VirusHead

Contagious Thoughts, Mutating as Needed

Interesting Developments in the ex-Jehovah’s Witness Community

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I’m in regular contact with a number of other former Jehovah’s Witnesses around the world. Now that an entire community has built up, there is a lot of support at peer level. If you’re looking for feedback and stories from others there are a lot more resources now than the ones on my original list. Facebook has some good, smart, creative people who moderate discussions in the various groups – do a search. A good place to start is Jehovah’s Witness Recovery. At the very least, it’s extremely comforting to know that you are not alone.

One danger of just talking with other former JWs is that we are *all* still navigating – sometimes that’s really helpful, but sometimes you might find it frustrating. A therapist or therapist-guided group is very important for your psychological thriving, especially since JWs are trained to use a particular kind of logic and often have some significant blind spots with regard to self-awareness.

There are also some faintly predatory (to me, they seem that way) “cult-deprogrammers” out there. I’m not going to name names on this, but I will say that your spiritual path is your own. It’s one of the primary benefits of getting out of a controlling group – don’t give it up! You are much better off exploring your own questions across a variety of communities than submitting to another authority.

With that warning in mind, there are some wonderful things that you can accomplish with a therapist who understands religious trauma, and there are support groups – formal and informal – with whom you will discover issues and solutions and a sense of camaraderie. I can recommend the group associated with JourneyFree.org, and if you’re in the San Francisco area you might be interested in a recovery retreat coming up July 29th to August 1st. I very much like what I see in Dr. Marlene Winell’s Leaving the Fold: A Guide for Former Fundamentalists and Others Leaving Their Religion. There is also an ongoing online support/therapy group with regular conference calls, as well as other support services. Check it out.

If you’re looking for a therapist in your own area, some good signs are a focus on religious trauma, some methodology that includes both cognitive and emotional therapy – and that “click” you might feel around a smart and compassionate person. You should be able to get quite a lot out of therapy right away, and you should collect any exercises that help you for when you might need to be reminded again of your choices.

I am also a big fan of reading other people’s stories. I think we learn best from stories. In addition to developing empathy and compassion, it allows you to set certain kinds of thoughts at one remove, and to start recognizing that certain patterns of thinking and writing are very familiar. The same sorts of issues emerge time and time again – family issues, self-esteem issues, doctrinal issues, and what I would call basic themes of unfairness, injustice, and lack of kindness.

I recently read companion pieces that touched me very deeply. The first is published letter of disassociation, written in response to a news article in 2008. It’s long, but worth the read.

The second was an essay meant as a response to the *response* that the published letter received. This was someone who examined his own beliefs, trusted in his own observations, and communicated them in a way that is often very difficult to do. While much of his concern had to do with doctrinal matters, you can see the way that his heart and mind opened up to what he had already always known about the basics of human caring, even as the essay itself will ring a familiar tone and pattern to the knowledgeable. Thank you, Vinny (Hawaiian Photos) for giving me permission to publish this on the blog. It illustrates the effects of being in the organization – any former JW knows exactly why you would write in this style and structure. It also illuminates some of the pivot-points at which one might find the deep courage to leave (even at great loss), rather than continue to participate. You’re not done! Keep going on your path, dear! <3

Are Jehovah’s Witnesses The True Religion? Are they Truly Directed By God?

I was continuously taught at meeting after meeting, and fully believed — as has every Jehovah’s Witness that I have ever met and known — that the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses (also known as the Faithful and Discreet slave and Watchtower Society) are God’s Specifically Chosen Channel on the earth today, and that he uses them exclusively to direct his will on the earth and to direct his specially chosen people, the Jehovah’s Witness Religious Institution and its members.

The Watchtower Magazine and other Witness literature is believed by Jehovah’s Witnesses to be just how God communicates his will on earth today through that Governing Body, God’s supposed Instrument of communication. This harmonizes with what the Watchtower Magazine itself has said throughout the years about itself.

1919 “Is not the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society the one and only channel which the Lord has used in dispensing his truth continually since the beginning of the harvest period?” {WT Apr 1 1919 6414}

1933 “To feed or teach his people the Lord has used the Watch Tower publications.. No man is given any credit for the wonderful truths which the Lord has revealed to his people through the Watch Tower publications.” {WT Dec 1 1933 263}

1939 “It should be expected that the Lord would have a means of communicating to his people on the earth, and he has clearly shown that the magazine called The Watchtower is used for that purpose.” {YEAR 1939 85}

1942 “The Watchtower does not consist of men’s opinions” {WT Jan 1 1942 5}

1957 “Jehovah has established a very definite channel of communication through which he deals with his people .. It is vital that we appreciate this fact and respond to the directions of the ‘slave’ as we would to the voice of God.” {WT Jun 15 1957 370}

1969 “Jehovah’s organization as directed by his ‘faithful and discreet slave’ class should influence our every decision also. {WT March 15, 1969 172}

1973 “Only this organization functions for Jehovah’s purpose and to his praise. To it alone God’s Sacred Word, the Bible, is not a sealed book.” (Watchtower; July 1, 1973, pp. 402.)

1979 [Of those living at the time of Armageddon, only Jehovah’s Witnesses will be saved] {WT Feb 15 1979 30}

1993 “But if we were to draw away from Jehovah’s organization, there would be NO PLACE ELSE TO GO FOR SALVATION”… Watchtower 9/15/93 page 22 :

SEPTEMBER 1996 Kingdom Ministry (Page 1 paragraph 3) Article titled, Walk by Faith: “We must also be firmly persuaded that Jehovah is leading us by means of his visible organization under the direction of ‘the faithful and discreet slave.”

SEPTEMBER 2002 Kingdom Ministry (Page 8 paragraph 5)
Article Titled, Avoid the Pursuit of Valueless Things: “Bear in mind that our heavenly Father has an appointed channel of communication,’the faithful and discreet slave.’ That “slave’ has the responsibility to determine what information is made available to the household of faith, as well as ‘the proper time’ for it to be dispensed. This spiritual food is available only through the theocratic organization. We should always look to God’s appointed channel for reliable information’ Matt. 24:45.”

Clearly then, anybody can see that Jehovah’s Witnesses teach the belief that God has chosen only the Watchtower leaders as his “Channel of Communication”, and that Jehovah’s Witnesses themselves are admonished to follow all of these specific teachings that are published in their literature as if it was coming from God Himself. And as already mentioned, as a 15 year member and elder, this is exactly what I believed as do all Jehovah’s Witnesses that I have ever known.

So then, the question remains, are these claim TRUE? Has God chosen The Watchtower as his specific and only religion on the earth?

For me, after a thorough examination of the full range of facts as they truly and honestly are, the answer has become a very clear and resounding NO. If I had known back then in 1990, when I was baptized as a Witness, what I know now today in Nov 2010, I would have never been baptized as a Jehovah’s Witness. But back then, when I was studying the bible with Jehovah’s Witnesses there was no internet to use to gain valuable information and to examine the Witness faith as well as its history like there is today. I basically took their word for it when it came to information they presented to me, as well as what they present to all potential Jehovah’s Witness Bible studies, namely –their version and their side–.

So then what caused this change in my position and belief that God chose the Watchtower and Jehovah’s Witnesses as his channel and people?

For me it was a combination of learning about Mistake after mistake having been made (throughout the entire 100-plus year existence of the Watchtower Society); A back and forth Flip-flopping again and again on numerous doctrinal positions; Several well publicized end of the world predictions that Never Came True; Terrible Watchtower Society positions against often LIFE-SAVING medical procedures such as vaccinations, organ transplants and blood transfusions that have literally caused thousands of people to die unnecessarily; the arrogant belief that only Jehovah’s Witnesses are true Christians while all others religions and people of those religions will be destroyed unless becoming a Jehovah’s Witness;… all this along with a host other strange, inconsistent and even embarrassing teachings and beliefs for over a century now. I have concluded that God would never be behind an organization (that claims he has chosen only them), that has gotten so many things wrong for so long and made so many mistakes, all in verifiable writing, throughout its entire existence on this earth.

This is a link showing just how many mistakes there have been over the years: http://home.tiscali.nl/t661020/wtcitaten/part1.htm

If God were to literally choose just one faith on the earth to represent him and his interests, along with using this same one group to publish his own thoughts, on a variety of subjects and issues, wouldn’t it be reasonable to conclude that God would do better than what the Watchtower has done with all of these mistakes posted above?

And while some of these policies have been dropped, reversed, adjusted, never came true etc etc; while they were in effect, Jehovah’s Witnesses simply had no choice but to adhere to them, had no choice but to teach them to other people even if they themselves disagreed with them or if they were later proven to be wrong or bad policies. If any Jehovah’s Witness did not support whatever policy was in place at that time they would have to face organizational counsel and discipline, which if not properly accepted, would then lead to being disfellowshipped (ex-communicated) followed by extreme shunning and the losing everybody you know including your very own family members. One cannot disagree with any JW current teachings without facing the severest of punishment in times past as well as today.

Which is exactly what happened to me. One simply cannot disagree with any current WT policies without facing the severest of penalties through extreme shunning by all Jehovah’s Witnesses. For any Jehovah’s Witness that does not comply with these shunning policies, they in turn will face discipline and if not accepting the counsel, they too will then be disfellowshipped and shunned.

I have lost my step son and our first grandchild (now four years old), my brother in law, several business partners, my good name and reputation, I am judged and labeled as some wicked apostate godless man and am shunned by all Jehovah’s Witnesses today.

Why so much severe punishment as this? What is my crime to face such consequences? I simply disagreed with the JW blood policy. I did not take blood. I did not tell others to take blood. I simply DISAGREED with this JW policy and now I am shunned, labeled and judged for the rest of my life along with losing some of the very family I raised. Is this loving, fair or Christian? I have done nothing wrong. After concluding, through enormous efforts, that the Watchtower Blood policy is wrong (just like their no vaccinations and no organ transplants policies were wrong before, I simply could no longer with a clear conscience make other people in my territory accept this policy, which is a mandatory requirement if one wishes to become a Jehovah’s Witness. And because of this I was going to be disfellowshipped. So instead I disassociated at that very same time.

JW’s would like for people to chalk up all those numerous mistakes from the Watchtower Society throughout their entire existence to mere human imperfection. They then often try to compare such Watchtower failures to the mistakes of biblical figures such as King David and the Apostles of the first century. What JWs fails to recognize is that people, as individuals, have always and will always make personal mistakes throughout their lives as imperfect humans. David, Moses, Peter, Paul and many others made mistakes. All Christians today do as well. Even the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses themselves make mistakes as imperfect men.

But as clearly posted above, the Watchtower’s Governing Body is said to be “anointed and directed by God Himself.” It’s in clear print for anybody to read.

But here is the problem: These men of the Governing Body get together as a collective group, they pray for holy spirit to guide them as a collective group, they then make decisions based on being directed by God’s spirit as a collective group, they then publish those decisions in their Watchtower magazines made as a collective group and then force those decisions on all Jehovah’s Witnesses and expect them to live by those decisions at risk of losing God’s favor and threat of disfellowshipping and extreme shunning.

But then when we find out that those decisions had to be dropped altogether, reversed, adjusted, changed and even apologized for, we can clearly see that God was never behind them to begin with. They were wrong the first minute they came off of the presses. God was definitely never behind these many erroneous Watchtower policies despite claims to the contrary.

What JWs fail to differentiate is that Human beings, individually, are allowed to and do make mistakes on a daily basis; including Moses and Jesus own hand-picked apostles. The very Writings (which are claimed to be from God –2Tim 3:16,17 and 2Peter 1:20,21 and Acts 3:21), of these same bible writers however are without mistakes anywhere. When the apostles mistakenly thought the Kingdom was being established at that time, they asked Jesus for clarification. (Matthew 24:1-3). They did not PUBLISH those erroneous thoughts. That’s why the bible is what it is today. Many truly believe it is inspired. Otherwise, if the bible writers had the same kind of track record of mistakes as does the Watchtower Society, the bible would be considered as nothing more than some “good book” and that is it. But to most people it is viewed as the infallible word of God. To most people it gets everything correct.

On the other hand, the very writings of the Watchtower Society (which also claims to be “food from God”, his “mouthpiece” today, “God’s Channel” etc), are filled with mistake after mistake and numerous inconsistencies and eventual embarrasments. Yet JW’s usually want to conveniently just chalk it up to “human imperfection”.

That simply does not work for most thinking people. The Watchtower cannot get a free pass here on all those past and current mistakes and bad policies while claiming God has anointed them and is directing them and them only. Many JW’s try to minimize the mistakes made by the Watchtower Society, as did I for many years. At least the ones I did know about. But you just can’t get away with this that easy. How many people DIED solely due to those bad medical policies which eventually had to be dropped altogether? That’s how bad they were, most had to be dropped, discarded, dumped because they were just that bad. Was God behind them?

Did Jehovah say No Vaccinations for 23 years and then change his mind and say vaccinations are now okay to have? All the while vaccinations were stomping out polio, smallpox and so much more. Did (((GOD))) get it wrong?

Did Jehovah say Organ Transplants are the same as “Cannibalism” and forbid them for 13 years, only to then change his mind and eventually say Organ Transplants are now okay to have? Did God Himself direct those bad policies only to have to drop them later on? And what about the Jehovah’s Witnesses that died by following these policies? Only to have them reversed later. I have read some of these accounts. It breaks your heart to read them.

How many people listened to all of the false end of the world specific dates, published in writing, missed predictions? 1914, 1925, 1975, before the end of the 20th century, before the generation of 1914 dies out and several more than this. Predictions which proved what? Every single one proved False. No hyperbole, all of them. Lives were ruined following the WT leadership with those as well. People gave up families, plans to have children, enjoyable careers… all for what ? For a message that proved untrue over and over again. How “faithful and discreet” is this? What does this say about the WT Society Organization to most people then? What does that say about ANY an organization? And wouldn’t it be reasonable for thinking persons to expect more from a religion that makes the claims of God’s Only True Channel Today?

Is it a lack of faith on the part of intelligent people that reject the Watchtower Society based on so many bad policies and mistakes over the years along with numerous current bad policies? Or would it be irresponsible to just look the other way? Truth can stand up to any challenge. It can hold up to vigorous cross-examination. Yet the average JW knows very little of this past, and just goes along with whatever they are told. So did I. Do people such as myself and many others leave the religion of Jehovah’s Witnesses because we have now been blinded and have a wicked heart? Or did we leave because they WERE blinded and NOW have all of the important information to make a better, more educated and complete decision?

How does anybody just go from all these mistakes for the past 100 years made by the Watchtower Society, to the Watchtower Society is the “One True Faith”? The reason is simple; most Witnesses have no idea about these many things I have posted here, just like I never knew about them for 15 years as an active Witness.

And when mistakes are eventually realized by Jehovah’s Witnesses, and new information or a new direction has to replace the old mistaken information or direction by the Watchtower Society, then the Watchtower likes to conveniently call it, “New Light”. As if God has somehow revealed something miraculous again. This works and even gets people excited for most Witnesses readily accept this information since they already believe God has chosen them alone to begin with. But one clear look at the reality would show most thinking people that “new light” has not been revealed at all; but rather, more bad information, mistaken policies, false predictions and wrong beliefs simply need to be replaced due to the realization that these old policies and beliefs are simply proven to not be true.

The generation of 1914 never dying off for example. They had no choice BUT to drop that and find something to replace it with. And then changed it again. The recent change that the 144,000 has not been sealed but is still open. (After all the number of those partaking has only been going up.) Organ Transplants not ever being the same as cannibalism and allowing tens of thousands of people today the added opportunity to live life. On and on we could go filling pages worth of examples that prove new light never happened.

The fact is that new light could more accurately be called blinking light. New light is usually the realization that the Governing Body was simply wrong to begin with.

There are good people from all religions today. This is truly a fact. All religious organizations do make mistakes as well. The WT Society is actually worse than most however. So how can people say this is the one true religion today? How can anybody back such lofty claims as those up, with such a poor track record? I have yet to see that happen anywhere.

If the bible is true Moses parted the Red Sea, manna fell from the sky, prophecies came true. Jesus walked on water, healed the sick, fed thousands, raised the dead and so much more. But the Watchtower Society has an entire history of mistaken policies that have been and still are forced on all Witnesses at the very real threat of disfellowshipping and being shunned for non-compliance. They also boastfully claim “one true faith’, while condemning all other religions and people of those religions to destruction if not becoming JW’s.

For me today and most people that see all the facts there is nothing there to support such lofty and inflated claims as the Watchtower being chosen by God for anything at all. The WT Society certainly is not dispensing food from God from what the record clearly shows. Because it is quite obvious that God would never be behind all those mistakes again and again along with numerous current unscriptural policies.

Otherwise I would have never left the religion and have to suffer such steep consequences.

All the best,
Vinny

Author: VirusHead

Interdisciplinary questioner, contextual ethicist, discourse analyst, compassionate warrior, spiritual eclectic, knowledge leader, former academic, ex-Jehovah's Witness, writer, poet, artist, singer, mom, wife, lover, sister, daughter, niece, cousin, dear friend, supporter, champion, worthy adversary, and very talented loafer. And that doesn't say anything much at all, does it?

3 Comments

  1. Hello. I was disfellowshipped about 7 weeks ago and am still going through a VERY tough time. I would love to talk to someone about what is going through my head even if just through email. Please contact me. Thank you. ~Samai

  2. Hi Samai

    I understand the overwhelming feelings that come with being d/f. I’m still working through my own demons, but would be open to chatting via e-mail. My e-mail address is awakeningrose@yahoo.com.

    Sandi

  3. I was never baptised, but was raised a JW. I’ve been inactive for about 2 years now, and I struggle with guilt and a host of other problems…thinking about attending again, but I just can’t come to terms with some of the teachings. For example, their views on women. That’s the biggest one for me, though there are others. I often wonder if anyone else is as tortured about it as I am.

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