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And Now… Jehovah’s Witnesses in the News

And Now… Jehovah’s Witnesses in the News

The ongoing saga of Jehovah’s Witnesses in the News continues…

Watchtower Image Trumps Ethics, Again; or, What Part of “Women and Children are Less Important than Men” Don’t You Understand?

Sask. church failed to report sexual abuse: Victims

After telling each other about the abuse, the two sisters informed their parents. Their father confronted the man, who did not confirm or deny what had happened, and the matter was subsequently reported to church elders, Zerr said. “There was no report to the police at that time.”

Instead, the man received a lecture from the elders, and many in the community rallied around him because he regularly attended church meetings – while the girls were “treated like troublemakers” and encouraged to let the whole thing go, one of the victims wrote. Their father and their abuser later became “dear friends, and would go for coffee daily,” a situation which continues to this day, she added. “We were trash-talked and slandered throughout the community . . . the religion abandoned us.”

ColdHeart: More Than a Little Ethically-Challenged

Friend of man accused in San Ramon real estate financier’s killing testifies

Two days before real estate financier Kashmir Billon was found shot to death in a San Ramon business park, the business associate charged with his murder allegedly offered a lifelong friend $50,000 to kill an unnamed man. Police found Billon, 42, of San Ramon, dead in the street next to his smoldering BMW late Sunday, April 27 after a hotel employee found him slumped over and pulled him from the vehicle. Robinson, a 31-year-old El Sobrante resident, is charged with murder, solicitation of murder and three felonies related to a real estate scheme prosecutors said was a motive for the killing.

Rogers, a contract home inspector with past felony convictions on drug and gun charges, said he has known Robinson his whole life because their parents were members of the same church for Jehovah’s Witnesses. Rogers said that in 2006, he offered for $20,000 to kill a man suspected of committing a home invasion robbery at Robinson’s house, but that Robinson declined the offer. Robinson asked Rogers in person on Friday, April 25 to kill a business associate on a Richmond property. Rogers claimed Robinson told him he had previously asked someone else to do the killing, but that person did not want to do it in Richmond. Rogers said Robinson wanted it done in Richmond because the target could be lured to the property under the pretense of tree work that needed to be done.

No Part of Satan’s World

Total Service Objectors Doubled During A Decade

In Finland, in theory all men between the ages of 18 and 60 are subject to military service. Approximately 82% of all young men do military service and around 7% do alternative non-military service. Members of the Jehovah Witnesses were exempted from both forms of service under legislation that came into force in 1987. According to the newspaper Keskisuomalainen, the Human Rights Committee of the United Nations and the Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe have called Finnish legislation discriminatory in this respect and said that the preferential treatment accorded to Jehovah’s Witnesses should be extended to other groups of conscientious objectors.

Jehovah’s Witnesses canvass for God instead of votes

Since his religious conversion at age 30, Brooks holds the Witness viewpoint – that not voting emulates Jesus Christ’s example of avoiding political involvement. … Housner, like many Witnesses, thinks the only perfect government is God’s kingdom, which ultimately will reign over humanity, he said. That kingdom’s approach will be augured by signs that the world is in its last days, said Derrick McCraw, a property manager and Witness in Norfolk.

“Items that are on the front page of the newspaper parallel what the Bible says about our time: food shortages, war, disease,” he said. In addressing the current global financial crisis, McCraw said, “Being in the last days, people will be lovers of money.”

Nonetheless, “God allows governments to function in the meanwhile, before his kingdom comes,” Housner said. “We need to have some form of government – otherwise, it would be anarchy.” By avoiding politics, Witnesses avoid a source of internal division and escape being beholden to any politician, he said. The global, 7-million-member Witness community also avoids friction caused by nationalism.

Jehovah’s Witnesses transform West Palm Beach’s ‘leaky teepee’ auditorium

It has been 10 years since the city transferred its auditorium to the Jehovah’s Witnesses in a controversial $12.5 million sale. Although most of the public hasn’t set foot this decade in the building that once housed the county’s major concerts and events, the crumbling structure known derisively as the “leaky tepee” has been transformed into a state-of-the-art beacon for a religion that is 1 million strong in the United States. … It was a great deal for the Witnesses, who have converted the auditorium on Palm Beach Lakes Boulevard into the Christian Convention Center. The Witnesses bought the land for $12.5 million, then sold much of the property, including the baseball field, recouping a good portion of the initial cost. Since then, the building has been completely remodeled at a cost of about $13 million. ….In 1998, the Jehovah’s Witnesses were looking to buy a building that would become their largest enclosed gathering place in the world. West Palm Beach was a logical location because Florida has a sizable Jehovah’s Witnesses community, and the group was already the auditorium’s top tenant.

Dragging to the Kingdom Hall: No, not Children! Cars!

Pro Tow, which has a contract to enforce parking at Shady Glen Mobile Home Park, began towing and booting vehicles parked along the street or in the grass near homes Tuesday night. On Wednesday, at least four tow trucks patrolled the neighborhood, pulling roughly 15 vehicles to the nearby Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses, where owners had the option of paying $300 or losing their vehicles temporarily. … The towing also angered elders of the church, who filed a trespassing warning against Pro Tow for using the hall’s parking lot. The elders said they had granted permission for the lot to be used to temporarily store a broken down vehicle and, the next thing they knew, 15 towed vehicles showed up.

Experience Bringeth Wisdom

Time Magazine: America’s Unfaithful Faithful (a Report on the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life)

An even more extreme example of what might be called “masked churn” is the relatively tiny Jehovah’s Witnesses, with a turnover rate of about two-thirds. That means that two-thirds of the people who told Pew they were raised Jehovah’s Witnesses no longer are — yet the group attracts roughly the same number of converts. Notes Lugo, “No wonder they have to keep on knocking on doors.”

Theocratic War Strategies (Sanctioned Deceptions)

Is God Really Going To Destroy Everyone But Jehovah’s Witnesses?

There are almost 7 billion people on Earth and of that number there are about 7 Million Jehovah’s Witnesses. So, if Armageddon came today, approximately 1/1000th of the population would survive according to what the Jehovah’s Witnesses teach. … Do you think God would really butcher nearly 7 billion people and save only the Jehovah’s Witnesses? I don’t. So once again I am led to question the validity of anything the governing body of Jehovah’s Witnesses says.

Watchtower 9/1/1989, p. 19:
“Only Jehovah’s Witnesses, those of the anointed remnant and the ‘great crowd,’ as a united organization under the protection of the Supreme Organizer, have any Scriptural hope of surviving the impending end of this doomed system dominated by Satan the Devil.”

JW Blogger Discovers He Was Directed by the Governing Body to Lie about Watchtower Affiliation; or, Did you know that all those service reports to the Watchtower Society don’t count after all?

… publishers do well to avoid representing themselves as agents or representatives of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc., or any other corporation used by “the faithful and discreet slave” to advance Kingdom interests (February 1989 Our Kingdom Ministry, page 3)

Not Affiliated with “Any” of the Bible Societies; or, JWs, Step Right Up! Buy Your Not-Affiliated Watchtower Supplies Right Here!

This one just cracks me up (Thanks M). We didn’t have all this fancy stuff when I was out in service – you kids! get off the lawn!

Do you sell return visit books?
We don’t sell anything for “just” return visits. However, we do have some ideas for these:
1. Our theocratic monthly planner has several pages at the back to record your return visits, as well as a handy chart to keep track of magazine routes
2. We also have several service organizers, such as the all-in-one service organizer, magazine and tract tote, and pioneer portfolio which have specially-designed slots to hold the house-to-house slips where you can also note return visits and other activity.

How are you affiliated with the Watchtower?
There is a vast distinction between our faith and our business, which is a commercial enterprise and is not affiliated with the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society in any way. Therefore, we do not sell Bibles or Bible literature. We make custom leather products, specializing in protective covers for Bibles and Bible literature, including the New World Translation, among many other versions and translations. Ministry Ideaz is a commercial enterprise and is not affiliated with any of the Bible societies that distribute the Bibles mentioned on our site. These societies are not-for-profit organizations.

How many “Bible societies” was that again? Can we get a business card to hand out when they come to the door?


Service supplies for Jehovah’s Witnesses
New World Translation Bible Covers
Watchtower and Kingdom Ministry Foldersand more!

Thinking Still Forbidden? Absolutely

The Watchtower says you MUST Obey them in ALL Areas
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5AtgySRsGos[/youtube]

A Selection from the “Ask a Former JW” Mailbag

These writers prefer our conversations to remain anonymous. This is just a sampling for illustrative purposes, edited to ensure privacy. If you have a question, you can contact me here. If you approve, I will post our entire exchange (with or without names) – or I may use non-identifying bits like these to show some of the recurring issues that I see.

I disassociated myself and cut all of my immediate family and friends that I had. This is all I have ever known. I have a spiritual void but can’t seem to find a church. I search but they all have crosses and the pit of my stomach aches and my mind tells me Babylon the Great. How do I get past this and how do I find a church. Please help.

She is a JW and I am not. … She eventually moved … and became distant with myself and many of her other good friends. While I’ve tried to keep in touch with her, she never returns my phone calls or emails me. I just found out last night that she got married this spring and I am utterly shocked. … I am still going to call her and let her know that I love her and will always be there for her. I am the most upset because we had always talked of how our wedding days would be and they were always inclusive of each other no matter what. I really just needed to get that out, as it has been a very emotional day for me. I pray that one day she will be strong enough to think for herself.

Did this little girl CAUSE herself to be abducted from her home and raped because she went “Trick or Treating” ie: “Celebrated the Devil” (Her words in quotes)? When she told me this I freaked out a bit and said “NO” but….she looked square at me and said “Well, that’s what (her parents) said” and when I said “Uh..no…that couldn’t be what they said” she interrupted me with a VERY indignant “Well, read your Bible.” So how did her “un-holy” behavior CAUSE the Devil to do that to her? I guess that I can agree that if I am a bank robber-or I beat people up and mug them, well, if my life always feels full of fear-and on the run-and i have bad relationships with people, and problems and strife, well-I guess I can see how my “un-righteous” behavior CAUSES “bad” things to happen to me, but; What in “Jehovah’s Witness” religion says that “celebrating the Devil” causes you to be raped?

His biggest concerns revolve around the ideas (facts according to him) that the bible according the JW has prophecized a lot of what is happening now – fall of capitalism, global warming, etc. I am not well versed in the bible and no little about JW. Is any of this true? It is very hard for him to even consider other reasoning because he has been taught that the things happening now have supposedly so clearly been already prophecized. Can you please point me towards more information or a person for him or I to speak to that can help him get past this fear of the end of the world?

Okay, this might sound like a really stupid question and I know you’re not here to play agony aunt, but I’m somewhat desperate. My ex-boyfriend is a Jehova’s Witness and that’s the reason I broke up with him – I just couldn’t take it any more .. no meeting his family, no sex, total secrecy etc. I’ve tried talking to him, he just won’t listen. Is there ANYTHING I can do? I miss him and I just wish he’d give up his freaky religion. What made you change your mind? Do you think I can do anything at all?

I was told that he had been reported by one person as a pedophile, and that there were others who were abused as children that were not coming forward about it. I was also told that the act of disfellowshipping was done not necessarily because of the act committed, but “because the person is unrepentant”. … in many ways I see no difference between sexual abuse of a child and murder, as it was the murder of a child’s spirit. I guess I’m asking your help to help ME to focus on what needs to be done next. I cannot let this man just be out there in the community.

I was a jw for more than 20 years. I’d like to know what your opinion is regarding dating (?) . I mean, as a jw it’s more serious, you have marriage in mind – but, I’ve noticed that that’s not the case in the real world… do you have any suggestions as to how to view dating or go about it??? just feel a tad lost, to say the least.

Hello, i am a former JW, left about 12 years ago. My mother, father (an elder), and sister all completely shun me. Even after all this time, i still feel like an orphaned child, with much anger inside for how i’ve been treated by them and all my childhood friends. I need advice on how to cope with such stupidity.

We live in an area with a large concentration of JW’s. They’re on our street every weekend but have never knocked (in 5 years) until last Saturday. I’ve decided that if they come knocking on my door, maybe the Holy Spirit is knocking on their hearts. I want to witness to these people effectively but I want to better know where they’re coming from. I am a champion of debating and can argue with a hole in the wall (and win), BUT I realize that “winning” isn’t the goal if it leaves the JW confused, intimidated, angry, hurt, etc. I want to share the gospel WITHOUT arguing, if possible. I’ve looked at your recommended reading page and I was already considering purchasing a couple of those books, but I want to know what would be most useful, from your perspective, to know. I already have a fair grasp on the fundamental doctrinal differences, but that’s not enough – I need to reach these people where they are: in the prison of a cultic way of thinking. What specific books would you recommend as the most effective?

Former Jehovah’s Witnesses – Take care, please

Former Jehovah’s Witnesses – Take care, please

I am becoming a bit concerned about the safety of former Jehovah’s Witnesses.

When I received this latest email, I asked permission to post it.

Reports of various annoyance activities toward vocal former Jehovah’s Witnesses seems to be increasing. I will try to do a post very soon about how things are heating up in the public sphere for JWs.

Already Ex-JWs are demonized – at any sign of escalation, please never hesitate to contact the police.

Barb and I are back in our house though remodeling construction work continues to kick up some dust.

Today 11-11-07 I filed report number 2007-024301 with the Overland Park, Kansas, Department of Public Safety (police), the attending officer being Officer “Carrillo” with badge number 673, after having received a criminal telephone call from a person at 2:52 AM (i.e. in the morning), our phone recording that the call had come from 613 212-1419 in Ontario, Canada. (I’m guessing the number is a deadend or somehow they re-routed it)

The person sought for approximately fifteen minutes to talk me into “returning to Jehovah” and he offered me a $10,000 bribe to do so, the person’s motive for this speculatively being because of my anti-child molestor efforts in backing Silentlambs, my having an online fellowshipping website where 1,207 persons have signed in with two years which is viewed as possible down-the-road competition by the Watchtower Society, and implicitly my “needing to shut up or be shut up.”

A friend had just the day before spoken with me of ritualistic abuses other than those I too have experienced which, if they were to become widely known, would be of tremendous embarrassment to pedophile leaders embedded in the Watchtower Society. The caller did also use obscene language vile enough that, although put into writing by myself as asked for by the police, is really too repulsive for me to repeat to you here.

Officer Carrillo said that there would be other officers assigned to look into the matter. As those of you who have been on the ExJWs&FriendsNet for a long time already know, I have had to file past reports; for example, previously my wife and a neighbor friend were on the phone when two men broke in calling them vile names and the like, whom my wife and the neighbor believe may have been and be part of the general harassment campaign we have been regularly subjected to.

I told the officer that also a while back I did not report it (not wanting to have the police running out to us so often as to annoy them) but there was a young adult Afro-American male dressed in a loud necktie and blue suit shirt whom I spotted from my upstairs den window after he had knocked on our door (this time for a change in broad daylight) then scurried away. I believe that back when a JW I had seen him at one or more Bible conventions in Kansas City.

Such knocking then leaving while we are upstairs and can’t easily get to the front door in time has occurred many times before as well as for example pebbles or rocks being hurled up against our upstairs bedroom and den walls, some kind of electronic device being used to raise our garage door, what the police have described as a “professional” crow-bar effort being perpetrated to try to break inside our front room door (found out it had happened after a night when I had especially complained about the Watchtower Society’s sending pedophiles among those JWs unknowing or unbelieving of the pedophiles among them preaching at doors or the like), assorted monkeying around with and even inside our car.

These things are documented by me for the police and also here to you guys in email so that in the event that serious harm or death ever occurs to myself, my wife or other loved ones, then there is a record.

This email is not a direct accusation against the Watchtower Society for I cannot prove such, but it is a statement of factual observation that the events as stated in the police reports have occurred including that the person today offered a bribe to get me to re-enter the Watchtower Society organization, in other words to shut up and get back on their side.

I told him No then said they need to reform and end their sheltering of pedophiles as I said I supposed he himself probably is (his vile words caused me to believe this too) and although awakened and thus tired I also calmly if exhaustedly “witnessed” to him pertaining to three doctrinal lies the Watchtower misteaches JWs and the Public.

I pointed out that Luke 10:7 don’t be transferring house-to-house but rather Christians can go from a house with interested persons to a house in a different town where similar interest exists; that the Christmas tree began with the Tree of Paradise in church plays about the Garden of Eden in the Middle Ages rather than originating from Druid tree worship; and the Watchtower Society teaches many now living will never die, the many being JWs loyal to the Watchtower Society’s governing body members increasingly and wrongly held to be over even the Annointed, and that this idea of “many now living will never die” flies directly in the face of the apostle Paul’s having said all humans sin and therefore all humans die.

When my wife handed the phone to me early this morning I got to speak with only the one person who to me appeared to be faking an Oriental accent. She said she herself had also been spoken to by a second person.

Anyway, after I pointed out the contradiction between what Pauls said about all having to die as opposed to the Watchtower misteaching that many will never die, he ceased to say anything more (I believe I hit the target with that point), it was clear that although I was speaking into the mouth piece what I said was somehow not going through (it was like speaking into and having your words muffled by a wall), yet I could tell there was some manner of continuing electronic connection (possibly what I believe detectives call a hook-switch by-pass), and I said this into the mouth piece whereupon there were 2-3 small clicking sounds then a sudden abrupt full and fairly loud termination of the electronic connection.

I was in then out of the Watchtower Society twice so am what they see as a “two-timer” and whom they would like to get back and seek to “mold” (brainwash) etc to neutralize me. I am also a very good, powerful writer (so I’ve been told) who is able to hit them in various different languages beyond English alone. My helping Silentlambs including by a reminder in the last email that it’s good for us to remember to donate to it so that it can keep helping the kids is also a pain in the rumps of pedophiles.

As stated previously I believe the perpetrators of such harassment are most probably pedophiles, some of whom are, as seen this time, given to “return to Jehovah” type statements and the like, enhancing the likelihood most are active JWs; although I also hold belief that pedophiles such as among JW do also collaborate across and regardless of religious belief differences, for example, as when my wife has told me that Mormons (possibly themselves pedophiles or acting on the behest of a pedophile Mormon elder) have appeared at our door and simply stood standing and facing it about twenty minutes before suddenly quietly leaving.

That two older elders of Jehovah’s Witnesses sought to set up fellow exJW Danny Haszard in Maine (who has posted signs they saw clearly, and who has delivered hours of videotapes to the police showing previous harassment) as they did therefore does not seem the least implausible to me, and I know of at least one other person in the Net reading this email right this second no doubt (also on the East Coast) who has had similar harassment experiences. If any of you also have such to happen or if you know of another exJW (especially those in and out of the organization twice as I think those including myself get especially worked over) then please let me know.

The Watchtower Society not only has had to pay out to settle with 16 victims of sexual harassment (Silentlambs) earlier this year but at a guess there will be more such lawsuits. In fact I told the harasser this morning after he made his $10,000 bribe that I found it interesting how they lost millions of dollars (one guess is up to $1.5 million for each of the 16 earlier this year) and given how they refuse to reform and keep enabling the harming of children, I have no doubt they will be paying out more.

If any of you know victims please urge them to come forth and sue the perpetrators of such sexual or other crimes (phone harassment etc) against them. Let’s also keep each other informed, speaking up, spotlighting the darkness so that it keeps fleeing into the shadows, and trying to document matters so that if law enforcement may do more in the years ahead, then there will be a strong paper trail lending credibility strong enough to be used as evidence when the creeps are brought to justice.

I showed Officer Carrillo the silentlambs.org website’s photos of JW elders convicted of sex crimes including one just sentenced to several years in Ontario, told him about the 16 settlements etc. He found it interesting and, as said, he says other investigators will pursue this farther – I believe the telephone record of time and location being tangible enough evidence in view of the other things such that it is now seen that the matter is serious for our household even as Danny has concerns about his family in his house in Maine.

The metro areas are where organized crime of diverse types are focused, and this is, I believe, also extremely true for sex crimes perpetrated by pedophiles seeking to hide behind the cloak of religion. Three of the largest U.S. cities are Los Angeles, Chicago and New York. When I think of L.A. I remember what Pat Garza when alive said was done to her there. Chicago reminds me of Laree Slack’s fate. New York also has its skeletons including at Brooklyn where the Watchtower Society is headquartered. Of course Kansas City, St. Louis and other places have them too at least to some extent.

As also said before two of my three dear adult daughters are still in the cult; besides which there are many others in the ranks there who are kind, decent people despite the cult’s misleadership and who do not know what all has been done by Ted Jaracz and others on the Watchtower Society’s Governing Body. In a courtroom they would instantly deny that the Watchtower Society shelters pedophiles etc, that it became an NGO of the UN while having local JW elders keep preaching against the UN; and most are misled into thinking they must die or let their own kids die rather than ever take an emergency transfusion of whole blood to live, not knowing 1 Sa 14:32-34 says Saul’s men ate unbled meat and were forgiven as it was to stay alive. Unfortunately we can be loving and loveable people and yet also wrong and misled by those who are devious.

Well, enough, I’ve written a letter almost enough for a booklet. Thanks for being friends. I told one of you earlier today in an email I would try to not directly ask for donations for Silentlambs (he views it as tacky, counterproductive or whatever) but in that case then he should know that I will give the Silentlambs link more regularly in emails, and so here it is for those who like the reminder of helping the abused kids: http://www.silentlambs.org

Best wishes,

Joe

J. Mason Emerson

The above is posted in its entirety, with permission, from an email dated Sun, November 11, 2007 2:56 pm. Other readers may also print it, but only in its entirety and as is.

I will look at them and repeat here and now in this email to you (please retain a copy) for the record in case the Watchtower Society’s attorneys ever try to claim differently that as said in my email their Watchtower organization per se is not accused of harassment but PEDOPHILES who spoke of wanting me to “return to Jehovah” have done so and the criminal record and convictions among organization’s elders from Bethel headquarters (e.g. Jesus Cano) down speak for themselves loud and clear. Thanks for posting the email and you are encouraged to post this one too.

Which I did.

Hang in there Joe, Barb, Danny – and everyone else, please be a little extra careful.

From a Current Jehovah’s Witness

From a Current Jehovah’s Witness

Once in a while, I receive a non-hostile email from a current Jehovah’s Witness. Why would a Jehovah’s Witness write to me? Well, sometimes just because of a simple desire for a safe place to vent, or because something that I’ve written has resonated, or because they don’t really feel that they have many – or any – other options. There really isn’t anywhere to go – without fear of reprisal – for caring spiritual counsel within the organization.

JWs who write to me as part of a spiritual exploration, questioning and/or crisis usually do not want to share their thoughts on these matters with others. They are justifiably afraid of the repercussions if a fellow JW were to discover their communication and report it.

I am deeply honored by this kind of contact. It is the most significant validation I could possibly have and I am well aware of the level of trust that is required. It tells me that at least sometimes I’m on the right track. (Thank you.)

I hold as sacred the confidentiality of those who wish to remain unidentified for this reason. Often these communications are held between that person and myself.

In this case, I have permission to post this in an edited version. Names have been deleted and a couple of other details have been changed to protect the innocent. Thank you for allowing me to post it; it is my hope that this will also help others.

I came across your website today after looking for news reports about the Follow the Christ convention I recently attended, and read your blog concerning it with immense interest. I am writing to you as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses in crisis. I am sure you receive many emails a day from people with problems, and I may be just one more! I am feeling quite nervous but I don’t feel I can talk to anyone about my feelings and concerns with regard to my faith (yes, as you know, asking questions is discouraged). I really identify with your position and cannot ignore my doubts anymore. Your blog really hit home with me.

I was brought up in the faith, much like yourself, and my parents got divorced when I was 14. Dad was disfellowshipped as a consequence, and I wasn’t allowed to see him until he was reinstated (over 2 years) which helped me slide into depression, and when I questioned this, I was given a Watchtower reference to cuddle up to, and deal with it. Real comforting. I never got a ‘shepherding call’ from the elders regarding any of this, not even from my uncle who is also an elder. In contrast, I was visited by the Circuit Overseer when I started seeing a girl in High School who wasn’t a Witness, who attempted to barrage me with scriptures and ‘reason’. I thought this was a real double standard – being offered no support when I was in dire need, conversely being slammed when I put a foot out of line.

My mother, a stalwart Witness, taught me to keep a humble attitude and accept all of this, assuring me it would all work out in the end. It is only now that I’m 23 and I’m starting to see all the damage this system causes to people, myself included. I have deep-seated self worth issues, and constantly wonder if I’m going to make it through Armageddon because I feel like I keep screwing up. It’s a constant cycle.

I look around at brothers and sisters in the Kingdom Hall, wondering if they all live in this same constant fear, all the while keeping a firmly fixed ‘kingdom smile’ (which to me sometimes looks slightly disconnected and delusional) to ensure everything appears to be just fine.

Honestly, I could go on and on. I just really needed to get some of this off my chest and talk to someone, and I really appreciate your reading my rant! I am still attending meetings, but I seem to be finding more and more excuses not to go. I know I will have to make a decision eventually, but it will be quite a gradual process I think… I guess I feel like I’m in no-man’s land right now, neither here nor there. I would really value any thoughts or suggestions you might have, and would love to hear about your experiences too!

Again, I thank you for considering what I’ve written here, I feel like weight has been lifted from my shoulders just writing about it.

I look forward to your reply! Regards,

My reply:

You are exactly right that the process of expressing your feelings has value in itself! You might think about keeping a (well-hidden) journal (perhaps a password-protected file on your computer).

The main thing I want to express to you is that you matter. You are not a stamped-out robot off some assembly line. You are a unique person – the only one of you in the entire history of the cosmos. There is nobody else exactly like you. (I know that might sound like a Mr. Rogers song, but what of it?) You are special. Millions of potentialities and synchronicities and actualities combine, moment by moment, to construct you. You have a mind, a body, a spirit – all of which are changing imperceptibly, all the time. The universe plays with you, and earth is your home and your school. As Alan Watts used to say, “the earth peoples.” To some extent, you can choose your direction, your flavor, your habits. You look, you see, you interpret, you act, you think.

Trust yourself. Listen to your heart. You sound very intelligent to me. You sense the wrongness in the air. The self-worth problems (yes, we all have them – it’s one of the most destructive aspects of the group) are hard to overcome. You may find that you bounce back and forth between feelings of worthlessness (you’ll never measure up) and an overinflated ego (self-righteousness, superiority to non-JWs).

Explore the possibilities in-between – the aim is to find your balance point. For myself, I have found that a focus on something else helps a lot for self-integration. Work on yourself, but also help others. Work on a project that you really care about. If you paint or do karate or play the piano or build things or sing or have any kind of skill like that where your mind, body and spirit have to learn to meld together seamlessly in order to do it well, you will see what I mean. Cultivate that. Practice it. Pay attention to the way the habits form and draw on that process of mind/body/spirit memory on other occasions.

At this point, I would advise that as you feel the desire and/or duty and/or pressure to attend, you continue to try to get what spiritual help you still can from meetings and so on. There are some good things, here and there. I don’t recommend a big public break anyway, unless it becomes unavoidable.

While you’re at meetings, though, pay attention to your own perceptions about what “doesn’t fly.” You have identified a lack of meaningful spiritual counsel, heartlessness and lack of compassion, fear-based worship, aggressive intervention for rule-breaking, the fake, fixed smile, so on. Notice more. You don’t have to react, just observe. Pay attention to how these things make you feel about yourself and others. Think that through a little. In the privacy of your own mind, replace what you are observing with more caring, loving alternatives. Actively imagine – and visualize – what it might look like, feel like, if your imagined alternatives were the reality. Change the look on someone’s face, the tone of voice.

Take note of the truly kind people you know and have known there – appreciate them. If you feel moved to do so, praise individuals for specific things. “That was a kind thing to do, helping her out of the car.” They rarely hear authentic praise, and it helps you too. Don’t limit this to JWs, either.

If you pray, pray more. If you feel comfortable talking to the God they have named “Jehovah” – do that (I never was, but that’s just me). However you address God, think about love – and reach in – and reach out – to love.

Orient yourself toward a god who truly loves you and would never want to hurt you (or anyone else). Imagine a love that is so big that it encompasses everything that could ever be, and yet a love that is so unique to you that only you can tune in to its meaning for you. Imagine cosmic arms comforting you, holding you, telling you that it’s all going to be all right. All our words about God are metaphors anyway – use what you can from your own archetypal imagination until it feels like God should feel, until it feels right.

Whether you imagine the metaphors of kingship or fatherhood or motherhood or a protective hen or a quiver through the strings of the cosmic dance, you’ll know it when it feels right. Think of tuning in a station on an old beatup radio. It’s not a matter of “creating your own God,” but of stumbling around until you start to get a glimmer of what a God that is Love itself might be like. Listen for the deep centers from which the spirit of love speaks within you.

Learn about what humility really means (and trust a bit less in the “traditions” of these men in Brooklyn). But don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater, as it were. There are many helpful, loving things that you have learned, too. Build on what rings true (hold fast to what is fine and caring and good). Silently let the destructive aspects start to flow over and around you – harmlessly. Picture them just sliding off of you.

These are things to help you start to turn fear (or anger or helplessness) into something more constructive that will help you find your own way, whatever that might be. These things I am suggesting may seem small, but small habits start to grow and flower in their own way. Some small changes along these lines (explore others too) will be good preparation for you to step into your own path with authenticity and integrity. Research. Think. Feel. Explore. Be kind.

My own experiences are buried in comments and posts. You can read some of my poetry here, and there is a long page of advice to “recovering JWs” here.

I am deeply honored to hear from you. If any part of what I’ve written seems “off” to you in any way, please disregard it. Everyone is a little different, and what helps one person may not be at all useful for another.

Would you mind if I posted a version of this letter to the blog? I would not mention your name, and I could delete any part of this that would in any way identify you. If you like, resend the letter, taking out any part that you don’t want me to post. And if you are not comfortable with my posting any of it, that’s perfectly fine too.

In any case, I’m here for you. There are others, although I would advise some discretion. Some are very damaged, and will be for a long time, maybe always. I’m among the more fortunate ones. I think my curiosity and love of reading went a long way…

Thank you so much for replying so quickly to my email. I have read it over and over, you don’t know what it means to me that someone has taken the time to help me with what I’m going through! And if I may say so, you have a beautifully eloquent style of writing, a pleasure to read! I take a lot from what you have written. You may post a version of my letter if you wish, I only ask that my name is removed. I think I may email you again in the future, and for now wish you the best. Kind regards,

I have some idea of what it means – still just trying to be the caring friend I wish I’d had. I don’t invoke discourses of blessing easily, but I must admit that I do feel blessed (and healed) every time someone out there seems to be hurting a little less because I could help in some small way.

It’s a form of service that returns threefold … or tenfold … or (a) manifold.

(I have a pretty good idea of who might be laughing each of those.)

{{{grins}}}

We cannot live for ourselves alone. Our lives are connected by a thousand invisible threads, and along these sympathetic fibers, our actions run as causes and return to us as results. ~Herman Melville

Videos about Jehovah’s Witnesses

Videos about Jehovah’s Witnesses

On the practices and policies of the Watchtower Society

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dt47lPS_QEw[/youtube]

Some background on early JW days – most contemporary JWs are unaware of their own history

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-40YmWfg9sQ[/youtube]

One testimony of what it was like to leave the Jehovah’s Witnesses

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_H-Y1mSf0xk[/youtube]

On the Street with a Jehovah’s Witness – Gloats Gripes (and Damage Done)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r-llW8QUM7g[/youtube]

Jehovah’s Witnesses Should Not Look at this One

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=biuJ74qu_pc[/youtube]

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.

Non-JWs in a JW Family

Non-JWs in a JW Family

From the “Ask a Former JW” mailbag…

I’ve been reading your dialogue with JWs. I have no advice, though I have experience being married to a JW.

I have been told I have a distorted view of the Bible, that I am part of the great (?) Babylon. My parents haven’t seen my son in 1 year – they also are part of Babylon – and they live only 1 hour away.

I’ve been told that God doesn’t hear my prayers because I don’t use his real name, not to have a cross in the house as it may be a roost for some sort of demon. When she and my son are reading their watchtower stuff, she closes the door so I can’t hear the discussion ( we just don’t want to bother you.).

I have been screamed at when my mother sent my son a Christmas card with a cardinal in the snow, and only the words ‘happy holidays’ on the inside (don’t you know he may not survive Armageddon if he celebrates Christmas?). My mother walked through many aisles looking for a non offending Christmas card. I could go on and on.

Am I being critical ? Of course ….but this is just an “eye of the camera” report. I’m afraid to go where my real feelings have been shoved down for some 12 years….

So – that’s your ‘eye witness’ on JWs in the household —–I guess the love comes out at the Kingdom Hall.

Speaking of being visited in prison …..I’d like one of those loving and concerned JWs to come visit me in this one.

– Juree

Hi Juree!

“Babylon the Great” or “the Whore of Babylon” is based on the book of Revelation (esp. ch. 17-18). It is usually identified with whatever (corrupt) superpower reigns at the time (biblically, it’s probably Rome), but JWs see it as representing the worldwide empire of false religion (and most especially Christendom). They are, of course, interpreting themselves as being the only true religion. Many groups have interpretations of the Whore of Babylon and Babylon the Great – but JWs seem to refer to it more than other groups do.

On the issue of the Christmas card, they believe that the holiday is too pagan-affiliated in its customs and history to be celebrated, even if Jesus has not said to celebrate his death rather than his birth. I’ve not heard of any but the most fanatical JW invoke Armageddon at the sight of a holiday card, but it doesn’t surprise me either. Their sense of priorities is seriously skewed at times, and some are incapable of receiving the good wishes in the spirit in which they were meant. They might at least have explained their reasons – they will normally take any opportunity to do so.

On the cross issue, I have to say I haven’t heard the “demon roost” theory before (grin). Sounds like your family took some messages and cross-wired them in their fear. They do believe in demon attacks, and there is a lot of urban lore about smurfs and such, but that’s not the problem with the cross. JWs believe that Jesus was tortured on a stake, not a cross, so they don’t even use the word “crucifixion.” The other thing is that the symbol links the household, however distantly, to the above-mentioned “Babylon the Great.” One thing that we were told to explain out in service is that to wear a cross would be like wearing a gun when the person you loved most in the world had been shot with one. It has a certain appeal as an argument, but there are problems with the analogy.

Love and kindness are often reserved for members, as you have experienced. Family, especially non-JW family, are often treated worse than strangers (i.e., potential converts).

If there is a God, he/she/they/it hears your prayers. God is there for all, according to the central message of Christianity. I don’t know why you are in prison, but I do feel – always – that while there is life, there is hope. Find your freedom within, with curiosity and humor and forgiveness of yourself and others. Face your anger and hurt, talk with others, accept what you can accept, and move on to the next stage for you.

Don’t wait around for JWs to come and visit (lol), but do talk to the spiritual and psychological counselors that might be available to you. You can write to me privately too, if you need to rant someplace safe.

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