"A person joins and leaves a group for many reasons..
Within the last four years, all of our immediate family has left
the Witnesses.. The difference I feel now, looking back, is that
I am not a rigid person, but many people with authority are very
rigid. I also feel strongly that this organization as a whole
has become far more rigid, controlling and authoritarian than
they were 15 years ago.
"I recall many cases were elders were cruel, gave poor
advice, and made rigid hurtful rules. I know elders, including
those at Bethel, who have drinking problems themselves but disfellowship
others, usually the young people, for the same reasons.
"My family lived through the build-up and deceit of "Armageddon
Coming in 1975." .. I was told constantly and did believe
that the Governing Body, those few old men who run this organization,
somehow had "special knowledge" and "knew"
that 1914 marked this generation as being the last one before
Armageddon would come.. When in Nov. 1955 Watchtower changed
the meaning of "generation," I emotionally blew up,
but said only to my husband how I felt.
Within six months our youngest child tried several times to
commit suicide. At that point I really questioned everything.
Using only the Bible and the Society's publications, I really
studied. We also went to family counseling. We did not read anything
against the Witnesses.. It was a very personal choice. Still,
from the first time we didn't go in the service or attend meetings,
we were shunned.. I was very shocked that we were branded as
"apostates" and completely shunned.. I tried to ask
the Circuit Overseer and an elder a Few Questions on the JWs
beliefs, but they didn't want to help me.
"We are no longer Witnesses. It was very hard for me
to stop going to the Kingdom Hall.. We are again a smaller happy
family. While there was a painful period of adjustment and still
is somewhat, I am much happier and much more realistic than I
have ever been. Our youngest child is doing well now and is attending
WHAT CONTRIBUTED TO MY LEAVING THE JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES
1. I love to read. I never heard or read anything against
the Witnesses, nor would I have because we weren't allowed to
and I was obedient. I wasn't allowed to go to college because
I was raised a Witness, but I encouraged our children to learn
all they could. In order to support ourselves I believe we need
further education, so we gave our children freedom of choice
in their education.
2. I don't like to be treated meanly. I like fairness. Three
women have visited me since we stopped going. When I phone up
a past "friend," she is abrupt, or if I leave a message
on her phone, the husband phones up and asks "What do you
3. The vivid realization that we have been deceived all these
years propelled me out. I lived through the 1975 build-up and
know the Watchtower Society was being untruthful. When they changed
the meaning of "generation" in 1995, I reacted with
tremendous emotional upset. Nobody I knew mentioned the article,
which to me was the biggest change the Society ever made. I was
used to "going along" with whatever the Society said,
with all their changes of belief and rules over the years.
4. There was no help of any kind when our son was suicidal
and all the local elders and the Society knew about it. Our son
really believed and practiced what was taught, but none of us
understood why he was shunned by many at the Kingdom Hall and
they wouldn't tell him. It seemed impossible to measure up. Later
on, he was quickly disfellowshipped for briefly smoking.
5. Many of my Witness friends were depressed and taking Prozac
or other depression medicine. I felt I would have to change (leave)
or I would be just like them.
6. I studied carefully the blood transfusion and military
service issues. I fell the Society is changing its policies now
because it doesn't want bad publicity. When a group is small,
all publicity is good publicity. When an organization becomes
large and has huge assets, it wants to protect those assets and
doesn't want adverse governmental and community "persecution."
The Society doesn't care about the individual at all. It cares
about the numbers and control.
7. I left because I became tired of not being able to make
my own decisions. I was tired of being controlled by the authoritarian
group I did not respect. I think by the time I reach half a century
it's time to grow up.
"This short story illustrates how I feel having been
a Witness. I feel I've been in a very long child's game of "Follow
the Leader." The game starts out as a great adventure. We're
led through all sorts of twists and turns, jumping through scratchy
bushes and muddy puddles. Some are falling down and getting cut
on the rocks we're climbing over. When one little kid way back
in the line quietly asks a question, "Where are you taking
us? Some are getting hurt!" he's hit on the head by the
guy in front of him. The leader yells back, "I'm smarter
than you. I know where we're going. Just keep playing the game
and follow me." Eventually the little kid figures out the
leader is just another kid like himself. He gets tired of being
hurt. The game isn't fun anymore. So he decides to play by himself
or find other kids to play with. When he stops playing "Follow
the Leader," a few rude kids yell back, "We won't play
with you anymore. You're not our friend."
Now I think that will all the changes the Society is making
lately, they'll mutate into a completely different group. Perhaps
the majority of "faithful" Witnesses won't even notice.
I did notice the Memorial attendance was down from 426,000 in
1998 from the previous year, so I think more than a couple people
are disenchanted. This group advertises that it's a "spiritual
paradise," but it has become a spiritual concentration camp
for many. The advice I give to every former Witness is "Be
kind, be polite! ALWAYS!" If you find yourself disfellowshipped,
or shunned by your family and friends, always talk to THEM. Phone
up your parents and friends. If they continually refuse to return
the call, answer the letter or talk to you, those persons have
to take the responsibility before God that they are unkind. There
are many people on this planet who are willing to be kind if
you take the initiative. (Free Minds Journal,
col. 18, no.2 Spring 1999)