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Avoid Disfellowshipping by Fading

Avoid Disfellowshipping by Fading

Isaac J. Harris has written two great articles for About.com on the topic of “fading.” One is descriptive, and the other has some strategies for you. They are located in the atheism/agnosticism section, but of course not everyone leaves the Watchtower Society for those reasons.

Here are a couple of snippets for you:

From Jehovah’s Witness to Atheist: How & Why Witnesses Fade from Congregations

For Jehovah’s Witnesses, the potential problems associated with being disfellowshipped and shunned lead to many choosing instead to just fade away. Disfellowshipping, in Jehovah’s Witness parlance, means they will be excommunicated and shunned by all other Jehovah’s Witnesses in good standing. It is the highest penalty the Watchtower Society can bestow. This is why, when a believer becomes disillusioned with the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, they do not feel free to speak out about their doubts — not even to their closest friends and family members. Many are afraid to just get up and walk away like any normal person would because they’re afraid of being disfellowshipped and what this will do to their various relationships. …

Imagine you were raised in a religion where the members are strongly discouraged from associating with any non-believers, or even from associating with members known to be “unevenly yoked” with “worldly” friendships and ways? What if that religion saw the outside world as a place under Satanic control and labeled so-called worldly members as “bad associates” to be avoided? It is likely that you would be reluctant to make friends with anyone who didn’t believe as you do. You wouldn’t have many friends who weren’t part of that religion.

So what would happen if you were suddenly cut off from fellow believers? What if your own mother wouldn’t speak to you, or even acknowledge your existence if you should bump into her in a public place? What if you had to start over, without the support of friends, family, or the religious institution you’ve been a part of your entire life? It would be an extremely lonely and difficult time to get through.

Jehovah’s Witness To Atheist: How Doubting Witnesses Can Fade, Avoid Shunning

Be wary of persistent Witnesses. Sadly, some may try to trick you into confessing your disbelief. Some Witnesses have even gone to faders and expressed false doubts about the Society, thus inviting the fader to do the same. Then, within weeks or days, the fader gets a call from their Elders. Relatives have even pulled this one on faders, so be careful.

Make new friends. You’ll need new friends for emotional support once you’ve left. Why go it alone?

You can read my own tips for recovering JWs, see a list of all my Jehovah’s Witness related posts, get some book recommendations, read some jokes, and look at other ex-JW related resources.

(Thanks to Danny for sending me the links to the About.com articles)

Watchtower JW Family Shunning

Watchtower JW Family Shunning

Another from the “Ask a Former Jehovah’s Witness” mailbag:

My father was disfellowshipped when he was a teen in the 80’s and because of that he and his father do not speak. Ever. Are there any scriptural sources that I could use when speaking to my grandfather about this that would show this is wrong? When I talk with him about it he starts spewing scripture. Previous to July 2002 it was said that “Those who simply cease to be involved in the faith are not shunned. In compliance with the Scriptures, however, members can be expelled for serious unchristian conduct, such as stealing, drunkenness, or adultery, if they do not repent and cease such actions. Disfellowshipping does not sever family ties.” -www.watchtowerinformationservice.org/- I feel as if my family is being torn apart because of this religion and would like any advice you have to give. Thank you for your time. – Steve B

Your options are limited. Focus on love. You might mention the signs of the spirit (patience, kindness, etc). “Forgive as you would be forgiven” is a central tenet of biblical faith. You could invoke the primary message of Jesus, talk about “he who is without sin, cast the first stone.” I would avoid a scriptural discussion, however – he’s too well-prepared and defended for that kind of discussion.

The Jehovah’s Witness group is controlled by a very authoritarian – even totalitarian – organization, and therefore the average JW compartmentalizes things according to a priority of values that puts everything else below the directives of the Governing Body. If New York tells them to avoid your father, that’s just what they’ll do. This is one of the most heartbreaking things about this group, and I wish I had more to offer in the way of strategies.

Unfortunately, for most JWs nothing on earth is more important than securing their place for eternal life on a paradise earth. They don’t seem to understand that a lack of love is the surest way to separate oneself from God, the cosmos, the family, and everything else. He may try to tell you that he does this out of love, that the lack of association is a disciplinary measure to bring your father back into the fold. It won’t be at all obvious to him that this is completely antithetical to Jesus’ message.

Maybe you could get the discussion off religion entirely and talk about the pain and suffering that this is causing you and the rest of the family. Maybe your grandfather’s love for you might be strong enough to override, at least to some degree, his indoctrination. You might also remind him that each person’s spiritual path is their own, and that God sees into the heart. Judge not, lest you be judged.

I don’t have much hope for your success, but it is worth a concerted effort. You never know – maybe you will plant a small seed of cognitive dissonance by being more loving than he is. Take the highest road you can.

I sense your pain and anguish, and I wish kindness, gentleness, and healing for you and your family.

Rambling post on Suicide and Jehovah’s Witnesses

Rambling post on Suicide and Jehovah’s Witnesses

Christian Peper has made a good start in thinking about suicide and Jehovah’s Witnesses, and it’s worth a read. I’m just using his post as a starting point to bounce some ideas around.

Suicide isn’t really any kind of sure way for JWs to hedge their bets. The position on suicide was one of their rare agreements with the Catholic Church. JWs don’t believe in hell, but they used to say that suicides could not be resurrected because it was an ultimate rejection of the gift of life. It’s not one of the main points that gets repeated and repeated, so many JWs might not even be aware of that position. Commenter Stacey1970 points out that the Watchtower Society actually took a step back from judgment in the 1990 Awake! – I wonder why?

This 1990 Awake! article (it’s so sad they hid this doctrinal change in the Awake!, since the Watchtower is their doctrinal magazine, it seems they would have printed it there too…) from Sept 8th, states:

“Love strengthens our recognition that suicide—though evading one’s own burdens—only heaps more problems on loved ones left behind. As far as the one who rashly took his own life is concerned, we humans cannot judge as to whether he will get a resurrection or not. How reprehensible was he? God alone searches ‘all hearts and every inclination of the thoughts.’ (1 Chronicles 28:9) But we may be confident that ‘the Judge of all the earth is going to do what is loving, just, and right!’—Genesis 18:25.”

Is there a similar Watchtower article? I’m sure there must be an article on suicide somewhere (will look up later) for comparison.

When I think of my own transition through depressive, melancholy times, and of people I have known or talked with later on, I feel that that it may not matter so much what the position on resurrection is for someone who feels suicidal. Someone who wants to kill herself or himself feels done. They want escape, or just an end to feelings of despair. It is painful and horrible to be desperate or tired enough to consider killing yourself. Would a person in such a state necessarily care whether or not he or she were resurrected? I don’t know, but I somehow don’t think so.

Yes, there is a focus on death and destruction, but the energy isn’t so much about anger. JWs have usually been pacifists (except for that weird 3rd cousin Waco offshoot). JWs don’t vote, or fight. If some of them got a little angry once in a while, there might be more real discussions. It is short-circuited at the start. I think that might change, though, judging by the comments of some current JWs. Now, they direct their anger at people who criticize the Watchtower Society – but that anger is new – where will it go? (Note: The comments on JW-related posts are often troubling, in many ways. There is a lot of anger to go around.)

Some Jehovah’s Witnesses try not to think about what they are actually saying about Armageddon, and they fear it, and they bury their fear. They expect the God of Love – Jehovah-God, through the Archangel and Mediator Michael (Jesus) to do the actual killing. JWs are just preparing the way… or something like that.

Some JWs simply want to think that if they obey every rule, they will be favored. They are the ones who could most benefit from the idea of grace (that is never discussed).

They think that if they follow the leadership of the “governing body”, then they will get a reward. I grew up with a completely different idea about keeping “your eyes on the prize.” It was a song, and it wasn’t about civil rights.

It’s deferred gratification, but hey – who wouldn’t like to live on a paradise earth forever, or for even the thousand years before the second judgment? It looks like fun, with the lions lying down with the lamb and all. No pain. No work. Everybody just gets along. No ethereal ambiguous heavenly existence for the “great crowd” – that’s only for the 144,000. No, the great crowd gets paradise – with all the inconvenient other people gone, like in that song “Political Science” by Randy Newman.

For many, for most (not for all, but for most), the best thing seems to be to simply put up with everything, and do what you’re told to do, think what you’re told to think, and feel that you’re doing the right thing – even if that means you don’t talk to your son or your daughter or your mother or father or sister or brother or friend anymore. They think that they might save a life by cutting them off from love. They believe that the only good work is to make more Jehovah’s Witnesses.

They miss so much.

There are no celebrations, few occasions to break into the hours of service and talks and indoc…um…training. JWs don’t celebrate holidays, even their own birthdays. It’s not so much that the specific holidays are so important as that there is no cause for celebration – there is no little light and warmth in winter which to make days to remember, touchstones of repetition in one’s life. No Halloween frolic, no day of carnivale, little dancing, not nearly so much laughter as there should be. Simple kindness is undervalued somewhat, or twisted somehow.

Yet, as a JW, you feel that this is what God wants for you, and you go out and try to convince others that you want to save their lives by introducing them to the “Truth” – the only real religion (the others are demonic). Saving lives – it seems like such a good motivation to sell ideas and books for the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, doesn’t it? And many of the JWs are good people.

Social pressure is intense. The loss of self-determination and the slow ebb from freedom (even the freedom to seek God), are compensated with intense self-righteousness. Hey, I loved explaining to everyone in homeroom why I didn’t salute the flag! I felt special, even if the differences were also difficult (I wanted to sing the Christmas songs and make Valentines).

I felt right. That’s the hard part. Oh, that’s so hard to give up, once you’re accustomed to that feeling. I struggle with it. I still love to be right.

Suppose you have to admit you are wrong. Tough, isn’t it? Suppose you didn’t have a friend, or any family that would speak to you if you did admit you were wrong. Makes it harder still. Sometimes people set themselves up, or lash out, or identify with what they have been told former Witnesses are. It takes a lot of windup to go.

It helps if you just leave the area, but you’ve got to develop new skills.

I had it easy, really – I was leaving for a while, for lots of reasons. I still had my family, and I had “worldly” friends that were strangely kind and understanding and supportive. I read a lot, too, which also helps more than I ever knew at the time. I left.

Some are kicked. Everyone participates in shunning the “unrepentant ones,” and among some congregations, there are internal urban myths – such as that the belief that once away from the “Truth”, you will be spiritually attacked by by by…demons. These demons are depicted as even more frightening and evil than this “wordly satanic system of things” which, to them, is our common reality.

Some of them even feared Smurfs. Smurfs with mystique. I remember the story of the wallpaper with demonic Smurfs that came to life. I wonder if that JW urban myth led directly to the animation at the beginning of “Dragon Tales”? Hmmm.

Depression, glumness. Glum. Like Puritans.

So then, if a JW is dealing with a real issue or problem, and isn’t necessarily ready to leave, who does the JW turn to? The elders? Elders don’t really have the training or even (usually) the inclination to shepard someone (in the good sense) through a moment of crisis. They’ll be using selected bible verses to support a thinly-veiled argument dictated by someone else – in New York. Asking questions could get you labeled – “gray area” “rebellious” “independent thinker” “worldly” “Memorial members.”

There are problems with power – the JWs are happy to think of themselves as submissive sheep – but righteous, very righteous and preferred by God. These shepards don’t coax, not even with friendly dogs. They are the kind with the whip hidden behind their back. To admit difference is to invite punishment – some of it is subtle, but it is effective. “Only” Jehovah’s Witnesses follow God’s Word – at least in that translation. If you have questions or problems – well, they have to keep the congregation clean.

I would like to see more documentation on the suicide rate among Jehovah’s Witnesses. I would also like to see the same kinds of figures on former Jehovah’s Witnesses (especially those who have been cut off from contact with their families under conditions of disfellowshipping or other ostracizing behaviors). Is anyone tracking this to know the statistics? Has there been a recent study? (I’m already aware of information and news tracking, and the work of such groups as Silent Lambs). Please comment with any information.

Sorry for the rambling quality of the post. I’m working out some things in my mind, trying to think how it might help a former JW who contacted me. Sometimes writing helps – and sometimes the thought process itself might help someone. You never know.

Kudos to Nemesis Rising

Kudos to Nemesis Rising

It couldn’t have been a big surprise for twin rockers Jacob and Joshua Miller of the band Nemesis Rising to discover that they have been officially disfellowshipped for their homosexuality and their show on Logo, Jacob & Joshua: Nemesis Rising.

I like their response very much, and I think it shows a greater spiritual maturity than they will be shown by their family and other practicing JWs.

According to Jehovah’s Witness doctrine, being “disfellowshipped” means that we have been found guilty of unrepentant gross misconduct. Our immediate family is to have limited or no contact with us. And all other practicing Jehovah’s Witnesses around the world are not to speak with us ever again.

Although we are no longer Jehovah’s Witnesses, we have nothing but love for those individuals who have been asked to shun us. We will continue to be in contact with our family and those who truly love us unconditionally as long as they’re willing.

We find it ironic that a religion whose members are asked to knock on the doors of strangers with a message of acceptance into paradise on Earth will not accept two of its own children for who they really are. Our wish for them is one of tolerance and understanding and we send to all of them a message of peace and love.”

(Press Release)

The announcement was made at a Jehovah’s Witnesses meeting that took place in the Millers’ hometown of Kalispell, Montana. Their friends – and even their family members – will now cut off contact with them, but they are willing to stay in contact with anyone who is willing to speak with them. Best of luck with that, guys (sighing). I hope that some people will be able to make individual judgments about the higher good, despite their relentless legalistic training. Sending waves of caring out to you both.

Visit the Nemesis Rising page at MySpace or their official website if you’d like to hear the music.

Update on JWs in the News

Update on JWs in the News

Watchtower Cashing In on Real Estate

Nonprofits Not Shy About Cashing In on Real Estate Gems

In Brooklyn, the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ Watchtower Bible & Tract Co. of New York sold a building at 89 Hicks St. to Brooklyn Law School. A few months ago it sold a 48-unit elevator apartment building for $14 million.

(Non-JW!) College Students Ban the Pledge

I still don’t salute the flag or do the pledge of loyalty to the piece of cloth. I stand in solidarity with the small group of undergraduate politicians at Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa that voted to ban the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance at their student government meetings.

There was a predictable reaction to this rather insignificant decision: hysteria. One fellow student “became so distraught by the announcement of the ban that she immediately began reciting the pledge” – like starting in with “Hail Mary” or crossing yourself? Has the pledge started to function as a protective talisman? A ward against evil? Oh, dear.

Another accused the student leaders of ‘anti-Americanism’ – yeah, right, uh-huh. The story was posted on the Christian Broadcasting Network website within the week.

Kudos to Andrew Cohen, CBS News’ chief legal analyst. Although he pokes fun at the students, he also points out a few little things that rarely appear in mainstream media:

Because these students obviously have a little extra time on their hands, and with their holiday break coming up, I recommend that they all read Richard J. Ellis’ book, “To the Flag,” an excellent and little-known work that also ought to be required reading for every grown-up politician who might be tempted to finger-point in the debate over the pledge. “The words of the pledge,” Ellis writes, “have inspired millions, but they have also been used to coerce and intimidate; to compel conformity and to silence dissent.” …

It is a mistake for anyone to place the pledge on a par with the Declaration of Independence, the preamble to the Constitution or even the national anthem when it comes to hymns that bring us together in voice and spirit. But people have long misunderstood and misapplied the pledge.

The dispute at Orange Coast College is mainly about loyalty to government and not the controversial words “under God” in the pledge — the dispute that most recently has drawn our legal and political attention. But it doesn’t matter. Even before those words were added in the 1950s as a bulwark against communism, Americans were hurting each other — literally — in the name of the pledge.

In Pennsylvania in the 1930s, Ellis notes in his book, officials didn’t just expel students from school for not reciting the pledge, they whipped and choked and beat them too. School officials would report these students to government authorities, who then got court orders to separate the parents from their children, sometimes for years. Mobs of citizens persecuted Jehovah’s Witnesses and others who refused to recite the pledge. It took a 1943 U.S. Supreme Court decision, which declared that people had a 1st Amendment right not to be forced by the government into reciting the pledge, to stop the physical violence. But divisions over the pledge clearly remain.

So the rabble-rousing students at Orange Coast College are merely doing what their predecessor protesters have done for more than a century. And the folks who are criticizing them have a long history as well.

Never mind Ellis’ must-read book. Listen to what then-Minnesota Gov. Jesse “The Body” Ventura had to say when he vetoed a measure requiring public school students to recite the pledge at least once a week: “There is much more to being a patriot and a citizen than reciting a pledge or raising a flag.”

Kicked out for Boxing

20-year-old boxer Mary McGee was raised by her grandma, who took her from her mother when she was just two weeks old. Her mother wasn’t there for her — or her brothers. Both brothers have served jail time. One is out, while the other is serving out his sentence on a robbery charge in Colorado (where he has lived since grandma shipped him off to boys’ camp).

Turns out, those nights Mary and her grandfather watched boxing on television were illicit under the strict doctrines of Witnesses. So too was training at the P.A.L. gym, and shadow boxing, for hours at a time, in the back yard.

Mary had just won the Chicago Golden Gloves, one of the premier amateur boxing contests in the country, and members of the congregation read about it in the local papers.

Participating in boxing or another martial art is grounds for the Witnesses’ version of excommunication, called disfellowship. Mary had to quit boxing or move out. She cried and she yelled. She agreed to quit.

But she was 17, and she did what teenagers do when they want to do what they want to do.

She trained in secret, and told her grandmother she was staying late at school. In secret she went with the P.A.L. team to a fight in Indianapolis.

“My auntie lived down there and she saw me on TV and called my grandma. She didn’t know I wasn’t supposed to be fighting,” Mary said. “When I got home, I was out.”

Condemning Religions that… What? Ok, is it Hypocrisy or Irony?

You get kicked out for boxing, but.. sexual predators can be JW elders for years.

The End of False Religion is Near” – the recently distributed tract known as KN37 (Kingdom News 37) – focused on several “traits” manifested by “false” religion. The end of false religion is near… because just about everyone is about to be destroyed at Armageddon? Because JWs are suddenly going to be wildly successful as the “true religion”? Already it’s a weird message. Clearly the reader is not expected to put together exactly how “false religion” will end, but only to go through some fearful checkmarks to make sure that they align themselves with the “true religion.”

kingdomnews

We’ll focus on just one aspect of the tract today, because it’s the part that is most astounding – requiring a gargantuan amount of self-righteousness, hypocrisy, blindness, and sheer nerve. Next to a photo of a man wearing a priest’s collar, it says:

In Western lands church groups ordain gay and lesbian members of the clergy and urge governments to recognize same-sex marriages. Even churches that condemn immorality have tolerated religious leaders who have sexually abused children.

… Do you know of religions that condone immoral sex?

Yes. Yes I do. Silent Lambs is even more stunned and appalled than I am:

Jehovah’s Witnesses are internationally known to be second only to the Catholic Church with regard to the publicity of their child abuse scandal. The expose dates back to the NBC Dateline program that aired in May of 2002. Since that program aired over twenty different programs in eight different countries have offered the testimony of countless children victimized by the policies of Jehovah’s Witnesses on the sexual abuse of children. Key areas were highlighted that were unlike any religion in dealing with these issues. To name a few;

  1. Two-eye witnesses required before a child’s accusation would be accepted as valid in the face of the molesters’ denial.
  2. Molesters required participation in the door to door canvassing work of Jehovah’s Witnesses to study with prospective members.
  3. Re-appointing pedophiles to positions of authority after twenty years of no further two eye- witness accusations.
  4. Disfellowshipping victims and advocates when they attempted to go public with the child abuse problem in the religion.
  5. Encouraging members to testify as character witnesses on behalf of convicted pedophiles at sentencing hearings.
  6. Advocating the violation of federal laws in reporting child abuse by stating to church leadership that if parents chose to not report abuse it was a personal decision.
  7. Spending hundreds of thousands of dollars using donated Worldwide Work monies to defend the “religious right” of pedophiles to prevent arrest and convictions for child rape.
  8. Maintaining a database of over 23,000 sex offenders within the church most of which have not been revealed to members or law enforcement.

While members were actively denouncing “false” religion for allowing the sexual abuse of children during October and November, here’s what’s been going on…

Jesus Cano a member of the elite Bethel family and served as an elder there was convicted of distributing nude pictures of him self trying to solicit anal sex from little boys.

Rick Mclean a former pioneer and Ministerial Servant is currently listed on the U.S. Marshalls’ most wanted list for assaulting numerous JW children in California. A civil lawsuit was filed on behalf of his victims for elders’ negligence in covering up the abuse.

Rex Peterson a long serving elder in Australia was arrested for molesting two little boys. Peterson was well known for providing herbal treatments for cancer in the JW’s.

Claude Martin an elder in Canada was arrested for molesting a ten year old girl while attending the door to door canvassing work of JW’s. He inserted his finger in her vagina while standing at the door of a home they were visiting.

Nestor Jesus Cabada at the threat of local elders in Utah, USA turned himself in for rape of a child, sodomy on a child and aggravated sex abuse of a child with regard to two little Jehovah’s Witness girls.

Enrique Bahena Robles an elder located in Cancun Mexico was charged with aggravated rape of a minor for his assault on a ten year old girl while participating in door to door canvassing work with her.

Most of these multiple offenders were serving in appointed capacity within their congregations in the USA, Australia, Canada and Mexico.

How many current Catholic reports of sexual abuse have been reported in the last thirty days? There are close to one billion Catholics worldwide but just under seven million Jehovah’s Witnesses. Based on those numbers does this appear to be a high amount of bizarre pedophile stories being reported to media from such a small religious group? …

Jehovah’s Witnesses should have a moment of silence for the children their religion has hurt by policies they openly support. They should hang their collective heads in shame for their self-righteous denunciation of other religions on the epidemic problem areas they ignore within their own faith.

How ironic that the Watchtower Society’s protection of sexual predators, child abusers, and pedophiles is condemned in their own tract.

Questioning JW Records Disfellowshipping Process

Questioning JW Records Disfellowshipping Process

In the words of Christopher Walken in the role of The Continental, “Wow. Wowie-wow-wow-wow.”

I stumbled across this today while backtracking some google searches that led people to this site. It’s always interesting to see what else comes up under the same search phrases. Go to this page at FreeMinds.org to hear the recordings. It doesn’t take long for someone who is looking for answers to their questions to be shunned. This gives a pretty good idea of their pastoral expertise.

Sick of Lies Conversations with Elders

The following phone conversations reveal the lying, misinformation schemes and doubletalk of elders and other brothers that are often triggered by a conversation with a questioning Jehovah’s Witness who is trying to get truthful answers from the Watchtower Society.

“I get many people asking me why I did this, it started as an idea. I wanted to leave and just disassociating myself seemed pointless because I wanted people to know why I was leaving and not just have a blank statement read to the congregation that I’m no longer one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. I decided that I would get myself disfellowshiped and document every step of the process. I had already been ‘reproved’ for asking to many questions on the subject of evolution, so I decided to continue to ask questions. I phoned up several elders and asked them questions on various topics, including 607, child abuse, UN NGO statue and more. When I first started doing this I started having second thoughts, I decided I would not pursue the matter anymore, I doubted anything would come of the questions and decided to leave it alone. Well it was only two days after asking these questions that the elders told me that they wanted to meet with me in a judicial committee and discuss what I had said. I was very nervous, but I decided to finish what I had started and carry out my project.

During the whole process I listened to questions and comments from other people who have been through emotional distress because of this religion, I tried to incorporate some or their concerns and questions in where I could. All in all I would say that this has been very therapeutic for me, facing my abusers who caused much depression and hardship in not only my life, but many others has made me feel like I took control of the situation and left under my own terms. After the whole ordeal was finished I left feeling no fear and no anxiety, I felt totally free.” – Sick of Lies

A few sample descriptions:

The elder who denies the “Two Witness” rule that protects pedophiles in the congregation as well as the Watchtower’s connection with the United Nations as an NGO (and they are still an NGO) (19:37)

An “anointed” elder is asked about proving the validity of the 607BCE date for the destruction of Jerusalem, gets flustered and says, “If the Watchtower says that’s what it is, then that’s what it is.” He is then asked about how you know you are of the anointed, and what would happen if the caller partook at the Memorial observance. (11:37)

Asking an elder about 607 BCE. (2:59)

The committee begins, they start by stating the reason they are there: “because your questioning everything” then state the reason they feel that I’m asking the questions is “your just trying to show your superiority because you have an education”. The elders in this committee repeatedly run down ‘higher education’ and state how it destroys spiritual minds.

“You’re looking for information that’s outside of what the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society has published… I support what the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society has to say. Those are my beliefs.” Never is the bible mentioned as the highest source, but always the Watchtower.

Questions are asked about how the elders handle someone who is suicidal or mentally ill. The elders simply reply that this is not their concern and they are simply there to assess wither or not the person qualifies for membership anymore. The elders state that baptism is a contract, and that once joined there is “no nice way out”. They take no responsibility for any depression or suicides that occur because of the shunning that results from their decision.

Second appeal hearing Part One. This time Dan is accompanied by Sean who came to provide him support and counsel if needed. Until last meeting where the elders allowed an outsider (Dan’s mother) to attend the entire hearing and even speak freely, this time they state confidentiality / elder privilege / organizational policy prevent any outsiders from viewing judicial committee under any circumstances.

Part two of appeal hearing. Elders ask if the meeting is being recorded and ask him ‘do you want to get in a war with us?’ ‘If this recording is being used for clandestine purposes you are in a heap of trouble’. Also the person is told that a picture he took of the elders was illegally taken.

04/26/06 Final Meeting with elders. Here the person is told the appeal committee has decided to uphold the decision to disfellowship. He is told there will be no more appeals and this decision will not be overturned.

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