the biblical prophets challenged God on his ethics on a regular basis. They stood up and argued on behalf of humankind.

    God lost his temper, they say, and drowned the world. He felt bad, and said he was sorry and wouldn’t do it again. A rainbow was the sign of his promise. Or…. there was an ancient massive flood, and this was the mythological narrative to make it understandable to the early peoples. I don’t know which if either of these is true, and neither does anyone else.

    I don’t know this God that you say will bring global destruction and genocide, and I don’t worship this God.

    I believe in the God of Love. Even if the “real” God is this horrible unethical figure with a lack of resources or other ideas to bring humans to the good, then he certainly doesn’t deserve worship. I have faith in a God that has more wisdom, more ethics, more love – that’s the nature of my faith, that I refuse to worship an evil God.

    If your God is not a loving God, who do you worship in the name of the God of Love?

  15. He’s my uncle. Thanks for the background check. God is love, and it’s lover that motivates him to protect the righteous and do away with the wicked-Pr2:22,23; Ps.37:10,11
    You must not take the Bible as the Word of God anymore, since the Bible does teach that as I quoted earlier in 2 Peter 3.
    What would you do if someone threatened your family, your home, your life? That’s what wicked people do and that’s what Gog is doing and will do. God doesn’t make mistakes. Didn’t in Noah’s day, won’t in the future. Read the real Apocalypse: Revelation, chapters 19-21.
    Jesus also taught that his Father a God of love would destroy the wicked: John 3:36. So did Peter, Paul, John, Jeremiah, Isaiah, Daniel, etc.
    But if you no longer believe the Bible then we won’t get anywhere.

  16. Background check is always done when people don’t give real names, and when identical IP addresses claim to be different people. I am especially concerned when the IP is from a school or work network.

    No, I don’t take the collection of texts called the Bible as the Word of God, at least not in any way more than any other great work.

    God repented, says the narrative, of sending the deluge. If you do believe in the Bible, there it is.

    There are many interpretations of what it meant by the destruction of wickedness. Since good and evil are in all of us, then none are truly righteous, and none completely evil. Would you believe that this God must destroy us all in order to save us?

    You’ve missed the idea of grace, compassion, forgiveness. Even mainstream christianity has an idea that the life and death of Jesus had some meaning in this regard. If only the truly righteous are saved, we are all lost. Jesus didn’t spend his time with the righteous – but with the sinner that acknowledged sin and transcended it through faith – grace.

    Your biblical selections can of course be countered with verses that say just the opposite. The problem with bible quoting is that this is a collection of books – of different genres, time periods, cultures, and so on. Therefore, you can find in it what you want to find in it.

    Do you really want to find in it a only God that hates and destroys? Beware of that path. It is not a path of faith but of fanaticism. It is a path that too many follow, and is the cause of misery and death. Beware of attributing primitive human psychology to the motivations of the God of Love.

  17. It seems like the sign of the season is whistle blowing. I read this whole page with great interest. Much as you consider yourself a recovering JW, I consider myself a recovering evangelical. Surprising the word “cult” equally applies to the so-called “free churches” (not all but most).

    Over at laityonline.com we have started a fad of evangelical wistle blowing. Maybe we should get togeather…?

    On the subject of the poor soul in the main post I have some expirence of it. When little I called it bad taste christianity but in actual fact it’s normally called legalism.

    The person in question is caught in a form of spiritual bondage (Jesus came to set the captive free so he has hope). The ropes that exist are in his heart and mind.

    A person like this (through indoctrination and (often) outright brain washing) has come to fully believe that it is what they do that makes them pleasing to God. This is the opposite of faith (that without which it is impossible to please God).

    This person has been dropped to the level of sinners and their pride has been crushed. No longer can they enjoy the status of “having made it”.

    Their world is ended.

    The only way in thier mind is to work their way back up. In thier head they have been humbled and must walk in this humility. However they have been humiliated and rejected.

    They will continue to attempt to work their way into God’s grace until (a) they die or (b) they descend into utter depression at thier failure (and give up) or (c) accept that the forgiveness of God is a free gift that is given without merit or favour and can not be earned.

    Untill that time they will continue to do what many call “wailing in pride”. Their status is gone but the mindset is still strong.

    They have left the JW community but the JW community has not left them.

    I recommend some intensive deprogramming – would make them much happier.

  18. “I believe in the God of Love. Even if the “real” God is this horrible unethical figure with a lack of resources or other ideas to bring humans to the good, then he certainly doesn’t deserve worship. I have faith in a God that has more wisdom, more ethics, more love – that’s the nature of my faith, that I refuse to worship an evil God.”

    I suggest you read Scott Adams’ (the Dilbert creator) ebook “God’s Debris.” It’s a wonderful little read- especially the chapter entitled “Genuine Belief.”

    Among other interesting things in that book I found the concept of the human mind as a “delusion generator” to be very though-provoking…

    It sounds to me from statements such as the one quoted above that you’ve personally created a “god” to worship (your own personal “jesus”, eh?) which has the characteristics that you want in a “god” because your viewpoint of “god” as a JW became, at some point, unsatisfactory… Is this correct?

    Because essentially you believe in a “god” that does not exist or who has chosen to mask himself in the cloak of the “biblical” “god” who will at some point annihilate or cast into “hell” MOST of creation… Do you, by chance, think of yourself as an Xtian?

    I have always found it odd that religiosis (especially the exJW/nowXtian crowd) condemn the JWs for believing in a “god” that will at some point wipe out all the “non-JWs” (and since that’s not really their belief- I’m dumbing it down to the anti-JW propoganda) while at the same time believing that all those humans who have not “accepted ‘jesus'” as their “savior” will be cast into “hell” (or purgatory) or will be left over after the “rapture” to face the “tribulation force” (and they say JWs use a lot of words that aren’t in the bible)… And while the number of JWs is smaller than the number of those who claim to have “accepted ‘jesus'” it’s still a quite a large number of people…

    Danny Haszard provides a good example of this… He claims to be an exJW turned Xtian… He says this:

    “Excuse me Jay,,,,it’s the Jehovah’s Witneses who proclaim that 6 billion non-JW’s are about to be exterminated just because they don’t go to the Kingdom hall.”

    As opposed to proclaiming that all those who haven’t “accepted ‘jesus'” will burn forever in “hell” or be cast into “purgatory” or who will face some other horrors in the post-rapture world?

    Personally I see the two beliefs as equally horrific…

    And those who exchange one set of myths for another to be hypocrites without equal…

  19. I can’t speak for Danny or for anyone else.

    I agree with your main argument here, although I wouldn’t put it quite that way. I don’t believe in any of those horrific scenarios, and I consider them very anti-religious tools for dominating and controlling the masses.

    Am I a Christian? Partly, so in most people’s minds that would be no.

    My experience is all I can really speak of with any authority. I experienced God as a cruel taskmaster made in the image of man when I was a JW, and I saw the cruelties that ideology created.

    Eventually (through extensive study in theology and ethics and comparative religion and mythology, as well by writing, and through meditation and other contemplative experiences) I came to believe in the God above and beyond our understanding, our control, or our descriptions of God. Yes, I prefer to believe in a God of love – that is my choice. The only evidence I have is subjective and open to interpretation, but I do have faith that there is a spiritual reality and that the closest language we have to describe that reality is love. God is a placeholder word for this ultimate mystery.

    There have been many attempts to demythologize our religions. It’s not a new idea. It’s incredibly difficult, however, since we have no place of ultimate objectivity nor any suitable language with which to do so. Even scientific language inscribes a kind of interpretation and worldview, and of course science can only answer certain kinds of questions.

    We all have our mythologies to live by. We have beliefs about parenting, about politics, about taste in music, and a million other things. We tell stories and create meaning, we love and laugh. We frame our reality with our perceptions and our imaginations, in dimensionality and space-time. If we could somehow perceive reality in itself, we would have no language with which to describe the experience.

    So in a sense, the idea of a God of love is also a mythology, but it’s also a vision of compassion, one that many mystics and deeply devout people have talked about for thousands of years and across many religions. Yes, I prefer not to believe in or worship a God of cruelty and destruction. There may be such Gods, I don’t know. Since cruelty and war and murder seem more common than love, ethics and compassion, it’s entirely possible.

    But I do think that there is a small still place in everybody’s soul that responds to kindness, and prefers that.

  20. “My experience is all I can really speak of with any authority. I experienced God as a cruel taskmaster made in the image of man when I was a JW, and I saw the cruelties that ideology created.”

    I can understand that…

    I have a different viewpoint on it- obviously our experiences have been different, as mine have led me to quite a different place…

    I don’t consider the ideology to be the problem as much as I consider the way people make that ideology their own. My personal experiences with different JWs showed me that all of them run with that ideology in a certain way, which makes generalizations such as referring to them as “the Borg” seem incredibly oversimplified, silly and completely wrong all at the same time. Individuals who were cruel and generally unloving used the JW ideology to further their cruel and unloving ways whereas kindhearted and loving JWs used made the ideology seem kindhearted and loving…

    I wouldn’t say that for me the JW experience was ever what people would call “fun.” However there were times that it was not all that bad. Conversely there were times when it was downright awful. It depended what other JWs I was dealing with and whether or not they fell into the cruel and unloving category or the kindhearded and loving category. I’m sure that in your experience there were some who at least tried to make the experience of being a JW more enjoyable for those around them and those who made it something completely unbearable. And again, this I believe is because that certain people have cruel and unloving personalities. I don’t think that the JW ideology made them that way or that it makes anyone that way. I think people are what they are and no matter what belief system they adopt their true selves will always shine through it…

    In the flesh my experiences with anti-JWs is somewhat limited; I’ve only known and intereacted with six of them (both before and after they left the organization). But they were people who I knew extremely well. Spending time interacting with and listening to them, as well as listening to the things anti-JWs online have to say I’ve found that with few exceptions (I typically avoid generalizations, and I’m sure there are exceptions to the rule, but this is something that I’ve spent quite a bit of time analyzing) the exJW turned anti-JW crowd falls into two categories:

    1. Those who were at once the most hardcore and devoted JWs. And they usually fall into that cruel and unloving category- the kind of people that make being a JW a miserable experience then later end up opposing the faith strongly.

    2. Those who were never really strong JWs… You know, people who just don’t want to be a part of it but get involved or stay involved because of pressure from “loved” ones or a desire for approval from “loved” ones.

    Of those six exJW turned anti-JWs I know personally, five fall into the first category and one into the second. And the 1 is a rather unloving individual with ever having embraced the ideology…

    You describe JWs in this way:

    “It is so drummed in that you must never think for yourself – not even to become closer to God, not even to let your spiritual gifts (whatever they may be) grow and thrive, not even to discern better ways of handling situations. JWs are not allowed to think or grow – they are only allowed to be submissive sheep, ready for Jehovah (the abusive father) to tell the older brother (the elders) to whip them again and again. But no matter how often they are whipped, they can never be good enough – hence the pervading sense of unworthiness, which is not to be confused with genuine humility or meekness.”

    While I agree that it can be such for a person who has dealt with a JW of the cruel and unloving variety, I blame that individual for that behavior, not the ideology.

  21. Correction… Above I made the comment that people “are what they are” no matter what…

    What I meant is that people are what they want to be…

  22. You have a point that each person has to decide for themselves what they choose to embrace. I would only say that institutions that systematically attempt to remove a person’s ability to do so bear significant responsibility.

    Yes, I knew some very kind and loving JWs. I tend to think of the rank and file Witness as breaking down into the usual per/100 or so of: 1 or 2 outstandingly wonderful people, 2 or 3 outstandingly pathological people, and the rest somewhere in between.

    My beef is with the leadership who refuse to allow conversation and debate, or actual study (outside their dubious publications), who put people into positions of unquestioned authority (and without any recognizable training or pastoral background!), who tell abused women and children that Jehovah will sort it out and not to trust worldy authorities such as the police or any therapist, who let people think that God keeps track of their hours in service and that this is what will save them from a God who loves them but will otherwise kill them, who censure having a beard or smoking a cigarette or accepting a blood transfusion or voting – but who promote behaviors that have deeper consequences (especially on families).

    I hear what you’re saying – and there is of course a wide range of personal choice – but as you know JWs are indoctrinated for 4-5 hours a week, and have the constant pressure to associate only with other JWs. Most people don’t actually understand the percentage of their members who are disfellowshipped at some point. Many come back. Many of those who do leave do so under the fears (at least for a while) that God hates them and that they will be attacked by demons and all sorts of other things. Some of them become the “evil Ex-JWS” and do just the opposite of everything they did before. I’ve seen lots of damaged people. There are some who pick up some other path (maybe not as wide) – to cobble together their own sense of religion, or to join some other community of belief, or even to disavow religion altogether. I’ve simply tried to honor my own religious experiences and sense of ethics as best I can. It’s ok with me that it’s not perfect and that I can’t claim absolute knowledge. For a number of reasons (not just my experiences concerning JWs), I have become very wary of those who try to claim these things.

    Your view seems to basically be a libertarian one, where people are judged as though they existed in a place of freedom and equality and should be able to pull themselves up by the bootstraps and make decisions on these things for themselves. All I can say is that some people can, and some people can’t. Some people will, and some people won’t. Sometimes I can provide a tip or two for those who want to and almost can, or who can and kinda want to who but have real fears and face real consequences.

    Most of the people I’ve met who thrive after leaving do so because they had something else outside the JWs in the first place – whether curiosity, reading, some other interest, friends, something. That’s not to idealize someone just because they did leave.

    Outside of any question of personal responsibility, the leadership intentionally controls people to an extent that puts it firmly in the category of a totalitarian regime.

    JWs share some of these characteristics with some other fringe religious or pseudo-religious elements. When everything you know is framed in the JW mindset, it’s hard to find another way to be and think.

    The debate we’re having here would have regular JWs disfellowshipped – JWs must be completely obedient to the local elders and to the (changing) dictates of the guys in Brooklyn.

  23. I was thinking last night about my use of the word “fringe” above – I don’t think that’s really an accurate description anymore. This kind of totalitarian world view has become all too common and it is once again tied to religion (and money).

    Perhaps each generation has to wrestle with some version of it – the temptation to power and control, the temptation of handing yourself over to power.

    To me, the issue is larger than just JWs. Although they don’t protest against wars, they don’t fight in them. The extremism and absolutism we are seeing from several other evangelical and fundamentalist groups is probably worse.

    JWs have contributed to the history of civil rights – but that’s why it is so strange that their own members have no idea of rights within the group, only with regard to the outside world, which they believe is controlled by Satan.

  24. “Most people don’t actually understand the percentage of their members who are disfellowshipped at some point. Many come back. Many of those who do leave do so under the fears (at least for a while) that God hates them and that they will be attacked by demons and all sorts of other things.”

    It’s been a long time since I actually picked up a WT, but I do remember that now and then they featured study articles that talked about the number of people d/fed in a given year relative to the total number of active JWs. Some people don’t consider those statistics acurate, although I don’t know how they arrive at that conclusion or where the get their own statistics (often I believe they just make up numbers in their head that sound “good” relative to their personal JW-negative viewpoint).

    Some antis make the claim that “most” JWs are d/fed for having an opinion on some matter that is different than “Brooklyn’s” view. I honestly don’t know what personal experiences these people have had. For myself, I find it largely unbelievable that people are being d/fed simply for thinking some viewpoint expressed in the literature is wrong. Myriads of antis make the claim that they were d/fed or were “involuntarily disassociated” just because they questioned some point of the ideology. Frankly, I’ve seen absolutely NO evidence to support that. In fact where I have seen some actual evidence, the conclusion I reach is that there is quite a bit more going on that a simple difference of opinion.

    When I was active people were d/fed. Some just became inactive and were never heard from again. One or two voluntarily disassociated. You’re right, some do return. I have yet to hear anyone actually make the claim that they would be “attacked by demons” for leaving the WT, although I’ve heard many opposers throw the claim around.

    “To me, the issue is larger than just JWs. Although they don’t protest against wars, they don’t fight in them. The extremism and absolutism we are seeing from several other evangelical and fundamentalist groups is probably worse.”

    I am no supporter of the WT.. I fashion myself more a challenger of the “classic” anti-JW opinions mostly because I find most of them to be wanting. However I agree with you on this point strongly. I too see much worse coming out of many of the other Xtian religions and the various Xtian organizations such as the “Christian” Coalition and many of the extremist factions under men like Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson.

    However I find that the opposition faced by JWs is much more virulent and focused than the opposition faced by those I just mentioned…

    “My beef is with the leadership who refuse to allow conversation and debate, or actual study (outside their dubious publications), who put people into positions of unquestioned authority (and without any recognizable training or pastoral background!), who tell abused women and children that Jehovah will sort it out and not to trust worldy authorities such as the police or any therapist, who let people think that God keeps track of their hours in service and that this is what will save them from a God who loves them but will otherwise kill them, who censure having a beard or smoking a cigarette or accepting a blood transfusion or voting – but who promote behaviors that have deeper consequences (especially on families).”

    I don’t know whether or not you have personally experienced any of what you claim here. Most of it is the exact opposite of what my personal experiences were during my time as an active JW and what I was taught by my parents. I’m not so narrow minded as to think that it is impossible that some people have had experiences that lead them to the conclusions you make above, I just find a lot of it far-fetched considering my personal experiences.

    On the point of telling victims of rape and abuse not to go to the authorities or consult with qualified therapists, I’ve heard this claim a number of times yet I’ve never heard it backed up by any tangible facts. I suggest you read the transcript of the Vicki Boer case which you can find at silentlambs.org. She made the claim that her abuse was “hushed up” and that she was told not to go to the authorities or to seek any sort of professional help because of that abuse. According to the evidence presented, which is discussed in that transcript, none of those charges are true. I suggest it as reading because I’ve yet to see any other case of abuse on the part of a JW where the actual evidence is discussed. I am somewhat familiar with the Paul Berry and Ralph Heroux cases, but no source I’ve seen actually discusses the evidence against them which in a case where there is talk of abuse I think actual tangible evidence is the most important aspect. While the JW system may accept the word of “two witnesses” I think that some sort of actual proof of abuse should be more important.

    On the point of “pastoral training,” I submit that other religious bodies struggle with many of the same problems that the WT does- the Catholic Church has its own “tiny” problem of abuse by priests and the coverup of such abuse, yet they have “pastoral training” unmatched in the religious world. What sort of training do you believe someone should have to be put in a position of (as you say) unquestioned authority?

    And on that point, I don’t believe that the elder positions are positions of unquestioned authority, though I will agree that those positions are often abused or held by men who fall into the category of cruel and unloving.

    And given my own experiences I think abuse of power and bad treatment by elders is a strong motivator for one to leave the JW religion (it was in my case). However some stories of elder abuse are just so unbelieveable. One poster to a forum I frequent made the claim that the elders forced his wife to leave him because he “simply decided he didn’t want to be a JW anymore.”

    I don’t believe claims like that.

    I have no reason to. I have no evidence that what is being claimed is true. And given the JW stance on marriage, I find it highly unlikely that a person would comply with such a demand even if it were given.

  25. Actually, most people are disfellowshipped because of sexual issues and/or transgressions, not because of a difference of opinion. They can also be disfellowshipped for believing something in advance of when the Society says to believe it, or after they have stopped advocating a previous position. The latter kind of thing was more common around the issues of 1975. There are a lot of things someone can be disfellowhipped for. I wasn’t actually disfellowshipped myself, so I didn’t experience the full “treatment” – but I witnessed it with regard to others, and I’ve helped people try to navigate through that experience.

    Regardless of the reason, the shunning technique doesn’t help anyone with their issues. There is no attempt to work through why the person might have behaved the way they did, or to help them find their way back. It’s just a kind of “our way or the highway” approach to spiritual growth. Families believe they are in line with the will of God to completely cut them off. Barbaric. Those who are cut off have multiplied their problems exponentially. As I mentioned before, I have seen a lot of damaged people.

    On the elders question – these are usually just whatever men there are in the congregation that are sufficiently involved and aren’t in trouble for one reason or another. They don’t study Hebrew, Greek, psychology, counselling, ethics, theology, or even the history of their own religion. However, everyone is to defer to them – absolutely. Last year’s assembly topic was about submission – not to God, but to the Society and the local elders. You misread me if you think I was advocating that anyone should be in a position of that much authority!

    Abuse of power and bad treatment from elders is a common theme in the emails I receive from people asking for advice or help, and I’ve seen it myself. As in other religions that glorify the role of men over women, there is a fair amount of sexual abuse as well as regular old physical abuse.

    I agree with you about evidence. When the molested or abused person is told not to go the police, evidence won’t be collected. When a person is told that Jehovah will take care of it, or that therapists are part of the worldly Satanic system of things that is going to be destroyed, who do they have to turn to? Where will this “evidence” come from? As for “not believing” these claims, feel free to check out the JW guidelines – which are pretty clear even on the Watchtower PR site, although they’ve been rewritten with an eye to the legal system. JWs handle things internally, and they discourage outside involvement. That’s why predators such as the recently disfellowshipped JW pioneer and ministerial servant who is currently on the U.S. Marshall’s 15 Most Wanted List, can molest small children for 20 years – the children don’t talk or aren’t listened to, and don’t trust anyone outside. Incidentally, I was in Ralph Heroux’s congregation, and remember that my mother wouldn’t let me anywhere near him. He was never an elder that I remember, however. As for evidence – there was enough that he molested his step-daughter and her male cousin for him to plead guilty and do jail time. He’s back now, and conducting bible studies.

    On the matter of abuse generally, the Society has spent an awful lot of money on lawyers to represent them in a wide range of cases. I recommend you Google the topic – silentlambs.org is a good place to start, but there are a lot of other resources.

    My own experiences with elders suggest that the power can easily go to their heads, but my question is why they would be given such power and responsibility over other people in the first place. True spiritual counsel is rare – they aren’t trained to listen and help, but rather to discover and chastise. Occasionally there is a really good elder – there were one or two in my congregation – but on the whole these are just guys with no particular calling, training, or inclination to compassion. They just follow and enforce the rules.

    The best book I’ve read recently is by a college professor named Joy Castro – The Truth Book: Escaping a Childhood of Abuse Among Jehovah’s Witnesses.

    In most religions, excommunication of some sort is a very extreme measure. One doesn’t get cut off for a trivial offense in most religions. A related side point – JWs don’t really have measures to deal with prioritizing offense, with the result that sometimes people have no sense of the relative weight – you may as well have sex if you kiss, what’s the diff since you’re already doomed. Might as well do heroin if you have a cigarette. Imagine the effects of this lack of discernment – but it’s all the same – once you transgress, you transgress. You might as well hit bottom, go all out. So that when someone spins out, they can spin out pretty hard.

    In most religions, shunning is reserved for an extreme situation. Then, once you are excommunicated (the JW “disfellowshipped” is clearly just an alternate word that means the same thing), it’s really not an option to come back. So the JWs are unique as far as I know in that they dish out something like the rook treatment* – all the while saying that they don’t judge but only “keep the congregation clean.” Tell that to the people whose families can’t speak to them anymore, until they repent and kiss butt enough to return. One elder testified in court that he could bring hundreds of people forward to testify that disfellowshipping is the best thing that ever happened to them. I wish he would have done so – I would have been there to request a psychiatric evaluation of those who did. I suspect he just lied, however, as part of the “theocratic strategy” (google the phrase).

    So there is huge disconnect for me – sexual predators and abusers are protected (and possibly emerge from situations that help to create their pathology) – but others are shunned by their families for trivial offenses.

    *from the folktale (truth value unknown) that a parliament of rooks will sometimes encircle a lone rook and collectively stare at it until it dies.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *